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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 6 June 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Biography Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Religion/Spirituality Shelf Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Native American Shelf Counting Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Health Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Social Issues Shelf American History Shelf
World History Shelf Literary Shelf Fiction Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Bilingual Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Books in Series  

Donovan's Bookshelf

South Heart
S.L. Schwab
Privately Published
ASIN: B00JH2YDO6, Kindle $4.99, 319 Pages
9781492714958, PB $11.69, 318 Pages, l-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1398181819&sr=1-1&keywords=south+heart

South Heart centers around a small Dakota town, a sheriff who finds himself facing down Lucifer himself ("Luce") instead of the usual challenges to law, and an epic struggle between good and evil forces, filled with angels and demons. So if it's a mystery or small-town saga you're anticipating from South Heart, think again: it's a slowly-evolving horror story much in the vein of Stephen King and it builds a plot accessible to teen and adult readers alike.

All the trapping of a good horror read are here; but first off, it's important to mention that the saga begins in 1884 in the Dakota Territory: a typical Western frontier setting. A posse and a gang of killers are in the process of confronting one another on the plains when something happens that "doesn't seem right" to the observers.

Fast forward to present-day New York, where Tom is leaving his love, foregoing marriage, and embarking on a journey West, driven by something he can't explain to drive to the small town of South Heart. There he finds a stranger who seems to know all about him without any explanations and a mystery rooted deep in the past that will reach out to grip his life and change everything he believes about the world.

As he continues to struggle with his love for Jean and events that are changing his perceptions, Tom finds himself immersed in new friends and a very different world - and slowly comes to realize that his path in life is nearly predetermined.

South Heart follows two protagonists who increasingly find their lives affected by supernatural forces beyond their experience. As they probe cowboy stories and legends of the past, they slowly come to realize these legends don't just embrace what was; they are embedded in their present-day experience and especially the small town of South Heart, as well.

It's a love story, it's a horror story, it's a Western: one thing you can say about South Heart is that it's unpredictable, incorporating elements of different genres and creating a deliciously-winding story of suspense. As readers share Tom and Jean's evolution, they come to realize (along with the protagonists) that their arrival in the town has somehow tipped an ancient balance and reintroduced forces into the world that should have best remained sleeping.

Lest you wonder at its recommended audience, it should be mentioned that South Heart contains no sexually explicit scenes that would relegate it to adult audiences alone: instead it tones down the romance to flirting, uses ghost towns and abandoned buildings to weave mystery and suspense into its story, and creates an atmosphere easily accessible by teen and adult reader alike.

Steeped in Dakota Territory and in the workings of a creature from hell loosed upon the world, South Heart incorporates tension and action at every turn and is an engrossing saga recommended for mature teens and adult readers: especially those who enjoy novels that cross genres and offer no predictable outcome.

Stacy A. Nyikos
Stonehorse Publishing
6528 E. 101st St., Ste. D1 Room 296, Tulsa OK 74133
9780976419952, $15.95, 32 pages,

Toby has much to like for ages 0-8: it features a rollicking, rhyming verse, animals, lovely large-size color drawings on every page (by Shawn Sisneros), and follows a young sea turtle on his adventures from egg to ocean, evading predators at every step.

OK, so you've had rhyming picturebooks and seaside titles in your collection before: what makes Toby stand out from the crowd? A number of things!

For one, the rhymes are anything but predictable - and to reinforce this feel, the 'punch line' conclusion is delivered with a variety of intriguing devices, from appearing on a different page (perfect for read-aloud tension) to featuring the fun creatures little sea turtle Toby encounters, such as a pelican that gets 'tangled in a pose' when it tries to follow Toby under the guise of helping (but with intentions of making Toby a quick meal.)

Many rhyming picturebooks 'dumb down' their contents; especially books trying to appeal to a wide age range. That Toby tailors its message and feel to make it appealing for read-alouds and older picturebook self-readers just makes it all the more versatile.

Yes, it's fiction: but the events follow a turtle's actual, dangerous journey from hatching on the beach to living in the open ocean, and Toby also include a page of fun facts about the life cycle of sea turtles, plus a bibliography for those young readers who would pursue the subject. A supportive website also includes free materials for teaching, from mazes and quiz handouts to coloring pages.

So who will be the likely readers of Toby?

Pick one: aquariums looking to promote sea life to the young, parents seeking a read-aloud with many unexpected moments ("In a sandy little nest/With a happy little shout/Toby cracked apart his shell/And..../Kerploppled headfirst out...."), picturebook readers who love nature, fans of whimsical, original drawings...Toby's a gentle, lovely pick for any of these audiences and will stand out well in a picturebook collection about sea life.

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet
Jenny Ruden
Koehler Books
210 - 60th St., Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781940192314, $18.95, 300 pages,

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet tells of teen Bethany Stern, slated to spend her summer at Camp Utopia, a 'fat camp' in Northern California, unless she can lose weight. But she's already tried everything...there's only one thing left to try: 'The Forgiveness Diet', which requires her to confront the angst in her life and practice forgiveness.

So Bethany writes a series of nasty emails to everyone in an effort to rid herself of her anger, parks them in 'drafts', and then (surprise!) they wind up being accidentally 'sent' to everyone - including her father.

Now she's really in the doghouse - and mired at a camp she hates. Can she really change her life there, thin or not? And is it true that she won't find romance until she's slender?

As events unfold, readers begin to see that weight isn't really the main issue, here. Bethany needs to unfold, herself; and her blossoming process as she interacts with others lies at the heart of a novel that peppers a healthy dose of humor into its proceedings: "Bethany, the fist time I saw you I was like, here's a girl who gets it. Linda, as in beautiful." All my life I had waited for someone to use the words Bethany and beautiful in the same sentence. ALL.MY.LIFE. Only it wasn't TJ. It was Liliana's brother?!"

Dialogue and interactions are realistic: Bethany is not only believable but involves readers in the series of snafus that often make up a teen's life. Because of her, the issues of 'fat camp' AND dieting all come together to spice a transformation process that will ultimately lead Bethany to feel more empowered.

Again, it's worth reiterating the unexpected thread of fun that runs throughout Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet: anticipate a wry observational tone and a protagonist who succeeds in carrying her story with a satisfying combination of poignancy, hope and humor throughout: in short, a 'camp' and 'weight loss' novel far different than your usual teen story about either subject.

My Mothers Kitchen: A Novel With Recipes
Meera Ekkanath Klein
Homebound Publications
Postal Box 1442, Pawcatuck CT 06379-1442
9781938846298, $18.95, 266 pages,

My Mothers Kitchen: A Novel With Recipes reflects the author's childhood in India, incorporates some of her favorite family dishes, and provides the dual story of a girl growing up in India and the food that permeated her life and experiences.

Now, one might believe this would be a children's story; but it's not: it's packed with insights on Indian culture, cooking and eating, and will appeal across the board from teens through adult readers - and this is just one of its strengths.

Now, readers should ideally have a prior affection for novels that focus on cooking and include recipes: those with little interest in food or other cultures won't be able to appreciate the focus and detail packed into My Mothers Kitchen.

But this doesn't mean that teen readers won't become fascinated by the progress of protagonist Kashi's life; just that cooking (and Indian culture) are steeped into every chapter, and food is one of the novel's main themes: "For being such an enchanting place, the kitchen is actually very ordinary. It consists of two rooms, connected by an open doorway. The first room has three pieces of furniture, all large and made of wood. There is a long teak table with measuring cups and milk strainers on it. The china cabinet occupies another wall, filled with pieces of fine china as well as stainless steel pots and pans. Against yet another wall is a large cupboard with a mesh covering. I loved to open this door and take whiff s of the buttery tang of yogurt and the biting aroma of dried chilies."

It's the smoky aromas of cooking and the culinary insights peppered liberally throughout which set My Mothers Kitchen apart from most other novels about Indian culture and experience ("When the cream of wheat turned a pale golden color, Sita added some sugar and then a cup of hot water from a pot on the hearth. The sweet mixture immediately formed a thick pudding. She kept stirring the pudding until it was tender and smooth. She took down a small stainless container and pried open the lid. "This is special saffron coming all the way from the snowy slopes of the Himalayan Mountains." Sita placed a small pinch of the bright orange strands into a spoonful of warm water. Immediately the water turned a bright orange and the air was filled with the exotic smell of the spice.") - and for any age reader (whether it be teen or adult) with even a casual interest in food, this makes for a rich read, indeed.

Lest one wonder: the story may be cemented by culinary encounters; but there are plenty of other insights and protagonists range from monks to would-be suitors, mailmen to thieves.

Food binds all together and provides delicious connections throughout: "This is best tea I've ever tasted," I say to Paru Amma, who beams at me. "The tea is liquid cardamom," she says. "We peel the seeds and boil them in water and then steep the tea in the spice water. The spice tea is mixed with fresh milk and sugar and served hot. That's why it tastes so good."

As Meena moves from high school to college, forced to major in Home Economics (the only acceptable reason her family will accept for her higher education pursuits), she constantly struggles against matchmaking efforts and the underlying ramifications of her choices, which even reach into her love of food: "The matchmaker watched me eat.

"So (snort)," she said, chewing loudly on the lentil snack.

"You know how to cook these (snort)?" "My mother taught me how to make them," I replied. "She is the best cook in her home ec class," my mother said. "She has taught the instructor how to make all kinds of food, even foreign foods like noodles." "But you don't eat that stuff (snort, snort)?" the matchmaker looked horrified at the thought. "Isn't it all impure (snort)? Full of eggs and meat (snort)?" "No, no. The noodles are just like our sava (vermicelli)," I explained.

The matchmaker wasn't entirely convinced but she didn't say anything more about my cooking, foreign or otherwise."

What will happen to a 'modern' Indian girl who bucks the trend with different desires for her future, and how does food enter into the picture?

Anticipate a savory, mouth-watering read in My Mothers Kitchen, which holds the added bonus of being packed with appealing, tested recipes throughout its inviting story.

Wild Ones
Leigh Goodison
Sheffield Publications, LLC
9009 NE 223rd Circle, Battle Ground, WA 98604
0615981585, $10.00, 220 pages,

Wild Ones centers on sixteen-year-old Breeze, who is the new kid at school. But the school is not your ordinary high school: it's a state-run school for troubled teens and Breeze barely has formed friendships when she's faced with the possibility of another placement in a foster home far away, in a remote Oregon area where there's virtually no communication with the outside world.

Now, it's not like Breeze has no experience with rural settings in general or Oregon in particular: before her mother died, they went to southeast Oregon for the annual wild horse roundup, and it's there that she got a taste of the countryside and a respect for its offerings. So one would initially think that the new foster home setting would be a good match ... and it would have been, had not Breeze just begun rebuilding her life in a challenging new environment, only to be torn away from yet another possibility of stability.

And so she resents the move, and once there she decides she'll return to the only place that has offered her a measure of friendship: but she must make at least one new friend (in the form of next-door neighbor boy Jared) in order to successfully escape. And therein lies her quandary.

As Breeze comes to develop feelings for her new home - emotions that overlay the lure of her old/new school environment - she comes to face some difficult scenarios in which nothing is clear; especially when her newfound foster parents are arrested, forcing Breeze to take a stand.

Wild horses, wild children, and wild home settings all juxtapose in a well-developed, lively story with a spicy, spunky protagonist recommended equally for young adult to adult audiences, who will appreciate Breeze and Jared's ability to develop positive paths out of challenging situations.

Leigh Goodison's use of the first person to describe her protagonists' struggles solidifies their personalities, closely involves readers in their lives, and succeeds in creating believable dialogue and responses to life: "It sounds sappy, but I couldn't help wishing that one day I'd find someone to love me like that. Whether it was from a foster parent, or a boyfriend, or maybe just getting closer to my friends. The yearning inside me was so great my throat ached."

In the end it's the well-drawn, moving character of Breeze that brings her world and choices to life, and which makes Wild Ones a satisfying story of life's evolution, the options people consider when facing adversity, and (ultimately) how to pick a path that leads to happiness and human connections no matter where 'home' lies.

A Quest of Heroes (Book #1 In The Sorcerer's Ring)
Morgan Rice
Privately Published
c/o Lukeman Literary Management Ltd
9781939416018, $2.99, 233 pages

A Quest of Heroes is the first book in 'The Sorcerer's Ring' - and the very first thing to note about it is a striking cover, portraying a brooding castle perched atop a winding, dark road. There's no artist attribute for this picture, but it sure does its job; pulling pre-teen and young adult readers into the story of one Thor, who awakes to possibly the greatest day in his life: Conscription Day, a day in which his destiny will be decided.

He has hopes that he'll be picked for his lifelong dream: to become a volunteer for the King's Legion. If this doesn't happen he could forever be regulated to the boring life of a sheep herder, doomed to tend his father's flock in a small village for the rest of his life. The Legion is the stepping stone to his ultimate dream of joining the Silver, the King's elite force of knights.

For Thor it's more than a dream: it's a transition point where he'll leave a hated life to one paved in gold: "What had made all of this bearable, all these years of tending flocks, of being his father's lackey, his older brothers' lackey, the one cared for least and burdened most, was the idea that one day he would leave this place. One day, when the Silver came, he would surprise all those who had underestimated him and be selected. In one swift motion, he would ascend their carriage and say goodbye to all of this."

And it's not as though he has his family's support: he's going to have to fight for even the opportunity to prove himself: "Thor was determined to reject the fate his father had planned for him. At the first sign of the royal caravan, he would race back to the house, confront his father, and, like it or not, make himself known to the King's men. He would stand for selection with the others. His father could not stop him."

If it all sounds too good to be true - that's because it is. The reality is that Thor, used to making the best out of what life gives him, finds his resources tested at every step of the way, thwarted by both circumstance and family. And if this all sounds like the opening to 'Cinderella' (albeit with a young male protagonist), that's because it basically is. Thor is abused and mistreated and it's only his determination to succeed that stands between a lifetime of such abuse and an entirely new world.

All this doesn't come without a price, however; and the first test is that of failure as Thor endures humiliation only to sees his brothers taking his path toward the coveted goal, leaving him behind to a possible lifetime of servitude and abuse.

No, it's all too much to contemplate: and never one to admit defeat, Thor sets off on a journey to defy the fate life has doled out to him: "He would continue to be his father's lackey, years would pass, and he would end up just like him, stuck here living a small, menial life - while his brothers gained glory and renown. His veins burned with the indignity of it all. This was not the life he was meant to live. He knew it. Thor wracked his brain for anything he could do, any way he could change it. But there was nothing. These were the cards life had dealt him."

It's Thor's determination to take charge of (and take back) his life that leads him on an adventure that makes his former dreams look puny. And it's an epic quest that involves him in a odyssey fraught with stupid decisions, brave intentions, and high adventure.

Anticipate a spirited fantasy that weaves elements of mystery and intrigue into its story line. It's about more than survival: A Quest of Heroes is all about the making of courage and about realizing a life purpose that leads to growth, maturity, and excellence.

Be forewarned: the 'ending' is inconclusive. But then, readers should already know this from the 'Book One' subtitle. There will be more to the series, and so Thor's journey is just beginning. And for those seeking meaty fantasy adventures, the protagonists, devices, and action provide a vigorous set of encounters that focus well on Thor's evolution from a dreamy child to a young adult facing impossible odds for survival.

Does Thor reach his goals? Suffice it to say that as soon as one door closes, another opens. In this case readers looking for quick, definitive conclusions may be disappointed; but those who enjoy the atmosphere and evolution of A Quest of Heroes will be happy to learn that this is only the beginning of what promises to be an epic young adult series.

Turning on a Dime
Pageworks Press
4 Gibbons Circle, Old Saybrook, CT 06475
9780985150495, 240 pages, $9.99 (PB), $2.99 (Kindle)

Samantha DeVries is a teen equestrian who has only one passion in life: horses. And this likely comes from her father, who is a successful horse trainer and from whom she has inherited her love of steeds.

And here's where Turning on a Dime departs from your usual young adult novel of a horse-crazy girl: Samantha is African-American operating in a world of privileged white girls.

And lest you think this is the primary difference between Turning on a Dime and other horse stories, let's add another twist in the form of a timeslip plot that brings Samantha into the past by way of a time portal that lands her in the bed of Southern belle Caroline, a similar soul who is a tomboy at heart in an era even more critical of headstrong girls.

Inject a dose of history (in that the Civil War is raging) and present Samantha as a modern black girl who obviously doesn't 'know her place' in such a world.

Include the danger of slave catchers; then the conflict that evolves when Samantha realizes that her growing friendship with Caroline means that if she does find a way back to her time, she'll be leaving behind one of the few peers who actually understands and accepts her.

Give all these elements a hearty shake of believability and you have a gripping young adult story in Turning on a Dime, which juxtaposes different elements of tension exquisitely in a story filled with unexpected twists and turns and no easy answers.

Samantha's quandary is clear: "I want my family, my horse, and - I also want Caroline. I can't imagine leaving her behind. She's become my best friend, like Jenna . . . like Fergus and Nugget. But what if I can't leave? What if I'm stuck here . . . forever? Fear sends its bony fingers down my spine. If I'm caught, I'll be branded a runaway slave. I'll be beaten and whipped."

So what are the choices in such an impossible scenario?

Young adults will follow Samantha literally to the ends of the earth in a world where she must use an iPhone to help lend validity to her amazing story (and, given how quickly iPhones 'power down' ... where is the charging plug in this brave old world?): "I'm from the future," Sam says, as cool and calm as the inside of a watermelon. "I can tell you about many amazing things that are going to happen." She pauses. "Long after you're dead, there will be two world wars,men will fly to the moon, and a black man will be elected president." He flinches. "Oh, really?" "Yes, really," Sam says. The major raises one eyebrow. "Prove it." Slowly, Sam pulls out her iPhone and lays it on Mama's table. The screen shows Barack Obama being sworn in, followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Flags wave and bands play; soldiers salute their new commander in chief. Major Van Houten can't take his eyes off it.

The result is a gripping narrative filled with delightfully original moments: perfect for young adults who love horses, stories of racial confrontation, feisty female protagonists, and unique timeslip dilemmas.

Erec Stebbins
Twice Pi Press
1161 York Ave, Box 12C, New York, NY 10065
Paper: 9780615763859 Hardcover: 9780989000444
Kindle: $3.99 Paper: $11.50 Hardcover: $24.99
75K words, print 312 pages 1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399042153&sr=8-1&keywords=%3A+978-0-6157638-5-9

Reader is Book 1 of the 'Daughter of Time' trilogy, and is set in the 21st century where Earth is in thrall to the alien invaders the Dram, a technologically advanced race who kidnap teen Ambra to exploit her special ability to see the past and future.

In the process of their experimentation she's blinded, but her powers increase: and with them expands a unique opportunity to save not only herself, but her entire race.

Mature teen and young adult readers alike will find Ambra's story involving and engrossing. In a world where psychic 'readers' are few and far between, she stands out: this fact leads her on a journey of many experiences, from being tortured and sold into slavery to being freed by a race of benevolent aliens.

And if that's not enough richness, add her journey through space and time itself for a complex, multifaceted read not recommended for those looking for 'light' entertainment, but for avid science fiction readers interested in an exceptionally fine blend of hard science and winning characters.

Now, stories of bleak human encounters with aliens and races saved by the efforts of one unique individual are not rare. So if you go by plot alone, Reader sounds fairly ordinary: even its title doesn't give away the riches to be found within.

Another important note: although the protagonist is a teen (age 17), don't peg this as a 'young adult read' alone: the violence and disturbing confrontations between protagonists doesn't lend to its recommendation much below the age level of 16 or the maturity level of a near-adult.

That said, Reader is an unexpected treat on many levels.

First of all, it's narrated in the first person. This approach allows readers to absorb themselves in Ambra's experiences and world: and a complex world it is, between the reality of alien domination and the triple visions of Ambra's past, present and future: "Short, and yet long separations of time. The way of dreams. For me, the way of life."

Under a lesser hand these experiences and different timelines could all too easily have become confusing: it takes a skilled writer to pull all these threads together to create a uniform flow, and under Stebbins' pen this saga succeeds in assuming a logical, believable and understandable progression of events.

Now, a note for the audience: mature teens and adults won't find some of the descriptions terrifying at all; but this remains a recommendation for such an audience and not younger young adults because some of the descriptions and passages are quite striking: "I was only eleven, and it was too much for me. That demon face - I had seen it before. In another dream. Dreams within dreams. His face was part of a foggy future vision, one I had forgotten and that rushed back through me like nails in my veins. Flashes of future memories whipped through my mind of pain, and fear, and loneliness, and horror - all connected to this face grinning back at me like some fiend from hell."

And this is light, compared to the torturous trials Ambra experiences under the hands of the aliens.

Mature teens and adults will be engrossed enough in her character to empathize when ill befalls her, celebrate her triumphs, and understand her struggles to cope with her growing powers and their implications. And as far as alien interactions go: we're not talking about one race, but multiple encounters with very different alien species.

To be tortured by aliens and then rescued by a species that visually look even more terrifying makes for a gripping conundrum that springs to life under Stebbens' hand: "We were all beyond the ability to believe or process much intellectually...Others were approached by more light-blue-uniformed nightmares, who spoke soothingly and tried to gather humans together and lead them through to the outside. How gentle they were! If there was anything to map between human empathy and the alien psychology, it seemed to me that the Xix felt our pain, and genuinely cared for us."

It's personal, it's ever-changing, it's vivid, and it offers a ray of hope against the darkness of pain and evil: everything one could ask from a solid sci-fi read. Reader asks: what history will we change? Ambra could never reach all the Readers at one time: this book is her effort to explain her world - and to entreat its reader to consider their own world-changing efforts. In the end (without spilling beans), suffice it to say that her vantage point is not what one expects.

Oh, you want more? Book Two, Writer, is just waiting. Good thing, too, because the ending of Reader is startling and one can only hope it's not a conclusion, but a new beginning...

Erec Stebbins
Twice Pi Press
1161 York Ave, Box 12C, New York, NY 10065
Paperback: 9780986057113
Hardback: 9780986057106
Ebook: 9780986057120 $3.99 444 Pages 1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399047214&sr=8-1&keywords=9780986057120

Get ready for another emotionally-charged sci-fi read in Writer, Book Two in the 'Daughter of Time' trilogy; this one focusing more upon the romance forecast in Book One, and continuing where Book One left off (prior familiarity with Reader is highly recommended to gain the full flavor of the background and characters who continue their odyssey here in Writer.)

Yes, there is a prologue that handily sets the scene and opens with a bang ("How do you make love to a goddess?"); but it's practically a given that a booklover who begins with Writer will feel compelled to go back to Reader to fill in the blanks; so you might as well start from the beginning for a smoother appreciation of the characters, events, and setting that continues in Book Two.

Here is a different focus on a protagonist who loves Ambra and views her as more than a savior of worlds: "Even these monstrosities, these aliens now positioned across our world with their own godlike technologies and cities - they hold her in awe. In the erased fragments of time, a shattered Earth she made whole. The tyranny of the Dram trembles across the galaxy as her power sweeps outward like a tide washing clean a tainted shore. She communes with the Orbs, summons their power, opens their portals. She is a Cosmic Messiah, writing anew the story of our universe. But not to me. To me, this is only a beginning."

The romance seen in a vision in Reader really heats up in Writer: another indication that its audience should be mature teens into adult readers. As if that were not enough, the story line continues its complex series of twists and turns, focusing on high technology battles and the time-changing encounters between Ambra and her love Nitin (introduced in Book One), who is a lieutenant in a battle supported by the beneficial Xix aliens against the invasive and deadly Dram.

As much as Ambra Dawn was the center of Reader, so Nitin is the center of Writer - and he's also just coming into powers he long believed were not part of his abilities. Additionally, he's struggling with the loss of Ambra and her uncertain continuing presence in his dreams: "I turned to her and spoke, the wild creativity of a dream releasing my thoughts. "Please don't go away this time." I was remembering the other dream. Memories of dreams in a dream. I tried to suppress tears, but so much emotion flowed over me that I was overcome. "Please let me stay here with you, Ambra. There is a hole. It eats away at me. My whole life. No one understands. I can't face that hurricane of emptiness". "Dreams are not lies, Nitin. Dreams are other spaces. Other times. But spaces and times within larger places. Bubbles within seas. Sometimes a person can stay in the bubble and ride out the storms. Never leave the dream."

As Writer evolves, readers come to understand that Ambra is not only alive beyond the dream-state, but is clearly and remarkably involved in the ongoing resurrection of worlds and individuals alike.

Descriptions continue to capture the moment, neatly juxtaposing physical environment with psychological tension and creating images and scenes that go beyond penetrating and enter into the realm of vibrant experience: "Even now, in the midst of this insanity, I found myself distracted, stunned by her beauty....The stars framed her form, her red locks bouncing slightly with each step. Still reeling from the sudden sense of her disappearance, the reality of her physical presence before me felt infinitely valuable, precious, and vulnerable. Had I understood our ultimate fates, I would have treasured that physicality even more."

Anticipate trips through time and space, wrenching separations and confrontations that will test the lovers' bond to each other and to their worlds, and a healthy dose of high technology, as when a medical AI unit helps save Ambra's life on the field.

All this is no casual narration: it's highly charged with emotion as much as technology, and grips readers in a plot that is saturated with 'you are there' moments: "Somehow she broke through the forces holding her. Her mouth opened, and a cry of such devastating pain ripped through the cosmos that I was convinced that the geometry of space-time would be shattered and unrecoverable. Her cry did not die but wailed into the void ceaselessly, the waves of sound beating through me, the sense of her pain and torture unbearable."

The Collective is growing - and with it, unprecedented powers and purpose. What powers, and to what purpose? Study Writer to find out ... and be prepared for another epic story that turns on a dime and leaves its ending open for yet more added attractions later.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

The Biography Shelf

Every Day is Malala Day
Rosemary McCarney, author
Second Story Press
20 Maud St., Ste. 401, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 2M5
9781927583319, $18.95,

"Every Day is Malala Day" is a tribute to MalalaYousafzai, the 16 year old Pakistani girl who was shot on October 9, 2012, in the head by a Taliban assassin, because she was speaking out in public about the right of all girls to have an education. Two other girls were also injured with Malala. Malala was hospitalized and treated in Great Britain and subsequently recovered, continuing her strong proclamation to the world that girls everywhere need to be educated as well as boys. Malala is not afraid. "Every Day is Malala Day" contains excerpts from a speech given by Malala to the United Nations' Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday. "Every Day is Malala Day" is also a celebration in the form of a letter to Malala from girls and young women around the world who honor her for standing up for them, championing their right to education and a hopeful future free of misogynistic oppression and fear. Written simply, the narrative is clear and understandable to children ages 5-9. Even more eloquent are the expressive, poignant, colored photographs of girls of many races and cultures from around the world, each of whom conveys a heartfelt tribute to Malala because of her heroic courage in speaking out and defense of girls' entitlement to a minimum of 9 years of quality education. The team of Plan International Communications helped organize the tribute of "Every Day is Malala Day," declaring July 12, 2013 to be Malala Day. Plan International is an old, large, nonprofit charity, inclusive of all faiths and cultures, that exists to improve the lives of children around the world. Parts of "Every Day is Malala Day" are taken from a powerful video of tributes to Malala from girls around the world by editor Jen Albaugh. "Every Day is Malala Day" is a seminal work of significant importance and should be a part of gender equality educational curricula everywhere for children.

The Amazing Travels of Ibn Battuta
Fatima Sharafeddine, author
Intelaq Mohammed Ali, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 2K4
9781554984800, $17.95,

Born in Tangier, Morocco in 1304, Ibn Battuta began his famous life of 29 years of exotic world travel with a journey to Mecca where he performed the Hajj, walking seven times around the holiest site, Kaaba and completing many prayers and rituals. Ibn Battuta was 21 years old and faced many dangers, difficulties, and hardships as he traveled on a donkey with a succession of caravans. He saw Alexandria, Cairo, Jerusalem, and many other famous cities. This journey excited Ibn Battuta, and he continued his travels from Mecca towards Iran, stopping at Shiraz, where he was impressed by the kind character and strong faith of many Muslim women. Ibn Battuta made many more fascinating travels, in Iran, Yemen, Africa, Turkey, and even India and China. In 1346, he returned to Mecca at the age of 45, learning that his mother had died during his 24 years of travel. Eventually he traveled further to Granada, Spain, the Kingdom of Mali through the Sahara, and to Morocco, where he became a judge for the sultan in Fez. With the assistance of a skilled writer named Ibn al-Juzayy al-Kalbi, he wrote his famous book of travels titled "A Masterpiece for Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of New Sights and the Marvels of Traveling." Ibn Battuta continued to work as a judge, sharing the wisdom and balance he had learned in his many travels, until the age of 69. "The Amazing Travels of Ibn Battuta" is richly illustrated in a rainbow palate of colors based on sand brown backgrounds by Intelaq Mohammed Ali, an Iraqi artist, with ornately decorated portraits of characters, cities, and animals and continent -shaped maps of exotic places where Ibn Battuta traveled. "The Amazing Travels of Ibn Battuta" is a beautiful juvenile nonfiction world literature edition appealing to readers ages 7-11.

Steve Jobs: Visionary Entrepreneur of the Digital Age
Jude Isabella and Matt J. Simmons, authors
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118
9780778711896, $24.95,

"Steve Jobs: Visionary Entrepreneur of the Digital Age" is a photo-illustrated biography of the famous inventor of the Apple computer line, iMac, and so much more. Part of the Groundbreaker Biography series, this exciting life story is presented with detailed finesse of many intense highs and lows of a creative man's life, from 1955 to 2011. Presented in 7 compact chapters plus black and white photos of each era, a Chronology, Glossary, and added information, "Steve Jobs" encapsulates both the stunning achievements and the unusual quirks and twists of fate affecting the life of the extremely gifted inventor. Students ages 11-14 will find this biography both captivating and alarming, with added notes and twin tribute comparisons for fellow inventor and age/changer, Bill Gates. An additional title from this same series that is equally highly recommended is "Albert Einstein: Forging the Path of Modern Physics (9780778711889, $24.95)," by Diane Dakers.

This Star Won't Go Out
Esther Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780525426363 $19.99

This Star Won't Go Out follows the story of young author Esther, diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a very early age, and is as much about her spirituality and life as it is about her slow decline and early death as a teenager. Diagnosed at age twelve, she maintained a vivid, active life despite her physical challenges - and when she died at age sixteen in 2012, her diaries and writings reflected her struggles. They're reproduced here, along with her fiction, letters and sketches, and are complimented by photos and essays from family and friends who help tell her story and comment on her lasting impact. Teens in grades 6 on up will find this a powerful collection.

Regine's Book
Regine Stokke
Zest Books
35 Stillman Street, Suite 121, San Francisco, CA, 94107
9781936976010 $9.99

Regine's Book tells of a teen who is leading an everyday life until one day she comes home from school only to find she's been diagnosed with leukemia. From then on her life changes, and Regine's Book documents these changes. Don't expect romance, extraordinary events, or high drama. Do expect the intimate emotional words of a girl undergoing cancer treatment, disappointments, fears, and how to accept what becomes inevitable.

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil, editors
Sourcebooks Fire
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402287589 $15.99

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose doesn't read like your usual teen story: perhaps that's because it's a real diary; not made-up fiction, and offers an incredibly gritty and candid assessment of loneliness, love, and struggles. It's a true, first-person story of what ultimately proved the last years of her life - Mary Rose died when she was 17 - and offers a powerful piece of nonfiction that is positively gripping. Mature teens will find this pulls no punches in assessing a life where most of the people she knows are either dead, in jail, or have disappeared. The journals mark Mary Rose's years between fifteen and seventeen and they open with a bang - Mary Rose's arrest - and just don't stop. Even reluctant readers will find this unique and compelling reading.

The Picturebook Shelf

Murray McCain, author, & John Alcorn, illustrator
c/o Myrick Marketing & Media
PMB 248, 433 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9781623260200, $17.95,

"Books!" is a fantastic, fun, embellished and color illustrated book for children about, books! The definition is varied and complete, with side definitions of letters, words, punctuation, and the value of knowledge. The joy of page turning, deciphering images and words, and exploration of new worlds through books is vibrantly demonstrated. Fancy type with gold and pink highlighting make exciting statements about all the fun of books, finding them, reading them, sharing them, borrowing them, giving them, and keeping them. Summary quote: "A book is like a friend, because when you read you feel close to someone. Some books are like valentines. They seem to say I LOVE YOU. If a book is yours, you can put your name in it." "Books!" is a happy way to teach children all that is magic about reading books.

The Miss Nelson Collection
Harry Allard and James Marshall
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544082229 $12.99

The Miss Nelson Collection gathers three classic children's picturebooks under one cover. "Miss Nelson Is Missing!", "Miss Nelson Is Back", and "Miss Nelson Has a Field Day" tell the story of Miss Nelson, a who teaches a most rambunctious classroom of young children. But what happens to Miss Nelson's terribly rude, worst-class-in-school when Miss Nelson herself goes missing? A scary new substitute teacher appears, Miss Swamp, whose strict approach teaches the children to appreciate Miss Nelson more! The simple, playful illustrations add just the right touch to these classic stories, which have been read aloud and shared between parents, teachers, and children for almost forty years ("Miss Nelson Is Missing!" was originally copyrighted in 1977). Highly recommended.

Yoko Finds Her Way
Rosemary Wells
Hyperion Books for Children
114 Fifth Avenue, 14th floor, New York, NY 10011
c/o Hachette Book Group (distribution)
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781423165125 $16.99

Yoko Finds Her Way is a children's picturebook about learning how to understand nonverbal signs. Yoko is a precocious, anthropomorphic kitten ; she and her Mama are scheduled to take an airplane flight to Japan. But the airport is big, noisy, and bustling with confusion - how is Yoko to find her way to her mother, and to Gate 54? "Yoko followed the signs to the Airport Police and asked for help. 'Of course I will help you!' said the police lady. 'That is what I'm here for!'". Examples of common nonverbal signs run across the tops of the pages, in this colorful storybook about learning how to be recognize what signs mean, be independent, and solve problems.

Shadow Chasers
Elly MacKay
Running Press Kids
2300 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780762447206 $16.95

Shadow Chasers is a rhyming children's picturebook, about the joy of the endless quest to catch a shadow. Brought to life with surreal artwork, crafted by the author's unique method of inking and layering yupo paper, then photographing the handmade dioramas, Shadow Chasers brilliantly portrays the wonder of playing at sunset, retreating for a good night's sleep, and then greeting one's shadow again with the dawn. A brief storybook perfect for reading aloud to little ones right before bedtime, Shadow Chasers is highly recommended.

Mole Catches the Sky
Ellen Tarlow, author
Tomek Bogacki, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595726568 $16.99

Mole Catches the Sky is a delightful children's picturebook about the wonder of the outdoors, and the treasure of friendship. Mole lives underground, but wishes she could bring some of the sky's light, warmth, and cool breeze into her burrow home. Her friends Squirrel, Frog, and Bird try to help bring a little of the sky's refreshing beauty, but can the Sky really be captured and carried? Or might there be another way? Gentle, colorful illustrations enhance this charming, read-aloud story.

The Good Bad Little Pig!
Margaret Wise Brown, author
Loretta Schauer, illustrator
440 Park Avenue South, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10016
9781472345301 $7.99

The Good Bad Little Pig! is a children's picturebook about a young boy who adopts a piglet as a pet. The little pig has both good and bad tendencies - sometimes he's stubborn and unmanageable, sometimes he's friendly and affectionate! Exuberant, color illustrations add a playful touch to the scenes of giving a grubby piglet its first bath, or using a leash to take it for a walk. The Good Bad Little Pig! is pure, silly fun, for its own sake. (Parents who consider adopting a pet pig from an animal shelter should be aware that even so-called "miniature pigs" can potentially grow to large adult size; also, pigs require a lot of attention and can live for 15-20 years, some municipalities have ordinances banning them as pets, and some veterinarians won't treat them.)

Miss You Like Crazy
Pamela Hall, author
Jennifer A. Bell, illustrator
4400 Hulman Street, Terre Haute, IN 47803
c/o SoCal Public Relations (publicity)
9781933718910 $15.99

Miss You Like Crazy is a children's picturebook that touches on a reality of daily life that many families share. Young Walnut is an anthropomorphic squirrel who misses his mother when she's away at work. She misses her son too, but Walnut has to study at school, while his mother has to fulfill her responsibilities at her job (which puts food on the table and a roof over their heads). But even when she's hard at work, Walnut's mother keeps a picture of him on her computer, as well as in a locket around her neck; Walnut asks for a picture of his mother to keep with him when she's away. "'Mom smiled and said, 'I think we can manage that.'" The gentle, delightfully inviting color illustrations add the perfect touch to this heartwarming storybook. Also highly recommended is the Tanglewood title, "A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon".

Your Red Shoes
Dr. John Hutton, author
Leah Busch, illustrator
Blue Manatee Press
9781936669196 $17.99

Pediatrician Dr. John Hutton presents Your Red Shoes, an easy reader picturebook for children ages 2-7 about a father who takes his young daughter, who has just barely grown out of toddlerhood, for a walk in the park with her brand new red shoes. The soft, watercolor and pencil artwork complements the simple story about a young girl taking steps toward independence. "Will your red shoes give you happy feet? / Happy as I am watching you." Your Red Shoes is a gentle, heartwarming story perfect to read aloud and share with little ones. Also highly recommended are the Blue Manatee Press children's titles "Baby Unplugged: Water" (9781936669202), "Toast to Baby: Toast to Family" (9781936669189), "Orange, Triangle, Fox" (9781936669219), and "Bunnies Near and Far" (9781936669226).

Mom Me
Jennifer Castro, author
Hildy Charboneau, illustrator
Hippowl Press
9780989263313 $22.95 hc
9780989263306 $12.95 pbk

Mom Me is a playful picturebook from a little boy's point of view, about what a mommy is - and what she is not! "'No jumping on Mommy!' And my mommy is not a trampoline. / 'Rat-a-tat-tat hurts!' And my mommy is not a drum... / But... / my mommy can be an airplane, Whoosh! / and a race car, Zoom!" The exuberant illustrations, crafted with care in watercolor and hot-pressed watercolor paper, add just the right spice of excitement to this adorable read-aloud story about the irritations (when a child has an apple core to get rid of, mommy's purse is not the place to put it!) and wonders of the parent-child bond.

Pansy in Paris
Cynthia Bardes, author
Virginia Best, illustrator
Octobre Press
727 22nd Place, Vero Beach, FL 32960
c/o National Book Network (distribution)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780615840192 $18.95

Pansy in Paris: A Mystery at the Museum is a charming children's picturebook about a beloved poodle with curly brown fur, and her adventures while visiting the grand city of Paris. Pansy and her young owner Avery are even instrumental in foiling a daring museum heist of fine art! Lively, colorful artwork enriches this delightful tale, sure to appeal to young dog lovers.

Babar on Paradise Island
Laurent de Brunhoff
Abrams Books for Young Readers
115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
9781419710384 $18.95

Laurent de Brunhoff presents Babar on Paradise Island, a beautiful picturebook and part of a timeless series about an anthropomorphic elephant family who have been beloved to young children for over fifty years. Stories about Babar and his family began as bedtime tales by Laurent's mother, transformed into classic children's picturebooks through the art of Laurent's father, Jean de Brunhoff. Laurent continues the family tradition today, breathing new life into Babar with original, fantastic tales crafted with the series' gentle style of narrative and art. In Babar on Paradise Island, Babar's family is shipwrecked along with an Old Lady, and they all must learn how to survive on a deserted island while they await rescue. Fortunately, they have encouragement and aid from a friendly native dragon! "At night they built a fire, sang songs, and told stories. Encouraged by the dragon, they cheered up a lot." Highly recommended for storytime, bedtime, or children's library picturebook collections.

A Rainbow of Birds
Janet Halfmann, author
Jack Foster, illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing
12430 Tesson Ferry Road #186, Saint Louis, Missouri 63128
9781616334628, $9.95,

"A Rainbow of Birds" is a beautiful original legend about how rainbows began. Written for children by multiple award winning author Halfmann, "A Rainbow of Birds" uses bright bands of different colored birds to delineate the colors of the rainbow. Told as a cardinal bird legend, because the cardinals were the first band of birds bringing the red ribbon of the rainbow, "A Rainbow of Birds" appeals to children's sense of immediate magic and discovery of the beauty in nature. As Papa cardinal tells the story, the birds became very excited and flew madly about after a rainfall. First came the red cardinals, in a band of color. Then next came the orange breasted robins, completing the orange stripe, followed by chirping yellow warblers, noisy green parrots and loud, pushy blue jays. Following them was the deepest band of indigo buntings for indigo color band, and last of all flew the purple martins, creating a royal ribbon of violet. This completed the first rainbow of birds, in six glorious colors, celebrating the end of the rain. In the final pages, additional Rainbow Facts & Fun contain many more ideas about how to appreciate and understand rainbows. Delightful, comic illustrations of cheery colored birds make the story of "A Rainbow of Birds" very appealing to young readers.

The Lion and the Bird
Marianne Dubuc, author/illustrator
Enchanted Lion Books
351 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592701513, $17.95,

"The Lion and the Bird" is a delicate visionary treasure feast for the heart and soul. Spare of word, with aching clarity, the tender tale of the Lion and the Bird is told over time, as it passes in the garden of the Lion. One beautiful fall day, the Lion discovers the injured Bird, whose flock mates have flown on without him. The Lion helps the Bird, bandaging his wing and offering him shelter for the winter. As the Bird heals, the two friends explore delights of the cold season together, playing in snow, and sitting reading by a cosy fire at night. One day, daffodils bloom and spring returns, along with the flock of friends of the Bird. "Yes, I know," says the Lion, understanding that the Bird will fly away with his friends, leaving the Lion alone to tend his garden and go on with his life missing his friend. Tender illustrations showing the Lion eating his lonely supper and sitting by an empty little Bird bed portray the loneliness felt when someone loved and treasured is gone. But the Lion's garden grows, and summer passes, and one day fall returns. The Lion fearfully wonders if his friend might return? An empty page follows a downcast Lion, with one single black note of song descending - Yes! The Bird has returned to spend the winter with his Lion friend. "The Lion and the Bird" is a delicate triumph of story and soul, yoking joy and sadness, companionship and loneliness, love and life in beautiful narrative and imagery, told by a master storyteller.

I Love You Too
Ziggy Marley, author
Ag Jatkowska, illustrator
Akashic Books
PO Box 1456, New York, NY 10009
9781617753107, $15.95,

"I Love You Too" is an inspiring storybook edition of the lyrics of famous reggae performer Ziggy Marley, son of Bob Marley. Simple song lyrics are surrounded and set in warm, vivid illustrations of children of many hues, laughing and playing with loving parents and grandparents in a healthy, light, balanced natural world. The recurring refrain is "I love you too, I love you too. I tell you, I love you." Warm natural images abound of birds flying in the sky, worms wriggling happily into the ground, and many happy families enjoying the good clean earth. The enduring nature of love over time is reflected by loving pictures of children with aging grandparent figures, growing families, and more. The book also features additional information about Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment, a charitable organization founded by the author to enhance the lives of children in Jamaica, Africa, and throughout the world.

Wish Upon a Dream
Margaret Wise Brown, author
Charlotte Cooke, illustrator
Parragon Books inc.
440 Park Avenue South, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781472345318, $7.99,

"Wish Upon a Dream" is a child's classic bedtime story written by the great children's author of "Goodnight Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny." Gentle rhyming cadences of sleepy verse tell tired children to wish upon their dreams. Luscious, textured backdrops, forest lawns and skies of clouds and stars feature softly colored dreamy lullaby visions. "Wish Upon a Dream" is perfect for a calming, yet empowering bedtime story experience for children. It is a gift to be treasured, relived, and respected both by the adult and the child, over and over again. "Night comes along without a sound,/ With soft, dark shadows all around./ Eyes and flowers all must close,/ The child's, the rabbit's, and the rose./ Dreaming child, what you shall see,/ Deep in sleep might someday be." Images of twinkling stars, fireflies, bubbles of boats, flowers, horses and toys float in calm images of peace and creativity in this childhood classic that is reborn.

Alice From Dallas
Marilyn Sadler, author
Ard Hoyt, illustrator
Abrams Books For Young Readers
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781419707902, $16.95,

"Alice From Dallas" is a rip-roaring, tootin' tootin' cowgirl showdown saga about two girls with similar cowgirl interests who meet, begin in rivalry, and end as good friends. Written in spunky, cowgirl lingo, "Alice From Dallas" takes young readers on a bodacious ride with a pair of pert, playground cowgirls who don't really come from the state of Texas but love the Texas cowgirl lifestyle. Charming expressive watercolor and ink illustrations portray Alice from Dallas (Pennsylvania) and Lexis from Texas (Indiana) as the stick pony riding, trick lassoing, boot dancing cowgirls they truly are. A showdown in the playground leaves Lexis, the new cowgirl, with a foot injury, and Alice is concerned about her. The girls meet again and decide to explore friendship and partnership with all its many benefits in the cowgirl world they love. Perfect for young readers age 7 and up, "Alice From Dallas" delivers a clear message of swashbuckling, confident caring about others even for young urban cowgirls.

Emma's Turtle
Eve Bunting, author
Marsha Winborn, illustrator
Boyds Mills Press
c/o Highlights
815 Church Street, Honesdale, Pennsylvania 18431
9781590783504, $6.95,

"Emma's Turtle" is a story about a beloved pet turtle who managed to dig a tunnel out of his backyard cage. Because the turtle's young owner, Emma, had read stories about animals in faraway places such as India, Africa, and Australia, the turtle believed he had dug a tunnel all the way to India. After a long day of exploring and traveling, Turtle is tired, but hears a welcome voice. It is Emma! She picks Turtle up and strokes his head and gives him a nice snack, carrying him back to his pen. The turtle is tired, but excited. Tomorrow is another day! Lovely expressive illustrations describe the amazing journey of the turtle in Emma's back yard with full comic detail.

Hannah's Night
Komak Sakai, author/illustrator
Cathy Hirano, translator
Penelope Todd, editor (first published in Japan by KAISEI-SHA)
Gecko Press
P.O. 9335 Marion Square, Wellington 6141. New Zealand
Lerner Publishing Group (dist.)
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Myrick Marketing & Media (publicity)
PMB 248, 433 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9781877579547, $17.95,

"Hannah's Night" is a lovely night time story told in night-dark colored expressive illustrations and spare narrative. Hannah awakens one night with her cat and finds her sister and parents are still asleep. It is dark, but in the moonlight Hannah and Shiro get up, go to the bathroom, and have a delightful snack without asking. In the moonlight, and the quiet, Hannah carefully borrows her sister's doll, music box, notebook, coloring pencils and pencil case. No one yells at her or scolds her. She takes her sister's things to bed to play with, giggling. A pretty dove coos at her window. As it starts to get light, Hannah snuggles up to Shiro on her sister's bed and goes back to sleep. The dreamlike sequence is beautifully illustrated, couched in hypnotically peaceful darkness. Children will love this delicious, unusual bedtime story for its mischievous undertone laced with an overall sense of security.

Bee Helpful
J. W. Edwards III, author
Somnath Chatterjee, illustrator
AHHOM (publisher)
5202 Prospect Rd., #135-222, San Jose, CA 95129
9780991326306, $15.95,

"Bee Helpful" is a brilliant illustrated children's story from a series called the Sunny Bee Books. Sunny Bee is a tiny heroic bee who is a true friend to others, especially his sunflower friend, Myah. Myah is suffering from thirst and drought, and only water can help her be well again. Sunny Bee is determined to help her despite his small size and unlikely lack of affinity for water. Sunny faces many obstacles in his efforts to bring water to Myah, but he perseveres through dark, cold, a hungry spider, and a less than helpful Grandfather Oak. Sunny Bee is helped by a wise turtle friend and he befriends other creatures he meets in his search to bring life-giving water to Myah the sunflower. In the end, "Bee Helpful" is about living the definition of true compassion. There are many valuable life lessons in this brightly illustrated children's fable, and its charm is undeniable, like a warmth that pervades the heart. Watch for more title in this innovative children's series, the Sunny Bee Books.

Through My Mommy's Bellybutton
Helen Chin Lui, author
Kelly Brown, illustrator
Healing Place
50 North Street, 2nd Floor, Medfield, MA 02052
9780615772929, $14.99,

"Through My Mommy's Bellybutton" is the imaginative story of the many adventures experienced by baby Brian for over 200 days inside his mommy's belly. Little Brian rides around in his bumper car, but he wants to find his blue toy box. Brian finally finds the toy box and eventually discovers a wonderful red telescope, which he hopes to use to view out his mommy's bellybutton. Finally baby Brian is able to see his Mommy through the telescope looking at herself in a mirror. He hears her sing a familiar song, and notices a loud furry creature whom she feeds and calls Alix. He even sees his older brother, Steven, who is anxious for Baby Brian to come out from his mommy's belly and play with him. Baby Brian also sees his father Richard and his whole family. Although he is eager to go outside his mommy's belly and really see them, baby Brian is tired from his long play, and he gets back into his bumper car and returns to take a nap under a thick soft blanket, still in his Mommy's belly. Curious drawings in delicate pale colors portray the adventurous baby Brian and his telescope view of his new family who are patiently waiting to meet him. "Through My Mommy's Bellybutton" is a wonderful explorative fantasy about love, growth and anticipation of birth. Children age 4 and up will enjoy hearing it and imagining how their new sibling will fit into the family.

The Well-Kept Secret
Ginette Ausman, author
Rebecca Prato, illustrator
AuthorHouse LLC
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491833490, $20.99,

"The Well-Kept Secret" is a tender family mystery that evolves from a basic faith in a love that spans generations in a family. Told in simple narrative style, with occasional colored portraits of characters and settings for illustration, "The Well-Kept Secret" is a very real story about a grandmother's loving legacy to her son and grandchildren. Although the Grandmother's memory fades, she leaves a precious legacy of love for her family in her property, home and garden, and her favorite necklace, which she tied as a collar to her beloved cat, Grey. After Grandma dies and the family inherits her home, they move in and search for the lost Grey. The children knew he was entrusted with a secret task to watch over them and protect them in their sleep and always. The children search for Grey after Grandma dies, but he is hard to find. On day their search leads them to a disused barn and a nest of kittens colored grey like him, and their mother, Cookie. Finally one day he slowly returns to them, still wearing the beautiful blue necklace collar that Grandma had given him. This becomes the secret legacy which will save the new family's security so that they can pursue their creative vocations of woodworking and writing. The girl and her brother and parents find they have been allowed to create the lives they are meant to pursue due to the help, support, trust and understanding the are the precious core of the family. "The Well-Kept Secret" is suffused with quiet joy and inner light, a radiance of love understood by children and families instinctively.

Rosa's Room
Barbara Bottner, author
Beth Spiegel, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561457762, $7.95,

A story told in delicate, water color illustrations that pulse with poetic light and joy, "Rosa's Room" presents a girl's view of her new empty room and a new house where her family has recently moved. Rosa gradually fills her room with special belongings, including her doll, Maria, her cat, Concertina, and her toys and bed. But the room seems to need more. Rosa imagines a beautiful field of flowers. Her mother helps her buy and sew a beautiful coverlet for the bed reminds her of the field of flowers. She goes to the library and borrows many books to spread about the room. Still wishing for something more to fill her room, Rosa sees a girl outside her window, flying a kite. It is her new friend Lili who loves kites, butterflies, drawing and every single thing that is in Rosa's room. Including, and especially Rosa. "Rosa's Room" is a wonderful story about creativity, joy, sharing, and the value of friendship. The beautiful illustrations tell the story in perfect harmony with the spare narrative, encouraging girls who are likely to experience the ups and downs of a move to a new location.

Bear's Flower
Kerry Lance McGill, author/illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490706412, $14.93,

"Bear's Flower" is an original, sensitive story outwardly about the lasting devotion of a bear for a beautiful blue flower, conveying deeper messages about the strength of love outlasting pain, struggle, and trauma. Written in gentle patterns of rhyme, illustrated in expressive, delicate, impressionistic paintings, "Bear's Flower" delivers a deeply personal message of enduring love from a father to his daughter. Finally, after many varied experiences, some painful and bloody, some gentle and inspiring, Bear decides to lay down beside his beloved flower to protect her through the harsh winter, even though he knows it will end his life as Bear. The truth in the story emerges from the riddle of the flower's name, and a magical beauty dances out of the ending pages of "Bear's Flower." Written by a father for his daughter, hoping to help her heal from the pain of divorce and conflict, "Bear's Flower" is a very special, personal message of enduring empowerment and love that intertwine irresistibly.

Sandra J. Howatt
Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, NY, NY 10020
9781442422667 $16.99

Sleepyheads is illustrated by Joyce Wan and will reach ages 4-8 with its gentle story of sleepyheads tucked into bed for the evening ... all except for one. Youngsters are invited to enter the search for the missing one in a gentle story of all kinds of animal sleepyheads: perfect for bedtime read-alouds, with its large-size color pictures and gentle story.

The Six Swans
The Brothers Grimm
NorthSouth Books
c/o Myrick Marketing & Media
PMB 248
455 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9780735841727 $17.95

The Six Swans receives a new facelift with illustrations by Gerda Raidt as it retells the classic Grimm fairy tale about sisterly love. A king's love for his six sons is challenged by a new wife, the daughter of a witch, who cases a spell that turns them into swans and causes them to abandon their home and sister. It takes a sister's love for six years to bring about a solution in this enchanting story, which comes to life with lovely illustrations by Raidt.

Thomas the Toadilly Terrible Bully
Janice Levy
c/o Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802853738 $17.00

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers expands the spiritual publisher's imprint with a very fine story illustrated by Bill Slavin and Esperanca Melo, and tells of a toad who is new in town and who hates being ignored. When his strutting doesn't gain him friends, he decides to become a bully - even though he makes a bad bully. A simple and fun tale of friendship evolves in a fine story kids will relish.

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

These new picturebook readers are recommended picks for any who want inviting drawings paired with appealing plots. Fred Koehler's HOW TO CHEER UP DAD (9780803739222, $16.99) tells of Little Jumbo's dad, who is having a bad day. While the little elephant son doesn't know why, he does know how to cheer Dad up - and undertakes a campaign filled with fun results. Kids will find this a whimsical story, perfect for Father's Day reflection. Kit Chase's OLIVER'S TREE (9780399257001, $16.99) tells of three friends who love to play outside. There's only one problem: Oliver's friends like to hide in the trees where he can't reach them. Can they all find a game an elephant can equally enjoy? Michael B. Kaplan's BETTY BUNNY WANTS A GOAL (9780803738591, $16.99) is illustrated by Stephane Jorish and tells of a bunny who wants to win her first soccer game. But she's ready to quit when she can't even kick the ball. Should she try harder, or should she find something she can do better? A fine story of making extra effort evolves. Hannah E. Harrison's EXTRAORDINARY JANE (9780803739147, $16.99) tells of an ordinary little dog in an extraordinary performing circus family of animals. Every circus animal has an amazing skill - except for Jane, who considers all the animals her family. It takes an extraordinary event to help Jane realize that she, too, can be amazing. The result is a lovely, engaging read kids will relish.

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

Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham's A HOME FOR MR. EMERSON (9780545350884, $18.99) fictionalizes the story of young Ralph Waldo Emerson, a city boy who longs for the country who grows up to be a young man who treasures books and ideas. Will he grow up to build a life around the things he treasures? This biography reads like fiction but pairs a very simple picturebook format with a gentle true story young readers will find engaging and unusual. Liz Garton Scanton's THE GOOD-PIE PARTY (9780545448703, $17.99) tells of Posy Peyton, who doesn't want to move away from her best friends. But when the girls find out how to change good-bye into good-pie, life seems much sweeter. A fun story of change makes for an engrossing, appealing tale of friendship and how it survives anything. SUPERWORM by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (9780545591768, $16.99) tells of Superworm, who wiggles to the rescue of all kinds of creatures - until he's captured by the wicket Wizard Lizard. Can his friends turn things around and help their superhero escape? The magic of friendship permeates a gentle story kids will love.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Everyone Prays
Alexis York Lumbard
Wisdom Tales
PO Box 2682, Bloomington, IN 47402-2682
9781937786199 $17.95

EVERYONE PRAYS: CELEBRATING FAITH AROUND THE WORLD is illustrated by Alireza Sadeghian and offers a colorful concept book about prayer and its different methods. Young readers receive 26 pages of religious scenes from around the world and explanations of world religions in a lovely presentation that pairs oversized words with eye-catching images of different prayers at work.

The Christian Shelf

Candle Bible Handbook
Terry Jean Day & Carol Smith, authors
Tim Dowley, editor
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9781859855867, $17.99,

Superbly and profusely illustrated in full color throughout, the "Candle Bible Handbook" is a 256 page compendium that basically comprises a complete course of biblical studies for young readers ages 8 to 12. Beginning with introductory commentaries on 'How to Use this Book' and 'How the bible is Organized', the "Candle Bible Handbook" covers each book of the Old and New Testaments. Of special educational value are the 'Key Events' boxes, 'Outline' boxes, Frequently Asked Questions, and Study Questions for every section. Thoroughly 'kid friendly', informed and informative, the "Candle Bible Handbook" is very highly recommended for family, Sunday School, and community library Biblical Studies reference collections.

The Miracle of the Red Egg
Elizabeth Crispina Johnson, author
Daria Fisher, illustrator
Ancient Faith Publishing
PO Box 748
Chesterton, In 46304-0748
9781936270590 $18.95

Brought to life with captivating color illustrations, The Miracle of the Red Egg is a children's picturebook loosely based on a traditional story (especially well known in Greece) about Jesus Christ's resurrection. When Mary Magdalene speaks of Christ's return from the dead, she receives scorn and derision from the feared Emperor Tiberius. "I declare," he said, "that Jesus can no more have risen from the dead, than this egg..." He held it up high above his head for all to see. "...than this egg could turn blood red here and now in my hand." A divine miracle changes the color of the egg - a miracle proclaiming to all that Christ is risen. The Miracle of the Red Egg is an extraordinary and soulful addition to Christian children's picturebook shelves. A final section includes some classic blessings celebrating Christ's resurrection, and a historical note about Emperor Tiberius.

The Story of Saint John Paul II
Written & illustrated by Fabiola Garza
Pauline Kids
c/o Pauline Books & Media
50 Saint Paul's Avenue
Boston, MA 02130
0819890138 $15.95

Written especially for young children ages 6 to 9 and up, The Story of Saint John Paul II: A Boy Who Became Pope is a picturebook biography of Saint John Paul II, a Polish boy who grew up to be a beloved world leader of the Catholic Church. Gentle color illustrations invite young readers to follow the life of Karol (popularly called Lolek), a boy who loved the outdoors, performed in plays, had great dreams, and lost his parents at a young age. Karol would eventually find his place in the Catholic Church, and be selected by the cardinals as pope. "...he even said goodbye to his name and took a new one - Pope John Paul II." An emphasis on love for one's family, for God, and for Jesus Christ is the central message of The Story of Saint John Paul II. Highly recommended, especially for Sunday School libraries.

Dear God, You Can't Be Serious!
Patti Maguire Armstrong
Liguori Publications
9780764824319, $7.99,

When Luke, a 5th grader, finds out he's going to be homeschooled with his brothers, he can't believe it and questions whether or not God is listening when he prays to go back to school with his friends. Will Luke end up learning that sometimes God answers our prayers in ways we don't expect? Featuring occasional black-and-white illustrations by Shannon Wirrenga, "Dear God, You Can't Be Serious!" presents a wonderfully positive message for young readers about family life, parenting and prayer. Highly recommended for family, Sunday School, and community library children's books collections, it should be noted that "Dear God, You Can't Be Serious!" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99). Also very highly recommended is Patti Maguire Armstrong's earlier children's book "Dear God, I Don't Get It" (9780764822469, $7.99).

We All Belong
Kathryn Giguere, author
Phyllis Giguere, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781479768448, $24.99,

"We All Belong" is a delicately colored pencil illustrated Christian verse story with a message of love and acceptance of differences, in animals and people, all colors, varieties, races, shapes, and sizes. Kindness and the warmth of the heart are stressed, because God loves us all. Each couplet on each page is embellished with an expressive colored drawing, filled with inner grace and innocence. The versed narrative helps small children remember the message of love and acceptance. "We all belong/ All brothers and sisters in Jesus' name/ In the Lord's love we are all the same." This moving story was created by a mother/daughter team, the basic idea and writing arising from a girl who suffers from multiple serious health issues, who also loves animals. "We All Belong" is a transforming story that begs to inspire children of all ages with its vision. At the request of the author, a portion of the profits earned from sales of "We All Belong" will be donated to the animal shelter.

Faith Challenge Bible Activity Book
Phyllis Cole, author
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478700708, $12.95,

"Faith Challenge Bible Activity Book" is a handy Bible study manual for children ages 5 and up. Described as fun for the entire family, pages of study questions help students learn more about the books of the Bible, memorize scriptures, and enjoy reading and family time with the Bible together. 92 pages of black and white, dove illustrated simple questions, pictures, or scriptures are presented, one activity or question or scripture per page. Luckily, the answers are provided in a handy key from pages 93-99, ending with a concluding page which suggests 5 things to do: 1. Children remember to obey your parents in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1)/ 2. Learn your "Our Father" prayer (Matthew 6:13). / 3. Study your bible. (II Timothy 2:15)/ 4. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)/ 5. Follow peace with all men. (Hebrews 12:14) Some of the pages are word scramblers, while others are coloring or drawing ideas. Some are riddles, while some others are important scriptures to memorize. The "Faith Challenge Bible Activity Book" is fun, educational and inspirational for all ages. It would also be a great source for youth Bible study groups.

The Judaic Shelf

Watching My Words
Rabbi Ze'ev Greenwald, author
Ruth Beifus, illustrator
Menucha Publishers, Inc.
250 44th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232
9781614650553 $18.99

Watching My Words: An Illustrated Children's Guide to the Laws of Shemiras HaLashon is an educational book for Jewish children and young adults, about traditional Jewish laws that govern when it is acceptable to say something negative about another person, especially another Jew. "Lashon HaRa" is a term for "speaking in a way that belittles other people", and "The Torah forbids making insulting remarks about others. Even if no one is harmed, it is still not allowed." This seemingly simple concept has many possible permutations - nonverbal or hinted insults are also not permitted, nor is one permitted to unconditionally believe the Lashon HaRa that one may happen to overhear. When is it appropriate to say something ill about another person? Seven conditions to qualify such remarks are listed and reviewed: "1. One must be a firsthand witness or absolutely certain of the facts. 2. One must know for certain that the person caused harm to another. 3. One has pointed out to the wrongdoer his wrongdoing, but it did not help. 4. One intends only to help. 5. There is no other alternative. 6. There won't be more harm caused to the wrongdoer than what he deserves. 7. The story is told without exaggeration." Although Watching My Words is especially valuable as an educational tool for Jewish children, non-Jewish adults may also find it useful for its straightforward, point-by-point explanations, complete with numerous examples. Highly recommended.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Carolyn E. Mueller, author
Nick Hayes, illustrator
Reedy Press
PO Box 5131, St. Louis, MO 63139
9781935806677 $16.95

Lily: A True Story of Courage & the Joplin Tornado is a children's picturebook about a real-life search-and-rescue dog, a large Weimaraner named Lily. Tara adopted Lily as a puppy and trained her to use her keen sense of smell to find people in need. When the police need help, Lily can locate a person in trouble much more quickly and easily than humans can! Then a tornado strikes the city of Joplin, and Lily is one of many, many rescue workers called in. "Lily had a job to do! She went out into the ruined streets searching for people who needed help." Aiding people in a city torn apart by the forces of nature is an intimidating task at first, but then Lily's owner Tara realizes that she and Lily are not alone. "Down below, amidst the wreckage, she saw neighbors. They were passing out water to people on the street! Friends found each other, only wanting to hug. She saw a lone tree, hung with birdhouses so Joplin's birds could still have a place to call home... Churches and stores opened their doors so that everyone who had lost so much could find shelter." The stylized text and illustrations add a softening touch to a powerful, true stoy about humans (and dogs) working together in the wake of catastrophe. Highly recommended.

If My Mom Were a Platypus
Dia L. Michels, author
Andrew Barthelmes, illustrator
Science, Naturally!
725 Eighth Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003
9781938492112, $12.95,

"If My Mom Were a Platypus: Mammal Babies and Their Mothers" is a re-release of an award-winning title by a new publisher, 13 years after its original publication date. Recommended by National Science Teachers Association, this 64 page color illustrated classic describes 14 different mammals who tell their own life stories, growing from a tiny helpless infant creature to an independent healthy adult or child. Here we have the life cycle stories of a baby platypus, an African elephant, a koala from Australia, a golden lion tamarind monkey, a Pacific gray whale, a least shrew, a hooded seal, a Mexican free-tailed bat, an African lion, a polar bear, a hippopotamus, an orangutan, and a human being. Each illustrated birth story follows a sequence of answers to crucial questions: How were you born? How did you grow? What do you know? What do you eat? And other extra fascinating facts are included at the end of each baby's story. Especially educational is the creative activity guide provided free of charge by Science, Naturally! to book buyers, parents and educators. "If My Mom Were a Platypus" is a thriving classic that begs to be rediscovered by tomorrow's children, especially appealing for audiences ages 8-12, in grades 3-6. Available in paperback and eBook editions.

The Native American Shelf

Great Walker Ioway Leader
Greg Olson, author
Truman State University Press
100 East Normal Street, Kirksville, MO 63501-4221
9781612481128, $32.00,

"Great Walker" is a historical biography of an historic Ioway leader from the juvenile series titled Notable Missourians. Written for students in middle grades, ages 10-14, "Great Walker" recounts much of the confusing historical background to the life of Great Walker, also known as Big Neck, from the 1780's until 1831, when Big Neck/Great Walker was killed in a battle with some Dakota Sioux warriors. Great Walker believed his people, the Ioway had a preeminent right to the lands of their ancestors, and he sorrowed greatly because he was pressured to sign a treaty giving much of the Ioway lands in Missouri and Iowa to the U.S. Federal government. The border between Missouri and Iowa was very confused during Great Walker's lifetime, but in August of 1824, Great Walker and White Cloud, two Ioway leaders agreed to sell rights to nearly one third of northern Missouri (today) for, $5,000. Great Walker regretted this treaty signing the rest of his life, painting his face black to show his mourning for the many deceased relatives left on sold Ioway land, saying: "I am ashamed to look on the sun. I have insulted the Great Spirit by selling the land and the bones of my fathers; it is right that I should mourn always." Following the treaty there were battles between white settlers and Ioway partly because of the confusion over the borderline between Iowa and Missouri. Great Neck and other Ioway were later cleared of the murder charges because the jury was convinced that the settlers had started the fight and the Ioway were firing back to defend themselves. Great Walker did not live near the agency with White Cloud and other Ioway, but he did leave Missouri, moving with his band to other land the Ioway still claimed. Great Walker was a great spokesman for the continuation of Ioway culture and customs at an extremely challenging time, full of change, trickery, and danger. His legacy is unclouded and strong, pointing up the land grabbing tactics of U.S. politicians and government representatives of the era. The biography is well written, with frequent visual aids, maps, historic photos, and paintings. It ends with a Timeline for most of Great Walker's life, and suggestions for further reading and other related resources.

Games of Survival
Johnny Issaluk, author/games teacher
Inhabit Media Inc.
Nunavut office: P.O. Box 11125, Iqaluit, Nunavut XOA 1HO
Toronto office: 146A Orchard View Blvd, Toronto, Ontario M4R 1C3
Myrick Marketing & Media (publicity)
PMB 248, 433 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9781927095218, $12.95,

"Games of Survival: Traditional Inuit Games for Elementary Students" (a photo illustrated Inuit survival games instruction manual) is an especially exciting Arctic Winter Games 'how to' guide for elementary students, demonstrated and explained by Games champion Johnny Issaluk, along with student demonstrators Johnassie Meeko, Isimaili Qayaq, Kassidy Klinger, Monica Meeko, and David Qayaq. A Foreword by Thomas Johnston, another Arctic Winter Games competitor, explains that these traditional Inuit survival games were developed prehistorically to help Inuit hunters develop strength, agility, and endurance so that they could hunt seal, caribou and walrus to feed their families and survive the harsh cold Arctic winters. Today Arctic Winter Games are held to help bring together Inuit athletes from Russia to Greenland. The games are divided into three types: agility games, strength games, and endurance games. Agility games helped to keep the body flexible and loose, surviving rough terrain. Some agility games are the one foot high kick, the Alaskan high kick, and the one arm reach. Strength games such as the arm pull, the back push, the hand pull, and the head pull helped to develop strength through pairs of competitors. The endurance games included the knuckle hop, running race, airplane, back push, and muskox push, and were to help increase and promote crucial survival health and abilities. Each game is demonstrated with an action color photograph of a performer or two or more against a white background. Coached by games champion Johnny Issaluk, the games are very inspiring, challenging, and convey a heritage treasury of cultural traditions as well as being fun, challenging, and healthy.

The Counting Shelf

Count Me A Rhyme: Animal Poems by the Numbers
Jane Yolen, author
Jason Stemple, photographer
c/o Highlights
815 Church Street, Honesdale, Pennsylvania 18431
9781590783450, $6.95,

"Count Me A Rhyme" is a beautiful product of a talented team of mother and son. Jane Yolen, the author and mother, wrote the poems about counted animals, while her son, Jason Stemple took the photographs of different numbers of animals. Here are beautiful portraits of poems titled One Lone Elk, Two (birds) Together: A Poem for Two Voices, Three Mullets Are We, Four Slow Snails, Five Geese, Five, Six Spiders Spinning, Seven Turtles on the Go, Eight Bighorn Sheep, Nine Swallows: A Haiku, Ten Little Crabs, and Many (fireflies). Both poems and photos are astonishing and arresting. This creative package of words, numbers, and pictures is a memorable experience for children learning to read and to count.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Duck Magic
Elvira Davis, author/illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781483674988, $37.44,

"Duck Magic" is an Australian fairy tale, the first in a series of three children's ballads about the Aarmoo children from Cloncurry in Central Queensland who visit the non-aboriginal children of the Smith family. The book introduces ideas of celebrating differences, overcoming bullying, accepting others, and magic, all good peacemaking material and tools. "Duck Magic" is an inspiring story, suggesting that the real magic, and perhaps the best magic, happens when people open their hearts and learn to love one another whatever their differences.

The Health Shelf

Corky Gives the Whole Scoop on the Facts of Life (For Girls Only)
Terri Shearer Trenchard, author
Tracy Councill, illustrator
Facts of Life Books
c/o Deneitra Hutchinson, Firefly Marketing & PR
P.O. Box 6002, Ellicott City, MD 21042
9781475212044, $25.00,

"Corky Gives the Whole Scoop on the Facts of Life (For Girls Only)" is a new, humor laced manual for girls ages 9-13 about the confusing process of becoming a woman. Using a friendly female narrator named Corky, this fact-filled journey towards human enlightenment starts with refreshing, irreverent images and approaches such as receiving crucial information in "scoops," like scoops of ice cream. The unrolling chapters of solid information for girls entering puberty are based on the idea that knowledge is cool, and knowledge makes you strong. Or, knowledge equals empowerment. Issues of personal cleanliness, changes in body hair and appearance, confusing hormone fluctuations, coping with menstrual periods and their onset, and most important of all, a guide to surviving puberty are some of the enlightening thoughts explored in "Corky Gives the Whole Scoop on the Facts of Life." Summarizing maxims include: Get enough sleep. Eat healthy. Talk. Play. (Laugh!) Try a journal. Remember lots of others have survived it or are going through it right now (paraphrase, p. 139). A handy list of additional resources concludes the book along with the recommendation that a similar ordeal is taking place among boys of similar ages (for whom another book has been written). In all, this is a no-nonsense, practical, hands on guide to one of the touchiest subjects needing to be taught. Highest recommendations.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Wisdom of Nature and Other Earth Tales
Michael Caduto
PO Box 1052, Norwich, VT 05055

Also available as a digital download, The Wisdom of Nature and Other Earth Tales is an audio CD of traditional fables, intended for listeners ages 11 to adult, including stories that won the Aesop Prize and Storytelling World & Skipping Stones Honor awards. Michael Caduto brings the stories to life with evocative narration, enriched with background sound effects. Highly recommended, especially for personal and public library audio collections! The tracks are "The Wisdom of Nature" (7:45), "Pumpkin Seed Bird" (7:35), "The Silkies & the Fisherman's Sons" (11:40), "Valone" (9:08), "Tortoise & the Egrets" (6:35), and "Books of Wisdom" (8:18).

The Rainbow Garden: Tales of Wisdom
Michael Caduto
PO Box 1052, Norwich, VT 05055

Also available as a digital download, The Rainbow Garden: Tales of Wisdom is an audio CD for young listeners ages 5 to 10, in which Michael Caduto retells classic yet little-known folktales from a diversity of cultural traditions. Sound effects and chants enhance these brief yet captivating stories, sure to fascinate parents as well as children. Highly recommended for family and public library audiobook collections alike! The folktales are are "The First Bats" (5:56), "Abu l'Hssein, the Generous" (7:10), "The Hermit Thrush" (7:42), "How Turtle Made War on Hunting" (11:31), "Tell Tails" (2:22), "The Rainbow Garden" (5:59), and "A Golden Egg" (7:47). 1 CD, 48 min. 30 sec.

The Music CD Shelf

Laurie Berkner Lullabies
Laurie Berkner
Two Tomatoes Records
c/o SKG Publicity
55 Hiawatha Trail, Highland Park, IL 60035
$9.00 CD / $9.99 MP3

Music-teacher, parent, and award-winning children's recording artist Laurie Berkner presents her debut lullaby album, Laurie Berkner Lullabies, which consists of a handful of classic favorite lullabies, and a plethora of beautiful, original songs designed to soothe little ones to sleep. Gentle, kindly, and superbly performed, Laurie Berkner Lullabies is an unparalleled treasure for parents to share with little ones at bedtime, highly recommended. The tracks are "Lullaby", "Fireflies", "I Gave My Love A Cherry (The Riddle Song)", "Pillowland", "Sing Me A Song", "Under A Shady Tree", "Your Beautiful Eyes", "Moon, Moon Moon", "Hush Little Baby", "All Around My Room", "What Is The Color of My Dreams?", "Mahalo", "All The Planets", "Nona", "Little Boy Blue", "In The Clouds", "Like A Seashell", "All Through The Night", "Five Days Old", "Stars Are Shining", and "Goodnight".

Smile In My Heart
Suzi Shelton
Suzi Music
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$19.61 CD / $8.99 MP3

Award-winning songwriter and performer Suzi Shelton presents Smile In My Heart, a family-friendly music album brimming with traditional dance tunes that featuring banjo and fiddle playing kicked up to eleven! An upbeat, jubilant collection, Smile In My Heart lives up to its title, and is especially recommended for playing at children's birthday parties, sleepovers, or other kid-centric celebrations. The tracks are "It's A Beautiful Day", "Tomboy In A Princess Dress", "Cinnamon Bear", "Go, Fire Truck, Go", "Wings Of A Bird", "Smile In My Heart", "Banjo Pickin' Girl", "Jubilee", "Pony Boy" (with Little Miss Ann), "Ice Cream Man", "Let Your Light Shine" (with Mike Messer), and "I See You For You".

Party Animal
Eric Herman
Produced by Eric and Roseann Endres
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

Party Animal is a high-energy children's music CD, packed with upbeat, joyful songs with a central theme of celebration. Award-winning children's performer Eric Herman infuses his witty humor into the whimsical lyrics, in this excellent pick for children's birthday parties or just plain family fun. The tracks are "Up All Night" (2:53), "Can We Buy a New Car (So I Can Have a Balloon)" (3:14), "November First" (2:07), "The Best Parts" (3:26), "The Strange and Mysterious Fate of Mister Teddy Bear" (3:13), "Party At My House" (3:04), "A Million Ways to Play" (2:27), "The Bicycle Song" (2:01), "Be a Mime" (3:19), and "Alive" (3:31).

Luz Verde Vamos!
Riff Rockit
Produced by Bob St. John and Alex Garcia
Doggie Doodles Productions
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Intended for young people ages 3-9, Luz Verde Vamos! ("Green Light Go!") is a rock 'n' roll album entirely in Spanish; all its proceeds will go to, an organization devoted to delivering cures for blood cancers. Indie musician Riff Rockit (a.k.a. Evan Michael) is himself a leukemia survivor, and he's infused his desire to help others into his lively, old school guitar songs. A fast-paced, high-energy collection brimming with enthusiasm, Luz Verde Vamos! is highly recommended. The tracks are "Rock del Alfabeto", "Que Fue Eso", "Luz Roja", "Perlitas Blancas", "La Playa", "Mr. Tux", "El Invierno", "Buenos Modales", "Helado", and "El Gusanito". 34 min.

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

Australian Playground is a music CD filled with songs by a diverse array of family-friendly Australian musicians, from Aboriginal band Garrangali to children's television personality Don Spencer. The songs touch upon aspects of Australian culture, from kangaroos, boomerangs, and didgeridoos to the beautiful natural land of Seisia (on the northmost tip of Australia) and a bonus recipe for Damper Bread, a food commonly eaten by Australian stockmen and drovers (cowboys). The result is a delight for listeners of all ages to experience and share! The tracks are "Marrtjina (Let's Go)" by The NEO and Garrangali, "Mango Rain" by Seaman Dan, "Loose Change" by Joe Hall and The Treehouse Band, "Mirri" by Garrangali, "Give Me a Home Among the Gumtrees" by Bob Brown, "Kangaroo (The Super Marsupial)" by Don Spencer, "Random Acts" by Rosie Burgess, "The Road to Gundagai" by The Band of the South Australia Police, "Seisia" by Kamerunga, and "Waltzing Matilda" by Lazy Harry.

The DVD Shelf

Exclamation Mark
Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike
Danbury, CT 06816
9780545661140 $59.95

Intended for young people ages 5-8, Exclamation Mark is the animated DVD adaptation of a standout children's book about finding one's own path. Everyone has an exclamation mark within - the key is how to find it and bring it out! A read-along option enhances this simple yet encouraging story about the values of self-esteem and self-discovery, ideal for homeroom viewing or children's public and school library DVD shelves. 6 min.

The Multimedia Shelf

Weirdo Calhoun and the Odd Men Out
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Music by Snake Oil Medicine Show & Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
Illustrated by Stu Helm
Eifrig Publishing, LLC
PO Box 66, 701 Berry St., Lemont, PA 16851
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
9781632330062 $19.99 hc / $14.99 sc / $5.99 ebook

Weirdo Calhoun and the Odd Men Out is a combination colorful picturebook and lively music CD about the weirdest kid of Squaresville, who zany antics bring adventure and wonder to his formerly dull and dreary hometown. Young people can read aloud the rhyming text to three completely different musical versions: energetic hip-hop, informal bluegrass, or soothing strings perfect for bedtime! In addition to the CD, owners of Weirdo Calhoun and the Odd Men Out gain access to the app, enabling immediate access to musical versions on any mobile device or computer. A fun story with a strong moral about the values of being creative, honest, and true to oneself, Weirdo Calhoun and the Odd Men Out is a delight to share with little ones.

Simply Fantastic: An Introduction to Classical Music
Ana Gerhard, author
Claudia Legnazzi, illustrator
Independent Publishers Group
The Secret Mountain
3816 Royal Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H4A 2M2
Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)
9782924217214, $16.95,

"Simply Fantastic: An Introduction to Classical Music" is a storybook/CD package that contains excerpts from 20 famous works of classical music appealing to children, accompanied by delightful program/story notes and imaginative, fantastic paintings and illustrations. Included are excerpts from "The Fairy Queen," by Henry Purcell; "A Midsummer Night's Dream," by Felix Mendelssohn, "Puck's Dance" by Claude Debussy, "Ride of the Valkyries," by Richard Wagner, and many more. A special numbered Listening Guide gives suggestions for what to listen for in each selection, listed by highlighted number and title. An additional guide to the composers gives brief biographical sketches of each composer, listed chronologically in order, as the pieces are also performed on the CD. Finally there is a highlighted glossary of musical terms and a color shaded Timeline of composers and periods, extending from Renaissance through Baroque, Classical, and to the 20th century. A great amount of musical education has been skillfully selected and presented in "Simply Fantastic: An Introduction to Classical Music," an ideal gift for a child 7-9 years old.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire
Denys Cazet
Creston Books
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
c/o Publishers Group West (distribution)
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781939547088 $15.95

Minnie & Moo: Hooves of Fire is a light fantastic novel written especially for young people who are at a fourth-grade reading level or so (ages 6-11). The First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival is about to take place while Mr. and Mrs. Farmer are away on vacation. The many farm and wild animals are ready to give a variety of performances, from hyena's stand-up comedy to fox's magic tricks, and contented cows Minnie and Moo have donned togas just for this special day! But suddenly, things start to go wrong - where are those gate-crashing coyotes on motorcycles coming from? Who pushed the porta-potties down the hill, and why? Cartoony black-and-white illustrations of anthropomorphic animals enliven this whimsical adventure, highly recommended for audacious young readers and children's library collections.

Emma Tremendous
A. D. Goodman
Little Devil Books
5139 Maxon Terrace, Sanford, FL 32771
9780991153411, $11.95,

"We're riding in the airship?" "But of course, dear girl!" An airship. To a new country and yet another new school for twelve-year-old Emma Quinne. Her mother promises that the star-shaped, ancient Volegrim Academy is the right place for Emma. Even with its, as Emma comes to learn...hidden secrets. Like her new friends Jack and Aveline, and their secrets. But what's with Aveline's dark glasses? And Jack's big fear of Volegrim's headmistress? Then there's the language everyone speaks at Volegrim. Not the English. Not Aveline's fine French. The other language... And what did Professor Fluvius say at Assembly? Students aren't allowed to... Transform? Confused and determined, Emma learns all she can about Volegrim. Soon, she has her own run-ins with Headmistress An Long. Then the danger really grows when the trio of friends stumble upon a sinister plot against Volegrim. Emma fights to expose the plot and save her friends, but there's more she must face - a tremendous force long buried. "Emma Tremendous" is a superbly crafted and imaginative 316 page fantasy novel that will hold immense appeal for young readers ages 9 and up. Very highly recommended for school and community collections, it should be noted that "Emma Tremendous" is also available in a hardcover edition (9780991153404, $16.95) and a Kindle edition ($2.99).

The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream
Brenda Tyler, author/artist
Floris Books
15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburgh, EH 11 1SH, UK
Myrick Marketing & Media (publicity)
PMB 248, 433 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167 U.S.,
9781782500452, $17.95,

"The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream" is a unique, imaginative illustrated nature fantasy series book about a tiny ecological cleanup crew called the Tomtes, wise, tiny elf-like beings who "understand the ways of nature and how wild things live," and are rarely seen by adults. The Tomtes are friends with Emily and Jamie, who are very concerned because Hilltop Stream has gotten all dirty and polluted with rubbish. The fish and the otter who used to frolic in Hilltop Stream are gone, replaced by industrial waste, garbage, and junk. Emily and Jamie ask the Tomtes and Lichen, a Tomte, to help in the cleanup. The Tomtes give Emily and Jamie magical hats to make them small, and the cleanup adventure begins. Magical paintings portray the tiny Tomtes floating in tiny handmade rafts on silver mirrored water in the moonlight, along with the magically shrunk Emily and Jamie. Later a storm washes away part of the stream's bank, and the Tomtes help Emily and Jamie plant willow saplings and other trees for bank protection. In the end, all succeed in the joint cleanup effort, and the Tomtes return in their little boats to Hilltop Wood. This charming book and series celebrates nature and the need for a clean environment. The beautiful paintings are inspired by the artist's home in southern England.

The Mermaid's Shoes
Sanne te Loo, author/illustrator
Lemniscaat, publisher
c/o Myrick Marketing & Media
PMB 248, 433 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9781935954354, $17.95,

"The Mermaid's Shoes" is a delightfully illustrated story about a girl named Mia whose visit to the sea left her with a pair of foot flippers, or as she calls them, mermaid's shoes. Back in the city far away, Mia dreams of becoming a mermaid and visiting all the creatures and fish she imagines in the sea. She creates a mermaid tail costume out of her mother's skirt and wears her mermaid shoes everywhere. Finally she decides to travel on her bike to the zoo to find the sea... but there she remembered the scary fish with teeth (sharks) and wondered if they would eat mermaids. Then she rode on to the river and the museum, but they were not really like the sea. Riding her bike past restaurant windows with succulent fish to eat displayed, Mia finally discovers a splashing bounty of water with a creature that seemed to be a fish that looked like a horse, as she had dreamed. Mia climbed to the top of the fountain and posed for beautiful mermaid pictures, which were forwarded to other mermaids around the world. What an exciting story! Delicate, fanciful illustrations flow through the pages, impelling the narrative on and on to its astonishing conclusion!

The Ancient Secret of the Leprechauns
Mahamad Ali ElFakir, author
Victor Guiza, illustrator
Elfa Books
c/o Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9780578122168, $12.95,

"The Ancient Secret of the Leprechauns" is an action adventure juvenile fantasy, with splendid full page colored illustrations. Written to appeal to middle grade readers, "The Ancient Secret of the Leprechauns" presents hero leprechauns D"Arcy, Lorcan, and Scully, who must face many seagoing dangers and adventures to regain their lost treasure on Squawky Island, their home since the times of the dinosaurs. The three leprechauns face many challenging obstacles and dangers in their quest to restore their gold and regain their lost island haven, but with the help of Squawky the parrot they overcome the most powerful obstacle of all: learning to cooperate and work as a team at all times. "The Ancient Secret of the Leprechauns" is a compelling action adventure story, with fast moving narrative, exciting illustrations, and hidden meanings in the rich text. Another juvenile title by the same author/illustrator team that is also highly recommended is "Stinky Fumes, King of the Wild, Volume 1 (9780578129655, $12.95)" a tale of Pepper, the different smelling skunk who must try to save his fellow skunks from the threat of wild coyotes.

Jenna Black
TOR Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765333728 $9.99

RESISTANCE is a pick for mature teen readers who will appreciate the story of Nate, who was viciously murdered and replicated thanks to technology that transfers all the personality and memories of the original into a duplicate. The only memory missing is of his murder: can his best friend Nadia help him unlock the key - and will the secret he carries endanger them both? Nadia is a feisty character whose determination to uncover the truth shakes both their worlds at the highest levels of command, involving readers in a murder mystery science fiction saga that is unpredictably satisfying.

Earth Star
Janet Edwards
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616148973 $17.99

Teen Jarra has been awarded high military honors for her role in a rescue attempt - but she's one of the few born with an immune system that can't survive on other planets, so she's trapped on Earth. The problem is: Earth is threatened by aliens. While the rest of the universe watches, Jarra holds the only possible key to resolution. Earth Star is a pick for mature science fiction teen readers who will appreciate its complex social and political insights.

Pills and Starships
Lydia Millet
Black Sheep
c/o Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781617752766 11.95

PILLS AND STARSHIPS is dark apocalyptic reading at its best and presents a future affected by glob al warming, in which humans migrant constantly, water and food are rare, new babies are illegal, and teen Nat is used to all of this. When her parents go on an end-of-life retreat Nat is left on her own to survive political and social corruption and the corporation that rules her world. Diary entries bring Nat's experiences to the forefront in this vivid, moving saga that will attract mature teen fans of Divergent, Hunger Games, and similar apocalyptic survival stories.

The Social Issues Shelf

Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners
Edited with commentary by Karen Santorum
With contributions by Michael Lamb
Illustrations by Sam Torode
ISI Books
3901 Centerville Road
Wilmington, DE 19807-1938
1932236090 $25.00

Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners is an anthology of brief stories and poems, assembled to help teach children about good manners for everyday life in a fun, engaging way. From table manners, to respecting people who are elderly, sick, or have disabilities, to good sportsmanship, to expectations for letters and invitations, and much more, Everyday Graces is a thorough, user-friendly compendium, and its instructive short stories double as excellent bedtime reading. There are a handful of Christian references (such as the occasional quoted proverb, and a section devoted to appropriate manners while attending church), but Everyday Graces is primarily about simple good manners, regardless of one's faith. Highly recommended!

Well, I Can Top That!
Julia Cook, author
Anita Dufalla, illustrator
Boys Town Press
14100 Crawford Street, Boys Town, NE 68010
9781934490570, $10.95,

"Well, I Can Top That!" is an outrageous story about Brad, a boy who liked to brag, telling outrageous exaggerated stories or tall tales to impress friends. Brad really wanted to just have friends, and he found that his behavior was not impressing friends or making new ones for him. One day his teacher helped him understand that he needed to change from being a 'One-Upper' to a 'Pull-Upper,' someone who lets a friend take spotlight time and attention and gives them support instead of always competing with them. "Well, I Can Top That!" is filled with humorous, colorful tall tale exaggerations and expressions and funny, zany, expressive illustrations. It will mesmerize its intended audience; children ages 6-10, and it will make some helpful points and suggestions about winning ways to become a 'Pull-Upper' instead of a 'One-Upper.' A helpful list of tips for parents and educators on bragging behavior is included.

The American History Shelf

Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic!
Leslie Kimmelman, author
Victor Juhasz, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368303, $16.99,

"Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic!" is an illustrated account of a famous casual party organized by Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady of the U. S., for visiting royalty from Great Britain, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. It was the first time a member of the British monarchy would set foot on American soil in 150 years. As First Lady and assistant to the President, Eleanor had many ideas about how to prepare for her famous visitors. She found that Queen Elizabeth was a distant cousin of George Washington. Since Eleanor loved hot dogs and did not care for formal dining events, she decided the entourage would travel to Hyde Park, New York, to their estate after a formal fancy dinner at the White House. They would all enjoy an outdoor picnic at Top Cottage, a simplest stone house on a hill, with a view of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. She planned the menu carefully, including smoked turkey, ham, cranberry jelly, brown bread, baked beans, green salad, strawberry shortcake, and hot dogs. President Roosevelt agreed as long as the menu did not include spinach. Many Americans were worried and critical of the First Lady's menu choices for the visiting Queen, especially hot dogs, but Eleanor persisted with her vision. Native Americans would perform traditional dances, music, and folk tales for the royal visitors. King George ate his hot dog with mustard in his hands, but the Queen cut hers into pieces and used her fork instead. Soon after the picnic the King and Queen returned to England and World War II began. The memories of that afternoon picnic were to be a ray of light and comfort to the royal couple in the dark days to come. Thus an important friendship was forged between the representatives of the two countries that would endure through many difficult years to come. "Hot Dog!" ends with a recap of another anniversary picnic at Hyde Park held on June 11, 1989, fifty years after the original royal picnic event. Some of the guests had been children at the earlier picnic, and they received a kind message from Queen Elizabeth at the time. Of course at the picnic, they enjoyed more hot dogs! Comic, caricature illustrations perfect the journalistic narrative of this excellent historic event in "Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic!" Recommended for readers and lovers of hot dogs ages 6-10 and up.

The World History Shelf

World War I for Kids
R. Kent Rasmussen
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
IPG (distribution)
9781613745564 $17.95

World War I for Kids is a softcover historical survey of World War I, written especially to be accessible to readers ages 9 and up. Vintage black-and-white illustrations and photographs on almost every two-page spread, twenty-one hands-on activities designed to make the reader think about the people whose lives were affected by the war, a list of resources, a glossary, and an index round out this excellent, educational resource. Highly recommended, especially for middle grade school library and children's public library collections. "Germany set a goal to destroy so many merchant ships carrying goods to Britain that it would starve Britain into dropping out of the war. Eventually, British shipping losses grew so numerous that it appeared Germany's goal might be realized. Germany's success, however, was coming at a cost. While it was fighting the Allies with guns and torpedoes on land and on sea, it was also fighting a propaganda war. Its ruthless war on merchant shipping was sinking many ships from neutral nations, including the United States, that Germany did not want to offend." Other educational titles in the "For Kids" series include "World War II for Kids" (9781556524554), "The Civil War for Kids" (9781556523557), "The White House for Kids" (9781613744611), and "Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids" (9781613746745).

The Literary Shelf

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Dr. Heidegger's Experiment
Nathaniel Hawthrone, author
Adapted by Jerome Tiller
Illustrated by Marc Johnson-Pencook
ArtWrite Productions
c/o Adapted Classics
9781939846013 $6.99

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Dr. Heidegger's Experiment is a classic short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne (perhaps best known as the author of "The Scarlet Letter"), adapted for modern-day middle grade readers and enlivened with expressive, black-and-white caricature illustrations. The adaptations are deliberately limited, in order to make Dr. Heidegger's Experiment more accessible to young adults without sacrificing the original vibrance of the story. Most of the tweaks are minor alterations in word order and word choice; no changes were made simply to "improve the text". A keen exuberance permeates the wildly lively illustrations, bringing the tale of the mysterious recluse Dr. Heidegger, who invites four aging friends with tarnished pasts full of reckless choices over for an "experiment". Dr. Heidegger claims to have obtained water from the Fountain of Youth, and invites his careless associates to drink - but will the mysterious substance actually work? And what is the cost of re-experiencing youth, beauty, and energy, especially when all those gifts were carelessly spent in the first place? Although Nathaniel Hawthorne's Dr. Heidegger's Experiment is designed especially to introduce younger readers to classic literature, adults will also thoroughly enjoy this retelling of Hawthorne's classic about of moral foibles and lasting consequences.

The Fiction Shelf

D.J. MacHale
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9781595146670 $17.99

SYLO was an amazing science fiction story with an unusual twist and a totally unpredictable plot: something rare in the genre - and so fans of the first story will be especially eager to get their hands on The Sylo Chronicles #2, STORM. Here an escape from Pemberwick Island's isolation only reveals new mysteries - that no one is left on the mainland. And the black plane attackers reappear, leaving a clue that leads Tucker and his surviving friends to realize a truth about SYLO that holds even deadlier implications. Gripping, fast-paced action results.

The Voice Inside My Head
S.J. Laidlaw
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495654 $19.99

Teen Luke's older sister has always been there to help him make decisions and lead his life; so when she disappears on a tiny island and authorities claim she's drowned, Luke doesn't buy it. He still hears her voice inside his head: a voice that leads him to investigate the place she once worked, where he encounters individuals who describe a very different sister than the one he loves. His quest for answers will lead him into new realms of danger in this engrossing story for older teens.

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

Ann Brashares's THE HERE AND NOW (9780385736800, $18.99) tells of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve... from a different future time when a pandemic has killed millions and nearly destroyed the world. She and others who escaped must follow rules to protect history; but can she prevent plague even while falling in love with Ethan? A thrilling science fiction romance will keep all ages engrossed. Emily Raabe's LOST CHILDREN OF THE FAR ISLANDS (9780375870910, $16.99) tells of twins Gus and Leo and their little sister who lead quiet lives in Maine until their mother falls ill. When they discover she's protecting them from evil and find themselves swept to a secret island where a hidden grandmother and strange powers emerge, they discover they need to learn their magical skills and use them quickly, lest a dangerous monster rises to power and destroys them and their mother. A fine fantasy adventure evolves!

Atheneum/Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, NY, NY 10020

Marjorie Agosin's I LIVED ON BUTTERFLY HILL (9781416953449, $16.99) tells of pre-teen Celeste, a writer and collector of words whose homeland, Chile, has been taken over by a military dictatorship. As everyone comes to harbor suspicion about their neighbors and her doctor-parents must go into hiding, Celeste must leave her family and face the disappearance of not only friends and family, but her entire world, when she's sent away to Maine where she doesn't know any English. Where is her home: Chile or the U.S.? A fine saga of intercultural connections emerges. Deb Caletti's THE LAST FOREVER (9781442450004, $17.99) tells of how Tessa's life changes after her mother dies. As she faces the end of everything she knows, her father decides a road trip to visit Tessa's grandmother is in order; but even this doesn't help her feel connected. It takes romance and a secret to help Tessa recover in this engrossing saga.

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

Jaclyn Moriarty's THE CRACKS IN THE KINGDOM (9780545397384, $18.99) tells of Princess Ko, who has been bluffing about the absence of her father and trying to keep the government running without him. But if she can't get him back in a few weeks, war could break out - and so she gathers a group of teens with special abilities to locate the missing royals, who turn out to be trapped in another world with no memory of their former lives. An engrossing saga evolves, perfect for teens looking for a fast-paced fantasy. David Baldacci's THE FINISHER (9780545652209, $17.99) is also an engrossing fantasy read recommended for older teen readers who will find the story of the village of Wormwood (and residents who never leave it) to be engrossing. When Quentin vanishes, Vega knows he was chased out - and she's the only one who can decode the clues about what lies outside the walls of Wormwood. Unfortunately as she investigates these clues she comes to realize that Wormwood is actually built on falsehoods - and comes to realize some dangerous truths about her home. A fine story of secrets and struggles makes for an involving plot packed with intrigue and twists and turns. Philip Webb's WHERE THE ROCK SPLITS THE SKY (9780545557016, $17.99) presents quite a different Earth: aliens have shattered the moon and the planet no longer turns. Megan has never known anything different. But now she leaves her Texas home in search of a vanished father - and must face a desert crossing where aliens hide and laws of nature don't operate. An intriguing science fiction story of post-Apocalypse America makes for a fine plot!

The Easy Reader Shelf

The Year of the Fortune Cookie
Andrea Cheng
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544105195 $15.99

The Year of the Fortune Cookie is recommended for grades 3-5 and receives fine line drawings by Patrice Barton as it offers a sequel to The Year of the Book and The Year of the Baby. When Anna Wang's teacher gets approved to adopt a baby from China, eleven-year-old Anna gets a chance to go on a trip to China. But will she feel at home there, or strange? As Anna learns more about Chinese culture and life, she begins to feel more at home as a child of two worlds in this involving, revealing exploration which involves kids in Anna's culture and world.

The Life of Ty
Lauren Myracle
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780525422662 $12.99

The Life of Ty: Non-Random Acts of Kindness receives fine line drawings by Jed Henry as it tells of a second-grader who is discovering all sorts of challenges in his school and classmates. He's trying not to worry and focuses his energy on practicing kindness: something that's second nature to him. As his acts begin to blend with his school life Ty finds himself increasingly involved in some funny escapades in this hilarious novel, recommended for grades 2-4.

Fly Away
Patricia MacLachlan
McElderry Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781442460089 $15.99

FLY AWAY is all about keeping secrets, sharing joys and help, and most of all, about realizing long-hidden but possible talents - even if one can't fully vocalize them. For Lucy, it's all about carrying a tune and letting music enter her life. As Lucy begins to open up to new possibilities she finds life transformed in this gentle story of self-discovery and change: another Patricia MacLachlan winner.

Middle-School Cool
Maiya Williams
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385743495 $12.99

Middle-School Cool tells of the students of Journalism 1A in the Kaboom Academy, a new alternative school for middle-grade kids. It's all about new innovations; but even the best of new approaches may not be enough to engage and control the group of nine misfits that staffs the Academy's quarterly newspaper. A lively story, Middle-School Cool is more challenging than a chapter book but takes the reader looking for a segue between easy readers and more advanced novels in a new direction.

Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies
David Lubar
TOR Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765332141 $15.99

Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales comes from a children's author who here offers a new Weenies story collection in the series: this one providing over thirty short, hilarious tales designed to make readers laugh or see the world in a new way. From a narrow escape from a zombie apocalypse to a neglected cat litter box, these are hilarious short stories certain to delight many a chapter book and easy reader.

The Bilingual Shelf

Dalia's Wondrous Hair / El Cabello Maravilloso de Dalia
Laura Lacamara, author
Spanish translation by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100
Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558857896 $17.95

Dalia's Wondrous Hair is a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook about a young girl whose hair grows, and gathers, and sticks straight up when she awakens from a long night's sleep. What to do? She decides to decorate her hair with the bounties of the natural world - leaves, flowers, even some mud to hold things in place! Her hair looks as splendid as a blossoming tree! Her mother warns her that she'll have to wash her hair, but first, there just might be one more surprise tucked away for the morning! Filled with real-life natural imagery of the beautiful land of Cuba, birthplace of author Laura Lacamara, Dalia's Wondrous Hair is a whimsical delight to read aloud and share. A brief, bilingual postscript also teaches young people more about the names of exotic Cuban plants.

I See the Sun in India
Dedie King, author
Judith Inglese, illustrator
Satya House Publications
PO Box 122, Hardwick, Massachusetts 01037
9781935874218 $17.95

Part of the award-winning, multicultural "I See the Sun" series, I See the Sun in India is a bilingual English/Hindi picturebook about a day in the life of a young girl living in India. Mila is an intelligent young girl who studies hard at school, and loves her family, who live in palace that they have owned since ancient history; they make ends meet in part by renting out rooms to guests and tourists. "I realize how hungry I am as soon as the warm spicy smells of Maa's delicious curry fill the kitchen. The yellow marigolds in the copper vase, the red tomatoes in the blue dish and the orange mango chutney on the table are the same colors I see every day on my way to school." Colorful, inviting artwork enriches this wonderful glimpse into the daily routine of another culture - which shares many commonalities with the routines of people worldwide. Highly recommended, especially for children's public and school library collections.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Big Baking Book: The Yellow One
Ella's Kitchen
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780600628446 $19.99

The Big Baking Book: The Yellow One packs in some 100 savory and sweet recipes for bakers of all ages and pairs fun, colorful photos with easy recipes packed with ideas for getting kids involved in the kitchen. This isn't just a gathering of standards: it's a collection that offers twists on classic baked goods to reduce salt and sugar, that offers dishes taste-tested by kids, and that includes everything from lunch bags to family meals. Parents will find this the perfect key to getting kids involved in meal planning and preparation.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

A Mystery for Maeda
Carol Moxham Boot
Warren Publishing
3440 Toringdon Way, Suite 205
Charlotte NC 28277
9780989481410 $18.95

A Mystery for Maeda is a children's picturebook story about Maeda, a young girl who visit her grandmother's gigantic, Victorian house. Gram invites Maeda to solve a curious mystery - who or what has been visiting Gram's home and leaving behind pawprints and traces of fur? Could it be a dog or a cat? Or some other unusual creature? In addition to applying her detective skills to solve the mystery, Maeda also persuades Gram to adopt a kitten from neighbors! A Mystery for Maeda is slightly more text-heavy than a typical picturebook; it's especially suited for young readers who are almost about ready to graduate from picturebooks to chapter books.

Books in Series

Paddle The Extraordinary Duck: The Adventure with Monty
Deborah Anne Craig, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491881972, $21.35,

"Paddle the Extraordinary Duck: The Adventure with Monty" is the second title in the Paddle series for young readers. Paddle is a young duck who was born with very large webbed feet that made him stumble on land while learning to walk. However, he persevered and eventually learned to swim very well with his extra large webbed feet. In this second book, Paddle befriends Monty the mouse and his entire family, allowing them to shelter underneath his large webbed feet when they were flooded out of their pond side home in a storm. Paddle wishes to help Monty and his family in their search for a new home, so when Monty shyly requests Paddle's assistance in ferrying his mouse family all the way across the pond to a new home site near rocks and a willow tree, Paddle is overjoyed to be of assistance. Monty's wife Dotty is fearful of the dangers of riding on Paddle's back across the pond, for there are hawks who love to catch and eat mice. After calming Dotty, Monty and Paddle accept a helpful wing bridge from Sky, Paddle's kind sister, to help load the mice onto Paddle's back. Sky helps Monty ferry the mouse family across, and they even have helpful camouflage from a dragon wing insect patrol. After a hard day of helping Monty and his mouse family find a safe, dry new home, Paddle is relieved to go to sleep on the pond when the sun goes down and the moon comes out. Delicately drawn pastel colored illustrations of expressive ducks, insects, and mice decorate this lovely prose story with its inspiring message of the importance of committing to helping others in need.

Read, Recite, and Write Limericks
JoAnn Early Macken, author
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118
9780778704096, $27.60,

"Read, Recite, and Write Limericks" is an illustrated juvenile book from the Poet's Workshop series, written to teach middle and elementary grade students how to understand, read, write and recite limericks. Eight fun-filled chapters present fascinating information about the origin of limericks, writing different kinds of funny limericks, such as animal antics limericks, place name limericks, or foolish character limericks, plus suggestions for revising your limerick and performing a poem. Amusing diagrams, logos, sidebars, and illustrations keep the limerick action moving, while added resources are listed in the Learning More section and Websites listing plus a helpful glossary of terms. "Read, Recite, and Write Limericks" is a fun creative manual that will inspire young comic poets to try their hand at limerick composition tout de suite. Other exciting and highly recommended titles by the same author in the Poet's Workshop series for young readers/writers include the following: "Read, Recite, and Write Nursery Rhymes" (9780778704119, $27.60), "Read, Recite, and Write Free Verse Poems" (9780778704089, $27.60), and "Read, Recite and Write Narrative Poems" (9780778704102, $27.60).

Too Clever VI: Jason's Eagle
Julia E. Antoine, author/illustrator
Envision School Publishing
23 Kimberly Avenue, Second Floor, Front, West Haven, CT 06516
9780989561532, $21.99,

"Too Clever VI: Jason's Eagle" is book 6 in the Too Clever series. Ten year old Jason has become even more fascinated and inspired by the American Bald Eagle. His adventures exploring the habits and abilities of the great bird have increased since he was five years old in this intriguing nature series appealing to boys ages 9-12. Jason enjoys observing the eagles as they fly, fish, and hunt near his home on Long Island Sound. He even tried to reconstruct a pair of wings to try to fly like the eagles. Jason's friend Mikey loves sports and is less interested in watching bald eagles through binoculars or a telescope. Jason is excited to use his new camera to photograph eagles in flight, and he even creates a Halloween eagle costume for himself. Jason enjoys observing the American Bald Eagle on the Connecticut River. He is so inspired by them he decides to make studying the eagles his life work. "Too Clever VI" is further enhanced by colorful cartoon illustrations, some embellished with actual color photographs of American Bald Eagles, along with many fascinating facts and figures about our majestic national bird.

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118

The 'Tadpoles: Fairytale Twists' series packs in eight books that take classic fairy tales and provide amusing twists to each, offering ages 5-8 tales that include puzzles and dialogue to help reinforce young readers' comprehension. The series supports the Common Core State Standards for Reading Literature and each title includes Notes to Educators and Parents to provide ideas on how to promote learning. Julia Jarman and Jane Cope's LITTLE BAD RIDING HOOD (9780778704423, $19.95) tells of a Hood who escapes the wolf but finds Granny's care package too tempting, Laura North and Joelle Dreidemy's THE PRINCESS AND THE FROZEN PEAS (9780778704461, $19.95) tells of a princess horrified when a cranky old king wants to marry her, Laura North and Gary Northfield's SLEEPING BEAUTY - 100 YEARS LATER (9780778704447, $19.95) relates what happens when Sleeping Beauty really goes to sleep for a hundred years only to awaken to a strange new world, Andy Blackford and Tomislav Zlatic's THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE NEW NEIGHBOR (9780778704478, $19.95) tells of a dangerous new neighbor for the piggy family; Penny Dolan and David Boyle's THE LOVELY DUCKLING (9780778704454, $19.95) turns the story around when telling of a duckling family that's all strange except for one called Beauty, Enid Richemont and Galia Bernstein's PRINCESS FROG (9780778704430) tells of a princess who longs for adventure - and would rather be a frog if that means she gets her wish, Laura North and Mike Phillips' JACK AND THE BEAN PIE (9780778704416, $19.95) tells of an expert at making bean pies who meets a hungry giant who prefers them to people, and Laura North and Martin Remphry's CINDERELLA'S BIG FOOT (9780778704409, $19.95) tells of a princess who does not behave right - and who must be taught a lesson by her fairy grandmother. A fine set of adventures results. All these are engaging, different picks for any young chapter book reader!

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

Two new additions to the 'Disaster Alert!' series are recommended pick for ages 8-11 and provide new titles covering Hurricane Sandy and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. Lynn Pappas' SUPERSTORM SANDY (9780778711933, $20.70) reviews the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history and provides a timeline of events paired with personal accounts by those who experienced the destruction and its aftermath. 48 pages include an index, glossary, bibliography, and vivid contemporary photos. Rona Arato's FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER (9780778711926, $20.70) covers the Tohoku Earthquake and the nuclear disaster and cleanup which is still going on today. Chapters discuss local and worldwide impact as they consider nuclear energy's problems in this revealing account. Both are fine additions to the series and invite kids to think about disaster preparedness. Crabtree Chrome adds four new books to a series designed for reluctant, under-confident readers who read several levels below their age level, providing 48 pages each to titles geared for reading levels 11-14. New to the series is Natalie Hyde's CONQUERING EVEREST (9780778711674, $22.95), chronicling the efforts of mountaineer George Mallory who attempted to conquer the highest peak in the world, Hyde's EXPEDITION TO THE ARCTIC (9780778711698, $22.95), which reviews famous expeditions that tried to find a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, Molly Alioian's ELLIS ISLAND (9780778711681, $22.95) which pairs first-hand accounts with historical photos and text exploring the experiences of immigrants to North America during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Robin Johnson's THE GREAT DEPRESSION (9780778711735, $22.95), which covers the events of the Depression and how the economy recovered. Vintage black and white photos and color contemporary illustrations make these inviting reads.

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