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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 7 July 2013 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Money/Finance Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Science Shelf Gardening Shelf
Native American Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Fiction Shelf Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf
Health Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Social Issues Shelf Poetry Shelf
Activity Shelf Music CD shelf DVD Shelf
Holiday Shelf Books in Series  

Reviewer's Choice

A Treasure Hunt for Mama and Me
Renee Le Verrier and Samuel Frank, MD, authors
Adam Taylor, illustrator
New Horizon Press
P.O. Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
9780882824369, $9.95,

"A Treasure Hunt for Mama and Me: Helping Children Cope with Parental Illness" is a story for children age 5 and up about a special nature hike shared by a boy named Billy and his mother, who is treated for symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. Billy loves going on a treasure hunt nature hike with his Mama. When she has to stop to take special medicine, or to take a little rest, he stays near as she asks him to. He loves hunting for special natural treasures to share with her, such as an owl's feather, or a pair of acorns. Although Billy's Mama cannot do all the activities with him that she could if she were not ill, she can lead a full life with him with medicine and good care. "A Treasure Hunt for Mama and Me" is an excellent example of offering ways a child can work to adapt to and accept a parent's chronic or serious illness. A key concept seems to be flexibility and sensitivity to each other. At the end of the book there are Tips for Children and Tips for Parents and Educators to help children develop strategies to enable coping with chronic or degenerative conditions in a parent. The calm, nature-themed color illustrations help increase children' understanding and acceptance of the messages of "A Treasure Hunt for Mama and Me." Even though a parent's serious illness can be scary or frightening, there are many hands and resources to help adapt and adjust. Information about the illness is also helpful, such as learning that it is not contagious. "A Treasure Hunt for Mama and Me" is an excellent tool to help a child adjust to parental illness.

Wildflowers on the Tundra
Irene T. Winslow, author
KDG Educational Resources
5800 Maureen Drive, Seven Hills, Ohio 44131
9780983589006, $12.95,

"Wildflowers on the Tundra: A Beginner's Guide to Alaska" is a stunning cultural/geographical guide to Alaska for children in preschool and primary grades. Filled with spectacular color photos of mountain and tundra scenes, animals, birds, and indigenous peoples of Alaska, "Wildflowers on the Tundra" is a visual feast for everyone. Page-filling color photo portraits of polar bears, a Chukchi Eskimo dancer in traditional dress, Northern lights, Mt. McKinley, grizzly bears, moose, salmon, caribou, Orca whales, and more, "Wildflowers on the Tundra" is filled with exciting information about the 49th state, Land of the Midnight Sun. A handy map of Alaska in the beginning pages is marked with all 19 sites where the scenic photo portraits were taken. Each photo is given a title, and further explained by simple definitions of the Alaskan objects, scenes, and inhabitants portrayed. "Wildflowers on the Tundra" is a scenic panorama of magnificent vistas, punctuated with vivid images of peoples and creatures of the Arctic wilderness.

Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu
Ylleya Fields, author
Michael LaDuca, illustrator
Belle Publishing
c/o KSB Promotions
55 Honey Creek NE, Ada, MI 49301
9780578113036, $15.95,

"Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu" is the first title in a charming, innovative series written especially for girls of African American descent (and other children). Written in bouncy narrative verse, illuminated with spunky, exciting, colorful illustrations, "Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu" tackles a thorny problem area for small children and their housemates and caregivers: picking up after themselves. Princess Cupcake Jones has lost her beloved tutu and this is tragic, because she wears it every day! Plus she is to have her picture taken. And if she can't find her tutu, the dreaded substitute pink dress will have to be worn! Cupcake's mother suggests that she might find many of her favorite things if she carefully picked them up and put them away when she was done playing with them. Sure enough, Cupcake discovers many favorite toys in her cleanup search, but no rainbow tutu! Fortunately all ends well as Princess Cupcake discovers her favorite tutu just in the nick of time, right where she threw it, on the ceiling fan blades! This fascinating educational series features a hidden word in every stunning illustration, plus further helpful hints and fun activities will be available at the book's web site, "Princess Cupcake Jones" is perfect for children age 3 and up.

A Sergeant In the House
Betty Turnbull, author
Susan Senning, illustrator
Light Messages, publisher
5216 Tahoe Drive, Durham, NC 27713
9781611530605, $14.95,

"A Sergeant In the House" is a warm, color illustrated story about a boy named Lenny who wants a puppy. Because Lenny's father is a military man, he experiences mixed feelings when his father is called away to active service, leaving him to help his mother and take responsibility while awaiting his father's return. Lenny does his best, hoping to earn praise and maybe, eventually, his own puppy, after his father returns. Lenny and his mother also experience pain and heartbreak when they learn his father has been wounded in action, and will return home to heal without one of his legs. "A Sergeant In the House" compassionately presents real family issues, problems, and solutions frequently faced by military families. Written in child-friendly language and filled with good specific examples of, for example, taking responsibility, "A Sergeant In the House" encourages children to bravely support their parent or parents and to grow into their own level of responsibility. Finally there is a happy surprise when Lenny discovers a new sergeant in the house; it is his own little happy puppy! He goes on to rebuild a happy life with his father, mother and the Sergeant. All the proceeds from "A Sergeant In the House" are being donated to Hope for the Warriors, a special service project for giving support to returning soldiers and their families. Readers are encouraged to visit, for more information.

The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna
Wisdom Tales
P.O. Box 2682
Bloomington, Indiana 47402-2682
9781937786052, $19.95,

The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna are retold by Demi in a lovely book for kids ages 6 and older who have good reading skills and an interest in Krishna stories. The story of Krishna dates back to the 8th century BCE, and are a foundation of Hindu belief: this picture book retells the tale and recounts a host of Krishna encounters, imparting a dose of spirituality and moral insight perfect for discussion with kids in the 6 and older age range. There are few Krishna stories for kids, making this a fine recommendation.

The Education Shelf

The High School Student's Guide to Writing a Great Research Paper
Erika Eby
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781601386045, $24.95,

The High School Student's Guide to Writing a Great Research Paper: 101 Easy Tips & Tricks to Make Your Work Stand Out provides a fine survey that stems from interviews with dozens of teachers who tell exactly what they want in student papers. High school students also share their successful paths to overcoming writing issues. All aspects of the research paper, from initial subject to research and writing approaches, are revealed in a powerful pick for any student who would produce an outstanding paper.

The Money/Finance Shelf

Joe the Monkey Learns to Share
John Lanza, author/illustrator
Patrick Rooney, co-illustrator
Snigglezoo Books
419 Larchmont Blvd., #5, Los Angeles, CA 90004
9780982682029, $5.99,

"Joe the Monkey Learns to Share: A Story of Giving" is the latest title from Snigglezoo Books' youth series titled Share, Save & Spend Smart. This series help educate young children about financial literacy, and understanding the value of currency and money, also teaching good habits of saving and spending wisely, and financial future planning at an early age. Brightly colored illustrations help children identify with the financial learning curve of Joe the monkey. Joe receives an allowance from his parents who encourage him to save some and spend it wisely. Joe uses his Share, Save, & Spend Smart money jars to help him save for goals. Saving for goals is fun for all the Money Mammals. Joe knows what to do with the money in his Save and Spend Smart jars, but he is at a loss to figure out what to do with money in his Share jar, so he asks his friends and later his parents what they recommend. A new word comes to Joe with the answer charity, such as giving to the local Banana Bank to buy food for hungry, poor monkey families. Joe wants to create his own special charity. Meantime Joe is tempted to take money from his Share jar and add it to his Spend jar to get himself a special expensive game of Jumpin' Jaguar's Journey. Meantime Joe has been trying to help Screecher, a young monkey, practice his vine swings, which are looking disastrous. Then Coach helps Joe discover the reason Screecher can't swing well enough to perform: his dad lost his job and they can't afford a vine for him to practice on at home. Bingo, Joe had discovered his special charity, and the aim of the contents of his Share jar. He runs to the game store and exchanges his Jumpin Jaguar's Journey game for some practice vines, so that Screecher can have a vine to practice on at home. Presto, Joe had begun his charity, Joe's Vines for Kids. "Joe the Monkey Learns to Share" is a fantastic financial education book for kids age 6 and up that also teaches the values of sharing the resources.

The Cookbook Shelf

Young Chefs
Christina Dymock, author
Cedar Fort Publishing
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, UT 84663
9781462111954, $16.99,

"Young Chefs" is a great hands-on, how-to cookbook for kids who yearn to be beginning chefs. Along with basic information about learning to cook, the beginning section on how-to's covers many basic cooking and baking procedures with step by step written and photo-illustrated directions, including also a glossary of cooking terms. Recipes are divided into chapters on breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, sides, and desserts. Recipe format is very kid friendly, with colored, headings indicating whether or not adult help is needed and what special appliances or utensils are used (shown in pictures). Ingredients are listed at the top, with standard measurements, followed by step by step, sequenced instructions. Examples of innovative kids' recipes include: Arizona wheat waffles, peanut butter morning cake, slow-cooked breakfast (hash browns, spinach, bacon, eggs, and seasoning in slow-cooker for 4-5 hours), chicken salad sandwiches, meatless lasagna rolls, apple biscuits, vanilla mango pops, Italian chicken, slow-cookin' taco soup, best nachos ever, green salad, baked fries, cornbread muffins, cheesy potatoes, first day of school cookies, cherry chocolate cheesecake bars, and travel brownies. A handy feature of recipes is the red tool box icon sidebar which lists special supplies or appliances used in the recipe. Fun facts, jokes, and tidbit anecdotes are included. The author is an experienced mom, young chef coach, and all around whiz-kitchen who believes in teaching kids the valuable life skill of cooking. Most recipes seem suitable for kids age 8 and up, though younger children can handle safe parts of projects with supervision.

The Science Shelf

Weather Wits & Science Snickers: Corny Jokes and Cool Facts!
Steve LaNore, author
Elizabeth Cox, illustrator
Privately Published
9780985692124, $12.95,

"Weather Wits & Science Snickers" is a multi- award-winning, extremely entertaining collection of funny weather observations and sayings that answer kids' curious weather questions. Ideally presented for kids age 9 and up, "Weather Wits & Science Snickers" is juvenile educational humor at its best. Winner of the Mom's Choice Award Honoring Excellence, "Weather Wits & Science Snickers" was also named Best Children's Nonfiction Book of 2012 by Press Women of Texas. Divided into four main chapters titled Things in the Sky, Things on the Ground, Dust and Danger, and Sun and Space, "Weather Wits & Science Snickers" packs a heap of fascinating factual data into a very appealing format. Using cartoon illustrations, jokes, stunning color photographs, and question and answer text, author Steve LaNore covers the exciting basic questions about weather, earth, and nature. A great example is the cartoon labeled Scientists Play Guitar, featuring a rock band of scientists/geologists and captioned: "Q. Why do geologists make great guitarists? A. Because they know how to rock(p. 23)." "Weather Wits & Science Snickers" is learning and great fun all wrapped up in a formidable package of jokes, riddles, and cartoons. A list of Discovery Websites and Topic Resources are included and an accompanying workbook is planned for future release.

The Gardening Shelf

Burton's Friendship Garden
V. A. Boenholt, author
Nathaniel P. Jensen, illustrator
Little Five Star
c/o Five Star Publications
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589852105, $11.95,

"Burton's Friendship Garden" is the second title in the Burton the Scarecrow Friendship Tales from the Farm series. This educational series for children age 6-10 teaches valuable lessons about farming, gardening, helping others, and development of compassion and character. A pleasant, color- illustrated tale of Burton and his female scarecrow friend, Ribbon, "Burton's Friendship Garden" tells how Burton and Ribbon organize their animal friends to help Farmer Green when his broken leg stops him from planting his spring garden and crops. Carefully, all the animals help to gather the seeds and tools, prepare the ground, and plant and water the seedlings. Because they want to help Farmer Green, they name it Friendship Garden. Weeding, watering, thinning, cultivating are all gardening activities shared by the animal friends. Soon harvest time approaches, and Burton and Ribbon take Farmer Green (on crutches) to see his Friendship Garden. Farmer Green is very grateful for all the bounty of plentiful, fine vegetables and grains that his friends have planted and tended for him. At the end of "Burton's Friendship Garden" is a handy Resource Guide for parents, teachers, and librarians, a little garden history, reader and listener tips and connecting points, ideas for activities, on-line references, and a glossary. Additional educational resources may be found at, Income from this publication helps support Feed the Children, a charity that provides hope and resources to those without life's essentials.

Growing Garden Set
Lois Ehlert
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547993430, $14.99,

This lovely boxed set of three children's gardening classics is the perfect pick for any who want to teach young children gardening facts. From the introductory alphabet book EATING THE ALPHABET: FRUITS & VEGETABLES FROM A TO Z that outlines over seventy fruits and veggies to GROWING VEGETABLE SOUP, which covers basic gardening and includes a vegetable soup recipe, and PLANTING A RAINBOW, a color book including over twenty flower varieties, these easy readers offer gentle picture book introductions perfect for fostering an appreciation of gardening in young kids.

The Native American Shelf

Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days
Michael Oren Fitzgerald, editor
Wisdom Tales
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786090, $15.95,

"Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days" is a signature edition of collected quotations and sayings of North American Plains members of different tribes plus a stunning array of historic, rare sepia and white photographs of Native Americans of the Plains taken before 1904. Michael Oren has edited some of the proverbs and quotations, but the impact of the wisdom is unmitigated. Here are pictures of herds of buffalo, mothers and children in beaded cradleboards, Indian boys and girls at play with corn husk dolls and bows and arrows, and whole tribes riding horses pulling travois laden with buffalo hide tens and camp supplies. Here also are photos of bowls, spoons, corn, meat drying racks, pottery, jewelry, and rugs, and their making. All pictures are further explained in quotations of words from documented Native American individuals, with much guidance and valuable life messages contained in each utterance. The last few pages show modern color photos of Native American children of today, some still in special tribal dress. Michael Oren Fitzgerald has taught Religious Traditions of the North American Indians at Indiana University and is an adopted son of the late Thomas Yellowtail, an esteemed American Indian spiritual leader of the previous century. "Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days" is a fascinating window into the past of North America's many Plains Native American tribes, sure to be enjoyed by children ages 4-8 and their parents, caretakers, and educators.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Adventures with Buster
London Lake Picket, author
Lynda Farrington Wilson, illustrations
Privately Published
9780615706689, $14.95,

"Adventures with Buster" is the true story of a trained guide dog named Buster, trained to help guide a blind person safely. Born December 8, 2008, at Southeastern Guide Dogs, Buster was a Goldador puppy who had to be carefully raised for almost a year and trained for 4 weeks to learn to be a good guide dog. After graduating from his special training and receiving his vet checkup, Buster came home. Buster learned to guide his owner everywhere she wants to go, even on a flight to vacation in Arizona. "Adventures with Buster" is an entertaining chapter book with beautiful color illustrations of Buster in action. A list of 40 commands that Buster understands and obeys are given at the end, along with web site addresses for further information about guide dogs like Buster. "Adventures with Buster" is perfect for working pet education stories for children age 8 and up.

Let's Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans
Gabriella Francine and Solara Vayanian, authors
Big Blue Marble Books
220 Newport Center Dr., #11-369
Newport Beach, CA 92660
9781938504006, $15.00,

"Let's Make a Difference; We Can Help Orangutans" is a vivid, color photo-illustrated book about the threatened orangutan species and how children can help to save their vanishing environment. Orangutans are endangered because their rain forest environment is disappearing: there are only a few thousand left living on Borneo and Sumatra, when there used to be hundreds of thousands living all over Southeastern Asia and China. Orangutans live high in the rainforest canopy and they depend on the rainforest for shelter, food, exercise, and recreation. Because the canopy is disappearing, orangutans as a species are threatened. Children can help by supporting orangutan care centers, helping to educate others about orangutans, saving extra coins from their allowances and other sources, and donating to one of a list of organizations that seek to protect orangutans. One simple thing kids can do is tell their parents they only want to use products that have sustainable palm oil, which is often grown on land that used to be rainforest. The book ends with a list of organizations that seek to protect orangutans and their rainforest habitats. Expressive photos of Malcolm and other orangutans help tell the story of orangutan life and sustainability. "Let's Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans" is perfect for conservation and nature studies for children age 6 and up.

The Eye of the Whale
Jennifer O'Connell, author/illustrator
Tilbury House Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue, Gardiner, Maine 04345
9780884483359, $16.95,

"The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story" is the amazing true story of a complex rescue of a humpback whale who became entangled in crab trap lines. The rescue team depends on a captain, rescue boat crew, and a dive master named James. Although James has never rescued a whale before, he bravely dives in to see if he can free the badly entangled huge female humpback whale. Many divers have to help cut the lines which trap the whale and choke her, while keeping out of the way of her enormous flippers and tail. With her large eyes, the whale watches everything James and the divers do. Finally the whale is free, and she dives deep down. Then she surprises James and the other divers. She swims straight up to him and nudges him gently, then does the same with the other divers who rescued her. Then she looks at him with her beautiful eye, and plunges back into the deep dark sea. This children's illustrated story actually happened on December 11, 2005, near the coast of San Francisco. Children will be excited to share the story of the amazing rescue of the 50-foot long humpback whale. The realistic illustrations bring the whole amazing event under fine scrutiny, with great skill and beauty.

Sunnie Meets the Bears
Sandra Fianko, author/illustrator
Abbott Press
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781458207692 (hc), $20.99,

"Sunnie Meets the Bears" is an illustrated first chapter book about a girl who meets many species of bears and other animals in her forest adventures. Different bears and other animals help teach Sunnie many good lessons, as well as more about themselves. Sunnie meets Kiki, a black bear cub, Jackie, a polar bear sow, Bjorn, a brown bear, Lian, a black and white panda bear, Akio, a black bear of the east, and Maco, a sun bear, or a honey bear. Each bear has different lessons to help teach Kiki, and all the bears work together to help Kiki in her search to find her way home to her parents. An Arctic fox is also helpful in her journey, changing her homemade raft into a magic, speaking raft they name Lucky-Jumpy-Rafty. Finally all the bears and Sunnie and the fox celebrate at a special island feast and Sunnie discovers the secret way for all of them to return home riding on Lucky-Jumpy-Rafty. The next thing Sunnie realizes is that she is back home, the raft is now again just a raft, and her mother tells her she has been gone in the woods for only 7 hours, not days. All's well that ends well in this fascinating teaching story about many different species of bears and one generous girl who loves and knows them all. Warm, colorful illustrations of Sunnie and her bear friends convey a sense of everyday magic and universal acceptance of individual differences, whether of bears or of humans.

Where Do the Animals Go When It Rains?
Janet Crown, Henry, Jack & Sloan Peterson, authors
Daron Rosenberg, illustrator
Privately Published
9780985283001, $14.99,

"Where Do the Animals Go When It Rains?" is a creative illustrated children's book about how changes in weather such as rain affects different animals. Written in vividly colorful typed verse and illustrated with accurate care and delicacy, "Where Do the Animals Go When It Rains?" is meant to be a valuable shared reading experience between parent and child, strengthening and encouraging young imaginations. Gentle verse and rain-splashed colored pictures convey the experience of animals who react to a beginning rainfall. A sense of nurturing care by parent animals who take appropriate shelter with their young is conveyed, while other animals display the frolicsome reaction of enjoyment of the rain. All are safely brought through these gentle pages of nature's creature's reactions to rainy weather. The author is devoted to many charitable causes and child centered issues. As a result, proceeds from this book are donated to The Painted Turtle, a Hole-In- the- Wall Gang Camp for chronic and terminally ill children (

JJ the American Street Dog and How He Came to Live in Our House
Diane Rose-Solomon, author
Rachel Cellinese, illustrator
SOP3 Publishing
9780985769017, $16.99,

"JJ the American Street Dog" from SOP3 Publishing (Save Our Pets, People, and Planet) is a fascinating story of an adopted street puppy named JJ. A girl and her family decide they are ready to adopt a puppy in their home. One day, Uncle Jerry calls to say he has rescued an abandoned, hungry puppy with a tight choke collar, but he needs to find a good home for him since his apartment does not allow pets. Following is a good description of the first steps that should be taken; to have a puppy seen by a vet, treated for parasites, given shots and given a clean bill of health. The vet also recommends that the puppy be neutered to prevent future litters of homeless puppies. The family also advertises for a possible former owner, just to be sure. Finally JJ, the name of the golden puppy, is adopted forever by the girl and her family and they enjoy the solace of each other's company for all the dog years that are to come. The sensitive, cartoon illustrations help explore many nuances of feelings that are experienced as the family finds and adopts JJ. "JJ" is a series that is planned to release new titles soon. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of "JJ the American Street Dog" will benefit animal rescue organizations.

Tears of the Heart
R. F. Martin, author
Sarah Etherington, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781479725465, $17.49 (sc), $24.99 (hc) $3.99 Kindle

"Tears of the Heart: A Modern Day Story In a 'Once Upon a Time' Setting" is a beautiful book for children based on a true story. A teacher named Joanna finds a little abandoned kitten which she names Amy and tries to adopt. However, circumstances do not permit her to keep Amy, and sadly, she must give her up for adoption by another family. The kitten goes to a royal family and receives a first class upbringing with all happiness. But even though Joanna marries a man she loves and has three children with him, she never forgets her kitten Amy, and wonders what has happened to her. The unfolding story of the reunion of Amy and Joanna is touching and heartwarming, leading to the final quotation: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. Love never fails (I Corinthians 13, NIV)." Paintings that are at once tender, lyrical, poetic, and evocative ring out the core feelings in "Tears of the Heart." 35 percent of the proceeds form sales of "Tears of the Heart" will benefit Pregnant Centers of America, Amador County Pregnancy Help Center, Contra Costa Pregnancy Help Center. Children age 8 and up will enjoy "Tears of the Heart."

Paige Persnickety's Purr-fect Pet
Lisa Mallen, author
Glendie Mallen, illustrator
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center, Suite 302
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
9781618633453, $14.95,

"Paige Persnickety's Purr-fect Pet" is a creative story about a preschool girl who must learn to be patient waiting for the perfect pet that she longs for. Paige sees many pets visiting at preschool
who belong to other friends and she is certain there is a wonderful, yes a perfect pet for her. But her parents tell her to be patient. One day they tell her she will have a new brother named Payden. Instead of being happy at this news, she is very unhappy. Paige wants a pet, not a baby brother named Payden! But her parents continue to encourage her to be patient and one day at preschool she gets the long awaited surprise visit of not just brother Payden but also a mystery box containing, guess what? The Purr-fect black and white kitten, Paige's very own pet at last. Enhanced by unusual color illustrations of Paige, her family and her pet,"Paige Persnickety's Purr-fect Pet" is a great book for preschoolers, teaching love of animals, patience with friends and family, and belief in good awaited outcomes.

The Daily Rounds of a Hound
Ed Payne, author
Britt Sekulic, illustrator
Round Hound Publishing
2743 Fairfield Drive SW, Marietta, GA 30064
9780615758312, $9.99,

Written by an Emmy- and- Peabody-award-winning CNN journalist, "The Daily Rounds of a Hound" is a charming and true story of a wonderful red and white hound named Molly Malone, adopted from a pet shelter by a loving family. Delicate, detailed ink and pastel illustrations complement the witty verse narrative of "The Daily Rounds of a Hound." Molly brings a secret with her when she comes to her family. She is going to have puppies! In a short time, she gives birth to nine baby puppies, each of whom eagerly yaps for attention! The puppies grow quickly and are given to good homes, but Molly Malone stays with her family, where she performs her ritual daily rounds of a hound, like any good dog. This inspiring story ends with an invitation: "One last time, consider the hound../ Your own Molly Malone./ Your hound may be different - / A lot different for sure./ But whether collie, bulldog or Mexican hairless - / Or some special mix in between../ love that hound,/ tan, red or brown,/ and you'll get more/ in return/ you'll see." Fans and readers can purchase books, T-shirts, and stuffed plush toys at This is an "everydog" story for every age.

The Self-Help Shelf

I Don't Know Why
Annice Thomas, author
Lisa Rivard, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Indianapolis, IN 47403
9781481782500, $21.35,

"I Don't Know Why: Stories to Help Adopted Children Understand Why They Do the Things They Do" is a collection of stories about behaviors of some adoptive children that may be hard to explain or understand. Each story has a special history and explanation of the individual child concerned that enlightens the reader about the child's behavior. Different children from different racial and cultural backgrounds are featured and represented in clear color illustrations. The tone of "I Don't Know Why" is nonjudgmental and informative, non threatening. Adopted children can read "I Don't Know Why" and feel more secure about some of the changes they may be experiencing or struggling with. "I Don't Know Why" could be read to or experienced with children who are receptive, age 8 and up.

The Fiction Shelf

The Wide Awake Loons
Katherine L. Holmes, author
Silver Knights Publishing
9781938083181, $9.95,

"The Wide Awake Loons" is a beautifully written middle grade fiction work about a mated pair of loons and a young girl who becomes involved with protecting them and their loonlets. Owala and Yudel are the loons who arrive at Lake Song-of -the-Sky up north near where 10 year old Ginny comes to spend her usual summer at the cabin with her family. Told partly from the viewpoint of the loons themselves, "The Wide Awake Loons" contrasts the wild and challenging environment inhabited by the loons with the human-harboring environment Ginny is familiar with. Incredible authentic details about life and survival habits and skills of the loons are woven into this engrossing nature story. Ginny finds a role as protectoress of the loons and their chicks, along with her friend Wes. Prize winning author Holmes paints a Northern setting with vast skill and delicacy for the reading and educational pleasure and appreciation of middle grade and older readers.

Maggy's Waggy Tail
C. J. Cutayne, author
Blue Moose Publishing Group
1674 Connaught Drive
Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada, V3C 4G8
9780987689337, $6.99 pb, $2.99 Kindle,

"Maggy's Waggy Tail" is a delightful early chapter book about a lovable dog with a very waggy tail who is prone to mischief. At first the Taylor family do not know what to do when Maggy comes into their lives, a puppy thumping loudly at their door. Most of them adore her immediately, but her waggy tail begins to cause mayhem almost immediately. In reading "Maggy's Waggy Tail" aloud to children, the author suggests inviting audience participation: when the reader reads "Swoosh!" the children can say "Oops!" This will happen many times throughout the quickly moving chapters. Will Maggy find a permanent home and refuge in spite of her waggy tail? Read the fun and action filled seven brief chapters with your 5-9-year-old and find out. "Maggy's Waggy Tail" is sure to intrigue an audience of early chapter readers.

Benny and Bugsy
Clifton Treadway, author
illustrated by Thinkstock
Inspiring Voices
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462404926, $15.95,

"Benny and Bugsy" is a cool adventure story about two boy cousins who have a wonderful adventure together after falling in a river on a special bullfrog hunt. They get lost and cold, but they meet several talking animal friends (including an alligator named Andy) who help take care of them in the wilderness, and finally help them find their way back home. "Benny and Bugsy" is a great story for kids age 6 and up with scary moments and a central message of friends helping friends, no matter how unlikely.

The Book of Broken Hearts
Sarah Ockler
Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781442430389, $16.99,

The Book of Broken Hearts provides a fine coming-of-age story and tells of Jude, the only sister still living at home. Her father hires a mechanic to help him restore his vintage motorcycle - and despite her understanding of how the Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers, Jude finds herself falling under his spell. Is she heading towards heartbreak, or can her sisters be wrong about the Vargas family curse? A story of self-discovery, romance, and change evolves for older readers.

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

Holly Thompson's THE LANGUAGE INSIDE (9780385739795, $17.99) tells of Emma, raised in Japan and content in her life until her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and Emma's family moves to the U.S. to stay with her grandmother during her mom's treatments. Emma longs to be back in Japan, but her volunteer work at a local long-term care center treats her to new friendships that eventually challenge her desire to leave the country. A moving story of adaptation and change evolves. Lurlene McDaniel's THE YEAR OF LUMINOUS LOVE (9780385741712, $16.99) introduces three best friends who face challenges after graduating from high school. Ciana loves her family's working farm but romance leads her to question her family's heritage, Arie has battled health issues all her life but her involvement with a kind horse trainer leads her to reveal a close-held secret, and Eden's older boyfriend is jealous and controlling - but better than an uncertain mother. Each discovers new directions for their lives in this recommendation for older teens. Shawn Goodman's KINDNESS FOR WEAKNESS (9780385743242, $16.99) tells of teen James, who struggles with violence and life in a juvenile detention center, and who explores relationships and changes as he evolves to understand the meaning of true friendships. Kit Grindstaff's THE FLAME IN THE MIST (9780385742900, $16.99) is a fantasy telling of the land of Anglavia, whose people live in a cruel world under control of a powerful family that nobody dares defy. Family misfit Jemma uncovers a secret about the castle and the family - and about herself - and flees the castle on a journey to understand both a prophecy and her own place in changing her world. A satisfyingly complex fantasy story evolves. Carolita Blythe's REVENGE OF A NOT SO PRETTY GIRL (9780385742863, $16.99) tells of Evelyn Ryder, who used to be a beautiful movie star until she's mugged by the protagonist of this novel, who is returning to the scene of the crime. An accidental death may have changed more lives than one in this tense thriller revolving around murder, beauty, and uncertain personalities. Lenore Look's ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO BABIES, BUGLARS, AND OTHER BUMPS IN THE NIGHT (9780375870330, $15.99) pairs black and white drawings by LeUyen Pham with the story of Alvin, who is afraid of many things - but most of all, his mother's forthcoming child. His first-person observations and insights on life will appeal to advanced elementary-grade readers who will find his antics hilarious. All are fine leisure choices.

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

Sherri L. Smith's ORLEANS (9780399252945, $17.99) provides an outstanding story of survival. After a number of devastating earthquakes and the outbreak of disease, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later residents of the Outer States are convinced the Delta holds no life - but in a fact a new, primitive society exists, and Fen de la Guerre is living with one of the tribes when they are ambushed. Fen is determined to save a surviving newborn when she meets a scientist form the Outer States: together they struggle to survive in this gripping story. Robert Paul Weston's PRINCE PUGGLY OF SPUD AND THE KINGDOM OF SPIFF (9781595145673, $15.99) provides a whimsical fantasy telling of one Prince Puggly of the unfashionable Kingdom of Spud who receives a surprising invitation to a lavish ball in the richer Kingdom of Spiff. Puggly is sure he'll be a laughing stock, but when he meets an unusual princess, the two decide to give the kingdom a lesson they'll never forget. Middle school readers will find this a fun read. Gordon McAlpine's THE MISADVENTURES OF EDGAR & ALLAN POE BOOK ONE: THE TELL-TALE START (9780670784912, $15.99) tells of twins Edgar and Allan Poe, who can read each others minds, who produce fiendish pranks, and who learn a dangerous organization known as the P.O.E.S. is after them. Is their famous ancestor Edgar Allan Poe trying to help them from the Great Beyond? Their mishaps and misadventures are epic and fun.

The Christian Shelf

I Can Find God
Evelyn Kahrs, author
Linda M. Brandt, illustrator
Balboa Press
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Indianapolis, IN 4703
9781452563855, $16.99,

Luminously illustrated with ballooning images and fantastic scenes, "I Can Find God" is a powerful journey invitation in verse to a child to begin a successful search for God. Images of nature, plants, birds, trees, mountains, clouds, rivers, oceans, and even insects contain directions that point to God. In addition to every kind of animal, there are human representatives of every race, family members all, each are part of God. A child is taught that he can find God because God is everywhere. This beautiful book ends with the lyrics to a wonderful song by Karen Drucker, Maggie Cole and John Hay: "There Is No Spot Where God Is Not." This song is listed as available at,, and perfectly sums up the meaning of "I Can Find God," a beautiful early religious inspirational book for children age 5 and up.

American History Through People Who Looked to the Lord
Margaret Whitaker, author
Images by Thinkstock
Inspiring Voices
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
978146240017, $8.99,

"American History Through People Who Looked to the Lord" is a handy workbook for the Christian educator, with history section accompanied by creative projects, drawings, puzzles, writing assignments, a short scene from a play, and more fun educational activities relating to the ten biographical chapters or units of different important figures in the beginning of American history. Written for students ages 8-12 and illustrated and decorated with black and white figures and flourishes, the book covers portions of lives of Pocahontas/Rebecca, John Howland, Isaac and Thomas Macy, Samson Occom, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Benjamin Coffin Starbuck, Lucretia Mott, Levi Starbuck, and Ann Whitaker Meserve. Enriched with ideas drawn from original source materials and other data, this Christian educator's workbook presents a fine array of exciting challenges for students ages 8-12 learning to interpret history in the present.

Daniel Morgan Comes Alive! Heidi and Daniel Morgan
Martha Axmann, author
Livia Mitchell, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478228066, $12.00,

"Daniel Morgan Comes Alive!" is a gripping historical novelette for young readers in grades 2-5 about Revolutionary war hero Daniel Morgan and his impact on the history of early America. Written from the viewpoint of Heidi, a great fan of Daniel Morgan in 1951, "Daniel Morgan Comes Alive!" uses creative license to explore the reality of a life lived by a little known strategist, leader, and war hero early in the history of America's beginning. In the story, the hero of the battle of Cowpens, which took place on January 17, 1781, is allowed to come alive and talk with Heidi because of a wish she makes with the aid of a magic yellow balloon. Heidi wants to show General Morgan Cowpens today, and to talk to him and ask him about his life. So she visits his memorial statue and, with the aid of the yellow balloon and a wonderful horse, takes him on a tour of the area where she lives to show him changes and to tell him how much she admires him. Daniel Morgan gradually thaws enough to talk with her about his life experiences and deeds, some of which he was not proud of. A real bonding relationship between Heidi and Daniel Morgan unfolds, and a strong message is conveyed from the war hero to a modern girl who is his friend. He tells her, "Heidi, you might say of me the only person I surrendered to was my Maker, my God, my Savior. I am most proud of that." "Daniel Morgan Comes Alive!" is a great way for students to identify with living history, assisted by hand drawn colored illustrations and actual photographs of some of the sites and monuments at Cowpens, South Carolina.

The Judaic Shelf

A World of Blessings
Sylvia Rouss, author
Greg Cohen, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
9781427695710, $16.00,

"A World of Blessings: Inspirational Stories for Jewish Children" is an outstanding collection of five special stories, each with a special message of hope and inspiration, love and acceptance. Aunt Debbie's Getting Married teaches children to accept a wide assortment of feelings that may arise when a special member of the family is marrying, and also familiarizes readers with some of the wedding customs among Jewish families. The Rabbi and the Firefighter is based on a true story of events that happened during the California wildfires in 2008. Jognau, the Dreamer is a story based on an actual rescue mission for Ethiopian Jews named Operation Solomon, which took place May 24, 1991. To save their lives, 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown from Ethiopia to Israel within 36 hours. Gifts of Love is a story about two children, friends from different cultural backgrounds who have the same birthday. One friend is struggling with treatments for cancer, a very serious disease, who has lost her hair due to treatments. The friends find they have much to offer each other and they have a special celebration of their mutual birthday. Shalom Safta is a story that deals with a child's growing understanding and acceptance of the death of a beloved Grandmother. Each story has special suggestions of related topics or areas children may wish to discuss further with a parent or teacher. Stories are in brief chapter formats, and sensitive colorful illustrations help celebrate the themes of each story. "A World of Blessings" is a wonderful collection of inspirational stories written not only for Jewish children, but for all children.

The Health Shelf

My Clean Teeth
LizB, author
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781477246610, $22.88,

"My Clean Teeth" is an excellent dental hygiene manual for tots and their parents. Filled with adorable color photos of young children learning to carefully clean and brush their teeth, "My Clean Teeth" tells a simple story of how even young children can take bits of responsibility for their good dental health, which impacts on their general health. Pictures of children eating healthy foods for snacks are instructional and motivating. "My Clean Teeth" is as much for parents and child caretakers as it is for young children. Written by a specially trained dental nurse at King's College Hospital Dental Nurse Education & Training Centre, "My Clean Teeth" teaches parents and kids all the best ways to promote healthy teeth, including limiting sweets.

Healing Days
Susan Farber Straus, author
Maria Bogade, illustrator
Magination Press
c/o American Psychological Association
750 First St. N.E., Washington, DC 20002
9781433812927, $14.95,

"Healing Days: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma" is a compassionate book about many children's reactions after experiencing trauma, or bad, scary events. Written in simple, non-judge mental language easily understood by children and illustrated with sensitive multi-ethnic color depictions of different children who are trauma survivors, "Healing Days" is directed at reassuring its readers that their feelings, thoughts and behaviors are to be expected, and that they are not to blame for the bad things that have happened to them. It is also focused on helping children who are trauma survivors believe and visualize recovery and a return to normal life. Written by a clinical psychologist with 24 years' experience working with young survivors of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, "Healing Days" is specifically planned as a healthful aid, a step along the way to regain and rebuild a healthy recovery for each child. A list of helpful resources plus an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers is available for download at the website,

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Extraordinary Tale of an Ordinary Boy
Stuart Paton, author
Chris Brazier, illustrator
Nick Hatton, cover illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781467009874, $12.21,

"The Extraordinary Tale of an Ordinary Boy" is a cliff-hanging page turner written to appeal to a middle grade youth audience. An excited early chapter reader will be drawn to the imaginative tale of Freddy Bloomenberg, an ordinary boy who discovers a hidden gateway through his back yard fence hole to a mysterious forbidden land of talking animals and war making humans with even a wizard named Figgle, whose apprentice/assistant Freddy becomes. The blending and contrast of the real and fantasy universes is very skillfully managed, perhaps partly mirroring some the confusing changes that occur in lives of ordinary children or ordinary boys. In his dual life, Freddy manages to uncover a desperate situation between the King of the Humans and the King of the Animals (the Bear) in his alternate world. Tensions build and suspense grows through fast moving action chapters, bouncing Freddy back and forth between worlds with an odd little monkey messenger guide. The great climax comes when Figgle chooses to make an ultimate sacrifice to bring his fellow mystical beings into better agreement, with the help of Freddy, an ordinary boy. The heroic and comic features of "The Extraordinary Tale of an Ordinary Boy" bring are perfectly balanced and calculated to heighten maximum reader interest and appeal. Black and white comic illustrations help to discreetly nudge reader interest along and the final package is a great first chapter book or novella for young readers.

The Ifs
J. D. Pooker, author
Little Devil Books
5139 Maxon Terrace, Sanford, FL 32771
9780985828035, $9.95 (pb), $15.95 (hb),

Landon and Broden are two ordinary brothers who do not always get along. In fact they quarrel and fight a bit too much. The scene is set for a fantasy adventure with the Ifs, mysterious beings who offer useful help at a price. For Landon and Broden, the challenge becomes a heroic adventure quest that teaches them they must learn to work together to be their best, heroic selves. "The Ifs" is full of plot surprises and fast paced action, embellished with little songs and bits of poetic touches, and will be very appealing fantasy adventure reading for kids age 8 and up.

Erica from America and the Start of the Gang of Four
Alan A. Waldman, author
Andrea Scobie, illustrator
Waldman Publications
P.O. Box 548, Oceanside, New York 11572
9780984051427, $6.99,

"Erica From America and the Start of the Gang of Four" is the first title of a juvenile series about making magic and finding good friends while supporting family. Erica from America and her sister Ingrid the Incredible meet two newcomers to the neighborhood, Just Plain Jill and Mikey Boy. They plan a special party picnic with their friends, and introduce them to another friend, Marla Dollar. Marla's special Bag-A-Tell provides just enough dollar bills to party for the party supplies, but no jelly beans are available, a special treat for Just Plain Jill and Mikey Boy. Although they protest and downplay the need for jelly beans, Erica decides there has to be a solution to this shortage and sure enough, she uses magic to help create one! Erica from America is a fun, fast -moving fantasy story with many positive messages about inclusion for kids age 6 and up. Bright colored illustrations help readers to picture the diverse characters and fantastic elements.

Molly the Mermaid
Cari Lyn, author/illustrator
Lapis Moon Publishing
9076 Sandy Run, Jupiter, Florida 33478
9781937576011, $12.99,

"Molly the Mermaid" is a lovely, sensitively illustrated daydream fantasy story about a mermaid named Molly who has wonderful adventures exploring the sea with sea creatures such as a sea dragon, an octopus, and a dolphin. Molly dives deep in the ocean and sees wonderful things in the deeps with her friends. Finally she returns to her rock to sun and rest and eventually... her mother calls, and she swims towards land, miraculously changing from a mermaid to a little girl. Molly wonders, fleetingly, if her mother suspects about her secret mermaid life? With its subtle, sea-changed color illustrations laced with real sea creatures, "Molly the Mermaid" is the perfect blend of sea fantasy and reality for children age 6 and up.

The Vanishing Vampire
David Lubar
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330772, $15.99,

THE VANISHING VAMPIRE: A MONSTERRIFIC TALE tells of something strange affecting an elementary school, where Sebastian's life has become dangerous. One morning he wakes up as a vampire - and he has only one chance to become human again. Advanced elementary to middle-school readers will find this a satisfying supernatural mystery about a boy who explores all his options for change.

The Picturebook Shelf

Alvaro F. Villa, artist
Capstone Press
Picture Window Books
1710 Roe Crest Drive
North Mankato, MN 56003
9781404880061, $15.95,

"Flood" is a haunting story told in pictures about a disastrous flood that threatens a family's home. Created in a partnership of Capstone with Save the Children to help raise funds for the domestic emergency fund that helps families weather severe crises and natural disasters, "Flood" is a dramatic and poetic visual narrative of the experience of a family whose home is flooded. Children can learn by observing the detailed illustrations to retell the events of the family preparations, the impending weather change and the family's evacuation to safety before the flood. The final pictures convey a positive message about the power of rebuilding, repairing and replacing what the flood had damaged. A handy Reader's Guide with tips for reading and discussing a wordless picture book with children can help parents guide their children to get the most out of a book like "Flood".

Bubble Trouble
Margaret Mahy, author
Polly Dunbar, illustrator
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780547994833, $6.99,

"Bubble Trouble" is winner of the Boston Globe Best Picture Book Horn Book Award, after being reissued in America in 2009 (originally published in Great Britain in 2008). "Bubble Trouble" is a triple treat. Written in daffy nonsense, tongue twisting verse, with thrills and spills, and illustrated with airy bubbles of fantasy wafting baby aloft, "Bubble Trouble" begs to be read aloud and shown to an appreciative audience of children age 5 and up. The trouble starts when Mabel blows a bubble. The bubble circles her baby brother and gently floats him aloft, to the consternation of all the village. After pages and pages of wonderful, silly adult reactions, a sly trickster boy named Abel shoots a pebble to burst baby's bubble, and baby fell from unimaginable heights! Luckily Mabel and friends are able to think fast and devise an amazing, creative cooperative venture solution! All's well that ends well in this spellbinding story of bubble, baby and boo-hoo!

Wash-a-Bye Bear
Thomas Docherty, author/illustrator
Templar Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763664862, $14.99,

"Wash-a-Bye Bear" is the tender story of Flora and her beloved smelly Bear, whom Mommy says must be washed with the dirty laundry. Bear has smells and stains from all the happy times spent with Flora, having jam and tea, splashing in puddles, creating messy art projects, and playing in sand at the beach and fallen leaves under the tree. In short, Bear is permeated with love from his active life with Flora. She tells him to be brave in the washing machine, that she will wait for him and watch him. In the end, Stop! Bear is clean, fluffy, wash-a-bye Bear. But sadly, Flora misses his smells and stains, because they remind her of all the good times they had together. So she sets about making him smelly and stain-filled once again, until he is just like her beloved Bear, marked with love. Flora's Mommy wants to bathe her too, to wash away all her smells and stains, but Flora is afraid Bear won't love her when she's clean. Mommy reassures her that happy Bear will always love her. The delicate watercolor and ink illustrations lend a whimsical touch to this nostalgic story in delicate verse, telling so much more of the story in the expressions of Bear and Flora during their happy times together. "Wash-a-Bye Bear" is ideal for reassuring reading to children age 3 and up.

A Remnant Surprise
Vanessa Roam, author
Glori Alexander, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781613464649, $8.99,

A Mom's Choice Awards Gold Recipient, "A Remnant Surprise" is a heartwarming intergenerational story of tangible love expressed in comforter creation. A Great-Grandma loves all her grandchildren and great grandchildren very much, all 35 of them. How can she best show her love by making them each something special? Because her old hands are tiring, Great-Grandma decides to create 35 solid color comforters for all her young descendants. Some of her great grandchildren help her with this work. Gretchen receives permission to save the remnants, too small even to make doll clothes. But what will Gretchen's Mama do with all these tiny remnants? "A Remnant Surprise" is a beautiful illustration of great reflected love, a mirror of divine love. Gentle pastel illustrations and an unadorned narrative style convey the warmth, love, and hope, that inspire this simple and lovely child's story with a great truth at its heart.

My Big Tow
Kyle Chirgwin, author
Joshua Otero, illustrator
TT Publications Inc.
203 West State Road 434
Winter Springs, FL 32708
9780615786780, $9.95,

"My Big Tow: The Adventures of Captain Recovery" is a fantastic story about the wonderful fantasy of five year old Darren, who likes playing with his favorite blue tow truck in the sandbox with his sister Kaylee. While they are playing, Darren imagines himself turning into Captain Recovery, a great tow truck driver known for large recovery jobs he does with Big Blue, his favorite heavy duty tow truck. Accompanied by his dog, Kody, Captain Recovery is off to rescue a plan that is stuck off the runway. It is a complicated, demanding, and dangerous job, requiring special equipment and great imagination. Finally the plane is towed safely back on to the tarmac. Then Darren hears Auntie Lisa call everyone in for lunch, so he parks Big Blue in the sandbox with all his trucks and hurries in to the house with Kody and Balto to refuel for another Captain Recovery adventure. Vibrant colored illustrations show all the best scenes of "My Big Tow," inviting young readers to keep up with the adventures of a brave tow truck driver.

The Girl with Chipmunk Hands
Binks, author
Ruby Begonia, illustrator
Lost Coast Press
155 Cypress St., Fort Bragg, CA 95437
9781935448204, $15.95,

"The Girl With the Chipmunk Hands" is a tender, truth-based story about a girl named Lee-Lee who is born with different hands, with small pointed fingers and a dusting of soft fur. When her father helps her with adaptive equipment that allow her to use her hands to write, use tools, and be independent, she is able to create a full, rich life for herself. Most important of all, using special adaptive tools, she loves to create houses and seedcakes for birds and animals of the forest she loves and lives in. "The Girl with the Chipmunk Hands" is richly illustrated with delicate crayon-like drawings that reflect the love of nature and independence celebrated by Lee-Lee and Ruby Begonia, the artist. The story ends with a special seedcake recipe for birds that children can make, and a list of organizations that support and help families of children with different kinds of special needs. All proceeds from the first printing of "The Girl with the Chipmunk Hands" will go to the Candalaria Elementary School Library, after which a portion of all proceeds will go to the African Wildlife Fund.

Look Out, Ladybug!
Jack Tickle, author/illustrator
Tiger Tales
P.O. Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589251281, $12.95,

"Look Out, Ladybug!: A New Lazy Ladybug Adventure" is a charming story illustrated verse narrative about a young ladybug who is learning to fly. Zigzagging through the air, colliding with unlikely animals and objects, Ladybug is determined to learn how to fly! After bumping into an elephant, crashing into a crocodile, tickling a tiger's tummy, and bouncing into a monkey's banana, Ladybug is discouraged but Monkey persuades her to give it another try. This time she gives it all she has and guess what? She flies! Straight up into the sky, zooming until.... oh-oh, look out, Ladybug! "Look Out, Ladybug!" presents an ideal pairing of blooming pictures and lilting narrative to appeal to readers ages 3-7.

Where Can I Sleep?
Nancy Rutledge, author
Marvin Alonso, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781479795635, $15.99,

"Where Can I Sleep?" is a droll, amusing bedtime story for children age 4 and up. Written in laconic verse and colorfully illustrated with comic scenes of unlikely alternate sleeping places, "Where Can I Sleep?" follows the pre-bedtime musings of a tired boy who eventually arrives at an amazing ideal sleeping space with the reader's help. The progression of the boy's tiredness is gently underlined in the funny illustrations, and even reluctant young sleepers will have no difficulty following the logic and persuasion of this sleep preparation exercise.

Once Upon a Northern Night
Jean E. Pendziwol, author
Isabelle Arsenault, illustrator
Groundwood Books
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781554981380, $17.95,

"Once Upon a Northern Night" is a quietly stunning illustrated children's narrative lullaby poem. Filled with delicate, expressive paintings in black and white with touches of red and blue green, "Once Upon a Northern Night" sings a gentle, lilting song to the child drifting off to sleep. Referents to white rabbits, deer, and owl, and the northern lights establish exquisite scenes of a northern night, unfolding in song, verse, and picture, each page leading to another step towards sleepy night slumbers. "Once Upon a Northern Night" is perfect, exactly right for children ages 4-7.

Mandy, Princess of La Land: The Green Monster
Lourdes Rodriguez, author
Lourdes Rodriguez & Mary Connors, illustrators
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481700771, $24.99,

"Mandy, Princess of La La Land: The Green Monster" is a creative story about a specially talented, brave girl who joined with her friends and Abuela (grandmother in Spanish) to overcome the Green Monster with the power of Love and free children in Cuba. This wonderful story combines elements of fantasy and reality to empower children to create a world free of the Green Monster, who is dependent on fear. Mandy and her friends of differing ethnicities create a wholly new team with special magic powers. "Mandy, Princess of La La Land" has similarities to C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." Attractive, solid color illustrations help to frame the fantasy/reality fable, and wonderful portraits of Mandy's loving Abuela help to make this story one grounded in a Cuban sensibility. I read "Mandy, Princess of La La Land" to an Hispanic girl and boy, (ages 7 and 5), and they both reacted very favorably to the story and characters. It is important to celebrate the notion of youthful belief in the power of Love to overcome fear.

Let's Be Friends
Stephanie James & Kay M. Blackman, authors
Kay M. Blackman, illustrator
Privately Published
9781477431252, $11.99,

"Let's Be Friends" is a preschoolers' story about overcoming fear of diversity. Fluffy the rabbit is afraid to become close to Grizzle the bear, who wants badly to be friends. Fluffy runs away and hides in his tree. Grizzle thinks hard and creatively devises a way to appear non threatening to Fluffy so they can play together and become friends. Filled with expressive, colorful illustrations of a simple bear and bunny in the woods, "Let's Be Friends" is an imaginative story about friendship overcoming obstacles of diversity. Originally written by the author when she was in kindergarten, "Let's Be Friends" is an invitation to young children to pursue their creative ideas.

The Girl Who Blamed the World
Cindy M., author
Shirley Chiang, illustrator
Cyrano Books
941 Pueo St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
9780989269902, $10.50,

"The Girl Who Blamed the World" is a funky, illustrated morality tale in narrative verse about a girl named Rosa Lee who never found happiness because of her sour attitude, "Woe is me!" Rosa Lee blames the world for her wonky eye, her fizzy curls, and just about everything else that happens that is not exactly what she wants exactly when she wants in. In other words, she makes a life profession out of whining, never seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty. Gratitude is not in Rosa Lee's vocabulary. She continues complaining through her life until she is old and disabled, when her grandson informs her: "Don't be sad, Grandma!/ It's a CHOICE to remain forever blue./ Happiness isn't a given, after all,/ But the RIGHT TO PURSUE IT/ Is what is guaranteed to me and you (p. 40)." The whimsical, humorous illustrations help underline the message of "The Girl Who Blamed the World" in fine ironic style appealing to kids age 6 and up.

Farmer Pitt's Talking Rooster
Calvin Ellestad, author
Kristoffer Lloyd U. Valera, illustrator and cover design
RoseDog Books
c/o Dorrance Publishing Company
701 Smithfield Street, 3rd floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3906
97881434930569, $27.00,

"Farmer Pitt's Talking Rooster" is a modern day morality fable with an eccentric talking Bantam rooster for a hero. Rocky belongs to Farmer Pitt and astounds him one day by asking him what became of Emily, a missing hen. Farmer Pitt immediately begins calculating what it might be worth to own a talking rooster. He could make millions, billions, even trillions of dollars! Unfortunately, Harvard intellectual Rocky does not take well to performing consistently on demand, and there are a few bumps in the road. Even when financial success does come, it arrives with a predictable under bite, otherwise known as the IRS. Will Rocky's head be turned by fame and fortune? What will become of Farmer Pitt? Most important of all, what really is the most important thing in the world; money and fame or friendship, respect, and truth. Children will enjoy following the musical narrative of "Farmer Pitt's Talking Rooster," along with the brightly cheery, almost commercial-like illustrations. The tongue in cheek tone of irony will not be wasted upon young readers who get the joke in the end. "Farmer Pitt's Talking Rooster" should be read aloud to youngsters 6 years and up for maximum enjoyment.

Madison's Dorothy
P. Cola, author/illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450044608, $21.99,

"Madison's Dorothy" is a story about the author's twin granddaughter, Madison, and her fascination with the character of Dorothy and the movie of the story, "The Wizard of Oz." Madison was fascinated by Dorothy from the first time she saw the movie on DVD at age 2. She wore a costume like Dorothy's and red shoes and imagined many events in her life as similar to action in the story. Along with her twin brother, Daniel, Madison grew up with an increased awareness of life through the eyes of "Dorothy," using pretend activities and costumes to cope with fears and dreams and other feelings. Many of the imaginative illustrations are inspired by things that Madison described or felt about Dorothy and the Wizard. "Madison's Dorothy" ends with beautiful pictures of Madison (dressed in Dorothy costume) and Daniel (dressed in Scarecrow costume) and her words, "Pretending is fun and I have a lot of imagination, but you know I still want to be Dorothy and watch 'The Wizard of Oz.' She is still my favorite...."

The Watermelon Party
Pam Stone, author
Jesse Blythe DeFriese, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781618628145, $8.99,

"The Watermelon Party" is an entertaining story about a watermelon-throwing contest and a team of brothers named Wally and Wagner Winkie (wolves, twins!) Who are determined to score big at their favorite summer party event. The fun twist of "The Watermelon Party" is presented in large pastel, fabric textured color illustrations. Each pair of boys entering the contest is a different animal team! There is a tiger team, a monkey team, and, of course, a wolf team! Each pair of furred partners tries their best to select an ideal piece of watermelon so as to hit the center of the target on the tree. Imagine their surprise when one throw lands by Mrs. Brown's window! Wally and Wagner keep their focus and do their best, and everyone cheers the winner(s) of the watermelon-throwing medal for another year. "The Watermelon Party" is based on an actual contest with a similar outcome, in a small town in Kansas one summer long ago. Principles of teamwork, strategy, planning, sportsmanship, and having fun are explored in "The Watermelon Party," a delightful book for children age 4 and up.

Tristan Wolf
Mariana Llanos, author
Rocio Perez del Solar, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781482053081, $13.99,

"Tristan Wolf" is an extremely curious and creative book about a boy named Tristan who was abandoned in a forest as a baby and subsequently adopted and nurtured by a white female wolf. Although Tristan soon realizes he is different from his wolf family, he is loved and accepted by them, and they understand each other. One day Tristan meets a tricky stranger named Coyote who ends up as an unlikely guide for Tristan to cross into the territory of human culture. After a number of confusing adventures, Tristan encounters a human mother and growls at her to prove to her he is a wolf. Then he transitions to his (other) life as a real boy with three brothers, living on a farm, imagining what it would feel like to be raised by wolves. "Tristan Wolf" is an unusual story, challenging children to identify with different entities and explore the accompanying experiences fully. Visionary, crayoned illustrations underscore the half dream-like tone of "Tristan Wolf," adding to its appeal for an audience of children age 8-12.

Will You Be My Friend?
Kim Heaton Ramsay, author
Dwain Esper, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781477295038, $15.00,

"Will You Be My Friend?" is a story about acceptance. Marley Mouse wants to make some new friends, so she asks Sally Snake, Freddy Frog, Danny Duck, and Patti Pig if they will be her friends. Each animal agrees, and they sing songs and play happily together all day. Marley notices that each of her friends is different in the way they move around and in their appearance. She feels this is ok and good. She is as happy as can be. She has made four new friends today! "Will You Be My Friend?" is a positive book for children age 4 and up, with tolerance and inclusiveness as a starred attraction. The bright colored illustrations underline the characters' many different qualities and the fun they have playing together.

A Box Story
Kenneth Kit Lamug, author/illustrator
RabbleBox LLC
9780615581477, $9.13,

"A Box Story" is a quirky, maverick- flavored fable about imagination and creativity that will appeal to all ages. Enhanced with pencil and pixel cardboard-colored illustrations, "A Box Story" presents a fresh take on the many things that can be a box, or that a box can be. The spare, gaunt illustrations perfectly express and complement the pithy prose. It all leads to a single question:
"What's inside your box?" A lifetime of answers could suffice.

You Should, You Should!
Ginny Tilby, author/illustrator
Familius LLC
9781938301704, $16.95,

"You Should, You Should!" is a bouncy, color-action-spilling verse fable about a stunning purple hippopotamus who just wants to be himself, not what other animals think he should be or do. Although this adorable hippo wishes to please his friends, what they tell him he should do is not right for him. Finally he learns to tell them of his choice and how to honor it. "You Should, You Should!" is delightful, creative, instructive fantasy poetry at its best. Children will love reading this wonderful book aloud.

Wookiwoo I Love You
Darren Perman, author
Ruby Perman, illustrator
Wookiwoo & Company
P.O. Box 115, Dana Point, CA 92629
9780615462646, $9.99,

"Wookiwoo I Love You" is a wonderful children's book that is inspired by a true story. Once there was a green parrot in a pet store named Wookiwoo. He loved eating apples, talking, and flying from tree to tree. Luckily he was adopted by a boy and loved and cared for in a good home. Wookiwoo learned to say "I love you," because that is what he heard the boy's mother say to him every night. One day the boy grew up and decided to release Wookiwoo back to his freedom. Although Wookiwoo missed the boy, he enjoyed his new life and freedom of flying in the trees. Wookiwoo met Lu Lu, his true love, and they became mates and had a large family. One day, Wookiwoo saw an old sad man in the park. When he said "I love you," the man recognized him as his old parrot, Wookiwoo! A joyous reunion was attended by all Wookiwoo's family. "Wookiwoo I Love You" is enhanced by brilliant color pencil sketches of parrots, apples, boys, and trees, and much more. "Wookiwoo I Love You" is an appealing story for children age 5 and up, covering themes of lasting love, freedom, and maturation.

The Book Boat's In
Cynthia Cotton
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823425211, $16.95,

Frane Lessac illustrates the fun picturebook story of a book boat, which brings books via water, and Jesse, who has only one week to earn enough money to buy the book he covets. Good reading skills will assure young reader satisfaction as they read about a 19th-century American boy who wants more than his family can provide. A fun story of achievement, education, and hard work evolves, perfect for kids in grades 2-4.

Penguin Young Reader's Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10014

S.D. Schindler's SPIKE & IKE TAKE A HIKE (9780399244957, $16.99) tells of animal friends who take a hike and meet many other interesting creatures in their journey. Their encounters with a bumblebee, a baby bird and others result in a cumulative series of observations about each and a fun set of encounters which includes with an event all the diverse animals can join in on. Parents will find this easy reader perfect for read-aloud and discussion. Bethany Barton's THIS MONSTER CANNOT WAIT! (9780803737792, $16.99) tells of impatient Stewart, a stubborn monster who just can't wait but must learn patience in planning a camping trip. He wants to go camping NOW - but camping isn't ready for him - instead, time-out greets his impatience. The result is a fun series of encounters that eventually teach Stewart the importance of patience. David LaRochelle's HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS (9780803737662, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Mark Fearing as it tells of a girl who doesn't believe her parents' information on how good green beans are - until beans bust into town intent on trouble. It's up to Martha to save her parents from the invading beans in this whimsical story. David Covell's RAT AND ROACH ROCK ON! (9780670014101, $14.99) tells of Roach's singing debut, ruined by stage fright. What will it take to get Roach to sing in front of others? Perhaps an understanding friend in the person of one Rat, who has ideas for courage. This engaging story returns Rat and Roach to old fans and newcomers in a fun saga of friendship and encouragement. You Byun's DREAM FRIENDS (9780399257391, $16.99) provides a gentle story in telling of Melody, who loves her dreams and her dream friend who do all kinds of magic together. She wishes her dream friend could enter her world - but her preoccupation with her dreams is leading her away from real-world friends, until one notices her and makes an effort. A gentle story of make-believe and real friendships evolves. Michael B. Kaplan's BETTY BUNNY DIDN'T DO IT (9780803738584, $16.99) tells of a bunny who breaks a lamp and successfully blames it on someone else. Her move is so successful that soon a vase is broken - and it's really not her fault - but now nobody in her family believes her. Different kinds of lies and innocence blend in a picture boo that offers fun insights into the value of honesty. Janet Morgan Stoeke's THE LOOPY COOP HENS: LETTING GO (9780803737686, $16.99) tells of three hens who live on a farm and sit under a tree, only to have apples fall on them. Obviously somebody on the farm is targeting them: but who? Only one hen, Dot, is brave enough to climb the tree to discover the truth in this whimsical story of courage. Rosemary Wells' TIME-OUT FOR SOPHIE (9780670785117, $15.99) tells of naughty Sophie, who wants to be a good and helpful little mouse, but who just can't help being bad. Everything Sophie tries involves mischief despite her good intentions: can Sophie really succeed in being a good mouse, or is she doomed to be bad? A fun story of bad behavior evolves. All are fine choices for any picturebook collection.

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

Eileen Brennan's BAD ASTRID (9780375855801, $15.99) features fun drawings by Regan Dunnick, which bring to life the story of a bad bully bunny who is mean to everyone. Why is Astrid so mean? And who will confront her? A gentle story of how bullying evolves and what to do about it will teach young readers compassion and understanding. Ann Bonwill's WHEN MERMAIDS SLEEP (9780375870613, $16.99) presents an easy reader revolving around mermaids, and spins a soothing rhyme and lovely drawings by Steve Johnson and Lou Francher. It's a bedtime story filled with lovely undersea drawings and wonder, and an easy plot that will involve and lull any young bedtime picturebook reader. Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackwell's THE MIGHTY LALOUCHE (9780375862250, $17.99) tells of a Parisian postman named Lalouche who was small but nimble. When he's laid off of his job at the post office, he turns to boxing to support himself even though his miniature appearance causes other boxers to laugh. Good reading skills will lend appreciation to this gentle saga of a small boxer's big dreams. Bob Staake's BLUEBIRD (9780375870378, $17.99) tells of a lonely boy and a new friend and comes from an artist who explores what friendship means. Artist author Bob Staake has worked on this book for over ten years and wrote it to help young children understand the consequences of bullying and the meaning of true friends: any young reader will find the gentle story compelling. All are outstanding picks for young picturebook readers.

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

Sophia Grace Brownlee and Rosie McClelland's TEA TIME WITH SOPHIA GRACE AND ROSIE (9780545502146, $17.99) receives fun drawings by Shelagh McNicholas as it tells of a tea party invitation by the cousin authors and how to through a pink, princessy tea party. From party themes to decorating and hosting, this provides the fun story of friends who throw an amazing tea time party and provides a whimsical, fun story suitable for any with basic reading skills and an interest in pink parties. Margaret Mahy's THE GREEN BATH (9780545206679, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Steven Kellogg as it follows the bath-time of a lifetime and adventures which always seem to lead to messiness. Good reading skills will enhance enjoyment of the tales of Sammy, whose bath time involves a speedboat, a too-human bathtub, and a fun series of misadventures. Mem Fox's GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT (9780545533706, $16.99) provides engaging cartoons by Judy Horacek as it tells of nursery rhymes at bedtime and a favorite babysitter. This read-aloud story is bright, whimsical and fun and will delight any looking for a different bedtime reader.

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

Eve Bunting and Sergio Ruzzier's HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS? (9780547752679, $16.99) tells of poor duck, who can't find his new blue socks. Where are they? The rollicking rhyme which evolves as Duck asks all his friends assumes a Dr. Seuss-like feel as two-liner inquiries of various animals result in four lines of whimsical rhyming response. Kids and parents will appreciate the read-aloud opportunities - and the surprising conclusion to the search! Tammi Sauer and Michael slack's NUGGET & FANG (9780547852850, $16.99) tells of good fish friends - or is Nugget learning too much in minnow school about his best friend Fang. Fang IS a shark, and does have sharp teeth and a big appetite - but will he come to consider Nugget a tasty meal? Can sharks and minnows really be friends? A warm story of school and exploration evolves. Lori Mortensen's COWPOKE CLYDE AND DIRTY DAWG (9780547239934, $16.99) receives fun illustrations by Michael Allen Austin as it tells of Cowpoke Clyde, whose house is clean, chores done, and is happy - until he spies Dawg, caked with mud and misery. Clyde decides to clean Dawg - but Dawg escapes and involves the entire ranch in a chase. A fun tale of escape and adventure evolves for any young reader interested in Western adventure. Helen Lester's HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TACKY! (9780547912288, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Lynn Munsinger, who brings to life the story of a little penguin's special day. It's taken weeks to plan the perfect surprise birthday party for friend Tacky the Penguin and everything's perfect: what could go wrong? But as planning disintegrates, it takes Tacky himself to save the day in yet another whimsical and fun penguin story for readers with basic reading skills and especially for those with a prior interest in Tacky's adventures. All are fine picks for any picturebook collection.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Baby Wants Mama
Nancy Loewen, author
Deborah Melmon, illustrator
Amazon Children's Publishing
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, Nevada 89140
9781477816516, $14.99 hc / $3.99 Kindle

The lilting verse narrative and the cheery, homey watercolor/digital illustrations of "Baby Wants Mama" tell the exciting, everyday story of a family's arrival home and preparation for an evening meal together. Grandma, sister, Daddy, pup, cat, fish, brother, Mama, and Baby all want something until at last! "Hurray! It's time to eat." The story is told through playful interaction between characters and between written word and painted picture. Children age 2 and up will love "Baby Wants Mama" for a favorite story time.

The Social Issues Shelf

Love, Hugs, and Hope: When Scary Things Happen
Christy Monson, author
Lori Nawyn, illustrator
Familius LLC
9781938301605, $16.95,

"Love, Hugs, and Hope: When Scary Things Happen" is a special understanding kind of book that aims to help children find safe ways to express their feelings when bad things happen. Inspired by the tragedy of Sandy Hook, December 14, 2012, "Love, Hugs and Hope" uses beautiful colored graphic designs, optimistic pictures, and clearly written messages to give children permission to have their feelings, express them, and work through to find and build a sense of security once more. "Love, Hugs, and Hope" is all about validation of feelings, especially scary feelings. A beautiful two part message is embedded at the core of this lovely book, with perfectly balanced text and illustration. It proclaims: "Love chases away hate (on a valentine held by a penguin) and light chases away the dark (with a lit candle held by a duck in the darkness with stars)." Further pages tell children to cuddle up close with the adults who love them and hug them to help chase away the fear and sadness. "Love, Hugs, and Hope" is a beautiful and useful memorial to a tragic event, conveying a healing message of caring and hope. "Love, Hugs, and Hope" is available in jacketed hardcover, Kindle, Nook, iPad, and ePub.

Siggy and the Bullies
Blanche R. Dudley, Ed. D., author
Lawrence Reynolds, illustrator
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th St., Suite H
Indianapolis, IN 46268

"Siggy and the Bullies" is a fun, creative story about how to deal with bullying behavior. Filled with fantastic pages of colorful illustrations of Siggy, the mocking bird and unfriendly associates, "Siggy and the Bullies" teaches grade school children to use unexpected tools of humor and mimicry to deflate bullying behavior. There are additional discussion questions in Let's Talk About It! Plus more practical tips from Siggy in a handout. "Siggy and the Bullies" is a fun adventure story about a brave bird who eludes and traps his bullies, with humane messages sent to the bullies' parents to tell them where their offspring are. "Siggy and the Bullies" is a great bullying alternative behavioral guide for kids ages 4-8 and their caretakers and teachers.

Hey, Little Boys Can Glam-Up, Too!
Patrice Colamesta, author
Leo Silva, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
6434 W Dixon Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612251707, $12.99,

"Hey, Little Boys Can Glam-Up, Too" is a story about a three year old boy named Brayden who wants to dress up and glam up like his older sister, Madison. Brayden likes to look cool; he is a very cool dude. He also enjoys dressing up and being made up or glammed up by his sister in beautiful princess clothes. However, he is still all boy. Seeking to explore both the feminine and masculine styles of dressing is a positive experience for Brayden and his family. The message is, being accepted and loved is what is important.

The Poetry Shelf

Cozy Light, Cozy Night
Elisa Kleven, author/illustrator
Creston Books, LLC
965 Creston Road, Berkeley, CA 94708
9781939547026, $16.99,

"Cozy Light, Cozy Night" is a fantastic verse paean to the seasons, interwoven with detailed, multi-sensory images and beautiful specific pictures of delightful seasonal joys and days, and nights. The word "cozy" is broadened in its definition by being presented in all four seasonal references, and many poetic images, helping children learn enriched word shadings. "Cozy Light, Cozy Night" presents a vibrant four season world, inhabited by friendly cats, charming children, "nurturing adults, and a full rainbow of life experiences. "Cozy Light, Cozy Night" is recommended for children ages 3-9, but children and adults of all ages will enjoy it.

The Activity Shelf

Scratch & Sketch: Mermaid Adventure
Lee Nemmers & Martha Day Zschock
Peter Pauper Press, Inc.
202 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
9781441311566, $14.99,

The collaborative effort of author Lee Nemmers and illustrator Martha Day Zschock, "Mermaid Adventure Scratch and Sketch: An Art Activity Book for Artistic Mermaids of All Ages" is a superbly crafted, wire-o bound, hardcover activity book that features twenty scratch off black-coated pages, 20 illustrated pages, and 20 pages for doing one's own sketches. Offering a wonderful and unique entertainment, "Mermaid Adventures", like all of the titles in the outstanding Peter Pauper Press 'Scratch & Sketch' series, comes with a wooden stylus to scratch the black-coated pages to reveal the glittering, gleaming colors underneath. Thoroughly 'user friendly', "Mermaid Adventure Scratch and Sketch: An Art Activity Book for Artistic Mermaids of All Ages" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' and highly recommended entertainment. It should be noted that there are at least 30 more 'Scratch & Sketch' titles from Peter Pauper Press and a complete roster of them can be found on their web site at

The Great Colorado Activity Book
Kjirsten Wallace, editor
Rising Moon Books
P.O. Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002
9780873589215, $7.95,

"The Great Colorado Activity Book: Mazes, Crosswords, Word Finds, Scrambles" is the answer to vacationing parents' prayers. Filled with colored cartoon-like illustrations, fun puzzles, mazes, scrambled words, riddles, anagrams, and more, "The Great Colorado Activity Book" teaches important state historical background and visitor etiquette points while offering a dazzling assortment of fun word and picture games. Kids will love the humorous illustrations and cartoon jokes, and parents will love the wonderful sound of pages turning and pencils writing and drawing as the miles fly by. Also a great rainy day camping activity book, "The Great Colorado Activity Book" has a place in every vacation vehicle that is Colorado bound or even just dreaming of that vacation this summer. Travel Bingo, hidden pictures, word jumbles, all sorts of fun games and puzzles will tease and challenge kids age 7 and up for hours of educational activity. There are solutions on page 50-56 if the pages are too daunting for young readers, but everyone deserves an unaided stab at completing these on their own!

The Music CD Shelf

15 Songs Every Kid Should Know (and will Love!)
Bossy Frog Productions LLC
PO Box 639, Nyack, NY 10960
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127

The first in a forthcoming "15 songs" series of recordings from Bossy Frog Productions, 15 Songs Every Kid Should Know (and will Love!) features fresh new performances of classic children's songs. Lively, energetic, and faithful to the history and artistry of these generation-pleasing favorites, 15 Songs Every Kid Should Know is a choice pick for children's school and public library music collections. Highly recommended! The tracks are "5 Green & Speckled Frogs", "Shoo Fly", "The Itsy Bitsy Spider Story", "Old McDonald", "If You're Happy & You Know It", "Waltzing Matilda", "6 Little Ducks", "Head & Shoulders", "Skip To My Lou", "I've Been Working on the Railroad", "Aiken Drum", "Wheels on the Bus", "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain", "Hush Little Baby", and "Froggie Went a Courtin'". 41 min.

American Playground
Putumayo Kids
c/o Putumayo World Music
411 Lafayette St., 4th floor
NY, NY 10003
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

American Playground is a children's music album celebrating America's history and culture through timeless and beloved folk songs. Filled with classic favorites performed by a diversity of celebrated musicians, American Playground is as much a heritage treasure as it is a wonderful musical experience that parents and children will both enjoy. The tracks are "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" (performed by Johnny Bregar), "Blue Skies" (Aaron Watson and Elizabeth McQueen), "This Little Light of Mine" (Victor Johnson), "We All Need More Kindness in This World" (Guy Davis), "Keep On the Sunny Side" (Elizabeth Mitchell), "Saro Jane" (Dan Zanes & Friends with Barbara Brousal), "Oh, Susannah" (Diane Taraz), "Forever Young" (Randy Kaplan), "You Are My Sunshine" (Buck Howdy), and "This Land is Your Land" (Phil Rosenthal).

Blink of an Eye
Frances England
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Ideal for young people ages 5-12, Blink of an Eye is the fourth "kindie" music CD by award-winning recording artist Frances England. The eleven original songs about the delight, wonder, and innocence of childhood are easy on the ears; parents and babysitters can enjoy the music along with little ones. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Blink of an Eye", "Little Wings", "Place in the Sun", "Move Like Saturday Night", "Tell Me It All", "Home", "Bicycle Built for 2", "Day You Were Born", "The Sun Will Shine Again", "Salt Water Spin", and "Look How the Light Dances with Trees".

Love, Cake & Monsters
Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Rocket NYC
866 Avenue of the Americas, 8th floor
New York, NY 10001
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127
$15.00 CD / $8.99 MP3

Intended for young people ages 2-8, Love, Cake & Monsters is an upbeat children's album from Princess Kate & Racer Steve. Their friendly teamwork and kid-centric comedy blend distinguish this delightfully funny collection, featuring charming songs and playacted skits with positive messages, such as the value of being true to oneself, and the infinite power of love. Love, Cake & Monsters will prove a popular for car trips, children's parties, babysitting, rainy day fun, or any day fun! The tracks are "Come On Out!", "Hug It Out", "Comet Pinky's Love Cake", "Mr. Stanstiglioni - Skit", "Tonight", "Hey, Monster!", "Monster Gets a Job - Skit", "I Got This!", "Lavender Mint", "Little Skarlett", "Take It On Over" (Timeout), "Halloween", and "Earn Your Candy! - Skit".

Rhythm Bears
Groove Kid Nation
c/o Distribution 13
PO Box 52345
Irvine, CA 92619

Award-winning children's performers Groove Kid Nation present Rhythm Bears, a charming album that artfully blends soul and folk while teaching children about different musical instruments. Each song features a different music instrument, in this upbeat collection that encourages young listeners to participate with clapping and call-and-response games! The tracks are "Rhythm of Life" (4:49), "The Why Song" (6:15), "Teddy Bear's Picnic" (5:08), "I Can" (4:36), "I Do But I Don't" (3:42), "Little Bear Interlude" (1:01), "Kalimba", (4:30), "The Train Song" (4:42), "Say & Play" (4:14), "Virtue of the Small" (6:00), and "This Old Bear" (4:10).

Justin Roberts
Carpet Square Records
c/o Sugar Mountain PR

Recess is an enthusiastic children's music CD by Grammy nominee Justin Roberts. Featuring original compositions celebrating the joy of play, the love of a loyal pet dog, the exuberance of summer vacation, and much more, Recess spans a gamut of musical styles from acoustic rock to ska to high-energy pop. A lyrical, exuberant delight for young people! The tracks are "Recess", "I'll Be an Alien", "Hopscotch", "Check Me Out, I'm at the Checkout", "My Secret Robot", "Looking for Trains", "Every Little Step", "We Got Two", "The Princess Wore Pink", "Otis", "School's Out (Tall Buildings)", and "Red Bird".

Singing Our Way Through
Alastair Moock & Friends
Moockshake Music
c/o Sugar Mountain PR

Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World's Bravest Kids is a unique children's music album, in that indie performer Alastair Moock & his confederates created it especially to help lift the spirits of young people confronting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Drawn from the experiences of Moock's band performing at children's hospitals and summer camp programs for sick children, Singing Our Way Through is upbeat, about focusing on the joyful parts of life, even when surrounded by bad things one can't personally control. Highly recommended, especially for children's music libraries, hospitals and outpatient centers. The tracks are "I Am the Light" (2:19), "When I Get Bald" (3:59), "I'm a Little Monkey" (2:40), "Take a Little Walk with Me" with Elizabeth Mitchell (3:30), "Hard Travelin'" with the Okee Dokee Brothers (2:36), "Have You Ever Been Jealous?" (3:24), "B-R-A-V-E" (1:17), "You've Got a Friend in Me" with Chris Smither (2:46), "Joy Comes Back" (2:48), "Take Care of Your Grownups" (3:21), "Walk On" (3:40), "Home When I Hold You" with Aoife O'Donovan (2:40), and "This Little Light of Mine" with The World's Bravest Kids (3:48).

Bob's Favorite Sing Along Songs
Bob McGrath
Bob's Kids Music
295 Frances Street, Teaneck, NJ 07666
To Market Kids (publicity)
4136 Lamson Ave., Spring Hill, FL 34608

Bob's Favorite Sing Along Songs is a children's music CD featuring fifteen arrangements of popular favorite children's songs performed by award-winning CD artist Bob McGrath (well-known as "Bob from Sesame Street"). Each song track is immediately followed by its instrumental version, encouraging young listeners to sing. Bob's Favorite Sing Along Songs is a great choice for babysitting, children's parties, or just plain family fun. The fifteen songs (each followed by its instrumental version) are "If You're Happy And You Know It" (1:42), "When The Saints Go Marching In" (1:42), "Little Light Of Mine" (2:26), "One Finger One Thumb" (1:33), "Wheels On The Bus" (1:42), "Sing When The Spirit Says Sing" (1:10), "Ha, Ha, This-A-Way" (0:58), "Put Your Finger In The Air" (2:17), "Hokey Pokey" (1:52), "Skinamarink" (1:17), "My Dog Rags" (1:13), "Looby Loo" (1:30), "Little Wheel A Turning In My Heart" (2:15), "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" (1:43), and "Sing... Sing A Song" (2:05).

The DVD Shelf

Sukey's Circle! Vol. 3: Mini-Shows
Sukey Molloy
PlayMove&Sing Inc.
Naxos of America, Inc. (distribution)
1810 Columbia Avenue, Suite 28
Franklin, TN 37064
Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Ideal for little ones ages 2-5, Sukey's Circle! Vol. 3: Mini-Shows is a bilingual English/Spanish DVD collecting all 15 of the short made-for-TV episodes by award-winning children's performer Sukey Molloy. Inspiring songs, playful and educational activities, felt art animation, and more pepper this delightful program, highly recommended especially for babysitters, nursery schools, and children's library DVD collections. The mini-shows are "These Are My Eyes", "I Like to Move My Body", "If I Had Stix", "Tick Tock", "Tick Tock Wakes Up", "I Wonder All Kinds of Things", "Where Does the River Go?", "If I Were a Tree", "Pat the Ball", "Swinging Like a Monkey", "Five Golden Apples", "I Sit On My Chair", "Puppet Dance", "The Story of Twinkle Little Star", and "Twinkle Twinkle". 33 min.

Chuck Swindoll's Paws & Tales series
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Featuring both English and Spanish audio tracks, Chuck Swindoll's Paws & Tales is an animated DVD series designed to teach lessons to young Christian children. Colorful, animated anthropomorphic characters act out simple morality plays. Paws & Tales: Following God (9781414341170, $9.99, 50 min.) has the episodes "Snake Oil", in which C.J. must decide whether to follow the money-making beliefs of a traveling salesman, or the Good Shepard; and "Eye of the Tiger", in which Marsha learns that winning - even winning a spelling bee championship that she has trained hard for - is not necessarily the most important thing. Paws & Tales: Prayer and Rejoicing (9781414341187, $9.99, 50 min.) has the episodes "The Princess", in which Staci wishes she could be a princess and help people - then learns that her desire to serve and her prayers to God are far more important than parentage or occupation; and "C.J. Prospers", in which C.J. has to cope with his friends' jealousy because his family is earning more wealth. But scorn, greed, and jealousy aren't God's way! Both DVDs are excellent, highly recommended additions to any church children's library or daycare.

The Holiday Shelf

Merry the Christmas Witch
Bobbi Hess, author
Anne Reid, illustrator
Natalie Walker, graphics designer
Privately Published
9780970445773, $15.95,

"Merry the Christmas Witch" may seem like an unusual holiday adventure story at first, with its charming, eccentric Christmas witch heroine on her flying cane. But its true core message of the need for unconditional love and acceptance makes it a book for all seasons and all children. Merry, an untraditional holiday witch, is cruelly locked in a cave by the other witches who steal children's presents and try to ruin Christmas, just to punish Merry for being different. But Merry finds herself allied with Elvin, Santa's elf appointed to keep watch while he delivers his presents on Christmas eve. Elvin rescues Merry from the cave and together they foil the witches' plan and save Christmas for the children. No harm is done even to the sleeping, intolerant witches, and in the end Santa surprises Merry by granting her secret wish to be loved for herself, even though she will always be different from other witches. Charming red and green festive illustrations decorate this creatively scripted magical tale. In keeping with its theme of celebration of differences, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of "Merry the Christmas Witch" benefits St Mary's Residential Training School in Alexandria, Louisiana, a home for children with developmental disabilities and autism (see, "Merry the Christmas Witch" is also slated for further development as an animated film in partnership with the Enteraktion animation company.

Books in Series

Colton's Pocket Dragon, Book 1: Dragon Land
Rebecca Massey, author
Joshua Allen, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Indianapolis, IN 47403
9781481714068, $19.99,

"Colton's Pocket Dragon, Book 1: Dragon Land" is the beginning of a magical series about a boy who discovers a rock that is really a secret dragon's egg. Colton hatches and adopts his pet baby dragon, Kolta, and has many adventures with him. He decides to visit Dragon Land with Kolta by flying there. After many adventures and challenging situations, he helps Kolta connect with his mother dragon and a wonderful dragon party celebration is enjoyed by all. Kolta rescues Colton from being kidnapped by a dinogator, but the time comes when Colton and Kolta must part. Each goes to his proper land, with sad goodbyes, and Colton is left with special red-rimmed glasses that may help him find more magical experiences with pocket dragons. Sure enough, "Colton's Pocket Dragon" ends with Colton discovering another dragon egg. Children will enjoy Colton's dragon care and adventures, looking forward to the next volume of pocket dragon adventures. Colorful cartoon illustrations help bring "Colton's Pocket Dragon" to life and encourage imagination and speculation.

Colton's Pocket Dragon, Book 2: Iggy the Bigfoot
Rebecca Massey, author
Joshua Allen, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481740258, $19.99,

"Iggy the Bigfoot" is Book 2 of the "Colton's Pocket Dragon" illustrated fantasy action series for readers age 8 and up. This spunky hero and his amazing pocket dragon discoveries transport readers to a magical place called Dragon Land, but only after amazing adventures in an everyday forest with some highly unusual features. Colton finds a new dragon egg and cares for his new pink dragon whom he names Anayis. This time he seeks to find a bigfoot for his adventure and sure enough, he and Anayis discover a baby bigfoot named Iggy. Their exciting adventures together lead them to young Iggy's parents and a celebration, but Colton misses his first dragon friend, Kolta, so he asks Anayis to fly him to Dragon Land to visit. All ends happily as the friends reunite and Colton flies home with the assistance of his dragon friends, to dream of hatching another dragon egg and seeking another adventure. "Colton's Pocket Dragon, Book 2: Iggy the Bigfoot" teaches children about dreaming and doing, about the value of nurturing and protecting the young and helpless, and most of all about play and responsibility. The brightly colored illustrations help encourage imaginations, but "Colton's Pocket Dragon" is a series to encourage young chapter book readers, with its pages of narrative interspersed with illustrations.

Stuck in the Doldrums
Carole P. Roman, author/illustrator
Privately Published
9781479182701, $9.99,

"Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing" is a great teaching fable of the Captain No Beard series. This award-winning series (Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012) is especially appealing to children ages 5 and up. Filled with colorful, jaunty pirate illustrations of funny child pirates and animal crew members, "Stuck in the Doldrums" tells the twisted tale of what happens when a captain forgets to appreciate his crew and take turns with the rest. The value of teamwork, taking turns, sharing, and leadership as a responsibility, not an unlimited, unearned privilege are underscored in the telling of this vivid tale. Captain No Beard and his jolly crew of the Flying Dragon are marooned on a desert island and decide to try to pass the time pleasantly, looking at clouds through the spyglass and making sand castles. However, Captain No Beard demands extra privileges, refuses to take turns, and single handedly tries to impose his vision of a better sand castle on the creations of his crew. He succeeds only in making everyone else unhappy, and finds himself left alone by his crew. No one wants to play with an inconsiderate bully, whether he is captain or not. When a crisis arises with a giant squid wrapping his tentacles around the bow of The Flying Dragon, Captain No Beard realizes he desperately needs the help of all of his crew. Fortunately they all come to assist in the emergency at sea, and once again a lesson in cooperative teamwork is learned. The lighthearted tone of the text and the fluid fantasy style of the creative illustrations help create a warm, child's vision of a world of play which transitions to and from daily reality. "Stuck in the Doldrums" is another sure hit from the fantastic Captain No Beard series of adventures for young readers. Other titles by this author that are also highly recommended include "If You Were Me and Lived in... France... (9781480209626, $13.99)," and "If You Were Me and Lived in .... Mexico... (9781480209626, $13.99)," both from a new series subtitled "A Child's Introduction to World Culture." Watch for upcoming titles from this skilled, creative author of juvenile literature.

Bully Bean
Thomas Weck & Peter Weck, authors
Lima Bear Press, LLC
2305 McDonough Road, Suite 201
Wilmington, DE 19805
9781933872056, $15.95,

"Bully Bean" is the fifth title in the Lima Bear Stories, a series designed to teach children important values and qualities such as tolerance, courage, honesty, loyalty, and forgiveness. Bully Bean is a big, strong, bear bully. He especially likes to tease, torment, and trap Lima Bear, the little green bear. Finally Bully Bean gets himself trapped in a cave while trying to chase and torment Lima Bear. When faced with the decision, Lima Bear chooses to ask for friends to help him rescue his former tormenter. When Bully Bean asks Lima Bear why he rescued him after he had been so mean to him, Lima Bear answers, "Because you're a bean... I had to rescue you." This inspires Bully Bean to change his thinking and change his bully ways. He decides to use his size and strength to help his friends. "Bully Bean" is a creative kids' story about ways to deal with bullying. The fun, lighthearted, colorful illustrations keep the tone positive and moving, with splashes of fun and humor. "Bully Bean" is recommended for children ages 4-8.

Crabtree Publishing
350 - 5th Avenue, 59th Floor
New York NY 10118

Crabtree's elementary-level nonfiction will prove a fine addition to any library seeking titles for grades 3-4. Each book holds some 32 pages of detail, pairing full-color illustrations with guides that lend to library research and classroom assignment. The 'Your Guide to Government' series provides four new titles designed to support social studies and civics standards, offering text-dependent questions and discussion topics that support the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. Ellen Rodger's HOW DOES THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT WORK? (9780778709039, $19.95) provides an introduction to Canada's parliamentary system; James Bow's WHAT IS THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH? (9780778709022, $19.95) surveys the workings of the executive branch from the President to executive departments and agencies. Discussion covers key roles of the Secretary of State and others, offering a fine comparison to other executive powers and offices local and state governments. Bow's WHAT IS THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH? (9780778708797, $19.95) covers the legislative branch of the U.S. government, covering House and Senate and their organization and political figureheads. Committees and filibusters are included in the detailed survey. Ellen Rodger's WHAT IS THE JUDICIAL BRANCH? (9780778708803, $19.95) reveals the inner workings of the nation's courts, considering its role in interpreting the U.S. Constitution and the role of Federal courts and judges. Comparisons to other judicial bodies in state governments as well as in other countries makes this a fine pick. 'Understanding the American Revolution uses modern color illustrations, detailed maps, and uses primary source materials from documents to artifacts to trace the circumstances surrounding the Revolution. Eight new books divide information and provide a blend of review and critical-thinking questions to help students analyze documents. Content has been vetted by consultant to assure accurate, bias-free information. GEORGE WASHINGTON: HERO OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (9780778707998, $22.95) provides a biographical coverage of Washington and his rise to power, examining how his perspective and influence led to the Revolution's success. KING GEORGE III: ENGLAND'S STRUGGLE TO KEEP AMERICA (9780778708001, $22.95) covers the course of a British king who reigned from 1760 to 1820, moving through the global conflict of the Seven Years' War, battling France during its own revolution, and handling Napoleon's conquest of Europe. It covers King George's attempts to raise revenue for England through taxation and provides background to the moves that led to the American Revolution. LIFE ON THE HOMEFRONT DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (9780778708018, $22.95) covers the changes that took place at home during the revolt, considering social interactions, conflicts between neighbors on different sides, and economic impacts. Analysis includes consideration of women and minorities. MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE: FIGHTING FOR AMERICA'S FREEDOM (9780778708025, $22.95) follows the French aristocrat who played a key role in the revolution's success, pairing a biography of his life and influences with discussion of how he became a longtime friend of Washington and how his skills led him to a pivotal role during the revolt. PHILLIS WHEATLEY: POET OF THE REVOLUTIONARY ERA (9780778708032, $22.95) tells of an African slave who grew up to become a figure of the Revolution. She lived as a household slave but was encouraged to read and write: this survey covers her life, times, and the poems that shared the themes of America's struggle for independence. All these will appeal to readers at grade 5 level.

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

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