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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 25, Number 12 December 2015 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Christmas Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Picturebook Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Health Shelf Christian Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Activity Shelf Multimedia Shelf Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Science Shelf
Books in Series    

Reviewer's Choice

Tuky: The Story of a Hidden Child
Shterni Rosenfeld
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628858 $12.95

Tuky: The Story of a Hidden Child is a novel for middle grade and young adult readers based on the true-life story Tuky Gestetner, a Hungarian Jewish girl whose childhood coincided with the Nazi Holocaust. When Hungary joined the Axis in World War II, Tuky's idyllic life with her many brothers, sisters, and cousins was shattered. Everyone she loved had to separate and hide from the Nazis. Along with her younger brother and cousin, Tuky went to live with non-Jewish farm families in the country. The Nazis were relentless in their efforts to send Jews to death camps; eventually they seized her and the boys. Tuky ultimately survived, but an estimated six million Jews and four million non-Jews condemned by the Nazis were not so fortunate. Powerful and emotionally moving, Tuky: The Story of a Hidden Child is also a valuable teaching tool for educating young people about the horrific Holocaust.

Cooper and the Big Apple
Camille Cohn & Riley Cohn
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626342200, $15.95, 40pp,

Cooper the cat is purrfectly content with his life in Texas. So when his best friend Jennifer tells him they're taking a trip to New York City, he's not really sure what all the fuss is about. But, like a good friend, he embarks on the new adventure with her. Jennifer takes Cooper to climb the Statue of Liberty, to visit the Stock Exchange, and to attend a Broadway musical, and to see many other New York City landmarks. At each new location, Cooper realizes the Big Apple is not what he expected and even more than he imagined! The collaborative work of freelance graphic designer Camille Cohn and illustrator Riley Cohn (a high school sophomore whose gift of Autism gives her a special ability to see the beauty and good in all), "Cooper and the Big Apple" is an original and engaging story that young readers will find thoroughly entertaining from first page to last. Very highly recommended for both school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cooper and the Big Apple" is also available in a Kindle edition.

The Seven Saws of Speedy Weedy and Mosey Dawdle
Reg Down
Lightly Press
6187 Greenhaven Drive, Sacramento, CA 95831
9781517485115, $14.95, 120pp,

"The Seven Saws of Speedy Weedy and Mosey Dawdle" by Reg Down is an impressive and unfailingly entertaining collection of 26 stories specifically written for young children ages 5 to 9 and students from kindergarten through the fourth grade. "The Seven Saws of Speedy Weedy and Mosey Dawdle" is comprised of nature stories, fables, mystery tales, wonder tales, fairy tales, fabulous tales and of course the seven saws of Speedy Weedy Hare and his unbeatable nemesis, Mosey Dawdle the Tortoise. Perfect for family bedtime story hours "The Seven Saws of Speedy Weedy and Mosey Dawdle" or for rainy day family entertainment, "The Seven Saws of Speedy Weedy and Mosey Dawdle" is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections. It should be noted that "The Seven Saws of Speedy Weedy and Mosey Dawdle" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

My Teacher is an Idiom
Jamie Gilson
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544056800, $16.99,

My Teacher is an Idiom tells of Richard, who is trying to befriend new French girl Sophie. She can speak English, but many times she doesn't make sense - and idioms and phrases are a problem. There are other troubles going on at school but idioms and manners keep Richard and his troublemaking classmate guessing. The result is a fun investigation into language, misunderstandings, and trouble; excellent reading for grades 4-6.

Saddleback Publishing Inc.
3120 Pullman Street, Cosa Mesa, CA 92626-4564

Saddleback Publishing is the premier publisher of high interest/low vocabulary books specifically designed to foster not just an improvement in a student's reading skills, but engender the enjoyment of reading as well. Their latest four volume series by John Perritano designed for highschool students features "Tuskegee Airmen" (9781680210521, $9.95) that covers why Adolph Hitler was able to rule Germany; who was Jim Crow; what were Red Tails; how the First Lady helped the Tuskegee pilots; and if the reader has ever felt judged. "Great Spies Of The World" (9781680210491, $9.95) as addresses the questions of whether anyone can be a spay; do all spies lie; how was Moe Berg able to spy; what is a double agent; and can the reader keep a secret. "Cannibal Animals" (9781680210484, $9.95) covers why alligators eat their babies; do animal sisters eat brothers too; what helps toads grow; where do most cannibals live; and do people ever eat people. "Fault Lines" (9781680210538, $9.95) explains why the earth moves; what makes us feel the shake; where the largest fault line is; how many faults are there; and why faults are helpful. Also very highly recommended for school and community high interest/low vocabulary collections from Saddleback Publishing is M. G. Higgins' "Hacked" (9781680210378, $9.95) which explores whether all hackers are bad; what a cyber war is; who are white hats; do all computer bugs get found; and is hacking a crime.

The Christmas Shelf

The Nutcracker
Music by Tchaikovsky
Adapted by Stephen Simon
Jim Weiss, narrator
Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Maestro Classics
c/o Simon & Simon LLC
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
$16.98 CD / $9.98 download

Part of the "Maestro Classics" series of music CDs designed to introduce young listeners to the joy of classical music, The Nutcracker is an hour-long adaptation of Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet. The London Philharmonic Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky's music, as narrator Jim Weiss tells the story about a magical nutcracker given to a little girl named Clara as a present. On Christmas Eve, the nutcracker comes to life as a handsome prince, battles the Mouse King, and takes Clara to visit the enchanted Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy... but was it all just a dream? Music from each section of Tchaikovsky's ballet is included, in this wondrous fantasy adventure that the whole family will enjoy. The Nutcracker is also highly recommended for public library children's music collections. 58 min., 1 sec.

Yule Be Cool
The Little Rockers Band
Little Rockers LLC
$11.99 CD / $8.99 MP3

Yule Be Cool is a children's music album that presents a mix of classic Christmas favorites and brand new original songs by The Little Rockers Band. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated too! The Little Rockers adds their unique zest to each and every performance, in this upbeat, joyous collection. A choice pick for Christmas parties at any age! The tracks are "This Is How It Feels at Christmas", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", "Feliz Navidad", "Jingle Bells Rock", "Hanukkah Is Here!", "Snow Falls", "Frosty the Snowman", "Dreidel Song", "Holiday", "8 Little Candles", "Let It Snow", and "It's Christmas Time Again".

Here Comes Christmas!
Greg Page
Butterscotch Communications Group, Ltd.
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
$12.99 CD / $10.99 download

Here Comes Christmas! is a music CD that wholeheartedly celebrates the Christmas season. Most of the album is for whole family; Greg Page (formerly part of the children's entertainment group "The Wiggles!") performs a wide variety of classic holiday favorites, as well as a few original songs. An additional four bonus tracks are songs "just for kids" from Greg's new DVD "Butterscotch Playground" round out this choice pick for playing at Christmas parties! The tracks are "Here Comes Christmas!", "Christmas Bells", "It's Christmas", "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town", "Jingle Bells", "Let It Snow", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Winter Wonderland", "Little Drummer Boy", "The Christmas Song", "Frosty the Snowman", "Jingle Bell Rock", "Dominick the Donkey", "White Christmas", "Silent Night", "Silver Bells", "Feliz Navidad", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "I Saw Three Ships", "The Twelve Days of Christmas", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", and bonus tracks "Everybody Dance", "At the Fire Station", "Knead It", "Get Down Low and Go, Go, Go". 58 mn.

Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros
Rockno Records
c/o Waldmania (publicity)

Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros is a children's music CD that celebrates Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's Day with family-friendly charm and enthusiasm. The original songs all share a common theme of joyful celebration, with a stylish dash of tongue-in-cheek drama. Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros lives up to its title as a font of holiday cheer! The tracks are "Halloween Masquerade", "This Thanksgiving", "The Dreidel Song", "On Christmas Brie", "Snow Day", "Wenceslas", "Up on the Rooftop", "The Night Before Christmas", and "Auld Lang Syne (Enjoy Yourself)". 23 min.

The Midwife of Bethlehem
Shad Driggs, author
Diane Lucas, illustrator
Privately Published
9780990878001, $14.99,

"The Midwife of Bethlehem" is a beautiful story based on Gospel scriptures about the birth of Jesus as seen by some women of Bethlehem who may well have assisted Mary at the Nativity. Rebecca is described as a midwife of Bethlehem, who assisted Hebrew mothers at their birth, as is known in traditions of Israel. In the story, Rebecca first encounters Mary riding the donkey with Joseph as she is on her way to assist at another mother's delivery. Seeing Mary's weariness and condition, Rebecca has a premonition that she may need her assistance soon. Rebecca soon meets her assistant, a midwife in training named Rachel, at the home of a young mother to be named Sarah. During quiet moments, Rachel and Rebecca remember the prophesy quoted in Micah 5:2 and wonder if they might witness the birth of the longed for Messiah. A few days later, Rebecca and Rachel are called to help a young woman staying in the stable of an inn, who is giving birth on a bed of straw. The child, a Son, is delivered well and whole, and the woman who holds him wonders if this is no ordinary Baby. She imagines a voice whispering in her heart saying: "You came to the stable tonight to deliver me, but I came to the world to deliver you." The midwives help clean and swaddle the baby and tend the young mother with clean cloths in the stable straw. Later, visitors arrive, excited shepherds, who tell an amazing story of angels visiting them in the fields, saying: "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Later the midwives leave, remembering the prophecy of Moses: "There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a Scepter out of Israel." They rejoice, knowing that they were the first to see and hold the newborn King. Quiet, shadowed illustrations of the women and Joseph seem molded of light and hope against the starry sky of Bethlehem. Skillfully embedded with beloved quotations from Scriptures about the coming of the Messiah, "The Midwife of Bethlehem" offers a fresh, believable viewpoint of the wondrous Nativity of Jesus Christ. This tender story is appropriate for children ages 5 and up, and can help them to picture the original event in their minds, grounding the miracle.

The Christmas Pumpkin
Debbie Reece, author
Ron Head, illustrator
BeeBop Books Publishing
PO Box 1424, Howe, TX 75459
9780615662329, $14.99, 32pp,

A green pumpkin for Christmas? Who ever heard of such a thing? When James wants to use his green pumpkin to celebrate Christmas, many people laugh at his idea. With the strength of his family and his own self confidence, James decides to carve a star like the star the Three Wise Men follow and show everyone what a green pumpkin can do for Christmas. Imaginatively written by Debbie Reece and charmingly illustrated by Ron Head, "The Christmas Pumpkin" includes a coloring page to design your own Christmas pumpkin. An inspiring story that proves that if you believe in something, you can make it happen, "The Christmas Pumpkin" is very highly recommended for school, family, and community library Christmas storybook collections for young readers. "The Christmas Pumpkin" is a recipient of the Mom's Choice Gold Award and the Dove Family Seal of Approval along with 4 other children's book awards. It should be noted that "The Christmas Pumpkin" is also available in a paperback edition (9780615290720, $8.00) and in a Kindle format ($2.99).

The Tannenbaum Tailors and the Secret Snowball
J. B. Michaels
Harrison and James
9780692540558, $9.99, 144pp,

The Tannenbaum Tailors are elves charged with maintaining Christmas trees in homes around the world. Without the Tailors' efforts, families might lose their Christmas spirit. And this year, one team of Tailors will be tested like never before. With the North Pole itself under attack, newly promoted Captain Brendan is assigned a special mission: conceal the source of Santa's power within a Christmas tree in Chicago. On Christmas Eve, Santa will pick it up. The job would be simple, but the Tailors find themselves facing a serious threat - the thieving Spiritless elves, already responsible for sabotaging the North Pole Home Tree, will do anything to gain control of the very thing that makes Christmas possible. Equally bad, Christmas spirit is at an all-time low in the Chicago home where Brendan's assigned. The family's mother even wants to take the tree down before Christmas Eve! To save Christmas, Captain Brendan and his Tailors will have to use every spirit-raising trick they know - and possibly even bend a few rules to pull it off. Combining Christmas holiday cheer with action and thrills, "The Tannenbaum Tailors and the Secret Snowball" is as absorbing as it is a unique and entertaining addition to the growing library of Christmas themed stories for young readers. Very highly recommended for school and community library Christmas fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Tannenbaum Tailors and the Secret Snowball" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Asha Pearse, illustrator
Flowerpot Press
2160 South Service Road, Oakville, ON, Canada L6L 5N1
9781486700226, $8.99,

"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is a sturdy, colorful, beribboned board book setting for the first verse of a beloved, traditional, English Christmas carol. Especially attractive to young preschool children, every page of holiday cheer and joy radiates the light and love at the heart of Christmas. All races, genders, and ages of human figures (and some animals) are represented, exchanging cards, walking pets, sending mail, shopping, celebrating Yuletide around a cozy fire, exchanging presents, decorating a tree, visiting Santa, singing carols, and celebrating a happy New Year. Each page is crammed full of exciting pictures of diverse, happy groups of people rediscovering the joy of wishing one another a Merry Christmas yet once again, or for the first time. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is a perfect holiday book to give the youngest recipient on your gift list this year. Another new beautiful board book of holiday joy that is sure to delight the younger audience is a lovely setting of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas (9781770938496, $8.99)," by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by David A. Cutting.

Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree
Claudia Cangilla McAdam, author
Dave Hill, illustrator
Paraclete Press
P.O. Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781512516308, $16.99,

"Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree" is a moving retelling of an early story of the prayer of St. Boniface for a Christmas Tree. The year is 722, and the date is December 24, in a cold forest village in Germany. A young orphan boy named Kristoph follows the priest Boniface into the forest with supplies to take down a special fir tree for celebration of the nativity of Christ. Kristoph was responsible for sharpening the axe they would use. The pair trudge deep into the snow covered forest and encounter a group of pagan men who are about to sacrifice a young boy, the son of the village chieftain, before a huge old oak tree. Boniface tells the men they should worship the true God, and not a tree, and they laugh and taunt him to prove the power of God. Boniface promises the men that through the power of God, he will fell the mighty tree with one axe stroke. The men laugh and do not believe he can do this. However, Boniface has faith, and he tells Kristoph to have faith. With one mighty whack of the axe, he fells the oak giant. This is mystifying to the pagan men, but even more strange is a fir tree as tall as a mean that seems to spring immediately from the stump of the old oak tree. Boniface tells the men the fir tree is a wood of peace, that points towards heaven, a sign of endless life with its evergreen branches. He declares it should be known as the tree of the Christ Child, displayed in their homes where it will shelter loving gifts and lights of kindness rather than evil deeds or sacrifices. Thus Boniface began the conversion of the pagan men, and rescued the village chieftain's son, and began the tradition of the blessing of the Christmas tree. Filled with colorful, realistic, narrative illustrations of the story, "Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree" describes an ancient Christian miracle through the fresh eyes of a child, making this lovely book a beautiful holiday gift to celebrate the coming of Christ.

All I Want for Christmas Is You
Mariah Carey, author
Colleen Madden, illustrator
Random House/Doubleday Books for Young Readers
9780399551390, $17.99,

"All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a classic, modern Christmas song made famous by singer/author Mariah Carey. Now it is presented in a heartwarming picture book for young readers ages 3-7, with charming holiday illustrations suggesting a specially appealing subtext to the familiar, bouncy lyrics. "I don't want a lot for Christmas. This is all I'm asking for. I just want to see my baby standing right outside my door. I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know. Make my wish come true. Baby, all I want for Christmas is....You!" Pictures of happy children playing in the snow, skating, making cookies, singing carols, visiting Santa, and opening presents, all show a little blonde girl dreaming of one special Christmas wish: to have one special brown and white puppy from the adoption place for her own. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" will delight young children, who will also enjoy listening to the song performed by the inimitable, award-winning Mariah Carey (visit The song book ends with a tender postscript from the author: "To everyone this holiday season: This book is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and I hope it brightens up your holidays as it has brightened mine. Love you always, Mariah Carey."

One Maine Christmas Eve
Douglas Coffin, author/illustrator
Tilbury House Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, Maine 04861
9780884484691, $16.95,

"One Maine Christmas Eve" revisits the classic tale of Clement C. Moore with a definite down under twist. Think Rudolph and Santa meet a sweet group of old Maine folk, with a holiday crisis in the making. Santa's reindeer, it turns out are sick, and need tending and a rest in Miss Moody's old barn. When her boarders and she discover that half of Santa's rounds are as yet unfinished, a wonderful, comical, Maine miracle begins to occur. Old farmer Emery begins to hitch old Copper, his horse to the empty, frozen harness of Santa's eight tiny reindeer, who are convalescing in the barn. A marvelous journey through the countryside animals ends with this fantastic delivery team who generously volunteer to sub for Santa: "Now Copper, Now Sheila! Now Sal and Good Riddance! On Goosers and Cinda, the Grunter, and Smittens! To the top of whatever you think you can't do, dash out of the Old Year and into the New!" The comical illustrations show a ramshackle sleigh drawn by an old horse, a goat, a cow, a pig, two geese, even a tractor, plus a cat and Miss Moody's beloved Smittens, the dog. "One Main Christmas Eve" is impossible to read without laughter that is infectious. Children and adults will love this eccentric revisiting of a tried and true holiday favorite.

Emily's Perfect Christmas Tree
Catherine Christensen, author
Jane Delve, illustrator
Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, Utah 84663
9781462117505, $14.99,

"Emily's Perfect Christmas Tree" is a heartwarming, narrative verse story of a girl's quest to find the perfect Christmas tree for her family's Christmas celebrations. Along with her two brothers, mother and father, Emily examines all the trees in the Christmas tree lot. She is frustrated in her search, for she finds something not quite right about every single tree. Sourly, Emily accepts her father's verdict that the family needs to settle on the last Christmas tree, even though Emily does not think it is the perfect one. Her mother tells her: "I'm sorry, Emily. I doubt there IS a perfect tree." But later, after putting up the tree and decorating it at home, hanging homemade ornaments for festive color, Emily decides, "The tree looks great, sparkling, colorful, tall and straight...... I was wrong! This tree's not bad- Maybe the best we've ever had." And finally, after wrapping presents, having holiday treats, and listening to the Christmas story, Emily realizes even more: "This tree's perfect!....Shape doesn't matter, nor does size. It helped us love and have great fun. It helped us think about God's Son." Watching snowflakes fall on this wonderful Christmas Eve, Emily finally realized that her wish had come true, and she had found the perfect Christmas tree." Joyful, jubilant, colored illustrations underline the festive atmosphere of this homey Christmas story, and young readers are challenged to find 13 hidden portraits of Whiskers, a little gray mouse who scampered through the story pages of "Emily's Perfect Christmas Tree."

Look & Find Bible Stories: Christmas
Charlotte Thoroe, author
Gill Guile, illustrator
Copenhagen Publishing House
c/o B&H Kids
One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234
9781433687860 $12.99 hc / $3.99 Kindle

Part of an engaging seek-and-find activity book series designed to teach biblical stories to young people, Look & Find Bible Stories: Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. The text is written to be accessible to children, although the entire story is somewhat lengthy and beginning readers may need help from an adult. Children will enjoy pulling each fold-out story page to reveal a full-color, two page scene and a checklist of people and things to look for! A write-on, wipe-off marker can be used on the laminated, thin-cardboard pages, so that little ones can search-and-find again and again. Look & Find Bible Stories: Christmas makes a great gift and a delightful holiday activity! Also highly recommended are other titles in series, "Look & Find Bible: Old Testament Stories" (9781433685972, $12.99 hc / $3.99 Kindle) and "Look & Find Bible: New Testament Stories" (9781433685989, $12.99 hc / $3.99 Kindle).

The Social Issues Shelf

Beautiful is Black
Serenity Anderson, author
Rina Risnawati, illustrator
Gifts From Heaven
15 Yew Road, Newark, DE 19702
9781942779018, $21.95,

"Beautiful is Black" is a juvenile book with a mission to educate and sensitize children and adults to the particular pain inflicted their peers upon kids of mixed races. The heroine is a girl with caramel colored skin, blue eyes, and ash blond kinky hair, the child of a loving African American father and a white mother. She is cruelly teased and rejected by kids of both races, and suffers pain and lack of self acceptance. She feels she is tortured for being who and what she is, a choice she did not make. "Beautiful is Black" does an excellent job of presenting the feelings of the girl being harassed for her racial appearance, resulting in the girl's sadness and depression at felling rejected by kids of all races and colors. When her parents encourage and reassure her, they do not minimize her suffering, but teach her to learn to be strong, to accept and respect everyone. Color illustrations present many racial characteristics and skin colors accurately, in the story's characters. "Beautiful is Black" ends on a positive note, with the girl embracing both her parents, saying "Mom and Dad you are the greatest. Love to me, I think, is blind. My mother and father raised me to love all kinds of colors. I hope one day people will learn to love all skin tones realize that we are all the same on the inside." Fur further study, and to encourage empathy and integrated perception, there are questions, food for thought, positive affirmations for children, and a group exercise suggested at the end. "Food for Thought" is ideal for a middle grade elementary audience, or kids ages 8-12.

I Am Not a Minority! I'm Part of the Majority!
Valerie Christopher, author/illustrator
Lulu Publishing Services
9781483429571, $19.99,

"I Am Not a Minority! I'm Part of the Majority!" is a much needed educational book that focuses on increasing acceptance of all races and skin colors among children especially. Highlighting awareness the majority of dominant culture/race is shifting from white to other races, implying the inevitable reversal of dominant/non dominant roles by 2020, this educational book in narrative verse, filled with children with multiple representative racial characteristics, inspires children to work and aspire to their special dreams and contributions no matter whether they are part of a majority or a minority. Some pages deal with differences, such as on p. 14-16: "And there are times we don't agree, but fight to harm - never, never! In some parts of the world children like me are seen less not more, but no, no, no, look a bit farther there's children like me galore! There's a very promising future for children who are just like me. Although ugly things are sometimes said some find it hard to see, like all people in this big fantastic world I'm still part of the majority!" Another inspiring quotation about celebration of differences is on page 21: "My nose, my eyes, my hair, and my lips are features you cannot ignore, Hooray! Being me does not mean there is less. Instead there is more!" Positive images of children with dark skin, yellow skin and tilted eyes, copper colored skin, and light brown skin abound, showing children engaged in helpful, industrious, and studious activities as well as active play. A superb, inspiring ending closes with: "I am not a minority. Like all the beautiful people in this 'super huge amazing world,' I am part of the majority!" A final two page worksheet reinforces all the positive messages of "I Am Not a Minority, I'm Part of the Majority!" Closing with "How many things can you do better in the next five years?' this important, inspiring educational book is ideal for adaptation and use with children age 2 and up.

How the Crocka Dog Came to Be
Ross Van Dusen, author/illustrator
Rio Grande Books
925 Salamanca NW, Los Ranchos, NM 87107
0891936744398, $21.95,

"How the Crocka Dog Came to Be... and Then Not to Be" is the initial title in a series about bullying, which is designed to entertain and educate children ages 3-8. It begins with a little yellow puppy who lived off Mean Street down in Bad Alley somewhere. The little yellow puppy is frightened and hurt by mean creatures and people who are stronger than he is. He had to fight to defend himself and to protect his food. So the little yellow puppy became the mean Crocka Dog who bites others, a frightening beast. Larger and larger grew the Crocka Dog, chewing up a tank and a blimp sent to catch him (but releasing the crew). But a boy named Elwood had been watching Crocka Dog and he knew what to do. Despite Crocka Dog's scary growls and hisses, Elwood surprised him with a hug and a kiss. This transformed Crocka Dog "Not back to a puppy, but to a nice little doggy with love in his eyes." So Elwood loved the little doggy, named him Frank, and gave him a home, "after he shrank." Needless to say, Elwood and Frank lived happily ever after. "How the Crocka Dog Came to Be... and Then Not to Be" is a great story of the healing change effects of love and friendship, a new window on bullying behavior.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Darien and the Seed of Obreget
Jeanna Kunce, author
Art by Craig Kunce
Windhill Books
9780984482870 $16.00 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Available in both jacketless hardcover and Kindle editions, Darien and the Seed of Obreget is the second novel in a fantastic series following Darien, a young girl caught between worlds in more ways than one. Darien's parents push for her to fit in and grow up, while Darien yearns for independence from her family and freedom to express her creativity. Yet Darien is also connected to the mysterious lands of Telinoria, where a tree with magical healing properties is threatened by a growing conflict. Darien hopes that magic from the Tree of Healing can restore the powers of her friend Miss Mildred, but can she reach it in time? Can one girl persuade two greed-driven races to back down? Middle grade students will enjoy this thoughtful fantasy-adventure, ideal for private and public library children's collections. Also highly recommended is the first book in the series, "Darien and the Lost Paints of Telinoria" (9780984482863, $16.00 hc / $9.99 Kindle).

Library of Souls
Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594747588 $18.99

Illustrated with striking black-and-white photographs in a vintage style, Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children continues an enthralling saga intended for readers ages 13 and up. Continuing where the suspenseful second novel left off, Library of Souls follows Jacob and Emma, both barely alive, as they desperately try to mount a rescue mission to save their friends from evil weights. Jacob struggles to control his budding powers, as he and Emma make their way deep into enemy territory. A growing love binds Jacob and Emma together, but do they have a prayer of saving Miss Peregrine, or any of the other peculiar children in peril? Also highly recommended are the first two books in the series, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" (9781594744761) and "Hollow City" (9781594746123).

End of Days
Eric Walters
Doubleday Canada
320 Front Street West, 12th Floor, Toronto, ON, M5V 3B6
9780385670067, $9.99, 320pp,

It's 2012 and the world's most renowned astrophysicists, astronomers, and theoretical mathematicians have all died within the same 12-month period. But as these scientists discover, none of them are really dead after all. They have been taken hostage by alien forces. And while their family and friends are mourning their passing, and with the help of a 16-year-old with rare gifts, they face the ultimate struggle of prevailing over evil and returning themselves and the earth to safety. Eric Walter's "End of Days" is a deftly crafted science fiction action/adventure by a master of the genre and is very highly recommended for highschool and community library science fiction collections for young readers ages 12 and up. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "End of Days" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Life of Zarf: The Troll Who Cried Wolf
Rob Harrell
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803741041, $14.99,

Life of Zarf: The Troll Who Cried Wolf is the next step up from a chapter book, retaining larger print and black and white cartoon drawings throughout but crafting a fun story surrounding a wolf and one Zarf in particular, a troll who is at the bottom of the middle school social ladder only because wolves have largely vanished after the Red Ridinghood incident. But when Zarf discovers his friend Kevin the pig has vanished, and wolves are heard howling, it's a friendship threatened by danger. Life of Zarf is a fun story of friendship, adversity and survival, and it offers a creative portrait of a young troll who faces many options and challenges in the course of a school takeover attempt. Advanced elementary to early middle grades will find it a lively and satisfyingly unpredictable saga.

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780553499117, $18.99

Illuminae: The Illuminae Files 01 presents a riveting sci-fi thriller centered around a girl who finds her life driven by more than interpersonal relationships when her planet is invaded. It's 2575, two rival corporations are at war over a distant planet, and two exes find themselves on the same side when a bigger enemy appears. Told in the unusual format of a dossier of hacked documents - emails, military files, medical reports and interviews - Illuminae is an engrossing, revealing saga highly recommended for mature teens into adult audiences.

Wylde Scott, author
Hannah K. Shuping, illustrator
Wylde Press
9780996031523 $16.99 hc

Seaside is a lighthearted fantasy adventure set in a fairy tale fishing village only a hop, skip, and jump away from reality. Like every other boy in Seaside, ten-year-old Robert Grace O'Malley yearns to be one of "Blackbeard's Boys", a stepping stone to becoming captain of his own ship. Yet O'Malley's life is destined to be transformed forever when he befriends Walter, an intelligent young octopus! Also highly recommended for middle grade and young adult readers is author Wylde Scott's imaginative saga, "The Possible Police" (9780996031509, $17.99 hc).

The Picturebook Shelf

Katrina McKelvey, author
Kirrili Lonergan
Exisle Publishing
9781921966828, $17.99, 32pp,

A little girl notices her father mowing the lawn and in the process is destroying her favorite flowers: the dandelions. She rushes out to stop him, but she's too late, they're all gone. There's nothing for it: she's just going to have to sit outside and wait until they grow back! But fortunately, Dad has another idea. Taking her hand, he leads her to the front step, and there, nestled in a crack in the concrete, are two tiny dandelion puff balls. Father and daughter each blow as hard as they can, and the tiny dandelion parachutes spiral and spin, up, up and away, spreading their seeds to create new generations of dandelions far and wide. Father and daughter lie down together on the grass, watching as they whirl and twirl through the air. A wonderfully charming and original story by Katrina McKelvey, "Dandelions" is perfectly enhanced by the colorful illustrations of Kirrili Lonergan. The result is an enthusiastic and very highly recommended addition to family, school, and community library picture book collections for children age 4-9.

Jasper And The Haunted House!
Donald W. Kruse, author
Donny Crank, illustrator
Zaccheus Entertainment
136 Morrison Avenue, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056
9780692537343, $12.95, 52pp,

After helping a little old lady to cross the street, Officer Jasper is called to a crime scene. Who or what is stealing items from Big Al's Department Store? His initial investigation reveals a single clue, but then the investigation seemingly hits a dead end. But then a group of terrified boys, who had been playing ball in the street, confront Officer Jasper with the hair on their heads standing straight up. Their frantic story leads Officer Jasper to a huge haunted house! And what he finds inside is a scary surprise. "Jasper And The Haunted House!" is a Christian story written in verse and features an inspiring Foreword by Police Chief Steve Bukala. Engagingly written by Donald W. Kruse and enhanced with the colorful illustrations of Donny Crank, "Jasper And The Haunted House!" is the third book in the Jasper picture book series and very highly recommended, especially for young readers ages 5 to 10.

Rooty Le' Boar
Mary Ann D. Cogliano, author
Phil Wilson, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781512094954, $12.99, 26pp,

Imaginatively written by Mary Ann D. Cogliano and colorfully illustrated by Phil Wilson, "Rooty Le' Boar" is a wonderfully presented picture book story about bullying. Young readers will enjoy the adventure meet some pretty cool characters with hooves and feet. But they must beware, because there's a shady character coming to Muckapoo farm. As children breeze through the story they will find out if the farm animals have what it takes to stop the bullying or not! Splendidly entertaining with a strong social message, "Rooty Le' Boar" is very highly recommended for school, family, and community library picture book collections.

The Tiniest Tumbleweed
Kathy Peach, author
Alex Lopez, illustrator
Little Five Star
c/o Five Star Publications
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589852273, $12.95,

"The Tiniest Tumbleweed" is a wonderful teaching story about the eventual growth and thriving of a very small tumbleweed and a very small sparrow, on a desert in the American Southwest. Both the Tiniest Tumbleweed and the smallest baby sparrow had loving parents who encouraged them to dig deep, do their best, take root, grow, and even fly. Although Tiniest Tumbleweed was sad and fearful he would never be as big as his siblings, his parents said, "Perhaps not, but you will be as big and strong as YOU can be and that is just fine, just fine indeed." And Father sparrow told Baby sparrow the same thing, and gave him a hug. Tiny Tumbleweed was encouraged, and tried her best to take root and grow in the desert rains, to make shelter and seeds for the little sparrow to find and spread. Baby Sparrow flapped her wings and learned to fly. When a desert rainstorm came, the little sparrow was able to take shelter inside the Tiny Tumbleweed, where he found seeds to eat and scatter. Both the Tiny Tumbleweed and the little sparrow were very happy because they knew they had done their best and become what they were meant to be. Expressive, playful portraits of Tiny Tumbleweed and the little sparrow keep the story moving and exciting. At the end of the story are pages of Fun Facts, a Curriculum Guide, and other related project suggestions and ideas. "The Tiniest Tumbleweed" is excellent reading for children in grades K-3.

Stinky Feet the Dragon
Rhonda Stewart, author
Cortni Green, illustrator
Inspiring Voices
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462411139, $16.95,

"Stinky Feet the Dragon" is a delightful original classic children's tale originally created for the author's grandchildren. Stinky Feet is an adorable, beautiful dragon with "scales ... like beautifully painted glass that sparkled when the sun shined." His real name was Elvin, but he had one flaw - stinky feet! Elvin would come down from his mountain to look for children to play with, but they all ran from him because of his stinky feet! His mom and dad were working on a solution to his problem with Mr. Leatherman. When Elvin went home back up the mountain, his mother surprised him with special boxes of shoes and even fun socks! So even though dragons don't usually wear shoes, Elvin tried them on. This time the children were happy to see him and play with him, at the playground, at the pool, at church, and in the snow! Elvin had special shoes for all these conditions, so he learned that "there really is a rainbow around the corner....even when things seem really tough!" Creative, crayon-decorated illustrations bring "Stinky Feet the Dragon" vividly to life, and the positive message will be a source of encouragement to young readers everywhere.

Rosie and Rolland in the Legendary Show-and-Tell
Jon Berg, author/artist
Owlkids Books
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771470582, $17.95,

"Rosie and Rolland in the Legendary Show-and Tell" is a riveting fantasy adventure story spotlighting a shy, spunky heroine and her favorite canine companion. Rosie wants to find something exciting to share and Show-and-Tell, and her dog, Rolland assist her in a fantastic quest for adventure that begins with her explorer Grandpa's old hat. Haunting illustrations reveal a jungle/guarded site, with a mysterious monkey god statue holding a glowing ball at its core. Rosie is tough, resourceful, and quick to accept the helpful suggestions of her wise dog, Rolland in her fantastic quest adventure. A shadow of threat is cast by a rude classmate named Freddy who follows her, steals the golden ball, and attempts to trap her in the hidden temple. But Rosie finds an alternate escape, with the help of Rolland, and later her Grandpa, who comes to the rescue in a hot air balloon. In the end, Rosie decides to take her Grandpa's hat to Show-and-Tell, explaining that it is his adventure hat. Most intriguing of all, Freddy, the rude classmate/thief of the golden ball, was unable to show the class his treasure which he stole from Rosie and the Monkey King. Later, he scornfully returns the rock to Rosie, telling her it was the Golden Ball, but looks like an ordinary rock now. He blames her for a trick, but the reader must begin to wonder if the real lack is in Freddy's ability to believe in real treasures, like adventure, and perhaps friendship.... "Rosie and Rolland in the Legendary Show -and Tell" ends on a promising note, hinting that this may be the first of many more exciting adventures to come. Watch for an exciting sequel in this youth adventure fantasy experience!

How Many Legs?
Kes Gray, author
Jim Field, illustrator
Barrons Educational Series
250 Wireless Boulevard, Hauppage, NY 11788
9781438006840, $8.99,

"How Many Legs?" is a zany, funny, wildly fantastic counting mystery that masquerades as an animal parade, where legs are the operative currency to be counted. Hopelessly funny images of a succession of eccentric animals and accouterments involve the reader's math and counting skills in a hilarious cavalcade of creatures. A blonde boy jumps joyously through each hysterically funny pair of pages, trying to keep track of the number of legs of... so many funny animals, eccentrically dressed! At the end, a blackboard total with diagrams of counted animal legs helps resolve the rhyming riddle: "If you lose count, don't feel bad, A sum this big could send you mad. No need to tie your brain in knots. Let's just say the answer's .... (dramatic page turn) LOTS! (Plus four more if you include the table!)" And for the persistent readers, the children who want to know the real total, the correct answer is presented on the very last page, on the back of the blonde boy, who is busy sweeping up the animal parade confetti! What en effortless and fun way for children to learn mental counting! "How Many Legs?" is entertaining education crossing poetry, math, art, and memory all simultaneously, with effortless delight.

The Dog that Nino Didn't Have
Edward Van De Vendel, author
Anton Van Hertbruggen, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854513, $17.00,

"The Dog That Nino Didn't Have" is a haunting, sensitive story whose narration and illustrations are intricately intertwined, a visible union of imagination. Dark, mysterious, shadowy portraits of Nino and his imaginary dog (who may be himself) in a forest camping with his mother and grandmother portray the sparse words of a poetic narrative. Perhaps the deepest mystery is the faraway image of Nino's father, a distant voice on a telephone, leading dangerous, exotic quest adventures impossibly far away. "The dog that he didn't have heard whatever Nino heard. On the phone. With Dad who was calling from a country far, far away." Then one day, Nino knew the dog that he didn't have was gone. He is replaced by a different dog, perhaps sent from his faraway father, but a real little dog. "The dog that Nino has now is soft. And sweet. And obedient. And naughty and small. And everyone can see it. " The dog who has become Nino's may or may not have come from his father. Most important is the new experiences he has invited Nino to experience, discovering all sorts of fabulous imaginary animals that he doesn't have.... The closing illustration of Nino dreaming of global explorations, exotic animals, mysterious adventures, all under a blanket, in his dreams, with a real dog of his own. "The Dog That Nino Doesn't Have" allows children to explore feelings of loneliness, loss, and fear, along with other exciting, positive feelings and wonderful experiences. It is suggested reading for children ages 4-8.

Cooper and the Big Apple
Camille Cohn, author
Riley Cohn, illustrator
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626342200, $15.95,

"Cooper and the Big Apple" is a creative collaborative artistic triumph of a children's book by a mother daughter team. Featuring quirky, colorful, humorous illustrations by daughter Riley Cohn, "Cooper and the Big Apple" (by author mother Camille Cohn) explores the difference between literal and figurative meaning of words and expressions, through the viewpoint of Cooper, the gray cat hero traveler, who accompanies his human friend Jennifer on an exciting trip to the Big Apple, or New York City. Jennifer is so excited about taking Cooper to visit New York City, but what he understands and expects from her descriptions is very different from what he experiences. It is all very delightfully presented, from the airplane flight to New York, from Texas (Cooper wasn't sure he wanted to leave home), to the subway station (Cooper was expecting sandwiches, not underground trains), to the visit to Queens (Cooper expected a bevy of real queens, not an urban neighborhood), to the stock market (again, nothing edible in this market), and on to more exciting surprises. Cooper does manage to enjoy himself in a feline way, but his cavalcade of surprises does not end until his trip is over. "Cooper and the Big Apple" helps teach children how to understand those who think in concrete, literal terms, such as persons with autism. It also helps concrete, literal thinkers to transition through humor to a more integrated outlook. And finally, it encourages both types of readers and others to move beyond their comfort zone and experience the world in a fresh way. "Cooper and the Big Apple" is a delightful story, expertly and effortlessly presented, for both education and amusement. it is an irresistible package.

The Ladybug Race
Amy Nielander, author/artist
c/o Pomegranate Press
19018 NE Portal Way, Portland, Oregon 97230
9780764971877, $19.95,

"The Ladybug Race" is a sophisticated, fascinating story told entirely in accurately detailed, life size images of different ladybugs. What is the mystery here? Only the careful observer of these amazing racing ladybugs in surprising formations can trace this intriguing story. What seems to have begun as a race transforms into something ....... different. A big brown ladybug and a tiny brown ladybug seem to be the chief architects of action. This beautifully crafted, artistic creation is meant to appeal to readers with developing powers of observation and appreciation. There is a definite surprise in the end, and it is up to each reader to decide just what it means. As the PomegranateKids slogan states, the appeal of "The Ladybug Race" definitely extends to an audience of kids from ages 3 to 103!

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

Delphine Perret's Pedro and George (9781481429252, $17.99) tells of a crocodile and an alligator who love adventure and look almost alike. The problem is: nobody can tell them apart. Good reading skills will be required for a story quite detailed for a picture book, which includes much dialogue between the two friends who decide to visit the big city and snack on some little children, for one adventure - with disastrous results. Kids will appreciate the whimsical, fun story of look-alike animals with slightly different perspectives on life. Mark Pett's Lizard from the Park (9781442483217, $17.99) tells of a boy who finds a lizard egg in a park, only to find his amazing discovery is bringing him trouble as time goes on and the lizard keeps outgrowing his disguises. Even more troubling is the fact that the lizard seems to enjoy his life with Leonard less all the time. What can he do to keep their friendship and keep his new friend happy? A fine solution eventually evolves - but not before more trouble looms. Both are excellent picture book stories highly recommended for young readers seeking something different.

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

Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa (9780670013963, $17.99) tells of Llama Llama who is getting ready for his first overnight visit to his grandparents' house. There are lots of activities he's looking forward to, but he's forgotten his toy Fuzzy Llama - and this threatens to ruin everything. How can he embark on his first trip away from home without his very best friend? A warm whimsical story of grandparents and llamas emerges in a simple, fun tale. Pharrell Williams' Happy! (9780399176432, $19.99) takes a hit song from a hit animated movie and turns it into a picture book story about happiness by adding fun photos of children at play. Words from the song and whimsical imaginative phrases pair with these happy kids celebrating play and fun in a story best read aloud with the original music for full effect. Tomie DePaola's The Magical World of Strega Nona (9780399173456, $40.00) takes the author's classic 1975 enchanted woman and weaves a collection pairing colorful drawings with adventures that parents will welcome as a fun read-aloud collection. It offers new introductions to each story as it takes six favorites and adds maps, an original lullaby, a cd of the song and Tomie's reading of Strega Nona, Her Story, and more. Not to be missed by any familiar with the loveable character of a magical old lady.

Wisdom Tales Press
1501 E. Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401

Bette Killion's Princess Rosie's Rainbows (9781037786441, $16.95) tells of a princess who loves rainbows, even though they disappear quickly, which makes her sad. Becca is a wise teacher who may be able to solve the problem of the princesses' elusive happiness, even if it does involve something impossible. Good reading skills will make this warm and gentle story a fine tale worth remembering. Pauline Ts'o's Whispers of the Wolf (9781937786458, $16.95) tells of a young boy named Two Birds who finds an abandoned wolf pup. The two grow up together - but now the wild wolves are luring his companion away. Will Two Birds allow him to go? This story is set in the desert Southwest in the Pueblo Indian tribe and uses gorgeous drawings and insights into Native American culture to build its gentle tale of change and friendship.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Destiny: The Tale of Sonali and Amir
Sonya Wadhera, author
Priya Wadhera, author
Cory Wolfe and Carlos Valenti, illustrators
Double Infinity International Incorporated
P.O. Box 76016, 832 March Road, Kanata, Ontario, Canada K2W 0E1
9780993992810, $20.00,

"Destiny: The Tale of Sonale and Amir" is a lovely re-telling of a South Asian fairy tale with many positive messages such as strength through cooperation, believing in oneself, and perseverance and more. Sonale and Amir are the son and daughter of two royal families of India who were famous for their kind, loving rule bringing peace to the land. A dangerous demon named Raakshasa plotted to take over the country and destroy its peace and beauty. As revealed in a special ceremony, only Princess Sonali and Prince Amir, the two heirs to the throne, are destined to defeat the horrible demon together. Many trials and difficulties are faced by the Prince and Princess before they were able to unite and use all their gifts to defeat the demon and bring back to life the stone statues of the king and the queen, Sonali's parents enchanted by Raakshasa. Prince Amir and Princess Somali are assisted by Shakti, the supreme power of the Universe, to achieve this and other miracles to restore harmony to the land and destroy the demon Raakshasa. After many fearful encounters and devilishly puzzling obstacles, Prince Amir and Princess Somali finally defeat the demon Raakshasa, restore their parents, and marry and live together spreading peace and love throughout the land. They fulfilled their destiny, and lived happily ever after. Exciting, brilliant, jewel toned illustrations are embedded in this haunting fairy tale of India that inspires young readers ages 5 and up.

The Runaway Tortilla
Eric A. Kimmel, author
Erik Brooks, illustrator
WestWinds Press
c/o Graphic Arts Books
P.O. Box 3225, Durango, CO 81302
9781941821695, $16.99,

"The Runaway Tortilla" is a classic takeoff on The Gingerbread Man traditional children's story, sort of the Southwestern equivalent featuring Hispanic, Native American influences, and desert animals, people, customs, and foods. The runaway tortilla begins as a perfect, fluffy, light tortilla made by Tio Jose and Tia Lupe at El Papagayo Feliz (the Happy Parrot) taqueria. When the adorable talking tortilla learns that she is destined to be eaten, she decides to escape her fate by running swiftly away, saying, "Run as fast as fast can be. You won't get a bite of me. Doesn't matter what you do, I'll be far ahead of you." A hilarious chase begins with Tio Jose and Tia Lupe chasing the runaway tortilla into the desert, soon followed by a cavalcade of animals, including seis vaqueros (six cowboys), cinco cascabeles (five rattlesnakes), cuartro conejos (four jackrabbits), tres burros (three burros), y dos sapos cornudos (and two horned toads). The runaway tortilla outruns them all and believes she is safe from being caught and eaten. Then she meets Senor Coyote, her nemesis. Coyote is very sly, using a devious trick to finally catch and eat the delicious, vain little runaway tortilla. All is illustrated in lovely soft desert hues, with comical expressive faces on all characters, animal, human and edible. The interweaving of Spanish terms is seamless in the narrative, inviting children ages 5 and up to enjoy this refreshing Southwestern American version of a beloved classic.

Why Bear Has a Short Tail
Sydelle Pearl, author
Anca Delia Budeanu, illustrator
Reading Reading Books
P.O. Box 6654, Reading, PA 19610
9781608925438, $4.95,

"Why Bear Has a Short Tail" is an imaginative retelling of a Norwegian folktale for preschool children and early readers. In this traditional legend, bears used to have long, beautiful tails. One day a bear met a fox in the woods, carrying a pail of fish. The bear was hungry and asked the fox to teach him to fish. The fox was envious of the bear's long, beautiful tail, so a way to trick the bear occurred to the devious fox. Children will love the primitive, simply styled illustrations of the chocolate brown long-tailed bear and the crafty red fox with his pail of fish. "Why Bear Has a Short Tail" is a children's classic, with a built in lesson for kids of all ages.

The Health Shelf

Flossopher and the Brushing Trees
Mike King, author
Simone Kaplan, editor
Rick Ellis, illustrator
The Fifth Dentist
9780990948407, $11.95, 24pp,

An adventure book for young Tooth Brushers, "Flossopher and the Brushing Trees" is a children's book that teaches the importance of taking care of your teeth. The Brite Forest is where Flossopher, who knows everything there is to know about teeth, lives with his friends. The evil Cavidorg plots to steal the magic Brushing Crown from, Sparkla, the mother of all Brushing Trees. Without the toothbrushes that the Brushing Trees grow, no one will brush, and everyone's teeth will turn rotten. That way Cavidorg's plant, Denture-Con, can make even more fake teeth for the world. Flossopher must find a way to save the Brite Forest from Cavidorg's army of cavity bugs. An original and charming story by Mike King (a pediatric dentist who uses jokes and magic tricks to entertain his patients) is augmented and enhanced with illustrations by Rick Ellis. The result is a book for very young readers that is as entertaining as it is informative in both tone and message. "Flossopher and the Brushing Trees" is very highly recommended for preschool, elementary school, family, and community library collections.

Steven the Upset Stomach
Justin Noble, author
Ann Bonin, illustrator
Pakiki Waltnell Publishing
978099085821, $7.99,

From the pre-school health education series, "My Body Village," "Steven the Upset Stomach" tells the story of what happens when Raymond Brain allows the Body Village to be tempted to overeat on junk foods like candy, cola, chips, dip, ice cream and cake. Using taste and smell meters, Raymond Brain decided to allow the body to stuff itself with these junk foods. However, Raymond discovered that in Body Village, Lyle Liver and Steven Stomach had trouble breaking down some of these rich foods, and there were very few nutrients in them to nourish the health of the Body Village. Steve decided to call Raymond and tell him he might have to send some of the junk food back out, that he couldn't handle that quantity of junk food. He asked for some water to help process the food. Raymond agreed and apologized for the overload that upset Steven Stomach. Steven answered, "As delicious as those foods are, when it comes down to it, no Body likes an upset stomach." The story ends with a group portrait of all important Body Village organs saying: "It takes a village.... to raise a healthy child." Humorous, anthropomorphized body parts illustrations bring the digestive system to life for young children, helping to explain the cause and cure for an upset stomach.

The Christian Shelf

Bible Animals series
Juliet David, author
Lucy, Barnard, illustrator
Candle Books
c/o Lion Hudson
$9.99 each

Two easy-reader board books in the Bible Animals series adapt classical biblical parables for young readers. The pages are stiff cardboard, marked with colorful tabs to aid little ones in turning the pages. In "Bible Animals: The Helpful Donkey" (9781781281802), an unfortunate man is beaten and robbed; two temple men ignore the sufferer, but a man from another country and his kindly donkey lend their aid. "Jesus said, 'Help everyone who's in need!'" In "Bible Animals: Little Lost Sheep" (9781781281796, based on Luke chapter 15), a little sheep has gone missing from a shepherd's flock, and he searches high and low to rescue it. "Jesus is like the kind, good shepherd." Both titles are welcome additions to Sunday School libraries and Christian children's bookshelves. It should be mentioned that the Bible Animals books are not intended for children under 3 years, as a safety precaution against the remote possibility of a choking hazard.

God Gave Us Sleep
Lisa Tawn Bergen, author
Laura J. Bryant, illustrator
Waterbrook Press / Multnomah Press
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601426642, $10.99,

"God Gave Us Sleep" is part of a best-selling series for young children with Arctic characters and a nondenominational religious thought framework. Little Cub is a tired polar bear who doesn't understand the need for rest and sleep, when it seems like more fun to play. Her patient but tired Mama explains to her that all cubs need rest and sleep, because God gave us work time, play time, and rest time too, to create a life in rhythm. Little Cub has many questions, which her patient, tired Mama answers, encouraging her by telling her to pray for good dreams and good sleep. However, Little Cub was restless that night and did not sleep very well. The next day, Little Cub was grumpy, cranky, and huffy with her Arctic playmates. Her Mama explains his is because she did no get a good night's sleep. Finally Little Cub goes to bed again, praying for good rest and good sleep, and this time, she has awesome Arctic dreams. In the morning Little Cub awakens refreshed to a beautiful new day. Then she is thankful that God gave her a good night's sleep. Soft pastel colors of happy Arctic frolic scenes make "God Gave Us Sleep" a memorable children's bedtime story.

The Bilingual Shelf

Joshua's Grandma Is Sick / La Grand-mere de Joshua est Malade
Yamina Rambaran, author
Shelly J. Cox Vandermeulen, illustrator
Privately Published
9781511815116, $ 9.95,

"Joshua's Grandma is Sick" is a French and English children's book about a child's reactions to the illness of his beloved grandmother. Written to appeal to children ages 3-8, this poignant story helps convey a sense of familial love and purpose, as Joshua is saddened to learn of his Grandmother's sickness, and happy to be able to help nurse her as she recovers. Charming, warm color illustrations help evoke an atmosphere of caring and love, while simple helpful acts performed by Joshua add a sense of importance and acceptance of responsibility, as well as a healthy embracing of feelings of compassion. Each page's brief narrative is written first in English and second in French, so the text can be a useful tool in expanding language skills. "Joshua's Grandma is Sick" is a valuable teaching text that encourages children to accept and express their love and compassion in practical, caring ways.

The Activity Shelf

I Love My Hair
Andrea Pippins
Schwartz & Wade
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780399551222, $15.99, 84pp,

"I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos" a unique doodle coloring book about all hair and hair styles. "I Love My Hair" celebrates strong, confident women with a passion for style, design, and fashion. Readers will revel in the mesmerizing patterns and intricate details of Andrea Pippins's delicate pen-and-ink illustrations, ready for them to color, complete, and embellish. With page after page of bold hairstyles and accessories, from rows of braids, to Mohawks, to sweeping updos, to cascades of ribbons and beads, "I Love My Hair" showcases Medusa's slithering coiffure, Cleopatra's elaborate headdress, and Marie Antoinette's towering bouffant. Although specifically intended for coloring enthusiasts from Kindergarten to 12th grade, it is readily obvious that adults of all ages will truly enjoy this empowering and stylish book. Very highly recommended and a lot of great fun!

The Multimedia Shelf

Country Store
Tim Noah
Tim Noah Productions
PO Box 587, Snohomish, WA 98290
9781517305352, $19.95, 64pp,

A boy and his faithful dog set out to visit the country store. Friends join them along the way, and they learn that their trek is not about its destination, but rather the adventure of their journey. Charmingly illustrated and deftly told by Tim Noah, "Country Store" is a wonderfully entertaining picture book story for young readers that is impressively enhanced with the inclusion of a CD featuring a song composed and sung by Tim Noah, as well as two bonus tacks of Tim's work. "Country Store" is highly recommended for family, school, and community library children's picture book collections. It should be noted that "Country Store" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.66).

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

Oh, Brother! Brat Attack!
Bob Weber Jr. & Jay Stephens
Andrews McMeel Publishing
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106-2109
9781449472252, $9.99, 176pp,

Bob Weber Jr. is the creator of Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids; Jay Stephens is the Emmy Award-winning creator of the animated TV series Tutenstein and The Secret Saturdays. Together, they launched Oh, Brother! as a cartoon feature with King Features in June 2010. "Oh, Brother! Brat Attack!" stars the sibling duo of Bud and Lily, who humorously interact within the leafy confines of their middle-class suburban home and neighborhood. Whether they are playing together in the family room or running amok in the schoolyard, Bud and Lily elevate the act of one-upmanship to Code Red levels. Lily is the quintessential slightly older and far more sensible sister. She takes it upon herself to look after her uninhibited, prank-loving younger brother, Bud. While Lily wins the occasional battle with her cool-headed maturity, Bud is intent on winning the war with his brazen brand of mischief. Despite their obvious differences, Bud and Lily love each other deeply and have a strong sibling bond. With humor specifically intended for young readers ages 7 to 12, "Oh, Brother! Brat Attack!" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to family, school, and community library collections. But more than that, the cartoon humor, based on all-to-believable sibling behaviors will be read with complete enjoyment by anyone who is or has ever been a parent. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Oh, Brother! Brat Attack!" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Audiobook Shelf

My Teacher is an Alien
Written by Bruce Coville
Read by Nancy O'Connor and the Full Cast Family
Music by Todd Hobin
Full Cast Audio
101 Clarke Street, 1st floor, Syracuse, NY 13210
9781933322865 $9.99 digital edition

Available in an affordable digital edition from Full Cast Audio (with a forthcoming MP3 CD edition from Brilliance), My Teacher is an Alien is the audiobook adaptation of a wacky sci-fi adventure story, intended especially for young adults ages 7-12. When Susan Simmons returns to school from spring vacation, she is distraught to find that her beloved teacher Ms. Schwartz has been replaced by Mr. Smith, a tall, handsome, yet stringently idiosyncratic man. His strict "by the book" attitude and his unusual habits warrant investigation, and a startling discovery. Mr. Smith is actually an alien named Broxholm, who intends to abduct five students! How can Susan stop him? Will anyone believe her story? Peter Thompson, the biggest geek of her class, makes an unlikely ally in Susan's quest to protect her class! A thrilling adventure to the very end, My Teacher is an Alien comes to life with Full Cast Audio's characteristic performance by a grand ensemble of talented actors and actresses! Highly recommended. 2.5 hours.

The Music CD Shelf

Nursery Rhyme Parade!
Lisa Loeb
Furious Rose Productions
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)
$12.99 CD / $8.99 MP3

Mother and children's performer Lisa Loeb presents Nursery Rhyme Parade!, an album in which she performs thirty-five timeless and beloved nursery rhymes. Songs such as "Jack and Jill" to "Humpty Dumpty", "Yankee Doodle", "Little Boy Blue" and many more will also inspire adults to reminisce about their childhood. Simple and delightful, Nursery Rhyme Parade! is a great choice for family bonding and makes a wonderful baby shower gift.

Andy's Wild Amphibian Show
Andy Offutt Irwin
Privately Published
NewSound Kids (dist.)
Community Music, Inc. (publicity)

Andy's Wild Amphibian Show is a children's album featuring two full-length stories and two songs. Rambling and playful, ranging in tone from enjoying the last day of summer vacation to the soothing calm of a sing-along lullaby, Andy's Wild Amphibian Show is a family-friendly delight. The tracks are "I Have a Loose Tooth" (17:10), "Andy's Wild Amphibian Show" (29:21), "The Light Went Away" (3:16), and "I Love to Whistle (with Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer)" (2:44).

Smiles Ahead
Mighty Mo Productions
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)
$9.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

Smiles Ahead is the debut album of family-friendly record label Mighty Mo Productions. The songs are from a diverse variety of contributors, but all are brimming with pep and vigor. Smiles Ahead is almost pure exuberance in musical form, and the perfect antidote to rainy-day blues! The tracks are "Jump Up", "Walking with Spring", "The Together Song", "Box of Crayons", "The Sun Will Shine Again", "You're It", "Get Happy!", "Best Day Ever", "Gotta Lotta Happy", "Dragonfly", "Happy Heart", "Gratitude", and "Sitting on Top of the World".

Mi Viaje: De Nuevo Leon to the New York Island
Sonia De Los Santos
Festival Five Records
c/o Mayers Consulting (publicity)
$10.89 CD / $8.99 MP3

Mi Viaje: De Nuevo Leon to the New York Island (or, "My Journey: From Nuevo Leon to the New York Island") is an all-ages music CD from Mexican singer Sonia De Los Santos. Most of the songs are classics sung in Spanish, from a variety of countries: Mexico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Basque Country, and the United States. Two original compositions, "La Golondrina" and "Tan Feliz" round out this joyous cross-cultural celebration, especially recommended for young people eager to learn and practice Spanish! The tracks are "Esta Es Tu Tierra", "La Golondrina", "Tan Feliz", "Luna y Lucero", "Txoria Txori", "Ojala Que Llueva Cafe", "Chocolate", "Indiecito Dormido", "El Martillo", "Romance en Taragui", "Burundanga", and "Monterrey".

The Salamanders
The Salamanders
Privatley Published
$10.00 CD / $8.99 MP3

All-ages rock band The Salamanders presents their self-titled debut music album! Energetic, original songs encourage young people to get up and dance, engage their imaginations, learn and have fun. The playful, exuberant music is a treat to play for family car trips, sleepovers, and children's parties. The tracks are "Please Don't Eat My Guitar", "Sunshine and Daisies", "Mama's in the Kitchen", "Peanut Butter", "Brand New Toy", "My Grandma is a Spy", "Sun and Moon", "Barefoot Booger Boogie", "Pirate Cowboy", and "Chickens go to Hawai'i". 38 min.

Sing! Sing! Sing! ...and Dance!
Valerie Leonhart Smallkin
Small Kin Music

Sing! Sing! Sing! ...and Dance! is a jubilant children's music CD. Children's performer Val Smalkin. Eight exuberant tunes about dinos, sharing, dragons, recycling, polliwogs, dancing, springtime, and manners encourage young listeners to get up and dance. Downloadable activity sheets and lyrics are freely available to the public on the website Sing! Sing! Sing! ...and Dance! is an excellent choice for gift-giving and public library children's music collections. Also highly recommended is a Parents' Choice Fun Stuff Award-winning album by Smallkin, "A Gentle Halloween" ($10.00) and Smalkin's picturebook with accompanying CD, "Springtime Dance" (9780996074902, $16.99).

A Frog Named Sam: A Musical for Children
Ben Rudnick and Friends
Bartlett Ave. Records
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
$14.95 CD / $9.95 download

Award-winning kids' indie ("kindie") music performers Ben Rudnick and friends present A Frog Named Sam: A Musical for Children, an album that includes both the beloved favorites from the band's history (such as "A Frog Named Sam", Race Car", and more) with brand new, creative songs (such as "The Adventure Song" and "When Something's Got You Terribly Blue"). All songs are connected to a book by Australian playwright Augusta Supple, who tells an adventurous tale with an underlying moral about the importance of sustainability, both in personal relationships and in respect for the environment. Sam is a frog rock-star, who is aghast to find that his pond has become overgrown and nearly waterless in his absence. An alien called Tripp crash lands into the withering pond; the two become unlikely friends, working together to restore the pond to its former vibrancy. A Frog Named Sam: A Musical for Children is a listening delight for young people ages 4-8, highly recommended! The tracks are "A Frog Named Sam" (3:29), "When Something's Got You Terribly Blue" (3:33), "Sam Reprise: The Journey Begins" (0:31), "Reading a Book" (2:31), "Sam Reprise: Yee-Haw" (0:17), "My Horse" (2:19), "Macaroni and Cheese" (3:09), "I Got a New Friend" (2:34), "Sam Reprise: Zoom" (0:31), "Race Car" (3:17), "Sam Reprise: Heading Home" (0:15), "Love is a Superpower" (4:08), "The Adventure Song" (2:19), and "Coney Island Crazy" (3:08). 32 min.

Mindful Moments for Kids
Kira Willey
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)

Award-winning children's musician and yoga instructor Kira Willey presents Mindful Moments for Kids, a music CD anthology of thirty one-minute mindfulness exercises. Each track has Kira's easy-to-follow voiceover instructions, set to her original songs. These exercises can be done seated or standing, at home or in the classroom. The exercises are centered around the goals of achieving calm, focus, inspiration, energy, and stress removal. Mindful Moments for Kids is a wonderful way to ease young people (or novice adults!) into the benefits of simple meditation. Highly recommended.

Maestro Classics
c/o Simon & Simon LLC
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
$16.98 each

With flawless production values, all of the Maestro Classic children's music titles feature outstanding performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The individual titles in this twelve CD series is enhanced with the inclusion of superbly narrated stories, musical explanations, historical commentary, and explanations, as well as beautifully illustrated 24-page activity booklets. This truly impressive and exceptional series includes Peter and the Wolf (9781932684124); The Nutcracker (B016PADT7Y); The Story of Swan Lake (9781932684162); Carnival of the Animals (9781932684094); My Name is Handel: The Story of Handel's 'Water Music' (9781932684100); Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (9781932684025); The Tortoise and the Hare (9781932684186); Merry Pranks of Master Till (9781932684131); Casey at the Bat (9781932684032); The Sorcerer's Apprentice (9781932684070); The Solder's Tale (9781932684117); and Juanita the Spanish Lobster (9781932684056) which is available both English and in Spanish (Juanita la Langosta Espanola). Each of these truly exceptional titles is available individually, but schools and libraries should give earnest consideration to acquiring the complete set.

The DVD Shelf

Pokemon The Johto Journeys: The Complete Collection
Viz Media LLC
1355 Market Street, Suite 200
San Francisco CA 94103

Based on the enormously popular, trans-generational "Pokemon" series of role-playing video games in which players capture amazing creatures and test them against one another in battle, Pokemon The Johto Journeys: The Complete Collection gathers all episodes of the anime (Japanese cartoon) series set in the Johto region on 4 DVDs. Returning favorite main characters Ash, Misty, and Brock reunite in Pallet Town and set off to explore Johto and aid Professor Oak. In addition to his loyal Pikachu, Ash also recruits Totodile and Chikorita to his pokemon team (among others) as he confronts a new assortment of challenging gym leaders! Exemplifying the series' characteristic high levels of optimism, charm, and lessons in the value of hard work and friendship, Pokemon The Johto Journeys: The Complete Collection will appeal to Pokemon fans of all ages, and is enthusiastically recommended. 4 DVDs, 920 min., rated TV Y7.

A House for Hermit Crab
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Narrated by Will Damron
Music by Ernest Troost
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545874984 $59.95

Ideal for young viewers ages 5-7, A House for Hermit Crab is a DVD rendition of a delightful, classic picturebook originally written and illustrated by Eric Carle. The story follows a hermit crab who has outgrown his small shell, so he ventures forth in search of a bigger one. He is fortunate to encounter friends who help him decorate and protect it as he travels! Simple animation based on the original picturebook is enhanced with warmhearted narration by Will Damron, and gentle music by Ernest Troost. A brief bonus segment, "About Hermit Crab and his Friends" is included. A House for Hermet Crab is perfect for public and elementary school library DVD collections, as well as homeroom viewing. 9 min. optional English subtitles, closed-captioned.

The Fiction Shelf

How to Be Brave
E. Katherine Kottaras
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250072801, $18.99, 288pp,

Georgia is a teenager who has always lived life on the sidelines: uncomfortable with her weight, awkward, never been kissed, terrified of failing. Then her mom dies and her world is turned upside down. But instead of getting lost in her pain, she decides to enjoy life while she still can by truly living for the first time. She makes a list of ways to be brave-all the things she's always wanted to do but has been too afraid to try: learn to draw, try out for cheerleading, cut class, ask him out, kiss him, see what happens from there. But she's about to discover that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But in the process, you realize you're stronger than you ever imagined. "How to Be Brave" is an exceptional novel that will hold the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. Deftly crafted and specifically recommended for your readers ages 12 to 17, "How to Be Brave" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "How to Be Brave" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The After-Room
Maile Meloy
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399175442, $17.99,

The After-Room joins two other predecessors in offering a powerful finale to the Apothecary series - and even though the others weren't seen by this reviewer, it represents Meloy's powerful ability to craft a yarn that can be relished even coming late into the game with the concluding book. It's 1955 and Benjamin and Janie are attempting to live a normal life in America, even though they hold the power to prevent nuclear disaster. Their explorations of ghosts, life after death, and abilities that connect them to their friend Jin Lo, who is in China, makes for an engrossing plot also fueled by the emotional attachments between Benjamin and Janie. The result is a captivatingly storyline that requires no prior familiarity with the series - though readers lacking such background will surely wish to turn to enjoy its predecessors.

That's Not Hay In My Hair
Juliette Turner
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310732440, $8.99, 240pp,

New York City life had crammed sidewalks, gasoline-filled puddles, and angry taxi drivers, but Juliette enjoyed the towering sky-scrapers, the half-block walk to school, and the restaurant smells wafting into her bedroom. She had never cared for a horse, let alone a long-horn, when her mother announced their imminent move to a 300 acre ranch in Texas, where they would be caring for three horses, five dogs, twenty-five longhorns, and a cat -- all by themselves. Juliette couldn't help feeling excited, even though she'd have to climb a hill to get a bar of cell-phone service. Soon she was running from bats and snakes, rescuing a calf from a twenty-foot ditch, medicating ponies, and having adventures so crazy it's hard to believe they're for real -- but it all happened exactly how it's written. Fiction based on real life experiences, "That's Not Hay In My Hair" is replete with side-splitting laughs, heart-wrenching tears, and surprising life lessons learned down on the farm and shared by fourteen-year-old Juliette Turner. Specifically written for young readers ages 8 to 12, "That's Not Hay In My Hair" is very highly recommended for school and community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that Juliette Turner's "That's Not Hay In My Hair" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The Adventures of Bubba Jones
Jeff Alt
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780825307867, $9.99, 190pp,

Tommy "Bubba Jones" and his sister Jenny "Hug-a-Bug" learn more about the Great Smoky Mountain National Park than they ever thought they would when Papa Lewis lets them in on a family secret: The family has legendary time traveling skills! With these abilities, Bubba Jones and Hug-a-Bug travel back in time and meet the park's founders, its earliest settlers, native Cherokee Indians, wild animals, extinct creatures, and what the park was like millions of years ago. With this time traveling ability also comes a family mystery, but the only person who can help solve the mystery is a long lost relative who lives somewhere in the park. Explore the Smokies with Bubba Jones and family in a whole new way in the pages of Jeff Alt's "The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through the Great Smoky Mountains". Very highly recommended for school and community libraries for young readers ages 8 to 12, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Adventures of Bubba Jones(TM): Time Traveling Through the Great Smoky Mountains" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

Tell the Story to Its End
Simon P. Clark
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250066756, $18.99, 208pp,

People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad isn't there, too. Why hasn't he come with them? Has something happened? Why won't anyone talk about it? Oli has a hundred questions, and only an old, empty house in the middle of an ancient forest for answers. But then he finds a secret of his own: there is a creature named Eren that lives in the attic. Eren is not human. Eren is hungry for stories. Eren has been waiting for him. With Eren to listen, Oli starts to make sense of what's happening. But Eren is powerful, and though he's willing to help Oli, he's not willing to do it for free; he wants something in return. Oli must make a choice: he can learn the truth -- but to do so he must abandon himself to Eren's world, forever. All the more impressive considering that "Tell the Story to Its End" is author Simon P. Clark's debut as a novelist, this is a deftly crafted, inherently absorbing, and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end. "Tell the Story to Its End" is especially recommended for young readers ages 12 to 18 and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Tell the Story to Its End" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Instructions for the End of the World
Jamie Kain
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250047861, $18.99, 244pp,

When Nicole Reed's father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole's father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow's disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today? Exceptionally well crafted from beginning to end, Jamie Kain's "Instructions for the End of the World" is a gripping, young adult novel that explores family, friendship, and love in the midst of the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Very highly recommended for high school and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Instructions for the End of the World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Blue Vase
Katarina Jovanovic, author
Josee Bisaillon, illustrator
Trade Wind Books
c/o Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781896580913, $10.95, 112pp,

Before and after school, while her parents work, Sonia stays with her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Kaminski, and her granddaughter, Marta. When Sonia accidentally breaks Mrs. Kaminski's precious blue vase, Marta offers to keep it a secret for a price. But Sonia is not able to satisfy Marta's escalating demands for more gifts and more money. When Marta spreads lies about Sonia at school, her classmates taunt her. Finally, after a teacher discovers stolen property in Sonia's knapsack, Sonia is forced to find the courage she needs to confront her bully. "The Blue Vase" is a chapter book specifically written by Katarina Jovanovic and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon for middle-grade readers to help them tackle a universal issue that needs to be addressed. Highly entertaining and with a critically important message, "The Blue Vase" is strongly recommended for elementary school and community library collections, as well as the personal reading lists of children ages 7 to 10 and in grades 2 to 5.

The Bell Family
Noel Streatfeild
Vintage Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780099583363, $12.99, 368pp,

Meet the big, happy Bell family who live in the vicarage at St. Marks. Father is a reverend, Mother is as kind as kind can be. Then there are the children: practical Paul, dancing Jane, mischievous Ginnie, and finally the baby of the family, Angus, whose ambition is to own a private zoo (he has already begun with his six boxes of caterpillars). And not forgetting Esau, a sure fire competitor for the most beautiful dog in Britain. Follow their eventful lives from tense auditions to birthday treats; from troubled times to hilarious escapades. Exclusive material in the back of "The Bell Family" includes a chance to find out which one of the Bell children the young reader most resembles. Very highly recommended for children ages 9 to 11, "The Bell Family" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library General Fiction collections for young readers in grades 4 to 6. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bell Family" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.94).

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

Anica Mrose Rissi's Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split (9781481416054, $15.99) opens a series with the story of Anna who loves her best friend Sadie and her dog Banana, and who looks forward to celebrating her birthday with both of them. Unfortunately a fight breaks out at the birthday - one that Sadie begins - and Anna and Banana find themselves on the wrong side of Sadie's affections when a beautiful necklace comes between them. What can Anna and Banana do to get back in her good graces? A realistic story of conflict makes for an involving plot spiced with fun black and white drawings by Meg Park. Anna, Banana, and the Monkey in the Middle (9781481416085, $15.99) offers more friendship dilemmas, because in this story Anna has two best friends - Sadie and Isabel - and everything seems especially wonderful - until they begin choosing opposite sides on everything, placing Anna in the middle. Emerging conflicts make for friendships gone awry once again, and it's again up to Anna to find a way to keep the peace. Anna, Banana, and the Big-Mouth Bet (9781481416115, $15.99) provides more interpersonal conflicts: this time involving a class clown who likes to make fun of Anna's problems and her friends. Anna tries to get him to stop - and becomes involved in an impossible bet in this fun, involving story. While this series stands well alone as individual books, their bright and absorbing stories make for fun reads and kids will want all of them to absorb their very different messages about getting out of friendship jams.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle
Janet Fox
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780451476333, $16.99,

Young adult fans of mystery who like spooky reads, whether they be in middle school or beyond, will appreciate this fine story of a pre-teen who stumbles upon strange happenings at Rookskill Castle, which has been turned into a school for children whose parents seek a safe haven from the London Blitz. Rookskill is anything but safe, however: strange noises, spooky events, and intrigue permeates a strange castle and when schoolchildren begin vanishing, Kat is forced to confront a dangerous truth. A satisfyingly complex yarn makes for an engrossing read.

The Science Shelf

Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat
Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant
National Geographic Kids
1145 17th Street N.W.
Washington, DC, 20036-4688
9781426321115 $12.99 sc
9781426321122 $22.90 library binding

Illustrated with full-color photography on virtually every page, Science: Experiments You Can Eat lives up to its title as a science book for young people that encourages them to engage in hands-on experiments... with edible results! Projects include making beef jerkey (a process of "osmosis" in which water is removed from food), color-changing cookies (which involves learning about pH balance), allowing bread to rise (by harnessing the power of yeast, a type of fungi), and much more. Experiments are categorized by difficulty level, and the more challenging or potentially hazardous ones (such as anything involving a hot oven) are given the highest difficulty rank of "grab a grownup". Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat is an excellent choice for educational fun anytime, with adult supervision as needed. Also highly recommended for young adults is Jennifer Swanson's "Brain Games: The Mind-Blowing Science of Your Amazing Brain" (9781426320705, $12.99 sc / 9781426320712, $22.90 library binding), a compendium of fascinating facts and quiz-worthy challenges, brought to life with full-color photography throughout and inspired by the National Geographic Channel's smash hit television show, "Brain Games".

Books in Series

I'm Reading About Wisconsin the Badger State!
Carole Marsh
Gallopade International
PO Box 2779, Peachtree City, GA 30269
9780635113740 $29.99 library binding
9780635113245 $8.99 pbk

Part of a series of fifty books about American states, I'm Reading About Wisconsin the Badger State! is an easy reader picturebook that uses striking color photography, cartoons of talkative ladybugs, singsong rhymes, and a simple glossary to teach beginning readers about the great state of Wisconsin. Inquisitive young minds will learn about the state tree (sugar maple), names of famous Wisconsinites (including escape artist Harry Houdini and circus founders the Ringling Brothers), a little bit of Wisconsin history, and more. "Wisconsin is known for its cheese! Wisconsin makes the most cheese in America. Many other dairy products come form Wisconsin, too. Dairy products include milk, butter, and cheese. People from Wisconsin are sometimes called 'cheeseheads'!" At once both informative and charming, I'm Reading About Wisconsin the Badger State! is a welcome contribution to kindergarten/elementary school and public library children's collections, as is the rest of this educational series.

Raine's Rainbow Socks
Richard Ditchburn, author
Dwain Esper, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781504939638, $19.82, 24pp,

Written by Richard Ditchburn and featuring the lively illustrations of Dwain Esper, "Raine's Rainbow Socks: Book 1: Raine's Birthday, Red Socks, Orange Socks" can be a fun way for a child to learn the different colors of the rainbows while learning how to be more caring and helpful toward people and animals. A parent and child can read a story together, with the parent coaching the child on the values that each story gives. The dangers of taking too many pills, blaming the wrong person or animal. When a mystery that needs to be solved, Raine uses her rainbow socks to help find the truth. Some of the stories, at first, make the young reader think about what or who may have been to blame about an event that has occurred. Raine, when using her rainbow socks, can solve a mystery by going back in time and secretly watching the event unfold or even be a part of that event. When Raine comes back to the present time, she knows how to help solve the mystery. These stories can make a child feel like they have been helpful and can give the parent a sense of pride, knowing their child has learned some valuable lessons. As entertaining as it is educational, "Raine's Rainbow Socks" is enthusiastically recommended as an appropriate addition to both school and community library collections. For a child's personal reading lists it should be noted that "Raine's Rainbow Socks" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99). Also very highly recommended are the two other books in this singular trilogy: "Raine's Rainbow Socks: Book 2: Yellow Socks, Green Socks, Blue Socks" (9781504939850, 24pp, $19.82 PB; $4.99 Kindle) and "Raine's Rainbow Socks: Book 3: Indigo Socks, Violet Socks, The Washing Line" (978-1504942041, 24pp, $19.82 PB; $4.99 Kindle).

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118
$27.60 each

The 'Watch This Space!' series provides grades 4-5 with 32 pages each of basic astronomy information in a series of four vivid books revealing amazing facts with eye-catching covers and photos. Stars, Galaxies, and the Milky Way (9780778720228) considers our galaxy and the Sun as well as neutron stars and other kinds of galaxies and stars, pairing modern photos with charts, color sidebars of information, and discussions of star systems and astronomy facts. Astronomy, Astronauts, and Space Exploration (9780778720218) surveys telescopes in space and the latest space probes and how astronauts operate in space. The Universe, Black Holes, and the Big Bang (9780778720249) goes back to the Big Bang and discusses time travel, black holes, alien life and more, while The Solar System, Meteors, and Comets (9780778720232) surveys our solar system and the visitors who pass through it. All are designed for reports but pack in eye-catching and colorful facts suitable for leisure reads as well. New to the 'Science Sleuths' series are Measure It! (9780778715405), Prove It! (9780778715436), Plan and Investigate It! (9780778715429) and Model It! (9780778715412), each holding 24 pages of information packed with good-sized color photos and plenty of detail simplifying the investigative process. All are recommended for discriminating collections strong in elementary-grade science guides.

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

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