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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 31, Number 6 June 2021 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Psychology Shelf Health Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf YA Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mythology Shelf Activity Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Multimedia Shelf Christian Shelf
Judaic Shelf Islamic Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf
Architecture Shelf Native American Shelf Art Shelf
Environmental Shelf Biography Shelf Gardening Shelf
Science Shelf LGBT Shelf Books in Series
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

We Listen to Our Bodies
Lydia Bowers, author
Isabel Munoz, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631985003, $14.99, HC, 36pp areness

"We Listen to Our Bodies" follows Deja and her preschool classmates as they learn to build emotional self-awareness by listening to the physical cues of their bodies.

Body awareness is a key foundation of consent. "We Listen to Our Bodies" by author Lydia Bowers and illustrator Isabel Munoz gives children ages 3-5 a vocabulary to understand and communicate their feelings, develop personal boundaries, and build their social and emotional skills.

Through body awareness and recognizing how emotions physically manifest, young children can listen to their bodies for clues about how they're feeling. Their bodies might feel shaky when worried or like one big sigh when calm and relaxed. By recognizing that physical sensations are trying to communicate something, children can understand when they feel unsafe, calm, or in need of healthy touch.

Author Lydia Bowers hosts workshops and trainings on teaching consent for families and early childhood educators around the country, and offers additional activities in the back of the book.
Using "We Listen to Our Bodies" as a read-aloud, educators and families can model the language Deja's teachers use to support children as they learn body awareness. While very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Life Skills picture book collections, there is digital content that includes a song from Peaceful Schools with downloadable audio files and sheet music.

An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z
Alain de Bottom, editor
Rachel Saunders, illustrator
The School of Life
9781912891245, $19.99, HC, 60pp

Children experience all sorts of emotions: sometimes going through several very different ones before breakfast. Yet they can struggle to put these feelings into words. An inability to understand and communicate their moods can lead to bad behavior, deep frustration, and a whole host of difficulties further down the line. Like adults, they need help to recognize and verbalize their inner state. The greater their emotional vocabulary, the more likely they are to grow into happy, healthy, and fulfilled adults.

"An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z" is an emotional glossary for children. It is comprised of 26 rhyming poems, arranged alphabetically, that bring our feelings to life, including Anger, Boredom, Curiosity, Dreaminess, Embarrassment, Fear, Guilt, and more. The poems transform each emotion into a different animal to provide a clear and engaging illustration of its character: how it arises; how it makes us behave and how we can learn to manage its effects. Boasting a rich vocabulary, the poems also give children a wide variety of options for describing their feelings to others.

Filled with wise, therapeutic advice, brought to life through musical language and beautiful illustrations, "An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z" is an imaginative and universally appealing way of increasing emotional literacy. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone, organization and presentation, "An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Life Skills collections for children ages 5-11. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Why Is Mommy Crying?
I. Cori Baill, MD, author
Heather Bell, illustrator
River Grove Books
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX78709
9781632993779, $11.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 34pp.

Accompanied by his favorite stuffed monkey, Mink, the young Max awakens one night and starts to go to his parent's bedside, which is always warm and welcoming. But instead he finds his mother sitting in her rocking chair weeping under the concerned face of the round white moon. he asks his mommy why she is crying, and if he can get her a Band-Aid for an owwie. She tells him that it is not that kind of an owwie.

She asks Max if he remembers being told how babies come to people who love each other. Max answers yes, "Babies come from God." Then Mommy tells Max "Sometimes...a baby only starts on its way to their family... Sometimes a baby returns to be with God." Max vividly imagines a baby flying in a propeller airplane that turns around to go back to Heaven. He asks, "Is that what happened to our baby?"

Thinking further, Max also asks, "Did it hurt?... does the mommy have to go back too? Does she have to take care of the baby?" Mommy hugged Max and Mink and reassured him that no, she was there with him and she would not leave and God would take care of the baby. Max continues to question his Mommy about God and her feelings, and tells her he is glad she and Daddy got picked to be for him. As Max dropped off to sleep, his Daddy carried him away to bed and the family resumed their rest.

"Why Is Mommy Crying?: Explaining Early Pregnancy Loss To Young Children" by Dr. Cori Baill is a sensitive, compassionate book written for children to help explain a family's reaction to early pregnancy loss. Filled with lush, deeply colorful expressive illustrations by Heather Bell, "Why Is Mommy Crying?" speaks directly to the young child, unlike any other resource currently available to families experiencing the grief of early pregnancy loss. Its tone is deliberately calm, nondenominational, and multi-ethnic. It manages to reassure the child while allowing the full experience of the sadness of loss.

The beautiful miracle that happens in "Why Is Mommy Crying?" is the feeling of pain, grief or loss, of unfinished pregnancy is fully felt, but so also is love and reassurance. "Why Is Mommy Crying?" is a unique book for children that will be invaluable to help children and families to understand and accept early pregnancy loss. Very highly recommended for family and community library collections, it should also be on every OB/Gyn's or hospital's pediatric library shelf.

Harley the Hero
Peggy Collins
Pajama Press
9781772781953, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Harley the service dog is on the job! He goes to school every day with Ms. Prichard to make sure she feels safe. Their students are a lot of fun, but Harley can't play with them while he's wearing his work vest. They write him lots of letters instead, and everything is perfect in the best, most quiet class in the whole school. Until the day the old stage curtains catch fire. As the fire alarm blares and chaos erupts, Harley remembers that Ms. Prichard isn't the only human in his class who gets upset by loud noises.

Inspired by a true story, "Harley the Hero" by storyteller and artist Peggy Collins is a children's picture book that celebrates the work of service animals and the normalization of neurodivergence. "Harley the Hero" brings Harley and his class to charming life and concludes with a special Author's Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley.

Charming, entertaining, and thoroughly 'kid friendly', "Harley the Hero" is an exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pet themed picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

The Psychology Shelf

Take Control of OCD
Bonnie Zucker
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813
9781646321193, $18.95, PB, 225pp

"Take Control of OCD: A Kid's Guide to Conquering Anxiety and Managing OCD" by Bonnie Zucker is an effective and thoroughly 'user friendly' guide for kids and teens ages 10-16 with obsessive-compulsive disorder to help them take control and use their strengths to find success in school and in life.

Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Take Control of OCD" uses a cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure/response prevention method to stress gradual exposure to obsessive thinking patterns; Provides a step-by-step ladder-based process to help readers conquer their fears and demolish their worries; Helps kids change their obsessive thoughts, tolerate uncertainty, and develop positive self-talk and stress management; Helps kids advocate for their needs in school and build successful relaxation procedures; Includes workbook-style pages for readers to complete.

From her extensive work with hundreds of young people with OCD, Bonnie Zucker offers a wealth of practical advice, useable information, and effective ideas for kids and teens. Young readers will find themselves in the pages of "Take Control of OCD", as it normalizes and validates the often hidden and undisclosed thoughts, urges, and images, and accompanying rituals and compulsions that so many children and teens with OCD struggle with.

It should be noted that "Take Control of OCD" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.95).

Editorial Note: Bonnie Zucker, Psy.D., is a psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and OCD in children and adults. She is in private practice in Rockville, MD, and is the author of "Anxiety-Free Kids" and "Take Control of OCD," and coauthor of "Resilience Builder Program for Children & Adolescents."

The Health Shelf

The Good Germ Hotel: Meet Your Body's Marvelous Microbes
Kim Sung-Hwa, author
Kwon Soo-Jin, author
Kim Ryung-Eon, illustrator
What on Earth Books
9781913750169, $17.99, HC, 48pp

In a world of COVID-19, bad germs and bacteria are all around us. But, not all germs are bad Check in to The Good Germ Hotel to learn about all the good germs and bacteria superheroes that live inside the human body. These amazing microbes fight viruses, digest food, and keep us healthy and happy.

Did you know that your body is full of bacteria? And that most of it is good bacteria that helps to keep you healthy? Well, now's your chance to get up close and personal with the microorganisms that live inside all of us. Travel through the body with our gut bacteria guide, stopping off to meet the other amazing microbe residents along the way.

In today's pandemic climate, bad germs and bacteria are the subject of many conversations. "The Good Germ Hotel: Meet Your Body's Marvelous Microbes" will help kids ages 6-10 to learn that not all bacteria are bad and introduces them to all the good germs in the body that help us fight viruses and infections.

The dialogue around good gut health has also been gaining traction in recent years, so "The Good Germ Hotel: Meet Your Body's Marvelous Microbes" is the perfect place to visit to get to know your gut microbiota and all the wonderfully good germs that keep us healthy -- making this an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school and community library Health/Medicine picture book collections for young readers.

Who Cares?
Chanda Minor-Brigance, author
Mariya Stoyanova, illustrator
9781098343611, $22.00, HC, 21pp

Brimming with colorful illustrations by Mariya Stoyanova, "Who Cares?" by author/storyteller Chanda Minor-Brigance gently introduces children to the disease of ALS (popularly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) and gives specific attention to the role played by caregivers. In an age appropriate manner, children ages 5-8 will be taught about the crucial role friends and caregivers play.

Lou Gehrig's disease affects people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. This disease is serious, and being there for those diagnosed with ALS is critical. Introducing children to this sort of thing can be difficult, but with the help of "Who Cares?" parents, caregivers and teaches can gentle, effectively teach children about this sensitive issue and inspire them to play a pivotal role in its solution.

Very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library 'Life Skills" picture book collections, "Who Cares?" is part of the Chan is a Caregiver collection. This remarkable, outstanding and thoroughly 'kid friendly' book will inspire compassion and generosity in a simple and imaginative manner for the youngest of girls and boys.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Hidden Planet: Secrets of the Animal Kingdom
Ben Rother, author/illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston ME 04861
9780884488750, $29.95, HC, 96pp

This 96-page large-trim-size book features gorgeous pictures by an illustrator for London's Natural History Museum to explore the hidden interactions and survival strategies of our planet's animals.

The creatures in showcased in the beautifully illustrated pages of "Hidden Planet: Secrets of the Animal Kingdom" by author and artist Ben Rother are hidden in various ways. Some survive by means of symbiotic relationships with other creatures, like the clownfish living among an anemone's poisonous tentacles. Some are closely related to seemingly unconnected animals, like the elephant and the manatee. Some use hidden abilities to do amazing things. Some change color. Some change sex. Some disguise themselves. Some secrete themselves but remain nearby.

The stunning full color illustrations in this large-format (11 x 0.7 x 14.9 inches) book reveal nature's magnificence, which often hides in plain sight. Simply stated, "Hidden Planet: Secrets of the Animal Kingdom" by Ben Rother (who works from a small studio in London and illustrates for London's Natural History Museum) is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife collections for young readers ages 9- 12.

Summertime Sleepers: Animals That Estivate
Melissa Stewart, author
Sarah S. Brannen, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580897167, $16.99, HC, 40pp

All science classrooms discuss animals that hibernate during winter months, but few children know about animals that estivate -- a prolonged sleep during hot or dry periods. Dual layers of text awaken young readers to the reasons estivating animals become dormant -- whether it's because warm weather threatens food supply or to avoid increased body temperatures. From the ladybug to the salamander, from the lungfish to the desert hedgehog, twelve estivating animals and their habits (both when sleeping and awake) are explained through a clear text by author Melissa Stewart and elegant watercolor illustrations by Sarah S. Brannen that create a scrapbook feel. Informative and fun, "Summertime Sleepers: Animals That Estivate" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections for children ages 6-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Summertime Sleepers: Animals That Estivate" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Look at That Bird!
Karen DeWitz
Little Bigfoot
c/o Sasquatch Books
1904 Third Ave, Suite 710, Seattle, WA 98101
9781632173171, $19.99, PB, 224pp

Packed from cover to cover with fun, informative and interesting kid-friendly facts and full-color photographs showcasing more than 50 birds that Northwesterners are most likely to see every day, "Look at That Bird!: A Young Naturalist's Guide to Pacific Northwest Birding" by Karen DeWitz encourages curious kids ages 8-12 (and their adults!) to go outside and learn more about nature. Kids will learn basic information about what makes a bird a bird, and specific information about each bird species, all of which can be used to help identify birds. Very highly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Aviary Wildlife collections, "Look at That Bird!" also includes fun and easy projects kids can do to attract birds to their backyards.

Reptiles Everywhere
Camilla de la Bedoyere, author
Britta Teckentrup, illustrator
Big Picture Press
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536217070, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Reptiles include turtles, crocodilians, snakes, amphisbaenians, lizards, tuatara, and their extinct relatives. The study of the traditional reptile orders, historically combined with that of modern amphibians, is called herpetology. There are reptiles everywhere! Some of them live in jungles, some of them in the savannah, and some may be in your backyard!

The collaborative project of author Camilla de la Bedoyere and illustrator Britta Teckentrup, young readers ages 6-9 will enjoy learning where in the world all sorts of reptiles can be found and all the weird and wonderful things about them -- making "Reptiles Everywhere" a very highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections.

Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World
Miranda Krestovnikoff, author
Angela Harding, illustrator
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781408893913, $23.99, HC, 64pp

The sky is splendid with fierce, clever and spectacular birds. From the bitter cold polar regions to the lush tropics, birds have found incredible ways to adapt and survive anywhere. White-winged diuca finches nest high upon freezing glaciers and mighty peregrine falcons circle skyscrapers in busy cities. Look up!

What birds can do is extraordinary. The statuesque golden eagle spots prey from kilometres away. You can tell what time of day an owl hunts by looking at the colour of its eyes. With its long, muscular legs, the secretary bird has a powerful kick that is enough to kill large prey like snakes and hares.

In the pages of "Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World" by author, television presented, and president of the RSPB Miranda Krestovnikoff and artist, print maker and illustrator Angela Harding, young readers will discover which bird is the fastest, the smallest, the cleverest, the most colorful and so much more in this beautiful picture book collection. Simply stated, "Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections.

The Board Book Shelf

This Little Environmentalist
Joan Holub, author
Daniel Roode, illustrator
Little Simon
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781534475588, $7.99, Board Book, 26pp

A collaborative board book project by author/storyteller Joan Holub and artist/illustrator Daniel Roode, with "This Little Environmentalist" children ages 3-5 can learn all about important people who help protect and take care of our Earth! "This Little Environmentalist" showcases ten memorable environmentalists who paved the way. Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections, little ones (and their parents!) will enjoy this discovery primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Try-Again Time
Elizabeth Yerick, author
Marieka Heinlen, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631986055, $8.99, Board Book, 24pp

Oops! We all make mistakes. "Try-Again Time" by author/storyteller Elizabeth Yerick and artist/illustrator Marieka Heinlen is reassuring board book that shows toddlers that mistakes are okay and helps them build resilience and independence. "Try-again time is learn-and-grow time. Take it slow... Ready--set--GO!"

With gentle guidance on how to cope with the big feelings that come with making mistakes, young children are encouraged to think positively about their abilities and to keep trying.

A timely addition to the beloved Toddler Tools series and one that is highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections, "Try-Again Time" helps young children develop a growth mindset, learn how to persevere, and practice self-regulation skills. The back of the book provides active suggestions and tips for adults to manage try-again time together. "You might need two tries, or three, or MORE . . . that's what trying again is for!"

The Picturebook Shelf

A Teacher Like You
Frank Murphy, author
Barbara Dan, author
Kayla Harren, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor MI 48104
9781534111134, $16.99 HC, $14.53 Kindle, 32pp, Ages 5-7

Frank Murphy and Barbara Dan's A Teacher Like You is written by and for teachers, providing a story for kids about how teachers can change young lives through their approach to education. From innovative new ideas to kindness and patience, A Teacher Like You celebrates the different ways teachers affect a student's world both inside and outside the classroom. While the story celebrates teachers, it also gives kids reason to better understand the importance of teaching. Kayla Harren's colorful drawings capture the teaching experience and compliment the enthusiastic descriptions of teaching and learning processes.

Island Toes
Christin Lozano, author
Mariko Merritt, illustrator
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573065146, $16.95, HC, 18pp

A collaborative and charmingly entertaining picture book by author/storyteller Christin Lozano and artist/illustrator Mariko Merritt, "Island Toes" takes children ages 5-6 around the Hawaiian islands and shows where shoes are optional and toes have the freedom to explore. What kinds of experiences do toes have? What places do one's toes take them? On an island one can expect plenty of moving toes. From Snorkeling toes, to wheelchair toes, and even strap-in-between toes! Just how many toes can there be? Original and delightfully fun, "Island Toes" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Magic Wanda
Lois Wickstrom, author
Francie Mion, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9780916176785, $24.99, HC, 32pp

Magic runs in the women of Carrie's family. Her grandmother, her father's mother, was the last magical member of the family. Now, because of her love for Grandma, Carrie is developing her magic and learning to use the wondrous treasures that have been passed down through her family. Then Carrie meets the wandas, who are female wands. Wandas don't do magic. They are magic. They become what Carrie wishes them to be. The fascinator is a magical hat. The dowsing rods truly search out value. Most of all Carrie has family as her top priority. The magic works to strengthen her connection to her grandmother -- and her imagination! "Magic Wanda" is a thoroughly charming and 'kid friendly' picture book for ages 4-8 and is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Magic Wanda" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780916176792, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Sunday Rain
Rosie J. Pova, author
Amariah Rauscher, illustrator
9781911373971, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Elliott is a little boy who has just moved into a new house. He spends his days with his fictional friends, immersed in a book. When an inviting Sunday rain gathers the local kids to play in the puddles, Elliott longs to join in, but he's too shy to go outside. Soon, Elliott discovers that new friendships are like a new book -- you just have to plunge into the adventure! The charming collaboration of author/storyteller Rosie J. Pova and artist/illustrator Amariah Rauscher, "Sunday Rain" is a delightfully entertaining picture book with a positive underlying message that will make it an enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8.

Anita and the Dragons
Hannah Carmona, author
Anna Cunha, illustrator
9781911373636, $17.99, HC, 32pp

As a little girl named Anita watches the dragons high above her, she hops from one cement roof to another in her village in the Dominican Republic. But being the valiant princess she is, she never lets them scare her. Will she be brave enough to enter the belly of the beast and take flight to new adventures? An impressively original, inherently charming and wonderfully entertaining picture book story by author/storyteller Hannah Carmona and artist/illustrator Anna Cunha, "Anita and the Dragons" is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Looking for Sleep
Georgiana Deutsch, author
Megan Tadden, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781680102338, $17.99, HC, 32pp

When wolf cannot fall asleep, he embarks on a journey with his friends to look for sleep -- from dens to burrows and everything in between. Will they ever find sleep? Or will they discover that it's sleep that needs to find them, after all? A collaborative and utterly charming picture book by the team author/storyteller Georgiana Deutsch and artist/illustrator Megan Tadden, "Looking for Sleep" is an ideal naptime/bedtime picture book for children ages 3-7 -- making it unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Raj and the Best Vacation Ever!
Sebastien Braun
Templar Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536217056, $16.99, HC, 40pp

Raj and his dad are going camping. They've packed everything they need, and Raj knows they are going to have an amazing time. Once they get there, however, they find they have to contend with wind, rain, and a family of very noisy bears. "Raj and the Best Vacation Ever!" by author and illustrator Sebastien Braun is sequel to his children's picture book "Raj and the Best Day Ever!" as Braun continues his warm, observant exploration of the relationship between a little tiger and his dad. A wonderfully fun and entertaining picture book story for children ages 3-7, "Raj and the Best Vacation Ever!" is wholeheartedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

I Used to be a Fairy: A True Story by Granny
Cynthia Kern OBrien, author
Rosemarie Gillen, illustrator
Pickles House Publications
9781734507546, $18.95, HC, 30pp

When seven-year-old Chloe learns one afternoon while gardening with her granny that Granny used to be a fairy she is astonished and surprised! But now that Granny has returned to human form, Chloe isn't supposed to tell anyone her secret, but she can't deny how Granny sparkles and glows when she gives hugs and kisses. Chloe has always dreamed of flying and she wants to be a fairy too, but it's not so simple as that, her granny says. In order to be a fairy, you must practice kindness, be helpful, and do good. Can little Chloe become a fairy too?

A collaborative picture book by author/storyteller Cynthia Kern OBrien and artist/illustrator Rosemarie Gillen, "I Used to be a Fairy: A True Story by Granny" is a wonderfully charming and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 1-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Used to be a Fairy: A True Story by Granny" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781734507522, $9.95).

The House of Grass and Sky
Mary Lyn Ray, author
E. B. Goodale, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536200973, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Every house has a story. This particular house (an old one hunkered in the deep grass below a wide country sky) is a waiting house. Once it was full of laughter and song. The sounds of life rang within its walls. Now it stands quiet and still. The house has sheltered many families over the years and remembers them fondly, especially the children. New families arrive to look, but none stay. Perhaps the house, too, now belongs to the Long Ago and Used to Be? Or will the "right" family move in to honor its past and build new memories? Wistful and nostalgic, Mary Lyn Ray's poetic text, combined with glowing, pastoral illustrations by E. B. Goodale that capture the lonely house's unique character, create a quietly affecting hymn to hope and surprise that will enchant readers of all ages. Original, entertaining, and thoroughly 'kid friendly', "The House of Grass and Sky" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Treasure Hunt
Lois Wickstrom, author
Ada Konewki, contributor
Francie Mion, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9781954519015, $19.95, HC, 28pp

When Grandma moved across town, she left four mysterious boxes in the hall closet: Feathers, Wandas, Fascinator, and Dowse. Dowse can mean soaking wet or find something valuable. In this book, Carrie does both. She hunts for gold and finds her dad's wedding ring. She hunts for water and finds a leaky sewer pipe. Then she asks the rods to find her something valuable. She finds Grandma!

The collaborative work of author/storyteller Lois Wickstrom, artist/illustrator Francie Mion, and contributor Ada Konewki, "Treasure Hunt" is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Treasure Hunt" is also readily available in a large print paperback edition (9781954519022, $11.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Hidden Triceratops
Richard Bevan, author
Io Shepard, illustrator
ChangeStart Press
9780983558897, $9.95, PB, 40pp

Synopsis: "The Hidden Triceratops" is the story of two young dinosaurs who outwit a fearsome T. Rex. Jose (a young Triceratops) and Ski (a young Pteranodon) live in the Ancient Steamy Jungle. They meet and become friends. They explore the jungle together looking for food, other friendly young dinosaurs, and perhaps adventures. They encounter a large and fierce Tyrannosaurus, known as the Great Dinosaur of the North. He is looking for prey and gives chase. Ski stays on the ground with her friend Jose and distracts Rex (as the young dinosaurs call him). She finds a way for both the young dinosaurs to escape to safety and be ready for more adventures.

A lively and fund read from cover to cover, "The Hidden Triceratops" by author/storyteller Richard Bevan and artist/illustrator Io Shepard is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library dinosaur themed picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of young dinosaur fans that "The Hidden Triceratops" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).

Rat Fair
Leah Rose Kessler, author
Cleonique Hilsaca, illustrator
POW! Kids Books
9781576879849, $17.99, HC, 36pp

When a group of industrious, fun-loving rats find letters fallen from an Art Fair sign, they put the sign back together (with one small adjustment) and get to work creating a spectacular RAT FAIR. Their fair is ruined when humans sweep away everything the rats have created. Undaunted, the rats switch gears and start working on their very own Rat Art Fair. As they are wrapping up their first day of the Rat Art Fair, a human child who has been following their progress from the sidelines catches them red handed, and the rats must decide if they can trust the child.

A collaborative picture book by author/storyteller Leah Rose Kessler and artist/illustrator Cleonique Hilsaca, "Rat Fair" is an original, nearly wordless, delightfully charmingly, and fully entertaining story about how misunderstandings can lead to wonderful creativity -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

The Grumpy Fairies
Bethan Stevens
Francis Lincoln
c/o Quarto Group Children's Books
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711249417, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Deep in the darkest forests, under rustling leaves, live the fairies. You probably think that fairies are good, kind, and sweet. Well, a lot of them are. These helpful fairies take care of the forest and they're happy to do it. But I'm sorry to tell you that some of the fairies, particularly the littlest ones, are GRUMPY. I mean super grumpy. I mean foot-stompy, frowny, bottom-lip-sticking-outy kind of grumpy. I mean "it's just one of those days" grumpy. But these grumpy fairies better watch out. There's a goblin about, and grumpy fairies happen to be a his favorite food!

With its theme of the value of getting out of a bad mood, "The Grumpy Fairies" by storyteller and illustrator Bethan Stevens will prove to be a charmingly delightful and wonderfully entertaining addition to family, daycare, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6.

The Alligator Who Came for Dinner
Steve Smallman, author
Joelle Dreidemy, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781680102451, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Wolf and his best friend, Little Lamb, have found an egg. A very big egg. An egg that hatches into a snippy, snappy crocodile named Omelet! All the forest animals are wary at first. But in no time at all, Omelet wins everyone in the forest over with his kindness and friendship. Well, almost everyone. Can the residents of the forest change their ways and learn to stop judging a book by its cover?

With its theme of breaking down social barriers and challenging stereotypes, "The Alligator Who Came for Dinner" by the team of author/storyteller Steve Smallman and artist/illustrator Joelle Dreidemy is a wonderfully entertaining picture book story that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Guion The Lion
Rebecca Wilson Macsovits
Harking, LLC
9781792327674, $17.99, HC, 28pp

"Guion The Lion" by author, storyteller, artist and illustrator Rebecca Wilson Macsovits is the tale of an imaginative little lion who sees things a bit differently from his friends. That is, until they learn to appreciate his unique perspective and shift how they look at the world around them. Full of themes like empathy, curiosity, and adventure, "Guion The Lion" showcases how appreciating differences and embracing others ideas can lead to unimaginable fun!

Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8 and replete with whimsical delights and discoveries, "Guion The Lion" includes dinosaur sightings, a magical kingdom with dragons, and more! It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Guion The Lion" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Dear Mrs. President
Ana Maria Medici, author
Nurit Benchetrit Motchan, illustrator
Medici Inc.
9781735283166, $19.15, HC, 20pp

In "Dear Mrs. President" by author Ana Maria Medici and illustrator Nurit Benchetrit Motchan, a child's letter to the first female President of the United States, becomes a symbol of hope and a touching tribute to all female leaders, everywhere. With no ambition too high, and no goal too large, "Dear Mrs. President" encourages kids to reach further, and dream greater. A deftly crafted picture book for children ages 3-7, "Dear Mr. President" will prove to be a unique and especially appreciated addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections about American government and women in political history.

The Smile Shop
Satoshi Kitamura
Peachtree Publishers
9781682632550, $17.99 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 32pp, Ages 4-8

Satoshi Kitamura's The Smile Shop tells of a small boy who heads to market to carefully spend the money he's saved up for something special. When he suddenly loses all his money, he is crushed, until he enters a Smile Shop and makes a new discovery. Ages 4-8 will delight in this story of a dilemma and its resolution. "The Smile Shop" is a unique picture book story that will stand out from the crowd.

The Tale of the Tooth Mouse
George H. Bentz, DDS, MS
Schornsteinfeger Press, LLC
9781734776911, $19.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle

The Tale of the Tooth Mouse is a delightful picture book story reaching ages 7-9 with a whimsical message about lost teeth, tooth fairies, and twins who live in a friendly small town in "a time of kings and queens and castles and knights." They live with and enjoy their clever mouse friend Timothy J, who is always entertaining and fun, and who is quite a fan of his young friends and cheese. When young Jon's first tooth comes out, it precipitates a crisis because Jon likes his teeth, doesn't want to throw away a tooth just because it exited his mouth, and is traumatized not just about the loss, but about the specter it brings about growing up and change.

How can caring Timothy J help his young friend overcome this trauma and cheer him on his path to maturity? Timothy J thinks and thinks...and the idea stems from a combination of his caring relationship with the children, their appreciation of surprises, and an innovative idea that blossoms into a myth all children embrace today.

George H. Bentz's story goes far beyond the usual approach to tooth fairies and loss. It embraces far wider themes of growing up, being responsible and caring towards others, arriving at innovative solutions for problems, and how to adjust to the trauma of losing one's first tooth. As Jon adjusts to the idea of change and growing up, young children will appreciate the lessons embedded in the whimsical story of a creative mouse and the human he loves.

While reading skills are required to absorb the story, parents of younger kids will also find The Tale of the Tooth Mouse lends to read-aloud, with its fun drawings and important message. It's a delightfully refreshing, original change from the usual tooth fairy story.

Now That Night is Near
Astrid Lindgren and Marit Tornqvist
Floris Books
9781782506751, $17.95, HC, 24pp, Ages 3-6

Now That Night is Near is a picture book story from the creator of Pippi Longstocking with lovely illustrations by award-winning artist Marit Tornqvist. It's a lovely, gentle bedtime story about the world going to sleep when night arrives. From cows and calves sleeping in the fields to rabbits and lambs who lay down to rest, the story reinforces the fact that all creatures need to sleep. Even cats, which are notorious for staying up at night. These are delightful new books that discriminating collections and young readers will find inviting and unique.

Little Sock Makes a Friend
Kia Heise, author
Christopher D. Park, author/illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
9781534111264, $14.99 HC, $14.24 Kindle, 32pp, Ages 4-6

Kia Heise and Christopher D. Park's Little Sock Makes a Friend tells of a small sock that leads a big life outside the drawer, visiting Sock City via the clothes dryer, where he has adventures alone. It would be more fun to have a matching sock to pair up with, but Little Sock doesn't know how to make a friend. And every sock is different. A fun story evolves for ages 4-6, offering an easy reader about friendship that will appeal to either read-aloud parents or youngsters embarking on their own reading experience.

The Problem with Pierre
C.K. Smouha
Cicada Books
9781908714855, $16.95 HC, 32pp, Ages 3-6

The Problem with Pierre is an engaging picture book tale that tells of a cat and two neighbor friends who are very different. Neighbor Bertram gets a cat, Pierre, who defies the neat, organized life Bertram has created for himself. Pierre also prefers friend and neighbor Alan's messy house. Bertram is not happy about either situation. How can Alan and Bertram make both Pierre and themselves happy? A series of efforts and compromises brings the friends closer together in this whimsical story of a cat that changes those around him. Young cat enthusiasts receive a warm lesson on friendship, compromise, and kitty care which is engagingly different.

Stupid Baby
Stephanie Blake
Gecko Press
9781877579318, $17.99 HC, $12.71 PB

Stupid Baby is about little rabbit Simon, who has built a very tall rocket, as the story opens. It makes a lot of noise when it goes off, disturbing the new baby in the house. "Go back where you came from, stupid baby," Simon advises his new sibling. And he worries about many things...that the baby is there to stay forever, and that he will be required to make many changes to accommodate him. When the specter of big bad wolves threatens him, Simon can't find solace with his parents. What is a big brother to do? A fun story emerges that makes for the perfect introduction to handling and developing feelings for and connections to a new sibling in the family.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Two new titles for middle grade readers are top recommendations from the latest publications from Candlewick Press.

Advanced elementary to early middle grade readers will relish Carlie Sorosiak's Leonard (My Life As A Cat) (9781536207705, $17.99 HC, $4.99 Kindle, 240pp, Ages 8-12), which provides the whimsical sci-fi story of an alien sent to earth and given the body of a stray cat. Luckily, he's rescued by an animal lover, which allows him to more close study humans. Unluckily, he is charged with an impossible journey if he ever wants to be picked up by his alien people rather than living his life stuck in a cat's body. The story that evolves is unexpected and compelling.

Nancy Werlin's Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good (9781536214734, $17.99 HC, $4.99 Kindle, $19.99 Audio, Ages 14- 17) will appeal into high school reader circles with the story of Zoe, who is determined to stick with her boyfriend Simon no matter where he goes to college. Zoe cultivates an ability to ignore her own interests and desires, always putting Simon's loftier-seeming goals above her own. But when she attends a sci-fi convention surrounding her favorite TV show, her life begins to change. This focus on a high school girl's evolving independence holds an especially astute message for girls who find their own careers and interests fading during a romance.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Three new picture book titles from Candlewick Press are top recommendations for families.

Elizabeth Rusch's Zee Grows a Tree (9780763697549, $17.99 HC, 32pp, Ages 5-8) is illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, who provides fine drawings that follow a young girl's affection for a little Douglas fir tree at her family's Christmas tree farm. As tree and child grow up together, readers receive a gentle natural history that reflects the different stages and growth processes of each.

Mary Lyn Ray's The House of Grass and Sky (9781536200973, $17.99 HC, 32pp, Ages 4-8) receives warm drawings by E.B. Goodale as it surveys the passage of time as experienced by a house which has people coming and going from its world. The house remembers the children who lived within it during happier times and longs for a family again. Being empty is small comfort, but the house holds hope, and change does happen in this gentle story of growth.

Nicola O'Byrne's Bad Cat! (Nosy Crow, 9781536217285, $16.99 HC, 32pp, Ages 2-5) tells of the troublesome Fluffykins, who loves to wreck havoc in the home. Will he always be a bad kitty? Very easy descriptions and attractive, large-size drawings invite laughter and, for those who own cats, a degree of recognition over a bad kitty who just can't resist getting into trouble.

All are fine books recommended for discriminating children's picture book collections.

The Bilingual Shelf

Pierre & Paul: Dragon!
Caroline Adderson, author
Alice Carter, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771473286, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Pierre speaks French and Paul speaks English, but that doesn't stop them from being friends and exploring together. Today is garbage day, so the duo sets out to find hidden treasures in the trash.

Treasure map in hand, they encounter poisonous swamps, dark forests, a dragon, and even a tsunami! (Or maybe just a garbage truck driving through a puddle). When the tsunami sweeps away their treasure map, they think all is lost - until they finally find a treasure lying out in plain sight.

Told half in French and half in English, "Pierre & Paul: Dragon!" uses simple phrases and clues in the illustrations to make the story accessible to young readers in both languages. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school and community library collections for children ages 5-8, "Pierre & Paul: Dragon!" is full of engaging imagination and playful illustrations, and a vocabulary-learning tool in the form of an engaging bilingual picture book story of friendship.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Homer on the Case
Henry Cole
Peachtree Publishers
9781682632543, $16.99 HC, $8.99 Kindle, 144pp, Ages 8-12

Readers ages 8-12 will relish Henry Cole's Homer on the Case (9781682632543, $16.99 HC, $8.99 Kindle, 144pp, Ages 8- 12, which brings to mind the children's animal stories by Jean Craighead George as it follows the adventures of a homing pigeon. Unlike George's natural history-based stories, Homer is a smart bird who has taught himself to read, and he is interested in human news. When he witnesses a theft, he must draw upon his investigative skills and resolve his communication issues with humans with the aid of parrot friend Lulu. A fun detective/bird story evolves.

Mr. Tiger, Betsy, and the Sea Dragon
Sally Gardner, author
Nick Maland, illustrator
9780593095850, $16.99 HC, $8.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, $16.89 Audio, Ages 8-12

Mr. Tiger, Betsy, and the Sea Dragon is a vivid adventure recommended for ages 8-12, and tells of a wicked pirate captain blown off course to an island which shows on no map. His mission is to uncover the gold apples from a sea dragon's underwater orchard. Mr. Tiger and Betsy K. Glory are also setting sail into another adventure to help locate a sea dragon's missing unusual dilemma, because nothing has ever been stolen before, on the island. As the disparate adventurers encounter one another and struggles begin, readers are treated to a whimsical mermaid folk story that features a princess, mermaids, and more. Prior familiarity with Mr. Tiger and Betsy's world will lend an immediate familiarity to their milieu and connections in this satisfying, fun fantasy.

The YA Fiction Shelf

Hurricane Summer
Asha Bromfield
Wednesday Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250622235, $18.99, HC, 400pp

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla's mother tells her she'll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise -- all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Critique: Very highly recommended for young readers ages 13-18, "Hurricane Summer" by Asha Bromfield is a compelling 'coming of age' novel that deftly deals with color based racism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic, of learning what you are capable of -- especially when facing utter destruction. While very highly recommended, especially for middle school, highschool and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hurricane Summer" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781250803153, $44.99, CD).

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster
Rachelle Delaney
Puffin Canada
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780735269279, $17.99, HC, 256pp

Alice Fleck's father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she's been helping him recreate meals from the past -- a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father's new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight.

And that's just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition.

Now it's up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life and for the whole world to see!

A fully entertaining and impressively original novel, "Alice Fleck's Recipes For Disaster" will prove to be a welcome and popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections for young readers ages 10-14. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Alice Fleck's Recipes For Disaster" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Paper Heart
Cat Patrick
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9781984815347, $17.99, HC, 304pp

Tess has always understood her role in her family. She is supposed to be the "okay" one. The one no one has to worry about. But all Tess does is worry, constantly picking at her fingers every time a new worry arises. Still grieving her best friend's death, she is consumed by the fear that everything was her fault and her sadness that Colette is never coming back. Worse still, it seems like everyone else has found a way to move on, even her twin sister Frankie.

When her mom decides a change of location might do her good, Tess finds herself on an airplane bound for her aunt's house in small town Wyoming and a summer vacation attending art camp.

Tess thinks she might never be able to move on from losing Colette but her quirky but determined cousin Kennedy and new friend Izzy are determined to help. When Tess becomes convinced that Colette's ghost might be haunting her, Kennedy and Izzy find new ways for Tess to make peace with the past and finally let go of the grief that has been haunting her heart.

An inherently compelling, deftly crafted and fully entertaining read from first page to last, "Paper Heart" by Cat Patrick is an especially well recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections for young readers ages 10-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Paper Heart" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

It Doesn't Take a Genius
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Six Foot Press
9781644420027, $17.95, HC, 308pp

Emmett and his older brother Luke have always been "Batman and Robin," though they're quick to bicker about who's who. Spending the summer at a historic Black summer camp seems like a wonderful adventure for the two to share, but since Luke is there as a junior counselor, he seems to spend all of his time being everyone else's big brother, and ignoring Emmett.

As Luke seems to be moving on to new adventures, Emmett struggles in unexpected ways, especially in swim class and the "It Takes A Village" entrepreneurship class. Without his brother to turn to for support, Emmett works to build a new crew of "superfriends," who'll help him plan something spectacular for the end-of-camp awards night and celebration. Along the way, Emmett learns that no matter what, there can be many ways to define family.

"It Doesn't Take a Genius" by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is inspired by the feature film Boy Genius, starring Miles Brown, Rita Wilson, and Nora Dunn. A thoroughly entertaining read that will have a very special appeal for children ages 10-15, "It Doesn't Take a Genius" is a particularly and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "It Doesn't Take a Genius" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Sunshine and the Full Moon
Jon Robinson
Koehler Books
3705 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455
9781646632787, $28.95, HC, 216pp

Sunshine Robins is having a summer to forget. First, the sassy softball superstar breaks her arm during a heroic home run, and now her trip to the California Gold Country has taken a frightening turn as a geocaching exploration leads to the terrifying discovery of a shapeshifting creature lurking beneath the streets of Dathanville. As she puts the pieces together about the town's haunting past, a determined Sunshine must fight through her own bouts of anxiety and fear as she stares down the devilish beast looking to destroy Dathanville one victim at a time.

An adroitly presented novel of suspenseful adventure simply bustling with mystery and monsters, "Sunshine and the Full Moon" by Jon Robinson is a werewolf lovers delight of a read from cover to cover. Certain to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 13-18, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sunshine and the Full Moon" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781646632763, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.49).

The Stars in April
Peggy Wirgau
Illuminate YA Fiction
c/o Childress Ink
9781645263074, $24.99, HC, 256pp

The year is 1912. When doctors in India are unable to treat her baby brother's illness, Ruth's missionary parents decide there is one solution: move her mother and the children across the world to Michigan. But India is the only home Ruth knows. In a matter of days, she must leave Papa and all she loves behind, abandon her dream of one day playing violin in the Calcutta Orchestra, and embark on a rollicking, four-week journey across the Arabian and Mediterranean Seas, followed by the voyage to New York aboard the luxurious, ill-fated RMS Titanic. Ruth's story is one of courage and self-sacrifice as she earns her sea legs and faces the unknown, culminating in a desperate, tragic night she will never forget.

"The Stars in April" by Peggy Wirgau is a deftly crafted novel that is based on the true story of twelve-year-old Titanic survivor Ruth Becker. A fully absorbing and memorable story, "The Stars in April" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 12-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Stars in April" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781645263067, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Mystery School: Islid
L.C. Matherne
DartFrog Books
9781951490652, $16.99 print / $4.99 Kindle

Mystery School: Islid is a story set in a world embroiled by turmoil, and is recommended for mature teens. Estrella Chavez is a teenager when the story opens. Her father, part of an eco-labor movement, was murdered when she was a baby, but the impact of his work and absence still resonates in her life. Even though twelve years have passed, she still doesn't know all the details about his death.

Sent to boarding school Glouton, where she initially loves her roommates and its atmosphere, Estrella remains blissfully unaware of another world and danger lurking under the surface of her mother's actions. As she begins to learn about the Spirit War, the Angelai, and disparate groups that feed her simmering anger, Estrella finds herself embroiled in a conflict that not only challenges her abilities, but her perception of the world, her family history, and her place in it.

Mystery School: Islid contains moral and ethical quandaries that arise in the course of Estrella's education. Can there really be a world in which none of these issues exist? As Estrella learns new lessons about friendship, romance, ethics, and new possibilities, she not only revises what she knows about her past, but tackles newfound quandaries that stem from a blend of self-discovery and rising consciousness about her own choices and their consequences. The result is more than a mystery, more than a coming of age story, and more than the usual story of a boarding school experience that changes everything.

Supercharged with introspection and thought-provoking growth, Mystery School: Islid imbeds the overlay of mystery and discovery with deeper lessons about good guys, bad guys, and Estrella's real role as a brand new Angelai rises.

Mature teens who enjoy stories that embrace more than adventure will appreciate the solid inspections of Estrella's cultural roots, her foray into previously-unknown worlds and purposes, and the progression of her growth as she incorporates these discoveries into her own evolving psyche. Grippingly powered by a host of strong characters, Mystery School: Islid deserves its status as a powerful series opener promising appeal to a wide audience.

How to Break an Evil Curse
Laura Morrison
Black Spot Books
9781733599481, $18.95 Paper/$7.99 Kindle, 406pp, Ages 12-18

Enter a world in which a princess lives in darkness, but defies the usual princess edict to remain a damsel in distress until rescued. Season it with the young woman's determination to take charge of her own freedom, only to find eight years of digging her way to freedom leads her, ironically, straight into the arms of the man who holds a cure to the curse she is under. Then add more than a dash of humor for a rollicking adventure in How to Break an Evil Curse, which follows the two through a world filled with telling names and trials, past the Brook of Dashed Hopes and the Dwelling Place of Mirabella the Traitor into a place where secrets are revealed and even the honest and honorable aren't above taking the money and running.

At first Julianna is focused on saving her father's throne and legacy from evil wizard Farland Phelps and his determination to seize control. But as her forays lead her to question the value of that throne, Julianna finds herself aligned with the commoners who are in the process of affecting an overthrow, themselves.

Irony, satire, and fun permeate this story -- unusual devices in a tale many teens will pick up for its fantasy elements and promise of supernatural confrontations. YA readers in grades 7 and up will appreciate the complexity of this tale as well as its introduction to a special blend of humor. The female protagonist's self-determination and feisty approach to her heritage, her life, and possibilities lead her beyond anything she's been raised to believe in.

Laura Morrison's writing captures ribald circumstances and zany encounters that also turn the notion of good and evil upside down, as when Julianna and Warren encounter a thug who harbors his own different dreams. The result is at once hilarious and thought-provoking. Kids already steeped in the usual trappings of fantasy and fairytales will delight the unexpected descriptions presented here: "Without further ado, Julianna and Copernicus dragged Warren out of the Forest of Looming Death and into safety."

While this story is created for teen readers, many an adult interested in re-envisioned fairytales will find How to Break an Evil Curse original, action-packed, and worthy of the read.

All Our Hidden Gifts
Caroline O'Donoghue
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536213942, $19.99, HC, 384pp

After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette's Catholic school. But when Maeve's ex-best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn't at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace.

Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily's gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find -- even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself.

Critique: A deftly crafted contemporary fantasy novel for young readers ages 14-17, "All Our Hidden Gifts" by Caroline O'Donoghue is set in an Irish town where the church's tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root. An inherently fascinating and entertaining read from first page to last, "All Our Hidden Gifts" is especially recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "All Our Hidden Gifts" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713587736, $19.99, MP3-CD).

Witching Moon
K. E. Bonner
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
5 South First Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781947860926, $18.95, PB, 298pp

Every once in an eon, when the Earth eclipses the moon on a winter solstice, an immortal is born under a witching moon. Anne has always had the strangest feelings -- memories that she couldn't place; strangers she inexplicably yearned for. After she rescues the enigmatic Phillip from a shipwreck, her comfortable life on the island of Cusabo is shattered, and the mystery of her destiny starts to fall into place. Anne leaves behind the life she's always known and sets out with Phillip on an arduous journey to Amaranth, where her ancient family awaits her. But the path is dark and daunting, and Anne's powers have only just begun to manifest.

A deftly crafted and impressively original fantasy novel by author K. E. Bonner, "Witching Moon" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans, as well as middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-18.

A Cabbit Tale
Cindy Chisholm
Brandylane Publishers
5 South 1st Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781953021106, $13.95, PB, 124pp

Ace is a young and curious cat who loves his family. When Ace loses the precious stone his grandfather gave him, he must venture into the forbidden forest to retrieve it. Before he can get very far, however, his family sets out after him, determined to protect him against all odds. Along the way, Ace avoids a great winged beast and meets a woodland creature: a cabbit-half cat, half rabbit. What else lurks in these strange woods? Does Ace have what it takes to recover his stone, and perhaps solve another mystery along the way?

"A Cabbit Tale" by author and storyteller Cindy Chisholm is a delightfully entertaining and impressive original story for children ages 9-12 and will prove a welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library General Fiction & Chapter Book collections.

You Were Made for Me
Jenna Guillaume
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
9781682632956, $17.99, HC, 336pp

Sixteen-year-old Katie Camilleri can't believe she's accidentally created a teenage boy. A boy six-feet tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer's day. A boy whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime. A boy completely devoted to Katie.

But silly musings and kitchen antics with her best friend, Libby, have definitely taken a whimsical twist into something bigger than Katie could have ever daydreamed. Turns out the consequences of fumbling a human being into existence are rather complicated. More importantly, does Guy, the golden Adonis Katie's created, like her because he wants to, or because he has to? And will he be Katie's very first kiss?

Critique: An hilarious novel featuring a decidedly feminist twist on a classic narrative 'Frankenstein' or 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' fantasy, and replete with a wealth of laughs, mishaps, and plenty of 80s and 90s pop-culture callbacks. Jenna Guillaume's "You Were Made For Me" is an inherently entertaining romantic comedy that will have a very special appeal for young readers ages 12 to 16. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "You Were Made For Me" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library General Fiction collections for young readers.

The Mythology Shelf

All About Mermaids
Izzy Quinn, author
Vlad Stankovic, illustrator
9780593307151, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 40pp, Ages 3-7

Young picture book readers interested in the subject of mermaids will find no better introduction than All About Mermaids, which features engaging, large-size drawings by Vlad Stankovic that bring alive the mermaid milieu and legend. Text explores the myth and reality (yes, there is a reality) about mermaids as it explores the Steller's sea cow, dugong, mermaids, and interrelated creatures of legend. Young readers attracted to fantasy and fun picture book tales will find this large-sized book attractive and engaging, filled with legends, lore, and pictures that draw the eye and invite reading.

The Activity Shelf

My Monsterpiece
Amalia Hoffman
Yeehoo Press
9781953458018, $16.99, HC, 40pp

What's the scariest, meanest, most terrible monster you can imagine? For one child, every proper monster means a green tongue! Pointy horns! And definitely extra sharp teeth. But what's a kid to do when the entire family thinks their monster drawings are "cute" and not frightening at all?

Maybe monsters aren't what this particular child previously thought -- and it might just take some thinking outside the box to reveal surprising lessons about fears and perceptions.

Using found objects like buttons, cereal, string, along with traditional paints and fun cutouts, "My Monsterpiece" encourages children ages 2-6 to pour over the details and look around them for materials that can be turned into art.

A humorous celebration of imagination and creativity that invites kids to create their own monster masterpieces with everyday materials, "My Monsterpiece" by storyteller and artist Amalia Hoffman is a unique and especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten and community library picture book and art project collections.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly: The Coldfire Curse
Jordan Quinn, author
Illustrated by Glass House Graphics
Little Simon
9781534475014 $17.99 hc / $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the first installment of the exciting Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly graphic novel series, the scarlet dragon Ruskin's bravery is put to the test when a curse threatens his kingdom.

As the pampered pet dragon of the Prince of Wrenly, Ruskin has never known life beyond the walls of the palace. Until the day a young dragon from Crestwood comes to the palace to plead for help. An evil curse has been unleashed in Crestwood and threatens to destroy all of Wrenly. Ruskin has a choice to make: stay safe at home in the palace, or try to help save his kingdom. For Ruskin, there is no choice. He knows he has to try and help if he can.

What Ruskin and his new dragon friends don't yet realize is that the curse was awoken for one reason only - to put Ruskin in harm's way. The mission to reverse the curse is far more dangerous than anyone realizes... in fact, it's seemingly impossible. Why is Ruskin the target of these shadowy forces? And how far is Ruskin willing to go to save his kingdom?

Critique: The first of six full-color graphic novels for young adults, created as a spinoff to the "Kingdom of Wrenly" chapter book series and featuring courageous dragons as heroes, Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly: The Coldfire Curse tells of the quest to repel an evil curse spread by malevolent forces. But could there be an even more insidious motive behind the curse itself? The bright, vivacious artwork lends an exuberant touch to this heartwarming adventure, highly recommended for both public and school library children's graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Coldfire Curse is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly: Shadow Hills
Jordan Quinn, author
Illustrated by Glass House Graphics
Little Simon
9781534475045 $17.99 hc / $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the second book in the Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly graphic novel series, Ruskin, Cinder, and Groth are back for another exciting quest, this time to save a group of cursed shadow dragons!

A royal errand brings Ruskin, Cinder, and Groth to Shadow Hills, home to the most mysterious creatures in all of Wrenly - the shadow dragons. Legend says that shadow dragons are hostile to outsiders and cannot be trusted. But that's not how it seems to Ruskin and his friends.

In fact, nothing is quite as it seems in Shadow Hills. The young dragons have been sent there by sinister forces that believe Ruskin is destined to rule over all of Wrenly. These same forces will do anything to prevent that from happening... even if it means putting the entire kingdom at risk. Will Ruskin and his friends see through the deception and learn who they can really trust before it's too late?

Critique: The second of six full-color graphic novels for young adults, created as a spinoff to the "Kingdom of Wrenly" chapter book series and featuring courageous dragons as heroes, Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly: Shadow Hills presents a young band of dragons with a dilemma. They have discovered the lost world of Shadow Hills and dearly want to help rescue the forgotten dragons residing within, but can the Shadow Hills be saved without destroying their beloved home kingdom of Wrenly? The simple yet captivating art adds the perfect touch to this engaging adventure, highly recommended for both public and school library children's graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Shadow Hills is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

The Multimedia Shelf

Music All Around
Gema Sirvent, author
Lucia Cobo, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
9782924774861, $16.95, HC, 48pp

In "Music All Around: One Story, One Song" by author/storyteller Gema Sirvent and artist/illustrator Lucia Cobo, a young girl named Sofia is off to her grandparents for the holidays. She leaves her seaside home, its singing waves and whispering sand, knowing that the sounds of the forest await her. Amongst the dark pines and the majestic oaks, Sofia will discover the music of the night, the songs of a fox, an owl, and a wolf. At a clearing in the woods, she'll feel the wind blowing as it does on the beach. She'll wave her invisible baton to the stars, offering as a gift to the forest the music from the sea. Of special note is a unique code for the digital download of the recordings which is also included -- making "Music All Around: One Story, One Song" an welcome and appreciated addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 5-7.

Summer Moonlight Concert
Han Han
The Secret Mountain
9782924774878, $16.95, HC, 40pp

It happened towards the end of the day while her parents were peacefully preparing dinner. As her father lit a candle, he suggested they take out their musical instruments and descend to the park to perform for their neighbors. He played the erhu and her mother the accordion while she danced. The songs made their way into each home and soon, everyone joined the concert, laughing and singing under the moonlight, celebrating the music that had brought them together. Very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 7-9, "Summer Moonlight Concert: One Story, One Song" is a thoroughly charming picture book by Han Han that is accompanied with recordings of the narrated story and the theme song.

The Christian Shelf

The Moon Speaks
Jason G. Duesing, author
Chiara Fedele, illustrator
B&H Kids
c/o B&H Publishing Group
1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234
9781087734620, $9.99, Board Book, 24pp

Children love playing in the dirt, studying the flowers, and marveling at the clouds. A collaborative project by author/storyteller Jason Duesing and artist/illustrator Chiara Fedele, "The Moon Speaks" is a poetic board book for children, ages 1-4 that shows that behind the creation kids love so much stands the God who loves them even more! That God speaks to us through the mountains, revealing His strength. That He speaks to us through the sun, telling of His glory. In fact, everywhere we look in creation, God speaks!

Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library collections, "The Moon Speaks" is a perfect bedtime board book as the steady, soothing sounds of the text combined with the gentle, realistic artwork provide a calming, worshipful experience for children right before they fall asleep. But "The Moon Speaks" is also a book for anytime, helping young readers understand that all of creation is telling us something: God is there, He made the world around us, and He wants us to know Him!

On The Right Path: Book One
Brett Gunning, author
Stacy Padula, author
Maddy Moore, illustrator
Briley & Baxter Publications
9781954819030, $18.99, HC, 24pp

In the picture book pages of "On The Right Path: Book One", children ages 3-8 will enjoy joining Jayden, Jordan, their little sister Jasmine, and their friend Shai as the group experiences their first basketball camp and learns lessons about life along the way. Parents will love this uplifting book, which encourages children to love others and teaches the importance of making people feel welcome and loved. Written from a Christian perspective, "On The Right Path: Book One" is especially and unreserved recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note: NBA Coach Brett Gunning and award-winning author Stacy Padula have teamed up to create the On The Right Path (OTRP) book series. OTRP is also a non-profit organization created by Brett Gunning to guide youth basketball players on the right path to achieving their maximum potential through education, mentorship, and skill development. The core principles of OTRP are guidance, inspiration, and creativity. The book series focuses on six life-skill pillars: Loving Others, Being Unselfish, Staying Healthy & Strong, Showing Respect, Showing Forgiveness, and Having Fun.

The Judaic Shelf

Shloimie's Letter
Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili, author
Michael Biniashvili, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781945560477, $10.95, PB, 162pp

Shloimie Paporovich enjoys a lot of things: collecting stamps, playing baseball, and spending time with his best friend Hershel. But when faced with a whole series of unexpected events, will Shloimie find the strength to do what's difficult? When things look bleak, will he accept that whatever happens is truly good?

Set in Toronto, Canada just after WWII, "Shloimie's Letter" brings the post war experience to life, making Jewish history fun to read for children ages 7-9! The large, clear letters, memorable characters, and positive middos and mitzvos are perfect for independent readers grades 2-4, making "Shloimie's Letter" highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Islamic Shelf

My First Book about the Qur'an
Sara Khan, author
Ali Lodge, illustrator
Kube Publishng
9780860376187, $9.95, Board Book, 26pp

The collaborative project of author Sara Khan and illustrator Ali Lodge, "My First Book about the Qur'an" is board book toddlers and young children ages 3-5 about the Qur'an's beautiful teachings: to care for all creation; to respect the books of God; to be good to one another; and to believe in Allah, the Creator.

Stunning illustrations, full of color, bring the pages of this unique board book to life and the carefully written text is simple, easy to understand, and suitable to be read aloud. Very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections, "My First Book about the Qur'an" also features some basic facts about the Qur'an and common questions children might ask, such as: what does the word "Qur'an" actually mean?

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

When the Angel Sent Butterflies
Jody Sharpe
Independently Published
9780988562080, $9.00 Paper; $2.99 Kindle, 24pp

When the Angel Sent Butterflies provides read-aloud parents with an uplifting primer about little Kate, who is frightened when a bee buzzes around her. Jones reminds his sister that their mother says angels watch over them daily. Angel Ken has a different approach: he sends butterflies to delight the kids and take away their fear of nature and the outdoors.

Dog Billie sees angels all the time. She knows that Angel Ken's purpose is not just to distract with lovely butterflies, but to teach the kids that bees and butterflies alike are their friends, and a positive part of the world around them. Illustrator Susan Clare Anderson's drawings are simple and inviting. They could have been drawn by a child, but provide colorful embellishments that will interest a young age range.

The story concludes on an upbeat note with an invitation to have kids draw a butterfly and a bee, providing an activity to reinforce the spiritual and nature message of a read-aloud that religious parents will find inviting.

The Architecture Shelf

What Adults Don't Know About Architecture
Alain de Bottom, editor
The School of Life
9781912891306, $19.99, HC, 19200

Children are rarely introduced properly to architecture, but there are in fact few subjects more important because the quality of the architecture that surrounds us has such an impact on our mood and sense of well-being.

The bitter truth is that in modern times we've built a world that's far too often ugly or charmless -- and we've done so because very few people ever feel they have the right to comment on what gets built around them. "What Adults Don't Know About Architecture" offers a chance for the next generation to develop the tools to talk about architecture with confidence, knowledge, and passion. It tells us about what a satisfying building is, what makes a street enticing (or not), why some cities are charming and others repel us -- and how we might build going forward in a way that will reliably delight and uplift us.

Very highly recommended family, elementary school, middle school, highschool, and community library Architecture colleges for young readers, "What Adults Don't Know About Architecture" is engaging and informative guide is designed to help children ages 9-15 (and their favorite adults!) to understand how buildings work and how we might create the better looking world we all crave and deserve. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "What Adults Don't Know About Architecture" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Native American Shelf

A Peacemaker for Warring Nations
Joseph Bruchac, author
David Kanietakeron Fadden, illustrator
World Wisdom
1501 East Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786878, $18.95, HC, 56pp

The League of the Iroquois was a true representational democracy -- so much so that the United States Constitution is said to have been modeled on some of its tenets. But how, perhaps a thousand years before the time of Columbus, did the Five Iroquois Nations (the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca) come to end the bitter eye-for-eye warfare among them? What brought them together in an alliance based on the Great Law of Peace? And how was it that a system of Clan Mothers was instituted in which women are seen as the center of the nation and still today choose the 50 royaners, or peace chiefs, who speak for their respective communities in meetings of the League?

In "A Peacemaker for Warring Nations: The Founding of the Iroquois League", renowned Native author and storyteller Joseph Bruchac draws from the teachings of both contemporary and past Iroquois tradition bearers in telling the inspiring story of how "the Peacemaker," a divine messenger sent by the Creator, helped to bring reconciliation to warring nations. Beautifully and accurately illustrated by the artistry of respected Mohawk artist David Kanietakeron Fadden whose work honors his deep indigenous roots, "A Peacemaker for Warring Nations" is an exceptionally entertaining and impressively informative picture book for children ages 10-14 and an unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Native American picture book collections for young readers.

The Art Shelf

What Adults Don't Know About Art
Alain de Bottom, editor
The School of Life
9781912891290, $19.99, HC, 160pp

Children are often told that art matters -- but the truth is that very often it's hard to know why it really does. Museum visits can feel like a chore as does having to learn the names of the big artists we're all meant to love (but perhaps don't quite in the way we're supposed to). This is a huge pity because (grasped in the right way) art has a deep capacity to improve our lives and offer us a sense of joy and mental well-being.

"What Adults Don't Know About Art" is an informative and inspiring guide to art for children ages 9-15 with a difference: in a tone that's kindly, informative, unstuffy, and at times rightly irreverent, this book explains how art can fit into our lives. We learn where the impulse to make art comes from, what art to look at in certain moods, how to go around a museum without getting bored, and why without even realizing it we all become experts in art by decorating our first bedrooms.

Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, school, and community library collections for young readers, "What Adults Don't Know About Art " (which is also available in a Kindle format, $9.99) is an innovative guide to the importance of art, written in a way that will enchant children and, along the way, teach their favorite adults one or two vital things as well.

Colors of Habitats
Stepanka Sekanimova and Jana Sedlackova, authors
Magdalena Konecna, illustrator
Albatros Books
9788000059341, $14.95. HC, 32pp, Ages 6-10

The oversized Colors of Habitats is a lovely survey of world habitats and their colorful appearances, and will appeal to young naturalists with good reading skills who want to learn about different habitats and their inhabitants. Gorgeous colors throughout create eye-catching pages that invite leisure browsing as well as research, as these creatures and their worlds come to life. There are plenty of picture books on the market about habitats; but few offer the artistic and visual attraction of Colors of Habitats, which lends particularly well to attracting reluctant readers and whose who find superior visual displays essential for learning. Colors of Habitats is also ideal for inspiring budding artists!

The Environmental Shelf

No More Plastic
Alma Fullerton
Pajama Press
9781772781137, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Isley is a young girl who loves the ocean and everything in it. Well, almost everything. Her heart sinks at the sight of her Atlantic Ocean shoreline covered in trash. One day, upon discovering a beached right whale that has starved to death after swallowing plastic, Isley decides enough is enough. She steers her family into adopting a zero-waste lifestyle, inspiring others to do the same. But when the adults around her give way to apathy and routine, how can Isley make sure her whale's memory inspires lasting change?

Illustrated with diorama art made from plastic waste by author and illustrator Alma Fullerton, "No More Plastic" carries out a critically important environmental message that is ideal for children ages 4-7 -- making it an important and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Environmental Issues picture book collections.

Ocean Soup
Meeg Pincus, author
Lucy Semple, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781534111189, $16.99, HC, 32pp

rom the shore, the ocean looks like clear, sparkling blue but look closely at a small scoop and you'll find the ocean looks more like soup! Our oceans are now filled with plastics ranging from water bottles and take-out containers, to the teeny tiny plastic particles you need a microscope to see. But who exactly cooked up this stinky soup? And, more importantly, what is the recipe for getting (and keeping) our oceans clean? "Ocean Soup: A Recipe for You, Me, and a Cleaner Sea" by author/storyteller Meeg Pincus and artist/illustrator Lucy Semple is a bouncing, rhyming picture book story pulls no punches about how we ended up in this sticky mess but also offers hope and help for cleaning up this ocean soup. "Ocean Soup" with its critically important environmental message is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 6-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ocean Soup" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.19).

Water Water
Jessica Bromley Bartram
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9781554555567, $19.95, HC, 32pp

"Water Water" by author and illustrator Jessica Bromley Bartram is the picture book story of a young girl who is spending a summer at the lake and experiencing the worlds she finds (and imagines) both under the water and above. From striped rocks under the surface to water snails, crayfish to gulls, loons and swallows flying overhead she sees all the life around the watery habitat. And who knows what creatures can be found in the deepest waters? "Water Water" is an especially recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Environmental Issues picture book collections for children ages 5-7.

The Biography Shelf

June Almeida, Virus Detective!
Suzanne Slade
Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway Suite 200 Ann Arbor MI 48104
9781534111325, $16.99 HC, $14.70 Kindle, 40pp, Ages 6-9

Suzanne Slade's June Almeida, Virus Detective! The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus is the true story of a scientist who discovered the first coronavirus, and surveys not just June Almeida's life and discovery, but the process of research to develop medicines and vaccines to fight coronavirus. It reads with the descriptions and lively approach of fiction, but includes many biographical details and insights into science, as well, to engage reluctant readers in the story of one woman's important approach to problem-solving in the lab. Kids interested in virus research and women's biographies will find June Almeida, Virus Detective! a fine story about both.

Little Giants: 10 Hispanic Women Who Made History
Raynelda A. Calderon, author
Wiscombe Donna, illustrator
Cayena Press
9781733139229, $23.99, HC, 64pp

The cooperative project of author Raynelda Calderon and illustrator Wiscombe Donna, "Little Giants: 10 Hispanic Women Who Made History" is comprised of a short collection of biographies about Hispanic women and the impact they made in the world. Some of the women featured are iconic figures such as ballet dancer Alicia Alonso; others are less known heroines such as indigenous leader Dolores Cacuango, founder of the first bilingual school in Ecuador. Beautiful full page illustrations accompany the succinctly informative text to bring these women to life and inspire the young generation of readers to be leaders tomorrow. "Little Giants: 10 Hispanic Women Who Made History" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Biography collections for children ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Little Giants: 10 Hispanic Women Who Made History" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Gardening Shelf

Jayden's Impossible Garden
Melina Mangol, author
Ken Daley, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631985904, $16.99, HC, 40pp

Amidst all the buildings, people, and traffic in his urban neighborhood, Jayden sees nature everywhere: the squirrels scrounging, the cardinals calling, and the dandelions growing. But Mama doesn't believe there's nature in the city. So Jayden sets out to help Mama see what he sees. With the help of his friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden plants the seeds of a community garden and brings together his neighbors (and Mama) to show them the magic of nature in the middle of the city.

Timeless and vibrant, "Jayden's Impossible Garden" by the team of author/storyteller Melina Mangol and artist/illustrator Ken Daley highlights the beauty of intergenerational relationships and the power of imagination and perseverance in bringing the vision of a community garden to life. Jayden's love of nature will inspire young readers to see their environment and surroundings as bursting with opportunities for growth and connection. At the back of the book, young readers will find activities to make items found in this picture book, such as the milk jug bird feeder.

Entertaining, informative, inspiring, "Jayden's Impossible Garden" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-9.

The Science Shelf

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum
Katie Scott, author
Ester Gaya, illustrator
Big Picture Pres
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536217094, $35.00 HC, $21.99 Kindle, 80pp, Ages 8-12

All ages receive a fine nonfiction survey in the oversized Fungarium, curated by Katie Scott and Ester Gaya. This gorgeous exploration of a museum of fungi offers both microscopic and full-sized pictures of fungi, exploring their biology, growth, mycorrhizal networks, and interactions with insects and species. Full-page color science drawings accompany many natural history details that will appeal from middle grade into adult circles.

The LGBT Shelf

Queerly Autistic
Erin Ekins
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
9781787751712, $17.95, PB, 240pp

"Queerly Autistic: The Ultimate Guide for LGBTQIA+ Teens on the Spectrum" by Erin Ekins (who herself is an autistic queer woman) is an empowering and honest guide for LGBTQIA+ autistic teens and provides all of the tools needed for them to figure out and explore their gender identity and sexuality.

From coming out to friends and family, staying safe in relationships and practicing safe sex, through to self-care and coping with bullying, being out and about in the LGBTQIA+ community and undergoing gender transition, "Queerly Autistic" is packed from cover to cover with essential information, advice, support and resources to help autistic LGBTQIA teens on their journey, and also works as a primer on all things LGBTQIA+ for non-autistic teens who are just figuring out their own sexuality and sexual orientation.

Simply stated, "Queerly Autistic: The Ultimate Guide for LGBTQIA+ Teens on the Spectrum" is a 'must-read' for every autistic teen wanting to live their very best queer life. While especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library LGBTQ collections for young readers ages 12-17, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Queerly Autistic" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Books in Series

The "I" in Integrity!
Julia Cook, author
Kyle Merriman, illustrator
Boys Town Press
13603 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, NE 68010
9781944882624, $10.95, PB, 31pp

When Cora June half-heartedly cleans her room by taking a shortcut, Mom is quick to ask her about her integrity. Not really knowing what it means, Cora June assumes it's probably hidden under her bed, or in her closet.

She continues to school, where she cheats on a spelling test -- 'impossible' is a hard word to spell. Right? During her test, she finds that integrity pops up again. Again, it's probably under bed.

When Cora June learns what integrity means, she realizes that she can't find hers! Fortunately, her mom is there to help her put the I in integrity.

Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.76), "The "I" in Integrity!" is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Social Issues & Life Skills picture book collections as children ages 4-7 will enjoy following Cora June as she learns about her integrity, and see if she can use it to right what she did wrong.

Editorial Note: "The "I" in Integrity!" is part of The Leader I'll Be series from Boys Town Press and will teach children in grades K-5 the importance of self-reliance. Included at the end of the story are tips for parents and educators to help reinforce the values of honesty, honor, courage, authenticity, respect, responsibility, and restraint.

The Start Up Squad Trilogy
Brian Weisfeld, author
Nicole C. Kear, author
c/o Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

"The Startup Squad" (9781250180407, $16.99 HC, 9781250180414, $7.99 PB, $5.36 Kindle) is the first of a three volume series for young readers ages 8-12. All the great leaders had to start somewhere. And Teresa ("Resa" for short) is starting with the lemonade stand competition her teacher assigned to the class -- but making it a success is going to be a lot harder than Resa thinks. The prize: line-skipping tickets to Adventure Central. The competition: Val, Resa's middle school nemesis. And the biggest obstacle to success: Resa's own teammates. Harriet is the class clown, Amelia is the new girl who thinks she knows best, and Didi is Resa's steadfast friend - who doesn't know the first thing about making or selling lemonade. The four of them quickly realize that the recipe for success is tough to perfect -- but listening to each other is the first step. And making new friends might be the most important one!

In the second volume of the trilogy, "The Startup Squad: Face the Music" (9781250180452, $16.99 HC, 9781250180469, $7.99 PB, $5.36 Kindle) Harriet's brothers are hoping to enter a local battle of the bands. Winning could get them on a reality TV show! But low funds have left them without even a working guitar. The Startup Squad jumps into action -- and quickly pulls together a plan to sell T-shirts to raise money. The girls have a lot of great ideas -- until everything starts to go wrong. When all the problems start turning disappointed fans into an angry mob, the girls realize they have to get back into the groove before the band members (and the Startup Squad) break up for good!

In the third volume, "The Startup Squad: Party Problems (9781250180513, $17.99 HC, 9781250838674, $7.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle) all four friends in the Startup Squad want to raise money, but when they can't agree on what business to start next, they strike off on their own. Didi's idea seems perfect: making place cards for a wedding. But after the wedding planner gets sick, Didi finds herself in charge of everything -- and then the caterer cancels and the band goes missing! Didi's business is turning from a dream to a disaster. Will the Startup Squad come together in time to save the wedding?

Each book in this three volume middle-grade series by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear also features tips for kids starting or running their first businesses, plus a profile of a real-life tween girl CEO. All three are an charmingly entertaining and unreservedly recommended additions to elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for children ages 4-12.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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

Super Milly and the Super School Day
Stephanie Clarkson and Gwen Millward
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
9781788007689, $17.53

Darleen Wohlfeil

While Milly prepares for Superhero Day at school, she worries she doesn't have any superpowers. After all, she doesn't have X-ray vision, and can't climb tall buildings. But, to her delight she discovers throughout the day, that when things go wrong for her friends, being helpful and kind may just be the greatest superpower of all. (Ages 2-5)

Home Is Where the Heart Is
Emma Dodd
c/o Penguin Random House
9781536217124, $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet story should be read to every child. It's simple, loving flow establishes and confirms what makes a house a home. Buildings may be elegant and fine, but without a heart of love can be empty and cold. Little kitty learns all the wonderful things that make up her home. (Ages 2-5)

Bad Apple
Huw Lewis Jones, author
Ben Sanders, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652435, $16.95

Dr. Dawn Menge

We all have that one friend who spoils everything nice. Bad Apple makes it hard for his friends because he steals their things and eats their food. But the bad apple soon learns that being unkind to a snake is not such a good idea. This is a fun-filled book teaching that there are consequences to doing bad things to other people. I love the simple but emotionally-filled illustrations. (Ages 3-5)

Mole in a Black & White Hole
Tereza Sediva
Thames & Hudson
9780500652053, $16.95

Christine Irvin

An imaginative, charming tale about searching for beauty and light in the world around us. Mole lives in a black and white hole and is afraid to venture out into the world. But when he does, he discovers a colorful place where he feels safe. (Ages 3-5)

The Grumbletroll
Aprilkind and Barbara van den Speulhof, authors
Stephan Pricken, illustrator
Schiffer Kids
9780764362200, $16.99

Christine Irvin

No! No! No! The little troll is terribly angry. It's like there's a storm inside him, with lightning shooting out of the sky and thunder rumbling loudly. Yes, that's exactly how he feels: like a rumbling and grumbling troll. A grumbletroll! A delightful book for children to share with their parents (and parents to share with their kids). Kids can't always express their feelings in a socially acceptable manner but they will relate to Grumbletroll's actions and emotions. (Ages 3-6)

Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides
Anna Kang, author
Christopher Weyant, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542006682, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Hudson and Tallulah may be neighbors, but the fence between their yards isn't the only thing that divides them. They can't see eye to eye on anything. One day they venture out, and after nonstop disagreement, they realize something surprising: they don't always have to agree to be on each other's side. What a fun book about different points of view, conflict, and resolution. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and show the emotion of Hudson the dog and Tallulah the cat. (Ages 3-7)

Wanda's Words Got Stuck
Lucy Rowland, author
Paula Bowles, illustrator
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536217193, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Being shy can be lonely. This fun little story will encourage readers as they see the struggle. Wanda wants to be friendly, but she just gets stuck when her words get stuck. Friendship is powerful on many levels. Wanda and Flo don't need words to share their time and friendship. An inner bonding often replaces their necessity, and Wanda discovers that the same inner bond can embolden her words when her friend needs her. (Ages 3-7)

Atinuke, author
Birgitta Sif, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536212754, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Whatever tasks we find in our hands to do, we should carry out with full delight. How do I know? A little bird told me so! Hugo was his name. Hugo is the heart of his park. He joyfully tends to it, and all the people who live around it. Hugo loves his job! This tender tale of sacrifice and friendship is sure to encourage and inspire its readers. Truly a building block in learning! The illustrations are as soft and tender as Hugo's heart. (Ages 3-7)

Penny the Shy Pony
Kim Partin
Warren Publishing
9781954614079, $18.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

Every shy heart that fears its differences will find the joy of confidence and delight of acceptance in this story. Penny does everything she can to not be noticed. Children will enjoy all her silly and creative attempts, and will surely cheer as Penny's hiding comes to an end, as she discovers others like her differences! (Ages 3-7)

The Best Place in the World
Petr Horacek
Candlewick Press
9781536212853, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Hare's meadow is a beautiful place, but he can't tell whether it's the best place in the world. His friends all say it is. The rabbits love to run and play together in the fields, the birds love to sing to Hare from high up in the trees, and Bear loves the bees and the honey they share with everyone. But Hare still isn't certain, so he sets off to explore the world and find out for himself. A heartwarming tale. (Ages 3-7)

The Midnight Fair
Gideon Sterer, author
Mariachiara Di Giorgio, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536211153, $16.32

Christine Irvin

Far from the city, but not quite the countryside, lies a fairground. When night comes and the fair is empty, something unexpected happens. Wild animals emerge from the forest, a brave raccoon pulls a lever, and the roller coasters and rides explode back into bright, neon life. Kids can make up their own story about what happens after midnight at the local fairgrounds when the animals come out to play in this wordless picture book. (Ages 3-7)

Survivor Tree
Marcie Colleen, author
Aaron Becker, illustrator
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316487672, $18.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

In this gentle reminder of a tragic day that took America's breath away, we are also reminded that out of the smoke and tearful debris, life can emerge. On that unsuspecting day of September, a blast was felt, foundations crumbled, and towers fell. A tiny sign of green was found in the rummage of bleakness. Among the black and gray ash, a weak burned branch gave a cry of hope. This is the story of that resplendent pear tree that centered the towers with her beauty. A story of history and hope, of tragedy and resilience. A tree that stands today, as a remembrance, a witness of the heart of America. (Ages 4-8)

Hugga Loula
Nancy Dearborn, author
Huang Junyan, illustrator
9781641702713, $16.99

Christine Irvin

With the healing power of a hug and an act of kindness, little Hugga Loula diffuses all sorts of situations. Featuring colorful illustrations and charming refrain, Hugga Loula gives us an adorable hero offering care, comfort, and love to a world that desperately needs all three. (Ages 4-8)

The House of Grass and Sky
Mary Lyn Ray, author
E.B. Goodale, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536200973, $17.99

Christine Irvin

This house - an old one hunkered in the deep grass below a wide country sky - is a waiting house. Once it was full of laughter and song. The sounds of life rang within its walls. Now it stands quiet and still. The house has sheltered many families over the years and remembers them fondly, especially the children. New families arrive to look, but none stay. A touching tale of a lonely house that is looking for just the right family to come and stay. (Ages 4-8)

What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns
Katherine Locke, author
Anne Passchier, illustrator
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316542067, $17.99

Anita Lock

Uncle Lior visits Ari, who is excited to introduce them to Avi's wonderful neighbors at the neighborhood's big summer bash. The problem is that while Uncle Lior and the neighbors feel comfortable with their pronouns, Avi isn't. This first-person narrative is so much more than learning about gender pronouns. A non-binary cast fills one page after the next with descriptors that go beyond gender pronouns: biologist, playful, confident, baker, mechanic, polite, responsible, teacher. An influential addition to gender literature, this educational feel-good book highlights the marvelous distinctiveness of humanity. (Ages 4 to 8)

Just Be Jelly
Maddie Frost
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316523288, $17.99

Anita Lock

The number one rule in the sardine safety handbook is "stick together" because "the ocean is full of dangerous species." When one sardine's distraction cuts him off from his group, he lands smack into an unusual predator - a cool-grooving, Zen-zone jellyfish - who offers him "jelly vibe" advice on how to relax when he's worried. An under-the-sea adventure riddled with hilarious scenes sends a powerfully inspiring message that builds confidence and encourages youngsters to find positive ways to face their fears when they are gripped with worry. (Ages 4 to 8)

I'll Meet You in Your Dreams
Jessica Young, author
Rafael Lopez, illustrator
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316453288, $17.99

Anita Lock

Tenderness abounds in this love poem set to lyrical couplets that underscores the sturdy bond, the silver-thread connection a parent has with their child and the conveying of their hopes and dreams for their child as he/she journeys through life - birth, death, and beyond. The attention-grabbing mixed-media scenes, complete with brown-skinned characters, seamlessly chronicle childhood to adulthood and alternate between real and ethereal themes that vary in hue and design, including three stunning vertical spreads. This heartwarming read that transcends time and generations is earmarked to be an all-time favorite. (Age 4 to 8)

The Adventures of the Magical Whisk in Italy
Robin Lang, author
Leanne Rachel Allen, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781954614031, $18.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This whimsical tale will enlighten our minds and our palates to the wonderful world of Italian cuisine. Along the way we see the friendly lifestyle that accompanies such fine dining. Learning new ways and languages in light of our own can be truly a great experience. (Ages 4-9)

On Ice: Exploring the Arctic with a Polar Bear Cub
Jeanne Binder, author
Kate Willows, illustrator
Pina Publishing
$6.99 ebook

Darleen Wohlfeil

The wonderful adventures of this adorable and lucky pup opens the world of amazing opportunities to its readers. Informative and entertaining, we get to share the excitement with Lindie as she learns of the fascinating things the world holds. There is much to praise of the adventures of this sweet puppy, but what moved me most was the responses of children who have read them. Their worlds expand, and they experience new things that broaden their interests with enthusiasm. (Ages 5-8)

Maddie's Saturday to Remember
Karen Jonice Bricker, author
Samela St. Pierre, illustrator
SDP Publishing
9781735697352, $13.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

Community is the warm thread that freely flows through this story. Whether its time spent with special loved ones, or the introduction to the colorful activity of her local community, life becomes electrifying for Maddie. Street vendors and musicians, a pizza chef, and a sneak peek into the exciting and creative work that goes into storefront window displays all make her Saturday with Grandpa a day to remember! (Ages 5-10)

Why Can't Horses Burp?
Nick Crumpton, author and horse expert
Lily Snowden-Fine, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652305, $16.95

Dr. Dawn Menge

If you love horses, this is the book for you! Written by horse expert Dr. Nick Crumpton, this beautifully illustrated book will explain all of the important knowledge needed to know about horses. The most important question of all is "Why can't horses burp?" You'll have to read the book to find out the answer. (Ages 6-8)

Marion Dane Bauer
Candlewick Press
9781536214116, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Set in the northern Minnesota wilderness, a timeless novel about a boy and his imaginary dog explores the legacy of guilt and blame - and what really constitutes a family. Divorce, how children react to divorce, and imaginary friends (in this case, a dog), are just some of the issues tackled in this novel by author Marion Dane Bauer. She handles each topic with honesty and dignity, leaving the reader interested and satisfied. (Ages 8-12)

Leonard (My Life as a Cat)
Carlie Sorosiak
Walker Books US
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536207705, $17.99

Christine Irvin

The cat that Olive rescues from a flood has a secret: he's not really a cat at all, but an alien who crashed to Earth on a beam of light. The cat, whom Olive names Leonard, was prepared to visit the planet as a human - but something went wrong. You'll fall in love with Leonard, and you'll root for him as he tries to make his way back to his home planet. (Ages 8-12)

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh
Helen Rutter
9781338652260, $17.99

Diana Perry

Billy Plimpton has a big dream: to become a famous comedian when he grows up. He already knows a lot of jokes, but thinks he has one big problem standing in his way: his stutter. Young readers will relate to this kind of issue and will love the surprising yet satisfying ending that they won't see coming. I felt like cheering for young Billy. This book teaches how each child is unique and best off when they're just being who they really are. (Ages 8-12)

Merci Suarez Can't Dance
Meg Medina
Candlewick Press
9780763690502, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Seventh grade is going to be a real trial for Merci Suarez. For science she's got no-nonsense Mr. Ellis, who expects her to be a smart as her brother, Roli. She's been assigned to co-manage the tiny school store with Wilson Bellevue, a boy she barely knows, but whom she might actually like. And she's tangling again with classmate Edna Santos, who is bossier and more obnoxious than ever now that she is in charge of the annual Heart Ball. Tweens will relate to this coming-of-age story as Merci navigates her way through seventh grade. (Ages 9-12)

Sylvie Kantorovitz
Walker Books US
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536207620, $24.99

Diana Perry

Sylvie lives in a school in France. Her father is the principal, and her home is an apartment at the end of a hallway of classrooms. As a young child, Sylvie and her brother explore this most unusual kingdom, full of small mysteries and quirky surprises. But in middle and high school, life grows more complicated... Readers will enjoy this graphic novel as little Sylvie, constantly trying to decide on a career, grows up right before our very eyes. I loved the surprise ending as she chooses a career with elements of her mother's job, her father's job and something all her own. (Ages 9-12)

Amber and Clay
Laura Amy Schlitz, author
Julia Iredale, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536201222, $22.99

Diana Perry

Welcome to ancient Greece as only genius storyteller Laura Amy Schlitz can conjure it. In a warlike land of wind and sunlight, "ringed by a restless sea," live Rhaskos and Melisto, spiritual twins with little in common beyond the violent and mysterious forces that dictate their lives. Young Readers will have the most fun reading this book, not just because of the way the story weaves so many different parts into one satisfying ending, but also because half of it is written by poems. (Ages 10-14)

Journey to the Hopewell Star
Hannah D. State
Glowing Light Press
9781777254209, $15.69

Darleen Wohlfeil

This debut novel hits with a splash! A perfect young adult story that's not only filled with excitement and adventure but carries a familiar thread through the readers' own experiences. Young people find themselves caught between realms. No longer as they were, but no surety of who they will become. One world breaking apart, another offering hope to save it. And, just as young, quiet Sam is suddenly thrust into this upheaval, having to navigate the unknown by discovery, friendship, and possibilities she never dreamed of. So will the reader as they flip each page. (Ages 10-14)

By the Sea: A Tale of Liamec
J. Steven Lamperti
Lamprey Publishing
9781734597479, $19.99 hc
9781734597424, $9.99 pbk

Diana Fisher

By the Sea is the tale of a beautiful and spirited girl, Annabelle, and her fantastical adventures woven skillfully with Greek mythology. The author is a talented storyteller, his characters are immediately real, and he knows exactly how much detail it takes to keep the plot moving without rushing the experience. With charm, a bit of mystery, and a bit of subtle humor, the tale unfolds to a surprisingly touching and beautiful ending. I highly recommend this book for any age. (Ages 12+)

To the Top of Greenfield Street
Ryan Standley
Standley Books
9780578741291, $10.75

Diana Perry

After tragedy strikes, 15-year-old Eric Daniels must start over in a small town, where rumors fly and trouble follows. Though shy at heart, Eric meets neighborhood kids, builds his reputation, and excels at his first job. Like most teens, Eric wants happiness, love, and independence. He finds everything he ever wanted on Greenfield Street, but how long can it last? Young readers will empathize with what Eric is going through. Any child who has to endure a move will be helped by this story, which proves that everything does work out in the end. A great read. (Ages 14+)

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