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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 25, Number 2 February 2015 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf Education Shelf
Poetry Shelf Counting Shelf Relationship Shelf
Native American Shelf Science Shelf Fiction Shelf
Health Shelf Sports Shelf Dance Shelf
Jobs/Career Shelf Writing/Publishing Shelf Holiday Shelf
Activity Shelf Social Issues Shelf Autism Shelf
Biography Shelf Multicultural Shelf American History Shelf
World History Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Music CD Shelf Multimedia Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf
Books in Series    

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Hunter Awakens
J.R. Roper
Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
25515 Hillsdale Drive, Novi, MI 48374
ISBN: 9781939769688
ASIN: B00LLPLP5W $13.00
Barnes & Noble:

Book One of The Morus Chronicles, The Hunter Awakens, provides a middle grade fantasy centered around the experiences of thirteen-year-old Ethan Morus, who uncovers a family legend while staying at his grandparents' old farm.

But where other similar-sounding fantasies evolve predictable paths, The Hunter Awakens is just ramping up; because events that unfold aren't entirely fueled by Ethan's evolving curiosity and investigations, but evolve from the fact that he's being watched by sorcerers who know, better than he, the extent of his latent abilities and their importance in a bigger picture.

Few young readers can resist a good treasure hunt story; and while many a middle grade read might attempt to include this in their plots, it's rare to see such a hunt actually driving events. But without motivation and the glitter and lure of actual riches, many an adventure falls apart - and that's just one facet that keeps The Hunter Awakens a compelling middle school read: promised riches are always just around the corner.

It takes a solid, talented storyteller to bring to life what sounds like a too-familiar scenario: Roper is such a talent. It takes an attention to detail to build a young protagonist who is not a one-dimensional, singular figure or a hero, but a living, breathing boy faced with social and ethical issues along the way who is always challenged to make the best choice. And it takes a pragmatic approach to build a story line that begins with a seemingly-normal boy's concerns and evolve it so that he begins to recognize and accept his unique skills and make decisions on their applications.

As chapters unwind with the grace and power of an epic, middle school readers will find themselves swept away by a wave of intrigue, fantasy, mystery, and most of all, by Ethan's believable dilemmas as he faces a world he never knew existed.

Part of the reason why Roper achieves this so easily is that his scenarios juxtapose psychological insight with the touch, feel, and smell of place and setting. Thus, a few deft sentences may build such a character ("Ethan strode toward his mother's bedroom, the one place he wasn't allowed. With Mom, being sneaky got you caught. Act normal and she was blind to mischief.") while the next few capture Ethan's daily world ("He lifted the heavy lid and inhaled the cedar that accompanied the worn leather journal. He tucked the journal beneath his shirt and walked out. Around the corner, the living room was clear. To the right, the kitchen TV buzzed with the evening news. Herbs and garlic hung in the air. Italian food tonight.")

Later on, as he moves among friends, his sleuthing skills haven't ended: if anything, they have become well honed and especially suited for probing relatives' secrets: "He crouched as he entered the porch. The surrounding windows would give him away if Uncle Nero came to the house...At the bottom was a large piece of black cloth that had been wrapped around something hard. He stretched out the cloth like a kite opening in the wind, and out slipped a small black book. As he flipped through tattered pages, he realized it was a diary. Wondering if it were Dad's, he looked inside the front cover."

Especially with teen writing, characterization is the key. As a savvy creative writing teacher once said: if the reader doesn't care what happens to the character, he won't care what happens in the story. Roper creates this sense of intimacy and, as a result, readers follow Ethan's movements and decisions with bated breath.

The plot may sound predictable: all the elements are there for formula writing - a treasure hunt, latent powers awakened, a journey, sorcerers, good and evil - but it's what an author chooses to do with these elements that makes the difference between sub-par, acceptable and superior writing.

Everyone is involved in the outcome, from Ethan's savvy grandparents to Mel, who has a vested interest in manipulating Ethan because she's long ago given her powers to the dark side. And there's a reason why Ethan's treasure hunt becomes more than just a search for riches. The rest lies buried in the pages of The Hunter Awakens, just waiting to be discovered.

Aisle 17
Robert Bowman
SS Publishing
554 Canyon Drive, East Wenatchee, WA 98802
9780971353084 $14.99 262 pages

Young adult fiction revolving around a superstore's mysterious new aisle is something relatively different in the scheme of things (although Zilpha Snyder did write a department-store neo-fantasy decades back, the plot digresses heavily from this one's focus), which will delight teens looking for something new.

Meet the Maxfield superstore - super-predictable in its layout and canned goods. Teen Mary should know: she practically has the chain memorized, thanks to her father's job as its manager - until she stumbles on Aisle 17, which is notable not only for its mysterious appearance, but for its glaring absence of merchandise.

Indeed, the only two constants in Mary's life since her mother's death have been visiting her mother's grave and hanging out in her father's workplace. Now that connection is about to get a little stronger - and not necessarily in a good way; because as Mary explores the presence and limits of the impossible Aisle 17, she comes to understand that its appearance brings dangers to her world that only she can address.

It's hard to neatly 'peg' Aisle 17 - and this is one of its pleasures. Thrillers in the usual sense usually aren't offered to teen readers, while fantasy and paranormal themes are typically replete with predictable paths and, at worst, one-dimensional heroes or heroines.

Not so Aisle 17: Mare's concerns are realistic and vivid, her first-person observations of her world are astute and immediate, and her assessments of her strengths are realistic: "One of my other personality quirks: a heightened sense of observation. For whatever reasons, I can pick out detail - a handy trait if you're the only child of a store manager."

Her handy talents are about to ramp up a notch in importance, though, as she faces down the dangers and mysterious cans of Aisle 17.

It's hard to describe this story without giving too much away; hard to skirt the mystery without dipping into the fantasy world a bit too much. And that would be a shame; because as the boundaries and challenges of Aisle 17 are revealed, the crux of its story line comes to light: that of a teen facing some of her biggest challenges.

And, she's not alone in her quest: a new friend enters the picture and lends strength and as the two explore together, the hopes and promises of Aisle 17 slowly become clear both to Mare and the reader.

And this is one of the strengths of Aisle 17: its ability to surprise. Mare's revelations come slowly, interspersed with stories about her new friendship and her relationship with her father. It's not a 'thriller' in the usual sense of nonstop staccato-type action; and in this case, that's a bonus, because care is taken to build up details about Mare's personality and approach to life (and death) which prove key to the story's outcome.

Again, it's a dance to not create spoilers. Suffice it to say that Aisle 17 is a fantasy/thriller for teens that poses different questions and answers. While it's unfair to bill it as a 'thriller' and predispose its audience to expect fierce, nonstop action, it's more than fair to say that its attention to detail and to evolving a three-dimensional protagonist who finds herself wound up in issues of life and death against the unusual backdrop of her father's store is a unique approach that will attract and engross any who want more than the typical thriller or fantasy offers - and this means many an adult reader, as well.

The plot is anything but 'canned', though cans are a recurrent mystery and theme. For more, you'll just have to walk Aisle 17 and see for yourself.

Out of Synch
Warren Firschein
Chapter Two Press
P. O. Box 870, Safety Harbor, FL 34695
ISBN Number: Hardcover: 9781942679004 $19.99
Paperback: 9781942679011 $12.99 327 Pages
E-Book: 9781942679028 $9.99

As this is quite possibly the first and only novel about synchronized swimming (indeed, it's a fading art that many adults may not know much about), Out of Synch is, right away, in a class of its own. The story focuses on the efforts of thirteen-year-old Katie, who dreams of competitive synchronized swimming while her parents want her to choose the more lucrative competitive racing.

Her swim team coach believes synchronized swimming is well on its way out, her parents want Katie to focus on a swimming approach that is more of a guaranteed success, and pressure is applied to drop out of synchro. Katie has her hands full trying to convince the adults in her life that her real love in life is both viable and important:

"I love doing synchro, and I'm not going to give it up just so I can swim more laps like a - like a stupid robot."

"It's those laps that'll improve your times. Repetition, repetition, repetition. When I was a kid, we had practice every day, and, sure, sometimes it wasn't fun, but I knew it was necessary because I wanted to get to the next level."

"You weren't even a swimmer," I point out. "You played baseball."

"It's the same in any sport. If you want to get your skills to the point where you can compete nationally, you've got to put in the time. Remember, your body is nothing more than a vessel for your willpower."

While the opening chapters solidify Katie's love for synchro and detail how her passion is increasingly getting in the way of everyone else's push for her to perform in the (more boring) world of competitive swim racing, this is just the setup for the big dive to come. Katie's determination is the only thing that stands in the way of others' dreams - and it's a fight she's going to win, even if it means she's out of sync with the rest of the influences in her life.

Chapter after chapter add more detail and complexity as her synchro partner is injured and Katie faces further challenges to her dreams.

Middle school readers (especially those familiar with the world of competitive sports in general and competitive swimming in particular) will relate to Katie's efforts, which are tested when she has to replace a familiar and loved routine without her swim partner's support. It's a far different approach to swim a solo routine - a learning experience which Katie is forced to keep secret from her parents.

Part of the joy of reading Out of Synch is that it exudes passion and struggle. Even readers with no prior familiarity (or interest) in the world of competitive swimming can easily relate to Katie's feeling of being pulled in all directions, most of which oppose her love of one (less promising) choice in particular.

It's a familiar scenario: does one follow one's heart, or acquiesce to the pressures and (supposed) insights of those older and wiser? Does one continue the struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds, or make the kinds of decisions that lead to new opportunities? And where is the intersection between personal goals and belief and the bigger picture of success?

Middle school readers should be prepared for a lot of description of swim competitions and pressures, and they should ideally have some prior insights on performance and goal-setting. As Katie brings her dreams to life, this kind of audience will relish her process: "This is the first time anyone other than Donna has watched me do this routine. As I perform my first few maneuvers, I can feel my hands shaking, but my nervousness soon disappears. I'm in my own little bubble, just me and the music. I try to focus on the routine. Every time I rocket up to the surface after an underwater stunt, I plant a big smile on my face, just as if this was a competition. I make sure to project as much energy as possible. When I come up from a backflip pike, I think I can actually hear applause."

That Katie will succeed, with her drive, determination and vision, is a given. The story line lies not in the fact that she will ultimately succeed, but in how she becomes a winner. Details on the sport of synchronized swimming are specific and real, teammate and family interactions are realistic and absorbing, and readers will find in Katie an inspiring figurehead for their own desires to buck outside pressures and understand the differences between realizing a dream and tackling impossible odds.

The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears
M. Amu Narasimhan
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Parkway #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781631770142, 38 pp. $14.95

It should be noted that The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears is a bedtime story passed on between generations in the Asian author's family, and represents not only family connections but the author's first book - a creation she also illustrated herself.

All that said, the story line (a simple account of a small bird's bravery) especially lends to parental read-aloud and interaction both because it holds more words than an easier picture book, and because it holds the opportunity for parent/child dialogue on the underlying concepts of courage and fortitude.

The story is narrated in rhyme which is smooth for the most part, although at a few points it could have been tighter, as in the less-flowing last line completing an otherwise-well set paragraph of poetic description: "A parrot once lived far, far away,/Where he and his friends everyday did play./..."I wish I were bigger and taller like them all./ I'm so tiny, I may as well be just a doll."

Iambic pentameter is a fairly precise form; so much so that the inclusion of just one word (in the above case, 'just') can throw off the beat.

The drawings are simply beautiful ... full color illustrations filled with bright, unexpected embellishments are the driving force of any superior picture book - and The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears more than delivers quality in this regard, visually carrying any 'bumps' in pentameter that the poetic rhyme occasionally experiences.

Friendship, courage, and strength: by exploring these traits in an accessible animal story, young listeners receive a supportive, enlightening and uplifting lesson in life that many a parent will want to choose, no matter what culture they are from.

The Rabbit Ate My Homework
Rachel Elizabeth Cole
Tangled Oak Press
#130-13819 232nd Street, Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
ISBN 9780991766727 (pbk.)
ISBN 9780991766734 (ebook)
$3.99 (ebook) $8.99 (print)

There are some book titles that just make you smile from instinctive memory of fun times, similar experiences, or near-universal jokes - and The Rabbit Ate My Homework is certainly one of these. A book which makes the soon-to-be-reader smile before they even crack the cover is certainly an asset; especially when you're talking a middle school grade audience, as with this one, which almost requires a standout title or cover art in order to even be chosen for leisure pursuit.

And speaking of 'cover art', there's also an exceptionally, bright, compelling illustration of a bunny with a homework paper in its mouth, a bright red background, and a backpack behind it (undoubtedly fodder for foraging, to the rabbit's mind). Kudos to Deanna Dionne for providing fun interior black and white drawings, and to Littera Designs for creating the complimentary, striking cover: all this adds to a 'standout title' and will invite all ages to partake.

The story opens with a father/son bike ride planned for an unusually nice day after much rain - a bike ride thwarted yet again by the demands of household chores, leaving Drew to decide to head out on his own. His solo bike ride is used to describe his neighborhood and sets the tone for what is to come. A bike accident in the woods (where he isn't supposed to ride) poses more problems. And there's no rabbit in sight - yet.

But scenes need to be set, personalities explored, and setting created before the bunny enters front stage center - and Rachel Elizabeth Cole takes time and care to fine-tune the scenery before her opening act is introduced, creating a compelling scene when siblings discover an abandoned pet and conspire to thwart their parents' rigid 'no pets' rule to save it.

From the start, the bunny is trouble. As usual, the children have always wanted a pet and the objections come entirely from parents with too many concerns and not enough interest in looking after an animal. The problem is - the kids have never wanted a boring rabbit. All that's about to change - including the perception that bunnies are boring.

Chapters weave an inviting story that's hard to put down, injecting many elements of light intrigue along the way. From school bullying and revenge to an unexpectedly destructive Tiny, to involvements with girls, the story line and dialogue are unexpected and thus delightful: "Yes, embarrassing as it is to admit, I, Drew Montgomery, scream like a little girl and start running for the library doors, Ally and her spray can hot on my heels."

It's hilarious, it's realistic, it's involving: what more could one ask for in a story recommended for advanced elementary to early middle-school grade levels?

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

25 10-Minute Plays for Teens
Edites by Lawrence Harbison
Applause Books
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
19 West 21st Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10010
9781480387768 $16.99

25 10-Minute Plays for Teens presents a diverse array of short plays (which do not require excessively expensive stage equipment or costumes) suitable for teenaged thespians. The plays are by a wide variety of different authors, and information for contacting the author and securing legal permission to produce the play is listed upon each play's title page. Nearly all of the characters in the plays are teens themselves, the better to connect with teenaged actors trying to learn the craft. 25 10-Minute Plays for Teens is enthusiastically recommended especially as an excellent resource for high school instructors.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Tuma, The Tribe's Little Princess
Susan Violante, author/illustrator
I Have Something To Say Press
Creative With Words Publications
Jennifer Hass
6705 HWY 290 W., Suite 502-355, Austin, TX 78735
9780985430801 $15.95

Tuma, The Tribe's Little Princess is a Venezuelan story about a princess of the Guajiran tribe. She was named for the tribe's magical stone, which her father the King cared for as a guardian. The tribe lived in a lagoon called Sinamaica in the northern part of South America where a lake meets the Caribbean Sea. The magical stone for which Tuma was named was believed to protect the home of the Guajirans, a home of coconut trees, bright skies, beaches and water. Men from the tribe sailed boats with nets to catch fish, while women did crafts at home in huts. Tuma took a boat to school in the hot sun. Tuma loved nature and her animal friends, a goat and a heron. Her green parrot, Loro, was happy, wise, and talkative. To see beautiful lands he had visited and described, Loro took Tuma to visit the cold Andes mountains and the plains, and Angel Falls. On this journey, princess Tuma came to understand the her tribe's belief in the magical properties of the stone was mistaken. Loro agreed with her. She returned to her Guajiran tribe to explain: "The magic comes from Mother Nature, it is her that gives us all of our earthly things, and we must learn we cannot use them as we see fit.... We can enjoy the things she gives and take from our land what we need, always remembering to care for our gifts." Filled with hand colored artistic representations of the sights of Tuma's journey, "Tuma, The Tribe's Little Princess" is a vivid and skillful natural tale that teaches much about the nature and geography of Venezuela and South America. Simply written, it will appeal to children age 4 and up.

Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist
Jewel Kats, author
Claudia Marie Lenart, illustrator
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615992508 $14.95

Based on a well-known Grimms' fairy tale ""Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist" is reimagined, book #5 in the Fairy Ability Tales Series for children. Age 5-7 years. Imaginatively illustrated with color photos of needle felted figures by fiber artist Claudia Marie Lenart, "Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist" retells the Grimms' fairy tale with big sister Gretel and younger brother Hansel, a five year old boy with Down Syndrome, being sent into the forest with an empty burlap bag to fill with food for their starving family. This imaginative story focuses on the positive abilities of young Hansel, instead of his handicap. Hansel's adventurousness and compassion are qualities which enable him to find food for his family, make a new friend, and help create forgiveness for flaws or misdeeds. The attitudes of Gretel and Hansel's mother and father are also carefully described and allowed to evolve and grow. The sensitive fiber art portraits of tiny but expressive needle felted dolls capture a feeling of delicate awareness that enhances the positive and empowering message of "Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist." Also highly recommended from the Fairy Ability Tales Series published by Loving Healing Press is "The Princess Panda Tea Party: A Cerebral Palsy Fairy Tale (9781615992195, $14.95)," by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra.

The Self-Help Shelf

Smile & Succeed for Teens
Kirt Manecke
Solid Press LLC
PO Box 145, Milford, MI 48381
9780985076214, $9.95, 144pp,

"Smile & Succeed for Teens: A Crash Course in Face-to-Face Communication" by Kirt Manecke is a 144 page instructional guide specifically written for teenage readers and showing them how to: Interview like a pro and get that job; Turn off the technology (and feel good about it!); Quickly and easily master the people skills critical to their success; Communicate effectively with people, starting today!; Improve confidence and self-esteem and overcome social anxiety; Master customer service, sales, and fundraising skills; Ask for the sale or donation - and get it!; and make new friends. Packed from cover to cover a wealth of with indispensable tips, fun and informative cartoons, proven techniques and must-do now strategies, "Smile & Succeed for Teens" with an emphasis on social skills and communication skills. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' from beginning to end, "Smile & Succeed for Teens" is strongly recommended for adolescent Self-Help / Self-Improvement personal reading lists, as well as school and community library YA collections. It should be noted that "Smile & Succeed for Teens" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

You Are a Powerful Creator, My Little One
Monica Iglesias, author
Robert Paul Matheus, illustrator
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452515878 $13.95

"You Are a Powerful Creator, My Little One: Creating Happiness" is a touching story based on real events that empowers children to consciously choose to create their own happiness and other good things. The story begins with a quiet talk between Francesco and his mother. She explains to him that he is a powerful creator, who can choose to create many things, some good, some not so good. She asks him what he chooses to create this day. Excited, Francesco decides he will create happiness by sharing with his siblings, being nice to them, making them laugh, helping his mother, and other ways. Francesco's mother explains to him that happiness starts with a feeling inside his heart, then comes out in expressions, good thoughts, and good deeds. Francesco was so happy he began doing all the things he could to create happiness in his family and friends. Everything went well that day, until Francesco's brother, Andre began feeling sad and left out of play when Francesco forgot to pay attention to him and to share his toy car with him. Noticing this, Francesco's mother helped him to see that Andre was sad, and that Francesco was able to do something that would cheer him up. The simple message of "You Are a Powerful Creator, My Little One" is the answer to the question: Where does happiness start? Francesco knows "It starts in my heart!" Color illustrations portray feelings familiar to a child, joy and sadness. At the end of the story, two pages offer lists of different things that a child or adult may choose to create. One list is a more negative list, including sadness, anger, resentment, and more; while the other list offers positive creation choices, such as love, peace happiness, joy, health, compassion, and more. The suggestion is that a parent may discuss these ideas a few at a time with a child, asking them what they want to create and how they will go about doing that. An excellent mental health resource, "You Are a Powerful Creator, My Little One" is suitable for sharing with children age 5-6 and up.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

JJ Goes to Puppy Class
Diane Rose-Solomon with Lyssa Noble Dennis
Illustrated by Lisette Rotman
SOP3 Publishing
9780985769024 $16.99

JJ Goes to Puppy Class is a colorful picturebook created to educate children about the responsibilities of training a puppy to behave well. From housebreaking a puppy, to teaching a puppy not to bark at, nip, or jump on people and more, JJ Goes to Puppy Class covers a diverse array of situations, often comparing them to the good manners that young people themselves have to learn as they grow up. "Trainer Lyssa said, 'It is natural for dogs to bark. It's their way of communicating. When JJ barks, make a louder sound like slamming a book on a table. This will quiet him. Then praise him for being quiet by saying 'Good Quiet'. Mom said, 'Just like you learned to use your indoor voice.'" Additional notes and tips on the final two pages offer a wealth of wisdom for caring for kids and dogs (at the same time), making JJ Goes to Puppy Class enlightening to parents as well as children. Highly recommended, especially for young dog lovers and families looking to adopt a puppy.

Swimming Home
Susan Hand Shetterly, author
Rebekah Raye, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Ave., Gardiner, ME 04345
9780884483540 $16.95

Part of the Tilbury House Nature Book series of picturebooks that educate as well as entertain, and deliberately avoid anthropomorphizing animal characters, Swimming Home is a story about river herring (commonly known as "alewives"), who must migrate from saltwater to freshwater in order to spawn. But the journey fraught with danger from hungry predators, and when they finally approach their spawning grounds, a man-made obstacle blockades their destination. Only a little help a local man, his son, and their neighbors and friends can ensure that Lily Lake will become the birthplace of a new generation! An extensive postscript teaches young readers more about the life cycle of river herring, and theories as to why their numbers have declined in recent years. A beautifully illustrated story with an underlying ecological moral, Swimming Home is highly recommended for personal and public library children's collections.

Finding a Mate: Animal Companions
Cassidy St. James, author
Rourke Educational Media
PO Box 643328, Vero Beach, FL 32964
9781627176523 $7.95

"Finding a Mate: Animal Companions" is a level J, color photo illustrated natural science series volume that studies ten different animal species mating habits from different continents around the world. Each species is shown engaging in courtship behavior, and the purpose of courtship is explained as a display of vigor and health on the part of a male, to attract a female to mate and reproduce healthy offspring. Each species represented is accompanied by a small global map with color delineated areas showing where they live. Some of the species represented include the Iberian hare, lions and giraffes, the Emperor penguin, peafowl, the African bullfrog, the Frigatebird, the Red-Crowned Crane, the Guanaco, and the Grey Seal. At the end is a photo glossary of six vocabulary words, an index, information about the author, and a list of related websites. A handy feature is the magnifying glass framed statements with specific information about different species' behavior. "Finding a Mate: Animal Companions" is written in simple narrative style with frequent color photo illustration, suitable for readers at level J, or perhaps age 7-9. The introduction is followed by helpful suggestions for before and after reading activities to build vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension. "Finding a Mate: Animal Companions" is an ideal educational resource for teaching elementary students of natural sciences.

Chubby Wubbles: A Ferret's Tale
M. J. Abrams, author
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781412072946 $10.95

Based on a true story, "Chubby Wubbles: A Ferret's Tale" is a heartwarming tale of an unusual pet ferret and his adventures with his adoptive human family. Filled with real photos of the original Chubby Wubbles, this delightful pet story is told from the ferret's viewpoint. Originally named Junior, the ferret was the pet of Mark, an older brother. Junior became sad and lonely because Mark was working at a demanding job and had little time to play and interact with him. So he offered to give him to his younger brother, Jeffrey, who re-named Junior Chubby Wubbles. Chubby Wubbles had a good home with Jeffrey in his apartment, with a large playpen, toys, and exercise mazes, and plenty of good food and water. Jeffrey took care to keep his litter box and cage clean, and to spend lots of time playing with the ferret each day, allowing him regular time outside of his cage. One day Chubby Wubbles fooled Jeffrey while he was taking out garbage and escaped outside to have park adventures. This started out to be fun but became scary when Chubby Wubbles met a flock of protective geese with immature goslings. Luckily, Jeffrey was searching for Chubby Wubbles and rescued him from the pecking geese just in time. After a mild scolding for running away, Jeffrey tended to Chubby Wubbles war wounds and celebrated with his best furry buddy. Both Jeffrey and Chubby Wubbles realized how lucky they were to be friends together. "Chubby Wubbles: a Ferret's Tale" is filled with adorable photos of a real ferret, and teaches about the responsibilities of pet care as well as the joys of owning a ferret.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon
Lowell H. Press
Parkers Mill Publishing
PO Box 50648, Bellevue, WA 98015
9780990513001 $11.99 pbk / $2.99 ebook

An epic fantasy novel (also available as an ebook) for readers ages ten and up, The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon is the story of two mouse brothers, Sommer and Nesbit, and their scramble to survive the full-scale invasion of Emperor Wolfsmilch and his army of a hundred thousand forest mice. The quick-witted Sommer is ordered to join Eagle Guard war efforts against the invaders; the small yet vivacious Nesbit is banished to the Forest of Lost Life for his ill-timed insults, and hungry predators constantly strive to make a meal out of him. Do the brothers have any prayer of survival, let alone reunion or saving their kingdom? Readers of all ages will thrill to this animal adventure, set amid the historic lands of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. Highly recommended.

The Underground Labyrinth
Louella Dizon
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781502301475, $18.99,

The summer is off to a terrible start for Jinny, with bad weather and a cancelled birthday party. It hardly seems a year ago that she had gone on an adventure with her sister Jada, the rebel fairy Minacrist, and the magical people they met within the secret fairy kingdom of New York City. But when a mysterious river man appears with a special key, Jinny, Jada, and their neighbor, Sam, are pulled into a race against time. A sickness has struck the kingdom, turning good fairies into evil, and the children must join forces with Minacrist and their elfin friends to find the source of the Black Power...before the Black Power destroys them. "The Underground Labyrinth" is the second volume in Louella Dizon's outstanding and entertaining 'The Crowded Kingdom" series for young readers. This highly recommended, 142 page action/adventure fantasy is a fun and imaginative read from beginning to end. It should be noted that "The Underground Labyrinth" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Lucky Seven Show
Mary Jo Wisneski Johnston, author
Richa Kinra, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478747093 $14.95

"The Lucky Seven Show" is a creative fantasy in which Muscatino Rattuti the Great, otherwise known as Musky the wood rat, collaborates with seven other groups or entities to organize multi-faceted use of the hepbarn, a seven sided magical barn storage structure in which all groups wish to perform. In this amazing, kaleidoscopic mini epic, Musky, a wizard wood rat with wings, is assisted by a talking weathervane pony and a human observer to begin a planning conference inviting all seven groups to think of ways to share performance space in the hepbarn. This is a phenomenal idea, resulting in an amazing Lucky Seven Show featuring flying machines, forest wood sprites, funky musical instruments, animated trip photographs, world geography remnants, and ancient farm tools, and the wood rat pack. Each contingent was allowed one side of the seven sided barn and one time for featured performance, and all planned performances were announced by a publicity menagerie/signboard effect. In this ditzy, glitzy, theatrical troupe, shape and order, with collaboration and cooperation, evolve into a stunning solution which eclipses anything imagined by Musky or the other groups. Funny, whirling, colorful pencil/crayon-like illustrations express the components of "The Lucky Seven Show" with precision and style, providing an enriched fantasy experience for the lucky readers (age 8 and up). "The Lucky Seven Show" ends leaving readers wanting to hear more. Perhaps a sequel will add further delight.

boombin and lama
Boona Chema, authors
Damon Guthrie, illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781478722502 $19.95

"boombin and lama: A Story of Friendship, investigation and Adventure!" is an exciting, unusual story about a loving blue bear who decided to seek his Lama, or teacher, to help him learn to teach other bears and children ways to care for and protect the natural environment of the earth, leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible. Boombin is excited to share all his questions with his wise lama, and to meet other lamas and their bears. The gentle, humble translations of boombin's experiences with lama are conveyed in lower case, loving prose illustrated with wildly colorful pictures of many different lamas and bears, all learning ways to love, clean, and preserve the earth. "boombin and lama" is a book experience that teaches by happening. Kids of varying ages will find its appeal irresistible, while the message of responsible stewardship and supportive recycling is kindly and clearly demonstrated in a variety of creative and resourceful ways around the world. "boombin and lama" is a dip into exploration of ecological solutions, a great adventure. Described as "an ever changing collaborative adventure," "boombin and lama" are sure to be part of a series that friends that young readers will want to follow.

Moore Zombies: the Search for Gargoy
Wendy Knuth, author
Brian Allen, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781497311718 $9.99

"Moore Zombies: The Search for Gargoy" is a chance to meet the Moores, a loving zombie family. Filled with hilarious comic illustrations of family zombie life, "Moore Zombies" introduces Baby Zom, messy big brother Kamper Zom, big sister Garthina, a lover of critters of all kinds, and brother Broheimer, the geeky science zombie. All the Moore Zombies try to help Baby Zom find her lost Gargoy, which is why she is sad. Mombie Moore helps the young zombies by providing their favorite snack, tomato juice, and directing them to Pop Moore, who is creating mud by hosing in the back yard while wearing his scary human mask. Together the Moores follow mud tracks to the muddy cave of Wolfbag, the family non dog who has Gargoy. The family realize they must not scold Wolfbag, because he was not being bad, only trying to rescue Gargoy from Baby Zom's too strong grip while she was sleeping. Gargoy is a stuffed blue toy gargoyle, the perfect toy for Baby Zom. This completes the happy ending to the first of the adventures of the "Moore Zombies: The Search for Gargoy," the first of a happy, normal zombie series. Kids of all ages will be delighted by the fantastic illustrations and humor of the delightfully messy Moore Zombies, making this new series a sure success.

The Board Book Shelf

Sweet Child of Mine
Caroline Jayne Church
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545647717 $8.99

Sweet Child of Mine provides parents with a padded read-aloud board book that pairs big illustrations with simple 'I love you' descriptions that come from a parent's heart to a child's mind, and is a lovely recommendation parents can use to reinforce the concept of love to their children. It's a warm and simple story that can be used again and again as a basic bedtime read and reinforcement of a parent's love, and is recommended for at-home use.

The Picturebook Shelf

In My Heart
Jo Witek, author
Christine Roussey, illustrator
Abrams Appleseed
c/o Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781419713101 $16.95

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings is a children's picturebook about emotions. In addition to rainbow shades of accent colors, die-cut cavities of progressively smaller heart-shapes distinguish each page. "When I get really angry, my heart feels as if it's going to explode! Don't come near me! My heart is yelling, hot and loud. This is when my heart is mad." Line drawings of a girl who expresses her different emotions complement the text. In My Heart is an excellent resource for initiating an educational discussion with little ones about the power of their feelings.

Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf
Eileen Wacker, author
Alan M. Low, illustrator
c/o Smith Publicity
9781938806049 $10.99

The seventh picturebook of the Fujimini Adventure series (and also a great stand-alone story), Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf chronicles the grand opening of Fujimini Island Surf School. Blue Penguin's surfing students are excited to learn, and Blue Penguin can't wait to teach them his greatest surfing moves. But who is the new stranger that has come to Fujimini Island? A brief, educational section at the end teaches young readers more about the Asian cultural associations used in the story, such as the kappa in Japanese mythology, or the pear as a Chinese symbol of immortality. Winner of a Mom's Choice Award, Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surfer is highly recommended.

Julia's Magic Putter
Page O'Brien Jasinski, author
Peggy Lindt, illustrator
Sea Hill Press
P.O. Box 60301, Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0301
9781937720216 $17.95

Julia's Magic Putter is a slightly surreal children's picturebook about dogs who love to play golf. Julia enjoys the sport as much as any dog, but when her magic putter goes missing, will she ever be able to sink a shot again? Fortunately, the wise old Captain Swift can help. "'Aye, magic is always invisible and, therefore, it is easy to lose, and it is hard to find,' Captain Swift said wisely. 'Bot don't worry, lass. I can see your magic in your eyes and in your smile. It is there. If you have lost something that you love, you can always find it inside of you, because you always carry it in your heart.'" Exuberant color illustrations enrich this storybook sure to appeal to young dog lovers and golf players alike.

The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail
Maureen Stolar Kanefield
Magic Tale Press
47 W. Division Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60610
9780990348405 $16.99

The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail is a colorful children's picturebook with a heartwarming moral. Young Maxwell's tail is exceptionally long and strong, making him the target of his classmates' ridicule. Even Maxwell's best friend thinks his tail is too big! But Maxwell discovers that his strong, prehensile tail can be useful - in art, cooking, music, or more. "At the school door, Mason turned to Maxwell in disbelief. 'How did you do those amazing things with your tail?' Maxwell grinned. 'You know what, Mason? I think we all have a bit of magic in us. We just need to find it.'" First in a delightful series, The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail is also available as an ebook, and has an interactive story app with educational games, as well as resources for children, teachers, and parents that can be downloaded from the website

Irene's Wish
Jerdine Nolen, author
Ag Ford, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9780689863004 $17.99

Irene's Wish is a children's picturebook about a wish gone awry. Irene, a young African-American girl, wishes that her Papa spent more time at home... but the uncontrolled wish and a handful of seeds transform her Papa into a tree! How is Irene to bring her Papa back? A gentle, original story about the power of love, Irene's Wish features beautiful artwork, and is a wonderful read-aloud story for parents and children to share.

Hey, Diddle, Diddle
Illustrated by Deborah Melmon
Music Together LLC
66 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
9780989781442 $13.95

Part of the Music Together Singalong Storybook series, Hey, Diddle, Diddle is a picturebook rendition of the classic nursery rhyme. A free audio download is included, encouraging parents and children to sing along together as they read. Two pages of suggested activities (such as "...sing your child's ideas: What else might the cat play? What else could the cow jump over? It doesn't have to rhyme - and the sillier, the better!"), a brief note about the origin of the song, and more fill out this charming picturebook, brought to life with exuberant illustrations.

John Rocco
Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781423178651 $17.99

Caldecott Honoree John Rocco presents Blizzard, a picturebook based on a real story from the author's childhood (when the Blizzard of '78 buried his Rhode Island hometown). Blizzard tells of a small town buried under snow. One day after another passes, and still the snowplows do not come... and the snowed-in people are running out of food and supplies. It's up to one boy to take action; he's the only one light enough to walk on the snow with tennis rackets tied to his feet, and he uses his sled to bring food and goods for everyone back from the store! Highly recommended.

Neighbors the Water Critters
Poems by George Held
Pictures by Joung Un Kim
Filsinger & Company Ltd.
288 West 12 Street, 2R
New York, NY 10014
9780916754310 $25.00

Part of the "Neighbors" picturebook series, Neighbors the Water Critters is a large-sized children's book featuring simple, expressive illustrations of creatures that live in or depend upon water, and educational poems about each animal. "The harbor seal hauls up / on the rocks in Sag Harbor / to sun herself in winter. // Encased in blubber, / food for the Inuit, / she feels no cold // in or out of water. / She bears one 35-pound / pup per year after // it gestates nine months, / like you did, before birth, / and feeds on mama seal's // fat-rich milk for three weeks. / Within half an hour of birth / Harbor Seal can swim and dive, // so happy she's alive / and eager to seal the deal. / Let's give her our seal / of approval." Informative and entertaining, Neighbors the Water Critters is a joy to read aloud and share. Also highly recommended are the previous books in the series, "Neighbors the Yard Critters" and "Neighbors the Yard Critters Too".

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Kathryn Russell-Brown
Lee and Low Books
95 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
9781600608988 $18.95

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone receives fun drawings by Frank Morrison as it tells of a seven-year-old girl who falls in love with a trombone and teaches herself to play. By the time Melba is a teen she becomes a jazz great and tours the country, overcoming gender and racial barriers to work with some of the best jazz musicians in the country. Based on a true story of this 1926 genius, the story reads with the vivid immediacy of fiction but packs in plenty of facts about Melba and her times.

Ewe and Aye
Candace Ryan
Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781423175919 $17.99

Ewe and Aye provides illustrations by Stephanie Ruble and tells of a sheep who loves wheels and a lemur who loves wings. When they discover each other, things really leave the ground in a whimsical rhyming saga of adventure and zany differences that manage to coalesce in an unusual friendship supporting both special interests. The result is a fun story especially suitable for read-aloud.

When Otis Courted Mama
Kathi Appelt
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
97802166886 $16.99

When Otis Courted Mama receives warm drawings by Jill McElmurry and tells of Cardell the coyote's desert life, which is divided as his mother and father live in different parts of the desert. He's used to it - until Otis becomes involved in their lives. Otis can't do what Cardell's father can - but his mother seems interested in her suitor anyway. What can Cardell do to make him go away? Warm, oversized drawings lend to an inviting story especially recommended for divided families and kids seeking to understand change.

Sailing Away on a Windy Day
Linda Napoli, author
Raynald Kudemus, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781479729623 $12.99

"Sailing Away on a Windy Day" is the adventurous story of how Little Jessica, a girl small for her age of six, got carried away by a wind while carrying six colored balloons to a friend's birthday celebration. Filled with daily details of the life and school experiences of Little Jessica, "Sailing Away on a Windy Day" combines just the right amount of suspense, action, excitement, and familiarity in a child's adventure story. Bright, clear, vivid illustrations show a small girl with tan skin, black hair, and dark eyes who is excited to float but also relieved to return to ground transport methods. Spare text and narrative set off the brilliant pictures and make "Sailing Away on a Windy Day" an appealing adventure story for young readers.

Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm
Karl Beckstrand, author
Alycia Mark, illustrator
Premio Publishing & Gozo Books
9780692220979 $9.15

"Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm" is a hilarious reinterpretation of a familiar jingle story with a pesty twist. Colorful exaggerated page illustrations reveal critters of every type invading the catering kitchen of poor, beleaguered Ma MacDonald. "First, there were rabbits in the rhubarb, then poultry in the pastry, a pig in the pesto, and chipmunks in the chutney. A skunk in the scones, mice on the ice, sharks in the sushi, "It's not very nice.".....Here a pest, there a pest - never will she get a rest!" The outrageous assortment of hungry, pesty beasties devour every possible confection she creates, so in despair, Ma MacDonald sells the farm and flees with her lifemate, Old. She wishes "Bon appetit!" to the disconcerted French chef who has replaced her and is faced with a Noah's Ark of assorted hungry pests, ready to sample his wares. Last of all, the author asks laughing young readers "Did you find all the animals named (plus some extras)?" "Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm" will have an audience of readers age 2-7 rolling in the aisles or the pastry crumbs and hunting every page to find the iguana in the sauna, croc in the crock, goats in the ghoulash and lion in the lemons. The funny verse narrative plus distorted animal action portraits goes way beyond funny caricature and will leave enraptured gigglers in its wake. Also highly recommended is the following title about a polar bear who journeys to Antarctica to bowl with penguins: "Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words" (9780692220962, $7.35) by Karl Beckstrand, illustrated by Ashley Sanborn.

Freddy the Penny
Gabrielle Begun, author
Novella Genelza, illustrator
Lekha Publishers LLC.
4204 Latimer Avenue, San Jose, CA 95130
9781937675110 $8.95

"Freddy the Penny" is an imaginative early chapter book about a shiny new penny named Freddy. First begun by the author at the age of 8, "Freddy the Penny" was completed as a creative labor of love when the author was 10 years old. Freddy meets other coins who become friends, and also some who are less friendly in his travels. A pair of helpful mountain bluebirds named Ren and Bingo help Freddy and his friends fly from Sacramento to Washington D.C. in Freddy's quest to find his family. Many exciting adventures befall Freddy and his companions before he is finally reunited with his mother Demytra, a half dollar, and his father, Wilbert, the famous Leader of the Golden Coins. "Freddy the Penny" has plenty of action, suspense, and intriguing challenges to keep young readers' interest high. The author, a devoted and accomplished writer at the age of 10, has received the Writer of Distinction Award from the California Association of Teachers of English.

Paws on Ice
Jeff Lozano, author
Lizette Reiland, illustrator

"Paws on Ice" is an appealing story about a little brown pup named Nosey. Nosey wished to be friends and play with the other pups in the park, but they paid no attention to him. Somehow, he didn't fit in. Feeling sad and whimpering, Nosy wandered away and found a sheltered place to sleep. When he woke up, his nose led him to a magical pond. When he put his paws on the pond, it changed to ice, so he named the pond, Paws on Ice. Nosey discovered he could stand on his hind legs and skate on the ice. He even tried to play hockey! Attempts to invite the other pups to play with him on the ice were ignored, but one pup, Tails, followed Nosy to the pond and began to enjoy skating and hockey too. Nosy was glad! Together, the friends made noise with their hockey game and Nosy hoped the other pups would hear them and join in. All pages of "Paws on Ice" are filled with crayon and pencil joyful color illustrations of Nosy, Tails, and the other pups. Though there are moments of disappointment or sadness, the overall tone of "Paws on Ice" is optimistic and joyful, filled with playful fun. In synch with the upbeat ending, hopeful young readers may suspect that "Paws on Ice" may have a sequel or two, following further adventures of Nosy and Tails.

Guion the Lion: A Colorful World
Rebecca Wilson Macsovits, author
Joseba Morales, illustrator
Inspire On Purpose Publishing
8501 N. MacArthur #1276, Irving, Texas 75063
9781941782026 $16.95

"Guion the Lion" is a rainbow hued lion who encounters a gray world and decides to rescue it by helping each animal until they find the switch to turn on the missing colors. "Guion the Lion" teaches by picture as well as story that the answer to many problems begins with providing a small assistance. After helping Monkey, Pangolin, Ostrich, and more, rainbow Guion goes to sleep under a black and white star-studded sky, hoping that things would improve by morning. The next day, Guion awoke to a marvelous world of rainbow colored animals who are laughing and rejoicing at their transformation, which is in both outer aspect and inner attitude. Guion congratulates the animals for finding the switch, savors the bright yellow sun against a pink and blue sky, and joyously turns to planning his next exciting adventure. "Guion the Lion" is really a book that teaches the difference between seeing a cup as half full, or half empty. It turns out to be all the difference in the world. It also teaches children that everyone contains the seeds of a solution to their own most difficult problem. Children age 6 and up will enjoy the humor, vision, and joyous tone of "Guion the Lion."

My Hot Air Balloon
Karen Carr, author
Leigh Drzycimski, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
c/o Neal Wooten, Publisher
6434 Dixon St., Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612251967 $12.99

"My Hot Air Balloon" is a delicately illustrated creative children's fantasy about riding in a beautiful hot air balloon, way up high, almost to the moon. Written in tender, lyrical almost verse, "My Hot Air Balloon" is irresistible in its uplifting vision. Page after page reveals pastel pictures of sights from the hot air balloon, "the rows of corn and beans and hay, That look like patterns in grandma's quilt." The most inspirational pages of all suggests imagining how things might look to God, "From my hot air balloon, Way up high, Almost to the moon." A pastel border decorated with beautiful Bible scriptures and quotations celebrates this boy's celestial vision. "My Hot Air Balloon" is enchanting and inspiring art and literature for children age 4 and up, as well as adults.

Daredevil Duck
Charlie Adler, author/illustrator
Cassie Drumm, publicity contact
Running Press
2300 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
9780762454563 $19.95

"Daredevil Duck" is a fantastic merging of expressive comic art, page portion presentation, and tongue in cheek narrative, all splashed with bright joy and humor. Daredevil Duck is adorable. While he aspires to be the bravest duck in the whole world, he is actually a bit of a scaredy duck. "He is afraid of things that are too dark, things that are too fluttery things that are too wet, and he is positively terrified of things that are too high." Sometimes the other ducks tease him, and their words can hurt. One day while drifting on his Daredevil Rubber Ring, Daredevil Duck has an amazing adventure. The unfolding page portions emphasize the excitement and challenge of Daredevil Duck's surprise meeting and prompt fleeing from a new friend, Mole. One thing leads to another and just because he wants to make a friend happier, Daredevil Duck takes the climb of his life up a tree to catch a trapped yellow balloon. The courage of this deed lifts him and the balloon to a new dimension and a new way of thinking of himself. "He started to feel happy." And even though in his new improved life, there still were times when Daredevil Duck felt scared or fearful of being ridiculed by other ducks, he simply reminded them all of Yellow Balloon Day and that he really is "Daredevil Duck, the Bravest Duck in the Whole World!" The last announcement is on a full two page foldout with true Barnum and Bailey style buildup. "Daredevil Duck" is a hilarious classic for youngsters age 4 and up, with overflowing winks of humor from a super talented author illustrator (the best in the world).

The Sheep Go On Strike
Jean-Francois Dumont, author/illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
2140 Oak Industrial Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854704 $16.00

"The Sheep Go On Strike" is a funny story about sheep who decide they are tired of being shorn and suffering the cold. Inspired by a bold sheep leader named Earnest, they go on strike. They camped out in their meadow and refused to obey the sheep dog, Ralph. They even stampeded him, yelling about police brutality! Poor Ralph retreated to his doghouse and refused to negotiate with flock delegates. All the other farm animals became involved in the sheep labor dispute and many feelings were hurt, plus confusion ensued. The hens warned: "This will not turn out well!" Still, some of the animals could understand the sheep's point of view. Oddly enough, the animals work together to create a fabulous compromise solution to the sheep's labor grievances! The solution is displayed in the final two page zany illustration of all the sheep wearing funny colored wooly sweaters in weird patterns. What a funny, happy ending for the sheep labor dispute! Many tongue in cheek spoofs on labor actions enliven the narrative of "The Sheep Go On Strike," while the original illustrations add spunk, dimension, and comic vision to the mix. "The Sheep Go On Strike" was originally published in French as "La greve des moutons." It is a wonderful story (about labor disputes and actions) for kids age 5 and up.

Work and More Work
Linda Little, author
Oscar T. Perez, illustrator
Groundwood Books
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801, Toronto, ON M5V 2K4
9781554983841 $18.95

"Work and More Work" is a beautifully illustrated story of a young man named Tom who leaves his farm home in England to go to town and explore the wider world. When he asks his parents, who are busy working at spinning and nail making, what it is like in town, they answer, "Nothing but work and more work." Still, Tom decides he will go to town, which leads to lots of different scenes with lots of extra chores and new jobs for him. Tom's adventure encourages him and he takes further trips to the city, and finally to sea, where he sees tea bales in China, cinnamon bark in Ceylon, and indigo dye cubes in India. Tom learns many different tasks while on board ship, but he finally returns home to his parents, who are glad to see him, even though he has grown and changed so much they don't quite recognize him at first. The family concludes with the observation of all Tom's travels, experiences and gifts, "Just as I thought....I told you so, ... Wherever you go - just work and more work". "Work and More Work" is filled with exquisite illustrations showing details of different important tasks, work and scenes in the 1800's, when Tom made his journey.. Additional pages at the end of the book describe more about work from long ago in this fascinating industrial travelogue from the 19th century. Young readers age 7 and up will learn much about industrial history in their enjoyment of "Work and More Work."

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

Johnette Downing's MACAROONED ON A DESSERT ISLAND (9781455698368, $16.99) enjoys fun drawings by Christina Wald as it presents a child's delicious fantasy revolving around a world of candy and sweets. The protagonist - a young chef - finds herself imagining an edible island where hills of rock candy and rapids of ice cream exist, which give way to healthier food choices such as carrot cake and yogurt topped with berries and nuts. All in all it's a delicious exploration of foods both sweet and sublime, contrasting the sugary delights of baked goods and confections with other perceptions of healthier choices. Margo Sorenson's SPAGHETTI SMILES (9781455619221, $16.99) is illustrated by David Harrington and tells of Jake, who reads his newest book to his Uncle Rocco who works at Rocco's Italian Restaurant. They play games, play with food, and share much together; but when his uncle's restaurant needs a new neighbor, Jake's task is to locate one who will tolerate this zany restaurant next door. Good reading skills will lend to this playful, fun exploration.

Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Valerie Gorbachev's CATS ARE CATS (9780823430529, $16.95) tells of Miss Bell, who loves cats - until she brings home a tiny kitten she calls Tiger who grows up to live into his name. He's a huge tiger and challenges his owner to accommodate his huge need in this warm story of cats and the evolution of love. Sue Macy's ROLLER DERBY RIVALS (9780823429233, $16.95) receives Matt Collins' warm drawings as it tells of two scrappy female skaters growing up in 1948 New York City whose rivalry on the Roller Derby track is about to become public. The atmosphere and flavor of sports competition in general and roller derby in particular is captured in full-page color drawings that bring the event to life.

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

Six new books by Scholastic provide picture book readers with fun and whimsical themes that stand out from the crowd, and are recommended for library and home acquisition alike. Diane and Christyan Fox's THE CAT, THE DOG, LITTLE RED, THE EXPLODING EGGS, THE WOLF, AND GRANDMA (9780545694810, $16.99) may sound like a mouthful, but it's a warm and fun saga that begins with the story of a little girl who wears a cape and a hood but holds no special superpowers. Dog loves stories about superheroes - but is Red Riding Hood such a beast? Parents will find this read-aloud lovely and inviting. Jim Aylesworth's MY GRANDFATHER'S COAT (9780439925457, $17.99) tells of a grandfather who comes to America and makes himself a wonderful coat - and wears it until it's all worn out. What can he do with an old coat? Plenty, as this story about recycling reveals in a fine retelling spiced with Barbara McClintock's inviting illustrations. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's THE SCARECROWS' WEDDING (9780545726061, $17.99) tells of a big barnyard wedding being planned by Betty and Harry. But when Harry leaves to get some flowers, wicked scarecrow Reginald Rake tries to take his place. Can Harry save their day? Good reading skills lend to a story of a relationship threatened by an interloper. Roseane Greenfield Thong's NOODLE MAGIC (9780545521673, $17.99) tells of Mei, who has to help Grandpa Tu make special noodles for the emperor's birthday. It is written as a Chinese folk story and requires good reading skills from young picture book readers, who will find the story of culinary magic to be inviting and engrossing.

The Education Shelf

Parts of Speech Parade: New York City
Irina Gonikberg Dolinskiy, author
Mark Wayne Adams, illustrator
Mark Wayne Adams, Inc.
P.O. Box 916392, Longwood, FL 32791
9781596160170 $14.95

"Parts of Speech Parade: New York City" is a gorgeous tale in verse that teaches the main parts of speech, using the vehicle of a fabulous kids' parade in New York City. Stunning multi-hued action illustrations show children of many different races (even including a king in a wheelchair) having a fun filled balloon-studded outing in downtown new York City. Kids are invited to meet and greet the parts of speech that make language, communication, and reading favorite books possible, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. This charming, educational book is bound to appeal to kids of all ages. It ends with: "Our Parts of Speech Parade is done. Happy reading, everyone! Now that you know our sound and look... we'll see you in your favorite book."

The Poetry Shelf

Silly Shoes
Lawson Gow, author
Mike Guillory, illustrator
Bright Sky Press
2365 Rice Blvd., Suite 202
Houston, TX 77005
9781939055811 $19.95

Silly Shoes: Poems to Make You Smile is a hardcover picturebook showcasing weird and wonderful original poetry. From "Expression Fruit Salad" to "The Malicious Pair of Jeans", these creative poems are a whimsical delight to read aloud, and complemented with silly, colorful illustrations. "Mitch got sucked into his jeans / right before our eyes. / This is the story of poor / Mitchell Ericson's demise. // Like all great epic truthful tales, / This one starts and ends with gum. / But unlike most great tales, / This one's first word was 'Umm.'"

My Dearest One
Monisha Vasa, M.D., author/illustrator
Balboa Press/ Division of Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452514123 $12.45

"My Dearest One" is a beautifully illustrated, loving gift in verse from a parent to a child. Filled with expressive portraits of mother and child elephants frolicking in the sunset, the verse expresses deep hope and love of the mother for the child, embodying "a dialogue of power of intention, reflection and gratitude" which enfolds the child in warm confidence as they begin to grow and discover the world. The central thought conveyed in word and picture is compassion, forgiveness, and love. "As night falls and we say good night, What were our highs and lows? For what today are we grateful for? Our love as it grows and grows. It grows through you and it grows through me, Warm like the rays of the sun. Reaching beyond the tallest tree, Compassion for everyone. Tomorrow is another day. And the world will open to you. Not a thing can stand in your way, As your mind and heart stay true. My dearest one, You are the universe in my hands, The calm before my storm, I am the beach and you are my sand, Together for evermore." Enhanced by vividly colored sensitive illustrations, this exquisite book will convey love, calm, empowering belief, and hope for a bright future to he fortunate child who receives and shares it.

Ninja Mouse Haiku
J. C. Thomas, author/illustrator
SuperUltraGo! Press
PO Box 3512, Sterling, VA 20167
9780991324033 $7.95

"Ninja Mouse Haiku" is a creative combo of haiku in both English and Japanese and imaginative sequenced illustrations of a heroic mouse character who is equally proficient at appreciating each changing season's gifts of nature and using martial arts to defend the weak or helpless. Created by a teacher of haiku to appeal to kids age 9 and up, Ninja Mouse exemplifies many of the respected qualities of a Ninja warrior. Each haiku poem is shown on the left page in English, with panels of succeeding scenes as described, then in Japanese characters on the right page, imposed upon a scenic illustration containing Ninja Mouse. Illustrations are a combination of scenic photography and hand created cartoon character pictures of Ninja Mouse. Here are a couple of riveting haiku of Ninja Mouse: "With a dancing mind, and thinking body, he lives the warrior's way." "Ninja Mouse knows peace, shuns negativity, and drinks the universe." "He shields the weak from enemies and predators because it is right." "Bending to choice, paths of least resistance are always the first choice." "But should he be forced, then no enemy shall live to tell of his wrath." "Seasons cycle while days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years." "Choosing solitude, wanting and needing no-thing, Ninja Mouse is free." Dark cartoon illustrations of Ninja mouse against beautiful scenic backdrops are contrasted with beautiful Japanese translations in white characters. "Ninja Mouse Haiku" combines martial arts, haiku, philosophy, and oneness with nature, with bold success. Young readers, especially boys perhaps, will love this dramatic representation of a brave, heroic figure who is also humble and respectful.

Found All Around
Krishna Dalal, author
Karen Heathwood, illustrator
One Word Publishing
1103 Shelter Bay Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941
9780983324522 $11.99

"Found All Around: A Show-and-Tell of Found Poetry" describes a process of making found poetry, taking existing words or texts from a variety of sources such as media, newspapers, books, menus, etc., and reshaping them into poems. This is an attractive activity for kids who might otherwise dread making or enjoying poetry. Award the silver medal of Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, "Found All Around" follows working definitions of found poetry with poetry creation examples using newspaper, a dictionary, a menu, street signs, a flier, an orchestra program, even homework and a diary, and finally the library. Spunky color illustrations and circled words leading to the new found poem help show the reader how to create found poems. "Found All Around" is an inspiring how-to book for all young readers and poets, with plenty of space for imagination, humor, art, fun, and style.

The Counting Shelf

Bedtime Kisses
Karin Larson, author
Ginger Nielson, illustrator
4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmund, OK 73083
9781940310152 $12.95

"Bedtime Kisses" is a delightful slumber-themed counting book for bedtime reading ritual and enrichment. Soft, pastel hues weave a sleepy cloud around pictures of beloved stuffed animals (plus a doll) who each receive a special number of goodnight kisses from a sleepy girl. Preparing herself for her mother's last goodnight kiss, the child gives counted kisses to each beloved toy, starting with one kiss for the croaking frog and ending with ten kisses for the night time raccoon. The sleepy, counting rhyme is hypnotic and self comforting, while the variety of toys/stuffed animals rounds a full gamut of differing presentations. One of the best features about "Bedtime Kisses" is the child begins the ritual of preparing herself for sleep upstairs alone in her room with her stuffed friends, sure of her mother's last treasured good night kiss to come. "Bedtime Kisses" will be a treasured bedtime experience shared between sleepy children and happy parents.

The Relationship Shelf

The Rocky Road of Love
Vernon Hosannah, author
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478742555 $15.95

"The Rocky Road of Love" is a witty, allegorical tale about a marriage relationship that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. The marriage partners are Rocky, a huge boulder, and Sandy, a beautiful beach where Rocky stood. As relationships go, theirs was a case of opposites attract. Rocky was steady and stable, Sandy was ever-changing and fun-loving. Serious differences between the pair nearly caused a separation or divorce, but the land commissioner (their counselor) told them that they had no grounds. Both Sandy and Rocky learned to appreciate each other's qualities and Sandy got Rocky to go along with having a beach party for fun. This began as a fun event but ended as a cleanup project, and the fun component became a liability instead. Sandy and Rocky eventually had children together, baby rocks and pebbles, and enjoyed a long lasting marriage with many good qualities and moments of celebration. The adults who read "The Rocky Road of Love" will enjoy all the puns and nuances, while the children will learn about compromise and celebrating differences in relationships. The prose style and language is carefully presented on more than one level, which makes for an entertaining tale for multiple generations.

The Native American Shelf

Falling Rock
Rebecca Heller, author
Joyce Robertson, illustrator
Surf Like a Girl Press
9781500459376 $11.99,

"Falling Rock" is a haunting tale of Native American origin about a boy named Falling Rock who lost his beloved horse, Runs Like Thunder, to thieves. The boy becomes a man in the quest for his treasured horse. His grandmother gifts him with a feather that will help guide him on his journey, and a coyote in his dream told him to follow. After many dangerous adventures had passed, Falling Rock was helped by different entities to find his horse and friend, Runs Like Thunder. It is a miraculous tale, with special wonder mixed with everyday observations presented in the black background, starkly contrasting illustrations. Filled with mystery, bravery, challenges, and inspiration, "Falling Rock" is a special keystone idea, suggested every time the yellow danger sign saying "falling rock" is seen, in a mountainous area. The simplicity of the narrative and the stark beauty of the illustrations convey the life experiences of Falling Rock, including joy and sorrow, pain and beauty, compassion and renewal.

The Science Shelf

A Wild Ride on the Water Cycle
Anthony Yanez, author
Mike Guillory, illustrator
Bright Sky Press
2365 Rice Blvd., Suite 202, Houston, TX 77005
9781939055804 $19.95

A Wild Ride on the Water Cycle: A Jake & Alice Adventure is an educational picturebook designed to teach elementary grade readers about the water cycle. Jake and Alice are two anthropomorphic raindrops, and the story of their escapades through the sea and sky is enhanced with side notes offering scientific definitions and other fascinating facts, such as "Condensation: When water is evaporated, it condenses into clouds, which are extremely small water drops." A Wild Ride on the Water Cycle makes learning about the natural environment fun! Highly recommended particularly for elementary school and public library children's collections.

Bone Collection: Skulls
Camilla de la Bedoyere, author
Sandra Doyle, illustrator
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545724579 $14.99

Bone Collection: Skulls provides a fine gathering of skulls from some of the world's animals, is compiled by Scholastic, and is designed for a reading level of grade 4 and appeal to 3rd through 6th graders. The skulls take the form of appealing color illustrations, vivid drawings and photos, and a visual approach that emphasizes high-interest, high-energy presentations to attract even reluctant young science learners. The result may be applicable to natural history or science but is just as certain to draw the attention and interest of leisure readers, as well.

The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob: A Challenging Job
Brooks Olbrys, author
Kevin Keele, illustrator
Children's Success Unlimited LLC
521 Fifth Avenue, 27th Floor, New York, NY 10175
9780982961359 $12.95

"The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob: A Challenging Job" is book two in a marine biology educational series for kids. Written in narrative verse, five chapters, and filled with bright natural scenic marine illustrations, "A Challenging Job" tells of the task of B.O.B. (Blue Ocean Bob) to help safeguard the sea as assistant to Miss Mary Marine, marine expert. B.O.B. tackles the task of helping a young seal learn to feed in the deep with the help of his friend, Doc, the turtle. Bob's guardian spirit is Xena, the hummingbird, she offers a note of realistic skepticism, while his wise friends Doc the turtle, Earl the clam, Wallace the Walrus, and Al the Dolphin help him achieve difficult underwater rescue tasks by encouraging him to believe in himself and use his inner resources. The concept of creative visualization is embedded in "The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob" expressed in a final emblem featuring Doc the turtle with the sayings "Think it, see it, believe it, achieve it!) Around the border. This excellent juvenile marine educational series works well on dual levels, to increase awareness of the need for marine stewardship and to work towards a goal using varied resources and keeping a positive attitude. A gently humorous note is added in the bright colored comic style illustrations.

The Fiction Shelf

Double Exposure
Bridget Birdsall
Sky Pony Press
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10018
9781629146065 $16.95

Written for readers age twelve to adult, Double Exposure is an original novel about gender and identity. Fifteen-year-old Alyx was born intersexual - a human whose chromosomes and physical characteristics do not conform to a distinct male or female classification. Alyx's parents chose to raise him as a son at first, but he was a little too different from the other boys, and the friction with his peers culminated in a brutal beating behind a 7-Eleven. Fearful for their child's safety, Alyx's parents moved from California to Wisconsin to give Alyx a fresh start as a girl. Alyx makes new friends, and earns a spot on the varsity girl's basketball team, and starts to feel secure in herself - until a jealous classmate discovers Alyx's secret, exposing it in a game of Truth or Dare. Alyx is disqualified from the team; can she prove that she is female and earn the right to keep playing? Will she be able to make a stand on who she really is, or run away from her problems (physically or metaphorically)? A thoughtful, serious-minded novel about complex social issues and coming of age, Double Exposure is highly recommended.

Catch Us If You Can
Marc Feinstein
Oldbrook Books
Do Good Public Relations
9780991515301, $15.95, 474pp,

Synopsis: "Catch Us If You Can" is a classic coming-of-age tale. Gene Gennaro is a small town kid in 1967 who is trying to untangle the answer to Bruce Springsteen's haunting question: "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse?" In the community of Oldbrook, high school basketball is almost a religion and making the team is a confirmation. So fare Gene Gennaro is sailing through his freshman year, blown along by the steady prevailing winds of the time sports, girls, and Rock & Roll. But when a tragedy thrusts him into a new world, he begins a journey through truly berserk times. For Gene, the 'Summer of Love' is a summer of healing, buoyed by The Beatles and basketball. The next three frenetic years of high school are a lifeline as unbreakable as the fidelity of his friendships with five basketball teammates; most of all, Reuben, his best buddy since before kindergarten, whose lifeline at times turns into the rope for a tug-of-war between fate and will. "Catch Us If You Can" is an extraordinarily well written and deeply engaging story from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for school and community YA fiction collections, it should be noted that "Catch Us If You Can" is also available in a hardcover edition (9780991515318, $23.95).

Desolation Canyon
Jonathan London
WestWinds Press
c/o Graphic Arts Books
PO Box 3225, Duranto, CO 81302-3225
9781941821299, $12.99,

"Desolation Canyon" by Jonathan London is a solidly entertaining action/adventure novel for young readers ages 8 to 13. Twelve-year-olds Aaron and Lisa and sixteen-year-old Cassidy join their fathers on an epic float trip down the Green River and learn what they are made of. Full of surprising, plot twists and turns, deftly crafted characters, and the struggle to overcome terrible physical and mental odds, "Desolation Canyon" is a gripping read that plunges young readers into the wilds of nature. Very highly recommended for personal, school, and community library collections, it should be noted that "Desolation Canyon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

On The Other Side Of The Bridge
Ray Villareal
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558858022, $11.95, 256pp,

"On The Other Side Of The Bridge" by Ray Villareal is a superbly crafted young adult novel. Lon Chaney Rodriguez is a typical thirteen-year-old boy. He loves horror movies. His bedroom is a mess. He doesn't like to read boring books. And he likes to skip church and hang out at Catfish Creek during services. But his life changes completely when his mother is shot and killed at the apartment complex where she worked as a security guard. Life without her is unimaginable, and he's haunted by the feeling that he let his mom down. He didn't prioritize his schoolwork, so he's on the brink of failing. And worse, he lied to her. Why didn't he tell her the truth? Why didn't he make better grades and help her more? Lonnie's life is turned upside down, both at school and home. The school counselor is determined to get him to talk about his mom, and the preacher's daughter is insistent that he read scriptures to bring him comfort. His unemployed father turns to drinking excessively. He struggles to pay the bills and put food on the table. It doesn't seem possible, but ... will they really end up on the street like the homeless guy that panhandles at the freeway underpass? "On The Other Side Of The Bridge" is very highly recommended for both community and highschool library collections for readers age 14 to 18.

My World is Over
Bridget Hoolihan Budig
Brighton Publishing LLC
435 North Harris Drive, Mesa, AZ 85203
9781621832201, $12.95, 200pp,

"My World is Over: The Day it All Went Dark" is an especially imaginative and deftly crafted novel suitable for ages 12 through 16. For eighth grader, Brynn O'Neil, it's just a normal, boring Friday night in a small town... ...until the electricity in her home fails... ...and then her parents don't return home. She and her siblings, Seamus and Ciara, attempt to make this seem normal for their overprotective parents. But, by Sunday, they realize that something is wrong. Very wrong. After venturing out of their home and into their small community, they discover that the power is out everywhere else, as well... addition to all lines of communication. After befriending brothers Peter and Colby with food, the O'Neil's return home to wait for word from their parents. The following day, Peter and Colby appear at the O'Neil house with a message, and the strange group-which now includes their overly protective Beagle dog, Finn-decides to set out for Chicago to find Brynn's parents. As they deal with each other, redneck hillbillies, power-hungry people, and a general lack of normalcy, Brynn learns about love... ...and the real world. A solidly entertaining read from first page to last, "My World is Over" is especially recommended for school and community library general fiction collections. It should be noted that "My World is Over" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Explorations of Commander Josh, Book One: "In Space"
Donna LeBlanc, author
Anton Servetnik, illustrator
Karen Kalis, Marketing specialist
SDP Publishing
PO Box 26, East Bridgewater, MA 02333
9780991316748 $14.95

"In Space" is volume one of the Commander Josh imagination exploration series. Vividly illustrated in hand colored pastel comics, "In Space" describes in cheery narrative verse the imaginary travels of Commander Josh in his mother's laundry basket. "For hours I watch the travel shows to get ideas of where to go. I like to travel every day; in a laundry basket is where I play. My imagination takes me away." The travel possibilities are unlimited and endless, or almost so. After dangerous voyaging into space, the basket craft of Commander Josh is claimed by his brother Jim, for his Mom's use in laundry work. The reaction of Commander Josh to the loss of his space craft is quite inventive. He tumbles to earth safely, realizes he is a bit tired, and rests while watching another travel show with inspiration for tomorrow's journey in a borrowed ship. Kids age 6 and up will love "Explorations of Commander Josh: In Space," and they will benefit from encouragement to explore and use their imaginations freely (with reasonable boundaries and limits).

House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts
Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
9780062192493 $17.99

House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts provides a new adventure of the Walker household, which has seen many changes: the Wind Witch has been banished, the Walkers are rich, the kids are at a new school, but all isn't necessarily well. Between trouble making new friends, the possibility of lasting effects from the previous adventure, and a determination to undertake a journey through Denver Kristoff's books, the Walkers have their hands full as they journey through time on a desperate struggle to locate the source of a dangerous mystery. Add mishaps and secrets and you have a satisfying time travel saga especially recommended for older fantasy readers.

125 West End Avenue
New York, NY 10023

Ami Polonsky's GRACEFULLY GRAYSON tells of Grayson Sender, whose long-held secret is that 'he' is a girl on the inside, born into a wrong body. While the secret is weighty, the price for sharing it and facing rejection and danger is even more so. Despite this, Grayson finds support for the changes that demand to be made, the courage to make them, and the faith to be sure that true friends will remain so and new opportunities will arise. GRACEFULLY GRAYSON joins a few other blossoming in the new world of transgender teen novels, and is a highly recommended pick for its sensitive portrait of a teen learning how to accept a nearly-impossible transformation. Rick Riordan's THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS (9781423146735, $19.99) is Book Five in the 'Heroes of Olympus' series, and tells of a group of brave adventurers whose voyage through the House of Hades stirs up ghosts of each of their ancestors. From a ghostly mother who abandoned a boy when he was young to the fact that one of the seven must die to defeat the Earth Mother, monsters, gods, and mortals face their final challenges in this uplifting conclusion to a powerful saga, especially recommended for prior fans. Alexandra Bracken's IN THE AFTER LIGHT (9781423157526, $18.99) tells of Ruby and the kids, who survive the government's attack on Los Angeles only to see the Children's League disband and new alliances formed. In this strange dystopian world Ruby possesses great powers and great plans - but not everyone shares her confidence in a plot to free the camps. A gripping saga emerges, highly recommended for readers of the prior story who can expect here a smooth continuation and added elements of intrigue.

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

M. Anjelais' BREAKING BUTTERFLIES (9780545667661, $17.99) is about Sphinxie and Cadence, promised to each other as children, drawn to each other as teens, and ultimately very different, damaged goods. Both of them have been hurt, both of them face danger and threats, and both of them discover that sacrifice is required in order to not only love, but stay alive. The sophisticated nature of this story makes it a recommendation for mature teens who will find its story line and detail engrossing and revealing. Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's SECRET OF THE MOUNTAIN DOG (9780545603690, $16.99) tells of a beautiful, giant dog who comes to Jax's mountain to be with her, just as mysterious lights appear in an old monastery on the mountain. When a boy emerges with the purpose of opening an abandoned building to search for the monastery's secret, trouble and mystery begin, drawing Jax into a dangerous secret that involves both her new friend and the mysterious dog. A powerful saga emerges that will delight fans of animals and mystery. Caroline Tung Richmond's THE ONLY THING TO FEAR (9780545629881, $17.99) considers what would happen if Hitler had won World War II, and re-imagines a world from that point on, eighty years since the Allies lost against Hitler's genetically engineered soldiers. Teen Zara lives in a repressed America under Nazi rule and control, but revolution is growing and she finds her carefully-ordered world crumbling under its force. A powerful alternate history of life under oppression emerges in a dystopian novel packed with unusual twists and turns, written in a style usually reserved for adult readers of alternative history, but satisfyingly teen-oriented. Trent Reedy's IF YOU'RE READING THIS (9780545433426, $17.99) provides an engrossing saga of a letter that arrives just before Mike's 16th birthday, written by a father who died in the Afghanistan war when he was eight. Someone is sending him letters his father wrote before his death, packed with insights and wisdom - but, who? Each letter sends him on a mission of self-discovery and each uses his father's words to encourage his growth. Can he discover the truth behind them? A fine story emerges with a different approach than most.

The Health Shelf

The Trouble With Peer Pressure, A Simple "My ADHD Story" for Young Teens
Darlene R. Wood, author
Victor Guiza, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478734468 $14.95

"The Trouble With Peer Pressure" is a moving story about a real young man who grew up suffering from problems with peer pressure. Some of his problems were diagnosed as ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and he was prescribed medication to help with some of his symptoms or problem behaviors. However, taking the medication did not solve all the problems for this young man. He continued to feel hurt by other kids and the experience of peer pressure. He also got attention for negative behavior, which led to more impulsive, risk taking behavior, including taking drugs and alcohol. In an effort to understand himself, he arrived at the observation of experiencing pressure at different circles of life, such as family pressure, neighbor pressure, law pressure, and peer pressure. Ultimately, after many painful experiences, he concluded that life improves when he works hard to cope with every day simple tasks, hoping to make his own unique contribution to society. He concludes "Success is the only option," with the added hope that one day the trouble with peer pressure will go away, one person at a time. An effort to increase empathy, "The Trouble With Peer Pressure" is an experiential book for young adults and teens that attempts to explain the feelings experienced by a young man with ADHD who tries hard to fit in with the rest.

The Sports Shelf

Cool Jump-Rope Tricks You Can Do!
David Fisher, author (the Rope Warrior)
Meadowbrook Press
6110 Blue Circle Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343
dist. by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481412315 $11.99

An excellent instruction manual, rope jumping sampler, and an all fitness levels inspiration source for youth, "Cool Jump-Rope Tricks You Can Do!" by the world's acclaimed best jump rope performer is a kid's jump rope dream. Beginning with a Look Before You Leap chapter that highlights safety, rope selection, jumping surfaces, and more, this handy photo-illustrated jump-rope styles covers a wide array of techniques, skills, and specific tricks with careful preparation, step by step instruction, and helpful hints. Always pushing forward with a sense of humor, several pages of Bloopers, Stories, and Fun Facts are side-barred right by the Table of Contents page. Aside from the Rope Warrior himself, model jumpers appear to range in age from 6-16 or so. Who knew there were so many jump-rope tricks? So amaze your friends, train for sports, and bedazzle your parents, learning lots of "Cool Jump-Rope Tricks You Can Do!"

The Dance Shelf

Millie the Octopus Learns to Hula Dance
Jack Makhlouf, author
Leslie Thompson, illustrator
Octobooks Publishing
9780984329731 $11.99

"Millie the Octopus Learns to Hula Dance" is a charming, imaginative picture book that inspires children to fulfill a dream of learning to hula dance, just like Millie the Octopus does. Simple narrative instructions are enhanced by delicate pastel illustrations of Millie taking all the steps to envision, prepare, practice, and perform her hula dance and song. Yellow clouds surround learning questions on each page, standing out by color contrast against the soft blue ocean background. After choosing a flower necklace, or lei, and a hula skirt of leaves, (along with the required water and sunscreen), Millie begins her hula song and dance on the beach of Hawaii to make her dream come true. A page illustration of Millie the Octopus dancing the hula dance on a pink clam shell is a gift picture to the reader. Children are invited to visit Millie online at for more information about Millie's other books and gifts. The simple portraits and inviting instruction pages make "Millie the Octopus Learns to Hula Dance" ideal for young children age 6 and up. Other fun titles by the same author and illustrator from this exciting gentle action series include "Millie the Octopus Learns Yoga (9780984329748)," and "Millie the Octopus Learns to Surf (9780984329755)."

The Jobs/Career Shelf

When I Grow Up I Want To Be...a Veterinarian!
Wigu Publishing
Kim Ressler, editor
P.O. Box 1800, Sun Valley, ID 83353
9781939973146 $12.95

"When I Grow Up I Want To Be .....a Veterinarian!" is a title from a series that helps kids explore potential vocational careers in their own communities. Subtitled "Sofia's Dream Comes True!" this inspiring, warmly illustrated book traces the story of Sofia, a girl who wanted a pet more than anything. Sofia's mother always said no to this request, because she doubted Sofia's ability to take the responsibility to care for a pet. One rainy night Sofia thought her dream might come true, for she saw a sad, neglected-looking yellow cat outside her patio door. Although the cat appeared ill, she was also hungry, and Sofia began to feed her, despite her mother's objections. Samantha (Sofia's name for the yellow cat) reappeared looking ill and hungry and the whole family decided to take her in a box to Dr. Helen, a veterinarian, or animal doctor. Visiting Dr. Helen allowed Sofia to ask many questions about the different types of animal doctors, with specialties such as horses, (equine veterinarians), marine animals, small animals, and farm or large animal vets. Dr. Helen gave Sofia many pieces of information about different veterinary careers while she examined Samantha. The final diagnosis was, impending motherhood! Sofia and Dr. Helen were able to witness Samantha give birth to four healthy kittens. Sofia's parents and brother decided to keep Samantha and one or more of her kittens, while Sofia learned to take good care of her cat and kittens. "When I Grow Up I Want To Be .... a Veterinarian!" ends with suggestions for qualities that are desirable for a good veterinarian, plus specific ways to be a responsible pet owner, such as "Keep only the type and number of pets for which you can provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care, and companionship." With five other titles in this acclaimed series, readers will also want to see "When I Grow Up I Want To Be..... in the U.S. Army!" (9781939973061, Kindle $2.99).

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How to Write a Drama
Megan Kopp, author
Shutterstock, photographs
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, New York 10118
9780778716532 $26.60

From a compelling Text Styles educational series for mid-grade authors/readers ages 8-11, "How To Write a Drama" presents the exciting process of drama creation from a deconstructed approach. Beginning with a thumbnail working definition of drama, the student follows an example of a brief drama created about Lazy Kate, a girl whose mother wishes her to get up to go to school. Brief chapters with easy to understand sidebars and highlighted examples cover concepts of dramatic characters, dialogue, stage directions, dramatic plots, theme, and more. Further details arise in later chapters exploring all the previous subjects plus creative response to the drama, and ultimately the student is asked to create their own drama. A helpful step by step process is outlined in headlined sidebars, and a drama creation example is presented. The whole process is exciting, fun, tempting, and compelling. Students will love having this handy Text Styles volume to encourage them in their Thespian aspirations, and the helpful Glossary, and further resources list point to yet more resources in this fascinating writing area. Additional titles in the Text Styles educational series that are equally successful in stimulating young writers include the following: "How to Write Realistic Fiction (9780778716563, $26.60)" by Lizann Flatt, "How to Write an Adventure Story (9780778716556, $26.60)" by Natalie Hyde, "How to Write a Fantasy Story (9780778716549, $26.60)" by Natalie Hyde, and "How to Write Science Fiction (9780778716570, $26.60)" by Megan Kopp.

The Holiday Shelf

Easter Bunnies
Patrick Merrick, author
Shutterstock, photograph source
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, MN 56003
9781631437434 $25.64

From the series titled Our Holiday Symbols for children age 6 and up, "Easter Bunnies" presents pages of fascinating fact about the fun and fables associated with Easter, the spring holiday festival that celebrates the beginning of another growing season and year. Simple narrative style, with highlighted chapter headings posed as questions about traditions associated with Easter and spring are complemented by bright pages of color photos with green, egg-shaped sidebar notes to target other special areas of information about Easter and Spring. Bunnies, baskets, decorated eggs, new Easter outfits, and advice about the need to care for a pet such as a baby bunny are all topics to cover, enlarge, and embellish. Finished with a glossary, list of books and web sites on related subjects, "Easter Bunnies" is a responsible, fun, and informative text about Our Holiday Symbols associated with Easter. Other titles in the Our Holiday Symbols series that are equally highly recommended are as follows: "Fourth of July Fireworks" (9781631437441, $25.64) by Patrick Merrick, "Halloween Jack-o'-Lanterns" (9781631437458, $25.64) by Kathryn Stevens, "St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks" (9781631437465, $25.64) by Mary Berendes, "Thanksgiving Turkeys" (9781631437472, $25.64) by Patrick Merrick, and "Christmas Trees" (9781631437427, $25.64) by Kathryn Stevens.

Rosie the Reindeer
Chantell Taylor, author
Shawna JC Tenney, illustrator
Pangea Kids Publishing
9780984917402 $16.99

Rosie the Reindeer is an award-winning children's picturebook that takes a new look at the classic Christmas story of Rudolph the Reindeer. Rosie is a stalwart young doe who dreams of flying Santa's sleigh. Traditionally, that has always been the task of the bucks, but Rosie doesn't give up when told she can't do it because of her gender. When the bucks fall sick one Christmas Eve, it's time for Rosie and the other does to give it their all! An empowering story about courage, persistence, standing up for oneself, and challenging gender roles, Rosie the Reindeer is highly recommended.

The Activity Shelf

The Zombie Combat Field Guide
Roger Ma
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780425278369 $9.99

All ages interested in something different in the way of coloring and activity books - particular those who already harbor an affection for zombies - will find this coloring book an intriguing discussion pairing comprehensive directions on how to battle the undead with a 'field handbook' to help readers hone both their fighting and coloring skills. While this isn't a recommendation for the very young, it is a fun choice for any age group who still enjoys coloring and who will appreciate a zany approach to zombies.

The Social Issues Shelf

The Olive Tree
Elsa Marston
Wisdom Tales
PO Box 2682, Bloomington, IN 47402
9781937786298 $16.95

When Muna and her family returned after the war to move into the vacant house next to him, Sameer thought he'd have a playmate at last - but Muna doesn't want to play or climb the olive tree and it seems their lives - and friendship - have been divided by conflict. Claire Ewart provides warm illustrations to accompany this story - recommended for read-aloud or for those with good reading skills - of two very different children affected by social and political division. Amid the specter of disaster comes the promise of new hope and understanding and the settlement of long-held grievances as the olive tree gives up its final opportunity for lasting change. Parents will relish the warm story and involving tale of friendship and healing.

The Autism Shelf

Jasper and the Magpie
Dan Mayfield
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849055796 $15.95

Jasper and the Magpie: Enjoying Special Interests Together receives fine drawings by Alex Merry as it provides a rhyming storybook directed to children on the autism spectrum ages 6 and older, and their families. Jasper loves science and loves collecting things, but adults often don't understand his passion and his ability to see found objects as something different than 'dirty things'. Jasper's difficulty in relating to others is narrated in a series of simple events parents and kids can readily understand, creating an involving rhyming picture book account that promotes understanding in the course of exploring Jasper's perspectives on life.

The Biography Shelf

Archimedes and the Door of Science
Jeanne Bendick
Bethlehem Books
10194 Garfield Street South
Bathgate, ND 58216
9781883937126 $14.95

Written for readers ages ten and up, Archimedes and the Door of Science is a biography of the Greek scientist and philosopher Archimedes, whose extraordinary contributions to the sum of human knowledge are the stuff of legends. Peppered with simple black-and-white illustrations, which vividly depict Archimedes' discoveries about leverage, astronomy, measurement, even devices to turn the tides of war, Archimedes and the Door of Science is the fascinating life story of a true historical genius. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library biography shelves.

Draw What You See
Kathleen Benson
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544104877 $16.99

Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews is illustrated with paintings by Benny Andrews and tells of a talented young man who loves to draw everything he sees. He dreams of a better life than a crop worker and seeks more than the backbreaking labor segregation has brought to his world - and his dreams lead him from the rural fields of Georgia to become one of the most noted African American artists of modern times. Young picture book readers with good reading skills will find this an inspirational story of his life.

Ali: An American Champion
Barry Denenberg
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781481401418 $17.99

Ali: An American Champion is a pick for ages 8-12 and provides preteens with a little under a hundred pages of illustrated material covering Ali and his life and times. From articles from sports reporting and discussions of boxing controversies to black and white and color photos and illustrations throughout, chapters survey the extent of his boxing achievements, cover his rise to fame and the reporting of his fights, and survey the world of boxing as a whole, making for an appealing recommendation for advanced elementary into middle school grades.

The Multicultural Shelf

KeeKee's Big Adventures in Athens, Greece
Shannon Jones, author
Casey Uhelski, illustrator
Calithumpian Press
c/o Smith Publicity
9780988634121 $16.99

Part of the award-winning "KeeKee's Big Adventures" series, KeeKee's Big Adventures in Athens, Greece is a picturebook following the adventurous, globe-trotting kitty-cat KeeKee in the majestic city of Athens. KeeKee visits famous landmarks such as the Parthenon, goes shopping in Plaka (the oldest neighborhood of Athens), enjoys tasty Greek food including olives and tzatziki, and much more. A handful of Greek words and phrases (with a glossary in the back of the picturebook) pepper this charming, colorful, and educational story.

The American History Shelf

Capital Days
Tonya Bolden
Abrams Books for Young Readers
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781419707339 $21.95

Coretta Scott King Honor winner Tonya Bolden presents Capital Days: Michael Shiner's Journal and the Growth of Our Nation's Capital, a ninety-page educational book about the first sixty years of Washington D.C., beautifully illustrated with color photographs of period artwork and primary source materials throughout. Though intended especially for young adults, Capital Days will prove engrossing and educational to adult readers as well. Special focus is placed on the eyewitness remembrances of Michael Shiner, an African-American who was born enslaved but eventually gained his freedom, and kept a journal for many years. From the burning of D.C. during the War of 1812, to the cornerstone laying of the Washington Monument, to the Civil War, and the inauguration of eleven presidents, Capital Days is an extraordinary, time-traveling tour of historic highlights, enhanced with an accessible index. Highly recommended especially for public and school library collections.

The Untold History of the United States Volume 1
Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781481421737 $19.99

The Untold History of the United States Volume 1 covers the period from 1898-1945, is adapted by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and offers a much different kind of history than that taught in schools or seen on television. The authors focus on U.S. 'untold' history and provide the first in a projected four-volume series, examining the making of America in a new way based on the latest archival findings and newly declassified information. Photos, drawings, documents and more capture key moments in American history and consider both commonly-accepted historical perspectives and 'real reasons' behind events. The result is an intriguing gathering of familiar topics and new perspectives, perfect for young adults already familiar with some American history who want a different take on old themes.

Because They Marched
Russell Freedman
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
9780823429219 $20.00

Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America appears in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the march for voting rights across the country, and provides a focus on this particular piece of civil rights history that had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leading a voting rights march. Vintage black and white photos throughout accompany reports of what happened, the changes that swept the nation as a result of a lot of courageous stands, and why the history remains an important piece of America's past today, making this a 'must' for advanced elementary to middle school grades.

The World History Shelf

Meet the Incredible Romans
Simon Abbott
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue
New York NY 10017
9781783251216 $8.99

Meet the Incredible Romans pairs cartoon figures and playful facts with a lively information-packed format designed to get even the most reluctant elementary-grade reader interested in history, and is a quirky and fun coverage that brings Roman history to life. From disliked emperors and teenage rulers to gladiator games and chariot racing, this lively presentation is the perfect introduction for any young reader who normally finds history dry, but who likes cartoon drawings and a lively approach.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Jenna Black
TOR Teen
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765333735 $10.99

Dorothy Hayes claims to be the secret daughter of a recently assassinated Chairman, fingers her brother Nate as the murderer, and forces Nate and his best friend Nadia to go underground to the Basement, Paxco's lawless slums and the one place Dorothy's power can't reach. But Dorothy isn't content with banishing them from her new kingdom: she wants more. This dystopian world comes to life and prior readers of Replica will find it rounds out the story line and adds new elements of intrigue to an already-well-developed world, using mystery as just one of the features powering a moving story.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Princess and the Goblin
George MacDonald, author
Narrated by Brooke Heldman
Oasis Audio
289 Main Place
Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613756539 $14.99

The Princess and the Goblin is the unabridged audiobook of a classic fairy tale novel by Christian author George MacDonald. Originally published in 1872, The Princess and the Goblin is the saga of Princess Irene and her friend Curdie, and their encounter with the terrifying mountain goblins. A story of courage and honor, by the author whose work influenced subsequent literary legends including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, The Princess and the Goblins is a treasure brought to life through Brooke Heldman' superb performance. Highly recommended, especially for children's audiobook collections. 5 CDs.

The Music CD Shelf

Circle of Light
Red Grammer
Smilin' Atcha Music, Inc.
c/o Red Note Records (dist.)
5049 Orangeport Road
Brewerton, New York, 13029
$15.00 CD / $8.99 MP3

Grammy nominee Red Grammer presents Circle of Light: Songs for Bucket Fillers, a charming original album celebrating the spirit of giving, sharing, and kindness. An uplifting moral message underscores each of these heartwarming tunes, encouraging listeners of all ages to help one another and make a difference. Each of the ten songs is superbly performed with genuine warmth, and also offered in an instrumental version. Highly recommended as wholesome, joyous music for the whole family! The tracks are "Power To Change The World", "Everybody Here Has A Bucket", "I'm All Filled Up", "I Am A Bucket Filler", "I've Got A Lid", "See Me Beautiful", "Fill A Bucket", "Pop On My Lid", and "Circle of Light", followed by instrumental tracks of all ten songs.

The Multimedia Shelf

Dinosaur Pet
Children's lyrics by Marc Sedaka
Performed by Neil Sedaka
Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Imagine Publishing
c/o Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781936140367 $17.95

Inspired by "Calendar Girl" by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Dinosaur Pet is an exuberently charming children's picturebook. A three-song music CD recorded by Grammy Award winner Neil Sedaka is included! The singsong story is about a young boy and his beloved pet, a gigantic green dinosaur, as they spend the months of the year together. Playful color illustrations add the perfect touch to this heartwarming, music-filled story.

The Bilingual Shelf

Call Me Tree
Maya Christina Gonzalez
Children's Book Press
c/o Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780892392940 $17.95

Call Me Tree is a Spanish/English bilingual picturebook about witnessing the majestic beauty of trees, especially ancient tress, through the eyes of a child. The simple, prose poem text neatly complements the expressive life of the colorful illustrations. An excellent book especially for little ones who are just beginning to learn the art and joy of reading! "Call me tree / Because / I am tall / I am strong / And like a tree / I am free."

The Christian Shelf

God's Amazing World
Eileen Spinelli, author
Melanie Florian, illustrator
Ideals Children's Books
c/o Ideals Publications
2630 Elm Hill Pike, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37214
9780824956615 $15.99

God's Amazing World is a charming children's picturebook about two children. As Gracie and Bo play in their backyard during a vibrant afternoon, Gracie tells Bo the biblical story of Creation - how God made the whole world in seven days. She tells the story bit by bit, in between picking peaches, frolicking, and fun. A charming, adventure-filled way to introduce little ones to the Creation story, God's Amazing World is also a celebration of God's amazing, beautiful, and mysterious handwork. Highly recommended especially for Sundy School library collections.

The Judaic Shelf

Debbie Friedman, author
Lorraine Bubar, illustrator
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781580238076 $18.99

Singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman presents Lullaby, a picturebook created especially for Jewish children. The simple, lilting song reassures little ones of God's eternal protection and love. "God will take care of the ones you love // and keep you safe throughout the night. // Shechinah come to you and stay with you until morning comes." An accompanying music CD of the lullaby, performed by Friedman herself, enhances this gentle and comforting bedtime story.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Beautiful Moon: A Child's Prayer
Tonya Bolden, author
Eric Velasquez, illustrator
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781419707926 $16.95

Beautiful Moon: A Child's Prayer is a children's picturebook about the universal beauty and heartfelt love expressed through prayer. A young boy says his bedtime prayers in the moonlight, and as the moon travels through the sky, the boy's thoughts turn to people who are ill, homeless, or suffering. "Around the corner, by the light of the beautiful moon, sad souls stare at bare kitchen cabinets, longing to see them stocked with rice and beans, noodles and peas, chicken soup and cereal. // The little boy prays for people, little and big, to have the food they need." A heartwarming picturebook, highly recommended.

Books in Series

Yesterday's Voices series
Dee Phillips
Saddleback Publishing Inc.
3120 Pullman Street
Cosa Mesa, CA 92626-4564
$7.95 each

Illustrated with striking, full-color photographic montages on virtually every page, The Yesterday's Voices series is a set of brief educational paperbacks that teach young people about what it was like to live in bygone eras. The text is first-person perspective narration of a viking, or a pirate, a World War II resistance fighter, a samurai, a Vietnam veteran, or an Polish-American immigrant during the turn of the century. The main story of each book is accessible to middle grade or struggling readers; a follow-up section explains more of the story's historical context, as well as suggested activities and thought-provoking questions. An excellent choice for public or middle school library collections, the Yesterday's Voices series includes "Resistance Fighter: The Story of a Secret War" (9781622509126), "Pirate: The Story of a Buccaneer" (9781622509133), "Samurai: The Story of a Warrior" (9781622509096), "Viking: The Story of a Raider" ( 1622509102), "Vietnam: The Story of a Marine" (9781622509119), and "A Dream of America: The Story of an Immigrant" (9781622509140).

Vivian and Victor Learn About Verbs
Ann Malaspina, author
Linda Prater, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, Illinois 60631
9781599536675 $25.27

"Vivian and Victor Learn About Verbs" is a fun and helpful title from the Language Builders series which helps kids learn how to use different parts of (English) speech correctly. "Vivian and Victor Learn About Verbs" uses the device of telling an exciting story about two nine year old friends training for running in a race. Describing verbs they both like encourages the young racers to bone up for their verb test at school tomorrow. Following the colorfully illustrated story keeps interest high as young readers learn more about English verb usage, including basic definition of verbs, action and being verbs, past, present, and future tense, progressive tense, irregular verbs, main verbs, and helping verbs. Text that is written in bold is defined in the glossary at the end. Suggested writing activities and reference books and websites are also listed at the end of the volume. Illustrations of children show inclusiveness of different ethnicities by skin color and appearance. Text narrative use of alliteration and fun activities will appeal to a young audience. "Vivian and Victor Learn About Verbs" is a great teaching tool that makes language learning and building effortless and fun for students age 8 and up. Also highly recommended are the following titles from the Language Builders series: "Phillip and Penny Learn about Pronouns (9781599536705)," by Joanna Jarc Robinson, illustrated by Caroline Hu; "Patrick and Paula Learn about Prepositions (9781599536736)," by Megan Atwood, illustrated by Sole Otero; "Nathan and Nicole Learn about Nouns (9781599536668)," by Anna Malaspina, illustrated by George Hamblin; "Iris and Ian Learn about Interjections (9781599536729)," by Darice Bailer, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid; "Andrew and Allen Learn about Adverbs (9781599536699)," by Joanna Jarc Robinson, illustrated by Robin Boyer; "Cailyn and Chloe Learn about Conjunctions (9781599536712)," by Megan Atwood, illustrated by Estudio Haus; and "Austin and Alex Learn about Adjectives (9781599536682)," by Darice Bailer, illustrated by Patrick Girouard.

Bikers Are Animals On the Road 3
Paul Jamiol, author/illustrator
Linda Habib, editor
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th Street, Ste. H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457506321 $14.95

"Bikers Are Animals On the Road 3: A Children's Book On Motorcycling" is a third volume in a series teaching young readers that safe motorcycle practices are cool and fun. Using a cast of fantastic animal biker characters, this intriguing story describes a fun group motorcycle outing that all the animal bikers plan together. Because the group of biker animal friends is large, they divide into small groups to handle different aspects of preparation. For example, Shifta, Akorn, Roag and Slick were responsible to get food for the trip. They would all be staying overnight at Roag's cabin. Different team members checked routes on the computer, made phone calls, made plans for vehicle checks, planned entertainment, and prepared the photo shoot. All the animals dressed in their best motor cycle riding gear and rode in planned formation for safety. The ride out of the city, up and down the hills and around twisty roads together was fun for all. Finally arriving at the cabin, the biker animals unpacked and explored different fun activities around the cool cabin. The night was full of songs around a campfire and good stories about biking with friends. In the morning, the animals prepared for the journey back, cleaning up all the trash. After another fun ride home, the animals retired to their separate beds, except for Talon eagle who started planning their next trip. Like other volumes of this series, "Bikers are Animals On the Road" ends with an Animals' Safety Page for Young Riders, which makes it clear that the illustrated cartoon animals do not recommend that kids ride unless they have helmets. Other helpful safety tips are underlined, and the animal bikers' thumbnail portraits surround the Safety Rules with large grins. Much of the appeal for young readers is in the animal biker illustrations, such a wide variety of species each with realistic accessories and equal expressions of joy in their bike riding experiences. "Bikers Are Animals On the Road 3" is a fantastic sequel with a good core message of safety first for bike riders of all types.

Egyptian Pyramids
Elizabeth Raum, author
Amicus Publishing
P.O. Box 1329, Mankato, MN 56002
9781607534662 $19.95

"Egyptian Pyramids" is a fact and fun-filled high interest book about the pyramids of ancient Egypt for young readers which uses spare text, with highlighted details and colorful illustrations to describe the ancient Egyptian pyramids, how they were built and why, some of the important pharaohs who were buried inside, and how these ancient, magnificent ruins appear today. Brief question and answer keys also focus on important facts and details. At the end is a handy glossary, list of relevant books and websites. From the Ancient Wonders Series, "Egyptian Pyramids" presents important core information in a reduced, vividly photo-illustrated format appealing to young readers (age 7 and up). Other highly recommended titles by the same author from the Ancient Wonders Series include the following: "Great Wall of China (9781607534679, $19.95)," "Machu Picchu (9781607534686, $19.95)," "Statues of Easter Island (9781607534655, $19.95)," "Stonehenge (9781607534693, $19.95)," and "Taj Mahal (9781607534709, $19.95)."

Earth's Cycles
Diane Dakers, author
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 100118
9780778706403 $31.32 each

"Earth's Cycles" is an innovative, color illustrated volume for middle grade readers about the cycles of Earth including the related cycles of the Moon, Sun, and earth's varied four seasons. Six succinct chapters describe the impact of earth's cycles, effects of the cycles of the sun, moon, and other planets, including weather and changing systems of Earth. Detailed color illustrations detail and define the Earth's positions revolving around the sun during the four revolving seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres, in addition to other facets of Earth's cycles. Chapter Four, Moonstruck shows a sequence of black and white shadowed images of the changing moon phases, with further illumination shown in a complete orbit of the Moon around the Earth. Color highlighted sidebars focus on key factors or changes in different cycles, while also featuring stunning photographs of actual sites such as Newgrange, an ancient stone temple in Ireland which catches the Sun's light in a roof box in December on the shortest day of the year. "Earth's Cycles" is a stimulating educational natural science resource to young readers. A final component is the helpful Glossary and Further Information section, listing books and websites studying related topics and information. Also highly recommended are these additional titles by author Diane Dakers from the Earth's Cycles in Action series: "Earth's Water Cycle (9780778706175)," "The Carbon Cycle (9780778706724)," and "The Nitrogen Cycle (9780778705994)."

Undercover Story: The Hidden Story of Eating Disorders
Sarah Levete, author
Rosen Publishing Group
29 East 21st St., New York, NY 10010
9781477727959 $30.25 each

From the health educational series Undercover Story for young readers grades 5-8, "The Hidden Story of Eating Disorders" covers manifestations and common symptoms and health threats plus treatment options and recommendations for anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, and EDNOS, or eating disorders not otherwise specified. People with eating disorders can shorten their lives by their behavior if not treated, so the importance of seeking and finding help, medical and psychological treatment is crucial for a successful return to health and recovery. Improving self esteem, innovative treatments such as special brain pacemakers to regulate appetite and mood, social responsibility to support healthy eating patterns, all these and more are explored as important treatment interventions for eating disorders. Appealing color photos of young people suffering from eating disorders, informative sidebars, and a glossary of terms and list of related books, organizations, and web sites complete "The Hidden Story of Eating Disorders," an important health resource for the audience of young readers age 10-14. Other titles from this highly recommended juvenile health education series include the following: "Undercover Story: The Hidden Story of Alcoholism (9781477727935)" by Ella Newell, "The Hidden Story of Drugs (9781477728031)" by Karen Latchana Kenney, "The Hidden Story of Gangs and Crime (9781477727997)" by Karen Latchana Kenney, "The Hidden Story of Family Breakups (9781477728017)" by Sarah Levete, and "The Hidden Story of Homelessness (9781477727973)" by Karen Latchana Kenney.

Race Ahead with Reading titles
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor
New York, NY 10118
$20.70 each

Seven series additions support the Common Core State Standards for Reading Literature for grades 2-3 in these books, which each offer some 32 pages in full color designed for ages 5-8. Each book pairs an easy chapter book story with high interest topics perfect for readers just graduating into the chapter book fiction realm from picture books. Clare de Marco and Rory Walker's THE MAD SCIENTIST NEXT DOOR (9780778713050) tells of Ella, who has to brave a dangerous neighbor to rescue her brother's teddy bear - and that's when she discovers how dangerous he really is. Martin Rempry's PIRATES ARE STEALING OUR COWS (9780778713302) tells of Farmer Marchant, who is shocked to discover that pirates are up to no good, stealing his cows. It's a chase into high waters to get them back in this fun and whimsical saga. Adam and Charlotte Guillain's THE PIRATE PIE SHIP (9780778713098) tells of the Planktown Pirates, who are tired of fighting the Gruesome Crew over treasure. It's time for pie-making instead, and a ship might be just the place to make them - until competition ramps up. The Guillains also offer THE PIRATES ON HOLIDAY (9780778713111), telling of what happens when pirates become bored with islands and look to a campground as their new vacation abode. But pirates will be pirates, and trouble ensues as they try to it in. Laura North and Kevin Cross's THE BIG BAD WOLF AND THE ROBOT PIG (9780778712916) tells of a desperately hungry Big Bad Wolf who wants three little pigs for supper. He's continually thwarted by their houses, though, so it's time to bring in the big guns in the form of a Robot Pig who may be able to gain entry where no wolf has gone before. Ann Bryant and Ben Redlich's DRAGONS VS. DINOS (9780778713289) tells of a forthcoming confrontation between scary dinosaurs and equally scary dragons. Dragon scaring may be fun and almost a game between two opposing forces, but when a baby dragon vanishes, real trouble begins between the two. Ann Bryant and Andy Elkerton's STINKY! (9780778712893) tells of a talented guinea pig and an owner who decides to enter him in a competition. There's only one problem: the owner doesn't actually own a winning guinea pig. Can he come up with an acceptable substitute in time for the competition? A hilarious encounter ensues. All these are wonderful first chapter books that encourage kids to make the transition between picture books and easy readers.

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

Two new book sets offer elementary-level nonfiction readers some exciting opportunities to learn and browse for leisure pleasure, and are picks for collections seeking 24-32-page winners. Younger grades will appreciate the 'Light & Sound Waves Close-Up' series of 24 pages ($16.95 each), including an index, table of contents, and bright full-page contemporary color photos throughout. WHAT ARE SHADOWS AND REFLECTIONS? (9780778705215) considers how light bends, how it's blocked, and where it comes from, HOW DOES SOUND CHANGE? (9780778705206) examines how sound may be manipulated both naturally and artificially, WHAT ARE SOUND WAVES? (9780778705222) expands on the subject to consider the effects of sound waves, and WHAT ARE LIGHT WAVES? (9780778705192) achieves the same for rays of light, discussing different types of light. Kids in grades 3-5 will appreciate the themes of the 'Disgusting & Dreadful Science' series which focuses on topics of particular interest to kids who like dreadful-sounding themes. STINKY SKUNKS AND OTHER ANIMAL ADAPTATIONS (9780778714200) considers how hungry animals have developed survival techniques that incite fear or disgust in potential predators, while KILLER PLANTS AND OTHER GREEN GUNK (9780778714002) describes creepy and aggressive survival tactics in a group not normally considered aggressive: plants. Both are filled with vivid color, contemporary drawings perfect for attracting even reluctant readers.

I Miss You Very Muchly City of the Cats: Nika's Trek to Find Big Brother
Rick Marino, author
Dindo Contento, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781634180429 $8.99 71 pages

"I Miss You Very Muchly City of the Cats" is a touching chapter story about a little shih tzu puppy named Nika who became lost when he went in search of his beloved Big Brother, who had left to go to school. Nika's adventures are scary, but he meets many unusual animal friends, including talented birds and an unlikely cat named Penelope Purr, and another lost dog named Marco. Each short chapter traces the myriad of feelings experienced by the lonely, lost Nika, punctuated with action, surprise, and meeting of unlikely new friends who help Nika be found by her family again. The second volume of a series about the brave shih tzu Nika, "I Miss You Very Muchly City of the Cats" is a wonderful stimulus to share empathize with lost or deserted animals, teaching young readers to value their pets and companions and care for them well. The well-paced narrative is spiced with black and white illustrations of the appealing animal characters, keeping young readers engaged attention throughout. The first volume of the series is also highly recommended for readers age 9-10 and up, "I Love You Very Muchly...The Story of a Brave Little Girl (9781633065635, $8.99)" by Rick Marino, illustrated by Dindo Contento, with less narrative text and more full page color illustrations of Nika and her loving family. In this first volume of the series, readers meet little puppy Nika and learn she must endure a difficult surgery on her liver to be healthy and happy. The experience of medical treatment and recovery is described from the viewpoint of the little dog, with excellent descriptions of the components of good, loving pet care by responsible owners.

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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