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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 25, Number 1 January 2015 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Autism Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Christian Shelf Fiction Shelf
Biography Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf American History Shelf
Holiday Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Parenting Shelf Science Shelf Mythology Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Activity Shelf Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Multimedia Shelf Education Shelf Architecture Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Poetry Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Books in Series    

Donovan's Bookshelf

Gollywood, Here I Come!
Terry John Barto
AuthorHouse (tm) LLC
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496935090 (sc), $15.15 32 pages
9781496935120 (e), $3.99 Kindle

Ordering Link:

Welcome to Gobbleville, a town literally run by turkeys - and welcome, picture book readers, to the world of Anamazie Marie LaBelle, a marching band majorette who, encouraged by her mother, dreams of becoming famous.

And it looks like she's on her way, because she's a finalist in the 'Gobbleville's Got Talent' show, and everything is moving on course to fame - until someone else wins.

Anamazie and her mother are more than disappointed until a talent scout solicits her to become part of a film for Gollywood Pictures. So, it's off to the movies and a real studio: and mother and daughter are elated.

There's a lot of underlying humor in this picture book production which will delight adults pursuing read-alouds as well as kids reading on their own: "Then Anamazie waited outside on a bench while Henrietta roosted in a tree... Anamazie twirled with joy. Henrietta fell out of the tree."

Mattia Cerato's large-size, full-page color drawings are fun embellishments to the story line, while its gentle progression avoids the usual ominous atmosphere so many books today seem to feel compelled to inject. It's a pleasure to see success and hard work celebrated for what it is - and Gollywood, Here I Come! is all about achievement and pursuing goals with parental encouragement and support.

Those used to how elements of angst and struggle reach even into early picture book grades will appreciate this positive, upbeat, encouraging story of a mother who encourages her daughter and the success that follows their joint efforts.

The Autism Shelf

I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism
Pat Thomas, author
Wayland, illustrations
Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppage, NY 11788
9781438004792, $6.99,

From the series "A First Look At...," "I See Things Differently" is a sensitive, gently illustrated book about helping a child understand autism in a sibling, playmate, or classmate. Using simple language and non threatening pictures of different common actions or manifestations of autistic behavior, "I See Things Differently" helps explain the condition of autism in a factual, forthright, calm manner that is easily understood by young readers. Helping to promote understanding goes along with learning positive interactions patterns and acceptance of other children with autism. Concern for all levels of health pervades the pictures and narrative of "I See Things Differently," an educational text written from a child's viewpoint to increase understanding of aspects of autism. Many additional tips and suggestions for parents and caretakers of children with autism and others are offered at the end in How To Use This Book, along with added titles of Books To Read and Resources for Adults. "I See Things Differently" is an excellent resource for parents, caregivers, teachers, and children who encounter others with autism.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley
Two Little Birds
c/o Peter E. Randall Publisher
PO Box 4726, Portsmouth, NH 03802
9781931807746 $12.95

The Itsy Bitsy Spider is a children's picturebook illustrating the classic nursery rhyme with vivid, unforgettable abstract artwork contrasting bright colors. The spider itself is not anthropomorphized, but rather a stylized portrayal of a genuine arachnid, complete with compound eyes. A short but sweet read-aloud storybook, perfect for parents and children to share, as long as none of them have arachnophobia!

The Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman
Elsa Beskow
Floris Books
9781782500940 $17.95

The Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman is a classic children's picturebook from author Elsa Beskow, whose stories have been beloved for over a century. The story follows a little, little old woman who lives in a little, little cottage, with a spry and spritely little, little cat. But then the cat gets into the old woman's little, little bowl of milk and big, big trouble! The "little, little" phrasing is a recurring theme throughout this charming read-aloud story.

Frozen Floppies
John Hope, author
Mark Wayne Adams, illustrator
Mwai Books & Illustration
PO Box 916392, Longwood, Florida 32791
9781596160187 $14.95

Winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award, Frozen Floppies is a rhyming children's picturebook with an underlying moral. In Floppyland, the Floppies (who appear to be anthropomorphic burros with floppy ears) have been separated by borders for as long as they can remember. But then a terrible winter cold freezes floppies into flopsicles. Can the floppies learn to cooperate and work together before they're all frozen stiff? Gentle color illustrations add a delightful touch to this heartwarming tale, enthusiastically recommended for storytime. The inside of the dust jacket also has cut-out patterns for a simple "make your own floppy" sewing project!

I Love You to Pieces!
Barbara Benson Keith
Brownian Bee Press
9780978968830 $8.99

I Love You to Pieces! is a softcover children's picturebook featuring stunning mosaic art. The rhyming text tells of the love shared between animal parents and their offspring, and lends itself well to being read aloud at storytime or bedtime. "'I love you to pieces, / my rays of sunshine!' / Said the dog to her puppies, / 'I'm glad you are mine!'" The colorful artwork of adoring animal parents and their cuddly cute babies add the perfect touch to this warm-hearted treasure.

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
Virginia Lee Burton
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544279926 $17.99

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel is the 75th anniversary edition of the beloved classic children's picturebook by Caldecott medalist Virginia Lee Burton. Mike Mulligan and his trusty steam shovel Mary Anne have worked hard to dig boat canals, cut mountain passes, and hollow out holes for cellars. But Mary Anne is outdated technology, supplanted by new gas, electric, and diesel shovels. How can Mike prove that Mary Anne is useful to the whole town of Popperville, and save her from the scrap heap? A story celebrating the ethics of hard work, loyalty, and inspiration, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel remains a read-aloud treasure that deserves to be shared between generations.

The Bee Who Spoke
Al MacCuish, author
Rebecca Gibbon, illustrator
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500650271 $14.95

Set in the French countryside, The Bee Who Spoke: The Wonderful World of Belle and the Bee is a picturebook about an eleven-year-old girl whose bicycle trip is suddenly struck by disaster. Lost and alone, young Belle has the fortune of befriending a talking bee, who not only guides her back to the safety of her grandparents' house, but also teaches her about the plants and animals of her lush environment. A charming and delightful story, The Bee Who Spoke has significantly more text than a typical picturebook, and is an ideal choice for young people who are just about ready to transition to chapter books.

Tiptop Cat
C. Roger Mader
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544147997 $17.99

Featuring splendid color illustrations, Tiptop Cat is a children's picturebook about a bird-chasing cat who accidentally falls off of a high-rise apartment building! He survives unharmed due to stroke of luck, but is shaken by the experience - will he ever get his confidence back? Inspired by the real-life cat belonging to the author's niece (who survived a six-story fall!), Tiptop Cat is a charming story about learning to weather scary events and recapture one's drive to try again.

Explorations of Commander Josh
Donna LeBlanc
SDP Publishing
Saint Somewhere Marketing
9780991316748, $14.95, 32pp,

"Explorations of Commander Josh: In Space" takes young readers on a high-flying adventure into the great unknown! Join the lovable Josh, who-with ideas from his favorite travel shows and his mother's laundry basket-uses his brilliant imagination to take off for the stars. With "Explorations of Commander Josh", author Donna LeBlanc crafts a unique world in which readers can play and explore, with the promise of many more adventures to come! Solidly entertaining from beginning to end, "Explorations of Commander Josh: In Space" is especially recommended for family, school, and community library collections. It should be noted that "Explorations of Commander Josh: In Space" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Doc McStuffins Doctor's Helper
Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Disney Press
c/o Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781423183907, $16.99,

Doc McStuffins Doctor's Helper receives fun drawings by Mike Wall and tells of Doc and her best stuffed friends, who are playing hide-and-seek in the park when they discover a lost toy in distress. Doc wants to help, but the toy elephant can't talk - but can a doctor play detective to find out not only what is wrong, but who the toy belongs to? A fine mystery evolves in a gentle story for kids with rudimentary reading skills.

Cecilia and Miguel Are Best Friends
Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558857940, $17.95,

Diane Gonzales Bertrand joins with illustrator Thelma Muraida to create a fine bilingual picture book that shares memories of their Mexican-American childhood in Texas. They have been best friends since third grade: their closeness lasts even against adversity, and their friendship is celebrated in a series of gentle stories about how friends interact and contribute to each other's lives. The result is a lovely celebration especially recommended for those of dual heritage.

Guion the Lion: A Colorful World
Rebecca Wilson Macsovits
Inspire on Purpose
8501 N. MacArthur, #1276, Irving, Texas 75063
9781941782026, $16.95,

Guion the Lion wants to know where all the color's gone in the world: he's a rainbow lion who lives in a gray world and wants to return color to it. His quest involves a host of animals who each struggle with their own unique problems: in each case, he tries to help - and every time he helps someone, more color returns to the world. When Guion runs out of places to search for color, he finds color comes to him in this inviting picturebook reader offering inspiration to young readers.

This Orq (He Cave Boy.)
David Elliott
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620915219, $15.95,

This Orq (He Cave Boy.) tells of a cave boy, a woolly mammoth, and an unusual love between the two. Orq's mother says Woma sheds, smells, and is not housetrained - but Orq has a plan for his new pet, and it involves teaching Woma some endearing new tricks so his mother will love the mammoth. Funny, endearingly simple language lends to a discussion perfect for any picture book reader seeking something easy, different, and fun.

Billy the Monkey, or the Prince of the Amazon
Yann Walcker, author
Sofie Kenens, illustrator
Susan Allen Maurin, translator
Auzou Publishing
24-32 rue des Amandiers, 75020 Paris - France
9782733829844 $6.95

"Billy the Monkey, or the Prince of the Amazon" is a title from the "My Little Picture Book" series of affordable books with original stories and illustrations that focus on an important value such as ecology, friendship, accepting others, respect, etc. Billy lives in a big city called Bling-Bling at the edge of the Amazon forest. Billy thinks he is the Prince of the Amazon because he has a great amount of wealth and possessions. But it is Billy's bubble gum factory that is at the heart of a great problem. Although Billy had loved bubble gum and had heedlessly contributed to a great amount of bubble gum pollution and poisoning of the Amazon environment, he did not realize the seriousness of his actions until he visited the Amazon and met the creatures, animals and plants who were suffering, threatened and endangered because of his bubble gum pollution. Even the water was polluted by the omnipresent bubble gum, and the trees could no longer grow healthy fruit to eat. Saddened by what he now understands as a serious ecological problem he is responsible for, Billy cries and then decides to change, working hard to clean up the Amazon forest, and waterways. Finally all the animals applaud Billy the monkey, telling him, "Well done!" At last Billy was on his way to being a real Prince of the Amazon. The soft flexi-cover and charming pastel rainbow illustrations of "Billy the Monkey, or the Prince of the Amazon" make it especially appealing to young readers.

Wally McBap Needs a Nap!
Andrea N. Arco-Mastromichalis, author
Ashley Teets, illustrator
Headline Kids
c/o Headline Books Inc.
P.O. Box 52, Terra Alta, WV 26764
9780938467830 $12.95

"Wally McBap Needs a Nap!" is a highly creative first title for young readers ages 1-5 that has earned multiple awards from prestigious groups such as Mom's Choice, Creative Child Magazine, and the Paris Book Festival. "Wally McBap Needs a Nap!" uses a jazzy combo of vivid, soft-edged portraits and bouncy verse narrative to tell the story of busy, creative, nap-phobic young Wally. The story perfectly traces an increasingly fast paced spiral of frantic activity generated by Wally when he is told he needs to nap. Helpful and appealing to both parents and young children, "Wally McBap Needs a Nap!" concludes with a page of suggestions to help parents make naptime transitions smoother for active young children.

Grandma and Her Chocolate Labrador
P. J. Fischer, author
Cindy Nguyen, illustrator
Minted Prose, LLC
Church St. Station, P.O. Box 1324, New York, NY 10008
9780974428783 $17.99

"Grandma and Her Chocolate" is an inspiring intergenerational story that explores the meaning of loneliness and the need for ongoing connection and friends at all ages. Grandma is a sweet lady whose family and grandchildren move away from her home town, leaving her time and space to fill with other memories. Grandma turns to her photo albums of her childhood to remember some of the things she used to enjoy as a child. Gradually she rediscovers ways to cheer herself, finding a new pet fish, old toys to treasure and play with, and best of all, a new chocolate Labrador puppy brought to her by a neighbor boy. Things continue, and Grandma and Chocolate become best friends and companions to each other. Her family and grandchildren visit, and of course, they are growing up. Grandma is happy to have her new lifelong companion, Chocolate, her best friend. Tender paintings of Grandma and her pets and family hold the intimacy and warmth of the story, slightly enhanced by the memory of emptiness. "Grandma and Her Chocolate" is a heart warming experience for children of all ages to share.

My Big Brother's Birthday
John J. Asher, author/illustrator
Casey Shay Press, LLC
9004 Marsh Drive, Austin, TX 78478
9781938150296 $18.99

"My Big Brother's Birthday" is a convincing story of the full scope of feelings experienced by a younger sibling at a birthday celebration for an older sibling. Simple narrative and expressive illustrations show a smaller, unhappy looking red-haired boy who grumpily surveys the party preparations for his big brother's birthday. From his point of view, all the decorations, party food, games, company and festivities are likely to exclude him. He even wishes it was his birthday instead of his brother's when the time for birthday candle blowing and secret wishes comes. Then something amazing happens, and the story turns. The very first piece of cake his brother cuts is given to him, surprise! There is even ice cream on it! As page after page unfolds, the younger brother is gently included in all the birthday games and activities by the brother's guests, friends, and parents. Following the fabulous birthday party, both brothers help in cleaning up together, then they play with the new birthday glove and ball together. At bedtime, the big brother comes to share a story from one of his new birthday books, which makes the younger brother so happy and sleepy. But he remembers one thing: He tells his brother he is sorry he wished it was his birthday instead - his brother says that's okay. This helps the young brother remember to thank the older brother for sharing all the parts of his birthday party with him. With an expression of blissful contentment, the younger brother falls asleep feeling happy and grateful for his kind big brother. "My Big Brother's Birthday" conveys many healthy messages of inclusiveness in word and picture, and is invaluable reading for children ages 3-6.

The Best Part of The Day
Sarah Ban Breathnach, author
Wendy Edelson, illustrator
Regnery Publishing
300 New Jersey Avenue, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20001
9781621572527 $16.99

A new children's book by the author of "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy," "The Best Part of The Day" is a beautiful children's book of remembrances, things to savor in every day and every season. Told in quiet, cadenced rhyme, "The Best Part of The Day" savors all the experiences of a child through different days, different times, changing seasons. As a bedtime game, children are encouraged to remember what was the best part of the day? In fall, was it picking the apples or eating the pie, raking the leaves, or jumping so high? In Winter, was it building the snowman, or feeding the birds, or cuddling up warm in bed when the stars come out? In spring there are surprises everywhere, new nests, flowers, and fresh air, and a swing to play on. There are new chicks, new lambs, and even new baby kittens. In summer, there is sunshine, lemonade, a wading pool, and fireflies to twinkle. Plus gardens of vegetables and picnics galore. In every season, there are so many things to be thankful for, in every season, children can snuggle and cuddle feeling loved and safe and grateful for all the simple joys each day brings. Every page of verse is embellished with bright illustrations overflowing with life, plants, animals, and joy. "The Best Part of The Day" teaches the life affirming philosophy of gratitude found in "Simple Abundance" to children. The wonderful result is a shared experience of gratitude when "The Best Part of The Day" is read to a child by a loving adult. "The Best Part of The Day" is ideal for children ages 4-10, and can be further enhanced with journal activities downloadable from

The Good Dog
Todd Kessler, author
Jennifer Gray Olson, illustrator
Coralstone Press
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
Smith Publicity
9781626340909 $18.95

"The Good Dog" is a fun, creative story about Tako, a little abandoned puppy who is found shivering and afraid in a cardboard box by Ricky Lee, who crashed into Tako's box with his bike. Ricky loved Tako immediately and took him home to his large family, where his mom, Mimi Lee told him Tako could stay, but only if he was a good dog. If he was a bad dog, he would have to go to the dog pound. Tako promised to be a good dog, and Ricky promised too, but sometimes it was tempting to do things like barking loud, tugging clothes on the clothe line, licking the batter bowl, or chewing on a slipper. When Tako did those things, Mimi and Papi Lee would say "Bad dog!" and he would be still and quiet because he did not want to be sent to the pound. A wonderful adventure unfolds when the Lee family purchase and profitably begin a Happy Family Bakery building, where the family lives upstairs. Everyone pitches in to make the bakery a success. Tako's job is to be a good dog and never to leave the bakery alone. However, disaster strikes in the form of a sneaky bakery competitor who uses his pet ferret to plant hungry pests in the Happy Family Bakery. Tako is the only family member who sees through the evil nature of Mr. Pritchard, the competitor baker who wants to destroy the Happy Family Bakery because it is driving his business down. The sad part comes when Tako is found breaking the rule (never leave the building alone) to chase the sneaky Mr. Pritchard, and the Lee family is persuaded to send him to the pound. All the dogs in cages at the pound are very sad, including Tako. Will Tako ever escape and be restored to his family and Ricky? What will happen to the other unhappy dogs in the pound? "The Good Dog" weaves through to a thoroughly satisfying ending, after resolving all the issues with love and friendship and community support. (Maybe nearly all the issues, Mr. Pritchard is chased from town and is never heard from again.) The story of "The Good Dog" is told in playful prose, with wonderful alliterations and made- up words like mold mice, or smushberry muffins. Ever enhancing the intriguing story, dancing characters in delicate, whimsical illustrations of ink and water color enact the nuances of every riveting scene. "The Good Dog" is written by the talented creator of Children's program "Blue's Clues," and it is a great storybook on all counts.

Noodle Magic
Roseann Greenfield Thong, author
Meilo So, illustrator
Orchard Books
c/o Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780545521673 $17.99

"Noodle Magic" is a lovely tale of a girl encouraged by her grandfather to create and discover her own best "noodle magic." As the Emperor's birthday approaches, excitement mounts, and Grandpa Tu works his special magic making noodles from dough. Grandpa Tu's noodles were the wonder of all, even the Moon Goddess in the bright night sky. Slapping, kneading, stretching the dough, Grandpa Tu can make almost anything out of his magical noodles, from jump ropes to kite strings. Little Mei wished she had the magic to make fantastic noodles like her Grandpa. Oddly enough, Grandpa Tu believed in her noodle magic, and encouraged her to seek it within herself. Brilliant noodle creations decorate even hidden corners of fantastic colorful pages of illustrations; There are noodle cats, noodle, kites, and even noodle dragons, each more fanciful than the last. The twist in "Noodle Magic" comes when Grandpa Tu leaves the making of the special birthday celebration noodles, including the long life noodle, to Mei. Despite Grandpa's reassurances, Mei is doubtful of her abilities to make noodle magic. The way she creates a fantastic solution to her new noodle responsibility is sheer fantasy in itself. Even the Moon Goddess is tempted to help her, but in the end, Mei learns that the truest and best magic comes from within herself, just as Grandpa Tu told her all along. "Noodle Magic" is filled with fun, amazement, beauty, hope, and rewards for the persevering few. A vision of noodles is magical for all who enter this enchanted tale of "Noodle Magic."

Give Your Song a Voice
Kristin E. Schmidt, author
Debra Rae Hare, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781631858512 $12.99 44 pages

"Give Your Song a Voice" is a delightful children's book of a verse story about a girl's dream of a song made real by a fantastic animal band. Written in witty rhyming couplets and illustrated in gently realistic, soft pencil pastels, "Give Your Song a Voice" is an affirming, inspiring, imaginative story that grows of its own momentum from a hazy dream to a fully animal-musical-talent-enriched manifestation. In the first page, charming stuffed animals and book illustrations prefigure the animal musicians the girl encounters to make up her band, which she gradually attracts and creates to perform the wonderful song of which she dreamed. Touches of whimsey, delicate fantasy, and real inspiration to work following your dream are all a part of "Give Your Song a Voice," packaged and presented for children K-3, in elementary grades. "Give Your Song a Voice" is narrated in enchanting couplets of verse, intriguing to the ear and suggesting additional layers of music and song. The final imaginative jump seems to come with the instinctive pairing of animals with instruments - the hippo plays a trombone, the zebra plays a clarinet, the chimp plays drums, the alligator plays a flute, and so on. Her final band of animal musicians make imaginary Bremen groups pale by comparison! "Give Your Song a Voice" is also downloadable as an audio ebook for further enjoyment.

Gizmo the Lonely Robucket
Ann Lloyd, author
Tiffanie Forbus, illustrator
Biographical Publishing Company
95 Sycamore Drive, Prospect, CT 06712
9780991352122 $17.95

"Gizmo the Lonely Robucket" is an unusual story for children ages 6-11 about a boy who dreams of creating a fabulous robucket companion named Gizmo. Based partially on the author's life experiences with her husband and son living on a small island in the Bahamas, "Gizmo the Lonely Robucket" deals with issues of growing up, being different, and feeling lonely and afraid. Gizmo was a special robucket created by Petey with the help of his father, Mousey. While Petey was young, Gizmo went everywhere with him and met all his friends on the island. But as the boy grew older, Gizmo was left alone in the shed more and more, with only frogs, crickets, and insects for friends. Gizmo became very sad. Finally a shooting star named Aurora discovered Gizmo in all his loneliness and pain. She helped polish his rusty body with her magic stardust and left him able to speak and walk, so he was free at last. However, Gizmo's adventures were just beginning. Gizmo spent time with his friend Mortimer Frog seeking an animal or friend who could show him how to be happy. Gizmo longed for a life companion. His search eventually took him off the island all the way to New York City, with the assistance of his friend Aurora, the shooting star. But Gizmo cannot find the close companion he seeks in the great city, even though there are robot relatives there; they only laugh and make fun of him because he is different. Gizmo is transported back to his island by Aurora, where he is welcomed by the island children. Remembering his painful experiences in the city, Gizmo advises the children, "Look kids, if you don't want to join the others, find those that are also sitting alone and shy. Invite them to join your small group. It only take one ask and that is the beginning of your own group. This way no one is ever left out. Remember, always be kind and loving." Soon Gizmo discovered his own special life companion on the island, a different mermaid statue named Sabrina. Together they celebrated the lives of all the happy children they knew, and were protective guardians for the children always. "Gizmo the Lonely Robucket" is filled with feelings of hope, fear, despair, and joy, and the story explores some of the pain of feeling rejected or ridiculed for being different. Sensitive, unique solutions to painful problems posed by life's interactions are at the heart of this charming tale of acceptance of differences. Expressive, vibrant illustrations breathe life into the little robucket's story, merging the fantasy of feelings, nature, and robotics together into a wondrous homily.

Peeve My Parents' Pet
Tom Ryan, author
Kenny Durkin, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
6434 W Dixon Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612252445 $12.99

"Peeve My Parents' Pet" is a funny story about a boy who seeks the mysterious pet named Peeve that both his parents constantly refer to. Although it is clear to an older audience that Peeve is perhaps simply a device for parental concern for child safety, to a child the difficulty of imagining what Peeve looks like or where he is can be astronomical. The boy does observe that Peeve seems to share a lot of interests with him! He decides to try to catch him.. With more humorous results. In the end, the boy decides that although he had been wanting to ask his parents for a dog, they had better wait until they can do a better job of controlling the mysterious Peeve! "Peeve My Parents' Pet" is chock full of sidesplitting illustrations which offset the deadpan story delivery. Who else leaves chocolate fingerprints on piano keys, toys all over the house, mud on the carpet, and crumbs on the couch? I wonder....

Max and Bear
Pam Saxelby, author
Stephen Adams, illustrator
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403 888-242-5904
Bohlesen Group
9781480807907 $16.99

"Max and Bear" is an imaginative story about blue blanket Bear, a patient baby toy who waits for his baby owner to notice him and play with him. First Max, the baby, is very small, and his mother notices Sophie the stuffed giraffe instead of Max. Then Max notices and admires Turtle, who played music and sparkled and twinkled when a button was pushed. Bear did not sparkle or make music, but he waited patiently for Max to notice him. Finally one day Max ate too many avocados, a new treat, and he fretted and cried inconsolably because he had a bellyache. Bear serenely waited for Max to stop wailing and notice him. Max's Mommy and Daddy chose Bear to comfort Max because he was plain blue, soft, and he could be hugged by Max without making sounds or lights. Finally Bear's waiting was over. Max hugged Bear and felt better and went to sleep. "Max and Bear" is an inspiring pre-toddler tale that stresses the importance of quiet patience.

Gollywood Here I Come!
Terry John Barto, author
Mattia Cerato, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496935090 $15.15

Written by the director/choreographer of over 200 regional theater productions, "Gollywood Here I Come!" is the illustrated story of a talented young turkey baton twirler named Anamazie Marie LaBelle who becomes a turkey movie star in Gollywood! Appealing to readers ages 5-8, "Gollywood Here I Come!" follows the twists and turns of a typical (turkey) starlet's discovery, preparation, rehearsal, and selected star performance in a Gollywood Studio spectacular production! All the elements of a successful child star's trek to glory are present, presented in the guise of all things turkey. Thus we have Anamazie, her fainting, big fan-mother, Henrietta Pearl, Mr. Albright the agent who discovered her, J. B. Tuttlebaum, the director, and Jake Quigglemap, her touchy co-star. Anamazie learns complex choreography, recites lines, comes for early hair and makeup calls, and endures the production schedule of "The Turkey and I," a big movie hit. Because of her successful new career, Anamazie must say goodbye to her former teacher and old schoolmates at Wattle View School. Henriettta shields her from reporters as she goes back to her old school one more time. Her classmates admire her success and ask if they might be in movies someday too, which Anamazie answers: "Sure! My mom says you can do anything if you work hard and never give up." "Gollywood Here I Come!" is a fine children's book, with turkey-tinted realistic views of some of the sacrifices and experiences included in a leap to fame in the movies. The detailed, humor-permeated racially inclusive illustrations are an invitation to joy and fun for young dreamers and readers.

The Wolf Who Travels Back In Time
Orianne Lallemand, author
Eleonore Thuillier, illustrator
24-32 rue des Amandiers - 75020 Paris, France
9782733829851 $6.95

"The Wolf Who Travels Back In Time" is the tenth title from the imaginative educational, innovative series called "My Little Picture Books." The wolf discovers a curious old book while cleaning his attic, which invitingly promises a journey into the past to the reader! Wishing it could be true, the wolf turns a page and discovers he is transported to the land of dinosaurs, where his guide is a diplodocus! Turning another page to flee a tyrannosaurus, the wolf finds himself in the Stone Age, where cave dwellers are planning a woolly mammoth hunt. Further page turning adventures await the wolf in early Egypt, Rome, the Middle Ages, Italy and the discovery of America in 1492, the court of Louis the XIV of France, the American Declaration of Independence, and the Modern Era landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong. Finally the magical dragon (encountered in the Middle Ages) grants the wolf's wish to go home, where he comfortably relives his magical book tour of history. Fabulous, funny illustrations people each era with wolf-like characters, and a color cued timeline decorates the inner pages of each cover of "The Wolf Who Travels Back In Time." Imagination is key in this charming book odyssey, which will leave young readers eager to explore further titles in the series.

Nighty Night!
Margaret Wild, author
Kerry Argent, illustrator
Peachtree Publications
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561458127 $7.95

"Nighty Night!" is a jolly, barnyard bedtime story in which patient, bewildered, beleaguered barnyard parents cajole, call, and seek their offspring for bedtime. But the playful younglings are full of tricks, and they confuse their parents in an effort to stay up and play. Father Duck, Mother Sheep, Father Pig, and Mother Hen, all call their children for bedtime, but, surprise! When Mother Sheep goes to tuck her lamb in, she finds cheeping chicks who tricked her! Father Duck is amazed to find oinking piglets in his pool, not his darling ducklings! Mother Hen finds baaing, booing lambs instead of her chicky chicks, and Father Pig finds quacking ducklings instead of his precious piglets! What are these poor barnyard parents to do with their rascal, scalawag, fluffy tricksters? Mother Lamb baas "Nighty night!" to her lambs, who beg for just one more story. Father Duck fondly quacks "Sweet dreams, my darling ducklings!" (Who demand ten kisses each first)...Mother Hen calls her chicks (who are thirsty), and Father Pig calls his piglets (who have to wee, wee, wee)! The patient parent animals exhort their offspring to "Settle down, snuggle up, sleep tight, nighty night!" (With no more tricks, please). All the full color, full page illustrations are filled with humor and funny animal detail, but the coup de gras is the final page, showing Mother Hen, Father Pig, Father Duck, and Mother Sheep tiredly sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea together.

Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis
Carole P. Roman, author/illustrator
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
9781496138705 $9.99

"Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis" is another star studded volume in this award winning children's series. This time, Captain No Beard takes Hallie, little Cayla, and his faithful animal crew on a voyage to the north, guided by Polaris, the north Star. When asked why they are traveling in such frigid seas filled with icebergs, Captain No Beard explains they are on a mission to take something back from the far north. All the crew are shocked by this statement, each expressing concern about the moral inadvisability of taking things without permission, or stealing. Once again, Captain No Beard experiences the loneliness of leadership, complaining, "Don't tell me I have to do this all by myself. Being a captain is hard work!" Then the crew is astonished to discover what the captain has in mind to take back. Dazzling ribbons of color in the sky surround them while he confesses to Hallie that he wants to "borrow" the aurora borealis for a little while, because he can't see it at home. Hallie has an idea of how to achieve Alexander's (aka Captain No Beard) dream of taking the aurora borealis home. The next scene finds the children back home in Alexander's room admiring brightly colored papers and crayoned scenes portraying the beautiful aurora borealis. Thanked by Alexander, Hallie winks and declares, "You can go anywhere or do most anything you choose with some paper and crayons!" Magical swirling colors portray the vivid pirate crew of Captain No Beard with astonishing originality. Polly the parrot, Fribbet the frog, Linus the lion, and Mongo the monkey each offer trusted help and advice to Captain No Beard in his daring search for the Aurora Borealis. Imagination plays a central role in the Captain No Beard series, carefully grounded with some seasoned animal/human tidbits of homely wisdom.

Sheep in the Closet
Mattia Cerato, author/illustrator
Red Chair Press
PO Box 333, South Egremont, MA 01258
9781939656629, $6.95,

"Sheep in the Closet" is a delightful illustrated dream story that delivers an unusual solution to a serious family problem to a boy while he is asleep. The boy is worried because his father is losing money on his farm crops, while his mother is working at home instead of at the market. When he can't sleep because of his worries, the boy tries to count sheep. A very amusing series of bright, quirky illustrations show a number of situations in which the dream sheep population seem to be sliding out of control. Could the boy's concern for his parents' worry be presenting him with an unusual dream solution in the mushrooming sheep flock? The unique resolution to "Sheep in the Closet" is as believable as the dream sequence, which is heightened by the puzzled observing expressions of the pet cat, who tracks this crazy dream of sheep in the closet! To cap it off (slight woolly pun intended), the sheep are adorable while being naughty and ridiculous. Children will revel in the adventure of exploring their own dream solutions while reading "Sheep in the Closet," a funny, kind, real-life story.

Templar Books/Toon Books
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Tom Clohosy Cole's WALL (9780763675608, $16.99) tells of a boy who is determined to unite with his family, despite the newly-erected Berlin Wall and its ability to separate parents, children, and loved one. WALL is the story of his child's determination to reunite with his family against all odds: it tells how he and his family escaped East Berlin to find the family's father on the other side of the wall, and it comes packed with dark, emotionally charged images along with a very simple picture book history from a child's perspective. Tomislav Tomic illustrates THE FAIRY-TALE HANDBOOK (9780763671303, $22.99), a fine story presented in pull-outs and pop-up formats not suitable for library lending, but perfect for parents seeking interactive fairy tales for kids. From wild woods where dangerous fairy-tale folk live to what princesses are like away from the spotlight, this provides a fun and vivid story that invite kids to partake. CAST AWAY ON THE LETTER A offers a Toon graphic story by Fred (9781935179634, $16.95), and provides a Philemon adventure from one of France's beloved illustrators. Here Philemon falls into a well - and comes out the other side in the Atlantic Ocean. His journey through a wild world offers up a fun adventure for any who enjoy whimsical, original and zany stories. These are excellent choices for young picturebook enthusiasts.

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

Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton's MAX AND THE WON'T GO TO BED SHOW (9780545708227, $16.99) tells of a young boy who is a daring magician. He can make cookies vanish, animals appear, and more. But he's saving his most difficult trick - putting off bedtime - for later. A fun story evolves of a young magician who must admit defeat. Leo and Diane Dillon's IF KIDS RAN THE WORLD (9780545441964, $18.99) imagines what the world would be like if kids led it with kindness and love. Here children help others in the world and help to make it a more peaceful, better place. Empowerment and idealism merge under one cover for an inviting tale. Lily Roscoe's THE NIGHT PARADE (9780545396233, $16.99) imagines what happens at night when mothers and fathers are sleeping and children wake up. The children here join a Night Parade, participating in games in the darkness and having a grand time in an inviting, fun adventure. These are all fun accounts that promote a child's sense of self-worth and power in the world.

Penguin Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014

Karina Schaapman's THE MOUSE MANSION (9780803749495, $18.99) is a lovely, oversized book that explores the miniature world of the Mouse mansion and best friends who live within its walls. They discover adventure and trouble in a world packed with hiding places, strange characters, treasures, and mysterious boxes. The result is a gorgeous presentation of lavish art and fun scenarios that will keep kids engrossed with colorful detail. Rosemary Wells provides another Max and Ruby story with MAX & RUBY AT THE WARTHOGS' WEDDING (9780670784615, $17.99), which explores potential disaster when Max loses the wedding ring key to the Warthogs' wedding. A big search ensues in a picture book which includes lift-the-flap adventure suitable not for library lending, but for at-home enjoyment. Patricia Polacco's MR. WAYNE'S MASTERPIECE (9780399160950, $17.99) tells of Trisha, who loves reading and writing but is terrified of speaking in front of an audience. So when she winds up in Mr. Wayne's drama class, it seems like just the wrong place for her. But her back stage assignment to paint scenery makes her happy, and as she listens to the cast rehearse, she memorizes their lines. When the lead actress can't play her part, it may be up to Trisha - who now knows the whole play - to lead, despite her fears. A warm story of courage evolves.

The Easy Reader Shelf

I Love Grass
Maria Boston, author, artist
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478725688 $13.95

"I Love Grass" is a textured, craft-filled, illustrated essay on grass for children age 6 and up. Carefully photographed works of textured needlecraft and carpet samples present colored illustrations of a gentle narrative description of grass, progressing through the seasons, exploring the rich colors, different flowers and plants that grow in grass, and living inhabitants of the grass such as bugs, insects, or even humans. "I Love Grass" is a multimedia celebration of grass, presented in fastidious portraits of creative craft and yarn needlework, incorporating joyous observations of each vision of all the different shades and kinds of grass.

Waiting Is Not Easy! An Elephant & Piggie Book
Mo Willems, author/illustrator
Hyperion Books for Children
c/o Disney Books Group
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781423199571 $8.99

"Waiting Is Not Easy!" is a fun title from the Elephant & Piggie series, in which humorous illustrations of a minimalist Elephant and Piggie show young readers that while waiting is not easy, sometimes it is very worthwhile. Amusing scenes depicting Elephant Groaning while being encouraged to wait yet a bit more are overwhelmingly cute. In the end, pages darken to twilight grays and Elephant announces they have waited too long. But Piggie is undaunted, the surprise is still coming and it is SO worthwhile. "Waiting Is Not Easy!" is ideal encouragement for the prereading audience as well as the adults/caretakers who love them.

Little Bean's Funderwear Day!
Roni Noone, author
David Zobel, illustrator
SkinnyMinny Media LLC
Smith Publicity
9780692021828, $16.99,

"Little Bean's Funderwear Day!" is a calmly zany new approach to the challenges of development culminating in ...using the potty! Little Bean had mastered many tasks, such as walking, talking, and stacking his blocks. But Little Bean had not learned how to use the potty, although his mommy and daddy and big brother do. Mommy tells Little Bean he has a treat in store, Funderwear Day! He gets to pick his very favorite underwear for his very first day (of wearing underwear). Although he was a little nervous, Little Bean knew that if Mom, Dad, and big brother could do it, so could he! The spunky narrative spiked with bright colored pictures ends with a multicolored declaration: "Happy Funderwear Day!" Parents of potty training toddlers will welcome "Little Bean's Funderwear Day" as a way of celebrating this joyous event.

The Christian Shelf

Hey, Charlie!
Donald W. Kruse, author
Donny Crank, illustrated
Castle Keep Press
136 Morrison Avenue, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056
9781596638716, $12.95, 52pp,

In the jungle we meet all the happy animals. But why is Charlie the Chimpanzee so very, very sad? Why isn't he rejoicing with the others when Polly sings them a beautiful song? And why doesn't Charlie ever speak or laugh? What a mystery! Finally Gomez the gorilla reasons that Charlie is deaf and cannot hear! A unique Christian story written in verse by Donald W. Kruse which is integrated with full-color illustrations by Donny Crank on every page, "Hey, Charlie! is ideal for children ages 5 and older. Of special note is the inclusion of an inspirational Foreword by Donna Douglas. "Hey, Charlie!" is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.

The Luvya Tree
D'Wayne Robinson, author
Thinkstock, imagery and illustrations
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490832173 $16.95

"The Luvya Tree" is an inspirational book about loving and supporting a seriously ill family member. Written by a widower who survived with his son the death of his wife from breast cancer, "The Luvya Tree" is told from the viewpoint of a sapling tree, chosen to display and hold all the cards and well wishes of friends and family of the ailing wife and mother. Christened the Luvya Tree by the boy and his father, the sapling became proud of its ability to comfort the sick mommy by displaying so many pretty cards from well-wishers. When the time comes for the mommy to be released from her illness, the Luvya Tree witnesses a miracle: God's hand emerges from the undefinable and takes the mommy's hand, carrying her whole spirit away to heaven. Although the boy and his father could not see this miracle as the Luvya Tree did, they were aware of a great transition and a final blessing. Keeping a promise to the beloved woman, the man helped create many special things from the wood of the Luvya tree, pens, pencils, a walking staff, an much more. The Luvya Tree's purpose of comfort and reassurance of the love of God was achieved.

A Love Letter From God
P. K. Hallinan, author
Laura Watson, illustrator
Ideals Publications
2630 Elm Hill Pike, Suite 100, Nashville, TN 37214
978082495662 $12.99

"A Love Letter From God" is a beautifully designed board book with gently lilting verse narrative and colorful scenes with delightful cutouts to present amazing surprises on every page, all designed to inspire young readers with the sure understanding that they are irrevocably loved by God. Inclusive illustrations show children of all races celebrating God's great gift in a beautiful natural world. It ends with the wonderful reassurance of the durability and inseparability of God's love: "I love you, My child, so hear what I say: Nothing can pry Me or drive Me away. Your future's as brilliant as the Sun on the Sea..... and I'll Love You Forever through all eternity." All children will love this book and treasure its message.

I Am With You Always
Lynne Robertson O'Quinn, author
Jeffrey Duckworth, illustrator
His Little Ones Ministry
3013 Raeford Road, Fayetteville, NC 28303
9781492328087 $12.99

"I Am With You Always" is a children's illustrated Bible-sourced book of comforting scriptures for children with critical illnesses. Inspired by the terminally ill orphan children of Moldova, the author created "I Am With You Always" to be a reminder of the sustaining comfort and love of God through harsh, trying life experiences. Each page is filled with bright cartoon like characters who are of many races and ethnicities, and exhibit different signs of serious illness or physical limitations. Large print explains in simple language the message of Bible quotations, listed in small print below on every other page. Inspiring, positive images of children recovering from illnesses or surgery are coupled with appropriate Biblical quotations, such as: "You may not see Me, but know this is true - before you were born I held and loved you (Psalm 139, 13-17)." "I Am With You Always" is a beautiful gift to families and children who suffer from debilitating conditions. Its message is unmistakable - "I AM with you always. I AM love without end." Also recommended is the following title by the same author/illustrator team, for a young audience: "Sharing Jesus With Children Around the World (9781497352865, $12.99)."

Sharing God's Love: The Jesus Creed for Children
Scot McKnight & Laura McKnight Barringer, authors
Dave Hill, illustrator
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781612615813, $15.99,

"Sharing God's Love: The Jesus Creed for Children" is an illuminated children's book about finding many wonderful ways to show belief in the Jesus Creed. Every morning at breakfast, Aksel and his sister Finley recite the Jesus Creed: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love other people as yourself." What follows is a series of everyday experiences and interactions for both Aksel and Finley that allow them to demonstrate their belief in the Jesus Creed. Consideration of others, sharing toys and games, helping with tasks, doing daily tasks, all these are opportunities for children to share love of God and love for others. "Sharing God's Love: The Jesus Creed for Children" is a gentle book that shows children many ways to share and show God's love.

The Adventures and Life Lessons of Wolfy
Lane Franks with Landon Franks, authors
Earlene Gayle Escalona, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490728438 $15.25

"The Adventures and Life Lessons of Wolfy" is the story of life experiences of an Alaskan wolf pup who learned to love Jesus and respect his sacrifice. This gentle Christian wolf tale teaches the power of sacrifice, love, and prayer. Beginning with a simple child's prayer to Jesus, "The Adventures and Life Lessons of Wolfy" is based on stories told by the author to his son and co-author. Wolfy is a beloved wolf son whose parents Savage and Gentle take him to church to learn to love Jesus. Impressed by the example of Jesus, one day Wolfy bravely offers his life to save his rabbit friend Hoppy, leaping ahead on the path to take a deadly rattlesnake bite intended for the bunny. Wolfy's friends Hoppy and Tweeter the blue bird manage to bring Savage to the rescue, which he accomplishes by bravely killing the threatening rattlesnake. Then Savage carried Wolfy to the Animal Hospital where the Wolf Surgeon did his best to save little Wolfy's ebbing life. Wolf Pastor Love came and comforted Savage and Gentle by helping them to pray for a healing miracle for Wolfy. The happy ending of the story contains a powerful message: Wolfy understands that he is alive because Jesus loves him, and he decides to use the rest of his life to serve Jesus. The descriptive narrative of "The Adventures and Life Lessons of Wolfy" is amply complemented by the bright, colored, full page illustrations of Wolfy and his family and friends, making this Christian story appealing for children age 7 and up.

If He Had Not Come
Nan F. Weeks, original author
David Nicholson, re-framer/re-introducer
Charles Jaskiewicz, illustrator
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490818108 $18.95

Originally published in an anthology titled "Christ and the Fine Arts" in 1938, "If He Had Not Come" is a classic Christmas story that has been rediscovered and introduced to a new generation by author David Nicholson. "If He Had Not Come" explores the idea of how a child might imagine all the differences in his world if Jesus had not been born. Bobby is a boy who is excited about Christmas, looking forward to opening his presents and discovering new toys. On Christmas eve, Bobby's father read to him a Bible passage from John 15:22, part of which said, "If I had not come." Bobby went to sleep remembering those words and experienced a strange dream exploring the meaning behind "If I had not come." The reality of "If I had not come" is frightening, heartless, grim, and dark. It is not just that there is no Christmas tree, no lights, and no presents. Even a child like Bobby can grasp the significance of a world that has no core light of divine love and compassion in all fellow human beings. Bobby tries to help for a sick man, to understand why factories and stores are open on Christmas Day, and to understand why there are no hospitals or orphanages, or churches, or places to give and receive care for the needy, homeless, and ill. Haunted by the words "If I had not come," Bobby finally awakens to the world he knows, where Jesus' birth and great gift to all mankind is joyously celebrated on Christmas Day. Bobby is moved to pray, thanking Lord Jesus for coming and promising to do everything he can to please God today and every day, asking Jesus' help to always be the kind of boy He wants him to be. "If He Had Not Come" is enriched by gentle, timeless illustrations that use color and lack of color to portray the bleakness of a life without Christ. Further topics for discussion for families and Sunday School teachers are suggested at the end of "If He Had Not Come," along with a section titled Going Deeper by Josh Mulvihill and finally a summary in four parts of the gospel message, as easy as A-B-C. "If He Had Not Come" is a powerful way for families to explore the real best gift of Christmas with children. All proceeds of the sale of "If He Had Not Come" will be donated to the National Christian Foundation.

Theology of the Body series
Monica Ashour, author
Karol Kaminski, illustrator
Pauline Kids
c/o Pauline Book & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue
Boston, MA 02130-3433
$12.95 each

Three children's board books from publisher Pauline Kids are designed to teach Catholic children ages 2-5 about their own bodies. "Everybody Has a Body: God Made Boys and Girls" (9780819823687) is about the significance of the physical body itself. "Every Body Is a Gift: God Made Us to Love" (9780819823762) emphasizes that using one's body for play, performance, or the simple act of walking is a gift from God, meant to share and spread happiness. "Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen and Choose" (9780819832724) is a teaching tool designed to help children understand what their bodies tell them, and how they can control the demands of their bodies. "When my body tells me that I want to run around but I'm at Mass, I can choose to wait to play like a big boy." It should be noted that these books are about the most fundamental aspects of the human body; they are not "birds and the bees" books. Highly recommended especially for church youth library collections.

The Fiction Shelf

Beetle Boy
Margaret Willey
Carolrhoda Books
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781467726399, $17.95,

When he was seven, Charlie never intended to become the youngest published author in the world - but he told his father a story about a talking beetle, and his story made his father plot for more. The story became a book, the book became a hit - and because of it, Charlie stayed seven. Now he's eighteen the beetles haunt his dreams. This winning story of a broken family and its evolution will involve any teen reader looking for something out of the ordinary in the way of family dramas.

The Opal Crown
Jenny Lundquist
Running Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780762454228, $9.95, 368pp,

A year after her betrothal to the Kyrenican prince, no one has suspected that Princess Wilha has been a decoy -- and that Elara, her secret twin sister, has been pretending to be Wilha all along. Back in Galandria, their kingdom is deteriorating, and returning home could bring peace or add fuel to the slow-burning fire. When their father, the king, mysteriously dies and Elara and Wilha's younger brother, Andrei, claims the Galandrian throne, he reveals the girls' deception. Viewed as traitors, they realize they are now fighting for their lives and for their country -- and only one princess can wear the crown . In Jenny Lundquist's concluding sequel to "The Princess in the Opal Mask" (9780762451098, $9.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 352pp), Elara and Wilha must decide who will become queen. Or rather, who will become the next savior for their people. Very highly recommended for person reading lists, as well as school and community library collections, it should be noted that "The Opal Crown" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

My Heart is Laughing
Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson
Gecko Press
Myrick Marketing & Media
9781877579523, $16.95,

My Heart is Laughing is a story of Dani, who is always happy. She refuses to count unhappy times and she never gives up hope - even when it looks like her best friend Ella has moved way forever. The loss of her friend leads her to feel broken and helpless for the first time in her life. A lovely story evolves, backed by fine black and white drawings and inviting insights any age can appreciate.

David Lubar
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781467705943, $15.95,

Numbed! tells of Logan, who is sure that sneaking into a math museum's restricted area is a bad idea. And when they're zapped by a robot, he and his friend Benedict discover they can't measure, count, or do any math at all: bad timing, because a big test at school is coming up. The solution is to solve several puzzles at the museum to regain their number sense, and their adventure draws in young readers with a series of zany encounters and invitations for readers to become involved themselves.

Countryside: The Book of the Wise
J. T. Cope III
Tiner Publishers
PO Box 581, Crowley, TX 76036
9780996050012, $24.99, 340pp,

"Countryside: The Book of the Wise" is the story of eleven-year-old Luke Rayburn who has never seen a skyline without skyscrapers or fallen asleep to anything but the sound of traffic. But his life is about to change in ways he never imagined. When his father leaves for a year of military service, Luke and the rest of his family move into their grandparents' home in the remote town of Countryside, a place like no other. Reachable only by a mysterious traveling tunnel and horse-drawn carriage, centaurs roam the landscape and shadowy wraiths slip among the trees. There, Luke will be drawn into a centuries-old quest for an almost-forgotten book whose secrets will determine the fate of the world. He will have to reach deep to discover the power within him as he battles the forces of darkness and an alliance of sinister men who seek to destroy any who get in their way. Luke's only hope is to find the book before they do, but to do so he'll need help from someone he never expected as the forces of evil come to bear on the magical world of Countryside. "Countryside: The Book of the Wise" is imaginative, entertain, and exceptionally well written. Very highly recommended for school and community library collections, it should be noted that "Countryside: The Book of the Wise" is also available in a paperback edition (9780996050036, $16.99) and a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The 3 W Boys
Raebeth Costolo, author
Lucent Ouano, illustrator
Tate Publishing LLC
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781633673458, $9.99,

"The 3 W Boys: A Children's Book of Short Stories" is a collection of illustrated short stories about the lives of three brothers who live in Colorado. Six short stories tell of the brothers' activities, fun, games, adventures, and learning together as they mature. Chapter story titles are Brothers Stick Together, The 3 W Boys Visit Grandma and Grandpa, Wellington Williams Helps a Friend, Wellington, Weston and Wallace Bake Bread, Weston Plays Soccer, and Wallace Turns Into a Raccoon. The 3 W Boys are, of course, Wellington, Weston, and Wallace, ages 10, 7, and 5. They enjoy their life in scenic Evergreen, Colorado, where there are so many outdoor sports and activities to enjoy. All 3 W boys love fishing, visiting Grandpa and Grandma, helping friends at school, baking bread with their father, learning teamwork while playing soccer, and making Halloween masks and costumes for fun. "The 3 W Boys" are a real trio of brothers who care about their families, each other and also other friends they make. Many positive values for young boys are underlined in the six short chapter stories of "The 3 W Boys," making it an excellent choice for reading, sharing and teaching.

Audrey (Cow)
Dan Bar-El
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770496026, $21.99,

Audrey is a cow who thinks the grass is greener outside of her farm; but when Roy the horse tells her that she's headed for the slaughter house, Audrey decides that running away from home is a requirement for survival, not just a dream. But it will take animal and human intervention to help her escape. The story is written as an oral account, receives fine black and white drawings by Tatjana Mai-Wyss, and offers enough of an easy read to delight kids who are well beyond the picture book age, but still want black and white illustrations to break up the print and enhance the story.

The Orphan and the Mouse
Martha Freeman, author
David McPhail, illustrator
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823431670, $16.95,

The Orphan and the Mouse features black and white drawings by David McPhail and tells of Mary mouse, a skilled thief who is admired by her entire mouse community, until a mission gone wrong leads to an exterminator. Now Mary's bravado is seen as foolishness that has endangered the entire mouse world - until ten-year-old Caro's friendship helps out. Even though the two can't communicate, they evolve an unusual bond in this gentle, compelling tale, highly recommended for kids who love animal stories and poignant sagas.

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

Students in middle to high school grade levels who love games but avoid reading will find the slim MINECRAFT: COMBAT HANDBOOK (9780545685160, $7.99) offers a fine survey that teaches gamers who to build forts, craft armor, and defeat enemies. Tips from Minecraft game experts and the design team at Mojang impart the basics in a guide that outlines the rules of engagement of the Minecraft gaming field. Gordon Korman's THE 39TH CLUES provides Book Four, FLASHPOINT (9780545591797, $12.99) that pairs an adventure story with a game for maximum effect. Teen Amy has only a few days to live after she's been poisoned: unless she can collect ingredients for an antidote from locales around the world, she will die. Surprisingly, that's only one of her concerns; for the antidote is also the only thing that can stop a dangerous enemy from taking over the world. Clues and keys throughout invite readers to solve mysteries and learn about antidotes to danger. Tracey West's DRAGON MASTERS: RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON (9780545646246, $15.99) tells of Drake, who learns that dragons are not only real, but that he as a Dragon Master can control them. The magic stone has chosen him and three others to train dragons - but does he have the skill needed? Black and white drawings accompany an inviting fantasy. Timothy Roland's MONKEY ME AND THE SCHOOL GHOST (9780545559904, $15.99) tells of Clyde and his big secret: when he gets too excited, he changes into a monkey. It seems quite a useless talent, until a school ghost on the loose requires his monkey powers to save them all. Black and white cartoon panels invite kids to partake of this easier reader. Robert Neubecker's RACING THE WAVES (9780545549035, $15.99) offers larger-size print and a slim, easy format to help kids make the transition between picture books and chapter books, and tells of Joe and Lilly, who are embarking on another adventure with Red the Time Dragon. From strange sailors to journeys across the seas, their encounters with odd people and rough waters pairs maps, time lines, and fun facts with a lively, involving tale. All will delight those seeking easier readers with vivid action.

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

George Hagen's GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE (9780385371032, $16.99) tells of Gabriel, who rescues an orphaned baby raven only to discover a family secret that can lead to his father. His family can bond with ravens, sharing thoughts and even merging with the birds; so Gabriel uses his newfound talents to search for his missing father, encountering an evil demon and another bird world in the process. A fine adventure fantasy evolves, filled with satisfying intrigue and mystery. Sarah Rees Brennan's UNMADE (9780375870439, $17.99) joins others in 'The Lynburn Legacy' series, and tells of Kami, whose love has gone missing and is presumed dead. Her new magical link is the only force that may prevent evil from taking over - but a new Lynburn master demands a death and it falls to Kami to stop him. The solution to their problem may lie in her giving up everything she holds dear in this powerful story of loss, love, and change. Sandra Waugh's LARK RISING (9780449817483, $17.99) joins others in the 'Guardians of Tarnec' series and tells of Lark's two visions for the future; that she'll fall in love, and that her love will kill her. Mature teens will find this fantasy involving, offering the story of a haunted girl who turns out to be a Guardian of Life, and the first to awaken to her powers. This series title will appeal to any who enjoy a fantasy rooted in a complex world. Esther Ehrlich's NEST (9780385386074, $16.99) tells of pre-teen Naomi 'Chirp', who lives on Cape Cod with her dancer mother and psychiatrist father. When her mother becomes ill, the family struggles - and Chirp's only comfort is from her wild bird friends and a mysterious neighbor. A beautiful, lyrical story evolves. Jeyn Roberts' THE BODIES WE WEAR (9780385754125, $17.99) tells of a new drug in town, Heam, which smells like strawberries, looks like silver, and provides takers with a glimpse of heaven - supposedly. Faye was only eleven when dealers introduced her to the drug; and what she saw wasn't heaven: it was hell. Faye's plan for revenge on the dealers who destroyed her world is only beginning in this powerful story of love, obsession, and change, recommended for older teens as a powerful, different saga. All are strong leisure readers.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Katie Coyle (9780544340114, $17.99) tells of a teen whose recently-converted parents have joined the evangelical Church of America - until she returns home after the supposed Rapture to see no parents and two holes in the roof. The Believers have been taken - and she's one of those left behind. It's up to her and her friends to embark on a road trip through a much-changed world in search of the truth in this vivid, engrossing end-of-the-world saga. Amy Rose Capetta's ENTANGLED (9780544336247, $9.99) tells of teen Cade, a survivor who is alone in the universe - until a hologram tells her she was created in a lab in 3112, then merged at the subatomic level with a boy named Xan. Her search for Xan involves her on an adventure that might change not only her circumstances, but the universe itself. Both are fine recommendations for young adult leisure readers.

Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020

Heather Vogel Frederick's ABSOLUTELY TRULY (9781442429727, $19.99) will reach ages 8-12 with its story of pre-teen Truly, a tall girl who always stands out, and whose family moves to the tiny town of Pumpkin Falls in New Hampshire where all hopes of blending in fade. When helping out at the family bookstore, Truly finds a mysterious letter inside a children's book, new friends who embark on a journey with her, and finds herself chasing clues in a treasure hunt that will change her life. Joan Hiatt Harlow's THE WATCHER (9781442429116, $16.99) is set in 1942 Berlin in Germany and tells how an American teen supporting the war effort is kidnapped and betrayed by her mother, who is a Nazi spy. As a German, Wendy is expected to speak in a strange language and support a cause she doesn't believe in. But, there are human and animal allies - and her life and future depends on the choices she'll make in this moving, different Nazi Germany saga. Both books will appeal to pre-teens looking for something different for leisure pursuits.

The Biography Shelf

Colors of the Wind
J.L. Powers, author
George Mendoza, illustrator
Purple House Inc.
PO Box 787, Cynthiana, KY 41031
9781930900738 $18.95

Colors of the Wind is a picturebook about the life of George Mendoza. Mendoza lost his sight at age 15 due to a rare form of blindness (called fundus flavimaculatus), retaining only a small amount of peripheral vision. He started seeing incredible visions and colors that weren't there, never the same way twice. Blindness didn't stop him from becoming an Olympic runner. He enjoyed running, which physically exhausted him and took his mind off of his strange visions. A priest suggested that he paint what he saw. Years later, he remembered the priest's words and started to try his hand at painting. His paintings were extraordinary creations of color, reflecting the dazzling kaleidoscope inside his own head. A postscript offers more details and a few words from Mendoza himself about blindness - the very title of Colors of the Wind is from a question that a little girl, blind from birth, once asked Mendoza - "What color is the wind?" Colors of the Wind is an uplifting and inspiring picturebook biography, highly recommended especially for public and elementary school library children's collections.

Karol The Boy Who Became Pope
Jem Sullivan, author
William J. Maloney, illustrator
Neumann Press
PO Box 410487, Charlotte, NC 28241
9781618906175 $14.95

"Karol The Boy Who Became Pope: A Story about Saint John Paul II" is a charming illustrated biographical story from the Polish boyhood of Saint John Paul II. The quiet narrative provides many anecdotal descriptions and detail about young Karol's early years, with many connection that prefigure his eventual destiny. But most exciting and intriguing to young readers will be the story of a special and treasured gift that was given to Karol on the occasion of his 8th birthday, a wonderful pair of skis! The humble family home and community setting of young Karol is carefully described and presented, with many connections and experiences of religious significance, such as young Karol's First Communion. Cheery colored artful illustrations show the young pope in his village and community enjoying a game, a meal, or a camping trip to the mountains and a visit to honor a saint's holy shrine. Young readers age 7 and up will enjoy this very human story from the boyhood of Satin John Paul II.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Tree of Water
Elizabeth Haydon
c/o Tor Teen
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765320599 $17.99

The Tree of Water is the fourth novel in educator Elizabeth Haydon's "The Journals of Ven Polypheme" series. Although the series is intended for middle grade readers, fantasy connoisseurs of all ages will enjoy the palpable sense of adventure and world-building wonder. In The Tree of Water, the youthful Royal Reporter Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme is duty-bound to travel the world in search of hidden magic. Ven is on the run from minions of the wicked Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City. Ven's friend Amariel hatches a plan to escape to the mysterious world beneath the sea, but the sea is rife with hungry predators and lurking dangers! Highly recommended, especially for public and school library young adult collections. The website also offers a teacher's guide with classroom activities, as a free download.

The Crystal Navigator
Nancy Kunhardt Lodge
Wilwahren Press
PO Box 1930, Pasadena, MD 21123-1930
9780996088503, $9.99, 166pp,

Eleven year old Lucy Nightingale is a special little girl. She can make things with her thoughts. However, she lost her confidence when her mind went blank during an oral report. Then a dazzling new teacher assigns another report about five paintings. Convinced that the only way to get an A on this assignment is to actually talk to the artists, Lucy summons a Wise One to help her with time travel. Her Wise One shows up in the form of a loveable, well-spoken, befuddled Corgi named Wilbur. He wears spectacles and reads brochures about liquid mirrors. With Wilbur's magic gadget, the Navigator, to guide them, Lucy and Wilbur fly back to fifteenth-century Florence. The journey turns perilous when the Navigator contracts a virus and propels the two friends into the wrong time. In triumphing over the obstacles Wilbur sets in her way, Lucy finds her self-confidence and more. "The Crystal Navigator: A Perilous Journey Through Time" is as charming and engaging as it is fun and entertaining with an underlying moral promoting the value of perceiving an imaginative life as a personal adventure to be experienced, savored, and enjoyed. Very highly recommended for school and community library collections, it should be noted that "The Crystal Navigator: A Perilous Journey Through Time" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Pluto the Starfish
Bonnie M. Anderson, author
Malinda Raines, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478730408, $16.95,

"Pluto the Starfish: An Undersea Tale for Children 1 to 101" is a delightful children's ocean allegory that stars special marine creatures in a search for life's purpose and meaning. Pluto the Starfish is sad because he has no idea of his purpose in life. He is comforted by many different marine characters, including Lewis the Lobster, Nancy the Nurse Shark, Lolita the Latina Leatherback Turtle, Harriet the Humpback Whale, Konky the Conch, and even a human diver. Answering Pluto's fear and sadness, Lewis the Lobster tells him: "You are the star of the ocean...You don't have to swim... or be fast... or be furious.... or even be big. You are our star and you are humble, beautiful and kind. You are a good friend, too. That is your role and we respect and love you." "Pluto the Starfish" is an entertaining and imaginative marine fantasy that encourages outside the box thinking while educating about many fascinating facts of marine biology. The expressive illustrations provide living, vivid background to every page of white text.

Marty the Masked Marvel: Dragonasaurus Tales
Josephine Young, author/illustrator
Celandine Publishing
9781502380500, $7.99,

Volume 6 in a fabulous series based on tales told by the author to her son, "Marty the Masked Marvel" unfolds another exciting dragonasaurus adventure in sprightly verse narrative, with many expressive full page color illustrations full of vivid fancy and feeling. Marty the young dragonasaurus wants to be a superhero with special powers, so he thinks he needs to wear a mask and play a role to achieve this, because no one would suspect him of being so talented and brave. In fact he calls himself Marty the Zero instead of Marty the Hero. Nevertheless, as the tale unfolds, Marty offers many forms of helpful assistance, to Albert the Shrew, the babies of Squirrel, and even Hedgehog, who was tormented and pursued by a gang of nasty weasels. Finally he is rescued from self recrimination and despair by a troop of his friends who come to honor him on his birthday, prompting him to don his mask once more and exclaim: "Say goodbye to Marty the Zero, instead I'm Marty, ordinary Hero." Other titles in this innovative, comical series include "Baffin's Desire for Fire," Izzy's Flying Disaster," "Bella's Dancing Dilemma," "Baffin's Sister Swap Scandal," and "Baffin's Curious Consequence," dazzling Dragonasaurus Tales all.

The Emerald Dragon
Jan Fields, author
Kelly McMorris, cover illustrator
Annie's Publishing
306 East Parr Road, Berne, Indiana 46711
9781573674676, $5.99,

The second volume in the Creative Girls Enchanted Adventures series, "The Emerald Dragon" is an appealing, entrancing adventure involving six creative, crafty girls who are secretly honored to be princesses of the Realm, a world where each girl may claim special mysterious powers linked to their particular creative specialties. Kaida and all five girls return to the Realm for a special ceremony honoring them only to be plunged into an intriguing, challenging adventure which arises from the magical quickening of a beautiful dragon from a stunning stitched picture created by Kaida. Danger, thrill, romance, and the opportunity to explore special secret abilities make "The Emerald Dragon" an ideal fantasy book for girls ages 7-10. "The Emerald Dragon" is as well-crafted as its namesake, written to entice, intrigue, and involve imaginative young readers. To challenge stereotypes of boring craft-skilled girls, the Creative Girls Enchanted Adventure series lets out all stops and takes no prisoners, encouraging imagination, flexibility, firmness of purpose, and strength of vision in young women. The first volume of this exciting series, "Wellspring of Magic (9781573674638, $5.99)," also by Jan Fields, begins the exciting, intoxicating saga, which devoted fans will want to follow closely.

TOR Starscape
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010

P.J. Hoover's TUT: THE STORY OF MY IMMORTAL LIFE (9780765334688, $15.99) tells of an Egyptian demigod who has been granted immortality - and has been stuck in middle school for far too long. And he isn't the only one suffering from the curse of immortality: so is the evil General Horemheb, who killed Tut's father. Now the General is on the loose, in league with a group that worships the god of chaos, and plotting against Tut. What's an immortal eighth-grader to do? A fun, involving story emerges with a whimsical premise and unexpected moments. Dan Krokos' THE BLACK STARS (9780765334299, $17.99) follows up on the series opener The Planet Thieves, which continues the story of space cadet Mason Stark and a space agency. Mason has troubles staying out of trouble - and his new reputation as an intergalactic hero hasn't made life any better. With a shaky peace treaty in place, Mason is supposed to infiltrate a school for soldiers - but the challenges are many and failure is very possible. A rollicking space adventure emerges which several surprises which teens will love.

The American History Shelf

First Bites
Dixie Moss, author
Thinkstock, imagery source
LifeRich Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group
9781489702067 $26.99

Written in verse to compress and complete learning of historical tidbits, "First Bites: Tidbits of American History For the Young and Young at Heart" is an author's tribute to important events of American history. From Columbus' discovery of America to the Underground Railroad and the Wright Brothers epic discovery of airplane flight, here is a brief verse description accompanying each major event illustrated with suitable images of the era. "First Bites" honors the author's memories and experiences related to WWII in pictures and verse, covering such topics as rationing, the funny papers, and VJ Day with specific events from the author's past. Picture credits for the 80-plus photo-illustrations are given at the end. "First Bites" is perfect for learning crucial bits of American History and is also ideal for young readers age 8 and up.

Kid Presidents
David Stabler, author
Doogie Horner, illustrator
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594747311, $13.95, 224pp,

The kids who grew up to be president were like a lot of other children. Some struggled with schoolwork and got into fights; others pranked their teachers and infuriated their parents. William Howard Taft was forced to take dance lessons. Gerald Ford struggled with dyslexia. Teddy Roosevelt had a bedroom "museum" full of dead animals. "Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents" features 20 captivating true stories from the childhoods of American presidents, complete with lively text and more than 200 cartoon illustrations. Laugh-out-loud funny and packed with cool facts, it's the perfect read for all young future leaders of the free world. Especially recommended for young readers ages 9 to 12, "Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collects. It should be noted that "Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Holiday Shelf

Santa's Secret
Sunny Hoover, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group
9781491866078 $35.00

"Santa's Secret" is a whimsical Christmas story about a special elf helper to Santa known as Purple Pants, whose mission it is to help Santa know if a child is good or bad. Purple Pants is nicknamed at Santa's elf school because he wore his torn, patched old purple pants to school, not wanting to be late. Purple Pants is very small, and quick, and Santa relies on him to run special errands and deliver messages. Purple Pants is the only elf who is able to find a way to rescue Pip, the elf in charge of the lists of good and bad boys and girls, when his plane is lost in the snow. Because Pip is injured with a broken arm, Santa asks Pip to teach Purple Pants how to make and keep the lists, and how to use Elfin Dust to become invisible, so he can observe children while he is making his lists. Purple Pants shares his secret with a girl named Suzie, and she promises to tell his story to other children to encourage them to be good, and to believe in the magic of Christmas. "Santa's Secret" is a touching Christmas story told in imaginative prose and delicate pastel drawings, with an ever-fresh message for children everywhere.

The Big Secret
D. W. Boorn, author/artist
Pollyanna Publishing House
P.O. Box 61, Granville, Ohio 43023
9780988443808 $14.99

"The Big Secret: The Whole and Honest Truth About Santa Claus" is a parent's answer to the dreaded older children's questions about the reality of Santa Claus. Fantastically illuminated with classical adornments and illustrations, "The Big Secret" is a wonderful, tell-all reveal that presents the background of the magic in the story of Santa Claus in a wider context, with a special twist: You, the doubting child, are introduced and invited to become a member of The Big Kids' Club. In so joining, you promise to share what you learn in "The Big Secret" only with other Big Kids' Club Members. A founding principle is the belief that magic surely does exist, inside everyone. And the reader, as a Big Kid Club Member, can help create it by: Helping younger siblings go to bed on time, helping parent, hanging decorations to help people feel festive, sharing things or giving gifts, being kind and helpful to others, and helping to find solutions to problems instead of complaining. Big Kids are thus empowered and entrusted to go out and help improve the world, making the very best kind of magic. "The Big Secret" is a multiple award winning title and one good reason for this is its inclusiveness, and nonjudgmental approach. Santa stories and legends are presented as a part of a rich tapestry of human experience, to be treasured, savored and understood as a guide to finding goodness and magic in ourselves and others. "The Big Secret" is a perfect tool for discussion between parents and children who are ready to investigate all parts of the Santa holiday experience a bit further.

The Christmas Stick
Tim J. Myers, author
Necdet Yilmaz, illustrator
Paraclete Press
P.O. Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781612615714 $15.99

"The Christmas Stick" is a fresh new story about a jaded young prince who receives more Christmas gifts than he needs or wants, except for one mysterious gift, a stick from his grandmother. AT first the prince is bored by the stick, unable to fathom its use as a toy or a gift. Then he gets inspiration from a visiting cousin: the stick can become whatever he imagines! It can be a shepherd's crook, an oar, a spear, a trumpet, even a snake to wrestle with! In the end, the gift of the stick is treasured by the spoiled young prince, for it allows him to nourish his imagination, which in turn, leads him to become aware of others, and the need to return generosity by giving to them. The touching ending scene of "The Christmas Stick" is a culmination of the perfect gift sharing experience: watching a child grow and learn to care for others.

The Tail of the Christmas Cat
Sally A. Allen, author
Raquel Rodriguez, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781499014433 $15.99 20 pages

"The Tail of the Christmas Cat" is a new idea for merging a story similar to Rudolph with a story of the Ugly Duckling, with traces of the Biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Brilliant color illustrations present the tail of Whiskers, a white cat living in North Pole cave with 12 other cats who is rejected by the other cats because he looks different: he has red and green rings on his tail. All the narrative unfolds from Whiskers' search for love and acceptance, warmth and shelter, which he finds through the Rangers in the form of a referral to Santa. The most beautiful part of "The Tail of a Christmas Cat" is the amazing page where he visits his former friends, the 12 cave dwelling cats who rejected him, along with Santa on his sleigh. Forgiving these 12 cats, Whiskers, who is now called Nick, pleads with Santa to also give a warm home to his friends. "The Tail of the Christmas Cat" may be re-imagined Christmas fable mixed with fantasy, but it has a reassuring message that underlies all that is good in the Christmas and pre-Christmas holiday traditions.

25 Days of Tropical Christmas
D. G. Stern, author
Susan Lane, illustrator
Neptune Press
3519 Exeter Court, Orlando, FL 32812
9780990610311 $12.00

Imagine the popular Christmas holiday song with fresh lyrics, evoking sights, scenes, birds and fish of the tropics - that is the 49 page story of "25 Days of Tropical Christmas." While the lyrics are imaginative and gay, the paintings and illustrations are superb. Imagine beautiful tropical scenes at dawn, night, or dusk, with sails on a moonlit sea, or palm trees blowing, or rainbow crabs scurrying. These wonderful multimedia tropical illustrations breathe new life into the rewritten and re-imagined lyrics - which include a moon brightly glowing, twenty-four dolphins leaping, twenty-three gulls flying, twenty-two trees swaying, ...and so on. "25 Days of Tropical Christmas" takes all readers on a magical journey to distant shores to experience a different tradition of Christmas.

Reindeer Dust
Kate Dwyer, author
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, illustrator
Reindeer Dust Press
1500 Lanier Place NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
Smith Publicity
9780989317603 $17.95

"Reindeer Dust" is a wonderful family book about the joy of creating and experiencing fresh interpretations or family traditions to celebrate the message and spirit of Christmas. Daintily written in spirited verse, and decorated with delicate aqua, sand and coral/pimiento tinted presentations of Christmas whimsy, "Reindeer Dust" offers a way to lightly reframe the need for celebrating a holiday like Christmas. It spins the tale of one Christmas when the toys for delivery were more than usual, so pre-flight reindeer feeding was a bit overlooked by an overbooked Santa. To cap it off, dense fog obscured the runway. A concerned child named William dreamt of an incredible yet easy solution, Reindeer Dust! The kids would mix oats, brown sugar and bran and scatter it to attract Santa and his crew through the gloomy fog! An additional instruction to children everywhere was to say, three times on Christmas Eve, "I will always BELIEVE!" When the children had spread the magic dust, said their prayers, and gone to sleep, the magic dust began to shine and shimmer in the darkness! Joyous reindeer flying somersaults through the night sky are sure to find every crumb of magic reindeer dust now, shining so bright! Sure enough, Santa and his dazzling reindeer and sleigh follow the magic sparkling reindeer dust to leave wonderful Christmas surprises for all the children to find. "Reindeer Dust" ends with a poem to be read with children on Christmas Eve, and a Reindeer Dust Recipe. The most important component of this new holiday tradition is summed in the final couplet of the Reindeer Dust Poem: "But, before falling asleep on this Christmas Eve,/ you must say three times, 'I will always BELIEVE!"' The mystical core of childish belief is founded on a certainty of the goodness of life, an idea brought to life by traditions such as these.

Chester the Cedar Christmas Tree
Pat Keith, author
Bobbie Houston, illustrator
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center, #302, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
9781618633781 $18.25

"Chester the Cedar Christmas Tree" is a quiet story about a small cedar tree that dreamed of becoming the perfect Christmas tree. Found alone in a valley, apart form a grove of cedar trees who sometimes laughed and teased him, Chester was given his name (and also his dream) by a girl called Marie who found him with her father when he was still too small to be a Christmas tree. Despite lonely sinter storms and teasing musical whispers from the grove bigger cedar trees, Chester stayed strong and true, making every effort to grow straight so he could be a perfect Christmas tree. Chester experiences the offerings of the seasons as he grows, sheltering a nest of baby birds and overlooking blossoming flowers in spring. Finally one day he is found again by the grown girl, Marie, and he experiences a wondrous move, being dug up and taken to a room in a house with a view of the valley. Chester is finally appreciated and fully decorated as a big beautiful Christmas tree! When the holiday festivities are over, Marie's father and Grandmother carefully replant Chester outside the house, where he can still hear the music from the grove trees far away. He hears his story told by the older grove trees to young trees in the pleasant valley, as they sing to them, "Dream big, little trees! Dream Big!" The homelike charm and beauty of the story of "Chester the Cedar Christmas Tree" is complemented by the sensitive colored pencil illustrations which portray natural settings of the Texas Cedar tree with great style and charm.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Fire Birds
Sneed B. Collard III
Bucking Horse Books
PO Box 8507, Missoula, Montana 59807
9780984446070 $17.00

Illustrated with striking, full-color photography throughout, Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests is a children's picturebook about a counterintuitive idea - that natural wildfires can actually be beneficial to wildlife. In particular, many species of birds prefer to nest in forest areas that have been recently burned; insects are easier to extract from burned trees and predators are not as common, so their chance of a successful nesting rise. There are even some plants that depend on natural wildfires to germinate their seeds! How can Smokey the Bear's "only you can prevent forest fires" message be updated to take into account fire's role in natural ecology? Of course, human settlements and property have to be protected from wildfires, but what about public lands? Should "salvage logging" in the wake of the fire (a practice that often removes the very trees that birds favor for nest locations) continue unabated? Fire Birds does not have all the answers, but rather stresses that more research and scientific study is needed going forward. A Junior Library Guild selection, Fire Birds is highly recommended especially recommended for public and school library children's shelves; readers of all ages will find the beautiful wildlife photography and thought-provoking text fascinating.

True Tails from the Dog Park
Max & Luther, Kari Sherman, Carey Laubenberg, authors
Julie Ann Stricklin, illustrator
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th St., Ste. H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457532689 $15.00

"True Tales From the Dog Park" is the first collaboration in a series of stories imagined about a real pair of canine pals, Max Sherman the puggle and Luther Laubenberg the English bulldog. Divided into chapters, with specially presented Dog Park Rules introducing the chapters, such as Dog Park Rules: Food Faux Paws or Dog Park Rules: Poop Realities. Another fun feature is the spotlight articles in the Dog Park Journal, subtitled Ask Luther, or Ask Max. Many helpful pet care tips and routines are incorporated into both sidebar features, which detail good canine care practices illustrated in the doggy anecdotes. Colored caricature illustrations capture each dog's special attributes and personality, enhancing the "tails." All are "True Tails" and all have a moral: along with the joy of caring for a canine companion comes the responsibility to become an enlightened, respectful owner. "True Tails from the Dog Park" is the first volume of a series that is sure to enchant dog-loving children age 8 and up.

The Self-Help Shelf

The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control
Lauren Brukner, author
Apsley, illustrator
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849059978 $19.95

Occupational therapist Lauren Brukner presents The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control: Simple Stuff to Help Children Regulate Their Emotions and Senses, a practical, no-nonsense guide to coping with difficult feelings. Intended especially for young people ages 7-14, The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control discusses using "anywhere body breaks" (small movement exercises that do not change one's body position from a sitting or standing stance), or "big body breaks" (large movement exercises) to stay focused, calm, and collected. Simple black-and-white illustrations demonstrate the suggested actions, and extensive tips, charts and checklists for parents and teachers make The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control an excellent educational tool. Highly recommended!

My Sister Beth's Pink Birthday
Marlene L. Szymona, author
Christine Battuz, illustrator
Magination Press
c/o American Psychological Association
750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 10002
9781433816550 $9.95

"My Sister Beth's Pink Birthday: A Story About Sibling Relationships" is a story about the relationship between an older and a younger sister, told from the older sister's viewpoint. Jen is six and not too sure her younger sister Beth should be given so many gifts at her third birthday party. She especially does not want to share her favorite pink bunny toy with Beth (so she hides it). Adults attend and deliver birthday gifts for Beth, and Jen becomes convinced that she should receive gifts instead of her baby sister Beth. "My Sister Beth's Pink Birthday" has a classic problem carefully presented in child-friendly format. The resolution to the problem is both simple and profound. Jen is comforted by her mother after she tries to hide and keep all of Beth's birthday presents. Eventually Jen is able to re-gift the gifts back to Beth and to add a very precious gift of her own. "My sister Beth's Pink Birthday" has a helpful section at the end called Note to Parents and Other Caregivers, with practical ideas and approaches for improving sibling relationships. The charming, expressive pink decorated illustrations convey the story's characters and events in a quietly nonjudgmental way, with touches of delicious sparkle, perhaps the magic of love.

The Parenting Shelf

ABC, Adoption & Me
Gayle H. Swift with Casey Swift, authors
Paul Griffin, illustrator
WRB Publishing
4451 SW Branch Terrace, Palm City, FL 34990
9780985676285 $13.99

Truly a multiple-award winning book about the experience of adoption, "ABC, Adoption & Me" breaks new ground in the field of adoption experience integration. Useful for children, families, caretakers, and teachers, "ABC, Adoption & Me" offers positive presentations of many common experiences shared by adoptive children and families. Prefaced by a helpful introduction titled How to Use ABC, Adoption & Me, this cheery, vivid color illustrated ABC book focuses on special topics related to adoption in a nonjudgmental and respectful way. Some examples are, "C is for children. You can be adopted at any age, from tiny babies to teens," or "M is for miss. Sometimes I miss my birth parents. I wonder if they miss me too." Also memorable is "P is for parents. Birth parents gave me life. Adoptive parents gave me a (forever) family." And finally, there is "Z is for zig zag. Sometimes I feel happy and sad about being adopted." Written by an adoptive mother daughter team, "ABC, Adoption & Me" uses bright cartoon illustrations to present interracial adoptive families and origin birth families with equal validity and authenticity, as well as many other adoption sensitive issues and topics. "ABC, Adoption & Me" deserves every single one of its many awards and should be a part of every child's library.

The Science Shelf

The Secret Galaxy
Fran Hodgkins, author
Mike Taylor, photographer
Tilbury House Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884483915 $16.95

"The Secret Galaxy" is a breathtaking, award-winning presentation of the Milky Way galaxy in text and pictures. Voiced by the galaxy itself, the ancient story of human awareness of their surrounding star formations unfolds, printed in white text against the starry backdrop of fantastic swirling photos of the Milky Way galaxy in space. Prose sidebars add further history and background information, but the chief star of "The Secret Galaxy" is the Milky Way itself. At the heart of the galaxy, a deep secret is described: "A black hole lives at my heart, too, but it's different from one formed by a star. My black hole has the mass of four million suns, yet it could fit inside Earth's orbit around the sun." Stunning photographs capture more of the mystery of the galaxy, while sometimes pairing it with unusual evening earth scenes such as the northern lights, Dead Horse Canyon State Park, Utah, or the Corona Arch, near Moab, Utah. 'The Secret Galaxy" is both an astronomical observation guide and text and a story of masses of stars, lived by stars, told by descendants of stars. It is filled with poetry and beauty, encouraging junior scientists and artists to explore its mysteries further. Its selection as a Junior Library Guild Selection is well deserved.

Climate Change
Created by Basher
Written by Dan Green
Kingfisher Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780753471753 $8.99

Climate Change demystifies scientific climate discussions for young adults. Each two-page spread is devoted to the text definition of a term, complete with a colorful illustration. A humorous touch is that virtually every term is anthropomorphized, with its definition narrated in first person! "Carbon Dioxide: I'm totally smokin'. Like Water Vapor, I'm part of the natural cycle known as Carbon Cycle. I keep carbon moving around the globe [...] I pour out of smokestacks and exhaust pipes when fossil fuels are burned. Meanwhile, Deforestation adds me to Atmosphere and reduces the number of plants using me up. I may be less poweful than Methane and Nitrous Oxide, but I have more impact because I hang around longer. Shudder!" The reader-friendly writing style encourages learning key concepts, and prepares young people to join the ongoing climate change debate. Highly recommended, especially for public and grade school children's collections.

The Mythology Shelf

Ten of the Best God and Goddess Stories
David West, author/illustrator/designer
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Ave., 59th Floor, New York, NY
9780778708261 $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB,

"Ten of the Best God and Goddess Stories" is an eclectic collection of famous god and goddess stories from cultures around the world, condensed and beautifully presented in gorgeously illustrated two-page chapters. Here are the stories of Isis and Horus' Revenge from Egypt, Pandora's Box, Persephone and Hades, and King Midas from Greece, Ganesha from India, Susanoo from Japan, Thor's Hammer and Fenrir from Norse mythology, and Glooscap and Wasis from Native North American traditions. Each story is efficiently reprised, embellished with carefully labeled mythic figures from the story's background. The color illustrations are stunning and intriguing. Although the two page condensations are brief, the stories are framed and correctly presented, encouraging a young reader to seek more information about the myth's background and related traditions. Although the Guided Reading level is listed as O, these pages are easily written at a level suitable for elementary students grades 3-5 to peruse. A glossary at the end gives some added information about the names and characteristics of some of the gods and goddesses, as well as related terminology. From an educational series called "Ten of the Best Myths, Legends & Folk Stories," "Ten of the Best God and Goddess Stories" is an excellent sampler of world myths about gods and goddesses, and humans who try to understand their world. Also highly recommended in this series are the following titles by the same talented author/illustrator, David West: "Ten of the Best Prince and Princess Stories" (9780778707875, $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB), "Ten of the Best Monster Stories" (99780778707837), "Ten of the Best Giant Stories" (9780778708247, $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB), ""Ten of the Best Witch and Sorcerer Stories" (9780778707974, $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB)," "Ten of the Best Mythical Hero Stories (9780778707851, $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB), "Ten of the Best Ghost Stories" (9780778708223, $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB), and "Ten of the Best Animal Myths" (9780778708209, $23.60 HC, $7.95 PB).

The Bilingual Shelf

These Hands: My Family's Hands / Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia
Samuel Caraballo, author
Shawn Costello, illustrator
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100
Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558857957 $17.95

These Hands: My Family's Hands is a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook about the unbreakable bonds of family. A young Latina girl reflects of the love her family has given her, expressed through their hands as they have helped her stand, comforted her, encouraged her, and taught her. She resolves to return and share the love, by using her own hands to care for her relatives when they, in turn, need her the most. "And for you, Grandpa Juan, in the autumn evenings, my hands will lead you through the garden. There, your clouded eyes will take in the fallen leaves. My hands will tell you, 'Thanks!' Guess how, Grandpa? By playing a new, soft rum pum pum on my conga drum!" Sweeping color illustrations reflect the enduring beauty of family togetherness, in this wonderful read-aloud picturebook. Highly recommended.

Clownfish/ Peces Payaso
Ryan Naglehout, author
Eduardo Alaman, translator to Spanish
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433987786 $22.60

"Clownfish/Peces Payaso" is an early readers' bilingual guide to the brightly striped, tropical sea-dwelling clownfish. From a series titled Underwater World/ El mundo submarino, "Clownfish/Peces Payaso" uses simple narrative descriptions dividing each page into English and Spanish, opposite bright color photographs of the clownfish in its natural habitat. Young readers of both Spanish and English can easily read and translate the narrative descriptions of characteristics and habits of the clownfish. A brief, photo-illustrated vocabulary page adds further background in Words to Know/ Palabras que debes saber. "Clownfish/Peces Payaso" is a vivid marine life exploration for beginning Hispanic/English readers. Other highly praised titles from the Underwater World /El mundo submarine series include the following: "Whales/Ballenas" (9781433987885, $22.60), "Turtles/Tortugas" (9781433987861, $22.60), "Crabs/Cangrejos" (9781433987809, $22.60), "Sea Stars/Estrellas De Mar" (9781433987823, $22.60). and "Sharks/Tiburones" (9781433987847, $22.60). All titles in this excellent marine series are by Ryan Nagelhout.

The Activity Shelf

Go Packers Activity Book
Darla Hall
In The Sports Zone
405 Vesclub Drive, Vestavia, AL 35216
9781941788066, $14.99,

An absolute "must" for young Green Bay Packer fans ages 3 to 13, Darla Hall's "Go Packers Activity Book" is a 48 page compendium of games, crossword puzzles, pictures to color, puzzles, Packer football trivia, mazes, stickers, word searches, pix puzzles, playing cards and more! This is a book of fun things to do that the whole family can enjoy together. Perfect for road trips and rainy days, or for young children to occupy themselves while their elders watch a Packer game on TV, "Go Packers Activity Book" is a highly recommended consumable. It should be noted that there are "Go" activity books based on each and every team in the NFL.

Coloring Animal Mandalas
Wendy Piersall
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612433509, $10.00,

Coloring Animal Mandalas packs in some thirty wildlife designs suitable for coloring and offers animals from both reality and fantasy worlds. From tigers and butterflies to unicorns and peacocks, these images are intricate, appealing to all ages, and provide a fun coloring book filled with complex designs often hiding whimsical results.

Ticktock Books
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017

Lift the flaps, pull the tabs, and enjoy a pop-up experience with SENSATIONAL SENSES (9781783251803, $12.99), a fun survey of the senses and how to explore them. Simon Abbott provides the fun cartoon-like drawings that accompany this discussion of smell, touch, sight, taste and hearing, in a presentation that holds many surprises for young experimenters. MEET THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS (9781783251230, $8.99) also features Abbott's delightful pictures which here pair with fun historical facts in an introduction to ancient Egyptian life and times. The fun focus makes this a real winner, with each holding opportunities for youngsters to enjoy interactive adventures while learning.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic, The Adventures of Geo, Vol. 1
Kanani K. M. Lee, author
Adam Wallenta, illustrator
No Starch Press
245 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
9781593275495 $7.95

"The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic" is the first volume of an exciting educational comic about the workings of plate tectonics, using the new superhero Geo (and his metallic dog, Rocky) to surf the young earth in a prehistoric era 200 million years ago when Pangea (all continents of the earth in one piece) were breaking up. The opening page adventure returns to reality with Geo morphing into George, a student of geology studying plate tectonics. This creative use of an action superhero model is an ideal, fascinating educational approach to cement solid teaching of geology and plate tectonics to an audience age 8 and up. Many diagrams and informative maps are incorporated into the comic book progression of illustrations, jazzing up the core content of geology and plate tectonics details. Excellent visuals and fast paced comic art progressions speed up the action of slow plate tectonics in the earth's vast prehistory. Geo rides and uses his skate board to time travel instantaneously while rushing to school in the mundane world. "The Incredible Plate Tectonics" is further enriched and finished with 8 or more pages of further information about plate tectonics, the spreading sea floor, magnetism and the earth's core, and earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. Answering questions about what geologists do follows, and geology and catastrophic event theory and school activities and projects is also included at the end. For a state of the art, mind bending experience, and painless plate tectonics education, offer a reading of "The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic" to any science classroom in middle school or older.

The Audiobook Shelf

The 13-Storey Treehouse
Andy Griffiths, author
Read by Stig Wemyss
Brilliance Corporation
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
9781486217243 $14.99

The 13-Story Treehouse is the unabridged audiobook version of an adventurous novel for young adults. Andy and Terry have an all-out, world-class treehouse with 13 stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a giant catapult, a secret underground laboratory (apparently for synthesizing oxymorons), a stalking marshmallow machine, and more. Exuberant, whimsical, The 13-Storey Treehouse is as delightful as it is imaginative, and highly recommended for public library children's audiobook collections. 2 CDs, 1 hour 37 min.

The Music CD Shelf

The Peculiar Tales of the S.S. Bungalow
Big World Audio
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity

Available via iTunes or as a physical 2-CD illustrated digi-pack, The Peculiar Tales of the S.S. Bungalow is a celebration of nautical-themed music and stories. Disc One is the narrative, storytelling disc and Disc Two is the musical disc. The captivating tall tales and upbeat lyrics will appeal to both kids and kids-at-heart, in this joyful performance ideal for car trips or indoor fun. The tracks are "A House of Curiosities", "An Opportunity Seized", "The Promise of Treasure", "Purple Icebergs", "Out of the Ordinary", "Who are the Lullubeans?", "Amphibious Legends", "Obstacles & Riddles", "A Tree and a Friend", "Going Up", "Whispers in the Dark", "Captured!", "Foulweather Approaching", and "Your Own Peculiar Tale" on Disc One, and "Big World", "Swab the Deck", "Ode to Tater-Tot", "Sleepytime Greg", "Barnaby's Song", "This Island Life", "Lost Lullaby", "Aquinas", "Follow the Albatross", "Above the Clouds", "Where Monsters Never Sleep", "Life is Good", and "My Sleepyhead" on Disc Two.

How to Be a Cloud
Kira Willey
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

Award-winning musician and expert yoga practitioner Kira Willey presents How to Be a Cloud, volume 3 in her "Yoga for Kids" series. Gentle, playful lyrics encourage young listeners to try simple meditation and basic yoga exercises; easy-to-follow instructions are provided. Available as both a physical CD and a digital download, How to Be a Cloud is a wonderful supplement to any children's music library. The tracks are "My Favorite Day", "Gotta Lotta Happy", "Bloom", "How to Be a Cloud", "Great Big Starry Sky", "Dancing with my Daddy", "When You Sleep", "Jazzy", "Cookie Jar", "Colors" (2014 remix), "When You Get Bigger", "Wings on a String", "I Will Be Here", and bonus yoga tracks "My Favorite Day", "Gotta Lotta Happy", "Bloom", "Colors" (2014 remix), "When You Get Bigger", "Wings on a String", "Great Big Starry Sky", "How to Be a Cloud", and "When You Sleep".

The Incredibly Spaced-Out Adventures of Jupiter Jackson
Eric Herman
Butter-Dog Records
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$12.99 CD / $8.99 MP3

The Incredibly Spaced-Out Adventures of Jupiter Jackson is a family-friendly album of music and comedy sketches performed by Eric Herman and a diverse cast. Upbeat, silly parodies of everything from game shows to NPR to on-location weather reports and archaeology fill this rambunctious explosion of fun. Highly recommended as a wonderfully entertaining choice for car trips, lazy Sunday afternoons, or children's parties! The tracks are "The Incredibly Spaced-Out Adventures of Jupiter Jackson", "Monster League Baseball", "The Math Game", "(News) Electrical Storm", "Monday Science" and "Archaeology Hour" plus have a dozen joke ads and gag PSAs.

Build It Back Again
Billy Jonas Band
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

Available from iTunes, CDBaby, or as a physical CD, Build It Back Again is a kid-friendly album featuring the Billy Jonas Band and their "funky folk" music. Wacky lyrics pair with exciting music in this uproarious collection perfect for singing, dancing, playing, or parties! The tracks are "Build It Back Again" (3:41), "I Want To Know" (3:29), "Caveman" (4:28), "Intro: L-M-N-O-P Break" (0:39), "L-M-N-O-P Break" (3:12), "Monkeys Driving Cars" (3:44), "Intro: Moment of Noise" (0:19), "Moment of Noise" (7:15), "Fruit Salad Serenade pt. 1" (1:03), "Hairy Things" (4:45), "Atmosphere" (1:18), "Intro: I Mean" (0:57), "I Mean" (4:32), "Fruit Salad Serenade pt. 2" (0:51), "It's Good for You and Good for Me" (3:54), "Intro: Maybe, Maybe Not" (0:25), "Maybe, Maybe Not" (3:08), "What Kind of Bear are You?" (5:43) and "Fruit Salad Serenade pt. 3" (0:42).

The DVD Shelf

The Very Fairy Princess
Written by Julie Andres & Emma Walton Hamilton
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Narrated by Alison Cordaro
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816
9780545695053 $59.95

Intended for young people ages 3-6, The Very Fairy Princess is the DVD adaptation of a charming children's picturebook about a little girl who enjoys putting on a fairy costume and pretending to be a fairy princess. But she also knows that a fairy princess can be as active as anyone else; dirty fingernails and scabby knees are all part and parcel of a fun day's horseplay! Delightful music accompanies this open-minded story, ideal for school libraries or homeroom viewing, and a bonus interview with the story's authors is included. 9 min.

The Multimedia Shelf

I Ate a Cicada Today
Jeff Crossan
Big Bound Books
188 Front Street, Suite 116-116
Franklin, TN 37064
c/o JKS Communications (publicity)
9780989522205 $17.99

I Ate a Cicada Today is a whimsical children's picturebook-and-CD combo. Written, illustrated, and sung by Jeff Crossan, the silly rhymes describe a variety of outlandish events involving people and animals. "I had to bleep my parakeet today. / There's just no tellin' what that bird might say. / He's repeatin' things he's heard. / And he's heard some real bad words. // (He hasn't heard them from me. / You just can't leave that bird / in the same room with the TV anymore.)" Pure fun to read or sing aloud, I Ate a Cicada Today is excellent for storytime or playtime.

The Education Shelf

Madam and Nun and 1001
Brian P. Cleary
Millbrook Press
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781467726283, $6.95,

Madam and Nun and 1001 features 31 pages exploring palindromes, and pairs Brian Gable's fun drawings with a colorful and easy introduction that all ages of wordsmith can readily enjoy. Add a rollicking rhyme and you have a fun exploration that will reach early readers in grades 2-4.

The Architecture Shelf

The Future Architect's Handbook
Barbara Beck
Marketing Department
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764346767, $16.99,

Replete with black-and-white line drawings, "The Future Architect's Handbook" by architect Barbara Beck is perfect introduction to what an architect does with respect to the creation of buildings including the Site Plan, Floor Plan, Section, and Elevation drawn to scale. This 48 page children's book is exceptionally well written, organized, and presented for the edification of young readers ages 9 to 12. Informed and informative, "The Future Architect's Handbook" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

A Treasury of Wintertime Tales
Written and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund
Edited by Noel Daniel
107 Greene Street
New York, NY 10012
9783836544009 $39.99

Filled with simple, charming color illustrations, A Treasury of Wintertime Tales is a gigantic, hardcover storybook compendium of thirteen cherished, seasonal stories. Individual stories hail from authors of American, German, Hungarian, Italian, Mexican, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, and Swedish descent, and were originally created in the years spanning 1823 to 1972. From Christmas stories to dancing snowflakes to a saga of the Chinese New Year, A Treasury of Wintertime Tales is a joy for parents and children to share, and enthusiastically recommended for public library collections.

The Poetry Shelf

The Bezert
Written & illustrated by Maria Knier
Little Bahalia Publishing
2625 S. Greeley St., Suite 130
Milwaukee, WI 53207
9780989668842 $19.99

Illustrated with surreal color artwork throughout, The Bezert is a children's picturebook about an epic journey, written entirely in verse. The Bezert (who resembles a gangly human) is lost amid a strange world that defies common sense; his efforts to find his way flow into a timeless parable about the values of trust and friendship. The Bezert is a moderately lengthy (60+ pages) story-poem, especially suitable for young readers who are almost ready to try chapter books.

The Social Issues Shelf

The Story of Hurry
Emma Williams, author
Ibrahim Quraishi, illustrator
Jean Stein, editor
Triangle Square Books for Young Readers
c/o Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
9781609805890 $16.95

The Story of Hurry is a children's picturebook with a strong undertone about the severity of everyday life in the Gaza Strip. Continued hostilities between the Hamas militants controlling Gaza and the nation of Israel have resulted in a blockade that restricts travel, imports, or exports; some have dubbed Gaza the "world's largest prison". Potable water is in short supply, and death by violence is a constant threat. The Story of Hurry is based on the true tale of a Gaza zookeeper who wanted to create a place where children could play and enjoy relief from the pressures of war, but water and supply shortages made it almost impossible to keep exotic animals at the zoo. He had the insight to paint the donkey Hurry with black-and-white stripes to resemble a zebra, and let the children ride him. The Story of Hurry is primarily from the donkey's point of view, illustrated with "photo-painting", a blend of photography, drawing, and a uniquely stylized depiction of rendition of Hurry himself. An extended postscript teaches readers more about the difficult living conditions in Gaza, explaining why the children there long for "sweet" (i.e. drinkable) water, light, or quiet skies. Highly recommended.

Books in Series

The Southwest
Niccole Bartley, author, photos
PowerKiDS Press
c/o Rosen Publishing Group
29 East 21st St., New York, NY 10010
9781477768617 $26.25 HC, $10.00 PB,

"The Southwest" is a beautifully color photo-illustrated social/ geographical guide to the five Southwestern states of the United States, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. Parts of Texas, California, and Oklahoma are also sometimes included in the Southwest. An elementary reading level series, Land That I Love: Regions of the United States presents "The Southwest" as a prized feature, with chapters on early human settlement and history, rock and canyon formations, deserts, forests, plants and animals, natural resources and industry, and Southwestern cities, sights, and culture. Many framed color photos illustrate the premium attractions of this desert area, also illuminating the five state area map with accompanying key and arrows on pages 16-17. A glossary, index and website reference ( complete the 32 page geo-historical guide to "The Southwest." Other titles from this highly recommended series, 'Land That I Love: Regions of the United States", include the following: "The West Coast" (9781477768457, $26.25 HC, $10.00 PB), "The Midwest (9781477768655, $26.25 HC, $10.00 PB)," "New England" (9781477768495, $26.25 HC, $10.00 PB), "The South" (9781477768470, $26.25 HC, $10.00 PB), and "The Mid-Atlantic" (9781477768556, $26.25 HC, $10.00 PB), all by author Niccole Bartley.

Away She Goes Riding Into Women's History
Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin, authors
Valentina Belloni, illustrator
Red Chair Press
PO Box 333, South Egremont, MA 01258
Myrick Marketing & Media
9781939656568 $ 20.95/hardback $8.95/paperback

"Away She Goes: Riding into Women's History" is an exciting title from the juvenile instructional series Setting the Stage, in six volumes. This series uses the format of presenting a play to teach important developments such as the invention of the bicycle in the late 1800's and its popularity with women riders, and its impact on women's rights. Embellished with cheery bright colored illustrations, the scene opens with a prologue and cast of characters, moving on to nine scenes and an epilogue exploring the theme of a 10 year old girl named Kristy who travels back in time to meet Molly, her great-great-great grandmother, a woman who learned to love riding a bicycle and her independence. Women's history becomes immediate and accessible in this exciting book drama, and students can be taught much by participating in a scene or play reading from "Away She Goes: Riding into Women's History." The book of 40 pages ends with a list of vocabulary words to know and suggestions for sources to learn more about women's history. Also available are free lesson plans and a Readers' Theater script for this book at

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

Grades 2-4 will welcome the lively 'Travel with the Great Explorers' series, which take select explorers and their histories and pairs biography with geography and an enticing travelogue. From vivid color pictures and discussions circled in highlights to considerations of the explorers' crew, approaches to travel, interactions with science and the world, and more, this is an inviting and fun series that invites leisure browsing as well as study. EXPLORE WITH MARCO POLO (9780778714266, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB), SIEUR DE LA SALLE (9780778714309, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB), FERDINAND MAGELLAN (9780778714255, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB), LEIF ERIKSSON (9780778714279, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB), JACQUES CARTIER (9780778714262, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB) and PONCE DE LEON (9780778714293) each offer not just history, but interactive discussions about where the explorers went, why, and how. 'Go Figure' ($20.70 each) will reach ages 8-11 and older with 32 pages each of keys to math. Each book offers a math exploration that links math to a different real-world subject, and each packs in contemporary color photos and multi-colored pages. A MATH JOURNEY THROUGH SPACE (9780778707301, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB), THROUGH THE ANIMAL KINGDOM (9780778707325, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB), THROUGH PLANET EARTH (9780778707268, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB) and THROUGH THE HUMAN BODY (9780778707349, $27.60 HC, $9.95 PB) each offer a fine combination of math puzzles, exercises, and lively guidance on how to use math to its best advantage. All are exciting series titles that deserve a place in any collection.

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

80 pages of information in each title of Capstone Publishers' 'Exploring Media Literacy' and 'Choosing News' series books by Barb Palser offers kids in grades 3-5 a fine collection of insights specific to news and media reporting and coverage processes, forming the foundation of a fine set of insights on media and its marketing. CHOOSING NEWS offers the series title WHAT GETS REPORTED AND WHY (9780756545178, $33.99 HC, $8.95 PB) and explores the basics of not just how news is covered, but why it is news. Chapters delve into the basics of news media and its promotion. SELLING OURSELVES MARKETING BODY IMAGES (9780756545192, $33.99 HC, $8.95 PB) provides a focus on how body image is portrayed in the media and how media affects how we view ourselves and our world. The focus with both these books is on how to become a better, savvy consumer and news reader, and the approach is essential for youngsters just beginning to learn about how media works.

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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