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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 6 June 2009 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf American History Shelf Mythology/Folklore Shelf
Fiction Shelf Christian Studies Shelf DVD Shelf
Environmental Studies Shelf Bilingual Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Music CD Shelf Audiobook Shelf Easy Reader Shelf
Judaic Studies Shelf Picturebook Shelf Preschool Shelf
Books in Series    

Reviewer's Choice

Three Cups of Tea
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Reun
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson St, New York NY 10014
9780803733923, $16.99

Greg Mortenson received life-saving aid from local Pakistani villagers during a thwarted mountain climb and promised to build them a school for girls in thanks. His one-time project evolved into a series of girls' schools in the region that would change hearts, minds, and political sentiments. THREE CUPS OF TEA was a stunning book and is even more key as a young adult account now, offering advanced elementary to middle school readers the opportunity to hear and learn from his story. A 'must' for both school and community library collections.

Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life
Jan Reynolds
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600602542 $19.95

Set on the island of Bali in Southeast Asia, Cycle of Rice Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming is a picturebook about how people survive by living closely in tune and harmony with the natural cycles of the water and soil. Through water sharing and crop rotation systems that have been in effect for more than a thousand years, Balinese rice farmers preserve the health and yield of their farmland, which in turn provides for them. Illustrated with beautiful photographs throughout, Cycle of Rice Cycle of Life highly recommended as a glimpse into the positive traditions of Balinese agriculture, and the universal message of responsible stewardship. "After the harvest, the field is fallow, or without crops, but there is still work to be done. Putu waves a long bamboo pole to herd the family's ducks to the spot where he wants them to settle down and eat... The ducks play a crucial role in allowing the cycle of rice to continue, year after year."

Fuzzimal Puppies
Theresa Hutnik & Megan Smith
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, 8th fl., NY, NY 10012-3999
No ISBN, $16.95,

Children can create five adorable shaggy puppies using bending pipe cleaners and the thoroughly 'kid friendly' instructions they will find in "Fuzzimal Puppies", a recreational 'how to' book co-authored by Theresa Hutnik and Megan Smith. By bending the pipe cleaners into shape, then wrapping them with frizzy year, and finishing them with floppy ears and googly eyes, these do-it-yourself creations offer inexpensive fun and fascination. Also included are punch-and-fold dog carriers so the children can take their hand-made puppies with them wherever they choose to go. A complete and enthusiastically recommended activities kit, "Fuzzimal Puppies" comes with pipe cleaners, fuzzy novelty yarn, googly eyes, glue, shiny jewels, and punch-out dog carriers -- making it an ideal past time project for rainy days or any other time!

Paranoia: A Cat's Tale
Jane Nord
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781606966112 $10.99

Written by nurse, children's entertainer, and animal trainer Jane Nord, Paranoia: A Cat's Tale is more than a rhyming children's picturebook - a free download of the audio version of the story is included (by using the coupon code in the book on the publisher's website). This file can be burned to a CD or saved to a portable music device such as an iPod. The story of Paranoia is about a kitten abandoned by her owner. Unable to survive as well as her brother Tommy, she sustains injury trying to escape a hungry coyote. Yet the very injury that leaves her unable to flee allows her to be rescued by a kindly old woman and nursed back to health. She recaptures her playful spirit and even eats a mouse that has the temerity to scuttle on the kitchen floor! "Gram picked up the phone and made a phone call. / I have an appointment, it's useless to stall. // I'm going to the vet; I'll be spayed today, / When I get home I won't want to play. / After a few days I will recover. / I'll have a good life with Gram, / 'cause I love her." Highly recommended for young cat lovers, not just for its heartwarming story about a kitten's rescue, but also for its important message of spaying and neutering one's pets in order to prevent tragedy.

Mama Says: A Book of Love for Mothers and Sons
Rob D. Walker, illustrations by Leo & Diane Dillon
Blue Sky Press
c/o Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780439932080, $16.99,

"Mama Says" is a beautiful children's book of inspiring thoughts spoken from mothers to sons in twelve different languages and cultural settings. "Mama Says" is beautifully illustrated by award-winning artists Leo and Diane Dillon, with a small square of fabric as a symbol for each mother of each nationality on the lower left side of each page of sayings. In addition to the beautiful colorful illustrations of twelve different cultural backgrounds, each saying is also flawlessly presented in the appropriate language of the culture, alongside the English version. Thus we have not only a picture of another culture's background and traditions, we also get to see its actual script and written language. The languages and cultures presented include Cherokee, Russian, Amharic, Japanese, Hindi, Inuktitut, Hebrew, English, Korean, Arabic, Quechua, and Danish. Further enhancing the racial and cultural diversity, the English example shows a handsome young black boy with his mother, walking carrying books against a background of signshakers reading "hate." The English saying is "Mama says/To be on time/ Mama says/ Be neat/ Mama says/ To walk with pride/ And never drag my feet (p. 20)." The final two page illustration shows all twelve boys together, grown up, with hands on each others' shoulders. The saying is "I listened to what Mama said/ And now I am a man (p.29-30)." "Mama Says" is a children's book so compellingly moving and beautiful that it made me weep. Teaching children the strong underlying message of respect and honor for our diversity is stunningly accomplished in "Mama Says." Strongly recommended for ages preschool through second grade (3-8).

Super Duck
Jez Alborough
Kane Miller
PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038
9781933605890, $15.95,

"Super Duck" is the latest in a series of humorous "Duck" books written and illustrated by Jez Alborough for children ages 3-7. Filled with wonderful colorful pictures of Duck and his friends Goat, Sheep, and Frog, "Super Duck" is a fast paced tale of the well-intentioned hero Duck who comes (somewhat irregularly for a superhero) to the rescue of his friends and their flyaway kite. The cartoon-like illustrations leap and expand beyond their frames in a thoroughly loveable, enticing way. The rhyming couplets also help to keep the pace and interest at key pitch. "Super Duck" is a fable of gentle friendship, punctuated with joy and delight. Unlike some super heroes, Super Duck sometimes fails, but he keeps trying with the help of his friends! "Super Duck" will be a favorite read-aloud book for its generation.

Penti and the Hungry Polar Bears
Connie Ahola Loisel & Allyson Loisel
Illustrated by Laura Ahola-Young
Ahola Ink
5108 Birch Road, Minnetonka, MN 55345
9780981605302, $19.95,

"Penti and the Hungry Polar Bears" is a whimsical children's book about global climate change and the power of community responsibility. Designed to appeal to children ages 4-8 (or all ages), "Penti and the Polar Bear" poses a dilemma of Artic refugee blueberry-eating polar bears wreaking havoc on blueberry farmers in Finland. Combining fact and fable, "Penti and the Hungry Polar Bears" teaches a wonderful lesson of cooperation, respect, tolerance and survival with the help of nature in "the Finnish Way." Finnish phrases and words are taught to embroider key concepts and charming blue, white, green and gray illustrations fill out the modern day folk tale. Although the author and artist, a mother and daughter team living in Minnetonka, Minnesota, are made aware of the fact that there are no polar bears in Finland, they continue the supposition to enable the story to the delight and edification of all.

Uplift Press
295 Lenox, Suite 105, Oakland, CA 94610

Dr. Pat Palmer presents two self-help books for children and young adults that serve as excellent tools for teachers, therapists, and parents. "Liking Myself" (9781439229996, $12.99) is an encouraging book for young people ages 5 to 11, offering advice on how to handle oneself when feeling depressed, upset, or overwhelmed. Blank spaces amid the hand-lettered pages and black-and-white, sketch-style illustrations encourage young people to write or draw their reactions to particular scenarios. The result is a valuable resource for building self-esteem and emotional stability. "The Mouse, the Monster and Me" (9781439224465, $12.99) is meant for readers ages 8 and up, and focuses on the importance of finding a balance between one's aggressive inner "monster", one's passive inner "mouse", helping young readers identify these behaviors in themselves and others. "The Mouse, the Monster and Me" goes on to teach healthy, non-violent conflict management skills that are more vital than ever in today's increasingly interdependent society. "Practice, with a friend or family member, assertive ways to ask for the things... Remember... to stand or sit up straight, to look at the other person, to talk in a normal (not whining or shouting) voice, and to be honest and direct. It's OK to ask for what you want. (But don't expect to always get it)." Both titles are highly recommended.

The Science Shelf

Food for Thought: The Stories Behind the Things We Eat
Ken Robbins
Roaring Brook Press
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9781596433434 $17.95

Featuring striking full-color photography, Food for Thought: The Stories Behind the Things We Eat is a picturebook filled cover to cover with amazing facts about fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms, from how an apple helped bring about the downfall of Troy to what "fresh-squeezed" really means. The text is sufficiently detailed to be best for young readers who are just about ready to move beyond picturebooks - indeed, even adults will thoroughly enjoy the lush imagery and informative text that does not talk down to the reader in the slightest. "A banana plant can grow incredibly fast - as tall as a man in just three months - and reach a height of 20 to 30 feet in a year. It's not a tree, though, it's a bush - admittedly a very tall bush. And it dies every year after producing just one bunch of bananas (that's about a hundred per bunch)." Highly recommended for children's school and public library collections, and perhaps also as a way to pique young people's interest in eating more healthy fruits and vegetables as well as learning about them!

Werewolf Moon
Juliana Hanford, author
Cary Pillo, illustrator
The Kane Press
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7206, New York, NY 10118-7200
9781575652917 $5.95 212-268-1435

Intended for young people in grades 1-3, Werewolf Moon is more than a softcover children's picturebook - it's an installment in the "Science Solves It!" series designed to show young people how science skills, knowledge and critical thinking can help them solve problems. The story is about a young boy who watches a scary werewolf movie with his best friend, and wonders whether werewolves could be real. Could Grandma's gardening friend be a werewolf? He certainly looks hairy enough! Thankfully, rational thinking works out in this excellent children's book peppered with colorful, cartoony illustrations and "Did you know?" true facts about the moon. "How can you tell whether the Moon is waxing or waning? When the half moon looks like the letter D, it's waxing. When the half moon looks like a backwards letter D, it's waning." The final page offers a "Think like a scientist" experiment that can easily be done with a flashlight, a ball, and a friend. "Scientists are like ace detectives. They gather evidence and look for clues that will help them solve a mystery - a science mystery! Scientists observe, collect information, and test out their ideas. They investigate!" Highly recommended for school and public library children's collections, as well as an inexpensive gift to help young people start thinking more analytically and scientifically - a valuable skill in today's increasingly complex and technology-driven modern world.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears?
Jennifer Veenendall
Autism Asperger Publishing Company
PO Box 23173, Shawnee Mission, KS 66283
9781934575468 $18.95 1-877-277-8254

Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload is the picturebook story of Izzy, an intelligent young girl just starting the first grade. Izzy has sensory processing disorder, which makes her over-responsive to environmental stimuli, including sounds, accidental bumps from other kids, and visual distractions. Her reflexive tendencies to cry, lash out, or cover her ears have caused other kids to accuse her of being mean, or deride her as a "crybaby". But with help from her parents, her teachers, and an occupational therapist, she is learning how to adjust. She feels calmer and ready to learn, and she's made a lot of friends! The story is told from Izzy's point of view, but does not talk down to the reader. A highly recommended and educational book for parents and children to share, especially if the child has sensory processing disorder or knows relatives or friends with it.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

A Book of Fairies
Patricia Saxton
Shenanigan Books
84 River Road, Summit, NJ 07901
9781934860014 $14.95

A Book of Fairies is a fantastic children's picturebook that presents a fascinating listing of imaginary facts about imaginary creatures. From the nature of Fairyland, to finding fairies, the tasks of fairies, fairy secrets and language, fairy medicine, and more, A Book of Fairies is a fun source of mystical speculation. The beautiful color illustrations perfectly complement the thoughtful text. A Book of Fairies is sure to bring joy not only to young readers, but also to adults who still believe in fairies! "Of all the earth fairies, flower fairies are around us the most. Flower fairies are the ones skipping through the ivy, or tending your vegetable patch - yet they can be awful hard to spot. They make their clothing from leaves and colorful flower petals, so they blend right into the gardens where they play."

The Dragon Diary
Dugald A. Steer
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763634254 $16.99 1-800-526-0275

Volume two of the popular "Dragonology Chronicles" fantasy series, The Dragon Diary is a fantastic saga for dragon lovers of all ages. Twelve-year-old Daniel Cook and his sister Beatrice are studying dragonology - the science of dragons - with Dr. Ernest Drake. They especially look forward to the hatching of a dragon's egg in their care. But as rumors of a lethal plague affecting dragons worldwide spread, suspicion for the travesty falls upon the machinations of dark dragonologist Alexandra Gorynytchka. The secret to curing the sick dragons might be hidden in the "Liber Draconis", the diary of a wise dragon from a bygone era - but how are our heroes to decipher it? A handful of black-and-white illustrations round out this delightful adventure, highly recommended.

My Vampire Cousin
J. K. Hawkins
Lily Ruth Publishing
PO Box 6622, Paris, TX 75461
9780982300909, $8.95,

Sometimes when your parents don't mention your family, it may be for the best. "My Vampire Cousin" tells the story of Alice, a twelve year old curious about her family history. When she ventures where her mother told her not to go, she soon finds that her relatives are not exactly what you would call normal, or even alive... "My Vampire Cousin" is a fine introduction to author J.K. Hawkins' spooky world. Also available and highly recommended is the sequel, "My Werewolf Brothers" (97809823000916, $8.95).

Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids
R. Hawk Starkey
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker, Rd, 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432730963, $13.95,

Running away to join the circus may have not been the best idea. "Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids: The Chocolate Cake Turkey Lip Crumb Trail Mystery Adventure" follows a band of children gifted with a magical ability, but that ability may not be enough as they must use their wits to get day to day. A fun adventure fantasy for young people, "Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids" is a great read.

The Lost Lake Dig
P.W. Cross
Appalachian House
PO Box 627, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
9780966280081, $7.99,

The things one can find behind their farmhouse. "The Lost Lake Dig: The Idea Miners" follows Joey and his group of friends as they wander out of their simple eighteenth century lives and find themselves on an adventure, in search of a treasure known as a gusher. But getting this gusher won't be easy as Joey and his companions must overcome many things in their way, not just to get the treasure, but to get back home. "The Lost Lake Dig" is a strong pick that young preteens will enjoy.

The American History Shelf

The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine
Mark Wilensky
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781932714364, $18.95,

The pamphlet that inspired a revolution. "The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine" deeply explores the historic work of Thomas Paine and elaborates on its importance for younger readers. Chapters outline the history surrounding the pre-publication and post-publication of the work. With illustrations to make Paine's points clear to young people, "The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine" is a fine introduction to Paine's legendary pamphlet, and highly recommended.

A Young People's History of the United States
Howard Zinn, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
9781583228692 $19.95 1-800-596-7437

Author Howard Zinn is a World War II veteran known for his passionate belief that "just war" is impossible because civilians ultimately suffer the most. A Young People's History of the United States is Zinn's compendium offering young people a different point of view on history - from the young laborers who stood up for their rights with the National Child Labor Committee's Declaration of Dependence, to John Tinker, a high school student who took his case for free speech all the way to the Supreme Court and won, to Anyokah, a child who assisted in bringing written language to her Cherokee people. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, A Young People's History of the United States delivers an empowering message about the American principle of standing up for what's right, even if it makes one a dissident voice in the crowd. A Young People's History of the United States makes oft-overlooked sides of history come alive with direct relevance for young people, and is highly recommended as a supplement for school libraries.

The Mythology/Folklore Shelf

Lord of the Sky
Linda Zeman-Spaleny, author
Ludmila Zeman, illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9780887768965 $21.99 1-800-788-1074

Inspired by the author's first experience witnessing Native American totem poles, Lord of the Sky is a children's picturebook written in the style of a folktale. The story follows a young boy by the sea who befriends ravens by sharing his food. But some of the ravens are greedy, and other village boys slay them with arrows. When an endless darkness blankets the land, the sagacious village elder explains that only the Lord of the Sky can bring back the sun. And so the boy who considers ravens his friends sets out on an epic journey to see the Great Raven. The strikingly distinctive color artwork highlighting shades of gold distinguishes this memorable storybook, especially recommended for parents to read aloud to their children.

The Fiction Shelf

11 Birthdays
Wendy Mass
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0545052394, $16.99

On their first birthday they learned to walk, on their fifth they planted seeds, on their 11th they became ex-best friends. 11 BIRTHDAYS charts the growth and evolution of an uncertain friendship, when Amanda can't wait for the day after her birthday so she can stop thinking about the big fight that led to separate celebrations for the first time in their lives. A fine story of changing friendship evolves.

Reef Rescue
India Evans
Finney Company
8075 215th Street West, Lakeville, MN 55044
9781893272132, $14.95,

No one ever said protecting the environment would be easy. "Reef Rescue" is a young adult novel following Julie Leeds and her highly advanced car Jett as they try to figure out the answer behind the recent decay of the coral reefs. It seems there are more than just some polluters behind this particular environmental crisis though as Julie finds herself digging deeper. "Reef Rescue" is a solid adventure read, and a top pick for any library catering to young adult readers.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Miracle Puzzlers
William Schlegl, author
Len Epstein, illustrator
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63118-3968
9780758616050 $10.99 1-800-325-3040

Intended for children in grades four through six, Miracle Puzzlers: Word Puzzles from Jesus' Miracles is a flat-spined, consumable activity book filled with puzzles designed to affirm logical thinking skills, basic math and reading, and most of all, Bible literacy in young people. Simple black-and-white drawings add a visual touch to puzzles ranging from solving coded messages to drawing pictures to writing prayers. Sixty pages of activities complemented by an easy-to-use answer key in the back fill this excellent activity book especially recommended for rainy Sundays.

The Little Frog
Crista Stewart, author
Sarah Cressler, illustrator
Halo Publishing International
9780979742996 $12.95

Written by elementary and special educator Crista Stewart, The Little Frog is a softcover picturebook designed to teach young Christian children about the importance of accepting ourselves the way God made us. The little frog of the title wants to be like other frogs, but he has only three legs and hops much more slowly. "Little Frog began to talk with God every day. Soon, he did not care if the big beautiful green frogs did not invite him to play their games. He had a friend he could rely on. God liked Little Frog just the way he was." One day Little Frog has the fortune to meet a human boy who is like him - the boy has only one arm. The two develop a lasting friendship. A Parent Resource guide at the book's conclusion offers a sample prayer for parents and children alike: "Dear God, Please help me to learn, like Little Frog, how to rely on you completely. Please be my everlasting rock. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen." A profound work of faith as well as an engaging children's parable.

The DVD Shelf

C.A.T.C.H. Onto Good Hygiene
Learning ZoneXPress
PO Box 1022, Owatonna, MN 55060
1571757104 $49.95 1-888-455-7003

Intended for young adult viewers in grades 4 to 8, C.A.T.C.H. Onto Good Hygiene is an educational DVD ideal for instructing young people about basic cleanliness and good hygiene practices. The titular acronym stands for "[C]lean Your Hands", "[A]cne - Clean Your Face", "Clean Your [T]eeth", "[C]lean Your Body", and "Clean Your [H]air"; all of these topics from proper hand washing to tips for acne prevention and good dental care are covered with easy-to-follow demonstrations. An excellent educational resource especially recommended for public school library collections. 15 minutes, closed captioned.

Pahappahooey Island: What About Me!?
Featuring Joyce Meyer
Anchor Bay Entertainment
2401 West Big Beaver road, Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084-3304

Joyce Meyer is the voice of Ruby the Lioness in Pahappahooey Island: What About Me!?, a DVD presenting two complete episodes of the wonderful, award-winning new children's series Pahappahooey Island, filled with songs and playful furry creatures. In "What About Me!?", four friends set out on an exciting treasure hunt, but the nefarious Ichabone Slink nudges them to think only of themselves. It's up to Ruby to teach the friends about the importance of working together and respecting one another. In "Hide It In Your Heart", important things suddenly start to disappear - where is a safe place to keep one's possessions, and indeed, what is the nature of the most truly precious possessions of all? An inexpensive, family-friendly DVD with an invaluable message, Pahappahooey Island: What About Me!? is a great gift for young children. 67 minutes, closed captioned.

The Bracelet of Bordeaux
Monterey Media Inc.
566 St. Charles Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360-3901
$26.95 1-800-424-2593

The Bracelet of Bordeaux is a family-friendly, independent DVD movie about two tween girls who tap into the power of a magical bracelet to hold their own against the Mob, a punk gang, and a crooked cop! Together they learn lasting lessons about friendship, courage, and the importance of hanging out with the right crowd. A rollicking adventure filled with wit, whimsy, and nonstop excitement, The Bracelet of Bordeaux is sure to entertain viewers of all ages. Highly recommended.

Fireman Sam: Hero Next Door
Hit Entertainment
Lionsgate (distribution)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc. (publicity)
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Fireman Sam: Hero Next Door is a full-screen children's DVD continuing the hit adventures of Fireman Sam and his firefighting crew. Together they learn that safety comes first when dealing with fire, which is one of the most dangerous things there is! The five colorful, computer-animated episodes are "A Real Live Wire", "Twist of Fate", "The Case of the Licorice Shoelaces", "Carnival of Junk", and "Joker Soaker", with a bonus "Roary the Racing Car" episode "Roary Sees Red". A wonderful addition to public library children's DVD shelves, and also an excellent gift for young children. Fireman Sam: Hero Next Door is a great way to get children thinking about fire safety - best followed by a parent-child discussion about do's and don'ts when dealing with fire, and what to do in the case that a fire breaks out in one's home. 45 minutes, English and French languages, closed-captioned.

Math Curse
Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, authors
Nancy Wu, narrator
Scotty Huff and Robert Reynolds, music
Daniel Ivanick, animation
Weston Woods Studios
143 Main Street, Norwalk, CT 06851

Intended for young viewers ages six to nine, Math Curse is the DVD adaptation of the ALA Notable picturebook about a little girl who wakes up one morning to find that everything in her life is turning into a math problem! How is she to find her way out of the Math Curse? A read-along option enhances this delightful DVD, which includes a bonus interview with the creators of the original picturebook Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. Highly recommended for children's library collections, or for showing to young people at school during homeroom period. 15 minutes, closed captioned.

Friendship Basics
Wes Halula
Learning ZoneXPress
PO Box 1022, Owatonna, MN 55060
1571757511 $49.95 1-888-455-7003

In today's bustling world brimming with technological gadgetry, basic face-to-face interpersonal skills are all too easily lost or forgotten in the shuffle. Intended for young viewers in grades 4 through 10, Friendship Basics is an instructional DVD for building basic social skills. Host Wes Halula teaches a group of students about friendship, using a cheerful sense of humor as well as visuals to bring home the point. A simple guide to making and keeping friends, as well as ending friendships on a positive note when needed, Friendship Basics is an excellent addition to school and public library collections, and is enthusiastically recommended for showing students during homeroom. Highly recommended. 11 minutes, closed captioned.

Who Wants To Be An Entomologist?
Tony Gustin
Victory Multimedia (distributor)
460 Hindry Avenue, Unit D, Inglewood, CA 90301

Who Wants To Be An Entomologist? is a delightful DVD for all ages filled with more than fascinating facts about insects of all kinds - host Tony Gustin (creator of "Tony's Creepy Crawly Zoo") actually teaches the viewer tips, tricks and techniques for becoming an entomologist! An amazing tour of the stranger-than-fiction world of insects, Who Wants To Be An Entomologist is filled with ideas for performing one's own "hands-on" bug adventures, from finding one's own creepy crawlies to taking proper care of them to keeping oneself safe in the process. Who Wants To Be An Entomologist? is extraordinarily educational and stimulating, and highly recommended for public library children's DVD collections. 35 minutes.

Viva Pinata: Lights, Camera, Action!
Shout! Factory
2042-A Armacost Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025
9781603992428 $14.99

Based on the popular "Viva Pinata" and "Viva Pinata: Party Animals" video games for the Xbox 360, Viva Pinata: Lights, Camera, Action! is a family-friendly DVD of colorful, candy-filled creatures on Pinata Island, a place where parties never end. Hudson, Fergy, Paulie, and Franklin are nonstop 'party animals', and their playful adventures are sure to excite and delight young viewers. The episodes include "Franklin Can't Dance", "Les Saves the Day... Again", "Sick Day", "Lights, Camera, Action!", "Mad Mongo", "Hudson's Biggest Fan", "Mission Impinatable", "My Little Fergy", "The Great Gob Rush", and "Hero". A joyful DVD, especially recommended for lifting young spirits or showing at children's birthday bashes.

Strawberry Shortcake Berry Big Journeys
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076
DVD, $14.98,

Young children ages 3 to 6 will enjoy watching "Strawberry Shortcake Berry Big Journeys", a new DVD in which the 'pint sized' Strawberry Shortcake, along with her friends Angel Cake, Rainbow, and Banana Candy, engage in two new adventures - 'Strawberry's Big Journey' and 'Around the Berry Big World', a colorful pair of road trip journeys where they learn that having a positive attitude will help to overcome any obstacle. When Strawberry Shortcake wages the Pie Man that she can travel around the world in 80 days, there are bound to be high excitement indeed! With a total running time of 44 minutes, English and Spanish language tracks, and captioning, the DVD format also allows bonus features that include three greeting cards, a character gallery memory book, and DVD-ROM printable coloring pages. "Strawberry Shortcake Berry Big Journeys" is especially recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library DVD collections for children.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

If Trees Could Talk
R. Bruce Allison
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706
9780870204197, $15.95

Trees are living things, and some trees are far older than many humans could ever dream of being. "If Trees Could Talk" tells the story of these elders of nature, in particular several that have made their own impact on the world and society. Trees that gain second chances, iconic city trees, trees that mark history, and more, all are discussed within. For any nature or arboreal lover, "If Trees Could Talk" is a fine piece of nature reading for young adults and adults alike.

You Can Be a Nature Detective
Peggy Kochanoff
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878425563 $14.00 1-800-234-5308

Featuring beautiful watercolor illustrations in a realistic style, You Can Be a Nature Detective is softcover picturebook designed to help young readers start thinking about the wonders of the natural world, from the tracks different types of animals make in the snow to how skunks and stinkbugs use a repulsive scent as a defense, and much more. "The reason mushrooms can appear overnight is that the main part of the fungus is already underground, unseen, in a network of tiny, tangled threads. The mushroom we see is the fruiting (reproductive) body, which pops up aboveground when the soil gets wet enough." An intelligently written, highly educational book, enthusiastically recommended for children's school and public library collections, or as a gift to any young person to help promote respect and wonder for the great outdoors.

Help Your Parents Save the Planet
Play Bac Publishing
225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, dist.
151 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
1602140855 $7.95

Help Your Parents Save the Planet: 50 Simple Ways to Go Green Now! lives up to its title offering a list of environmentally friendly, energy and money-saving things that kids (and parents!) can do. Full-color photography on every page illustrates these good habits to make part of one's lifestyle, such as "Always turn off lights when you leave a room!", "Use your bike and use your feet!" and "Dust your lightbulbs" (since dusty lightbulbs use more energy than clean ones). "Sometimes it can be fun to let go of a helium-filled balloon and watch it float off into the sky. But it's bad for the environment! Eventually that balloon comes back to earth and becomes litter. Deflated balloons are especially bad because animals can accidentally choke on them and even die." A glossary and an index round out this utterly invaluable book filled with practical tips for parents as well as kids. Highly recommended.

Innovative Kids
c/o Innovative USA Inc.
18 Ann Street, Norwalk, CT 06854

Children today are keenly aware of environmental issues, of the virtue and value of 'living green'. To that point, Innovative Kids has newly published a four titles series of environmentally friendly board books for preschool children ages 3 to 6 that are printed on 98% recycled paper and utilize soy-based inks exclusively. The simply 'kid friendly' stories written by Leslie Bockol are very nicely illustrated by Jillian Phillips and include "Baby Animals" (9781584768098, $6.99); "In The Garden" (9781584768104, $6.99); "The Five Senses" (9781584768128, $6.99); and "One Tree" (9781584768111, $6.99). Each little 'kid sized' book includes a 'Parent Page' with easy, everyday, thematically appropriate tips on protecting endangered animals, gardening tips and recipes, keeping nature beautiful, and protecting the forests. Although each titles is available separately, families, schools, day-care centers, and community libraries should acquire all four titles in this outstanding series for the benefit of young, environmentally aware kids -- and the parents who are seeking to instill those values in their children.

The Bilingual Shelf

Me+Mi Publishing
128 S. County Farm Rd., Suite E, Wheaton IL 60187

Because of demographic changes in the American population due to continuing increases in immigration from Mexico and Latin American countries, the need for bilingual reading materials for children is also growing in both urban and rural communities throughout the country. Me+Mi Publishing has newly published four outstanding bilingual (English/Spanish) picturebooks for children which are engagingly written and enchantingly illustrated by Maria Espluga. The text is a single line delivered in both English and Spanish on each full page. The theme of these four delightful picturebooks is evident from their titles: I, farmer/Yo, campesino" (9781931398541, $13.95); "I, astronaut/Yo, astronauta" (9781931398565, $13.95); "I, ballerina/Yo, bailarina" (9781931398558, $13.95); and "I, sailor/Yo, marinero" (9781931398534, $13.95). Although each of these superbly produced bilingual picturebooks are available separately, school and community libraries would be well advised to acquire all four of them for the benefit of their bilingual and multicultural collections for young children.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

There's a Babirusa in My Bathtub!
Maxine Rose Schur, author
Michael S. Maydak, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Way, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584691181 $8.95 1-800-545-7475

There's a Babirusa in My Bathtub! Fact and Fancy about Curious Creatures is a softcover children's picturebook filled with amazing trivia about exotic animals, from the hagfish (a slimy bottom scavenger, not really an eel but sometimes called the "slime eel") to the okapi (a relative of the giraffe that has a zebra-striped behind) to the colugo (a gliding rainforest mammal that is unable to walk). Colorful artwork and playful rhyming poems supplement the incessantly fascinating facts. An excellent book especially recommended for young animal lovers curious to learn more about strangle, wonderful, and little-known species!

Baby Polar Bears' Snow-Day
Michael Teitelbaum
Treasure Bay
PO Box 2665, San Anselmo, CA 94960
9781601152824, $4.99,

Treasure Bay's 'Photo Adventure' series combines a fictional adventure with fun facts and real life photographic images. The newest addition to this unique format of children's books is Michael Teitelbaum's "Baby Polar Bears' Snow-Day" in which two Polar Bear cubs and their mother emerge from an arctic den in the spring and explore their unique world of snow and ice. Of special note are the 'Fact Stops' providing young children preschool through second grade with genuine information about polar bears, their lives and habitat. "Baby Polar Bears' Snow-Day" is highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets & Wildlife collections.

Hammond Undercover: Horses
Fran Hodgkins
Hammond World Atlas
c/o Langenscheidt Publishing Group
PO Box 979, Spring House, PA 19477
9780841610941 $13.99 1-888-773-7979

Part of the "Hammond Undercover" series designed to educate young readers ages 8-12 while stimulating their imaginations, Hammond Undercover: Horses is a softcover, fact-filled compendium illustrated with full color photography on virtually every page about the noble equine. From the many different types of horses that can be found worldwide, to their influence on human history, to types of tack (riding gear, such as saddles) used by different cultures, Hammond Undercover: Horses offers a wealth of fascinating information. Highly recommended as an informative gift for young horse lovers.

Animals at the Edge
Jonathan Baillie & Marilyn Baillie
Maple Tree Press
51 Front Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1B3
Publishers Group West (distributor)
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781897349335 $9.95 1-800-788-3123

Award-winning children's book author Marilyn Baillie and field conservation expert Jonathan Baillie present Animals at the Edge: Saving the World's Rarest Creatures is a softcover picturebook introducing young readers to some fascinating creatures on the brink of extinction - and even a few that are no more on this earth. From the pygmy hippopotamus to the Yangtze River dolphin to the Hirola Antelope to little-known creatures like the Hispaniolan Solenodon (a squirrel-sized mammal with an extra long nose from Haiti and the Dominican Republic) or the long-eared jerboa (a mouse-sized mammal that can jump like a kangaroo), Animals at the Edge teaches young people about the incredible diversity and wonder of these unique yet severely threatened creatures. Gorgeous photography on every page enhances this excellent book that not only warns young readers about the plight of endangered animals, but also teaches them about what they can do to promote conservation.

The Misadventures of Belle & Chloe
Doyle Walker
Wild Icon Publishing Group
3500 Galt Ocean Drive, Suite 117, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
9780979933516 $14.50

Though The Misadventures of Belle & Chloe is intended for younger readers, dog lovers of all ages are sure to enjoy these true vignettes of one family's life with a pair of enthusiastic chocolate labs. A handful of simple black-and-white cartoons illustrate the stories from the chaos ensues when one's den has two labs and a squirrel inside it, to why simply walking two enthusiastic labs around the block can be a borderline dangerous adventure. A chuckle-inducing delight to page through; the humor sinks in particularly well if the reader is already a pet owner!

The Music CD Shelf

c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221

The family-friendly band of Rocknoceros consists of three artists who create music under the personas of Coach Cotton, Williebob, and Boogie Woogie Bennie. Together they present Pink!, a new children's music CD filled with lighthearted, songs that reinforce positive life lessons. From "Gonna Cut My Hair", a song about proper grooming, to "Crossing Guard" to "Can You Tell Time?", the songs stimulate the mind as well as get the body grooving to their catchy rhythms. Pink! is a great album to play on rainy days or during car trips with the kids. The tracks are "Pink!", "The Train Song", "Put A Hat On", "Playground", "Basic Training", "Don't Give Up", "Nappin' Time", "Can You Tell Time", "Gonna Cut My Hair", "Virginia", "Lucky Lindy", "Big Wheel", "Crossing Guard", and "Always Tell Your Grandma".

Music Box
Mary Kaye
Mary Kaye Music
5 Old Mill Rd., South Berwick, ME 03908

Intended for young listeners from toddlerhood to third grade, Music Box is a CD of charming tunes by award-winning children's musician Mary Kaye, whose work has been played on international radio shows. Public performance rights are included in this delightfully upbeat album, highly recommended for children's library audio collections. The tracks are "Under the Moon" (2:56), "Bug" (2:30), "Robbie Robot" (2:11), "Music Box" (1:48), "Family" (3:00), "Hot Chocolate Fairy" (2:54), "Tasting Tea" (1:33), "Red Cardinal" (2:07), "Turtley Turtleloo" (2:35), "Sea Water" (1:54), "Hobbly Dobbly House" (2:16), and "Sleepy Land" (2:21).

Sweets 'n' Treats
Tracey Singer
Mr. Cal Records
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Dr, San Francisco, CA 94127
CD, $15.00,

Tracey Singer is the stay-at-home dad of four children and a man who has a positive knack for composing and performing children's music that is as lively and original as it is rhythmic and kid pleasing. "Sweets 'n' Treats' is his debut CD album featuring thirteen toe-tapping tunes that collectively present 40 minutes of purely entertaining music that ranges from old time rock 'n roll to close harmony vocals, to 'pop music romp'. Superbly produced, the songs comprising "Sweets 'n' Treats" includes Camping Trip; Christmas in July; Mall Mom; The Moon is Here; Swimming; Nana Nana Boo Boo; Where Did Summer Go?; Best Friend for Life; Baggy Pants; Foxy Joe; Stinky Smoke; A Toddler's Lullaby; and the title piece, Sweets 'n' Treats. Highly recommended and thoroughly 'kid friendly', "Sweets 'n' Treats" is a welcome addition to family, preschool, and community library CD music collections for young children.

Field Trip
Recess Monkey
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Dr., San Francisco, CA 94127
No ISBN, $15.00,

The Seattle-based band 'Recess Monkey' is comprised of three elementary school teachers and "Field Trip" is their fifth CD music release consisting of musical numbers performed live in front of a children's audience as part of a Valentine's Day 2008 Seattle show. The individual and original pieces comprises this expertly recorded CD include Fort; Marshmallow Farm; Sack Lunch; Knocktopus; haven't Got a Pet yet; New Shoes; Hot Chocolate; Ice Pack; tiny Telephone; L.I.C.E.; The Teens; Secret Agent Watch; Bubble Factory; Centipede Pirate; and concludes with Firefly Lullaby. A toe-tapping treat for young listeners, "Field Trip" will be enthusiastically received by the band's legions of fans and serve as an excellent introduction for those new to them. "Field Trip" is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library CD music collections for kids.

The Audiobook Shelf

Suddenly Supernatural Book 3: Unhappy Medium
Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, author
Allyson Ryan, narrator
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780739379684 $25.00 1-800-726-0600

Continuing the audiobook adaptations popular and exciting "Suddenly Supernatural" series, Suddenly Supernatural Book 3: Unhappy Medium is an unabridged audiobook on CD read by film, theater, and television actress Allyson Ryan. Following young Kat (who has all but surmounted her fear of the ghosts her paranormal talent allows her to see) and her best friend Jac, Unhappy Medium begins with a challenge for Kat to use her gift to help a deceased medium. Things quickly take a turn for the worse during Kat's weeklong stay at a mountain house; but the worst part of the conflict isn't fighting off black clouds - it's fighting with her best friend! A captivating story for young adults, particularly ideal for playing during long car trips. 3 CDs, 3 hours 52 minutes.

The Easy Reader Shelf

I Did It, Dear Dragon
Margaret Hillert, author
David Schimmell, illustrator
Norwood House Press
PO Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599532950 $19.93

A sturdy library binding reinforces I Did It, Dear Dragon, the latest installment in the venerable "Dear Dragon" easy reader series. The cheerful little green dragon and the boy who is is best friend play a friendly game of hockey with the other kids in this simple storybook ideal for young people who are just beginning to sound out words. "Oh, what a good game. / It is fun to play with you. / It is fun to have friends." The last two pages offer some reading reinforcement activities that parents or teachers can use with children in order to help their language skills develop. An excellent addition to kindergarten and public children's library collections!

The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail
Lynn E. Hazen
Henry Holt
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
0805086986, $16.99

Seymour has long dreamed of being a great artist but is shy about showing his artwork and is very slow. So who will hire him as an artist? When he finds an art gallery job he's thrilled, until he finds himself only a clerk. Doug Cushman illustrates the fine story of a snail just seeking a break in life.

Nana Cracks the Case!
Kathleen Lane
Chronicle Books
680 - 2nd St, San Francisco CA 94107
9780811862585, $14.99

Can one little old lady and two mischievous kids stop a candy thief? Nana is no ordinary grandmother and is determine to become a candy detective - or something else adventurous. Black and white drawings throughout accompany a fine story of intrigue and investigation.

GMES Publishing
PO Box 4470, Lake Tahoe, NV 89449-4470

Two laminated board books written by Debbie Buttar and illustrated by Christopher Davis use cartoon-style pictures of creatures and fun animal sounds to capture the littlest readers' attention. But what sounds can a giraffe or a llama make? One might be surprised! "Giraffe Sounds?" (9780979430220, $11.99) and "Llama Sounds?" (9780979430213, $11.99) are simple and fun for parents to read aloud to babies and toddlers. A portion of the proceeds from both books are donated to AMESPA Research & Treatment Foundation for the medical treatment of children afflicted with cancer or autism. "The elephant trumpets, trr trrrrr... / A snake hisses, ssssssss... / A tiger roars, rowwl... / A hyena laughs, hee hee hee hee..."

The Judaic Studies Shelf

URJ Books & Music
633 Third Avenue, 7th floor, New York, NY 10017-6778
$6.95 each 1-888-489-8242

Two English/Hebrew children's softcover books by Michelle Shapiro Abraham (Director of Education at Temple Sholom, Plainfield, New Jersey) teach young people about Jewish prayers and traditions. Colorful, instructive illustrations by Ann Koffsky add a friendly touch to these excellent books perfect for reinforcing Jewish children's cultural and religious education. "Shabbat Shalom" (0807408735) teaches young ones about Shabbat, the special time for Jewish families to come together and rest after the hustle of the week. Pages list traditional blessings in Hebrew letters, Romanized Hebrew, and English translation (such as "We praise You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine"), and a simple singsong rhyme keeps the rhythm of the picturebook flowing. "From the grapes that grow on vines / We fill our Kiddush cups with wine. / We hold our cups high in the air / As we say our joyful prayer. // We bring Shabbat into our home / By blessing wine, / Shabbat Shalom!" "Shavua Tov: A Good Week" (0807410845) teaches young readers about the Havdalah blessings and rituals that bring Shabbat to a close. Again, each two-page spread features the English and Hebrew versions of a blessing, along with an illuminating color illustration and a simple explanatory rhyme. Both picturebooks are excellent teaching tools for any Jewish household, and highly recommended.

Shalom Israel
URJ Books & Music
633 Third Avenue, 7th floor, New York, NY 10017-6778
$16.95 1-888-489-8242

Shalom Israel is the music CD companion to the book "My Cousin Tamar Lives in Israel". Featuring songs that teach young people about Jewish holidays spotlighted in the book, as well as song about Israel and instructive songs concerning basic Hebrew vocabulary, Shalom Israel is a wonderful album for reinforcing appreciation of Jewish heritage. The catchy, lighthearted, entertaining songs are a treat for young people, and even adults will find themselves humming or singing to the joyful rhythms. Highly recommended. The tracks are "My Cousin Tamar Lives in Israel", "Big Trip", "What Do You Like About Shabbat", "Shalom, Shabbat, Shalom", "Shofar Blast", "We Are Sorry for These Things (The Children's Al Cheit)", "Build a Sukkah", "In My Sukkah", "Soufganiot", "Lots of Latkes", "Purim Parade", "Purim Masqueraders", "Frogs", "Lotsa, Lotsa Matza", "Travelin' to Eretz Yisrael", "Colors in my World", "At the Shuk", "Af Peh Ozen", "Israel Lives in Every Jewish Heart", and "Shalom Chaverim".

The Picturebook Shelf

How Far To Heaven?
Chara M. Curtis, author
Alfred Currier, illustrator
Illumination Arts Publishing
PO Box 1865, Bellevue, WA 98009
0935699066 $15.95 1-888-210-8216

Gorgeously illustrated with impressionist-style color artwork by Alfred Currier, How Far To Heaven? is a charming children's picturebook about the lifelong bond between grandmother and granddaughter. Grandpa has passed on, yet Nanna is comforted by the knowledge that he is in the paradise of Heaven; she is always listening for angels. When Nanna and her granddaughter venture into the woods together, they see beautiful wonders of nature and Nanna tells her granddaughter a special secret. "Grandpa said that in heaven an angel would be at my side. Do you not know you are my angel?" A heartwarming, life-affirming book intended for young readers of all religious backgrounds (there is no explicit reference to any specific Christian scripture or dogma other than the general concepts of heaven and angels), highly recommended.

10,000 Dresses
Marcus Ewert, author
Rex Ray, illustrator
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
9781583228500 $14.95 1-800-596-7437

Featuring striking color illustrations done in a unique paper-cut style, 10,000 Dresses is a modern-day fairy tale about Bailey, a girl who dreams about magical dresses made from crystals, rainbows, flowers or windows. No one has any interest in her dreams - until she meets Laurel, an older girl inspired to create beauty based on Bailey's nighttime visions. A gentle and heartwarming story about the value of following one's dreams and being open to inspiration from all sources ensues.

Cora Cooks Pancit
Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Illustrated by Kristi Valiant
Shen's Books
1547 Palos Verdes Mall, #291, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
9781885008350, $17.95,

"Cora Cooks Pancit" presents a kitchen tale about a daughter who yearns to learn to cook her favorite Filipino noodle dish, pancit. Because her older siblings are gone, Cora is given the chance to help by shredding chicken, soaking noodles, and chopping vegetables, even stirring the noodles carefully while adding the other ingredients while the pancit is still on the burner. Cora is allowed to wear a special red apron that comes from her Lolo, or grandfather, who was a cook for Filipino farmworkers who picked strawberries and grapes. Lolo taught Cora's mother to cook and also told her stories about the Philippines where he was born while he was cooking. Even though Cora makes a few little detours in her cooking activities, she follows directions carefully, including washing up thoroughly, and when her siblings return, they enjoy a fine Filipino meal of pancit. They even decide it tastes just like Lolo's pancit! "Cora Cooks Pancit" is enriched by warm golden tones in its full page, full color illustrations by illustrator Kristi Valiant. Details of Filipino culture and life are highlighted. Designed for ages 4-8, "Cora Cooks Pancit" is both a careful cook's guide and a culturally rich tradition-laced story. A helpful Glossary at the end defines Filipino words and a final page of Lolo's Pancit Recipe contains the added instruction, "Children should make pancit with the help of an adult. Preparation involves chopping, cutting and sauteing on the stove (p. 32)."

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown , NY 10591

Eric A. Kimmell's THE THREE LITTLE TAMALES (9780761455196, $17.99) receives Valeria Docampo's engaging drawings as it tells of three little tamales that cool off on a windowsill when a wise tortilla rolls by with a message of doom. The fleeing tamales encounter Senor Lobo in a hilarious take-off on the traditional Pigs classic. Steven Kroll's STUFF! (9780761455707, $16.99) tells of one Pinch, a pack rat who collects too many things - and is horrified when his friends wish to hold a sale. But if he makes money recycling - he can buy more stuff! A fun dilemma and attitude change result. Jonathan London's LITTLE SWAN (9780761455233, $17.99) tells of one Ko-hoh, a chick who cracks his eggshell and sees his mother and father for the first time, learning about an entire new world in the process. Lovely drawings by Kristina Rodanas enhance a simple discovery tale. Lisa Horstman's SQUAWKING MATILDA (9780761454632, $17.99) tells of a scrappy chicken with an attitude. Nothing's quick or easy with Matilda involved in affecting the results of a host of projects in this zany, fun story. Mark Shulman's GORILLA GARAGE (9780761454618, $17.99) tells of a garage where gorillas do the fixing, and grease monkeys do the odd jobs. Vincent Nguyen provides vivid drawings in this fun story. Ellen Javernick's THE BIRTHDAY PET (9780761455226, $16.99) tells of Danny's birthday, when folks say he can get any kind of animal he wants as a pet. What he wants is a turtle, but his family provides something different Kevin O'Malley's drawings are hilarious. Ellen Spinelli's SILLY TILLY (9780761455257, $16.99) tells of a quirky goose who takes her baths in apple juice and wears a pancake hat. Is she too silly or having too much fun? David Slonim's drawings are zany, fun accompaniments. All are excellent additions to any picturebook collection.

c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

Patricia Polacco's IN OUR MOTHER'S HOUSE (9780399250767, $17.99) tells of Marmee, Meema and the kids who are like any other family - except they have two moms and no dad. One family on their block won't accept them - but their house is filled with love and gentle teachings in this wonderful story of a different family. Timothy Knapman and Adam Stower's MUNGO AND THE SPIDERS FROM SPACE (9780803732773, $16.99) provides a comic-book-like picturebook story of a boy who finds the last pages of a new comic are ripped out - requiring him to enter into the fantasy and finish the story himself. Mungo takes on a big adventure in this fine tale of courage and alien encounters. Margaret Muirhead's MABEL ONE AND ONLY (9780803731981, $16.99) tells of the only kid on her block who has to rely on grownups for games. One day everyone's busy - and it's up to her and her dog Jack to think up new play ideas on their own. Lynn Munsinger's hilarious drawings spice Tina Casey's THE UNDERGROUND GATORS (9780525472131, $16.99), telling of alligators who live in New York's sewers - and perhaps in your own hometown. It's a hilarious spin on a popular urban legend to see these gators interact. Barbara Joosse's ROAWR! (9780399247774, $16.99) tells of Liam, awakened in the night by monsters only to find his parents sound asleep. How can Liam fight them off? He must have big ideas--explored in drawings by Dutch artist Jan Jutte - in this fun exploration. Mary Ann Rodman's SURPRISE SOUP (9780670062744, $15.99) tells of Kevie, excited that he'll no longer be the littlest in his family when his mother has a new baby. Adults think Kevie might not be much help, but he'll be the one to save the day and make his mother's homecoming and her new arrival welcome. All are exceptional acquisitions, highly recommended.

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

D.B. Johnson and Linda Michelin's HENRY'S NIGHT (9780547056630, $16.00) tells of a boy who is seeking the whippoorwill, the bird nobody ever sees. Each time he draws near the bird stops singing and flees - where will it lead him? Moonlight comes to life in this gentle nature story told in the first-person. Linda Urban's MOUSE WAS MAD (9780152053376, $16.00) tells of how a host of animal characters express anger. Mouse just can't seem to get it right on the 'how' despite lessons from others: can he discover his own unique way of displaying anger? Gerald McDermott's Trickster tale from Hawaii, PIG-BOY (9780152165901, $16.00) tells of a hairy, dirty and hungry pig-boy talented at slipping away through the use of magic. An engaging series of unexpected encounters makes for an unexpected tale. John Grandits' THE TRAVEL GAME (9780618564200, $16.00) tells how to play 'the travel game' at home with only a globe and an illustrated world almanac. Geography and skills are couched in the story of one Tad, who loves to play the game with his Aunt Hattie. Deborah Noyes' PRUDENCE & MOXIE (9780618416073, $16.00) tells of two very different friends who have ups, downs, and many differences - but are still best friends. Daring Moxie and quiet, sensible Prudence find their opposites attract in this warm story. Valeri Gorbachev's DRAGON IS COMING! (9780152051969), tells of a big, dark, hungry, scary dragon who is coming. But is he really bad, too? A fine set of choices for discriminating libraries. Bobby Bramble Loses his Brain by Dave Keane (9780547056449, $16.00) tells of one Bobby, who never stops moving. His mother's afraid he'll fall and crack his head open but Bobby isn't worried - until one day Bobby's brain takes off. What can his body do to get it back? Hilarious drawings by David Clark enhance a zany story based on a common parental worry.

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

Abigail is good at many things, from dancing to storytelling - but she loves to spell most of all in Anna Alter's Abigail Speils (9780375856174, $16.99). She's thrilled by her school's annual spelling bee: unfortunately she doesn't ace it like she expects. Isn't winning everything? A gentle lesson is presented. Me, the Bride and Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap's HOW TO GET MARRIED (9780375841187, $16.99) provides kids with all the options in getting married, from marrying a friend or a pet to a flower... but if you marry a cat it could pose problems, and if you don't ever take a bath, you might never get married. A step-by-step guide to achieving marriage is told in a hilarious reflection by a little bride-to-be.

Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude
Jonah Winter, author
Calef Brown, illustrator
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
141694088X, $16.99

Gertrude is Gertrude and Alice is Alice and readers are invited to join them for tea. Gertrude is a queen who knows famous writers and has some improbable names for pets in this intriguing story filled with fine drawings by Calef Brown.

Tony and the Pizza Champions
Tony Gemignani
Chronicle Books
680 Second St., San Francisco CA 94107
9780811861625, $16.99

Tossing Tony can make pizza dough fly and roll like an expert, and he's been invited to Italy to compete against teams of pizza tossers from around the world. To win, Tony and his team will need to come up with a different combination for success. TONY AND THE PIZZA CHAMPIONS is based on a true story but brings an entertaining pizza-making tale to life for picturebook fiction fans. Matthew Trueman's drawings accompanies story line and recipes, too.

The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Discovers a New Planet
Sheila & Letty Sustrin, authors
Thomas H. Bone III
Blue Marlin Publications
823 Aberdeen Road, West Bay Shore, NY 11706
9780979291838 $17.95

The latest installment in the wonderfully upbeat "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire", The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Discovers a New Planet is a children's picturebook about the enthusiastic Mrs. Belle, who does not let her age (or her profession!) dissuade her from embarking on exciting adventures. Mrs. Belle not only discovers a new planet - she also prepares for a space voyage to visit it! "For the first week, Mrs. Belle, Mr. Rivera, Kitty Belle, and Magic went through a very hard training period. They had to get in good shape for their trip to outer space. Each night, the children watched as the astronauts in training jumped hurdles, did pushups, ran the 100-yard dash, and even climbed ropes up to the ceiling." Exuberant, cartoon-style color illustrations enhance this delightful storybook, with sufficiently detailed and involved text to be ideal for young people who are almost ready to make the transition from picturebooks to chapter books. "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire" is an excellent choice for children's public library collections, or just for read-aloud storytime. Also highly recommended are the previous series installments, "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire" (0967460239, $16.00) and "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Goes To Camp" (0967460271, $17.00).

My Daddy Likes To Say
Denise Brennan-Nelson, author
Jane Monroe Donovan, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
c/o Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535
9781585364329 $15.95 1-800-231-5163

My Daddy Likes To Say: Straight from the Horse's Mouth is a rhyming picturebook that teaches young readers what common hyperbole phrases like "cool as a cucumber" and "driving me up the wall" really mean. Adults take common understanding of these idioms for granted, but they can be confusing to a young person! "'The buck stops here,' / my daddy likes to say, / I'm not sure what he means / but I like it anyway. // He stops here and waits, / but how does he know? / We might have to tell him / it's okay to go." Underneath the friendly rhyme, in small typeface, is a detailed and straightforward explanation of what the idiom means and where it came from: "When someone wants to make it clear that he or she is taking responsibility for a situation, this expression may be used. 'The buck stops here,' developed from an earlier expression, 'pass the buck' which means to pass the responsibility on to someone else. 'Pass the buck' originated with the card game, poker..." Color artwork of unusual (to say the least) idiom-derived situations (such as a buck at a stop sign along with school children) in a thoughtfully realistic style enhances this educational picturebook, highly recommended for parents and children to share, and also for children's public library collections.

Chaff n' Skaffs: Mai and the Lost Moskivvy
Amanda Chin and Luke Feldman, authors
Luke Feldman, illustrator
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597020138 $15.95

Chaff n' Skaffs: Mai and the Lost Moskivvy is a charming children's picturebook, featuring a young girl's adventure. When a lost mosquito wakes young Mai up, her big grey friend Chaff suggests that they escort little Moskivvy back home. Their trip takes them through colorful and fantastic lands, vividly portrayed by Luke Feldman's gorgeously stylized illustrations. Moskivvy's family are all absolutely delighted to see him again. But how are Mai and Chaff to get home? Fortunately Moskivvy's friends have an ingenious solution! A simple yet charming story distinguished by its unforgettable artwork style.

One Fine Trade
Bobbi Miller, author
Will Hillenbrand, illustrator
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823418367 $16.95

One Fine Trade is a thoroughly enjoyable picturebook written in the style of a folk tale. Georgy Piney Woods wants to make one fine trade of his rail-skinny horse for a silver dollar, in order to buy his daughter a spanking new dress for her wedding. But instead of his original idea for a trade, he ends up swapping for a fat brown, an old hound dog, and then a cypress stick of all things - will his daughter ever get her wedding dress? More trades and adventures abound in this zany storybook, enhanced with cartoony color illustrations. Highly recommended for parents to read aloud to children.

Just Perfect
P.T. Custard and Ana Greer
Black Plume Books
608 Jordan Trace, Chesapeake, VA 23323
9780978531720 $15.95

The sequel to "Jules the Lighthouse Dog", Just Perfect: More Adventures of Jules the Lighthouse Dog is a children's picturebook with an important lesson about accepting oneself and others. Jules the Lighthouse Dog has long believed he is perfect in every way, having fully adapted to lighthouse life. But when he goes to a park filled with other dogs, he is initially intimidated by how drastically different they all are - could all these differences mean that Julies isn't perfect after all? 'Maybe being perfect doesn't have anything to do with color, size, shape, or long or short hair. Maybe there are many ways to be perfect - as many different ways as there are different dogs in the park. That's it! Being perfect is being happy with who you are." The lush, beautiful color illustrations enhance this engaging story with a memorable moral, especially recommended for young dog lovers.

Auntie's House
Dawn Aldrich, author
Michael Aldrich, illustrator
Halo Publishing International
9780979742972 $12.95

Auntie's House is a rhyming children's picturebook told from the point of view of a young girl who spends time at Auntie's house while her mother is away at work. Beneath the happy story about a little girl enjoying playtime with her aunt is a deeper theme about the value of trusting in one's mother to return at the end of the day, and adjusting to new circumstances. "I start to wonder, 'Where is my mother?' / Auntie says, 'Mommy will be back in a snap.' / 'Now close your eyes. Take a little nap.'" An excellent children's book not only for storytime, but also for helping young ones acclimate to the idea of staying with relatives.

Mee-Ander the Gander
K.K. Corner, author
Sharon L. Richert, illustrator
5714 134th Pl SE Suite 5, Everett, WA 98208
9780980062496 $16.99 1-888-240-4552

Intended for young people in preschool to grade 2, Mee-Ander the Gander is a charming children's picturebook about a farm gander who loves to waddle and wiggle here and there. When Mee-Ander gets into trouble and twists his ankle, he can no longer waddle or wiggle - what's a gander to do? Fortunately, the farmer Mrs. Friendly has just the solution - she wraps his ankle in a soft "cloth shoe" and sets up a "swing seat" for him to ride, that supports his weight with some cloth and a small rope attached to a whirligig that runs down a clothesline. With only the tips of Mee-Ander's feet touching the ground, he can waddle and wiggle back and forth as his ankle gradually gets better with passing days! Simple, charming color illustrations add the perfect touch to this playful adventure.

Ziccah Blows Her Horn
Elizabeth P. Gabriel & Pamela P. Gabriel, authors
Stephen Adams, illustrator
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438924472 $12.99

Ziccah Blows Her Horn is a softcover children's picturebook about a young elephant whose trunk happens to be shaped like a bell. The herd thinks it a deformity, until she learns to make beautiful music by blowing through her trunk. She befriends a boy separated from his village and paves the way to cooperation and harmony between people and elephants. Authors Elizabeth P. Gabriel and Pamela P. Gabriel have created a gentle adventure with an underlying message of friendship - and of respect for the majestic yet endangered elephant. A portion of the sales of Ziccah Blows Her Horn will go to the Tusk Trust Foundation, making Ziccah Blows Her Horn the perfect, thoughtful gift for any young person who loves elephants.

Andrea Skyberg
Wooden Nickel Press
PO Box 13091, Wauwatosa, WI 53213
9780615251776 $17.99

Based on a world invented by the author's grandfather, Snickeyfritz is a charming children's picturebook about three little girls cooped up in the house on a rainy day. In response to their protests of boredom, their father sends them on a treasure hunt. In the process, they learn to entertain themselves with the power of their imaginations, as they hunt for mysterious items on the list! Exactly what is a Snickeyfritz, anyway? Fanciful color illustrations created from photographs of life-sized dolls in artistic environments distinguish this remarkable adventure, perfect for parents and grandparents to share with children.

Star of the Show
Della Ross Ferreri & Tony Weinstock
Shenanigan Books
84 River Road, Summit, NJ 07901
9781934860038, $15.95,

Written by Della Ross Ferreri and illustrated by Tony Weinstock, "Star of the Show" is a fabulous children's tale of Francine (the Fabulous) and Max (the Magnificent) who decide to present a circus show together. Now in previous playtimes, Max had endured cooperatively in an assisting role while Francine (the Fabulous) had consistently hogged the spotlight as "star of the show." This time Max is determined that it will be different. Though the children have their moments of disagreement and conflict, after a brief separation (initiated by Max who decides he won't play if he never gets to go first, or be other than the assistant), Max and Francine eventually stage a wildly successful circus act cooperatively, with equal billing, and they both do the grand finale! The inevitable punch line comes when Francine (the Fabulous) suggests to Max (the Magnificent) that they play school, and she'll be the teacher. "Okay," said Max. "You can be the teacher...and I'll be the principal (p.36)" The illustrations for "Star of the Show" add to the circus show atmosphere with shadowed exaggerations and darkly colorful stretches of imagination. A combination real/comic book world is subtly suggested, with overtones of melodrama completely appropriate to the themes. "Star of the Show" will appeal to young readers ages 3-8.

The Preschool Shelf

Where to Sleep
Kandy Radzinski, writer and illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main St., Suite 300, Chelsea, MI 48118
9781585364367, $15.95,

"Where to Sleep" is a lovely bedtime children's book that poses several choices for where a sweet gold and white striped kitten might sleep. Designed to appeal to children age 2 and up, "Where to Sleep" displays wonderful storytelling through illustrations that look almost alive, as well as through text. "Where to Sleep" is an excellent book for children who are just beginning to enjoy being read to as they can be encouraged to seek pictured details in each colorful page while focusing on the quiet rhyming text. "Where to Sleep" delivers solid soporific concentration opportunities for the very young and their parents or caretakers.

Books in Series

Crabtree Publishing
350 - 5th Avenue, Suite 3308, New York NY 10018

Six new books in the exciting series 'Celebrations in My World' ($19.95 each) expand the ideas and concepts of readers for grades K-2, each with some 32 pages outlining facts. Molly Aloian's PASSOVER (9760778742937) traces the history and culture of Passover celebrations, Lynn Pappas' THANKSGIVING (9780778742913) considers the day's celebrations past and present, and MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR DAY (9780778742906) by Reagan Miller surveys King's messages, the importance of his holiday, and different methods of celebration. All are top picks. Bobbie Kalman's WE ARE THE EARTH (9780778746348, $19.95) examines the many cultures that make up human life on the planet, drawing important connections between humans around the globe and the natural world. Her WHAT IS CULTURE? (9780778746355, $19.95) examines what makes up different cultures around the world. Six new titles in the 'Voices for Green Choices' biography set ($21.95 each) survey some of the greatest heroes of our times, providing grades 5-6 with 48 pages of basic biographical and ecological discussion. Robert Grayson's ED BEGLEY, JR: LIVING GREEN (9780778746676) considers the actor who motivated an entire generation of environmental activists; Patricia Lantier's RACHEL CARSON: FIGHTING PESTICIDES AND OTHER CHEMICAL POLLUTANTS (9780778746638) surveys a biologist whose findings made her an activist, Henry Elliot's JOHN MUIR: PROTECTING AND PRESERVING THE ENVIRONMENT (9780778746683) tells of the man's founding of the Sierra Club and modern environmental activism; Dale Anderson's AL GORE: A WAKE-UP CALL TO GLOBAL WARMING (9780778746669) considers Gore's political and environmental vision, Sean Callery's VICTOR WOUK: THE FATHER OF THE HYBRID CAR (9780778746645) recounts Wouk's development of a prototype for the hybrid that would develop 30 years later, and Suzy Gazlay's DAVID SUZUKI: DOING BATTLE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE (9780778746652) charts a controversial science broadcaster's involvement in politics and global warming studies. All are outstanding recommendations for elementary-grade collections.

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

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