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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 1 January 2006 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Pets/Wildlife Shelf Science Shelf
Fiction Shelf Preschool Shelf World History Shelf
CD Music Shelf Biography Shelf Environmental Shelf
Art Shelf American History Shelf Video/DVD Shelf
Books in Series Picturebook Shelf Needlecraft Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Willa And The Wind
Janice M. Del Negro
Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591
076145232X $16.95 1-800-831-9881

Willa is bold and clever - so she's going to ask Old Windy, the north wind, to return the cornmeal that he stole. Problem is - Old Windy also is bold and mischievous - but fair. He'll exchange something for the missing cornmeal. Soon three bold contenders vie for cornmeal in a zany tale with vivid illustrations by Heather Solomon.

Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472

Three new books for young readers from Charlesbridge Publishing are ideal for family, school, and community library collections. Written and illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, Eye Guess (1570916-500, $9.95) will entertain children ages 2 to 7 with clues (including a close-up look at its eye) to guessing who the animal in a "lift- the-flap" format. Written by Virginia Kroll and illustrated by Philomena O'Neill, Equal Shmequal: A Math Adventure (1570918929, $6.95, paperback; 1570918910, $16.95, hardcover) is a charming story for young readers ages 4 to 9 that combines friendship with mathematics when Mouse wants to play a game of tug-of-war with her other woodland friends and fairly dividing up the teams proves to be something of a challenge! The World That We Want (1580891152, $6.95, paperback; 1580891144, $16.95, hardcover) is written and illustrated by Kim Michelle Toft who teaches young readers ages 4 to 9 about the interconnectedness of the world's environments and ecosystems. A beautifully scripted and illustrated homage to nature's delicate balance from the air that surrounds the planet, to the rivers that make the rain forests possible, to the corals that shape the atolls, to the dangers facing these delicate environments and information about the many plants and animals that thrive in each identified habitat, "The World That We Want" is enthusiastically recommended reading.

That's What Leprechauns Do
Eve Bunting
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
0618354107 $16.00

Three leprechauns have an important job: they must dig up the pot of gold before the rainbow comes to expose their hiding place - but on the way they can't resist some mischief involving farm animals, putting the pot of gold in danger. A fun story of animal encounters and lessons learned evolves.

Gargoyles, Girders & Glass Houses
Bo Zaunders
345 Hudson, New York NY 10004
0525472843 $17.99

From Florence to Turkey, every civilization holds great building projects and creators, and Bo Zaunders and illustrator Roxie Munro offer a tour of the best of master builders around the world in Gargoyles, Girders & Glass Houses. Kids in grades 3-5 will find each featured building holds a story of its creator, and will find the accounts of building challenges involving.

345 Hudson, New York NY 10014

These excellent titles should reach a wide age range from elementary into middle school levels, even lending to parental read-alouds. Brian Jacques' The Redwall Cookbook (0399237917, $24.99) receives lovely and lively color drawings by Christopher Denise and is a recommended pick for families already familiar with Jacques' Redwall animal fantasy stories - and for families who like to cook together. From Cheerful Churchmouse Cherry Crisp to Hotroot Sunsalad, The Redwall Cookbook comes packed with appealing recipes, colorful drawings, and Redwall insights. Ronald Dahl's Vile Verses (0670060429, $25.00) celebrates strange rhymes and oddities in seven theme sections, from unlikely creatures and poisonous possibilities to defiant songs to a swamp of monsters. A range of artists add full- page color embellishments for fun detail.

The Kids' Guide To Writing Great Thank You Notes
Jean Summers
The Writer's Collective
c/o Gulotta Communications
341 Lexington Street, Newton, MA 02466
1594111251 $9.95

Sometimes it seems as if in this 21st Century America, the practice of writing thank you notes has gone the way of buggy whips. Enter Jean Summers' thoroughly "kid friendly" how-to manual, The Kids' Guide To Writing Great Thank You Notes. The author aptly covers why we write thank you notes, who gets them, and deals with the most common objections kids have to writing thank you notes. From the salutation to a thematically appropriate list of thank you note adjectives, to applicable examples for the most universal occasions, The Kids' Guide To Writing Great Thank You Notes takes children (and their parents!) through an enthusiastically recommended, step-by-step process that will soon have the kids up to speed on the art of saying thank you for the gifts, services, and help that they receive from family and friends.

Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Live too far away to partake of a historical site? Use Karen Clemens Warrick 's 'virtual field trip' title Independence National Park (0766052249 $25.26) to visit the park in an armchair read in just an hour. It examines the history of the Independence National Historical Park and surveys 30 recommended web sites for further color and information. A colorful adjunct for any with a computer - which, today, is most kids. New to the 'American Civil War' series is Suzanne Lieurance's Weapons And Strategies Of The Civil War (0766051854, $19.95), another computer-linked '' title for grades 3-6 which packs 48 pages with color photos and 30 links providing quality Internet sites for more research. Chapter notes, a bibliography and an index round out information and assure not just accuracy, but constant updates to research information. Carin T. Ford's Slavery And The Underground Railroad: Bound For Freedom (076602251X, $18.95) provides grades 3-4 with an introductory overview of the major issues, events and people of the war. Color photos on every page accompany vivid stories of history and courage which read like fiction but hold all the high drama of fact.

346 Hudson St., New York NY 10014

Coriander Hobie tells her story by candlelight in a seven-night time span which tells of her dreams of another childhood past, a strange treasure box, and a fairy tale which takes over her life in Sally Gardner's I, Coriander (0803730993 $16.99). A compelling first-person story brings her tale to life with drama, intrigue, and poignancy. The Roald Dahl Gift Set (014240-0947, $24.95) is a top pick for any fan of Dahl who would present kids ages 8 and up with a slipcased set of quality paperbacks of his major works. Included here are James And The Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator. A wonderful gift idea.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY NY 10020

Marlo Thomas & Friends' Thanks & Giving All Year Long (1416915869 $17.95) arrived too late for more timely holiday mention but promises enjoyment for next year and all year round, with its cd of kids' songs by Sheryl Crow, Billy Crystal and others paired with the inviting multicultural story collection. Here are stories, songs and poems to celebrate world diversity, a companion to the second annual St. Jude Children's research hospital campaign that lasted through this holiday season. Kay Thompson's 50th anniversary edition Eloise (1416908234, $19.95) includes a scrapbook with photos and drawings by Hilary Knight and provides a lovely 50th anniversary edition for any who recall the original classic. The original Eloise story is captured in stories and pictures and the additions by Mr. Knight add an extra bonus for any who fondly recall the precocious six-year-old's adventures.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Crabtree Publishing
350 - 5th Avenue, #3308, NY, NY 10118
$23.92 Each

Bobbie Kalman's latest series of 32-page early introductions to animals each holds bright, appealing covers to accompany eye-catching colorful interiors, making this set as appealing for young leisure browsers as for those producing reports. Frogs And Other Amphibians (0778721-590) covers amphibian physiology and natural history; Reptiles Of All Kinds (07-78721582) reveals babies, habitats and habits; Animals Called Mammals (07787-21674) covers ocean mammals, land mammals and marsupials; Many Kinds Of Animals (0778721566) demonstrates and contrasts the different worlds of fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds; Animals Called Fish (0778721612) surveys fresh and salt-water fish and what makes a fish; and Birds Of All Kinds (0778721604) reveals birds which can fly as well as flightless birds. Excellent coverages, all.

The Science Shelf

Cool Stuff And How It Works
Chris Woodward,
DK Publishing
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0756614651 $24.99

From iPods to medicine, washing machines to motorized wheelchairs, and scanners to flash sticks, the latest modern technological innovations are reviewed in a vivid survey of the science behind the invention. The latest devices present in our daily lives, from solar cells and microwaves to compact discs, are surveyed in a lively, photo-packed chapters which include plenty of colorful visual powers, diagrams, cut-aways and scientific detail to intrigue grades 6-9.

Lerner Publications
24 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55401

Kids in grades 4-6 will relish the 'Cool Science' series: each book holds 48 pages of facts, vivid cover art, and contemporary topics usually not addressed for this age range. Rebecca L. Johnson's Nanotechnology (0822521113) reveals the development and future potentials of tiny computers and machines which can be used to treat disease and create new materials and devices. Many an adult will find this a fascinating treatment. Cherie Winner's Cryobiology (0822529076) discusses freezing human organs and perhaps even humans. The study of how living cells withstand freezing holds all kinds of potential for cures and perhaps even longevity. Both are excellent for aspiring young scientists interested in futuristic topics.

Hubble And The Big Bang
Paul Kupperberg
Rosen Publishing Group
29 E. 21st St., New York NY 10010
1404203079 $21.95

Rosen's 'Primary sources of Revolutionary Scientific Discoveries and Theories' set adds an important new contribution to the series with Hubble And The Big Bang, a 64-page survey of both Hubble and his contributions to astronomy. Opening with an introduction to astronomy as a whole, chapters quickly zero in on Hubble's theories and contribution to cosmology and conclude with a summary timeline of events, primary source transcriptions, a bibliography, primary source image list and index. Intriguing color illustrations pepper Hubble And The Big Bang but the text is the meat of this coverage and is suitable report material for grades 3-5. Even more notable is the fact that Hubble is seldom awarded his own in-depth coverage for this age group.

The Fiction Shelf

Anna Myers
Walker & Company
104 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10011
0802789897 $16.95

Bella is an assistant seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln, and her involvement with one Wilkes Booth leads him to persuade her to betray his president. Bella may know right from wrong, but will she try to save her President? And will Wilkes hurt her to get at his goal. A fine history story.

Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374320918 $16.00

The premise of Elsewhere is interesting: it's where teen Liz ends up after she has died - a place very different from Dearth, where she will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby and returns to Earth. Only problem is - Liz doesn't want to regress. Her attempts to reconcile her new surroundings with her old life makes for a memorable, moving story.

No Sisters Sisters Club
Linda Salisbury
Tabby House
PO Box 544, Mineral, VA 23117
1881539407, $8.95 1-540-894-8868

Because her mother travels, 11-year-old Bailey stays with her grandmother in central Virginia. The surprise arrival of her father and an annoying half-sister Norma Jean sets in motion the creation of a club with Bailey's friends (who are more like sisters to her than Norma Jean) to which her step-sister is not allowed to join. Then there is the problem of Justin (who used to bully Bailey), a cat-snatcher, and a man trying to burn down an old house. But more than any of these issues, is Bailey's father meaning to kidnap her and take her away from her grandmother while her mother is away? No Sisters Sisters Club is the sequel to Linda Salisbury's The Wild Women Of Lake Anna and continues the "Bailey Fish Adventure" series which is especially recommended to young readers ages 8 to 12.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Scholastic's latest leisure choices are strong recommendations as basics for any collection seeking lasting lending interest. You can't go wrong with the latest Harry Potter, as Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (0439784549, $29.99) demonstrates - which is amazing, considering its weight (over 600 pages) and complexity. Fans of the prior Potter stories will here find Harry and friends involved in school even as a war against Voldemort rages poorly for their side. Harry's search for the truth about the boy who became the evil Lord Voldemort may change the world in this latest adventure. Chris D'Lacey's The Fire Within (0439672430, $14.95) tells of the power of dragons faced by David when he moves in with a woman and her eleven-year-old to find a collection of clay dragons that come to life. David must overcome some personal dragons if he's to solve their mystery in this changing, involving fantasy. David Larochelle's Absolutely, Positively Not (0439591090, $16.95) tells of Steven, who knows he's not gay despite some of his secret inclinations. His efforts to sit at the jock table and be manly may backfire unless he can solve his own questions about life and attraction. Nerissa Nields' Plastic Angel (043970913X, $17.95) tells of the summer before high school when child model-actress Angela faces a big Hollywood movie which diminishes her efforts to move away from her child actress life into normalcy. Meanwhile, her friend Randi is seeking entry into the popular crowd - which seems to involve dumping Angela's friendship. Plastic Angel tells of changed friendships and lives. Eddie de Oliveira's Johnny Hazard (0439673615, $16.95) tells of an American boy living in London for the summer. His involvement with an older girl leads him to face important questions about sex, romance and his own self-image in this moving story of change.

The Aquanauts
John Lunn
Tundra Books
PO Box 1030, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
0887767273 $12.99

If you only pick up a few paperbacks each season for your collection, The Aquanauts is one you just have to have: it sounds like a classic underwater lab adventure but by book's end you're heavily involved in black holes, time travel, evil scientists, and a girl who faces losing her only parent. With a feisty teen as the protagonist, an undersea lab, four teens who are contrary at first but who must band together to survive, and many twists and surprises, The Aquanauts is a top pick which can't be beat for swift action and originality: if you purchase just one new sci-fi novel this year, make it The Aquanauts. It's that good.

Delacorte Press
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

It's summer vacation and Wally dreams of days away from school and his neighbor nemesis Caroline - but he gets roped into helping his brothers on a summer newspaper project which involves him with both Caroline and a mystery. Amid scraps and funny mishaps the Hatford boys and Malloy girls put together their own paper and even work on their own big scoop in yet another funny 'Girls Against the Boys' series addition by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Boys Rock! (038573140X, $15.95), which requires no prior familiarity to prove fun. Old-fashioned yet still accessible for modern readers is Sydney Taylor's All-Of-A-Kind-Family (0385732953, $15.95), first released in the 1950s and based on Taylor's own large family and childhood. Jewish religion, holidays, and the experiences of five sisters growing up in New York City bring back the simplicity and closeness of a bygone world. If Bryce Courtenay's The Power Of One (0385732546, 15.95) sounds familiar, it's because this represents a young reader's condensed edition of a prior hard-hitter which became both an adult classic and an acclaimed movie of the same name. It's great to see such a powerful novel condensed with youth in mind: grades 8-12 will find compelling the story of 1930s South Africa and a boy who faces apartheid and prejudice in a country where his childhood is marked by loneliness and dreams of changing lives. A powerful story of courage and change evolves. Donna Jo Napoli's The King Of Mulberry Street (03857-46539, $15.95) is set in 1892 and tells of an Italian ship stowaway who lands in New York and tries to survive the harsh world he finds in the 'promised land'. Separated from his mother, Dom longs for family and love in a harsh world which seems to hold neither for him in the striking King Of Mulberry Street.

The Red Judge
Pauline Fish
Bloomsbury USA
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1582349428 $16.95

Zed's never fit in with his step family; but when he's blamed for a terrible accident involving his sister, he's sent away to live with a Welsh grandmother, where he becomes convinced a Welsh ghost is haunting him. His journey across snowbound Wales to discover the truth about his ghostly encounters and his life makes for a gripping supernatural thriller hard to put down.

525 'B' St. #1900
San Diego, CA 92101-4495

Kids ages 8-12 will find intriguing the story of Thailfi the Goat Boy who has a vested interest in making the god of thunder wear a wedding gown, in Bruce Coville's Thor's Wedding Day (0152014551, $15.00). When Thor's hammer is missing and Loki, god of mischief, comes up with an idea to get it back, Thor becomes involved in a marriage to his own sworn enemy. Hijinks and chuckles evolve. Norma Fox Mazer's What I Believe (0152014-624, $16.00) will reach ages 10-14 with its diary, poems and memoirs of one Victory Marnet, who loves to write and has a terrible secret she can't admit even to her best friend. The memo/diary mixed format allows for diversity yet a continuation of the story which is interesting and different. Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer (0152051163, $17.00) will appeal to ages 12 and older with a moving story of a teen who dances in the Paris Opera - her only joy in life. At home she faces an alcoholic mother and older sister's selfishness - but when Degas demands her presence in his studio, his influence may further change her love - for Marie wishes a life without poverty, and with the romance she needs. Can Degas bring all this to her world? Any who have seen Degas' portrait will find Meyer's extrapolation of the young dancer's life is compelling.

Atheneum/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

Keir is a devoted son and brother, a loyal friend, and reliable - but Gigi, Keir's lifelong love, thinks he is also something else- something inexcusable, and the opposite of all he imagines himself to be. It takes several 'accidents' to make him admit Gigi may be right, and that he may be hurting everyone and everything he loves in life in Chris Lynch's Inexcusable (068-9847890, $16.95). Valerie Mendes' The Drowning (Simon & Schuster UK/Trafalgar Square, 141690272, $8.99) is well worth watching for: teen Jenna wants to dance professionally, but a fatal accident is tearing her family apart, and her life is on hold. Can a witness free her to pursue the rest of her life's goals?

The Preschool Shelf

What I Like About Me
Allia Zobel-Nolan
Reader's Digest Children's Books
Reader's Digest Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570-7000
0794407633 $14.99

The kids presented in What I Like About Me are all entirely different - and they love it. Some love their glasses, some like their dazzling braces, others their thick eyebrows: Miki Sakamoto provides engaging drawings throughout which celebrate the joy of differences.

Haunted House
Jan Pienkowski
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763628182 $14.99

Ages 3 and older will relish this scary pop-up title which is recommended for parent acquisition, as it probably won't withstand the rigors of library lending unless it's used as a display on a top shelf. Haunted House opens with a spooky pop-up staircase and moves to cover monsters and even an octopus in the bathroom. It arrived too late for Halloween mention but deserves pick as a 'keeper' for next year.

A Good Night Walk
Elisha Cooper
Orchard Books
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439687837 $16.99

A child and parent take a walk down their street, enjoying the sights and smells of the evening, which is captured in simple one-line observations in A Good Night Walk. From neighbor activities to racing squirrels and boats on the bay, A Good Night Walk provides an easy view of evening.

My First Farm Book Boxed Set
Russell Julian
Trafalgar Square Publishing
PO Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1405216670 $12.50

Ages 1-3 will find this collection appealing and fun: a boxed set comes with a rope handle carrying case and Velcro closure contains Busy Dog, Hungry Pig, Lost Calf, and Happy Cockerel. A whimsical, fun set of board books lends to repeat viewing and easy learning.

Ready, Set, Preschool!
Anna Jane Hays
Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0375825193 $16.95

Stories, poems and picture games illustrated by True Kelley compliment a guide to preschool for new learners and their parents. Parents receive a guide to making preschool a positive experience, from activities a parent can share with a child to interactive games and early-learning concepts. Perfect for parents who wish to introduce kids gently.

The World History Shelf

A History Of The Romani People
Hristo Kyuchukov & Ian Hancock
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
1563979624 $19.95

A thousand years ago a group of people, the Romani, were driven out of northern India by invaders: they became world nomads, adapting to local culture and customs but always moving - eventually creating their own unique culture. The Romani authors explain these 'gypsy' peoples, why 'gypsy' is a scornful name for them, and they explore their heritage and traditions. Little is written about these peoples for this age grade of 2-4, making for an exceptionally valuable history.

The CD Music Shelf

Little Red Wagon
Timmy Abell
Upstream Records
Waldmania! (publicity)
PO Box 8843, Asheville, NC 28814
UP251 $16.00 1-888-253-7225

Timmy Abell is a seasoned, crowd pleasing performer who has entertained children from some of the smallest schools of rural America to the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Now eleven of his lively, "kid friendly" songs delivered with a true troubadour touch has been compiled and showcased on a flawlessly recorded CD. Highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library CD music collections, the selections include: Going To Grandma's (4:26); Secrets (2:16); Sailor's Hornpipe (2:03); I'm My Own Grandpa (2:41); Mother Was A Goose (3:19); Like Love (3:32); Turkey In The Straw (3:43); Peace Will Dawn (3:30; Rounded Glass Jig (1:22); All Is Well (5:48); and the title piece, Little Red Wagon (4:36).

The Biography Shelf

Morgan Reynolds
620 S. Elm Street, #223
Greensboro, NC 27406
$26.95 each,

Ynes Mexia was fifty years old and stuck in an unhappy marriage on a ranch in Mexico when she suffered a nervous breakdown, was sent to San Francisco for treatment, and joined the environmentalist movement there. Her study of botany and series of expeditions throughout South America when she was into her senior years makes for quite a different biography in Durlynn Anema's Ynes Mexia: Botanist And Adventurer (1931798672): it refutes the common notion that great scientists began early on in life. Earle Rice Jr.'s Adolf Hitler And Nazi Germany (1931798788) provides 176 pages of detail on Hitler. Plenty of other books have been done on Hitler's reign: fewer for this age range (Grades 4-6). Adolf Hitler And Nazi Germany presents plenty of detail on his early life, providing more of a focus on how his Nazi ideas developed. Important for an understanding of his origins as well as his rise to power. Bonnie L. Lukes' Woodrow Wilson And The Progressive Era (1931798796) follows the life and politics of Wilson, from his beginnings as a poor student who became a law school grad and Ph.D. to his many reforms and politics. An exciting story evolves of a man who helped change the face of U.S. society.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

Tropical Rainforests
Robert Snedden
Smart Apple Media/Creative Company
2140 Howard Drive West, N. Mankato, MN 56003
1583403825 $27.10

Adding to the lovely 'Habitats' series is Tropical Rainforests, a gorgeous picturebook study of the forests, the bright and unique wildlife which life in them, and their habits. It's hard to beat this title for color and attraction: many rainforest picturebooks are on the market; but few hold to visual appeal inside and out of Tropical Rainforests.

The Art Shelf

Robert Burleigh
115 W. 18th St., New York NY 10011
0810958678 $17.95

Deserving of ongoing recommendation for any elementary-level library strong in art book holdings is Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge And The City Of Light, a survey of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who fell in love with art at an early age and was inspired to recreate Paris' atmosphere in his works. His paintings, posters, photos and drawings serve as the background for Burleigh's examination of Toulouse-Lautrec's life and makes for a unique, compelling survey.

The American History Shelf

The Forbidden Schoolhouse
Suzanne Jurmain
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618473025 $18.00

Protestors broke school windows, put manure in the school well, pounded the doors with clubs, and villagers refused to sell schoolmistress Miss Crandall groceries or let her students attend the town church. Ultimately she was dragged to jail and put on trial. Her crime? Trying to teach Afro-American girls, and training to maintain one of the first black schools in America. Almost 150 pages includes vintage photos as it traces the little-revealed struggles of Prudence Crandall and her students for readers in grades 5-8.

The Video/DVD Shelf

Wild About Books
Judy Sierra, author
Marc Brown, illustrator
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
0439804833 $TBA 1-800-242-7737

Wild About Books is the animated, DVD version of a rhyming picture book in which librarian Molly McGrew introduces birds and beasts to the joy of reading. Soon zebras, kangaroos, elephants, and many more creatures become "wild, simply wild, about wonderful books." A short, sweet video with a positive message, ideal for home or classroom viewing, and recommended for kids ages 3-8. 8 minutes, color, English subtitles.

My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas
Paramount Home Entertainment
c/o Foundry Communications
135 W. 50th St., #2305, NY, NY 10020
1415711321 $16.99

My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas is a cheerful, animated holiday DVD for children featuring the beloved My Little Pony characters. When young Minty accidentally breaks the candy cane beacon meant to show Santa Claus the way to Ponyville, it seems Christmas this year will be bleak - or will it? Minty sets out to save Christmas with her Pony friends, and spread cheer to the despondent. Together they learn that Christmas is about the love of good friends and the power of the heart, with delightful song and dance. Special features include the bonus My Little Pony episode "Dancing in the Clouds" and sing-a-long segments. A wonderfully entertaining and gentle children's story.

The Baby Society
The Baby Society, LLC
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Created by a pediatric speech-language pathologist to both entertain and enhance language development in babies and toddlers ages 3 months to 36 months, The Baby Society is a DVD of entertaining, whimsical scenes and delightful music intended to foster a positive response to learning. A DVD that both parents and infants can enjoy together, The Baby Society stimulates early language skills of visual tracking, object permanence, auditory attention, recognition of objects, cause and effect, naming/labeling, and understanding of early language concepts and phrases. There are plenty of language tips for parents to encourage children to name an object or animal on the screen, and opportunities to pause the program for the family to make animal sounds together and strengthen recognition. A relaxing and enriching experience to share with little tykes. 34 minutes, color.

No More Diapers
Consumer Vision, Inc.
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

No More Diapers is an animated DVD for children designed to help jump-start potty training. Following the story of a little bear who gives up diapers for big kid underpants, No More Diapers includes fun sing-along songs such as "Wonderous Underous Pants" and "Congratulations March", sure to motivate little ones to take one of the first steps on the long road to growing up. 30 Potty Training Reward stickers are included with this delightful, friendly, and upbeat cartoon. 30 minutes, color.

Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096-0580
$39.95 each, 1-800-843-3620

Schlessinger Media's new "Life in the Middle Age"s series is a set of eight educational and entertaining documentaries on DVD for students in grades 4-8, about the different jobs people had the social structure of a long bygone era. The Noble (1417103027), The Doctor (1417102977), The Serf (1417103035), The Monk (1417103019), The Merchant (1417103-000), and The Knight (1417102993) offer facts about the housing, food, livelihood, and perils of each profession, with lively modern-day re-enactments. A History Of The Middle Ages (1417102985) presents a broad overview of major events and transformations, and Social Structure In The Middle Ages (1417103043) explores codes and rules governing the interaction between human beings. Each DVD features English and Spanish language tracks, closed-captions, discussion questions and activities, and (like all Schlessinger Media programs) limited public performance rights specifically permitting them to be shown in school groups, public libraries, military bases or correctional facilities. A valuable learning tool and just plain fun to watch for children and adults alike. 23 minutes each, color.

Peep And His Pals
WGBH Boston Video
c/o SSA Public Relations
148 Madison Avenue, 16th floor PH-1, New York, NY 10016
1593754892 $29.95 1-800-949-8670

Peep And His Pals is a three-DVD set of the Emmy-award winning, educational Peep television series for preschoolers. Peep, Chirp, and Quack explore and learn about the world in fun and exciting adventures; Peep discovers secrets about the night, or chases the perfect leaf on a windy day; Chirp tries to fly, with a little help from his friends; and much more. Then real children experiment, play, and discover the wonders of the big wide world, from what grows under a pile of leaves to following one's nose on a grand smelling adventure. The Peep and His Pals set includes three classic DVDs: "Peep Explores", "Chirp Flies", and "Quack Knows it All", and features bilingual English/Spanish programs, downloadable anywhere science activities for young children, coloring pages, and more. Highly recommended. Approx 180 minutes, color.

Books in Series

Stargazer Books
c/o The Creative Company
123 South Broad St., Mankato, MN 56001

"Resources" is a superbly illustrated, eight volume series of books on specific substances and their relationship to the environment. Specifically written for students with a reading level of fourth grade and higher, each of these 32-page books-in-series features an Index, a Glossary, Maps, color photography and illustrations. The titles comprising this informative and engaging series include: Ian Mercer's Gemstones & The Environment (1932799389) and Oils & The Environment (1932799-311); Susan Cackett's Glass & The Environment (1932799370); and Kathryn Whyman's Metals & The Environment (1932799338), Plastics & The Environment (193279932X); Rocks & The Environment (1932799362), Textiles & The Environment (1932799354), and Wood & The Environment (1932799346). The entire eight volume set ($216.80 list; $151.60 school/library) would make a popular addition to any school or community library collection. Homeschooling parents and classroom teachers should note that each title is also available separately ($27.10 list; $18.95 school/library).

Gareth Stevens
330 West Olive Street, #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212
$19.50 each

Each book in the "Welcome to My Country" series packs in color photos of elementary-grade kids to accompany books which are 48 pages in length, hold indexes, glossaries and bibliographies which include videos and web sites, and are recommended as basic library picks for grades 2-5. New additions keep expanding the series while chapters cover economy, politics, geography and history and mix report-suitable facts with plenty of contemporary color photos. Jamaica (083-6825640), Romania (0836825675), Liberia (0836825667), Jordan (0836825659), Venezuela (0836831233), Taiwan (0836-831225), Syria (0836831365), Tanzania (0836831373), Panama (0836831357) and Algeria (0836831322) each hold potential for leisure browsing as much as report assignments.

World Almanac Library
330 West Olive Street, #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212

The series titles offered by World Almanac Library will enhance a reference collection greatly, promising lasting lending value and subjects which tie easily into school curriculum purposes. The expanding 'Library of the Middle Ages' series ($22.50 each), for example, holds volumes of slightly under 50 pages complete with index, bibliography, and color illustrations supplementing facts. The division by topics makes it easy for students to select a volume appropriate for a report: Monarchs (0836858964), Travel And Trade (0836858999), Monks And Monasteries (0836858972), Knights, Castles And Warfare (0836858956), Feudalism And Village Life (0836858948), Churches And Religion (0836858921), Cities And Towns (083685893X) and The Plague And Medicine (0836858980) all provide about 6 chapters each covering history, social and cultural issues, and more. The 'Milestones in Modern Science' set ($30 each) also provide 48 pages of detail for grades 3-5, with each book using a science discovery to detail surrounding history, science, and impact. Splitting The Atom (0836858-565), Einstein's Theories Of Relativity (0836858530), The First Computers (083-6858549), The Discovery Of DNA (083-6858514), The First Polio Vaccine (083-6858557) and The Discovery Of Penicillin (0836858522) each outline the major discovery and its impact on society using about 5 chapters each paired with numerous illustrations, examples, and insights. The 'Religions of the World' set ($30 each) is outstanding and highly recommended: yes, other companies have produced religious histories by faith for this same grade level - but few others hold the eye-catching color photos to make the history and religious overviews intriguing even to leisure browsers. Kids seeking solid facts for reports should look no further than Islam (0836858689), Buddhism (0836858654), Christianity (0826858-662), Judaism (0826858697), or Hinduism (0836858670) for slightly under fifty pages detailing religious history, teachings, lifestyle, and the religion's importance in the modern word. For an overview of government which serves as an excellent, basic introduction for kids, make 'Systems of Government' ($30 each) a pick: a little under 50 pages each provide facts surrounding the principles, leaders and history of Democracy (0836858832), Communism (0836858-824), and Monarchy (0836858859). Each packs in appealing color photos as it explains the government system's background and how it operates. The 'Continents of the World' series provide excellent continent-specific details suitable for reports. Flint's Europe (0836-859138), Bowden's Asia (0836859111) and Africa (0836859103), Darian-Smith's Australia, Antarctica And The Pacific (083685912X), Scoones' South America (0836859154) and Nagle's North America (0836859146) each provide plenty of bright sidebars of cultural and geographic information, comparisons with world facts, and more. Dale Anderson's 'Library of the American Revolution' titles each narrow Revolutionary War topics, offering 46 pages of reading per book for grades 3-5, and including an index, time line, bibliography, and side bars of information accompanied by bright illustration. Topics stand alone well, so the library works well as a set or as individual purchases. New additions: Key Battles Of The American Revolution 1776-78 (0836859278), Causes Of The American Revolution (0826-859251), Daily Life During The American Revolution (0836869308), Soldiers And Sailors In The American Revolution (0826859294), Patriots Win The American Revolution (0826859286), Forming A New American Government (0836859-324) and Leaders Of The American Revolution (0836859316). The 'Great Inventions' set provides the same age range with 48 pages each chronicling key inventions and their impact on human development. Doak's The Phonograph (0836858-778) and The Telescope And Microscope (0836858808), Sterngass and Kachur's Plastics (0836858786) and Worth's Telegraph And Telephone (0836858794) each tell of life before the invention, the impetus for its development, the inventor's achievement, and its lasting impact on the past, present, and future. All are excellent, highly recommended references.

27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3536

Thomson's excellent series titles are fine basic picks for discriminating library collections. The Giants of Science series ($24.95 each) expands with two fine biographies: Peggy Parks' Joseph Lister: The Father Of Antiseptics (1410303225) tells of an 1800s British surgeon who made a discovery which revolutionized medicine, producing the antiseptics which changed operating room procedures. George Shea's Rachel Carson: Founder Of The Environmental Movement (1410305686) tells of Carson's early 1962 introduction of ecology concepts to the average American. Both books provide 64 pages of facts to appeal to grades 4-6. Don Nardo's The Byzantine Empire (1410305864, $23.70) provides grades 2-4 with a basic 48-page primer adding to the 'Life During the Great Civilizations' series. The everyday lives of the Byzantines describes transport, housing, technology and society of the times. Kris Hirschmann's Bugs: Termite (0737717769, $22.45) provides grades 1-3 with 32 pages covering termite habitats and habits, while Elaine Pascoe's account of Grubs And Other Garden Pests (1410305368, $23.70) enjoys Dwight Kuhn's close-up and colorful photos to enhance the 'Nature Close-Up' series for grades 3-6. All are lovely series picks which stand as well alone as with their companions.

27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

If you only wish one coverage of the Loch Ness monster in your collection, it should be Peggy J. Parks' The Loch Ness Monster (0737731664 $23.70), which uses bright color photos of ads, explorers, 'the monster' and more to accompany a vivid text charting the monster's appearances and legends. Stories of explorations, scientific research, and analysis make the most of techniques used to discover the truth behind the myth. Barbara Sheen's Foods Of Greece (0737730331, $24.95) provides kids in grades 3-5 with an excellent food history which uses foods to provide cultural insights. Recipes pepper chapters that cover unique flavors to be found in Greek cooking, their development, and seasonal eating patterns: any interested in Greek culture will find this compelling. Jennifer C. Martin's The Korean Americans (1590180798, $28.70) joins others in the 'Immigrants in America' series for grades 4-7, offering a little over a hundred pages of facts about Korean immigrant experiences. Primary source quotes, sidebars of information, colorful contemporary photos and bibliographies make this useful for both leisure reading and study. Two fine additions to the 'People at the Center Of' series ($23.70 each) are excellent elementary- level library additions. Chris Hughes' Constitutional Convention (156-7119182) discusses the key people who have influenced the Constitutional Convention's outcome, from John Jay and George Mason to Washington. 48 pages of facts hold relatively small print and plenty of information suitable for reports. Gail B. Stewart's The Renaissance (1567119220) surveys the influence of da Vinci, Columbus, Galileo and Martin Luther among many others. Each book uses biographies of key individuals to explore changes of the times. Both are suitable for grades 4-6.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591

Upper elementary through middle school grade levels will find the 'Habitats of the World' set (0761475230, $329.95) a specialty acquisition appropriate for enhancing a reference section. The 11-book set provides an A-Z reference of world habitats, with each book offering 50 pages of detail. From an introductory contents section by category and index and reader's guide to entries on major regions, environments, and notable contributors to habitat study, add in bright contemporary color photos and you have a real winning set. Marc Zabludoff's 'Family Trees' set ($20.95 Each) covers divisions, kingdoms and orders in the natural world, with each book providing grades 6 and up with nearly a hundred pages of science detail. The Protoctist Kingdom (0761418180), Reptile Class (0761418202), Insect Class (0761418199), Flowering Plant Kingdom (0761418172) and Primate Order (0761-418164) by Stefoff each survey kingdoms and species, classification methods, physical traits, adaptations, and life cycles. Lovely color photos cement interest and captivating covers encourage leisure browsers. The same age group will enjoy 'AnimalWays' new additions ($21.95/each), which provide a little over a hundred pages each of natural history detail on selected animals. Stefoff's Penguins (0761417435) and Lions (076141746X), Schleapfer's Butterflies (0761417451), Zabludoff's Spiders (0761417478) and Warhol's Hawks (0761417443) are all exceptional, promising to be basic references in any elementary- grade library strong in natural history.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Warlord's Messengers
Virginia Walton Pilegard
Pelican Publishing
1000 Burmaster St., Gretna, LA 70053
1589802713 $15.95

Kids ages 5-8 will relish The Warlord's Messengers, the sixth in the 'warlord's Series' which uses fiction and art to introduce math concepts to kids. Each math adventure is set in ancient China and invites kids to use math skills to solve the dilemma. Here a warlord's presence is requested at the emperor's banquet in two weeks - but he's sixteen days away by horseback - can he reach the event in time? An excellent math puzzle evolves.

Hyperion Books
114 - 5th Ave., New York NY 10011

Pamela Duncan Edward's Ms. Bitsy Bat's Kindergarten (0786806699, $15.99) is a lovely, recommended pick for ages beyond the kindergarten range. Henry Cole's fun animal drawings capture a new teacher at the kindergarten and the adjustment process which comes for the entire class. Can a bat who sleeps during the day and eats insects satisfy a mixed animal classroom? Very highly recommended: the resourceful Ms. Bitsy Bat has an answer for every problem. Jon Agee's Terrific (0786851-848, $15.95) tells of a trip to Bermuda which turns into adventure when the ship sinks. Eugene meets a parrot while stranded on the island, and the parrot just happens to be a boat-building expert: but the adventure isn't over and more obstacles cement their friendship in this funny tale of trauma. Mo Willems' Leonardo The Terrible Monster (0786852941, $16.99) tells of a monster who is just terrible t being a monster: he can't frighten anyone. He's not big enough, weird enough, nor anything else - but has he discovered his niche in terrorizing a shy youngster? A very simple story of a monster's sad lack of talent evolves. Esme Raji Codell and LeUyen Pham's Hanukkah, Shmanukkah! (0786851791, $16.99) arrived too late for more timely holiday mention but deserves a place year-round in any serious Hanukkah collection as something unique and different. Old Scroogemacher is a sourpuss and tyrant to his workers who doesn't believe in Hanukkah - but three ghostly rabbis visit him that night and bring him wisdom and insights. An intriguing take-off on A Christmas Tale.

Groundhog Gets A Say
Pamela Curtis Swallow, author
Denise Brunkus, illustrator
345 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
039923876X $15.99

It's February 3rd and Groundhog is fed up: yesterday he was hot news; today he is nothing. He's tired of one-day fame, and he's determined to promote Groundhog Appreciation Month! Denise Brunkus provides the funny drawings as Groundhog displays his many talents other than weather prediction.

Henry Holt
15 W. 18th St., New York NY 10011

Shirley Mozelle's The Bear Upstairs (08-05068201, $16.95) tells of a very noisy new neighbor who impacts the peace and quiet of the Bear Downstairs. A decision to complain results in some surprises in this appealing story illustrated by Doug Cushman, which any urban dweller will readily relate to. Laurie Keller's Grandpa Gazillion's Number Yard (0805052823, $16.95) shows that numbers can have all kinds of uses in a pinch - they aren't just for counting in Grandpa Gazillion's Number Yard, but can be used as scoops, hairdryers, scrapers and more. A very zany set of drawings invites kids to think outside the box. Nikki Giovanni's Rosa (08-05071067, $16.95) receives Bryan Collier's gorgeous drawings as it provides a fictionalized dramatization of the Rosa Parks story. By adding dramatic embellishments the underlying meaning and tone of Rosa's experiences come to life for kids with good reading skills. Denise Fleming's The First Day Of Winter (080-5073841, $15.95) uses the '12 Days of Christmas' rhyme scheme to reveal elements of the first ten days of winter, which bring special gifts for a special friend, the snowman. A whimsical, fun story evolves.

Catching The Moon
Crystal Hubbard & Randy DuBurke
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Ave, #1205, NY, NY 10016
1584302437 $16.95

In the early 1930s, Marcenia Lyle was a young girl who loved baseball and could hit, field, and run better than the best of the boys. When Gabby Street (the baseball manager of the St. Louis Cardinals) came to recruit children for his baseball camp, Marcenia realized that his camp could be her first step from the sand lot to playing baseball with the pros. But Mr. Street didn't allow girls at his camp and Marcenia's parents want her to give up her baseball dreams and act like other girls her age. Dramatically told by Crystal Hubbard and superbly illustrated by Randy DuBurke, Catching The Moon: The Story Of A Young Girl's Baseball Dream is a picturebook for young readers based on the true story of the determination and passion of a young girl who would one day become the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro league. Highly recommended -- especially for school and community libraries of the inner cities.

The Prince's Diary
Renee Ting, author
Elizabeth Dulemba, illustrator
Shen's Books
40951 Fremont Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94538
1885008279 $16.95

Ages 4-8 will relish this new take on the Cinderella story, which comes from the Prince's viewpoint. Elizabeth Dulemba provides lovely drawings and kids will find plenty of embellishment on the story of a frustrated prince who finds all kinds of things wrong with women - until he meets a particularly elusive woman. Better cover art would have attracted initial attention, but the story itself is excellent and appealing.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Yummy Yarns: Knits For Kids
Kathleen Greco & Nick Greco
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003
0823059863 $19.95

There are plenty of children's knitting books on the market already: books that tell how to knit clothing for kids - what makes this one so special is its focus on fun kids' fashions made with novelty yarns. Yes, there are the usual scarves, ponchos, and mittens - but each has a touch of something exotic or different, from a sparkly Hawaiian crop top made of 'ribbon yarn' to jeweled hot pink flip-flops with waterproof 'jelly yarn'. If you think knits for kids tend to all look alike, you may be right: fix the problem with Yummy Yarns Knits For Kids: 20 Easy-To-Knit Designs For Ages 2 To 8 Featuring Fun Novelty Yarns.

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

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