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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 31, Number 7 July 2021 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Health Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Science Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf YA Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf American History Shelf Environmental Shelf
African-American Shelf LGBT Shelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise
Julie Gianelloni Connor, author
Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe, illustrator
Bayou City Press, LLC
9781951331047, $16.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise: An International Adoption Story adds to children's picture book literature about adoption by covering the special challenge of adopting a baby from another country, using the "once upon a time" fable format to draw young readers ages 6-9 into how Jeanette and Jeff fall in love, marry, finish school, then try to have a child. They "wait and wait" for a child, but after two tries in which Jeanette "gets sick" and there is no baby, they are presented with an alternative.

The story becomes one of three people connected by circumstance. Luz is pregnant and alone in another country and knows she cannot help a child, while Jeanette and Jeff learn that their best option lies in an overseas adoption. At this point, it should be noted that Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe's compelling, large-size, realistic illustrations do an exceptional job of capturing the emotional state of a couple who wants a baby more than anything, and a young woman in another country who wants her baby to have a home.

These evocative drawings are above and beyond most other children's book illustrations, successfully depicting the characters' expressions and personalizing the story and their experiences in a realistic, compelling manner. This successfully reinforces Julie Gianelloni Connor's focus on the range of emotions which drives both sides.

More so than most children's picture books about adoption, The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise takes its time to explain and explore the emotional nuances involved. Also notable is the focus on the process of international adoption, from a foreign country's social service agency's efforts and foster care to how baby James has to get his visa for the United States.

International adoption is a complex topic, but under the dual, in-depth focus of author Julie Gianelloni Connor and illustrator Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe, the story comes to life to teach all ages about the emotional and organizational process involved in joining a child to new parents.

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is an exceptional stand-out in the literature of children's picture books covering adoption in general and international processes in particular; highly recommended for any collection strong in representing different kinds of family relationships.

Making Friends Is an Art!, second edition
Julia Cook, author
K. D. Smith, author
Bridget A. Barnes, illustrator
Boys Town Press
13603 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, NE 68010
9781944882563, $10.95, PB, 31pp

Humans are a social species. A lack of friends can have a devastating effect on all of us, but especially a child. Children who struggle with making and keeping friends often experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. They are also more likely to get into trouble and drop out of school.

This second edition of "Making Friends Is an Art!" is an inspirational friendship tale that follows a coloring pencil named Brown. Multi-talented Brown is the luckiest pencil in the box! In this story, Brown learns that in order to make and keep friends, he needs to know how to be a good friend.

Brown must find a way to share his many talents with others. At first, that seems hard, but soon Brown realizes that to be a good friend, all he has to do is be himself! And to share all his special talents, like listening to others, being trustworthy, honest, and kind, and to have fun.

Included are tips for parents, counselors, and educators to help kids recognize their talents and be true to themselves -- making this new second edition of "Making Friends Is An Art!" and especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Berta's Boxes
Dario Alvisi, author
Amelie Graux, illustrator
9788418133190, $16.95, HC, 40pp

Berta is a little girl who is always tidy, never throws tantrums, and never cries. Whenever she feels overwhelmed, she just opens one of her boxes of emotions and shuts in her tears, fear, and anger. But what would happen if one day she lost control? Berta discovers that emotions should be felt and not locked up. Berta's Boxes is a wonderful story about dealing with emotions and learning to understand and express your feelings.

With its positive, entertaining, and 'kid friendly' message about emotions, "Berta's Boxes" by the team of author/storyteller Dario Alvisi and artist/illustrator Amelie Graux is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Princess Lillian and Grandpa's Goodbye
Jenny Fulton, author
Indra Grace Hunter, illustrator
Independently Published
9781951084349, $19.99, HC, 42pp

Princess Lillian learns the spiritual world can interact with the physical when her Navajo mother and Caucasian father use imagery to explain a reality, how heaven reaches down to earth. The princess observes her grandpa waiting for entrance into his eternal home.

How do you explain death and heaven to a child? Led through a long hall in a hospital, Princess Lillian holds her mom's hand. An angel whispers comforting words.

In a deeply personal Native American Indian and Christian tradition, an intimate celebration of a loved one's passing occurs as a family says goodbye to a man eager to meet his best friend, the King Above All Nations.

Unique and very highly recommended for family and community library Life Skills, Death & Bereavement picture book collections for children ages 3-10, "Princess Lillian and Grandpa's Goodbye" is a tool for child therapists, parents, or ministers to utilize for explaining what happens after a person dies. It should also be noted that "Princess Lillian and Grandpa's Goodbye" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781951084356, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Health Shelf

When Mom's Away
Layla Ahmad, author
Farida Zaman, illustrator
Second Story Press
9781772601756, $18.95, HC, 24pp

Things are changing for one little girl whose mom is a busy doctor. When her mom has to be in quarantine (sleeping on a cot in their garage to keep the family safe from the pandemic virus) the girl does her best to be brave. She and her dad spend time together, she goes to school online, and she helps her grandparents too -- making sure to wave so they know it's her! They join their neighbors outside to thank the doctors and nurses around the world for their hard work. But of course the highlight of the day is when mom comes home, and they wave to each other through the window.

A timely and great story to inspire hope and confidence in both little ones and big ones when times may seem uncertain, "When Mom's Away" by the team of author/storyteller Layla Ahmad and artist/illustrator Farida Zaman is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school and community library picture book collections for children ages 6-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Mom's Away" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Maria Birmingham, author
Kyle Reed, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771474047, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: While children brush their teeth and turn out the light as part of their bedtime rituals, animals all over the world are getting ready for bed in their own unique ways. Otters snuggle under seaweed blankets, plump walruses use their throat pouches as pillows, and just like putting on pajamas, parrotfish cover themselves with a coat of slime before bed.

Drawing on scientific research, "Snooze-O-Rama: The Strange Ways That Animals Sleep" by the team of author/storyteller Maria Birmingham and artist/illustrator Kyle Reed is nonfiction picture book for young readers ages 4-8 that playfully compares the ways humans and animals prepare for a good night's sleep. On one page, a child dozes during a car ride or cuddles up to their parents in bed. Flip the page, and readers will delight in discovering how other creatures catch some z's.

Vibrant collage illustrations bring color and humor to the fascinating facts about animals both familiar and unusual. With lively descriptions of each animal's bedtime routine, Snooze-O-Rama is a playful introduction to STEM -- and an invitation to sleep! Impressively informative, charmingly entertaining, "Snooze-O-Rama: The Strange Ways That Animals Sleep" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections.

I Am the Shark
Joan Holub, author
Laurie Keller, illustrator
Crown Books for Young Readers
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780525645283, $17.99, HC, 48pp

In a thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book format, "I Am the Shark" by author Joan Holub and illustrator Laurie Keller reveal makes the great white shark one of the greatest fish in the sea. FIN-d out in this hilarious fish-out-of-water story that's perfect for Shark Week and all year-round! Showcased are the Great White Shark, the Greenland Shark, the Mako Shark, and the Hammerhead Shark. A delightfully presented compendium of shark facts, "I Am the Shark" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book marine wildlife collections for children ages 4-8.

The Science Shelf

Mars Is
Suzanne Slade
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781682631881, $19.99, HC, 48pp

For centuries, people have been intrigued by Mars, and over time, scientists have made exciting discoveries, such as the planet's Earth-like weather and seasons. But curious earthlings want to know more. Does Mars have deserts? Volcanos? Or signs of life? Could people live there someday?

Scientists decided to take a closer look. They built a powerful camera called the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) and loaded it onto a rocket. The rocket blasted off on August 12, 2005. Seven months later, the camera began orbiting Mars. It sent back astounding, revealing photos showing the world what Mars really is.

In "Mars Is: Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, and Startling Surprises ", with its elegant spare prose, author and rocket engineer Suzanne Slade leads young readers ages 6-10 through stunning photos taken by the most advanced camera ever sent to another planet. A visual feast for space enthusiasts and STEAM fans that will expand readers' assumptions and understanding of Mars.

Unique and highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library children's picture book science collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mars Is: Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, and Startling Surprises" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Zibs for Sale
Lois Wickstrom, author
Nicolas Milano, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9798507047437, $11.99, HC, 28pp

Shirl has never tasted a Zib. Eee-ahh promises her they are the best tasting thing in the universe. But when she accidentally steals one (she thought it was a free sample), she's trapped on the planet until she can repay her debt. Basically a compatible STEM story, "Zibs for Sale" is a retelling of the classic fairytale 'Beauty and the Beast' by in an outer space adventure and a charmingly entertaining addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers ages 5-8.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Vanishing Lake
Paddy Donnelly
Yeehoo Press
9781953458032, $15.99, HC, 40pp

Something mysterious is happening at Lake Loughareema. There are days the lake is beautiful, shimmering, and full. And then there are other days when it's... empty!

Meara asks her granddad WHY the water disappears, but every time he blames far-fetched culprits: Narwals! Mermaids! Giants!

Unsatisfied, Meara sets out to uncover the truth for herself. Little does she know the answer is much larger than she realizes, and it'll take stepping back and opening her eyes to the impossible to discover the lake's magic.

Very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, with "The Vanishing Lake", artist and storyteller Paddy Donnelly has created a charmingly entertaining and impressively illustrated picture book that is especially appropriate for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Vanishing Lake' is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Can I Keep Her?
Lois Wickstrom, author
Timna Green, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9780916176815, $24.99, HC, 32pp

While out walking her sheep, a young girl named Wynnie finds a mysterious egg. It shakes. It glitters. It hatches. A baby dragon is loose in the kingdom, starting fires! The Wise Old Woman tells Wynnie she must get the dragon out of the Kingdom. Now! But, Wynnie loves it. The King gives her just one day to train the dragon to stop starting fires.

An impressively original, charmingly illustrated, and exceptionally entertaining picturebook for children aged 4-8, "Can I Keep Her?" by the team of author/storyteller Lois Wickstrom and artist/illustrator Timna Green is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Can I Keep Her?" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780916176822, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

I Don't Want to Go to School
Lula Bell, author
Brian Fitzgerald, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781680102482, $17.99, HC, 32pp

It's Mouse's first day of school, and she is so nervous. She can't eat her cereal, and she wonders what the children will be like. And it's Dinosaur's first day of school, too! He is so nervous that he can't eat his toast. He is afraid that the teacher won't like him. And the school looks so scary! But when Mouse and Dinosaur arrive at school, they're both in for a big, happy surprise!

A delightfully charming and entertaining picture book for children ages 3-7 by the team of author/storyteller Lula Bell and artist/illustrator Brian Fitzgerald, "I Don't Want to Go To School" is a particularly and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Lily's Grooves
Christopher Minor, author
Katrina Ostapovicz, illustrator
Gatekeeper Press
9781662902611, $18.99, HC, 26pp

Carrie and Ed Simon cannot wait to open their new music shop Grooves. They just have one fluffy little problem. Their wild, bouncy kitten Lily creates mayhem at every opportunity . How will they open their store while keeping an eye on this crazy kitty? What in the world could calm a frantic feline like Lily?

A delightfully charming picture book story by the team of author/storyteller Christopher Minor and artist/illustrator Katrina Ostapovicz that will strike a resonance with anyone who has had an active kitty companion of their own, "Lily's Grooves" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 2-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lily's Grooves" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781662902604, $8.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Sam Usher
Templar Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781787415041, $16.99/$18.61, HC, 40pp

A little boy and his Grandad take care of a little bird. When it gets better, Grandad puts it outside, but it keeps hopping back into the house, following the boy wherever he goes. The boy wonders what kind of bird it is. An eagle? An ostrich? A bird of paradise, perhaps? He wants to keep it, but Grandad says it must return to its natural habitat in the wild where it can spread its wings and be free. And so begins an exhilarating journey into the mountains.

The first in a new quartet of enchanting picture books where a boy and his beloved grandad discover the wonder of the natural world, "Free" by storyteller and artist Sam Usher will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8.

Paletero Man
Lucky Diaz, author
Micah Player, illustrator
HarperCollins Children's Books
9780063014442, $17.99, HC, 32pp

What's the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? Run quick and find Paletero Jose in the pages of author/storyteller Lucky Diaz and artist/illustrator Micah Player's new picture book "Paletero Man"!

Children ages 4-8 will enjoy following along with the narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, the narrator's pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now.

Full of musicality, generosity, kindness, and ice pops, "Paletero Man" includes Spanish words and phrases throughout, along with an author's note from Lucky Diaz, and a link to a live version of the Lucky Band's popular song that inspired this unique and entertaining children's picture book. While especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Paletero Man" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Benji's Doll
Alicia Acosta, author
Luis Amavisca, author
Amelie Craux, illustrator
9788418133404, $16.99, HC, 40pp

Benji is a little boy who wants a doll more than anything in the world. When he finally gets one, he can't wait to take it to the park to show his friends! Also available in a Spanish language edition (La Muneca de Lucas, 9788418133398, HC, $16.99) "Benji's Doll" is an uplifting picture book story by the team of authors and storytellers Alicia Acosta and Luis Amavisca, and artist/illustrator Amelie Graux to remind children ages 3-7 that there are no toys for boys and toys for girls -- there are just toys. Charming, original, entertaining, and with a positive gender message, "Benji's Doll" is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Dream Weaver
Gary Wright, song lyrics
Rob Sayegh Jr., illustrator
Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781617758577, $16.95, HC, 24pp

Vibrantly illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr., "Dream Weaver" is a unique picture book for children ages 2-7 and based on Gary Wright's 1975 breakout single from his platinum-selling album The Dream Weaver, which has sold over two million copies.

"Dream Weaver" peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and reached #1 in Canada. The song's popularity continued long after its release, and in 1991, Wright recorded a new version for the Wayne's World soundtrack; the soundtrack reached #1 on Billboard's soundtrack album chart and also sold over two million copies. "Dream Weaver" continues to appear in films and TV shows to this day.

Strongly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections "Dream Weaver" follows a little boy's dream of a train that takes him all the way to the moon. A bedtime classic in the making, "Dream Weaver" provides the perfect opportunity for parents to share this timeless song and will surely spark the imaginations of young and old alike.

Turkey Goes to School
Wendi Silvano, author
Lee Harper, illustrator
Two Lions
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781542023641, $17.99, HC, 40pp

School is starting soon and Turkey can't wait. Each day, he and his barnyard friends practice their writing and math. But when the school bus rolls up, they are booted off. It turns out that animals aren't allowed to attend school. Pig calls it "hogwash," and Turkey agrees. All he has to do is find a way to show the students and the principal that turkeys (and their friends!) do belong in school. With a gobble, gobble here; a gobble, gobble there; and a few clever costumes, he just might!

A charmingly entertaining picture book for children ages 3-7, "Turkey Goes to School" by the team of author/storyteller Wendi Silvano and artist/illustrator Lee Harper will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Turkey Goes to School" (the fifth title in the unreservedly recommended 'Turkey Trouble' series from Two Lions) is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Tiny Woman's Coat
Joy Cowley, author
Giselle Clarkson, illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776573424, $17.99, HC, 28pp

A very tiny woman makes a coat of leaves with the help of friends in "The Tiny Woman's Coat", a vibrant, rhyming picture book tale by author/storyteller Joy Cowley and artist/illustrator Giselle Clarkson. The trees, geese, porcupine, horse, and plants all share something so the tiny woman can snip, snip, snip and stitch, stitch, stitch a coat to keep herself warm. Resourcefulness and friendship are at the heart of this simple, rhythmic picture book poem. Buoyant and satisfying to read aloud, "The Tiny Woman's Coat" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 1-8.

The Problem With Pierre
C. K. Smouha, author
Suzanna Hubbard, illustrator
Cicada Books
9781908714855, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Alan and Betram are next-door neighbors. They are also best friends. They are also very, very different to one another. Bertram is extremely neat, and Alan is wildly messy. When Bertram gets a cat, called Pierre, he is dismayed to find that Pierre prefers it at Alan's house.

Alan tries to help his friend out by giving him his old sheepskin coat, his chipped bowl and finally, his beat up old sofa. At last, Pierre and Bertram are happy, but Alan is not because he now has no company and no sofa. Fortunately, Bertram comes up with a brilliant solution to the problem!

The collaborative work of author/storyteller C. K. Smouhan and artist/illustrator Suzanna Hubbard, "The Problem With Pierre" plays with the format of the picture book, returning to split spreads in which Bertram's neat-as-a-pin living room is on the left and Alan's homely chaos is on the right. When, at the end, Bertram knocks through the wall between the two houses, and puts the sofa in the middle, there is a coming together of content and format that is sure to delight readers young and old.

Delightfully charming, impressively entertaining, and quite unique, "The Problem With Pierre" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6.

A Cape!
Marty Kelley
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781534111110, $16.99, HC, 32pp

When a young boy finds a cape he knows it must mean he has a superpower because everyone with a cape has one! But dad is far too distracted to play, until the boy discovers he does have a superpower (in the form of a super powerful imagination!) that is far too powerful for his dad to resist. "A Cape!" by author and illustrator Marty Kelley is an exuberant celebration of childhood, imagination, and the power of play -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8.

Leilong the Library Bus
Julia Liu, author
Bet Lynn, illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776573318, $18.99, HC, 36pp

Leilong is a dinosaur whose friends are taking him to story time at the library. But it's difficult for a large brontosaurus without a library card to follow all the rules. Especially when Leilong gets caught up in the story and joins in. Is Leilong too big for the library, or is the library too small?

Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, "Leilong the Library Bus" by author/storyteller Julia Liu and artist/illustrator Bet Lynn is charmingly entertaining and library loving picture book reminds children age 4-8 just how it feels to be transported by a unique, original, and enchanting story.

Jump the Moon
Kathy Simmers, author
Marjorie Van Heerden, illustrator
Bound to Happen Publishing
9781735351100, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Ponies were always coming and going at the barn, that was nothing new, but as summer begins the girl with the long blonde hair notices something about the newest pony to arrive that she can't quite put her finger on. This pony is ordinary, ugly even and on top of that, she is mean. But the girl doesn't seem to care, she is drawn to her and determined to earn the pony's trust.

Over the course of the summer, the pair develop an incredible bond. But, tragically, as summer ends the two are separated. Children ages 5-8 will eagerly turn the pages to find out if the girl and the pony will ever see each other again. Very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, the beautiful illustrations by artist Marjorie Van Heerden throughout this original and inherently charming picture book tale by author/storyteller Kathy Simmers bring to life an emotional journey that will make young readers cry, smile, and cheer as it reminds them all to follow their own dreams.

I Really, Really Need to Pee!
Karl Newson, author
Duncan Beedie, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781680102321, $17.99, HC, 32pp

I Really, Really Need to Pee! is a fun story about a young animal whose day in the woods is disrupted by an urgent need. With no bathroom in sight, the desperate fuzzy animal employs different methods to hold in the deluge while she desperately searches for a toilet. Duncan Beedie's whimsical drawing compliment a first-person story many a young reader will readily relate to as the blend of humor and practical problem-solving leads to resolution and fun encounters with other animals. Both read-aloud parents and new readers will find I Really, Really Need to Pee! a delightful read!

The Pocket Chaotic
Ziggy Hanaor, author
Daniel Gray-Barnett, illustrator
Cicada Books Ltd.
9781908714800, $16.95 HC, $16.95 Kindle, 32pp

In The Pocket Chaotic, Alexander the kangaroo lives in his mum Nancy's pocket. It would be a safe hidey-hole but for one problem - Nancy also likes putting other things in her pocket, as well. Unfortunately, Nancy is not the most organized kangaroo mother, and she's also a collector. Thus too many things tend to join Alexander in his pouch home.

Obsessed with keeping things tidy, Alexander struggles with his mother's odd habits and one day, pushed over the edge, decides to take charge. A whimsical story about parents and children evolves, with a special and fun message that kids ages 3-6 will appreciate.

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

Two new books from Simon and Schuster provide kids with engaging, absorbing stories, and are highly recommended as standouts from the crowd.

James O. Fraioli's Deep Into the Amazon Jungle (9781534420946, $19.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 112pp) gives ages 8-12 a gorgeous graphic novel packed with vibrant colors that bring the Amazon adventure story to life. Young explorers Will and Jacklyn are taking a jungle journey into the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru with Fabien Cousteau and his scientists, searching for a new species of giant piranha. Along the way, they encounter all kinds of colorful creatures, from parrots to dolphins and poisonous frogs. The blend of jungle natural history and action gives a fast pace to a story that is both engrossing and educational.

Steve Small's The Duck Who Didn't Like Water (9781534489172, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 32pp) will touch picture book readers ages 4-8 with the fun story of a duck who doesn't like water, whether it be swimming or rain. Duck lives inside and is relatively miserable being the lone duck from his water-loving crowd, until a rainstorm introduces an unexpected new friend who needs to find his home. Can Duck and his new friend together overcome Duck's aversion to water? A fun story provides an unexpected slant on conquering fears.

Peachtree Publishing
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318

Two excellent books are recommended picks for children's book readers looking for something different.

Nizrana Farook's The Girl Who Stole An Elephant (9781682632857, $16.99 HC, $1.99 Kindle, 240pp) will reach readers ages 8-12. The story is set in Sri Lanka and tells of Chaya, a rebellious nobleman's daughter who decides to help her poor community by stealing the queen's jewels. As Chaya gets into more and more trouble, a series of adventures revolves around a girl who can't help aiming for loftier goals in her desire to help others and become a hero in her matter what it takes.

Farook's engaging adventure story pairs action with social inspection and insights into Sri Lankan culture. It's a fictional piece that deserves broad attention. Sandra Salsbury's Best Friend in the Whole World (9781682632505, $17.99 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 40pp) reaches ages 4-8 with the story of a lonely rabbit's unusual choice of a friend. Rabbit Roland's new friend Milton shares many interests with him...but does he already have a best friend? Roland would like nothing better than to not just have a best friend, but keep him close and away from others. Should he embrace a larger world, or stay isolated? A fine story emerges, containing a gentle message about friendships, best friends, and new possibilities.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Hazel Mitchell's Sweet Pea Summer (9781536210347, $17.99, HC, 40pp) is both a gardening book and a story of how a young girl copes with living with her grandparents while her mother is in the hospital. When Grandpa gives her a new task to think about, suggesting she help him with his garden, a new goal is set. But she becomes frustrated over sweet peas that keep dying. The insights on how to solve problems and overcome adversity compliments an enthusiastic embrace of gardening that young picture book readers ages 4-8 will find simple and appealing.

Marc Martin's Masters of Disguise: Camouflaging Creatures & Magnificent Mimics (9781536214055, $18.99, HC, 56pp) profiles twelve different animals, from mammals to sea life, and the different camouflaging activities they employ to survive. Young readers ages 4-8 will receive an exceptionally colorful text that contrasts different environments, from the Arctic to jungles and Africans plains, surveying different creatures and how their abilities lend to survival. From mimic octopuses to Gaboon vipers and African leopards, these delightful contrasts make for inviting lessons in diversity and different survival techniques.

Both are appealing, colorful books that young picture book readers will relish for both leisure reading and educational enlightenment.

Sleeping Bear Press

Even non-Michigan residents ages 5-8 will find Our Michigan! We Love the Seasons (9781534111356, $17.95 HC, $16.14 Kindle, 40pp) appealing, with lovely seasonal drawings by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen a draw to learning more about the state. As this Michigan wildlife artist follows the state's seasons, the book's format lends to read-aloud adult/child interactions, traversing Michigan's lovely natural areas and using large-size, simple words to help kids read along with parental assistance. Horses, ferryboats, barns, and migrating birds are beautifully drawn and create an alluring vision of Michigan's seasonal wonders.

Marty Kelley's A Cape! (9781534111110, $16.99 HC, $15.51 Kindle, 32pp), for ages 4-8, is the story of a red fabric cape that leads a little boy to consider what superpowers he may harbor. After all, every super hero wears a cape. Or, do they? An active imagination involves a father and son in an exploration that considers the real powers of a spunky child who wants to do everything, while a too-cautious father keeps saying no.

Ocean Soup: A Recipe for You, Me, and a Cleaner Sea by Meeg Pincus (9781534111189, $16.99 HC, $14.93 Kindle, 32pp) pairs a rhyming story with a survey of ocean pollution and how the sea can be cleaner and made more beautiful through a little human effort. While the ocean may look sparkling, underneath, the sea is a soup of living organisms that may be seen under a microscope. It also now consists of human pollution, from single-use bottles to throwaway products and plastic that impacts all kinds of ocean life. This impact and how to address it receives lively attention in a story that is both inviting and educational, with Lucy Semple's colorful, engaging drawings supporting the strong message about ocean conservation for children ages 6-9.

These three new Sleeping Bear picture books will appeal to a wide audience with stories that are colorful, fun reads.

Wm B. Eerdmans
4035 Park East Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49536

Two new picture books from Eerdmans are engaging, fun stories young readers and read-aloud parents will find appealing.

Young readers new to stories about World War II will appreciate Hedi Fried's The Story of Bodri (9780802855657, $17.99 HC, $17.09 Kindle, 32pp), a fine story for children ages 6-10 of Adolph Hitler and a young Jewish author, who becomes aware of the hatred growing against her people. At first Heidi enjoys the usual childhood with friends and playing with her dog, but as Hitler comes to dominate the news and then the Germans invade her country, Hedi faces prejudice and a growing danger that leads her family away from their beloved home and Bodri. Compelling drawings by Stina Wirsen accent this personal tale of survival.

Jo Fernihough's The Crow and the Peacock (9780802855688, $17.99 HC, $27.99 PB, 32pp) for children ages 4-8 tells of determined Crow's efforts to find the happiest bird alive, who will help him discover the secret of obtaining happiness. All kinds of birds hold promise and beauty, from their songs to their colorful appearances. But who is the happiest among them all? Crow's discoveries and efforts to be more content with his life makes for a fine series of insights adults will enjoy discussing with the very young.

The Bilingual Shelf

We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reimos
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, author
Alyssa Bermudez, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781623540968, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Three kids are playing at the park when three more arrive. The groups can't understand each other because one trio speaks only English and the other only Spanish. But they can express similar thoughts in their own languages. Aqui interactuan el ingles y el espanol. Can they find a way to play? Of course they can! By watching each other, both groups learn that they are more alike than different and end up discovering new words and making new friends in this adventure propelled by clever integrated Spanish dialogue.

The collaborative work of author/storyteller Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and artist/illustrator Alyssa Bermudez, "We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reimos: A Story That's Part Spanish, Part English, and a Whole Lot of Fun" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly addition to family, elementary school, and community library Spanish/English bilingual picture book collections for young readers ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reimos: A Story That's Part Spanish, Part English, and a Whole Lot of Fun" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Olive Oh Gets Creative
Tina Kim, author
Tiff Bartel, illustrator
Jolly Fish Press
c/o North Star Editions
2297 Waters Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55120
9781631635663, $24.99, Library Binding, 112pp

When Olive Oh's third-grade teacher announces that the whole school will be having an art show, Olive is thrilled. Being creative is what she does best. Plus, she has just found her lucky red beret. Olive is sure she'll have all kinds of great ideas. But as the week goes on and Olive sees all the amazing projects her classmates create, she starts having doubts. What if her friends are better artists than she is? Or worse, what if she's all out of creative ideas?

Olive Oh is going to be a famous artist when she grows up. Right now, she's in third grade, using her creative thinking to find solutions to all kinds of problems. Her ideas often lead to unexpected adventures for her family and friends. But as any good artist knows, messiness is often part of the process.

A charmingly entertaining story with a positive underlying message about friendship and competition, "Olive Oh Gets Creative" by the team of author/storyteller Tina Kim and artist/illustrator Tiff Bartel is a particularly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers ages 7-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Olive Oh Gets Creative" is also readily available in a paperback edition ( 9781631635670, $6.99).

Hattie and Olaf
Frida Nilsson, author
Stina Wirsen, illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776573172, $18.99, HC, 176pp

Hattie is a little girl who wants a horse more than anything. Her friend Ellen has three ponies. When Hattie's father finally comes home with a horse trailer, Hattie is ecstatic. But instead of a horse, out stomps Olaf -- a donkey! Now Hattie not only has horse fever, she suddenly catches lying sickness as well. Inclined to emotional storms and exaggeration -- but always with the best of intentions!

Especially recommended for elementary school and community library general fiction collections for young readers ages 7-11, "Hattie and Olaf" is an impressively original, deftly written, and charmingly entertaining novel by author/storyteller Firda Nilsson that is nicely illustrated with black-and-white sketch art by illustrator Stina Wirsen.

The YA Fiction Shelf

The Starry Labors of Nick
Amy Wolf
Lone Wolf Press Ltd.
9798201666910, $8.99, PB, 246pp

Book 3 of the Mythos Universe series, "The Starry Labors of Nick" will especially delight prior fans of Nick, who has hated being different without fully realizing that his heritage isn't entirely human. In prior books, his father returned to his life to not only impart an impossible truth, but provide him with a dangerous mission -- to complete the 12 Labors of Hercules and save the world of Mythos.

Nick is attending the strangest wedding of his life when the story opens: one between his dad, the centaur Chiron; and Helen, his new wife. It takes place on Mount Olympus, where he's surrounded by friends who are constellations, mermen, and other creatures. Amy Wolf's sense of humor is present from the start as Nick interacts in this environment: "Nick couldn't believe it! The room, which moments before had been hushed, now looked like . . . a club, with small round tables, nymphs serving drinks, and disco lights blinking above. "OMG!" Nick cried. "It's so totally retro!" Before he could strike a pose like Travolta, his friend Herc strode over. "Nick!" roared the Hero. "Finally, you do the deed! What took you so long?" "Oh, I don't know," Nick said. "Guess it was all the monsters and gods trying to kill me."

Young adults who have either experienced Nick's wry observations of his much-changed life and its intersection with fantasy, or who appreciate humor, will find Wolf's ongoing fun powers an adventure that is unique and always unexpected. The observations are astute throughout as Nick adopts a jaunty view of this world and its oddities, injecting a whimsical note which keeps the action and dialogue unexpected: "What were they doing? he wondered. Praying for rain? "Yo, Heph," Nick said, addressing the bronze in the beanie. "You around?" He heard a voice in his head. "Of course!" spat the god. "It's my temple, isn't it?"

From Nick's confrontation with his centaur and human heritage and his changing position on where he draws his strengths to fight the battles that emerge to his determination to follow through on a task that looks impossible, he is supported by Helen and aided by Mythicals who often harbor their own agendas.

Young adults looking for a fantasy that is sassy, unpredictable, funny, and filled with adventure will find the action and confrontations a cut above the ordinary as Nick continues to grow, accepts his role as a son of Chiron and a hero in his own right, and becomes even more immersed in his father and stepmother's lives in Mythos.

While newcomers will find this latest adventure accessible, those with prior familiarity with and affection for Nick and his unique challenges will best appreciate this ongoing expansion of the Mythos world and Nick's search for his place and strengths in it. "The Starry Labors of Nick" is refreshingly original and a rollicking good teen read.

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous
Suzanne Park
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781728209425, $10.99, PB, 320pp

Sunny Song is a teenager who has three Big Summer Goals: Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!); Hit 100K followers (almost there...); Have the best last summer of high school ever.

Not on Sunny's list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She's traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she'll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she's forced to disconnect!

A throughly fun read from first page to last, "Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous" by author/storyteller Suzanne Park will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781662088520, $22.99, CD).

Down with this Ship
Katie Kingman
c/o North Star Editions, Inc.
2297 Waters Drive, Mendota Heights, MN 55125
9781635830675, $9.99, PB, 352pp

Kole Miller is the best writer at the prestigious Crystal Lake High. But no one knows it -- not her creative writing classmates, or even her academic arch nemesis Colin (aka Mr. Valedictorian). That's because Kole's best work is a secret fanfic based on her favorite show The Space Game.

When Kole's fanfic wins a major contest, her readership skyrockets. Suddenly, Kole finds herself stuck in the heated ship wars, as her new readers pair characters from the show together as romantic couples. Worse yet, Kole's classmates discover that she's the fanfic's author. Now it isn't just The Space Game everyone is arguing about: they start shipping Kole with her classmates.

With her romantic life in shambles and her anxiety through the roof, Kole must face both her inner demons and the ones at her school. She has one chance to reclaim her fanfic -- and the guy that Kole now realizes she's shipped herself with since episode one of the school year!

A fun read from beginning to end, "Down With This Ship" by author/storyteller Katie Kingman is an original, deftly crafted, and highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 13-17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Down With This Ship" is also readily available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781662099724, $22.99, CD).

The Hollow Inside
Brooke Lauren Davis
9781547606115 $17.99 hc / $8.31 Kindle

Synopsis: Sadie meets The Glass Castle in a smart, gripping, and twisty YA debut about a girl seeking to reveal the truth about her mother-and herself.

Seventeen-year-old Phoenix has spent much of her life drifting from town to town with her mom Nina, using their charms to swindle and steal to get by. Now they've made it to their ultimate destination, Mom's hometown of Jasper Hollow. The plan: bring down Ellis Bowman, the man who ruined Nina's life.

When Phoenix gets caught spying on Ellis, she spins a convincing story that inadvertently gives her full access to the Bowman family. As she digs deeper into their secrets (and begins to fall for daughter Melody), she finds herself entrenched in the tale of a death and a disappearance that doesn't entirely line up with what Mom has told her.

But there's even more to this story Phoenix doesn't know. Who, if anyone, is telling the whole truth about what happened? Debut author Brooke Lauren Davis explores the murkiness of right and wrong, of choices and consequences, of heroes and villains, in an eerily compelling and thought-provoking small-town saga.

Critique: The Hollow Inside is a young adult novel about a seventeen-year-old girl named Phoenix, who discovers that her mother's hometown holds deep secrets and lies... possibly including lies that she believed without question while growing up. Phoenix and her mother Nina have been drifters and swindlers for as long as Phoenix can remember. They return to Nina's home with a plan to get revenge on Ellis Bowman, who allegedly ruined Nina's life... but when Nina fast-talks her way into the Bowman family, she gradually learns that Nina might have fabricated a one-sided story at best. Complicating the tangled situation are Phoenix's growing feelings for Bowman's daughter Melody. The Hollow Inside is a complex, small-town saga that blurs the lines between right and wrong; both young adults and adults will find the twists and turns compelling to the very end. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Hollow Inside is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.31).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Sunshine and the Full Moon
Jon Robinson
Koehler Books
9781646632763 $17.95 pbk / $0.99 Kindle

Synopsis: A werewolf attack. A missing girl. A teenager scratching and scrapping for every asthmatic breath in the clutches of evil.

Sunshine Robins is having a summer to forget. First, the sassy softball superstar breaks her arm during a heroic home run, and now her trip to the California Gold Country has taken a frightening turn as a geocaching exploration leads to the terrifying discovery of a shapeshifting creature lurking beneath the streets of Dathanville.

As she puts the pieces together about the town's haunting past, a determined Sunshine must fight through her own bouts of anxiety and fear as she stares down the devilish beast looking to destroy Dathanville... one victim at a time.

A suspenseful adventure bustling with mystery and monsters, it all ignites with a line drive and a silver bullet.

Critique: Award-winning author and journalist Jon Robinson presents Sunshine and the Full Moon, a suspenseful young adult novel written especially for young adults and teens, yet thoroughly engrossing for werewolf fans of all ages. Sunshine Robins is a smart, strong-willed softball athlete who must confront a terrible menace in the small town of Dathanville. Anxiety and asthma threaten to drag her down, as surely as the savage claws of an unknown beast targeting victims one at a time! Sunshine and the Full Moon is highly recommended especially for high school and public library YA fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Sunshine and the Full Moon is also available in a Kindle edition ($0.99).

The American History Shelf

The Story of Hula
Carla Golembe
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573061858, $16.95, HC, 32pp

"The Story of Hula" by artist and storyteller Carla Golembe is a combination picture book and CD that tells the history of the hula dance, from the ancient hula, which teaches the spiritual and cultural traditions of Hawai'i, to the modern hula as an entertainment for tourists. Informative and beautifully illustrated throughout, "The Story of Hula" from the Hawaii based publishing house of Bess Press will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 5-6.

The Environmental Shelf

This Pretty Planet
Tom Chapin, author
John Forster, author
Lee White, illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534445321, $17.99, HC, 40pp

From icy tundras to sandy beaches, lush forests to tall mountains, "This Pretty Planet Hardcover" by authors Tom Chapin (three time Grammy winner) and John Forster (four-time Grammy nominee) is an exuberant and inherently delightful picture book journeys around the globe and presents the natural wonders of the planet with a contagious sense of awe and whimsy. Children ages 4-8 will get lost in the detailed artistry and illustrations of Lee White, while the narration serves as a gentle reminder of why we must care for and protect our pretty planet. Entertaining and inspiring in equal measure, "This Pretty Planet" is unreservedly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Pretty Planet" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The African-American Shelf

Papa's Free Day Party
Marilyn Nelson, author
Wayne Anthony Still, illustrator
Just Us Books
9780940975729, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Johnnie wants to celebrate her Papa's birthday, but Papa doesn't know exactly when that special day is. Johnnie doesn't understand how that could be. Then she learns about Papa's childhood -- how he built a new life in the all-Black town of Boley, Oklahoma.

Inspired by her father's incredible story, Johnnie decides to throw Papa a different kind of party -- one to recognize her father's day of freedom.

Based on a true story about the author Marilyn Nelson's own grandfather, "Papa's Free Day Party" is a powerful, informative and entertaining picture book celebration of storytelling, strength, and the importance of family that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library African-American history picture book collections for children ages 5-9.

The LGBT Shelf

The Lucky List
Rachael Lippincott
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781534468535 $18.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Rachael Lippincott, coauthor of #1 New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart, weaves a captivating, heartfelt love story about learning who you are, and who you love, when the person you've always shared yourself with is gone.

Emily and her mom were always lucky. Every month they'd take her lucky quarter, select lucky card 505, and dominate the heatedly competitive bingo night in their small, quirky town of Huckabee. But Emily's mom's luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right for Emily since.

Now, the summer before her senior year, things are getting worse. Not only has Emily wrecked things with her boyfriend Matt, who her mom adored, but her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mom's belongings away. Soon, she'll have no connections left to Mom but that lucky quarter. And with her best friend away for the summer and her other friends taking her ex's side, the only person she has to talk to about it is her dad's best friend's daughter, Blake, a girl she barely knows.

But that's when Emily finds the list - her mom's senior year summer bucket list - buried in a box in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears before everything changes As they go further down the list, Emily finally begins to feel closer to mom again, but her bond with Blake starts to deepen, too, into something she wasn't expecting. Suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.

Critique: A gay love story written for readers ages 12 to 120, The Lucky List is a novel about Emily, a teenager grieving the loss of her mother. When she discovers her mother's "senior year summer bucket list", Emily's new friend Blake (the daughter of the best friend of Emily's dad) suggests approaching it as a challenge. Together, Emily and Blake set out on a journey to fulfill the list, and Emily not only feels herself growing emotionally closer to mother, but also romantically closer to Blake. Charming and heartwarming, The Lucky List is a welcome addition to school and public library YA fiction shelves. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Lucky List is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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

Ollie Feels Fine
Toni Yuly
Little Bigfoot
9781632173010, $9.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This colorful board book is a great reminder that emotions are very much a part of our every day. In Ollie's busy day, he finds many opportunities to express feelings. Starting out feeling fine, his circumstances begin to twist and turn. And his feelings turn with them. From surprise to afraid and from happy to mad, Ollie learns his emotions change with every experience, and it's fine to not always be okay. Early learning in these moments and conditions provide balance and a richness to our lives. (Ages baby-3)

A Caravan of Camels
Christopher Robbins, author
Nichola Cowdery, illustrator
9781641702706, $8.99

Christine Irvin

This delightful board book will entertain as well as educate little ones as they are introduced to both the alphabet and the names of groups of animals. (Ages 1-3)

Feel Like Eggs?
Jeff Goodman, author
Gabriella Urbina, illustrator
Precocity Press
9781736217412, $19.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This bright, fun look into feelings and temperament is sure to lend a giggle as we identify emotions. Emotions can be scary at any age, but those early-year introductions can sometimes lead to a lifetime of confusion. The way we learn a lesson is as impactful as the lesson itself. This story presents an uncertain feeling in a fun and safe emotional space, allowing a stabilizing effect. (Ages 2-7)

Llama Glamarama
Simon James Green and Garry Parsons
Orchard Books
9781338736182, $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This lively, rhythmic tale will delight the hearts of its readers. Lovable Larry is sure to win your affections while trying to keep his secret from detection. Until, at last, he discovers a glorious celebration where many share his secret with sheer enjoyment. It seems Larry thought he was alone in his love dance, but discovered he wasn't so different after all! There is a joyful freedom in acceptance. (Ages 3-5)

Pretty Purple Piggy Bank
Ron Ryan, author
Kseniia Dolhopolova, illustrator
9780578538815, $11.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

I love it! And so will every parent and child. Teaching lifelong values is the desire of every parent and guardian but addressing serious topics can sometimes be overwhelming. Well, this winning combo of author and illustrator have come to the rescue. Their easy, rhythmic flow and repetition will anchor the value of saving and spending, while at the same time fortify the importance of working, planning, and weighing desires that lead to success and achievement. This book is bright and colorful, with images and lyrics captivating to young minds. A real winner! (Ages 3-6)

Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol
Michael G. Long, author
Carlos Velez, illustrator
Flyaway Books
9781947888326, $18.00

Darleen Wohlfeil

The famous Peace symbol we know and quickly recognize today began in 1958 when graphic designer Gerald Holtom desired to protest in an anti-war march in London. He drew his inspiration for the symbol from an alphabet used in semaphore, a known means of communication by flags. The three simple lines confined in a circle became a subliminal message of peace that spread across borders, causes, and people, right up to today. A historical timeline is also provided in the book that readers can follow. (Ages 3-7)

Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter
Jamie Michalak, author
Kelly Murphy, illustrator
9781536203943, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is an enjoyable tale of a clever little mouse with an eye for treasure and a heart for adventure! Follow Dakota Crumb in her nighttime escapades, as she runs, swings, and faces danger in the best of seek and find adventures. The first read through is truly entertaining and a second pass is provided with your own treasure map to follow. See how many treasures you can find! (Ages 3-7)

The Secret Fawn
Kallie George, author
Elly MacKay, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735265165, $18.99

Anita Lock

A little girl narrates how she's always missing everything - shooting stars, picking the first apple, and the deer her mother spots. Determined that she's not going to miss out on another opportunity, she grabs a sugar cube and carefully explores the wooded area behind her house. She rests the cube on a rock and waits for the deer to show. That's when she witnesses something: the deer's fawn. A beautiful portrayal of a child's inquisitiveness, captured in a combination of mixed media, pastels, and minimal text. A perfect read for little ones' symbiotic connection with nature. (Ages 3-7)

Gordy and the Ghost Crab
Linda K. Sienkiewicz
Writers Coffee Bar Press
9781941523223, $9.95

Dr. Dawn Menge

Gordy ventures out on his first trip to the beach. What does he find but a Ghost Crab. This is an awesome story teaching about crabs and the health of our beaches. Gordy learns fast about the importance of preserving wildlife in its natural habitats. I highly recommend it for the young reader. (Ages 3-8)

Ada and the Galaxies
Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv, authors
Susanna Chapman, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
9781536215618, $17.99

Christine Irvin

This wonderful picture book combines the real-life photographs of the cosmos that were taken with the Hubble telescope with a kid-friendly storyline, the perfect mash-up of fiction and nonfiction. (Ages 4-6)

Zonia's Rain Forest
Juana Martinez-Neal
9781536208450, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Author Juana Martinez-Neal introduces young readers to the creatures of the Amazon rain forest with a story told from the point of view of Zonia, a young Ashaninka girl who lives there. This is the perfect tool to educate readers about the rain forest and the people who live there, as it contains additional information in the back of the book. (Ages 4-8)

Sam's First Word
Bea Birdsong, author
Holly Hatam, illustrator
Little, Brown
9780316452441, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Sam was the delight of the family when she learned to do something new. Each member of the family wanted Sam to say their name as her first word. Can you guess what her first word was? This is a fun book about looking beyond yourself to what other people are doing and being excited for their accomplishments. (Ages 4-8)

Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places
Katie Frawley, author
Laurie Stansfield, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542008549, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This is a very cute story about an elephant and a cat deciding to change places in their lives. They soon find how different their lives are from the rain forest to the city. The author is able to convey that the grass is not always greener in someone else's world. I recommend this story to teach an appreciation of one's own life and not to compare yourself with others. (Ages 4-8)

Could I Please Have a Dog?
Marshall Silverman, author
Ida Osterman, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781954614109, $19.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a story of a boy, a dream, and the worst day ever. But mostly, it's a story about optimism. Written with meter and rhyme, wit and whimsy, this delightful book by poet Marshall Silverman will have children and parents alike rolling over with laughter. Easy to follow along, they will soon be reading along. (Ages 4-8)

Daddy & Dada
Ryan Brockington and Isaac Webster, author
Lauren May, illustrator
Little, Brown
9780316427029, $16.99

Anita Lock

Four-year-old Rumi shares that her family is made up of two dads, a little brother, and a dog. "We're a family. All five of us." She explains that while families come in different sizes and shapes, all families have things in common: they love one another and enjoy being together. This interactive narrative mixed with lively scenes that include a diverse cast deftly captures this celebratory book, based on true events, on family diversity, which engages youngsters to recognize the beauty behind varied family units. (Ages 4 to 8)

Ride the Wind
Nicola Davies, author
Salvatore Rubbino, illustrator
9781536212846, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

A moving tale of a father and son navigating through grief and loss. It's easy in such times to lose sight of what is truly important and let sorrow lead. A wounded albatross crashes into their darkness, making a hole where the light of hope can shine through. The road gets a little bumpy, but it leads to the reawakening of the heart, and the embrace of true importance. This tender story is sure to cause one to pause and take thought. (Ages 5-8)

Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School
Jamie Harper
9781536204919, $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Young readers will relate Miss Mingo's 100th day project with their own classrooms. Each animal in the class delightfully shares a part of their life. This is a fun read and would work best in a classroom as they begin their 100th day of school. (Ages 4-8)

Too Small Tola
Atinuke, author
Onyinye Iwu, illustrator
9781536211276, $15.99

Diana Perry

Three delightful tales from a renowned Nigerian storyteller introduce a chapter-book heroine who is every bit as mighty as she is small. Young readers will really love when she discovers her hidden talent. This is an inspiring story for adults to be careful not to label children with words that make them feel unimportant and unhelpful and for small children to realize that sometimes huge talents come from tiny bodies. A very uplifting story for adults and children alike. (Ages 7-9)

The Bird Who Swallowed a Star
Laurie Cohen, author
Toni Demuro, illustrator
Schiffer Kids
9780764361074, $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

We all have special attributes to bring to the world. This little bird was so bright he couldn't
be around his friends and ended up sad and alone until he found a place just for him. Sometimes, we all go through periods in our lives in which we feel out of place. This beautiful book will help children connect with this feeling. (Ages 5-8)

Lena, the Sea and Me
Maria Parr
Walker Books
9781536207729, $16.99

Diana Perry

Trille and Lena may be getting older, but they still find everyday adventure - and trouble - in their coastal village, including sinking every raft they build, getting little sisters stuck up flag poles, and attending those dreaded music lessons. But that's not all... This fictional story hits the target about all the trials and tribulations children go through during the growing-up years. Young readers will hopefully find some life lessons in this story and get a feel of what it's like to grow up in Norway. (Ages 7-10)

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Jeff Gottesfeld, author
Matt Tavares, illustrator
9781536201482, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Freedom comes at a high price. We come and go as we please, never fully aware of the sacrifice and often grief that makes up that price. Many a soldier has fallen on the battlefield for that privilege, known and unknown. This moving story is an honor to those unknown soldiers, and the unbroken loyalty that proudly stands guard before its tomb. Since the late night of July 2, 1937, in the Arlington National Cemetery there has remained uninterrupted, in all weather conditions, guards with absolute precision, men and women standing in respect and remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice. A tale to be shared from generation to generation. (Ages 7-10)

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

Diana Perry

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all - for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why. This story has so many layers of danger, mystery, action, and suspense. I really enjoyed this wondrous story. (Ages 8-12)

Megan Wagner Lloyd, author
Michelle Mee Nutter, illustrator
c/o Scholastic
9781338568905, $12.99

Christine Irvin

Graphic novel enthusiasts will enjoy the format for this story about Maggie, who finds out she's allergic to dogs after visiting an animal shelter (something readers who are allergy sufferers will certainly relate to). (Ages 8-12)

So You Want to Be a Knight?
Takayo Akiyama and Hannah Pang
Thames & Hudson
9780500652114, $14.95

Christine Irvin

Reluctant readers who fantasize about being a knight will appreciate this comic book-style handbook about how to become a knight. The illustrations will draw (pun intended) them in and the humorous, fact-filled writing will keep them turning the pages. (Ages 9-12)

Wonder Women of Science
Tiera Fletcher and Ginger Rue, authors
Sally Wern Comport, illustrator
9781536207347, $19.99

Diana Perry

Searching the cosmos for a new Earth. Using math to fight human trafficking. Designing invisible (and safer) cars. Unlocking climate change secrets. All of this groundbreaking science, and much more, is happening right now, spearheaded by the diverse female scientists and engineers profiled in this book. Young readers will be fascinated at the work of these 12 genius women. I feel it will inspire kids to reach for high goals and develop a desire to really change the world. This is a great book for any library and home. (Ages 9-12)

Tales by Moons-light: Stories from Before the Great Melt
Ruthy Ballard
WhipSmart Books
9780997853247, $12.95

Diana Perry

This book is a collection of seven short fables from a strange planet called Urth. Using
fables to teach moral lessons, this book is just perfect for the young reader who can read an entire book in one sitting or those who cannot and may read just one of the short stories at a time. Each story is unique unto itself but they all have the feel that they're weaved together with the same magic threads. I loved the helpful glossary at the end, which will help readers understand the phrases and words specific to this world. (Ages 9-12)

No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis
Lucy Diavolo
Haymarket Books
9781642592597, $15.95

Diana Perry

Teen Vogue, the fresh voice of a generation of activists, curates a dynamic collection of timely pieces on the climate justice movement. With accessible, concise explanations of the features and causes of climate change as well as pieces urging an intersectional approach to environmental justice, this book is the handbook for the emerging youth climate movement. It really drives home the fact that our world of tomorrow will be in the hands of the youth of today and helps aim them in the right direction to benefit our planet. (Ages 10+)

Young Kap
Kingsley Osei, author
Elaine Davis, illustrator
Int. Publications Media Grp
9781632670649, $19.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

The day of awakening comes to us all. It plays a critical part in who we come to be. It comes in many ways and from many directions, but it finds everyone at one time or another. It hit young Kap that famous day on a football field. One of our greatest rights as citizens of the United States is the right to freedom of speech. We have the right to our beliefs, and the active pursuit of them. Though all may not agree with them, we still have the freedom to uphold them. Kap made his stand that day, and now we are able to read his story and be enlightened to the beliefs he holds dear and bowed his knee to. (Ages 10+)

Eli Brown
Walker Books
9781536208511, $18.99

Diana Perry

The daughter of a murdered physician vows to protect the magical Oddity he left behind in an alternate 19th century where a failed Louisiana Purchase has locked a young Unified States into conflict with France. Young readers will find this a non-stop action book with delightful oddities such as a talking rooster, but will especially love to learn the secret even Clover doesn't know... about herself. (Ages 10-14)

My Name is Layla
Reyna Marder Gentin
TouchPoint Press
9781952816086, $13.99

Christine Irvin

On the first day of eighth grade, 13-year-old Layla has a pretty good idea of what's in store for her - another year of awkward social situations, mediocre grades, and teachers who praise her good behavior but find her academic performance disappointing. Author Reyna Marder Gentin provides readers with an authentic look into the world of those who struggle with dyslexia. (Ages 12+)

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

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