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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 32, Number 2 February 2022 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice American History Shelf Science Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Picturebook Shelf Board Book Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf Elementary Grade Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
YA Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Psychology Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Archaeology Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf Books in Series
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Slaying Digital Dragons
Alex J. Packer, author
Jon Davis, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631985966, $24.99, PB, 408pp

Synopsis: Without avoiding the dark side of technology, "Slaying Digital Dragons: Tips and tools for protecting your body, brain, psyche, and thumbs from the digital dark side" is interactive and comprehensive reference book empowers teens and young adults to take charge of their digital life and improve their mental health and well-being. Quizzes and exercises guide readers through the process of evaluating their relationships with their screens, social media, and tech in general.

With a frank and humorous approach to a timely topic, educator and psychologist Alex J. Packer pulls back the curtain on the hidden aspects of the digital world and shares: Signs that screen time is affecting teens' bodies, brains, and relationships; Tips for protecting their privacy, safety, and reputation; Ways social media and algorithms can distort their reality and sense of self; Tools for finding life balance and resetting their screen scene.

"Slaying Digital Dragons" is a clarion call to action and making the choices that are right for teens and young adults. It doesn't demand ditching smartphones or deactivating social media. Instead, it suggests strategies for playing favorite games and posting on favorite apps, while also doing good in the world and bringing joy and encouragement to others. "Slaying Digital Dragons" invites its readers to join the resistance and learn how to thwart the manipulative forces trying to control and profit off their users. And it gives teens and young adults what they need to stay safe and take charge of their digital life.

Critique: Given the impact of social media on the physical, mental, and emotional well being of teens and young adults, "Slaying Digital Dragons : Tips and tools for protecting your body, brain, psyche, and thumbs from the digital dark side" from Free Spirit Publishing should be a part of every personal, professional, family, middle school, high school, college, and university library Internet & Social Media Safety collection.

Editorial Note: Alex J. Packer, Ph.D., is an educator, psychologist, and award-winning author of numerous books for parents and teenagers including How Rude! The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out. Alex is sought after by the media for his provocative commentary on manners, child-rearing, and substance abuse prevention, and has led workshops and lectured widely across the United States and around the world.

The Too Tall Giraffe
Christine Maier, author
Aviva Brueckner, illustrator
Author Academy Elite
9781647467067, $19.99, HC, 34pp

Synopsis: Savannah looked forward to her first day at a new school. She tried to make friends, but the giraffes in her class thought she was too tall. With no one to play with, Savannah focused on her schoolwork. Would this prepare her for the day her classmates were in danger? The day when Savannah would have to decide if she would help the giraffes that had been mean to her.

Critique: "The Too Tall Giraffe" by the impressive team of author/storyteller Christine Maier and artist/illustrator Aviva Brueckner is about the life skills associated with: Starting at a new school; Looking different; Dealing with bullies; and Finding a child's particular abilities. A charmingly entertaining picture book approach to encouraging children that being different from others has an important value in and of itself. "The Too Tall Giraffe" is about helping others, fitting in, and dealing with bullies -- making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8 on the subject of multiculturalism, tolerance, and dealing with bullies.

Cow Boyhood: The Adventures of Wilder Good
S. J. Dahlstrom
Paul Dry Books
1700 Sansom Street, Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19103-5214
9781589881549, $9.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Wilder has spent his boyhood watching men like his grandpa Papa Milam... and wanting to be like them. Now he is leaving on a two day cattle drive through river and canyon country with his aging Papa and another older man, Red Guffey. In big ranch country full of livestock and wild animals, Wilder is forced to recognize that his own instincts and abilities may have become greater than those of his heroes.

Critique: Another original and inherently entertaining work of fiction by S. J. Dahlstrom that will be of particular interest to young readers ages 8-1, "Cow Boyhood" is the seventh volume in the author's 'The Adventures of Wilder Good' series and is particularly and especially recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Country/Farm Life collections.

The American History Shelf

The Traveling Camera
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs, author
Michael Garland, illustrator
Getty Publications
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682
9781947440067, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Author Alexandra Hinrichs and artist Michael Garlands picture book "The Traveling Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor" combines stunning visuals with a poetic text to tell the inspiring story of Lewis Hine (September 26, 1874 - November 3, 1940), a teacher, photographer, and sociologist who employed his art as a tool for social reform.

Working for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), Hine traveled the country, taking pictures of children as young as five toiling under dangerous conditions in cotton mills, seafood canneries, farms, and coal mines. He often wore disguises to sneak into factories, impersonating a machinery inspector or traveling salesman. He said, "If I could tell this story in words, I wouldn't need to lug a camera." His poignant pictures attracted national attention and were instrumental in the passage of child labor laws.

"The Traveling Camera" also includes extensive back matter with timelines, original photographs, and a bibliography.

Critique: A well informed and exceptional picture book biography of a remarkable man and his contribution to changing America's attitude towards the use (and abuse) of child labor, "The Traveling Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library American Biography collections for children ages 6-9.

The Science Shelf

How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto
Dean Regan, author
Aaron Blecha, illustrator
Britannica Books
9781913750510, $14.99, HC, 112pp

Pluto has not been a planet since 2006. But this tiny world still inspires people of all ages while sparking controversy. In his delightfully witty book, "How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto", astronomer Dean Regas teaches children ages 8 to 12 how to educate grown-ups about the cutting-edge science of space, most crucially the reason why Pluto is NOT a planet anymore.

Delving into the history of space discoveries, the key players who have helped our understanding of the universe (including the 11-year-old girl who named Pluto in the first place), and the ever-changing nature of science, "How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto" will equip every young reader with the tools they need to bring their grown-ups fully up to speed, and to sneak in as many amazing astronomical facts as possible.

Of special note is the inclusion of a handy quiz at the end so that kids can check that their grown-ups have been paying attention!

Fun and factual, "How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto" is very highly recommended as an addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Popular Science collections in general, and the planetoid once known as the Planet Pluto.

Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery
Christy Mihaly, author
Mariona Cabassa, illustrator
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
9781646862801, $19.99, HC, 63pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery" by the team of author Christy Mihaly and illustrator Mariona Cabassa, children ages 7-12 will enjoy immerse themselves in a fascinating compendium of facts about water! This comprehensive yet accessible exploration of water will help young readers understand many aspects of one of our planet's most precious resources - and how they can protect it.

A friendly water droplet character guides children through topics ranging from melting and freezing to the ways in which water literally shapes the Earth. Tales by storytellers from around the world are sprinkled through the book, highlighting the variety of ways in which global cultures value water.

The engaging format of "Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery" includes gatefolds and booklets with hands-on activity ideas for learning about and protecting water. The topics covered include: The importance of water to life; How much of the planet is made of water; Where in the world water is located; Freezing, melting and evaporation; The water cycle; Why animals and plants need water; Salt water versus fresh water environments; Uses for water, including water as a source of renewable energy; Water conservation and how to keep water clean.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery" is a strongly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Oceanography, Environmental, and Ecology science collections for young readers.

The Cookbook Shelf

Dumpling Day
Meera Sriram, author
Ines de Antunano, illustrator
Laurel P. Jackson, contributor
Barefoot Books
9781646862825, $17.99 HC, $8.58 Kindle, 40pp

Dumpling Day is a recipe exploration of a family tradition of making dumplings together, pairing recipes by Laurel P. Jackson with art by Ines de Antunano, as Meera Sriram describes the event. There's a dumpling party in town, and ten families cook their ethnic dumpling delights, from Italian ravioli to Indian samosas. From Nigeria and China to Syria and Russia, dumplings create a delightful interplay between ethnic groups who each have their favorite dumpling dish. Parents and librarians looking for cookbooks and ethic discussions for children ages 4-8 will find a delicious combination of topics in Dumpling Day.

Kids Can Bake: Recipes for Budding Bakers
Esther Coombs, illustrator
Laura Paton, editor
Button Books
c/o The GMC Group
9781787081093, $17.99, HC, 64pp, Ages 6-12

"Kids Can Bake: Recipes for Budding Bakers" is a lavishly illustrated collection of kid-friendly recipes for a wide variety of foods. Each individual recipe is illustrated in numbered steps in sequence across from the page listing the recipe title and ingredients. The detailed illustrations make the recipe techniques particularly accessible to young cooks.

Recipes are presented in the following categories: Bread, Pizza & Savory Snacks; Pies & Tarts; Cookies & Other Sweet Treats; Cakes, Cupcakes & Muffins; Bars & Tray Bakes; Desserts and Cake Toppings. Although originally published in the UK, "Kids Can Bake" recipe quantities are in standard US measurements. Ingredients are commonly available in standard supermarkets.

Delicious recipes include: Chicken Pie, British Scones, Macarons, Oatmeal Bars, Caramel Shortbread, Marble Cake, Focaccia, Beef Empanadas, Marble Cake, and Profiteroles. The simplicity of the instructions will encourage young chefs to tackle ambitious baked goods recipes. "Kids Can Bake" is made to tempt preteens and teens to tackle culinary ambitions and delight their family and friends with the toothsome results.

The Picturebook Shelf

Home of the Wild
Louise Greig and Julia Moscardo
Floris Books
9781782507130, $17.95

Home of the Wild tells of a young boy who finds an orphaned fawn in the forest. He brings it to his cottage and helps her heal during a summer in which fawn and boy become close friends. But, a wild animal needs to return to its home, eventually. Can the boy bear to part with his new best wild friend? A lovely rhyme accompanies the warm story of a boy who learns the real meaning of friendship in a delightful picture book exploration.

Little Fairy Can't Sleep
Daniela Drescher, author/illustrator
Floris Books
9781782507673, $17.95, HC, 24pp

"Little Fairy Can't Sleep" is a lovely illustrated tale from author/illustrator Daniela Drescher about a hedgerow fairy named Faith who cannot sleep on a beautiful summer night. Faith hears the cricket and forest night sounds and flies off to meet the Sandman when a feeling of magic in the air prevails. Even the Sandman can't spread enough golden sand to keep his charges fast in slumber.

Faith flies on to see a fox mother and her restless cubs, an alert owl, and a wide awake family of elves living in the roots of a tree. Finally Faith met the moth prince while she rested on a leaf, and he took her to a midsummer night's party, where fairies and friends danced and celebrated the beautiful night.

At the end, all tired out, Faith was accompanied home by the moth prince to her own soft bed, where she slept soundly, dreaming of "a busy sandman, a mother fox, a grumpy owl, a singing elf, a kind moth prince and a magical party." Best of all, she slept peacefully until morning.

Highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library fairytale picture bok collections for children ages 6-12, "Little Fairy Can't Sleep" is filled with magical illustrations of the midsummer night's creatures and fairy kin. Parents should note that "Little Fairy Can't Sleep" makes for perfect bedtime reading with any restless child.

Who is it, Whoodini?
Roman Yasiejko, author
Gustavo Ramos, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
9781953458322, $15.99, HC, 40pp

Eyes wide with surprise and necks twisting to see, two owls whoo-hooted, "Now who could that be?" When a mysterious bird crashes into a tree, two curious owls--Cahoots and Whoodini--set out to investigate. They fly down to interview their barnyard friends, but after gathering all the clues, they're still stumped until Whoodini overhears an unexpected hint.

Clever clues, teamwork, and a delightful surprise ending await young detectives ages 4 to 7 in this charming mystery where children will fully enjoy following the clues to reveal an unexpected surprise in the pages of "Who is it, Whoodini?". A rhyming mystery read-aloud the picture book by the team of author/storyteller Roman Yasiejko and artist/illustrator Gustavo Ramos, "Who is it, Whoodini?" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Violet's Tempest
Ian Eagleton, author
Clara Anganuzzi, illustrator
9781911373520, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Violet's world has changed. Her voice has gone from a giggle to a whisper. So when her teacher casts her in the school play, she is filled with worry. How will she ever stand in front of a crowd and overcome her shyness? With the love and support of her family, Violet must find her inner confidence and turn that whisper into a roar!

Critique: A charmingly written and attractively illustrated picture book story on the subject of shyness and stage fright, "Violet's Tempest" by author/storyteller Ian Eagleton and artist/illustrator Clara Anganuzzi is a delightful, entertaining and thoroughly 'kid friendly' addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8.

City Day
Glenn Brucker
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
9781771623087, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: After all the campers and hikers return to the city at the end of summer, a group of animals from the forest decide to pay them a visit. When Raccoon, Moose, Bear, Otter and their friends arrive in the big city, everyone is so excited to see them that they shout and run away with joy. The animals have a fun-filled day rampaging through the city and learning about human customs, until some new friends with large nets give them a ride back home.

Critique: A delightfully humorous and original picture book supported by charming illustrations on every page, "City Day" by gifted storyteller and artist Glenn Brucker will make children laugh while educating them about the importance of treating animals' wilderness home with care and respect. Simply stated, "City Day" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-5.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

These new arrivals from Candlewick provide young readers with thought-provoking, colorful reads, and are highly recommended choices.

Gail Armstrong's Space (9781536219876, $24.99) appears in an oversized book of papercut depictions of space, and hold over 30 flaps to lift. Adults working with kids who seek interactive representations of astronomy will find its vivid facts and displays lend to read-aloud fun as the little space ship at the center of the cutouts leads to flaps harboring space discoveries. The astronomical facts are presented in a manner that young picture book readers will find both educational and memorable.

Susan Hood's We Are One: How the World Adds Up (9781536201147, $17.99) receives fun illustrations by Linda Yan as it offers picture book readers the opportunity to understand basic math ideas such as part/whole relationships and fractions. This is presented in a survey of themes of peace and unity, which will appeal to adults seeking more than just a math-oriented coverage alone. From definitions of terms from ancient Mesopotamia to how equations apply to the simplest concepts of being part of a family and team, We Are One is enlightening and supportive on many different levels, and is recommended as both a math book and as a story of cooperative understanding.

Helen Yoon's Off-Limits (9781536207316, $17.99) tells of a curious child who understands that Daddy's home office is off limits...but sees no harm in just looking around. There, she discovers all kinds of fun and different things. As she gets into a tangle of trouble, the young protagonist begins to understand just what 'off limits' means, and why Dad's office is on that list.

Most whimsical of all is David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken Cookies for Breakfast (9781536207781, $17.99), which presents a new spin on nursery rhymes with a little chicken who is hungry for cookies. It turns out that everyone loves cookies, and the sassy little red chicken provides interpretations of Mother Goose that inject cookies into almost every scenario. What's Papa to do with such a single-minded child? Lovely, colorful drawings support an engaging story that's perfect for read-aloud fun.

Winter Lullaby by Dianne White (9781536209198, $17.99) features lovely illustrations by Ramona Kaulitzki as it follows Mama Bear and Small Bear, who are on their way to sleep for the winter. There's only one problem. Small Bear sees the other animals preparing for winter, and doesn't want to just go to sleep while the world moves through the season wide awake. Can Mama Bear lull him into hibernation with an offer that counters the inviting activity that Small Bear observes around him? An inviting story pairs with lovely, gentle winter scenes to invite kids to sleep and into understanding how the world operates.

Wild by Sam Usher (9781536220001, $17.99) tells of a boy and his grandfather, who look after a feisty cat. The boy thinks that "All we have to do is play with her, feed her, and cuddle her! Easy!" The truth is something more, as the cat resists all efforts to be friendly and lets them know that she has her own ideas about moving into a new home. Any household with a cat well knows how this will go...and will appreciate the fun story of a family that must learn new boundaries from their pet.

Walrus Song by Janet Lawler (9781536207552, $17.99) sports lovely drawings by Timothy Basil Ering that support a simple, rollicking rhyme about the walrus: "In icy waters/Walrus thrives/seeking spots/where bivalves thrive." Natural history facts are presented in a format designed to engage and educate the very young with large-size full-color pages, action-packed rhymes, and descriptions that adults will want to use as the jumping off point for further discussions about the sea world in general and walrus in particular.

The Robin & the Fir Tree (9781536220025, $18.99) is retold by Jason Jameson. It tells of a fir tree that grows in a great forest. While friend Robin spins stories of travel and adventure, he can only stay rooted and listen to these magical tales of other places. One day, everything changes. It's Christmas, and the fir has a role to play. But, is it one that will take him away from his beloved friend forever? This gorgeously illustrated, captivating story is the perfect ticket for holiday season read-aloud and year-round contemplation.

Pamela Butchart's Jeremy Worried About the Wind (9781536220186, $17.99) delights with a story about a kid who worries about everything from evil squirrels and spotted bananas to the wind. In contrast, his friend Maggie doesn't worry about anything. What's the worst that could happen? Jeremy finds out...and receives a lesson about worrying during the course of an extraordinary adventure and lesson in courage.

All of these titles are exceptional presentations and highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community collections for young readers.

Random House

Two new picture book presentations are attractive stories that will appeal to the very young.

Kyo Maclear and Gracey Zhang's The Big Bath House (9780593181959, $17.99) covers a day spent at a traditional Japanese bath house, and uses a lilting rhyme to outline the experience. Tasteful drawings of the group bathing place incorporate the idea that "clothes will be shed," but that adults and children will follow special routines, and will have fun at the big bath house.

Donna Jo Napoli and Naoko Stoop's Words to Make a Friend: A Story in Japanese and English (9780593122273, $17.99) tells of two girls who don't share the same language, but do share a love of snow. Each teaches the other about snow and their language through phrases presented in Japanese and English, inviting young readers to embrace both the pleasures of winter and cultural differences. Both are fine picture book choices that parents will find involving.

Both of the titles are highly recommended school library, community library, and personal collections.

Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012

Scholastic's latest lineup of inviting titles will reach all ages with books that are compelling and fun. Picture book readers especially, will find these five new stories wonderful choices.

Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose by Lauren Tarshis (9781338680256, $17.99) features whimsical illustrations by Lisa Bronson Mezoff and tells of friendship and the special relationship between a boy and his dog. The narrator does everything right...or, does he? Only his faithful dog friend knows the things he does wrong. This inviting story is a warm representation of not just a relationship, but a boy's ability to be honest.

Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds (9781338572322, $17.99) presents the lovely story of a girl whose family is too busy to share a meal together. Violet fondly remembers a time when the table was a central place for "Laughter, singing, celebrating, sharing. Making memories together." Recently, Violet's been alone as her family "finds new places to be." How she brings them back together makes for an evocative tale.

Lauren Child's The Goody (9781338789546, $17.99) tells of Chirton, a good child who always obeys the rules...unlike his sister, who specializes in defying them. One day, Chirton wonders why he's devoted to being a Goody. Maybe it's time to try something different? Chirton's experiences and reflections are accompanied by admonitions (in red text) that advise kids about being good ("If people have decided you are good, do not disappoint them by being bad."). The interactive dialogue invites kids and read-aloud adults to consider Chirton's choices and their consequences, creating a story that will delight adults looking for new ways of engaging the very young with thought-provoking lessons about life.

Jane Yolen and Mark Teague's How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodbye? (9781338363357, $17.99) imparts a serious message about mustering courage, facing fears, and coming to terms with various absences. It is a top recommendation for adults seeking to engage the young picture book readers with attractive characters (dinosaurs) and serious subjects (saying goodbye in different ways). Kids receive a humorous story about dinosaurs that have different ways of saying goodbye, whether it's to a father departing for work, or a grandmother whose departure after a visit provokes a resentful response. The lively, understandable ways dinosaurs can react provides both whimsical fun and much food for thought.

Just in time for January celebration is Bryan Collier's We Shall Overcome (9781338540376, $18.99), which uses the Civil Rights song as a backdrop for exploring young Collier's journey as she travels from past to present, considering early Civil Rights events and modern-day political protests. The focus on overcoming adversity with hope and courage creates a message that brings alive the girl's world and her interpretation of overcoming wrongs, and is paired with lovely, full-page drawings of her movements through daily life.

Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513

These new arrivals are fine leisure reading choices that will attract picture book learners and their parents with satisfyingly original presentations.

Parker Curry & Jessica Curry's Parker Shines On: Another Extraordinary Moment (9781534454743, $17.99) receives engaging drawings by Brittany Jackson as it tells of big sister Parker Curry, who plays dress-up and dances with her little sister. When a dancer joins her class, the opportunity for friendship and expanded lessons will engage ages 4-8 in a tale replete with ballet dreams and colorful representations of a child's experiences.

Trees by Tony Johnston and artist Tiffany Bozic (9781534475175, $17.99) offers a simple exploration packed with gorgeous drawings of trees and how they harbor songbirds, blooms, and beauty, both day and night. Bozic's drawings are featured in an oversized format that is one of the most colorful renditions of natural environments available for the very young, while Johnston's simple, evocative coverage of the atmosphere and beauty of trees creates an appeal that will attract nonfiction and fiction young readers alike.

Patricia Polacco's Go Ask Ozzie (9781534478558, $17.99) presents a Rotten Richie story about siblings. It focuses on Polacco's older brother in another fun adventure. Patricia can't get away from her biggest problem in life: her rotten older brother, who is "the most embarrassing brother in the world." From his refusal to take baths to his infatuation with her best friend's older sister, this autobiographical story of siblings whose relationship changes is appealing and thought-provoking.

Carla Hall's Carla and the Christmas Cornbread (9781534494695, $17.99) features inviting illustrations by Cherise Harris which capture the holiday atmosphere and special celebrations of Carla, who accidentally eats a special cookie intended for Santa. Kids ages 4-8 will find this story of a grandmother's warm house and the special sights, smells, and learning opportunities it brings to be a fun exploration of a different kind of Christmas.

Thankful by Elaine Vickers (9781534477346, $17.99) features pictures by Samantha Cotterill and holds an invitation for young readers ages 4-8 to consider what they are thankful for in life. A girl writes down the simple things she is thankful for, which include "snow that softens the whole world" and "a smooth road for riding bikes with friends." The story invites kids to consider gratitude and the good things in their lives - a message parents will find particularly important to discuss with a young picture book reader.

All are recommended picks for discriminating picture book enthusiasts.

Wm. Eerdmans
4035 Park E. Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Three new picture books are recommended for libraries looking for lasting, involving tales.

Candice Ransom's Only Margaret (9780802855084, $17.99) is a biography of Margaret Wise Brown that adds to the Incredible Lives for Young Readers picture book series. Nan Lawson's engaging drawings lend to the story of a young writer who dreamed of creating children's books, and whose original ideas led to many classics children love. Ages 5-9 will appreciate this encouraging tale of achievement.

Poems selected by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling in For Every Little Things: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day (9780802855190, $18.99) are especially thought-provoking and engaging. Helen Cann's gorgeous nature drawings are beautiful embellishments for ages 4-10, who fill find this Junior Library Guild selection to be rich in beautiful drawings and equally powerful works by Emily Dickinson, Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, and some fifty other voices that provide encouraging writings for kids.

Alex Nogues and Miren Asiain Lora's One Million Oysters on Top of the Mountain (9780802855695, $17.99) comes from a geologist who provides an early reader with captivating details about seas, rocks, and tectonic plates. Ages 6-10 will appreciate this early education about the natural world, which pairs nicely with intriguing drawings by Miren Asiain Lora to create an earth science reader that invites kids to learn more about the natural world around them.

All are exceptional publications.

The Board Book Shelf

Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo: Beginning Baby
Nicola Slater, author/illustrator
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781797203690, $10.99, Board Book, 16pp

Synopsis: "Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo: Beginning Baby" by author and illustrator Nicola Slater is is part of a new board book with lift-the-flap elements for new parents and their children ranging from infancy to three year olds. With its distinctive yet accessible art and educational concepts, "Beginning Baby" is specifically designed to make growing and learning as easy as playing and dreaming -- and very highly recommended for every baby's first library -- as well as daycare center, preschool, and community board book collections.

Where's My Little Love Bug?: A Mirror Book
Pamela Kennedy, author
Sebastian Braun, illustrator
B&H Kids
c/o B&H Publishing Group
1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234
9781087750361, $8.99, Board Book, 18pp

Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community library collections, "Where's My Little Love Bug?: A Mirror Book" is a sweetly charming board book with which children ages 1-4 will fully enjoy spotting new parent-child bug pairs and lift the flaps to find each little love bug with each turn of the page. "Where's My Little Love Bug?: A Mirror Book" features colorful artwork by artist/illustrator Sebastian Braun and a rhyming text by author/storyteller Pamela Kennedy showing children that God puts all of His creatures (including bugs and kids) right where they belong! On the last page, children will look into a mirror, where they'll see themselves cuddling safe and sound with the adult who is reading to them.

Zoom: Construction Site Adventure
Susan Hayes, author
Susanna Rumiz, illustrator
What on Earth Books
9781912920426, $14.99

Zoom: Construction Site Adventure is a delightful board book peppered with cut-out and pop-up sections. The simple, charming text is all about the hard yet rewarding work of construction. As young Maxie plans to build a skyscraper, Maxie imagines the entire construction site process in detail! "It's time to lay the foundation. Maxie directs the crew. / 1. Drill deep holes into the ground. 2. Mix up concrete. 3. Pour the concrete in. 4. Lower steel cages into the ground." Zoom: Construction Site Adventure is a thoroughly enjoyable and educational board book for parents and little ones to share, highly recommended.

What's Up, Construction Truck?
Matthew Reinhart, author
Toby Leigh, artist
Abrams Appleseed
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781419749827, $16.99, Board Book, 10 pp

With "What's Up, Construction Truck?", a board book created by the team of author/storyteller Matthew Reinhart and artist/illustrator Toby Leigh, young children will enjoy following construction workers through a busy day on the job as the lift the flaps to open the bulldozer's doors and peek inside; help a crew member put on his helmet; and lift up the shovel to help the driver prepare a new bike trail for paving. When the story is over, they can follow simple instructions to transform the pages of the board book into a three-dimensional bulldozer! So very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 3-5, there is so much to discover in this stunning, unique, and interactive board book from Matthew Reinhart.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Ellinor Richey
Top Shelf Productions
PO Box 1282, Marietta GA 30061-1282
9781603095006, $24.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: What happens when our most precious belongings are no longer considered to be precious? When something we once loved suddenly becomes junk, the result is the unleashing of a powerful energy.

One night, ice-skating prodigy Florence Sato is overwhelmed by pressure and throws away her skates. This fateful moment accidentally summons a "junkwraith," a terrifying ghost which seeks revenge for its abandonment by attacking the memories of its former owner. Before she forgets who she is, and to find out who she really wants to be, Florence must set off (with her trusty digital assistant Frank) on a long journey into the Wastelands to put to rest the monster she created.

Critique: A unique and entertaining blend of illustration and original fantasy that is all the more4 impressive when considering that "Junkwraith" is Ellinor Richey's debut as the author/illustrator of the graphic novel. "Junkwraith", an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, high school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers ages 13-17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Junkwraith" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle/comiXololgy, $16.99).

Editorial Note: Ellinor Richey loves bringing imaginary things to life, whether this be through game concepts, comic art or ink illustrations. When not thinking about comics, she loves thinking about animation, playing the clarinet and pine trees in sunsets. She currently lives with her plants in a small studio apartment overlooking the Gothenburg harbor in Sweden.

Heartless Prince
Leigh Dragoon, author
Angela De Vito, illustrator
c/o Hyperion Books for Children
9781368028356, $20.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Evony is an orphaned princess from a kingdom destroyed by a power-hungry witch. Prince Ammon has recently been drawn to her, or at least he's drawn to her uncanny ability to sense when familiars (who are servants to the witches) are approaching his kingdom's borders.

And Evony, well Evony has always longed for something more with Ammon. Wanting to prove himself to his kingdom and parents, Ammon takes Evony outside the borders to fight the familiars head-to-head. All is well until they're captured by witch Aradia, who steals Ammon's heart and leaves his body to turn into one of her familiars. What's worse, his sister Nissa has been taken hostage by Aradia's daughter.

Evony makes it her mission to retrieve Ammon's heart and save Nissa, taking her into the mysterious Witchlands. There, she will discover a secret about her past that will change everything.

Critique: Original, inherently riveting, unreservedly recommended for middle school, high school, and community library graphic novel fantasy collections for young readers ages 12-18. "Heartless Prince" by author/storyteller Leigh Dragoon and artist/illustrator Angela De Vito will be an immediate and enduringly popular acquisition that will leave its young (and not so young!) readers looking eagerly toward more titles from this creative, imaginative, and talented team.

Editorial Note #1: Leigh Dragoon has adapted both Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy and Marie Lu's Legend series into graphic novel scripts. She has also written two prose Adventure Time novels: Queen of Rogues and The Lonesome Outlaw.

Editorial Note #2: Angela De Vito is a freelance animator, storyboard artist, and character designer working in NYC. She has worked on animation for commercials and series pitches. Angela has worked for such studios as Hornet, Inc.; Titmouse, Inc.; Aardman Nathan Love; Click 3X; CHRLX; and Disney Digital Network. She was also the animation director for Comedy Central Digital's Loafy, created by Bobby Moynihan.

A New Sheriff in Town
Brett Bean, author/illustrator
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593226605, $12.99, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: Fennlock Fox and Penny the Pig head to the Wild, Wild West! When a chatty chicken named Nugget makes it to the zoo to beg for help ridding his little Western town of a gang of feral cats, the Zoo Patrol Squad is on the case. But when they get there, the sheriff is missing, and no one can seem to find any of the townsfolk. Will Penny and Fennlock be able to save the town, or will the dastardly Glaring Gang have the last meow?

Critique: "A New Sheriff in Town" is the third book in author and illustrator Brett Bean's outstanding graphic novel series 'Zoo Patrol Squad'. Ideal and entertaining reading for children ages 7-10, "A New Sheriff in Town" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A New Sheriff in Town" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Stuntboy in the Meantime
Jason Reynolds
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513
9781534418165, $13.99

Young readers past the picture book stage will find Stuntboy In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds just the ticket for a fun leisure read. Stuntboy is a superhero...or so he likes to think. Intent on saving others and carving out a reputation for himself, he becomes involved in rescue efforts that both challenge his perception and somehow involve a cat. Vivid drawings and unexpected encounters keep this graphic novel energetic and fun.

The Music CD Shelf

Nature Child - A Dreamer's Journey
Red Pony Records
$16.99 / $TBA digital

Grammy-nominated country music singer/songwriter Sylvia presents Nature Child - A Dreamer's Journey, a wonderful original album for children, families, and dreamers of all ages. The original acoustic, American roots songs call to the listener's senses of creativity, joy, and wonder. Nature Child - A Dreamer's Journey is a choice pick for school and public library children's music collections, and also makes an excellent family gift. The tracks are Avalon, Imagination, Every Time A Train Goes By, Don't Be Afraid To Dream, If I Only Had Wings, Nature Child, Dancing Over An Emerald Isle, Home Is, My Best Friend, Good Night Sleep Tight My Little One, (Hey Hey Hey) It's A New Day, and I Love You For Who You Are.

For Children of All Ages
You and Us
Privately Published
$25.00 CD / $TBA digital

For Children of All Ages is a children's album created especially to promote healing from trauma connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Musician and clinical art therapist Nicole Porter and the band You and Us have created a heartwarming, emotional, and inspirational collection that will lift the spirits of listeners of all ages. Highly recommended, especially in these trying times. The tracks are Nowhere Now Here, Good Day Sweet Children, Ama Appa Aya, Absolutely Awesome, Hands Up High, Relation Ship, Tic Tac Toe, Safe Island, Ouch a Booboo, Soul Survivor, Mary Faery, Name the Change, Social Connections, Be Bold Be Brave, Raw Emotional Power, Farewell Sweet Children, 1 2 3 Floor!, and You and Us.

You Are Magic
Triple Rainbow
Brave New People
$13.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

You Are Magic is the joyous debut children's album by Triple Rainbow, featuring a lively medley of acoustic folk and pop-rock. Lighthearted lyrics, catchy tunes and jubilant rhythms make You Are Magic a treasure for the whole family. The tracks are You Are Magic, Bad Kitty, Dance Party, Fam Jam, Slime, Exactly Perfect, The Lake, Facts, Why Can't Every Day Be Halloween?, Stuffy Scavenger Hunt, Under the Water, Beautiful All, This is a Song, Pit of Your Stomach, and Get Happy.

The Elementary Grade Fiction Shelf


Three new titles from Disney are attractive, fun additions for libraries catering to advanced elementary readers.

Catherine Hapka's The Little Things in Life: Simple Reflections from the Hundred-Acre Wood (9781368076098, $22.95) features pictures by Mike Wall that accompany Milne's classic Winnie-the-Pooh quotes with lessons to be gained from Pooh's world. A wide age range will find these tales of a day spent wandering the woods to be evocative, thought-provoking affirmations that encourage readers to consider how little experiences in life translate to big opportunities for positivity and reflection.

Guess What!? by Mo Willems (9781368070935, $12.99) features the Unlimited Squirrels in an adventure that tells of Zoom Squirrel's foray to the beach. The fuzzy friends experience a conundrum: "I love going to the beach. I just do not like being there." Their zany reflections on life's pleasures and challenges will appeal to the very young with appealing picture antics.

Tales of Courage and Kindness by Disney Books (9781368077118, $16.99) gathers a range of princess stories that follow Disney characters, especially Disney Princesses, and the themes of kindness and courage. These stories lend to bedtime reading for those beyond the early picture book age. Sidebars peppered into the mix review each female character's traits, dreams, and heroic moments, while descriptions are supplemented by full-color, full-page Disney illustrations.

All these Disney titles are unusual, fun recommendations for discriminating family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012

Elementary to early middle grade readers will appreciate Bassem Youseff and Catherine R. Daly's The Magical Reality of Nadia (9781338572285, $14.99), which receives engaging black and white illustrations by Douglas Holgate as it explores a young Egyptian immigrant who moved to America when she was six years old. Her desire to win a design contest is just one facet of her interests and personality, which lend her plenty of strength until a new schoolmate shows up and teases her about her Egyptian heritage, shaking her confidence. It takes a magic amulet to inject the dose of confidence that shows her how to win in more than one way.

Chris Newell's If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving (9781338726374, $8.99) arrived too late for Thanksgiving mention this year, but deserves a place in libraries for years to come. It provides a lively blend of history and questions about what it was like to live during pilgrim times. Kids learn details about the pilgrims through a history that comes with a "you are there" feel to reflect on the lives of the English colonists and those around them. Plenty of detail supplements invitations for kids to think about the pilgrim experience on a more personal level than most books provide.

Kids who like ghost and monster stories will relish Dan Sasuweh Jones and Ponca Nation's Living Ghosts & Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories (9781338681628, $12.99). Over thirty short stories have been gathered from American Indian cultures across North America in this volume. Witches, ghouls, skeletons, and more supernatural forces converge under one cover to present a satisfyingly diverse set of stories that will appeal to advanced elementary grade to early middle school readers. Black and white art by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva) compliments an outstandingly diverse collection.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

African Town
Irene Latham, author
Charles Waters, author
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593322888, $18.99, HC, 448pp

Synopsis: In 1860, long after the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile, Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. Their journey includes the savage Middle Passage and being hidden in the swamplands along the Alabama River before being secretly parceled out to various plantations, where they made desperate attempts to maintain both their culture and also fit into the place of captivity to which they'd been delivered.

At the end of the Civil War, the survivors created a community for themselves they called African Town, which still exists to this day. Told in 14 distinct voices, including that of the ship that brought them to the American shores and the founder of African Town, the novel "African Town" by co-authors Irene Latham and Charles Waters is a powerfully affecting historical story-in-verse that recreates a pivotal moment in US and world history, the impacts of which we still feel today.

Critique: Although a work of skillfully crafted and poetic fiction, "African Town" is soundly based on a real historic event. The result is a uniquely memorable read and a highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "African Town" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Irene Latham & Charles Waters are "Poetic Forever Friends" rst and collaborators second. They are the writing team behind Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, which was awarded a Charlotte Huck Honor, and Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z, an NCTE Notable Poetry Book. They share a passion for poetry and are committed to creating meaningful books for young readers.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

Nikky Finney
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813151076, $12.95, PB, 96pp

Synopsis: When Trina Sims and Jenny Bryan first meet, they don't relate well to each other. Jenny is troubled, struggling to escape personal demons, and somewhat closed-minded, the result of growing up in a racist town. Trina is a proud Black woman who is ambitious, strong-willed, and unafraid to speak her mind. But after the pair spend a few days together, they soon realize that they're both yearning for understanding and a fresh start and are, at heart, more alike than different.

At the center of every tree can be found the heartwood -- the very soul of the tree. And at the heart of "Heartwood" are characters with more complexities and contradictions than appear on the surface. Members of a rural Kentucky community, their lives are loosely connected through chance encounters, and yet somehow deeply intertwined. This captivating story by novelist Nikky Finney is filled with the sights and sounds and hopes and hurts of a land and its people. Some are burdened with racist attitudes, anger, and fear, while others strive to see the good in their neighbors.

This "tiny little book about the human heart and what it can do" was first released 25 years ago as part of New Books for New Readers, a series designed for adult literacy students. In this expanded anniversary edition of "Heartwood", and enhanced with the inclusion of a new preface by Finney, all readers will find lessons about life and understanding, and the encouragement to live audaciously while acknowledging the goodness that is all around us -- if we only strive to recognize and embrace it.

Critique: An elegantly written and illuminating novel, "Heartwood" is one of those deftly crafted and original stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that this new anniversary edition is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.38).

Editorial Note: Nikky Finney is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets and holds the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. She edited Black Poets Lean South and authored On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, The World Is Round, Head Off & Split (winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry), and Love Child's Hotbed of Occasional Poetry. Finney's work, including her now legendary National Book Award acceptance speech, is on display in the inaugural exhibition of the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513

Older readers ages 8-12 will appreciate two interrelated books that explore an 11-year-old girl's struggle to communicate with the world. Not since Karen and With Love From Karen (both told from the viewpoint of the mother of a child with cerebral palsy) has the subject received such a close inspection.

Sharon M. Draper begins the story with Out of My Mind (9781416971719, $9.99), which presents the first-person experiences of Melody Brooks, a disabled girl whose powerful brain struggles with her incapacitated body. Melody can't talk, move, or write. She's stuck inside her head. But her determination to communicate and succeed against all odds creates a thoroughly engrossing story about positivity, disability, and courage that follows Melody as she struggles to become part of the world. Her 'hidden superpowers' enable her to approach the world in a different way, earning a place in it that is thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting.

Draper's Out of My Heart (9781665902168, $18.99) continues her saga, is set a year later, and follows Melody's ongoing attempts at independence. Here, readers receive her first summer camp experience and move through the fears that haunt her encounters with a completely different environment. The camp helps Melody confront and move past her fears and the barriers to her success, creating opportunities that move her forward as she becomes braver, stronger, and more resilient.

The two books together are enlightening, heart-warming, and filled with a positivity that preteens will find thoroughly absorbing.

Random House

Middle grade readers receive some excellent new leisure reading choices.

Iggy is the Hero of Everything by Annie Barrows (9781984813367, $13.99) provides black and white illustrations by Sam Ricks to supplement a heavy dose of humor as it tells of Iggy, who thinks his rescue plans are ingenious, and larger than life. Unfortunately, the world operates on a slightly different level, and others do not always share his perspectives on what happened and why. As Iggy embarks on some hilarious mishaps, young readers receive a vivid series of misadventures that are unexpected in their outcomes, and hard to put down.

Phil Corbett's Kitty Quest (9780593205464, $12.99) is a full-color graphic novel that's also packed with humor. It introduces two kittens who are down on their luck and in need of cash. What better vocation to embark upon than being monster slayers, even if they know nothing about the art! A huge beast willingly provides the threat they need to gain experience, but it isn't the last thing the precocious kitties will encounter as ghosts, warriors, and magic enter the picture to test the would-be feline heroes.

Ashlyn Anstee's Shelby & Watts: Tide Pool Troubles (9780593205310, $12.99) is recommended for advanced elementary readers beyond the picture book stage who are entering into the world of full-color graphic novels. Shelby likes mystery. Her best friend Watts is an intellectual. The dynamic duo's blend of scientific and detecting skills are challenged by a hermit crab's contention that all the shells are missing from the beach (and he didn't do it). Can they solve what appears to be an impossible mystery?

All of the titles for young readers are highly recommended school library, community library and home acquisitions.

The YA Fiction Shelf

The Aquamarine Surfboard
Kellye Abernathy
Atmosphere Press
9781639881246, $11.99

In The Aquamarine Surfboard, Condi is thirteen and is dedicated to surfing. Her ambition to learn is stymied by the changing atmosphere of her small beach town, which is turning into a resort area with private beaches and limited beach use for those who don't own them. Also moving in alongside newfound threats to her lifestyle and world is a mystery, as she meets a fellow surfer, is invited to enter a forbidden surfing area, and then encounters Koan, the Riddlemaster of the Sea, and other strangers who introduce her to quite a different world residing alongside her own familiar town. Suddenly, Condi is a stranger in her own home, her ambitions and future tested by forces she'd never known existed.

One reason why this story will appeal beyond young adults who already like beach and surfing stories is Kellye Abernathy's ability to create an atmosphere of mystery from the start. Another is that Condi freely enters areas forbidden to most kids in her town. Her ability to reject barriers to her goals, whether it be entering the world of the rich surfer kids from the big houses around the cove (who largely have the sport locked down) or to enter areas forbidden to those who can't afford the cost of a surfboard or wetsuit is part of the underlying message of this adventure: Never give up on your dreams.

Abernathy infuses these dreams with the salty air of the seaside ("Don't. Think. Just. Breathe. Pressing her toes into the smooth deck of the terrace, she leans into the breeze. Eyes closed, she lifts her chin, setting her breath to the salty thrum of the sea. In her mind's eye, the wood under her feet melts into a polished surfboard.") as she hones worlds of fantasy, reality, and a gray area in-between, cementing them with the feisty, determined Condi's dreams and activities. As untold stories and hidden truths come to light, Condi embraces new opportunities that change her life with her grandmother Grand Ella and the dreams that she fosters from the arrival of her beloved surfboard Aquamarine, which introduces new challenges and relationships.

The weave of mystery and evolving connections are very nicely presented. Readers become engaged with Condi's life and objectives through this combination of psychological insight and interpersonal relationships, which evolve from unexpected places to impart unanticipated lessons. As she interacts with the Beachlings, she learns new ways of viewing the world. The result is a fine story that both entertains and provides many thought-provoking moments. Its story of a magical journey that tests Condi's desires and sense of community alike will attract teens who will find her ambitions and experiences thoroughly absorbing.

Heartless Heirs
MarcyKate Connolly
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780310768272, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Aissa has never felt so trapped and alone even with her sister and friend by her side. Zandria (once her other half) has become cold and inflexible after her time in the Technocrats' dungeon. Their friend Remy may still side with his father, a Magi leader who refuses to believe his spymaster has turned traitor. And Aissa herself is now an enemy of her Magi people after falling in love with (and binding her heart to) Aro, a Techno prince who puts all their lives at stake.

Aissa is determined to uncover the secrets of the Alchemist Alliance that created her and Zandria's unique magical powers ... as well as learn whether the Alliance's research holds the key to healing the rift between the Magi and Technocrats after centuries of war. But with her people preparing for battle, it will take more than lost spells and hidden secrets to accomplish her goal. Especially as the bond between her and Aro grows deeper and threatens everything Aissa has ever believed.

Critique: The sequel to her novel "Twin Daggers" and highly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 13 to 16, "Heartless Heirs" by MarcyKate Connolly is another original novel by a skilled and imaginative author who combines fantasy and magic with a riveting storyline that focuses on social issues, joins action and intrigue with love and romance, and has a cover that features foil and embossing. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Heartless Heirs" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Love and Other Sins
Emilia Ares
Sera Press
9781736814024, $24.95, HC, 326pp

Synopsis: Mina's life is going according to plan; she's acing AP Calc and is perfectly content with her nonexistent social life. Though only a high school junior, Mina knows time is an investment, and she's putting all her capital into academics.

Oliver, a child abuse survivor who grew up in the foster care system, is ready to burn down his old life and start from scratch-complete with a new name and emancipation papers-in L.A.

When the two are thrown together through circumstance and develop an unexpected connection, they discover how hard it is to keep the past in the past.

Critique: "Love and Other Sins" by novelist Emilia Ares is deftly crafted, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining coming-of-age YA drama about an teenagers having to deal family, love, violence, and the residue of abuse set against the backdrop of contemporary Los Angeles. While especially recommended for highschool and community library YA Contemporary Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love and Other Sins" is also readily available for young readers in a paperback edition (9781736814000, $12.95) and an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

When We Were Them
Laura Taylor Namey
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534471276, $19.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton's friendship was everything. When they were sixteen, they stood by each other no matter what. When they were seventeen, they went through the worst. And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all.

Now, it's the week of graduation, and Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of the friendship she destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming dance. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world. It's enough to make Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the moments when she and her friends leaned on each other, she can't avoid the moments they leaned so hard their friendship began to crack.

As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal, and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she without them?

Critique: A skillfully plotted, impressively original, and throughly entertaining novel for adolescent readers ages 12-18, "When We Were Them" by Laura Taylor Namey is highly recommended, especially for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When We Were Them" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Second Chances
Harriet Zaidman
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
9780889956391, $14.95, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Dale Melnyk finds himself stuck in an iron lung, desperately fighting for breath -- and wishing he could die. It is the worst outbreak of polio in the history of Winnipeg, and Dale is one of the many young victims being treated in the early 1950s.

"Second Chances" by novelist Harriet Zaidman follows Dale's slow and often agonizing struggle to regain his life, first of all to breathe on his own and then to regain the use of his limbs. Will he ever be able to play hockey again, he wonders? Dale comes to realize that he is doing better than a number of the other patients including Charlene, a young Metis girl confined to a wheelchair but always trying to help their fellow patients.

When Dale discovers his younger brother Brent is also in the polio ward because their father rejected the school program vaccine, a confrontation with his father becomes inevitable. Brent is not getting better and will be dealing with paralysis indefinitely. When Dale finally emerges from his recovery he must reassess what is most important in life -- a life that has been changed forever.

Critique: In an era of anti-vaccinators perpetuating the continuance of a pandemic, "Second Chances" is especially timely and although a work of fiction has a very genuine 'real world' relevancy. Deftly scripted by a gifted writer, "Second Chances" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 12-16. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Second Chances" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Everything Together: A Second Dad Wedding
Benjamin Klas, author
Fian Arroyo, illustrator
One Elm Books
c/o Red Chair Press
c/o Lerner Publisher Services (dist.)
9781947159655, $16.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When Jeremiah arrives in Minneapolis to spend the summer with his Dad, everything feels odd. His dad's fiance, Michael, has buried the apartment in piles of DIY wedding decorations. His best friend Sage now spends all her time with a new girl as quirky and bright as Sage ever was. Everywhere he goes, Jeremiah feels like the odd one out. Eager for something to get him away from all this, he starts volunteering in an English class for refugees. As the summer goes on, Jeremiah finds community in new places and with unexpected friends.

Everything Together is about exploring your place in the world and the tangled ways we connect. This is the sequel to Second Dad Summer.

Critique: The sequel to Second Dad Summer, Everything Together: A Second Dad Wedding is a young adult novel about finding purpose and connecting with others. Jeremiah feels somewhat in the way and left out when he goes to Minneapolis to spend the summer with his Dad. Jeremiah's Dad is about to marry Michael, and Jeremiah's best friend Sage spends nearly all her time with a new girl. Feeling like he's in the way, Jeremiah resolves to put energy into something that will get him some space from his Dad and his best friend. Jeremiah volunteers to help an English class for refugees, an experience that provides the opportunity to make new friendships. Although the series features LGBT characters, these novels are not exclusively about LGBT issues; they explore a wide range of connections, friendships, problems, and shared experiences. Both Second Dad Summer and Everything Together are highly recommended for school and public library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Everything Together is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Benjamin Klas lives in Minnesota with his partner and their son. His work has appeared in literary magazines and a collection by LGBTQ authors.

Fian Arroyo has been illustrating for more than 20 years. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina. When he is not drawing he can be found fishing or mountain biking.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Mystic of the Midway
A. A. Blair
Histria Books
9781592111183, $24.99, HC, 136pp

Synopsis: Effie knew she wasn't the same after her accident but didn't realize how different she had become until her family vacation. When Effie begins to hear whispers and have visions things get really strange! Effie finds a love letter to her mother that isn't from her father! A strange mystery girl seems to follow her wherever she goes but vanishes before Effie can confront her. Even the rides in the amusement park begin to speak to her! Effie wonders; is she going crazy? Are all the things that are happening trying to tell her something?

Effie enlists the aide of her detective brother, Jimmy, along with her long time Crystal Beach buddies Lydia and her mischievous little brother Sniff. The friends race through the old amusement park to try and find answers while trying to avoid a local bully. As their investigation deepens Effie begins to be haunted by dreams that seem to hold the key to everything that is happening. When the investigation falters Effie struggles to overcome self-doubt and the realization that her idyllic vacation spot isn't what it seems to be. Trying not to lose faith, Effie embraces her new abilities hoping the whispers and signs will lead her and her friends to the answers they need to save her family and discover the identity of the mystery girl!

Critique: An absorbing and entertaining read from first page to last, "Mystic of the Midway" showcases author A. A. Blair's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling that keeps her young readers ages 13-17 fully engaged from one plot twist to another. Simply stated, "Mystic of the Midway" is especially recommended for middle school, high school, and community library YA Fiction collections.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Velvet Fox
Catherine Fisher
Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
9781536214925, $17.99

Catherine Fisher's The Velvet Fox provides a Clockwork Crow story that will appeal to prior series readers and newcomers alike. Orphan Seren Rhys is looking forward to a quieter life after her adventure of rescuing Tomos from enchantment, but when a mysterious new governess brings a magical toy that introduces a dilemma about her future, she must once again embark on a rescue mission...this time, involving her new family. Young readers of magic and fantasy will find the Welsh folklore and adventure make for a spellbinding stand-alone tale that's hard to put down.

Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms
Jamar J. Perry
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547606948, $16.99, HC, 320pp

Cameron Battle grew up reading The Book of Chidani, cherishing stories about the fabled kingdom that cut itself off from the world to save the Igbo people from danger. Passed down over generations, the Book is Cameron's only connection to his parents who disappeared one fateful night, two years ago.

Ever since, his grandmother has kept the Book locked away, but it calls to Cameron. When he and his best friends Zion and Aliyah decide to open it again, they are magically transported to Chidani. Instead of a land of beauty and wonder, they find a kingdom in extreme danger, as the Queen's sister seeks to destroy the barrier between worlds. The people of Chidani have been waiting for the last Descendant to return and save them. Is Cameron ready to be the hero they need?

All the more impressive when considering that "Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms" is author and storyteller Jamar J. Perry's debut as a novelist. Inspired by West African and Igbo history and mythology, this deftly crafted and original story celebrates the triumphs and challenges of a boy finding his truth path to greatness. While very highly recommended, especially for elementary school, middle school, and community library Folktale & Fantasy collections for young readers ages 8-11, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.51).

What Lurks in the Shadows
S. C. Shannon
Dorrance Publishing Company
9781638670049, $20.00, PB, 294pp

Synopsis: Told from two points in time leading up to one epic showdown, "What Lurks in the Shadows" by S. C. Shannon is twisty, compulsive, and terrifying account of a modern apocalypse.

It's the end of the world and 20-year-old Grace has a front row seat. What was once a carefree suburban life has become a daily struggle to survive, and the days are spent preparing for whatever might come next. Just as Grace and her family begin to adjust to their new, post-apocalyptic normal, a much more terrifying threat emerges, and survival is quickly replaced with just trying to stay alive.

Critique: A deftly crafted and simply riveting read from beginning to end, "What Lurks In The Shadows" by author S. C. Shannon is an original and unreservedly recommended addition to highschool and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections for readers ages 15 and older. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of Dystopian Fiction and Post-Apocalyptic Science Fictin fans that "What Lurks In The Shadows" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Psychology Shelf

Just a Thought
Jason Gruhl, author
Ignasi Font, illustrator
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781611808605, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Through playful rhyming text by author and storyteller, Jason Gruhl, and enhanced with vivid, fun illustrations by artist/illustrator Ignasi Font on every page, "Just a Thought" is an entertaining and informative picture book that introduces children ages 4 - 8 to the way our lives are shaped by our thoughts. "Just a Thought" will help to teach children self-awareness by recognizing negative self-thought and recurring thought patterns. That regardless of whether they have happy, weird, or mean thoughts -- those are all just thoughts, and no single thought can define us. That the magic of mind is that it's a space where anything is possible!

Critique: A unique, informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking picture book, "Just a Thought" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted that for personal reading lists that "Just a Thought" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Jason Gruhl believes that all kids are smart, brave, kind, and creative, and he writes books to help them remember that. As an author and psychotherapist for children and adults, Jason is dedicated to making a difference in people's lives and to helping them realize their power and potential. Jason is a former special educator and the former executive director and founder of The Joshua School (a school for children with Autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities in Boulder and Denver, Colorado). He holds a master's degree in counseling psychology (

Editorial Note #2: Currently residing in Barcelona, Spain, Ignasi Font is the art director for Bungalow Studio, where he creates expressive and poetic ways to communicate ideas through animation, music artwork, editorial illustration, and children's books.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers
Nadja Spiegelman, author
Sergio Garcia Sanchez, illustrator
Toon Books
9781943145553, $16.95, HC, 56pp

Synopsis: Raised by a mean ogre of a father who eats his opponents for dinner, Blancaflor is often told not to show off her own considerable powers for fear of scaring off suitors. When a prince falls from the sky and wakes up in her lap, she is spellbound and moves heaven and earth to help the endearing, yet not so clever, young man, all while trying not to let him know about herself and her father!

Critique: With the publication of "Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America" by the team of author/storyteller Nadja Spiegelman and artist/illustrator Sergio Garcia Sanchez, this updated, graphic novel formatted, classic South American tale extolling the strength and resourcefulness of women is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Folklore & Fairytale collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers" in a paperback edition (9786976535258, $9.99).

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Ocean Planet
Ben Rothery
Tilbury House
12 Starr St, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884489160, $29.95

Young nonfiction readers receive plenty of stories about the sea and the seashore, but the oversized presentation and captivating illustrations in Ocean Planet: Animals of the Sea and Shore presents a different format and approach that delights the eye and mind and lends to library display.

Included in the discussions are reptiles, deep sea life, island animals (such as the lemurs of Madagascar), and other creatures usually not included in a typical focus on the sea-influenced world. This allows for a broader natural history that is captivating in its intersections between shore and sea, promising to delight a wide audience with its broad inspections of and connections between different natural worlds.

100 Endangered Species
Rachel Hudson
Button Books
c/o The GMC Group
9781787081055, $17.99

Synopsis: 100 Endangered Species is a little book with a big ambition: to highlight 100 endangered species from around the world and the work being done to bring them back from the brink of extinction. It began as part of the 100-Day Project on Instagram, where the author teamed up with the People's Trust for Endangered Species to illustrate one new species every day for 100 days. From giant anteaters to Andean bears, seahorses to sungazer lizards, it explores the incredible species that we're in danger of losing for ever, highlighting their plight and the conservation efforts having a direct, positive impact on the ground. Packed with exquisite illustrations, fascinating facts and essential maps and charts, it is both a beautiful gift and a shout-out to future generations to get involved with protecting our precious wildlife.

100 endangered species from around the world, illustrated and described

Charts their habitat, distribution, conservation status and threats faced

Highlights conservation efforts, inviting readers to take positive action

For ages 7+

Critique: Intended for young readers ages 7 and up, 100 Endangered Species spotlights 100 different animals in danger of extinction. Each two-page spread features one page of text about the animal's habitat, life cycle, and greatest threats, as well as a simple and vividly colorful piece of artwork representing the animal. From the sunda pangolin ("scaly anteater") to the giant dragon lizard ("sungazer lizard"), Egyptian vulture, sloth bear, hedgehog seahorse and much more, 100 Endangered Species is captivating, educational, enlightening, and highly recommended especially for school and public library children's collections.

Editorial Note: Illustrator and author Rachel Hudson collaborates with leading conservation organizations in the UK including Butterfly Conservation, the National Trust and the Wildlife Trusts. She has illustrated for BBC Wildlife Magazine and was awarded Best Rural Creative Business in the South East and Greater London region in the Rural Business Awards 2019/20. She lives in Hampshire, England, on the edge of the South Downs National Park.

The Archaeology Shelf

The Curse of the Mummy
Candace Fleming
Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
9781338596618, $18.99

Candace Fleming's The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun's Tomb gives middle grade readers a lively chronicle of the search for the young Egyptian's tomb, and the underlying belief that the tomb was cursed. Myths, realities, archaeological inspections, and history combine in a animated survey that reads with the drama of fiction, but is reinforced by solid facts and supplemented by intriguing black and white illustrations liberally peppered throughout. These devices bring the story to life.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

What is Coronavirus?
Sabbithry Persad, MBA
Firewater Media Group
9780981243931, $19.95 print / $9.95 ebook

What is Coronavirus? How it Infects, How it Spreads, and How to Stay Safe is an illustrated book of choice for educators and parents who want not a light and simple cursory review, but an in-depth introduction to viruses in general and the special properties of the novel coronavirus in particular.

Many an adult who has difficulty understanding COVID-19, or who wants to review the basics, will find What is Coronavirus? well-detailed, well referenced, and filled with insights about why this virus differs from all others that have affected the human race in the past.

The book begins with the bare-bones basics of what a virus is and how it typically spreads, before moving to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its disease and peculiarities. It compares COVID-19 to typical colds and flu, outlines differences in its spread and impact, and moves to specifics of how COVID-19 affects various organs in the body, and how the body fights back.

Although there's a lot of physiology involved in this discussion, What is Coronavirus? always maintains an accessible tone, adding plenty of visuals to reinforce its pragmatic consideration of all the physiological, psychological, and social ramifications of the disease in a way that all readers can easily understand.

As What is Coronavirus? addresses these topics, no stone is left unturned, from historic to social investigations. Visuals reinforce information such as how various-sized droplets of coronavirus spread differently and require less distance to prove infectious.

The result is a visually appealing book with its diagrams, illustrations, and pages of detail. It's the perfect introduction for all ages that pinpoints both the science and the overall affects of the virus on human lives.

It helps that the editors of this book seasoned virologists with decades of experience, and are well versed in scientific process and technical accuracy. Persad covers a lot of territory about the world of viruses in only eight chapters. While it doesn't shy away from naming the dangers of viruses, in particular COVID-19, this work focuses on reassuring young readers that progress is being made in the efforts to combat the virus. A useful addition for middle school libraries

While What is Coronavirus? will be chosen for young readers ages 12 and older, its value as a basic, fact-filled introduction should be considered as an important source for adults, as well. This is a recommendation that needs to move beyond the children's section in a library to reach out to the general public with much-needed facts presented in an easily digestible, eye-catching fashion.

Books in Series

Adventures with Divot & Swish in the Ozark Mountains
Beth Brown, author
Charlotte Strickland, illustrator
Divot & Swish Publishing
9781735170039, $17.95, HC, 56pp

Synopsis: After a fun week at sports camp in the Ozark Mountains, Divot & Swish meet a new friend, McKenna the Mountain Biker, who invites the duo on an exciting biking adventure. At first Divot feels nervous about biking, because she remembers the kids who made fun of her when she rode her bike to school. And while Swish is confident in his bike-riding skills, he is unsure of himself when he has something important to say and needs to use his voice. With McKenna cheering them on, will Divot & Swish discover the superpower of confidence it takes to conquer the mountain bike trails?

Critique: "Adventures with Divot & Swish in the Ozark Mountains: The Superpower of Confidence" by the team of author/storyteller Beth Brown and artist/illustrator Charlotte Strickland is the second action-packed and thoroughly entertaining book in their 'Adventures with Divot & Swish' children's book series. The two familiar characters, Divot and Swish develop a new friendship, explore the Ozark Mountains on bicycles, and practice creating the superpower of confidence.

The Adventures with Divot & Swish children's book series teaches life skills through sports to kids ages 2-11 in an engaging and empowering way. The fun-filled story and colorful illustrations capture the attention of toddlers, while elementary students enjoy the relatable, sports-loving characters, and the challenges they encounter to develop their inner superpowers.

Entertaining, inspiring, and rhythmical, "Adventures with Divot & Swish in the Ozark Mountains: The Superpower of Confidence" is very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Life Skills, Friendship, and Self-Esteem children's book collections.

Editorial Note: Beth Brown, Ph.D., is passionate about teaching and positive youth development through sport. A life-long educator, she began her career as an assistant women's golf coach at the University of Kansas before becoming a lecturer at Washburn University. In 2003, she joined The First Tee, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching youth life skills through golf. In her 15 years in this role, Dr. Brown created innovative programs and curriculum, impacting more than 10 million youth worldwide through the game of golf.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Story Monsters LLC is dedicated to helping authors of all genres strive for excellence through our marketing and publicity services, Dragonfly Book Awards contests, Story Monsters Approved! awards program, opportunities for connecting with schools, and the award-winning Story Monsters Ink(R) magazine.

There's a Mouse in My House
Ross Collins
Nosy Crow
9781536220223, $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This polar bear has found himself with an uninvited guest who is causing mayhem in his home. How do two characters learn to live together in peace and harmony when they don't have the same taste? Polar Bear is soon to find out that when he is more receptive to the mouse, they enjoy each other's company. The illustrations are wonderful, bright, and cheery even in what starts out as a negative experience. I recommend this read to be added to your family's library. (Ages 2-5)

Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat
David Melling
Nosy Crow
9781536220216, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Ruffles has a new coat - a red, red coat - that he does not like at all. He does not like wearing a coat. Period. But when his friend Ruby comes by wearing her stylish blue coat, he begins to rethink that position. The fun illustrations and simple, repetitious text make this a great book for young readers. (Ages 2-5)

Baby, Sleepy Baby
Atinuke, author
Angela Brooksbank, illustrator
9781536219869, $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

A lovely lullaby about sleepy babies. Putting our little ones to sleep is a comforting experience for both the parent and child. This beautifully illustrated tale describes the intimacy that comes with a newborn and her family. I highly recommend this book for families with young ones. (Ages 2-5)

Gabe Jensen
9781641704618, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Neverwoof is aptly named because he never "woofs" or barks. No matter what happens around him, he never makes a sound. Until a burglar threatens to rob his family's home. Then, he does something quite unexpected which gives a delightful twist to the story. The rhyming text and the cartoon-like illustrations work well to carry the story along in a very kid-friendly manner. (Ages 3-5)

D is for Drool: My Monster Alphabet
Amanda Noll and Shari Dash Greenspan, authors
Howard McWilliam, illustrator
Flashlight Press
9781947277496, $18.95

Dr. Dawn Menge

When Ethan can't sleep, he doesn't count sheep - he says his ABCs. But in monster-loving Ethan's alphabet, A is for Arms, B is for Belly, C is for Claws, and D is for Drool! What a colorfully illustrated book! The academic concepts of learning the basic alphabet are enhanced by the use of the monsters as the characters. An older child would be completely thrilled to read this book to their younger sibling. (Ages 3-5)

The Impossible Mountain
David Soman
Little, Brown
9780316427746, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Brother and sister, Anna and Finn, live in an isolated village, safe behind a stone wall. Anna is a dreamer. When she sees the Mountain in the distance, she wants to climb it. Even though the villagers tell her she's too little, she ignores them. She takes her brother with her, and they share the adventure of a lifetime. With child-friendly illustrations and a storyline a child will understand, even little ones will believe they can have big dreams and go on big adventures. (Ages 3-6)

The Grasshopper and the Owl
Namrata Agarwal, author
Lisa Wee, illustrator
AzBukiVeri LLC
9781735007915, $9.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

I enjoyed this read because it teaches natural science events that can be used for further communication with children on how to problem-solve. The reader would best use this by asking many questions as the story is read, "What do you think the grasshopper should do?" and "What would you do if you were in a situation you needed to leave?" The illustrations are colorful and will engage the reader. (Ages 3-6)

Helen Yoon
9781536207316, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Dad's office is off-limits, which only makes it more intriguing to his curious young daughter. As soon as she sees an opening, she sneaks in to have a look around. After all, there's no harm in just looking, right? Our class enjoyed reading the antics of the child who wandered into her dad's office. The ending was a lovely surprise and our class thought they handled things quite nicely. This is an entertaining read that was fun for the father and daughter at the end. (Ages 3-7)

Time is a Flower
Julie Morstad
Tundra Books
9780735267541, $18.99

Christine Irvin

In this magical meditation on the nature of time, Julie Morstad shines a joyful light on a difficult-to-grasp concept for young readers and reminds older readers to see the wonders of our world, including children themselves, through the lens of time. This beautifully written, beautifully illustrated picture book gives visual meaning to the concept. Enjoy! (Ages 3-7)

Grandude's Green Submarine
Paul McCartney, author
Kathryn Durst, illustrator
Random House
9780593372432, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Paul McCartney, a former Beatle and coauthor of the song "Yellow Submarine," created this whimsical story about a grandfather (Grandude) who is always coming up with unique ideas and wonderful adventures. In this story he takes his grandkids on a new adventure in his Green Submarine. Of course, they run into difficulties. Who will save them? The book is filled with spectacular illustrations that are sure to capture any child's imagination. (Ages 4-6)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost, author
Susan Jeffers, illustrator
Dutton Books
c/o Penguin
9780525467342, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Sometimes it's difficult to understand what a poet is trying to say just by reading the words. But illustrator Vivian Mineker brings Robert Frost's famous poem to life with vivid illustrations, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the poem. (Ages 4-8)

How the Birds Became Friends
Noa Baum, author
Zev Labinger, illustrator
9781641705615, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Based on a Burmese folktale, Noa Baum and Zev Labinger retell the story of how the birds became friends. "Long ago when the world was very young, the birds did not get along. They were always fighting about who was better." The repetitious text and beautiful illustrations help convey the message of kindness and friendship. (Ages 4-8)

Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest
Phoebe Wahl
Tundra Books
9780735264892, $19.99

Christine Irvin

This book is a compilation of four short stories about Hazel, the little witch. Each story takes place in a different season, spring through winter. The stories come full circle at the end of the year when an event that is mentioned in the first story is presented again in the last one, giving a perfect ending to the book. (Ages 4-8)

Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast
David Ezra Stein
9781536207781, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

I read this to my class, and they loved it. They even remembered some of the old nursery rhymes. Hidden in the theme of the book is reading with a parent and child. This brilliantly written fun read encourages reading, developing rhymes, and there is even a nutritional lesson. Cookies are always best for breakfast, I believe. (Ages 4-8)

The Big Bath House
Kyo Maclear, author
Gracey Zhang, illustrator
Random House Studio
9780593181959, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

The customs in Japan are very different from ours in the United States. This young girl experiences the Japanese culture as she visits with her Baachan. Shoes are left at the door and as you visit the bath house, you learn that they have very different traditions than we do. Woman of all ages gather to bathe in a big bath house. There is talking, singing, and relationship-building. This is an excellent book to encourage being comfortable in your own skin. (Ages 4-8)

Faith, Family, & Fun: Monthly Lessons to Color and Connect with God's Love
Cathy D. Dudley
9780578486710, $14.99

Christine Irvin

This book is designed for families to share in monthly devotions. There are actually 14 lessons as the author has included entries for both Easter and Christmas in addition to the 12 given for each month of the year. Each lesson starts with a short story that can be related to the Bible. And each lesson contains several sections, including a page to be colored. Although it's designed for family sharing, I think it would work just as well as a book for young people to work through themselves. (Ages 5+)

Lucy Branam, author
Kevin M. Barry, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110984, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Monday has a bad reputation for spoiling the weekend and sending everyone back to work and school. After being tormented one too many times, Monday decides to take the day off and throws the rest of the week into chaos. This is a clever take on an ordinary event, with delightful illustrations and a funny storyline. (Ages 5-8)

The Proudest Color
Sheila Modir and Jeffrey Kashou, authors
Monica Mikai, illustrator
9781641705783, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Zahra sees and feels color in her world. When she's happy, her hands tingle with a "razzledazzle" pink. When she's upset or sad, she can feel a deep blue behind her eyes. Her skin is brown, and she wants to feel proud of it, but sometimes it's hard when you're the only kid in school with brown skin. This is a wonderful story for children to relate to the struggles of someone like them. (Ages 5-8)

Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines
Dean Robbins, author
Eric Velasquez, illustrator
9781536206081, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Segregation can be a difficult subject for families to discuss. Dancing together was not allowed in the 1940s, up until a band called Machito came along. They mixed people and music to create an amazing sound called Latin jazz. The Palladium Ballroom broke all the rules and mixed sounds and dancing together. An energizing dance emerged called the Mambo! The author's notes and references give the readers resources to piece this exciting part of history together. (Ages 7-9)

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country
Atinuke, author
Mouni Feddag, illustrator
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick
9781536205374, $19.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This wonderfully illustrated book takes readers on a journey to every country in Africa. It is broken up into regions and introduces subjects such as employment, sports, traditions, and the history of each area. What a wonderful introduction to the continent of Africa and will surely educate the reader and will be a catalyst for continued learning. A perfect tool for a child who needs to write a report for their classroom. (Ages 7-12)

Thomas Taylor, author
Tom Booth, illustrator
Walker Books
9781536208603, $17.99

Diana Perry

In the third mysterious tale of Eerie-on-Sea, it's almost Ghastly Night, and the Shadowghast - an ancient spirit in a lantern - lurks in wait for the power to enslave the town. Mr. Taylor is a master storyteller. Adults and children alike would enjoy all three of his books. The only bad part of all three is when readers get to the end. It was a joy to read this book and I wish it could go on forever. I hope to read every book he writes. (Ages 8-12)

BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends): A Girl's Guide to Happy Friendships
Jessica Speer, author
Elowyn Dickerson, illustrator
9781641701952, $12.99

Diana Perry

BFF or NRF is the ultimate interactive guidebook to help you learn the ins and outs of friendship. Explore the topics of gossip, bullying, and feeling left out, along with ways to strengthen the friendships that mean the most to you. This book is fun to read but best of all, it's filled with great advice and teaching quizzes. Young readers will absorb such great advice on recognizing bad relationships and creating good ones. A must-read. (Ages 8-12)

The Rizzlerunk Club: The Big Bad Lies
Leslie Patricelli
9780763651053, $16.99

Diana Perry

Lily Lattuga finally feels settled after moving to a new town and starting the fourth grade at a new school. She gets to live right across the lake from her best friend, Darby, who loves frogs and drawing just as much as Lily does. They even have their own club: the Rizzlerunks. But then things start going wrong: the new boy in class is a liar and a bully, and Darby begins acting strangely - she even breaks the Rizzlerunk pledge of honesty and gets Lily into trouble! A great teaching tool to demonstrate to young readers why lying never works. (Ages 8-12)

Catch that Dog!
Will Taylor
Scholastic Press
9781338745955, $17.99

Diana Perry

When Joanie first encounters Masterpiece, he's curled up in an alley and she mistakes him for (of all things!) a cat. Soon, though, she cleans him up and shows him home and discovers he is, in fact, a poodle. What Joanie doesn't know is that Masterpiece isn't any ordinary poodle. No, Masterpiece is a world-famous poodle, who was dognapped! Young readers will really love reading this book as the story tugs at their heartstrings and causes them to bond with both Joanie and Lucky. (Ages 8-12)

Me and the Weirdos
Jane Sutton, author
Doreen Buchinski, illustrator
Independently Published
9781723370731, $7.99

Diana Perry

Cindy Krinkle has a loving but extremely unusual family. Her mother does cartwheels everywhere she goes. Her father rides to work on a bike with an umbrella attached. Her sister collects can labels and has a sea urchin for a pet. Other kids call her family weirdos and she wonders why she's the only normal person in her house. So she makes a plan to "unweird" them all. There's a lot of funny moments in this story, many readers will relate to Cindy, but will hopefully learn by the time they finish this book the true meaning of family. (Ages 9-12)

Paradise on Fire
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown
9780316493833, $16.99

Diana Perry

Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Years later, Addy's grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program. There, Addy joins five other Black city kids - each with their own troubles - to spend a summer out west. Young readers will be glued to the story. This is a coming-of age adventure about a timid girl who turns out to be a hero. I really loved it. (Ages 10+)

Dead Wednesday
Jerry Spinelli
Knopf Books
9780593306673, $17.99

Diana Perry

Can playing dead bring you back to life? Maybe on Dead Wednesday... On this day, the worlds of a shy boy and a gone girl collide, and the connection they make will change them both forever. There are so many twists and turns that took this story in a different direction. Young readers may get a bit dizzy as this tale unfolds but I believe they will long remember its meaning. A great book to give the young reader in your family. (Ages 10-12)

Eleanor Amplified and the Trouble with Mind Control
John Sheehan
Running Press Kids
9780762498833, $16.99

Diana Perry

Join world-renowned investigative reporter Eleanor Amplified as she goes undercover to help a student reporter and fan, Miku Tangeroa, expose the corruption at her middle school. Together they discover that the new organic lunch program and tech-based learning systems are doing more harm than good and might actually be part of an evil plot that might put all of Union City in danger. Young readers will love following the clues! I did! (Ages 10+)

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