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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 2 February 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice American History Shelf International Shelf
Military Shelf Biography Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Crafts Shelf Sports Shelf Counting Shelf
Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Christian Shelf Islamic Shelf Metaphysical Shelf
Environmental Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Money/Finance Shelf
Fiction Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Holiday Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Activity Shelf Science Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Social Issues Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Divorce Shelf Music Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island: A Choose Your Own Path Book
Robert Louis Stevenson, author
Adapted by Blake Hoena
Lake 7 Creative LLC
9780988366268, $8.95,

"Treasure Island" is reissued adapted to the Choose Your Own Path series which is an interactive juvenile format for classic adventure and other stories. The original matchless prose of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic is recast in modern language with preservation of as much of Stevenson's dialogue as possible. Throughout the book, readers are asked to jump to distant pages and sometimes asked to choose between two or more options. The resulting reading odyssey/adventure is challenging and exciting and stimulates young readers to imagine diverging outcomes to plot lines. It also encourages them to revisit or perhaps explore for the first time the original source. "Can You Survive? Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island" is a popular vehicle for today's young readers to use exploring and expanding some of the most beloved classics of juvenile literature. Another title in this innovative series that is also highly recommended for readers age 10 and up is "Can You Survive? Greek Mythology's Twelve Labors of Hercules (9780988366299, $8.95)."

Black Wolf of the Glacier: Alaska's Romeo
Deb Vanasse, author
Nancy Slagle, illustrator
Snowy Owl Books
c/o University of Alaska Press
P.O. Box 756240, Fairbanks, AK 99775
9781602231979, $12.95,

"Black Wolf of the Glacier" is a stunning illustrated fiction wolf biography that is based on the life span of a known wolf who lived near the Mendenhall Glacier Lake. Romeo, the beautiful black wolf was so named by park visitors who frequently sighted him and allowed him to interact and play with their dogs. Because he somehow lost his mother and pack mates as a young animal, Romeo was lonely for canine (lupine) companionship. He became known and loved by park users, and although rangers feared for hikers' safety, everyone wanted Romeo to be allowed to remain a cyclical visitor at the Mendenhall Glacier area. Unfortunately, one year Romeo did not return at his usual time. Later, his pelt, with distinctive markings, was found among illegally trapped wolf pelts. Friends of Romeo prepared a farewell to him on the glacier where he had been seen and loved. "Black Wolf of the Glacier" presents Romeo as he might have been experienced by a young girl with her dog. Although the character of Shawna is fictional, Romeo was a real wolf, who was mourned and missed by many. Enhanced with stark, descriptive paintings of the wolf and companions in the wild glacier setting, "Black Wolf of the Glacier" is a both a lasting tribute to a noble wild animal and a testament to the two -sided, ongoing relationship (with potential capacity for good or evil) between wild animals and humans.

Children's Day
Thelma B. Thompson, author
Ivan Earl Aguilar, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781439105342, $15.99,

"Children's Day" is a wonderful book that celebrates the special uniqueness of children everywhere. If there is a Mother's Day, a Father's Day, and even a Grandparents' Day, why isn't there a Children's Day? This is the quite reasonable question asked (in verse) by Nellie and Jamal, two excited African American children. When Father Barnaby can find no answer even on his computer, he suggests they ask the County Commissioner. Over and over the question is sung by the family, "Tell me, tell me, can you say, why there is no Children's Day?" Everyone gets a chance to sing a solo as the song and its questions become longer and more unanswerable. The entire family including pets eventually sing their query to Congress and the White House, even the President. Finally the President (who happens to be a woman) finds the best answer: "With joy and with pleasure we can now say - EVERY DAY IS CHILDREN'S DAY!" This amazing, rhyming, empowering story is decorated with fabulous, fun color illustrations of children and elected officials of both genders and multiple ethnic origins. "Children's Day" is all about affirming to children that they and their questions are important and valued.

The Gift of the Ladybug
Carole M. Amber, author
Evi Shelvia, illustrator
Whitegate PR
Ladybug Publishing
9780615580944, $10.99,

"The Gift of the Ladybug" is a creative healing book for children and adults written by a parent of a child who died of Leigh Syndrome before his second birthday. Winner of the Bobby's Books award specially given to only 250 children's books to help children cope, "The Gift of the Ladybug" is already in use as a healing tool by physicians, schools, hospitals, and parents. "The Gift of the Ladybug" is written in delicate, appealing prose and expressively illustrated with charming, whimsical illustrations of two loving parent horses who discover they have a ladybug for a son. The core message of "The Gift of the Ladybug" is acceptance, acceptance of the painful reality that a loved, tiny child has come with medical differences, an inner nature that precludes a long life span. At first the horse parents can only cry when they understand this very significant difference in their beloved son Polkadot, the ladybug. Then, gradually they decide to find out the best ways they can help and care for Polkadot, and also to spend their time celebrating the gift of the ladybug, rather than grieving the shortened life span he will enjoy with them. "The Gift of the Ladybug" is a masterful example of bibliotherapy, beautifully presented. The author continues to donate 30 percent of book profits to UMDF, United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

The American History Shelf

The Girl from the Tar Paper School
Teri Kanefield
Abrams Books for Young Readers
c/o Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781419707964 $19.95

Ideal for young readers ages 10 to 14+, The Girl from the Tar Paper School is a nonfiction, picturebook chronicle of a young African-American woman who used nonviolent civil disobedience to stand up for what she believed in. Before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were household names, Barbara Rose Johns was an African-American teenager forced to go to an inferior, segregated school and receive a substandard education. She and her classmates went to school in "tar paper shacks" - rickety wooden buildings covered in tar paper. Though they were promised a new school equal to the whites-only school across town, time passed and she knew the tar paper shacks would become permanent if she did not take action. She led her classmates in a peaceful boycott to draw attention to the atrocious condition of their inferior school. Her bravery was repaid with public ridicule, even a cross burning on her school grounds, but she and her classmates would not give up. The NAACP championed her school's case in the court system, eventually culminating in the landmark Supreme Court decision "Brown v. Board of Education" in 1954, outlawing segregation. A wealth of archival photographs, a glossary, and an index round out this true-life history, worthy of the highest recommendation especially for school and public library children's collections.

The International Shelf

If You Were Me and Lived In...Kenya
Carole P. Roman, author
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481979917, $9.99,

From an award winning nonfiction series exploring life from a child's viewpoint round the world, "If You Were Me and Lived In .... Kenya: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World" explores and describes daily life for a child growing up in Kenya. Common names such as Kiano or Akeyo, plus familiar terms for father and mother such as Baba and Mazazi, as well as names of famous places like Nairobi and the Masaai Mara National Reserve are described and explained. A term for "school" is "shule" and a popular festival is the Mombasa Carnival, while cricket is a popular sport and roast goat or beef is a common food. All this and more is vividly described and pictured in "If You Were Me and Lived In .... Kenya," along a handy global map that shows Kenya's location in the world, in eastern Africa. Ending with a globe encircled with children of many lands and backgrounds holding hands, plus a handy pronunciation guide for new Kenyan terms, "If You Were Me and Lived In ...Kenya" is a snapshot education in African living for children age 8 and up.

The Military Shelf

I Miss Daddy
Acacia Slaton Beumer, author
Dimas S. S., illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481217088, $4.04,

"I Miss Daddy" is an expressive child's book about an African American preschool girl named Jana whose Daddy has been sent to Afghanistan for military service. Jana has a mom and younger sister whom she also loves, but she misses her Daddy so badly and has such difficulty understanding why and where he is gone, and for how long, that she occasionally misbehaves or even regresses out of insecurity and confusion. It takes Jana and her mom a while to figure out the problem and to learn to understand the hurt and just try their best to get along together. A letter sent from Afghanistan to Jana from her Daddy helps a lot, as does quiet cuddling time with her mother's understanding and making prayers together for her Daddy's safe return. "I Miss Daddy" is filled with living color illustrations that seem photo-pasted, showing a very real little girl with her family in daily settings that children will recognize and relate to. Each page number is attached to a silver dogtag symbol, which becomes a sort of reminder and mantra, telling the reader the family is always aware that Daddy is a soldier gone on assignment and needs their prayers for safety until he returns home. At the end, suggested discussion questions can help parents and children talk about important issues and ideas related to why Jana misses her Daddy. "I Miss Daddy" is a very helpful child's book dealing with military family separation issues from a young child's point of view. It is perfectly suited for use with children ages 4-10.

The Biography Shelf

Chester Nimitz and the Sea
Jane Sutcliffe, author
Craig Kodera, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053
9781455617968, $16.99,

"Chester Nimitz and the Sea" is an illustrated juvenile biography of U.S. Navy Admiral and hero of the Pacific theater of WW II, Chester Nimitz. Chester grew up in Fredericksburg, TX, far from the sea but under the influence of his grandfather, a retired sailor who built the Nimitz or Steamboat Hotel. Chester went to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1901, much encouraged by his grandfather and family. His following illustrious career revolved partly around early maxims learned from his grandfather: To get along with the sea, and life, learn all you can, do your best, and don't worry about things you can't control. Chester was present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked the Hawaiian base. Subsequently, he became Admiral Nimitz, in charge of the entire Pacific theater for U. S. Naval defense and warfare, a huge responsibility. Admiral Nimitz rose to the challenge, with the help of Navy ships, seamen and airplanes. He held the mast and invented strategies and defenses until the Japanese surrendered at Midway on September 2, 1945. "Chester Nimitz and the Sea" is enhanced with realistic paintings and illustrations and actual black and white photos of Navy ships in action. This biography of a Navy hero will appeal to readers age 8 and up.

The Self-Help Shelf

Thanks for the Feedback...I Think!
Julia Cook, author
Kelsey De Weerd, illustrator
Boys Town Press
14100 Crawford Street, Boys Town, NE 68010
9781934490495, $10.95,

"Thanks for the Feedback...I Think!: My Story About Accepting Criticism and Compliments the Right Way" is a great self-help book teaching kids to how to accept compliments and constructive feedback. RJ is a boy who has trouble finding the right thing to say when others give him compliments or constructive feedback. Using many familiar examples and interaction situations, RJ is taught the following suggestions: "When somebody GIVES you a compliment, the BEST thing for you to do, is to LOOK at the person, use a nice, pleasant voice, and simply say, 'THANK YOU.'" The second suggestion is "When somebody GIVES you feedback, they're helping to IMPROVE who you are. LISTEN to the person, and say 'OK.' Their words just might take you far. Make sure that when you listen you LOOK to the one who is talking to you. STAY CALM on the inside, now matter what is said. Then carefully THINK is through." Using ideas coming from these two key suggestion, RJ is able to improve his soccer game, get his schoolwork done on time, and show all his homework steps in math to prove he is not cheating. "Thanks for the Feedback...I Think!" is a practical kids self help book that many adults could also benefit from. Amusing, nonjudgmental language and pictures help keep the message clear and positive throughout this appealing self help for boys and girls age 7 and up.

A Happy Hat
Cecil Kim, author
Joo-Kyung Kim, illustrator
Magination Press
c/o American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433813375 $14.95

A Happy Hat is a colorful, consumable children's picturebook with an underlying message about resilience. The story follows a weather-beaten, seemingly abandoned hat that remains joyful despite the many changes that have happened to it. Once, the hat was the height of fashion; then it served a magician, and later a street performer. But when it became lost in the wilderness, far away from people, it was still needed - a mother bird chose it to hold a nest and her eggs! The consumable pages encourage young people to write or draw what the hat and the street musician are thinking, as well as a picture of the Happy Hat's next destined owner. A final, two-page "Note to Parents and Other Caregivers" goes into detail on ways to help children adujst to difficult times and abrupt changes in their lives. Highly recommended.

The Crafts Shelf

Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry
Colleen Dorsey, author
Design Originals / Heliconia Press
c/o Fox Chapel Publishing
1970 Broad Street, East Petersburg, PA 17520
9781574218961, $7.99,

"Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry" is a hip new children's craft book that includes detailed, photo-illustrated instructions for making more than twelve cool rubber band projects. Starting with easy patterns for bracelets, rings, necklaces, and hand and foot accessories, projects expand to belts, daisies, and more. Using specified supply lists of colored, sometimes shaped rubber bands, crochet hooks, and special looms or common object tools, children are able to create incredible artistic designs with easily learned techniques, following suggested patterns. Materials are inexpensive and instructions are clearly illustrated and presented, moving from easy patterns to more complex designs. Banner projects include a variety of bracelets, flower charms, dangly earrings, a hippie belt, and much more. Appealing to elementary school children age 6 and up, "Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry" is the leading craft text for a wildly popular craft craze for kids that is sweeping the country.

The Sports Shelf

Puckster's First Hockey Tryout
Lorna Schultz Nicholson, author
Kelly Findley, illustrator
c/o Tundra Books
One Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON, Canada M5C 2V6
9781770495968, $6.99,

From the Hockey Canada hit Puckster series, "Puckster's First Hockey Tryout" is an inspiring, practical action story that teaches young athletes valuable tips to learn and use when trying out for their first big hockey team. Featuring centre Puckster, illustrated as a talented white polar bear on skates, "Puckster's First Hockey Tryout" follows the team through a typical hockey drill, warmup, and practice before playing being selected to make the team to play against the Russian Tigers, a big team in a televised game. Detailed, colorful illustrations show different animal team members displaying non-competitive hockey moves in the tryouts. Solid tips delivered in the end as Puckster's Tips include: Listen to your coach! Warm up your muscles before practicing or playing in a hockey game. Stay hydrated (bring your own water bottle)! Don't give up! With hard work and practice, Puckster and teammate Sarah, defense, make the team in the end. "Puckster's First Hockey Tryout" is one of six Puckster titles available from Tundra Books and Hockey Canada on hockey for kids.

Tag, You're It!
Guy Bailey, author
Educators Press
14005 NE 8th Street, Vancouver, WA 98684
9780966972795, $16.95,

"Tag, You're It!: 101 Tag Games for Run, Fitness, and Skills" is a great physical education resource for kids grades K-6 that is packed with fun-filled action games incorporating many motor skills, enhancing cardiovascular health, and enticing kids to pursue yet more fun fitness development. Each tag game variation is simply explained in one page with introduction, equipment, and how to play instructions. Simple black and white symbolic illustrations embellish each game page, and games are listed alphabetically by title. Thus we have Flexibility Tag, Quadriceps Tag, Stone Age Tag, Teamwork Tag, and many more, including some partner tag and dance tag variations. Suggestions for game incorporation, play and targeted improvement areas are included in game introductions and instructions. "Tag, You're It!" is a fantastic fun PE resource that can be used by educators, child care staff, and parents for promoting lots of hours of healthy, fun play for kids.

The Counting Shelf

Mama, How Does The Wind Start To Blow?
Jeanne Styczinski, author/illustrator
Jeanne Kay Publishing
E8869 810th Avenue, Colfax, WI 54730
9780991094608, $9.95,

"Mama, How Does The Wind Start To Blow" is aptly subtitled "A Counting Story That Will Blow You Away!" Filled with creative, brightly decorated, mixed media and collage-like illustrations of leaves falling, fireflies blinking, horses swishing their tails, frogs leaping and sunflowers shedding their seeds, this counting song-like story will grip the imaginations of children age 3-6 everywhere. The answer to the title question comes after a wide variety of other possible sources for the wind blowing have been imagined and explored, from one moon rising to 10 sunflower seeds falling : "It's simple. Wind starts when a Mother blows an, "I Love You: kiss to her child. Catch it! This wind is for you! ....Catch it! This wind is for you!" Thus the child or reader is actively engaged in the mystical process of linking imagination to reality. The appeal is magical. To underline learning the counting process, the final few pages repeat with ritual embellishment and repeated images the counting numbers and objects, such as one moon, two stars, three leaves, four horses, etc. A final leaping frog asks cheerily, "Got Wind?" "Mama, How Does the Wind Start to Blow" is an irresistible combination of art, poetry, logic, and math. This book deserves an award for stimulating creative learning approaches.

The Board Book Shelf

Spoonful of Sweetness
Maria Dismondy, author
Ronnie Rooney, illustrator
Maria Dismondy, Inc.
PO Box 930237, Wixom, MI 48393
9780984855827, $6.99,

"Spoonful of Sweetness" is a delectable, sturdy pasteboard book for very young children (age 0-2) that promotes excellent qualities by encouraging children to play imitative games that promote the capacity for such desirable traits as empathy, respect, responsibility, friendship, kindness, and courage. Charming colored illustrations show babies of different races and skin colors displaying imitative responses such as waving, smiling, blowing kisses, kissing boo-boos, etc. "Spoonful of Sweetness" is a delightful educational board book for all young children and their parents and caretakers.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Best Saturday Ever!
Gary Cook, author
Adam Sward, illustrator
Scarletta Kids
10 South Fifth Street, Suite 1105, Minneapolis, MN 55402
c/o Publishers Group West (distribution)
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781938063251 $15.95

The Best Saturday Ever! is a rhyming children's picturebook about the power of imagination. One stormy Saturday, the power goes out - with no TV, no video games, and no opportunity to go outside, what is young Robbie to do? He soon learns that there are ways to make one's own fun, creating his very own superhero costume and embarking on adventures to defeat fantastic monsters! "While some of them are tricky, / they never stay long in our way. / So I'm off to my next mission, / to save another day!" Exuberant and playful, The Best Saturday Ever! fosters creativity by encouraging young people to exercise their minds and invent their own fun.

And the Cars Go...
William Bee
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144
9780763665807 $15.99

And the Cars Go... is a charming children's picturebook filled with read-aloud sound effects. When a policemen encounters a traffic pileup, each vehicle idling in the jam makes a different noise - "Here is the beach buggy, off to the coast, and the surfers mumble, 'Hey man! We're missing the waves.' And their buggy goes, Bumble bumble bumble bumble bumble bumble." What's holding all the different cars up? It's escaped sheep in the street! Exuberant color illustrations add just the right touch to this charming story perfect for sharing with little children, who will love to imitate the many different sounds.

Bronto, Friend of Ceratops
Charlotte Vivian Rodenberg
Craigmore Creations
2900 SE Stark St., Suite 1A
Portland, OR 97214
9780984442294 $14.99

Set during the Cretaceous, Bronto, Friend of Ceratops follows a young Apatosaurus named Bronto, and Bronto's friends, the three-horned Ceratops. When lightning ignites a forest fire, and predatory dinosaurs menace the Ceratops herd, Bronto takes it on himself to deliver the both the dangerous news and a plan of action! Inviting color illustrations add just the right touch to this heroic story reminiscent of "The Land Before Time" animated movie series. Also highly recommended is the author's previous children's book featuring Bronto, "Bronto & the Pterodactyl Eggs" (9780984442249, $14.99).

The Slip-Slide Misadventure of Mildew Goo
R. Douglas Jacobs, author
Nicholas Voshall, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781490324142, $19.95,

"The Slip-Slide Misadventure of Mildew Goo" is a rhythmic fable deftly told by R. Douglas Jacobs about a bit of foam called Soapy Suds, who is in danger from the dark clutches of a bathtub drain, but is befriended in a rescue effort by Mildew Goo who is a fungus. The virtue of humility becomes the central theme of this entertaining story for young readers during the course of Mildew's attempt to rescue Soapy. This entertaining and original little story is enhanced with the illustrations of Nicholas Voshall. "The Slip-Slide Misadventure of Mildew Goo" is highly recommended for both family and community library picture book collections. It should be noted that "The Slip-Slide Misadventure of Mildew Goo" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Maria Eugenia, author/illustrator
Second Story Press
20 Maud Street, Ste. 401
Toronto, ON M5V 2M5 Canada
9781927583227, $15.95,

"Ink-Blot" is an incredibly creative, artistic children's book that will have special appeal for girls (ages 5-8). Powerful, eccentric appearing caricature-like illustrations show girls who are worried about their appearance, their nose, their hair, their size, and EVERYTHING. Some girls in fact feel that they are "badly drawn." By complete contrast, Ink-blot is a black and white zany cartoon entity who really does appear to be "badly drawn," but who "couldn't care less!" This is because she is too busy having fun! "Ink-Blot" is a masterfully empowering book, a freeing experience for children who obsess about their appearance. The expressiveness of the color and black and white illustrations tells all, with humor and love.

Nero the Proud Tiger
Betty R. Anderson, author
Erin Salazar, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481771535, $17.99,

"Nero the Proud Tiger" is a teaching tale about a proud tiger who wanted to be on his own, away from other tigers and animals. One day all the animals are upset to learn that Princess Betta, who loves and cares for them all, is missing. Although Nero wants to find her, his pride keeps him from joining the others in searching for her. Finally he is moved by the feelings of his friends (who understood him best) Bruno the monkey and Alma the elephant to cooperate in continuing the search for Princess Betta. What ensues is an exciting adventure in which all the animals cooperate to succeed in finding and rescuing the lost Princess Betta from a deep hidden cave in the jungle. They happily brought the Princess home, and the King was so pleased and proud he made Nero an overseer of the village. And although Nero was still proud, he never again let pride keep him from his friends or the village. "Nero the Proud Tiger" is enhanced by jolly, cartoon illustrations of animals and the princess. It's clear moral of the value of cooperation and friendship is a message children of all ages will joyfully accept.

Shell-less Shelby
Jessica Kirsenlohr, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481746236, $20.99,

"Shell-less Shelby" is an exciting turtle tale that takes the reader from a newly hatched sea- turtle named Shelby, through an exciting search for her missing shell, along with friend and fellow hatchling, Gus. Gus helps Shelby search for her lost shell in a number of likely spots, including a crab, an empty sea shell that does not fit Shelby, a clam, a bottle cap, and even a sleeping starfish. None of these is the right size for a shell for Shelby, and just as she is becoming very discouraged, the starfish suggests she look back at her eggshell, where she first lost her shell. This leads Shelby to her perfectly matching and fitting shell. After moving back in, she and Gus set out for the ocean to swim out to sea and meet their mommies. "Shell-less Shelby" teaches a number of valuable concepts in both story and illustration. Not being afraid to try new things, helping a friend, not giving up when a task gets challenging, and using imagination, sensitivity, and creativity to find solutions and tackle problems cooperatively are just a few examples. "Shell-less Shelby" has a particular strength in its vivid, compassionate, colorful, humorous illustrations, which make identifying with a turtle one more fun experience in a challenging world.

The Adventures of Bibole, Rivol, and Michelle, My Brother Pounce
Brian Fujikawa, author
Gil Balbuena, Jr. illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490709567, $21.34,

"The Adventures of Bibole, Rivol, and Michelle: My Brother Pounce" is from an innovative series about a mouse family written by a father for his young daughter, Daisy. Daisy and her friends enjoy playing together in a forest, where the mouse family lives in a tree. Bibole is the mouse son, Rivol the mouse father, and Michelle is the mouse mother of the family. "My Brother Pounce" is a magical story about a new baby brother brought to the mouse family by mistake by a confused and tired stork. Rivol, Michelle, and Bibole adopt, nurture and love their new family member even when they learn he is in fact a lion cub. Pounce's true nature eventually emerges, as the lion cub grows beyond his foster family's environment and vegetarian diet. Then the mouse family does something quite brave: They support Pounce in searching for and finding a family of his own kind, far away in Africa, so he can finish growing to be a lion king. This process is accelerated by Pounce accidentally eating a mocking blackbird, something that surprised and terrified Pounce because he was unaware of his true nature as a lion. The loving mouse family reaches a new pact with their lion foundling, and a brave voyage in a hot air balloon to a new home in Africa. At first the pride of lions is unsure about accepting Pounce, but once his lion identity is confirmed, he is greeted by bows from all as the new king of the pride of lions. However, Bibole is heartbroken at losing his little lion brother and has difficulty accepting Pounce's relocation. Rivol and Michelle counsel him carefully, explaining some wonderful concepts, among them, "Family is special. Families are forever. Family members can be different, and we will love them just the same no matter what. Even when family members go away, they are still a part of the family, and they can return to visit. Love your family, they are yours forever." "My Brother Pounce" is a beautiful tale with a valuable lesson for all children, told in colorful cartoon illustrations and quietly understanding prose.

The Foolish Dandelion
Karen Ott, author
Mary Connors, illustrator
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452562773, $13.99,

"The Foolish Dandelion" is a modern teaching fable about learning to make wise choices. Appealingly illustrated with colorful flowers with expressive faces and one charming little ladybug who follows the foolish dandelion on his journey to mark his journey towards enlightenment. The foolish dandelion is young, naive, and vain in the beginning, concerned mostly with how beautiful he is, and longing for a more beautiful, greener garden to better display his beauty. The wise rose bush tries to tell the foolish dandelion that the distant garden over the hill only appears to be greener, but the dandelion doesn't listen. He pulls up his roots and gradually inches his way to the far off garden. The difficult journey takes him three days. When he arrives, his petals are beginning to fail, age, and go to seed. As the little dandelion changes to a fluffy white seed head, watched by his faithful ladybug companion, his seeds drift back to the rose in his original garden. "The Foolish Dandelion" is a beautiful nature fable, with layers of interpretation open to young readers' analysis. All messages of "The Foolish Dandelion" are underlined and enhanced by its expressive, imaginative illustrations.

My Sister Sophie
Cindy Mackey, author
Jake Tebbit, illustrator
Cyrano Books
941 Pueo Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
9780989269995, $6.99,

"My Sister Sophie" is an appealing, quirky look at the world of sibling tolerance limits. Written in catchy verse, cleverly illustrated with funny scenes of unfair sibling situations, "My Sister Sophie" is all about extending the limits of tolerance and patience between siblings, even when it may seem stretched to the breaking point. Basically, Sophie's older brother would like to keep her in a cage where she would do less damage, like a pet rodent or lizard. If this seems reasonable to the reader, it will also under score the dominant note of hilarity which underlies all. The final couplet and illustrations summarizes all: "I don't know why/ she's tough as nails/ I don't know why/ I can't see her scales." Fortunately the overstrained older brother narrator has a pet dog for a friend to help him express the outrageousness of life with a sibling like "My Sister Sophie." This book is for parents and kids with siblings everywhere. Also highly recommended is another title by the same author, "Hannah's Day of Revelations (9780989269940, $7.99)," an amusing exploration of nuggets of thought about life's meanings according to one quirky pre-teen, with an inspiring quotation by Hannah Arendt: "Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think."

Tippy Tip
Vanessa Roam, author
Rodora Taboada, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781629947082, $8.99,

"Tippy Tip" is a compassion-inspiring story of the life of a baby goat born with weak, unsteady legs. Second in a series about Walter and Gretchen, two children growing up on a farm, "Tippy Tip" describes their efforts to protect and care for one kid born with weak knees, who will not be chosen by the buyer to train to become a pack goat. After they worked as much as they could to strengthen and encourage baby Tippy Tip, both children are very concerned what will happen to him. Finally an amazing solution to the future of Tippy Tip materializes. A visiting neighbor's child, Mitchell has been ill and has lost his pet dog because of his allergies. Yet he loves and pets the abandoned Tippy Tip with no ill effects. Walter and Gretchen leap to a happy conclusion: Since Mitchell is apparently not allergic to goats, he can safely give Tippy Tip a loving home, with his parents' consent. This gentle story has a message for encouraging a compassionate heart at its core: There is a good purpose for everyone and everything alive, we have only to seek it. Expressive, pastel colored illustrations show the world of Tippy Tip and Walter and Gretchen in windows of simplicity. "Tippy Tip" is ideal for children ages 4-8, and is to be released in March, the season for the birth of young goats.

Hurty Feelings
Helen Lester
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544106222 $8.99

Lynn Munsinger's HURTY FEELINGS is all about feeling good about yourself, and tells what happens when hippo 'Fragility' walks around with hurty feelings, responding to everyone's compliments or comments as though they were critical comments. Would that everyone read HURTY FEELINGS as a child! This uses a fragile hippo's life to cover the basics about feeling good about yourself, and is a lovely picturebook read for adult and child alike!

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

CINDERELEPHANT by Emma Dodd (9780545532853, $16.99) provides a fun take-off on the original tale and tells of an abused elephant. The Warty Sisters never appreciate her labors and just laugh at her when she wants to go to the ball. But Cinderelephant has a Furry Godmouse working with her - and needs only shoes to make her dreams come true. A hilarious story evolves, perfect for kids in grades 2-3. Audrey and Don Wood's THE BIRTHDAY QUEEN (9780545414746, $17.99) tells of Birthday Queen, who always knows exactly how to make a party the best. From decorations to cakes and guests, the Birthday Queen is involved in the testing process and magic. Colorful, oversized pictures accompany a whimsical, lively story. Eric Barclay's HIDING PHIL (9780545464772, $16.99) tells of an elephant who meets three friends who want to take him home. The only problem is: their parents aren't thrilled about an elephant in the house. How can they hide Phil? It turns out there's a variety of ways in this hilarious, fun tale for beginning readers. Elisha Cooper's TRAIN (9780545384957, $17.99) covers the experience of riding a train, using sound effects, realistic situations, and fine paintings to follow the sights, sounds and experience of riding a train. Kids with basic reading skills will find this a fun story documenting the train experience!

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

Jane Kohuth's ANNE FRANK'S CHESTNUT TREE (97804497812556, $12.99) will appeal to readers ages 5-8 as it pairs colorful drawings by Elizabeth Sayles with the story of how Anne Frank, hidden away in a secret annex during World War II, sees the branches of a tall chestnut tree and finds hope from this. Frank's belief in nature lends to a fine biography for readers with basic skills who want a simple and passionate coverage of her life, fictionalized for added drama. Trudy Ludwig's THE INVISIBLE BOY (9781582464503, $16.99) receives drawings by Patrice Barton which come to life as readers follow this account of invisible boy Brian, whom nobody notices until a new kid comes to class. Brian is the first to make him welcome - and their friendship helps Brian shine for others, as well. A fine story of friendships evolves, perfect for picturebook readers.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

How Do You Make a Dragon Laugh? Lia's Magic Dragon
Susan Coursey, author
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781483656557, $21.99,

"How Do You Make a Dragon Laugh?" is a fantasy odyssey adventure story about a girl named Lia who wanted to help a dragon by making him laugh. Lia is told there are no real dragons on planet Earth, but she dreams of traveling to Planet Eleuthera with some helpful space aliens caught visiting her tree house, because she is inspired to visit their resident dragon, Perry. Perry does not laugh, and he is sad in his cage. Thoughtfully packing a basket of snacks, Lia rides in the space ship to Planet Eleuthera and tackles the problem of how to amuse and entertain Perry, the sad dragon. Strangely enough, she finds her snack basket of strawberries is just the treat to perk Perry up. All good things develop from Lia's rescue mission to make Perry laugh. She is happily escorted home to her bed by the friendly aliens, knowing that Perry is happy in his new special dragon home at the zoo. Delightful, whimsical illustrations with a soft palette of colors help bring the world of Lia, Perry, and Eluethera to life in this charming bedtime dragon story with humane undertones.

Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom
John S. McFarland, author
Brenna Vaughan, illustrator
Goose River Press
3400 Friendship Road, Waldoboro, ME 04572
9781547131353, $9.95,

"Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom" is a haunting young adult chapter novel about an eight year old boy named Evan Nestor Bettancourt who has a unique rescue experience when he becomes lost in northern California forest lands while on an outing with his family. Evan is small for his age, clinging to his favorite stuffed toy Froggums, and attached to fantasy stories about imaginary or magical creatures, which is a source of concern and disappointment to Evan's father, who is a high school biology teacher. Against his wife's wishes, Duane Bettancort has definite beliefs about what toys and books are appropriate for an eight year old boy, which beliefs only cause Evan to cling all the more strongly to his Froggums and favorite story of Vernon the Gnome. All this background comes under total review in Evan's exciting adventure being found and rescued by Annette, a large, hairy mother Sasquatch who is curious about humans and also misses her own son who has grown up and moved away. Complicating the adventure is an eccentric, delicacy dependent cryptozoologist named Wesley whose chief ambition is to trap a Sasquatch and pretend to rescue Evan. Further excitement abounds, as a mountain lion prepares to deliver a coup de gras to the self-trapped Wesley who is easily outwitted by Annette and Evan in en exciting chase. What will the gentle, big hearted Annette do, rescue Wesley, abandon Evan to the hungry mountain lion, and risk capture by outside forces? All this excitement builds as Annette carefully pursues a crafty plan to place Evan safely where he will be found by his parents. All parts of "Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom" are scintillatingly believable in their sharp focus, realistic action, and sure character and plot development. Comic relief and danger mix as Evan faces situations and challenges that ultimately lead him to choose his own path of growing maturity. Undoubtedly like many other readers, this reviewer was moved to tears when Evan sacrificed his beloved Froggums for Annette to cherish, understanding and identifying with her special loneliness. John S. McFarland is compared to Roald Dahl, Richard Matheson, and H. P. Lovecraft in his writing. Though the style may have echoes, the storyteller's voice is unique and unforgettable. Like J. K. Rowling and others, McFarland never underestimates the sensitivity and sophistication of his intended audience. Further embellishing the pages of "Annette A Big, Hairy Mom" are many black and white sensitive drawings of a gentle hairy figure, tenderly carrying a little boy on her immense shoulders.

The Adventures of Ruy Diver
Miriam Salinas, author
Joshua Allen, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481754774, $28.99,

"The Adventures of Ruy Diver" is a splashy sea-set tale of a boy diver that piques the imagination of young readers. While at the beach and in the sea, Ruy met a talking turtle named Rosy who rescued him from diving into deep water when he didn't know how to swim. Acting as his guide, Rosy Turtle introduces Ruy to many other friendly sea creatures, including Sally Snapper, Sara Sardine, Pete Pompano, Joey Fish, and Octi Octopus. Although all the sea creatures are kind to Ruy, it is Rosy Turtle who rescued him, pulling him up on the beach from deep water. All the other sea animals decide to teach Ruy to swim. This begins the first chapter of a long and fascinating series of adventures for Ruy with his ocean friends. Additional chapters of "The Adventures of Ruy Diver" are titled Ruy Diver and His Friends Build a House, Someone Else Lives in Ruy Diver's Home, and A Very Dangerous Prank. Each chapter tells another exciting adventure for Ruy with his undersea friends. Brightly colored illustrations and rainbow page colors keep attention riveted on these fun, action-filled pages of maritime adventures, each with an important lesson for Ruy and young readers. Curious qualities, quirks of fate, and many recognizable human traits emerge in these captivating chapters, which are appealing for children age 8 and up.

The Magical Cat
Carla Marrero, author/illustrator
Inkwater Press
6750 SW Franklin St., Portland, Oregon 97223
9781592992324, $16.95,

"The Magical Cat" is a spunky modern fable about a rescued white cat who rewarded the girl who found and cared for her by granting her three wishes. The idea of acts of random kindness being duly rewarded is integral to the theme of "The Magical Cat," but even more central is the idea that love creates its own reward. To paraphrase, the magical cat grants Ana her first two wishes for a bike and a large playground in her back yard, asking each time, "Will this make you happy?" However, for Ana's final wish, a new thought dawns. Ana asks Skylar, her name for the magical cat, if she can have her become her pet for her last wish. Skylar carefully asks if she still wants this wish knowing that if Skylar is her pet, she will no longer be magical or able to grant wishes. Yes, Ana affirms, she does, and no other wish could make her happier. A happy ending ensues, with a lifetime of happy companionship between Ana and Skylar. The charming pencil and digital water color illustrations offer delicately tinted, mercurial expressions of the growing relationship between Ana and Skylar. This lovely children's book affirms some very positive thoughts about the true nature of love and happiness.

Sweet and Sour Power (The Witches of Danarobbeth)
Faye Allison Gilbert, author
Pritali Joharapurkar, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
6434 West Dixon Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612252117, $12.99,

"Sweet and Sour Power (The Witches of Danarobbeth)" is a clever, colorfully illustrated fantasy nature tale about a mythical battle of smells between the Sweets, or sweet flower witches who loved creating flower perfumes and the Sours, or stinky green witches who loved stinkweed and other noxious smelling weeds. Although the epic battle takes place in mythical Danarobbeth, there are many similarities between that land and more familiar ones. The story of the disagreement between the Sweets and the Sours originates in the wind blowing sweet smells to the land of the Sours, who complain bitterly. After many twists and turns, the Sweets come up with a masterful plan, with elements of magic. They use an enchanting verse and liquid perfume to douse the sleeping sours, which results in a fantastic transformation! The Sours become yellow dandelions, who turn white and blow away with the wind. Thus ends the epic battle between flower power and weed power, or the Sweets and the Sours, and thus begins a basic legend about the life history of the dandelion, a pretty yellow weed that eventually goes to seed and blows away in the wind. "Sweet and Sour Power" is creative, effective nature fantasy literature for children ages 3-9.

The Christian Shelf

Bible and Prayers for Teddy and Me
Christina Goodings, author
Janet Samuel, illustrator
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9780745964164, $8.99,

"Bible and Prayers for Teddy and Me" is a sweet young child's first Bible story/prayer book with charming, racially inclusive color illustrations that often feature a Teddy bear, a narrator's helper. Fourteen familiar Bible stories are retold in simple language, each concluding with a child's prayer that arises from the lesson of the story. The use of the empathetic Teddy bear friend is a great interpretive device to encourage young children to begin to understand the message of faith and kindness to all in each Bible story. Included are Bible stories about Noah and the ark, Baby Moses, David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions, Jesus' birth, the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, and the first Easter, and several more. Covered with a thickly padded color illustrated cover, the "Bible and Prayers for Teddy and Me" is a perfect first Bible companion for children aged three years and up.

Mandy and Sandy
Leonie Petersen, author
Russell Murugan, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781465303936, $21.99,

"Mandy and Sandy" is a children's teaching book based on Colossians 3:20: "Children always obey your parents for this pleases the Lord." Mandy and Sandy are two sisters with brown skin who learn the words of Colossians 3:20 in their Sunday School class, but only Mandy understands and believes this teaching of the Bible directed to children. Sandy decides to disobey her mother to try to trap a wild snake for her Show and Tell project, unaware of the serious danger she risks despite her mother's warnings. Sandy is rescued by a medical emergency team, and Sandy rides along with her to the hospital for treatment, while her mother drives her car behind. Mandy has mixed feelings about her sister who has disobeyed her mother and God, and risked her life as a result. However, Mandy prays for Sandy to learn to obey her mother and also God, so she will live and be safe and happy. Mysteriously, Sandy recovers consciousness during this harrowing ride and promises to listen to her Mother and obey God even when she did not want to. "Mandy and Sandy" is an appealing story that presents both sides of temptation for children who do not always really want to obey their parents.

The Colors of God
Angela S. Gibson, author
Denis Proulx, illustrator
Xulon Press
2301 Lucien Way, Suite 415, Maitland, FL 32751
9781624194795, $24.99,

"The Colors of God" is an imaginative, satisfying answer to a question frequently asked by children and adults, especially appealing for a young audience ages 4-10. Enriched by relevant St. James Bible source quotations, "The Colors of God" follows the questions of a young boy with brown skin color and curly black hair named Eugene, put to his dear Grandmother Ellie: "Grandmother, what color is God?" To answer Eugene's question, his grandmother takes him on an adventure, in which she helps Eugene imagine God in a rainbow colors. First his skin is red, then yellow, then green, blue, purple, black and white. Finally Eugene begins to understand, saying: "God is all colors! God's color is Love!" Grandma Ellie tells Eugene to remember each time he sees a rainbow in the sky, how beautiful each color in the rainbow is. Because in God's eyes, each color of skin is equally beautiful. "The Colors of God" is enriched by charming cartoon-like illustrations that place a fresh outlook on the rainbow colors of God. At the end of "The Colors of God" is suggested music for a theme song called "The Colors of God," written and arranged by Jermaine Miller, which joyfully celebrates all the colors of God in song.

Tommy and His Cats
Enrique C. Benages, author
Dwain Esper, illustrator
Jerry Leigh Stokes, Jr., contributing editor
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491803172, $20.99,

"Tommy and His Cats" is a collection of three short stories about a boy named Tommy who loved, sheltered, healed, and rescued cats. The first story is about an old, sick cat named Geronimo who came out of the woods near Tommy's home and responded to Tommy's loving care and attention, even though he did not have very long to live. A second story tells about Tommy's care of a kitten he named Independence because he found her on the Fourth of July. In this chapter, Tommy's family of one kitten grows gradually to a large band of 70 cats whom he feeds and tries to shelter. Tommy's mother is allergic to cats, so finding a proper home for the cats becomes an all family project. Complicating the issue is Tommy's failing health, caused by his heart which is not strong. The final chapter, titled Tommy and the Mountain, deals with Tommy's continued courage in battling for his beloved cats in an afterlife in heaven. Tommy is able to meet and reunite with his first beloved cat, Geronimo, whose death had touched him so deeply. He also finds Independence and Betty, a fox who had become Geronimo's friend in heaven despite the fact that she had injured him in their lives together on earth. Tommy's final experience in heaven, after his battles for the cats, is to revisit his home in Jasper, Alabama, to see his parents and Jerry, the retired chauffeur who loved and cared for his cats living in a cabana specially built by Tommy's dad. The story ends with a happy reunion and an end of suffering by both humans, cats and animals, as promised by the Lord: "I will heal the injured and resurrect the dead; eternal life for all in my name, your Lord (p.33)." "Tommy and His Cats" is an inspirational humanitarian collection of chapter stories that will appeal to older children age 10 and up.

Audrey Bunny
Angie Smith, author
Breezy Brookshire, illustrator
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433680458 $14.99

Intended for children ages 4-8, Audrey Bunny is a picturebook with subtle elements of Christian allegory. A toy bunny languages in a barrel of stuffed animals at a shop, passed over again and again because of a mark over its heart. But the one day a little girl named Caroline comes; she and chooses the toy bunny for a playmate, and names it Audrey. She doesn't see the mark as a defect, but rather a sign that Audrey is wonderful and special. She even takes Audrey to Show and Tell! "There would be no going back to the barrel, no more tears, and no more hiding what made her different. Caroline loved her, just as she was." The final page encourages young readers to think about the meaning of Psalm 119:73, "Your hands made me and formed me," and the story as Christian allegory. Little ones are prompted to contemplate questions such as "How does Caroline change how Audrey Bunny feels about herself?" "How does God see you?" and "Does that change how you feel about yourself?" A suggested, step-by-step activity to write a letter to God closes this heartfelt story, especially recommended for Sunday School picturebook collections.

The Islamic Shelf

Colours of Islam
Dawud Wharnsby, author
Shireen Adams, illustrator
The Islamic Foundation
c/o Kube Publishing Ltd.
c/o Meryl Zegarek PR
9780860375913 $22.95

Originally released two decades ago, Colours of Islam is a picturebook presentation of classic songs from a diversity of cultures that practice the religion of Islam. This new presentation comes with an remastered, percussion-based audio CD of the songs featured in the book. The happy, colorful illustrations complement the celebratory songs, suitable for young readers ages five and up. "Colours of Islam": Allah made us all a different shade and colour. / Nations and tribes recognise one another. / 'Cause every single person is your sister and brother. / So many different colours of islam..."

The Metaphysical Shelf

The Infinite Song
Andrea Freeman, author/illustrator
Halcyon Wind Press
P.O. Box 2242, San Anselmo, CA 94979
9780989089708, $19.95,

"The Infinite Song" is a mystical reshaping of creation myth, written in allegorical verse and illustrated with stunning paintings of universe origin scenes in rainbow hues. It's dream-like sonorities extend throughout, and both text and imagery present contrast and enhancement of each other, presenting a possible metaphor for the ideal relationship between humans, the apex of creation, and all other living beings, flora and fauna, known and unknown, of a planet known as Earth. Presented as "An Allegorical Tale for Our Times," "The Infinite Song" has won or been nominated for multiple literary awards, including the coveted Mom's Choice Awards honoring excellence. Described as an attempt to reconcile science, religion and mysticism, "The Infinite Song" explores a special awareness, even attraction, that seems to exist between human higher consciousness and the universe. Some might call it a longing for oneness with the Infinite. The author's verse addresses the human dilemma of this duality as follows: "Our lives are as bubbles/ that float on a sea,/ and no matter their form here/ will pop ultimately!/ We' re all in this together/ and need only remember/ that real as it seems,/ it's all but a Dream/ spun on the loom/ of one's imaginings. / One constant thread/ runs through us all, he, she, or it, gigantic or small./ Our minds are our vessels,/ dream-stuff the sea./ To ride on the waves/ harmoniously/ is our true purpose in being here;/ no less will suffice;/ to let go and let Goddess/ is the wisest advice." Closing lines follow this gender equality flavored visionary mix with images of Sublime Divine Laughter, Love, Grace, and Infinite Song. "The Infinite Song" is a beautiful experience that feels both very new and very old. It is destined to become a juvenile classic that also appeals to adults.

The Environmental Shelf

How Are You, Mother Earth? We're Taking You to the Doctor
Gordon Hunter, author
Marvin Alonso, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466993556, $24.40,

Written by a retired biology professor, "How Are You, Mother Earth? We're Taking You to the Doctor" is simple checkup on the global environment presented in the format of a routine medical checkup on the health of the planet. Succinctly and clearly written, a thorough review of Mother Earth's age, weight, pressure, respiration and air quality, circulation and fluid analysis, dermatology and temperature reveals that the planet we live on is suffering from many toxins, deep infections, festering sores, rashes, and loss of fertile farmland plus growth of human population. The treatments recommended for most of these disorders are alternative energy sources in combination with unified practice of green habits such as conservation of energy and recycling. An excellent source of scientific information about the health of earth, "How Are You Mother Earth? We're Taking You to the Doctor" is a motivator to organize proper green treatment and alternative energy sources now. The team of Mike, Katie and our beloved author provides age appropriate role models for young readers (and also not so young). This handbook has real impact and arresting delivery of environmental news that affects the future of all earth's inhabitants.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Otter, The Spotted Frog & the Great Flood
Gerald Hausman, author
Ramon Shiloh, illustrator
Wisdom Tales
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786120, $17.95,

"The Otter, The Spotted Frog, & the Great Flood: A Creek Indian Story" is a respectful retelling of a traditional Creek origin tale from the Georgia Creek Indian ancestors of the Florida Seminole and Miccosukee tribes. This stunning edition is enhanced by the artistry of star-studded portraits of Otter Woman and Listener, who become First Man and First Woman. This is a poetic origin tale, with a crucial role played by Spotted Frog, "who, as everyone know, saved the world by singing." The animal characters in this tale show different sensitivities or abilities to listen to the voice of others and of Nature. The message of the tale seems enwrapped in an ability to hear and respond to the important messages of Mother Earth. "The Otter, The Spotted Frog, & the Great Flood" is a classic origin tale, majestically presented in this volume for children age 4 and up.

First Fire: A Cherokee Folktale
Nancy Kelly Allen, author
Sherry Rogers, illustrator
Sylvan Dell Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628552164, $17.95,

"First Fire" is a beautifully illustrated retelling of a traditional Cherokee folktale explaining how the First animals discovered fire, with the help of Raven, whose feathers were forever changed from white to black in his carrying of an island tree branch on fire across the water to a sycamore tree. Owl also helped to carry the fire, receiving a mark that makes Owl's eyes shine red in the firelight today. Other animals and birds, including the Hoot Owl, Horned Owl, and Racer Snake tried unsuccessfully to help bring home the fire from the sycamore tree and received distinctive markings that can still be seen today. Only Spider was able to carry a tiny hot coal in her tusti bowl made of woven spider silk on her back across the water. "First Fire" continues to educate juvenile readers with a section titled For Creative Minds, including material on Cherokee Then and Now, Cherokee Territory, and fire. All educational activities are recommended for Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards and social studies lessons for students in grades K-3. "First Fire" is also vetted for authenticity by Gina K. Burnett, Outreach Coordinator at the Cherokee Heritage Center. Embellished and enhanced with expressive illustrations and maps and actual photographs of spiders, "First Fire" offers an exciting array of material to explore a traditional Cherokee vision of relationships between animals, fire, and humans.

The Money/Finance Shelf

A Teen Guide to Earning Income
Tammy Gagne, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, Delaware 19707
9781612284705, $29.95,

"A Teen Guide to Earning Income" is an economic resource book from the Practical Economics for Teens series, specially written for a student audience from grades 4-8. Cheerfully illustrated with relevant photos and pithy sidebars with titles like Earning Income Tips and Trivia, "A Teen Guide to Earning Income" covers multiple teen employment issues in five basic chapters. These are titled Help Wanted, Finding a Job, You're Hired! Now What? Paying Your Taxes, and Making the Most of Your Paycheck. Chapters are succinct, practical, and filled with good advice and information for job-seeking teens. Chapter notes are listed at the end, along with resource suggestions for further reading both online and in published books and a helpful glossary of terms. An example of the useful material contained is found in chapter 3, page 28: "Before you go home on your first day, be sure you know when you are due to report to work again. It is very important that you show up on time each and every time you are scheduled to work. It is also important that you follow the rules. For example, if you aren't supposed to have a cell phone with you when you work, leave this item at home or in your locker if your employer provides one. Simply switching it off is not following the rule." Additional helpful tips and definitions are found in highlighted sidebars. "A Teen Guide to Earning Income" is a very practical guide to seeking and keeping appropriate employment as a teen, and learning to be a productive employee. Other titles by the same author from the Practical Economics For Teens Series that are also highly recommended include the following: "A Teen Guide to Buying Goods and Services" (9781612284729, $29.95), "A Teen Guide to Saving and Investing" (9781612284712, $29.95), and "A Teen Guide to Protecting and Insuring Assets" (9781612284736, $29.95).

The Fiction Shelf

The Corporate Kid
Neil Shulman and Susan Wrathall
Whitman Publishing
4001 Helton Drive
Florence, Alabama, 35630
9780794836191 $16.95

The Corporate Kid is a novel written to appeal to both young adult and adult readers. The story follows an impoverished African-American youth, who likes basketball and music, and tries to play nice with his little sister. A sudden car accident puts him at the crossroads of the radically different world of the very wealthy, where appearances are everything. Can the Corporate Kid find a way to use his new status to change the world for the better? Or will the press of a radically different lifestyle transform him beyond all recognition? A fascinating story of hard choices and lasting repercussions, The Corporate Kid is highly recommended, especially for public library fiction collections.

Cherished Memories
Sylvia Rouss, author
Pat Davis, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
4622 Via Apuesta, Tarzana, CA 91356
9781467585422, $9.95,

"Cherished Memories" is a lovely, sensitive story about a grandmother's sharing of her special memories with a nine year old granddaughter. Amy wants to help her grandmother replace her stained chair seat covers with covers from new fabric, but her grandmother explains that she treasures each and every mark upon her chair covers because it reminds her of a special memory of the family eating together at her table. Gradually, listening to the stories and memories, Amy learns that the stained old chair covers are precious to her grandmother because they remind her of all her grandchildren and family as they grew up over the years. Charming chalk, pastel illustrations bring each separate memory to fragile life in "Cherished Memories," a book for all ages but especially for children and grandparents.

Shea-Shea Shea-na-ni-gans: Shea Runs Away
Lana Schneider, author
Raymond Reyes, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781483652283, $21.99,

"Shea-Shea Shea-na-ni-gans: Shea Runs Away" is a convincing story about a curious German Shepherd mix rescued dog who decides to run away from her backyard to explore the world beyond. Shea is not necessarily a bad dog, she is just full of energy and not always obedient to her family's rules. On a splendid day Shea looks through a hole in the fence in her back yard and decides to go exploring. After imagining and planning a fun expedition, Shea jumps over the fence when no one is looking and travels a busy street, meets a kind old lady who smells like cookies, is awarded a juicy bone by a friendly butcher, takes a nap in the grass under a tree, and ends up at a fire station discovered by a fireman who reads her tag and calls her worried owners. Luckily, Shea's owner came to collect (and scold) her and take her safely home. Shea finally understood that her owner was very worried about her and that she risked her safety by running away. Shea felt loved and as though she belonged at home, and did not run away again. "Shea-Shea Shea-na-ni-gans: Shea Runs Away" is filled with bouncy, colorful illustrations of the spunky dog on her adventures. Children will identify with the irrepressible Shea and cheer her on to learn her lesson of safety first in her own back yard.

Geronimo the Frog
Matthew Stein, author
Taillefer Long, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781482535655, $15.99,

"Geronimo the Frog" is a fast moving, earth or swamp-friendly saga for kids about a brave band of swamp animals who take action to protect their beloved swamp lands from disrespectful, unclean, rude polluters and exploiters. Based on an original story created for the author's daughter, "Geronimo the Frog" features a band of swamp creatures with Seminole (and other Native American) names who are determined to protect their sacred Big Cypress Swamp from Bad Billy's Gang. The environmental theme and message of respect for nature is clearly conveyed in this colorfully illustrated action tale with characters like Koowe the Panther, Echaswa the Raccoon, Kunu the Squirrel, Yube the Alligator, Obu the Owl, and, of course, Geronimo the Frog. Written to appeal to an audience of children age 2-7, "Geronimo the Frog" has a fast moving plot, heroes, villains, spunky narrative, and best of all, a lovable underdog hero who comes out on top. Motivating others to take action to help preserve the habitat of all represented species is central, but the happy by-product is environmental themed entertainment with a positive, empowering message. Everyone can help improve and save the environment, even, and maybe especially kids.

The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen
Nicholas Christopher
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375867385 $17.99

The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen provides the fine story of teen Nicolo, who is a poor orphan in Venice. His rare clarinet is his only possession, so when he finds it's enchanted, he discovers whole new worlds in an adventure that changes his life and involves him living in disguise in an all-girls orphanage, journeying to Europe's grandest concert halls, and earning wealth. But is it really Nicolo's talents, or the magic that is achieving his dreams? A fine story of achievement evolves in a solid fantasy for young readers.

Gooney Bird and All Her Charms
Lois Lowry
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544113541 $16.99

Gooney Bird and All Her Charms receives fine black and white drawings by Middy Thomas and tells of Gooney Bird's plan to make learning more fun. But a scary box and a charm bracelet threaten to change her world in this story of a girl's school adventures and dramas. As with other Gooney Bird stories, this is a hilarious and fun read, perfect for any elementary to middle school reader.

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

Kristy McKay's UNFEED (9780545536721, $17.99) provides a fine sequel to UNDEAD and is set on the morning after the night of the return of the living dead. Bobby thought she'd found the antidote to the juice that turned her class into zombies; but unfortunately the fun is just beginning. Now she's a prisoner, her friend Smitty is missing, and Bobby has to find him amid buckets of blood and zombies. Add in investigations into the heart of what is causing the undead to rise and you have a novel mature teens will find engrossing. Patrick Carman's THE FIELD OF WACKY INVENTIONS (9780545253219, $16.99) provides a fine Floor Novel of mystery set in the mysterious Whipper Hotel. This time an entire floor is hoisted into the night by an invisible airship, causing Leo and Remi to embark on an amazing voyage into a world of strange inventions. Fantasy at its best makes for a changing story line based on puzzles and the light fantastic.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, authors
Collage illustrations by Susan L. Roth
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
9781620140048 $19.95

Ideal for young people ages 6 to 11, Parrots Over Puerto Rico is an astonishingly beautiful children's picturebook about heroic efforts to preserve Puerto Rican Parrots from extinction. The story and illustrations run vertically, not horizontally, in order to give a strong sense of space and depth (the picturebook is meant to be rotated ninety degrees when read). Instead of artwork, photographs of striking paper collages of parrots, their Puerto Rican habitat, and people embellish the true-life story of human efforts to protect a dwindling species. The Puetro Rican Parrot is a bright green-and-blue animal native to the island that has suffered intense depopulation from raptor predation, competition for nests from Pearly-Eyed Thrashers, habitat loss, and human poaching (for food or illegal pet smuggling). Conservation efforts strive not only to raise Puerto Rican Parrots in aviaries, but also to teach new generations of parrots how to survive in the wild. For example, "...[The parrots] heard a hawk's whistle as the cutout shape of a hawk was passed over their cages. They watched a trained hawk attack a Hispaniolan parrot that was wearing a protective leather jacket. In time, the parrots learned to stay still or hide if a hawk was nearby. When these parrots were released, more of them survived in the wild." An afterword with more fascinating facts as well as full-color photographs of many of the birds featured in the collages rounds out this extraordinary and educational children's book, highly recommended especially for public and school library picturebook shelves.

Let's Make a Difference: We Can Help Protect Mountain Gorillas
Gabriella Francine with Solara Vayanian
BBM Books
220 Newport Center Dr. #11-369
Newport Beach, CA 92660
9781938504020 $15.00

Gorgeously illustrated with full-color photography of mountain gorillas, Let's Make a Difference: We Can Help Protect Mountain Gorillas is a nonfiction picturebook created to teach children about these endangered animals (fewer than 900 remain), and encourage donations to legitimate conservation efforts. The lush images of wild gorillas and their babies are set opposite of cartoony pictures of children and adults in this educational book meant to not only teach, but also inspire. "An easy way to [raise money to help mountain gorillas] is to take an empty jug or jar and drop all of your change into it. You can even ask your friends and family to add to the jar whenever they can. After you have filled the jar, give these dollars to an adult you trust and have him or her use a credit card to make a donation for that amount to one of the organizations listed on the back page of this book." Of course, the back page lists the websites of dozens gorilla and wildlife conservation organizations with excellent reputations, including The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International ( - Dian Fossey referenced in the book as one of the mountain gorilla's most impassioned defenders), and the World Wildlife Fund ( Websites of well-known zoos are also present. We Can Help Protect Mountain Gorillas is especially recommended for any young person curious to learn more about this amazing creatures!

The Spirit of Love
Caroline Keefer and Sandra Brown, authors
AuthorHouse LLC
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491806524, $19.99,

"The Spirit of Love" is a true story of an endangered polar bear cub who was rescued from a remote ice tundra in the Arctic Circle by searching helicopter pilots of the Polar Bear Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, just established in January, 2012. The little polar cub appeared to be orphaned, or at least his mother or family was not found. He would certainly have perished without the rescue team. But other issues remained for the little cub, chiefly finding a good home with other polar bears for friends. To complicate things, the cub seemed sad and depressed and could not find acceptance among other polar bear families at the center. Finally a plan emerged to place the cub at Sea World in San Diego. He was flown there and settled in, but he did not take well to his new home. He was sad and listless, refusing to play with his toys or eat, or interact with other polar bears. The little polar bear cub dreamed of a little girl with kind brown eyes who would love him always. Meantime the Sea World care staff consulted experts about his condition and formed a plan to move him to the San Diego Zoo, in hopes that he would be happier there, and regain his health. The Zoo is a good home for the little polar bear, with its pool, toys and other polar bear cubs. In the gift shop a shelf of stuffed toy polar bear cubs attract a little girl with beautiful brown eyes. She chooses one special toy, imbued with the spirit of love (and the little polar bear cub) and adopts him, naming him Awesome. Girl and toy cub lived happily ever after, while the real Awesome also lived happily at the beautiful San Diego Zoo. "The Spirit of Love" is about the importance of hope for all creatures, as well as the miracle of love. Children 7 and up will love this beautiful book and its ever-important message.

Toby the Pet Therapy Dog and His Hospital Friends
Charmaine Hammond, author
Rose Anne Prevec, illustrator
Bettie Youngs Book Publishers
c/o SCB Distributors
15608 South New Century Drive, Gardena, CA 90248
9780983604501, $11.95,

"Toby the Pet Therapy Dog and His Hospital Friends" is a charming book about a rescued Chesapeake Bay retriever named Toby who becomes a special pet therapy dog, visiting sick children and others in a hospital setting weekly. This award winning series is based on the true story by Charmaine Hammond, "On Toby's Terms." Toby is a real pet therapy dog and also proud winner of the CHIMO Reese award. The Toby series was awarded the Mom's Choice Award among Best in Family -Friendly Products. Expressive, realistic illustrations show Toby, the brown retriever, in his special vest and handkerchief visiting children and patients in the hospital with his owner. Toby is eager to cheer the saddest young patients, and he takes a marked interest in one shy girl's teddy bear slippers. His owner explains this is because he has a favorite stuffed teddy bear toy which he likes to share with children who are sad to cheer them up and help them get well. "Toby the Pet Therapy Dog and His Hospital Friends" does a great job of describing Toby's exuberance (which must sometimes be curbed) and joy at visiting special friends in the hospital each Wednesday. "Toby the Pet Therapy Dog and His Hospital Friends" can be used to help a child adjust to a needed hospitalization or to understand a friend's hospital stay. The Toby series is first rate juvenile mental/physical health curriculum and will surely strike a chord in its audience of children age 6 and up. Another title from this award winning series that is sure to attract favorable notice is "Toby the Pet Therapy Dog Says Be a Buddy Not a Bully" (9780983604556, $12.95).

Kiwi Simile
Megan C. Brown, author/illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781492754114, $12.00,

"Kiwi Simile" is an unusual, humorous nature educational book that combines pungent, witty, graphic-like illustrations with fascinating factoids and details about the life and habits of the New Zealand kiwi, a threatened species which is described as a bird and an 'honorary mammal.' The kiwi is the smallest Ratite, a category of flightless bird species. Many interesting details are described in the narrative and also humorously depicted in the imaginative illustrations. "Kiwi Simile" is an entertaining read and a fun way to learn many strange things about this unusual, declining species. In addition, multiple websites are listed to provide further information about kiwis. "Kiwi Simile" is juvenile nonfiction at its finest. Also highly recommended is a second title by the same author/illustrator, "Ant Adaptation (9781493584956, $12.00)."

Kali's Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue
Jennifer Keats Curtis, author
John Gomes, photographer
Sylvan Dell Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628552171, $9.95,

"Kali's Story" is a heart-warming true story about the rescue, nurturing and eventual zoo placement of a baby polar bear cub orphan found near Kali, an Inupiat village in Alaska. Filled with color photos of Kali drinking formula from a bottle, playing with toys, and growing up, "Kali's Story" is written in simple narrative style to interest readers ages 4-8, in grades K-3. Many related teaching /learning activities relating to life in the Arctic, the polar bear life cycle, and even polar bear math and more can be presented to interested students. To complement these activities, a 15-30 page teaching activities guide is available on As well, additional background material and related facts are presented in the book's For Creative Minds section at the end of "Kali's Story." From the dangerous beginning to the ultimate zoo placement of the growing Kali at the Buffalo Zoo in New York, "Kali's Story" is exciting nature study for students of global warming and the environment.

Rascal the Baby Squirrel
Deborah Cooper, author
Rachel M. Jackson, illustrator
Friesen Press
852 Fort St., Suite 300, Victoria, BC V8W 1H8 Canada
9781460226582, $17.99,

"Rascal the Baby Squirrel" is the touching story of a family's rescue of an orphaned baby squirrel, so young its eyes were barely open. The tiny baby squirrel who became known as Rascal could fit in the palm of Mr. Wilson's hand and the pocket of his jacket when he was discovered and rescued. Together, the Wilson family cared for Rascal, keeping warm and safe and finding little crackers and nut crumbs to feed him until he grew gradually bigger. Eventually, Rascal outgrew his cardboard box and birdcage home. Rascal showed he wanted to be free by climbing up a tree and refusing to come down. The family decided to take Rascal to a safer, protective environment with large oak trees and other grown squirrels for role models and companions. Rascal was released to find his way in this new, exciting world, which he welcomed and accepted. "Rascal the Baby Squirrel" is a gently inspirational story about responsible, loving foster parenting of a wild baby, enhanced with sensitive, pastel portraits of the young squirrel growing up in his foster family's home.

Dixie Doodle the Helper Poodle
Mary Gover Gray, author
Denver Wagner, illustrator
Little Creek Press
c/o Kristin Mitchell Design, LLC
5341 Sunny Ridge Road, Mineral Point, WI 53565
9780989643184, $15.95,

"Dixie Doodle the Helper Poodle" is a charming story about a big black poodle named Dixie Doodle who loved to visit the residents of the Senior Center with her owner, Mrs. Logan. Dixie Doodle loves to help, but sometimes gets into a bit of mischief by accident, such as forgetting her manners and barking loudly at a squirrel, disturbing a senior who was drinking coffee (which unfortunately spilled). However, friendly Dixie Doodle managed to redeem her good name when Mrs. Logan lost her car keys and asked Dixie to "Fetch!" Although she returned covered with popcorn and craft feathers, Dixie Doodle trotted triumphantly to the rescue after seeking and retrieving the lost car keys! "Dixie Doodle" is a lovingly presented story with warm, humorous illustrations of both Dixie and her friends, sure to captivate young readers while teaching them a definition of pet therapy.

Polar Bears and Penguins: A Compare and Contrast Book
Katherine Hall, author
Sylvan Dell Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628552188, $9.95,

"Polar Bears and Penguins" is a lushly photo-illustrated Compare and Contrast nature educational book for students in grades K-3. "Polar Bears and Penguins" helps children compare and contrast cold weather creatures from opposite poles with many detailed, color photos of penguins and polar bears in their frozen habitats at both poles. At the end of the book, a section titled For Creative Minds suggests further learning activities related to the many comparisons, including study of seasons, polar mammals, a year at the poles (charts seasonal polar bear and penguin activities and life cycles), plus Polar Bear True and False and Penguin Matching. More material for teaching activities is available in a 15-30 page guide at "Polar Bears and Penguins" offers a fun, fact filled resource to study life among living mammals at the earth's poles.

The Adventures of Anoo and Pashmack
Salmeh Moghimi, author
Golnar Sepahi, illustrator
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452558578, $19.95,

"The Adventures of Anoo and Pashmack" is a charming illustrated children's book that invites young readers to explore their perceptions of the world and life using their senses, including eyes to see, hands to touch, tongue to taste, ears to hear sound, nose to smell, and imagination to discover new ideas everywhere. Most important of all, children are encouraged to use their hearts to see through feelings. A love of animals can open this door for children, which is represented by Anoo's beloved pet cat, Pashmack, who is her best friend and teaches her about life and love. Delicate pastel and bright colors enliven charming, whimsical illustrations that take a young reader's outlook to many surprising viewpoints. "The Adventures of Anoo and Pashmack" is a children's nonfiction book that encourages spontaneity, imagination, and learning to be in harmony with what is around us. It offers many priceless gifts and experiences to young readers and their parents.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Alien Dude! And the Attack of Wormzilla
Elizabeth Smith, author
Peter Grosshauser, illustrator
Zip Line Books
PO Box 78134, Charlotte, NC 28271
9780988379206, $4.99,

"Alien Dude! And the Attack of Wormzilla!!" is the first title of a new exciting reluctant reader series aimed at an audience of boys ("You think girls won't read it?"). Zany black, white and gray cartoon illustrations and a fast paced, humor and action packed narrative keep "Alien Dude!" readers on the edges of their seats throughout. In a fabulous plot with interest enhanced by such devices as yucky worms, farts, morphing, and general grossness of a high index, "Alien Dude! And the Attack of Wormzilla!!" is sure to hook and sustain readers age 6-8 and up. No doubt the next title of the series, "Alien Dude, Mr. Evil Potato Man, and the Food Fight," will be eagerly awaited for its spring release. Watch this creative reluctant reader series take off, enticing early readers into a lifelong path of exciting, happy literacy.

The Holiday Shelf

Molly's Menorah
Amye Rosenberg, author/artist
Behrman House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9780874418842, $9.95,

"Molly's Menorah" is a charming illustrated Hanukkah story about Molly and the whole Gopher family's preparations and celebration of Hanukkah. Molly is the youngest of the Gopher family and no one seems to think she can help with the many tasks of getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah. First she is told she can't help with cleaning, vacuuming, wrapping presents, or making latkes, but finally Grandma Gopher gives her some cooky dough to play with. Molly decides to make a menorah out of cooky dough to surprise her family. As she is going out the door to play in the snow, she pops the cooky menorah onto Grandma's cooky sheet as it is going in the oven without Grandma noticing. Then the fun begins to unfold. Other members of the extended family arrive for the Hanukkah feast and a crisis looms! Dad can't find the menorah which is doubtless lost in the unpacking from the Gopher family's move to their new home. Nelly's menorah saves the day! All nine candles, including the center Shamash which lights all the other candles fit into Nelly's wonderful cooky dough menorah. A sparkling celebration follows, with eight nights of games, special foods, lighting one more candle of the menorah each night, and of course presents. "Molly's Menorah" has a special vocabulary list of Hanukkah words at the end and also a special page of over 40 stickers of charming Hanukkah symbols and objects. All the imaginative illustrations of Molly and the Gopher family are expressive and sweetly convincing, presenting a warm Gopher family celebration of a significant Jewish holiday with a long, holy history. "Molly's Menorah" is great reading fun and also educational, perfect for readers age 5 and up.

The Divine Pine
Tracy M. Novembre, author
Stephen Adams, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491807477, $3.99,

"The Divine Pine" is a new Christmas story, told in verse, that recasts the focus of the traditional Christian holiday for children from greed to showing compassion for others. A girl named RayRay hopes to complete her shopping for a Christmas tree and decorations on December 23 before a forecast blizzard strikes. She ends up stuck at home with no purchases, making a bowl of popcorn, watching the large pine tree in her yard in the snow. Then a succession of wild birds and animals appeal to her for shelter from the storm, which had destroyed their warm habitat. Feeling compassion for the animals and birds, the girl offers the shelter of her divine pine tree living branches, with ropes of popcorn, peanuts, and berries for snacks. First comes the Blue Jay family, then Roxy Raccoon and youngsters, then other various critters of the forest came to shelter in the pine's branches and nibble on the life giving snacks. On Christmas morning, the divine pine is transformed through its natural inhabitants to a great tree of beauty and grace with a white dove on top, a true Christmas tree...."For the greatest fight of all is LOVE,/ Paired with the selfless act of GIVING.....(p. 22)" "The Divine Pine" is a beautiful Christmas book for children age 6 and up that opens the eyes to a deeper meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Tidings
Marla D. Estrada, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491822470, $17.99,

"Christmas Tidings" is a charming child's Christmas book filled with holiday verse and simply expressive illustrations of attributes of Christmas that begin with the first letters of the title, "Christmas Tidings. Written by a retired elementary teacher, "Christmas Tidings" leads children to discover the original story of Christ's nativity in simple, descriptive verse. "Christmas Tidings" is an easily beloved work that children will want to reread and examine time and again, in a rapt communion with the message of hope for all at the heart of the book. "Christmas Tidings" began as a Christmas presentation for the author's first grade class, where it's success was only the beginning.

The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats
Constance Corcoran Wilson, author
Gary McCluskey, illustrator
Quad City Press
c/o Quad Cities' Learning, Inc.
2127 3rd St. B, East Moline, IL 61244
9780982444863, $14.95,

"The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats" is book two in the Christmas Cats series, written to entertain and teach children age 3-10. Following the first book, "The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats," this charming Dr. Seuss-flavored illustrated tale in rhyme teaches a valuable lesson: Do not judge others based on stereotypes, and make caring for others your first concern. Extremely funny, detailed illustrations show multi-colored Christmas cats in strange funny hats rounding up and caring for white Christmas rats who have been doing hard, painful work helping cure disease in labs. So here we have a rollicking story about Christmas Cats in funny hats being sent to round up white Christmas rats, and ending with said cats honoring said rats for their excellent, humane, compassionate role in helping heal others. The message is funnily clear: "Do not judge others without knowing, or prejudice you will be showing. It's best to be open and trusting and kind, and always to keep an open mind." Kids will love the colorful Christmas light decorations and humorous white rats and cats in funny hats, and they will not forget the delicious moral.

The Christmas Time Dog Rescue
Stephen Harley, author
imagery by Thinkstock
Inspiring Voices
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462400743, $10.95,

"The Christmas Time Dog Rescue" is the heartwarming story of a boy's determination to rescue his lost dog and bring him home for Christmas. Peter loved his dog Cody, and is heartbroken to find that Cody is lost. Even more heartbreaking is the discovery that his father has lied to him about losing Cody, for a friend tells him that his father abandoned Cody at the Biller City Freight Yard after removing his collar and tags. Peter knew his father did not like dogs, but this knowledge resolved him to make a Christmas dog rescue plan. Underlying Peter's search for his abandoned dog, Cody, is an ongoing heartfelt prayer to help Peter's father become a Christian. First a kind truck driver offers Peter a ride to a distant city 200 miles from his home to find Cody at the Freight Yard. Then Peter faces the problem of how he will get Cody and himself home for Christmas, with very little money or supplies. Peter keeps praying his special prayer and he remains determined to take Cody home, with the help of God. Meanwhile, Peter's parents found the note he wrote before he left home in the night, and His father began to repent his heartless action deliberately abandoning Cody. He prayed for forgiveness for his sins, and for the safe return of his son Peter and his dog, Cody. Out of ideas for transportation or shelter, Peter and Cody began the long walk back to Terryville, in the snow. Near a truck stop they are found by a girl named Brenda Wiseman, whose grandfather has a charter plane service. The Wiseman family is flying to a reunion in Fort Bennett, and Grandfather Wiseman agrees to take Peter and Cody along in the plane to Terryville, after they call the Millers, Peter's parents. Brenda took Peter and Cody out for a meal and they all had a fun flight together to Terryville, where Peter was met by his grateful parents. Mr. Miller had become a Christian during the search for his son and Cody. The family reunion was joyous and warm. Christmas Day saw many gifts given, but the greatest gift was Mr. Miller's promise to be a good Christian, to love his family and his dog and never be mean or lie again. "The Christmas Time Dog Rescue" is a heartwarming story that underlines the importance of honoring promises to love one's family and one's pets, demonstrating the ongoing love of Christ for all.

Grandma's Yarn
Waneta Cotner Worstine, author/illustrator
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449766610, $16.95,

"Grandma's Yarn" is a heartwarming story based on the author's loving memories of her grandmother and grandfather. Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed being with all their grandchildren, but one year Grandma was determined to make their Christmas visit together special an avid knitter, she had many different colors of yarn, which she used to create a yarn path from a special labeled cardboard gift tube under the Christmas tree all the way up the stairs to secret hiding places in different unused bedrooms and closets. Grandpa helped her prepare the secret hiding places of each special gift, and together they created a magical spider-like web of colored yarn that all the grown grandchildren would have tons of fun unwinding together. A most exciting, happy holiday scene unfolded when everyone learned of their specially hidden gifts. Unimagined fun twists and turns became a sort of family dance of love. In the end, everyone was amazed at the imagination and love shown by their very special Grandma and Grandpa, a gift to travel across generations and into the future. "Grandma's Yarn" does not end with the finding and opening of the special gifts, it continues on to another level. For Grandma was frugal, and had each child carefully save the yarn they followed to their gift(s), to give back to her to make into something wonderful. So they did, and so she did, crocheting an incredible afghan from her own grandchildren's special Spider's Web, a lasting memento and testament of love bequeathed in tangible form. "Grandma's Yarn" is imaginatively illustrated with pictures made of colored yarns, and also with a photograph of part of Grandma's special Spider's Web afghan. "Grandma's Yarn" is a creative tribute to intergenerational love and support that warms the heart and soul.

The Audiobook Shelf

Dyamonde Daniel series
Nikki Grimes, author and narrator
c/o Full Cast Audio
101 Clarke Street, 1st floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
$15.00 each

Two chapter books in the Dynamonde Daniel series (ideal for young people ages 5-10) now have unabridged audiobook adaptations, read aloud by award-winning author Nikki Grimes. Dynamonde Daniel is a precocious young African-American girl with spunk, a strong will, and a caring heart, although she's still learning about the tough realities of the world. In "Halfway to Perfect" (9781936223510, 1 hour, 1 CD), Dynamonde Daniel's friend Damaris cuts back drastically on the food she eats, because other kids tease her about her weight. Dynamonde worries about Damaris' health, and wants her to have more respect and love for herself. Another girl, Amberline, is also being picked on; she may be in an even worse situation! In "Almost Zero" (9781936223503, 56 min., 1 CD) Dynamonde craves a new pair of red high-top sneakers. A classmate advices that she openly demand her mother to buy them, a plan that backfires spectacularly! Mrs. Daniel will not let her own daughter boss her around; she teaches Dynamonde a lesson, leaving her with "almost zero" to wear! At first Dynamonde is enraged, but she soon realizes that other people hae much bigger problems. Her friend Isabel Martinez is in the middle of a serious crisis, and Dynamonde not only to help, but also to get the aid of everyone she knows. A powerful moral lesson about the difference between "want" and "need" underlies this thoroughly enjoyable audiobook. Both stories will entertain adults as well as young people, and are an excellent choice for family car trips!

The Music CD Shelf

123s and ABCs
Ella Jenkins
Smithsonian Folkways
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

"First Lady of Children's Music" Ella Jenkins presents 123s and ABCs, an educational music CD filled with simple games that use upbeat music and catchy lyrics to help teach young people about basic counting, and the alphabet. Exuberant and playful, 123s and ABCs transforms curriculum basics into unabashed fun. A choice pick especially for school and library music CD collections for young children. The tracks are "Easy as ABC" (1:33), "Johnny Had One Friend" (1:55), "One, Two, Three, Four, Five" (1:11), "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" (1:23), "One Potato, Two Potato" (1:35), "Eight Clay Pigeons" (3:16), "Counting from One to Ten in Spanish" (0:58), "Counting in Swahili" (1:36), "One, Two, Three, O'Leary" (1:15), "Numbers and Alphabets" (0:44), "ABCs" (0:41), "And One and Two..." (4:18), "Ten Green Bottles" (1:37), "Farmer Brown Had Ten Green Apples" (2:49), "The Rabbi Teaches ABCs / English ABC Song" (2:18), and "This Old Man" (2:47).

American Heroes #4
Jonathan Sprout
Privately Published
c/o To Market Kids
4136 Lamson Ave.
Spring Hill, FL 34608

Like the rest of the "American Heroes" series, American Heroes #4 is a music CD for young people that educates as well as entertains. Throughout history, notable Americans have applied their skills and talents to make the world a better place; American Heroes #4 celebrates their accomplishments while subtly encouraging little ones to do well in school and find their own passion. The American heroes honored in #4 are Mary McLeod Bethune, Rachel Carson, Roberto Clemente, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Theodore Seuss Geisel, Juliette Gordon Low, William Penn, Theodore Roosevelt, and Samantha Smith. Highly recommended, especially for school and public library children's music collections! The tracks are "Unstoppable", "Come with Me!", "E = mc^2", "Hall of Fame", "Man in the Arena", "Through the Eyes of a Child", "Powerful", "Dr. Seuss", "Interconnected", "Heads, Hearts, and Hands", and "I See a Hero".

The DVD Shelf

Angelina Ballerina: On with the Show
Hit Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate (distributor)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Brought to life with seamless 3D computer animation, Angelina Ballerina: On with the Show continues the fun-filled, family-friendly adventures of a dancing mouse who aspires to be a star. When Ms. Mimi loses her voice, her class discovers that music can be an effective means of communication. AZ recovers from an accident during a musical, and Gracie discovers that the search for inspiration can be its own reward. A celebration of creativity and the joy of performance, Angelina Ballerina: On with the Show is an excellent program especially for little ones 2-6 years old. 61 min., English/Spanish/French audio, widescreen.

Story Time with Barney
Hit Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate (distributor)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Excellent programs with positive messages make the Barney series a reliable source of quality entertainment for young children ages 1-4. Story Time with Barney is a colorful DVD with three gentle, playful episodes. Baby Bop learns about the virtue of patience; Ryan discovers that being honest and playing fair makes games with friends more fun, and Daniel works to improve his skills through practice! Story Time with Barney is a choice pick for toddler birthday parties or rainy-day fun, highly recommended. The episodes are "Fairy Tales", "The Emperor's Contest", "The Sword in the Sandbox", and bonus feature "Short Stories with Barney Featurette". 71 min. closed-captioned, English/Spanish languages, fullscreen.

The Activity Shelf

Flowerpot Press
142 - 2nd Avenue North, Franklin, TN 37064

Flowerpot Press has published two impressive volumes for young readers ages 6 through 8 that are superbly and profusely illustrated, hardcover compilations of fun facts and Q&A exercises that explore science, art, nature, and math. "The Really Big Awesome Book" (9781770939295, $24.95, 164 pages) covers unusual animals of the deep oceans, the phenomena of the universe; prehistoric animals, tornados, volcanoes, and more. "The Really Big I Didn't Know That Book" (9781770939271, $24.95, 160 pages) beautifully showcases fun facts and Q&A exercises about cars, trains, dinosaurs, sharks, and bugs. Enhanced with glossaries and indexes, these two 'kid friendly' compendiums are as informed and informative as they are solidly entertaining and are certain to be enduringly popular additions to family, school, and community library collections.

The Science Shelf

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain
JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. and Terrence Deak, Ph.D.
Illustrated by Freya Harrison
Little Pickle Press, Inc.
3701 Sacramento Street #494, San Francisco, CA 94118
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781939775023 $15.95

Thoroughly accessible to teens and young adults, The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain is a no-nonsense tour of how the human brain works, and what people can do to keep their minds keen and healthy. A glossary and an index supplement the straightforward scientific explanations, presented in plain English with accessible definitions for technical terms. "Scientists have uncovered amazing evidence that what your brain learns during the day is consolidated during sleep. That means the more sleep you get, the better your brain will remember and understand what you learned that day." Peppered with colorful cartoons to drive home its serious points, The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain lives up to its title and is enthusiastically recommended especially for grade school, high school, and public library collections.

How to Be a Dinosaur Hunter
Scott Forbes, author
James Gulliver Hancock, illustrator
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street
Oakland CA 94607
9781743219089 $17.99

How to Be a Dinosaur Hunter: Your Globe-Trotting, Time-Traveling Guide is packed with 150+ pages of amazing facts about paleontology (the scientific study of the geologic past and ancient life forms, particularly through analyzing fossils). Lightly colored, slightly cartoony illustrations add charm to the educational lessons about the history of fossil study, how fossils are found, lesser-known dinosaur facts, what it's like to be an archaeologist or paleontologist, and much more. "In the 1960s a team of French paleontologists discovered a spectacular skull of an Early Cretaceous crocodile-like reptile in the Tenere and named it Sarcosuchus imperator. When US dinosaur Paul Sereno found similar bones in the 1990s, the creature quickly became known as Super Croc - and for good reason!" Every two-page spread is broken down into bite-sized bits of incredible information, readily accessible to young readers. A great way to spark the imaginations of future scientists, How to Be a Dinosaur Hunter is enthusiastically recommended especially for grade school and public library children's collections.

The Bilingual Shelf

Lupita's First Dance / El Primer Baile De Lupita
Lupe Ruiz-Flores, author
Gabhor Utomo, illustrator
c/o Pinata Books
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg. 19, Room 100, Houston, TX 77204
9781558857728, $17.95,

"Lupita's First Dance" is a lively, vivid bilingual illustrated book about a girl's first dance performance experience of La Raspa, a Mexican folk dance that features dance partners and lots of fun, fast steps. Lupita is terribly excited about her part in dancing La Raspa with her partner, Ernesto. Her mother has helped by making her a beautiful costume of a white blouse and yellow skirt with red, blue, yellow and green ribbons. Lupita feels exactly like a brilliant butterfly dancing and whirling in her new costume. However, the day of the performance she is told her partner, Ernesto has injured his ankle and cannot dance, so her teacher tells her she cannot dance, because she has no partner. Lupita is so upset and she does not want to disappoint her Mami, who is so proud of her in her lovely dress. Surprising her teacher, Lupita decides to join the dancers without a partner and whirls and dances spontaneously along with the rest of the group. At the end her teacher tells her she was very brave, her mother smiles, and her Papa gives her a single rose, telling her she is a star. In her imagination, Lupita envisions dozens of beautiful roses being showered on her by an appreciative audience as her parents drive her home from her first dance. Each page of "Lupita's First Dance" has English and Spanish narratives next to each other to encourage bilingual learning. "Lupita's First Dance" is stunningly presented with vivid narrative and illustrations that whirl and dance off the pages.

The Social Issues Shelf

What On Earth Can I Do?
Debbie Dunlap, Ed.D.
Lara Agulto, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781477255056, $15.95,

"What On Earth Can I Do?" is a vivid new kids' help book that introduces some great approaches to help heal bullying behavior. Written in simple verse, filled with gorgeous illustrations with symbols and similes of the best healing advice, "What On Earth Can I Do?" answers its question with a statement of Mackenzie's Rule: "Go through life with an open mind, be a good friend to everyone, and always be kind!" To help children arrive at the pledge to observe the Rule, the process of opening one's heart with compassion to others is gently demonstrated. "What On Earth Can I Do?" ends with a Pledge page, stating: "I pledge to help stop bullying and to use the 'Mackenzie Rule.' I will always be kind to everyone at school." It encourages kids to take responsibility to help stop bullying in a variety of effective and creative ways.

My Friend Suhana
Shaila Abdullah, author
Aanyah Abdullah, illustrator
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615992119, $14.95,

"My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy" is the moving story of a friendship between two girls the same age with different abilities, as seen and experienced by a child. One girl has normal abilities to move, talk and think, while another, my friend Suhana, has a disease which makes it hard for her to move, talk, and learn like other children do. The disease is cerebral palsy. "My Friend Suhana" is an excellent educational book for children teaching compassion for others born with different abilities. The child who narrates the story describes her friend Suhana exactly as she appears to her, also conveying positive caring and love for her special friend. Although she cannot talk, Suhana is learning to communicate with sounds, and to convey something about her moods, whether she is happy or sad. She is also learning to move but it will be harder for her to learn to walk or move independently. Both girls are 7 years old. There are many special ways in which "My Friend Suhana" conveys the importance of respecting another child who is differently abled. Charming color illustrations also depict part of the reality of being a child with cerebral palsy, moving in a wheelchair, having limited control of movements and speech. "My Friend Suhana" is a very sensitive book that encourages children age 4 and up to reach out to others and not be afraid of developing relationships with those who are differently abled.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Disney Princess Cookbook
Recipes by Cynthia Littlefield
Photography by Joanne Schmaltz
Disney Press
114 Fifth Avenue, 14th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781423163244 $15.99

Filled with full-color photography of its dishes (and bright, cartoony images of Disney characters), The Disney Princess Cookbook is a hardcover cookbook of fifty, easy-to-follow recipes inspired by Disney's family-friendly animated movies. Dishes range from meals to sweets and beverages, including Abu's Monkey Bread, Mushu's Moo Shu, Belle's Bonjour Baguette, Princess Pink Popcorn, and much more. Recipes also include useful tips for novice cooks, such as "Melted marshmallow is hot, so be sure to use a long-handled spoon to stir it." A great way to teach girls that cooking can be fun, The Disney Princess Cookbook makes an excellent gift for the little princess in one's life!

The Divorce Shelf

Still a Family: A Young Child's Book About Divorce
Sandy Lanton, author
June H. Blair, illustrator
Lantern Press
PO Box 276, Old Bethpage, NY 11804
9780982979501 $18.95

Former teacher Sandy Lanton presents Still a Family: A Young Child's Book About Divorce, a picturebook story that is also useful as a teaching tool to help children understand a difficult situation. The story follows Emily and Andrew, a young girl and her baby brother who see their parents fight and eventually separate. Emily gradually learns that it's OK to have two homes, and that she, her mother, and father are still a family even though they don't all live together."'Please, don't go, Daddy, I promise I won't spill my milk anymore.' 'Oh, Emily, you didn't do anything wrong,' said Daddy.' 'We're still a family,' said Mommy. 'We both love you and Andrew very much and we'll both take good care of you. You will live here with me and visit Daddy on Sundays and Wednesdays at his new place.'" Highly recommended, especially for helping children understand divorce - whether in their own family, or the family of a friend at school.

The Music Shelf

There's a Hole in the Bucket!
Adapted by John M. Feierabend
Illustrated by Marissa Madonna
GIA Publications, Inc.
7404 South Mason Avenue
Chicago, IL 60638
9781579999704 $16.95

There's a Hole in the Bucket! is a charming children's picturebook based on a lighthearted, 400-year-old German folk song. It's a "circle song" with no meaning and no end; a pair of bumbling fishers note that there is a hole in the bucket, and they need an assortment of things to fix it, including water - but how can one get water when there is a hole in the bucket? The color illustrations portray the fishers as a pair of anthropomorphic grizzly bears carrying bait and tackle. The last couple pages show the simple melody's musical notation, and list the verses of the song for easy singing, followed by a couple pages about the song's history. A free MP3 version of the song is available at as well. There's a Hole in the Bucket! is a wonderful picturebook that deserves to be sung aloud to and by little ones. Highly recommended!

Books in Series

Origami Dinosaurs
Lisa Miles, author
Belinda Webster and Michael Wiles, models and photography
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433996481, $26.20,

"Origami Dinosaurs" is an instruction book for creating simple, creative origami representations of dinosaurs. Beginning with two chapters on basic folds and bases, illustrated step by step, "Origami Dinosaurs" continues to present complete color instructions for creating six origami dinosaurs, including Compsognathus, Diplodocus, Plesiosaurus, Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, and T. Rex. Students and readers age 9-10 and up should be able to create these paper sculptures with minimal adult assistance, achieving satisfaction and learning simultaneously. Also included is a glossary of terms, further reading recommendations, and reconstructed color photos of each dinosaur in its natural habitat. Hours of creative fun are in store for young origami crafters as well as learning about paleontology. Further titles from this series by the same author that are also highly recommended include the following: "Origami Sea Creatures (9781433996603, $26.20)," and "Origami Birds and Butterflies (9781433996443, $26.20), as well as "Origami Farm Animals" (9781433996528, $26.20), "Origami Pets" (9781433996566, $26.60), and "Origami Wild Animals" (9781433996641, $26.60).

Agricultural Inventions: At the Top of the Field
Helen Mason, author
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, NY, NY 10118
9780778702139, $23.49,

"Agricultural Inventions" is a brief history of tools and techniques of agricultural progress from ancient times to the present day, with emphasis on North American influenced trends and technologies. Written in color photo illustrated chapter format, with clear language accessible to students ages 10-13 and up, "Agricultural Inventions" begins with a hard look at What's On Your Plate (chapter one), and moves on to Filling America's Breadbasket, Making Machines for Farmers, From the Field to Your Plate, Pesticides and Genetics on the Farm, and ending with a brief chapter on how Communication Speeds the Spread of Innovation. Discussion of the patent process for patenting inventions is included, and prominent farm machine inventors such as Hussey, McCormick, George Washington Carver, Eli Whitney, John Ford, and John Deere are profiled briefly. Chapter five includes discussions of DDT and pesticides, genetics and DNA, and the pros and cons of GM foods. As with all of the series' titles, a two page timeline is included that extends from 68,000 BCE to 2013, along with a web-inclusive source bibliography, glossary and index. "Agricultural Inventions" is an excellent updated history resource for today's students of science and agriculture. Also highly recommended are the following additional titles from this quality series: "Communication Inventions: "The Talk of the Town (9780778702221, $23.49)" by Alexander Offord, "Medical Inventions: The Best of Health (9780778702122, $23.49)" by Jill Bryant, and "Transportation Inventions: Moving Our World Forward (9780778702238, $23.49)" by Robert Walker.

U. S. Immigration Services
Amie Jane Leavitt, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, DE 19707
9781612284477, $21.50,

"US Immigration Services" is a new title from the My Guide to US Citizenship educational series for students in grades 1-6. Filled with color photographs and blue shaded informative sidebars discussing key points, "US Immigration Services" is a well written chapter text on US immigration services, past and present. Chapters cover details such as the U. S. is a country of immigrants, services available to immigrants, pathway to citizenship, controlling immigration, and more. Additional chapter notes offer helpful source footnotes, plus books, web sites and authors consulted are listed under Further Reading. A brief glossary lists terms, pronunciation, and meanings used in the chapters. "US Immigration Services" provides a brief, wide sweeping overview of the status of present US immigration services available along with a plethora of relevant facts and details plus their sources. "US Immigration Services" is a useful text for students age 10 and over, in connection with the other titles listed in this series. Additional titles in the My Guide to US Citizenship series that are highly recommended include: "Your Guide to Becoming a US Citizen (9781612284491, $21.50)" by Tammy Gagne, "US Laws of Citizenship (9781612284484, $21.50)" by Amie Jane Leavitt, and "Immigration in the US (9781612284460, $21.50)" by Tammy Gagne.

Museum Day
Sindy McKay, author
Meredith Johnson, illustrator
Treasure Bay
P.O. Box 119, Novato, CA 94948
9781601152657, $9.95,

"Museum Day" is a fun new K-level We Both Read title for young readers and parents or adult reading partners. Interactively formatted with pages in pairs, one with more challenging vocabulary for the adult to read, and one designed specifically for the child to read easily, "Museum Day" is an entertaining illustrated text that bounces along with cleverly designed single-word pages for the beginning reader to practice on. The story follows a young girl and her father on their bus trip to a fantastic museum with dinosaur skeletons, Egyptian artifacts, Native American exhibits, and more, specifically hungry birds that gobble leftover sandwich crumbs outside the museum doors. We Both Read is a successful educational tool that encourages the child to tackle words, sounds and vocabulary by using context, pictures, memory, plot development, and more to sound out the words. Besides promoting child literacy levels, We Both Read books encourage enriched development and increased child-parent supportive interactions. This entire series is highly recommended for young readers and their families. Additional new titles in this popular series include the following: "About Bats (9781601152671, $9.95)" by Sindy McKay, illustrated by Wendy Smith, and "The Emperor's New Clothes (9781601152695, $9.95)" by Sindy McKay, from the story by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Toni Goffe.

Burj Khalifa: The Tallest Tower in the World
Stuart A. Kallen
Norwood House Press
PO Box 316598
Chicago, IL 60631
9781599535982 $26.60

Part of the "A Great Idea: Engineering" series, Burj Khalifa: The Tallest Tower in the World is a hardcover picturebook about the extraordinary Burj Khalifa in the emirate of Dubai. Accessible to middle graders and preteens, Burj Khalifa: The Tallest Tower in the World is packed with amazing engineering facts about the tower's design, construction, and maintenance - and even a few notorious urban legends! Striking color photographs, an index, and even a few handy websites for learning more round this excellent contribution to a series ideal for getting young people to think about a potential future career pursuing great accomplishments in engineering, architecture, or the sciences.

I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl!
Betty K. Bynum, author
Claire Amstrong Parod, illustrator
Dreamtitle Publishing
PO Box 36341
Los Angeles, CA 90036
9780615785516 $14.95

First in "The I'm a Girl" series of celebratory picturebooks, I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl! encourages young black girls to delight in themselves, in going to school, in being polite, and sharing good times with friends. The main character, Mia, is a young black girl who loves to twirl around; she expresses that the concept of "pretty" lies in a cheerful, upbeat attitude and good manners, not what the mirror shows. Charming, playful color illustrations of Mia and her girlfriends at school (who come from many different ethnic backgrounds) add the perfect touch to this delightful picturebook promoting a positive self-image. "We come in all shapes and sizes - skinny, short or round. / And like a special rainbow we're all different shades of brown. / We say 'PLEASE' and 'THANK YOU' / That's how we spread Love around!" Additional and forthcoming books in "The I'm a Girl" series, include "I'm a Lovely Little Latina!", "Hooray! I'm a Girl in the U.S.A.!", and "I'm an Awesome Asian Girl!".

The Year of the Horse
Oliver Chin, author
Jennifer Wood, illustrator
PO Box 31846
San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597020800 $15.95

Part of the "Tales from the Chinese Zodiac" picturebook series, The Year of the Horse is a charming, original fable crafted in the spirit of Chinese folklore. 2014 is the Year of the Horse according to the Chinese Zodiac; accordingly, the story follows a young foal named Hannah. Her lively adventures with other horses and humans reflect the temperament that those born in the Year of the Horse are alleged to have: energetic, enthusiastic, proud, and attention-living, but sometimes also impatient and headstrong. Lively and playful, The Year of the Horse is a wonderful addition to public library children's picturebook collections, as are previous books in the series: "The Year of the Dog", "The Year of the Pig", "The Year of the Rat", "The Year of the Ox", "The Year of the Tiger", "The Year of the Rabbit", "The Year of the Dragon", and "The Year of the Snake". Books in the series are also available as iPad apps downloadable from iTunes, complete with "Read to Me" and "I Can Read" narrative options, as well as bonus interactive games!

Karla Oceanak, author
Kendra Spanjer, illustrator
Bailiwick Press
9781934649411 $12.95

Part of the award-winning "Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel" series, Ignoramus is a work of middle-grade fiction following 10-year-old Aldo Zelnick's amusing adventures. Aldo's birthday is fast approaching - but it happens to be on Valentine's Day! Also is not a fan of pink lace, hearts, or chalky candies, and he plans a guys-only birthday party to escape these things. But what happens when the girls who have a crush on his Aldo's friend Danny decide to crash the birthday bash? Ignoramus isn't a graphic novel, but it does feature whimsical, sketchy black-and-white doodles embellishing almost every page of the story. Highly recommended, especially as a fun way to encourage children to read!

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3308
New York, NY 10118

This month the focus is on Crabtree Publishing, for producing consistently-awesome elementary-level nonfiction combining elements of attention-grabbing contemporary color photos and subjects and writings that encourage kids to both learn and use the information in reports. Take the 'Inventions That Shaped the Modern World' series, for example ($23.49 each). Ages 10-13 will find these 48-page primers provide the basics of how inventions of yesterday directly led to achievements of today, offering a new series that links ideas and technologies to future changes. Primary source documents and images accompany profiles of inventions. TRANSPORTATION INVENTIONS (9780778702238) details changes from Ford's Model T auto to today's high-speed trains, documenting transportation inventions and how they built upon one another. MEDICAL INVENTIONS (9780778702122) surveys medical field changes and provides a chronological timeline of events, from new drugs to the invention of machines for diagnosis. AGRICULTURAL INVENTIONS (9780778702139) chronicle the history of farming and how agriculture was changed with inventions that led to superior production, while COMMUNICATION INVENTIONS (9780778702221) reveals everything from Bell's telephone to modern-day e-mail and internet communications. All provide sidebars of information, modern color photos and illustrations, and a smooth timeline of events to keep young readers interested. The 'Engineering in Action' series ($20.70) each for the same age group provides 32 pages each of full color discussions exploring the field of engineering, and blends examples from real-world events with activities and basic science relating to engineering achievements. OPTICAL ENGINEERING AND THE SCIENCE OF LIGHT (9780778712282) provides a survey of optical engineers and their designs, and offers a fine study of how light and vision blend into the engineering process. AUDIO ENGINEERING AND THE SCIENCE OF SOUND WAVES (9780778711964) covers sound effects in videos and movies and considers how audio engineers apply sound to daily life. From special challenges in using sound waves to audio research, this provides a fine survey. CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AND CHAIN REACTIONS (9780778711971) teaches basic chemistry concepts and shows how engineers blend chemistry science with the engineering design process, while ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING AND THE SCIENCE OF SUSTAINABILITY (9780778712138) features keys to understanding how the engineer applies science to sustainable issues. The result is an outstanding survey recommended for any elementary-level science holding. Molly Aloian's 'The Green Scene' ($17.70) will reach ages 5-8 with 24 pages each of readers teaching the basics of sustainability in all facets of life. By breaking the concepts into individual books, 'The Green Scene' offers more depth than most and enables kids to apply 'green' concepts to their daily lives. GOING GREEN AT SCHOOL (9780778706241) covers school recycling, composting, creating litter-free lunches and creating paperless classrooms, GREEN GARDENING AND COMPOSTING (9780778702627) teaches the basics of ecologically conscious gardening, LIVING GREEN AT HOME (9780778702740) takes a room-by-room approach to creating greener lifestyles throughout the home, GREEN ENERGY (9780778702658) assesses wind, solar, water and other energy sources for communities and individuals, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GO GREEN? (9780778702757) surveys general techniques for changing habits to better, sustainable use habits, and EATING GREEN (9780778702634) surveys connections between eating choices and sustainable agriculture and farming. All are top books for any elementary-level collection strong in ecology. 'Crabtree Chrome' is a series for reluctant, under-confident readers who read several levels below their age level, providing a set of vocabulary and reading sessions that use exciting topics and lively formats to appeal. Each book holds nearly fifty pages, is intended for ages 1--14, and pairs eye-catching covers with exciting topics. CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH! (9780778711704) covers the discovery of gold in California, TRAIL OF TEARS (9780778711742) documents the movement of Native peoples from their land onto reservations and territories in general and the Trail of Tears in particular, HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI (9780778711711) documents the decision to use the atomic bomb to end the war with Japan, and KING TUT (9780778711728) documents the work of Howard Carter as he uncovers the hidden tomb of King Tut. The result is a powerful set of lively, inviting reads for any low-achieving reader.

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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