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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 31, Number 1 January 2021 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Health Shelf
American History Shelf World History Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Music CD Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf YA Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Judaic Shelf Buddhist Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Music Shelf Science Shelf
Autism Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Environmental Shelf
Political Science Shelf LGBT Shelf Biography Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Sports Shelf Holocaust Studies Shelf
Books in Series StoryMonstersInk Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story
Caren Stelson, author
Akira Kusaka, illustrator
CarolRhoda Books
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781541521483, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Sachiko's family home was about half a mile from where the atomic bomb fell on August 9, 1945. Her family experienced devastating loss. When they returned to the rubble where their home once stood, her father miraculously found their serving bowl fully intact. This delicate, green, leaf-shaped bowl (which once held their daily meals) now holds memories of the past and serves as a vessel of hope, peace, and new traditions for Sachiko and the surviving members of her family.

"A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story" by author Caren Stelson and illustrator Akira Kusaka is a deeply moving nonfiction picture book presenting Sachiko Yasui's true life story of surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in World War II and her message of peace to children ages 6-12. Exceptionally well written, illustrated, organized and presented, making it especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community library collections for children, it should be noted for young readers that "A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Tooth Fairy and the Baby Elf
Cynthia Kern OBrien, author
Rosemarie Gillon, illustrator
Pickles House Publishing
9781734507515, $18.95, HC, 40pp

The big day has come! Chloe has finally lost her tooth and Granny's friend, Gwen the Tooth Fairy, is coming to visit! But when Chloe awakes the next morning to find her tooth still under her pillow, she is devastated. And Granny is rightfully worried. Gwen never misses a tooth! What could have happened?

Published by Pickles House Publications (an independent publishing house that is dedicated to providing young readers with books that not only spark their imagination but inspire environmental awareness through playful activities), "The Tooth Fairy and the Baby Elf.... a True Story by Granny" by the collaborative team of author/storyteller Cynthia Kern OBrien and artist/illustrator Rosemarie Gillon is a delightfully charming and original picture book story for children ages 1-7.

While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Tooth Fairy and the Baby Elf.... a True Story by Granny" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781734507539, $9.95). It should be noted by parents, care givers and librarians that "The Tooth Fairy and the Baby Elf.... a True Story by Granny" is a Five Star Award from Readers Favorite, a 2020 Finalist Book Fest American Fiction Awards, and a Story Monsters Approved children's title.

Wash Your Hands!
Steve Behling
Disney Press
9781368071550, $4.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 24pp, Ages 3-5

Wash Your Hands! offers young picture book readers a basic primer about hand-washing, telling of a doctor who washes her hands when she goes to the clinic. Based on the series created by Chris Nee, this story features bright colorful images, requires either good reading skills or parental assistance, and involves a variety of creatures in Doc's display of hand-washing and germ prevention. Parents looking for a lively primer on the subject which turns the task of hand washing into an educational adventure will find Wash Your Hands! a compelling, bright choice.

The Social Issues Shelf

The Terrible Bullies
Riyani Patel, author
Shawn DSouza, illustrator
Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781645434856, $9.95, PB, 88pp

"The Terrible Bullies" is about three teenagers, Tanya, Jake, and Diamond, who team up together to stop the new bullies in their high school. As the trio begin their freshman year at Bridge Bank High, they want to do the right thing to stop bullying. Despite their best efforts, drama and clashes between the trio, the bullies, and the school principal ensue. Will they be able to stand up to the terrible bullies, or perhaps reveal a bigger lesson to be learned by all? With a timely and vital underlying message about the tragedies of bullying and the necessity for its elimination, "The Terrible Bullies" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, high school, and community library collections for young readers ages 12-18.

Freeda the Frog and Her New Blue Family
Nadine Haruni
Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781684011322, $14.95, HC

In "Freeda the Frog and Her New Blue Family", Freeda and her family get used to life after the divorce. They have a new routine in place, but things change when Freeda meets a new blue frog. This change brings new topics into the family discussion such as, "How do you handle a parent remarrying"; and "Does the color on the outside of a frog matter".

"Freeda the Frog and Her New Blue Family" will help to foster a young child's understanding that blended families with mixed ethnicities, religions, and races are all a family just the same, and all that matters is what is inside a frog (or person).

Very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers, "Freeda the Frog and Her New Blue Family" is a thoroughly 'kid friendly' sequel to author Nadine Haruni's "Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce".

The Health Shelf

Welcome to Your Period!
Yumi Stynes, author
Melissa Kang, author
Jenny Latham, illustrator
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536214765, $17.99, HC, 176pp

Getting your period for the first time can be mortifying, weird, and messy -- and asking questions about it can feel even worse. But it doesn't have to be that way. "Welcome to Your Period!" is a taboo-free guide is packed with honest advice and big-sisterly wisdom on all the things girls need to know: from what cramps feel like, to whether you can feel blood coming out, to what you should do if your pad leaks onto your clothes.

"Welcome to Your Period!" includes case studies, first-person accounts, questions from real teens, and answers from health journalist Yumi Stynes and adolescent health specialist Melissa Kang, MD. Cheerful illustrations by Jenny Latham keep the tone fun, and help with how-tos on different period supplies. There are even suggestions for throwing a first-period party.

With its inclusive, body-positive message, pocket size, and reassuring vibe, this must-have menstruation manual will make girls feel not only normal but proud.

Critique: The ideal informative instructional guide for girls going through puberty, "Welcome to Your Period!" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Children's Health collections for girls ages 10-14. Additionally, "Welcome to Your Period!" is a sound source of information for boys wanting medical information on the menstrual cycle, as well as fathers who are single parenting daughters.

The American History Shelf

Awesome Asian Americans
Phil Amara, author
Oliver Chen, author
Juan Calle, illustrator
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597021500, $17.95, PB, 132pp

Young readers ages 8-12 will enjoy learning about 20 groundbreaking Asian American citizens who have contributed to the USA in "Awesome Asian Americans". The roster of Asians Americans ranges form Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (actor), Steven Chu (Nobel prize winning physicist), Sammy Lee (Olympic gold medalist), and Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO), to Daniel K. Inouye (senator/soldier), Victoria Manolo Draves (Olympic gold medalist), Sono Osato (dancer), Flossie Wong-Staal (scientist), and more!

Each of the individual profiles are of compelling personalities, men and women drawn from diverse backgrounds and vocations, and brought to life with fantastic color illustrations.

Immigrants and their children continue to enrich America's culture. Children will discover important chapters of U.S. history not covered in school textbooks, and the marvelous accomplishments of these trailblazers. Challenged by racism, prejudice, and stereotypes, these pioneers forged ahead and became role models for generations to come.

Parents and children will enjoy learning about these compelling personalities. These captivating chapters make great reading for any hour, from book reports to bedtime stories. Teachers and librarians will use this contemporary collection as a relevant resource and an accessible reference. Artist Juan Calle's 60 dynamic color illustrations bring these fascinating and informative portraits to life.

Critique: A unique compendium of outstanding Asian Americans in terms of their lives and accomplishments, "Awesome Asian Americans" is an extraordinary, informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections.

The World History Shelf

Fashion Rules!
Gail Skroback Hennessey, author
Tracy Sabin, illustrator
Red Chair Press
PO Box 333, South Egremont, MA 01258
9781634409056, $18.99, HC, 40pp

During the Middle Ages, position in life and society was based on birth. This position would follow a man or a woman throughout their life. To make it easy for others to readily identify a particular social class there were rules about what could be worn or not worn.

Such rules, called sumptuary laws, determined colors of clothing, types of fabric and trims, length of garments, types of sleeves, and types of furs. The laws also regulated shoe lengths and height, hat height, types of buttons, and even the number of buttons you could wear. People were to dress according to the class in which they were born. In this way, just by looking at someone, you could tell if they were important or not.

"Fashion Rules!: A Closer Look at Clothing in the Middle Ages" by the team of author/historian Gail Skroback Hennessey and artist/illustrator Tracy Sabin entertainingly educates young readers ages 7-10 in this particular aspect of medieval European history and is unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community library picture book world history collections.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Black Heroes of the Wild West
James Otis Smith, author
Kadir Nelson, illustrator
Toon Books
9781943145515, $16.95, HC, 60pp

Laid out in a graphic novel format by author/biographer/storyteller James Otis Smith and effectively illustrated by the artistry of Kadir Nelson, "Black Heroes of the Wild West" celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black heroes who took control of their destinies and stood up for their communities in the Old West.

Born into slavery in Tennessee, Mary Fields became famous as "Stagecoach Mary," a cigar-chomping, card playing coach driver who never missed a delivery. Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the wiliest lawmen in the territories, bringing thousands of outlaws to justice with his smarts. Bob Lemmons lived to be 99 years old and was so good with horses that the wild mustangs on the plains of Texas took him for one of their own.

An inherently fascinating, entertaining, and informative read from first page to last, "Black Heroes of the Wild West" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Graphic Novel collections in general, and Black History/Biography collections in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of children ages 9-12 that "Black Heroes of the Wild West" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9786976535210, $9.99).

Gomer, Duke of Goofington
Franquin, artist/illustrator
Cinebook Ltd.
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
9781849185905, $11.95, PB, 48pp

Among the many obstacles to Spirou Magazine's productivity, two of the most formidable are Gomer's little proteges: a very playful cat and an evil-tempered black-headed gull. Between the bird's dive-bombing attacks and the feline's recurrent bouts of madness, Prunelle and the others don't have it easy. And yet, none of that compares to the results of Aunt Hortense's overgrown cactus being brought to the office by a clueless Gomer!

The newest collection featuring the hilarious antics of Gomer Goof, "Gomer, Duke of Goofington" will prove top be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to school and community library comic graphic novel collections for young readers ages 8-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gomer, Duke of Goofington" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle/comiXology, $8.99).

The Music CD Shelf

Let's Go, Pistachio
Kelli Welli
Privately Published
$12.00 CD / $9.00 digital

Let's Go, Pistachio is a high-energy album of country-style, laugh-out-loud songs for young children. A touch of life lesson celebration is also present, in songs like "Tinkle Tinkle Toot" about toilet training, and "Tonight I'll Be Brushing One Less Tooth" about dental hygiene, and "She's So Bright" about a girl who flourishes in spite of her disability, and more. Let's Go, Pistachio is a delight for family time, highly recommended. The tracks are "The Hat Song", "The Smilers", "She's So Bright", "Growing Like A String Bean", "Peanut, Pinenut", "Let's Go, Pistachio", "Jumpin' Beans", "Tinkle Tinkle Toot", "I'm Proud of You", "Tonight I'll Be Brushing One Less Tooth", "The Waiting Song", "Kickin' It With My Chicken", "Can't Find My Appendix", "I'll Be A Butterfly", and "We're Almost There".

The Board Book Shelf

A Keiki's First Word Book
Puakea Nogelmeier, editor
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573062756, $14.95, Board Book, 16pp

Compiled and edited by Puakea Nogelmeier, "A Keiki's First Word Book" is an early-learning and bilingual (English/Hawaiian) board book for children ages 3-5 and specifically designed to teach words with photos of objects and activities for Hawaii's keiki. Each individual photo features the English word and the Hawaii word! A surprise door on every page lets kids discover the hidden object. A wonderfully entertaining, educational, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' activity book for toddlers and preschoolers, "A Keiki's First Word Book" is highly recommended as a unique addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections!

Casey Rislov, author
Rachael Balsaitis, illustrator
Casey Rislov Books
9780578713946, $7.95, Board Book, 22pp

Inspired by the much-loved and well-known passage from the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), Love wraps little ones up in the embrace of gentle words and sweet illustrations. Children's book author Casey Rislov and artist/illustrator Rachael Balsaitis (the award-winning team of Love is Forever) have collaborated to create "Love", a sweetly beautiful board book for children ages 1-3. "Love" is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library collections with its biblical message that Love is patient, love is gentle and kind, love celebrates the joys of others.

Eat Up, Bear!
Terry Pierce, author
Nadja Sarell, illustrator
Yosemite Conservancy
9781951179014, $8.99, Board Book, 14pp

Black bears just want to eat! Juicy berries, crunchy nuts, tender grubs, and sticky honey -- that's good bear food. But if park visitors don't watch out, their food will be bear food, too! Bouncy rhyming text and vibrant pictures share how families can do their part to keep bears safe and thriving. "Eat Up, Bear!" is a thoroughly charming board book for the littlest campers ages 1-3 about those curious, hungry bears -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections.

The Picturebook Shelf

Edie's Little White Lie: A Horace & Nim Story
Chantal Bourgonje, author & illustrator
David Hoskins, author
Hubble & Hattie Kids
c/o Hubble & Hattie
9781787116993, $9.99, PB, 32pp

When Edie tells her best friend Kay that she loves her singing voice and how special it is, she isn't expecting Kay to run off and enter a talent show that she hasn't a hope of winning. Edie was only trying to cheer her up after Polecat Mac said how terrible Kay's voice was (and it's not good). Talent judges can be pretty cruel, and the audiences even worse. Will Kay blame Edie for her humiliation? Will their friendship even survive?

Horace and Nim try to help out, but things look pretty grim for the well-meaning duck. "Edie's Little White Lie: A Horace & Nim Story" is the latest book in the Horace & Nim picture book series. Beautifully illustrated by Chantal Bourgonje, with a heart-warming story of friendship that children ages 3-5 (and their parents) will enjoy and another storytelling gem for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library collections.

Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon
Patty Lovell, author
David Catrow, illustrator
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780399260025, $17.99, 40pp

Molly Lou Melon's mother taught her to use her big voice for good -- to speak up for what's right, for those who can't, and even when it's hard. So she does. When school starts and a bully begins teasing everyone, including a new student, Molly Lou knows just what to do. From standing up for a friend to admitting when you've made a mistake, Molly Lou shows us how speaking up is always the right choice.

In the pages of "Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon", this beloved and classic character by Patty Lovell has another important message to share with children ages 4-8, and David Catrow's vibrant and spunky illustrations continue to expand Molly Lou's larger-than-life personality. While very highly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Clouds: Life's Big & Little Moments
Angie Simpson, author
Alli Simpson, author
Lucy Fleming, illustrator
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534439535, $18.99, HC, 32pp

As she walks along a quiet beach, a mother looks to the sky and sees memories of her young daughter's life forming in the clouds -- from first steps to riding a bike to finding her own voice and path. Each remembrance brought to life is sweet and tender, and as the mother looks back fondly, she embraces and celebrates the passage of time.

A picture book story is a unique family collaboration, "Clouds: Life's Big & Little Moments" is the result of collaborative authors Angie and Alli Simpson drawing inspiration from Cody Simpson's lullaby music, and includes a download link to a version of the song "Clouds" sung by Cody and his father Brad Simpson.

Siblings and world-renowned entertainers Cody, Alli, and Tom Simpson have always recognized the importance and meaning of family, thanks in large part to the support of their parents, Angie and Brad. Even as their accomplishments take them around the world, the ties between them are unbreakable and enduring.

Especially recommended for children ages 4-8, "Clouds: Life's Big & Little Moments" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library musically themed picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Clouds: Life's Big & Little Moments" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Beep Beep Bubbie
Bonnie Sherr Klein, author
Elisabeth Eudes-Pascal, illustrator
Tradewind Books
Orca Book Publishers (distributor)
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781926890234, $17.95, HC, 32pp

A little girl named Kate is upset when grandma (Bubbie) gets a motorized scooter. Will Bubbie still be Bubbie in that scooter? Kate slowly warms to the scooter after she sees what a good friend it is to Bubbie. And shopping at Granville Island turns out to be so much fun! Her little brother Nate loves the scooter's bells and whistles, and Kate makes new friends on their joyous outing.

The collaborative work of author/storyteller Bonnie Sherr Klein and artist/illustrator Elisabeth Eudes-Pascal, "Beep Beep Bubbie" is a thoroughly charming picture book entertainment for children ages 4-6 and especially recommended as an enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Be Kind
Pat Zietlow Miller, author
Jen Hill, illustrator
Roaring Brook Press
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9781626723214, $17.99, HC, 32pp

When a little girl named Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind?

From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, "Be Kind" is a moving picture book story by the team of author/storyteller Pat Miller and artist/illustrator Jen Hill that deftly explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference -- or at least help a friend.

Showing how two simple words can change the world, "Be Kind" is an especially charming and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Be Kind" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781529041903, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Ways to Say I Love You
Marilyn Singer, author
Alette Straathof, illustrator
Words & Pictures
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711257375, $18.95, HC, 32pp

From snuggling garter snakes to big, cozy bear hugs, and told in verse by author/storyteller Marilyn Singer,"Ways to Say I Love You" shares how animals we'd expect, and some we wouldn't, express affection for each other. Each animal interaction is compared with a similar human one, in beautifully blended illustrations composed by the talented Alette Straathof, "Ways to Say I Love You" show that we are not so different from our animal neighbors. Of special note is that children can find out more about the animals in the back pages and discover how to say "I love you" in different languages.

While an especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for kids ages 4-6, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ways to Say I Love You" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.28).

The Little Kitten
Nicola Killen
Paula Wiseman Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534466968, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Ollie and her cat Pumpkin are out frolicking on a beautiful fall day when they come upon a tiny kitten shivering in a pile of fallen leaves. Ollie warms the kitten up and the three become fast friends, but when Ollie sees "Lost Kitten" posters hanging on the trees in the forest, she knows she has to help her new friend get home. As Halloween draws nearer, magic is afoot, and Ollie's good deed is rewarded in an unexpected way. Another thoroughly charming, 'kid friendly' picture book with a positive underlying message encouraging kindness, "The Little Kitten" by artist and storyteller Nicola Killen is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Little Kitten" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Emily and Lucy to the Rescue
Phyllus Ershowsky, author
Chiara Savarese, illustrator
Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781645432401, $14.95, HC, 38pp

The collaborative work of author/storyteller Phyllus Ershowsky and artist/illustrator Chiara Savarese, "Emily and Lucy to the Rescue is the engaging and thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book story of Emily and her dog Lucy who are one unstoppable duo, but when a loved one faces a serious illness, their find their lives are turned upside down. The best friends soon become worried, unsure of what to do. Will they be strong enough to save the day? Very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 6-8, it should be noted that a portion of proceeds will automatically be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Katie Cotton, author
Tor Freeman, illustrator
Anderson Press
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781728415789, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Pig wants the biggest, finest new house for the cheapest price, even if that involves telling a little lie! But he's about to find out what happens to greedy pigs who fleece their workers! When the bricks fall, who will save this pig's bacon? "Bricks" by the team of author/storyteller Katie Cotton and artist/illustrator Tor Freeman is an hilarious and wonderfully entertaining cautionary picture book tale that charmingly teaches the lesson of kindness and integrity to children ages 5-9. While unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bricks" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Egg
Geraldo Valerio
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771473743, $18.95, HC, 40pp

Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7, "The Egg" by author and artist Geraldo Valerio is an imaginative and unusual picture book story about a bird and a child, and how they become a family. The wordless story opens with a crane caring lovingly for an egg. During a storm, a gust of wind blows the egg from its nest. Despite searching far and wide, the crane can't find the lost egg anywhere. Heartbroken, the crane spots something -- an egg! Not its own, but since this egg is also alone, the crane rescues it to safety. When the egg hatches, the little one inside is (unexpectedly) a human baby. No matter their differences, the crane loves and cares for the child, adopting it into an avian life. When they take flight together, this unusual duo encounters other birds with their young ones -- the babies all a diverse array of creatures, showing that families come in all shapes and sizes. "The Egg" is whimsically engaging story that is open to interpretation and imagination, but above all imparts the message that a loving family can be whatever we make it.

Rescuing Mrs. Birdley
Aaron Reynolds, author
Emma Reynolds, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534427044, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Miranda is an animal expert. Or at least, she watches a lot of Nature Joe. Nature Joe is incredible. He rescues animals, returning them to their natural habitat. Mrs. Birdley is a teacher. The natural habitat of a teacher is a classroom.

So when Mrs. Birdley escapes school and ends up wild, loose, and confused at the local grocery store, Miranda knows just what to do: she must use her brain, her guts, and her extensive knowledge of Nature Joe to rescue Mrs. Birdley -- at any cost!

Especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, "Rescuing Mrs. Birdley" by the team of author/storyteller Aaron Reynolds and artist/illustrator Emma Reynolds, "Rescuing Mrs. Birdley" is a delightfully whimsical picture book for children ages 4-8 that explores the weirdness of seeing a teacher outside of school and will have young readers laughing out loud from first page to last. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rescuing Mrs. Birdley" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Little Owl's Bedtime
Debi Gliori, author
Alison Brown, illustrator
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547604494, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Little Owl does not want to go to bed. His pillow is too lumpy and his quilt is too hot. He's tried to go to sleep. He's tried REALLY hard, but then there is a strange snorting noise, and... "Mommy!"

It seems like Little Owl will never fall asleep, but Mommy Owl has a few tricks up her sleeve to soothe her fidgety Little Owl and help him get a good night's rest.

An utterly charming and thoroughly 'kid friendly' bedtime read, "Little Owl's Bedtime" by author/storyteller Debi Gliori explores all the things that keep kids from settling into bed and the ingenious ways parents quiet restless minds in this sweet bedtime picture book story, lovingly illustrated by the artistry of Alison Brown. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 2-5, it should be noted that "Little Owl's Bedtime" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781526603487, $6.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.02).

Calvin Gets the Last Word
Margo Sorenson, author
Mike Deas, illustrator
Tilbury House
9780884488224, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Calvin's dictionary is proud to be carried everywhere Calvin goes (the breakfast table, school, baseball practice, and home again) because Calvin is determined to find the perfect word to attach to his annoying older brother. The word isn't exactly revenge, mayhem, bewilderment, subterfuge, pulverize, or even retaliation, though all those words are so close and very tempting. When Calvin finally finds the right word for his rascally brother, his dictionary is surprised and delighted, and young readers ages 6-8 will enjoy celebrating the triumphant discovery of Calvin's perfect word along with his dictionary.

The collaborative and imaginative work of author/storyteller Margo Sorenson and artist/illustrator Mike Deas, "Calvin Gets The Last Word" is a uniquely special and charmingly entertaining picture book that is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Calvin Gets The Last Word" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.05).

Our Favorite Day of the Year
A. E. Ali, author
Rahele Jomepour Bell, illustrator
Salaam Reads
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781481485630, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Musa's feeling nervous about his first day of school. He's not used to being away from home and he doesn't know any of the other kids in his class. And when he meets classmates Moises, Mo, and Kevin, Musa isn't sure they'll have much in common. But over the course of the year, the four boys learn more about each other, the holidays they celebrate, their favorite foods, and what they like about school. The more they share with each other, the closer they become, until Musa can't imagine any better friends.

The collaboration of author/storyteller A. E. Ali and artist/illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell, "Our Favorite Day of the Year" is thoroughly charming and entertaining picture book story of friendship and celebrating differences, young readers ages 4-8 will enjoy discovering how entering a new friendship with an open mind and sharing parts of themselves an bring people together. Of special note is the calendar of holidays at the end of the book which will delight children as they identify special events they can celebrate with friends throughout the year.

While unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers, it should also be noted that "Our Favorite Day of the Year" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Night Night, Norman
Marie Dimitrova, author
Romi Caron, illustrator
Hello World Publishing
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781735036403, $17.95, HC, 36pp

Norman is a horse who wonders where a little girl named Ellie goes after she hugs him goodnight. One night he loosens the latch on his stall and sneaks out. When he pushes his horse-sized body through the door and into Ellie's house, he smells something delicious coming from the kitchen. While Ellie sleeps, Norman investigates. His equine curiosity and clumsy hooves create all sorts of chaos, leaving us wondering, will he wake Ellie?

Children ages 3-6 will thoroughly enjoy the laugh out loud adventures of Norman, and finding out what happens when we think our pets are sleeping. A perfect book to read together before bedtime, "Night Night, Norman" by author/storyteller Marie Dimitrova and artist/illustrator Romi Caron is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Night Night, Norman" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.09).

Kasya Denisevich
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452177755, $18.99, HC, 44pp

An ideal picture book for children ages 5-8, "Neighbors" by Kasya Denisevich deftly explores the ways that we think about those we exist among, but who remain strangers until we make the brave (and affirming) decision to connect. An impressively illustrator exploration of neighbors coexisting together in one very special apartment building, "Neighbors" blurs the line between imagination, dreams, and reality while beautifully showcasing moments of connection as portals to a world of endless possibility.

Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Neighbors" is unique, entertaining, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Claris: Holiday Heist
Megan Hess
Hardie Grant
9781760504953, $17.99, HC, 48pp

"Claris: Holiday Heist" is the charmingly entertaining story about a sweet little mouse who has moved to Paris to follow her fashion dreams and now has to take on a cheeky cat burglar with holiday cheer! Can Claris and Monsieur save the day -- the New York way? The fourth Claris book in a series for kids ages 3-8 from acclaimed fashion illustrator and children's book author Megan Hess, "Claris: Holiday Heist" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

5-Minute Disney Junior Stories
Disney Books / Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368055376, $14.99, HC, 208pp

Selected and compiled by the Disney Storybook Art Team, "5-Minute Disney Junior Stories" is a collection of twelve stories featuring favorite Disney Junior characters! Children ages 5-8 will fully enjoy going along on complete missions with Bingo and Rolly, flying along with Vampirina, tagging along on deliveries with Pip and Freddy -- and more! Each individual story is timed to be read in just five minutes, making this delightfully charming and wonderfully entertaining collection ideal for bedtime, storytime, or anytime! While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "5-Minute Disney Junior Stories" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

What Dragons Like
Jared Eastley
Lurth Worx LLC
9781735570808, $29.95 HC, $19.95 PB, 48pp, Ages 2-8

What Dragons Like features outstanding color dragon illustrations that young picture book readers will relish, accompanying a fun review of creatures and experiences that not only dragons but young readers will like. These include: dinosaurs, exploring distant lands, going on adventures, climbing into caves, tropical beaches, and flying high in the sky, among other things.

The combination of whimsical adventures that dragons like with absolutely stunning color images that translate the written whimsy into lovely images suitable for framing is exquisite. The lovely artwork sets this book apart from any typical approach to dragons and their lives. Many books are written for young readers already captivated by the idea of dragons. Few capture the sense of fun and imagination of this story, which outclasses the competition with 34 fine art paintings by different contributors to accompany an interactive format that encourages kids to explore their own tastes for fantasy and adventure.

Parents seeking exceptional read-alouds that go beyond the usual child's picture story to represent fine art on every page will find What Dragons Like is not just a cut above its competitors, but stands head and shoulders above any other dragon picture book for young people. What Dragons Like should be a mainstay for any collection seeking either a picture book about dragons or a diverse set of images which portray different dragon countenances and varied approaches to depicting them.

What Dragons Like is very, very highly recommended!

EK Books

Two fine new releases from EK Books offer more than just leisure reading entertainment, and are recommended picks for adults who would help children learn.

Brooke Graham and Robin Tatlow-Lord's Go Away, Worry Monster (9781925820393, $18.99) is the perfect tool for helping kids cope with anxiety, and uses tested strategies from psychotherapy to help kids understanding anxiety and hope to cope with it. Parents, teachers, and caregivers will want to use this book as an interactive opportunity for discussing coping strategies as the story tells of a Worry Monster who loves 'helping' Archie worry. Archie's only recourse is to make this monster vanish. But, how? Large, colorful drawings outline this monster's influence and Archie's ability to vanquish it with a little help and insight.

Raymond Huber and Sandra Severgnini's Tree Beings (9781925820539, $24.99) is the perfect story of choice for adults who want to teach kids about trees and how to protect them, and covers the scientists, explorers, and history of tree protection around the world. Good reading skills are required from grades 2-3 to enjoy the detailed descriptions of life in trees, tree preservation activists, tree history and rainforest power, among many other topics. The gorgeous oversized color illustrations are a fine plus in this appealing educational survey of the history and science of trees and their importance.


These fine new arrivals are highly recommended picks for young leisure readers who enjoy picture books that excel in image and story alike.

Misty Copeland's Bunheads (9780399547645, $17.99) receives fine drawings by Setor Fiadzigbey and requires either good reading skills or parental assistance as it tells of young Misty, who becomes captivated by the world of dance through the ballet Coppelia, about a toymaker's dangerous creation. Misty has never danced ballet before she decides to audition for the role, but her exploration of this world introduces readers to its processes, terminology, and the routines of training for a ballet production. A lovely story evolves, especially recommended for youngsters just becoming involved in the world of dance.

Jonathan Bentley's colorful, whimsical drawings accompany P. Crumble's jaunty story of animal equality in We Are All Equal (9780593202555, $17.99), in which animals do more than just tolerate each other, but join together to celebrate their differences. The basic ideals of independence, freedom, and differences in America is covered in a fun and easy reader parents will want to choose to teach their kids about the fundamentals of what constitutes equality.

Rachel Larsen, Adam Reid, and Ozi Akturk's The Tiny Chef and da Mishing Weshipee Blook (9780593115053, $18.99) tells of a chef's dilemma when his favorite recipe book goes missing. Could it be because his kitchen is such a mess, he can't find it? The Chef is furious and frustrated, but he decides to channel his anger in a different way, and his discoveries lead to information that enhances his cooking. The gorgeous full-page color art is especially striking in this story, and will draw readers into a world of problem-solving and a small chef's success.

Sleeping Bear Press
2395 S. Huron Parkway, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Two new arrivals are top recommendations for picture book leisure readers, providing warm stories that lend particularly well to parental read-aloud.

Clayton Anderson's Letters from Space (9781534110748, $16.99) is illustrated by Susan Batori and blends science and humor about space. It comes from a required astronaut who examines life on the International Space Station and uses fun letters to impart its science lessons and insights on space living. The sequence of letters explores experiences from the third day to leaving the station 152 days later, and follows STEAM content specifications as it provides ages 4-8 with insights on everything from spacewalking to space suits and personal experiences.

Helen Foster James presents a keepsake edition of Welcome to the World (9781534110120, $16.99) that includes an additional page for a baby's photo as it creates a gift for new parents and their babies. Petra Brown's gorgeous and sweet animal drawings follow doting parents as they enjoy their new arrival, from "singing songs to make you smile" to a fun bubble bath. Parents will relish this sweet, inviting, fun picture book.

The General Fiction Shelf

Can You Whistle, Johanna?
Ulf Stark, author
Anna Hoglund, illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776573257, $18.99, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: Why doesn't Berra have a grandfather? And how can he get one? Ulf suggests that there are plenty of old men at the retirement home. Berra and Ulf go there together to find one -- ideally one who eats pig's trotters, invites you to tea, and can teach you to whistle.

Enhanced with the artwork of illustrator Anna Hoglund, "Can You Whistle, Johanna?" by author/storyteller Ulf Stark is a funny, sensitive, and charmingly entertaining chapter book for children ages 6-9 about a friendship across generations. Stark's writing covers every emotion, sometimes in the same sentence!

Critique: A fun read with an important underlying theme of inter-generational friendship, "Can You Whistle, Johanna?" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to family, elementary school, and community library General Fiction collections for young readers.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Deputy Pete and the Purloined Pickles Puzzle
James J. Griffin
Condor Publishing, Inc.
9781931079280, $10.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 66pp

Winchester, Texas is home to the handsome Deputy Pete, who patrols its streets with purpose and effectiveness. But he may have met his match over the mystery that unfolds in the middle grade Western read Deputy Pete and the Purloined Pickles Puzzle. James J. Griffin's background in producing Western novels for all ages continues to prove a plus here, creating a story which nicely blends a mystery with a rural Texas environment.

Deputy Pete tackles a big problem that Sheriff Sam Slade has been unable to handle. Even more importantly, who would steal all the cucumbers and pickles in town? More than the perp and the deputy are in a pickle by the time the options are considered and the rationale behind pickle picking is presented. Humor and fun blend with problem-solving approaches as the deputy puts on his thinking cowboy hat and rides out to confront pickle perp possibilities.

The dialogue between Pete, his parents, and others is often fun, offering plays on 'p' words that kids will relish: "But it is funny, son," his father commented, "you just keep on pondering over pilfered pickles." "Mr. Porter," said Pete's mother, "I'm trying to get our son to relax, and you're encouraging him to worry about pickles."

As the savvy deputy works with three young sleuths, Libby, Ben, and Jose, to solve this puzzle, young readers will delight in conversations that capture whimsical problem-solving approaches to his job. James J. Griffin's ability to incorporate the folksy, homespun atmosphere of a good Western with a child's eye to solving a small town puzzle creates a compelling story that will delight kids interested in law enforcement conundrums.

It's a fine read that will keep young folk guessing to the end, and blends the atmosphere and approach of a Western with a mystery that introduces kids to the potential range and strengths of the Western novel format.

The Metric Clock
Phillip B. Chute
Independently Published
9781732885509, $14.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 189pp, Ages 13-18

The Metric Clock tells of nine-year-old Charles Wallace, who lives a relatively isolated life with an often-absent father in New England in 1946. When a trip to rural Canada provides him with answers that encourage a closeness he's never had with his father before, Charles begins to see that people other than his one best friend, Mary Anne, could connect with him on a deeper emotional level...if he can let them in.

When he chooses to go on an adventure, Charles discovers that keeping secrets and forming new friendships can impact old ones...even those as solid as his pre-summer friendship with Mary Anne. The result is a story of war and peace, problems and solutions, evolving relationships, and new possibilities that all challenge Charles to move behind his shy comfort level to accept new possibilities from life. Phillip B. Chute does a fine job of exploring these evolutionary processes, taking time to focus on a close friendship that changes with the seasons.

As Charles examines what is important in his life, he comes to realize what kinds of people he should be supporting and cultivating from both new experiences and tried-and-tested encounters. As the story evolves, a surprise ending looms that both changes everything and reinforces the lessons Charles receives about his life, its trajectory, and his relationships.

Middle grade readers will find The Metric Clock a compelling story with a strong message about friendships, courage, and embracing life.

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

Two fine new books are top recommendations for middle grade leisure readers, offering different topics and compelling stories.

Ages 9-12 will appreciate Summer Rachel Short's The Mutant Mushroom Takeover (9781534468658, $17.99), which tells of Magnolia Stone's life in her gramma's mobile home with a grumpy older brother. Determined to change this scenario, she wants to win a naturalist merit award that will help her reconnect with her scientist father. Doing so involves an investigation of a rare bioluminescent fungus but evolves into a real mystery when the fungus spreads and portends infection and danger in Shady Pines. Kids who enjoy science and mystery will relish this unexpectedly compelling adventure.

Stuart Gibbs' Spy School Revolution (9781534443785, $17.99) will appeal to a slightly younger audience ages 8-12 with the story of young agent Ben Ripley, who is determined to clear Erica Hale's name by investigating the Croatoan, who are blackmailing his friend. His mission is to defy the CIA's notion that this group is mythical and to locate evidence of its involvement and Erica's innocence alike. Kids who enjoy spy stories will find this an engaging tale.

1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318

Advanced elementary to early middle grade readers ages 8-12 will find Lavie Tidhar's The Candy Mafia (9781682631973, $16.99) an inviting, fun story set in a city where all candy has been outlawed, leading children to go on the lam via a black market candy ring. Young readers who enjoy investigative pieces will relish this story of a missing teddy bear case, a missing owner, and an investigation which leads Nelle and her fellow sleuths into an underworld of sweets smuggling. The lively story is hard to put down and will delight fans of Encyclopedia Brown and other sleuthing mysteries with a taste of something different.

Mara Rockliff's The Grudge Keeper (9781561457298, $16.95) receives delightful drawings by Eliza Wheeler as it tells of a town free of grudges except for one notable grudge-holder, Cornelius, who manages to keep them all squired away until a storm sends them flying free. Can Cornelius maintain his role in the town, or is it doomed to experiences grudges from then on? Good reading skills or parental assistance will enhance enjoyment of this concept of grudges, their lasting impact, and what happens when they vanish, only to return in force. These fine books are recommended for individual purchase and library acquisition alike.

The YA Fiction Shelf

The Defiance
Laura Gallier
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496433978, $24.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Four months after the deadly overlord Molek has been banished beyond the city limits of Masonville, Texas, Owen Edmonds's crucial mission to save lives escalates when seven Cosmic Rulers of darkness close in to decimate his town -- and the nation. As the battle between good and evil culminates in an epic standoff, Owen and his girlfriend, Ray Anne, must make the decision of a lifetime: will they face their fears or run?

Critique: An inherently riveting read from beginning to end, "The Defiance" is the third book author Laura Gallier's 'Delusion' series for young readers ages 13-18. While unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Defiance" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781496433985, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.17).

Scholastic, Inc.

Four new young adult fiction titles are compelling reads recommended for teen leisure readers.

Ben Oliver's The Loop (9781338589306, $18.99 HC, $11.99 Kindle, 336pp, Ages 12-18) tells of Luka Kane, who has spent over seven hundred days wrongfully imprisoned in The Loop, awaiting execution. His goal is to break out of his prison; but is that the only way he can survive and save others? This sci-fi story holds a powerful social message about chaos, freedom, and goals that lay beyond personal safety and perseverance.

Claribel A. Ortega's Ghost Squad (9781338280128, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 256pp, Ages 8-12) provides preteen and new teen readers with the story of Lucely Luna and her family, who make ghosts their family business. When Lucely and her friend cast the wrong kind of spell that brings dangerous spirits to life, they must correct their mistake with the help of a witch grandmother and her familiar to reverse the curse before it's too late. A delightful, fun story evolves.

Aida Salazar's Land of the Cranes (9781338343809, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 256pp, 8-12) tells of nine-year-old Betita and her family. Betita has been told she is a crane. She's also a refugee from cartel conflicts in Mexico. Despite her father's fantasy of safety, he's arrested and deported, leaving Betita and her pregnant mother in danger from authorities. Can Betita and her friends and family face being caged in their effort to find freedom? A fine story evolves with a message about dreams and survival.

Shannon Hitchcock and N.H. Senzai's Flying Over Water (9781338617665, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 272pp, Ages 8-12) tells of Noura's family, who receive Asylum in Tampa as Syrian refugees. Blossoming friendships and community is changed by bigotry and community unrest as refugees and new friends learn to stand together against prejudice and form a new life. All are fine leisure choices for preteens and teens.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

A Universe of Wishes
Dhonielle Clayton, editor
Crown Books for Young Readers
c/o Random House Children's Books
9781984896209, $18.99, HC, 416pp

Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Dhonielle Clayton (COO of We Need Diverse Books), "A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology" is comprised of short stories by fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors for children ages 14-17. These are stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice, and so much more! This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world.

The featured authors include: Samira Ahmed, Jenni Balch, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Cordova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, V. E. Schwab, Tara Sim, and Nic Stone.

A truly memorable and entertaining read from cover to cover, "A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library action/adventure fantasy collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Judaic Shelf

The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, author
Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, author
Jen Kostman, illustrator
Kalaniot Books
c/o Endless Mountains Publishing
9780998852751, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Little Flicker is always cheering his friends on with words of encouragement and support. But as the smallest candle in the box, why should he be chosen to be the shamash in the Hanukkah menorah? Isn't the job of lighting all the others candles too big for him? As it turns out, it's the size of your heart that matters, and in that department, Little Flicker is huge!

Very highly recommended for Hanukkah themed family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, "The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story" features bright and quirky illustrations that make it easy to imagine the possibility of a world where candles walk, talk, dance, and sing. Kids ages 4-8 will love exploring the details of Little Flicker's life inside his cozy drawer.

The New Queen of Sheba
Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz
Gefen Publishing House
c/o Storch 255 Central Ave #B-206, Lawrence, NY 11559
9798668726585, $10.95, PB, 32pp

"The New Queen of Sheba" by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz is a beautifully rendered picture book for children that introduces several figures from the Torah (Old Testament) by a young girl named Malka and her classmates -- and concludes with the gathering of Ethiopian Jews to the state of Israel in a manner that was seemingly prophesied to be 'on the wings of eagles'.

"The New Queen of Sheba" also pays tribute to the stunning embroidery art of the Ethiopian Jewish community and their epic journey to Israel -- making it especially recommended for family, synagogue, elementary school, middle school, and community library Judaic Studies picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Barry L. Schwartz is the Director of The Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia and the Rabbi of Congregation Adas Emuno in Leonia, NJ.

The Buddhist Shelf

The Kind Monk
Bhikshuni Jin Rou, author
Huang-Yun Song, illustrator
Buddhist Text Translation Society
9781601030337, $6.95, PB, 72pp

"The Kind Monk" is a heartwarming picture book biography about the much beloved and celebrated monk, Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, who was most influential in bringing Buddhism to America. The simple accessible manner in which the stories of his life are told by author Bhikshuni Jin Rou does not distract from the power to inspire children, and the lovely illustrations by artist Huang-Yun Song add to the richness of the telling -- making "The Kind Monk" an elegantly splendid, impressively informative, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Buddhist Studies collections and personal reading lists.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

When I Was an Alligator
Gayle Webre, author
Drew Beech, illustrator
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
9781946160669, $20.00, HC, 36pp

In the pages of "When I Was an Alligator" by the team of author Gayle Webre and illustrator Drew Beech, children ages 5-8 will enjoy following along with a curious Cajun kid as the little girl magically and mysteriously transforms into a series of wetlands creatures, including a tree frog, a heron, a catfish, and even a mosquito! Along the way, each animal reveals something of its habits and habitat. With fun language, page-turning onomatopoeia, and charming art, When I Was an Alligator is a playful and informative exploration of Louisiana's treasured coastal wetlands -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library American wildlife picture book collections for young readers.

A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch
Janet Halfmann, author
Abira Das, illustrator
Pen It! Publications, LLC
9781951263119, $20.99, HC, 38pp

Will Joey, a little gray kangaroo, ever find his mum's pouch in a mob? Children ages 4-8 will enjoy finding out in "A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch" fun picture book story of creativity and friendship (and sprinkled with Australian words) by the team of author Janet Halfmann and illustrator Abira Das. Of special note is the inclusion of Fun Kangaroo Facts, Australian Words, and Australian Animals and Plants. Fun, informative, and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for kids, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781951263126, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Animal Homes
Mary Holland
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781643517506, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Just like humans, animals use their homes for shelter and to raise their young. Animal homes might be easy to see, or they may be hidden (camouflaged) for protection. Some animals are great builders and other animals borrow homes that other animals have made. Different animals might just use natural places like caves or holes in trees to make a home. And some animals might even carry their home on their back! Sticks, mud, leaves, cotton, and grass are all things that animals might use to build a home. Whether by digging, spinning, building or burrowing, animal homes are as varied as the animals themselves. "Animal Homes" is a perfect addition to author Mary Holland's 'Animal Anatomy and Adaptations' series for children ages 5-9. While especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers, it should be noted for personal lists that "Animal Homes" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781643517551, $9.95).

Emily's Gift
Ellen Shane, author
Bernard Joaquin, illustrator
Patrick Horan, illustrator
KP Publishing Company
9781950936342, $21.95, HC, 22pp

"Emily's Gift: The True Story of Sherlock and Jackson" explores the various steps to pet ownership from parental consent, to understanding the responsibility that comes with owning a dog, to selecting a puppy and properly caring for the new family member.

"Emily's Gift: The True Story of Sherlock and Jackson" is a story taken from the lives of the Shane Family. The Shane's would not have met two charming dogs, Sherlock and Jackson, but for Emily's consistent advocacy.

Emily wants to experience one of the greatest joys on earth, dog ownership. Emily always tried to help any person or living creature in need. She always had an encouraging word, a hug, or an invitation to join her if you were alone. She brought smiles and happiness with her contagious laughter. Our hope is that her values and persona will forever be remembered through the philanthropic endeavors and acts of helping others that the Foundation pursues.

The Emily Shane Foundation supports responsible pet ownership and asks families to carefully consider the time, space, energy, money and commitment required before adopting a pet. "Emily's Gift: The True Story of Sherlock and Jackson" is a picture book celebration of Emily Shane and her unwavering love and persistence to obtain a dog. Proceeds from this book will go to her Foundation and her favorite animal charity.

"Emily's Gift: The True Story of Sherlock and Jackson" is a sweet tale of persistence and how the youngest Shane sibling tries to negotiate a puppy for her loving and pet-less family -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections for children ages 8-10.

The Music Shelf

Sing Out!: Six Classic Folk Songs for Tomorrow
Sin and Swoon Sin, authors
Swoon Sophie Casson, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
9782924774854, $16.95, HC, 176pp

In the pages of "Sing Out!: Six Classic Folk Songs for Tomorrow" folk songs such as "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain," "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" take on lives of their own, becoming stand-alone stories featuring several zany characters, including an acrobatic pink-haired roller-skater girl, a straw hat-wearing unshaven hillbilly astronaut, a banjo-playing cow-loving weasel, and a hard-working monkey who happens to love dumplings!

The accompanying 17 minute CD recording of these popular sing-along songs for kids highlight gifted singers and seasoned musicians, producing a fresh original sound for a new generation. A unique code for the digital download of the recordings is also included.

Scheduled to be available to librarians and the general public in March 2021, "Sing Out!: Six Classic Folk Songs for Tomorrow" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library music themed picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

That's My Piano, Sir!: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ana Gerhard, author
Musci de Montreal Colm Feore Marie Lafrance, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
9782924774823, $16.95, HC, 32pp

On his way to playing several concerts in the city, Young Mozart was no ordinary boy as he sported a white wig and was elegantly dressed in red velvet. To the surprise of all, he proudly begins to play with his sister for the tired customs officer and gloomy dockworkers. The evening air begins to glisten and soon, everyone's faces are beaming, their ears ringing with music!

Part of the 'Little Stories of Great Composers' musical picture book series from The Secret Mountain, included in "That's My Piano, Sir!: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" are introductory notes on the composer along with recordings of the narrated story and the composition "The Little Night Music" ("Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"). A unique code for the digital download of the recordings is also included. Scheduled for publication and available to librarians and the general public in March 2021, "That's My Piano, Sir!: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" is a thoroughly charming and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library music themed picture books for young readers ages 7-9.

The Story Orchestra
Katy Flint, author
Jessica Courtney Tickle, illustrator
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711249523, $24.99, HC, 24pp

One day, two brothers discover a magical animal kingdom behind their bookcase. They are greeted by the royal lion with his shaggy mane; ask for directions from an old lonely tortoise; take a ride on some lumbering elephants; topple a skeleton of dinosaur bones; and swim among a school of shimmering fish. If only they could take them all home!

The collaborative project of author Katy Flint and illustrator Jessica Courtney Tickle, "The Story Orchestra: Carnival of the Animals" includes extracts from 'The Swan', 'Aquarium', 'Fossils', and 'Finale' (From Disney's Fantasia) along with a totally new story to link the pieces together.

As children ages 4-7 journey through the magical scenes, they will press the buttons to hear 10 excerpts from the suite's music. At the back of the book, there is a short biography of the composer, Camille Saint-SaŽns, with details about his composition of Carnival of the Animals. Next to this, children can replay the musical excerpts and, for each of them there is a discussion of the instruments, rhythms and musical techniques that make them so powerful. A glossary defines musical terms.

The Story Orchestra series brings classical music to life for children through gorgeously illustrated retellings of classic ballet and program music stories paired with 10-second sound clips of orchestras playing from their musical scores -- making it a unique, wonderfully entertaining, and very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Please pull the white tab out of the back of the book before use. Sound buttons require a firm push in exact location to work, which may be hard for young children. All sound clips are 10 seconds long.

The Science Shelf

A Garden in Your Belly
Masha D'Yans, author/illustrator
Millbrook Press
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781541578401, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Our bellies are full of tiny creatures who love to eat! Along the river of our gut, tiny creatures move, eat, and grow. In "A Garden in Your Belly: Meet the Microbes in Your Gut" by author and illustrator Masha D'Yans, kids ages 4-9 will thoroughly enjoy learning about the garden of microscopic flora growing inside their bodies as they come along on a journey that explains an important biological concept: the microbiome, the health of which affects everything in our bodies. The will learn that some foods are better for your microbiome (and them!) than others? Parents, teachers and librarians will note that the striking and original watercolor illustrations keep things from getting too gross. Informational back matter goes further into the science of the microbiome and reveals amazing facts about the gut -- making "A Garden in Your Belly: Meet the Microbes in Your Gut" an exceptionally informative and thoroughly 'kid friendly' addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book Science collections for young readers ages 5-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Garden in Your Belly: Meet the Microbes in Your Gut" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Autism Shelf

Talking is Not My Thing
Rose Robbins
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
4035 Park East Court SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
9780802855497, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Little sister might not use words, but she's got plenty to say! Narrated through thought bubbles, "Talking is Not My Thing" is energetic picture book by Rose Robbins that invites readers into the day of a nonverbal girl with autism. She has so much to do -- games to play, spaghetti to eat, and a missing stuffed animal to find! Sometimes life can be noisy and overwhelming, but something new is always around the corner. Talking isn't the only way to make a joke, ask for Grandma's help, or surprise your brother! Illustrated in bright colors, "Talking Is Not My Thing" offers children ages 3-7 a truly joyful portrait of neurodiverse family life and is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Autism themed picture book collections.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

When Pumpkins Fly
Margaret Lawrence, author/illustrator
Amanda Sandland, illustrator
Inhabit Media
9781772272499, $16.95, HC, 32pp

The air is cold, the nights are long, and Halloween is just around the corner. This is the time of year when pumpkins fly! In the remote, fly-in community of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, the last cargo flight of October brings some strange orange guests for the children. Seeing a pumpkin for the first time, the local kids eagerly carve and light their first jack-o-lantern. But when everyone adjourns to the community hall for the Halloween dance, the pumpkin is left alone outside. The land around Sanikiluaq is home to many spirits who love to cause mischief, especially this time of year. But what would a land spirit do with a pumpkin? Certain to be a popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections, "When Pumpkins Fly" is a simply adorable picture book that gives young readers ages 5-7 an entertainingly informative window into how Halloween is celebrated in an Arctic Inuit community as it deftly incorporates both contemporary celebrations and Inuit folklore.

A Natural History of Fairies
Emily Hawkins, author
Jessica Roux, illustrator
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9781786037633, $30.00, HC, 64pp

Featuring a gold foil-embossed cloth cover, a ribbon marker, and sprayed gold edges, "A Natural History of Fairies" by author Emily Hawkins is a simply gorgeous volume is filled from cover to cover with colorful sketches by illustrator Jessica Roux and features a wealth of precise notes detailing the secret life of fairies and their important role in the natural world.

Inside, children ages 8-12 will enjoy discovering the wide and wonderful array of different species of fairies around the globe and explore where and how they live. Delighting in this hidden world as they will learn all about: The anatomy of a fairy (Land-based fairies have individual, separated toes, just as humans do. However, many species of water fairies have webbed feet.); The life cycle of a fairy (When walking in the heather, be careful of the tiny flutterpillar of the Wicklow Fairy, decked out in greens and purples.); Clever fairy camouflage (Reed fairies living in wetlands usually wear striped clothes to hide among the tall reeds.); Fairies around the world (Meet the Lily Hopper of sub-Saharan Africa, the Queen Fairy of New Guinea, the Penguin Fairy of the Antarctic, and many more.); Fairy habitats (Fairies make their homes in all types of places: woodlands, jungles, deserts, the Poles, and even human homes.)

"A Natural History of Fairies" concludes with a reminder that we all must protect the endangered habitats of fairies, and all other creatures too.

A thoroughly charming, bewitching, enchanting, glamorous and enthralling read from first page to last, "A Natural History of Fairies" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Fairytale/Folklore collections.

The Environmental Shelf

Protectors of the Planet
Jamie Bastedo
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9780889955691, $24.95, PB, 330pp

Synopsis: Many teenagers and young adults are rudely awakening to the fact that unchecked climate change and other widespread environmental issues paint a gloomy picture of their future. This knowledge can lead to a sense of fear, helplessness or worse, apathy.

In "Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97", author and environmentalist Jamie Bastedo aims to help stem those concerns by shining an inspiring and entertaining light on the lives of daring, dedicated individuals whose great passion, talents, and heart are helping to tip the environmental balance away from destruction and collapse towards hope, healing and personal empowerment.

Based on personal interviews and extensive research, "Protectors of the Planet shares reader engaging stories about a wide variety of people who share a great passion for the environment. But beyond a deep personal connection with nature, these "environmental trailblazers" are doing truly unique and amazing things to protect the environment, while leading others down greener paths.

Critique: Comprised of twelve erudite, informative, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspiring essays, "Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, high school, and community library Environmental Studies collections for young readers ages 12-18.

The Political Science Shelf

You Call This Democracy?
Elizabeth Rusch
Houghton Mifflin Company
9780358176923, $19.99, HC, 288pp

The political landscape has never been so tumultuous: issues with the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a lack of representation in the polls and in our leadership. and unsubstantiated claims of system voter fraud have led to Americans of all ages asking, How did we get here?

The power to change lies with the citizens of this great country -- especially teens! Rather than pointing fingers at people and political parties, "You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People" by Elizabeth Rusch looks at flaws in the system and then offers a real way out of the mess we are in. Each individual chapter breaks down a different problem plaguing American democracy, exploring how it's undemocratic, offering possible solutions (with examples of real-life teens who have already started working toward them), and suggesting ways to effect change -- starting NOW!

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, timely and timeless, "You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to highschool and community library Contemporary Political Science collections for young readers ages 12-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780358387428, $9.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781664489530, $34.99, CD).

The LGBT Shelf

Roger and Matthew
Michel Theriault, author
Magali Ben, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9781554554843, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Same-sex couples haven't always been accepted in society, but it is possible for love and beauty to triumph. Two boys are friends and age gracefully together as a same-sex couple. Singer/Songwriter Michel Theriault effectively collaborates with artist/illustrator Magali Ben in the pages of "Roger and Matthew" to provide and informative picture book with an LGBTQ theme that is sensitive, thoughtful, and unreservedly recommended for children ages 6-9 and appropriate for family, elementary school, and community library Contemporary Social Issues picture book collections for young readers.

The Biography Shelf

Fly, Girl, Fly!
Nancy Roe Pimm, author
Alexandra Bye, illustrator
Beaming Books
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440
9781506464688, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Shaesta Waiz, a refugee from Afghanistan, dreamed of doing great things. But first she had to leave a refugee camp with her family to make a new life in America, overcome gender stereotypes, be the first in her family to go to college, and overcome her fear of flying. After becoming a pilot, Shaesta made the flight of a lifetime by crossing five continents, making thirty stops in twenty-two countries across nearly 25,000 nautical miles. At the age of thirty, Shaesta was the youngest woman and the first from Afghanistan to circumnavigate the globe by herself in a single-engine aircraft.

"Fly, Girl, Fly!: Shaesta Waiz Soars around the World" is the first authorized picture book biography of Shaesta Waiz. Backmatter includes more information about Shaesta's mission to empower girls to pursue STEM careers, details about her historic trip around the world, information about her nonprofit organization Dreams Soar, and a personal note from Shaesta Waiz encouraging girls to pursue their dreams.

Inspirational and entertaining, "Fly, Girl, Fly!: Shaesta Waiz Soars around the World" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book biography collections for children ages 4-9.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs
America's Test Kitchen
9781948703246, $19.99 HC, $11.99 Kindle, 208pp, Ages 8-12

The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs should be the first cookbook provided to readers seeking simple, appealing, kid-friendly recipes to try, and focuses on familiar recipes for store-bought food that kids will find easy. This cookbook has been 'kid-tested', which means that America's Test Kitchen as employed many of its strategies for producing foolproof results to the child's-eye view of the kitchen. Color images throughout display kids in the kitchen producing such dishes as Pumpkin Spice Mix, Strawberry Pop Tarts, Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, and Fresh Tomato Salsa. Kids and parents will find this a bright, fun, appealing cookbook that not only holds recipes, but keys to understanding more about what works well, and why.

The Sports Shelf

The Racers
Neal Bascomb
Scholastic, Inc.
9781338277418, $18.99 HC, $11.99 Kindle, 336pp, Ages 12-18

Although The Racers: How an Outcast Driver, An American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Challenged Hitler's Best is written for a young adult audience of race car and history enthusiasts, this book is a top recommendation for many an adult race car reader who will find much of the racing and historical references new to them. Even the most avid racing fan will find this a powerful story of how Hitler's Grand Prix driver was thwarted by 32-year-old French Jewish driver Rene Dreyfus, who found a sponsor in American heiress Lucy Schell and went on to prove that the Third Reich wasn't the greatest in everything in the world. This powerful story, set against the backdrop of an evolving world war, will simply delight all ages with its compelling and unusual story, which hasn't received much, if any, discussion in either adult or young adult circles before, making it a 'must' for all ages interested in history and car racing.

The Holocaust Studies Shelf

Behind the Bookcase
Barbara Lowell, author
Valentina Toro, illustrator
Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc.
241 First Ave. N, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781541557253, $17.99, HC, 40pp

What most people don't know is that Anne Frank's famous diary is a gift to the world because of a woman by the name of Miep Gies. One of the protectors of the Frank family, Miep recovered the diary after the family was discovered by Nazis, and then returned it to Anne's father, Otto Frank, after World War II. Displaced from her own home as a child during World War I, Miep had great empathy for Anne, and she found ways (like talking about Hollywood gossip and fashion trends) to engage her. The story of their relationship (and the impending danger to the family in hiding) unfolds in this unique perspective of Anne Frank's widely known story. Exceptionally well written, illustrated, and presented for children ages 7-11, "Behind the Bookcase: Miep Gies, Anne Frank, and the Hiding Place" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school and community library picture book biography collections in general, and Anne Frank supplemental studies in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Behind the Bookcase: Miep Gies, Anne Frank, and the Hiding Place" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781541557260, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.94).

Books in Series

CMH Writing

The "Land of Twilight" trilogy by Charmayne Hafen is an action-adventure fantasy for children ages 8-12 and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers.

"Journey to Twilight" (9781951084172, $19.99 HC, $10.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 118pp) Lorna Wilson moves to the Crestwood subdivision in Arizona with her mom and baby brother. Unpacking boxes, Lorna begins seeking a way to fit into the crowd when a girl named Ally knocks on her front door. Splashing in the pool at Ally's house, Lorna learns about the bike challenge created by a scar-faced neighborhood legend, Samuel Black. She hears herself boasting that she can take on Sam Black in his own race and win. Lorna's words quickly come back to bite her. Although none of the kids will root for the new girl, an ancient cairn opens to the Land of Twilight giving Lorna an opportunity to win anything her heart desires.

"Return to Twilight" (9781951084196, $19.99 HC, $12.99 PB, 142pp) Seventh-grade Lorna struggles with the nuances of a friend, like how to be one, how to choose one, and how to keep one. She rejects her dad, deceives her mom, and turns her back on the ethereal Land of Twilight. She even turns on her best friend, Sam, in favor of gaining the attention of the new girl in the neighborhood. Lorna sheds her social norms, she steals and hides as she pretends to enjoy her second year in challenging Crestwood, Arizona. It has to be Sam's turn to do what true friends do.

"Trouble in Twilight" (9781951084233, $22.99 HC, $13.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 132pp) Trix shows up at the discarded camper shell in the Arizona desert where Sam and Lorna are making plans. Trix and Melvin begin weaving their own lives into the Land of Realtime repaying Lorna and Sam for interweaving theirs with the Land of Twilight. How can the four unravel themselves? A tragic accident forces Sam to again realize that life can change suddenly. Now he and Lorna must rethink what in life is most important to them. History, philosophy, and faith enter the scene through interdimensional time travel.

Critique: The Land of Twilight Trilogy is filled with adventure and supernatural elements for young readers. With its relatable characters and fast-moving plot, themes such as a child building a relationship with an estranged parent and how strangers who offer truth can help Sam and Lorna discover their priorities. As Sam faces unbearable consequences, he learns the bonds of true friendship and personal truth are real. Readers are given not only an interesting story filled with allegorical elements but are challenged to think about their own ideas of reality and meaning. A swelling ending for this three volume chapter book series.

Editorial Note: Charmayne Hafen published her first book, The Land Of Twilight, which was selected as a winner in the category of Juvenile Fiction in the Winter 2017 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards. Using knowledge and skills acquired from her MA in counseling, Charmayne wrote The Land Of Twilight series to help kids navigate the sometimes difficult waters of divorce.

Boys Town Press
13603 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, NE 68010

Boys Town Press produces high quality, proven resources for educators, counselors, parents, and other youth-serving professionals. Their resources give practical, real-world skills that can be used to manage behavior, build strong relationships, and teach social skills to children. Boy Town Press aims to provide fresh ideas for the classroom, especially with respect to the goal of eliminating bullying, building strong families, and teaching children life-long problem solving skills through the publication of books, DVDs, activities and activity guides, and other helpful resources. That includes two new titles for children ages 8-12 by author Julia Cook and illustrator Michael Garland.

"Herman Jiggle, Say Hello! How to talk to people when your words get stuck" (9781944882518, $10.95 PB, $8.76 Kindle, 32pp) Herman Jiggle is excited to make some new friends! But first he needs to figure out how to stop his tummy from doing flip-flops and his words from getting stuck in his mouth! How will Herman make any friends if he's too shy to even say hello? With Mom eager to help Herman overcome his nerves and learn to make a good first impression, she teaches him some new skills like how to introduce himself, and how to start up a conversation. If Herman can learn these new social skills, he can start to untangle his words, and overcome his social anxiety.

"Herman Jiggle, Go to Sleep!" (9781944882587, $10.95 PB, $8.76 Kindle, 31pp) Why is it that when bedtime arrives, THAT'S the time children's curiosity seems to peak? It's the nightmare of babysitters and parents everywhere! Being asked countless off-the-wall questions as you put a child to bed. And every answer only causes more silly questions and more delays. This is the dilemma Herman Jiggle's mom confronts as she tries to coax her son to wash his face, brush his teeth and go to bed. But Hermie is a curious kid who wants answers to the great mysteries of life, such as why do we have bubble gum? and how do cows see in the dark?, before he'll even think about falling asleep. In this original picture book tale, Mom's patience is on point as she masterfully guides Herman through his bedtime routine, embracing his curiosity while reminding him of what comes next.

Both of these entertaining and thoroughly 'kid friendly' titles in the Boys Town Press 'Socially Skilled Kids' series are especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Button Books
c/o The GMC Group

Utilizing a graphic novel format to create an impressively informative and thoroughly 'kid friendly' series of biographies for young readers ages 8-12, "Button Books" has launched their 'Great Lives in Graphics' series showcasing the lives and achievements of Martin Luther King, Stephen Hawkings, Anne Frank, and Cleopatra.

"Great Lives in Graphics: Martin Luther King" (9781787081024, $14.99 HC, 32pp) Using colorful infographics, this informative biography presents over 250 facts about Martin Luther King, a minister who campaigned for the rights of African Americans during America's Civil Rights Movement. This graphic retelling of his story gives children a visual snapshot of his life and the world he grew up in, while educating them on everything from civil rights to the power of words. It includes an overview of his life, a timeline spread, a family outline, and a geographical summary of important places. It also features 'Did You Know' facts and inspiring quotes.

"Great Lives in Graphics: Stephen Hawking" (9781787081031, $14.99, HC, 32) Showcasing more than 250 specific facts about the world-famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist and author of bestselling books on science, "Stephen Hawking" is graphic retelling of his dramatic and personal story gives young readers a colorful snapshot of his life and the world he grew up in, while educating them on everything from black holes to the Big Bang. It includes an overview of his life, a timeline spread, a family outline, and a geographical summary of important places. It also features 'Did You Know' facts and inspiring quotes.

"Great Lives in Graphics: Anne Frank" (9781787081000, $14.99, HC, 32pp) Presenting more than 250 fascinating facts in a new and exciting way by using colorful infographics, "Anne Frank" showcases Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who kept a diary of her time hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. This graphic retelling of her story gives children a visual snapshot of her life and the world she grew up in, while educating them on everything from World War II to the dangers of prejudice. It includes an overview of her life, a timeline spread, a family outline, and a geographical summary of important places. It also features 'Did You Know' facts and inspiring quotes.

"Great Lives in Graphics: Cleopatra" (9781787081017, $14.99, HC, 32pp) Using bright infographics, this outstanding biography presents over 250 facts about Cleopatra's life. The Queen of Egypt, she was clever, could speak nine languages, and beautiful. This graphic retelling of her story gives children a colorful snapshot of her life and the world she grew up in, while educating them on everything from the Romans to the Egyptian zodiac. It includes an overview of her life, a timeline spread, a family outline, and a geographical summary of important places. It also features 'Did You Know' facts and inspiring quotes.

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, all four volumes in this new 'Great Lives in Graphics' series for young readers are especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library biography collections.

Young Heroes Come of Age to Change History Series
Tom Durwood
Empire Studies Press

Four young adult novels by Tom Durwood exemplify the problem-solving abilities, courage, and fortitude of young people with studies that place different characters both on the cusp of adulthood and in a position to change history. Durwood places each of his young adult protagonists in a key position at the cusp of pivotal moments in history. His ability to portray the perspectives and experiences of ordinary young adults caught in adult affairs and his attention to pairing this history with vivid, realistic action keeps all of the books absorbing and hard to put down.

Take the collection Ulysses S. Grant in China and Other Stories (9780999143544, $15.40 Paper/$5.99 Kindle). This pairs the action-oriented pace that is the hallmark of stories that attract young adult attention with young heroes and heroines who engage with their world beyond singular or individual concerns. From participation in violent confrontations to choices in being proactive or reacting to unexpected events, Durwood excels at creating a variety of scenarios that test his young characters' strengths and evolving approaches to life. Also exceptional is Durwood's inclusion of notes that precede each tale, giving each story's historical context and character development as they evolved from a series of drafts of the stories. These provide the background and insights essential for young adults to understand not just the underlying history, but how Durwood made choices in representing these young people.

Among the winners in Ulysses S. Grant in China and Other Stories is 'The Boatman's Daughter', telling of an early Egyptian girl's battles as the biggest waterway in the world (in its time) is being constructed. Sixteen-year-old Salima, the Boatman's daughter, has arranged for her own future: going to a good school. Her education not only helps her father's business, but prepares her for confrontations to come as she assesses her place in a changing world and confronts assassins, love, and treachery alike. This short story also appears as a longer work, The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter (9781952520020, $19.00 Paper/$12.00 Kindle), which enjoys not just the expansion of all its themes and additional action, but talented art from Serena Malyon, Niklas Frostgard, and Oliver Ryan. Where the short story excels in presenting succinct action concentrating on one piece of Salima's life, the longer version expands details and provides further insights into her world and the politics that drive and influence her life. The title story, 'Ulysses S. Grant in China', is set in 1877 China and follows the meeting of two remarkable leaders in Peking. A student musical group asked to play for them introduces Joseph, an American boy resented by the others. He finds that his playing and their efforts change the nature of discussions and understandings between early China and America.

Young readers of historical fiction will also relish The Colonials (ASIN: B07Q9YSLGN; $3.99 Kindle), a survey of early America that features teen heroes who change the course of history. Having teens take matters into their own hands rather than simply reacting to adult forces adds extra depth to a tale that is thoroughly engrossing. Another addition to the story that elevates it beyond a historical recap alone is the presence of mystery and intrigue added into the story of the foundations of the American Revolution. In school, young learners get the idea that the American Revolution was primarily a concern of the British and the Americans. As this story takes place, the observations and concerns of a group of teens regulated to an elite boarding school shows that the battle actually reached into global territory, introducing issues of equality and freedom into more than American circles. Who would come from Europe to save the Colonials, who are at a grave disadvantage? The answer is surprising. Teens who chose this story will find that the American Revolution and its various social and political influences come alive even in Amsterdam, where Johannes and others observe these struggles and become involved on many different levels of idealism and confrontation. The action is nicely done, strong characterization creates a powerful draw, and readers will find this story compelling, offering a depth of subject and emotionally charged scenes that bring the issues of the 1700s to life from the perspectives of young people concerned about their futures.

King James' Seventh Company (9780999143520, $15.40 Hardcover/$5.99 Kindle) follows a group of teens who embark on a journey to solve what is going awry in the King's land. King James' Seventh Company not only confronts scholarly influences on the production of the King James Bible, but considers the political and social impacts it and they have on the land as the result of their actions and choices. This vivid story of the Bible's evolution places these teens at the crux of decisions that will not only affect their society, but lives around the world, for centuries to come. The story of the creation of the King James Bible version is little-covered, which makes this account even more highly recommended for choosing a historical event and era that is far less familiar to most young people than the usual historical novel's backdrop. A prologue that takes place in Wales in 71 A.D. sets the stage for 1600s events which are narrated in the first person to bring the era to life. As a borrowed book snafu leads into revelations of intrigue, mistaken identities, and a plot that involves printers, scholars, politicians and assassins, proactive teens take charge to change their world.

All these novels hold similar basic elements: the teen characters are strong, responsible, clever, and dedicated to influencing the wider world around them. They also are all solidly based on history, yet bring that history to life through the eyes, senses, and actions of strong young adults. These reads are uniformly gripping and educational, all in one. Pair action and adventure with social issues, political confrontations, and the perceptions of teens effect positive changes for a set of historical stories that should be in the collections of any library looking to illustrate the attraction and power of historical fiction.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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

Olivia's North Pole Adventure
Hannah Jardine, author
Zoe Waring, illustrator
Clever Publishing
c/o Quarto
9781949998078, $6.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

These fun to hold chunky board books are perfect for small hands. Able to hold up to the wear and tear of young enthusiasts. The story is short, and interesting enough to engage the young attention span, and hold it. While the reader enjoys watching the animals play, they are learning the concepts of being helpful, of working together, and sharing in the reward. Early learning made fun. (Ages baby-3)

Guess Who is Behind the Door
Susan S. Novich
Schiffer Kids
9780764360046, $9.99

Diana Perry

Pinky Porcupine is painting the town. Find out who is behind each door being painted in this colorful rhyming adventure that teaches 1 through 10 in four different languages. It opens a door to learning and fun! (Ages baby-6)

Mouse's Night Before Christmas
Tracey Corderoy, author
Sarah Massini, illustrator
Nosy Crow
9781536214406, $17.99

Christine Irvin

It's Christmas Eve, and everyone is fast asleep except for a lonely mouse that lives in the grandfather clock. When Santa arrives, lost in a blizzard and called by Mouse's wish, it's Mouse who is there to show Santa the way. Using the famous poem as a springboard, author Tracey Corderoy takes the story in a different direction. Young readers can share Mouse's magical journey through the skies with Santa in this special Christmas story. (Ages 2-5)

Mr. Brown's Bad Day
Lou Peacock, author
Alison Friend, illustrator
Nosy Crow
9781536214369, $16.99

Diana Perry

Mr. Brown is a very important tiger who works in a very important office all day long. His briefcase contains some very important things, so he keeps it by his side at all times. When Mr. Brown's briefcase goes missing, his world is turned upside down. He must get his briefcase back! Mr. Brown goes on a wild chase all over town. Will he find it - and what could possibly be inside? This picture book is a wonderful way to entertain beginning readers. The illustrations give visuals to the words. (Ages 2-5)

Night Night, Norman
Marie Dimitrova
Hello World Publishing
9781735036403, $17.95

Diana Perry

This heartwarming Picture Book is about a lovely girl, Ellie, who says goodnight every evening to her horse Norman. Norman is curious about where Ellie goes and what she does after she leaves him. One night, he decides to find out, and all kinds of chaos ensues. Beginning readers will laugh at the antics caused by curious Norman. I loved the drawing lessons at the end of the book, so will our little ones. (Ages 3-6)

Ellie's Dragon
Bob Graham
9781536211139, $16.99

Diana Perry

When Ellie is very small, she finds a lovable newborn dragon on a carton of eggs in the grocery store. Ellie calls him Scratch, takes him home, and moves him into her dollhouse. Ellie is lucky to have an affectionate, house-trained dragon like Scratch! But dragons get quite large as they grow. And Ellie is growing, too, moving from dollhouses to dance parties, not noticing that Scratch's brilliant green scales are beginning to fade a little... What happens to the dragon is simply wonderful - read the book and see. (Ages 3-7)

If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here
Simona Ciraolo
9781536215304, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Nothing is better than summer, with its joys of swimming every day and eating ice cream. One little boy's older sister tells him he'd better make the most of it, because summer is going to end soon. When winter comes, she assures him, it will be cold and dark, and the icy rain will turn to snow. They'll be stuck on the sofa for days and won't even dream of eating ice cream. No matter what the weather, kids will enjoy the kid-friendly illustrations that work perfectly with the text. (Ages 3-7)

A Polar Bear in the Snow
Mac Barnett, author
Shawn Harris, illustrator
9781536203967, $17.99

Christine Irvin

A majestic polar bear heads out on a mysterious walk in a dazzling, playful collaboration from an exciting pair of picture book creators. Intriguing illustrations and minimal text combine for a simple but powerful look at a magnificent polar bear as it makes its way through its day. Where is it going? What will it do next? (Ages 3-7)

The Purple Puffy Coat
Maribeth Boelts, author
Daniel Duncan, illustrator
9781536204971, $16.99

Diana Perry

It's almost Stick Bug's birthday, and his fashionable friend Beetle can't wait to give him his present - a purple puffy coat! The coat draws a lot of attention and makes Stick Bug really stick out in the crowd. Beetle thinks that's terrific! He brings Stick Bug all over town, happily boasting and bragging (while Stick Bug waits behind a tree, in a pile of leaves, or under a bench). Oh, dear - maybe Stick Bug isn't as wild about the purple puffy coat as Beetle is! What can the two friends do? The surprise ending will make you smile. (Ages 3-7)

The Adventures of Sid & Eli: The Shiny Thing in the Garden
Allison Andrews, author
Shane Crampton, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781735091570, $16.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a fun flight of imagination that turns a very ordinary day into an adventure! Companionship and a sunny day are a prime backdrop for the unexpected whimsy of childhood to create wonder, as two cousins play together in the yard. (Ages 3-7)

Pugtato Finds a Thing
Sophie Corrigan
9780310767817, $17.99

Christine Irvin

When Pugtato's simple, quiet life is disrupted after he digs up a strange object in his garden, he enlists his best "spuddies" to help (they are more clever than he is, after all). Tweetroot is certain it's a new egg for her nest. Tomatoad is quite sure it's a toy just for him. And Purrsnip simply won't stop scratching it! Luckily, Pugtato has another very special spuddy to ask... Humorous illustrations, punny character names, and quirky text combine for a sure-to-please book about friendship and believing in yourself. (Ages 4-8)

I'm Going to Give You a Polar Bear Hug!
Caroline B. Cooney, author
Tim Warnes, illustrator
9780310768708, $17.99

Diana Perry

The story encourages parents and grandparents and their children and grandchildren to giggle and play as they cozy up for their own celebration of the winter season. Imagine who might stomp, sled, and swish through the snow to give warm hug in these whimsical rhymes and sweet, playful illustrations. Adults will enjoy reading this book almost as much as little ones will enjoy hearing it. Practicing their reading skills will be fun using this book. (Ages 4-8)

Over in a Stable
Suzanne Nelson, author
Aleksandar Zolotic, illustrator
9780310761129, $17.99

Diana Perry

What a wonderful way to tell the Christmas story using this poetic format in a counting game. I really enjoyed reading this story in this new and unique light. Not only will beginning readers fall in love with this picture book, but the way it's written will help them to memorize words faster. I can easily see your little ones begging for this book night after night. (Ages 4-8)

In the Half Room
Carson Ellis
9781536214567, $16.99

Christine Irvin

The half room is full of half things. A half chair, a half cat, even half shoes - all just as nice as whole things. When half a knock comes on half a door, who in the world could it be? Imaginative illustrations along with minimal text will make you look at ordinary things in a different light, with room for the imagination to take over. (Ages 4-8)

Du Iz Tak?
Caron Ellis
9780763665302, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Some picture books rely on lots of pictures with very minimal text. This book does just that, but the text is in a made-up language. "Du iz tak?" can be translated into "What is that?" Youngsters will delight in the fun sounds of the silly-sounding words and can follow the story line by following the pictures. (Ages 4-8)

Welcome to the World
Helen Foster James, author
Petra Brown, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110120, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Looking for the perfect gift for expectant parents or a special book for a child's first birthday? Look no more. This book celebrates the joys and wonders of a baby's first year. There's even a place to personalize the book by attaching the baby's photo onto the cover page of the book. (Ages 5-7)

Sweet Rosa
Kingsley Osei, author
David Asimeng, illustrator
International Publications Media Group
9781632670557, $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

In 1955 an exhausted Rosa Parks climbed onto a homebound bus in Montgomery, Alabama. So tired, she quickly slid into a seat. However, in 1955 black Americans were only allowed to ride in the back of the bus. Her bold infraction caused quite a stir, and sweet Rosa ended up in jail. Some rain clouds do have a silver lining. Rosa's ordeal brought her a new friend, Martin Luther, and together they made history. The incident resulted in protest, and a bus boycott throughout the city paved a new way for civil liberties. A must-read. (Ages 5-8)

Flying Paintings: The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art
Amy Alznauer, author
ShanZuo Zhou and DaHuang Zhou, illustrators
9781536204285, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Two lives merge and flow. Two brothers discover and find their place in a world both beautiful and terrifying. A wonderful story of inner awareness and determination. Together they learn to leash the joy and the anger, creating a beautiful expression or a terrifying world, into art. These brothers, born in midst of revolution to a besieged family and a wise grandmother, found a wild and impossible dream! A powerful story of perseverance and heart. (Ages 5-9)

Pop-Up Volcano!
Fleur Daugey, author
Tom Vaillant, illustrator
Bernard Duisit, contributor
Thames & Hudson
9780500652220, $29.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

The collaboration of Daugey, Duisit, and Vaillant have brought us an amazing vision of a volcano. The science, the colors, the illustrations rising up from the pages and taking form before our eyes all bring a real hands-on experience to the reading. This is sure to satisfy any hungry mind that ever wondered what a volcano is like. A real thumbs up! (Ages 6-8)

Muck and Magic
Michael Morpurgo, author
Olivia Lomenech Gill, illustrator
9781536212884, $16.99

Diana Perry

Twelve-year-old Bonny has always wanted to be a world-champion cyclist, maybe even an Olympic medalist, and her parents have cheered her on all the way. But when a flat tire draws Bonny to a horse farm, her predictable world starts to change. This coming-of-age story shows how a very determined youth can have her future altered just by a chance meeting. Young horse lovers will thrill over all the tools and descriptions of horse care as the illustrations show. Kids will enjoy this story about determination, setting goals, new friendships, returning to
your past and a friendly horse named Merry. (Ages 7-10)

The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World!
Mathew Klickstein, author
Michael S. Bracco, illustrator
Schiffer Kids
9780764360183, $12.99

Diana Fisher

Based on a real group of students who formed a rock band, this feel-good story excels at bridging gaps. It covers fundamental life skills without being preachy, and pulls this off in a narrative and dialogue sure to appeal to its target audience: middle grade readers. The author skillfully removes the stigma - and misconceptions - of labels and blends developmentally disabled kids with "normal" kids brilliantly. This is not just a story for kids with disabilities - this is a story for all kids. Rock on! (Ages 8-12)

Behind the Open Door: The Book of Light
Sally Gallot-Reeves
Balboa Press
9781982241797, $19.99

Christine Irvin

Behind the Open Door unveils the life of 8-year-old Cassie Murphy, a highly gifted and telepathic child and her invisible dog-friend Patrik. Cassie has unique abilities which uncover the secret past of their home in Maine and its connections to the elemental kingdom, the vibrational forces of nature, and the Angelic realm. Cassie's talents and behaviors are not well understood, and the story revolves around the two worlds she lives in: her experiences within the dynamics of her family, school and social spheres; and her adventures with Patrik through portals to multiple dimensions. (Ages 8-12)

William Shakespeare's The Tempest
Georghia Ellinas, author
Jane Ray, illustrator
9781536211443, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Teaching the classics such as William Shakespeare's plays can be a daunting task. Georgia and Jane have mastered this with their exquisitely retold and illustrated version. This story of revenge, magic, and forgiveness will entrance your child and capture their imaginations. The text will lead to further conversations with your child about right and wrong and how to deal with your feelings. The amazing illustrations will keep the youngest and oldest readers attention as the historical works of William Shakespeare are introduced. (Ages 6-9)

Why Do Cats Meow?
Nick Crumpton, author
Lily Snowden-Fine, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652381, $16.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly a book for all those inquiring minds that want to know the whys and wherefores of things. Feline expert Nick Crumpton answers all those head-scratching questions we ponder about our pets. You might just figure out what your cat thinks about things. A fun and educational book to keep on hand for every cat lover! (Ages 6-8)

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
Sheela Chari
Walker Books
9781536209563, $15.99

Diana Fisher

Mars Patel and his friends - a group of talented kids who don't "fit in" - embark on solving a mystery the adults and teachers aren't acknowledging. One of their own has disappeared. As the group attempts to discover what has happened to their missing friend, another friend disappears, and eventually they become aware that kids all over the world have gone missing... Based on the award-winning podcast, this middle-grade thriller has the reader flipping pages faster and faster until the big reveal at the end. (Ages 8-12)

Wannabe Farms
Brian McCann, author
Meghan Lands, illustrator
Penguin Workshop
9781524793005, $18.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Welcome to Wannabe Farms, a farmyard where the animals like to wonder and dream, plot and scheme, and definitely not act how they're supposed to. In rhyming verse, Brian McCann (writer for Conan O'Brien) shows us what happens when cows want to drive, pigs dream of being sophisticates, and sheep take their hairstyles into their own hands (well, hooves). What a fun read for you and your child to share. I highly recommend this to encourage a newly formed reader that reading can be fun. (Ages 8-12)

Rocket Science: A Beginner's Guide to the Fundamentals of Spaceflight
Andrew Rader, author
Galen Frazer, illustrator
9781536207422, $16.99

Diana Perry

Junior scientists will thrill over this book that explains in simple terms the fundamentals of spaceflight. For both boys and girls, there is a glossary of terminology in the back as well as a listing of many websites to continue learning about spaceflight. Educational and fun to read, young readers may find themselves aspiring to become the astronauts of tomorrow. (Ages 10-14)

Christmas in My Heart
Leslee Breene
Independently Published
9781539610762, $9.95

Diana Perry

The perfect Christmas gift for others or yourself, this is the book to curl up with under the shining lights of your Christmas tree. Four heartwarming short stories remind us of childhood memories and of what Christmas should really be: about gifts of the heart, not the ones under the tree. (Ages 14+)

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