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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 32, Number 1 January 2022 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Holiday Shelf Environmental Shelf
World History Shelf Native American Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Martial Arts Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Board Book Shelf
ABC Shelf Picturebook Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
YA Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Dance Shelf Music Shelf Christian Shelf
Biography Shelf Science Shelf Multicultural Shelf
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Fox Tells a Lie
Susanna Isern, author
Leire Salaberria, illustrator
9788418599255, $15.95, HC, 44pp

To impress his friends, Fox lies about knowing the superhero, Superturtle. As one lie leads to another, he no longer knows what to do. Will he finally tell the truth when his lies put Squirrel in danger? Written by the renowned author and psychologist Susanna Isern, and charmingly illustrated by Leire Salaberria, "Fox Tells A Lie" with its deftly embedded message in support of being honest is an ideal and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that "Fox Tells A Lie" (Zorro Dice Mentiras) is also available from NubeOcho in a Spanish language edition (9788417673758, $15.99, HC, 44pp).

The Adventures of Sockboy
Karl Cottle
Precocity Press
9781737353980, $24.95

How can a child better handle early traumas to avoid obstacles to emotional growth in later life? Healing and self-love are the central themes in a book that promotes both for young children who experience adversity and trauma in their lives.

The Adventures of Sockboy sports hand-painted illustrations by Karl Cottle as it pursues the story of a little boy with "popsicle feet" who loves the comfort and support of warm socks, which help him confront the world. The lilting rhyme describes his dilemma, then illustrates his problem-solving solution, which involves a cozy-sounding idea carried to extremes.

As the boy plays and discovers new abilities from his sock-building endeavor, young readers will delight in the unusual opportunities and dilemmas the boy's solution introduces to his life. His experiments show that "some things worked well/but most things did not." It also reveals an unexpected ultimate lesson about love, self-sufficiency and family that kids and their read-aloud parents will find inviting.

The Adventures of Sockboy introduces this young hero's world. Book 2 in the series, Sockboy: The Halloween Special, was not seen by this reviewer; but if its lessons are as simply and compellingly presented as in this introduction, both books will prove winners for parents looking to impart messages about creative problem-solving and conflict resolution.

The Holiday Shelf

Holidays With a Tail: A Tale of Winter Celebrations
Kelly Bouldin Darmofal, author
Brad A. Calhoun, illustrator
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615996155, $17.95 PB, $29.95 HC, $4.95 Kindle, 34pp

"Holidays with a Tail: A Tale of Winter Celebrations" is multicultural holiday story that appeals to culturally diverse juvenile audiences.

Written experienced elementary school teacher, Kelly Bouldin Darmofal, "Holidays with a Tail" begins the story with Alex on Christmas Eve, after having just moved from the suburbs to the city. Alex had wished for a Christmas gift of a puppy to play with. The next day brings one new surprise after another. Being Episcopalian, Alex celebrated Christian traditions in December, and he was overjoyed to find a puppy-sized box with holes in the lid for his present. Out popped Zipper, his new adorable golden puppy, his special Christmas gift.

The next day, when grandparents came bringing more Christmas gifts, Zipper surprised Alex by running out the door and into the snowy night. This begins a wonderful tale of exploration of ways different folk with different religious traditions celebrate the midwinter time of Solstice.

Zipper leads Alex and his mom, Katy on an exploration and traveling tour of festivities and homes, including four different families celebrating the Jewish Hanukkah, the Hindu Dwali, the Latina las Posadas, and the African American Kwanzaa. Each resident kindly explains the symbols and reasons for their celebrations, along with special foods and candle lighting customs and their significance.

Alex and Katy reclaim Zipper and eventually return to their home to celebrate Christmas dinner with their family and their special foods and gifts.

"Holidays with a Tail: A Tale of Winter Celebrations" is the perfect vehicle to explain to young children the wonderful richness and significance of different holiday celebration traditions for different cultures, peoples, and religions.

The Environmental Shelf

Munchimonster Zero-Waste Sustainable Eco-Fun
C. Purin
Independently Published
9798623256430, $7.75 Paper, $2.99 Kindle, 32pp

Munchimonster Zero-Waste Sustainable Eco-Fun is a delightful picture book exploration of the concepts of zero waste and environmental responsibility. It provides the very young with a basic primer that adults can use to introduce concepts of green living and recycling at an earlier age than most children's books.

The appeal comes through the character of Munchimonster, who defines the concept of zero waste, explores why everyone should be interested in creating a healthy environment, and draws important connections between nature and human affairs.

These connections are reinforced by facts and pages that invite kids to actively participate through coloring. This is the perfect format for parents looking to teach kids through interactive processes.

All this is presented in full-color pages that are packed with attention-getting drawings that move from fantasy creatures to realities such as compost. The action-oriented, brightly colored panels will attract and maintain young reader attention with a fun focus.

Other art projects promote the idea of sustainability, such as a bag that can hold a water canteen for multiple uses (rather than the usual one-use plastic bottle), providing practical tools that reinforce the notion that even the youngest child is capable of making informed, sustainable choices.

From cloth bags that can be used many times to watering a home garden at day's end to save water or making organic gardening a hobby, kids receive a book that goes beyond outlining facts about recycling and ecology.

Its blend of "can do" choices, revised approaches to living, and knowledge educates picture book readers about options they can choose to help change the world for the better.

This emphasis on individual empowerment and better choices, presented in a fun format that will appeal to the very young, goes beyond picture books that explore the issues in a less interactive manner. The result is a title that should be on the bookshelves and in the hands of any adult seeking to involve a young child in assuming early responsibility for the stewardship of the planet.

Munchimonster, who fosters understanding, is also featured in other titles in the series which tackle different subjects. Adults and kids who find Zero Waste an attractive, positive package will want to look for the other series titles.

The World History Shelf

African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History
Tracey Baptiste, author
Hillary D. Wilson, illustrator
Algonquin Young Readers
c/o Workman Publishing Company
225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014-4381
9781616209001, $19.95, HC, 176pp

"African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History" by the team of author Tracey Baptiste and illustrator Hillary D. Wilson showcases ten real-life kings, queens, inventors, scholars, and visionaries who lived in Africa thousands of years ago and changed the world.

Young readers will learn that Black history began long ago with the many cultures and people of the African continent through portraits of ten heroic figures, as they are taken on a fascinating and informative journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose vision built a continent and shaped the world.

Illustrator Hillary D. Wilson's brilliant portraits accompany each profile, along with vivid, information-filled landscapes, maps, and graphics for readers to pore over and return to again and again.

Critique: Enhanced with the museum quality artwork of Hillary Wilson, "African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History" is an inherently entertaining and impressively informative history that is the perfect introduction to African history. While especially recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for children ages 5-9, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.61) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781665110730, $27.99, CD).

The Native American Shelf

Man Called Horse
Glennette Tilley Turner
Harry N. Abrams
9781419749339, $16.99, HC, 112pp

John Horse (c. 1812 - 1882, also known as Juan Caballo) was a famed chief, warrior, tactician, and diplomat who played a dominant role in Black Seminole affairs for half a century. His story is central to that of the Black Seminoles who are the descendants of Seminole Indians, free Blacks, and escaped slaves who formed an alliance in Spanish Florida. A political and military leader of mixed Seminole and African heritage, Horse defended his people from the US government, other tribes, and slave hunters.

"Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad" by Glennette Tilley Turner focuses on the little-known life of Horse while also putting into historical perspective the larger story of Native Americans and especially Black Seminoles, helping to connect the missing "dots" in this period.

After fighting during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), one of the longest and most costly Native American conflicts in US history, Horse negotiated terms with the federal government and later became a guide and interpreter. Forced to relocate, he led a group of Black Seminoles to find a new home, first heading westward to Texas and later to Mexico.

As part of her historical and biographical research, Turner worked with descendants of Horse, who provided oral histories as well as many photographs and other artifacts. Now her expertly researched and vetted biography, "Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad" depicts Horse as a complex, fascinating figure who served in many varied roles, including as a counselor of fellow Seminole leaders, an agent of the US government, and a captain in the Mexican army. But no matter the part he played, one thing remained constant: whether in battle or at the negotiating table, Horse fought tirelessly to help his people survive. The story of John Horse is a tale of daring, intrigue, and the lifelong quest for freedom.

Critique: "Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad" includes black-and-white archival photos throughout (though the book is designed in full color), as well as a map, timeline, author's note, endnotes, and select bibliography -- making it highly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library American History and Native American collections for children ages 10-14. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Encyclopedia of Strange Looking Animals
Fredrik Colting
Moppet Books
9781733792141, $18.95, HC, 48pp

In the wonderful and complex Animal Kingdom there are creatures with features so extraordinary you might think they are from another planet. Enhanced with amazing and full color illustrations of the 28 strangest looking animals in the world, the "Encyclopedia of Strange Looking Animals" by Fredrik Coltng showcases each of them in their home environment, and informs young readers of not only where they live, what they eat, and what they sound like, but also where their strange looks come from. Unique, informative, entertaining, memorable, and published in a coffee-table style sized format (9 x 1 x 12 inches), the "Encyclopedia of Strange Looking Animals" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for children ages 6-14.

The Martial Arts Shelf

Leo's Notes: About the Powers of the Grandmaster
Master Jason Purcell
Family Black Belt Academy
9781716600340, $TBA hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Senior Student Leo Maddox travels the world with his Master, supporting her quest to reach the rank of Grand Master. In their journey together, Master Illeana and her squire Leo, use their array of martial arts abilities to help people they encounter along the way. Learning how to kick and punch is just one element of martial arts. Leo absorbs and writes about the mental aspects of his Master's training in his Notes which ultimately guides her to success. "The Diary of the Grand Master" is an illustrated chapter book for children and young teens.

Critique: Leo's Notes: About the Powers of the Grandmaster is an illustrated chapter book for children and young teens, with a powerful, positive message about the importance of virtues that can be learned through the pursuit of martial arts - confidence, humility, patience, respect, and most of all, dedication to helping others. Inspired by the life of a former student, the story follows Master Illeana and her squire Leo as they travel and use their abilities to aid those who need help. Leo's Notes: About the Powers of the Grandmaster is highly recommended for young adults as well as grade school and public library children's collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Leo's Notes is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Tales of Fearless Girls: Forgotten Stories From Around the World
Isabel Otter, author/tale teller
Ana Sender illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781680102567 $19.99 102 pages

"Tales of Fearless Girls: Forgotten Stories From Around the World" is a collection of 20 forgotten global fairytales featuring strong, independent, resourceful heroines who exhibit courage, wit, bravery, and skill in their dealings with the world. Stories from many countries are included, such as "Aurora and the Giants," from Germany, "Sacred Waterfall," from North American native American sources, "The Wandering Harpist," from Russia, "The Shining Dragons," from Lesotho, "The Tiger and the Jackal," from India, "The Songs of Liu," from China," and "The Coconut Shell," from Fiji.

Each story presents a heroine who exhibits special understanding of the gift of life, and the need to protect it. The collection is introduced by a global story map pin pointing locations of all 20 tales. There is also background information in Backgrounds to the Stories at the end, as well as Talking Points, and a Bibliography. "Tales of Fearless Girls" is a rich heritage for today's young women in quest of better ways to grow, learn, and flower.

Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest
Ole Konnecke
Gecko Press
9781776573950, $18.99

Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest is a fairytale for chapter book readers. It tells of a girl determined to locate her lost father, even if it means entering an enchanted forest. As elementary-grade readers journey along with her, confronting a witch's castle and the truth about her father's absence, the involving story will delight fans of fairy tales and fantasy, who will appreciate Dulcinea's strength and ability to overcome all kinds of challenges. The two-color drawings are nice embellishments to her chapter book adventures.

The Board Book Shelf

Everyone Says Please (Except Cat)
Jamie Michalak, author
Katie Mazeika, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781623542771, $8.99, Board Book, 24pp

Little Cat forgets his manners and demands cheese from Mama, but he's missing the magic word. After an outrageous meltdown, he sees Mouse receive cheese after asking politely and remembers to ask for what he wants using his best manners.

Part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Babies series, "Everyone Says Please (Except Cat)" is a board book for children 1-3 that imparts good values through heartwarming and humourous stories to help little ones put their best foot forward. Sweet. silly, and fun, "Everyone Says Please (Except Cat)" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections.

Show Me How to Visit the Doctor
J. A. Barnes
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595729293, $6.99, Board Book, 12pp

The newest addition to the Star Bright Books 'Point To Books' series, "Show Me How to Visit the Doctor" by J. A. Barnes addresses and illustrates what happens when a young child visits the doctor. Board book readers will point to the scale, point to the exam table, point to all the items and people they recognize!

Pointing is a key skill in learning to communicate. Some children have a hard time acquiring this skill but adults can help children learn to point. Featuring diverse children and practitioners, "Show Me How to Visit the Doctor" includes easy instructions for caregivers on how to use the book. Vibrant photos of smiling children will help youngsters feel more comfortable for their own visits to the doctor.

In this current era of pandemic and child vaccinations, "Show Me How to Visit the Doctor" is an especially timely and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections for children ages 5-6.

The ABC Shelf

ABC Rhyme With Me
Joann Cervellino
Westpoint Print & Media, LLC
9781956001518, $7.99, PB, 38pp

Especially and unreservedly recommended for children ages 2-5, "ABC Rhyme With Me" by Joann Cervellino has 3 stages of learning: Connecting the alphabet letter to the word; Connecting the word to the sentence; Learning how to read rhyme in a fun and effective way. Comprised of full page, full color photos relating to many everyday items commonly encountered by young children, each two alphabet letters showcased create a happy rhyme. There is room on the pages for children to write, draw and color as they learn to be creative. Highly recommended as a creative workbook for family, daycare center, preschool, and kindergarten curriculums, it should be noted that "ABC Rhyme With Me" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99). Of special note is that Joann Cervellino's song, ABC Rhme With Me, can be easily downloaded from Amazon for $0.99.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Library Bus
Bahram Rahman, author
Gabirelle Grimard, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772781014, $18.95, HC, 32pp

It is still dark in Kabul, Afghanistan when the library bus rumbles out of the city. There are no bus seats -- instead there are chairs and tables and shelves of books. And there are no passengers -- instead there is Pari, who is nervously starting her first day as Mama's library helper. Pari stands tall to hand out notebooks and pencils at the villages and the refugee camp, but she feels intimidated. The girls they visit are learning to write English from Mama. Pari can't even read or write in Farsi yet. But next year she will go to school and learn all there is to know. And she is so lucky. Not long ago, Mama tells her, girls were not allowed to read at all!

A timely, beautifully illustrated, and charming picture book for children ages 5-8, "The Library Bus", with its relevance to current Afghanistan news reports, children's homelessness and poverty, and the value of libraries and reading by the team of author/storyteller Bahram Rahman and artist/illustrator Gabrielle Grimard is especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

The House That She Built
Mollie Elkman, author
Georgia Castellano, illustrator
9780867187854, $17.95, HC, 36pp

The collaborative project of author/storyteller Mollie Elkman and artist/illustrator Georgia Castellano, "The House that She Built" educates children ages 5-7 about all the people and skills that go into building a home. One by one, young readers will learn about: the architect, the framer, the roofer, the plumber, the interior designer, the electrician, and all the other workers at a construction site. As they contribute their individual skills, each one is needed to complete the collective project -- a new home.

With illustrations that connect and empower and words that build upon each other with each page, "The House That She Built" will leave kids excited about their own skills and interested in learning new ones. In addition to showing kids careers they can dream about and explore, "The House That She Built" bridges the gap between such classic books Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Bob the Builder, and presents an inclusive world where everyone can follow their dreams and use their skills.

Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "The House That She Built" shows how STEM and STEAM jobs that use science, technology, math, and the arts all work together for a common goal -- making it a unique, informative and entertaining addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note: "The House that She Built" was inspired by the team of real women who came together from around the country to build a one-of-a-kind home. The home was created and completed by The Utah Home Builders Association's Professional Women in Building Council. Driven by the fact that less than 3% of the onsite workforce in housing is women, the goal was to highlight and utilize skilled tradeswomen and women owned companies for all stages of the project. As momentum and national interest grew, women from all over the country traveled to Utah to contribute. Mollie Elkman and Georgia Castellano were proud participants in The House that She Built project. They created the overall branding and marketing for the project, which helped secure donations, labor and media coverage. They were so inspired by the mission that they created this picture book for children to be able to continue sharing this important story long after the home was completed and sold.

Bobos Babes Adventures: The Lovey That Came to Life
Karen M. Bobos
Independently Published
9781737437598, $17.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook

The Bobos Babes kids are at it again in another picture book adventure that enjoys colorful illustrations by Emily Hercock.

Newcomers to the charming fantasy series need no prior introduction in order to appreciate the stand-alone story of Angel Scarlett, who has a precious lovey toy, Polar Bear Pete, that brings her comfort and joy. Because each of the Bobos Babes has a magical power, Angel is able to bring her lovey to life for an even better experience. When he then vanishes, the three sisters embark on a magical journey to find him.

Young picture book readers who like adventures that include magic, castles, and foreign lands will especially appreciate these elements (and more) which permeate the sisters' experiences in The Lovey That Came to Life. It's presented in a four-stanza rhyme which lends to parental read aloud, and includes many action details of adventure, combined with experiential descriptions of emotional responses. Her lovey has never left Scarlett before. He's the reason she "starts her day with a laugh."

What could have happened to the "sweet arctic guy"? The answer holds a satisfying surprise that will delight and entertain. As in her other Bobos Babes books, Karen M. Bobos creates a gentle story of both magic and sibling connections. Each of the Babes holds a special strength and power. Each of them fosters connections with the world and her siblings that lends them positive perspectives and strength.

Read-aloud parents will find The Lovey That Came to Life an excellent series addition and stand-alone story about problem-solving, love, and unexpected treats that reinforce ideas of friendship and solidarity with bright illustrations, whimsical fantasy, and fun.

Ms. Goshsquash
Lola Coleman
DartFrog Books
4697 Main Street, Manchester Center, VT 05255
9781953910837, $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

Ms. Goshsquash is a little farmer lady who owns a yak and has the uncanny ability to know "just what to do" with bad children.

Three mischievous children who skip home from school one day face the "Goshsquash rule" when they pass by her farm and listen to her off-pitch song about bad children before each is dealt with in a magical manner. Billy Bush, however is the "baddest of all." Unshaken by Ms. Goshsquash's powers and what happened to his peers, Billy maintains his courage as he views what really is going on with his friends as a result of Ms. Goshsquash's smart lessons. Tilda and Roscoe have been forced to see the consequences of their actions.

Will Billy be able to learn from their experiences? And, what will happen when they return to the real world?

Lola Coleman presents an intriguing story in which a bad witch also assumes the role of a good teacher. Read-aloud parents of this picture book story will appreciate both the lilting rhyme and the opportunity to transmit to young listeners important lessons about the effects of their behaviors on those around them. With its dash of magic and astute hand to describing recognition and recovery processes, Ms. Goshsquash blends a hard lesson with a fun read that adults can use to both entertain and educate the very young.

Rosco Run. Rosco Fun.
Steven C. Thedford
New World Press Inc.
9780975973035, $14.99 Hardcover/$4.99 ebook

Rosco Run. Rosco Fun. is a simple story that young dog lovers and their read-aloud parents will relish. It's filled with action-packed words and simple lines of detail and describes dog Rosco's skips, flips, sips, and dips as Rosco traverses his neighborhood and becomes involved with its delights and people. As he lounges by (and in) the pool, eats hot dogs, roller skates, and generally enjoys a good life of mixed activity and rest, picture book readers will enjoy the bright, large-size color illustrations by Patrick Carlson that bring Rosco's world to life.

It's nice to see a story that juxtaposes leisure and fun activity, teaching the very young about the value of both approaches to daily living. Parents will welcome the positive, uplifting world of Rosco and his happy form of interacting with life in a balanced way, and can use Rosco Run. Rosco Fun. as a read-aloud introduction on how to live life to its fullest, whether playing or relaxing.

At the Height of the Moon
Annette Roeder, editor
Alison Baverstock, editor
Matt Cunningham, editor
Prestel Junior
c/o Prestel Publishing
9783791374802, $24.95, HC, 160pp

Drawing from centuries of artistic and literary traditions from around the world, "At the Height of the Moon: A Book of Bedtime Poetry and Art" is simply gorgeous bedtime book that deftly pairs works of art with poems and short fiction suitable for children ages 5-9.

Divided into eight thematic sections "At the Height of the Mon" features dozens of double-paged spreads that families will turn to again and again as part of their bedtime routine. The carefully chosen, diverse selection of images includes works by John Singer Sargent, Georgia O'Keeffe, Utagawa Hiroshige and Henri Le Sidoner among many others, beautifully reproduced in luminous color.

Accompanying these artworks are poems, mediations and short fiction that range from lighthearted verse to eerie folktales. Together these words and pictures create meaningful impressions that children will treasure and remember as they drift off to sleep -- and hold onto for the rest of their lives.

An impressively beautiful and deftly presented compendium of poetry, story and art, "At the Height of the Moon: A Book of Bedtime Poetry and Art" is a unique, prized, recommended, and enduringly appreciated addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections.

Covered in Adventures
Gillian Hibbs
Child's Play
250 Minot Avenue, Auburn, ME 04210
9781786283481, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Sasha's two dads want to buy her a new sweater, because her old one is such a disgrace. The trouble is, all the stains, rips, stretches, and wrinkles remind Sasha of the exciting adventures and fun she's shared with her friends and family. Will she remember them once the sweater's gone? One by one, Sasha recalls the wonderful times she's had in her sweater, and lists the marks they've left. How will she keep her two dads happy and make sure the adventures keep happening?

All the more impressive when considering that "Covered in Adventures" by Gillian Hibbs is her debut as a picture book author and illustrator, this impressively original, utterly charming and thoroughly entertaining story for children ages 4-8 that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Covered in Adventures" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781786283474, $9.99).

Why Am I?
Ari Wulff, author/illustrator
Robert McCarty, author
FreedomChaser Books
9781954039148, $12.97, PB, 40pp

Floyd is a happy dog with many friends. One day, though, someone asks Floyd why he is yellow. But Floyd had never thought about it! He doesn't know the answer. After all, he isn't a lemon. He isn't a banana. He is a dog. "Why am I yellow?" he wonders. Soon Floyd goes on a quest to find the answer, and meets up with many of his friends and other animals along the way. Why Am I? is a great family conversation starter about accepting ourselves and others just as we are, and provides a soothing bedtime read with the kids. For ages 4 and up with an adult's help, or 6 and up for beginning readers, "Why Am I?" is extraordinary, entertaining, thought-provoking, and original, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

The Sneaky Kitten
Lois Wickstrom, author
Nicolas Milano
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9781954519350, $19.99, HC, 30pp

Book number 4 in author Lois Wickstrom's 'Invisible Magic Wand' series, "The Sneaky Kitten" finds young Caspian and his magic brown socks returning for another entertaining escapade. These are the socks that Grandpa gave him for his UnBirthday. They make him fly if he pours hot chocolate on them. This time, he's on an adventure to rescue a cat stuck in a tree. But then a flying saucer shows up. Will Hot Chocolate Socks be enough save the day? A thoroughly charming and imaginative large print picture book for young readers by the team of author/storyteller Lois Wickstrom and artist/illustrator Nicolas Milano, "The Sneaky Kitten" is especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

Caterpillar's Surprise
Janet Halfmann, author
Emily Krueger, illustrator
Black Rose Writing
PO Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
9781684338672, $20.95, HC, 34pp

A masquerade ball with a blue ribbon! Caterpillar dreams of winning, but wonders how she can since she is just a baby. Tadpole convinces her that her natural baby disguise as bird poo is perfect. As Caterpillar grows, her look changes, and she worries again. Tadpole tells her she now looks like a scary snake, and is sure to win! Then just weeks before the ball, Caterpillar spins a chrysalis and hangs unmoving from her tree. Now, even Tadpole (who is changing into a frog) is worried. Will Caterpillar break out of her chrysalis in time? And if she makes it to the ball, will she still think winning is the most important thing of all?

Another original and entertaining picture book story for young readers by author/storyteller Janet Halfmann, and charmingly embellished by the colorful illustrations of artist Emily Krueger, "Caterpillar's Surprise" is especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library children's picturebook collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Caterpillar's Surprise" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781684338450, $15.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Accidental Adventure of Mattie the Giraffe
Andi Scurto
Book Baby Publishers
9781667811819, $35.00, HC, 32pp

Today, Matte the Giraffe finally learned to ride her bike all by herself! Suddenly, she had two feelings at the same time: the pure joy of freedom and the scary thought that she didn't learn how to stop! Ride along with Mattie as she meets new friends and explores strange places on her very first awesome, accidental adventure.

"The Accidental Adventure of Mattie the Giraffe" by artist and storyteller Andi Scurto is a delightfully charming children's picture book that features full color-illustrations and a clever plot which will entertain children and adults alike.

Editorial Note: Andi Scurto currently lives in Destin, Florida and is an award-winning artist and writer. Six years in the making, Mattie the Giraffe began as the subject of the twentieth anniversary poster for Destin Festival of the Arts and went on to win multiple awards culminating in this book. This is Andi's first book.

A Picnic in the Rain
Corinne Delporte, author
Celia Molinari Sebastia, illustrator
CrackBoom! Books
9782898023187, $15.95, HC, 32pp

A rainy day in spring is the perfect time for the snail family to go out on a picnic. Carrying a basket of provisions and some toys, the snails set off under the most delightful downpour. But no sooner have they started that the clouds lift to make way for sparkling sunshine. Oh, no! Their picnic is ruined! Fortunately, young Margaux finds a way to save the day and before long, the family is nibbling on lettuce and berries under the shelter of a lovely raspberry bush. The snails have found the perfect time to have a picnic after all!

An impressively charming, imaginatively original and vocabulary developing picture book by the team of author/storyteller Corinne Delporte and artist/illustrator Celia Molinari Sebastia for children ages 3-7, "A Picnic In The Rain" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Boy Who Jumped To The Moon
Susy Nieves Dianderas, author
Chad Thompson, illustrator
TriMark Press
9781943401901 $19.95

Synopsis: Did you ever think of jumping as high as the moon? One little boy found out just how high that is! Michael receives a gigantic trampoline as a birthday gift from his father, and jumps higher and higher until he eventually gets stuck in a tree. After promising his father that he would never jump again, Michael continues to soar into the sky. What happens next will have young readers jumping for joy when Michael is rescued from an extra-terrestrial world far from his home. Is the sky finally the limit for Michael?

Critique: Impressively original, charmingly entertaining, "The Boy Who Jumped To The Moon" by the team of author/storyteller Susy Dianderas and artist/illustrator Chad Thompson is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6.

Norman Didn't Do It!
Ryan T. Higgins
9781368026239, $17.99

Norman Didn't Do It! is a fun picture book story of a porcupine whose best friend is a tree. Norman likes their singular friendship just fine, but when a visitor invades their world, Norman isn't sure he can share Mildred with anyone else. He's happy with the way things are. He can't lose his best friend, so Norman hatches a plot. Forced to explain this to Mildred, Norman protests his innocence, only to re-examine his guilt and motivations. Kids will appreciate this fun story of friendship, jealousy, and sharing. It contains many lessons that adults will find easy to discuss with the very young.

Little Moar and the Moon
Roselynn Akulukjuk
Inhabit Media
9781772272994, $16.95

Little Moar and the Moon receives engaging drawings by Jazmine Gubbe and tells of Moar's fear of the darkness and the moon, which looks like a scary face to him. This keeps him from being out after dark and limits his playtime as winter approaches. Nobody can understand why he's so afraid of the moon, but one day when he stays out too late, something happens. A fine story of changing seasons, fears of darkness and night, and courage emerges to delight picture book readers looking for new ways to address fear.

Monet's Cat
Lily Murray & Becky Cameron
Random House Studio
9780593306130, $17.99

Monet's Cat provides a lovely introduction to the painter's art as it introduces a mischievous feline who vanishes into each Monet painting. Reproductions of some of Monet's most recognizable pieces, paired with the fictional insertion of a hiding kitty, blends a Where's Waldo? atmosphere with an unusual art journey that introduces picture book readers to the extraordinary world of Monet's paintings via an ordinary cat. As Chika romps away from his efforts, a fun interactive atmosphere engages kids in Monet's world.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Two picture book stories will be welcomed by adults looking for high-quality materials for the very young.

Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates (9781536209983, $16.99) tells of a young boy's first sleepover at his grandfather's house, and his efforts to help put the house to bed. Isaac's never heard of such a task, but Grandpop shows him and Bear how it's done; especially since Isaac is anything but sleepy at bedtime. Fun drawings accent night noises and illustrate how Isaac takes the initiative to put the house to bed.

Moose's Book Bus by Inga Moore (9781536217674, $17.99) tells of a moose who likes to tell stories to his family every night after dinner...until he runs out of tales one night. Obviously, it's time to visit the library. As he borrows books, more creatures join the family for the story time ritual, leading Moose to consider the idea of a special delivery system to accommodate all book lovers. This delightful companion to A House in the Woods provides another warm story of community connections to delight the young and read-aloud parents with a celebration of reading, books, and new friends.

Sleeping Bear Press
1750 Northway Drive. Suite 101. North Mankato, MN 56003

Four new picture books are highly recommended picks for discriminating collections and adults looking for superior books.

Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter! By Sophia Gholz (9781534111196, $16.99) reaches ages 6-10 with the story of a boy's discovery of a fossil which leads him into a passion for paleontology. Despite his dyslexia, Jack becomes a dinosaur expert. Young readers interested in science, dinosaurs, Horner's life, or the specifics of paleontology will find this not only covers his biography and vivid world, but employs dyslexia-friendly fonts to appeal to those who may be reading-challenged.

Jamie A. Swenson's We Want Snow! A Wintery Chant (9781534110755, $16.99) is illustrated by Emilie Boon and captures the fun of snowy days for picture book readers who want to learn how city children have fun outdoors. Featuring a lively rhyme in which kids anticipate and plead for snow fun, the games and delights of winter are explored as kids prepare for the season, only to find that there can be too much of a good thing.

Lucy Branam's Monday (9781534110984, $16.99) may initially seem like an odd choice for a young child who may not associate Monday with different routines, but any kid who is of school age or has working parents will readily relate to the idea of weekend and weekday differences. Kevin M. Barry's whimsical drawings accent this story of the days of the week, and how Monday always seems to be resented. All other days of the week feature something fun, but Monday just can't get people to appreciate him. What will happen if he bows out of being Monday entirely? A whimsical story about being yourself and cultivating acceptance teaches kids some important lessons.

Bevan: A Well-Loved Bear by Petra Brown (9781534111103, $16.99) is very highly recommended for its lovely drawings. It's the story of a very old teddy bear who experiences many adventures with different families as each grows to love him. The colorful drawings of kids having fun with Bevan offer an attractive and especially compelling accent to a tale in which Bevan becomes beloved in many different homes and environments.

All four picture books for young readers are lovely stories that stand out from the crowd.

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

Two new picture books are fine choices for adults seeking lasting reading value, and are highly recommended for read-aloud and library holdings alike.

Michael Brown's Santa Mouse, Where Are You? (9781534438026, $17.99) is illustrated with lovely, appealing drawings by Elfrieda De Witt and explores how a little mouse becomes one of Santa's helps on Christmas Eve. Separated from his job by a snowy circumstance, will Santa Mouse be able to get back to Santa in time to help him deliver the gifts? Ages 4-8 receive a whimsical tale that lends particularly well to read-aloud.

Also cute and appealing is Stephen W. Martin's Fluffy McWhiskers: Cuteness Explosion (9781534441453, $17.99). The "explosions" by Martin pair nicely with the "cuteness" visually presented by Dan Tavis as a fun story evolves about a cute cat who is so lovely that viewers simply explode with delight. With such reactions to cuteness, however, how can Fluffy McWhiskers ever find a friend? Things are getting out of hand, with explosions happening everywhere as Fluffy's image gets out into the general public to wreck havoc. Read-aloud parents will find this simple story, with its oversized colorful drawings and sound effect words, lends particularly well to a delightful adventure read.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Michael Tougias
DartFrog Books
4697 Main Street, Manchester Center, VT 05255
9781953910554, $3.99 ebook/$13.99 print

Shipwreck Island might as well live up to its name, with the isolation and ennui that comes with being stranded, as twelve-year-old Easterly Wind and her younger friends chafe at its life in Claws. Life changes, however, when a lobsterman mysteriously vanishes on the waters, leading the trio to undertake an investigation that moves in mysterious ways.

The story differs from most mysteries in that readers are let in on the secret from the start: the lobsterman has been dragged to his doom by giant claws...the claws of a seven-foot lobster. Seems like a fitting end. But as rumors begin to overtake the island and threaten its treasured tourism, Easterly is blamed for trying to start a panic over an impossible monster. And here's where Michael Tougias really crafts a winner, because the intrigue and elements of a sea monster become closely entwined with the island's politics and various individual motives for keeping the death under wraps.

Facing character attacks and adult ire, Easterly, Kristin, and Brian find themselves going beyond identifying a perp to trying to salvage their reputations while pointing out a threat many would prefer to ignore. There is some scientific basis for the lobster premise in Claws, which is neatly presented during the course of a controversial briefing. Another intriguing approach is that Tougias contrasts the human efforts and motivations with the perceptions of Claws herself: "Claws is furious that her effort to crush the fisherman's head has been thwarted. But the boat is now backing away, and there is nothing she can do except glide back down to the depths."

As the perspectives of Mayor Ruth Snackle (an arrogant woman who, in this case, doesn't know the truth), a rude, frightened lobsterman (Bacon, who has been hired to perform an impossible investigation that leads him to move from wanting fame to wanting out), and others dovetail, the story becomes a winning exploration of special interests, fear, and survival tactics that assume many different forms.

Claws will attract middle grade readers looking for mysteries and involving extraordinary creatures. This group also receives an important environmental message that is woven into the drama to bring the story to life. The real winning value of Claws lies not just in its depiction of a sea monster and looming disaster, but the depictions of determined, proactive pre-teens who receive important lessons about politics, environment, and following the truth against all odds.

Libraries that cater to leisure readers with high-interest stories that hold important growth messages will find Claws a winner.

Zico: Gatekeeper to the Unknown
B. G. Worner
Tablo Pty Ltd
9780645288803, $15.99, PB, 192pp

Trouble has a habit of finding 12-year old Zico. When his frustrated parents dump him at his estranged grandfather's house in one of the poorest communities in Brazil, Zico is lured by the forbidden. His misadventures take him into Precious Above the Sea where he experiences opulence beyond his imagination, and into the Deep Forest, where no one who has entered has ever returned. When all worlds collide, Zico challenges the inequity between rich and poor and sets out to reshape possibilities. An original, extraordinary, deftly written, and inherently entertaining read from cover to cover, "Zico: Gatekeeper to the Unknown" by B. G. Worner is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school and community library collections for young readers ages 10-14. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Zico: Gatekeeper to the Unknown" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Hideaway
Pam Smy
Pavilion Children's Books
9781843654797, $19.95, HC, 256pp

Told in two alternating narratives, "The Hideaway" by author Pam Smy tells the story of Billy McKenna, a young boy who runs away from home and takes refuge in an overgrown graveyard. The first narrative is told from his perspective, whereas the second thread tells of the situation at home and the police search for Billy. The Hideaway is illustrated throughout with tonal and textured black and white drawings. The atmospheric illustrations seep into the edge of the pages before they give way to a series of double-page spreads as the story reaches its climax.

Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and deftly dealing with themes of domestic violence, families, childhood, and being separated and reunited, "The Hideaway" is a unique and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy/Mystery collections for young readers ages 8-12.

The YA Fiction Shelf

A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Laura Taylor Namey
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534471245, $18.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela's role as head baker at their panaderķa, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then when this Trifecta happened everything (including Lila herself) fell apart.

Worried about Lila's mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila -- until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester's drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn't long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila's mind -- one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

An inherently absorbing and entertaining read for ages 12 to 18, "A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow" by author Laura Taylor Namey will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of young fans of contemporary romance that "A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781534471252, $12.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797123936, $39.99, CD).

Reservations Required
Estela Bernal
Arte Publico Press
9781558859159, $14.95, PB, 304pp

Seventeen-year-old Lucy Sanchez's world is turned upside down when her grandmother dies. Nana was instrumental in teaching her how to cook and encouraging her dream to become a chef. More importantly, her kitchen was a safe haven from the dysfunction at home.

When Lucy becomes the target of her father's physical abuse, she is forced to escape sooner than she'd planned. "I'm going to be a chef," she keeps telling herself while on a bus headed to Los Angeles. Her life changes forever, though, when she sees a help-wanted sign in a restaurant window and impulsively gets off the bus in a small Arizona town.

Lucy is thrilled to get the job, even though she'll start as a dishwasher, working for room and board. When the owners of La Cocina discover her cooking skills, they promote her to assistant chef. Before long, word about her culinary talents begins to spread. But conflict with a jealous waitress and her sleazy boyfriend escalates as they harass Lucy at every opportunity. Is it too much to ask to cook, take classes at the local community college and get to know the cute guy she met there?

Original, exceptional, entertaining, "Reservations Required" by author Estela Bernal is one of those young adult novels that are so well written that they it will linger in the mind and memory of adolescent readers long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and while especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted that "Reservations Required" will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in 'Coming Of Age' stories.

Leisha's Song
Lynn Slaughter
Fire & Ice Young Adult Books
9781953735348, $13.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Leisha knows something's wrong. Her beloved vocal coach at boarding school would never have resigned and disappeared like this in the midst of preparing her prize students for a major vocal competition. Leisha's determined to find her, make sure she's okay.

Cody, a sensitive cellist, insists on helping her. Sparks fly, clues multiply, and romance blossoms, despite the disapproval of their families.

Leisha's desire to be with Cody and pursue music rather than medicine puts her on a direct collision course with her African-American grandfather, the only parent she's ever had. But an even more immediate threat looms - because as Leisha draws closer to the truth about her teacher's disappearance, she puts her own life in grave danger.

Critique: Leisha's Song is a young adult coming-of-age novel about an African-American girl worried about the missing vocal coach of her boarding school. Leisha is convinced that her coach would never choose to simply resign and disappear! The cellist Cody insists on investigating with her. A budding romance develops between Leisha and Cody, pushing Leisha toward an uncomfortable confrontation with her African-American grandfather, who disapproves of Cody and of Leisha's desire to study music over medicine... but those problems pale in comparison to the secret that made Leisha's coach disappear. Leisha must think fast and act faster to protect her own life, in this captivating story of intrigue, tangled relationships, and passion for music. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Leisha's Song is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Editorial Note: Lynn Slaughter is addicted to the arts, chocolate, and her husband's cooking. Following a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, she earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She's the author of four young adult novels: Leisha's Song; it Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist; While I Danced an EPIC finalist; and Deadly Setup (forthcoming from Fire and Ice, 2022). Her short story, "Missed Cue," appears in Malice Domestic's 2020 anthology, Murder Most Theatrical.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Soccer Trophy Mystery
Fred Bowen
Peachtree Publishing Company
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
978168263078, $16.99, HC, 144pp

Thirteen-year-old twins Aiden and Ava and their good friend Daniel, all avid soccer players, have just learned their county league soccer trophy mysteriously disappeared forty years ago from the town library. It was never recovered. So between games and practices for the town's soccer championships, the three friends try to solve the case. But will these amateur detectives be able to unravel the mystery and find someone who had both motive and opportunity to commit the crime? Will their teams make it all the way to the championships?

"Soccer Trophy Mystery" is the twenty fourth book in Fred Bowen's simply outstanding 'Sports Stories' series. Fred is a lifelong sports fanatic who draws upon his years of experience and expertise as a coach of youth league baseball, basketball, and soccer in his books. His kids' sports column "The Score" appears each week in the KidsPost section of the Washington Post.
An exceptionally well written and splendidly entertaining read from cover to cover, and also readily available in a paperback edition ( 9781682630792, $6.9), "Soccer Trophy Mystery" is especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library sports fiction and mystery collections for young readers ages 7-12.

Missing Map: Upton Charles Dog Detective
D. G. Stern, author
Ginger Marks, illustrator
Neptune Press LLC
9781732455146, $7.99, PB, 98pp

It's a beautiful spring morning and Upton, Watson and the rest of the Charles family are going to the festival in the park. Everyone is looking forward to the artists and crafters showing off their creations; the food vendors serving tasty treats from all over the world; the flower club members presenting their colorful flower arrangements and the local farmers with their carts filled with fresh produce. All in all a perfect day-that is, until a very rare treasure map disappears from the library's display case. The Chief of Police asks the entire Charles family to help find the missing map, including Upton, who is a little white dog, with well honed canine detective skills and Watson, his feline assistant.

Nicely illustrated with black & white sketches by illustrator Ginger Marks, "Missing Map: Upton Charles Dog Detective" by author D. G. Stern is a unique and very highly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections, young readers will fully enjoy applying their own deductive skills to solve the mystery of the pilfered pirate guide to treasure in Missing Map!

In the Ballroom with the Candlestick
Diana Peterfreund
Amulet Books
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781419739781, $17.99, HC, 336pp

After a tragic accident at Blackbrook Academy kills one of their own, Orchid, Scarlett, Peacock, Mustard, and Plum are desperate to put the pieces back together and finish out the year. The Murder Crew may have earned their nickname, but the last of their secrets are still coming to light and threatening to destroy friendships, futures, and more. And when another suspicious death rocks the campus, and Blackbrook's dark past crashes into its present, they have a choice: Band together or turn on each other. Because this year's prom? It's to die for.

The third volume in author Diana Peterfreund's 'A Clue Mystery' series, "In the Ballroom with the Candlestick" was again showcases her genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that fully engages young readers from first page to last. While highly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Mystery collections for readers ages 12-17, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "In the Ballroom with the Candlestick" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713661856, $24.99, MP3 CD).

The Five Clues
Anthony Kessel
Crown House Publishing
81 Brook Hills Circle, White Plains, NY 10605
9781785835551, $10.95 pbk / $9.49 Kindle

Synopsis: Written for young adults age 11 and up, The Five Clues, is a real-time murder-mystery thriller and family drama, combining an exciting race against time with a heart-rending story about a teenager learning to live with the loss of a beloved parent.

Walking back from her mother's grave, 13-year-old schoolgirl Edie Marble finds a note in a pocket of the sheepskin coat that she hasn't worn since the day, a year earlier, when she received the awful news of her mother's death. The note is from her mother, who had been looking into a corporate human rights violation and had become fearful for her life after receiving death threats. She trusts only Edie - because of their special bond and Edie's intelligence - and has laid a trail of clues for Edie to find that will help her to shed light on the violation and uncover the mystery around her death.

Through her wit and determination, Edie steadily gathers evidence and negotiates the dramatic twists and turns of the story by collaborating with her friends and family to gradually unearth a sinister attempt by a pharmaceutical company to conceal their illegal development of a lethal virus.

As Edie's investigations progress she is introduced, in parallel, to the Three Principles, which help her conquer various psychological stresses and support her in coming to terms with her grief.

Critique: The first novel in the Don't Doubt the Rainbow series for young adults age eleven and up, The Five Clues is a suspenseful novel of intrigue about Edie Marble, a thirteen-year-old girl who stumbles across clues left by her deceased mother. Edie learns that a corporation accused of human rights violations had made death threats against her mother, and follows a trail of evidence pointing toward a conspiracy to create a lethal virus. Edie soon realizes that only by learning to change her way of thinking can she remain calm, find her center, and uncover the frightening truth. The Five Clues is a timely and welcome addition to school and public library YA Mystery/Suspense collections, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Five Clues is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.49).

Editorial Note: Professor Anthony Kessel is a public health physician, academic and author. Since 2019 Anthony has been working in a national role as Clinical Director (National Clinical Policy) at NHS England and NHS Improvement. Anthony is an international authority on public health, a Trustee director of BookTrust, and also advises other charities on global health and mental health.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps
A.J. Massey
Independently Published
9781980944393, $9.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook

Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps reaches advanced elementary through middle school readers with a fantasy in which an ordinary boy awakens to find himself in an extraordinary world.

Thirteen-year-old Ben had no inkling that he was destined for something more than an regular life. When he awakens, one night, into a land that seems to be another dream, he is introduced to the fading magical world of Meridia and is charged with a mission: to undertake a journey to save this magical realm. Why should an average Earth boy be conscripted into service or eager to save a different world? Because his successful confrontation with The Fading that threatens them will also change his life.

A.J. Massey opens the story with a series of confrontations highly reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, where Ben's puzzled questions are met with elusive responses injected with whimsical humor. As Ben joins forces with Queen Regent Avery, Marcus, and elf Tam, they undertake an arduous foray pursued by Sovereign and his generals, who have a vested interest in seeing that the Fading continues to consume the land.

Fantasy readers will appreciate the whimsical interplays between characters, the sense of humor Massey injects into the story for comic relief, and the interactions between friends who also explore their changing relationships with one another. Marcus, for example, can't understand why his best friend Anna would prefer to pursue a relationship with a boy who is abusive, rather than moving from friendship to something more, with him.

From goblin drinking contests to getting the right answers in one world that allows them to change another, the story moves between sleep realm adventures and real-world conundrums in a satisfyingly smooth manner. Unexpected twists and turns keep teens engaged and wondering about the outcome of an epic journey that keeps both friends and readers on their toes.

While Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps is an excellent choice for fantasy leisure readers, it also holds enough literary humor and wordplay to ideally attract educators interested in exploring themes of language and humor, and who look for contemporary reads beyond Alice in Wonderland for such examples.

Hale: The Rise of the Griffins
J.K. Noble
Morgan James Publishing
9781631955556, $18.95 Paper/$.99 ebook

Hale: The Rise of the Griffins is the perfect fantasy of choice for readers with short attention spans. Why? It's not because J.K. Noble chooses a diminutive format, but because the adventure is presented as four interconnected short works, each excellent adventures packed with both metaphor and action.

Noble is particularly adept at placing readers in the center of Hale's magical experiences. The structure and fine descriptions aren't all that set Hale apart from most fantasies for young adults. Equally notable is an attention to destiny, dysfunctional family relationships, the epic struggle of good and bad choices conducted on the field of personal realizations, and characters who struggle with their Griffin identities, immortality, and other choices.

Noble also injects different dialogues into the piece. This may stymie some readers, but succeeds in a degree of authenticity that bows to character diversity: "Garet curses. The stranger turns. But Garet is too drunk to care and leaves, rambling, "What does a person 'ave to do fahr a 'alf-decent dose o' potion so dey won't 'ave to see death 'anging around?" He storms back toward Kala's apartment, zigzagging along the sidewalk. "All the souls she's collected, danks to me. All of 'em, and I'm still seeing dese wretched things!" He continues, "And where the 'ell is dat green man? Whatever da 'ell 'is name was!"

As Hale moves between Griffin and human forms, an invitation for him to enter a place where "Hale and I will be the family we once were" threatens his life. Mature themes of manipulation, choices and consequences, and loss and redemption are woven into the action, providing satisfying food for thought while supporting an overall fantasy adventure that is vividly portrayed.

Readers seeking more than a formula fantasy story who look for stories of transformation, courage, conflict, and survival will find all these elements and more in Hale: The Rise of the Griffins. It's a story which will appeal to all YA fantasy fans, especially those who will find these interconnected adventures thoroughly engrossing.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

We Are the Smurfs: Welcome to Our Village!
Falzar Culliford & Thierry Culliford, authors
Antonello Dalena & Paolo Maddaleni, illustrators
Harry N. Abrams
9781419755378, $12.99, HC, 112pp

Featuring three original and delightfully entertaining Smurf stories, "We Are the Smurfs: Welcome to Our Village!" is a 'must read' graphic storybook for young readers ages 6-9 (as well as Smurf fans of all ages!). Very highly recommended, "We Are the Smurfs: Welcome to Our Village!" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Music CD Shelf

Ready Set Go!
Divinity Roxx
Privately Published
$7.92 MP3

The debut family album of award-winning bassist and songwriter Divinity Roxx, Ready Set Go! is an upbeat music collection for kids ages 8 and up, brimming with original songs that encourage self-improvement. A lively, positive-minded collection ideal for sharing on car trips, rainy days, or any day, Ready Set Go! is highly recommended. The tracks are Ready Set Go!, Be Yourself, Just When You Think, Me Plus U, Feeling Good (feat. Fyutch), Love Love Love, Happy and Healthy, and Saturday.

The Multimedia Shelf

The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute
Katy Flint, author, adaptation of original fairy tale
Jessica Courtney-Tickle, illustrator
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, opera composer
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o The Quarto Group, publisher
100 Cummings Center, Ste. 265D, Beverly, MA 01970
9780711260139, $24.99, HC, 24pp

"The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute" is a combo illustrated book/musical performance of major themes from the famous opera by Mozart. Battery powered and adapting the original fairy tale plot for current juvenile audiences, author Katy Flint and illustrator Jessica Courtney-Tickle present a spectacular, dazzling rendition of the old fairy tale / love story at the heart of "The Magic Flute."

Technological advances present a system of color coded buttons to press to hear ten of the musical themes expressing the story's delineation and development. Each of the 10 buttons is numbered and colored and associated with different famous arias and themes throughout the opera, listed and labeled and described on the back cover, which is also the battery powered music box reduction of the famous opera.

Aria titles are listed in German, as originally written for Mozart's Viennese audience. Descriptions and explanations of the music are written in English. The color and number coded 'Press Here' buttons help young readers to refer back to the related illustrated page or pages of the story. A glossary of terms and thumbnail sketch of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart complete the other side of the back page.

Fantastic, exciting, colorful illustrations show prince Tamino being chased by a dragon, rescued by a trio of beautiful female soldiers of the Night, encounter with the elusive trickster Papageno, and introduction to the princess, Pamina, as well as the King of the Sun and the Queen of the Night, and their tragic conflict. Ending a long battle between the two powers of Day and Night, Prince Tamino and Princess Pamina are chosen by the people as rightful rulers of a new land where "Seeds that are sown in the dark bloom in the sun....and there is always peace and never war..... again."

This beautiful book/battery music box combo is not for children under 3 years of age due to the presence of small embedded batteries and parts. "The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute" is a beautiful introduction to Mozart's fabulous opera for young music lovers ages 4-7 everywhere.

The Dance Shelf

Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy
Misty Copeland, author
Salena Barnes, illustrator
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534474246, $19.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 64pp, Ages 10-18

"Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy" is author Misty Copeland's tribute and personalized portraits of 27 incredible Black ballerinas who have paved the way for the rising greatness of other ballerinas and artists with black and brown skin. Each thumbnail portrait is enhanced by an artistic representation of the ballerina in action by artist Salena Barnes. In addition, there is a quotation by the ballerina on each portrait. Further, each portrait includes the author's personal connections and relationship with the ballerina during her dancing career.

The 27 Black ballerinas included in this beautiful book are; Lauren Anderson, Delores Browne, Janet Collins, Stephanie Dabney, Michaela DePrince, Nikisha Fogo, Celine Gittens, Alicia Graf Mack, Tai Jimenez, Nora Kimball-Mentzos, Andrea Long-Naidu, Ashley Murphy-Wilson, Raven Wilkinson, Aesha Ash, Debra Austin, Joan Myers Brown, Marion Cuyjet, Frances Taylor Davis, Robyn Gardenhire, Lorraine Graves, Francesca Hayward, Christina Johnson, Virginia Johnson, Erica Lall, Victoria Rowell, Anne Benna Sims, and Ebony Williams.

Not enough can be said about the beauty of these pages of portraits of great Black ballerinas, the delicate, fiery strength of their attitudes. Author Misty Copeland is particularly sensitive to issues of racial prejudice and barriers to performers' acceptance by the traditional Ballet world. In her introduction, she write: "In discussing Black and brown ballerinas, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge and highlight the real issue of colorism both inside and outside the Black community and how it has impacted what is presented on stage. There are varying forms of privilege in the world. I acknowledge that being biracial and/or lighter skinned is a privilege both in the world and in ballet. This privilege does not extend just to me but has dictated access and opportunity throughout our history, and so often not equitably. Black dancers are not a monolith, but it is my hope that the success of any of us will ultimately allow for the success of all of us."

Ms. Copeland goes on to describe her book: "Here are intimate snapshots of my discovery of and relationships to these women. I am infinitely grateful for their legacies. This is my bow to these amazing dancers."

As a final grace, the back cover of "Black Ballerinas" is embellished by a necklace of 27 golden coin-like circles framing each Black ballerina's stunning signature portrait. "Black Ballerinas: My Journey To Our Legacy" is a stunningly beautiful tribute to 27 famous dancers of color that will be proudly cherished by lovers of ballet and art everywhere, with all shades of skin color.

Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History
Charlotte Nebres, author, with Sarah Warren
Alea Marley, introduction, illustrator
Random House Children's Books
9780593374900, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 40pp, Ages 4-8

"Charlotte and the Nutcracker" is a beautifully illustrated and true story of a young ballerina with brown skin who became the first Black dancer to be cast as Marie, the young heroine of George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" by the New York City Ballet.

In the beginning, young Charlotte is thrilled to begin her first ballet class for a Christmas present. She dances and studies with other young dancers, dreaming of the day she might be dancing on a big stage in front of a breathless audience. Seeing another young woman of color dance as a prima ballerina is very important and inspiring to young Charlotte. For several years Charlotte practices and exercises her body in the disciplines of beginning ballet steps and positions.

She dreams of winning a part in the Nutcracker, a famous Christmas ballet open to the young dancers by audition. She dances her very best for the audition and is delighted and surprised to learn she is cast as Marie, the hero of the story! When she learns she will be the first Black dancer to play Marie, she thinks, ".....Huh, seems a little late."

Carefully, painstakingly, she rehearses alone and with other dancers to learn the ballet dances perfectly, bringing a dream to life on the stage. Both on stage and off, the other dancers participate in all rehearsals and joyous performances as they reenact the deep joy of Christmas for all, in the beautiful pantomime of dance. Mice, the Nutcracker, fairy snowflakes, and Marie and her Prince dance across the stage through the beautiful ballet.

Later at home, Marie helps her mother and family with traditional baking and cooking that reflect an island background rooted in Trinidad and the Philippines. Charlotte expresses deep joy and satisfaction at being cast as Marie, bringing racial diversity to the world of juvenile classical ballet in new York City.

"Charlotte and the Nutcracker" is filled with magical illustrations of young ballet dancers of varying races, moving gracefully through the beautiful dances of the beloved Christmas ballet. Inspiring words from the author help instill a belief in wonder and magic that is rooted in inclusiveness. Everyone should enjoy this wonderful holiday children's biography.

The Music Shelf

Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music
Willie Nelson & Bobbie Nelson, authors
Chris Barton, co-author
Kyung Eun Han, illustrator
Doubleday Books for Young Readers
c/o Random House Children's Books
9781984851840 $21.99 Library Binding, $11.99 Kindle, 32pp, Ages 3-7

"Sister, Brother, Family" is an illustrated dual voiced, narrative about the early childhood and musical development of Willie and Bobbie Nelson, sibling who captured the hearts of all with their music on guitar, piano, and voice. Sensitively illustrated pages of the two siblings' musical/family memories alternate in this moving distillation partially drawn from an earlier work by the siblings, "Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band."

Willie and older sister Bobbie were raised by their grandparents, Mama and Daddy Nelson in little Abbott, Texas. Strong traditions of homemade music at church and informal gatherings trained both Bobbie and Willie in their piano and guitar musical performance history. Securing instruments and lessons for the young performers was an economic challenge for the grandparents, but they found ways to provide the musical basics, piano, guitar, and teaching.

Music helped the Nelson children and their grandmother make it through the tough times. Two traditional songs were ingrained in the young Nelsons' practice: "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and "I'll Fly Away." Daddy nelson requested the second song as he was dying.

Willie and Bobbie played for Sunday services at church and then later for dances at school. Later, Willie was invited to play with a polka band who played for adult dance hall crowds. Mama Nelson was not happy about Willie playing dance hall (secular) music for adults at first. Then Willie gave her $8 his evening's wages. This would have been his pay for working one week in the fields. Mama Nelson never said another word against Willie's dance hall performances. She concluded that both Willie and Bobbie were playing joyous music wherever they performed, "carrying a good message and making people happy."

This message is reinforced by the pastel, vintage -feeling illustrations of Bobbie and Willie playing their music while growing up in rural Texas.

"Sister, Brother, Family" is a tribute to, and celebration of, music, family, and love for the Nelson family. Both Willie and Bobbie agreed, "Music has been our way of feeling, giving, and receiving love....As long as there's music, our family will always be together."

Patricia Lakin
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781481448352, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With Paricia Lakin's new picture book, "Guitars", young readers will enjoy discovering where the earliest guitars were made and how the instrument has evolved. Then come to the present day to be introduced to Meredith Coloma, someone so passionate about guitars that she learned how to make them by hand.

In Meredith's workshop, there are shelves of ebony, maple, spruce, and western red cedar woods. The tool benches are filled with chisels, clamps, and rulers. Curled wood shavings and sawdust cover the floor. The sweet smell of newly cut wood fills the air. Young readers will go step-by-step with Meredith through her process of making guitars. Charts, infographics, and bold photographs make this a perfect book for reluctant readers and visual learners.

Critique: Original, informative, entertaining, and profusely illustrated with full color photography, "Guitars" by Patricia Larkin (a former elementary school teacher and an award-winning author who has written more than fifty published works for children of all ages) is an especially recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Musical Instruments picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Guitars" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Christian Shelf

What Angels See
Matthew Kilmurry, author
Tammie Lyon, illustrator
Pauline Kids
c/o Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130-3433
9780819883810, $14.95, HC, 31 pages

"What Angels See" is a sensitive story about Sara Quinn's First Communion, and her real faith in the presence and devotion of her very own guardian angel. As Sara's First Communion approaches, she is allowed to see the presence of her own special guardian angel, whose purpose is to guard, light, and guide her, reassuring her constantly of God's love. For a brief time, Sara is able to see everyone's guardian angels, many of them carrying special messages to God or prayers, winging through the sky.

Sara is surprised to learn that a special light and presence graces the sacrament of the Eucharist during Mass at her church.. It is the spiritual presence of Jesus Christ, fully present in the Eucharist, promising heavenly blessings to all who partake of the sacrament, something that only angels can see. Sara is elated to learn of this heavenly presence and gift of the Eucharist, and she knew with certainty that her guardian angel and Jesus would always be with her.

"What Angels See" is beautifully enriched with color illustrations of ordinary people of many different races and their matching guardian angels. The images of little guardian angels carrying bowls of special prayers for loved ones upwards towards heaven against a star-studded night sky are unforgettable.

"What Angels See" is a special book to be treasured and shared with children who are entering into their First Communion. Its message of grace and divine love permeates every page. At the end, two special prayers are included, first the Angel of God, and the Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Eucharist. In addition, there is a note to parents called Parents Corner, which offers further explanations of the blessings of the Eucharist and the promise of Jesus, "And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)."

The Biography Shelf

Carlo Acutis: God's Computer Genius
Ellen Labreque
Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130-3433
9780819817006, $21.95, HC, 80pp

With the publication of "Carlo Acutis: God's Computer Genius", young readers will be introduced to an Italian fifteen-year-old techie who loved coding, video games, animals, and also lived a life that put him on the highway to heaven! Carlo was a vibrant, faith-filled Italian teenager who loved technology and the Eucharist. Set to become the first millennial saint, "Carlo Acutis: God's Computer Genius" is the perfect introduction to Carlo's fascinating and moving story. Enhanced with colorful illustrations, informative sidebars, and a narrative style biographical commentary, and especially recommended for young readers ages 8-11, An inherently fascinating biography, "Carlo Acutis: God's Computer Genius" is part of the Pauline Books & Media 'You Can Be A Saint' series.

I Begin with Spring
Julie Dunlap, author
Megan Elizabeth Baratta, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884489085, $18.95, HC, 96pp

"I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau " by Julie Dunlap weaves natural history around Thoreau's life and times in a richly illustrated field notebook format that can be opened anywhere and invites browsing on every page. Beginning each season with quotes from Thoreau's schoolboy essay about the changing seasons, Early Bloomer follows him through the fields and woods of Concord, the joys and challenges of growing up, his experiment with simple living on Walden Pond, and his participation in the abolition movement, self-reliance, science, and literature.

"I Begin with Spring" presents a chronology of Thoreau's life and the seasonal cycle beginning with spring interact seamlessly on every spread, suggesting the correspondence of human seasons with nature's. Thoreau's annual records of blooms, bird migrations, and other natural events scroll in a timeline across the page bottoms, and the backmatter includes a summary of how those dates have changed from his day to ours and what that tells us about the science of phenology and climate change.

Artist/illustrator Megan Baratta's watercolors are augmented with historical images and reproductions of Thoreau's own sketches to create a high-interest visual experience. Of special note is the inclusion a foreword from Thoreau scholar Jeffrey Cramer, Curator of Collections for the Walden Woods Project.

Informative, entertaining, thought-provoking, formatted like a nature notebook, this exploration of seasonal changes in Thoreau's day is also a visual story of his life and times and a gentle introduction to climate change -- making it an especially recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Biography and Environmental collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.48).

The Science Shelf

The Dinosaur Book
Lonely Planet Kids
c/o Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781838694654, $19.99, HC, 184pp

With the publication of "The Dinosaur Book" young readers can travel across the world and back in time to meet the incredible creatures that once stalked our planet, including dinosaurs, flying reptiles and marine reptiles. Whether big, small, fast, slow, fearsome or friendly, "The Dinosaur Book" has them all.

Divided into chapters focused on the seven continents and oceans, kids can explore the most exciting dinosaurs with each given their own page or spread that reveals and illustrates their most fascinating features. They can find out about the T-Rex and Triceratops of North America, the giant sauropods of South America, the marine reptiles of Europe, the feathered, bird-like dinosaurs of Asia and more.

Other topics covered in "The Dinosaur Book" include the history of dinosaur research: how these 'terrible lizards' were first identified in the early 19th century, the Bone Wars of the late 19th century when collectors battled to unearth the best remains, and how interpretations of what dinosaurs actually looked like have changed over the years, from slow-moving lizard like creatures to fast-moving feathered fiends.

Stunning illustrations and photography combine with fascinating facts based on the latest research to provide kids with a comprehensive introduction to dinosaurs -- making "The Dinosaur Book" an ideal and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library dinosaur book collections.

The Multicultural Shelf

My Israel and Me
Alice Blumenthal McGinty, author
Rotem Teplow, illustrator
Kalaniot Books
c/o Endless Mountains Publishing
9781735087535, $19.99, HC, 32pp

The collaborative project of author/storyteller Alice Blumenthal McGiney and artist/illustrator Rotem Templow, "My Israel and Me"is a charmingly entertaining and informative picture book that takes children ages 8-12 on a journey to the fascinating country of Israel. Told in verse, from a child's perspective young readers are introduced to the diversity of its people. Of special note is the explanatory text that sheds more light on Israeli cultures and traditions. Of special interest to children with an interest in poetry, Israel, and multicultural storytelling, "My Israel and Me" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library picture book collections.

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.

Starhug: A Journey of Hope, Healing, & Hugs
Cindy Wong
Independently Published
9781737194408, $18.00

Darleen Wohlfeil

We can't deny it. There is power in a simple touch. Engaging in human contact can quickly change our mood. Two little stars were feeling grumpy, and not sure just why. Sometimes, putting a longing look elsewhere can bring a tug of discontent. But a simple hug brought peace and balance once again. Along with the knowledge of what to do should they find themselves in that position again. (Ages 2-8)

The Legend of the Squinker
J.E. Paddock, author
Ron Brancato, illustrator
Enchanted Squinker
B098SHDQ2Q, $2.99

Dawn Menge

What a fun, imaginative book to read to a child. The unusual words that are included may make it difficult for a child to read alone, but what fun they'll have with the vocabulary. The illustrations are unique and brightly done to engage the reader and of course, the "Gerby's Glossary of Vocabulation" is helpful in deciphering the monster's language. Have fun with your child reading The Legend of Squinker and create your very own monster world. (Ages 2-18)

Castle Gesundheit
Mark Fearing
9781536214123, $17.99

Dawn Menge

There once was a kingdom in which the Baron kept everyone awake with his sneezing. Fiona decides to venture out and find out why the Baron is keeping everyone awake. She soon discovers the cause and comes up with a way to solve the Baron's ways. (Ages 3-7)

The Sea
Piret Raud
Thames & Hudson
9780500652138, $14.95

Christine Irvin

In this book, the Sea is the main character. How's that for a twist? The Sea is a mother to all the creatures in her water. But they are very demanding and very noisy. One day the Sea takes a vacation to find some peace and quiet and to teach the sea creatures a lesson. The illustrations are a bit quirky and the storyline is certainly different, which makes it an interesting picture book. (Ages 3-5)

The Library Book
Gabby Dawnay, author
Ian Morris, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652602, $16.95

Christine Irvin

Zach's friends love the library, but Zach thinks books are boring. His friends try many times to convince him that books are magical, but Zach is not convinced until he finally goes to the library himself and finds a special book. The text is in rhyme, which is difficult to do well, but author Gabby Dawnay handles it well. The colorful illustrations pair perfectly with the text to create a wonderful book that is sure to capture kids' imaginations. (Ages 3-5)

Chris Haughton
9781536220247, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Minimal illustrations and text combine to pack a humorous, kid-friendly punch as three little monkeys show how they "try" to stay out of trouble while Mama is gone. Maybe... if they just do this little thing it will be OK (and maybe not). Lots of repetition adds to a story that kids will certainly relate to. Look for this to become a favorite choice for little ones. (Ages 3-7)

Gemma and the Giant Girl
Sara O'Leary, author
Marie Lafrance, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735263673, $18.99

Christine Irvin

This is a story about a little forgotten doll in a forgotten dollhouse. Life is the same, day in and day out, until another girl, a GIANT one, opens the dollhouse and changes the doll's life forever. It's a delightful tale, one that is sure to be a favorite for many. (Ages 3-7)

This Is a School
John Schu, author
Veronica Miller Jamison, illustrator
9781536204582, $17.99

Dawn Menge

The illustrations introduce various cultures, ethnicities, and disabilities without pointing it out in the text. The text is limited so that the young reader can visualize what encompasses the school day. Discussing that a school is a community and that sometimes we get stuck or that not everything goes well is an important part of the text. The best part is the ending, "We are all important!" (Ages 4-8)

The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other
Argyro Graphy
Bhec Publishing
9781989486399, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Bentley is a character in a series of children's books that feature him along with his friends. Together, they go on adventures where the characters learn a lesson. In this book, they learn that it's OK to be different. The books are very kid-friendly, with bright illustrations. Bentley is an adorable character that children will love and identify with. (Ages 3-8)

From A to Z with Energy!
Connie Bergstein Dow, author
Gareth Llewhellin, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
9781631982996, $15.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This bright and lively book will bring a healthy union between learning and fun. Its energetic pace and rhyme will keep little ones alert and engaged. Also included are many helpful ideas in how to extract the benefits of movement, while learning the alphabet and having lots of fun! (Ages 3-8)

The Hyrax in the Mogogos
Doug Cochran, author
S. Alex Percival, illustrator
9781480888135, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Readers of this story will be introduced to life in East Africa with the discovery of many new words and a new animal, the hydrax. It's a good storyline with great illustrations that will capture a child's interest. The author includes a glossary of additional terms for everyday words, but these words are not used in the text. There is also a map of Kenya, a page of facts about the rock hydrax and a recipe for injera, a type of bread eaten in Kenya. (Ages 4-7)

Ten Little Sandpipers
Kim Ann, author
Nejla Shojaie, illustrator
Lucky Four Press
9781953774019, $11.99

Dawn Menge

I absolutely loved ten little Sandpipers. I love the ocean and Kim's inspiration for this beautifully illustrated book was actual sandpipers on the beach. Kim has included lesson plans and activity sheets to go along with the book. Our class wrote book reports, answered comprehension questions, and colored their own pages that were provided by the author. I highly recommend Ten Little Sand Pipers for your young readers who love the ocean and are learning to count. (Ages 4-7)

This Is a School
John Schu, author
Veronica Miller Jamison, illustrator
9781536204582, $17.99

Dawn Menge

The illustrations introduce various cultures, ethnicities, and disabilities without pointing it out in the text. The text is limited so that the young reader can visualize what encompasses the school day. Discussing that a school is a community and that sometimes we get stuck or that not everything goes well is an important part of the text. The best part is the ending, "We are all important!" (Ages 4-8)

Between the Lines
Lindsay Ward
Two Lions
9781542026901, $17.99

Christine Irvin

This rather unusual picture book shows what happens when the people in a community stop interacting with each other. A once vibrant, colorful neighborhood slowly turns dull and gray, until it appears as though all the life has gone out of it. When this happens, one boy figures out a way to bring color back into his world. The artwork is outstanding as the illustrations go from full color to partly colored to black and white as the story progresses. (Ages 4-8)

Great Too
Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky, authors
Kevin Sylvester, illustrator
9780735265615, $17.99

Christine Irvin

In book two in this series by author Lauri Holomis, Taylor's hockey team is practicing for the big game, the first game of the championship tournament, the biggest one in the country. Taylor must figure out a way to calm his nerves so he can play his best for the team. Great illustrations and a believable storyline team up to make this a surefire winner, especially for young sports enthusiasts and team players. (Ages 4-8)

Fabio Napoleoni
Little, Brown
9780316462167, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Dragonboy begins a new series about a curious, imaginative, playful little boy and his band of lovable stuffed animal friends. A little boy dresses up each morning as a dragon and spends his day exploring and discovering new things. He incorporates his stuffed animals into his daily storyline. Kids who play dress-up on a regular basis will identify with the boy in this book. (Ages 4-8)

Now I'm a Bird
Sue Ganz-Schmitt, author
Renia Metallinou, illustrator
Albert Whitman
9780807523292, $16.99

Christine Irvin

When Julianna slowly changes into a bird, feather by feather, she tries to hide the feathers so she won't get teased. Her mother believes she is beautiful and that her beauty is something that should be embraced. But Julianna struggles at school until she learns some beautiful truths. This kid-friendly book will be enjoyed by all who have felt they didn't belong to the "flock," and might help them discover that what is unique in themselves should not be hidden. And, they might discover they are not alone. (Ages 4-8)

How to Have a Birthday
Mary Lyn Ray, author
Cindy Derby, illustrator
9781536207415, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Joyful and utterly unique, this vibrant picture book celebrates the best birthday gift of all: a whole day that is yours to unwrap. Mary Lyn Ray and Cindy Derby offer a book that celebrates everybody's birthday, whether you're young or old, whether you have a big party or whether you are by yourself on your big day. This book would make a great gift for the special child in your life. (Ages 4-8)

Once Upon A Fairy Tail: An Oliver Gilmore Adventure
Greg McGoon, author
Dave Reed, illustrator
Independently Published
9798759369943, $4.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

An idle puppy can become mischievous. And Oliver is no exception. His rambunctious antics lead him on an adventure that transforms the story of many lives, even his own! Oliver's adventure leads him through some of the most iconic fairy tales, turning the tables of evil, and leaving all with life promising a happily ever after! (Ages 5-8)

Beasley Squirrel Discovers the Wild!
Katie Burgess, author
Liza Tretyakova, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781954614734, $10.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This delightful story will thrill young readers. The illustrations are adorable and will capture the heart as they follow Beasley through his great discovery of the wild. Comfort zones will gradually spread, as excitement will broaden and discovery convinces that change isn't so scary after all! (Ages 5-8)

Migraine and Mia
Kat Harrison, author
Marusha Belle, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781954614369, $9.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

The artwork on this insightful story is so amazing. As we watch Mia explain her struggle with migraine, we are filled with understanding, and compassion flows. We hear all the time to be kind because we don't know what others are experiencing. Sharing brings awareness. And awareness brings compassion and understanding. Let's be open and share our lives with others. It just may make things a bit more enjoyable! (Ages 5-8)

Have You Seen My Friends?
Monica H. Kang, author
Khadeeja Qureshi, illustrator
Halo Publishing
9781637651285, $13.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

Well, this sweet story should find its way into every adult stocking this year, and every Secret Santa exchange at the workplace! The illustrations are simple and endearing. And the story awaking to every soul that got lost in the shuffle of maturity. May we all join the search to find our lost inner childhood companions. That joy of inquisitiveness, the courage of venturing into new things, and the daring boldness to be that creatively different sense of being ME! Maybe we should all ask, "Have You Seen My Friends?" (Ages 5-8)

Walrus Song
Janet Lawler, author
Timothy Basil Ering, illustrator
9781536207552, $17.99

Dawn Menge

Learn about how these captivating creatures flop and plop and call and play their way in and out of the icy waters they call home. I really liked this book. I haven't seen too many just about walruses and the pages listing Walrus Facts is incredibly helpful. The illustrations are gorgeous and very detailed. Our class enjoyed learning all about the Walrus and his adventures. (Ages 5-8)

Santa's Surprise: The Story of Bobby Lint
E.L. Nixon, author
Spike Maguire, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781954614703, $10.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

Well, here's a story with a bit of a twist. Muffled with some laughter, a great truth comes to light. There is a wonderful place for everybody, no matter where you may start. (Ages 5-8)

Master Mouse
Mirja Camphausen
Publicious Pty Ltd
9780645190106, $19.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Though this book is for little ones, it holds treasures for all who can read. This misfitted team must be able to overcome their own weaknesses in order to overcome the difficulties presented in their quest. Each bringing a depth of life lessons that are sure to lay solid footing to our own personal journey. Truly a profitable read for any who will embark on a quest with this mismatched foursome! It's easy reading, full of fun, and packed with heart. (Ages 5-10)

A History of Music for Children
Mary Richards and David Schweitzer, authors
Rose Blake, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652473, $19.95

Christine Irvin

This wonderful book tells the history of music for children, but adults (like myself) will enjoy it as well. It's packed full of interesting facts and tidbits touching on many aspects of music - instruments, singing, writing lyrics, rhythm, etc. (Ages 6-8)

Mad About Meatloaf
Maureen Fergus, author
Alexandra Bye, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735267916, $12.99

Dawn Menge

Weenie loves his human, Bob. He loves his guinea pig friend Beans and his cat friend Frank. He loves naps, adventures, and sharing. In fact, Weenie loves pretty much everything (except the mail carrier). But the thing Weenie loves and desires more than anything else in the world is meatloaf. And he'll do anything to get it.... The perfect graphic novel for early readers. The story has a surprise ending that teaches not only resourcefulness and a moral lesson but what is most important of all: friends! (Ages 6-9)

Unicorn Jazz
Lisa Caprelli, author
Davey Villalobos, illustrator
Independently Published
9781645167983, $24.97

Dawn Menge

Lisa came to our classroom and provided over eight classes with her book series, online activities, songs, book readings and curriculum to be used for further lessons on Science, self-worth, and literacy. Our students were thrilled to meet her, have photo opportunities, and take the books home. One parent said he wouldn't put the book down when he got home. Lisa's books are beautifully illustrated, and all hold a special message in kindness, self-worth, community, helping others and learning to love life just as you are. I highly recommend her series of Unicorn Jazz books for your home or school library and her author visits are amazing. (Ages 8-10)

The Lizard Who Loves a Blizzard
Shelley Larkin and Michael Sullivan, authors
Yanaisy Puentes Cruz, illustrator
Magic Everywhere Inc.
9781792373213, $13.99

Dawn Menge

What a fun and engaging story about a Lizard who just wants it to snow, but he lives in Australia. The illustrations are gorgeous, and my class loved this rhyming story so much we've read it several times in our classroom. The authors Michael and Shelley have constructed a fabulous adventure story about not giving up on your dreams, finding joy in your situation and of course all the wonderful activities that you can have with snow. This is a must-have for your home or classroom library. (Ages 8-10)

The Beatryce Prophecy
Kate DiCamillo, author
Sophie Blackall, illustrator
9781536213614, $19.99

Diana Perry

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all - for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why. Young readers won't be able to put this book down as they learn the true identity of Beatryce. This story has so many layers of danger, mystery, action, and suspense. I really enjoyed this wondrous story. (Ages 8-12)

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