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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 1 January 2009 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Language Studies Shelf Mythology/Folklore Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf Picturebook Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Science Shelf Fiction Shelf DVD Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Judaic Studies Shelf Poetry Shelf
Biography Shelf Audiobook Shelf Easy Reader Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Every Human Has Rights
National Geographic Society
1145 - 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-4688
9781426305108, $17.95

Every Human Has Rights: A Photographic Declaration for Kids is a picturebook for young people based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, illustrated with powerful color photography and enhanced with poetry from the ePals community. A foreword by Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, enhances this meaningful introduction to a profound and fundamental concept of social issues. A welcome addition to public and school library children's collections. "Every adult has the right to marry and have a family, but nobody can force you to get married. In marriage, both partners are equal."

May Day & Lei Day
Minako Ishii
Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573062886, $16.95,

What happens when you blend two longstanding cultural traditions? "May Day & Lei Day" is a dual sided children's book exploring the Hawaiian tradition of Lei Day, springing from the English Tradition of May Day. Showing the wide range of activities and their meaning on this annual Hawaiian event, "May Day & Lei Day" is a charming book.

Bob the Builder Can-Do Zoo
Brighter Minds Media, LLC
600 Lakeview Plaza Blvd., Suite D, Worthington, OH 43085

Rated as appropriate for gamers in early childhood by the ESRB, Bob the Builder Can-Do Zoo is an educational computer game by the creators of "Diner Dash", available on CD-ROM for Windows and the Macintosh. The latest job for Bob and the Can-Do crew involves building a new home for the animals of Bobland Bay Zoo, a task that involves problem solving, critical thinking, object classification, planning and time sequencing, pattern/size/shape/spatial recognition, and shape/color identification. Cheerful cartoony graphics add a bright touch to this gentle and family-friendly game, which allows children to learn in both English and Spanish.

Let's Find Pokemon!
Kazunori Aihara, artist
Viz Communications Inc.
295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
9781421522920, $11.99 1-800-394-3042

Let's Find Pokemon! is a colorful look-and-find children's picturebook that encourages young readers to hunt for pictures of specific Pokemon among vast and diverse crowds. An "answers" page and a special "Pokemon 1, 2, 3!" story that promotes thinking skills as young readers follow a story in stages enhance this enjoyable activity book. A great gift for any child who loves the Pokemon games or cartoon, perfect for indoor fun.

Fun With Pokemon!
Hiroshi Takase, artist
Viz Communications Inc.
295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
9781421523118, $11.99 1-800-394-3042

Fun With Pokemon! is a hardcover, consumable activity book filled with colorful illustrations that spell out over twenty fun games that children can play. Featuring delightfully cute Pokemon creatures from the popular game and television series, Fun With Pokemon! is filled with mazes, "find the same" puzzles, "what is wrong with this picture?" puzzles, "hide-and-seek" puzzles, and more. A wonderful treat for young Pokemon fans, especially recommended for rainy-day amusement.

The Kid in My Closet
Linda D. Meyer
Book Publishers Network
PO Box 2256, Bothell, WA 98041
9781887542944, $12.95

Weird looking, mooshy, and hairy. Humans are truly terrifying things. "The Kid in My Closet" is a children's story with the roles reversed. Jonster, a blue skinned, green haired, monster with antler-like ears, is terrified of the strange red headed human child in his closet. Despite the human child's strange appearance and ways, Jonster learns that appearances are nothing to judge people, or monsters, on. "The Kid in My Closet" is charmingly illustrated by Miranda Roberts, giving young readers a hearty laugh and a moving moral.

Doris Thesaurus
Maria L. Corkern
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438914367, $14.95 1-800-280-7715

Doris Thesaurus is a rhyming, softcover picturebook designed to teach young people how to use a thesaurus to improve their writing. Sara is having trouble writing a story, when her friend suggests calling out the name of Doris Thesaurus. Doris is a tall, bespectacled green reptile who knows how to look up vivid synonyms in her helpful Thesaurus! "'I'm starting to see how this book of yours works. / I look up a word that I wrote. / And then I read the ones that come next. / They'll help give my writing some hope.'" The final two pages give some specific examples of using thesaurus words to enrich one's writing, comparing "Just Okay" sample sentences to "Much Better" sample sentences. A fun way to learn how to use a basic writing tool, Doris Thesaurus is especially highly recommended for children's public and school library collections.

We Are All Born Free
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
4 Torriano Mews, Torriano Avenue, London NW5 2RZ
9781845076504, $19.95

All royalties from the sale of We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures will be donated to Amnesty International. Published to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, We Are All Born Free depicts each article with a colorful, two-page illustration by an internationally known artist. "Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason." A two-page spread in the back of the book repeats all of the written articles for easy reference. We Are All Born Free is a powerful reminder of fundamental human rights and dignity, and a welcome addition to public library children's collections.

The Language Studies Shelf

Teach Me... Everyday Spanish, Volume 1
Judy Mahoney, author
Patrick Girouard, illustrator
Teach Me Tapes, Inc.
6016 Blue Circle Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343
9781599721026, $19.95 1-800-456-4656

Volume 1 of Teach Me... Everyday Spanish is a children's picturebook with accompanying audio CD designed to help young people learn the fundamentals of Spanish. Charming, cartoony illustrations pepper this upbeat collection of mnemonic songs covering such things as the Spanish alphabet, days of the week, basic body parts, numbers, colors, traditional rhymes like "Jack and Jill" in both English and Spanish, and more. A great way to get young people interested in the fun of learning a new language.

The Mythology/Folklore Shelf

Gadoo the Cat: An Armenian Folktale
Susan Kadian Gopigian, author
Susan Collier Bolt, illustrator
Shoushan Books
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48301
c/o Wayne State University Press (distributor)
The Leonard N. Simons Building, 4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780980145304, $16.95 1-800-978-7323

Gadoo the Cat is a beloved Armenian folktale, elegantly retold by kindergarten teacher Susan Kadian Gopigian. Simplistic color illustrations bring to life this tale rooted in the Armenian proverb, "The cat which is a cat, will run after a mouse." Two kings are quarreling over the ancient nature versus nurture debate; one king believes that we are what we are born to be, while the other believes that we are what we are taught. To prove his case, the king who believes in nurture over nature trains his cat Gadoo to be a skilled royal attendant; but when Gadoo is called upon to demonstrate her skills, the other king releases a mouse - and bedlam ensues! "The king, with the triumphant air of victory, tweaked his beard and dramatically raised his right hand and proclaimed, 'Aha! Aha! I am the winner! I have proved you are, what you are born!' A cat which is a cat, will always run after a mouse. Do you agree?" Gadoo the Cat is especially recommended as a book worthy of discussion, concerning how the proverb and the folktale came to grow out of Armenian ideas and culture.

Ganga: The River that Flows from Heaven to Earth
Vatsala Sperling, author
Harish Johari and Pieter Weltevrede, illustrators
Bear Cub Books
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591430896, $15.95 1-800-246-8648

Ganga: The River that Flows from Heaven to Earth is a children's picturebook of East Indian legend of the river goddess Ganga. Her mocking insults of the great sage Durvasa cause the sage to banish her from Heaven forever with a curse. When she repents, the sage sees that she is truly sorry; though he can't take back the curse, he does pair it with a blessing - as a river on Earth, Ganga will flow with holy water that can purify the souls of men and free them from sin. Illustrated with richly beautiful watercolor and tempura paints in the style of classic Indian art, Ganga: The River that Flows from Heaven to Earth is a wonderful addition to children's multicultural lore shelves.

The Seven Wise Princesses
Wafa Tarnowska, author
Nilesh Mistry, illustrator
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
9781846862502, $19.99 1-866-215-1756

The Seven Wise Princesses: A Medieval Persian Epic is a prose translation of Sufi poet Nizami's twelfth-century classic, "Haft Paykar". An lengthy text (nearly one hundred pages) suitable for preteens and up with advanced reading skills, The Seven Wise Princesses pairs its thoughtful prose with striking and colorful illustrations. Enhanced with detailed notes by the author offering commentary on the Sufi mysticism inherent in the fable, The Seven Wise Princesses is sure to delight adults as well as older children.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Help Me Pray Today
Natalie Friedl
Halo Publishing
PO Box 241343, Lyndhurst, OH 44124-9998
9780979742910, $9.99,

The bedside isn't the only place to forge a connection with God. "Help Me Pray Today" is a book dedicated to teaching young children the value of prayer in their day to day lives. Prayer is private communication with God, and is one of the best tools in inspiring faith young children. "Help Me Pray Today" is a must for Christian parents to read to their children for bed time.

First Christmas
Alastair MacDonald
Welcome Books
6 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781599620558, $22.50,

Few people have wondered the opinions of Joseph's donkey when it comes to the nativity, but who says it's not worth hearing anyway? "First Christmas" is a fresh spin on the nativity scene told by the beloved donkey of Joseph, Zeke. Written to appeal to readers of all ages and especially to parents reading to their children, it's greatly benefitted by illustrations done in the classic religious art style from Adel Nassief. "First Christmas" is a solid choice for any parent looking to tell their child the true story of Christmas.

The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud
Jenny L. Cote
300 Watergate Drive, Roswell, GA 30076
Living Ink Books
6815 Shallowford Rd., Cattanooga, TN 37321
9780899571980, $14.99,

Noah's ark and the tale of the flood are older than Christianity itself, and Jenny Cote brings her own unique spin on the subject. "The Ark, the Reed, & The Fire Cloud" is a story of the ark told through the eyes of a Scottish terrier by the name of Max and a cat called Liz. Leading the way for the animal kingdom onto the ark of Noah, they must foil a plot that has been laid out to end the life of their human friend. "The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud" is a charming story for young Christian readers or pet lovers in general.

Dinosaurs: Stars of the Show
Amie Zordel, author
Joanna Borrero, illustrator
Master Books
c/o New Leaf Publishing Group
PO Box 726, Green Forest, AR 72638
9780890515464, $12.99 1-800-999-3777

Dinosaurs: Stars of the Show is a fundamentalist Christian picturebook that teaches children to literally interpret the Bible. When a young girl sees a television program claiming that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, she consults the Holy Bible, in which God's word clearly states that all existence is no older than six thousand years - and therefore, dinosaurs and humans once lived side by side. "God's Word is clear, if we just try, / to search the Scriptures with an open eye. / All answers are there for you to find. / God gives wisdom as you use your mind." The result is a ramrod strict lesson about focusing solely on the Bible for all of one's answers, and unilaterally speaking out against any information that may contradict it.

The Hermit, the Icon, & the Emperor
Chrissi Hart, author
Niko Chocheli, illustrator
Conciliar Press
PO Box 76, Ben Lomond, CA 95005-0076
9781888212495, $16.95 1-800-967-7377

The Hermit, the Icon, & the Emperor is an Eastern Orthodox Christian picturebook for children about how the very first icon of the Mother of God, as painted by the Evangelist Luke himself, traveled from the emperor's palace in Constantinople to its new home on the island of Cyprus. Striking, jewel-toned illustrations by Niko Chocheli illustrate this retelling of a priceless piece of Christian history, starting with the vision of a hermit. The text is just complex enough that preschool children may not be able to read it on their own, but Christian children in preschool and up will benefit from having this powerful tale read aloud to them.

The Picturebook Shelf

Little Polar Bear and the Whales
Hans de Beer
North-South Books Inc.
PMB 248, 455 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9780735822092, $16.95

Little Polar Bear and the Whales is an upbeat children's picturebook about young polar bear who befriends a pod of beluga whales and Moby, a giant sperm whale. When the whales are threatened by a whaling ship, Lars finds a small bay for them to hide - but when spring makes the ice melt, floating ice chunks trap the whales! It's up to Lars to think of an ingenious solution to save his friends and win the day in this charming arctic story.

Amy's Travels
Kathryn Starke
Creative Minds Publications
2325 Crowncrest Drive, Richmond, Virginia 23233
0976973707, $12.00

Written by second grade teacher Kathryn Starke, Amy's Travels is a softcover children's picturebook that invites young readers to accompany Amy along her trip to all seven of Earth's continents. From the rainforest jungles of Africa to the mountains of South America and the cultured cities of Europe, Amy's Travels offers a child's eye view of the delights of encountering new people, places, and cultures. Simple color drawings on every other page add a unique touch of charm to this storybook, especially recommended for sharing with children before a family trip.

The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster
David Conway, author
Melanie Williamson, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589250802, $15.95 1-888-454-0097

The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster is a children's picturebook that turns traditional nursery rhymes on their head! When Little Miss Muffet gets bored of hanging out with the scary spider of her own nursery rhyme, she searches for another nursery rhyme to be in. Jack and Jill's nursery rhyme involves too much injury; the dish gets jealous when she tries to run away with the spoon; and she looks silly when she tries to climb a clock like the mouse in "Hickory, Dickory, Dock". What is a young girl to do? Charming, cartoony illustrations add the perfect twisted-fairy-tale touch to this lighthearted adventure.

Welcome to Monster Isle
Oliver Chin, author
Jeff Miracola, illustrator
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94127
9781597020169, $15.95

Filled with exuberantly colorful and cartoony illustrations, Welcome to Monster Isle is a rhyming picturebook about a family's vacation that takes a turn for the wild when a storm sends their skipper's boat off course. Seven castaways are stranded on an uncharted desert island - filled with wild and fierce monsters! From a griffon to a zillard to a volcano with a face, can the refugees survive and even make friends with such fantastic beasts? An enthusiastic, upbeat tale perfect for reading aloud to young monster lovers.

My Penguin Osbert in Love
Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, author
H.B. "Buck" Lewis, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763630324, $16.99 1-800-526-0275

My Penguin Osbert in Love is a whimsical, larger-than-life picturebook about a young boy who goes on a transcontinental adventure with his former pet penguin, Osbert. Osbert can't fly and needs help to get to the South Pole for a midwinter bash, so the boy flies Osbert and his many penguin friends down there in a helicopter (a very useful gift from Santa)! At the South Pole, Osbert meets a beautiful female penguin and falls in love, while the boy gets to view spectacular southern lights. At last it's time for everyone to go home. An implausible yet heartwarming and charming story, My Penguin Osbert in Love a simple pleasure, particularly recommended for young penguin fans.

Max Said Yes! The Woodstock Story
Abigail Yasgur and Joseph Lipner, authors
Barbara Mendes, illustrator
Change the Universe Press
9607 Bolton Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
9780615211442, $17.95

Max Said Yes! The Woodstock Story is a colorful, rhyming children's picturebook about the true-life celebration of music and peace that was the Woodstock festival on August 15, 16, and 17 in 1969, and the ordinary dairy farmer who allowed it to happen on his land. Vibrant, colorful illustrations evoking the rainbow passion of the 60's grace this cheerful tale. Max Said Yes! is an unabashed celebration of the openness and love of a bygone decade.

Adventures of Countess Pigula: "Up, Up and Away!"
Karen J. Freysinger
"A-Ha!" Elora Danan Productions, Inc.
PO Box 428, Estero, FL 33929
9780978672911, $16.99

The sequel to Adventures of Countess Pigula: "Her Royal Imagination", Adventures of Countess Pigula: "Up, Up and Away!" is a rhyming children's picturebook about Countess Pigula, guinea pig who dreams of going on a hot air balloon adventure with her guinea pig and rabbit friends. While the first book doubled as a very basic guide to teach children how to care for guinea pigs, "Up, Up and Away!" is a purely a flight of fantasy, though the most intriguing part is that Countess Pigula shares her dream with her friends and together they begin work to make it come true. Countess Pigula and her friends are based on four real-life pets, photos of which are shown on the final page. Adventures of Countess Pigula: "Her Royal Imagination" is a simple and delightful story sure to charm young guinea pig fans.

The Magic of Laven-Rock
Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak
PM Moon Publishers, Limited
PO Box 110813, Cleveland, Ohio 44111-0813
9780981777733, $29.95

African-American author, teacher, and counselor Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak presents The Magic of Laven-Rock, an amazing children's fairy tale about the faraway land of K'briadron, where purple and blue magic fill the needs of the people - until the coming of the Locktick. Princess Kaylin Veronica and her cousin Prince Theodore must go on a quest to find and deal with the creature that has caused so many problems for their homeland! A powerful moral about tolerance, diversity, and the value of sharing rather than fighting pervades this gentle and fairly lengthy (66 pages) story, featuring illustrations ranging from simple, cartoon-like caricatures to gorgeous computer-generated scenic views. Highly recommended.

Out of the Deeps
Anne Laurel Carter and Nicolas Debon
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781551435596, $19.95 1-800-210-5277

The award-winning author and illustrator team of Anne Laurel Carter and Nicolas Debon present Out of the Deeps, a children's picturebook about the difficult life of working in a mine before World War II. Before machinery was installed mines, pit ponies worked underground, and rarely if ever saw sunlight. During Salvino's first day of work in the mine, his headlamp goes out. Even though he is blind, his pit pony Nelson leads him out of danger. Inspired by a true story told by tour guide Savino "Hinson" Calibrese, Out of the Deeps is a striking picturebook, highly recommended for public library children's collections.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Eric Kimmel's LITTLE BRITCHES AND THE RATTLERS (9780761454328, $16.99) will reach ages 4-8 with an outstanding survey of Little Britches, who saddles her pony and heads out for the rodeo hoping to win a contest prize. Thwarted by rattlesnakes, Little Britches must learn how to overcome adversity to win the price. Vincent Nguyen's drawings are light-hearted and fun. Sarah L. Thomson's PIRATES, HO! (9780761454359, $14.99) will appeal to the same age group as it tells of swashbuckling pirates who brave storms and seas but who are frightened of ghost stories at night. Stephen Gilpin provides a zany set of drawings. Wendy Wax's CITY WITCH, COUNTRY SWITCH (9780761454298, $16.99) receives Scott Gibala-Broxholm's intriguing drawings as it tells of two witches with very different interests in life. When the cousins visit each other, troubles come between them - can they solve them with a spell? Demi's MARCO POLO (9780761454335, $19.99) is a fine choice for readers ages 8-12: it provides a historical survey of Polo's journey and provides excellent drawings illustrating a saga of discovery. Steven Kroll's THE HANUKKAH MICE (9780761454281, $14.99) will reach ages 4-8 with its story of Hanukkah and a mouse family who secretly watches Mr. Silman light the first Hanukkah candle. When a dollhouse is opened the mouse family explores the dollhouse enjoying the small miracles of the season in a book illustrated by Michelle Shapiro. Pam Calvert's PRINCESS PEEPERS (9780761454373, $16.99) is for ages 5-9 and tells of a princess who loves wearing her glasses - until the other princesses at school make fun of her. A hilarious tale of what is really the cool style evolves. Margery Cuyler adapts WE'RE GOING ON A LION HUNT (9780761454540, $14.99) which tells of a teacher who leads her class on an imaginary safari journey. The adaptation of a classic camp song receives fun drawings by Joe Mathieu.

Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

John Himmelman's KATIE LOVES THE KITTENS (080508682X, $16.95) tells of three little kittens brought home to delight Katie the dog, who can't stop from howling, she loves them so much. But her howling frightens the kittens and they run from her: how can she get them to play with her? Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall's WILD BOARS COOK (0805075232, $16.95) tells of selfish, stinky, hungry boars with bad manners who decide to concoct a Massive Pudding one day. Their experiment with too much food and naughtiness makes for an outstanding survey of culinary disaster and fun. Sam Lloyd's DOCTOR MEOW'S BIG EMERGENCY (0805088199, $14.95) tells of an emergency phone call at Kiss-It-Better Hospital where Tom Cat has hurt his leg. Can Doctor Meow come right away to help him? The series of events that take place after an emergency call is made makes for a fine and fun survey.

Someone for Mr. Sussman
Patricia Polacco
Philomel Books
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9780399250750, $16.99

Jerome's Bubbie is a matchmaker: the best in the neighborhood. She's found a match for nearly everyone - except for Mr. Sussman and herself. But Mr. Sussman is impossible to match - and Bubbie is equally determined to find someone out there for him. A comedy of errors evolves.

Random House/Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019, 1-800-726-0600

Jill Davis' THE FIRST RULE OF LITTLE BROTHERS (9780375840463, $16.99) provides a warm account of the 'first rule of little brothers'. Sarah McMenemy provides light, engaging drawings to accompany the story of a little brother who is always in his big brother's way - and in his stuff. What's a big brother to do? That's where the rule of the Little Brother kicks inů Patricia C. McKissack's STITCHIN AND PULLIN (9780831638, $17.99) tells of the women of Gee's Bend who have quilted together and traded stories and recipes, singing hymns while stitchin' and pullin' thread through cloth. Every day Baby Girl listens and waits until she's called upon to piece together a quilt of her own in this warm story. Maxwell Eaton III's THE MYSTERY (9780375838071, $12.99) provides another adventure story of Max, a little roundheaded boy, and his pig Pinky, best buddies seeking adventure. Here the two have painted the barn a classic shade of red - but the next morning, it's turned pink. Another coat and another morning reveal it to be plaid. What's happening? A sweet story of two zany characters evolves.

The Library Ghost
Carole Boston Weatherford, author
Lee White, illustrator
Upstart Books
c/o Highsmith Inc.
PO Box 800, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800
9781602130173, $17.95 1-800-448-4887

The Library Ghost is a rhyming children's picturebook about a librarian whose library is haunted! A mysterious ghost is rummaging through her books and interrogating familiar characters for information. At last she confronts the ghost, and is surprised to meet a past librarian! With the help of the World Wide Web, she helps put the ghost's perplexing puzzles to rest. A charming ghost story, and fun to read aloud.

The Bilingual Shelf

Juan the Bear and the Water of Life
Retold and Translated by Enrique R. Lamadrid & Juan Estevan Arellano
Amy Cordova, illustrator
University of New Mexico Press
MSC04 2820, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
9780826345431, $17.95 1-800-249-7737

Juan the Bear and the Water of Life / La Acequia de Juan del Oso is a bilingual English/Spanish children's picturebook of folklore about how the waterways, rivers, and irrigation ditches that carry water from tributaries of the Rio Grande to the watershed of the Mora, Canadian, Arkansas, and Mississippi rivers came to be. The classic fable tells of Juan del Oso, the man whose father was a bear; Juan and his friends moved mountains and rivers to bring life to the valleys. Bold color illustrations grace this treasury of cultural lore; its text is complex enough to be suitable for young readers age ten and up.

The Science Shelf

Max Goes to Jupiter
Jeffrey Bennett, Nick Schneider, and Erica Ellingson, authors
Michael Carroll, illustrator
Big Kid Science
3015 Tenth Street, Boulder, Colorado 80304
Blanco & Peace Enterprises (publicity)
359 W. Chicago Avenue, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60610
9780972181938, $16.95

Max Goes to Jupiter: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog is much more than a beautifully illustrated children's picturebook - it's crammed cover to cover with amazing scientific facts about the planet Jupiter, from its role in human history to the volcanic activity on its moon Io to the evidence of a subsurface ocean on its moon Europa. A playful science fiction story about friendly dog's travels to Jupiter in a spacesuit frames this information-packed book, sure to stimulate young people's interest in science and astronomy. Highly recommended.

The Fiction Shelf

The Truth About Horses, Friends & My Life as a Coward
Sarah P. Gibson
Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
9780761454595, $15.99

Ages 8-12 will welcome a zany story of a girl who loves horses, and who finds out the hard way that they are a lot of trouble, when her mother brings home Really - a.k.a. Really Mean, the nastiest pony in Maine. Two horses later Sophie is still very challenged by horses - and by friends who like her only because she owns one. A hilarious horse story evolves: quite a different approach from your usual - girl-loves-horse tale.

Random/Knopf/Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019, 1-800-726-0600

L.S. Matthews' LEXI (9780385735742, $14.99) tells of young Lexi, who wakes up in the woods with amnesia and who begins to rebuild her life safe in a shelter from the wars and street dangerous outside. It's the silver key around her neck that holds the key to her finding a way back to memories and home in this moving saga. Diana Leszczynski's FERN VERDANT & THE SILVER ROSE (9780375852138, $15.99) tells of a botanical email received by Fern from her mother - a mother who has vanished. Fern's parents are in love with plants and her mother's message leads her into a world of plants, orphans, crazy doctors, and talking botanical wonders in this fun fantasy. D.A. Nelson's DARK ISLE (9780385736305, $15.99) tells of a magical world in the cellar of her cruel foster parents' home, where he meets a talking rat and his resourceful sidekick a dodo. Morag jumps at the chance to join them on their mission to save their homeland from an evil warlock in this moving story of four friends who escape their circumstances to journey to a world of danger and adventure. Mark Crilley's AKIKO AND THE MISSING MAP (9780385730457, $12.99) tells of Akiko, who is visited by the Akiko replacement robot in the middle of the first annual Middleton Mega MangaFest. Her journey to the world of Smoo lands her in a puzzle when her friends fail to recognize her and changes have been made which don't make sense. A fast-paced fantasy, AKIKO AND THE MISSING MAP is especially recommended for prior Akiko fans.

The Anna-Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure
L.S. Cauldwell, author
Ben Caldwell, illustrator
Star Publish LLC
PO Box 122, Loretto, PA 15940
9781932993981, $15.95

The Anna-Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure is a multi-cultural mystery novel for young adults. Twelve year old Anna Mae Botts, her eight year old brother Malcolm, and Anna Mae's best friend Raul Garcia encounter a ghostly black fist on their first day of school. It drops paper clues about Jefferson Davis' lost Civil War treasure, and later a school fire occurs. Paranormal events multiply, and the young people are led along the same trail that Jefferson Davis once took with his gold-laden wagon train. A fascinating story of uncovering history's secrets as well as hidden wealth, The Anna-Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure is sure to captivate the imagination and is a welcome addition to young adult library collections.

Longhorns and Outlaws
Linda Aksomitis
2517 Victoria Ave., Regina, SA, Canada S4P OT2
9781550503784, $8.95

Fact and Fiction aren't that far apart. "Longhorns and Outlaws" is a story set in the later days of the old west. Lucas is a young dreamer who loves the stories of adventure of his time and has a wild imagination, a trait that makes his brother doubt whatever he says. When searching for his family, he finds outlaws . . . only to have his warnings unheeded. Lucas tries to help the law and protect his brothers at the same time, making "Longhorns and Outlaws" a great western fiction for young children about to move onto standard chapter books.

The Race
Inge Eisfeld Hill
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159437, $7.95,

The Tortoise and the Hare is one of the most remembered fables for today's youth. "The Race" puts the tale into long poem form, casting the morals of the story into rhyming verse, sure to please both parent in child. Entertaining alongside educational, "The Race" is a very strong choice and a great work from writer Inge Eisfeld Hill.

The DVD Shelf

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who! is a feature-length, theatrical quality movie for viewers of all ages, based on the classic children's book "Horton Hears a Who!" by Dr. Seuss. Though the movie is rated G, the writing and wonderful computer-animated visuals dare to offer a strong measure of sophistication (even the likes a subtle Kissinger political joke), resulting in a show that will quite literally appeal to viewers age five to one hundred and five. The atmosphere and cheerful personalities, voiced by talented actors Jim Carry and Steve Carrell (and a prideful villainess perfectly captured through the performance of Carol Burnett) are faithful to the original story, creating a vivid world of whimsy and wonder. The story itself revolves around Horton, a big-hearted if somewhat goofy elephant, and the only one in the jungle with ears that can hear the entire civilization of Whoville, which happens to live on a minuscule floating speck. Horton's quest to find a safe home for the speck and its resident Whos is complicated by a dictatorial Kangaroo who remains adamant in her conviction that if she can't hear the Whos herself, then they don't exist! Special features include director's commentary, a bonus Ice Age short, making-of videos, and a fascinating look at real-life elephants. The digital copy special edition of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who! features two discs - one with the DVD movie and a host of special features, and a "digital copy" disc with a file that can be easily transferred to one's PC, iPod, or other compatible player for easy portable viewing. A wonderful gift for any season of the year, highly recommended. 2 discs, 86 minutes, English/Spanish/French audio.

Bob the Builder Race to the Finish: The Movie
Hit Entertainment
Lionsgate (distributor)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Bob the Builder Race to the Finish: The Movie is a full-length feature on DVD starring educational children's icons Bob the Builder as well as Wendy and the Can-Do Crew. Together they must work to meet the deadline of their biggest construction job yet. A computer-animated story of teamwork for (literally) constructive ends, Bob the Builder Race to the Finish: The Movie is sure to delight young viewers and is an excellent gift for children as well as a worthy addition to public library children's DVD shelves. 60 minutes, closed captioned.

Once Upon a Dino Tale
HiT Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate
2700 California Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404
H180155, $14.98,

The cast of Barney and Friends places their own twist on worldwide favorites in "Once Upon a Dino Tale". Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, the Lion and the Mouse are just a few of the tales presented by the big purple dinosaur and his cast of other cute reptiles and children. Encouraging children to sing along, "Once Upon a Dino Tale" is a must for family-friendly entertainment and a great gift for a young child who can't get enough of Barney.

John Deere Action, Part One
James Coffrey, songs
TM Books & Video
PO Box 279, New Buffalo, MI 49117
1932291814, $14.95 1-800-892-2822

John Deere Action, Part One is an all live-action DVD of John Deere farm vehicles, suitable for viewers of all ages. From The John Deere Cotton Picker, Motor Grader, and Skid Steer to toy trains, tractors and trucks to scenes of these mighty machines doing what they do best in American farms, John Deere Action Part One is a delight to anyone who has ever marveled at the industrious functionality of at tractor. Five new songs by James Coffey enhance this enjoyable DVD meant for young and old fans of John Deere to watch together. Also highly recommended for John Deere patrons is the DVD "John Deere Heaven Part One" (1932291164, $14.95). 40 minutes, color.

How'd They Build That? School Bus
Marvelous Media, LLC
2239 Benedict Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc. (publicity)
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Shot in high definition and suitable for viewers of all ages, How'd They Build That? School Bus is a DVD that takes the viewer on tour to the IC School Bus Factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where most of the school buses in North America are created! Covering each stage of assembly from the nuts and bolts to the final coat of yellow paint, How'd They Build That? School Bus blends live-action, three-dimensional computer animation, and on-screen "fun facts" of fascinating trivia as well as simple explanations of technical terminology. An inexpensive, educational, and entertaining addition to both grade school and public library children's DVD collections. 58 minutes, color. Also highly recommended is "How'd They Build That? Concrete Truck".

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

A Kids' Guide to Protecting & Caring for Animals
Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A. with The ASPCA
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
9781575423036, $6.95 1-866-703-7322

A Kids' Guide to Protecting & Caring for Animals is a flat-spined, hands-on, consumable workbook designed to teach young people in grades 6 and up about animal welfare, including cruelty prevention, emergency readiness, wildlife rehabilitation, animal advocacy, habitat preservation, shelter volunteering, and more. Simple exercises, from gathering the who/what/when/where/why of a news story about animals to thinking of historical events involving animals to learning how to make a difference in one's community enhance this wonderful guide to compassion and responsible treatment of creatures that can't speak for themselves. Highly recommended.

Hanging with Bats
Karen Taschek
University of New Mexico Press
MSC04 2820, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
9780826344038, $16.95 1-800-249-7737

Written for readers age eight to eighty-eight, "Hanging with Bats: Ecobats, Vampires, and Movie Stars" is the first in the new "Worlds of Wonder" science series, geared toward young adults yet thoroughly enjoyable and educational for readers of all ages. Profusely illustrated with stunning color artwork and photography throughout (including some spectacular pictures of a bat catching a small fish, or flying with a dangerous centipede as long as the bat's body dangling from its mouth), Hanging with Bats teaches the reader all about the different types of bats, their life cycles, the biggest threats to their existence, their presence in popular entertainment, and more. Only a tiny fraction of all bats are the legendary blood-sucking vampires; most bats help control pests by eating insects, or pollinate plants when they feed on fruit, and are therefore an invaluable part of the natural ecosystem. "Leave bats alone when they are in their roosts... When bats are hibernating in the winter, they cool down their body temperature almost to the temperature of the air around them. Bats don't go into a deep sleep like bears and are easy to rouse, or wake up. If the bats are disturbed and wake up, they may waste as much as 30 days of energy. Since insects are dead in the winter, the bats have no way to eat and get more energy. They really could die." Enthusiastically recommended for grade school, high school, and children's public library collections, "Hanging with Bats" also makes a great gift for young adults interested in learning more about these fantastic mammals that are surprisingly close relatives to humans.

Discover Sharks
Monalisa Sengupta
Enslow Inc.
40 Industrial Road Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
0766034747, $23.93

47 pages of shark natural history pair with large-size, eye-catching color photos and jaws in DISCOVER SHARKS, a survey of shark biology and environment. From the realities behind news coverages of shark attacks to different types of sharks and their habits, DISCOVER SHARKS is a fine natural history survey.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

A Mitzva for Zelda
Susan Wigden, author
Iosi Salem, illustrator
Pitspopany Press
40 East 78th Street, Suite 16D, New York, NY 10021
Stuart Schnee PR (publicity),
9781934440544, $12.95,

A Mitzva for Zelda is a rhyming, softcover children's picturebook that celebrated the Jewish concept of a mitzvah - doing good for goodness' sake. Zelda loves to do good deeds, and her favorite mitzva is knitting a beautiful kippa to fit any size or shape of head. Whimsical, cartoon-style illustrations add the perfect touch to this simple book about the value of crafting something that others will enjoy. Highly recommended.

The Poetry Shelf

Voice from Afar
Tony Johnston, author
Susan Guevara, illustrator
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823420124, $16.95

Elegant paintings by Susan Guevara illustrate Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace, a children's picturebook that sometimes deals with somber issues in its impassioned call for an end to armed conflict. An emotionally moving and powerful collection; though intended for young people, "Voice from Afar" has a message sure to resonate with readers of all ages. "Belfast": She was laughing at some small memory / when she heard the crack of a shot. / A soldier fell wounded in the path. For a long time he lay there. / But no one came near; no one dared help him - / for the snipers, bristling in the dark. // With the calm of the sea on a windless day, / my grandmother opened the door / of her house and strode toward the stranger. / Arms laden, she came, a little boat upon the water. / She placed a pillow beneath his head; / over him, the red shawl she had woven. // In delirium, he whispered, Mother?

The Biography Shelf

Howard Thurman's Great Hope
Kai Jackson Issa, author
Arthur L. Dawson, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600602498, $17.95

Howard Thurman's Great Hope is a picturebook biography of the early years of African-American civil rights leader and preacher Howard Thurman (1899-1981). Born into an era when racial segregation pervaded, he dreamed of attending college; through hard work, perseverance, and the unexpected generosity of a stranger he achieved his dream and much more. The color illustrations work in harmony with the text of an truly inspirational life, in this highly recommended addition to children's library collections.

The Audiobook Shelf

Greathall Productions Inc.
PO Box 5061, Charlottesville, VA 22905-5061

Jim Weiss skillfully narrates two Children's Music Web Award-winning audiobooks on CD from Greathall Productions, bringing classics to life for kids and adults alike. "A Collection of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories" (9781882513598, $14.95, 72 minutes) is an anthology of the most beloved of Kipling's brief yet inventive animal fables, including "How the Whale Got His Throat", "The Beginning of the Armadillos", "Old Man Kangaroo" and more. "A Storyteller's Version of A Tale of Two Cities" (9781882513581, $14.95, 76 minutes) is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' powerful novel of revolution, tragedy, and hope. Both are entrancing stories to listen to, perfect for car trips or rainy day fun. Highly recommended.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

Piper's father is gone again in the Navy, but Piper has lots to keep her busy at home - including a pet talent show that she's determined to win in Kimberly Willis Holt's PIPER REED: THE GREAT GYPSY (0805081984, $14.95). Unfortunately her dog is nearly unteachable: how can Piper win a contest when her dog is too difficult to train? A hilarious series of events makes PIPER REED: THE GREAT GYPSY a fun read. Neal Layton's THE MAMMOTH ACADEMY (0805087087, $16.95) tells of Oscar and his sister, beginning their first year at Mammoth Academy. Oscar isn't fond of schoolwork but he loves outdoor sports and is friends with Fox, until a kitchen theft involves him in a difficult investigation of possible human thieves. A fun tale evolves.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
$12.99 each

Ages 6-9 will appreciate several 64-page easy readers by Terence Blacker revolving around the zany Ms. Wiz. IN STITCHES WITH MS. WIZ (9780761455493, $12.99) and MS. WIZ SPELLS TROUBLE (9780761455486, $12.99) will each appeal to the 7-9 age range as they introduce American readers to a best-selling series originally published in the UK. 'Paranormal operative' Ms. Wiz uses magic to rescue school students from different disasters in SPELLS TROUBLE, while IN STITCHES, the second in the series, tells of a doctor disguise which goes awry when a stethoscope plays music, and the children's ward is overrun by mice. Black and white drawings by Tony Ross capture the zany fun of Ms. Wiz.

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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