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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 32, Number 6 June 2022 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Education Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Biography Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf LGBT Fiction Shelf YA Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Self-Help Shelf Reference Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Judaic Shelf Islamic Shelf
Books in Series Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

How To Be An Explorer
Tiger Cox
Button Books
c/o The GMC Group
9781787081178, $24.99, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: Mountaineers, seafarers, astronauts, cyclists, hikers, divers, gliders, aviators -- and even the most famous and daring explorers of all time began their careers with small-scale adventures that gave them the courage and the ideas to pursue their greatest achievements.

With the publication of "How To Be An Explorer: Outdoor Skills and Know-How for Young Adventurers", Tiger Cox aims to give young people the know-how and confidence to get out and about -- with practical and fun tasks and activities, mini-adventures, rustic crafts and by telling some truly inspiring tales of real-life explorers. Throughout, Tiger gives us snippets and anecdotes from his own daring expeditions.

Including step-by-step activities like how to light a fire, cooking on a fire, foraging, building shelters, filtering water, tying knots and reading the clouds, children can learn basic bushcraft and survival techniques to practise over and over again. The unique craft activities (such as making wild maps, a racing raft and a kite) will spark creativity and encourage imaginative play.

Not just a valuable resource for learning practical skills, "How To Be An Explorer: Outdoor Skills and Know-How for Young Adventurers" will inspire dreams and show that they can come true with the right mindset, perseverance and resilience. Highly illustrated spreads dotted throughout introduce a selection of real-life historical adventurers, such as Amelia Earheart and Matthew Henson, and describe how they came to accomplish such jaw-dropping feats.

Critique: Truly exceptional and 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "How To Be An Explorer: Outdoor Skills and Know-How for Young Adventurers" is a 'real world' practical instructional guide and 'how to' manual for developing outdoor skills and enjoying crafts projects. Effectively designed to coax kids away from their screens and discover how to become intrepid explorers, "How To Be An Explorer: Outdoor Skills and Know-How for Young Adventurers" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Tiger Cox is a passionate outdoor enthusiast. He is the youngest member of the Fly Sussex paragliding team, based in Sussex, UK. Tiger has taken on many epic challenges. At age 13, he completed a sailing voyage from Sussex in the UK to the Caribbean on a wooden boat that his parents built. The final stage of the journey saw them sail across the Atlantic Ocean in under three weeks without sighting land or other ships. At age 18, he cycled 600 miles across France, wild camping all the way in a bivvy bag - despite having smashed his front teeth in his first training ride (by hitting a lamp post) but began the journey a week later anyway. He also competed in the 2015 world fireball (a racing sailing dinghy) championships in Wales.

Happy Laces
Sylvia Autorino Galombik, author
Bruno Carnaghi, illustrator
Independently Published
9780578344, $9.99

Young picture book readers who struggle with tying shoelaces will find much to love in Happy Laces, the rhyming story of a child who learns to tie his own shoelaces.

Protagonist Happy knows many things, from the alphabet to how to write his name. What he doesn't know is how to tie his shoes.

His desire to learn goes beyond putting on his own shoes: knots and tying can be used to put on other clothes, make a bow, or even fly kites.

A loving older sister, Bianca, offers Happy a unique solution that allows him to more easily absorb the complexities of the lace-tying routine. This is an engaging story for ages four to seven and the read-aloud adults interested in encouraging and teaching kids how to successfully perform this difficulty in dexterity.

The fun tale concludes with a practice sidebar on how readers and their guides can make and employ their own two-tone 'learning laces' with great success, making Happy Laces a fun and practical recommendation that adults will want to choose for any young person struggling with shoelaces.

Tilda Tries Again
Tom Percival
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547608225, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Tilda is a little girl who doesn't like change. Why would she, when her life is great just the way it is? But one day, Tilda's world turns completely UPSIDE DOWN. All of a sudden, everything is topsy-turvy, and nothing feels right. Things that were once easy now seem incredibly challenging. Everything is just so different and hard. Can Tilda discover a way to move forward and embrace all this change?

Critique: Charmingly illustrated with an empowering message about the value of self-esteem, "Tilda Tries Again" by author and illustrator Tom Percival is an inspiring picture book story about coping with unexpected changes is perfect for helping children build resilience. While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781526612991, $11.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.73), "Tilda Tries Again" is a welcome and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 3- 6.

Editorial Note: Tom Percival is a writer, artist, video producer and musician. He is also the author of many picture books for children, including Herman's Letter, Herman's Holiday, Bubble Trouble, By the Light of the Moon, and the Big Bright Feelings series, which includes Perfectly Norman, Ruby's Worry, Ravi's Roar and Meesha Makes Friends. Tom has his own website at and can be followed on Instagram @TomPercivalsays

The Social Issues Shelf

Goodnight Racism
Ibram X. Kendi, author
Cbabi Bayoc, illustrator
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593110515, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: As children all over the world get ready for bed, the moon watches over them. The moon knows that when we sleep, we dream. And when we dream, we imagine what is possible and what the world can be.

With dynamic, imaginative art by illustrator Cbabi Bayoc and poetic prose by author/storyteller Ibram X. Kendi, "Goodnight Racism" is a child's picture book that delivers important messages about antiracism, justice, and equality in an easy-to-read format that empowers young readers both big and small. "Goodnight Racism" gives children the language to dream of a better world and is the perfect book to add to their social justice toolkit.

Critique: Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Goodnight Racism" is a lively and thoroughly 'kid friendly' and entertaining social issues picture book on the subject of racism that is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: Ibram X. Kendi is the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. A professor of history and frequent public speaker, Kendi is a contributing writer at the Atlantic. He is also the author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, The Black Campus Movement, which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize, How to Be an Antiracist, and Antiracist Baby.

Editorial Note #2: Cbabi (pronounced Kuh-bob-bi) Bayoc is an internationally-known visual artist and illustrator residing in St. Louis, Missouri. His subjects include family, children, music designed with line, bold color and phunk! Cbabi spends his time working on a variety of projects, including portraits, community murals, school murals, and children's book illustrations. He has his own website and can be followed on Instagram @cbabi

The Education Shelf

Classroom Confidence: Georgie Dupree
Ceece Kelley, author
Chloe Guevara, illustrator
Soaring Kite Books
9781953859129, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Georgie Dupree is a little girl who loves learning -- but on her first day at her new school, she has worrisome thoughts about the school year: "What if I get lost? What if I don't make any friends? What if everyone is smarter than me?"

Inspired by her teacher's daily classroom affirmation, Georgie Dupree uses positive thinking to see, believe, and embrace her school year goals.

Critique: The sequel to "Drawn to Friends: Georgie Dupree" (9781953859075, $18.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 48pp) and "Sharing the Stage: Georgie Dupree" (9781953859310, $18.99 HC, 48pp) in the Georgie Dupree series "Classroom Confidence: Georgie Dupree" will help children and teachers start the school year on a strong note. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Classroom Confidence: Georgie Dupree" is very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 5-9.

Editorial Note #1: Growing up, Ceece Kelley had an active imagination. Now she enjoys bringing her literary visions to life and into the hands of young readers as an author.

Editorial Note #2: Although her studies were in the sciences, Chloe Guevara grew up with a love for the arts and the Georgie Dupree picture book series is her debut as a trade illustrator.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Rocket Ship Yoga
Bari Koral
c/o Mango Publishing
9781642508604, $16.95, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: Based on her hit Bari Koral yoga YouTube channel, "Rocket Ship Yoga: An Out-of-This-World Kids Yoga Journey for Breathing, Relaxing and Mindfulness" is comprised of her "Rocket Ship" lyrics and approachable kids yoga poses. Beautiful illustrations help guide children ages 3-8 through the poses, along with catchy lyrics that'll have them engaged with their bodies and minds. This will help boost to their physical balance, coordination and mindfulness in ways that only yoga can.

Calmness and mindfulness is achieved through breathing exercises as "Rocket Ship Yoga" helps children learn how to practice mindfulness to calm their minds and manage their body and emotions. Practicing mindfulness helps children better manage their stress -- and find joy and happiness in life's simplicity. It should be noted that a number of schools have adopted Koral's yoga and mindfulness practices to help children deal with stress across the country, and now, with the publication of" "Rocket Ship Yoga" any parent, caregiver or teacher can too.

Critique: Exceptionally 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, and highly recommended as a unique addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library children's exercise and fitness collections, "Rocket Ship Yoga: An Out-of-This-World Kids Yoga Journey for Breathing, Relaxing and Mindfulness" by popular children and family recording artist and globally recognized kids' yoga educator Bari Koral is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Bari Koral is an E-RYT 200 and RCYT through Yoga Alliance. She is a top trainer at NAEYC and has been featured at many state and national conferences. She has over 250,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 100 million views. Her last mindfulness webinar for Kaplan, "Happy and Calm," was watched by over 10,000 teachers. Her website is located at

The Biography Shelf

Becoming Beatrix
Amy M. O'Quinn
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781641604406, $18.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: Peter Rabbit, Hunca Munca, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle-Duck, generations of readers are now familiar with the animal characters created by British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. But she was so much more than a painter of watercolor bunnies in little blue jackets or ducks waddling about in bonnets and shawls. She was also a natural scientist, mycologist, environmentalist, preservationist, farmer, and expert sheep breeder.

Beatrix Potter was a woman ahead of her time, making her own decisions and handling her own business affairs despite living in a Victorian society that was unaccustomed to unmarried women doing so.

"Becoming Beatrix: The Life of Beatrix Potter and the World of Peter Rabbit" covers Potter's early life and influences, artistic work, fascination with animals and the natural sciences, and interest and research in fungi, as well as her writing and illustration journey and her later years as a wife, farmer, businesswoman, and conservationist.

Critique: Nicely illustrated with black-and-white historical photos, "Becoming Beatrix: The Life of Beatrix Potter and the World of Peter Rabbit" by Amy M. O'Quinn is exceptionally well written, impressively informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation. Very highly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library biography collections for young readers ages 8-12, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Becoming Beatrix: The Life of Beatrix Potter and the World of Peter Rabbit" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.49).

Editorial Note: Amy M. O'Quinn is the author of Marie Curie for Kids and Nikola Tesla for Kids, published by Chicago Review Press. Amy is also a speaker, educational copywriter, and educator with over 32 years of combined teaching experience in both traditional classroom and homeschool settings. Her work has appeared in many children's, regional, educational, and inspirational publications, in anthologies, and on various websites. Her goal is to make history and science come alive for young readers. She has her own website at:

Harriet's Ruffled Feathers
Joy McCullough, author
Remina Galotta, illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534486768, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Harriet Lawrence Hemenway loved hats. She loved them with ribbons and flowers, embroidery and pearls. And feathers! What was better than a hat with grand, glorious feathers? But then Harriet discovered that millions of birds died so that she and her friends could soar at the height of style. A passion for fashion was one thing, but this was feather-brained!

So Harriet led the charge to take feathers out of fashion, getting laws passed that made it illegal to buy or sell wild bird feathers. In 1896, she and her fellow bird protectors founded the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which grew into a national organization that still protects birds today!

Of special note is that additional information about conservation can be found in the backmatter of "Harriet's Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds".

Critique: Charmingly illustrated throughout with the distinctive artwork of Romina Galotta, "Harriet's Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds" by author and biographer Joy McCullough is a unique and very special addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book biography collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that "Harriet's Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Joy McCullough is the author of the middle grade novels Across the Pond, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and Not Starring Zadie Louise and the picture book Champ and Major: First Dogs. Her debut novel Blood Water Paint was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist. She has her own website at

Editorial Note #2: Romina Galotta is an illustrator residing in Buenos Aires, Argentina who prefers traditional mediums such as watercolors, pencils, and gouache. She has illustrated several books, including Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth and Harriet's Ruffled Feathers by Joy McCullough. She also has her own website at

The Picturebook Shelf

Somewhere, Right Now
Kerry Docherty, author
Suzie Mason, illustrator
Flamingo Books
9780593350492, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When Alma is experiencing the lows of unexpected disappointment, her mom offers her the wise advice that she just might feel better if she closes her eyes and pictures something beautiful that's happening in nature.

Inspired by the current pandemic, "Somewhere, Right Now" by author/storyteller Kerry Docherty and artist/illustrator Suzie Mason is a relevant but timeless reminder that somewhere in the world something beautiful is happening. Maybe it's a baby whale being born, or perhaps it's the sun coming out on a cloudy day; right now our resilient world is making something incredible happen.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Somewhere, Right Now" is Kerry Docherty's debut as a children's picture book author, and with her charmingly presented message that even with all the trouble going on in the world, there is also something lovely, something beautiful, something worthwhile, going on as well. While very highly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-5, "Somewhere, Right Now" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Kerry Docherty is a founder and Chief Impact Officer of Faherty Brand, a lifestyle clothing brand centered on sustainability, craft, and community. Prior to starting Faherty, her background was in law, human rights, and mindfulness. She's passionate about using creativity and community as a tool to cultivate joy.

Editorial Note #2: Suzie Mason has drawn over twenty picture books, including "Today". From her little English cottage, she is constantly inspired by the beauty of the natural world around her and delights in creating happy, colorful artwork.

Peanut the Penguin
Aruna M. Lepore, author/illustrator
Bold Story Press
9781954805064, $14.40 (Amazon), PB, 38pp

Synopsis: "Peanut the Penguin" by author and illustrator Aruna M. Lepore is the picture book story of a little penguin who has a very special gift in the form of a beautiful singing voice. He wants to use this gift to sing to the other penguins that live on the shore. But when Peanut only sings at night, he wakes the penguins, and instead of making them happy, he makes them annoyed. Little Peanut must find a way to make himself and everyone else happy!

Critique: An impressively original, entirely entertaining and very highly recommended picture book for children ages 4-8, "Peanut the Penguin" will prove to be an enduringly welcome addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Peanut the Penguin" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Artist and children's book author Aruna M. Lepore is also a teacher at the Garrett Park Nursery School. She has her own website at and can be followed on Twitter at

Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye
Claude Ponti, author/illustrator
Alyson Waters, translator
Margot Kerlidou, translator
Elsewhere Editions
Archipelago Books
9781953861184, $20.00, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: From one of the world's most beloved children's book authors and illustrators comes "Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye", a picture book story of a high-spirited flock of friends building an unusual birthday cake.

A rabble of soft, golden "chicklets" are awoken one morning to a startling proclamation: they only have ten short days to prepare for their best friend Bertha Daye's party. It's time to get to work building a larger-than-life castle cake to house and feed the revelers.

Made of chocolate scooped out of chocolate mines, "finer than fairy dust" flour from the hillsides, and fruit carried down twigs and stems in the forest, this will be the best (and kookiest) cake of all time.

Oodles of distinctive chicklets fill every page, scurrying, fluttering, napping, tumbling, helping, and getting up to no good. When the party day arrives, guests pour into the pastry palace, many of them unmistakable characters from iconic stories' past, offering a marvelous who's-who of story-book history.

Critique: An oversized volume (10.9 x 0.43 x 15 inches, 1.25 pounds), "Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye" by author and illustrator Claude Ponti is ideal for classroom story telling and a popular addition to elementary school and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-9. Ably translated into English for American children by the team of Alyson Waters and Margot Kerlidou, "Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Claude Ponti is a French illustrator and children's author known for his inventive and playful use of words and the symbolic nature of his illustrations. His first book, L'Album d'Adele, written for his newborn daughter, already displays the associative and dream-like presentation of children's interior lives that characterizes many of his works. Ponti was awarded the 2006 Sorcieres Special prize for his contribution to literature.

My Butt is SO SILLY!
Dawn McMillan, author
Ross Kinnaird, illustrator
Dover Publications, Inc.
9780486849768, $8.99, PB, 32pp

Synopsis: Everyone's favorite character from I Need a New Butt!, I Broke My Butt!, and My Butt is So Noisy! is back in "My Butt is SO SILLY!", an hilarious new picture book story about a silly butt that won't stop moving!

With the publication of "My Butt is SO SILLY!", the talented New Zealand duo of children's author/storyteller Dawn McMillan and artist/illustrator Ross Kinnaird have created another delightful, laugh-out-loud tale of a bothersome backside that leads to all kinds of amusing adventures.

Critique: A fun, lively, and entertaining read from the first page to the last, "My Butt is SO SILLY!" will have a very special appeal to young readers ages 6-10. This paperback edition of "My Butt is SO SILLY!" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library humorous picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Dawn McMillan writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and storybooks for children. She is also the author of Woolly Wally and Holy Socks. Dover also publishes her collaborations with illustrator Ross Kinnaird including everyone's favorite character, the boy with the troublesome backside from bestsellers I Need a New Butt!, I Broke My Butt!, and now, My Butt is SO NOISY! Additional Dover publications include Doctor Grundy's Undies and Seagull Sid and the Naughty Things His Seagulls Did!

Editorial Note #2: In addition to his collaborations with Dawn McMillan, Ross Kinnaird has illustrated such children's books as 50 Body Questions and the animated poem "Smaller," winner of the People's Choice Award at the World Parkinson Congress.

Wake, Sleepy One
Lisa Kerr, author
Lisa Powell Braun, illustrator
West Margin Press
9781513128689, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Children will delight in following the golden poppy's journey as it slowly wakes inside its seed, stretches its roots, and unfolds its delicate petals. They will be in awe as "Wake, Sleepy One: California Poppies and the Super Bloom" follows the transformation of the land into an ocean of orange -- the amazing "super bloom!

Critique: A lyrical, elegant, and eloquent tribute to one of California's most treasured wildflowers, "Wake, Sleepy One: California Poppies and the Super Bloom" is a treasured picture book story by author Lisa Kerr and artist/illustrator Lisa Powell Braun that beautifully and elegantly captures the quiet strength of the poppy in all its breathtaking and deftly illustrated wonder. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library nature, flowers, environment and ecology picture book collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wake, Sleepy One: California Poppies and the Super Bloom" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Lisa Kerr is a children's book author, playwright, educator, and essayist whose work has been featured in magazines and publications including Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Bustle, and more.

Editorial Note #2: Lisa Powell Braun is a graphic designer, illustrator, hand letterer, and pattern designer whose clients include Rodale Press, Kappa Publishing, Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, and Crane's Stationery.

The Littlest Airplane
Brooke Hartman, author
John Joseph, illustrator
Alaska Northwest Books
9781513128641, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: At a landing strip in the far north of Alaska, a little bush plane watches quietly as bigger, stronger, faster planes take off for adventure. But when a storm hits and hikers are stranded on the mountain, who will come to the rescue? Told in rhyming verse by author/storyteller Brooke Hartman and featuring the bright illustrations artist John Joseph, "The Littlest Airplane" soars high with heart and excitement.

Critique: Charming, entertaining, and original, "The Littlest Airplane" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Littlest Airplane" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Brooke Hartman is an award-winning author of children's books, including Dream Flights on Arctic Nights, which was included in Children's Book Review's Best Picture Books of 2019 list. The daughter of a plane mechanic and the wife of a pilot, Brooke loves aviation and all types of planes, especially the little bush plane.

Editorial Note #2: John Joseph is an artist, illustrator, elementary school art teacher, and community leader. He has won the ACP Excellence in Publishing Award for Best Picture book and has illustrated for several children's books, including Chickens on the Loose.

Juna and Appa
Jane Park, author
Felicia Hoshino, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781643792279, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: The sequel to author/storyteller Jane Park and artist/illustrator Felicia Hoshino's award-winning picture book "Juna's Jar", comes "Juna and Appa" -- a new magical tale where a little girl names Juna embarks on a journey to help her biggest hero -- her Appa!

Juna enjoys helping her father in their dry-cleaning shop on Saturdays. It's their special time together. One day Juna sees a customer yelling at Appa about a lost jacket. Juna has never seen her father look so worried and becomes determined to help. She sets off on a magical journey in search of the jacket, and along the way meets remarkable animals that show her the different ways that fathers care for their young.

Critique: An original and quite tender ode to fathers and to the many families working behind shop counters, "Juna and Appa" is a beautiful picture book story that is as charming as it is entertaining for children ages 4-7. Of special interest for readers with an interest in child/parent feelings and emotions, "Juna and Appa" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jane Park (formerly Jane Bahk) won Lee & Low's New Voices Award for Juna's Jar, which was also recognized with the Asian/Pacific American Library Association Award for Literature and as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Literacy Association. The story of "Juna and Appa" was inspired by her memories of growing up in her family's dry-cleaning shop. She has a website of her own at

Editorial Note #2: Felicia Hoshino is an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer who also illustrated Lee & Low's Juna's Jar, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, and Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin. In addition to creating mixed-media images for children's books and magazines, she also has a website at

Uncle John's City Garden
Bernette G. Ford, author
Frank Morrison, illustrator
Holiday House
9780823447862, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Visiting the city from her home in the suburbs, an African American girl sees how a few packets of seeds, some helping hands, and hard work transform an empty lot in a housing project into a magical place where vegetables grow and family gathers. It's the magic of nature in the heart of the city!

"Uncle John's City Garden" is author Bernette Ford's autobiographical picture book story giving young readers a loving glimpse at a girl, her siblings, and her uncle, and their shared passion for farming.

L'l Sissy's fascination with measurement, comparison, and estimation introduces children to STEM concepts. And the progress of Uncle John's garden introduces readers to the life cycle of plants.

Critique: Impressively illustrated with dramatic cityscapes as well as the luscious colors and textures of Nature, "Uncle John's City Garden" is an original, entertaining, informative and inspiring picture book story for children ages 4-8. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Uncle John's City Garden" is an especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library African- American, Gardening, and City Life picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Bernette Ford is the co-author of the ground-breaking "Bright Eyes, Brown Skin". She is also author of the Ballet Kitty series, "No More Diapers for Ducky", and for "Holiday House", and "First Snow". She is highly regarded in the children's book community, and particularly in the African American children's book community. Uncle John's City Garden, inspired by her uncle's urban garden and is her first book with Holiday House.

Editorial Note #2: Before becoming a children's book illustrator, Frank Morrison was a graffiti artist and break dancer. While on tour in Europe, he visited the Louvre, where paintings by the Masters inspired him to take his art in a new direction. Frank has won a Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe Award, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Society of Illustrators Original Art Silver Medal. "Uncle John's City Garden" is his first book for Holiday House.

Little Wonder
Claire Keane
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781797208121, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: "Little Wonder" by author/illustrator Claire Keane is about a mama's wishes for her brave Little Wonder. A love letter from a mother to her little boy accompanies him on a journey of unbelievable fantasies. It's a day full of breathtaking adventures, exciting twists and turns, and unexpected friends. With an imagination stronger than the tide and a mama's love deeper than the ocean, Little Wonder can do anything he believes he can. -- And he will!

Critique: With a gorgeous marine setting, combined with a gentle, reassuring narration will resonate with parents, grandparents, and children alike, and with the universal appeal of undersea adventures setting all imaginations on fire, parents and caregivers will be attracted to how "Little Wonder" promotes an encouragement of open-mindedness and a determination in the face of uncertainty. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.51), "Little Wonder" is an ideal and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-5.

Editorial Note: Claire Keane studied graphic design at Ecole Superieure d'Arts Graphiques in Paris, France, where she lived for eight years, until she moved to Los Angeles to work at Walt Disney Animation Studios. During her ten-year tenure there, she designed for Tangled, Frozen, Enchanted, and other films. In 2013, she left to dedicate her time to creating her own stories and to work on various book and animation collaborations at her studio in Venice Beach, California. Now, she is the author and illustrator of many books for kids, including "Once Upon a Cloud", "Love Is", and "Why?".

Sunny the Sideloader
Anne Jordan, author/illustrator
Louise Jordan, author/illustrator
Hereford House
9781737443001, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Synopsis: There's a new truck in town! In an original picture book by author/illustrators Anne and Louise Jordan, children will enjoy following along with a recycling truck named Sunny the Sideloader, on his very first day at his very first job. He joins a group of colorful, hardworking trucks called the Clean Machines. When Sunny accidentally makes a big mess, he worries his new friends won't like him. But they work together as a team, and soon the town is clean and green!

Critique: Original, charming, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation and with a welcome message about the value of cooperation, "Sunny the Sideloader" is a fun and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 2-7.

Wolf Girl
Jo Loring-Fisher
Francis Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711249578, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Sophy is a shy little girl who struggles to fit in in the outside world. She is happiest at home, playing in her wolf suit in her den. It makes her feel strong like a wolf, fierce like a wolf, and maybe even a little bit brave like a wolf.

She loves her suit so much she decides to wear it to school one day, but it doesn't go well. She tries to talk at school but the words get stuck in her throat and everyone laughs and whispers behind her back. But one day, an extraordinary thing happens...

Sophy is whisked away to a magical snowy land where she meets a wolf and her cub. The unlikely trio roll, run and howl together, playing happily in the snow. Sophy has found friends and nothing can ruin her day -- until a big, angry bear appears. But Sophy finally finds her voice and finds the courage she's been looking for all along.

Critique: "Wolf Girl" by Jo Loring-Fisher is a beautifully told and enchantingly illustrated picture book story with the underlying themes of overcoming the isolating feeling of being shy, finding friends and most importantly, finding your voice. A fun and original read from first page to last, "Wolf Girl" is especially recommended as an addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture collections for children ages 5-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wolf Girl" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780711249585, $10.95) and in digital book format (Kindle, $9.43).

Editorial Note: Jo Loring-Fisher is a British author and illustrator based in Bath, England. Jo's work is published by Quarto, Otter-Barry Books and Lantana Publishing. Jo's books explore sensitive issues gently for children and are often inspired by the natural world. She is the author of Taking Time (2021 Lantana Publishing) and Just Like You, (2021 Otter-Barry Books) which was nominated for the 2022 CILIP Kate Greenaway Prize. Jo is also the illustrator of Rainbow Hands, written by Mamta Nainy (Lantana Publishing), which publishes in the US in April 2022 and UK June 2022 and Maisie's Scrapbook, written by Samuel Narh (Lantana Publishing) in 2019.

The Legend of the Storm Goose
Fiona Halliday, author/illustrator
Page Street Kids
c/o Page Street Publishing
9781645673484, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: With his great sheltering wings and crown of stars that lights the Scottish skies, Erin knows the heroic Storm Goose from her favorite legend will always guide Papa home from sea. But when a terrible storm strikes, it's not Papa that comes ashore, but an injured white bird. Over the next few weeks, Erin helps the Storm Goose heal in hopes he can save Papa, but comes to accept that Papa will never come home and must instead oversee the Storm Goose's triumphant return to the skies to save other sailors. But first, in a twist both heart-wrenching and inspiring, the legendary bird saves her from her grief.

Critique: Set against sweeping seaside landscapes of the Shetland Islands, "The Legend of the Storm Goose" by artist and storyteller Fiona Halliday is compassionate picture book tale that subtly guides its readers through the stages of grief and shines a light on the healing power of stories. Thoroughly 'child friendly' with respect to dealing with the sensitive subject of death and dying, "The Legend of the Storm Goose" is an important and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note: Fiona Halliday studied at Edinburgh University, earning a First Degree in English Literature in 2004 and a Master in Photojournalism in 2006. As a journalist and photographer her work was published in a variety of British publications including: Wild Travel, Heritage Magazine, Birdwatching Monthly, the Independent on Sunday, Country Walking, amongst others. Fiona especially enjoyed the wildlife shoots that took her to remote landscapes: The great gannet colonies of Shetland, the threatened birdlife in the Faroes, whale watching in Iceland, and the great crane migration across the Hungarian steppes. Fiona was also a contributing photographer to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' photo library. Her love of wildlife, and of the outdoors, is ever present in her unique and beautiful illustrations.

This Is (Not) Enough
Anna Kang, author
Christopher Weyant, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542018517, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Two friends are excited about getting presents for each other. But when they try to find just the right gift, nothing seems good enough. From skywriting to painting to gardens, each thing they try ends up feeling just a little off. How will they ever find that special gift?

With humor and heart, the purple and orange characters from "This Is (Not) Enough" by the team of author/storyteller Anna Kang and artist/illustrator Christopher Weyant discover that what makes a gift special isn't necessarily what's inside the box!

Critique: Charming, original, and thoroughly fun from first page to last, "This Is (Not) Enough" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Is (Not) Enough" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: The wife and husband team of Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That's (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, We Are (Not) Friends, and It Is (Not) Perfect. They also wrote and illustrated Christopher Award winner Eraser, Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher's work can also be seen in The New Yorker and the Boston Globe and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. Each of them has their own website at: and

Hard Times for Unicorn
Mickael El Fathi, author
Charlotte Molas, illustrator
Tate Publishing
c/o Harry N. Abrams
195 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10007
9781849767422, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: After being caught by an explorer, the last unicorn goes on a search to find out what makes her happy. She tries her hoof at playing cards and a spot of dueling. She even performs stunts at the circus!

"Hard Times for Unicorn" follows the lively course that this unfortunate but very game unicorn takes in a vibrant and playful journey to find happiness. Young readers ages 5-7 can expect surprises and delights in this fast-paced page-turner of a picture book, and will enjoy an unconventional take on the traditional unicorn theme.

From finding stardom to fishing in the cold north seas, what really did happen to the last of the unicorns, and will she ever be happy?

Critique: Original, clever, fun, and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library children's picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hard Times for Unicorn" by the team of author/storyteller Mickael El Fathi and artist/illustrator Charlotte Molas is also readily available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781849767705, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Mickael Elfathi has a website at and Charlotte Molas has a website at

One, Two, Grandma Loves You
Shelly Becker, author
Dan Yaccarino, illustrator
Abram Appleseed
c/o Harry N. Abrams
195 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10007
9781419742187, $16.99, HC, 24pp

Synopsis: One, two, Grandma loves you. / Three, four, visit more. / Five, six, precious pics. / Seven, eight, mark the date.

In "One, Two, Grandma Loves You" by author/storyteller Shelly Becker and artist/illustrator Dan Yaccarino, a young girl and her grandmother count up to their next visit and then do all of their favorite things together in a joyful and rhyming picture book.

Critique: A delightful and fun read for children ages 3-5, "One, Two, Grandma Loves You" is an extraordinary, unique, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "One, Two, Grandma Loves You" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.62).

Editorial Note #1: Shelly Becker is the author of Even Superheroes Make Mistakes, Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, and Mine! Mine! Mine!, which has been included on many Top Five and Top Ten lists of books that teach the concept of sharing. She has her own website at:

Editorial Note #2: Dan Yaccarino is the internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of more than 50 books for children, most notably Doug Unplugged, Unlovable, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, and Every Friday. Yaccarino also created and produced the animated series Doug Unplugs, Oswald, and Willa's Wild Life. Yaccarino's work has been recognized by a host of prestigious awards, including the Bologna Ragazzi, the New York Times 10 Best Illustrated, ALA Notable, and the Parent's Choice Award. More than 2.5 million of his books have been sold to date. He has a website at

Rocket Red: A Little Ant with a Big Dream
Cheryl DaVeiga & Dave Gibson
Waterhole Productions LTD
9781736395141, $15.11 Hardcover/$12.99 Paperback/$3.99 ebook

Rocket Red: A Little Ant with a Big Dream is a joyful, whimsical picture book exploration of an ant that becomes a rock star against all odds.

His good friend, Beebop Bea the honeybee, believes in his talents and enthusiastically supports them.

Artist Remesh Ram interprets Cheryl DaVeiga & Dave Gibson's story with a series of images that read-aloud parents and kids will find delightful, colored with the adventure and personalities of the story.

Not everyone appreciates Rocket's drive to achieve a different kind of life. As he eschews ordinary tasks that divert him from his love of music and his real objectives, youngsters receive enlightening passages about goal-setting and creativity: "His plans did not include scouting around for someone's leftover lunch and dragging it up a hill. Red had fantasies of making it big, like his heroes, the Beetles."

As he faces new adversity in the form of Mr. Big and Mean and new opportunities that come from his music and sharing its messages, young readers receive a delightful adventure that centers on friendship and interactive fun.

Kids who enjoy looking for hidden clues will find the invitation to count the red ants and search for the hidden Beebop Bea in each scene to be an added, fun value to the lessons on creative problem-solving and how music can bring even the most diverse populations together.

Adults looking for a vivid read-aloud story filled with action, adventure, and insights will consider Rocket Red: A Little Ant with a Big Dream an outstanding representation of positivity and community-building efforts which move from a little ant's big dreams to the bigger process of embracing diversity in the world.

Eighteen Vats of Water
Ji-Li Jiang, author
Nadia Hsieh, illustrator
Creston Books
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781954354067, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: As long as he can remember, Xian has wanted to be a great calligrapher, like his father. When he turns six, he's finally old enough to start studying. Calligraphy is more than writing - it's painting - and Xian learns how much work and creativity go into what look like effortless strokes.

Based on stories still told about Xian and his father, famous calligraphers of the 4th century, "Eighteen Vats of Water" by the team of author/storyteller Ji-Li Jiang and artist/illustrator Nadia Hsieh is about determination, creativity, and learning how to see, as well as the importance of family traditions.

Critique: With truly elegant illustrations in full support of an inherently interesting and original picture book story, "Eighteen Vats of Water" is a truly memorable and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 7-11.

Editorial Note #1: Ji-li Jiang is the author of Red Scarf Girl, an award-winning bestseller based on her memories of surviving the Cultural Revolution in China. She has since written picture books featuring Chinese folklore and history.

Editorial Note #2: Nadia Hsieh uses art to tell stories. Her previous book, Eighteen Vats of Water, told a traditional slice of Chinese history. In Picnic Planet, she literally takes us out of this world.

The Katha Chest
Radhiah Chowdhury, author
Lavanya Naidu, illustrator
Salaam Press
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781760524326, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Asiya loves to visit Nanu's house where she can rummage through Nanu's katha chest filled with quilts. There are stories in each of the quilts that her Nanu has collected through the years, all about the bold and brave women in Asiya's family. Among all of the games and exciting things at Nanu's house, Asiya thinks these hidden histories are the grandest treasure.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated with the impressive artistry of Lavanya Naidu, this original and entertaining story by children's author Radhiah Chowdhury will prove to be an enduringly favorite addition to family, day care center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Radhiah Chowdhury grew up at the mercy of a highly enthusiastic children's librarian. She has been an avid lover of books ever since and is passionate about stories that reflect all the magnificent different facets and experiences of a community and has been an advocate for representative publishing in her work as both an editor and an author. She's also the author of the picture book Jumble.

Editorial Note #2: Born and raised in Kolkata, India, and currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, Lavanya Naidu is an animator, designer, and award-winning children's book illustrator. Her work has most recently been featured at the Asian Festival of Children's Content as a selection for their Digital Gallery 2020.

Who Stole My Leg?
Jose Carlos Andres, author
Myriam Cameros Sierra, illustrator
9788417673659, $16.99, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: All the boat's crew are afraid of Grislygrin, the fearsome pirate. When they hear the knock, knock, knock of his wooden leg they run to hide. But, what would happen if one day someone changed the wooden leg for a rubber duck? Hilarious consequences await the once terrified crew!

Critique: An original, funny, and beautifully illustrated picture book by the team of author/storyteller Jose Carlos Andres and artist/illustrator Myriam Cameros Sierra, "Who Stole My Leg?" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library picture book collections and personal reading lists for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Jose Carlos Andres is fascinated by writing, because it allows him to create new worlds full of laughter and emotions. He has published theatre plays for children and families, a theatre guide, storytelling, theatre art and clowning for all ages, and of course, stories for picture books.

Editorial Note #2: Myriam Cameros Sierra studied at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, where she came into contact with the world of illustration, comics and animation. From that moment on she decided to dedicate herself to illustration in all its facets. Today she combines her work as an illustrator with teaching, addressing the need for critical visual literacy in a world surrounded by images.

Before the World Wakes
Estelle Laure, author
Paola Zakimi, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542028837, $17.99, 32pp, 40pp

Synopsis: When everything is still gentle and quiet-ish and the stars say good morning at the same time they say good night, a brother and sister venture outside. They marvel at the dance of the snails and the birdsong that surrounds them. And then they join in, reveling in the early morning -- and their time together before the rest of the world wakes.

Critique: With lyrical language by author/storyteller Estelle Laure and beautiful artwork by illustrator Paola Zakimi, "Before the World Wakes" fully captures the magic of daybreak, the importance of small moments, and the special bond between siblings. While a very special and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Before the World Wakes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note #1: Estelle Laure is the author of six young adult novels, including This Raging Light, Mayhem, Remember Me, and the City of Villains series, and the picture book The Perfect Pet for You, illustrated by Amy Hevron. She has a website at

Editorial Note #2: Paola Zakimi is the illustrator of Secrets I Know by Kallie George, Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt, The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains by Annie Silvestro, and Ruby's Sword by Jacqueline Viessid. She is also a doll maker and fine artist and lives in Argentina. She also has her own website at

Finding Moose
Sue Farrell Holler, author
Jennifer Faria, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772782448, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Finding Moose" by author/storyteller Sue Farrell Holler and artist/illustrator Jennifer Faria is a thoughtful picture book tale of a young boy and his grandfather taking a walk through the woods and all the creatures and plants they encounter.

Walking as "quiet as mice and rabbits and deer" the two of them come upon fresh moose droppings and set out to find the moose itself. They discover the branches where the moose ate breakfast, greet a chipmunk and goose, and inspect rosehips and pussy willows, but the moose is nowhere to be found. Finally, after accepting that they will have to try again next time, the boy and his grandfather head home -- only to be met with a big surprise!

Critique: Providing an inherently fascinating glimpse into the wondrous world of nature through the eyes of a curious child, "Finding Moose" is a thoughtful and entertaining picture book that is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: Sue Farrell Holler is the Governor General's Award-nominated author of the YA novel Cold White Sun as well as the middle-grade novel Lacey and the African Grandmothers and several picture books, including Raven, Rabbit, Deer. Sue grew up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where she wrote avidly to more than a hundred pen pals across North America. She maintains a website at

Editorial Note #2: Jennifer Faria is an illustrator, painter, and graphic designer who studied at Central Technical School and George Brown College in Toronto. While illustrating the grandfather in Raven, Rabbit, Deer and its sequel, Finding Moose, Jennifer drew inspiration from her maternal great-uncle, of whom she has warm memories. Similar to the boy in these stories, the picture books have been a walk of discovery for Jennifer as she learns more about her cultural heritage as a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.

The Hair Book
Latonya Yvette & Amanda Jane Jones
Union Square Kids/Sterling
9781454944324, $14.99

The Hair Book appears in both paper-over-board and board book formats to illustrate different types of hair. A very simple text and colorful graphic art captures Afros, hijab-covered hair, wavy hair, and all kinds of hair on all kinds of people. The easy text and visual explorations of hair will delight adults seeking simple titles that help identify, celebrate, and illustrate differences among people.

Nobody Owns the Moon
Tohby Riddle
Berbay Publishing
9780994384195, $17.99

Nobody Owns the Moon takes a walk on the whimsical side of picture book stories and presents the idea that the fox is "one of the only wild creatures in the world that can successfully make a life for itself in cities." The fox in this story, Clive Pendergast, enjoys the trappings of human urban living because he is "quick-witted and able to eat a variety of foods." He lives in a one-room apartment in town, working in a factory during the day and "getting up to more foxy things" at night. The fun story of animals in the big city takes a different, unexpected turn as it describes Clive's friendship with Humphrey the donkey, who struggles with employment, often lives on the streets, and is less successful than his foxy friend. A fine story of friendship, differences, and urban living evolves, highly recommended for its unique approaches to all these themes.

Only One
Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink
Anne Schwartz Books
c/o Random House
9780399557033, $17.99

Only One starts with one concept and moves to explore the nature of the universe and the big bang that created it. As a child narrator explores the vastness of space, stars, and astronomy, using vivid explorations and language designed to both educate and captivate, adults will find Only One the perfect medium for introducing young picture book readers to astronomy and Earth science. Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink create connections between bigger-picture thinking of the wide universe and the personal inspections of a child's place in this milieu: "Though where are seven billion of us, we are each unique..." It's the perfect introduction to a child's place in the universe, and will encourage dialogue between adults and kids interested in exploring diversity and the unique presence of individuals in the cosmos.

Random House/Knopf

Two new picture books will attract elementary-level readers and library collections seeking superior and different themes for leisure readers and students alike.

Kate Hannigan's Blips on a Screen (9780593306710, $17.99) presents the picture book biography of Ralph Baer, who invented TV video gaming. Fun illustrations by Zachariah Ohora accompany the detailed story of Baer's family history, his innovative tinkering, and how his early idea and a blip on a screen resulted in games that would change television forever.

Alone Like Me by Rebecca Evans (9780593181928, $17.99) tells of Liling, who has just moved to the big city to spend her days with her mother and grandmother, who work at factory jobs. Liling feels quite alone in this new world, and faces prejudice from urban kids who tease her and tell her to go back to her farm. A smiling girl might change everything...if Liling can find her again. A fine story of hope, friendship, and tackling bullies and prejudice emerges in a gentle story that read-aloud parents will appreciate.

Penguin Putnam

A series of new picture books provide young leisure readers with explorations that entertain as well as educate.

Dave Keane and Rahele Jomepour Bell's The Treasure Box (9781984913183, $17.99) tells of a weekly bond of experience between a grandparent and grandchild as they search for and collect treasures from the world together, from snake skins to human creations. All these go into a secret box for the future. When her grandpa becomes too sick to go exploring and then dies, the grandchild grieves for him and their lost, shared tradition until an unexpected change leads her to realize that she hasn't lost the memory of bonding with him. Parents can use The Treasure Box to impart a valuable lesson not just on grief and recovery, but sharing quality time with adults.

Anna Dewdney's Everything Will Be OK (9780593206638, $18.99) features whimsical, fun drawings by Judy Schachner as it explores one rough day in the life of a little bunny. Nothing seems to be going right, and every problem seems big, no matter what its original size. Bunny faces the world with fear, but eventually learns that it can contain much more in this fun, rhyming picture book story of adversity, perception, and fostering positivity.

Monica Carnesi's There's a Lion in the Forest! (9780399167010, $17.99) tells of an impossibility. Lions don't reside in tropical forests. And yet, the growls and glimpses of a lion seem to say otherwise to forest animals that live in terror of the unknown. A lovely rhyme about these possibilities and animals that jump to the wrong conclusion accents a story that will lend particularly well to read-aloud with its animal sounds and important message about fear and reality.

Rachel Tomlinson's A Blue Kind of Day (9780593324011, $17.99) pairs lovely illustrations by Tori-Jay Mordey with an intimate view of child Coen's experience with a " kind of day...It was a slumping, sighing, sobbing kind of day." Parents will want to choose this as a read-aloud interactive opportunity to explore depression and solutions to "muddled-up, blue feelings" as the story unfolds with a variety of proposals to mitigate the impact of sadness.

Gianna Marino's Waiting for Mama (9780425290705, $17.99) takes place on a cold Antarctic winter day, when a baby penguin awaits its mother. A very simple story captures this feeling of a beloved parent's absence, as well as a little chick's experience of the Antarctic and his acknowledgment that "Papa misses Mama. Just like I do." The Antarctic and penguin worlds come alive with glowing, colorful drawings and a simple portrait of the world from a little chick's point of view.

Elizabeth Partridge's Parks for the People: How Frederick Law Olmsted Designed America (9781984835154, $17.99) receives fine drawings by Becca Stadtlander as it surveys the life and vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, who used his goal of making the United States a better place for everyone by fostering parks and their attraction to all people. This biography about his realizations and efforts to promote parks as an all-inclusive respite teaches kids about how one man virtually redesigned America, presenting the story in a picture book format to attract early elementary grade readers with its lively biography. These are fine library additions that picture book leisure readers will learn from.

Advanced elementary to middle grade readers will find Paul Acampora's In Honor of Broken Things (9781984816641, $17.99) an appealing story of three friends who meet during art class and become artists against all odds. Oscar, Ellie, and Noah come from very different backgrounds. Each is confused about their lives, albeit in different ways. Art brings them together and helps them foster new insights about themselves and each other; especially the psychic scars they bear from adversities that have changed the trajectory of their lives. In Honor of Broken Things's involving story of interconnected experiences and art makes for a truly thought provoking and entertaining read.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
4035 Park East Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Five new picture books are strong recommendations for libraries seeking titles that stand out from the crowd in various ways.

Guridi's It's So Difficult (9780802855848, $17.99) tells of a child overwhelmed by a the noise and busy atmosphere of a typical school day. In such an assaulting environment, even saying "hello" can be a big deal. Can the overstimulation of school be overcome? A fine story teaches kids about noise and getting through the day.

I'll Say Goodbye by Pam Zollman (9780802854995, $17.99) tells of beach days with an uncle that is shared by a niece until Uncle Mike begins to spend more time at a hospital. The child is too young to understand illness, but comes to better comprehend the issues by the story's end, making for an evocative story that receives gentle and attractive illustrations by Frances Ives.

The Writer by Davide Cali and Monica Barengo (9780802855855, $17.99) will appeal to picture book readers who enjoy dog stories, and surveys the duties of a French bulldog who encourages his human writer in various ways. The survey of how dogs contribute to lives and human efforts will appeal to pet-loving children.

Amanda Cley and Cecilia Ferri's The Pack (9780802855879, $17.99) receives fine illustrations by Cecilia Ferri as it tells of group and individual efforts and the importance of breaking free of a pack to home separate interests. It does so with a story about what happens when a human child wears wolf's clothing, and incorporates lessons on peer pressure and identity which will best be discussed with adults who choose this different story for its read-aloud value.

Carmen Tafolla's I'll Always Come Back To You (9780802854520, $17.99) receives engaging, fun drawings by Grace Zong as it surveys what happens when a loved one leaves home. A working mother's daughter stays behind and wonders if her mother will return, but Mom promises that she would do anything to return to her child, no matter what happens in the world. A fun story serves as a discussion point for parents seeking to address separation anxiety in kids and changing family time.

All are excellent choices for picture book readers and collections catering to them.

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

New arrivals from Simon & Schuster provide picture book readers with engrossing stories that adults should consider for read-aloud and engaging discussions.

Apryl Stott's Almost Always Best Friends (9781534499096, $17.99) reaches ages 4-8 with its story of friendship and healing. Poppy is a fine best friend, spending every day with Clementine. They work well together, until Clementine spends an afternoon playing with Georgia instead, sparking the fear in Poppy that her best friend is moving away from her. How can she open up to her best friend about her underlying concerns? Lovely illustrations spice this story of early relationships and their conundrums.

Robert Quackenbush's Sherlock Chick and the Giant Egg Mystery (9781534415348, $17.99) will delight picture book readers who enjoy animal adventures and mystery. Ages 4-8 will appreciate the queries revolving around a big box with a huge egg that contains unusual possibilities. Nobody knows what this egg could be. Who can solve the problem? It will take all the skills Sherlock Chick can employ to get at the bottom of the egg's contents.

Alyssa Satin Capucilli's The Library Fish (9781534477056, $17.99) receives large-sized, inviting illustrations by Gladys Jose as it surveys a library's discovery of a fishbowl on the library steps. The bowl is introduced as a new arrival to the children's room. As Library Fish surveys the inviting bookish world outside her bowl, she decides to leave it so she can read the stories on her own...and a snowstorm that closes the library seems the perfect moment for such a change. A whimsical story of extraordinary efforts to change invites adults to interact with kids about taking risks.

Acorn Was a Little Wild (by Jen Arena (9781534483156, $17.99) is a lovely picture book for ages 4-8 and follows a little acorn that wants to lead an adventure-filled life. Determined to cultivate every experience, Acorn embraces life changes with enthusiasm, resolute about making the most of opportunities, even if they are a little scary. When change beyond his control leads him to potential adversity, Acorn still finds a way to make the most of his life. Jessica Gibson's lovely illustrations bring Jen Arena's whimsical story of positivity and courage to life in an appealing recommendation for picture book readers and parents who want an adventure with a message.

Harriet's Ruffled Feathers: The Woman Who Saved Millions of Birds by Joy McCullough (9781534486768, $17.99) features appealing and lively drawings by Romina Galotta as it gives ages 4-8 the involving picture book story of a woman who loves elaborate hats...especially those with feathers. When she learns the real price of those feathered fancies, however, Harriet reconsiders her love of fashion and embarks on an effort to render illegal the practice of killing birds for fashion embellishments. Eventually, she formed the Massachusetts Audubon Society, a national organization that protects birds to this day. The bright illustrations accompany an important message not just on ecology, but proactive citizen efforts.

Tomie DePaola's Favorite Nursery Tales (9781534494831, $19.99) gathers the author's classic favorites. If this volume sounds familiar, that's because it first appeared in 1986, but is reprinted here for new generations to enjoy. Packed with poems, fables, and tales filled with wisdom and entertainment value, Favorite Nursery Tales continues to prove as contemporary and appealing to modern audiences as it did some thirty years ago, and will also attract adults looking for read-aloud opportunities accompanied by exceptionally bright drawings.

Happy Sloth Day! by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre (9781534453739, $17.99) is a very simple, photo-driven portrait of sloths which features evocative descriptions of their habits and natural history ("A tree is a sloth salad. Rip! Snip! Chew. Chew."). The close-up sloth photos and bright color will attract young readers interested in lively portraits of sloth habits and environments.

Anita Lobel's 10 Hungry Rabbits (9781534470651, $17.99) comes from a Caldecott Honor recipient who presents a fun counting book as ten hungry rabbits find ten yummy ingredients in their mother's soup. The counting lesson is accompanied by discovery and engaging drawings of rabbits and veggies that will attract ages 4-8 with its lively tone and early math lesson.

Sujean Rim's Take a Breath (9781534492530, $17.99) asks: "Ever feel like you're flapping your wings, and not getting anywhere?" The bird who poses this issue goes down as his friends go up. The solution may be as simple as taking a breath. Kids ages 4-8 receive a fine picture book exploration of empowerment and achievement as Bob the bird keeps himself busy on the ground while his peers learn to fly high. Bob questions his abilities and future ("What if I never fly?"), but his solution will appeal to any adult looking to teach kids about patience and mindful, meditative thinking. The delightful survey of how to cope with inability as peers move forward will appeal to any parent looking to help kids move towards self-acceptance and life coping methods.

Lauren Stohler's The Problem with Pajamas (9781534493438, $17.99) outlines a program with wearing clothing to bed. Young Cody already resists itchy, tight clothes, so she's determined not to wear pjs to bed. Her father, however, has a plan to encourage otherwise. A zany story emerges which will prove very familiar to kids who resist clothing for all kinds of reasons, presented in a whimsical manner that will delight read-aloud parents as well as kids looking for original, fun, thought-provoking reads. All are fine leisure reading choices that hold important messages even as they entertain and educate.

Sleeping Bear Press
1750 Northway Drive. Suite 101. North Mankato, MN 56003

New picture book arrivals for young readers from Sleeping Bear Press are beautiful acquisitions that libraries will want to consider for their lasting lending value.

Laura K. Zimmerman's Mushroom Rain (9781534111509, $12.99) receives gorgeous illustrations by Jamie Green that power a compelling survey of mushroom life cycles and science. Lovely artwork accents Zimmerman's focus on the strange and wonderful world of mushrooms, including the phenomenon of mushroom rain. She creates an artistic, scientifically compelling introduction to mushrooms that the very young will find visually and factually involving.

Amber Lynn Hellewell's Summer's Call: A Michigan Day (9781534111424, $17.99) might initially seem to be limited to Michigan libraries and residents, but its lovely story, accented by evocative drawings by Gretchen Ellen Powers, holds value beyond its Michigan roots. The Michigan-based author and illustrator capture the experience of summer in the Great Lake state with lovely stories and artwork that harkens to older times. Libraries can consider this celebration of Michigan's environment a fine compliment to the usual geographic informational text that students use to learn about Michigan's atmosphere and attractions.

Eve Bunting's Hello, Baby! I'm Your Mom (9781534111462, $17.99) explores mothers and children of all types, and the love which exists between them. From humans to a whale and a bird, the love and care between these different mothers and children is emphasized in rhyme and lovely large-size illustrations by Jui Ishida, bringing the story to life. Photos and facts about the animals featured compliment this journey through different kinds of motherhood.

Debbie Rovin Murphy's Jackie and the Mona Lisa (9781534111172, $17.99) features lovely drawings by Jen Bricking as it surveys First Lady Jackie Kennedy's interest in art, and her pursuit of making art accessible to all Americans. Her program to bring the Mona Lisa to America's museums resulted in high museum attendance as patrons discovered more than the singularly famous art piece, and resulted in an appreciation of art that's here captured in a picture book for ages 6-10.

Helen L. Wilbur's bird alphabet F is for Feathers (9781534111400, $17.99) receives gorgeous illustrations by Andy Atkins as it pairs an A-Z alphabetic examination with discussions of bird habitat, identification, and bird watching. This is done with a blend of lyrical rhyme and sidebars of accompanying information that, when paired with the outstanding, gorgeous drawings by Atkins, creates a superior blend of alphabet lesson and detailed bird guide. Parents will want to choose this as a read-aloud for their own interest, as well as to guide younger readers who may be just learning about the alphabet and birds.

Wendy Hinote Lanier's Too Many Pigs in the Pool (9781534110601, $17.99) is illustrated by Iris Amaya and pairs a math lesson with a pig escapade that delights with whimsical piggy problems. Ages 4-8 will appreciate the zany issues which emerge as one pig becomes way too many for pool play.

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

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

These new arrivals from Candlewick Press represent some of the strongest picture books of this publisher's latest line-up, and are highly recommended for discriminating elementary-level libraries and adults who look for good read-aloud choices.

David Barclay Moore's Carrimebac: The Town That Walked (9781536213690, $18.99) tells of the Black residents of Walkerton, Georgia, who face a changed life after the Civil War. Ol' Rootilla is wise, and addresses the needs of her people to earn a living without being slaves by providing them with a touch of magic...a magic that attracts the fear of white people. When an angry crowd threatens to burn the town down, Rootilla and her grandson must protect it. This fine original folk tale receives gorgeous, colorful embellishments by John Holyfield that does the inviting story justice by nearly leaping from the page.

Allan Wolf's Behold Our Magical Garden: Poems Fresh from a School Garden (9781536204551, $18.99) celebrates a magical garden project, providing information on natural history and gardening alike. No staid collection of gardening tips alone, it captures the magic in making the effort to cultivate a school garden and considers the special attractions and uses of herbs, the help of garden volunteers, and the processes of growing beans, eggplant, and other products. An added dash of whimsy, as in "Attilla the Hen and the Mystical Egg Plant," is added to the mix for lighthearted fun.

Elaine M. Alexander's Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep (9781536213966, $17.99) enjoys darkly realistic illustrations by Fiona Fogg as it explores the natural history of one of the deep sea's strangest fish. The anglerfish is still mysterious to scientists, but the few known facts are covered in an inviting survey designed to delight readers interested in deep sea creatures.

Hope Lim's Mommy's Hometown (9781536213324, $17.99) receives fun drawings by Jaime Kim, a New York Times award-winning illustrator who helps bring to life this tale of a young boy who loves to listen to his mother's stories of her childhood home. A visit to this area proves eye-opening. Everything has changed. The rural milieu has been transformed into an urban city. How can the boy discover joy in the places his mother once loved, when they no longer exist? But, maybe they do...

These are inviting stories highly recommended for elementary-level picture book readers and their read-aloud parents.

The Bilingual Shelf

Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia Y El Huracan
Leslea Newman, author
Elizabeth Erazo Baez, illustrator
Children's Book Press
c/o Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780892394555, $19.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: After snuggling into bed each night, Alicia listens for the big voices of the tiny coquies that live all around Puerto Rico and sing her to sleep.Ko-kee, ko-kee, the little frogs call. Ko-kee, ko-kee.

One day a terrible hurricane comes to Puerto Rico, and Alicia and her family take refuge in a shelter. At bedtime Alicia hears grown-ups snoring and babies crying, wind howling and rain pounding. But even though she listens hard, she cannot hear the song of the coquies. Are the little tree frogs safe? And what will Alicia and her family find at home when the storm is over?

"Alicia and the Hurricane" is a deftly crafted picture book story about the resilience of people, and native creatures, whose lives have been disrupted by a natural disaster. With love and support, family and friends come together to share, rebuild, and fill Alicia's heart with hope. Ko-kee, ko-kee!

Critique: A bilingual (English/Spanish) picture book by author/storyteller Leslea Newman and artist/illustrator Elizabeth Erazo Baez, "Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia Y El Huracan: A Story of Puerto Rico / Un Cuento De Puerto Rico" is an extraordinary, original, inspiring, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library bilingual picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Leslea Newman is the author of 75 books for readers of all ages including the teen novel in verse, "October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard"; the middle grade novel, "Hachiko Waits"; the poetry collection, "I Carry My Mother"; the short story collection, "A Letter to Harvey Milk"; and the children's books, "A Sweet Passover", "The Boy Who Cried Fabulous", "Ketzel: The Cat Who Composed", and "Heather Has Two Mommies".A past poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, she is a faculty member of Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing program.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Cloud Town
Daniel McCloskey
Amulet Books
c/o Harry N. Abrams
195 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10007
9781419753114, $24.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Pen and Olive live in Cloud Town, an impoverished community on Floating Island, a mysterious landmass that drifts above the earth and happens to sit dangerously close to the Rip -- a tear in the fabric of the universe. No big deal or anything.

While Pen is brash and brave, Olive is quiet, kind, and also fearful of bullies at school. That is, at least until the day they are nearly squashed by a Care Corp Storm Catcher, a giant android built to protect Cloud Town and the rest of Floating Island from monsters that travel across the Rip called Hurricanes. It isn't the event itself that changes the girls' relationship. It isn't the fear of death that drives them apart, or the questionable decision-making that leads Pen to drag Olive into the cab of the crashed robot. It's the fact that Olive can move the 90-foot-tall machine and Pen can't. Care Corp recruits Olive to train as a pilot, so that she can protect Floating Island when the next attack comes. It's a role reversal, for which neither of the girls are prepared.

As a graphic novelist, Daniel McCloskey's original art style shines in this wild dystopian adventure and sets the tone for a story that is not only filled with fantastic monsters and mad science, but also the journey of two friends growing up and growing apart in a border town on the edge of the possible.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Cloud Town" is author/illustrator Dan McCloskey debut as a graphic novelist, this dystopian science fiction novel will have a very special and singular appeal to young readers ages 10- 14 with an interest in science fiction. While highly recommended as an extraordinary addition to middle school, highschool, and community library graphic novel and science fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cloud Town" is also available in a paperback edition (9781419749643, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Dan McCloskey is a writer and graphic artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a recipient of the Creative Development Grant from The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. He also received the Small Arts Initiative Grant to promote reading as performance via the Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writers' Project, which he founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. McCloskey's a consummate zine maker and cartoonist.

The Music CD Shelf

Happy Day
Jenn Cleary
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.99 digital

Blues singer Jenn Cleary presents Happy Day, a children's album with strong themes about the value of a positive attitude, and taking joy in experiencing the natural environment. The upbeat, delightful songs with a snazzy touch of humor will appeal to all ages. Happy Day is highly recommended for both personal and public library family music collections. The tracks are Happy Day, Magical Music Train, Plant A Garden, I Like Candy, Take a Walk in the Woods, Turtle Time, Only One You, I'm a Yak, Fly Seagull Fly, and It's Time To Go To Sleep.

That Friday Feeling
Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could
Bumblin' Bee Records
$13.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

That Friday Feeling is the latest family music album by three-time GRAMMY nominees Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could. The exuberant, original songs are brimming with energy, excitement, and cheer. That Friday Feeling is a delight for welcoming the weekend, car trips, children's parties, and public library music collections. The tracks are That Friday Feeling, Cheer You Up, Babies of Summer, Superpowers, Don't Worry About That Now, Following the Bunny Tracks, Seven Hours of Sun, Yes We Can Can, Outline, Roads, Gonna Sleep Well Tonight, and The Little Things.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Atlas of Cats
Helena Harastova and Jana Sedlackova
9788000063546 $17.95 hc

Synopsis: Did you know that some cats don't have five fingers, but six? We're not pulling your whiskers - it's true! Whether you have your own pet at home or whether you just like these adorable little rascals - read our illustrated cat atlas, which will introduce you to the most interesting, lazy, cuddly, and wild cat breeds in the world, from the common European tabby to the silky-haired Persian cat and the unusual Lykoi.

Don't worry, that cat over there isn't a tiny werewolf - it just looks like one. And if you enjoy bedtime stories, don't forget to cuddle up in bed and immerse yourself in the Meow News, a newspaper that comes with the atlas. It contains many stories, interviews, and news from around the world of renowned feline celebrities, as well as lesser-known cat heroes and heroines.

Critique: The Atlas of Cats is a charming hardcover volume that teaches young readers about different breeds of cats, and more - how cats jump, world-record setting cats, and fascinating true-life cat stories in fun-to-read "Meow News" sections. It should be noted that The Atlas of Cats primarily focuses upon the characteristics of individual cat breeds, and isn't meant to substitute for a dedicated pet care guide. Whimsical, hand-drawn color illustrations add a vibrant touch to this delightful book; young and old cat lovers alike will enjoy paging through it from cover to cover.

The Flying Worm
Deb Nicholls, author
Denis Proulx, illustrator
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781631956355, $9.95, PB, 32pp

Synopsis: Papilio thinks he is a worm, but he is really a caterpillar. He begins his journey into metamorphosis with a warm blanket named Pupa. Papilio can trust the warm blanket when he's sleeping, yet when he wakes up he feels very different. When he arrives at Penelope's Pond, he is frightened when he sees his reflection, but his Wonderful Creator helps him to realize that He was right beside him all along.

"The Flying Worm" teaches children scientific names, new vocabulary words, and introduces a Wonderful Creator.

Critique: Fun, informative, and appropriate for family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library Children's Animals Books collections, "The Flying Worm" is particularly appropriate and recommended for children ages 2- 5. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Flying Worm" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note #1: Deb Nicholls' is following her passion as an Early Childhood author. Her love for children's education started when she home-schooled her children for many years. From there, she pursued a degree in Early Childhood Education and became a Preschool Director at her local YMCA. Deb has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families all over the world.

Editorial Note #2: Denis Proulx is an accomplished children's book illustrator. He has illustrated 100's of books for new and seasoned children's book authors in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. From the initial sketch to the final art, Denis works closely with his authors so that their vision for the illustrations are accomplished. Samples of his work can be seen at his website

How to Find a Fox
Kate Gardner, author
Ossi Saarinen, photographer
Running Kids Press
c/o Running Press
9780762471355, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Taking kids on an imaginary trek through different landscapes and seasons, "How to Find a Fox" is a picture book celebration one of our planet's most graceful and enchanting creatures: the red fox. Ossi Saarinen's stunning wildlife photos support Kate Gardner's lively and informative words -- capturing the magical and profound connection between animals and humans. Young readers will be inspired to get outside and make their own discoveries -- maybe with a camera in-hand, just like Ossi.

Critique: Fun and informative, "How to Find a Fox" is an ideal and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Find A Fox" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Kate Gardner is also the author of Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth and Snow Falls.

Editorial Note #2: Ossi Saarinen is a wildlife photographer in Finland. He delights his social media followers with photos so adorable that they have been described as real-life fairy tales. Ossi can be followed on Instagram: @soosseli

The LGBT Fiction Shelf

Arden Grey
Ray Stoeve
Amulet Books
c/o Harry N. Abrams
195 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10007
9781419746000, $18.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Arden Grey is struggling. Her mother has left their family, her father and her younger brother won't talk about it, and a classmate, Tanner, keeps harassing her about her sexuality -- which isn't even public. (She knows she likes girls romantically, but she thinks she might be asexual.)

At least she's got her love of film photography and her best and only friend, Jamie, to help her cope. Then Jamie, who is trans, starts dating Caroline, and suddenly he isn't so reliable. Arden's insecurity about their friendship grows. She starts to wonder if she's jealous or if Jamie's relationship with Caroline is somehow unhealthy -- and it makes her reconsider how much of her relationship with her absent mom wasn't okay, too.

Critique: With a genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling that is enhanced with complex emotions, first loves, and memorable adolescent characters navigating toxic relationships, "Arden Grey" is an impressively nuanced and entertaining novel that is particularly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Arden Grey" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Ray Stoeve is also the author of the young adult novel "Between Perfect and Real", which was a 2021 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and created the YA/MG Trans and Nonbinary Voices Masterlist, a database that tracks all books in those age categories written by trans authors about trans characters.

The YA Fiction Shelf

Blood Ties
L. Waithman
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626349223, $20.95, HC, 344pp

Synopsis: An outsider ostracized by the other village children, Lucas has been raised as a blacksmith's son. One night at a nearby monastery, a mysterious black stone whispers a haunting premonition to Lucas. When his father is murdered, the monks take Lucas in, convinced he is an extraordinary hero foretold by destiny.

However, a restless Lucas runs off to join a circus where he draws the attention of the powerful King Itan, who believes Lucas is one of "the chosen" -- a group of boys who are descendants of great warriors. The king will stop at nothing to compel Lucas to join his chosen army, all while the soldiers who killed Lucas's father are closing in. Before long, Lucas is embroiled in a plot to defeat the king while an unseen enemy begins planning to bring the young man down before he learns of his remarkable power.

Critique: The first volume of 'The King's Chosen', a new YA fantasy series, it is all the more impressive when considering that "Blood Ties" is author L. Waithman's debut as a novelist. A thoroughly entertaining, original, and engaging story showcasing memorable characters and embedded with more thrilling twists and turns than a carnival roller coaster, "Blood Ties" is certain to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of those with an interest in epic fantasy that "Blood Ties" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Stranded on Castaway Island
Amy C. Laundrie
Three Towers Press
c/o Henschel Haus Publishing
9781595988935, $9.95, PB, 260pp

Synopsis: After a sudden storm turned what should have been a quick boat ride into a nightmare, Annie is shipwrecked on a remote island near Nova Scotia with her ex-best friend Mirra. Learning to survive together would have been easier if they could get along -- but that's not possible after the hurtful words neither can forget.

Annie and Mirra's only company is a herd of wild horses -- or that's what the two 14-year-old girls think at first. But when they discover still warm embers from a campfire and man-sized footprints, they know they're not alone. Someone is watching them. Why is he hiding? Why doesn't he help them? When he does reveal himself, he leaves them with even more questions.

Critique: A skillfully crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that holds the reader's engaged attention from beginning to end, "Stranded On Castaway Island" by Amy Laundrie is an extraordinarily entertaining read, and one that is especially appropriate and recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Contemporary YA Fiction collections. It should be noted the the personal reading lists of teens and young adults that "Stranded On Castaway Island" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.95).

Editorial Note: Amy Laundrie taught elementary school for over thirty years. She loved sharing her love of nature, animals, and stories with her students. She has authored a number of published books for young readers, and also writes a weekly column. From which she has collected her favorite pieces and included them in an adult memoir called "Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories From A Joyful Heart". She maintains her own website at

Before Takeoff
Adi Alsaid
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593375761, $18.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: James and Michelle find themselves in the Atlanta airport on a layover. They couldn't be more different, but seemingly interminable delays draw them both to a mysterious flashing green light -- and each other.

Where James is passive, Michelle is anything but. And she quickly discovers that the flashing green light is actually a button! Which she presses. Which may or may not unwittingly break the rules of the universe -- at least as those rules apply to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

Before they can figure up from down, strange, impossible things start happening: snowstorms form inside the B terminal; jungles sprout up in the C terminal; and earthquakes split the ground apart in between. And no matter how hard they try, it seems no one can find a way in or out of the airport. James and Michelle team up to find their families and either escape the airport, or put an end to its chaos -- before it's too late.

Critique: An original and fully entertaining novel for teenagers ages 12-17, "Before Takeover" showcases veteran author Adi Alsaid's genuine flair for imaginative fiction. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Before Takeover" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Adi Alsaid's previous YA books include Let's Get Lost, Never Always Sometimes, North of Happy, Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak, and We Didn't Ask for This.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses
Kristen O'Neal
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781683692348, $18.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but the fallout from undiagnosed Lyme disease sends her back to her childhood home in New Jersey during her sophomore year -- and leaves her wondering if she'll ever be able to return to the way things were. Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of "oof ouch my bones," a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.

When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn't sure what to expect, but it isn't the horrifying creature that's shut in the basement. With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf -- and the werewolf might be Brigid!

As Brigid's unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.

Critique: Clever, original, entertaining, and all the more impressive when considering that "Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses" is author Kristen O'Neal's debut as a novelist, this story of a unique teenage friendship will have a very special appeal for young readers ages 14-17 with an interest in werewolves, shape shifters, and the particular difficulties encountered when trying to be friends with one.

While highly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction and Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses" is also readily available in a paperback editions (9781683693079, $10.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781665050838, $39.99, CD.

Editorial Note: Kristen O'Neal is a freelance writer who has written for sites like Buzzfeed Reader, Christianity Today, Birth.Movies.Death, LitHub, and Electric Literature. She can be followed at @Kristen_ONeal on Twitter and kristenoneal on Tumblr.

Dwarf Story
Professor W.W. Marplot
Waxing Gibbous Books
9781734758306, $17.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle

Dwarf Story will appeal to middle grade readers who appreciate fantasy stories packed with action. It opens with Arty's first-person reflection on the oddity of finding an ax-wielding dwarf in his yard. As he flees the aggressive dwarf, Arty makes a confession to readers: he's not the type to fantasize about mysterious creatures or other worlds: "As we ran, I grasped for breaths and for reasons why: why I found a Dwarf this Wednesday, why he followed me, and why I followed him. And what: what should I do with him? And whether: was I still asleep? And another why: why were my dreams now about fantasy characters? I hate that stuff and am more of a scientist who likes math and logic and making lists of things to do before doing them - and keeping them on color-coded sticky notes like the ones flying from my bag and leaving a pretty trail behind us."

This opening and the adventure that follows Arty, his friend Emma, and other characters will especially delight young readers who look for more than the usual fantasy trappings. What evolves from an "unscientific Wednesday" not only changes characters' lives, but places them in unusual situations where their beliefs, approaches to problem-solving, and relationships are all tested.

W.W. Marplot creates a satisfying mystery that involves this fourteen-year-old young professor in situations beyond the logic or science he embraces. The different images of mythological creatures that begin to permeate and populate Arty's world against all odds makes for a satisfying story filled with unexpected encounters and moments.

Another strength that sets Dwarf Story apart from the usual mythological tale is its ability to embed humor into the clues that Arty follows to solve these mysteries.

Marplot juxtaposes Emma and Arty's first-person experiences, and this added value of psychological insight makes for an especially compelling personal contrast between characters challenged to overcome their own fears and expectations, as Emma represents: "I was afraid but surrounded by friends - afraid that what happened to Ted would happen to me, hoping that Sprugly would protect me since I almost qualified as a kidnapped fairy now. I was also fighting some inner feelings I didn't want to share yet, with anyone. You know: There was something growing in my heart, but I didn't want to talk about that yet."

As other characters' perspectives (such as Cry and Mary) enter the fray, middle grade readers receive an adventure filled with insights, growth, and battle scenarios that compel its young heroes to fight on different levels.

The result is a dwarf story that delivers on its promise of fantasy and adventure, but embeds interpersonal relationships, growth, and revised views of reality into the story to give it extra depth and attraction.

Libraries with young patrons interested in exceptional fantasy approaches will find Dwarf Story a standout.

Patrick Scott
Atmosphere Press
9781639882595, $19.99

Unburied opens The Loci of Power series with Cycle 1 and tells of college girl Faye, who has moved far from her Arizona home, endeavoring to lead a new life in this very different environment. Unfortunately, old habits plague her new milieu and attract unwanted help. This keeps directing her to the fact that no matter how hard she seeks to bury the past, it continues to influence her present-day circumstances.

Faye is no ordinary college student. She shows a hostile, proactively angry face to the world that helps protect her against forces beyond her control. Her conflicted inner world is reflected in experiences, settings, and reactions captured by author Patrick Scott's attention to psychological detail. This creates the feel of a wounded anti-hero as Faye navigates the world with the confidence that she can control it.

As the story unfolds, what she at first thinks to be college pranks and tests turns out to be all too revealing of her special qualities as she makes new friends, tackles new and old issues, and finds many of her current issues coming home to roost.

Scott adds comic relief at unexpected moments to bring a full flavor to Faye's story. As her experiences begin to threaten her family and friends, Faye joins forces with the older, more experienced Moira, who forces her to confront things she doesn't want to think about. Scott creates an involving story of a college student's alternate worlds and their conflicts. He depicts transition points in Faye's life which lead her to confront issues and opportunities she'd long shoved into the background of her busy life.

Teens will relish the blend of intrigue, action, and psychological revelations in Faye's story, and will find its pace and changing relationships just the ticket for an engrossing read. The result is a saga that's just beginning, setting the stage for other books in the fantasy series with a strong introduction that's hard to put down and easy to love.

Michael J. Bowler
Independently Published
9781733329057, $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle/$18.99 Hardcover

Book 2 in the Healer Chronicles: Shifter by Michael J. Bowler continues the saga of wheelchair hero Alex and his supernatural powers. His special friends also return to confront a new threat that emerges when they are all still trying to recover from past events. Readers of Spinner will find this ongoing coming-of-age fantasy depicts a troupe of teens who harbor gifts that prove attractive not just to enemies, but the U.S. military that discovers and decides to exploit them.

At age 12, Alex's twin Andy "held Death in his hand." They may be twins with special abilities, but each harbor very different perspectives on these powers and their use. Their story opens with contrasting experiences between ages 5-12, setting the stage for an adventure that moves to present-day events with such engaging chapter headings as "You Sure She's Alive?"

Author Michael Bowler provides a recap of prior experiences to help newcomers neatly segue into these latest confrontations, crafting high drama and revelations for prior fans in the process. This approach demonstrates a solid attention to detail and revelation that grabs young adults with action, psychological insights, and mystery, from the beginning. The contrast between Andy's callousness over the deadly results of his actions and abilities and Alex's conscientious worries about the same things are very nicely presented. Their dichotomy powers a vivid tale of life, death, and the twins' connections.

Whether willing or not, Alex is bound to Andy in ways they never could have predicted. Their separate powers are made stronger when they work together, even if the ultimate results represent different goals to each. The injection of moral and ethical quandaries as each boy explores his potential, and as the military oversees experiments designed to make the most of these powers, makes for a thought-provoking story not just of growth, but social development.

Replete with surprising twists and turns, Shifter juxtaposes mystery with growth-inducing insights, stressing the different perspectives of the twins, how their evolving abilities may be used for good or evil, and how that perspective can also shift under new rationales for old behaviors and responses. The result is a fantasy/supernatural story that is every bit as powerful as Spinner, but which stands alone with a strong attraction for those new to these events and characters.

Libraries strong in young adult fantasy and coming-of-age stories will find the blend of supernatural and emotional growth represented here to be astute and compelling.

The Self-Help Shelf

Finding Joy
Raven Howell, author
Pamela C. Rice, illustrator
Story Monsters Press
9781589850125, $15.95, PB, 32pp

Synopsis: Helping children to find joy again after a loss is an imperative need for any child, especially when that loss involves a member of their family. In her latest children's book, "Finding Joy", author Raven Howell helps children navigate the painful (and often confusing) feelings that arise from the death of a loved one.

"Finding Joy" tells the story of a little girl and her adopted brother, John, who rescue a sweet old dog, Joy, from the local animal shelter. As the seasons slide past, the children learn how magical it is to have a pet friend by their sides -- romping through the winter snow, splashing through spring puddles, and picking autumn apples. But one day old Joy lays down to take a nap and does not wake up.

At first, the children are shocked, finding it difficult to process the feelings of sadness they experience in Joy's absence. But with the love and support of their parents, they learn to recall the good memories they shared with sweet Joy, even preparing them to welcome a new pet friend into the family.

Critique: Dealing with a sensitive subject in an effective, insightful, and understanding way, "Finding Joy" is ideal for helping young children deal with the loss of a loved one wether it is a family member or a beloved pet. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections, it should be noted for young readers that "Finding Joy" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note #1: Raven Howell is a multiple-award-winning author and poet of children's books. She is the Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, and a contributing author for Reading is Fundamental. In addition, she writes for several magazines, including Story Monsters Ink, Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Hello, Humpty Dumpty and The School Magazine. She has a website at

Editorial Note #2: Pamela C. Rice has released 25 books including When the Brown Bird Flies, The Painting Speaks, Carlisle's Trumpet, and I Grew Grandma's Tomatoes. Each book is warmly illustrated by Rice and offers written artistic expression of her childhood experiences and inspirations that children, as well as adults will find fun, imaginative and educational. There is a website featuring her at

Sophie Learns to Be Brave
Joan Halifax, author
Kiersten Eagan, illustrator
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781611808957, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Sophie Learns to Be Brave" by author/storyteller Joan Halifax and artist/illustrator Kiersten Eagan is a picture book story that follows a young girl named Sophie and a sweet old dog who cross paths in the midst of a storm. "Breathing in, I am safe; breathing out, I am free," Sophie repeats again and again to remind herself and the "old one" to stay present and brave when feeling scared or unsettled. In helping each other through their fears, a deep kinship is formed that makes a lasting impact on Sophie's life.

Critique: With its positive and underlying message friendship, loss and bravery, "Sophie Learns to Be Brave" is a fun, thoughtful, thoroughly 'kid friendly', and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sophie Learns to Be Brave" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Joan Halifax is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology in 1973 and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.

Editorial Note #2: Kiersten Eagan is a children's illustrator and visual development artist with a passion for storytelling. She finds inspiration anywhere a story can be found in nature, reading, history, adventures, traveling, and specializes in gouache, pencils, and digital work. A graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Kiersten works in animation where she has designed for a variety of television and film projects such as My Little Pony, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and The Addams Family.

The Reference Shelf

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023
National Geographic Press
101 West 104th Street, Suite 8, New York, NY 10025
9781426373367, $25.90, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: Based on content from the award-winning and top-selling children's magazine, National Geographic Kids, and National Geographic Kids books, the Almanac is created by multiple National Geographic contributors -- including researchers, photographers, content experts, and educational specialists.

This new edition of the National Geographic Kids Almanac for 2023 features: this new edition features as Bonus Section of '20 Things to Make You Happy'; new trends and news for the year ahead; new photo feature showcasing wonders from around the world; new Almanac Challenge, plus the results of the 2022 Almanac Challenge; new incredible animal stories; new weird but true facts; new amazing inventions; new interviews with National Geographic Explorers; new games, activities, jokes, and comics; and updated reference material, including fast facts and maps of every country.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, the "National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023" is an unreservedly recommended and core addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists of children with a special interest in Science & Nature that "National Geographic Kids Almanac 2023" is also available in a paperback edition (9781426372834, $15.99).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Musicians of Bremen: A Grimm's Fairy Tale
Gerda Muller
Floris Books
9781782507925, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Four unlikely companions (a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster) leave behind their old lives on the farm and set off as aspiring music makers on a grand adventure. When night falls the friends find a cabin in the forest where they could rest and eat -- if it wasn't home to a band of robbers! Can the animals work together and use their musical voices to chase the thieves away?

A classic fairytale, children will enjoy braying along with the donkey, barking with the dog, purring with the cat and crowing with the rooster in this beautifully illustrated picture book story by artist and author Gerda Muller about teamwork and rediscovering your self-worth.

Critique: Enhanced throughout with full page and double page artwork that fully supports an impressively entertaining fairytale picture book, Gerda Muller's edition of "The Musicians of Bremen: A Grimm's Fairy Tale" is a simply outstanding and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note: An acclaimed children's author and illustrator, Gerda Muller's best-known books in English include re- imagined classic tales such as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", the wordless Seasons board books, and picture books including "How Does My Garden Grow?" and "A Year in Our New Garden".

An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales
Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin, author
Jill Timbers, illustrator
Floris Books
9781782507444, $22.95, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: "An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales" is a compendium of stories involving classic characters drawn from Nordic folklore (cunning Fox, gullible Wolf, clever Hare and powerful Bear ) who star in these lively stories of mischief and fun. Young readers will discover why Bear is ruler of the northern forests, how Fox outwitted Wolf, and what Hare did to earn her fluffy white tail.

In an inherently impressive storybook anthology by renowned Finnish author-illustrator Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin who retells twenty-six of her favorite traditional animal tales, illustrated with intricate and characterful artwork, this edition of "An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales" features foil details, luxury paper and a ribbon marker. Readers of all ages will find themselves drawn into the warm and funny stories which are sprinkled with the magic of Nordic culture.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales" will prove to be an enduringly popular and entertaining addition to personal, family, elementary school, and community library Folklore/Fairytale/Mythology collections for children ages 6-10.

Editorial Note: #1: Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin is a Finnish illustrator, renowned for her delicate, detailed portrayals of Finland's wildlife and folklore. She is the illustrator of Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas and Olwen Finds her Wings (co-created with her daughter Nora), and An Illustrated Kalevala.

Editorial Note #2: Jill Timbers is a Finnish-English translator based in Normal, Illinois. Originally from Pennsylvania, Timbers followed a fascination with languages to Finland, where she fell in love with the country. Her literary translations include Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas.

The Clever Wife
Rukhsaqna Khan
Wisdom Tales
P.O. Box 2682. Bloomington, Indiana 47402-2682
9781937786939, $17.95, HC, 40pp (Ages 4-8)

The Clever Wife: A Kyrgyz Folktale receives warm illustrations by Ayesha Gamiet as it presents a traditional story from Krgyzstan in central Asia, retold here by Rukhsaqna Khan. Danyshman is beautiful and witty, which draws the attention of the ruling Khan. As they develop a relationship, political and social strife enters into the picture, introducing questions and problems and threaten to pull them apart. Lovely full-page drawings accompany a story that will lend particularly well to read-aloud, for adults seeking multicultural explorations for the very young.

The Judaic Shelf

One Day Asher's Yarmulke Flew Away
Robert Rubenstein
Barnes & Noble Press
9798765525067, $15.48

One Day Asher's Yarmulke Flew Away presents young readers with a dilemma: "One day before Shabbos, Asher's yarmulke flew away. It went up, into the wind, into the snow, into the sky. It made circles, it made squares, it made pretty designs - up, up, into the wind, into the snow, into the sky."

Lovely color drawings accent the story as not only Asher but others with yarmulkes begin to experience problems keeping them on their heads. Once a taste of freedom has been gained, it's hard to return to the past. And Asher still has to buy the challah for his family's Shabbos celebration. He doesn't have time for chasing errant yarmulkes. "Why all this trouble, and how far must he go for an answer? he thought." The power of prayer is employed as Asher questions "Why?"

This whimsical, delightful story will appeal to Jewish picture book readers and their read-aloud parents, who will find Asher's problem fanciful as he attempts to regain his beloved yarmulke while fulfilling his task. His journey carries him into new territory, prompts questions about his purpose and perspectives, and ultimately leads to a magical solution for a problem Asher didn't even know he had. While Robert Rubenstein's story will especially appeal to young Jewish readers, it shouldn't be limited to this audience alone. Its fanciful story's lessons about flexibility, being needed, and perseverance blend with a magical journey that couches its serious life inspections with a sense of wonder.

All ages and all ethnicities need this message and the delightful way it's imparted in One Day Asher's Yarmulke Flew Away, a story of adversity which turns into a gift that holds a lasting lesson for young Asher.

The Islamic Shelf

Hassan & Aneesa Go to A Nikkah
Yasmeen Rahim, author
Rakiaya Azzouz, illustrator
Kube Publishing Ltd
9780860378716, $5.99, PB, 22pp

Synopsis: Hassan and Aneesa's cousin wants to get married. The families are excited and eager to help her find a good match. The couple will need to meet, and do salatul-istikharah before they decide. Young children will enjoy reading about Hassan and Aneesa as they help the couple with the preparations for the wedding. Even the family cat is involved!

Critique: Charmingly written by author/storyteller Yasmeen Rahim and impressively illustrated by Rakiaya Azzouz, "Hassan & Aneesa Go to a Nikkah" is a unique, informative, fun, and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Islamic themed picture book collections for children ages 2-5.

Books in Series

The Aristokittens: The Great Biscuit Bake-Off
Jennifer Castle
Disney Press
9781368069731, $14.99

Elementary-grade readers interested in a fun chapter book peppered with engaging black and white cat and dog drawings by Sydney Hanson will find The Aristokittens: The Great Biscuit Bake-Off an appealing choice. In the second book of the Aristokittens series, the three Aristokittens run a secret cafe for creatures in Paris, and have made new puppy friends. When they decide to host a Dog Biscuit Bake-Off at their cafe, the competition divides friends and threatens relationships. Can the Aristokittens solve the problems their fun idea causes? Kids who love dogs and cats will relish this engaging story.

The Lobster Tale
David Horn
Independently Published
9781736677421, $2.99 Kindle/$4.99 paper

Book 2 of the Eudora Space Kid series, The Lobster Tale, will attract advanced elementary-grade readers with its vivid tale of kids who decide to rescue lobsters from a watery buffet death at a spaceship's New Year's Eve party. Humor abounds as the kids hone their mission, led by third-grader Eudora Jenkins, who has been adopted by aliens and lives in space on a large AstroLiner, the Athena. Eudora is a math and science whiz. The normal trappings of a schoolgirl charged with learning even as she lives aboard one of the most amazing vessels in space makes for a satisfying difference in plot that elementary grade readers will find intriguing. Black and white illustrations by Deven Hoover pepper the saga as Eudora evolves a scheme to rescue her lobster friends and faces (again!) the brig for her efforts.

David Horn's injection of a healthy dose of not just humor but relationship insights compliments the action component of the story. From an older sister ("Molly Monster") and her challenges to Eudora's escapades, Horn's lively tale appeals in many levels. Combine a chatty tone with both action and psychological insights and finish the dish with more than a light dash of humor for a sense of the attraction in The Lobster Tale. It's a zany, whimsical space story that invites young readers on a rollicking ride through homework, the universe, and a young girl's determination to influence the choices of the First Annual Qlaxon and Planetary Republic Cultural Exchange and Dinner Buffet.

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.

Monsters Play ... Peekaboo!
Flavia Z. Drago
9781536220537, $8.99

Christine Irvin

What will you find under the flaps? The clues are written on them. Kids will like lifting the flaps to see what's underneath them. Normally I love these types of books, but the flaps on this one don't lift very easily. And, after you've lifted them up all the way, they don't lie down flat anymore. Also, the text starts out in rhyme, but that doesn't continue throughout the whole book. However, the text is repetitious, and the illustrations are cute. (Ages baby-3)

Monsters Play ... Counting!
Flavia Z. Drago
Candlewick Press
9781536220520, $8.99

Anita Lock

Meet Simone, Rosalind, Brooke, Guy, Kyle, Matilde, Pete, Debs, Jerome, and Nicole - ten silly monsters who love to count while they eat, swing, read, flutter, brush their teeth, play, run, spin, drum, and just plain chill! This delightful board book comes complete with colorfully eye-catching, two-dimensional childlike drawings set to singsong rhymes, encouraging youngsters to move with the beat of the four-line stanzas as they count to ten and then all over again when they reach the end of the story. A fun and engaging read that will keep active kiddos happy while learning numbers at the same time. (Ages baby-3)

Hello, Baby! I'm Your Mom
Eve Bunting, author
Jui Ishida, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111462, $17.99

Larissa Juliano

A magical and rhyming story about baby animals and their mommies accompanied with stunning illustrations by Jui Ishida. This is a perfect bedtime story children will want to read over and over again. Poetic, smooth, and comforting text (I read this aloud with my three little ones) reassures and comforts sleepy, hungry, curious little babies that Mommy loves them forever and unconditionally. We ALL know that there is nothing quite like the warm embrace of Mom. (Ages 3-6)

Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree
Tanya Rosie, author
Chuck Groenink, illustrator
9781536220353, $18.99

Larissa Juliano

A sweet, charming story about an adventure between a little girl, her mommy, and picking berries off their favorite tree. The rhyming text has a poetic style, with beautiful, figurative language that even without the illustrations would be a perfect story to share with children to simply visualize this experience of appreciating nature and the yummy gifts and sweet treats it has to offer. It's nostalgic, sentimental, and special. Children and parents will love this story and most likely be inspired to make their own fruit pie! (Ages 3-7)

Your Birthday was the Best!
Maggie Hutchings, author
Felicita Sala, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735271623, $17.99

Larissa Juliano

A fun and surprising story about a little cockroach who wants to join in on the birthday festivities. What ensues is a laugh-out-loud sequence of events that involves screaming parents, other cockroach family members, and a vacuum cleaner. The watercolor style illustrations by Felicita Sala are bright, engaging and with a variety of perspectives that keep the reader laughing, and transfixed on the little cockroach's adventures. (Ages 3-7)

A Good Place
Lucy Cousins
9781536224252, $17.99

Larissa Juliano

Four little insect friends are looking for a place to live in this adorable story by author and illustrator extraordinaire, Lucy Cousins. A flower, pond, tree stump, and other hideaways in nature do not turn out to be the best plan. Walking feet, busy sidewalks, littered parks, and dirty puddles all interfere with the insects' quest to find their home. However, they soon meet a beautiful butterfly who shows them the perfect spot. Bonus: little peek-a-boo details in the final spread of a gorgeous garden! (Ages 3-7)

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle
Nina LaCour, author
Kaylani Juanita, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536211511, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

When Mommy is away for a week on a business trip, a little girl and her Mama go to the library, watch movies, and miss Mommy together as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut in the stars. Read on to see the idea the little girl has for Mommy's return. This inclusive story with cozy illustrations is perfect for kids with a parent who travels for work. (Ages 3-7)

This is (Not) Enough
Anna Kang, author
Christopher Weyant, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542018517, $17.99

Anita Lock

Two friends plan to get each other presents. The only problem is what to choose since anything they come across is just not good enough. Finding the perfect gift turns into a frantic race against time until the friends realize that their gifts to one another are more than enough. Large print sentences sprinkled with onomatopoeia and lovable, nonidentifiable animals grace the pages of this intriguing and humorous story. Youngsters will quickly attach themselves to this relatable tale of two friends who care about each other so much that they only want to give the very best they have to offer. (Ages 3-7)

I'll Go and Come Back
Rajani LaRocca, author
Sara Palacios, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536207170, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

When little Joyti travels across the world to see her grandmother, everything is so different and she is lonely. But she and Sita Pati bond by looking at books, playing games, and making designs with colored sand. When her vacation is over, she learns that in Tamil, people say, "I'll go and come back." And when they reunite the following summer in America, it's Joyti's turn to make her grandmother's visit special. The simple text and colorful illustrations depict the connection between generations in a sweet and endearing way. (Ages 3-7)

Crocodile Hungry
Eija Sumner, author
John Martz, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735267879, $18.99

Christine Irvin

What happens when a crocodile is hungry and he can't find anything suitable to eat? The ending will surprise you. This is a delightfully fun story, with kid-friendly illustrations and lots of repetition to keep kids engaged. Enjoy! (Ages 3-7)

Mommy's Hometown
Hope Lim, author
Jaime Kim, illustrator
9781536213324, $17.99

Larissa Juliano

A gorgeous and nostalgic story of a mom sharing her hometown with her little boy. She tells him about the village she grew up in, describing the mountains, rivers, treasures, and nature's hidden gifts. The little boy can hardly wait to see this wonderful place but is shocked to find that it has grown into a large city. The whole book is woven with beautiful, descriptive language and pictures... and a sweet ending with Grandma greeting her family. (Ages 3-7)

How Angel Horses Become Unicorns
Diana Tuorto, author
Sam Vella, illustrator
Horse Books for Kids
9798695661934, $12.00

Anita Lock

Gianna's favorite horse is Luna because she makes funny faces, holds up a hoof when she wants something, and loves to dress up as a unicorn. An unexpected illness shortens Luna's life. Gianna, saddened by the loss of her special friend, dreams of Luna returning to her as an angel and, with the help of Gianna, turns into a unicorn. While friendship is a popular theme among children's literature, coping with death is an uncomfortable topic, yet author Tuorto nails both by relaying this heartwarming story through a child's eyes and magical black-and-white illustrations against large-print text. (Ages 4-7)

Mommy Ever After
Rebecca Fox Starr, author
Sara Ugolotti, illustrator
9781641704519, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

As a little girl grows, she experiences natural changes and accompanying emotions, some of which are big and scary. With warm illustrations that depict children's real and fantasy worlds, Mommy Ever After teaches little ones how to recognize and accept different emotions. From seeing the ocean to a thunderstorm to the first day of school, the one constant for the little girl is her mother and her magical stories that teach about her uniqueness and kindness. (Ages 4-7)

Ready for the Spotlight!
Jaime Kim
Candlewick Press
9781536205183, $17.99

Anita Lock

Tessie's certain that after a month of ballet lessons, she's the best in her class. Well, all except Maya, her older sister who's always in the spotlight. When an upcoming fall recital casts Maya as a princess and Tessie as a bumblebee, Tessie's jealousy mounts until Maya steps in with sisterly advice. Warm mixed-media tones with a cast of multiracial characters in this charming read about sibling jealousy. Kim's succinct yet minimal narrative captures the essence of a common family theme with a resolution to offer hope and healing for exasperated parents. (Ages 4-8)

Once Upon a Forest
Pam Fong
Random House Studio
9780593380147, $17.99

Anita Lock

A wordless narrative adorns the pages of this appealing story about persistence as a huggable-looking marmot and her resourceful feathered friend team up to restore their forest home from the consequences of a wildfire. Soft pencil-like illustrations follow the duo in a near-circular sequence, beginning with their quaint abodes. Pages capture the imagination of youngsters as scenes, formatted in an array of designs (blocked, half and full pages, for examples). Scant colors represent distinct storytelling shifts (green, plants; blue, water; black, smoke). Once Upon a Forest is bound to be a new favorite! (Ages 4-8)

Old Wood Boat
Nikki McClure
Candlewick Press
9781536216585, $18.99

Anita Lock

Papercut artist Nikki McClure pens a warm tale of a family that restores an old boat. Personified as a she, the old boat longingly waits to set sail on a maritime adventure. Time passes as the family carefully restores her. "They fit new planks, caulk her seams to make her watertight and strong. They sand and varnish her until she shines." Told with simple prose - replete with nautical terminology - and full-page scenes, McClure walks through the steps necessary to get an old boat up and running. Old Wood Boat is a perfect read for young aquatic adventurers.
(Ages 4-8)

Pink Is Not a Color
Lindsay Ward
Two Lions
9781542026864, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Pink has a color crisis when she learns she is not a primary color, she's a shade of red and isn't part of the rainbow. She so wants to be part of the rainbow, but when she can't be, will she find a way to be happy anyway? In this follow-up book to This Book Is Gray, author/illustrator Lindsay Ward uses simple illustrations and a cartoon-type layout to introduce readers to the concept of primary colors versus shades and tints. Ward includes a Color Glossary at the front of the book and an Author's Note at the end of the book. (Ages 4-8)

Take A Breath
Sujean Rim
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781534492530, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Flap, flap, flap ... down, down, down. That's Bob's routine every morning when he tries to fly with all his baby bird friends. What if he doesn't ever learn to fly? Read this sweet and reassuring story to see what Crow tells Bob to do ... we can all use Crow's suggestion when we need to calm our ruffled feathers. Adorable illustrations accompany the simple, yet meaningful, words in this picture book about believing in yourself. (Ages 4-8)

This Is a School
John Schu, author
Veronica Miller Jamison, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536204582, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Take a peek inside the community of school, where everyone works and learns together. This introduction to the classroom and its surroundings builds on a sense of belonging and inclusion. School provides a place for sharing and asking questions, for looking and listening, and for playing and creating. Cheerful illustrations and simple text make this picture book a friendly read, ideal for all kids, especially before that big event... their first day of school. (Ages 4-8)

John's Turn
Mac Barnett, author
Kate Berube, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536203950, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

A little boy's apprehension turns to confidence as he dances in front of his peers for the Gift Sharing part of his school assembly. With engaging and soft illustrations of turning, leaping, and landing, little ones will want to read on to see his classmate's reaction to his dancing performance. This sweet story addresses individuality, vulnerability, and acceptance, while offering a lesson about not shying away from sharing your talent with others. (Ages 4-8)

He Leads: Mountain Gorilla, the Gentle Giant
June Smalls, author
Yumi Shimokawara, illustrator
9781641706483, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

The majestic mountain gorillas are led by a powerful silverback (their silver back shows their age and experience) that leads his family, his troop, guiding them through thick forests and steep mountains in central Africa. With amazing strength and incredible gentleness, he teaches and protects them as they groom, socialize, and play. Learn fascinating facts about these endangered gentle giants, including how their habits closely resemble human families, in this informative picture book with captivating watercolor illustrations. (Ages 4-8)

Fishy Tales
Vicki Riske
We Are Puppeteers
9781734126860, $14.99

Christine Irvin

A school of fish helps a fellow sea creature in crisis when they discover him stuck in a pile of trash in the ocean. The story highlights the problems of trash being thrown into the ocean and how it affects the creatures living there. It also highlights the need for recycling and protecting our environment. (Ages 4-8)

Midnight & Moon
Kelly Cooper, author
Daniel Miyares, illustrator
9780735266308, $18.99

Anita Lock

Amid the family's herd of horses, Clara notices a new white foal being led by a black foal and names them Moon and Midnight. Clara cannot hear and Moon cannot see, yet the two forge a friendship. When the herd gets lost in a snowstorm, Moon is the one that leads the herd back home, following the whispers that come from none other than Clara. Pastel depictions set to gouache perfectly complement this poignant story of disability that mingles special qualities "by friends who are open to seeing them." (Ages 4-8)

Celia Planted a Garden
Phyllis Root and Gary D. Schmidt, authors
Melissa Sweet, illustrator
9781536204292, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Learn the true story about poet/artist/gardener Celia Thaxter from New Hampshire. Authors Phyllis Root and Gary D. Schmidt tell her story using some of her own words in the text. The pages are filled with beautiful watercolor illustrations by Melissa Sweet. The authors include a Timeline of Thaxter's life, a bibliography of their sources, and an author's note at the end of the book. (Ages 5-9)

My First Hunt!
Beverly King, author
Navya, illustrator
Independently Published
9781735383620, $15.00

Deb Greenberg

Tag along with a young adventurer on one of her most exciting days, as she is ready for the great hunt. With an emphasis on safety and ethics, this book teaches little readers about the importance and perils of hunting and the way that it affects nature's ecosystem. Along with the engaging illustrations, readers are given a glossary of trees, birds, and animals, a few coloring pages, and a questions section at the back of the book that completes this informative tale. (Ages 5-12)

Juana & Lucas: Muchos Changes
Juana Medina
9780763672096, $14.99

Diana Perry

When she learns that Mami is expecting a baby, Juana finds a way to rise to the occasion (despite a few stumbles at skating camp!) in a third episode filled with humor and warmth. Early readers who have ever had the experience of having a younger sibling or major changes in their lives will relate to Juana. This fun story serves as a tool for any child who has to adjust to major changes in their lives. (Ages 6-9)

The View from the Very Best House in Town
Meera Trehan
Walker Books
9781536219241, $17.99

Diana Perry

Sam and Asha. Asha and Sam. Their friendship is so long established, they take it for granted. Just as Asha takes for granted that Donnybrooke, the mansion that sits on the highest hill in Coreville, is the best house in town. But when Sam is accepted into snobbish Castleton Academy as an autistic "Miracle Boy," he leaves Asha, who is also autistic, to navigate middle school alone. He also leaves her wondering if she can take anything for granted anymore. Young readers will relate to Asha as she struggles through some of the bumps of life while seeing the point of view of what it's like to have autism. (Ages 8-12)

Meant to Be
Jo Knowles
9781536210323, $18.99

Diana Perry

In a companion to Where the Heart Is, the lens turns to younger sister Ivy as she fields the joys and pitfalls of new friendship, hones her passion for baking, and resists the idea of change. Young readers will relate to Ivy as she faces an unknown future and learns that, no matter what happens, she will face it bravely. A good lesson book, this story helps kids learn how to face life's problems head on and, with a little bravery and determination, how to handle anything that comes their way. (Ages 9-12)

Courage: My Story of Persecution (I, Witness)
Freshta Tori Jan
Norton Young Readers
9781324016670, $16.95

Diana Perry

Continuing this propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young woman once persecuted by the Taliban shares her journey to becoming a community activist. Her journey through poverty, terrorism, and other forms of injustice has enabled her to be a voice for those unable to share their stories and those unable to receive the opportunities she has sought. Early readers will get a very accurate idea of what life is like for children, especially girls, in some foreign countries. Freshta is an inspiration to girls everywhere. This book, just like all the I, Witness books, should be in every school and library. (Ages 9-12)

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