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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 32, Number 7 July 2022 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Environmental Studies Shelf Jobs/Careers Shelf
Holiday Shelf Music Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Board Book Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf YA Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Biography Shelf Christian Shelf Humor Shelf
Dance Shelf Science Shelf Books in Series
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Nour's Secret Library
Wafa' Tarnowska
Barefoot Books
9781646862924, $16.99 HC, $9.99 PB, 32pp

Nour's Secret Library is set in Syria and examines how books bring new ideas and hope to the people of that nation. Vali Mintzi's fun illustrations enhance Wafa' Tarnowska's exploration of Syria's culture and the impact of literacy and books on everyday people.

When war erupts, two children experience conflict and bombings, and develop a plan for a secret society to save the books. The social and political backdrop of Syria portrayed in "Nour's Secret Library" will educate young picture book readers, while the story creates a vivid tale about problem-solving at a higher level than kids ages 6-10 usually tackle, making for a fine choice for either read-aloud or explorations of war, peace, and literacy in other countries.

Big Problems, Little Problems
Ben Feller, author
Merce Lopez, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
9780884488903, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Big Problems, Little Problems" by author/storyteller Ben Feller and artist/illustrator Merce Lopez is charming picture book about a single dad (a rarity in the picture book world) and his little boy, who turns out to be very wise. From their secret handshake to their mutual problem-solving, this father and son have winning ways.

Deftly written with lessons that apply to any family with young children, "Big Problems, Little Problems" is distinctively told from a father's perspective, and built on how a son and dad listen to and learn from each other. This is a charmingly entertaining picture book of how to conquer frustration no matter what the problem.

Critique: Appealing, engaging, and fun, "Big Problems, Little Problems" is a simply extraordinary and unique picture book with an important underlying message -- making it an especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8. Ideal for a father/son storytelling hour, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Big Problems, Little Problems" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.59).

Editorial Note #1: Ben Feller is a communications advisor and a former Chief White House Correspondent for The Associated Press. During his years of questioning and covering Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, he led the White House press corps, traveled aboard Air Force One hundreds of times, and was honored as a "master of deadline reporting." Now he is writing about his personal passion: being a dad.

Editorial Note #2: Merce Lopez graduated from Llotja Art School in Barcelona and has illustrated for design, theater, and film as well as twenty children's books for Spanish and international book publishers. Her 2019 title Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons by Laura Purdie Salas received multiple starred reviews and was named a Center for Children's Books Gryphon Honor Book, an NCTE Notable Poetry Book, a Kirkus Best Picture Book, and a Parents Magazine Best Kids' Book, among other accolades.

The Peach Pit Parade: A World War I Story
Shana Keller, author
Margeaux Lucas, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111387, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: When Polly's father goes overseas to fight in World War I, her whole world changes. Though the war is in Europe, its effects are felt on American soil. There are food, fuel, and other supply shortages everywhere. Even something as simple and enjoyable as a family Sunday car ride isn't possible anymore. Everyone must do their part to help the war effort. Victory gardens are planted and scrap metal is collected. "It's the biggest event in our history. And it involves every single adult, every single boy, and every single girl," says Polly's teacher.

As Polly struggles to make sense of the war, she wonders how she can contribute. When the government puts out a notice requesting peach pits to be used in gas mask filters, Polly knows how she can help.

Critique: An impressively illustrated, informatively entertaining, and inherently interesting historical picture book set in the years of World War I by the team of author/storyteller Shana Keller and artist/illustrator Margeaux Lucas for children ages 5-8, "The Peach Pit Parade" is highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Peach Pit Parade" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.76).

A Garden For Grace
Ellen Mainville
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9780996288323, $29.99, HC, 68pp

Synopsis: Imagine a farm: Dad in the fields, Mom busy in the kitchen, and Grandma planting and weeding in her extensive flower beds. They are gardens she's created through many years, in every available space of her domain. She now has the leisure to putter, "me" time she could only steal in snatches as a busy farm-wife and mother. But what are gardens and leisure time without someone to share them?

Along comes a little girl for Grandma to watch and to care for: a girl who also learns to love and care for Grandma's flowers-and who learns about life and love at the skilled hands of the wise old woman. The girl grows up, her parents retire, the farm is sold. The girl becomes a mother, then a grandmother herself. The descendants of Grandma's plants still live, transplanted to her own gardens. Grandma's lessons live too: in her memories, passed down to her own children, to grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends, and now to us all in her artwork and poems...

"A Garden for Grace" deftly explores family, love, and life through lessons taken from beauty in nature, and is also is a botanically accurate guide to 48 common garden flowers!

Critique: "A Garden For Grace" is a picture book compendium of art-book quality poems and drawings, which were written and illustrated by Ellen Mainville for children. Featuring over 50 full-color and art museum quality illustrations, "A Garden For Grace" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young (and young at heart) readers ages 5-95.

Editorial Note: Ellen Mainville was a schoolteacher, artist, writer, and so much more. She grew up on a farm in the north country of New York; living her whole life and, with her husband Mark, raising a family in this rugged foothills of the Adirondacks region. Her writing features nature and family, finding strength and resiliency in both as she has grown and prospered through good times and in bad. Ellen died in 2021, frantically striving to finish "A Garden For Grace" as she slowly succumbed to a Covid-19 infection.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-up Story
Joanne Linden, author
Estrellita Caracol, illustrator
Barefoot Books
9781646864980, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When community members work together with trucks and ships to clean up the town's riverfront, an artist and her child hammer, chisel, weld and zap the found materials into something beautiful. Young environmentalists and art makers will find inspiration in the playful, rhyming text and mixed media illustrations, while endnotes provide recycled-art activity ideas.

Critique: Throughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-up Story" is both entertaining and inspiring, making it an unique and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Environmental & Art collections for children preschool through third grade. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Scrap Metal Swan: A River Clean-up Story" is also available in a paperback edition (9781646864980, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Currently residing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Joanne Linden is the author of many books for children. Artist/illustrator Estrellita Caracol studied graphic design until she realized that what she liked the most was telling stories through her art.

The Jobs/Careers Shelf

Tales of a Traveling Nurse: Is This My Home?
Sheri Sturniolo, author
Shay Larby, illustrator
Made For Me
9781735470481, $16.95, HC, 26pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Tales of a Traveling Nurse: Is This My Home?", young children will enjoy following Nanette, the little traveling nurse, on her journey to care for children across the country who find themselves needing a nurse's love. "Tales of a Traveling Nurse" is a fun & interactive look into the adventurous profession of travel nursing while also highlighting the importance of child safety and accident prevention.

Critique: As entertaining as it is informative, "Tales of a Traveling Nurse: Is This My Home?" by the team of author/storyteller Sheri Sturniolo and artist/illustrator Shay Larby is an especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Jobs/Careers picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Sheri Sturniolo is a pediatric registered nurse for over 20 years. She started her career as a traveling nurse and her many adventures were the inspiration for the Tales Of A Traveling Nurse series.

Editorial Note #2: Shay is an illustrator and graphic designer nesting in San Diego, California. Shay treats every project as the same Tetris exploration-searching for the solutions outside and within concepts, to deliver a product that inspires her patrons and their customers in turn.

The Holiday Shelf

Trick-or-Treat, Alistair Gray
Lindy Ryan
BlackSpot Books
9781645481157, $14.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle, 32pp

Synopsis: Trick-or-Treat, Alistair Gray is a picture book that sounds like a Halloween special, but should receive year-around attention as a spooky modern folk story that kids will find compellingly attractive. Lindy Ryan creates a rollicking rhyme that describes young Alistair's Halloween costume and adventure: "He stalked through the leaves spun up/in old rags,/A homemade mummy, with/a trick-or-treat bag."

Upon entry into the Halloween ball, Alistair views not just the predictable ghosts and goblins, but more modern representations of cowboys, aliens, and even princesses and ice skaters. Where's the horror in that? Alistair feels he's made a grave error in his antiquated choice of costume and perception of Halloween horror. "It's a time to be scary," he grumps. As brave Ali Gray leaves the not-so-frightening party and ventures into the dark night alone, he receives an important lesson on Halloween, horror, and a clarification of what Halloween is becoming in modern times.

Picture book readers ages 5-7 who don't mind the presence of frightening creatures in their stories will find Ali's lesson in what the holiday really is about to be thought-provoking; especially when accented by a read-aloud parent's discussion of Ali's revelations. Young readers seeking a different kind of Halloween expose will find a delightful blend of fantasy, revelation, and spooky encounters with a message in this delightful study about changing interpretations of Halloween and horror. "All Hallow's Eve/"is not just for the dark./It is something more sacred in which fun is a part."

Jeannie's Crab Lake Christmas
David Mulford, author
Christine Cathers Donohue, illustrator
Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail, Suite 205, Dallas, Texas 75248
9781612549682, $19.99, HC, 56pp

Synopsis: All the animals in the forest are abuzz. Jeannie, the kindest and most beautiful lady they know, is coming to Crab Lake for Christmas! The animals love to watch Jeannie from a distance when she visits in the summer, but they have never had a chance to talk to her before now for, as everyone knows, animals can only talk in the winter. This time, however, they can finally say a proper hello.

Children will enjoy reading about Crab Lake at Christmas, and spending the evening with Jeannie and her forest friends: bear cub Pudgey and his family, kindly Mr. Woodchuck, distinguished Bellknap Beaver, and the deer, the wolves, the cardinals, and more!

Critique: Beautiful illustrations by Christine Cathers Donohue in support of David Mulford's charming and original picture book story of friendship, family, and fun make "Jeannie's Crab Lake Christmas" highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Christmas themed picture book collections -- and delightful reading for children ages 4 to 9 at any time of the year.

The Music Shelf

The ABCs of Women in Music
Anneli Loepp Thiessen, author
Haeon Grace Kang, illustrator
GIA Publications, Inc.
7404 S. Mason Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638
978622776283, $18.95, HC, 32pp, Ages 5-7

"The ABCs of Women in Music" is an exciting collection of 26 celebrated women musicians, composers, performers, and creators, whose names begin with one of all 26 letters of the alphabet. Colorfully illustrated with a painting of each music artist, the text for thumbnail biographies includes musical contributions of each woman, plus the date of birth (and death if deceased).

Many of the women honored are well known, such as Beyonce, Renee Fleming, Dolly Parton, or Ella Fitzgerald. But others are less universally known for their special musical contributions, such as Gaelynn Lea, (violinist, singer, born 1984), Lizzo (pop singer, rapper, flautist B. 1988), and Ulali (First Nations A Cappella Ensemble founded in 1987). Still others are historically famous, including Nannerl Mozart (composer 1751-1829), Kassia (nun composer 810-865), Isabella Colbran (first female opera singer, 1785-1845), and Hildegard von Bingen (nun composer/writer, 1098-1179).

From Yuja Wang (concert pianist, b. 1987) to Ella Fitzgerald (jazz singer, 1917-1996), "The ABCs of Women in Music" celebrates the musical contributions of women over the ages . Describing the composition work of Zenobia Powell Perry (composer 1908-2004), this statement also summarizes the impact of "The ABCs of Women in Music:" "She wrote many songs, even though only one was published. When women forge their own paths, their voices will be heard."

An excellent ending exercise includes a page of blanks for the reader's favorite song, favorite role model for women in music, and a list of three words to describe women in music. Also helping to deliver the message of empowerment for women musicians is a brief quiz requesting names of women in music as follows: one DJ, one conductor, one musicologist, one ensemble, two pianists, two pop singers, and three opera composers.

Further quiz questions help young readers to remember the biographical sketches of the 26 women in music included and honored in this collection. "The ABCs of Women in Music" offers a multi -ethnic, cross generational, global sampling of a variety of diverse musical talents and offerings of women for children ages 5-7.

Critique: Simply stated, it deserves a space on every elementary and community library's Music History & Biography collections -- and will also serves as an inspiration for the rising generations of young women with an interest in music.

The Picturebook Shelf

Stop the Clock!
Pippa Goodhart, author
Maria Christania Winardi, illustrator
Tiny Owl
c/o Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9781910328828, $16.99 HC, $13.20 PB, 32pp

Synopsis: Pippa Goodhart's Stop the Clock! receives fun, kid-centric drawings by Maria Christania Winardi as it literally follows a race against time in a picture book story that starts with being late to school. Time concerns permeate the story, as there's much to achieve by certain hours and the adults who direct activities and seem to control time somehow never allow enough time for anything. Joe wants something different. Can he single-handedly turn back the hands of time?

Critique: Highly recommended, "Stop the Clock!" is a fun picture book story is filled with light-hearted, realistic insights and an ideal addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-7.

The Lonely Jacaranda
Russell Irving
Independently Published
9780645238228, $14.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paper

Synopsis: The Lonely Jacaranda provides a lovely picture book story of a lonely tree whose seed is carried overseas to be planted among other types of trees. Jaca is the first of her kind in this new world, and the local trees consider her odd. So do the native birds, who each choose a different tree because of their different qualities. Jaca has no inviting leaves in winter, and thus she presents a "cold and windy" countenance to the world around her.

The little birds aren't uncaring, however. And this may prove to be Jaca's salvation as they come up with a unique plan for easing her loneliness, with unexpected ramifications not just for Jaca's problem, but the human and natural world around her.

Critique: Russell Irving employs simple drawings to accompany his moving story. He also reviews the birds and trees of his native Australia in the course of a delightful story about compassion that young picture book readers will find appealing and fun. Adults looking for a gentle tale of friendship and problem-solving that incorporates insights about the Australian environment will find The Lonely Jacaranda a simple, enjoyable read.

A Grand Slam Birthday
Chrysa Smith, author
Pat Achilles, illustrator
Independently Published
9798806857775, $12.95, PB, 36pp

Synopsis: In A Grand Slam Birthday, Cousin Izzy's birthday party demands that attendee Dory wear a proper dress rather than her favored baseball pants. Still, Dory looks forward to celebrating, and has a cool gift that will enhance the party atmosphere. The surprise comes when she meets a fellow baseball player who also eschews the dance party Izzy's arranged. In fact, nobody wants to dance.

Dory's gift may provide the solution to the birthday party's stalled enthusiasm, but it's not a board game or puzzle. It offers an unusual activity none of the kids have seen, and it ultimately encourages all the participants to try their hands at something Dory has loved all her young life.

Critique: With the publication of "A Grand Slam Birthday", author/storyteller Chrysa Smith and artist illustrator Pat Achilles offers a different birthday celebration theme that revolves around translating one's passion into achievable, enjoyable fun everyone can pursue. Her depiction of how two unfamiliar pursuits eventually engage the entire party in trying something new makes for an appealing story that goes beyond the usual birthday themes to encourage kids to problem-solve in more cooperative ways.

While A Grand Slam Birthday holds a baseball theme, its story is about much more than baseball. It will engage a wide range of picture book readers, whether they know or care about the sport or not. The message about trying new things is really a lesson on positivity and creative pursuits. This approach will delight both picture book readers and their read-aloud parents with a taste of something different.

Abby the Crabby Tabby: Discovers Gratitude
Andrea Lane, author
Heather Bousquet, illustrator
Synergy 27, LLC
9798985672015, $16.99, HC, 35pp

Synopsis: Abby is a gray-and-white-striped tabby living a life of luxury. But all this finicky feline can do is complain. Abby is fed the finest people food--such as fresh salmon, ice cream, and French bread. She has cat toys aplenty, and sleeps on a poufy pet bed. But Abby is still a crabby tabby.

Mother Mabel waits on Abby hand and paw, but it's never enough. The tabby pouts that her food is late (and no longer warm!), and her cat toys are boring. Even Abby's fur-sister, sweet Olivia Kathy, can't cheer her up.

Abby finally runs away to find a perfect life, but the pampered pet is in for some frightening surprises: a tomcat bully steals Abby's food; a terrifying neighbor dog chases her up a tree; and the tree branch breaks, dropping her onto the firm ground of the real world.

Bruised and confused, Abby realizes that maybe her old life wasn't so bad after all. Sister Olivia Kathy was right! Abby should be grateful for the things she does have--and not complain about the things she doesn't. Abby has discovered that the secret to happiness is gratitude. -- Now Abby is one happy tabby!

Critique: A collaborative picture book for young children ages 4-8 by author/storyteller Andrea Lane and artist/illustrator Heather Bousquet, "Abby the Crabby Tabby: Discovers Gratitude" is a charming story with an important underlying message about being thankful for what we have. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Abby the Crabby Tabby: Discovers Gratitude" is also available in a paperback edition (9798985672022, $10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

All Cats Welcome
Susin Nielsen, author
Vivian Mineker, illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534476974, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Leonard adores his human. "Stay! Let's play!" he says when it's time to leave for work. His human just hears "Meow." But sometimes Leonard gets lonely. So does Mariposa, who is new in town. Maybe they could keep each other company? "Hello," says Leonard. "Hola," says Mariposa. While the friends don't share a language, they do share adventures. And together they find a place where all cats (and their humans) are welcome.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated and gently entertaining, "All Cats Welcome" will have a very special appeal to young readers who have a feline companion of their own. While very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "All Cats Welcome" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Susin Nielsen is a critically acclaimed author of many children's books, ranging from picture books to young adult novels, including No Fixed Address and We Are All Made of Molecules. Nielsen also verges on being a cat lady. She has her own website at

Editorial Note #2: Vivian Mineker is a Taiwanese American illustrator whose work derives from a love of nature and animals, as well as an appreciation of the world around her. She creates visuals that she hopes connect with her audience and evoke the profound feelings and emotions that we all experience as humans. She has illustrated a number of children's books, including The Road Not Taken, The Secret Life of Trees, and What a Ship Sees. She has a website at

A Dream of Birds
Shenaz Patel, author
Emmanuelle Tchoukriel, illustrator
Edwige-Renee Dru, translator
Amazon Crossing Kids
9781662500930, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Sara has a thing for birds. They remind her of her grandfather, who loved birds, and the wonderful show the creatures would put on in his yard each day -- like a cloud of colorful flowers carried by the wind.

As Sara walks to school in her island town, she longs for the freedom of those birds. Then she spots a new birdhouse full of parakeets in someone's yard. Sara feels drawn to them and unable to forget them. So what happens the next time, when she finds the door to the birdhouse unlocked?

With poetic language and beautiful art, "A Dream of Birds" is a picture book story set on the African island of Mauritius and brings to life a little girl's deep love of nature, her brash but well-meaning choice, and ultimately, her redemption and dream for a better world.

Critique: Impressively illustrated with the artistry of Emanuelle Tchoukriel and able translated into English by Edwige- Renee Dru, "A Dream of Birds" by author/storyteller Shenaz Patel (and first published in French and English in Mauritius and France) is a memorably entertaining picture book for young readers that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Dream of Birds" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Will Someone Play Bluey?
Eileen Ivers
Musical Bridge Publishing
9781737632108, $23.99, HC, 34pp

Synopsis: Eileen's Music School is a magical place. When the children go home, the instruments speak. But why do Drake the drum, Finn the flute and the other instruments tease and bully Bluey? Young readers will enjoy find out how Bluey's only true friend, Priscilla the piano, helps Bluey gain the confidence to show them how special he is -- how we are all unique. Will they all learn to be kind and respectful?

Critique: Written in rhyme and with rhythm, and how our differences are often our strengths, making "Will Someone Play Bluey?" very highly recommended for family, daycare center; preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-10. "Will Someone Play Bluey?" by Grammy-awarded violinist and educator Eileen Ivers (who is nationally known for her unique musical style and blue violin) is especially appropriate to initiate: Discussions on self-confidence, standing up for yourself; Discussions on anti-bullying, diversity and being kind; School classroom story times and music rooms.

I Am Magical
Nancy Ann Guettier, author
Antonija Marinic, illustrator
Morgan James Publishing
9781631956751, $9.95, PB, 36pp

Synopsis: Maggie is a girl who embarks on a fantastical journey with a unicorn she considers to be magical. The unicorn directs Maggie down the glittery path to discovery. She learns that if she can dream and believe that she is magical then she can be!

Critique: "I'm Magical" by author/storyteller Nancy Ann Guettier and artist/illustrator Antonija Marinic is the delightfully charming picture book story of a young girl named Maggie on a quest to find her inner Magic. This lovely little picture book is highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 2-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I'm Magical" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Jackie's Star
Miss Lori
Trimark Press
9781943401987, $17.95, PB, 30pp

Synopsis: Is it wishful thinking that sees young Jackie flying into the sky one night or the granting of a wish that takes her from the heavens back down to Earth, where she embraces her own unique self?

It's both!

With the publication of "Jackie's Star", author/illustrator Miss Lori takes children on a charmingly memorable ride from the ordinary to the extraordinary. In the end, Jackie makes a friend, and they both learn a valuable lesson on the importance of being true to who they really are.

Critique: A thoroughly charming and original picture book story for children ages 3-6, this paperback edition from Trimark Press of "Jackie's Star" will prove to be a welcome addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Miss Lori is an educator and life-long learner. She has decades of experience growing and nurturing the minds and hearts of her students, her own children, and herself.

Hector (He works for the public sector)
Cathy Kingham
Independently Published
9781739989309, $10.09 (Barnes & Noble), PB, 34pp

Synopsis: Hector has been assigned a new job role in the Cheese Distribution Team at Vermin City Council. Life doesn't get much better for a mouse than this -- lots of cheese, friendly colleagues and the great outdoors!

However, Hector quickly discovers things are not quite as they seem. Behind a veneer of respectability and productivity lies a management team that has lost its way. The ruthless focus on output and targets is to the detriment of Hector's colleagues and customers. Hector must tread very caerphilly indeed!

This is Hector's picture book story of bad cheese puns, burnout and the challenges of the modern workplace on our mental health and wellbeing. Hector believes that no matter how small and defeated you may feel, it is always important to find a way to stand up for what you believe is right!

Critique: A unique, charming and entertaining picture book for readers ages 8 to 88, "Hector (He works for the public sector)" was Inspired by author Cathy Kingham's own experiences of occupational burnout. With a very special appeal to young (and young at heart) readers, "Hector (He works for the public sector)" is highly recommended for school and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hector (He works for the public sector)" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.23, Amazon).

You Wonder All the Time
Deborah Farmer Kris, author
Jennifer Zivoin, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631986987, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Where do colors go at night, and why do shadows creep?" "You Wonder All the Time" by the team of author/storyteller Deborah Farmer Kris (a child development expert and parent educator) and artist/illustrator Jennifer Zivoin (who has illustrated more than forty children's books, and her art has appeared in children's magazines, including High Five and Clubhouse Jr.) celebrates curiosity and the thought-provoking questions children ask and supports them as they continue to learn. "Will you stay curious as you grow? It's a brilliant part of you!"

Asking questions is an important part of learning that helps children grow and understand the world. Inspired by and containing questions from real kids, "You Wonder All the Time" explores and affirms all the questions children ask by featuring a series of engaging, playful, and curious what, when, where, why, and how questions from the child to the adult. "What if we rode a T-Rex and shook the forest floor?"

Critique: With a charming rhyme and heartwarming message that children's many questions are welcomed and their wondering is loved makes "You Wonder All the Time" an especially welcome and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 2-6.

Editorial Note: The titles comprising the "All the Time Series" from Free Spirit Publishing are written from the perspective of an adult speaking to a child. The rhyming books in this series help young children know that they are deserving of love through life's ups and downs and show them all the ways they're supported as they continue to grow and learn.

Tiger Tales

Two new arrivals provide elementary-level readers with alluring, interesting stories.

Readers in grades 3-5 will enjoy Rachel Delahaye's Little Owl Rescue (9781664340114, $4.99), which presents another magical adventure involving Callie's efforts to save wild animals around the world. An abandoned owlet leads her to want to help the little bird, but the rescue process immerses her in other environmental issues that expand and challenge her problem-solving abilities. Kids who enjoy chapter book stories about young heroes and the natural world will enjoy reading about Callie's discoveries and mission.

The Hotel for Bugs (9781680102703, $17.99) by Suzy Senior features whimsical illustrations by Leire Martín as it tells of a brand new, fabulous hotel for bugs that features mossy rugs and luxury. The bugs swarm in and enjoy the new environment until one squishy, shiny, blobby denizen seeks a room and is turned away. After all, this is a hotel for bugs, not slugs. The lesson on difference and inclusiveness will receive additional strength from adults who choose this fun story as a read-aloud example of adversity and connection, making it a top recommendation for mindful parents who would pair fun with educational opportunities.

Gecko Press

Two new arrivals from Gecko Press are recommended acquisitions for libraries looking for standouts in picture book fiction.

Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson's The Tale of the Tiny Man (9781776574094, $18.99) tells of a tiny man who puts a note on a tree asking for a friend to respond. It takes ten days before he receives an unexpected gift that helps mitigate his loneliness in a story parents will want to choose for read-aloud interest and for discussions about friendship, loneliness, and making connections.

Elephant Island by Leo Timmers (9781776574346, $18.99) tells of a seafaring elephant who finds himself stranded on an island when his boat sinks. He is "alone, alone, all, all alone, alone on a wide wide sea," but can a large elephant be rescued by a small mouseboat? Parents who choose this book for read-aloud fun will find it a zany and intriguing title.

Wm B. Eerdmans

Three new picture books are lovely recommendations for kids, read-aloud parents, and libraries looking for lasting lending value.

Author and illustrator Isabelle Simler's A Perfect Spot (9780802855886, $18.99) tells of a ladybug that searches for a safe place to lay her eggs. Unfortunately, other insects have already claimed what appears to be the perfect spots. Can she find her own place, and will these different neighbors be appropriate for her home? Ladybug natural history comes to life in a lovely garden story filled with flowers and facts.

Yevgenia Nayberg's I Hate Borsch! (9780802855800, $17.99) follows the dilemma of a Ukrainian girl who despises the most popular soup in Eastern Europe. Nobody can get her to change her mind, until she immigrates to the U.S. and discovers that American food isn't attractive, either. Maybe she should give borsch another try? A fine blend of recipe, food prejudice, and immigrant experience blend in a fun story of a young girl's newfound appreciation for her culture's trademark dish. The illustrations provide whimsical embellishment to the tale.

Mariana Ruiz Johnson's The Book That Kibo Wrote (9780802855893, $17.99) tells of Kibo, who writes a story about home that becomes a book shared by others who become inspired to write their own stories about home and a sense of place. Wherever Kibo's book journeys, it sparks attention from fellow animals who find their own inspiration in Kibo's words and effort. A fun story evolves, translated by Lawrence Schimel, that tells of a book's unexpected journeys to and influences upon lands far away.

All three are excellent acquisitions offering a taste of something different and highly recommended for family, school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

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

These latest arrivals from Simon & Schuster provide young readers with picture book stories that are captivating and colorful.

For a cross-cultural flavor of Mother Goose, Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal's Mother Goose Goes to India (9781534439603, $17.99) takes an unexpected journey that captures delightful nuances. Wazza Pink's lovely illustrations capture the vision and fun of fifteen classic nursery rhymes revisited in this intriguing collection. Read-aloud parents will find the Hindi words and settings impart important information about Indian culture as it discusses its peoples.

The Runaway Pea Washed Away by Kjartan Poskitt (9781534490161, $17.99) receives simple, whimsical drawings by Alex Willmore as it provides another hilarious story of Pea. Pea barely escapes being a snack, but when he spins down a drain, he's sure that his adventures are just beginning. A lesson in positive outlook and trust evolves as Pea enters a very different world and absorbs its new possibilities.

Even Robots Aren't Perfect! by Jan Thomas (9781665911658, $17.99) tackles the subject of creative imperfection as a robot repeatedly fails at the job of being an artist as he and his companion explore the world. The differences between Red Robot and Blue Robot are many, but different attitudes between friends are the real highlight here as the robots face adventure, obstacles, and different outlooks on life.

Jonathan Hillman's Big Wig (9781534487710, $17.99) receives large-sized and entertaining drawings by Levi Hastings as it surveys a gaudy wig, a gaudy queen who decides to compete in the Big Wig Ball, and a competition that demands they stand out in new ways. As everyone wigs out, the adventure becomes a rollicking exploration of originality that will delight young readers and their read-aloud adults alike.

David Sundin's The Book That Did Not Want to be Read (9781665910811, $17.99) is an "experience" that invites ages 4-8 to partake of a reluctant book's contents. This book will do anything to avoid being read, from sprouting wings to fly away to inviting grown-ups and kids to just turn the page without reading. Some of its logic will prove heady for young readers, but adults who choose this story as a read-aloud will find it easy to explore these whimsical thoughts with kids.

All of these new titles are standouts in the picture book world, and worthy of family, school, and community library consideration and inclusion for young readers.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

John Schu's This is a School (9781536204582, $17.99) features inviting illustrations by Veronica Miller Jamison and includes a poster on the reverse side of the jacket as it explores the people who make up a school, from teachers and staff to principals. It's a celebration of the school environment that profiles it as a "community, celebrating," giving kids the idea that school is a place for learning on different levels.

The Stardust That Made Us by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadía (9781536223835, $24.99) is another fine oversized science story that lends to display. Its visual exploration of chemistry, elements, and the universe assumes an inviting display of not only science, but the commendable individuals who made discoveries that expanded the connections between human natural history and the universe. Inviting illustrations throughout provide intriguing and fun images designed to attract reader attention to the written word and the wealth of science presented in this winning book.

Rajani LaRocca's I'll Go and Come Back (9781536207170, $18.99) receives fun illustrations by Sara Palacios that bring to life the story of Jyoti, who visits her grandmother in India, halfway around the world, and faces a language barrier between them. Despite this obstacle, she and Sita Pati form a bond and share many experiences. In Tamil, people don't say goodbye. They say "I'll go and come back," and the promise of being reunited embraces love and connections that adults will find moving for read-aloud discussion.

Mac Barnett's John's Turn (9781536203950, $17.99) receives appealing illustrations by Kate Berube as it surveys a daily cafeteria performance by children who rotate being in the limelight. It's John's turn, today. Everyone else has done magic tricks, played instruments, or told jokes. John does something different. Also different is Mac Barnett's lovely choice of exploring John's performance from the point of view of a young audience member charged with watching him. The result is especially thought-provoking and inviting, offering a message parents will want to discuss with their kids.

All of these new titles from Candlestick Press are excellent choices for children's picture book libraries and read-aloud parents alike.


New picture books from Penguin are fine picks for libraries seeking lasting lending value and attractive blends of illustration and story.

Shannon Hale's This Book is Not for You! (9781984816856, $18.99) pairs fun illustrations by Tracy Subisak with the story of bookmobile day, which ordinarily thrills avid reader Stanley ... until an obstinate librarian refuses to allow him to read a book about a girl. The man insists that girls' books are only for girls. How can Stanley maintain, in turn, that all books are for both genders? It takes an unusual turn of events for him to make his point in a memorable way that kids and read-aloud adults will find amusing and thought-provoking.

Christy Mihaly's Patience, Patches! (9780593108291, $17.99) receives engaging illustrations by Sheryl Murray as it tells of Patches, a patient puppy who is stymied by an unexpected addition to his family. The requests upon him to be even more patient would frustrate anyone. Can the new arrival bring with it more than rules that Patches finds impossible to follow long-term? This gentle story holds many different messages, from cultivating patience and adapting to new circumstances to understanding changing family roles. Parents especially will find its gentle message lends to discussion.

Deborah Freedman's Tiny Dino (9780593352649, $17.99) makes the claim that dinosaurs still roam the Earth, albeit in different forms. A variety of animal participants explain the presence of tiny dinos in modern times, bringing both pleasure and information to young dinosaur-enthralled readers through very simple dialogue, eye-catching images, and action words.

Shannon Stocker's Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, A Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion (9780593109694, $17.99) receives colorful and lively illustrations by Devon Holzwarth as it considers a young musical genius who goes deaf, seemingly destroying her dreams of becoming a musician. After all, a deaf girl can't create music...or, can she? This story not only explores the musical world of Evelyn Glennie, but invites young music aficionados to develop their own different means of absorbing and defining what constitutes music in this appealing story of adaptation and creativity.

All of these are fine choices for discriminating family, school, and community library picture book collections.

The Board Book Shelf

I Can See You
Rosemarie Avrana Meyok, author
Michelle Simpson, illustrator
Inhabit Media
9781772274202, $12.95, Board Book, 28pp

Synopsis: "I Can See You" by the team of author/storyteller Rosemarie Avrana Meyok and artist/illustrator Michelle Simpson is an adorably charming board book designed to be shared with babies and toddlers with its theme of devoted mothers exploring their love for their babies as experienced through the five senses. From the sound of a baby's giggles to the smell of a kunik, "I Can See You" is a celebration of the unique bonds shared between mothers and babies.

Critique: Fun, appealing, and ideal for children ages 6 months to 2 years, "I Can See You" is a very highly recommended and an immediately favored addition to both family and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Rosemarie Avrana Meyok studied as a teacher in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, and worked as an Inuinnaqtun teacher and program specialist, developing Inuktut teaching resources for the Nunavut Department of Education. She went on to study linguistics at the University of Western Ontario and the University of New Mexico. She has worked as a language researcher and translator.

Editorial Note #2: Michelle Simpson is an illustrator and designer based out of Niagara Falls, Canada. Michelle graduated with a BAA in illustration from Sheridan College and now works as a full-time freelance illustrator, focusing mainly on children's book illustration. She has also worked as a concept artist for kids cartoons such as Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate and Tee and Mo.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Rock 'N' Eight
L. A. Brelsford
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781636613611, $26.00, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: The Rock 'N' Eight are about to enter the Jump Rope Competition at their church, with their eyes set on the prize. Along the way, they must work to overcome diversity, and discover the possibilities are endless when working together!

An interactive story, "Rock 'N' Eight" by L. A. Brelsford encourages children to write their own stories and teaches that opposition gives unity a chance, and that sharing a common goal with a giving attitude will ultimately lead to success.

Critique: A unique, entertaining, inspiring, and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers, "Rock 'N' Eight" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.00).

Editorial Note: L.A. Brelsford has always aspired to write a children's book for her own children, who are now grown and living with their own families across the United States. She began writing when she taught Sunday School class. Her class wrote a story about unleavened bread. The story was then printed in the church newspaper.

The Natural Genius of Ants
Betty Culley
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593175774, $16.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Harvard is used to his father coming home from the hospital and telling him about all the babies he helped. But since he made a mistake at work, Dad has been quieter than usual. And now he is taking Harvard and his little brother, Roger, to Kettle Hole, Maine, for the summer. Harvard hopes this trip isn't another mistake.

In the small town where he grew up, Dad seems more himself. Especially once the family decides to start an ant farm -- just like Dad had as a kid! But when the mail-order ants are D.O.A., Harvard doesn't want Dad to experience any more sadness. Luckily, his new friend Neveah has the brilliant idea to use the ants crawling around the kitchen instead. But these insects don't come with directions. So the kids have a lot to learn -- about the ants, each other, and how to forgive ourselves when things go wrong.

Critique: An original, entertaining, and exceptionally memorable novel by Betty Culley (who actually kept an ant farm and cared for a carpenter ant queen while writing it), "The Natural Genius of Ants" with its underlying message of the value of forgiveness of ourselves and others will prove to be an enduringly welcome and appreciated addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Natural Genius of Ants" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Betty Culley is also the author of the middle-grade novel "Down to Earth", which received a starred review from Booklist, calling it "captivating," and the YA novel in verse "Three Things I Know Are True", which was a Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten Pick and an ALA- YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. She has her own website at

The YA Fiction Shelf

N. Scott Stedman
River Grove Books
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
9781632994523, $14.95, PB, 302pp

Synopsis: Gamma is a twelve year old mouse who has spent her entire life struggling to communicate. She's never understood how to stop the bullies and negligent foster parents without causing more trouble than it's worth. That is until she discovers the magic of code -- a language that's more powerful than anything she's ever imagined.

To everyone's surprise, Gamma is anonymously chosen to attend the prestigious Rickum Academy -- an incubator for the brightest and most promising young minds in tech. Her excitement is short-lived as the mystery of how she ended up at Rickum very quickly unravels around her, threatening the safety of her new life and the innocent lives of those around her. With the help of her new friends, Ada and Boone, Gamma is in a race against her classmates, her teachers, and the most powerful man in tech to not only uncover the truth about who she is, but who she is not.

Critique: With a special appeal to young readers ages 12-15 who have an interest in coding, "Mouse" by N. Scott Stedman is a carefully crafted, impressively entertaining, and emotionally inspiring read from cover to cover, making it all the more extraordinary when considering it is Stedman's debut as a novelist. While appropriate and highly recommended for middle school and community library General YA Fiction collections it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mouse" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Rise of the Snake Goddess
Jenny Elder Moke
Disney Hyperion
9781368067270, $17.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: After being snubbed by her college's archaeology department for an honor she rightfully earned, Samantha Knox is hell-bent on proving her worth to her misogynistic department head. So when an opportunity presents itself to solve the hidden meaning behind a symbol found inside a cave in Greece, Sam is all over it, and she's bringing Bennett and Jo with her for the cross-Atlantic trip.

Once on the island of Crete, Sam finds a treasure she never expected -- the golden girdle of an ancient and powerful goddess, and she can't resist its siren call, or the accolades she would win for discovering it. But before she can take credit for the find, the girdle is stolen and the island is hit with a series of earthquakes that don't feel quite coincidental.

Soon Sam, Bennett, and Jo are embroiled in a wild hunt that takes them to tiny island shops, a glamorous high-stakes auction, and a fiery near-death experience) to find the girdle before someone can use it to raise the ancient goddess from her slumber. An unexpected heist, a terrifying trek through a labyrinth, and a fight to the death with the Minotaur itself lead to a final standoff she and her friends won't soon forget -- and one that might just break up Sam and Bennett for good!

Critique: The beautiful island of Crete, an archaeological find for the ages, and one seriously pissed-off Greek goddess. It's just another day for Samantha Knox in Jenny Moke's inherently riveting novel "Rise of the Snake Goddess". The first book of a new series, "Rise of the Snake Goddess" is set against the gorgeous backdrop and ancient ruins of the Greek islands, and with its pulse-pounding action is a twisting mystery will appeal to action-adventure fans, romance die-hards, and mythology buffs alike. While especially and unreservedly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to Middle School, Highschool, and Community Library science fiction collections for young readers ages 12-18, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction and fantasy buffs that "Rise of the Snake Goddess" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. Her debut novel, "Hood" was released in 2020 and was a JLG Selection, a Mayor's Book Club selection, and received critical acclaim.

Not Good for Maidens
Tori Bouvalino
Page Street Publishing
9781645674665, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Beneath the streets of York, the goblin market calls to the Wickett women -- the family of witches that tends to its victims. For generations, they have defended the old cobblestone streets with their magic. Knowing the dangers, they never entered the market -- until May Wickett fell for a goblin girl, accepted her invitation, and became inextricably tied to the world her family tried to protect her from. The market learned her name, and even when she and her sister left York for Boston to escape it, the goblins remembered.

Seventeen years later, Lou, May's niece, knows nothing of her magical lineage or the twisted streets, sweet fruits, and incredible jewels of the goblin market. But just like her aunt, the market calls to her, an echo of a curse that won't release its hold on her family. And when her youngest aunt, Neela, is kidnapped by goblins, Lou discovers just how real and dangerous the market is.

To save her, both May and Lou will have to confront their family's past and what happened all those years ago. But everything from the food and wares, to the goblins themselves is a haunting temptation for any human who manages to find their way in. And if Lou isn't careful, she could end up losing herself to the market, too.

Critique: A deftly crafted and original fantasy novel by an author with a genuine flair for, and mastery of, the fantasy genre, "Not Good For Maidens" by Tori Bovalino is an inherently and memorable entertaining YA fantasy novel for young readers ages 14-17. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Not Good For Maidens" will prove an immensely popular addition to Middle School, Highschool, and community library YA Fiction & Fantasy collections.

Editorial Note: Tori Bovalino is also the author of "The Devil Makes Three". She can be followed on Twitter @toribov and has her own website at

Sweet & Bitter Magic
Adrienne Tooley
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534453852, $19.99, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she's exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back (even for just a little while) is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source -- a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren (the only caretaker to her ailing father) has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren's father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them -- that is, if they don't kill each other first.

Critique: Exhibiting a genuine flair for originality, "Sweet & Bitter Magic" by novelist Adrienne Tooley is a deftly crafted and compelling a read from first page to last. With a special appeal to fans of action/adventure fantasy from ages 12 to 18, as well as LGBTQ romance fiction, "Sweet & Bitter Magic" is an especially recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sweet & Bitter Magic" is also available in a paperback edition (9781534453869, $12.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797121673, $39.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Adrienne Tooley is also the author of The Third Daughter; the Kids' Indie Next Pick Sofi and the Bone Song. In addition to writing novels, she is a singer/songwriter who has released four indie-folk EPs. She also maintains a website at

IT Came to Earth
TD Walress
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781639374373, $23.00, PB, 382pp

Synopsis: Tedrak is a Master of the Past Phase (holograph to the past), and is about to embark on his first and most dangerous mission: the fearsome and hateful Golaks have called for aid in locating the IT, the most dangerous weapon in the galaxy. After a supernova crashes the ship, the only survivors are IT and Tedrak.

As Tedrak fights for survival on a strange planet, and makes new friends in the process, he and IT must evade capture and find a way back home and learn more about IT's strange past. Through their adventure, Tedrak and IT discover what true friendship means. But will it be enough to get them home?

Critique: A deftly crafted science fiction saga, "IT Came to Earth" showcases author TD Walress' genuine flair for originality, imagination, and an impressive narrative driven storytelling style perfectly suited to teenage and young adult science fiction fans. While especially and unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction & Science Fiction collections, it should be noted that "IT Came to Earth" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: TD Walress is the author of young adult, middle grade, and adult science fiction and thrillers. A military veteran, Walress went on to spend thirty-eight years working in education from grade school to high school as a special education teacher, coach, and in administration.

Stories of Jedi and Sith
Roseanne A. Brown, et al.
Disney Lucasfilm Press
c/o Buena Vista Books
9781368080545, $17.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Just in time to celebrate the highly-anticipated re-match between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader in the Disney forthcoming event 'Obi-Wan Kenobi', "Stories of Jedi and Sith" is comprised of ten original short stories about the the valiant Jedi and the evil Sith.

Larger-than-life characters clash in epic lightsaber battles that will appeal to young readers in general, and to Star Wars fans of all ages in particular as ten acclaimed authors imagine new tales for some of the most iconic Star Wars characters ever, ranging from Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader, from Obi-Wan Kenobi to Darth Maul, and beyond

Critique: "Stories of Jedi and Sith" is enhanced with the incluion of an impressive full page illustration by artist Jake Bartok for each individual story by Roseanne A. Brown, Sarwat Chadda, Delilah S. Dawson, Tessa Gratton, Michael Kogge, Sam Maggs, Michael Moreci, Alex Segura; Vera Strange; and Karen Strong. Simply stated, "Stories of Jedi and Sith" is a fully entertaining and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Science Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for the personal reading list of all dedicated Star Wars fans from 8 to 88 that "Stories of Jedi and Sith" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Graphic Novel Shelf

M Is for Monster
Talia Dutton
Abrams Comics Art
c/o Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
9781419762208, $24.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: When Doctor Frances Ai's younger sister Maura died in a tragic accident six months ago, Frances swore she would bring her back to life. However, the creature that rises from the slab is clearly not Maura.

This resurrected girl, who chooses the name "M", doesn't remember anything about Maura's life and just wants to be her own person. However, Frances expects M to pursue the same path that Maura had been on (applying to college to become a scientist) and continue the plans she and Maura shared. Hoping to trigger Maura's memories, Frances surrounds M with the trappings of Maura's past, but M wants nothing to do with Frances' attempts to change her into something she's not.

In order to face the future, both Frances and M need to learn to listen and let go of Maura once and for all. M Is for Monster, takes a hard look at what it means to live up to other people's expectations -- as well as our own.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "M is for Monster" is Talia Dutton's debut graphic novelist, the story is original, the artwork praiseworthy, and the subject matter inherently both fascinating and thought-provoking. As a well executed graphic novel, "M Is for Monster" will have a very special appeal to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual readers ages 14-21, as well as Young Adult fans of Science Fiction & Fantasy. It should be noted that "M is for Monster" is also available in a paperback edition (9781419751974, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle/Comixology, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Talia Dutton is a queer, biracial Asian cartoonist and illustrator. A firm believer in the intersection of art and play, Dutton creates introspective comics about monsters and humanity, trying to find the humor and warmth of the mundane in the fantastical. She received a BA from Brown University in 2018 and an MFA in comics from California College of the Arts in 2020. She has her own website at

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Atlas of Endangered Animals
Radek Maly, author
Pavel Dvorsky, illustrator
Jiri Grbavcic, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000061276, $24.99, HC, 88pp

Synopsis: We are born, we live, we die, and we loot our planet. We pollute it, mine it, cut down forests, and transform them into arable land. We pump out groundwater as well as raw materials . The result is that entire lines of threatened species are dying before our eyes with a few going extinct as every decade passes.

Do we want to continue like this? "Atlas of Endangered Animals" maps out the dangers that specific threatened species currently face.

With the publication of the "Atlas of Endangered Animals", which is comprised of the stories of forty species whose ongoing existence rests in our hands, author Radek Mal encourages people to think about their actions. This ambitiously conceived atlas is accompanied by remarkable full page illustrations by Pavel Dvorsk , supplemented by scientific illustrations by his wife Pavla Dvorská.

Critique: A coffee-table style volume (9.06 x 0.71 x 13.15 inches, 1.95 pounds), "Atlas of Endangered Animals" is a beautifully illustrated and informative compendium that will prove to be an enduringly welcome and appreciated addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife Atlas collections for children ages 9-12 .

Atlas of Extinct Animals
Radek Maly, author
Pavel Dvorsky, illustrator
Jiri Grbavcic, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000061269, $24.99, HC, 88pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Atlas of Extinct Animals", poet Radek Maly tells the stories of forty-one extinct species and studies the causes of their sad demise. The large-format "Atlas of Extinct Animals" is supplemented with beautifully expressive full-page illustrations by gifted artist Jiri Grbavcic and detailed pictures by renowned scientific illustrator Pavel Dvorsky.

The gorgeous, detailed depictions and descriptions of species and their fates can only serve as a reminder and as a warning of how much life has already disappeared from the Earth. The atlas also shows that the disappearances continue as page by page it nears the present day and ultimately introduces creatures that still existed a few years ago, like the Zanzibar leopard (until 1996) and the Chinese river dolphin (until 2007).

In the end, we are left with a bitter question: Which creature will next be added to this atlas? "Atlas of Extinct Animals" was selected by White Ravens 2020 for the annual catalog of book recommendations in the field of international children's and youth literature.

Critique: A true memorial to the life forms now gone extinct, "Atlas of Extinct Animals" is informative, thought-provoking, and inherently fascinating. This coffee-table style volume (9.2 x 0.7 x 13.2 inches, 1.95 pounds) making it an unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife Encyclopedia collections for children ages 9-12.

Loveday Trinick, author
Teagan White, illustrator
Big Picture Press
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536223811, $37.99, HC, 112pp,

Synopsis: "Oceanarium: Welcome to the Museum" by marine biologist Loveday Trinick is an aquarium in book form that gathers some two hundred ocean creates and profiles them with large-sized illustrations by Teagan White. From crustaceans and Portuguese man-of-war to seahorses and pipefish, the full-page visual drawings add delightful attraction to discussions of the extraordinary natural history of many of these creatures. The result is a winning format designed to appeal even to reluctant science readers, and across a wide age range from elementary levels into adult audiences.

Critique: While the oversized presentation of Loveday Trinick's "Oceanarium: Welcome to the Museum" is highly recommended for family, elementary school, and public library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers ages 8-12. Even though it may stymie traditional school and community library shelving efforts -- ideally this book will be deservedly on display far more than it will repose on an ordinary bookshelf.

Editorial Note #1: Loveday Trinick is a marine biologist with the Ocean Conservation Trust. Based within the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, England, she teaches children of all ages about the importance of the ocean; she believes seeing children inspired by animals and creating connections to the marine environment is the best way to help conserve our oceans for future generations.

Editorial Note #2: Teagan White is an artist and illustrator who likes to celebrate the intricate beauty of the natural world through their depictions of flora and fauna. Teagan's work is influenced by years of living in the Midwest and Great Lakes region, traveling by bicycle, adventuring in the woods, and volunteering in wildlife rehabilitation.

Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill
Matt Lilley, author
Dan Tavis, illustrator
Tilbury House Publishers
9780884488675, $18.95 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 36pp

Synopsis: Matt Lilley's Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill receives lovely illustrations by Dan Tavis as it invites young picture book readers ages 6-8 into the life of a krill from birth to death. The step-by-step natural history tackles some weighty subjects, such as metanauplius, but uses an invitingly questioning tone to involve young readers in the krill's evolutionary process.

Critique: Highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections, educators and parents interested in early introductions to marine biology for young readers will find "Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill" an excellent first step to understanding the food chain, beginning with the krill's life cycle and importance.

Can't Get Enough Shark Stuff
Andrea Silen, author
Kelly Hargrave, author
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
101 West 104th Street, Suite 8, New York, NY 10025
9781426372582, $14.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: For young animal lovers who are absolutely obsessed with everything sharks, "Can't Get Enough Shark Stuff" is a compendium of mind-blowing facts, exciting games, hands-on activities, hilarious shark jokes, and suspenseful stories from shark experts. Also included are tantalizing tidbits about perplexing prehistoric sharks, the latest info on studying sharks in the wild, and surprising, cutting-edge discoveries about shark behavior.

Key features include: A glossary game in the front of the book to learn key terms; More than 250 stunning photographs; Detailed diagrams and infographics; Articles on the latest shark research and hands-on accounts from experts; "Fin-tastic Facts" gallery spreads showcasing sharks with the fiercest features, the sneakiest defenses, and more; Hilarious shark jokes; Hands-on activities you can try at home; Quizzes and games to test your knowledge.

Critique: Combining fun facts, photos, info-packed articles, and incredible statistics all in a single book, "Can't Get Enough Shark Stuff: Fun Facts, Awesome Info, Cool Games, Silly Jokes, and More!" offers everything kids ages 7-10 will want about their favorite sharks -- making it an ideal and recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Maritime Wildlife collections. It should be noted for librarians that "Can't Get Enough Shark Stuff: Fun Facts, Awesome Info, Cool Games, Silly Jokes, and More!" is also available in a library binding edition (9781426372599).

Editorial Note #1: Andrea Silen is a writer, editor, and frequent contributor to National Geographic Kids media, including National Geographic Kids magazine and its accompanying website.

Editorial Note #2: Kelly Hargrave writes a variety of nonfiction and novelty children's books for top publishers and licensed properties that inspire kids to think genuinely and creatively about their very own world, full of unexpected discoveries and incredible possibilities. She currently works at Scholastic Book Fairs where she helps discover new books for kids to read and edits newsletters on trending kid book topics.

Light the Sky, Firefly
Sheri Mabry Bestor, author
Jonny Lambert, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
978153411158, $17.99 HC, $17.09 Kindle, 32pp

Synopsis: Light the Sky, Firefly is a natural history story of fireflies that covers their four developmental stages, and blends whimsical illustrations with science to make for an intriguing STEM exploration. Ages 4-8 will appreciate the vivid drawings, while read-aloud adults will found the sound effects ("Squishy, squish, squish.") just as fun as their young readers.

Critique: Following the life cycle of the firefly, this survey creates a winning examination that will attract the interest even of those residing in areas where fireflies do not exist. "Light the Sky, Firefly" is a highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for children.

The Biography Shelf

Wonderful Hair: The Beauty of Annie Malone
Eve Nadel Catarevas, author
Felicia Marshall, illustrator
Creston Books
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781954354104, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A colored woman in a white dominated world, Annie Malone turned her personally developed hair care products into a successful industry, including schools that taught the Poro method in her Poro Colleges. One of her students was the much more famous Madame C.J. Walker. She not only encouraged Black women to feel good about their hair, she showed them how to be entrepreneurs. Annie Turnbo Malone is an inspiring model and an important part of women's history and Black history who deserves to be better known.

Critique: Having a particular appeal to African-American children this picture book biography of Annie Malone by the team of author Eve Nadel Catarevas and artist/illustrator Felicia Marshall is a truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library and Women Biographies and Multicultural Biographies collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note #1: Eve Nadel Catarevas enjoys discovering little-known historical figures and sharing their achievements with others. She has her own website at

Editorial Note #2: Felicia Marshall draws on her childhood experiences in rural Texas for her illustrations. Her most recent book, Beautiful Shades of Brown, was an NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book, a Eureka Honor Book, and won the Northern Lights Book Award.

The Christian Shelf

A Miracle in the Kitchen: A Legend about Saint Zita
Pamela Love, author
Sheila Bailey, illustrator
Pauline Kids
c/o Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130-3433
9780819808721, $14.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Zita had a tough decision to make. She worked hard as a housemaid, tried to be a good friend, and helped those in need. But when her boss demanded even more, what could Zita do? In a new picture book for young Christian readers, will find out what Zita chose, and how some heavenly help brought the entire household to its knees in prayer in a richly illustrated tale of faith, generosity, and selfless love brings the story of Saint Zita to life.

Critique: An entertaining and inspiring picture book tor for children ages 5-8, "A Miracle in the Kitchen: A Legend about Saint Zita" by author/storyteller Pamela Love and artist/illustrator Sheila Bailey will prove a welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to family, Sunday School, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

The Humor Shelf

A Dad Joke A Day
DaddiLife Books
9798506060451, $8.99, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: Can A Dad Joke A Day keep the doctor away? Perhaps not. But a dad joke in the right hands can keep the kids and family on their toes, and at their eye rolling best!

With the publication of "A Dad Joke A Day", kids are provided with a compendium of 365 jokes for and about fathers that are guaranteed groan worthy tummy ticklers for specific calendar days of the year. Part of the fun is seeing if kids and dads can spot them all!

Critique: Fun, funny, and laugh (or groan) out loud worthy, and an especially appropriate as a gift for Father's Day, Birthdays or Christmas celebrations, "A Dad Joke A Day" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library humor book collections. It should be noted that "A Dad Joke A Day" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: DaddiLife Books are a dedicated team of fathers, and the publishing division of DaddiLife - the leading platform and community for modern day dads. Formed in 2016 with a mission to shine a light on the generational change of modern day dads, the team have written about a number of topics, issues, and opportunities for fathers, and have grown to a community of over 150,000 dads. You can find out more about them on their website at

The Dance Shelf

Dance Stance
Once Upon a Dance, author
Maris Mongodi, illustrator
Once Upon a Dance, Publisher
9781955555227, $4.99 ebook/$12.99 paper/$24.99 hardcover, 63pp

Synopsis: Dance Stance: Beginning Ballet for Young Dancers with Ballerina Konora covers the basic steps of ballet in a visual discussion for young dancers that features ballerina Konora's insights into not just the movements, but the attractions and pleasures of dancing. This education is accented by Stella Maris Mongodi's appealing drawings of young ballerinas who absorb these basics.

Readers might anticipate a dry approach to the methodical movements of ballet, but Konora's intention is to also transmit the joy of dance to youngsters who may have little familiarity with ballet. The heart of this introduction is "how to stand" (called the "dance stance"). Displaying the wit of Konora and illustrator Mongodi, the first step in learning the dance stance is to employ a great deal of imagination. Whimsical artwork accompanies the equally appealing written description: "...perhaps imagine you have wide duck feet and long frog toes. Try to feel you are attached to the earth. You are grounded and secure, like a magnet attached to metal."

Adults working with the very young to absorb the basics of ballet movements will especially appreciate the opportunity to place these efforts in an appealing perspective, using Dance Stance to both illustrate these basics and engage young picture book readers in the process. The clear explanations will especially benefit from adult read-aloud discussions as young dancers absorb many new concepts of standing, posture, pose, and being still.

Critique: Outstanding in its child-oriented instructions and attention-grabbing illustrations and comparisons between dance and fun, Once Upon a Dance's motion- and joy-filled approach in Dance Stance is highly recommended for any adult seeking to instill early lessons and a love of ballet in the young.

The Science Shelf

Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild
Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author
June Jo Lee, author
Julie Wilson, illustrator
Readers to Eaters
9780998047713, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild is illustrated with zany, appealing drawings by Julie Wilson and introduces Sandor Katz, who educates people not in school, but in a new environment, teaching them how to make fermented foods.

It's unusual to find a discussion about fermented foods geared to early readers, but Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee do a fine job of explaining a complex subject for their young audiences, discussing invisible microbes that transform ordinary foods into something extraordinary.

Critique: Parents and educators looking for a lively, true story that blends biography with food facts and even recipes will relish the attraction and unusual appeal of Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild. The history, science, and culinary art of fermentation will interest a wide audience of children ages 7-10.

Books in Series

Button Books
c/o The GMC Group

The Great Lives in Graphics series is a new way of looking at the lives of famous and influential people. It takes the essential dates and achievements of each person's life, mixes them with lesser-known facts and trivia, and uses infographics to show them in a fresh visual way that is genuinely engaging for children and young adults. The result is a colorful, fascinating and often surprising representation of that person's life, work and legacy. Using timelines, maps, repeated motifs and many more beautiful and informative illustrations, readers learn not just about the main subject of the book but also about the cultural background of the time in which they lived.

There are now two new titles in the outstanding 'Great Lives in Graphics' series from Button Books.

With "The Great Lives in Graphics: Shakespeare" (9781787080515, $14.99, HC, 32pp), while young readers ages 8-12 may already know that William Shakespeare was a playwright, do they know he learned nothing but Latin at school? Or that he couldn't even spell his own name? This graphic retelling of Will's story gives children a visual snapshot of his life and the world he grew up in, while educating them with 250 fascinating facts on everything from Elizabethan theatre to the power of words.

With "The Great Lives in Graphics: Albert Einstein" (9781787081215, $14.99, HC, 32pp) children ages 8-12 will have fun when among the featured 250 fun facts about one of the world's most famous scientists that Albert Einstein never wore socks, and that he had a violin named Lina? This graphic retelling of Albert's story gives young readers a visual snapshot of his life and the world he grew up in, while educating them on everything from how gravity works to the importance of creative thinking.

Both of these informative and fun biographies are especially recommended additions to elementary school, middle school, and community library biography collections for young readers.

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.

What Does Little Crocodile Say?
Eva Montanari
Tundra Books
9780735268135, $17.99

Larissa Juliano

Starting a new school, sport, or activity can be scary! First day jitters and leaving your family for the first time is an important experience to talk about and What Does the Little Crocodile Say? shares all these emotions and more! Readers watch and empathize as our cute crocodile very reluctantly starts his first day of preschool! The pictures are adorable with a soft beige background and pops of color and characters. Soon enough, the end of the day is near and Little Crocodile has lots of kisses waiting for Mommy because, of course, Mommy always comes back! (Ages 2-5)

The Fancy Schmancy Lifeguard: A Tale of Bravery
Gilda Boram, author
Julian Boram, illustrator
Rainbowdrop Books
9781739925277, $19.99

Deb Greenberg

A persistent, pocket-sized poodle proves himself in this playful tale. Buddy really wants to be a lifeguard and works every day swimming, diving, rescuing, but no one thinks he can do the job. Then his family moves from beachside Sydney to chilly London, dashing his dreams. See how the puffy poodle accomplishes his plan and proves he's ready for any problem, by performing and pulling off a pond rescue of pooches escaping their prison purse. (Ages 2-6)

Slushy, Slurpy, City Snow
Brooke Vitale, author
David Hillman, illustrator
Charge Mommy Books
9781955947022, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

Tag along during a day of city snow, from the early hours when the first crisp flakes blanket the streets to an afternoon filled with sledding, building snowmen, and throwing snowballs to the evening when the snow turns slushy and slurpy. Off with the snow boots and in for some warm cocoa and cookies, the perfect way to spend a snowy day. (Ages 3-7)

Periwinkle Smith and the Big Pink Spot
John Brinkman and Wendy Walters
Charge Mommy Books
9781955947046, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

While wearing her twirly, whirly white tutu, Periwinkle Smith can do everything from climbing the highest tree to fighting off enemy pirates. But when she gets a big pink spot on her flouncy, bouncy tutu, she does everything she can to fix it. Keep turning the pages to see if Periwinkle's can-do attitude can get her back to conquering the world. Bright and colorful illustrations complete this tale about overcoming obstacles. (Ages 3-7)

Say Cheese
Brooke Vitale, author
Gamepak Studio, illustrator
Charge Mommy Books
9781955947305, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

When a little boy's search for treasure turns up his mom's old digital camera, he spends his day seeing the world through a new lens, as she tells him to take pictures of whatever makes him happy. Read along and see what photos he snaps as he learns what he really treasures most. (Ages 3-7)

My Best Friend
Miguel Tanco
Tundra Books
9780735270701, $18.99

Larissa Juliano

Told in the first person, each page shows a human and a dog sharing funny and relatable memories together. I love the superb use of ink and watercolor that Mr. Tanco uses as he shows sweet kiddos snuggling at home, watching television, gazing at the stars, sharing a treat, and enjoying all that life (and nature) has to offer us with their favorite companions. My Best Friend will warm readers' hearts and spark lots of discussion (and can be a great mentor text for writing!) about what makes our pets so important and special to us. (Ages 3-7)

Rodney Was a Tortoise
Nan Forler, author
Yong Ling Kang, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735266629, $18.99

Christine Irvin

It's tough when a child has to deal with the lose of a beloved pet. When Bernadette's pet turtle, Rodney, dies, she wants to crawl in her shell and withdraw from life because she misses him so much. But a kid in her class at school finally speaks to her and draws her out, helping her discover life goes on, it'll just be different now. This is a touching story with sweet illustrations that will speak to kids of all ages. (Ages 3-7)

Mickey on the Move: Farming
Michelle Wagner, author
Jenny Phelps, illustrator
Mascot Books
9781637552421, $16.95

Deb Greenberg

Join Mickey and his mom in their farming and gardening adventures, raising chickens and growing delicious fruits and vegetables. Because he was born with deafness in both ears, little Mickey had to overcome challenges to enjoy the great outdoors. His first pair of cochlear implants couldn't get wet, limiting his outdoor fun. But his new Aqua Cochlear implants allow him to swim, run in sprinklers, and enjoy all the amazing nature sounds. Read about Mickey and see what's new and tasty in his backyard orchard. A wonderful introduction to overcoming obstacles. (Ages 3-8)

Robie H. Harris, author
Armando Marino, illustrator
9781536207354, $17.99

Anita Lock

Brilliant watercolor-and-ink illustrations and rhyming prose grace the pages of this tender story of a child's pursuit of independence. A father and his young daughter venture out for a walk and visit a park. The daughter yearns to explore somewhere new and says goodbye to her daddy before exploring the area. After discovering a peso, a white flower, and three feathers, the little girl figures that she's been gone long enough that her father must miss her and is lonely. She returns, presenting both her finds and her amazing adventure. A perfect bonding story. (Ages 4-6)

I Color Myself Different
Colin Kaepernick, author
Eric Wilkerson, illustrator
9781338789621, $18.99

Anita Lock

Realistic renditions coupled with a simple text capture Colin Kaepernick's poignant message of individuality. Following the instructions from his teacher to draw a picture of his family, Colin makes sure to color brown for his skin color, which stands out against his white adopted family. When one of the students challenges the difference, Colin responds, "I'm brown. I color myself different! I'm me, and I'm magnificent," instead of feeling offended. This empowering story includes pictures and bibliographical information of people who inspired Kaepernick and a personal message to his readers. (Ages 4-8)

Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons
Leda Schubert, author
Clover Robin, illustrator
9781536211023, $18.99

Christine Irvin

What is the first sign of spring? And what is the last glimpse of winter? The year comes around full circle as author Leda Schubert conjures up images suitable for each of the four seasons. Colorful illustrations and some repetition in the text make this a pleasing book for kids of all ages. (Ages 4-8)

A Day for Sandcastles
JonArno Lawson, author
Qin Leng, illustrator
9781536208429, $17.99

Christine Irvin

With no text and lots of expressive illustrations, this wordless picture book tells the story of three siblings working on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. (Ages 4-8)

Bok's Giant Leap
Neil Armstrong, author
Grahame Baker Smith, illustrator
Crown Books
9780593378861, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, gives young readers a brief look at the origins of the universe, told from the perspective of a rock that Armstrong brought back from the moon. Armstrong named him Bok and imagined all the things Bok might have seen in his long, long existence. The book is mostly an abbreviated history of the earth and the moon with wonderful illustrations and creative page layouts. Extra information about the moon and Armstrong's journey there can be found in the back of the book. (Ages 4-8)

The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back
Jonathan Stutzman, author
Isabelle Arsenault, illustrator
9781536216790, $18.99

Larissa Juliano

A little mouse has quite the baggage to bear as he carries his house on his back in search of a perfect home! Along the way, he meets many woodland friends who also would like a cozy spot to rest for the night. Our sweet mouse invites them all in and soon his house multiplies in size and adventure! The story takes a turn when a bear wants to come in! What will the friendly mouse and his new friends say? Readers will love the peek-a-boo cutouts on each page that make the already beautiful and fun illustrations even more surprising and clever! (Ages 4-8)

Child of the Sea
Maxine Rose Schur, author
Milanka Reardon, illustrator
Lawley Enterprises, LLC
9781956357325, $11.99

Christine Irvin

An old fisherman and his wife have wished for years to become parents. They had given up hope until the old man catches a goldfish that transforms into a baby girl. He and his wife are thrilled at the thought of being parents, even at their advanced years. They love their daughter with all their hearts, but they live with the knowledge that she might someday return to the sea. Filled with wonderful illustrations, this is sure to become a favorite book for many. (Ages 4-10)

Ping Meets Pang
Mary Jane Begin
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
9781954332089, $11.49

Christine Irvin

Ping and Pang live on opposite sides of the wall at the Panda Palace. When they finally meet, they discover that although they are very different, they have some similarities. This is a cute story about differences, similarities, and friendship, filled with colorful illustrations. Young readers will learn a lot about both kinds of pandas. Author Mary Jane Begin includes a page at the end of the book called "Conversation Starters" which are questions intended to generate a conversation about the story itself. But this is a good book, one that youngsters are sure to enjoy. (Ages 5-8)

The Little Radish
Benjamin Freeman, author
Catherine Bassova, illustrator
Senseorium Publishing
9780999080504, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Little Radish gets bored being stuck in his little garden all the time. He longs to go on adventures but is forbidden to leave the garden. He has been told the rabbits will eat him if they get a chance. But, one night he sneaks out and nearly loses his leaves. This is a cute story of friendship filled with delightful illustrations. (Ages 5-8)

Little Z and Firefly: A Journey to Finding Light and Love
Heather Mishel Williams, author
Kaitlyn Taylor, illustrator
Noor Publishing
9781737990840, $13.99

Deb Greenberg

If you're looking for a way to talk to your kids when they're stressed out or feeling down, use this book as an interactive resource to start the conversation. Little Z and Firefly learn valuable lessons and explore various tools and strategies used to empower themselves. You'll also want to check out Little Z and Firefly, A Journey to Light and Love, The Workbook that can be used to extend learning and enable children to put these tools to practical use. Some of the research-based strategies explored in this book include Mirror Work, Creating Order, Creating Joy, and Talking it Out. (Ages 5-12)

Love in the Library
Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author
Yas Imamura, illustrator
9781536204308, $18.99

Christine Irvin

This is a fictionalized account of the true story of the author's grandparents. Tama and George meet in the library of a relocation center where they, and other Japanese Americans from the American West Coast, have been sent to live after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Tama works in the camp's library. George comes to the library nearly every day, supposedly to check out books, but he is really just trying to spend time with Tama. This is a heartwarming story of love and hope in the midst of hard times, with expressive illustrations throughout. The author includes additional historical information in the back of the book. (Ages 6-9)

Carrimebac, the Town That Walked
David Barclay Moore, author
John Holyfield, illustrator
9781536213690, $18.99

Anita Lock

Magic enters when Ol' Rootilla Redgums and Julius Jefferson, her 9-year-old grandson, show up in the Black town of Walkerton. While Ol' Rootilla saves the day when a mob of Fearful Folks, "wearing white sheets and bearing blazing torches," plan to burn the town and its magic to the ground, Julius goes one step further, saving the town with just a carved post and his duck, Woody, when the mob returns. Expressively vibrant illustrations and powerful historically-laced storytelling make this original tale a new favorite in African American literature. (Ages 6-9)

I'm a Neutrino: Tiny Particles in a Big Universe
Dr. Eve M. Vavagiakis, author
Ilze Lemesis, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536222074, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

What is a neutrino, you ask? Launch into this fascinating picture book to learn about one of the universe's smallest bits of matter known to exist everywhere, as told from the neutrino's point of view in rhyming verse with splashy and mesmerizing artwork portraying these neutrinos and images from space. For more detailed explanations, check out the "Know Your Neutrinos" section at the back of the book. This is the first in a series, so young science enthusiasts can count on more of these super informative books on astrophysics. (Ages 7-9)

My Big Book of Outdoors
Tim Hopgood
Candlewick Studio
9781536215335, $19.99

Deb Greenberg

Put away the video game controller... there's an amazing world out there, and My Big Book of Outdoors is the perfect guide to the wonders of nature. Vibrant artwork accompanies an entertaining variety of activities, recipes, poems, and fascinating facts about the four seasons that provides an amazing introduction to weather, plants, animals, and the stars. Learn why birds fly south for the winter, weave a daisy chain, make a paper snowflake, grow a sunflower... this book is a definite keeper in your collection. (Ages 7-9)

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

Diana Perry

Tola lives in an apartment in the busy city of Lagos, Nigeria, with her sister, Moji, who is very clever; her brother, Dapo, who is very fast; and Grandmommy, who is very bossy. Tola may be small, but she's strong enough to carry a basket brimming with groceries home from the market, and she's clever enough to count out Grandmommy's change. When the faucets in the apartment break, it's Tola who brings water from the well. And when the tailor has an accident and needs help taking his customers' measurements, only Tola can save the day. Too Small Tola evokes the urban bustle and rich blending of cultures in Lagos through the eyes of a little girl with an outsize will - and an even bigger heart. A very uplifting story for adults and children alike. (Ages 7-9)

A Dragon Used to Live Here
Annette LeBlanc Cate
9781536204513, $17.99

Diana Perry

Noble children Thomas and Emily have always known their mother to be sensible and a bit boring. But then they discover Meg, a cranky scribe who lives in the castle basement and claims that she was a friend of their mother's back when the two were kids - even before the dragon lived in the castle. Wait - a dragon? Not sure they can believe Meg's tales, the kids return again and again to hear the evolving, fantastical story of their mother's escapades and get caught up in a quest to reunite the one-time friends. This story is a lesson to readers to hold onto your oldest friends even when your interests grow apart, but most important: never grow up so much that you lose the child within you. (Ages 7-10)

Everyday Superheroes: Women in Stem Careers
Erin Twamley and Joshua Scheideman
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
9781634891981, $17.95

Deb Greenberg

Introduce your kids to the careers of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Ranging from an astronomer to a park ranger to a marine biologist, these 26 amazing women used curiosity, observation, problem solving, collaboration, data collection, and communication to change the world. Get your little readers excited and interested with this informative book and let them see that their dreams and imagination can lead to a STEM career... environmentalists, computers scientists, and even robot engineers. (Ages 8-12)

Behold Our Magical Garden
Allan Wolf, author
Daniel Duncan, illustrator
9781536204551, $18.99

Anita Lock

From planting to harvest and everything above (the weather and animals) and below (germination and bugs), Behold Our Magical Garden is a companion guide for budding nature enthusiasts teaming up with classmates to turn their hard work into a successful gardening project. Each educationally-enriched poem filled with playful illustrations combines to complete an entire gardening cycle. Topics cover observation, seeds and germination, greenhouses, good and bad bugs, Latin nomenclature, weather, tools, and a "Diary to a Carrot," to name a few. An author's note and information on poem structure provide an added touch to this engaging read. (Ages 8-12)

Dark Horse at Oak Lane Stable
Kerri Lukasavitz
Three Towers Press
9781595988874, $9.95

Diana Perry

Now that Cassie is fourteen, she can't wait to ride in the Junior Division at horse shows, with their taller fences and higher stakes. But her new show jumper, Night Hawk, proves to be more than she can handle. Had her dad been right about Night Hawk? Did she make a huge mistake wanting to buy and show him? Will she ever win any of her jumper classes if she's afraid to ride the tall, dark horse that she can't control? This coming-of-age book has everything a young girl could want - danger, teen romance, life-changing decisions, and of course, horses. (Ages 8-12)

The Rema Chronicles: Realm of the Blue Mist
Amy Kim Kibuishi
9781338115130, $12.99

Diana Perry

Tabby Simon is determined to learn what happened to her father, who was found dead after researching a tree that leaks a mysterious mist in her neighborhood. She is unexpectedly led to Rema, a distant world of magic and beauty that is periodically invaded by a nearby planet desperate for resources. While Tabby searches for the truth surrounding her father's death, Tabby discovers that she is destined for something far greater than she ever could have imagined. Middle graders will love this fast-moving, well-plotted story that presents many more questions than answers. (Ages 8-12)

Cress Watercress
Gregory Maguire, author
David Litchfield, illustrator
9781536211009, $19.99

Diana Perry

When Papa doesn't return from a nocturnal honey-gathering expedition, Cress holds out hope, but her mother assumes the worst. It's a dangerous world for rabbits, after all. Mama moves what's left of the Watercress family to the basement unit of the Broken Arms, a run-down apartment oak with a suspect owl landlord, a nosy mouse super, a rowdy family of squirrels, and a pair of songbirds who broadcast everyone's business. Can a dead tree full of annoying neighbors, and no Papa, ever be home? Readers will find this book impossible to put down as they follow Cress on her many adventures. I really loved reading this book - it is the perfect fairy tale. (Ages 8-12)

Lucy and Dee: The Silk Road
Kirsten Marion
Common Deer Press
9781988761640, $12.95

Diana Perry

Lucy wants an adventure. Dee needs money to help him find his missing parents. When a flaming bird leads them to a hidden road, and the lord of stone offers them a quest, the opportunity for both arises. In a land full of magic, dragons, and demons, all they have to do is befriend a young emperor - which would be a lot easier if he wasn't a royal pain and an angry queen didn't want to destroy him. Soon they're running for their lives with the entitled ruler in tow. Middle graders will go from one adventure to another as the three barely escape one life-threatening danger only to be thrown into the next. An exciting read. (Ages 9-12)

Healer & Witch
Nancy Werlin
9781536219562, $19.99

Diana Perry

Sylvie and her mother and grandmother are beloved, trusted healers in their medieval French village, though some whisper that 15-year-old Sylvie and her grandmere deal in more than herbs and medicines. Perhaps they're a bit... witchy? After her grandmother dies, and an attempt to use magic to heal her mother's grief brooks tragic consequences, Sylvie leaves her village in search of a teacher. The journey subjects her to strange alliances, powerful temptations, danger, and deceit. Middle graders will find this book full of action, dangers, suspense and a surprise around each corner as it seems Sylvie may never get her life back. This is a great bedtime book or a good read on a rainy day. (Ages 9-12)

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Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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