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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 12 December 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Christmas Shelf Sports Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Picturebook Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Board Book Shelf ABC Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Buddhist Shelf Judaic Shelf Christian Shelf
Poetry Shelf Biography Shelf Fiction Shelf
Education Shelf Technology Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Activity Shelf Environmental Shelf
Multimedia Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Mythology Shelf
Dance Shelf American History Shelf Multicultural Shelf
Autism Shelf Books in Series  

Donovan's Bookshelf

Scarlet and the Keepers of Light
Brandon Charles West
Manor Minor Press
2064 Cedar Lane Road, Palmyra VA 22963
9781942024033 $12.99 246pages

If your puppy suddenly grew to become twice the size of the biggest dog and began talking, wouldn't you suspect something was wrong? And if you stumbled on a prophecy that indicated that you were to play a key role in a bigger picture, what would you do?

Scarlet and the Keepers of Light presents just such a dilemma when Scarlet Hopewell discovers that her world is anything but ordinary and predictable. Her perception of reality vastly expands when the barriers between magical and non-magical worlds is breached - but that's not the end of it; it's the beginning of a very dangerous game indeed - one that's centered around Scarlet's decisions and choices.

Be forewarned: there are more books coming - and so, as usual with series titles, there is no neat wrap-up of events at the book's end. Don't let this warning prevent you from embarking on its amazing journey, however: as with any good slice of cake, the promise of more just makes the first bite sweeter.

What makes this so enticing is that Scarlet and the Keepers of Light is all about the 'bigger picture', in so many ways. Scarlet had no idea the world was so large, or that her place in it was so special. She's about to find out - and, so is the reader.

Now, this is directed to a younger audience of pre-teen into teen readers. But the inclusion of many insights into her family and influences are what sets Scarlet and the Keepers of Light apart from your usual light fantasy read - and this is an essential ingredient: without it, Scarlet would be just another "child goes on epic quest' read. With this added flavor, it's much more.

One doesn't ordinarily anticipate the inclusion of ethical and social concerns in a quest directed at young adult and preteen audiences. One doesn't ordinarily anticipate the sweetness of world-expanding vision in a light-sounding story about falling into another reality. And one doesn't tend to believe that the first bite of cake will prove so satisfying that it should be devoured slowly, lest the pleasure end too soon.

It's a fairytale and the story of a young protagonist faced with impossible worldviews and changes. It's about a family in turmoil. It's about finding your path through danger and out the other side. And don't expect light reading, here: there are specific notes on the psychology and interactions between families and protagonists which add depth and insight, tying together the entire odyssey: "Visions of his mother filled his mind, and the creature faded away. Now she was all he could see. She was smiling at him, trying to act happy and brave, but he knew better. She was lonely. It was her people's way to accept fate and make peace with it, but she couldn't accept such a life for her son. She had taken him and run, and in rebelling against her people's beliefs, she'd lost the man she loved."

It's these injections of insight and psychological connection that succeed in adding a layer of depth to the story that elevates it beyond a mere children's fantasy adventure story.

As Scarlet learns how to communicate with plants and nature, how to confront rising evil, and the best way to enact positive change, so readers of all ages journey forth with her as she discovers the source of power, good, and evil: "Because you can't speak to what isn't there. You create your light from within you, you said, but it is not so with nature. I cannot create the crops - I can only ask them to grow or move or spread. I can only ask the insects and the birds to carry seeds to fertile soil. I cannot create the seeds or the birds. Do you understand?"

The result is an engrossing saga packed with insight and adventure but, most of all, grounded firmly in the earth of family ties and nature. And this is Scarlet and the Keepers of Light's greatest asset: one that will reach beyond its intended young audience into adult circles.

The Magic of the Clam Flats
Jim Wolf
Fiddler Books
P.O. Box 823, Yarmouthport, MA 02675
9780966924022 56 Pages $5.99

Anne Rosen's fine drawings deftly illustrate Irene Paine's written adaptation of Jim Wolf's oral story, which is steeped in Cape Cod traditions and atmosphere, and is set in the 1930s Depression years. Be prepared for a fine picture book story capturing this setting; but also be forewarned: children should have either good reading skills to absorb paragraphs of detail, or parental read-aloud assistance as they explore the world of the clam flats and why it was an oasis during the Depression years.

Eight-year-old Nate lives in Wellfleet, and has two younger sisters and two even younger brothers. His father is a fisherman, carpenter and clam digger and his mother is in charge of everything else. Every morning Dad heads off to fish and clam and the family does well - until one day a nor'easter storm sneaks up on them all and the father is lost at sea.

Care is taken to explain the scenario fully: weather prediction in those days, for example, was not as reliable as today; and as the family struggles, Nate is called upon to fill much of his father's clamming duties.

Everything seems predictable in the first chapter; but the glory of The Magic of the Clam Flats is that there is, indeed, magic in the air, and it assumes the unlikely form of a talking crab who takes a liking to Nate and engages him in a magical secret that only takes one word to spring to life.

As Nate and his new friend Pokey make some amazing discoveries together, hope shines forth and offers promise not only for Nate's family, but for the entire Cape. Throughout his experiences, the ocean atmosphere and setting of Cape Cod are richly presented, much like a steaming bowl of clam chowder on a cold day.

The lively tone and unexpected turns of story make for a satisfyingly unpredictable tale that will especially attract any reader who enjoys a good magic story backed by strong characters and a dose of realism. But ONLY a dose: the magic is a delightful injection of whimsy and ultimately dictates Nate's choices and perspective, carrying readers upon a tide of adventure and insights that will delight pre-schoolers, early readers, and parents who read aloud to their children.

Savanna's Treasure
C. Behrens
Privately Published
9780692295199 $6.99 132 pages 295199

Savanna's Treasure features lovely black and white line drawings by Kim Johnson and offers a story in some ways classic for children's books, covering a friendship between animals and people who discover that their unlikely association can change their world.

While the story line may be classic for a young audience, it's, in fact, a different approach because such tales are usually limited to the very simple picture book age group - and Savanna's Treasure is directed to those beyond the easy reader stage.

Lessons on friendship, perseverance, endurance, and handling adversity and surprises abound as the animals face down everything from poachers to pirates. Pair an overall powerful story line with fine drawings and you have a winning tale.

Be forewarned, Savanna's Treasure is about surviving adversity - and being an animal on the African plane, this includes a degree of violence - tastefully depicted, but present nonetheless: "...her grammy was struggling to get up while two poachers tried to remove her tusks."

These darker moments are more than offset by lovely images: "...two of the elephants lifted their trunks in her direction. Bahiti touched their trunks gently. "If you breathe into their trunks, they'll remember your scent forever," Madame Ardhi told the ranger."

As with any read (but especially true in a children's book), it's the protagonists that capture attention - and C. Behrens does a fine job of creating personable creatures that are engaging and fun.

The 'glue' of any story is how its characters are depicted, how they react to one another, and how they bond: Savanna's Treasure is all about these connections and how they play out in the world, and this lends to a fine read that takes an adventure story format and weaves it into something far greater than simple entertainment. Kids with good reading skills (likely, in grades 2-4) will relish this enchanting saga.

The Christmas Shelf

Stars, Stockings & Shepherds
Shersta Chabot, author
Corey Egbert, illustrator
Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South
Springville, Utah 84663
9781462114627 $14.99

Stars, Stockings & Shepherds is a colorful picturebook about the Christian meanings behind the symbols for Christmas. Each page has a different example of a common Christmas icon, and a brief summary of what it represents. "Candy Canes: The shape of a candy can looks like the shape of a shepherd's staff. A shepherd's staff has a crook on one end, which the shepherd can use to help guide lost sheep back to the safety of the flock. In the scriptures, Jesus is compared to a shepherd, searching for those who are lost and gently leading them to safety. The candy cane is a symbol of the love of Jesus, our Shepherd, who was born to show us the way to get back home to heaven." Gentle color illustrations add the perfect touch to this educational picturebook, especially recommended for Sundy School libraries.

Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrations by Helen Cann
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854193 $16.00

Manger is a picturebook anthology of poems by various authors, each imagining what different animals would have said to the infant Jesus Christ if they could have spoken to him on the very first Christmas Eve. Captivating color illustrations of each animal complement the humble poems. "Horse: On Christmas Eve, the night unique, / they say we beasts find tongues to speak // Yet at this crib I am so stirred / that, staring, I can say no word." Highly recommended.

The Christmas Tree Elf
Valentine D'Arcy Sheldon
The Valentine Sheldon Company
c/o SoCal Public Relations
8697C La Mesa Blvd #204, La Mesa, CA 91942
9780991038305 $17.95 hc / $7.95 ebook

The Christmas Tree Elf is an award-winning children's picturebook featuring holiday icons, and with a message of compassion and responsibility. Many years ago, Santa learned that Mrs. Claus wanted a Christmas tree to decorate. Santa brought home the first indoor Christmas tree, but the Claus family was so busy preparing for Christmas that they forgot to water it properly. A mysterious, magical little elf with a blinking red hat appears just in time to remind Santa and Mrs. Claus that the tree, like all living things, needs care and attention. "'You didn't give it enough water, so its branches dried out,' the tiny man continued. 'It could have burned your whole house down!'" The kind elf's reminder saves Christmas, in this heartwarming storybook with strikingly beautiful color illustrations. The Christmas Tree Elf is a perfect aid for getting in the holiday mood!

Monster Needs a Christmas Tree
Paul Czajak, author
Wndy Grieb, illustrator
1201 Currie Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
9781938063466 $16.95

Monster Needs a Christmas Tree is a wonderful, rhyming picturebook about a boy and his furry blue monster friend, as they enjoy the winter season and eagerly anticipate Christmas. On Christmas Eve they go sledding, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, and search for just the right evergreen to celebrate Christmas Day. Monster Needs a Christmas Tree ends with Monster and boy getting the perfect Christmas present - a spunky little puppy! Charming, cartoony illustrations add just the right touch to this delightful storybook.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas
William Thomas Thach
Bowrider Press
28961 Malibu Rancho Road, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
9780982566312, $24.00, 32pp,

One Christmas, all the world's children are bad--all except one! Molly must save the holiday by reminding Santa of the true meaning of Christmas. William Thomas Thach's delightful picturebook "The Girl Who Saved Christmas" is heartwarming children's tale that is steeped in tradition, and yet sparklingly new. Featuring a red velvet cover, gold reading ribbon, and a privacy clasp, and with the narrative in rhyming verse, "The Girl Who Saved Christmas" is a pure delight from first page to last. If you only have time for one new Christmas book this season, make it "The Girl Who Saved Christmas"!

Memoirs of an Elf
Devin Scillian, author
Tim Bowers, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585369102 $16.99

Also available as an ebook, Memoirs of an Elf is a whimsical children's picturebook from the perspective of a hardworking Christmas elf. Christmas Eve is the busiest time of year; assisting Santa is no small task. But this year has an unexpected surprise, when Santa's sleigh accidentally returns with a stowaway puppy! Can the lovable pup Tugboat be reunited with his family in time to celebrate Christmas Day? Memoirs of an Elf is a fun read-aloud story for parents and children to share, complemented by cartoony yet warmhearted artwork. Also highly recommended are the author's previous picturebooks, "Memoirs of a Goldfish" (9781585365074, $15.95) and "Memoirs of a Hamster" (9781585368310, $15.99).

Christmas Stable
Juliet David, author
Sophie Hanton, illustrator
Candle Book
c/o Lion Hudson
Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road
Oxford OX2 8DR, England
9781781281222, $11.99,

"Christmas Stable" is a charming, sturdy, colored cardboard- paged simple retelling of the Nativity that has stellar illustrations and a fantastic final foldout, expanded, two-page scene of the Nativity, Jesus born in the stable in Bethlehem. Cheerful camels and oxen, happy angels singing, and optimistic figures of Mary and Joseph, wise men and shepherds light the gentle words that tell the familiar story of the beginning of Christianity. Young children age three and up will love this accessible copy of the Christmas story which includes each precious detail.

Chester's Christmas List
Ann Page, author
Bong Redila, illustrator
Floating Raft Press
9780989014120, $9.99,

"Chester's Christmas List" is an excellent holiday book for children that uses poetry, humor, dreams, and a magic spark of human kindness to transcend acquisitiveness (or greed) to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Chester is a boy who loves making his Christmas wish list, dreaming of all the wonderful things he wants for Christmas. When he sees an elderly neighbor man out shoveling snow with no warm hat or gloves, he feels concern. Even though his list is not finished, he follows his heart and puts some thought into finding the best way to make his neighbor's holiday surprise a good one, inspired by charity. The heartwarming ending of "Chester's Christmas List" will make this book a must for holiday reading for children of all ages. A second delightful holiday title by the same author and illustrator is "Chester's Christmas Visit (9780989014120)," another inspirational and cheering approach to the best part of Christmas. Both books are available as eBooks at,

Velvet Learns Lesson
Veonne Howell, author
LifeRich Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group
9781489702449, $12.99,

"Velvet Learns a Lesson" is a delightful holiday "'tail" of obedience from the family dog," perfectly suited to a tradition of inspiring holiday stories for children. Colorfully enriched by ink-colored portraits of Velvet along with her snow-colored mother, "Velvet Learns a Lesson" explores the experience of temptation to disobey parental rules from the viewpoint of an adorable but naughty little dog. Velvet loves to play and explore the snowy woods, even when her mother wishes her to come back inside. One day Velvet decides to follow her exquisite sense of smell instead of returning home with her mother. Her adventures lead her to a tasty but forbidden treat, a plate of freshly baked cookies left for Santa. At first, Velvet succumbs to the temptation and begins by eating one cooky and part of a second. Then she is surprised by a famous visitor, Santa himself. Velvet is very sorry to be a big disappointment to Santa, which she perceives when he takes her to see the elves preparing lumps of coal to be left in the stockings of naughty children. One thing leads to another, and Velvet awakens from her realistic dream in her very own bed next to her mother, feeling very relieved that she really is not on Santa's Naughty list ...... yet. "Velvet Learns a Lesson" is a wonderful holiday children's book, told in simple narrative style with bold color illustrations and an underlying moral that is very plain and yet timeless.

Go Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story
CC Sabathia, author
Ray Negron, co-author
Laura Seeley, illustrator
Ecco Publications
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, NY 10007
9780062318411, $16.99,

"Go Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story" is a unique holiday children's book by star Yankees
pitcher, CC Sabathia. One Christmas Eve, CC found a lost letter to Santa in his fan mail. Hi children urge him to help deliver the letter to Santa, even though it is too late, because the letter is from a sister whose brothers have lost their baseballs and gloves. CC decides to make the arduous journey to the North Pole to deliver the late letter to Santa, and discovers that Santa needs lots of help to deliver toys to kids that winter because of many storms. In response, CC calls on his friend Mr. Steinbrenner to help, and a special holiday recruitment effort ensues to make the toy delivery deadline for kids in need. The list of all stars who volunteer for the holiday effort is baseball-star studded: Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Satchell Paige, Thurman Munson, Tetsuharu Kawakami, and many more baseball all-stars are a part of the undertaking. Even Ray the Batboy helps (by painting scenes in all the picture books), along with Catfish Hunter, who is assigned to make dolls for Annabel, the girl who wrote the letter for her brothers. Funny, active colored illustrations show the famous ball players hard at work doing fine toy creation and finishing work. Boss Steinbrenner helps with wrapping and CC and Carsten loaded presents onto the sleigh for delivery. But Santa needed to stay home and get well from his cough and cold, so CC and Carsten were impressed into special Santa delivery services by reindeer sleigh. On Christmas morning, CC and Carsten made it home after all their special deliveries in time to open presents with Jaeden, Cyia, and Carter, along with their mother. A joke was shared between the two Santa helpers as holiday cheer and joy abounded in the opening of Christmas presents. "CC Claus" ends with a thank you letter from Annabel to Santa and a listing of all the famous baseball players on the holiday gift team, with a brief history of their baseball accomplishments. "CC Claus" is a vivid, cheery holiday story filled with real love and caring shared among baseball's greatest players for kids in need at Christmas.

Samson's Gift
Ellen Jean Diederich, author/illustrator
Cynthia Nelson, editor
Givinity Press
3374 Maplewood Court, Fargo, ND 58104
9780972865463, $19.95,

"Samson's Gift" is an amazing sheep Christmas story told in both narrative and brilliant paintings. The author's vivid, imaginative paintings are described as "Neo-Impressionistic" water color and acrylic works of art. In "Samson's Gift," the illustrations frame the story of a special young lamb, saved from wolves by a shepherd and his faithful daughter, who grows to be a magnificent ram with beautiful thick wool fit for a king. Tedra, the shepherdess, nurtures the young Samson and protects him from being sheared and sold. Later, Samson offers the gift of his fine wool to protect the Baby Jesus' tender skin from the prickly straw of the manger. All pages are beautifully illuminated by the tender, expressive illustrations. In addition, a page at the end is dedicated to helpful sheep terminology definitions and other Sheep and Wool Fun Facts. "Samson's Gift" is a different Christmas story, in which the love of animals is reflected back to the Christ Child with grace and beauty.

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
Richard Scarry, author/illustrator
Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385388047, $14.99,

"Richard Scarry's The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" is a reissued edition of a beloved holiday classic first published in 2000. This beautifully illustrated holiday adventure stars Sally and Huckle Cat and the well-meaning but awkward helpful Mr. Frumble, a pig who means well in Busytown, but often leaves untidy deeds' evidence. In Mr. Frumble's new ski-pickle-doo, he intends to go all the way to the North Pole to be one of Santa's helpers, just two days before Christmas. What follows is a truly imaginative embroidered romp of the unlikeliest of helpers through a unique rescue of Santa Bear, who decides to make his Christmas rounds a day early, thanks to Mr. Frumble's bumbled tearing of the December holiday calendar page. In the end, Mr. Frumble is mysteriously able to rescue Santa Bear from his temporary broom closet holding place, who flies off on his toysack with the reindeer to make his holiday deliveries, leaving Mr. Frumble the one single best present he can think of: a note wishing his number one helper (Mr. Frumble) a Merry Christmas! Children will love the funny illustrations and the elaborate messes and inventions that abound in these pages, giving a new humorous outlook on an old, treasured holiday tradition.

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book
Diane Muldrow
Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780553497359, $9.99,

"Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book" is an enchanting holiday verse narrative story filled with nostalgic color illustration "quotes" from beloved earlier Little Golden Books published between the 1940's and 2014. Part of the fun of reading this modern collection of old and new children's views of the winter holiday is guessing the original story title and date for each picture. Each illustration is seamlessly matched with a narrative that blends old and new holiday experiences. Especially moving is the last sequence of pages, illustrated by a mix of people, children, and animals, of many different origins and nationalities and prestige: "But take some time to be still... on a night quieted by snow, and remember another night... when joy came. One night in a manger, under a star, a night witnessed by both shepherds and kings, when gifts were given to a waiting world.... The gift of love for all people, and the gift of hope for a peaceable kingdom. It could happen." An adult sharing "Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book" will recognize many beloved landmarks of their own childhood, along with a new, global vision that is inclusive. This Little Golden Book is both a reverie and a reprise, finishing with a revelation that blends the best of the old with the new.

A Cookie for Santa
Stephanie Shaw, author
Bruno Robert, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368839, $15.99,

"A Cookie for Santa" is a jolly holiday story in rhyme about a special Gingerbread Boy made for Santa. Although the children had baked and decorated this trembling cookie especially for Santa, he was fearful of being devoured. Proving his bravery and resourcefulness by distracting some mischievous puppies who threatened to destroy the Christmas holiday display, he spun and danced on holiday balls to entice them away from their goal. At last the sound of reindeer bells came, and the puppies hid. Afraid of failing to guard the Christmas decorations, the Gingerbread Boy again pondered his fate with Santa. Santa was determined to right the chaos created by the puppies and the Gingerbread Boy helped. Still, he was so fearful of being eaten with the other cookies. But Santa had other plans for the Gingerbread Boy: "We make a great team./ Come hop in my sleigh./ There are more homes to visit/ Before Christmas Day./ And I need you for duty/ Up at the North Pole."/ Toy soldiers saluted and gave a drum roll./" The surprise ending finds a happy solution for the faithful Gingerbread Boy and the naughty pups that will leave young readers in smiles. "A Cookie for Santa" is filled with pages of bright, ebullient, living illustrations that convey all the vast spectrum of feelings from anticipation, fear, joy, delight, and more that children experience during Christmas season.

The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits
Ulf Stark, author
Eva Eriksson, illustrator
Susan Beard, translator
Floris Books
15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
9781782501367, $24.95,

"The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits" is a wonderful yuletide excursion into the magical winter world of the Swedish traditional Yule Tomte, (jultomte) who delivers presents to children at Christmas time. Translated from the original Swedish to English for the enjoyment of yet more young children, "The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits" weaves a compelling Christmas story over 25 beautifully illuminated chapters, to be read to children as a daily treat over the Advent season. Grump, the tomte lived alone in a deserted cottage, coming in and out the cat door. He was very particular about his routines. He was not especially sociable. As Grump continued through his quiet Advent preparations, he was joined by bee whom he grumpily welcomed and cared for. Over the succeeding days, Grump was to encounter many more forest animals, the Rabbit children, Mouse children, Owl, Fox, many forest birds, the voles, and more. The forest animals decide to do a special presentation to welcome the Yule Tomte, who they understand is coming by piecing together a variety of amazing clues, such as a lost red pointy hat and mittens, and a sign saying TOMTE CO. The Jackdaws are amusing and helpful at reading the sign and the animals think together what to do to welcome the Tomte. Meanwhile, Grump has a dream visit from St. Lucia on December 13 (her traditional feast day), which includes the message that he will be having two children for company, whether he wants them or not. Grump is tempted to dismiss this dream, but the presence of real ginger biscuits and coffee and saffron buns (left by St. Lucia) is too convincing to ignore. The sweetly compelling story of Grump and the Rabbit children, Binny and Barty, continues to unfold, with many secret, joyous parallels to the Nativity and the Christmas story. While Grump complains, in a most convincingly human way, his actions are gentle and caring for both the bee, the mice and rabbit children, and each creature and challenge he encounters. Despite all his grumbling, or maybe because of it, the hospitality of the Tomte is warm, real, and tangible. Finally, at a celebration with the Rabbit family when Grump returns the lost Rabbit children safe and sound, Binny asks, "Why do we celebrate Christmas?" The tomte answers, "Because a child has come to earth." The expected yet surprising ending comes with yet one more special sharing gift appreciated by all the animals together, and a very satisfying conclusion that embraces both spirituality and human shortcomings lights the final candle of this Advent tale.

A Chick 'n' Pug Christmas
Jennifer Sattler
Bloomsbury Children's Books
175 Fifth Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10010-7728
9781599906027, $16.99,

A Chick 'n' Pug Christmas tells of Pug, who is ready for the holidays in his Santa suit - even if it is itchy. His sidekick Chick will be his elf. But winter brings storms and strife as well as the holidays: can two fearless holiday leaders overcome all to get everyone into the Christmas spirit? Kids seeking easy reads will find this a fun and simple story with large-size illustrations crowning a fine achievement.

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

Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds' STAR BRIGHT: A CHRISTMAS STORY (9781416958581, $16.99) tells of a baby soon to be born. Heaven is excited - all but one worried little angel who thinks she can't bring any special gift to the newborn. It seems that all the good gift ideas are taken; but when she stretches her imagination, she will come up with the best gift of all. A fine, gentle, easy picturebook story captures the spirit of seasonal giving. Heather Vogel Frederick's LITTLE WOMEN CHRISTMAS (9781442413597, $17.99) tells of the four March sisters who only want their father home from war for the holidays. On Christmas morning the real miracle will happen. Good picturebook reading skills or, more commonly, parental read-aloud assistance will lend appreciation and ease to this story for ages 4-8, beautifully embellished by the drawings of Bagram Ibatoulline and adapted from the classic Alcott tale.

The Sports Shelf

A Basketball Story
Richard Torrey, author/illustrator
Kane Miller
c/o EDC Publishing
4901 Morena Blvd., Suite 213, San Diego, CA 92117
9781610672863 $10.99

"A Basketball Story" is the latest title in an exciting young sports fans' series that features many positive benefits from sports participation, including the experience of teamwork, group cooperation, family recreation and involvement, making new friends and having new experiences, and the value of friendship and family support. Written for kids age 4-8, "A Basketball Story" conveys through simple narrative and cheerful color illustrations the practices, skills and routines that lead to good basketball performance. Ty, a younger brother of a successful basketball player, works and plays with his brother to learn dribbling, shooting, running, and the basics of basketball. He is excited to be trying out for the Wildcats, in the Youth Basketball League. He is eight years old. Coach John supervises his first practice, with numbered jerseys and everything. He knows there are two kinds of passes, those that bounce and those that don't. Free throws are the hardest, lay-ups are the easiest, and jump shots are the funniest. The Wildcats get to play a real practice game against another real basketball team. In the game, Ty and his teammates dribble, shoot, pass, and run just like in practice, except the game is real. Ty has fun playing basketball. He feels lucky because he has a big brother who helped him learn the basics for basketball. "A Basketball Story" illustrations suggest young team experiences that are racially integrated and coed, spreading the fun of sports participation even further.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Bella's Dancing Dilemma: Dragonasaurus Tales
Josephine Young, author, illustrator
Celandine Publishing
9781480016217, $7.99,

Fifth title in the Dragonasaurus Tales series, "Bella's Dancing Dilemma" traces the roller coaster experiences of pink girl dragon who longs to dance in a talent show. Encouraged by an unlikely fan who happens to be a skunk, Bella decides to pursue her own unique dancing style (funky?) through the further unlikely encouragement of a mole who wants to rock and roll! Encouraged to practice hard by her friends Skunk and Mole, Bella continues to work with her initial hesitance and clumsiness, further helped by Parrot to uncover her very own Dragonasaurus groove. Bella prepares for the talent show and, with many fears and doubts, prepares to dance on stage as the very first act. The sight of her three friends, Skunk, Mole, and Parrot, in the audience, cheers Bella to dance her very best. The final verse narrative concludes: "So dragonasaurus can certainly dance!/ Providing, of course, they're given the chance./ It's something, at least one, loves to do./ Now we've seen Bella dance - how about you?" As in previous Dragonasaurus tales, charming colored illustrations complement witty, catchy rhyming lines of inspiring life experiences (of the Dragonasaurus).

Hannah and the Kingdom of Bugbears
Tom Stephen, author
Ronald Cheng, illustrator
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Pkwy, Suite 120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620867877 $14.95

"Hannah and the Kingdom of Bugbears" is an exciting fantasy adventure for early chapter readers (age 8 and up). Hannah is a spunky companion to Princess Aleena, who is kidnapped by a Bugbear prince for possible intended marriage. Hannah's determination and resourcefulness are the key to the great adventure of rescuing both Princess Aleena, her beloved Prince Ronald, and the Bugbear Prince Brewer. Children will be easily caught up in the action-packed chapters and enticing story, enhanced by the forthright black and white illustrations of the fantasy world of Cait Berg and surrounding kingdoms. Best of all, the uncovering of a mystery at the heart of the story casts a new light on the true meaning of love, courage, and surface beauty. "Hannah and the Kingdom of the Bugbears" is a great beginning chapter book, ripe with potential for succeeding stories of inspiration for young readers.

Hansel & Gretel
Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti
Toon Books
27 Greene Street #4, New York, NY 10013
9781935179627, $16.95,

Hansel & Gretel isn't recommended for the very young, but offers a dark and exciting new version of the story that creates new perspectives on the legend. Kids in grades 5-6 receive a selection of dark line drawings to accompany a very different vision of Hansel and Gretel that expands on the basics theme and will appeal even into some adult circles.

Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter
Dav Pilkey and Dan Santat
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545631198, $15.99,

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter provides grades 3-4 with another fine Ricky Ricotta adventure story, pairing Dan Santat's art with another adventure saga. Today is Ricky's birthday and his parents are taking him and his Mighty Robot to see dinosaurs at the museum - with cousin Lucy, who is a pest. But there's more in store for the day when an evil genius from Jupiter gets involved in this rollicking, fun tale!

The Picturebook Shelf

The Olive Tree
Elsa Marston, author
Claire Ewart, illustrator
Wisdom Tales Press
PO Box 2682, Bloomington, IN 47402
9781937786298 $16.95

Award-winning author and artist team Elsa Marston and Claire Ewart present The Olive Tree, a heart-touching children's picturebook about the value of forgiveness and reconciliation. Set in Lebanon after the end of its civil war, the story follows Sameer, a young boy who witnesses the return of a neighboring family that had fled during the war years. The neighbors are polite but reserved, and their daughter is quite defensive. When olives from the spreading branches of the neighbors' olive tree drop over the wall onto Sameer's land, she chastises him for gathering them in a basket! Can two children from different families and backgrounds become friends? When a terrible lightning storm destroys the old olive tree, is there any hope for a new beginning in the wake of tragedy? The treasure of hope is illuminated in the final pages of this gentle picturebook, highly recommended.

What's the Big Idea, Charlie Brown?
Peanuts created by Charles M. Schulz
Written by Diane Lindsey Reeves and Cheryl Shaw Barnes
Illustrated by Tom Brannon
Little Patriot Press
c/o Regnery Publishing, Inc.
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9781621572572 $16.99

What's the Big Idea, Charlie Brown? is a children's picturebook in which characters from the classic "Peanuts" comic strip learn about great American inventions that changed the world. It begins with all the kids deciding that they would celebrate the forthcoming Saturday as Big Idea Day. "Lucy wanted to have a party. Linus and Sally wanted to celebrate the great inventors they had been learning about in school. Marcie wanted posters. Peppermint Patty wanted prizes. Schroeder wanted - what else? - music..." Each person puts together a presentation about a different great idea that revolutionized everyday life, including the light bulb, the telephone, and the automobile... but Charlie Brown can't think of anything! Will Charlie Brown be able to come up with an idea of his own for the big celebration? Although most of What's the Big Idea, Charlie Brown? is storytelling in a manner faithful to Charles widely beloved characters, the last few pages are devoted to more historical details about the featured great inventions, making What's the Big Idea, Charlie Brown? educational as well as entertaining. Highly recommended.

When Mama Goes to Work
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, author
Jessica Phillips, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 4T8
9781554553143 $18.95

When Mama Goes to Work is a children's picturebook about growing up with a working mother. The simple, singsong text will help acclimate young people to the concept of a parent who has to work outside the home. "When Mama goes to work, I know she misses me. / But she talks with friends and thinks of me. She knows that she'll be back. / When Mama goes to work, she knows I miss her, too. But I talk with friends and we have fun. I know that she'll be back." Charming, playful illustration of different households that have working mothers and cheerful children illustrate this warmhearted picturebook, especially recommended for read-aloud storytime between parents and children.

Hank Has a Dream
Rebecca Dudley
Peter Pauper Press, Inc.
202 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
9781441315724 $16.99

Featuring stunning illustrations that appear to be photographs of three-dimensional cloth sculpture, Hank Has a Dream is a children's picturebook in which the teddy bear Hank has a dream about flying. Hank shares his dream with his hummingbird friend. Pages alternate between scenes of Hank and his friend playing outside, and Hank's dream of crossing the sky in a zeppelin. "But the last part was my favorite. / When I just... floated." The simple read-aloud text complements the enchanting, vivid artistry, in this unforgettable bedtime storybook.

Rhoda's Rock Hunt
Molly Beth Griffin, author
Jennifer A. Bell, illustrator
Minnesota Historical Society Press
345 Kellogg Boulevard, West
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
9780873519502 $16.95

Rhoda's Rock Hunt is a picturebook about a girl named Rhoda who hikes in the north woods. Her Auntie June and Uncle Jonah want to see wildlife, but Rhoda's passion is collecting rocks. She discovers an amazing array of shapes and patterns in the rocks of the forest, and at the Big Lake. Rhoda wants to bring all her wonderful rocks home, but they make her backpack too heavy to lift! "She loved her rocks - all her beautiful ROCKS - but she couldn't keep them all. She had to let some go. So she took them out, one at a time, and stacked them on a table-like slab down by the water." Rhoda finds a way to express her joy handling the rocks, while taking only a few of littlest rocks home, this delightful picturebook celebrating even the humblest components of the wilderness.

Spaghetti Smiles
Margo Sorenson, author
David Harrington, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street
Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455619221 $16.99

Spaghetti Smiles is a charming children's picturebook about a family dilemma. Jake's Uncle Rocco runs a popular but slightly loopy restaurant. Rocco loves fun and games, perhaps a little too much; he has a reputation for being a mix-up! The restaurant needs a new neighbor, someone who likes to have fun; otherwise it will have to close down. But who would want to have their business next door to a man known for accidentally mixing Italian food into the oddest of situations? Jake investigates one business after another, without success. The down-on-her-luck bookstore owner is his last prospect; could reading and Italian food be a match made in heaven? Exuberant, playful illustrations perfectly set the mood of this boisteriously funny picturebook.

The Monster Who Ate the State
Chris Browne
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
9780986035593 $19.95

The Monster Who Ate the State is a sneakily educational children's picturebook. The story follows Soozy, a hungry dinosaur who wakes up from a long sleep in South Dakota's Black Hills, and boy is she ever hungry! Bemused by the change in her surroundings, she explores South Dakota as she searches for a new home, as well as tasty food to eat (motorcycles turn out to make a poor appetizer). Fortunately, the local children have milk and cookies to share! The final page offers footnotes about the numerous exciting South Dakota landmarks that Soozy visits in her travels, such as Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park (home to buffalo, prairie dogs, and more), Sioux Falls, and Soozy's eventual home at the Great Plains Zoo. The Monster Who Ate the State is delightfully fun to read aloud, and highly recommended.

Play With Your Food
David G. Derrick, Jr.
P.O. Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597021029 $15.95

Play With Your Food is a rambunctious children's picturebook set in the Permian era when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and the law of the jungle was eat or be eaten! When a dimetrodon gets its teeth in a coelurosauravus (a type of gliding lizard), the golden-tongue little glider does his best to talk his way out of becoming lunch! "'Have you ever tried playing with your food instead?' 'Why that's the silliest thing I've ever heard. Play with your food? No one plays with their food - they eat it.' 'Oh believe you me, it's the funnest thing you can do with your food.'" Can the little gliding lizard think of enough fun and games to save his own skin? And what if the dimetrodon runs into an eve bigger predator? Play with your food is a lighthearted prehistoric romp, brought to life with vibrant full color illustrations.

I Want to Be a Witch
Ian Cunliffe
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70
Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589251595 $16.99

I Want to Be a Witch is a charming children's picturebook about a young girl who wants to become a witch. She isn't keen on several traditionally witchy traits, such as green hair, or curled-up boots, but she loves her cat dearly - he'd make the perfect witch's companion! Wouldn't it be fun to fly about on a broomstick? "When I grow up, I want to be a nice witch... Just like my mom." The stylized color illustrations add the perfect touch to this whimsical read-aloud storybook, ideal for young readers ages 3 to 7.

Pig and Small
Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561457977 $15.95

Pig and Small is a quirky children's picturebook about making new friends, and finding common interests. One day, Pig meets a cheerful Bug. The two want to be friends, but what can they do together, when their sizes are so different? Bug is too small for catch, and Pig is too big to appreciate the crafts or cooking Bug can make! In a burst of inspiration, Pig discovers that there are still things that they can enjoy in tandem - such as watching an exciting movie together. Charming color illustrations add just the right touch to this lovely parable.

Dear Panda
Miriam Latimer
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771470780 $17.95

Dear Panda is a charming children's picturebook about adjusting to and making friends at a new school. Young Florence "Flo" Perkins and her family have just moved; their new home is next to a zoo. Flo's schoolteacher expects her to get in front of the class and tell them about herself. Flo is anxious about public speaking, lonesome for the friends she left behind, and worries that she won't make any new friends. The she sees her neighbor, who happens to be a panda bear, and decides to write him a letter. The panda is quite touched, and Flo makes her very first friends of the new neighborhood; with a little panda help, learning how to relax and have fun with other kids at her school is a breeze! Dear Panda is a gentle, playful read-aloud story, with a positive message about the joy of meeting new people.

Winter's Coming
Jan Thornhill, author
Josee Bisaillon, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
10 Lower Spadina Avenue, Suite 400
Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 2Z2
9781771470025 $16.95

Winter's Coming: A Story of Seasonal Change is a picturebook from the perspective of a snowshoe hare. Young Lily hears that Winter is coming from the other creatures of the forest, but what does this mean? Should she run away from Winter? Should she do something to prepare? "'You already have,' said the bear. 'Look what's happened to your coat.' Lily had been so preoccupied with what Winter would look like, she hadn't noticed that her own fur was now almost completely white." Charming, full-color illustrations that lean toward realism grace this gentle, read-aloud story about the turn of the seasons.

Curious George Goes to a Bookstore
Julie M. Bartynski, author
Illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey, by Mary O'Keefe Young
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544320734 $13.99

Curious George Goes to a Bookstore is a children's picturebook featuring an original new story in the style of the classic "Curious George" tales by H.A. Rey, featuring an inquisitive but well-meaning young monkey. In Curious George Goes to a Bookstore, little George is thrilled by the prospect of visiting a bookstore's grand opening, and meeting the author of his favorite "Penny the Penguin" book series! "She inscribed the book and handed it to George. Inside was a note saying, 'To my new friend George. Keep reading!'" The final page, "Now You're the Storyteller" encourages young people to engage in the simple yet creative activity of crafting their own story. Highly recommended.

Lily's Flower Igloo
Natalie Wade, author
Thinkstock, illustration source
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496926579, $17.99,

"Lily's Flower Igloo" is an inspiring story of a girl who wanted to make a pretty flower igloo, with flowers frozen in ice cubes. Her mother helped her make the ice cubes, but her first attempt to create an igloo melted and couldn't hold together. Thanks to a handy creative construction tip from her mother, Lily was able to tackle the problem of creating a flower igloo again, with astounding, unconventional results. Lily, her mother, and her father were all very proud of her determination and creativity.

When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings
Petra Mathers, author/illustrator
Beach Lane Books
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481410441, $17.99,

"When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings" is a new title from the juvenile 'Lottie' series about a humble chicken girl, who like all the author's created characters, leads her life, quietly minds her own business, and is known and loved for her decency, sense of humor, and openness to love. In "When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings," Lottie experiences feelings of grief, sadness, and celebration after the death of her beloved Aunt, a famous nurse. Lottie is accompanied by her dear comrade, Herbie, in the times of grief, ceremony, and memory after her Aunt Mattie dies. The tenderly vivid pictures and simply styled, descriptive narrative of Petra Mathers convey warmth, sadness, joy, and so many myriad universal feelings. When Herbie and Lottie take Aunt Mattie's ashes out in a boat to scatter on the waves, they take their time with the ceremony, remembering all the picnics with peanut butter special sandwiches with Aunt Mattie. Herbie asks Lottie if she could go anywhere in the world, (even to where Aunt Mattie is now, in heaven) she answers, "I'd go have a picnic at Pudding Rock with my best friend Herbie." "When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings" is a wonderful book that gives children permission to explore their feelings and doubts and questions when someone who is beloved passes away. "When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings" is suitable for children ages 4-8.

Can I Come Too?
Brian Patten, author
Nicola Bayley, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30318
9781561457960, $16.95,

"Can I Come Too?" is a stunning children's story by a talented collaborative author/illustrator duo about the big adventure of a very small mouse in search of the biggest creature in the world. Bravely venturing forth from her meadow grass home, she is joined in her quest by a succession of animals, gradually increasing in size, from a frog to a polar bear. All the animals politely ask if they can join the quest, after assuring the mouse that each one is not the largest creature in the world. The tiger (whose paws are big as frying pans) even promises not to eat anyone if she can come too. In the end the polar bear guides the mouse's quest companions to the ocean, where they finally see the largest creature alive, a WHALE! Greatly cheered by the sight and all the animals who shared her adventure, the mouse thanked them all and returned to her meadow grass home thinking, "I might be tiny, but I've had a very big adventure." "Can I Come Too?" is a classic children's fable, with delicate, detailed, realistic portraits of each animal in turn and perfectly cadenced pages of calm narrative conveying wonder and delight in the immense variety of living creatures.

By Day, By Night
Amy Gibson, author
Meilo So, illustrator
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, Pennsylvania 18431
9781590789919, $16.95,

"By Day, By Night" is a dazzling book for all children of the world, sharing common experiences throughout day and night. The author's proceeds are to be invested in children of The Global Orphan Project, a charity to help a generation of orphans left by AIDS and others. Inclusive narrative verse celebrates common joys and fears of children of many different backgrounds, enhanced by stunning, vivid, color illustrations of children being cared for and loved. This is an inspirational book, a classic, celebrating cultural diversity and common experiences and needs of children everywhere. A chosen quotation samples this generous offering to the children of the world: "We all start small. We all grow old./ We've all been given hands to hold./ We wish. We dream. We laugh. We cry. We look. We stop and wonder why./ When in the west the daylight dies, by night we sleep beneath the skies./ As one by one we close our eyes, stars watch and wait, till dawn..../ We rise."

Deirdre Gill, author/illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547910659, $16.99,

"Outside" is a wonderful winter story about a boy who plays alone outside in the snow because his brother won't join him. Exploring a soft white world of trees, snow, and soft fluffy clouds, the boy creates an amazing snow man, castle, and even a snow dragon for playmates. The very trees around him, covered with snow, take on the appearance of giant white beneficent protectors. It is a mysterious and evocative experience, playing alone outside in the snow, brought to full vivid life by the boy's ride on a dragon of imagination, high above the winter trees. Finally, the day darkens, and the boy returns home, but only after he plays outside in the snow with his brother (who finally joins him). Told in few words and magical pictures, "Outside" is a perfect winter story for young children, magically realized with large, marshmallow-like illustrations of winter scenes with touches of vivid color on the boy and his dragon.

The Little Lost Seashell (Never Lose Hope)
Lisa Gail Ricchiazzi, author
Diane Lucas, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group
9781426965050, $10.53,

"The Little Lost Seashell" is a charming story that encourages children to never lose hope. One day Miss Seashell is tossed out of her ocean home up on shore by a storm. Desperate to find and return to the only home she knows, Miss Seashell encounters a succession of living creatures on land, each of whom offers to help her. Softly tinted pastel colors and familiar human features such as eyes and a mouth present the bemused Miss Seashell and all her new friends: Mr. Unicorn, Mrs. Bird, Mr. Butterfly, Mrs. Rabbit, and a boy and a girl. After many naturally caused delays, Miss Seashell is carried on the long journey back to the ocean by the unicorn, accompanied by all her new friends. "The Little Lost Seashell" is a fable that teaches faith and the necessity of keeping hope alive despite confusing reversals, adversity, or delay.

The Lonely Typewriter
Peter Ackerman, author
Max Dalton, illustrator
David R. Godine, publisher
P. O. Box 450, Jeffrey, New Hampshire 03452
9781567925180, $16.95,

Beginning with a carefully labeled illustration of a typical manual typewriter, "The Lonely Typewriter" tells the story of an outdated but beloved instrument for composition, a typewriter. The lonely typewriter was once new, happy to be purchased by an African American lady named Pearl to type pamphlets for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Used by Pearl and her daughter Penelope to type important letters and papers, the typewriter was eventually replaced by a superior computer and was retired to the family attic, to be re-discovered years later by Penelope's son Pablo, who needed to finish writing a report on penguins. Pablo's father, a former poker player named Paxton, had allowed Pablo to begin his report by researching penguins on his office computer, until the cursor and mouse froze and would not work. So Pablo was encouraged to finish writing his penguin paper on the lonely typewriter, taken down from the attic and dusted for action. Pablo loved learning all about how to use the little manual typewriter, so different in all its details from a computer. And the lonely little typewriter was happy once again. Created by a famous and successful author/illustrator pair, "The Lonely Little Typewriter" tells a nostalgic tale of the manual typewriter, humble ancestor of the computer. The narrative is witty, alert, and memorable, filled with playful alliterations featuring words and names beginning with "P." The appealing illustrations feature use of contrasting bright colors against dark brown back grounds, telling more of the background story of Pablo's family, including a joyous interracial marriage between his parents, Paxton and Penelope, a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Story implied in the beginning of "The Lonely Typewriter." Creating stories within stories that teach good things on all levels, "The Lonely Typewriter" is a wonderful way for today's children to explore their family histories and social and technological progressions.

While You Were Napping
Jenny Offill, author
Barry Blitt, illustrator
Schwartz & Wade
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375865725, $16.99,

"While You Were Napping" is a toddler's tall tale of the tallest variety, with pirates, robots, firemen, construction workers, cotton candy, dinosaur bones, and french fry sandwiches to entertain the outrageous imagination of a youngster who was unwillingly put to bed for a nap (just because he was screaming, imagine that). Told by a slightly mischievous older sister, the tall tale of what happened while her younger brother was sleeping burgeons and mushrooms from dinosaur excavations and rocket fireworks shooting to pirate parties and outer space explorations with the astronauts. Finally the sleepy brother awakens in his bed, surrounded by all the toys suggesting his sibling's mythical naptime adventure, being told, "Luckily, you slept right through it." The amazing illustrations, done in pen and ink and pale water color tints, express all the fantastic tall tales in just the gentlest pastel shades of blue, gray, yellow and brown, suggesting dreamy sleep as a soothing backdrop to all the exaggerated adventures. "While You Were Napping" is full of imagination, wit, and fun, with just the right amount of teasing tone. Children will not be fooled by these tall tales, but they will adore them.

The Farmer and the Clown
Marla Frazee, author/illustrator
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781442497443 $17.99

"The Farmer and the Clown" is an enigmatic children's book with a story told entirely in pictures. A farmer working in the field sees a circus train go by in the distance. He sees something fall off the caboose of the circus train and winds up rescuing a charming child clown in costume. The little clown adds color and adventure to the farmer's drab existence, but the farmer also adds stability and caring to the little clown's adventurous lifestyle. The little clown learns to help the farmer with his chores and the farmer learns to dance, mime, and juggle to make the little clown smile. One day the farmer and the clown pack up a picnic to take to the fields. While sitting there under a tree, they see a train, the very same circus train, returning from its previous trip. Greatly excited, the farmer and the little clown approach the train closely and discover a whole clown family who lovingly reclaim the little lost clown. But the little clown also will miss his dear farmer friend and embraces him fondly, trading his red pointed clown's hat for the farmer's broad brimmed black work hat before chugging off on the circus train with his family. The final picture shows the farmer walking back home with yet another little circus orphan, a monkey in a gold collar with a red crown hat, sucking his young monkey thumb. The stark landscapes and limited palette of colors present this touching story of "The Farmer and the Clown" in bold relief, a picture story full of hidden joy and delightful surprises.

The Paddington Treasury
Michael Bond
HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780082312426, $21.99,

The Paddington Treasury packs six classic Paddington Bear stories into one cover, focuses on bedtime read-alouds parents will love, and adds illustrations by R.W. Alley. Parents will welcome six of the most popular Paddington adventures: Paddington, At the Palace, At the Zoo, In the Garden, And the marmalade Maze, and The Artist, and will find the stories perfect choices for easy bedtime reads. Paddington typically has attracted an older age group, so having his stories tailored specifically for a younger picturebook audience and parental read-aloud involvement makes for a perfect pairing.

Tiptop Cat
C. Roger Mader
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544147997, $17.99,

TIPTOP CAT tells of a too-curious cat, a big fall, and the fear that evolves and keeps him from adventure, and is a fun recommendation for any young reader who enjoys cat drawings and fun tales about their antics. When a brave little cat takes a big fall, nothing is hurt on the outside, but his fear keeps him from his favorite places. How can he overcome his fears to regain his love of the world? A beautiful story evolves paired with very fine drawings!

Princess Cupcake Jones Won't Go to School!
Ylleya Fields
Belle Publishing
5247 Wilson Mills Road #324, Cleveland OH 44143
9780578113043, $15.95,

Princess Cupcake Jones Won't Go to School receives fun drawings by Michael LaDuca and considers a child's fears over the first day of school as it tells of Cupcake Jones' reluctance to face the new environment. Kindergartners will relate to the story of a five-year-old's fears and reactions, while parents will appreciate the focus on a child's perspective of new situations.

From Sea to Shining Sea
Callista Gingrich
Regnery Kids
c/o Regnery Publishing, Inc.
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9781621572534, $14.99,

From Sea to Shining Sea will reach young readers from K-3 grades and follows Ellis the Elephant as he explores America and heads west with Lewis and Clark. Susan Arciero provides the fun drawings that accompany this story of a little elephant (part of a series about him) who explores American history in this fourth installment of the series. Here Ellis and his friends build a new capital city called Washington, D.C., cross the Great Plains, and build canoes with the Nez Perce. Good reading skills will lend enjoyment to this moving saga!

Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023

Eric A. Kimmel's SIMON AND THE BEAR: A HANUKKAH TALE (9781423143550, $16.99) is illustrated by Matthew Truman and offers the lovely story of Simon, who leaves his home in the old country for a new world. His mother reminds him to celebrate Hanukkah during his long sea voyage in case he needs a miracle - and, he does need one, when the ship sinks and strands him on an iceberg. What happens next is anybody's guess in this gentle story which requires rudimentary reading skills or read-aloud parental assistance. Toni Buzzeo's MY BIBI ALWAYS REMEMBERS (9781423183853, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Mike Wohnoutka and celebrates grandparents as it explores the world of a grandmother elephant, protector of her herd, who leads the family to safety based on memories of where that is. Sometimes Tembo falls behind, with different memories of what is good - but she's always the first to want to follow her grandmother's way. A lovely story emerges. Disney's FROZEN SING-ALONG STORYBOOK (9781484720356, $17.99) is a fine pick for any young fan of the movie Frozen and includes song lyrics and a cd with three instrumental tracks to encourage sing-alongs. Princess Anna must pull the kingdom from its never-ending winter, - and she sets off on a journey to find her sister Elsa, whose pain and powers have caused strife. This deluxe storybook offers the complete lyrics of songs and encourages young reader participation in a gorgeous gift-appropriate pick.

Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431

Suzanne Bloom's ALONE TOGETHER (9781620917367, $16.95) tells of one Bear, who just wants to be alone and quiet by himself. But for Fox, 'alone time' is not the same thing, and Goose finds the two friends bond in an unlikely way despite their apparent differences. The focus on how a single concept can mean very different things makes for a fun, simple story. Amy Gibson's BY DAY, BY NIGHT (9781590789919, $16.95) receives fine drawings by Meilo So as it tells of a morning to evening series of experiences shared by children around the world. From playing ball and make-believe to singing songs and sometimes working, gentle paintings bring to life very different people in this inviting, easy reader. Both are fine picks for read-aloud or beginning readers.

c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014

Loren Long's OTIS AND THE SCARECROW (9780399163968, $17.99) tells of a scarecrow who lives on a farm, newly introduced to scare away the crows, and of Otis the tractor, who along with other farm residents discovers that the scarecrow's frown is never-ending. It just wants to stay in the cornfield alone, so everyone leaves him be, until Otis comes up with a plan to help the lonely scarecrow. This story of compassion and kindness pairs a wining theme with lovely illustrations throughout in a different kind of winter story. Terry Border's PEANUT BUTTER & CUPCAKE! (9780399167737, $17.99) tells of a little piece of bread who is feeling lonely, and who decides to search out a friend. He's new to town and has no new friends yet, but the process of finding them thwarts him; especially since the hot dogs, hamburgers, and other foods already have paired off; until one day...lovely drawings and an unusual theme of friendship make for a winning story! Daniel Kirk's TEN THANK-YOU LETTERS (9780399169373, $16.99) tells of Rabbit and Pig, who have a lot to be thankful for. Since Pig is writing a thank-you note to his grandmother when Rabbit comes over to play, Rabbit decides to write his own - until a flurry of thank-you notes ensues. Pig just wants to write one: it's not a competition! But the end result is warm and celebrates friends and shared experiences in this story. Katheryn Russell-Brown's LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE (9781600608988, $18.95) tells of a young girl born to make big music, who falls in love at the age of seven with a big trombone, teaching herself to play. By the time she's a teenager, she's a jazz artist. Frank Morrison's drawings add to this warm celebration of a young artist's blossoming and introduction to the music world.

Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017

David McPhail's ANDREW DRAWS (9780823430635, $16.95) tells of a young artist who likes to draw animals and figures, and who makes presents of his drawings to those he loves. When word of his amazing skills spreads, he's offered a unique opportunity to change the world in this gentle celebration of artists and art. Tim Hamilton's BUT! (9780823430468, $16.95) tells of Eddy, who inadvertently makes Rugbeard angry. His love of fishing gets in the way of family obligations and there is always a twist in his life: a change which begins with "BUT!". Good reading skills will lend to a fine pick recommended for those who have graduated beyond simple one-liners but who still want a good picturebook adventure.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Mac Barnett's SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE (9780763662295, $16.99) is illustrated by Jon Klassen and provides the warm story of friends who are digging a hole, and who won't stop until they discover something amazing. They are relentless, and they enjoy chocolate milk and animal cookie breaks as they dig beyond comprehension. They won't stop; for they are on a mission to find something spectacular. The result is an engrossing and vivid story that requires only minimal reading skills to prove inviting. Katie Scott and Jenny Broom curate ANIMALIUM (9780763675080, $35.00), a 'museum' in a book exploring the animal kingdom for ages 8-12. More than just another animal book, this is provided in an oversized edition packed with gorgeous artwork - full-page, full-color animal drawings and plates detailing artist's renderings of animals - in a lovely survey consisting of 'galleries' of reptiles, mammals, birds of prey, and much more. Not just kids but many an adult will find this a gorgeous presentation that uses art drawing to capture naturalists of all ages.

Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246

Sandra Horning's THE BIGGEST PUMPKIN (9781455619252, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Holly Stone-Barker and uses the experiences of one young gardener to explore the process of planting and caring for a growing vegetable. It blends nonfiction facts with fiction as it presents the learning process of young Gavin, who grows his own pumpkin with much community support. Good reading skills or parental read-aloud will lend to this engrossing tale. Amanda S. Nelson's THE BUTTERMILK BISCUIT BOY (9781455619702, $16.99) tells of a lazy ranch morning when two cowboys decide to make a big buttermilk-biscuit breakfast. In a playful mood, they decide to give the biscuit a face - but when it's done, it sprouts arms and legs and runs away. It's The Gingerbread Man with a twist as a rollicking chase ensues, all captured by Laurie Klein in a series of whimsical, fun adventures kids will love.

The Bilingual Shelf

These Hands: My Family's Hands
Samuel Caraballo
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558857957, $17.95,

These Hands: My Family's Hands is presented in a bilingual Spanish/English edition and pairs fine drawings by Shawn Costello with the gentle story of a family's connections. Poetic text enhances the story of a young narrator who compares the hands of family members to plants in nature, considering their strength, nurturing skills, and love. The result is a warmly evocative tale Spanish/English readers will love.

Good Dream, Bad Dream
Juan Calle & Serena Valentino
P.O. Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597021036 $15.95

Intended for young people ages 4-8, Good Dream, Bad Dream is a bilingual English/Spanish children's picturebook about imagining good dreams and heroes to counter bad dreams. Action-filled, comic book-style color artwork brings this uplifting story to life. Good Dream, Bad Dream has a powerful message about inspiration, hope, and facing one's fears, and is highly recommended for personal and public library bilingual children's collections.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Hurry, Harry! Hurry!
Lilly Waters, author
Valerie Quinn, illustrator
Jade Tree Books
PO Box 63704, Philadelphia, PA 19147
9780988861008, $14.99,

"Hurry, Harry! Hurry!" is a visual clue-strewn mystery picture book with minimal narrative that will intrigue and delight young readers ages 3-7. Page after page of clear, simplistic, limited palette illustrations show Harry being distracted by different discoveries throughout his busy school day while being exhorted to "Hurry, Harry! Hurry!" The style and presentation of the book is very suggestive of what might be imagined to be a child's outlook of wonder at all things. Only on the last page, as Harry is slowly getting ready to sleep, do we realize that he had a vision he was following throughout the day, culminating in the wondrous creation of a tiny aircraft, complete with toy doll pilot, combs for wings, a can for the body and tiny feathery leaves for tail feathers. "Wow, Harry, Wow!" Who knows what dazzles the imagination of a child? The best moment in the book is the final page, when Harry sails his amazing airplane high into the sky. A wonderful detail in the illustrations is each little item that Harry gathers to make his project is presented in a different bright color, against a common, black and white background. Thus, "Hurry, Harry! Hurry!" encourages young children and adults to look carefully, and perhaps differently, at every detail on the preceding pages to puzzle out exactly what was going through Harry's mind while he was being hurried through his day.

Mommy's Little Sunflowers
Angela McAllister, author
Alison Edgson, illustrator
Tiger Tales Press
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589251540, $16.99,

"Mommy's Little Sunflowers" is a charming little mouse story for toddlers and preschool age children. Filled with soft, bright paintings of furry, scampering mice and yellow sunflowers in a meadow, "Mommy's Little Sunflowers" tells the tale of Scurry and Scamp, two mice who try to replace a devoured sunflower seed to grow a plant for their mother. Scurry is the elder brother who helps Scamp, the impatient younger sibling, in his search for more sunflowers and sunflower seeds to replace the one he had eaten. Many adventures befall the young mice in their journey, but finally a friendly cow helps them up to explore a whole field of huge sunflowers, blooming and bursting with seeds. The mice eat their fill and gather seeds to take home and plant. Even then little Scamp is terribly disappointed when his "funflower" plant does not grow up fully overnight. Mommy Mouse and Scurry try to explain to him that he must be patient with the sunflower, for sunflowers need time, sun, and rain to grow. Then Scurry has an idea how to comfort his younger brother, wearing funny sunflower costumes he has made to amaze their Mommy. "Mommy's Little Sunflowers" is an inviting fable with a moral, maybe something like 'Good things (funflowers) come to mice who wait!"

Bear Sees Colors
Karma Wilson, author
Jane Chapman, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781442465367, $16.99,

"Bear Sees Colors" is a charming preschool color naming story in verse, with bounteous rainbow fabulous fun illustrations of Bear and his visions of each color. Blue, red, yellow, green, and brown, Bear and his friends Mouse, Hare, Badger, Mole, Gopher, Raven, Owl, and Wren, see colors everywhere. Blue fish and water, red strawberries, yellow corn and honey, green mint and peas, and brown chocolate cake and cookies, all these beautiful things make a plentiful, visual and edible feast for the forest friends. Preschool children will love the lilting rhymes and friendly animal pictures of "Bear Sees Colors, while learning to identify all beloved colors with ease.

The Board Book Shelf

Curious George board book series
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
$8.99 each

A new set of Curious George board books are shaped like vehicles, and have an interactive component. The final part of each book has detachable, light cardboard "press-out pieces" of the playful monkey George and assorted objects, which can be detached and used to create scenes. Each board book also has velcro closure, to help keep the press-out pieces firmly in place when it's time to put the books away. Simple, rhyming read-aloud text and delightful color illustrations in the art style of classic Curious George stories complement these excellent gifts for any young child who loves cars and trucks! The titles are "Curious George's Train" (9780544320741), "Curious George's Crane" (9780544323599), "Curious George's Dump Truck" (9780544146860), and "Curious George's Fire Truck" (9780544147096).

Peter Loves Penguin
David McPhail, author/illustrator
Abrams Appleseed
c/o Abrams Books
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781419713378, $9.95,

"Peter Loves Penguin" is a wonderful toddler's winter story, told in few words and sweet, delicate watercolor illustrations of exquisite sensitivity and detail. Framed on sturdy pasteboard, this child-friendly book begs to be read and savored throughout the cold season. Peter and his beloved stuffed pet Penguin enjoy waking up, getting dressed, playing outside in the snow, making a snowman, and returning to a cozy fireside snack and warm cup of cocoa together. These two special friends share all winter's experiences with warmth and joy.

The ABC Shelf

Letters of the West
Michelle E. Walch & John Maddin, authors
John Maddin, illustrator
Craigmore Creations
2900 SE Stark St., Suite 1A, Portland, OR 97214
9781940052106, $17.99,

From the Little Naturalist Series, "Letters of the West, An ABC Book of the Many Plants, Animals, and Other Curious Features of the West" explores multiple exotic flora and fauna of the North American Western wilderness. Intricately detailed, limited palette woodcut illustrations and accurate, cadenced narrative descriptions embrace a wide representation of scenes, plants and animals found in the West of North America, from the deserts of the Southwest to the forests and mountains of the Northwest coast. Thus we learn A is for Alpenglow, B is for Beaver (Castor canadensis), and C is for Cougar (Puma concolor). Each letter is represented by a fantastic view of the designated plant, animal, or scene, keeping heavily detailed pages turning all the way until "X is for Xeriscape," "Y is for Yucca (Yucca angustissima)," and "Z is for Zigzag.." In the process of learning the alphabet, young naturalists ages 4 and up will learn many integral, wondrous facts about the iconic animals and plants of the West. Parents and children will enjoy learning from this painstakingly authentic series especially.

Race from A to Z
Jon Scieszka, author
Dani Jones, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781416941361 $17.99

Race from A to Z is a children's ABC picturebook, set in the hectic and exciting world of Jon Scieszka's Trucktown, where anthoropmorphic vehicles of all types love to race one another. Colorful, cartoony artwork energizes an amazing world of living cars and trucks! Alliteration in abundance makes Race from A to Z just plain fun to read aloud and share. "C is for Construction, Curbs and Cones and Crashes! / D is for Dan Dump Truck, who Dumps his Dirt then Dashes!"

The Social Issues Shelf

Our Heroes: How Kids Are Making a Difference
Janet Wilson, author/illustrator
Second Story Press
20 Maud Street, Ste. 401, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 2M5
distributed by Orca Books
Orca Book Publishers (distributors)
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781927583418, $18.95,

"Our Heroes: How Kids Are Making a Difference" is a title from a series about real children around the world who are taking action against injustice around them. "Our Heroes" begins with the Ubuntu story. Ubuntu is described as an African word that encompasses compassion and love for ourselves and others. A child asked to explain "ubuntu" said "How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?" Demonstrating this profound idea are the selected examples of eleven year old Andrew Adansai-Bonnah, of Ghana, who worked to raise support for starving children in Somali. Another hero who worked to feed and help the homeless is Hannah Taylor, 8, from Canada. Kyle Weiss of the USA helped raise funds for African children to have a chance to play soccer. Arti Verma, 12, India worked to end discrimination against physically challenged children. All nine children who are honored in "Our Heroes" have taken action to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Like other titles of this fine series, "Our Heroes" ends with a section titled Kids Take Action!, Kids Create!, and What YOUth Can Do, all providing further information and inspiration for kids who want to help others.

Life is Like the Wind
Shona Innes and Irisz Agocs
250 Wireless Boulevard
Hauppauge, NY 11788
9780764167478 $10.99

Part of the "Big Hug" picturebook series designed to teach children about tough emotional issues, Life is Like the Wind is a story created to introduce little ones to the concept of death, and ways to cope with losing a loved one. "People have different ideas about where a life goes when it leaves the body. Some believe the life enters another body, to give life to a new creature. / Others believe the life goes to a happy place called heaven, where the life can enjoy its favorite things. / Some think the life goes deep into the ground, giving new life to trees and flowers... / ...or that the life goes way up into the stars, where it twinkled brightly and watches over us." Gentle color illustrations of animal characters add a warmhearted touch to this superb picturebook, ideal for opening a discussion with young people about a very difficult topic. Highly recommended.

Friends Never Always
Tanja Wenisch, author/illustrator
Magination Press
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
9781433816390, $14.95,

"Friends Never Always" (with "never" crossed out) is a fun book to begin conversations about young friendships, likes, conflicts, and resolution, even learning forgiveness. Perfect for children ages 4-8, "Friends Never Always" (with 'never' crossed out) sets an accepting, humorous style in text and picture, describing how a child feels about many different individual friends. Beginning with an implied tiff between a boy and former friend Quentin, "Friends Always Never" lists a litany of different other friends, each with special shared interest areas or characteristics. After completing a long list of other friends (one of whom he doesn't like because he is teased unkindly by him), a passage of time is indicated by the evening Packman moon shadowed in blue. Finally in golden daylight, the boy hears his doorbell and finds and instantly forgives his friend Quentin as they go off to play in the park together. Ending with a touching portrait of all the friends sitting on a wall, viewed from the back, "Friends Never Always" is a gentle invitation to children to begin to explore the ins and outs of relationships, encouraging flexibility, sharing, and forgiveness, but not tolerating bullying or cruelty in interactions. A final Note to Parents and Caregivers makes further suggestions for adults reactions in encouraging positive peer interaction skills in your child. "Friends Never Always" is gentle, non-threatening and clear in all its messages, a book children will be comforted by and comfortable with.

Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean
Lara Embry, PhD. And A. E. Mikesell, and Jane Lynch, authors
Tricia Tusa, illustrator
Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385379083, $16.99,

"Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean" is an amazing story about a girl who bullies others. Co-written by "Glee" bully star Jane Lynch (who plays Sue Sylvester), "Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean" presents the story of the feats and undoing of a girl bully. Written in humorous verse and richly illustrated with action comic figures, "Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean" shows a bully can be not so terrifying after all, when confronted, gently, by a courageous peer, like Big Freddy. Big Freddy sees right through Marlene, and questions why all the kids give her so much power. Freddy tells her, "You're just a bully." Marlene's response is amazing. First she is terribly angry, then she cries, breaking and dissolving her meanness. Here is the just right surprise ending, in clever, exact narrative verse: "Marlene, Marlene had lost the routine of her formerly terrible self. Since being a jerk would no longer work, shed had to become something else. Her kindness can slide and her tone can be snide because her change is so recent. (You see, it's a breeze to learn how to tease; it's harder, sometimes, to be decent.) And Marlene, at times, commits (small) friendship crimes that her new self might seem to forbid. But she is, more or less, I'm sure you can guess, becoming a much nicer kid." "Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean" is a wonderfully fun reading experience with a great anti-bullying message for kids age 3-7.

One Gorilla
Joy Dey and Nikki Johnson
SWAK Publishing LLC
7064 Old Vermilion Trail
Duluth, Minnesota 55803
9780985322823 $17.95

One Gorilla is not just a watercolor picturebook of jungle animals; it's a metaphor for human behavior. In a fierce jungle, animals can be rowdy and aggressive to one another... or they can chose to be different. The actions of "one gorilla" can change the world, even something as simple as helping an overturned turtle get back on her feet. The striking art style uses realistic imagery, only with a rainbow palette of colors not usually found on animals in nature (except possibly for the parrot). One Gorilla is especially recommended for parents and children to share, the better to discuss its core message about the infinite value of spreading kindness.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Woolfred Cannot Eat Dandelions: A Tale of Being True to Your Tummy
Claudine Crangle, author/illustrator
Magination Press
American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
9781433816727, $14.95,

"Woolfred Cannot Eat Dandelions" is a story to help children understand food intolerance, and learning to accept and live with it. The gentle limited palette illustrations in shades of gray, yellow, green, and white, present a young sheep's experience testing the limits of a dandelion intolerance. Because Woolfred loves dandelions so much, at first he cannot accept that whenever he eats them, he gets very sick in his tummy. But after trying several different ways to eat them with the same, tummy-gurgling results, Woolfred learns to accept his dandelion intolerance, and ventures out to enjoy as many other life experiences as he can while honoring this limitation. A handy Note to Parents and Caregivers give additional suggestions for ways to help children cope with food intolerances.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Orangutan Houdini
Laurel Neme, author
Kathie Kelleher, illustrator
Bunker Hill Publishing
285 River Road, Piermont, NH 03779
c/o Goldberg McDuffie Communications (publicity)
9781593731533 $17.95

Orangutan Houdini the children's picturebook adaptation of a true story about an ape escape artist! Fu Manchu was an adult male orangutan with an uncanny talent for picking locks and evading his zookeeper, Jerry Stones. Fu Manchu never hurt a soul on his escapades; he simply enjoyed the chance to climb trees in the sunshine. For his talent at concealing and using a makeshift lockpick he was awarded an honorary membership in the American Association of Locksmiths! A brief, two-page author's note at the close of the story offers more details about Fu Manchu's remarkable life. Colorful illustrations enrich this amazing tale that primate fans young and old can share and enjoy.

Charley Harper's What's in the Coral Reef?
Text by Zoe Burke
Pomegranate Communications, Inc.
19018 NE Portal Way
Portland, OR 97230
9780764968464 $14.95

Charley Harper's What's in the Coral Reef? A Nature Discovery Book is a colorful children's picturebook introducing young readers to a wide variety of fish, invertibrates, and other creatures who depend on the Coral Reef ecosystem. Featuring the vivid, stylized artwork of nature painter Charley Harper (1922-2007), What's in the Coral Reef? is a delightful treasure that will also encourage young people to think about beautiful and mysterious sea life. Also highly recommended for picturebook collections is "Charley Harper's A Partridge in a Pear Tree" (9780764968518, $9.95), and Siri Schillios' wordless pictuebook featuring close-up focus frames of avian paintings, "Bird Wing Feather" (9780764968471, $17.95).

Katherine Applegate, author
G. Brian Karas, illustrator
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544252301 $17.99

Newberry Medalist Katherine Applegate presents Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, a children's picturebook based on the true story of gorilla, kidnapped from the wild by poachers, who spent much of his life as a public attraction in a shopping mall. Ivan lived as a human when young, but he could no longer remain in a human household when he grew big. Displayed in the mall, he had little to do, until people became aware of his plight and petitioned on his behalf. Eventually, he was moved to Zoo Atlanta, and given time and training to acclimate himself to his new home - as well as other gorillas! A two-page postscript offers more details about the life of the "Shopping Mall Gorilla", in this ultimately heartwarming picturebook perfect for young primate fans. Highly recommended, especially for children's library collections.

Tracks Count: A Guide to Counting Animal Prints
Steven Engel, author
Alexander Petersen, illustrator
Craigmore Creations
2900 SE Stark St., Suite 1A, Portland, OR 97214
9781940052076, $17.99,

"Tracks Count" is a unique, combination nature tracking and counting book that teaches children ages 4 and up how to identify paw and claw prints and tracks while also underlining counting skills. Accurate yet personable sepia and white illustrations show clear animal portraits and pawprints in a sequence from 1 to 10, encouraging readers to count track features such as claws or toes to add up to the total number in sequence. The final pages recount all the tracks and numbers in sequence for further learning reinforcement, while additional Animal Facts are featured in the final pages for featured species, including caribou, grizzly bear, horse, moose, raccoon, rhinoceros, river otter, sanderling, tapir, white-nosed coatimundi, wolf, and an wolverine. The initial introduction for grown-ups further underlines the teaching process; presenting the numbers 1-5 as an expression of how many toes an animal has; and the presenting the numbers 6-10 as combinations of two different animals, counting their toe tracks. "Tracks Count" is an excellent nature guide for young trackers and mathematicians, teaching math, counting, and tracks identification simultaneously while entertaining with the diversity of birds and animals represented.

The Buddhist Shelf

Anatta's Dreams
Elizabeth Craft, author
Joshua Allen, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491873144, $17.99,

"Anatta's Dreams" is an inspired retelling of a Buddhist teaching loosely described as: Atisha Slogan #2: Regard all dharmas as dreams. This explanation is unnecessary to the understanding of the children for whom "Anatta's Dreams" is intended. They are naturally in touch with the collective unconscious, and will develop their own deeper understanding without explicit morals or didactic explanations. Accompanied by brightly colored illustrations of animals as well as humans from Thinkstock, "Anatta's Dreams" recount as dreams different experiences, such as being a bear, being a dog, being an ocean squid, being a butterfly, and being a boy (or being a girl). The story of "Anatta's Dreams" is similar to a poem attributed to Taliesen; again recounting a series of vivid fish, bird, or animal life experiences as dreams. In the end, the story returns to a dreamer dreaming he is a little boy, talking to a friend who is a girl. "Am I the boy who dreams he is a butterfly or a butterfly who dreams he is a boy? They are all dreams." This profound fable illustrates an ancient wisdom riddle in ways a child can understand and grasp, lightly.

The Judaic Shelf

The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin
Martha Seif Simpson
Wisdom Tales
P.O. Box 2682, Bloomington, Indiana 47402-2682
9781937786281, $16.95,

The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah receives fine drawings by Durga Yael Bernhard as it tells of two children who insist they have to own a dreidel that won't spin for them. But will it spin for one who holds the real spirit of Hannukah? It's a lovely seasonal Hannukah tale for ages 5 and older who have good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance - the latter being the better choice for fully exploring the story's underlying message.

Wherever We Go!
Chani Altein, author
Marc Lumer and Jovani Olivares, illustrators
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628797 $12.95

Featuring durable, laminated pages that are easier for little hands to turn, Wherever We Go! is a picturebook especially for Jewish children ages 3-6. Featuring two boys, young Benny and the responsible Tzvi, the rhyming story is about maintaining polite behavior and being mindful of Hashem. "If at the museum, one fine afternoon, / We're there to see rockets that went to the moon, / We won't push the kids in the line up ahead, / But stand and wait nicely for our turn instead!" Color illustrations add a charming touch to this read-aloud celebration of good behavior and the Jewish faith.

The Christian Shelf

I Want to Be Baptized
Annalisa Hall, author
Corey Egbert, illustrator
c/o Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South, Springville, Utah 84663
9781462114610 $14.99

I Want to Be Baptized is a picturebook designed to help teach young Christian children about the responsibility and importance of being baptized. Baptization is compared to various everyday things to help clarify its important role. "You get baptized because it is a commandment. Baptism is like a traffic light. Obeying traffic lights keeps you safe. When we follow the commandment to be baptized, we obey Heavenly Father and stay safely on the right path." Simple color illustrations grace this excellent teaching and preparation tool, ideal for Sunday School libraries. Also highly recommended is author Annalisa Hall's previous picturebook for Christian children, "The Holy Ghost Is Like a Blanket".

God Gave Us Angels
Lisa Tawn Bergren, author
Laura J. Bryant, illustrator
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601426611 $10.99

Part of the "God Gave Us" series of children's picturebooks in which a father polar bear kindly teaches his little cub about God's mercy and benevolence, God Gave Us Angels touches upon the subject of angels - invisible holy spirits dedicated to the service and worship of God. "'Should we pray to angels? You know, to ask them to help us?' 'Angels are God's servants. He's their boss. We should pray only to God, because he is the one who tells them what to do.'" The color illustrations have a fuzzy warmth, in this gentle storybook ideal for sharing with Christian children.

Peek-a-Boo Promises: God Is Always With You
Michelle Medlock Adams, author/illustrator
Pauline Siewart, illustrator
CandyCane Press
c/o Ideals Publications
2630 Elm Hill Pike, Suite 100, Nashville, TN 37214
9780824919078, $8.99,

"Peek-a-Boo Promises: God Is Always With You" is a delightful interactive pasteboard book about taking refuge and comfort in God, as taught in Bible verses. Perfect for young children, each pair of pages has full page vivid illustrations, with a simple versed narrative in two parts, call and response, with a Biblical sourced quotation under the lifted flap, completing the portrait of children's faith revealed. Bright, cheery colored illustrations show persons of different races and ages interacting lovingly together. Faith shines out of the window of each page, while text and illustration interweave perfectly to demonstrate the harmony, beauty, and peace of God's blessed love and nearness. "God Is Always With You" is a lovely reassuring children's view of the powerful message in the Holy Bible to trust in the goodness and nearness of God. Biblical verses are quoted on the lifted flaps, and illustrations show children treasuring their Bibles, given to them by loving adults near a small church setting. Most valuable of all, the simple verse text and narrative pictures convey the shining ideal that all people show their trust in God
by their caring for one another, in daily life.

The Wonderful Gifts of Winter
Dandi Daley Mackall, author
Katherine Blackmore, illustrator
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433682391, $9.99,

"The Wonderful Gifts of Winter" is a children's joyous celebration infused with thanks to God for the gifts of winter. Pages of lilting, inviting verse are illuminated by delicate pastel illustrations of wonderful winter scenes with happy, joy-filled children, all saying, "Thank You, God, for winter." Each special page reveals a particular winter joy, including the Nativity of Jesus Christ, with an accompanying Biblical quotation, illustrating or amplifying the joy, awe, and gratitude. Specially written for children ages 4-8, "The Wonderful Gifts of Winter" is a magical doorway to the feeling of festive faith and celebration and winter season brings.

The Poetry Shelf

Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving
John Frank, author
London Ladd, illustrator
Lee & Low Books Inc.
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600609701, $17.95,

"Lend a Hand" is an inspired collection of illustrated poems about helping others, for the enjoyment of readers ages 6-10. Each of the poems is about giving or sharing something precious with another in need. For example, "Hair" is a poem about donating a long ponytail of hair to others whose illness takes their hair. "Letter" is about writing a letter to an unknown soldier, posted in far away, dangerous places. "No Charge" is about passing on the gift, or paying it forward. "Song" is about performing in a school choir for an elderly audience in a dilapidated setting. Each poem, with its expressive illustration in acrylic, colored pencil and pastels, explores the joy of giving, even in difficult times and places. "Lend a Hand" is particularly inspirational because it emphasizes that everyone, young and old, rich and poor, sick and well, has something valuable to share.

The Biography Shelf

Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan
Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781481422949 $17.99

Also available as an ebook, Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan is two picturebooks in one about real life courage. One story is about Malala, a young girl who spoke out about the right of women and girls to obtain an education; because she dared to stand up for herself and others, a Taliban gunman shot her point blank on a school bus. Miraculously, she lived. Iqbal was a young boy whose desperately impoverished parents sold him into a form of legalized slavery - to pay off a twelve dollar debt, he was chained to the loom of a carpet factory and forced to work. He spoke out against child labor, and received death threats from the carpet industry for his efforts. At age twelve, he was shot and killed. Although suitable for young readers ages 4-8, Malala/Iqubal does not downplay the terrible injustice of these true stories, or the heroism of these two young people. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library picturebook collections.

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
Jen Bryant, author
Melissa Sweet, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802853851, $17.50,

"The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus" is a zany, informative, quirkily illustrated biography of Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) for kids age 7 and up. As a child, Peter experienced frequent moves with his mother and family after his father died. This led him to enjoy the company of books, and the making of lists. Peter liked doing things alone, and he loved making lists of words and synonyms. After he grew and entered medical school in Edinburgh, Peter Roget became a tutor to two teenage boys, taking them traveling through important places in Europe. Peter Roget became a doctor for the poor of Manchester and a celebrated speaker in London. He married Mary Hobson at age 45 and they had two children, Kate and John. Always he continued making and organizing lists of words. In 1852 he published his first Thesaurus, making ever more likely and possible that writers could be helped to find the right word whenever they consulted this famous book of word lists. "The Right Word" ends with a chronology, or list of principal events from Peter Mark Roget's life. There is also an author's note, illustrator's note, selected bibliography, suggestions for further reading and list of sources. "The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus" is a fabulous illustrated junior biography, celebrating the richness and power of words, and the wonderful story of the man who organized and listed words to make them accessible to all who are literate.

Colors of the Wind
J. L. Powers, author
George Mendoza, illustrator
Purple House Inc.
P.O. Box 787, Cynthiana, KY 41031
9781930900738, $18.95,

"Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza" is a juvenile biography of George Mendoza, blind artist and champion runner. "Colors of the Wind" is also the title of a collection of paintings by Mendoza that is a traveling exhibit of National Smithsonian Affiliates. A profusion of amazing, rainbow-splashed paintings adorn the pages of "Colors of the Wind," providing repeated demonstration of the artistic gifts and talents of partially sighted (but legally blind) George Mendoza. Physically active from a very young age, George refused to slow down when stricken with a degenerative eye disease at age 15. George became both a great runner and a talented painter, as he experienced gradually diminished vision. "Colors of the Wind" displays his amazing art in accompaniment with his life story. When George looked at the world, as he lost his vision, it was like looking at a kaleidoscope. Encouraged by a priest, George decided to paint what he alone could see. He won a painting contest for blind artists with a painting named "Butterfly Eyes." George experimented, painting with brushes, fingerpaints and work gloves. He visited schools, asking children a question once posed to him by a blind child, "What color is the wind?" George has won Olympic medals for his running, but his continuing challenge today is his painting. A further resource suggested to readers of "Colors of the Wind" is his biography, "Running Toward the Light: The George Mendoza Story," by William J. Buchanan, from University of New Mexico Press. "Colors of the Wind" concludes with a list of 17 titles of paintings by George Mendoza that are partially presented in the pages of his story.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Katheryn Russell-Brown, author
Frank Morrison, illustrator
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600608988, $18.95,

"Little Melba and Her Big Trombone" is a magnificent illustrated biography of famed jazzwoman trombonist Melba Liston (1926-1999). Action-filled portraits of joyous, dancing black people roll ebulliently out from the pages, while little Melba grows and learns to play the jazzy music she loves on her trombone. It is a challenge to play the heavy instrument when she is a girl of 7, but her Mama believes in her and her Grandpa John helps her learn. Lots of practice results in strong, steady blowing and better trombone music. At the age of 8, Melba played her trombone on the radio. Melba's love of music followed her from Kansas City to Los Angeles, where she became the star player for the Melodic Dots, an after school band. Melba endured hurtful comments from jealous boys, but she just turned it all into great soul music. Melba wrote music too, and toured with a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson. Because Melba was the only woman in the band, she was lonely, and shunned sometimes even by other male band members. Traveling in the South with singer Billie Holiday's band included other painful racist experiences that discouraged Melba. But she kept on playing, to the joy of loyal jazz music fans everywhere. In the 1950's Melba played with all the great jazz musicians, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, and more. Melba played, composed, arranged music, and toured the world with her fabulous trombone. "Little Melba and Her Big Trombone" ends with a photo illustrated Afterword, condensing most of her career and life events and achievements. There is also a Selected Discography, separately listing sources with Melba Liston as arranger, band leader, and trombone player. Also listed are author's sources, books, articles, interviews and broadcasts, and websites about Melba Liston.

The Fiction Shelf

Rory's Promise
Michaela MacColl & Rosemary Nichols
Calkins Creek
c/o Highlights
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620916230, $16.95,

Twelve-year-old Rory and her little sister, Violet are, at least, living together in the Catholic Foundling Hospital in New York City. But in 1904 the hospital begins to send orphans to the Arizona Territory to be adopted by devout Catholic families. Too old to be adopted, Rory is desperate to find a way to accompany Violet. With no other recourse, she stows away on the "orphan" train determined to make sure the family who adopts Violet is a good one. But Rory soon discovers that the families the Sisters have chosen for the white orphans are actually Mexican immigrant families, which deeply offends the local Anglo community. The trouble that ensues is much more complicated and dangerous than anything the resourceful Rory had bargained for. But seeking justice and finding the right family for them both is what helps her persevere. Based on actual events, "Rory's Promise" is the first book in a character-driven three-book series that examines little-known moments in American history and includes an author's note, as well as a bibliography. Very highly recommended for young readers ages 9 to 12, and certain to be a popular addition to school and community library collections, it should be noted that "Rory's Promise" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.49).

Blossom the Possum Learns to Swim
William L. B. Wharton, author
Nash Trowll, illustrator
Broad Creek Press
PO Box 43, Mt. Airy, NC 27030
9780990466208, $8.50,

"Blossom the Possum Learns to Swim" is an intriguing first book by a preteen author, inspired by stories of his father's boyhood adventures with a pet possum. Sensitively illustrated with black and white drawings of possum and turtle thumbnail portraits, "Blossom the Possum Learns to Swim" tells a realistic story about a little possum who is helped to tackle scary beginning swimming experiences by an encouraging friend. Blossom is buoyed by the positive attitude and helpful suggestions of her new turtle friend, Turt. She finds that if she believes in herself, she can achieve marvelous things, even learning to swim! "Blossom the Possum Learns to Swim" is a wonderful first literary effort, perfect for young readers, with accurate natural observations portrayed in accessible, appealing, authentic animal characters. Also previously reviewed and highly recommended are these additional titles by the same author, working in tandem with coauthor- mother Laura Wharton, including two mysteries and another to come: "Monsters Below," and "The Mermaid's Tale," both from the Mystery at the Lake House series. In the same series, "The Secret of the Compass" is planned for publication in 2015.

The Giver Quartet
Lois Lowry
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544340626, $39.99,

The Giver Quartet is the perfect item of choice for any book lover who wants to give a meaningful, inspirational and heart-felt set of books to both young adult and adult audiences alike. The slipcased four-book trilogy includes a rare 'World of the Giver Quartet' map inside, with the overall package enhancing the presentation of the reissued best-sellers THE GIVER, GATHERING BLUE, MESSENGER, and SON. With its heartfelt adventures and underlying inspirational message, there could not be a better gift set for the holidays!

Iggy Loomis: A Hagfish Called Shirley
Jennifer Allison
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803737815, $16.99,

Iggy Loomis: A Hagfish Called Shirley tells of Daniel's younger brother Iggy, who is as strange as everyone else around Daniel. Alistair's pet is a hagfish called Shirley, but when Shirley is flushed down the toilet and becomes lost in the sewers, it's up to Alistair to solve the problem, and Iggy to use his superpowers to locate Shirley despite his temper tantrums. A fun story evolves.

Peter Puck and the Runaway Zamboni Machine
Brian McFarlane
c/o Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495836, $12.99,

Peter Puck and the Runaway Zamboni Machine receives fun drawings by Geri Storey and tells of the adventures of hockey's mascot Peter Puck as it presents the cartoon character in a ne chapter book. Here peter's friend Tony the Zamboni longs for adventure, then vanishes, involving Peter and referee George in a search that uncovers more than adventure. A race ensues that holds implications for all kinds of action in this fun chapter book read.

Refuge: After the Collapse
Scott B. Williams
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612432953, $14.95,

Refuge: After the Collapse provides Book Two of The Pulse series, which continues the saga of survivors who face a much-changed world after power, communication and transport grids are destroyed by massive solar flares. America has turned violent and within this new world, Artie and his daughter reunite after his journey across the Caribbean and her escape from a deranged kidnapper. The situation remains dangerous, however, and Refuge picks up where the other left off, testing the courage, love, and endurance of all characters in an engrossing story recommended for prior readers and newcomers alike.

In Real Life
Lawrence Tabak
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804844789, $16.99,

Seth Gordan only wants to play video games for the rest of his life: he's a math prodigy and finds these skills tested only at Starfare, a popular computer game. His goal is to join the ranks of top, famous world players - but they tend to be rich and train all day long, whereas Seth has school, a job, and divorced parents to worry about - plus a girl who might just understand his obsessions. Add a Korean pro squad who helps Seth's dream come true and sparks a journey to another culture and you have a book steeped in Korean flavor and the efforts of a loner who is challenged to make friends for perhaps the first time in his life. An absorbing saga follows.

The Swallow: A Ghost Story
Charis Cotter
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495913, $19.99,

The Swallow: A Ghost Story takes place in 1960s Toronto, where two girls live isolated and lonely lives under very different circumstances. Poly lives in a house packed with people and is a dreamer obsessed with ghosts, while Rose is quiet and often left alone. Both girls feel the same feelings and hide in books and their attic rooms. When they discover they are neighbors sharing a wall, an unusual friendship - and encounters with ghosts - begins. The result is a warm story of two seemingly-different girls who discover that in some ways, they are frighteningly similar.

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

Elsie Chapman's DIVIDED (9780449812952, $17.99) provides a fine sequel to the thriller Dueled and is especially recommended for prior readers of the story of a girl trained to track and kill a twin raised by another family. While West may have defeated her Alternate and proven her worth, the Board has a new assignment - and they know about her past as an assassin. Their offer promises her and her family safety for generations, but it comes with a price tag: she must kill again. A vivid saga emerges. Peggy Eddleman's SKY JUMPERS: THE FORBIDDEN FLATS (9780307981318, $16.99) tells of impulsive pre-teen Hope, who tasks too many risks and fails as much as she succeeds in life. But the most dangerous thing is where she lives - close to the poison in the air that's permeated many places since World war III's green bombs. When a big quake causes the poison to lower over her town, it's up to her and her friends to prevent disaster. And this time, failure is not an option. A fine post-apocalyptic saga emerges.

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

Elizabeth Haydon's THE TREE OF WATER (9780765320599, $17.99) tells of a young Royal Reporter's task: to seek out magic hiding in plain sight as he travels the world. But first he needs to escape a Thief Queen ruler, explore the world under the sea, and face down wonders and dangers that threaten his quest and pose an impossible dilemma: either sacrifice their own lives, or those of thousands of innocents. This fourth installment of a fantasy series, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, is particular recommended for prior followers of the epic journey. Speaking of epic, Ben Tripp's THE ACCIDENTAL HIGHWAYMAN (9780765335494, $17.99) is out just in time for holiday feature, and is a recommendation for young adult to adult audiences with its compelling story, set in 18th century England and centering around the servant of a notorious highwayman, Whistling Jack. When his master dies and Christopher is mistaken for him, a series of ironies and encounters with magical law involves him in a dangerous quest and impossible situations. Add more than a dose of humor to this first in a projected trilogy and you have a blend of fantasy, swashbuckling adventure, and a young protagonist whose desire for a peaceful life has just been altered by circumstance.

Penguin Putnam
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014

D.J. MacHale's SYLO CHRONICLES #3: STRIKE (9781595146694, $17.99) is out, and it's no less compelling than its predecessors as Tucker finds himself on the run from the SYLO team and taken prisoner on a base of invaders working against them. In a world torn asunder by forces in a war the common person had no idea was being fought, who is the bad guy and who the good? As Tucker is forced to watch fellow prisoners being conditioned to forget their old lives and friendships, he faces many possibilities and a mysterious dome that may finally hold answers. An engrossing story comes to its conclusion - sadly - in this final book in an amazing trilogy: one's that a real standout. Rick Yancey's THE INFINITE SEA (9780399162428, $18.99) is the second book of the 5th Wave, and is, if possible, even more complex than the first. How do you get rid of seven billion humans on one world? Cassie and her companions have survived the Others' four waves of destruction: with the human race nearly exterminated and the final wave taking place, can they continue to survive? An engrossing story becomes quite complex, especially recommended for mature YAs to adult readers.

Hyperion Books
c/o Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023

Jonathan Stroud's LOCKWOOD & CO.: THE WHISPERING SKULL (9781423164920, $17.99) takes place after three friends survive a night in the most haunted house in England. In that time Lockwood & Co. haven't made much headway in their investigations - but a new client hires them to be present at the exhumation of a doctor who once communicated with the dead. And it's George's curiosity which releases a terrible phantom and a host of chaos. Young adults interested in chilling horror mysteries will find this a wonderfully frightening, involving saga. Hillary Monahan's THE SUMMONING (9781423185192, $16.99) is also a satisfyingly-chilling horror tale and revolves around Jess, who has researched just how to summon one Bloody Mary from eternal sleep. And he's successful: the problem is, he can't stop summoning her - and when his summoning circle is broken, Blood Mary becomes present and filled with a thirst for revenge. A haunting story of friendships and challenges ensues in a satisfyingly-chilling supernatural saga.

Harper Teen
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Mindy McGinnis' IN A HANDFUL OF DUST (9780062198532, $17.99) tells of Lucy, whose life has been filled with laughter, love, and friends and defined by an idyllic pondside world - a world soon to be changed when disease hits the community and Lucy's life is challenged by a journey to save everything she loves. Lost in a world that is vastly different than she envisioned, this companion to NOT A DROP TO DRINK offers a gripping continuation of Lucy's saga, and is recommended for prior readers interested in what happens next. Demitria Lunetta's IN THE END (9780062105486, $17.99) takes place three months after Amy escapes New Hope to survive on her own as she did before she was in the prior book IN THE AFTER. She's left behind everything she grew to love - but when she finds one of her past friendships threatened, it's up to her to tackle the doctor who once helped end the world - even if it means she must return to prison to do it. An engrossing story emerges, especially for those with prior familiarity with Baby and Amy's story.

The Education Shelf

Bitsy Bear: A Great Children's Story & Essential Parenting Tool
Anne M. Jenks, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group
9781496907691, $19.99,

"Bitsy Bear" is a brightly illustrated children's book that teaches kidnapping awareness and preventive skills for children and parents. Bitsy is an adorable jungle monkey who can perform amazing tricks. She is fooled and taken by some scheming circus performer bears, to be used as a part of their failing circus act. Her siblings and parents use all their skills and senses, plus official authority from the jungle police to find and reclaim Bitsy. "Bitsy Bear" ends with a page of helpful Tips for Parents and also Tips for Your Child, plus a caution to "Enlighten, not frighten,"... "using a well-organized, nonthreatening approach to personal safety and stranger danger." "Bitsy Bear" is a compact, colorful, solid pack of pertinent self protective information
that children will understand and remember.

The Technology Shelf

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone: A Cautionary Tail
Ann Droyd, author/illustrator
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
9780399169267, $15.95,

"If You Give a Mouse an iPhone" is a Plugged-In Parody sequel to "Goodnight iPad,"
an exploratory saga featuring an impulsive mouse named Applesauce and his experience with the enchantment of high technology. "If You Give a Mouse an iPhone" is all about the tradeoff parents and kids make when, desperate for some quiet time, an adult hands a child (for example) an iPhone, and the ensuing addictive tapping behavior effectively muzzles the child's response to happenings in the moment. The parent watches the child trade his "now" sensory awareness for an limited physical participation (tapping on a tiny screen) in enhanced, artificial world, seductive in all aspects. Thus, a child loans Applesauce his iPhone only to see him become completely engrossed in screen tapping, excluding his awareness of a wonderful trip to the zoo, hazards, fun foods, being washed over a cliff and out to sea, and being marooned on a desert island overnight with no power sources. Eventually Applesauce is forced to return to the Here and Now and experience its wonder again, having tested his friends limits to the point of warning him, "You do know that this much screen time can't be good for you, right?" As a 'cautionary tail' "If You Give a Mouse an iPhone" is funny, quirky, and irresistible in its special warning delivery package. Kids will not be able to put (their mobile reading devices) down for recharging.

No Cell Phone Day
Delfeayo Marsalis, author
Reginald William Butler, illustrator
Kidstown Press
c/o Dmarsalis Productions
5721 Magazine St., Suite 183, New Orleans, LA 70115
9780989519502, $16.99,

The back cover quotation says it all: "Technology is here to stay,/ But when it's getting in your way,/ Have yourself a no cell phone day!" This is exactly what Jazmine and her mom decide to give her dad for his birthday, since his interaction with his two cell phones tended to take up most of his time at home and at work. Featuring a loving, warm, African American heroine and family in the setting of New Orleans, LA, "No Cell Phone Day" explores the value of going technology free to rediscover authentic interaction with daily miracles of life. By giving up his cell phones on his special birthday, Jazmine's dad is able to give her the best day ever, with a parade of special events/experiences including breakfast at the Camellia Grill, visiting the Aquarium and the Audubon Park, playing frisbee, racing, and just talking and listening. Vivid action illustrations filled with warm tones of burgundy, crimson, gold and brown tantalize the reader with visions of ordinary daily activities, minus cell phone distractions. "No Cell Phone Day" is a wonderful book to share with children and adults of all ages.

Uncle John's Robotica
Bathroom Readers' Institute
PO Box 1117, Ashland, OR 97520
9781626861763, $11.95,

Uncle John's Robotica: mechanical marvels and Mind-Melting Machines of the Past, Present and Future shouldn't be limited by age group but will appeal widely to grades 6 and into adult circles as it provides a fun trivia blend of history and insights into droids, drones, cyborgs and robots. From denizens of yesterday to the possibilities of robots of tomorrow, this is packed with intriguing facts and fancies and illustrations all ages will enjoy.

The Music CD Shelf

Jefrey Au-Go-Go!
Jefrey Siler
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
$9.99 CD or digital

Jefrey Au-Go-Go! is the debut children's album of indie musician Jefrey Siler, whose strong ties to both the U.S. and Australia have prompted him to cheerfully perform on both sides of the equator. The whimsical, often alliterative lyrics are an upbeat blend of storytelling and fast-paced ballad, and the lively music is brimming with celebration. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Peter the Pushy Puppy", "Ippo the Hippo", "Cheeky Alligator", "Milk Mustache", "Shake It Off", "Perry the Pirate", "Nelson", "Pajama Parade", "Mountain Called Change", "Buster Brownbird", and "Awful Wide".

The DVD Shelf

Shalom Sesame: The Complete Series
Starring Anneliese van der Pol
SISU Home Entertainment, Inc.
340 W. 39th St., 6th Fl.
New York, NY 10018
9781560867135 $99.95

From the creators of "Sesame Street", Shalom Sesame: The Complete Series is a DVD collection of this television program created to introduce young people to Jewish holidays, traditions, and culture. The lovable Grover explores Israel, meets Israeli people, and makes wonderful discoveries. Filled with live-action puppets and cheerful songs, Shalom Sesame is a wonderfully entertaining as well as educational series, highly recommended. The 12 programs are "Welcome to Israel", "Grover Learns Hebrew", "The Sticky Shofar", "Monsters in the Sukkah", "Chanukah: The Missing Menorah", "Grover Plants a Tree", "Be Happy, It's Purim!", "Shabbat Shalom, Grover!", "It's Passover, Grover!", "Countdown to Shavuot", "Mitzvah on the Street", and "Adventures in Israel". Not rated (intended for ages 3-8), 6 DVDs, 6.5 hours, English subtitles.

Lego Friends Jungle Adventure
Adapted by Cathy Hapka
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545794107 $4.99

Illustrated with full-color screenshots from the computer-animated movie, Lego Friends Jungle Adventure is a delightful novelization of the children's movie, suitable for middle grade or young adult readers. When Aunt Sophie's fiance Henry disappears in the jungle a few weeks before their planned wedding, young Olivia and her friends mount a rescue mission to find him! Can they navigate a wild jungle filled with perils and save the day (not to mention the wedding)? Lego Friends Jungle Adventure is a fun-filled, family-friendly story, especially recommended for young people who are ready to take the next step beyond picturebooks.

The Activity Shelf

Just Me and My Mind
Kerry Lee MacLean
Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781614291244 $18.95

Just Me and My Mind is an interactive book designed to help teach children how to articulate and handle strong emotions. Each page is dedicated to an emotion - happy, scared, sad, loving, or angry - that can be "pulled out" of the mind of the child (a strip of light cardboard paper fits snugly in the picture of a child's head - Just Me and My Mind is not quite a pop-up or a lift-the-flap book, but it can be manipulated in a similar manner). Because of its removable paper parts, Just Me and My Mind is a little too fragile for public library collections, but parents, babysitters, and tutors will find it a useful teaching tool to read and share with little ones. "When all those happy, sad, and crazy thoughts start crashing around in my head, that's when I have to clean it out. I clean my mind by quietly letting it settle itself. I can lie back, look into the sky, and just... be." Highly recommended.

Disney Junior: Let's Play! Poster-A-Page
Time Home Entertainment Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, 6th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781618933782 $12.95

Disney Junior: Let's Play! Poster-A-Page is a full-color book of Disney characters, designed so that every sing page can be removed and displayed as a poster. The text tends to be catchy, poster-friendly quips such as "I love you more than lollipops and lemonade" or "Friends work together and help each other." Nine of the posters are supersized, while the rest are the size of a full page. The Disney characters featured include classic favorites such as Mickey and Minne Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, and Goofy; Jake and his play-pirate band from Never Land (as they evade the nefarious Captain Hook!); juvenile medical prodigy Doc; and Princess Sofia the First. Let's Play! makes an excellent, hands-on holiday or birthday gift for young people.

The Environmental Shelf

Bird Lady Meets Mort and Ort in "It's a Great Day for Pulling Weeds!"
Gramma Golden, author
Stephen Adams, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group
9781491867709, $20.99,

"Bird Lady Meets Mort and Ort in 'It's a Great Day for Pulling Weeds!'" is a great environmental education story about a lovable gardener known as Bird Lady because of her love of birds. Responsible gardening practices are taught to an old woman culling weeds from her garden by two talking rainbow- colored birds named Mort and Ort who came from Noah's ark after the Flood. Bird Lady learns that even a little thing like pulling all the weeds from her garden can threaten the health and survival of many insects, birds, plants and animals. Use of pesticides and insecticides also has harmful impact on survival of all the creatures of an ecosystem. The strange birds also taught Bird Lady an all natural recipe for deer and animal repellant that would not hurt the environment and habitat for other creatures. Bird Lady learned many useful gardening practices that would help her protect the environment, rather than endangering it. Bird Lady learned many things she could do to help preserve and protect the environment for all creatures, including using safe alternatives to insecticides and pesticides, deadheading flowers, not culling all weeds, and collecting and sharing weed seeds and plants from her garden. Mort and Ort told Bird Lady their lessons were to be a test for her, and that they would return to see if she shared what she had learned about protecting the environment. Bird Lady looked forward to the day when they would return to visit her again.

The Multimedia Shelf

Frozen Sing-Along Storybook
Lisa Marsoli, adaptor
Disney Storybook Art Team, illustrator
Disney Press
1101 Flower Street, Glendale, CA 91201
9781484720356, $17.99,

"Frozen Sing-Along Storybook" includes lyrics and CD musical recording of "Let It Go," "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" and "For the First Time In Forever," three best beloved songs from the colossal hit Disney cartoon movie, "Frozen." Brilliant, full color two page illustrations embellish the highlighted narrative. The complex plot of "Frozen" unfolds with vibrant energy from these dazzling pages, while the CD recording with illuminated lyrics of three most popular songs guarantee multiple hours of reading and listening enjoyment for readers age 6 and up.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Snow Queen
Adapted from the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen
Written by Natacha Godeau
Illustrations by Giorgio Baroni
Auzou Publishing
24 - 32 rue des Amandiers
75020 Paris, France
9782733825303 $16.95

The Snow Queen is a captivatingly beautiful children's picturebook adapting the classic fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson. When an evil mirror is shattered into pieces, two of them lodge in the eye and heart of the young boy Kay, rendering him cold and distant. The enigmatic Snow Queen spirits Kay away; everyone is convinced that he must be dead except for his friend, the young girl Gerda. Gerda undertakes a harrowing travel across hill and dale, searching for Kay and gradually following clues to his whereabouts; people and animals kindly aid her quest, but even if she can find Kay, will she be able to save him from the corruptive glass shards? Highly recommended, especially as a memorable bedtime storybook.

Aristoddlers Presents: The Greedy King
Mitchell Biesemeyer, author
Santiago Germano, illustrator
Tall Tails Publishing House
902 Arlington Box 113, Ada, OK 74820
9780982351970 $16.99

Aristoddlers Presents: The Greedy King is a children's picturebook adaptation of the Greek story of King Croesus and the wise man Solon, as written by Herodotus in "The Histories" during the 5th century B.C.E. Although the Greek names of the characters (which young children may find difficult to pronounce) have been removed from the story - Croesus is referred to as "The Greedy King" - this rendition is faithful to the message of the original. A synopsis of the story from "The Histories" and a reproduction of the classic painting "Solon and Croesus" (created in 1624 by Gerard van Honthorst) round out this superb blend of storybook, folklore, and history.

The Three Little Pigs
Katelyn Sinclair
Chthonicity Press
PO Box 70635, Richmond, CA 94807
9781937186777 $16.99

The Three Little Pigs is a rhyming picturebook retelling of the classic children's folktale of three industrious little pigs and the wolf who wanted to eat them for dinner. The hungry wolf blows down the first pig's house of straw, and the second pig's house of twigs, but fortunately the third pig's house is made of sturdy bricks! "When he got to the top of the hill, that bad beast / was so weary and angry and ready to feast / that he kicked the door of the brick house and said, / 'Little pigs, let me in! I demand to be fed!' // But the little pigs laughed and replied with three grinds, / 'Never! Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins!'" The charming paper sculpture art style complements this rendition of a parable beloved by generations, highly recommended.

A Bean, A Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack
William Royce and Kenny Callicutt
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781442473492, $17.99,

Jack is a small boy who lives in a little house on a little farm - nothing special. And there's a princess whose father specializes in making everyone in the kingdom cry, prompting a wizard to do some reading and magicking to change the size of things. It takes an adventurous bean and just a little growth to turn into something bigger than all of them. A Bean, A Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack is anything but your ordinary picturebook story: it's thicker than most, but the pages are easy reads; specially with parental read-aloud assistance. And parents - this is something different. There's nothing quite like the tone and perspective of this unusual transformation of a classic story into something quite amazing.

The Mythology Shelf

Hades Speaks!
Vicky Alvear Shecter
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620915981, $16.95,

HADES SPEAKS! SECRETS OF THE ANCIENT GODS teaches the basics of gods, monsters, myths, and the ancient word, and collects the stories of many Greek and Roman writers and poets over hundreds of years, rendering them into a form that all ages will appreciate. Added drawings by J.E. Larson accompany discussions of haunted houses, the Greek underworld, and much more. A lively format lends to a discussion leisure readers will appreciate.

The Dance Shelf

Margot Toppen, author
Karen Light, illustrator
EduMotion, LLC
9780692241820 $17.99

Jitterbugs! A Dance-Along Story Inspired By Real American Jitterbugs is a children's picturebook loosely based on African-American jazz dancers George Snowden ("Shorty George") and Beatrice Gay ("Big Bea"). All human beings are recast as insects in this colorful, whimsical adventure of excitement. "'She isn't just dancing to the music,' thought Shorty, 'she IS the music.'" The final two pages offer a little historical information about the real-life Shorty George and Big Bea, as well as a musical citation note. Jitterbugs! is a great way to introduce little ones to jazz and dance history, highly recommended.

The American History Shelf

From Sea to Shining Sea
Callista Gingrich, author
Susan Arciero, illustrator
Regnery Publishing, Inc.
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
c/o Ascot Media Group Inc. (publicity)
9781621572534 $14.99

Part of the popular "Ellis the Elephant" picturebook series by Callista Gingrich (wife of the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich), From Sea to Shining Sea is a charming picturebook that teaches young people about the American history during the era of westward expansion shortly after the war for independence. Ellis' time-traveling adventures are told in rhyming verse, as watches America grow along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, and other great founds and explorers. "America had become such a large nation / that traveling through it took real innovation. / This was a challenge Robert Fulton understood. / He invented a steamboat and changed the country for good." The last few pages expound on the events in the picturebook, offering a paragraph-long historical summary of each happening and recommendations of further resources, including websites with more information.

The Multicultural Shelf

Dear Class
Jane J. Stein, author
Pamela A. Duckworth, illustrator
Montview Press
9780996100519 $24.95

Ideal for middle grade readers ages 8 to 12, Dear Class: Traveling Around the World with Mrs. J isn't exactly a picturebook - it's over 80 pages long, and based on the travel logs of a globe-trotting teacher. The real Mrs. J took a worldwide trip in 1963; much of Dear Class is devoted to letters about the many nations she visited - England, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, India, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. Complementing the letters are fascinating, true vignettes connected to each nation, and occasional activities for the reader, such as word searches or mazes. Websites chosen for an online "world tour" also pepper this eye-opening account, ideal for encouraging young people to learn more about other nations and cultures. Highly recommended!

The Year of the Sheep
Oliver Chin, author
Alina Chau, illustrator
Immedium, Inc.
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597021043 $15.95

Part of the "Tales from the Chinese Zodiac" series of exuberantly illustrated picturebooks, The Year of the Sheep celebrates 2015, the Chinese Year of the Sheep, with an adventurous, original story about a young sheep who delights in exploring the outdoors. But when a drought causes plans to wither and both people and animals to suffer, what can one little sheep do to help? Why, she can use her brain to devise a clever solution - but she'll need help from the other animals of the Zodiac! A gentle and creative multicultural storybook, The Year of the Sheep is highly recommended, as are the other picturebooks in the series: "The Year of the Dog", "The Year of the Pig", "The Year of the Rat", "The Year of the Ox", "The Year of the Tiger", "The Year of the Rabbit", "The Year of the Dragon", "The Year of the Snake", and "The Year of the Horse".

The Autism Shelf

The Autism Playbook for Teens
Irene McHenry, PhdD and Carol Moog, PhD
Instant Help Books
c/o New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781626250093 $16.95

The Autism Playbook for Teens: Imagination-Based Mindfulness Activities to Calm Yourself, Build Independence & Connect With Others lives up to its title as a practical self-help guide especially for teenagers on the autism spectrum. Its approach focuses on building upon one's strengths rather than trying to force weaknesses. The step-by-step mental exercises are an invaluable tool, that can potentially prove useful to adults as well, including those who are not on the autism spectrum. "Only you can switch your brain to a positive channel when you are feeling down. Other people may try, however, by telling you to 'Cheer up' or 'Have a nice day,' for example. Sometimes this can be annoying. These people are trying to be helpful, but they don't quite get it: only you can change the channel that your brain is tuned to. You can switch your brain to a positive channel simply by thinking about something good that has happened to you each day." Accessible and user-friendly, The Autism Playbook for Teens is highly recommended both as a personal resource and for public library collections.

Books in Series

Animal Homes
Saranne Taylor, author
Moreno Chiacchiera and Michelle Todd, illustrators
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY
9780778714385, $27.60,

"Animal Homes" is a fascinating study of the special design, engineering and construction of many homes by the animals, insects or birds who live in them. From the Young Architect series for young readers age 7 and up, "Animal Homes" uses clear, brief, highlighted narrative in tandem with demonstrative color photos and illustrations to demonstrate structure, location and construction of homes for over nine different species, including weaver birds, magpies, beavers, termite colonies, burrowers, bees and wasps, spiders, and more. Adaptable principles of design such as air flow chimneys (used in termite mounds) and spirals are cited and explained. A project of building a wildlife hotel of natural materials is suggested, shown with illustrations. A glossary, list of books and pertinent web sites completes this fascinating nonfiction title in the Young Architect series. Other highly recommended titles from the same series include: "Futuristic Homes" (9780778714392, $27.60), "Ancient Homes" (9780778714378, $27.60), and "Green Homes" (9780778714521, $27.60), all by Saranne Taylor with Moreno Chiacchiera and Michele Todd as illustrators.

Technology in the Ancient Americas
Charlie Samuels, author
Brown Bear Books Ltd., artwork
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 149, New York, NY 10003
9781433996207, $31.95,

From a fabulous educational series titled Technology in the Ancient World, the beautifully illustrated "Technology in the Ancient Americas" covers a wide array of inventions, tools, skills, and even bodies of knowledge used by pre-Columbian cultures of ancient Central and South America from between 1000 B.C.E. and 1519, when Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico and began to conquer and destroy the Aztec empire. The empires most represented include the Maya and Aztec of Mexico, and the Inca of Peru. The Maya Empire was the oldest of these, declining by 10th century C.E., followed by the Aztec empire and the Inca Empire, which collapsed after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1517 to Mexico and 1532 to Peru. These historic cultures incorporated many sophisticated technological skills and practices, building on the amazing contributions (such as mound or pyramid building, use of irrigation canals to grow crops, transporting with reed boats and rafts, etc.) of earlier civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Moche, and more. Historically supported technological background skills are described as used in farming, terraces and irrigation, cliff houses, pueblo building, transportation, building roads and bridges, astronomy, calendars, writing, metalwork, pottery and textile creation, weapons and warfare, and medicine. Detailed color photographs of existing sites and drawings of daily scenes as well as other artworks decorate the pages, while color shaded sidebars titled Technical Specs give further valuable information about each area and culture. "Technology in the Ancient Americas" includes a Timeline, Glossary, and suggested listing of related books and websites. This highly distilled, well- researched resource is part of a rich cultural/historical/technological collection designed to give informed samplings of knowledge to elementary or mid-grade students age 8 and up. Additional titles from the highly recommended Technology of the Ancient World Series include the following: "Technology in Ancient Greece" (9781433996320, $31.95), "Technology in Mesopotamia" (9781433996405, $31.95), "Technology in Ancient Rome" (9781433996368, $31.95), "Technology in Ancient China" (9781433996245, $31.95), and " Technology in Ancient Egypt" (9781433996283, $31.95), all by Charlie Samuels.

What Is A Folktale?
Geoff Barker, author
Britannica Educational Publishing
Rosen Educational Services
29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010
9781622752102, $23.45,

"What Is a Folktale?" is an excellent introduction to world folktales, with invitations to understand them, compare them, and even write original folktales. After an exploration of definition, origin, and common themes of folktales, six different folktales from different cultural origins are retold in pairs, with the opportunity to compare and contrast themes and messages of each. Each chapter is adorned with appropriate photographs, illustrations, and brief, color highlighted sidebars of pertinent information. Finally, the student is invited to write an original folktale, with some possible suggestions. A glossary, book listing, and website suggestions are included in this excellent elementary guide to identifying, understanding, and creating folktales. Further titles from the Britannica Common Core Library that are also highly recommended include: "What Is a Legend?" (9781622752058, $23.45), by Robyn Hardyman, "What Is a Fairy Tale?" (9781622752157, $23.45), by Robyn Hardyman, "What Is a Fable?" (9781622752003, $23.45), by Robyn Hardyman, "What Is a Myth?" (9781622751952, $23.45), by Geoff Barker, and "What Is a Poem?" (9781622752201, $23.45), by Geoff Barker.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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