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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 12 December 2013 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Christmas Shelf Holiday Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Writing/Publishing Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf Native American Shelf
Military Shelf Board Book Shelf Fiction Shelf
Activity Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf DVD Shelf
Multimedia Shelf Biography Shelf Autism Shelf
Environmental Shelf Health Shelf Geography Shelf
Dinosaur Shelf Math Shelf Science Shelf
Reference Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Art Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

Tadias and the Pitbully Tree
Saidat Vandenberg, author
Sarah Nickel, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781479701728, $21.99,

"Tadias and the Pitbully Tree" is an inspiring, imaginative book that teaches children techniques to build self esteem and counter or block psychological bullying attempts. Featuring an exciting young dark-skinned heroine, with added pictures of children of multi-racial or ethnic descent, "Tadias and the Pitbully Tree" takes a snapshot of a girl's fight to learn to like herself despite obstacles, even scary obstacles like the Pitbully Tree. Tadias is determined to follow the way to I Like Me Street. Her mother tells her directions: STOP at the corner, turn left on THINK Boulevard, and turn right on SPEAK Street. Tadias follows these directions, but encounters the mean Pitbully Tree who tells her, "Hey! I don't like you. You'll never get to I Like Me Street. So why don't you just go home?" It takes more than one attempt and the help of her mother before Tadias and her friends are able to reach I Like Me Street. Then comes the great surprise of the book: Instead of ending happily there on I Like Me Street, Tadias and her friends decide to ask the question, "What about the Pitbully Tree? Could this be a better tree?" They go back with her mother to talk to the tree. They encourage the tree to be nice, to talk to someone about its feelings, to help the tree. They do this because bullies need help too. "Tadias and the Pitbully Tree" is an exuberant literary tool to help children transition positively through negative experiences such as bullying. Its message is encouraging love of self and compassion for others, crossing all boundaries.

Mark the Missing Moose
Lisa A. Tortorello, author
Michael Roque, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781628542721, $9.99,

"Mark the Missing Moose" is a sensitive, child -friendly book about dealing with loss, and learning to accept help and support from significant others. Jimmy is a boy who treasured sharing his close relationship with his trusted friend, Mark the stuffed moose. Mark went everywhere with him and shared most experiences with him, listening to his confidences. Jimmy enjoyed showing Mark to his class at Show and Tell, but afterwards a sad accident occurred. Mark was lost! Jimmy is shattered when he discovers Mark is not only missing, but has been destroyed by a mean neighbor's dog. Jimmy's sadness and anger overwhelm him and he is unable to communicate with his mom or accept comfort from her or others. Then one day at Show and Tell at school he learns another boy had a similar loss of a live pet, but he handled it differently. He had sad, angry, helpless feelings, but he managed to listen to his mother and to talk to her about how he felt. Gradually he learned to accept the pet's death and focus on his good memories of their time together. Jimmy learns from his friend's experience, deciding to open up to his mother and let her comfort him about his loss of Mark. "Mark the Missing Moose" is written in a gentle narrative, with lively color illustrations to cheer the pages. Children age 5 and up will benefit from the healing message of "Mark the Missing Moose."

I and the Great Divide
Fiona McGlynn, author
Robin Urquhart, illustrator
Love Letter Press
23-1015 Ironwork Passage, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6H 3R1
9781490434230, $12.99,

"I and the Great Divide" is a creative children's book about surviving the experience of separation and divorce in a family, considered from a child's viewpoint. A family of letters are the protagonists, which spell Tin. N wants to become a capital letter and T objects, while I, the little letter in the middle, is convinced the great divide with all its attendant fights and wars is all her fault. Trying to be perfect does not solve the problem or stop the fighting, and i gets into trouble at school and with other letters. Finally after many misunderstandings, a better understanding is achieved and a new life begins, with new words like unity. This children's book about dealing with separation and divorce is especially creative and sensitive in its approach, enhanced by gentle versed narrative and expressive, intriguing color illustrations. Highly recommended for children age 6 and up, especially children experiencing divorce and separation.

Min Min and the Magic Garden
Lisa R. Tennant, author/illustrator
Cerulean Coast, Publisher
c/o CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781490915562, $11.95,

"Min Min and the Magic Garden" is the creatively illustrated true story of the adoption of a Chinese orphanage girl named Min Min by an American family of three. Told from the child's viewpoint, "Min Min and the Magic Garden" conveys delicate nuances of memory, feelings, and love through the simple narrative and the sensitive water color illustrations, including a photo of Min Min taken with her favorite white bunny statue in the magic garden of her home orphanage in China. "Min Min and the Magic Garden" is a true story of a fantastic journey with a happy outcome. Appealing and accessible to children and adults, "Min Min and the Magic Garden" is a wonderful explanation of the miracle of lasting love in adoptive families.

Preschool Days Treasury
Katie Saunders
250 Wireless Boulevard
Hauppauge, NY 11788
9780764166259 $9.99

Charming, cartoony illustrations fill Preschool Days Treasury, an educational resource designed to entertain as well as teach little ones about basic concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, vocabulary, and sharing. Interactive questions and simple activities encourage young people to think and learn. "Let's Think! Which character do you wish you could be in this make-believe world? Can you say why?" Divided into tabbed sections ("Story Corner", "Learning Fun", "Play Time", "Preschool Trips", and "Preschool Friends"), Preschool Days Treasury is an excellent choice for parents and children to share when preparing for the big first day of preschool. Highly recommended.

The Christmas Shelf

The Loneliest Tree
D. G. Stern, author
Deborah Allison, illustrator
Neptune Press
3519 Exeter Court, Orlando, FL 32812
9780982809877, $9.95,

"The Loneliest Tree" is a charming Christmas story of a special farm's very special Christmas tree. The tree was lonely because when it was surrounded with other trees at the farm, it was little and stunted in growth, and now one chose it for their special holiday tree. However, that meant the little lonely tree had a chance to grow in a sunny space by itself on the farm, long after all its neighbor trees were selected and taken down. One day a strange thing happened. The mayor of a nearby city needed a very special large Christmas tree to plant in front of the city hall, to be decorated and to live a long life in the ground after the holidays were over. The mayor was directed to Mike and Molly's special Christmas tree farm, and he chose the loneliest tree after looking through all other candidates. An adventurous trip on a truck over a mountain in a snowstorm followed, with many moments of doubt and fear for the lonely tree. Finally, with great care and ceremony, the lonely tree is brought to its new home and lowered into the ground, firmly planted, and decorated with many beautiful lights and ornaments. The loneliest tree had become the happiest tree! All the pages of "The Loneliest Tree" are beautifully embellished with delicate pastel water color illustrations of the tree and its home on the farm, the mayor, and Mike and Molly, plus the heroic trucks, digger, and cranes that safely brought the tree to its new home. "The Loneliest Tree" celebrates themes of continuity, enduring faith and vision, and surviving loss and rejection at a special holiday season of love and peace.

Peace on Earth: A Christmas Collection
Mary Engelbreit
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310743408 $17.99

Peace on Earth: A Christmas Collection is a picturebook that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus and the miracle of the season - with classic poems, carols, and writings from various individuals. Jubilant color illustrations fill this compendium of holiday cheer, perfect for parents to share with children when teaching them about the wonders of the season. "'Love came down at Christmas / Love all lovely, love divine: / Love was born at Christmas / Stars and angels gave the sign.' - Christina Rossetti".

Deck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol
Erin Dealey, author
Nick Ward, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368570 $14.99

Deck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol is an exuberant children's picturebook that replaces the lyrics to "Deck the Halls" with increasingly funny and outlandish sayings! The chaotically funny color illustrations add a vibrant touch to this festive holiday story, that deserves to be sung aloud. "Deck the walls with mashed potatoes! / Fa la la la la - la la la la // Make a snowman with tomatoes / Fa la la la la - la la la la". Best of all, nestled amid the fun is a heartwarming message of family togetherness.

Ellister Elf and the Magic Christmas Tree
MaryElizabeth Deery, author/illustrator
Privately Published
9781484933640, $14.99,

"Ellister Elf and the Magic Christmas Tree" is a children's illustrated Christmas chapter story about secret longings of shrunken pine trees and unhappy children and a jealous Snow Queen, and most important, a brave little elf named Ellister who wished his way to a better Christmas and a happier future for all. Each chapter is illustrated with an inspired air -of -innocence artwork done in watercolor, gouache, or oils for the Snow Queen portrait. The story is told in traditional style but with a few new, unexpected twists and turns. That path to Christmas peace and inner happiness is not always easy or straight. Santa is a guiding force for good. The Snow Queen acts as an axis of fear and negativity, but dealing with her is also part of life and being good. Ellister Elf wants to help everyone, and his magic wishing powder is the perfect gift from Santa. What will happen to the sad little Christmas tree who longs for a happy home? What will happen to Will and Emma, the unhappy children of rich parents who have lost touch with each other and the joy of life? What will happen to Ellister, taken prisoner by the angry Snow Queen? All moves forward with help from unusual quirky characters like Grimwald and Comet? "Ellister Elf and the Magic Christmas Tree" is the perfect new holiday chapter story to read to children throughout Advent to teach them wonderful things about themselves and the world.

The Magical Tale of Santa Dust
Patricia Cardello, author
Manuela Soriani, illustrator
N & J Publishing
197 Prince Street, New York, NY
9780983366218, $10.50,

"The Magical Tale of Santa Dust" is an inviting new holiday themed book with an invitation to young families to participate in the Christmas joy by shaping and creating new rituals and traditions with their children. Based on the author's experience with her own small children, "The Magical Tale of Santa Dust" asks and answers the toddler question, "How will Santa know where to find me?" Two small children fear that Santa will not find them on Christmas, in the story. With the dubious help of a funny, klutzy elf, they devise a fabulous plan: Sprinkle magical Santa dust to lead the way to their hard to find home. Winner of the Mom's Choice Award, "The Magical Tale of Santa Dust" book package includes a gift bag of the book and an ornament complete with Santa dust to sprinkle on Christmas eve. "The Magical Tale of Santa Dust" is a wonderful combination of the new and the old, spontaneous creativity and traditional rituals. This book will be treasured by young children and their parents for generations to come.

The Legend of Ranger, the Reindeer Who Couldn't Fly
Alan Salisbury, author
Roberta Baird, illustrator
Jabberwocky Press
322 First Avenue N., 5th floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781626523333 $12.95

The Legend of Ranger, the Reindeer Who Couldn't Fly is a charming children's picturebook telling an original story about Ranger, a reindeer who can't fly on his own - even though his brother can! Ranger wants to be able to fly for Santa too, so why do his feet stay heavy on the ground? It takes a quest and some deep soul-searching for Ranger to overcome his deepest inner doubts and fears, in this gentle can-do story about discovering the power within. The Legend of Ranger is a text-heavy story, ideal for young readers who are just about ready to move on to chapter books, though brightly colored, distinctive full-page illustrations appear every couple of pages. All profits from The Legend of Ranger are designated to support the Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer, at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

The Holiday Shelf

The Forgotten Pumpkin
Hugh G. Earnhart, author
Susan Ertel, illustrator
Orange Frazer Press
P.O. Box 214, Wilmington, OH 45177
9781939710031, $12.95,

"The Forgotten Pumpkin" is a charming seasonal tale for children about a sad pumpkin who Farmer Pond forgot to harvest with the others for Halloween jack-o-lanterns and decorations and perhaps pies. When the pumpkin began to cry alone on the field hillside at night, glowing eyes in the darkness approached. They belonged to friendly animals from the nearby forest; Deer, Rabbit, Raccoon, Mouse, Fox, Beaver, Squirrel, Snake, and Owl. All the animals wished to help the forgotten Pumpkin when they found why it was crying. An amazing creative rescue plan developed. As if by magic, each animal played a part in moving, changing, and displaying the forgotten Pumpkin so that it shone proudly from its place by the roadside near Farmer Pond's farm. Even the Basset Hound and the Siamese Cat helped by finding fireflies to light the inside of the Pumpkin which the animals transformed into a jack-o-lantern! This happy Halloween children's tale emphasizes values of hope, cooperation, empathy, and compassion to the standard trappings of a fall holiday. The treasured illustrations display familiar animal and vegetation features with fresh life and color. "The Forgotten Pumpkin" is the ideal children's book for this harvest celebration time of year. It is easily understood by children age 5 and up. The natural emphasis on concern for others rather than selfish hoarding of treats appeals to parents, teachers, caretakers, and children themselves, as well.

The Social Issues Shelf

One For All
Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, author
Gregory Sesma & Platypus Pictureworks, illustration
Based on a screenplay by Ruby Vanderzee
The Mother Company
11759 San Vicente Blvd #2
Los Angeles, CA 90049
9780988282711 $12.95

One For All: How One Brave Voice Made A Difference is a children's picturebook about standing up to and stopping bullies. The characters are all anthropomorphized pieces of sports equipment, brought to life with bright colors against a photo-realistic background. When Seth the Soccer Ball arrives for his first day of school, he makes new friends - and encounters a formidable antagonist in Buster the Bowling Ball! But Seth tells his friends they can't let Buster just roll all over them. "'What are we going to do, fight him?' Billie asked. 'No fighting,' replied Seth. 'But if we refuse to let him bully us and then talk to him as a group, maybe he'll listen.' If not, we'll ask a grown-up for help.'" A strong, positive message underlies this charming story, highly recommended for school and public library children's collections.

Just Not Me
Dr. Frederick B. Covington, author
Richa Kinra, illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478706656, $12.95,

"Just Not Me" is a book of positive role models and images for young black males, but it is not written just for an African American audience, but for all. Counteracting the negative stereotypical media images of young African American men who are disrespectful, angry, unproductive, defiant or unkempt in dress and grooming, or famous only for a special sports ability, "Just Not Me" presents a collection of positive role models and images of famous black men such as Frederick Douglas, Dr. Martin Luther King, Bill Cosby, Thurgood Marshall, Colin Powell, and more. The message is no matter what TV or media shows, "When you open your eyes as well as your mind, you can truly see/ That greatness is always here, right inside of me (p. 21)." "Just Not Me" is a powerful message to youth of today to challenge themselves to perceive the truth and live up to the best that is in them.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story
Rachel Lynette, author
Jan Lieffering, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599535876, $25.27,

From a middle grade educational series called Writing Builders, "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story" presents a components construction toolkit for young budding fiction authors that is appealing, carefully sequenced for optimum understanding, and attractively and clearly presented. Frank wants to enter a story writing contest but he is afraid he doesn't know how to write fiction. Fiona encourages him and helps him find a way to begin. First comes a story map, with brief descriptions of the setting, characters, and story line with beginning, middle, and end. Fiona gives Frank many helpful writing tips to make his story more interesting and vivid. Finally, it is up to Frank to begin writing and then to rewrite the story as needed to build it. Using transitions and sensory details help to place the story's action in the imagination more firmly. At the end a 6 step process is outlined for creating a fictional story, with added special ideas, a glossary, and list of resources, including web sites. "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story" is clearly written with likeable young students as budding authors and illustrated in a fun, quirky, colorful comic style, featuring adults and children of varying racial-ethnic backgrounds. Middle grade students from ages 9-11 will enjoy using this helpful literary tool to create their own works of fiction.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Kittens: Keeping and Caring for Your Pet
Hannelore Grimm, author
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
9780766041868, $27.93, $20.95 for Schools & Libraries,

"Kittens" is a color photo-illustrated kids' care manual for kittens. Written in clear language easily understood by children age 11 and up, "Kittens" presents information in three main categories: Choosing and bringing home a kitten, feeding and caring for your kitten, and understanding and playing with your kitten. Information about many popular breeds of cats is given, along with special tips for welcoming the kitten to its new home. In the second section, preferred cat meals and nutrition, daily health and grooming care, neutering and spaying, and routine immunizations are covered. Finally, the third section presents valuable tips for playing with your kitten, training and understanding it. The necessity for play activity for cats and kittens, both as exercise and education or life quality is explained, as is the need for supervision when small children lay with cats or kittens. A helpful list of rules of play is given for children, for example: " #3 Only play the game if your cat is having fun (p.61)." There are also listed handy an extra 7 tips for training your cat. Use of color shaded sidebars and attractive action photos of adorable kitten subjects make "Kittens" the perfect kitten care manual for responsible children or adults. Also highly recommended are the following titles included in this series: "Fish (9780766041851, $20.95)" by Angela Beck, "Guinea Pigs (9780766041844, $20.95)" by Angela Beck, "Puppies (9780766041875, $20.95)" by Brigitte Harries, and "Rabbits (9780766041837, $20.95)" by Angela Beck.

My Book of Animals
Denis Pero
Auzou Editions
24-32 rue des Amandiers, 75020 Paris, France
9782733823156 $16.95

Featuring full-color photography on every page, My Book of Animals: A Walk Through the National Parks teaches young readers about the amazing creatures that live in North American national parks. More than 70 animals are profiled; each has its own page filled with brief, fascinating facts and a captivating photo. "What are baby wolves like? The Gray Wolf's cubs are blind at birth and do not stand up until they are at least ten days old." "Play and learn" quizzes and a handful of simple games at the back of the book encourage little ones to test their knowledge. My Book of Animals makes a great gift for young animal lovers!

Poppy and the Fat Puppy
Eli Jay, author/illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
978147870036, $19.95,

"Poppy and the Fat Puppy" is a sensitively illustrated story of how a fat, sick, lonely puppy is helped by a kind green balloon friend and a vet to become a healthy, happy, loveable puppy with a new name and a new home. Poppy, the helpful green balloon, helps Fat Puppy become Jasper just by following the vet's prescribed regime of healthy balanced nutrition and fun daily exercise. In the end, Jasper returns to his friend the vet who provides him with a home. "Poppy and the Fat Puppy" is an excellent educational tool teaching the importance of good nutrition and daily exercise for a puppy's optimum health. Large, colorful, clear illustrations and simple narrative style make "Poppy and the Fat Puppy" accessible to young children's understanding, age 4 and up.

The Bee Society: "My Life as a Bee"
As told by Georgie Bee
R. Morris, illustrator/author
The Bee Society Press
15 Sutherland Road, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
9780989690102, $15.95,

"The Bee Society" is an educational story about the life of North American honeybees. Told by an imaginary Bee persona named Georgie, "The Bee Society" uses comic/realistic illustrations, quirky catchy narrative style, and solid bee lore information to bedazzle young readers, indoctrinating them with notions of the true value and importance of bees. Following Georgie through the four seasons is exciting and informative, as are the individual thumbnail bio sketches of imaginary bee personas (these are especially funny). Clearly, learning about bees is a many faceted undertaking, deserving an enriched paintbrush and vocabulary to stimulate and challenge the mind and imagination. "My Life as a Bee" is one sincere bee's attempt to bridge the bee/human divide and build lasting peace. It makes for extremely entertaining and educational reading, for audiences age 8-9 and up. More Bee Society titles are forthcoming in new installments on Georgie Bee's life and experiences.

How Chili Willie Got His Name
Kathryn Ann Sands, author
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481706414, $17.99,

"Ho Chili Willie Got His Name" is the first book of a series based on a true story about the adoption of a shy little gray Chihuahua puppy originally named Walle Chewy. Walle Chewy's first adoptive family had 3 small children who were noisy and frightening to him, so he ran away. Walle Chewy dreamed of a tall blonde woman who was kind to him and told him not to worry. Walle Chewy was eventually returned to the animal shelter and oddly enough, a tall blonde woman named Jubilee also had dreams about a special little Chihuahua named Chili Willie, in an ice cream shop. One event led to another and finally, Jubilee was introduced to Chili Willie, whom she felt she had met in her dreams. The funny thing was, in her dream she may have heard Walle Chewy's name pronounced in Spanish by his first family, who were Mexican American. This must have sounded something like "Chili Willie" to Jubilee. A joyful adoption took place, and the saga of the adventures of Chili Willie had begun! "How Chili Willie Got His Name" is an excellent illustrated chapter book reading experience for children age 8 and up concerned with humane care of animals and pets.

Bone Collection: Animals
Rob Colson
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545576284, $14.99,

Bone Collection: Animals provides a fine collection of bones from everything from a giant anteater to a pit viper, and considers how very different skeletons give indications on how an animal lived. Color illustrations of cats, seals, elephants and many more creates accompany full-page skeleton pictures in full color, along with identifiers on their special physical features. The result is a powerful collection perfect for picturebook readers who like bones and animals.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Where Is Baby?
Kathryn O. Galbraith, author
John Butler, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561457076 $16.95

Where Is Baby? is a charming, easy-to-read picturebook featuring full color illustrations of adorable animal babies in their natural environment. Different animal babies have different places to naturally hide - "Baby leopards scramble up high in the trees. / Baby river otters duck and dive without a splash." But mothers everywhere can always find their hidden babies! A heartwarming, read-aloud story perfect for sharing with the littlest of little ones, just before bedtime.

We're Going to the Farm
Nancy Streza, author
Adam Pryce, illustrator
Xist Publishing
PO Box 61593
Irvine, CA 92602
9781623954833 $18.99

We're Going to the Farm is a singsong, rhyming children's picturebook set to the cadence of the classic "The Farmer in the Dell", about the many fun things two young children (a white boy and an African-American girl) will do when they visit the farm. "We're going to milk the cows / We're going to milk the cows / Hi - ho - the moo-e-o / We're going to milk the cows". Exuberant color illustrations bring this delightfully charming easy-reader to life.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Madi's Dollhouse
Alexis Powers, author
1309 E. Stoney Canyon Circle, Oro Valley, AZ 85737
9781490500584, $10.00,

Featuring the illustrations of Jenny Manno, "Madi's Dollhouse" by Alexis Powers is a fantasy chapter story about a deaf girl named Madi, who loves a favorite dollhouse made for her by her father. Madi is unable to speak because of her deafness, and her only way to communicate with other is by writing words on a tablet. Home schooled by her devoted mother because the tiny town school is unable to adapt to her special learning needs, Madi grows up intelligent, loved, and secure, but very lonely. She is unable to be part of any small groups of children or games because of her deafness and lack of speech. But she learns to understand, write, and read words and she enjoys trips to the dime store to buy small special things. One day on a memorable picnic with her parents, she discovers a small family of tiny human beings hidden in a flower. Madi can somehow hear and understand what these tiny beings say to her, although no one else can. Impulsively, Madi decides to take the tiny family of four (mom and dad, brother and sister) home to live in her beloved, fully furnished doll house. The family pleads with her not to do this, to let them go, but she is sure they will be happy in her dollhouse. It is a curious experiment. The family decides to remain in the doll house for a while because they see it makes Madi happy. They enjoy human food treats and the doll house library. Finally, though they tell Madi it is time for them to return to their home in the woods, for winter is coming. They ask her to take them back where she found them, explaining that though she means well, her doll house is a prison for them. They have other family members missing them and they need to be free. Madi painfully learns that sometimes the best way to keep something you love is to set it free. The small dollhouse family bestow a parting gift on Madi in gratitude. She begins to hear! First the song of birds, the wind in the trees, and later her Mother's voice. In a heart wrenching final scene, Madi is finally able to tell her mother that she loves her. Thus Madi learned her most precious life lesson from the little doll house family she found in the woods and returned to the woods. "Madi's Dollhouse" is a book perhaps meant to be read to a child by a loved adult. It deals with many unusual issues gracefully in a world partly fantasy and partly real. Encouraging empathy for those who are born differently abled, "Madi's Dollhouse" is a fine fantasy reading experienced for children age 7-8 and up.

Sir Princess Petra's Talent: Book Two in The Pen Pieyu Adventures
Diane Mae Robinson, author
Samantha Kickingbird, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center, Mustang, OK 73064
9781625106827, $9.99,

"Sir Princess Petra's Talent" is the second book in the Pen Pieyu Adventures, a fantasy chapter book series for middle grade readers age 9-10 and up. Appealing to both juvenile and older audiences, "Sir Princess Petra's Talent" continues a theme of discovering one's true gifts and identity unclouded by hampering gender or other stereotypes' influences. Sir Princess Petra has already demonstrated her worthiness to be a knight by quieting and befriending the dragon Snarls. However now she must attend Talent School and earn a princess talent certificate to please her parents, who wish she would forget being a knight and behave like a normal princess. Thus begins the voyage of discovery in this second volume of a very funny, creative series. Humor is the secret weapon, unexpected and delightful, that succeeds in enthralling young readers or dragons alike. Brief, action-packed chapters and charming black and white illustrations tell this incredible story of a princess whose secret talent is (surprise!) Storytelling? Who would suspect such an incredible, wildly unlikely thing? Sorry for the spoiler, but readers will find the framing of the story just as surprising as its ending, as all pages vibrate with a freshness of vision that is also hauntingly familiar and believable. "Sir Princess Petra's Talent" will lead all kinds of readers through tangles of wildwood and torrents of intrigue to arrive at an unexpected place in the heart.

Gretchen McNeill
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062118813, $17.99,

3:59 tells of Josie, whose life is coming apart with her parents' divorce and her boyfriend's distance. Things couldn't get much worse - until she begins dreaming of a girl named Jo who is everything Josie wants. It turns out Josie and Jo live in parallel universes that briefly meet every twelve hours at 3:59. And when they switch places for a day, Josie discovers a world even worse than her own. Can she return to her own life, though? A fine story of identity and struggle emerges.

Fortunately, the Milk
Neil Gaiman
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062224071, $14.99,

Fortunately, the Milk receives fun black and white illustrations by Skottie Young as it tells of a father who buys milk, only to see a huge silver disc hovering in the air. And then, something odd happens. And then?? This fun story of time travel and breakfast is anything but predictable, and receives a lively telling by Newbery Medalist author Neil Gaiman. From aliens to strange buttons that aren't called buttons in another universe, this is a zany yet easy reader that will delight those who have moved beyond the picturebook stage.

c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010

David Lubar's THE UNWILLING WITCH: A MONSTERRIFIC TALE (9780765330789, $15.99) tells of something strange happening at Washington Irving Elementary School: kids are turning into monsters. Angie's younger brother is a vampire - but she wasn't prepared to become a witch, herself. Now she has to figure out her powers and what to do with them in this fun tale of a school filled with young monsters with newfound abilities. Any advanced elementary to middle school reader interested in witches and powers will find this a fine read. Kendare Blake's ANTIGODDESS (9780765334435, $17.99) provides the first installment of a new series The Goddess War and uses the mythology of Greek gods with a new twist. Athena is just coming to realize she may be dying - even though she believed herself immortal. Perpetual health may not be part of the picture and as the prospect of a slow miserable death looms, Athena and Hermes embark on a journey to find a solution, which leads them to Cassandra, an ordinary girl who may prove the key in a war which is starting. Mythology blends with action in this fine fantasy.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Snatchabook
Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402290824 $16.99

The Snatchabook: Who's Stealing All the Stories? is a rhyming children's picturebook featuring gentle, anthropomorphic characters brought to life with colorful, sketch-style artwork. A rabbit named Eliza Brown is one of many who suddenly have their bedtime storybooks snatched away - but why? It's up to her to track down the mysterious Snatchabook thief, teach it the errors of its ways, and encourage it to return all the books it stole so that children everywhere can enjoy their bedtime stories again! Highly recommended, especially for read-aloud storytelling before bed.

View from a Zoo
Artie Knapp, author
Sunayana Nair Kanjilal, illustrator
MightyBook Inc.
10924 Grant Road, #255, Houston. TX 77070
9781931308007, $9.95, www,

"View from a Zoo" is an entrancing story about a cat named Thea who has a loving home and plenty of food and attention. Thea longs for adventure and freedom, and she wanders away to seek these one day. Oddly enough, Thea encounters animal companions who are sometimes kind and helpful and sometimes mean and hurtful to her. One amazing experience teaches her that being free and having adventures may not be what she thought it was. A kind city cat named Geno takes Thea to meet her role model, a lion in a zoo named Vern. Instead of bemoaning his captivity behind glass windows, Vern introduces Thea to the freeing joy of reading. Geno also helps her understand and value the love, care and comfort she received from her family. Thea decides being a house cat is not so bad, as long as she can read wonderful books about adventures. "Views from a Zoo" is a fantastic creative story with a timeless message for children who complain of not enough to do: Read books! Charming detailed illustrations show all the contrasting settings of city life indoors and out for Thea and her friends. "Views from a Zoo" is highly recommended for children age 6 and up.

Babies are Noisy
Anne-Marie Harrison
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849054591, $15.95,

BABIES ARE NOISY is a picturebook for big brothers and sisters - including those on the autism spectrum - and provides a simple reader that requires good picturebook skills and covers all the basics of what happens when a baby is on the way. Ages 3 and older receive the basics of what will happen, from beginning trips to clinics to the new sounds and smells an infant will bring to the home. Strategies for coping with these changes are also included, making this a far different - and more effective - approach than most picturebook readers.

David Macaulay
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544102262, $19.99,

CASTLE is a fine standalone full color edition of a 1977 classic from a Caldecott-winning illustrator, and uses his artistic illustrations to combine with text covering the history and art of the castle. It offers a step-by-step plan of a typical fictional castle and provides architectural and historical insights all ages will relish. Cutaways, cartoons and more accompany text suitable for picturebook readers with good reading skills, making this a fine pick for any general elementary-level library.

Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Melissa Stanton's MY PEN PAL, SANTA (9780375869921, $9.99) provides a fine story of Ava, who writes to Santa Claus after the hectic Christmas season s over, with questions about life at the North Pole. This story is told through a series of funny monthly letters and provides a fun story of Santa's life off-season. Jennifer A. Bell provides fun pictures illustrating the discussions in this recommended book for readers with good basic picturebook skills. Maria Modugno's SANTA CLAUS AND THE THREE BEARS (9780061700231, $17.99) receives fun drawings by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer and tells of three bears who return home from a snowy walk only to find havoc in their home. The problem isn't as anticipated, however: for it's an errant and rude Santa who is the perp - and that brings with it a whole new peck of problems! A fun story evolves.

Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999

Meg Kearney's TROUPER (9780545100410, $16.99) receives paintings by E.B. Lewis and is based on a true rescue story as it tells of a three-legged dog who needs a home. It's a dog's point of view that's told in this fine tale of a dog who sees others come and go from the pound, until he receives love from one very special child. David Shannon's BUGS IN MY HAIR! (9780545143134, $17.99) tells of head lice and their unwelcome attributes, but is presented in a fun form that tells how one boy becomes infected. The zany drawings blend fantasy with reality in a story that teaches kids about head lice, but uses a format that is inviting and easy to understand.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

Tammi Sauer and Michael Slack's NUGGET & FANG: FRIENDS FOREVER - OR SNACK TIME (9780547852850, $16.99) tells of a shark's attendance at minnow school and his lessons about food. Fang is a shark with big teeth who is supposed to hunt minnows - and Nugget is his tiny best friend. If Fang learns to follow his nature, how can they still be friends? Easy counting follows two fish friends in a fine story for young picturebook readers. Allen Say's GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY (9780544050501, $17.99) appears in a 20th anniversary edition to provide a Caldecott-winning story to new audiences, and offers a new introduction and audio download by the author as it tells of a family's cross-cultural experience in Japan and America. Family and home are two themes throughout as it tells of the author's love for his two countries and his desire to live in each. Lovely color drawings embellish a simple and compelling saga. C. Roger Mader's LOST CAT (9780547974583, $17.99) tells of cat Slipper, who is accidentally left behind - and is determined to find family. Lovely pastel drawings compliment the cat's search for just the right home in a gentle cat's-view story that will keep young picturebook readers engrossed. Chris Van Allsburg's THE WRECK OF THE ZEPHYR (9780544050051, $18.99) retells the classic story of a boy and his obsession with becoming a sailor and the storm that carries him to a place were boats sail on the wind. Good reading skills will help youngsters enjoy this gentle and lovely story. David Wiesner's MR. WUFFLES! (9780618756612, $17.99) tells of a cat who ignores all the toys people buy for him. He's not being lazy: he's being picky! One day he gets a toy which seems perfect... but it's not really a toy. A zany fantasy emerges in a book of wordless pictures and fun direction.

Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9

Ben Clanton's MOE'S MUSTACHE (9781770495388, $19.99) advocates the idea that everyone - all animals - look better with mustaches. Especially monsters. A series of fun animals and monsters with mustaches provides a zany idea that young readers will find compelling and fun in Moe's Mustache, a simple reader filled with good-sized drawings. Jane Hissey's OLD BEAR (9781770494817, $19.99) provides a lovely picture book limited collector's edition of a classic of her first book, and provides the gentle story of an old bear who has been in the attic for a long time. His friends attempt a rescue and bring him home in this lovely story of how a loved old bear is found again. Picturebook readers will find these easy and fun reads.

Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017

George Shannon's TURKEY TOT (9780823423798, $16.95) features drawings by Jennifer K. Mann and tells of a pig who can't reach the blackberries for a treat. He keeps trying to think of innovative ways to succeed: maybe a balloon will help him float up to the goodies? A fine story of dreams and achievement evolves. David A. Adler's THINGS THAT FLOAT AND THINGS THAT DON'T (9780823428625, $16.95) provides clear text to accompany Anna Raff's fun drawings explaining the basics of flotation and density. Fiction and nonfiction readers alike will appreciate the whimsical, fun experiments any child can do, and will enjoy a book that provides a fun review of elementary science in a way kids can easily understand. Will Hillenbrand's OFF WE GO! A BEAR AND MOLE STORY (9780823425204, $16.95) tells of Mole, who is set to ride his bike with no training wheels. He's ready; but is the rest of the world? Crash! Various mishaps permeate a fun story of friends and bikes.

The Christian Shelf

The God Puzzle
Valerie Ackermann
Higher Life Development Services, Inc.
400 Fontana Circle, Building 1 - Suite 105, Oviedo, FL 32765
c/o Litfuse Publicity
19011 8th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98155
9781939183194 $19.95

The God Puzzle: How the Bible Fits Together to Reveal God as Your Greatest Treasure! is a consumable workbook designed to teach Christian children ages 7-12 about God's bounty. Quotes from the Bible, activities (such as encouraging children to write their thoughts in a prayer letter to God), fill-in-the-blank exercises, and more encourage children to actively take part in learning and understanding the Bible as a single story. The God Puzzle will prove especially helpful to parents as a supplement to Sunday School instruction; in today's modern world, parents must compete against an ever-growing cacophony of outside influences when trying to teach religious values to their children.

And I Love You, God
Ruthann Barrie, author/illustrator
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449778514, $16.99,

"And I Love You, God" is a love-filled letter from God to a child telling about the love and healing power of God and Jesus. Written in simple narrative verse, with simple color illustrations that are child-directed and sweet, "And I Love You, God" is a powerful education and prayer experience for a young Christian child. The life affirming awareness of God's love for each special child radiates through the pages of "And I Love You, God," as does the central core of faith in Christ's ability to love and make whole each unique child. The images of Jesus and children are mostly light-skinned and brown-haired, but this does not significantly detract from the story's central message of acceptance and redemption through faith in Christianity. "And I Love You, God" will appeal to children age 4-5 and older.

Sheila Jaxland, author
Victor Guiza, illustrator
Roald Publishing
c/o Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd., #515, Parker, CO 80134
9780578126029, $12.95,

"Mylo" is the inspired illustrated story of a humble donkey named Mylo who was chosen by God to assist the family of Jesus of Nazareth throughout his mortal life. Ill, alone, and desperate, Mylo is saved from a sad abandonment in the desert by God and encouraged to take heart and walk west to find his new destiny. Mylo is adopted by Jacob, that father of Joseph who was later to marry Mary be a kind human stepfather to the young Jesus. Throughout the life of Jesus, Mylo learns more of loving God and believing in Jesus' gift of salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven. At the end Mylo participates in the joyous resurrection and true understanding of the gift of salvation from Jesus. Scripture quotations from the New Testament enhance the story of Mylo the donkey, and in the end Mylo and all donkeys are honored for faithful, humble service by displaying the marking of a cross on their backs. Inspirational color illustrations and a simple, descriptive narrative make "Mylo" an excellent Christian fiction youth resource for contemplation and study, encouraging spiritual growth.

Adventure Bible Handbook
Robin Schmitt and David Frees, authors/editors
Craig Philips, illustrator
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310725756, $16.99,

The "Adventure Bible Handbook" is a revisitation or reframing of familiar Biblical stories and texts as a "choose your own adventure" comic series with a crew of children as stars searching for their archaeologist father who is mysteriously lost during an expedition to Israel. The kids team up with some unusual tour guides and use RSPs (Really Smart Phones) to time travel back to visit important ancient Biblical historical sites and search for their missing dad. This enables them to experience the events and ideas recorded in the Bible first hand while looking for their dad. A crazy but nearly complete Biblical tour is presented in comic framed narration. A handy Reading Guide to the Bible at the end of the book lists sources chronologically, with biblical references all the way from the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2: 4-25 through Revelation after the birth of Jesus in the New Testament, Revelation 4:1-11. This is an exciting presentation of the Bible for juvenile readers, with many educational maps, sidebars, stories and illustrations. Complete with the Apostles' Creed, Scripture Index, Subject Index, and Image Guide, the "Adventure Bible Handbook" encourages kids of today to take a second look at the Biblical wisdom of the past for the future expansion of their relationship with God. Related games and activities can be found at, www.AdventureBible.Com.

Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook
Hayley & Michael DiMarco, authors
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433680441, $16.99

Companion to the gospel Project for Kids curriculum, the "Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook" presents major Bible stories with special Christ Connections which help connect the life of Christ in Bible stories from Genesis through Revelations. A free Augmented Reality app from B & H can be downloaded to view 146 full color action illustrations plus summary narrations of Biblical stories by Jenna Lucado. All stories and narratives are presented and studied to find the Christ Connections and to answer the Big Picture questions, such as Who is God? What is sin? Who is Jesus? what is the main message of the bible according to Christianity? Answer: "Be good" is not the message of the Bible. "Be saved" is ( p. iii). parents will find the Parent Connection parts very helpful in explaining stories and messages to children. Kids will love the animated stories, ideas and projects that brings their Big picture Interactive Bible Storybook to full life and frequent use.

The Judaic Shelf

A Touch of the High Holidays
Deborah Glazer, author
Seva, illustrator
Merkos Publications
291 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213
9780826600202, $$24.40,

"A Touch of the High Holidays" is a Touch and Feel pasteboard book about Jewish high holy days for preschool children. Each two pages describes a special object associated with a holy day and has a segment of textured, colored fabric/paper that the child can touch and feel to imprint a sense of the object's significance for the holiday. Inserts to touch that evoke sticky honey, bumpy lemon (etrov), the smooth prayerbook, a shiny mirror on a sukkot booth, and a bit of soft velvet like the Torah cover are all included. Children learn to associate these tangible touch and feel experiences with holidays of the month of Tishrei such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. "A Touch of the High Holidays" is a wonderful educational experience for children age 2 and up, teaching them many associated significances to guide them to understanding of the high holidays of Judaism.

Shabbos, Shabbos I Love You!
Naomi Lieberman, author
Avram Zmora, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628704 $10.95

Featuring laminated pages resistant to the rigors of little hands, Shabbos, Shabbos I Love You! is a colorful, rhyming picturebook for Jewish children, about the joys of celebrating the Jewish weekly day of rest. "Shabbos, Shabbos, I love you, / A kiss-the-Torah day // I have a Shabbos party, And friends come here to play." The inviting artwork shows a traditional, loving Jewish family respectfully sharing their day of rest together. Shabbos, Shabbos I Love You! is an inviting book to read aloud, and an excellent choice to help teach little ones about Jewish culture.

The Native American Shelf

Daughters of Two Nations
Peggy Caravantes, author
Carolyn Dee Flores, illustrator
Mountain Press Publishing Co.
1301 Third Street West, Missoula, MT 59801
9780878426102, $14.00,

"Daughters of Two Nations" is a compressed, illustrated collection of excellent thumbnail biographies of nine historically notable women of Native American descent who changed North American history from the 18th century to the present. A great deal of colonial and pre-colonial history of North American tribal cultures is revealed in these condensed biographies. Spanning from 1700 to 2013, here are illustrated chapter biographies of: Mary Musgrove, Empress of the Creeks; Nancy Ward, the Cherokee Rose; Susette La Flesche, Omaha "Bright Eyes;" Emily Pauline Johnson, "The Mohawk Princess;" Mountain Wolf Woman, an honored Ho-Chunk woman; Rosebud Yellow Robe, Lakota Sioux Storyteller; Annie Dodge Wauneka, Navajo Healer; Maria Tallchief, Osage Ballerina; and Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee Chief. Each chapter biography is adorned with a carefully researched, captivating color painting of the subject by noted artist Carolyn Dee Flores. Narratives of these amazing women read like exciting adventure stories, with real blood, tears and hardship embroidering the pages. Each woman overcame unusual obstacles plus the disadvantage of having a foot in two worlds, converted to a double advantage through resourcefulness, wisdom, adaptive skills, and bilingual communication skills, honed through necessity. "Daughters of Two Nations" is both an entertaining reading experience and an eye-opening education in Native American history. Readers age 12 and up will enjoy these biographies as well as adults.

The Military Shelf

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... in the U. S. Army!
Mark Shyres, author/illustrator
Debbie Hefke, illustrator
Wigu Publishing
Barron Ressler, Publisher
321 Third Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
9781939973054, $12.95,

Part of a middle grade vocational series, "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... In the U.S. Army!" is the story of Jake and his choice of a school project to learn more about how to be a soldier in the U. S. Army. Jake needs to investigate his vocational choice, dress up and give a talk about it at school. He starts with a trip with his dad to the Army Surplus store, where he learns something about the history of American soldiers' uniforms. He also learns more about the symbols and insignia telling of the officer or enlisted man's rank. He learns about patches that designate the soldier's unit. He finally chooses an Infantry Brigade arm patch or badge, learning that the infantry are the foot soldiers and make up the backbone of the Army. He learns much more about service medals and ribbons, and marksmanship badges, as well as body armor, weaponry, helmets, gas masks, and army boots. Finally Jake is ready to give his presentation to his class dressed in uniform, helmet, patches and ribbons, and boots, with a gas mask handy. He tells his class all about learning to be a soldier in the U.S. Army, since that is what he has decided he wants to do when he grows up. Photos of actual soldiers in action and color illustrations keep this lively text interesting and arresting for readers age 10 and up.

The Board Book Shelf

Just B - Baby's First Book of Objects
Melody Ashling kloepfer, author
Misty Neyens, illustrator
Privately Published
9780989707206, $9.95,

"Just B" is a board book for children ages 0-3 featuring colorful illustrations of objects beginning with the letter "b," with accompanying printed single word "b" nouns as narrative. "B" is one of the earliest and easiest consonant sounds babies learn to enunciate, so the "Just B" book is all about promoting good early speech skills development. Against solid color background fields of lime green, blue and red are shown clearly identifiable illustrations of such objects as bottle, blanket, bunny, butterfly, bib, bear, blocks, boat, etc. Ending with "bed" and "bye-bye," "Just B" follows a roughly chronological sequence of images and presents an ideal early learning exercise for baby and parent that is fun and captivating. "Just B" is a sturdy pasteboard book whose small square shape invites tiny hands to explore it and page through it. Learning to match pictures of objects with sounds and sequenced activities in a book format is important to stimulate interest in language and verbalizations, as well as understanding of symbols and communication. For parents, caretakers, and teachers of very young children, "Just B" is an ideal beginner's primer of B objects.

The Fiction Shelf

The Four Seasons of Patrick
Susan Hughes, author
Red Deer Press
311 Washington St., Brighton, Massachusetts 02135
9780889955059, $9.95,

"The Four Seasons of Patrick" is a sensitively written early chapter book about a boy's adjustment to a change in his family - first the loss of his mother through death after illness, and second the growing awareness that his father wishes to remarry a new wife with a daughter, Claire, adding to their family unit of three, Patrick, Trevor (his older brother), and Dad. Everyone seems ready to accept this great change, since significant time has passed since the passing Patrick's mom. Everyone, that is, except Patrick. Patrick feels resentful and crowded by the thought of including two new family members into his comfortable family home and unit. His Dad tries to give him time and space to sort out his feelings and to get used to the idea, inviting Claire and Linda over for dinner regularly. Along with his best friend Harry, Patrick finds a wonderful project to help ease his feelings of displacement: Building a tree house just for him and Harry. First they have to search far into a neighboring farm field to find the perfect tree, by an old settlement now deserted. Then they work all summer long on building the tree house. "The Four Seasons of Patrick" actually traces the slow growth of Patrick's acceptance of his new family members, and the strange new notion that his stepsister Claire also has difficulty accepting this change in her life. Carefully written to entertain, challenge, and interest middle grade readers age 8 and up, "The Four Seasons of Patrick" is developmental early chapter reading at its best, encouraging empathy, compassion, and friendship in young readers.

Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999

These new young adult novels stand out from the crowd, offering inviting cover art and story lines that will appeal to leisure readers. Jeff Hirsch's THE DARKEST PATH (9780545512237, $17.99) tells of two teens captured by a group known as the Glorious Path, a militant religion that's taken on what's left of the U.S. government. Cal and his brother seem to have no choices and are on the fast track to becoming deadly secret agents, until Cal befriends a stray dog and makes a move that sets him on a different course in life. A powerful story of a future USA in ruins evolves. Kat Falls' INHUMAN (9780545370998, $17.99) is set in a world after a terrible biological disaster which has caused much of the U.S. to be abandoned to a virus that has turned people into bloodthirsty savages. Lane is used to the wall that separates the worlds and is happy with her safe life - until she learns that there's something she desperately needs on the other side. A fine story of survival and change evolves. Brandon Mull's SPIRIT ANIMALS (9780545522434, $12.99) opens with Book One, WILD BORN, and tells of four children about to discover if they have a spirit animal bond. They each have summoned a beast from legend - and find their very different destinies bound together as they embark on a quest with their new animals to battle dark forces. Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams' TERMINAL (9780545479646, $18.99) tells of Will and Elliot, who tunnel below ground to escape an assault intent on total annihilation of the English only to discover another secret that may explain how the world went bad. Can Elliott make discoveries and decisions that could return her world closer to normal? A fine story evolves. Ann M. Martin's FAMILY TREE: THE LONG WAY HOME (9780545359436, $16.99) continues with Book Two to consider the lives of four girls and four generations in New York City. Dana leads an exciting life with her famous writer father in a busy city - until tragedy strikes and may remove her from her beloved home. This second book focuses on her life and her evolution and creates another riveting story of change and family ties. Allan Woodrow's THE PET WAR (9780545513197, $16.99) tells of pre-teen Otto who wants a dog and his older sister who wants a cat. Their busy working mother wants neither - but both face the same issue: how to pay for their pets. Otto is all set to earn money for his until his sister suggests a competition for raising money and sets off a struggle that challenges Otto to be extraordinary. All are fine leisure reads kids will enjoy.

Random House/Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Five new teen novels provide young adult readers with good plots and solidly interesting protagonists to keep them engaged. Brian Falkner's TASK FORCE: RECON TEAM ANGLE 2 (9780449812990, $17.99) tells of the final alien invasion in Russia, set to destroy the last remnants of humanity. Recon Team Angel may be mankind's only hope - if they can infiltrate the aliens' stronghold and destroy them. Six teens modified to look like aliens have spent years studying their opponents - but can they succeed? A very military story evolves. Kurtis Scaletta's THE WINTER OF THE ROBOTS (9780307931863, $16.99) tells of Jim, who chooses a new partner for the science fair - a girl who advocates studying the new wild otters in the river. But their study goes awry when they discover a hidden junkyard with strange sounds operating in the ruins of a burned-out scientific corporation. Something is living there - and something may be evolving that could prove a great threat. A fine mystery evolves. Sarah Rees Brennan's UNTOLD (9780375870422, $18.99) offers The Lynburn Legacy, set in a sleepy English town that in fact is filled with magic. In the old days the Lynburn family ruled through terror: now they're back and sorcerers are trying to help the town return to old ways. Rob and his sorcerer followers face a dangerous fight in this blend of fantasy and romance. Deborah Hopkinson's THE GREAT TROUBLE (9780375848186, $16.99) tells of Eel, who is an orphan spending his days searching for things to sell in the Thames River. He's being hunted by a dangerous man for a secret he holds close - but despite this he leads a tolerable life until cholera comes to town. Only one doctor suspects its real cause - but it's up to Eel and his best friend to help the doctor find proof before his own is wiped out. Mystery and intrigue blend in a satisfying story. Gina Linko's INDIGO (9780449812839, $17.99) tells of Corrine, a girl with an unusual ability whose touch releases a blinding force that kills her little sister. Corinne's family moves to a town where they have no connections - but still her deadly powers grow. This powerful saga of a girl's struggle to control her abilities makes for a gripping novel. All are fine leisure reading choices.

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

Vikki Wakefield's FRIDAY NEVER LEAVING (9781442486522, $16.99) tells of one Friday Brown, who has never had a home. She and her mom have always lived on the road, running from the past - but when her mother dies of cancer, Friday keeps going in the only lifestyle she knows. Her entry into an abandoned house where street kids are squatting introduces her to a dangerous society of peers where Friday is increasingly endangered. Yet she also forms connections there - and must face the choice of familiar running or staying and fighting. A warm story of family emerges in this inviting plot. Kresley Cole's ENDLESS KNIGHT: THE ARCANA CHRONICLES (9781442436671, $18.99) tells of Evie, who has come into her powers as a Tarot Empress to become part of a battle in which the future of mankind is to be decided. Forced to enter into a dangerous alliance, Evie meets Death and finds her newfound romance with Jack is affecting her involvement with the Endless Knight. Readers of the prior POISON PRINCESS will find this reveals much more of the Arcana world and is a satisfying follow up to the saga.

Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999

Susan Nees' MISSY'S SUPER DUPER ROYAL DELUXE SCHOOL PLAY (9780545496117, $15.99) tells of Missy, who wants to be a star in her class play. Unfortunately missy doesn't even get a speaking part: how can she turn her part into something sensational that will impress everybody? Full-page colorful hand drawings/cartoons illustrate a fun story of a girl's determination to be exceptional. Troy Cummings' THE NOTEBOOK OF DOOM: ATTACK OF THE SHADOW SMASHERS (9780545552981, $15.99) tells of Alexander, who has more monsters to chase with his friends and fellow members of the Super Secret Monster Patrol. But how can his talented group fight shadows - and is one of their members about to become a monster? A satisfying chapter book thriller emerges.

The Activity Shelf

The Secret Forest: Princess Keira's Birthday: Adventure #1
Earl Wayne, author/creator
Jess Perna, illustrator
Picard Choate, Earl Wayne & Linda Jo, CD performers
Earl Wayne Productions
186 Camouflage Lane, Isabella, Missouri 65676
9780615871875, $13.99,

"The Secret Forest" is a great storybook CD packaged with a coloring activity book, poster, and stickers, all following a great story that teaches children of all ages to explore their imaginations while stimulating the growth of courtesy, manners, bravery, and honesty. A multi-sensory project loaded with fun and fabulous color illustrations of quirky characters, "The Secret Forest" and "Princess Keira's Birthday: Adventure #1" promises to entrance, entertain, beguile, and teach children of all ages with an exciting adventure story about the Royal Family, the Blue Witch Queen, the Castle of Light, and Merlin the Black Cat and Marty the purple bird. Hearts will be caught by these charming characters and challenging situations, as kids identify with the quest to rescue the Royal Family and the Secret Forest from the evil Blue Witch Queen. How can a cat and a bird cooperate together to save the day in this unusual fantasy adventure? Kids of all ages will enjoy "The Secret Forest Adventure #1." Sequels will be eagerly awaited.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

A Voyage to Panjikant, Issue 1
Marguerite Dabaie, author/artist
Privately Published

"A Voyage to Panjikant (issue 1)" is a creative graphic novel for juveniles (ages preteen and up) of historical fiction about 7th Century Asian traders who live on the famous Silk Road. Painstaking research by the author/artist and hand drawn and colored authentic illustrations make "A Voyage to Panjikant" both riveting and relevant to juvenile audiences today. One of the creative aspects of the artwork is the use of overlaid patterns and textures plus careful hand coloring drawn from carefully researched resources. Following the fortunes of a Sogdian family on the way from Panjikant to China, the story takes place in a location somewhere in present day Tajikistan and/or Uzbekistan. References to influences of Buddhism, Hindus, Manicheanism, and Christianity are woven into the fabric of the narrative. Young men and women will identify with the trials and tribulations of young Vandak, sentenced to shoveling out camel dung for his failure to remember a single Buddhist teaching despite hours and weeks of study. Young women will identify with the many-braided Upach, sister to Vandak, who actually empathizes with her brother. In a post-narrative comic-illustrated note, the author confesses it was the intricate hairstyles and clothing of the Sogdians that interested her in beginning this project. Look forward to issue #2 promised soon.

The DVD Shelf

The Corrie ten Boom Story
Vision Video
P.O. Box 540
Worcester, PA 19490

Part of the Torchlighters animated DVD series created to spread the word about real-life, young adult Christian heroes and heroines throughout history, The Corrie ten Boom Story tells of a girl and her family who risked everything - and paid a tragic price - to do what was right. Corrie's family were Dutch Christians and skilled at repairing watches. But when the Nazi's invaded and spread their genocidal policies, the ten Booms risked everything to protect Jewish refugees, acquiring extra ration cards to feed them, hiding them in their home, and helping them escape deportation to the Nazi death camps. Their nobility and defiance caused them great suffering when a Dutch informant betrayed them to the Nazis. The family was arrested and imprisoned; Corrie's elderly father died ten days later, and her sister Betsie eventually died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Other members of the family were released, and Corrie herself was given freedom in December of 1944 due to a clerical error. After the war, she created a rehabilitation center in the Netherlands, and continued to work for just causes for as long as her body lent her the strength to do so. A bonus 55-minute documentary and reproducible student handouts in PDF format (with a PDF leader's guide) round out this sobering, true tale about a family who adhered to the highest virtues of Christ's teachings. Highly recommended. 30 min. plus bonus, English/Spanish language and subtitles.

Pokemon BW: Rival Destinies
Viz Media LLC
295 Bay Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Pokemon BW: Rival Destinies collects the first twelve episodes of the Pokemon BW anime (Japanese animations) cartoon series, in which Ash, Pikachu, and his human and pokemon friends travel the land of Unova (the setting of the popular Nintendo DS role-playing games "Pokemon Black", "Pokemon White", and their sequels). Ash has already earned three Unova Gym Badges on his quest to become a Pokemon Master; his journey to collect the rest and prove himself worthy of entering the Tournament will lead him to meet all manner of extraordinary personalities (and pokemon), from the overprotective father of a friend, to a fashion model gym leader whose Pokemon are as elegant as they are fierce, to another run-in with Ash's rival Trip, and much more! Like the rest of the long-running Pokemon cartoon series, Rival Destinies is a family-friendly show, sure to entertain Pokemon fans of all ages. 2 DVDs, 260 min.

Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning
Viz Media LLC
295 Bay Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
$14.99 DVD / $24.98 Blu-ray

Also available in Blu-ray, Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning is an action-packed anime (Japanese animation) adventure on DVD, that both teen and adult fans of the superhero genre will enjoy. The bustling metropolis of Stern Bild depends on sponsored, logo-wearing heroes to protect the people from harm; their fierce battles and courageous adventures are broadcast on the popular HERO TV. When aging veteran hero Wild Tiger (Kotetsu T. Kaburagi) is commanded to partner with neophyte hero Barnaby Brooks Jr., the result is a personality clash of epic proportions! Can these two radically different individuals learn to cooperate? The welfare of the millions of people is at stake, in this larger-than-life adventure enhanced with bonus material (including trailer and commercial collections) and an entire second DVD of special features: footage of the world premiere event, a USTREAM Special Digest, and original production art. Rated TV 14, 2 DVDs, 92 min. feature + 31 min. bonus on DVD 1, 175 min. special features on DVD 2.

Worlds Together series
From the travels of Elmer Hawkes
Master Communications
4480 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 302
Cincinnati, OH, 45242
$29.95 each

Based on the travels of photographer and songwriter Elmer Hawkes, the Worlds Together series is an exciting, educational, and family-friendly DVD set designed to introduce young people to the rich cultures of faraway lands. Each live-action DVD features a brief overview of the history, food, geography, people, and way of life of the spotlighted nation. Public performance rights (specifically, to show the DVDs to any group in schools, public libraries, prisons, or military bases) are included. Colorful and inviting, the Worlds Together series is a choice pick for school and public library children's DVD collections. DVDs in the series currently include Cuba (9781604801576), Colombia (9781604801569), Ecuador (9781604801583), Tibet (9781604801088), East Africa (9781604801071), West Africa (9781604801057), and Ethiopia (9781604801064).

Amanda & Her Alligator!
Words and pictures by Mo Willems
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike
Danbury, CT 06816
0545570336 $59.95

Intended for young viewers ages 4-8, Amanda & Her Alligator! is the animated DVD adaptation of a delightful children's picturebook by Mo Willems, enhanced with a read-along option. Amanda loves to surprise Alligator with books, but sometimes Alligator eats them as a snack! Then one day, Amanda brings home a very special surprise...! An underlying theme about the joy of reading and sharing books enriches this wonderful DVD, perfect for showing during homeroom or as an addition to children's public library collections. 12 minutes, optional English subtitles, closed-captioned.

Sam and the Lucky Money
Karen Chinn, author
Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, illustrators
English narration by Ming-Na Wen
Spanish narration by Melissa Exelberth
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike
Danbury, CT 06816
0545661064 $59.95

Sam y el Dinero de la Suerte ("Sam and the Lucky Money") is a bilingual Spanish/English DVD adaptation of a charming picturebook, ideal for young viewers ages 3-8. Young Sam has received a gift of money in lucky red envelopes, but what is the best way to spend it? Festive color artwork enhances this immersive glimpse into Chinese culture, with an important theme about making responsible decisions. Highly recommended especially for elementary school and public library children's DVD collections. 11 minutes, bilingual English/Spanish soundtrack and subtitle options, closed-captioned.

The Multimedia Shelf

Seasons: Rhymes in Time
Words and music by Michael DeWall and Peter Elman
Illustrations by Sara Kahn
Chillin' Crow Books
9780985771102 $16.95

Seasons: Rhymes in Time is a children's picturebook of nine original song-poems celebrating the four seasons, along with a music CD of the nine songs. Evocative, thematic color illustrations with a touch of abstraction decorate the song-poems, and the final pages of the book are devoted to simple sheet music. A joy to share with young ones, especially if the parent, child, or both have a dash of talent for music! "Somewhere It's Snowing": Somewhere it's snowing / A chilly wind's a-blowing / And the fire's growing warm // Somewhere the moonlight / Shines upon a cold night / And the fire's growing warm // Fall has come and gone / Ready for a winter song / There's cold in the air // Short days, longer nights / Shadows dance in pale moonlight / Dark winter is here...

The Biography Shelf

Jorge from Argentina, The Story of Pope Francis for Children
Marlyn Monge, FSP, and Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, authors
Diana Kizlauskas, illustrator
Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, OFM Cap., introduction
Pauline Books and Media
50 Saint Pauls Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
9780819840066, $8.95,

"Jorge From Argentina" is an illustrated children's biography of Pope Francis, elected March 12, 2013. Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina of Italian Argentinean parents, humble Jorge became a Catholic Father and later Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, always faithful to championing causes to help the poor, ordinary people. "Jorge From Argentina" tells his life story in simple narrative style, with realistic colored illustrations for effect and interest. Told in 13 brief but packed chapters, "Jorge From Argentina" celebrates the milestones and highlights of an amazing life's path that led to becoming the first Pope to be named Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi. "Jorge From Argentina" is suitable and appealing biographical reading for children age 7-8 and up.

Making Contact!
Monica Kulling
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770493780, $17.95,

MAKING CONTACT! MARCONI GOES WIRELESS tells of one Guglielmo Marconi, who loves science and invention and grew up captivated by the telegraph machine. He was twenty when he realized nobody had found a way to use radio waves to send wireless messages - and decided to remedy this problem. Richard Rudnicki's illustrations pairs with a lively text to provide a fine biography to youngsters with good picturebook reading skills.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999

Samantha Seiple's BYRD & IGLOO: A POLAR ADVENTURE (9780545562768, $18.99) provides middle school readers with a fine biography of an adventurous polar explorer and aviator who wants to be the first person to fly a plane over both North and South poles. Igloo is his little dog - and together they traveled the world. This follows both their stories for the first time and provides a captivating account young adults and preteens will find compelling. James L. Swanson's "THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT": THE ASSASSINATION OF JOHN F. KENNEDY (9780545490078, $18.99) provides a vivid, moment-by-moment account of the day the President was killed, blending together the stories of his assassin and the president as he recreates four days of events. Black and white photos throughout accompany stories from eyewitnesses, newspaper and official reports, and more - all brought together in a vivid chronicle that is a pick for any mature teen and many an adult interested in close inspection of all the evidence surrounding Kennedy's assassination.

The Autism Shelf

The Asperkid's Not-Your-Average-Coloring-Book
Jennifer Cook O'Toole, artist/author/editor
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market St., Ste. 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849059589, $12.95,

"The Asperkid's Not-Your-Average-Coloring-Book" is described as a unique coloring book created "For Aspies By Aspies." Black and white intricately embellished illustrations help cover subject areas including science, nature, history, the art of math, myth and fantasy, and "Celebrating the Awesomeness." The last topic refers to the vast array of talents and abilities exhibited by persons found within the Asperger's spectrum. Names of contributors are listed in the Credits page at the end, along with credits for three additional titles by the same author, including "Asperkids (9781849059022)," "The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules (9781849059152)," and "The Asperkid's Launch Pad (9780849059312)." The author has Asperger's syndrome, is married to someone with Asperger's, and has three children with Asperger's Syndrome. A proportion of royalties for "The Asperkid's Not-Your-Average-Coloring Book" will be donated to Tectonic Theater Project's Square Peg Round Hole, a play about life on the Autism spectrum. The quality of artwork is truly exceptional in this unusual educational coloring book.

The Environmental Shelf

Fiddleheads to Fir Trees
Joanne Linden, author
Laurie Caple, illustrator
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399
Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426065 $12.00

Featuring beautiful, accurate watercolor illustrations by scientifically trained artist Laurie Caple, Fiddleheads to Fir Trees: Leaves in All Seasons is a picturebook that teaches young readers about the diversity of shapes and sizes that the leaves of different plans come in. Plants are organized by season, and the educational text encourages the reader to think and learn about the wonderful resilience of nature. "While the prickles keep animals from eating the plant, the thistle's beautiful lavender flowers attract butterflies with their nectar. Seed-loving birds, such as goldfinches and pine siskins, eat thistle seeds while perching carefully among the spines." An excellent addition to public or early grade school library nature shelves.

The Secret Pool
Kimberly Ridley, author
Rebekah Raye, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Ave.
Gardiner, ME 04345
9780884483397 $16.95

Science writer Kim Ridley presents The Secret Pool, a captivating picturebook written to encourage an appreciation for nature's wonders in young people. Readers learn about vernal pools (often mistaken for puddles in the woods), which are amazing sources of life, fostering an extraordinary range of animals. The main story is from the perspective of the vernal pool itself, punctuated by educational sidebars about the animals that depend on vernal pools to survive and reproduce. "Gone are the salamanders, along with the frogs. They've returned to dry land and their mossy bogs. But what have they left behind? Hundreds of slippery, slimy surprise packages. Now I'm all lumpy and bumpy with clumps of their eggs." Rebekah Raye's soft, realistic color illustrations add a wondrous touch to this fascinating nature book.

Lighthouses and Buoys of the Chesapeake
Barbara Lorton, author/illustrator
Kaye Duncan, photographer
Abbott Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781458210555, $16.99,

"Lighthouses and Buoys of the Chesapeake" is a Sidney Seagull series nature book for children of elementary school age. Covering the history of many historic lighthouses and buoys of Chesapeake Bay, this story, subtitled "Sidney Seagull 'Marks,'" gives a lighthouse historical narrative from an irreverent seagulls point of view. Like Sidney, other laughing seagulls like the lighthouses because they are convenient pooping sites or good places for "marks." Actual color photos of five Chesapeake Bay lighthouses are featured, along with author illustrations of other Bay features, such as the Day Markers, and winking light buoys. When a raucous gull suggests that the gulls start a 'Get Rid of Useless Day Markers' protest, Sidney tells the story of the Legend of the Steadfast Kay Marker, about a humble hero who managed to help guide a tanker safely to port during a destructive storm. "Lighthouses and Buoys of the Chesapeake" is a delightful thumbnail sketch of picturesque monuments to nautical history in the Chesapeake Bay area.

The Health Shelf

Toilet Paper Flowers: A Story for Children About Crohn's Disease
Frank J. Sileo, PhD, author
Martha Gradisher, illustrator
Health Press N A Inc.
P.O. Box 37470, Albuquerque, NM 87176
9780929173473, $14.95,

Written by a clinical psychologist who has struggled with living with Crohn's disease, "Toilet Paper Flowers" is a nonthreatening child-oriented narrative that tells how one girl explains to a friend what it means for her to live with Crohn's disease as a child. Created to help the 10 percent of over 140,000 estimated people affected by this disease in America, "Toilet Paper Flowers" presents a gentle yet probing picture of the daily life of a child affected by the symptoms of this chronic illness. Despite the discouraging prognosis and the knowledge that there is not a cure for Crohn's Disease, the message of "Toilet Paper Flowers" is basically upbeat and empowering, encouraging kids and adults to take charge of their bodies and responsibility for their health by arming themselves with as much accurate information as possible and then taking careful steps to maintain healthy plateaus and ease symptoms. In addition, "Toilet Paper Flowers" does much to address and explain the psychological aspects of dealing with this disease, particularly feelings of guilt or depression or sadness. Gentle pastel colored cartoon illustrations lighten the pages, and the central image of toilet paper flowers reinforces the idea that even a child can make positive efforts to ameliorate all the physical and mental effects of the symptoms of Chron's. Julia tells Nikki about the flowers, saying: "They make me happy. They also remind me to take good care of myself and to keep hopeful that they will find a cure for this disease. White is the color of hope....I am going to fight this disease and these flowers remind me never to give up the fight and always to have hope." "Toilet Paper Flowers" is indeed a fine resource for kids with Crohn's Disease and their parents and significant others as well.

The Geography Shelf

Ruby Cavanaugh Koerper
Someday Books
9781492855125, $10.00,

Antarctica is Earth's oldest and southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 5.4 million sq mi, it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula. Now children can get a feeling for what Antarctica is like with Ruby Koerper's "Antarctica: A Someday Book". A simple text is enhanced by color photos that 'Grandma Ruby' took while visiting Antarctica, "Antarctica: A Someday Book" is highly recommended as being informative, entertaining, and thoroughly 'kid friendly'!

The Dinosaur Shelf

The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs
Dr. Robert T. Bakker
Golden Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375859588, $16.99,

The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs comes from a paleontologist, is illustrated by fellow paleontologist Luis V. Rey, and provides an oversized picturebook about dinosaurs for ages 3-7. This inviting book with its eye-catching big dinosaur cover considers all the creatures that lived during the reign of the dinosaurs, and includes maps and color illustrations on nearly every page. Good picturebook reading skills (or parental assistance) will lend to an appreciation of the qualities of these creatures.

Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999

Jerry Pallotta's DINOSAUR CHRISTMAS (9780545433600, $12.99) receives fun drawings by Howard McWilliam and considers who could have pulled Santa's sleigh before the reindeer? There's only one answer - and it's a hilarious one. As Santa reviews the pros and cons of various dinosaurs, a gorgeous presentation evolves that families will find simply hilarious - and refreshingly unique! Jane Yolen and Mark Teague's HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY I'M MAD? (9780545143158, $16.99) provides a fine collection of dinosaur antics that tells what happens when little dinos get angry and misbehave. And how does a little dinosaur in a rage calm down? A fun account of loving parents and handling tantrums evolves in a fine story kids will understand.

The Math Shelf

Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert
Cindy Neuschwander, author
Wayne Geehan, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
9781570911989 $16.95

Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert is part of Charlesbridge Publishing's "Math Adventure" picturebook series, designed to teach young people about basic mathematical concepts in an entertaining and memorable way. When Sir Cumference and Lady Di need a baker to create a special dessert for the Harvest Faire, two applicants each have different ways of tackling the problem. One specializes in pies, another in (bar) cookies, and they each have different ways of displaying the relative popularity of their sweet treats - a pie chart and a bar graph! Beneath the playful, punny story is a basic lesson on how to read pie charts and bar graphs. Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert is an excellent choice for school and library picturebook shelves!

The Science Shelf

The Great Human Journey
Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle and Patricia J. Wynne
Bunker Hill Publishing Inc.
285 River Road
Piermont, NH 03779
9781593731489 $18.95

The Great Human Journey: Around the World in 22 Million Days is an educational book based on the Halls of the American Museum of Natural History, created to teach young adults about how human beings spread out of Africa and settled all over the world. Cartoon mice Wallace and Darwin invite readers to follow the amazing evidence of history, as discovered in archaeological sites, or studies of human DNA (as well as the DNA of creatures that traveled with humans, such as lice or rats!). "Human beings got to Europe about 40,000 years ago, arriving from the east after making their way out of Africa perhaps ten thousand years earlier. The early Europeans, often known as Cro-Magnons, left behind a really amazing record of creativity and artistic achievement. They painted powerful animal and geometrical images in caves, they decorated the handles of tools, they played music on bone flutes, and they kept records by engraving on flat plaques of bone and antler." Packed with full-color illustrations from cover to cover, The Great Human Journey is highly recommended especially for grade school and public library children's science and natural history collections.

The Reference Shelf

The World Almanac for Kids 2014
World Almanac Books
c/o Infobase Learning
132 West 31st Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10001
9781600571763 $24.95

Now updated in a 2014 edition with new material about animal statistics, modern technology, homework help, and much more, The World Almanac for Kids remains a superb resource of amazing facts that will stimulate young minds in grade school and up. Packed with full-color photography on every page, The World Almanac for Kids is an absolute "must-have" for school and public library children's collections. "Around 100 B.C., only the Chinese know how to make silk. To get this light, comfortable material, Europeans send fortunes in glass, gold, jade, and other items to China. The exchanges between Europeans and Chinese create one of the greatest trading routes in history - the Silk Road. Chinese inventions such as paper and gunpowder are also spread via the Silk Road."

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
Noel Daniel, editor
107 Greene Street
New York, NY 10012
9783836526753 $39.99

The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen is a hardcover omnibus compilation of Anderson's most widely known and beloved classic fairy tales, illustrated with reproductions of timeless color art from 1840 through 1980. In addition to a brief introduction to the collection as a whole, each fairy tale is prefaced by a paragraph placing it in context with Andersen's life, events of the time, trends in literature, or revealing its influence on modern-day fantasy. An excerpt from one such paragraph muses, "In the Snow Queen's icy realm, hearts are frozen, social interaction is nil, family ties are broken - in short, love and self-awareness totally cease. Andersen seems to be asking the reader, how do we open ourselves to knowledge of the world without losing sight of who we are (remaining, as he puts it, 'children at heart')?" Readers of all ages will enjoy these timeless tales, even as many generations before have done. Highly recommended, especially for public library collections.

The Cookbook Shelf

A to Z Cookbook for Kids
Jacque Wick
Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South
Springville, Utah 84663
9781462112135 $15.99

A to Z Cookbook for Kids is a hardcover collection of twenty-six delicious recipes that young people can learn to make, although adult supervision is strongly recommended, especially when the instructions involve sharp knives or hot ovens. Most of the recipes are nutritious (though a few are for delectable desserts), and make excellent additions to a child's meal plan. Though the recipes are ordered A to Z, a final page sorts them by difficulty, and an index allows for quick and easy lookup. Full-color photographs, numbered to correspond to the step-by-step instructions, enhance this superb beginner's cookbook, ideal for teaching little ones that making food can be fun!

The Bilingual Shelf

Songs from a Journey with a Parrot
Magdeleine Lerasle & Paul Mindy
Aurelia Fronty, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
9782923163994 $16.95,

The collaborative work of Magdeleine Lerasle and Paul Mindy, "Songs from a Journey with a Parrot: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from Portugal and Brazil" is a 52 page, beautifully illustrated, bilingual (Portuguese and English) compendium comprised of thirty lullabies and nursery rhymes from Brazil and Portugal. Enhanced with an accompanying CD featuring flawless performances of these lullabies using indigenous acoustic instruments and performed by a talented group of adults and children, "Songs from a Journey with a Parrot" is especially recommended for children ages 2 through 7 -- and would make an enduringly popular addition to preschool, kindergarten, and community library collections!

The Art Shelf

Art Today!
Jane Wolfgang
Crystal Productions
1812 Johns Drive
Glenview, IL 60025-1581
9781562907068 $14.95

Art Today! is an upbeat children's picturebook about a kindergarten boy on his first day of art class. Billy isn't sure what art is about, but his teacher explains to him what they'll do - though sometimes his thoughts put their own spin on the idea! "'We will draw!' / Billy asked, 'What if I can't do that?' / 'I will teach you!' said Mrs. Magenta / Billy thought, 'OK!'" (Enlivening the simple exchange are simple color illustrations of Mrs. Magenta thinking about how she will show her students to use pencils and paper - and Billy thinking about how he could draw on the classroom wall with crayons!) Delightfully funny from cover to cover, Art Today! is an especially effective book to prepare young children to look forward to art class, highly recommended especially for kindergarten picturebook collections.

Books in Series

Tracy Brown, author
Rosen Publishing
29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010
9781448894505, $33.25,

"Cyberbullying: Online Safety" is an excellent text resource from the Helpline Teen Issues and Answers series. Information on the definition of cyberbullying, profiles of a bully, the impact of cyberbullying, how to protect yourself from cyberbullying, and cyberbullying and the law is concisely presented, with frequent color photos to demonstrate examples. Informative color coded sidebars give helpful techniques and resources for self protection against cyberbullying, including a suggested pledge by an organization called STOP Cyberbullying: "If I witness cyberbullying, I will not join in, nor will I stand by idly. I realize that bullies thrive on the support and attention of bystanders. I promise I will not support cyberbullies. I will stand up for what is right and report cyberbullying to the appropriate people. I promise to be aware of what I say and do on line, how my actions impact others, and will not become a cyberbully. I promise to use good 'digital hygiene' by using strong passwords and not sharing them. I will regularly update and use good virus and malware protection. I will protect my computer from malicious code and hackers (p. 61)" In addition a helpful glossary of terms, suggestions for more information and further reading, and bibliography provide supportive resources and direction. "Cyberbullying: Online Safety" is an excellent self-care resource and should be required reading for all teens. Additional titles from the Helpline Teen Issues and Answers series that are also highly recommended include: "Cybercitizenship: Online Rights and Responsibilities" (9781448894529, $33.25) by Jennifer Landau, "Self-Injury and Cutting: Stopping the Pain" (9781448894482, $33.25) by John M. Shea, MD, "Body Piercing and Tattooing: Making Smart Choices" (9781448894512, $33.25) by Robert Z. Cohen, "When A Friend or Loved One Dies: Grieving, Mourning, and Healing" (9781448894475, $33.25) by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, and "Rape and Sexual Assault: Healing and Recovery" (9781448894499, $33.25) by Rebecca T. Klein.

Plant Fossils: If These Fossils Could Talk
Natalie Hyde, author
Crabtree Publishing Co.
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10118
9780778712640, $20.70,

"Plant Fossils" is an exciting title in a new juvenile series about paleobotany and paleontology: analyzing plant fossils to discover details about conditions on Earth millions of years ago. Written for an audience of children ages 8-11, "Plant Fossils" uses beautifully detailed color photos and provocative questions to explore plant fossil formation, excavation, and study. Fact File sidebars contain fascinating details about plant fossil study and history, and Noteworthy Names sidebars provide biographical sketches of noted paleontologists and their contributions. A related activity is the Amber Bug Brittle candy making project, while the glossary and added resources suggested in Further Reading and Websites complete the stimulating package. "Plant Fossils" is sure to generate continued interest in related paleobotany studies for kids in middle grades. Also highly recommended from the series If These Fossils Could Talk are the following titles by the same author: "Animal Fossils (9780778712619, $20.70)," "Dinosaur Fossils (9780778712626, $20.70)," and "Human Fossils (9780778712633, $20.70)."

Burton Helps Dixie Duck: Book 5
V. A. Boeholt, author
Nathaniel P. Jensen, illustrator
Five Star Publications
PO Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246,
9781589852044, $11.95,

Fifth in the popular and successful children's series Friendship Tales from the Farm, "Burton Helps Dixie Duck" is a story of how Burton the Scarecrow and his farm friends help Dixie Duck find her seven precious lost duckling eggs. A tale of the strength of helpful cooperation, "Burton Helps Dixie Duck" is not just about how Burton helps Dixie, but about how a chain of farm friends all constitute the best help together. What one individual could not accomplish alone, many hands can do together .Burton makes sure to thank his whole team for their helpful efforts on Dixie's behalf. Finally, Dixie's ducklings hatch and grow with her nurturing supervision. She introduces the seven ducklings to Burton, naming them Burton 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7! He is honored to share his name with such beautiful ducklings. After enjoying the story, the book has helpful pages labeled Resource Guide for Parents, Teachers, & Librarians, All About Ducks, Reader & Listener Tips, Ideas for Activities, Reader & Listener Connecting Points, Learn More Online, and a Glossary of story words and story meanings. Throughout the story narration, Burton is highlighted in red and Farmer Green is highlighted in green, for understanding and continuity. "Burton Helps Dixie Duck" is ideal for teaching children age 6 and up about tolerance, cooperation, compassion, counting, naming days of the week, farm life, and much more.

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Norway
Carole P. Roman, author/illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481979948, $11.99,

Part of an entertaining juvenile nonfiction series under the same title (minus "Norway"), "If You Were Me and Lived in... Norway" is a joyous look through a child's gaze at life in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Showcasing trips to the Kirkenes Snowhotel, or dogsledding, snowmobiling or ice fishing, the excitement of the varied itinerary never dulls or fades. Watching the Northern Lights, eating delicious smorbrod or waffles with cream, skiing, and of course, celebrating Syttend Mai, Norwegian Independence Day on May 17 is part of the great cultural experience of exploring life in Norway. All children attend skole, or school and a complete list of Norwegian vocabulary words and names for pronunciation are listed at the end. Children age 8 and up will enjoy this charming cultural education series.

Quinn Hawk Series
Jim Pugmire
4900 LaCross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
Paperback: $9.95; Kindle $0.99;

Jim Pugmire's Quinn Hawk series provides young readers with three outstanding historical novels featuring the adventures of a teenage boy who was born the son of the former Duke of Eastcastle but must make his own way through a troubled world of intrigue, deceit, and danger. The three deftly crafted novels set in a medieval era include "The Bishop of Canton" (9781492321811, $292 pp); "The Baron Of Eastcastle" (9781492323921, 320 pp); and "The King Of Dalatia" (9781492324003, 387 pp). Author Jim Pugmire has a positive knack for engaging his young readers with believable characters in a deftly woven, complex, unpredictable story line that is solid entertainment from beginning to end. This outstanding trilogy is very highly recommended for school and community library historical fiction collections.

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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