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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 34, Number 6 June 2024 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Wildlife Shelf
LGBTQ Studies Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Elementary Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf Young Adult Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Music CD Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Psychology Shelf Christian Shelf
Books in Series Suzie Housley's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Embracing Your Past to Empower Your Future
Lori Ann LaRocco and Abby Wallace
Embracing Your Past to Empower Your Future, Inc.
9781917054560, $24.95 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Many books for teens and adults speak of racism and healing; but rarely does a reader receive a specific guide to healing and history such as Embracing Your Past to Empower Your Future.

The focuses is on four families whose loved ones were enslaved, resulting in tangled family trees and a legacy of struggle that affected generations. Each family receives in-depth focus with not only historical records and evidence documenting their unique experiences, but personal interviews from contemporary descendants, peppering and expanding their stories.

The Allen family's loved ones were illegally captured in Africa in 1860, over fifty years after a prohibitive law was enacted to prevent such kidnappings. She documents their later involvement in forming the independent living commune Africatown. Their great-great-granddaughter documents the importance of community in overcoming enslavement and racism's impact.

The Madison's family employed storytelling to pass their oral history to future generations, telling of entanglements with President James Madison, Jr.'s family and the surprising legacy of valuing knowledge. This translated into future generations empowered by their educational pursuits.

The Quanders, one of America's oldest and most consistently documented Black families, has a long and powerful history of political activism, faith, and struggle.

The Brooks family has three generals in their immediate family, and are noted for their extensive contributions to not just military, but social change.

The ways in which struggles for freedom translate in each of these families represents a powerful intersection of experience, repression, and not just survival tactics, but empowerment processes that passed between generations to modern times.

How these four families achieved their goals under different conditions and in different manners provides not only inspirational and vivid reading, but should serve as fodder for classroom and reading group discussions about the legacy of Black history and experience. This is why all general-interest libraries and collections catering to teen readers must have this book in their holdings.

Embracing Your Past to Empower Your Future should be prominently displayed and continually recommended for its combination of footnoted history, vivid examinations of contrasting Black experience, and powerful examinations of how those who were initially "voiceless" came to cultivate and transmit the most powerful voices of all, through time.

Loris Opens Up His Heart
Dagmara Sitek, author
Lau Frank, illustrator
Edition Contes de Courage Dagmara Sitek
9781738128518, $25.99, HC, 52pp

Synopsis: "Loris Opens Up His Heart" is an educational and social emotional picture book story about Loris, a little boy in foster care.

Loris will take children on a journey that teaches them kids about courage, kindness, and overcoming fears.

Critique: "Loris Opens Up His Heart" is emotions/feelings/empathy picture book that is ideal for beginner and young readers ages 5-10. It will resonate with boys, girls, primary school students, teachers, and parents seeking a meaningful children's Life Lessons/Life Skills stories. Of special note are the downloadable worksheets on emotional regulation for kids, emotional intelligence or bullying prevention. "Loris Opens Up His Heart" is the first installment in the Courage Tales series of social emotional books for kids by author/storyteller Dagmara Sitek and artist/illustrator Lau Frank. Visit for freebies, and helpful resources on emotional intelligence and bullying prevention for kids!

Editorial Note #1: Born in Poland, and living in Canada, Dagmara Sitek wears many hats-a mom, a wife, and a digital marketer in her 9-to-5 world. She jumped into writing kids' books about foster care and difficulties because she realized something important - not all kids get a fair shot at life. "Loris Opens Up His Heart" was inspired by the tragic story of 8-year-old Kamilek from Czestochowa, who died due to mistreatment by his stepfather. It is a testament to the power of empathy and compassion. It models positive interactions and helps kids put themselves in someone else's shoes. More importantly, it encourages them to help one another and overcome fears.

Editorial Note #2: Lau Frank ( is a young illustrator and author of children's books from Aarhus, Denmark. This skilled artist is famous for creating beautiful and captivating book illustrations, much like the beloved animated stories we watch on TV. He's been drawing forever and dropped out of high school to turn his art passion into full-time work on February 8, 2021. He's already worked on over 30 books, including three children's book series he wrote and illustrated for Tellerup.

Jason J. Marchi & Jeffrey L. Buford Jr., editors
Fahrenheit Books
9780996878531, $29.95, HC, 443pp

Synopsis: 41 stories and 9 poems

Since the first automobiles rolled down a street, the range of human emotions attached to these machines has run from love to hate, humor to horror, joy to sadness. Comprised of 41 stories and 9 poems, "Automobilia" provides a sampling of how fiction writers have viewed the automobile, from yesteryear to tomorrow.

Famous writers, experienced story tellers, and new literary voices are mixed together between these covers, making "Automobilia" an impressive anthology of stories and poems featuring that one machine that has changed the face of the earth, for the good and for the bad -- the automobile.

Critique: A fun and fascinating read from start to finish, "Automobilia" was collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Jason J. Marchi and is especially and unreservedly recommended for young readers ages 12-18. While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9780996878524, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "Automobilia" will prove to be a prized and appreciated pick for middle school, highschool, and community library Automobile Fantasy/Magic Realism YA collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jason J. Marchi ( is an anthology editor, and has authored children's books, young adult books, short stories, and non-fiction articles.

Editorial Note #2: Jeffrey L. Buford Jr. ( has conveyed his thoughts through storytelling and words for as long as he can remember. He started writing at a very early age and published his first short story when I was 17. He has since gone on to having written a number of articles and columns for newspapers and magazines.

My Lighthouse: A Story of Finding Your Way Home
Ali Gilkeson, author
Lee Wildish, illustrator
WaterBrook Press
c/o WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
9780593581421, $14.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Fynn has always lived in a lighthouse -- just like his father, and his father, and his father before him. His dad insists that living in a round house with a big lightbulb on top is special, but Fynn doesn't see how. All he knows is that it's weird -- and often inconvenient.

Exasperated by trying to fit all his favorite things in a round house and tired of being so different from everyone else, Fynn runs away from his lighthouse, seeking adventure on the sea. But when the winds and waves rise and things get very, very dark, Fynn finds that the light he needs most is the one that he's known all his life.

Critique: Inspired by the Irish band Rend Collective's hit song of the same name and paired with whimsical illustrations by artist/illustrator Lee Wildish, "My Lighthouse" by author/storyteller Ali Gilkeson is a picture book tale families will return to again and again. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7, it should be noted that "My Lighthouse" is also readily available from WaterBrook Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Ali Gilkeson ( is a performer, author, and speaker. She has traveled the world playing music and sharing stories with the band Rend Collective.

Editorial Note #2: Lee Wildish ( has been interested in illustration and art from a young age. As soon as he left university he started as a graphic designer for an advertising agency before venturing into greeting cards, and then illustrating for children's books. Nature and people are the biggest influence in his work and he tries to get as much character and expression as possible into each piece.

The Science Shelf

Jen Breach, author
What on Earth Books
9781913750787, $21.99, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: Just two times each year, the Earth leans closest to our home star, the Sun. These two events are called a Solstice. Since ancient times, people have used the Sun as a timekeeper. They knew that the length of daylight changes in a regular way, and celebrated the solstice as a signal of changing seasons.

"Solstice: Around the World on the Longest, Shortest Day" by Jen Breach (and featuring illustrations contributed by 14 artists from around the world) imparts scientific and cultural information using the global experience of a solstice as its scientific core, and the descriptions of children's lives at each latitude as the cultural narrative.

Enhancing the text and illustrations are fascinating infographics about geography, hours of sunlight, sunrise and sunset times, and how the Earth's tilt creates solstices and seasons. A global event needs a global perspective: non-traditional families, interesting facts that crop up in each account (e.g. in the Chinese entry we learn that pandas need to play or else they get sad). Plus, illustrators for each location represent their home countries with authority and beauty.

Critique: "Solstice: Around the World on the Longest, Shortest Day" is especially appealing to and recommended for young readers age 7 to11. This large format (10 x 0.25 x 10.75 inches, 1.2 pounds) hardcover edition from What On Earth Books is an ideal pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, home schooling, and community library Weather Science & Astronomy collections and personal reading lists.

Editorial Note: Jen Breach is a children's author of fiction and non-fiction. Jen holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Jen is also a mentor for Girls Write Now and The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

The Wildlife Shelf

How to Help a Hare and Protect a Polar Bear
Jess French, author
Angela Keoghan, illustrator
Nosy Crow
9798887770574, $18.99, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: From beetles and butterflies to porpoises and polar bears, animals and habitats all over the world need our protection. The collaborative project of author Jess French and illustrator Angela Keoghan, "How to Help a Hare and Protect a Polar Bear: 50 simple things YOU can do for our planet!" is full of simple everyday ways children ages 9-12 can help to save the environment -- and the wildlife that depend upon it.

Young readers will learn how to help critters in their own backyard and how to spread the word about endangered animals further from home. They will happily discover all the little things that they can do to make a big difference.

Filled with animal facts and plenty of practical, creative little ways that nature enthusiasts can make a BIG difference, "How to Help a Hare and Protect a Polar Bear" showcases creatures from 9 incredible different habitats including forests, deserts, swamps, freshwater, coastlines, oceans, savannahs, jungles, and mountains.

Critique: This large format (10.47 x 0.55 x 11.5 inches, 1.47 pounds) hardcover edition of "How to Help a Hare and Protect a Polar Bear: 50 simple things YOU can do for our planet!" is an impressively informative, memorably illustrated, and thoroughly 'young reader friendly' pick that is especially recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife Preservation & Environmental Issues collections.

Editorial Note #1: Dr. Jess French is a veterinary surgeon, zoologist, children's TV host, and author. Jess has a degree in Zoology from University College London, as well as degrees in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from the University of Nottingham. She is children's ambassador for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and a patron of Norwich Science Festival. She lives with her family and pets in the countryside in Norfolk, England.

Editorial Note #2: Angela Keoghan is a former photographer turned illustrator from New Zealand, Angela's illustrations are inspired by her childhood, which was spent surrounded by animals, drawing, reading, and exploring the rural pastures of her home in the Waikato. Her layered, whimsical illustrations are created in a mixture of media both on and off the computer. Angela currently lives with her husband and business partner Jayden in the beautiful New Zealand countryside.

1,000 Facts About Sharks
Sarah Wassner Flynn
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426371745, $14.99, HC, 96pp

Synopsis: From the bizarre frilled shark to the wide-headed hammerhead, in the illustrated pages of "1,000 Facts About Sharks" children will delight in discovering everything they wanted to know about sharks!

Each page of "1,000 Facts About Sharks" is fairly brimming with bite-sized facts, incredible shark stats, and unbelievable photos of sharks in the wild. Inside, you'll glimpse fossils of prehistoric sharks, learn exactly how many pointy teeth are in this apex predator's mouth, and meet awesome shark relatives, like stingrays.

Children will also learn about new technologies inspired by sharks and find out what marine conservationists are doing to help protect this misunderstood fish.

Of special note is the fun-fact format of "1,000 Facts About Sharks" that makes learning feel like entertainment, and the expert-vetted, up-to-date shark info (plus backmatter about shark anatomy, genealogy, and more) is the ideal go-to reference for shark enthusiasts young and old. The hundreds of thrilling photographs bring the facts to life in a dazzling dive into the watery world of these incredible creatures.

Critique: Fun, informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, this large format (9.38 x 0.47 x 11.15 inches, 1.38 pounds) hardcover edition of Sarah Flynn's "1,000 Facts About Sharks" from National Geographic Kids is a welcome and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Marine Wildlife collections.

Critique: Sarah Wassner Flynn ( has authored several children's nonfiction books for National Geographic. Her most recent titles include Weird But True Know It All: Greek Mythology; This Book is Cute!; The Ultimate Book of Sharks; This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash; Awesome 8 Extreme; 1,000 Facts About the White House; Animal Records; and Awesome 8. She has also contributed to the New York Times best-selling National Geographic Kids Almanac as well as the popular Weird But True! book series, including Weird But True! Gross, Weird But True! Food, and Weird But True! Christmas.

The LGBTQ Studies Shelf

Rainbow Allies
Nancy Churnin, author
Izzy Evans, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506488448, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: When a lesbian couple comes home one day to find their Pride flag stolen and their front porch egged, the sense of belonging they had felt in their community is threatened. Are they safe in their house? The support they need comes from an unexpected place -- the neighborhood's children. Together, the local kids create a plan to show Cari and Lauri just how valued they are in the community.

Based on real-life events, "Rainbow Allies" tells the true story of how a Massachusetts neighborhood rallied together around Cari and Lauri (and their dogs, Twink and Scout) to make them feel welcomed and loved again after an act of hate.

Critique: Deftly written and based on a real event, "Rainbow Allies" by author/storyteller Nancy Churnin is an inspiring picture book read for young readers and aspiring changemakers. Of special note is the inclusion of Backmatter in the form of guidance for how children can be LGBTQ allies in their own communities. Given the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ activities, and the charmingly illustrations by Izzy Evans, "Rainbow Allies" is a highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 4-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rainbow Allies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note #1: Nancy Churnin ( won the 2021 National Jewish Book Award, the 2022 Sydney Taylor Honor, and the First Place -- Children's Book Nonfiction awards from the National Federation of Press Women and Press Women of Texas for Dear Mr. Dickens. She has also won honors for Manjhi Moves a Mountain, along with many others.

Editorial Note #2: Izzy Evans is an illustrator, animator, and weekend flapjack baker from North London, England. Their work is best known for its diverse characters, gentle humor, and the occasional unicorn. (

Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door
Nadine Haruni, author
Tina Modugno, illustrator
Mascot Books
9781645433859, $14.95, HC, 38pp

Synopsis: In "Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door", Freeda and her family meet some new friends: Jessica and her two mommas, Morgan and Irene. The tadpoles have never had a friend with two mommas before, but they soon learn that it makes no difference. By getting to know Jessica's parents, the tadpoles discover that families do not have to all look the same, and that all you need is love.

Critique: Thoroughly appropriate reading for children ages 5-6 as an introduction to LGBTQ+ families with children, "Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door" by author/storyteller Nadine Haruni and artist/illustrator Tina Modugno is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library LGBTQ+ picture book collections for young children.

Editorial Note #1: Nadine Haruni is the author of the Gold Mom's Choice AwardŽ winning Freeda the Frog Children's Book series, which focuses on different family situations and helping children cope with various life issues. Nadine is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Independent Book Publishers Association. Aside from writing, she teaches yoga and is a practicing attorney. Nadine is married with five children.

Editorial Note #2: The first book of this series, "Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce", focuses on the difficult circumstances for children surrounding their parents divorce. The second book, "Freeda the Frog and Her New Blue Family", focuses on blended/step-families, as well as families of mixed race, religion, or ethnicity. The third book of the series, "Freeda the Frog is On the Move", is geared toward helping kids cope with a move to a new school, town, or other major life change. The fourth book, "Freeda the Frog Says Farewell to Her Fish" focuses on dealing with the loss of a pet or loved one. Stay tuned for Nadine Harumi's future Freeda the Frog books, where Freeda and the tadpoles continue to help kids face more of life's challenges.

The Board Book Shelf

Our Friend Earth
Lea Redmond, author
Regina Shklovsky, illustrator
The Collective Book Studio
9781685552213, $19.95, Board Book, 20pp

Synopsis: Parents and care givers would do well to introduce little ones ages 1-3 to our place in the solar system with "Our Friend Earth" -- a circle-shaped ode to the planet we call home.

Life on Earth is a gift from the sun. Like day and night, the people, places, and things we love come and go. But while our days are full of flux, the Earth is our constant companion, an unconditional friend who reminds us we are never alone.

Gratitude for the Earth begins with awareness. After encountering "Our Friend Earth", children will enjoy pointing to the ground under their feet and recognizing it as Earth, their forever friend.

Of special note is that from the diagram in the back of this original board book, very young children can learn how day and night cycle around the Earth as it rotates in the light of the sun.

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Lea Redmond and artist/illustrator Regina Shklovsky, "Our Friend Earth" from the Collective Book Studio is an especially and unreservedly recommended fun and informative pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library Board Book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Lea Redmond ( reveals the extraordinary hiding in the ordinary: a saltshaker, a penny, hand gestures, clouds. Lea creates books, toys, games and small adventures that invite humans of all ages to be curious, playful, and kind.

Editorial Note #2: Regina Shklovsky ( is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Sonoma County, California. She illustrated the 2018 picture book, Fun in the Mud, which was a 2019 Moonbeam award winner and a 2018 Nautilus award winner, as well as the 2021 picture book, Little Loon Finds His Voice, which earned a PW starred review. She is passionate about bringing stories to life with pictures and thoughtful design. Her work is rooted in traditional drawing and painting, mixed with vector graphics. She collaborates with local entrepreneurs and authors, as well as independent publishers.

What I Had for Dinner
Alice Hoffmann
Tra Publishing
9780966438864, $18.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: Prea the Pangolin likes to have ants and termites for dinner. Briana the Butterfly feeds on nectar and love. Zelda the Zebra lives a strong vegetarian lifestyle.

These and more are presented in "What I Had For Dinner", a quirky lift-the-flap board book by author/illustrator Alice Hoffmann in which little ones will journey from deserts to tropics, unraveling the dietary habits of 14 quirky omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores. Wacky flaps resembling the stomachs of animals unveil a delightful array of peculiar and extraordinary meals that offer plenty of laughs and surprises.

Critique: An extraordinary pick for family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library board book collections, "What I Had For Dinner" is a captivating and highly recommended lift-the-flap style board book for children ages 1-4 that explores the diverse diets of various animals throughout various ecosystems.

Editorial Note: Alice Hoffmann (aka Bureau Alice) came into contact with illustration in her first career as an art and creative director in international agencies. She draws inspiration for her colorful, naively expressive works from the art and culture of other countries, from museums, and from her children. Alice was born in Germany and now lives in Zurich with her family.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Sanja Rescek, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664351103, $7.99, Board Book, 28pp

Synopsis: A variety of bedtime rhymes and lullabies are included in "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", a beautiful collection that is now in board book format from Tiger Tales! Included are "Star Light, Star Bright"; "The Man in the Moon"; "I See the Moon"; "Rock-a-bye Baby"; and other well-known bedtime nursery rhymes and lullabies will bring a sense of comfort and rest to little ones.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout by artist Sonja Rescek, this board book edition of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" from Tiger Tales is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library Board Book collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note: Sanja Rescek lives in Zagreb, Croatia where she studied graphic design and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. She has illustrated picture books for Random House, Scholastic, and many other publishers, and she has also illustrated cards for UNICEF. When she is not illustrating, she enjoys painting and designing children's furniture. (

Grandma Kisses
Danielle McLean, author
Sarah Ward, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664351004, $7.99, Board Book, 28pp

Synopsis: Grandma Dog gives her grandchild kisses at playtime, storytime, lunchtime, and bedtime in "Grandma Kisses", a sweet and gentle board book celebration of the love between a grandmother and her grandchild. The special bond between grandparents and grandchildren is captured in the adorable illustrations by artist Sarah Ward, while the lyrical text by author/storyteller Danielle McLean is perfect for reading aloud to children.

Critique: This edition of "Grandma Kisses from Tiger Tales is an ideal, original, fun and thoroughly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, Kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note 1: Danielle McLean is a children's book editor who lives in South London, England. When not writing and editing children's books, she can be found in ballet class pursuing her other childhood dream. (

Editorial Note: Sarah Ward is an illustrator living in her hometown of Sheffield, England, with her husband, daughter, and "studio assistants" Alfie and Mabel, two border terriers. Sarah works from her home studio for clients all around the world while wearing silly slippers and drinking tea. (

Disney Baby: What Does Simba See?
Disney Books, author
Jerrod Maruyama, illustrator
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368099752, $9.99, Board Book, 10pp

Synopsis: Simba the lion cub puts one foot in front of the other as he explores the savanna with his pals in this touch-and-feel adventure! Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of The Lion King animated classic, "What Does Simba See? is an adorable board book featuring such favorite Disney characters as Simba, Mufasa, Timon, and Pumbaa. A touch-and-feel element on each spread introduces tactile discovery, helping little ones develop fine-motor skills.

Critique: A 'Touch & Feel' board book for children ages 1-3, "What Does Simba See?" (a part of the Disney Baby series from Disney Press) is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections. Also very highly recommended are the other books in this simply outstanding board book series: Disney Baby: Hello, Winnie the Pooh!; Disney Baby: I Love You, Mom; Disney Baby: Peek-A-Boo, Thumper!; Disney Baby: Goodnight Toys; Disney Baby: Baby Animals Bedtime Storybook.

Editorial Note #1: Disney Press ( publishes books for children of all ages who embrace the heart, humor, and imagination of Disney and Pixar's unique brand of storytelling as told through Disney Baby, Classics, Princess, Villains, Disney Junior, Disney Channel, Feature Animation, and Live Action.

Editorial Note: Jerrod Maruyama ( is a freelance illustrator specializing in character designs and all things cute!

The Picturebook Shelf

When You Love a Book
Kaz Windness, author
Heather Brockman Lee, illustrator
Flamingo Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593623220, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A poetic, rhyming story about the profound way books shape us and become part of who we are, "When You Love a Book" by the team of author/storyteller Kaz Windness and artist/illustrator Heather Brockman Lee features clever nods to the most classic children's books of all time. This is a true love letter to the power of creating readers at the youngest age and the magic that happens when you love a book.

A book is a friend found in all shapes and sizes,
a buddy who's bound to be full of surprises.
And when you grow bigger your books grow big, too.
A book is forever the right size for you.

Critique: Deftly combining a deftly crafted rhyming text with utterly charming and irresistible illustrations, "When You Love a Book" is a poetic ode to young readers and the way the stories we read as children have the ability to shape and influence our lives as adults. Fostering an appreciation and enthusiasm for reading books, "When You Love a Book" is especially and unreservedly recommended as a high value pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When You Love a Book" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Kaz Windness ( is a children's book author whose first friends were books. Some of her favorites are hidden in these pages. One of her best human friends illustrated this book. When Kaz isn't chewing on a good novel, she can be found chewing on homemade waffles or teaching illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Kaz is the author and illustrator of several books, including Swim, Jim! and Bitsy Bat, School Star.

Editorial Note #2: Heather Brockman Lee ( was a kid who loved to draw stories and read books, and is now a grown up who loves to draw stories and read books. She has illustrated other books like A Poem Grows Inside You and She is Mama, but this is her first time using old library cards and text in her pictures.

Welcome to the Amazing Forest Town of Squirrelsville
Paul L. Padgett
Dreams to Realities
9798386937010, $11.00 Paperback/$4.99 eBook

Welcome to the Amazing Forest Town of Squirrelsville presents picture book readers with the inviting story of a squirrel population interested in growth and developing morals that support one another. What makes this clan and their forest town amazing is the sense of unity and concern that promotes working together, appreciating nature, and building a world in which each squirrel "does their part in working for their little world."

Paul Padgett's inviting coverage of how togetherness is fostered is enhanced by lovely color illustrations by Moch Shobaru. These captures the whimsy and feel of a community that faces various disasters and discoveries, from the threat of a campfire that wasn't put out properly to Dr. Mangosteen, whose mandate is to keep little kits healthy with her medicines.

The nature of community togetherness, shared problem-solving efforts, and solutions that keep the entire community healthy and happy creates a gentle lesson in proactive thinking and cooperative support systems that read-aloud adults will find especially inviting for discussions about individual and community effort.

The Day I Had a Dinosaur
Ashley Wall and Vaughan Duck
MamaBear Books
9781960616111, $17.95 Hardcover/$2.99 eBook

The Day I Had a Dinosaur is a first-person picture book story that opens with an ordinary day playing in a sandbox. When the ground shakes, an unexpected Tyrannosaurus Rex enters a young boy's life. They become instant buddies. He's not alone in his new friendship, however. Again, the ground rumbles, and his friend Noah appears, riding a Brachiosaurus. What do good friends do? They go to the park to play.

Ashley Wall and Vaughan Duck pair whimsical illustrations with educational information throughout, from the pronunciations of the dinos to accompanying scientific information about their natural history.

Perhaps predictably, the kids' playground doesn't work for the big dinosaurs. So, they have to get creative and invent their own play space that welcomes their new large friends. As more dinos make their appearance, accompanied by human pals, the story exudes a delightful atmosphere of fun paired with dinosaur facts that read-aloud adults will find delightfully entertaining and educational, all in one. More is going on here than play and dinosaur facts alone, however.

Embedded into the story are accompanying messages about diversity, friendship, problem-solving, adaptation, and building inclusive support systems. These themes will especially delight adults looking for picture books that feature basic examples of cooperative thinking.

Libraries and adults will choose The Day I Had a Dinosaur for its delightful blend of whimsy and thought-provoking underlying messages, which will encourage conversation and enlightenment among young audiences.

Ame Dyckman, author
James Burks, illustrator
Two Lions
Amazon Publishing
9781662510830, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: A family is excited to go camping! But they don't know what they're doing, and it does NOT go well. Then they see Campingland, a perfect indoor camping theme park! Perfect temperature. Perfect "fishing." Perfect "animals." But... PERFECTLY BORING!

Will they give outdoor camping another try? Be a little more prepared? A lot more relaxed? And NOT hug any skunks this time?

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish, "Campingland" by the team of author/storyteller Ame Dyckman and artist/illustrated James Burks is an ideal and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: Ame Dyckman ( is the author of many books for children, including Don't Blow Your Top!, How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide, and the New York Times bestselling Wolfie the Bunny.

Editorial Note #2: James Burks ( has worked in the animation industry on various movies and television shows for many years. He is the creator of the graphic novel series Bird & Squirrel, Agent 9, and Haggis and Tank Unleashed. He is also the author-illustrator of the picture book Pigs and a Blanket, and he has illustrated many other picture books.

Joan of Art
Lesa Engelthaler, author
Brooke O'Neill, illustrator
Morehouse Publishing
c/o Church Publishing Incorporated
9781640656765, $19.95, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: What do an ancient teenage warrior and a modern-day aspiring elementary school artist have in common? Nine-year-old Joan is about to find out.

"Joan of Art" by author/storyteller Lesa Engelthaler and artist/illustrator Brooke O'Neill is an empowering picture book tale of friendship and self-affirmation in which a young girl dreams of being an artist, but struggles to find the courage to share her dreams with others.

Joan is so afraid to be laughed at or misunderstood that her friends have never even seen her drawings! But when a school assignment unveils the remarkable accomplishments of her medieval namesake, Saint Joan of Arc, young Joan must grapple with what it means to be brave, even if that means finding the courage to be yourself.

Critique: Charming and with a Christian/Family Values message about courage, "Joan of Art" is an impressive blending of lush illustrations supporting tender prose for children ages 5-8. Highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted that "Joan of Art" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note #1: Lesa Engelthaler ( is a speaker and author who has written for publications such as as The Dallas Morning News and Christianity Today. Passionate about empowerment, for over 10 years she has collaborated with House of Hope to help women and girls in difficult situations overcome adversity. Lesa earned a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies from Columbia International University, and is Senior Associate for Victory Search Group, where she assists nonprofits to recruit transformation leaders. She serves on the Economic Security Grants Review Committee for the Texas Women's Foundation.

Editorial Note: Brooke O'Neill is a graphic designer and illustrator who has provided art for several books for children, including Texas Baby, and the Carl Can series. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she received a BA in Graphic Design from Illinois State University in 2008. (

Bunny Loves Beans
Jane Whittingham
Pajama Press
9781772783018, $17.95, HC, 24pp

Synopsis: Preschoolers will enjoy exploring the bright colors, healthy foods, and a variety of adorable animals in "Bunny Loves Beans", a multilayered Big, Little Concepts book. Just like the endearing animals around the world, we eat greens, reds, and blues too! "Bunny Loves Beans" explores the wonderfully similar and different food that preschoolers and animals both eat.

A fun picture book that serves as a great introduction to fruits and vegetables, and the upbeat language paired with the adorable photographs are sure to encourage little ones to eat their fruits and vegetables! By the end of "Bunny Loves Beans", preschoolers' will love to eat their greens, yellows, blues, and even pinks with this adorable photographic book!

The rhythmic text by Jane Whittingham is ideal for an energetic read-aloud experience, and the repetitive language will boost a preschoolers' word recognition.

Critique: The chant-along text supports pattern recognition for language learning and reading readiness, and a closing spread of enriching age-appropriate activities invite further exploration and learning, and its tough format with a padded cover, rounded corners, and extra-heavy pages makes it a sturdy choice for repeated reading fun. Simply stated, "Bunny Loves Beans" is an ideal, high value, and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library picture book collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note: Jane Whittingham ( is a librarian from Burnaby, British Columbia, and earned her Masters of Library and Information Sciences at UBC with an emphasis on children's librarianship and literature.

Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess
Janet Hill
Tundra Books
9781101917930, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Miss Wilhelmina Moon is a dog governess. At her first placement, on a small island off the coast of France, her new charges (sixty-seven dogs of all shapes, sizes and colors) run wild. But armed with patience and a passion for teaching, as well as her companions, Mitford the monkey and Petunia the French bulldog, Miss Moon soon imparts twenty important lessons to her furry brood. Some are practical, some are playful, one or two are a little unusual, but all are necessary for the raising of happy, healthy and well-mannered dogs (and humans).

Critique: Illustrated throughout with museum quality artwork by author/artist Janet Hill, "Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess" is an original, eloquent, elegant, and fun read from start to finish for children ages 2-7. "Miss Moon" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collection -- and the personal reading lists of any and every child with a canine companion of their own.

Editorial Note: Janet Hill's work is both elegant, yet whimsical, often with an underlying narrative that instantly captures the imagination. Her painting style evokes a sense of nostalgia, mystery, humor and comfort. Her work is displayed in private collections throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Some of Janet's corporate clients include Tiffany & Co., Hallmark UK and Harper Collins. Her work has also been featured in Uppercase Magazine, Matchbook Magazine, Design Sponge, This Is Glamorous, The Neo-Traditionalist and Oh Joy! Janet paints in a small in-house studio and lives with her husband, John, an independent bookseller, and their cat and dog.

What's the Hurry, Helma?
Verena Zannantoni, author
Henk Van Der Dugten, illustrator
Independently Published
9798989160402, $17.99, HC, 34pp

Synopsis: All systems go. It's time to buckle up. Children will fully enjoy taking off with Helma the Rescue Helicopter and her teacher Bernie, the pup in "What's the Hurry, Helma?" as they zip through Northern Italy on their first mission to help friends in need. But Helma is always in a hurry! Will she slow down and succeed?

Taking place in the South Tyrol area, this Italian region is known for its stunning natural beauty, and the mountains and lakes provide the perfect backdrop for Helma's first day as a rescue helicopter. Her whirlwind adventures are depicted in an entertaining way, whilst also teaching kids the value of slowing down and listening to others.

Critique: Visually enhanced with the cartoon-style illustrations by artist Henk Van Der Dugten, "What's the Hurry, Helma?: Choppy Rescue Adventures in Italy" is an original, fun, funny, and entertaining children's picture book from start to finish. All the more impressive when considering that it is author Verena Zannantoni's debut as a picture book author, and unreservedly that it's unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "What's the Hurry, Helma?: Choppy Rescue Adventures in Italy" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798989160419, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note #1: Growing up surrounded by the tall mountains of Northern Italy, Verena Zannantoni fell in love with books at an early age. She wiggled her way through so many stories at her local library that one year she even set a record for borrowing the most books.

After obtaining her master's degree in communications in Germany and various jobs in the entertainment industry in Australia, she settled down in New York City, working at the international publishing house Conde Nast.

The Vibes Book
Hannah Clarke, author
Aki, illustrator
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
9781645470823, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "The Vibes Book" by author/storyteller Hannah Clarke and artist/illustrator Aki is a sweet picture book story that follows a young girl who realizes the different ways vibes can affect our experience of the world, both passively and actively, and what happens when you start to notice all the magical energy around you.

Vibes can be a difficult concept for kids to understand, and "The Vibes Book" immerses children in the world of vibes with simplicity and humor. It shows the negative impact bad vibes can create and the awesome power of good vibes. Bad vibes don't feel very good and tend to multiply if you let them get out of control. Good vibes can make someone's day if they are feeling down, and the power of positive vibes helps create a better, more interconnected world.

The spacious simplicity of scenes paired with the vibrant, dynamic swirls of vibes in the artwork help bring the world of vibes alive for children to explore.

Critique: A 'vibe' is an aura or energy field said to enclose a human body or any animal or object. "The Vibes" from Bala Kids is thoroughly 'kid friendly' and appropriate reading for children ages 3-7 and an unreservedly recommended and very special pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library Health, Emotions, and Feelings picture book collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Vibes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Hannah Clarke is a filmmaker and publicist based in Wellington, New Zealand. She has worked for Peter Jackson's visual effects company on such films as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and Avatar. Her 2009 documentary, Flight of the Conchords: ON AIR, covering the rise to fame of New Zealand comedians Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, screened internationally on HBO and the BBC. Hannah is a mother of three kids who often ask her about vibes. Upon discovering that no books existed on the subject, she decided to make one!

Editorial Note #2: Aki is the pen name of Delphine Mach who has been writing and illustrating since 2008. After studying graphic design at the Duperre School in Paris, she began her career in children's books as co-author and illustrator of the Santi & Jo series. She then developed the Pan and Chat series and wrote her book The Weather Girls.

Where Is My Nose?
Lucas Zanotto
Tra Publishing
9780966438888, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Where Is My Nose?" by Lucas Zanotto is the humorous and heartwarming picture book story about a dog who wakes up without his nose and sets out on a search to find it. Despite the obvious challenge of searching without a nose, the dog explores various places.

At the seaside, he mistakes a fluffy white cloud for his nose. Underwater, he spots something red that he hopes might be his nose, only to discover it's a fish. As our canine protagonist continues his quest for his nose, he realizes how far he has come and the wonderful things he has discovered. Curious about what more he can find in this vast world, he decides to keep searching.

"Where Is My Nose?" is a beautifully designed die-cut book is printed on luxurious, heavy-stock paper, matte coated with a varnish, that transmits silky tactile elegance. Die-cut elements provide for an interactive reading experience and lessons on perspective sure to delight parents and young readers alike.

Critique: Original, fun and funny from start to finish, author/illustrator Lucas Zanotto's "Where Is My Nose?" from Tra Publishing will prove of immense interest to young fans of interactive picture book stories of the zany and unusual. Solid entertainment throughout, "Where Is My Nose?" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-5.

Editorial Note: Lucas Zanotto ( is the founder of the children's app company YATATOY and a designer, animator and director based in Helsinki.

Do We Get a Snack for That?
Chris Hedrich, author
Dalton Cianek, illustrator
Sweetgrass Books
c/o Farcountry Press
9781591523468, $16.95, PB, 32pp

Synopsis:"Do We Get a Snack for That?" by the team of author/storyteller Chris Hedrich and artist/illustrator Dalton Cianek follows the delightful shenanigans of two pet dogs, Lance and Stanley, as they help out around the house, do yard work, entertain their people, and exercise Jack the cat. Will they get snacks for their efforts?

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, and appropriate for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8, "Do We Get a Snack for That?" is author/storyteller Chris Hedrich attractively engaging story of two dogs and how they go about earning themselves treats. Charmingly backgrounded against artist/illustrator Dalton Cianek's visually entertaining images, "Do We Get a Snack for That?", is an unreservedly recommended picture book that will have a very special appeal for young readers -- especially if they have canine companions of their own!.

Editorial Note #1: Chris Hedrich is a retired banker who has always enjoyed writing. She lives in White Sulphur Springs, Montana along with her husband Barry, where they own and operate 2 Basset Brewery.

Editorial Note #2: Dalton Cianek is a Registered Nurse and self-taught graphic designer - illustrator. He and his wife Molly, also an RN, live and work in Rochester, Minnesota.

Daisy's Near CATastrophe
Debra Westgate Silva, author
Yorris Handoko, illustrator
Luminohr Books
9798988185444, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Daisy is a kitten who opens doors. When her family goes on vacation, she is sent to a cat kennel. This feisty kitten won't stay there -- not without her dog-sibling Bear! Daisy uses her special talent to escape and sets out to find Bear... and finds trouble instead. But a kitten who can open doors is also a kitten who doesn't give up, especially when she has a little help from a special dog who finds missing pets.

This picture book tale of persistence, friendship, and the bond between pets is based on actual events of a missing kitten and the K9 team that helped to rescue her. Children will delight in looking for clues of the rescue efforts in the delightful illustrations.

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Debra Westgate Silva and artist/illustrator Yorris Handoko, "Daisy's Near CATastrophe: A Children's Book Based on the True Tale of a Missing Kitten and the K9 Team That Helped to Rescue Her" is a thoroughly charming and highly recommended picture book for children ages 4-8. While an ideal pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Daisy's Near CATastrophe" is also readily available from Luminohr Boks in a paperback edition (9798988185451, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note Debra Westgate Silve ( has devoted most of her working life to teaching struggling readers. She's creative and enjoys photography, painting, and most of all, writing, and her trusty pen, while not purple, has led her down many fun story paths. Deb is also goal-oriented, determined, and continues to believe that yes, she can! Above all else, Deb believes in the power of books.

Bunnygirl: Treehouse Friends
Holly Jayne
Berbay Publishing
9780645069679, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: James lives in the most amazing treehouse, but no one is allowed come inside of it. He just doesn't feel comfortable with people.

That is, until he meets Bunnygirl. After all, who could be intimidated by a girl dressed in a bunny costume?

Naturally, Bunnygirl is determined to help James. Plus James has a few surprises of his own!

Critique: An utterly charming graphic novel style picture book story of friendship and empathy by author/illustrator Holly Jayne, "Bunnygirl: Treehouse Friends" is a fun read from start to finish and especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note: Holly Jayne ( was born in Melbourne and now lives on Australia's Gold Coast. She has been making animals, figurines and jewellery since she was in primary school. Holly first created the character of Bunnygirl as a little polymer clay figurine, then later on an enamel pin design so cute it sold out in her Etsy shop. She knew there was a story there and had to write a comic to go with it: Bunnygirl is the feel-good result.

The Most Delicious Soup and Other Stories
Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Berbay Publishing Pty Ltd.
9781922610614, $18.99

Mariana Ruiz Johnson's "The Most Delicious Soup and Other Stories" is ably translated into English by Rosalind Harvey. It provides young picture book readers with delightful, whimsical short story adventures experienced by a host of creatures, from giraffes and rabbits to snakes, mice in wheelchairs, and more. All these reside at Villa Verde, where friendships are tested (in the short piece 'Firm Friends', about a young crocodile and his troublesome new pet Thunder). A library beckons with surprises on a rainy day when there's nothing to do (in 'Journeys on Paper') and young Gina, who wants everything she sees at the market, discovers that tantrums and demands don't always dominate life (in "That's Enough, Gina!"). "The Most Delicious Soup and Other Stories" offer lessons and fun that read-aloud parents and care givers will enjoy exploring.

Clara Anganuzzi
Tiger Tales
9781664300408, $18.99

Strong is the story of Maurice, an atypical dragon who differs from all others in his desire to be peaceful, gentle, and non-threatening, despite his fire-breathing heritage. Just because he cultivates serenity, however, doesn't mean that Maurice isn't strong. He can be strong in different ways, which come to light when his brother needs help. This may be the perfect opportunity to transmit better ways to others around him -- those who would rather use fire than peace to solve problems. Lovely illustrations assure visual attraction and interest in a read-aloud story that parents and care givers will want to use to reinforce discussions about peace and strength.

This Wolf Was Different
Katie Slivensky
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781665900959, $18.99

"This Wolf Was Different" enjoys engaging illustrations by Hannah Salyer as it follows the life of a young wolf who doesn't exhibit the typical predatory traits of her siblings. She prefers staying in the den rather than getting into trouble and having adventures; she doesn't like to fight and explore like her siblings do, and each night she wishes she were more like them ("a real wolf"). But she isn't like anything around her, which makes her feel lonely and odd. When she meets another creature who also diverges from the norm, a fine adventure evolves. "This Wolf Was Different is highly recommended reading for read-aloud parents and care givers whose kids feel 'different'.

We Love You As Much as the Fox Loves Its Tail
Masiana Kelly
Inhabit Media
9781772274769, $17.95

We Love You As Much as the Fox Loves Its Tail features attractive drawings by Tamara Campeau as it explores how a new baby is welcomed to the family. Joy, celebration, and appreciation permeate an enthusiastic sense of welcoming as the baby's arrival is compared to various facets of nature, which the family also celebrates. Picture book read-aloud parents and care givers seeking engaging, simple stories of a family's expansion will find the joy and color presented in this story to be outstanding.

Tilbury House Publishers

Two new arrivals from Tilbury House give readers food for thought in fun picture book tales.

Jennifer Dupuis's This is Not My Lunchbox (9781668936856, $18.95) will reach ages 4-8 with a story that excels in lovely, colorful illustrations by Carol Schwartz. Whose lunch box is filled with snails, spiders, and eggs? Certainly it's not a young camper boy's. But, who would eat these things? Why, the downy woodpecker, for one. As the boy draws connections between different foods and their special eaters, subjects of biodiversity and ecology offer young naturalists fine lessons in who eats what in the wild.

I Am Gravity by Henry Herz (9781668936849, $18.95) receives inviting drawings by Merce Lopez as it pairs a first-person reflection by Gravity with insights on its pull both on Earth and the universe. Kids will learn about the science of gravity while being entertained by historical reflection and insights that reinforce STEM learning approaches. Both are highly recommended picks.

Sleeping Bear Press

Lovely new picture book arrivals from Sleeping Bear Press are highly recommended picks for elementary-level library collections.

First up is Judy Young's T is for Trails: A Hiking Alphabet (9781534112773, $18.99), which will appeal to ages 6-10 with a story further enhanced by Sharisse Steber's exceptionally colorful illustrations. Poetry and expository text contribute to an A-Z exploration of hiking and the outdoors. These capture the hiker's experience, impart lessons on safety and making the most of the outdoors, and include tips on gear, trail etiquette, and more. Encounters cemented by eye-catching illustrations thus provide invaluable tips on how to explore nature.

Frank Murphy and April Groman's A Voice Like Yours (9781534112971, $18.99) receives inviting illustration by Kayla Harren as it contrasts the lives and voices of people around the world, revealing how they lend to communication and understanding. From kind acts to sign language and different forms of verbal and nonverbal communication, kids learn volumes about expression, intention, and how understanding may be promoted in different ways. Its further insights on adaptive communication for those with disabilities will broaden all young readers' knowledge.

Gauri Dalvi Pandya's A Kurta to Remember (9781534113107, $18.99) enjoys illustrations by Avandi Dwivedi as it tells of a little girl's move from India to a new country. But, how will she maintain contact with those she loves at home when they are an ocean apart? Insights on staying connected to extended family and friends and ways of making sure lives remain engaged and meaningful accompany all sorts of insights on India's culture, with references to Marathi words expanding a child's insights on Indian traditions and heritage.

Kim Michele Richardson's Junia: The Book Mule of Troublesome Creek (9781534113039, $18.99) is quite simply a standout, between its story of how a mule carries her Book Woman through backcountry Kentucky to bring library books to rural readers, to exceptionally vivid illustrations by David C. Gardner which capture the excitement of Junia's experiences. Picture book readers receive a vivid coverage of adventurous Book Woman Junia's experience on the roads. Parents will find it the perfect read-aloud tale.

A Little Bit of Everything by Meghana Narayan (9781534112926, $18.99) is packed with colorful illustrations by Michelle Carlos. It explores a daughter's birth and her parents' wisdom about her life's meaning ("You have a little bit of where you go, and a bit of who you meet. You have a little bit of the things you do, and a bit of who you want to be."). Amaya absorbs these early lessons in value as she grows into her life, but when a new baby arrives, how can she transmit similar wisdom to her new sibling?

Each of these lovely new picture book stories are engaging, educational, and thought-provoking, offering a diverse set of insights that read-aloud adults and kids alike will appreciate.

Candlewick Press

New arrivals from Candlewick provide inviting examinations and picture books that adults can share with kids to prompt lively discussions.

First up is Liz Garton Scanlon's Everyone Starts Small (9781536226157, $18.99), which pairs evocative images by illustrator Dominique Ramsey with the inviting story of basic ecological systems working in harmony to foster and support life. This connection is emphasized here, from how water helps Tree's thirst and growth to how Sun's rays nurture all life. Even Fire plays a role in supporting living things (even though it may not initially seem positive, to kids). Gorgeous illustrations support Scanlon's fine survey.

Helen Frost and Rick Lieder's The Mighty Pollinators (9781536229103, $18.99) is an exceptionally powerful picture book about creatures that pollinate the world, combining poems with stunning close-up photography of pollinators in action. From ants to flies, butterflies, bees, and moths, this review of 'creatures that hold the world together' is exceptionally alluring.

Caldecott Honor Recipient Aaron Becker's The Last Zookeeper (9781536227680, $18.99) tells of NOA, the last of a crew of seawall construction machines that faces a flooded world alone. NOA finds a new purpose, however, when he must save the animals of an abandoned zoo using his robotic abilities. Sci-fi blends with a message of connection, hope, change, and caring in a captivating wordless picture book that adults will want to enjoy along with youngsters.

Melanie Crowder and Megan Benedict's Great Gusts: Winds of the World and the Science Behind Them (9781536224511, $18.99) receives fine illustrations by Khoa Le as it explores the science of winds and how different cultures around the world describe and define them. From the Japanese 'oroshi' to Libya's 'ghibli', powerful images cement the world-hopping contrasts between wind experiences in a journey that kids will relish.

All of these new titles from Candlewick Press are highly recommended for read-aloud discussion and insights.

Wm. B. Eerdmans

New arrivals from Eerdmans offer young picture book readers intriguing topics, while read-aloud parents will appreciate their special approaches.

A learning opportunity is provided by Olga Fadeeva in Water: Discovering the Precious Resource All Around Us (9780802856227, $18.99). This will appeal to readers ages 8 and older, with its illustrations and survey of the importance of water and what happens when there is either too much or too little of a good thing. Lena Traer translates this invitation to review history and science into a survey that engages kids in a sense of discovery through facts and artistic embellishments.

Parents and care givers interested in cultivating both animal affection and gratitude will find Lee Bennett Hopkins produces an attraction for both in Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for Our Animal Friends (9780802855466). Gorgeous illustrations by Lita Judge accompany these poetic celebrations of pets, which will appeal to ages 4-8 with an amusing collection powered by diverse poets and children's authors. Fourteen animals, from kitties to goldfish and gerbils, receive embellishment, insights, and fun observation.

Thea Lu's Here & There (9780802856234, $19.99) gives picture book readers ages 3-5 an appealing story that contrasts different lives on land and sea. The joys of each (and points where their experiences dovetail) make for a read-aloud attraction as sparse text blends with illustrations in ink, colored pencil, and collage to emphasize the parallel (yet contrasting) differences in two lives which each prove satisfying to those living them.

These are all fully recommended picks for picture book readers, elementary-level libraries, and adults looking for inviting, creative read-alouds.

Kalanoit Books

Neri Aluma's The Hedgehog Who Said Who Cares? (9798986396576, $19.99) receives whimsical, attractive illustrations by Amit Trainin as it surveys Hedgehog, who builds his home in the middle of the road, blocking his neighbors Rabbit and Mouse. Though they complain, he simply doesn't care. What will change his mind? This fine picture book includes thought-provoking reflections on community connections, making it a top recommendation for read-aloud adults seeking to engage children in dialogues about kindness, consideration of others, and caring.

Rebecca Klempner's How to Welcome An Alien (9798986396538, $19.99) holds colorful, zany, fun drawings by Shirley Waisman as it reviews the dilemma of an alien family's spaceship, which lands in Dina's backyard. What else is there to do than welcome a stranger with traditional Jewish hospitality? The sci-fi twist and humor blend nicely in a picture book story that holds important underlying lessons on kindness, immigrants, and aliens.

Yirmi Pinkus illustrates Haya Shenhav's 100 Rooms (9781962011990, $19.99), giving the absurd story excellent embellishment as it tells of a man who lives in a house with 100 rooms. Things are always not only in the wrong place, but often far away. Friendships, opportunity, expansive dilemmas, and fun permeate a tale that tackles the idea that more doesn't necessarily translate to better.

Each of these are fine recommendations for elementary-level libraries and adult read-aloud enjoyment alike.

The Elementary Fiction Shelf

Alycat and the Sunday Scaries
Alysson Foti Bourque
Pelican Publishing
9781455627790, $17.99

In the picture book Alycat and the Sunday Scaries, it's Sunday, the day before the start of the school week, and Alycat is scared... not of Sunday, which she ordinarily loves; but Monday. As Alycat outlines all the things that could go wrong on Monday, from rain to a pop quiz she could fail, her wise mother sends her out to play, to "enjoy today."

When Kit the kitten confesses she's afraid to ride her new bike (which is bigger than her last one), Alycat and her friends help her overcome her fear. Then they help Spotty, who has climbed so high that he is afraid to try to get down. As a host of fears unfold and Alycat is called upon to lend a helping paw, young readers receive insights into fear, friendship, and the power of cooperative support.

Adults who choose Alycat and the Sunday Scaries will appreciate how the tale evolves to be about much more than a fear of going to school or confronting the day. They will find that the story's disparate circumstances offer an easy segue into discussions about anticipation, fear, and problem-solving through friendship support, which helps reinforce the value of cooperative actions.

Elementary-level libraries will want to include Alycat and the Sunday Scaries in their picture book holdings as an excellent opportunity for helping the very young address all kinds of fears.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Mr. Barsin's Toy Emporium, second edition
Lois Wickstrom
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9781954519862, $11.99, PB, 230pp

Synopsis: Mr. Barsin never outgrew his imaginary playmate. Instead he merged with his dragon, and together they founded a home for imaginaries to live in, while they await just-the-right-child.
Mermaids, dragons, fairies and gnomes all live in a 4-season terrarium at the back of Mr. Barsin's Toy Emporium.

Mr. Barsin can help your parents see your imaginary playmates. If you haven't got one, you can take one home from his shop. They are free. But there is a price.

Lois Wickstrom is a prolific and accomplished writer of stories for young readers that are hallmarked by the creation of memorable characters and original storylines. This is once again fully illustrated with the newly revised second edition of "Mr. Barsin's Toy Emporium" from Look Under Rocks.

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, "Mr. Barsin's Toy Emporium" is especially recommended to the attention of young readers ages 8-12. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "Mr. Barsin's Toy Emporium" is a highly recommended pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy/Folklore collections.

Editorial Note: Lois Wickstrom ( is a children's author, playwright and scriptwriter. Wickstrom is known for the "Nessie" books written with Jean Lorrah. An extensive listing of her books is available online at GoodReads (

The Lincoln Zoo Rebellion
Art Twain, author
Larry Belling, author
Speaking Volumes, LLC
9798890220363, $14.95, PB, 228pp

Synopsis: An elderly zookeeper who can converse with animals, a pretty young veterinarian, a fugitive African teen, zoo animals, and kids from the American town of Lincoln all join forces in "The Lincoln Zoo Rebellion" -- a rousing revolt to defend zoo animals' rights when a corrupt mayor and his cronies greedily attempt to turn the zoo into an amusement park.

With the publication of "The Lincoln Zoo Rebellion", co-authors Art Twain and Larry Belling have written a lively novel for young readers ages 8-14 that deals with the subject of animal rights and preservation. A fun and engaging read from start to finish, "The Lincoln Zoo Rebellion" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library animal themed fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lincoln Zoo Rebellion" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note #1: Larry Belling's creative history includes playwright and former writer/producer of Clio award-winning advertising campaigns for clients including American Express, Greenpeace (Save the Whales) and The African Wildlife Foundation (Save the Elephants). His first play, a dark comedy called "Stroke of Luck," was a success at the Park Theatre in London, which has optioned three of his one-act plays for next season under the title "For Art's Sake." His most recent play (Love in the Time of Hacking) is about computer hackers, identity thieves, and romance.

Editorial Note #2: Art Twain, childhood friend of Larry Belling, has written and produced over 3,000 radio and TV spots. He is a copywriter, author, musician, music composer and arranger. His award-winning voice work has been heard by tens of millions. Art took the Gap from one store to five hundred stores with his creative and marketing skills. He's won Clios, Emmy, International Broadcast awards and much more.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

Walk the Web Lightly
Mary Pascual
c/o Spark Point Studio
9781684632329, $17.95, PB, 296pp

Synopsis: Naya's family is all about heritage: their art, their traditions, their secret ability to see time. They expect her to follow in their footsteps, creating art and keeping their powers concealed. But she wants to be a doctor -- and you can't do that if you're hiding all the time!

When a chance to go to medical science camp comes up, her family disapproves, but Grandmother challenges her to a contest: if she can weave her soul wrap before the camp begins, she can go; if she fails, she has to say good-bye to her science dreams for good.

With all of the knowledge of time at her fingertips, Naya is sure she can win. But someone is rigging events to learn her family's secrets -- and it turns out that what she doesn't know could jeopardize everyone she loves!

Critique: Carefully crafted, impressively original, as well as a simply thrilling and fun read from start to finish for ages 13-18, "Walk the Web Lightly" is a readily recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Contemporary Fantasy/Magical Realism collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Walk the Web Lightly" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Mary Pascual ( is a writer and artist who believes finding magic is only a matter of perspective. She loves stories about characters with heart and fantastical settings that are more than meets the eye. She got hooked on reading adult science fiction and fantasy in the fifth grade; in retrospect, much of her reading material was completely inappropriate (which probably explains a few things).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Fairy Day Games
Mari Sherkin, author
David Gnass, illustrator
Mascot Kids
9781637555064, $19.95

Fairy Day Games is written by Mari Sherkin and illustrated by David Gnass, and pairs a rollicking rhyme with a fantasy overlay that will delight picture book readers and read-aloud adults seeking a whimsical sense of fun and games.

From the start, the pairing of these fun scenarios by Mari Sherkin with Gnass's lovely, colorful illustrations creates a joyful experience adults will find especially attractive from its opening lines: "Fancied up toadstools and dancehalls in logs/for titmice/and fairies/and even the frogs." It's party time! The songs the fairies sing for others are happy and bright, the dances are lively and fun, and the narrator admits she is 'too large' to attend. As she envisions being welcomed into the party under different conditions, young readers will enjoy the lively tone and uplifting nature of this story. Fairies, friendship, and love - what's not to like?

Parents and care givers seeking a fantasy story replete with action and connection will appreciate the opportunity to engage the very young in a whimsical, animal-character-and-fairy-fantasy based tale of fun and games.

The Music CD Shelf

Victor Vito
Laurie Berkner
Kidz Bob
ASIN: B0CZ2CQCML, $10.49, CD

Synopsis: Listening to the 21 songs that comprise the 25th Anniversary edition of "Victor Vito" young children will enjoy stomping around in their favorite boots and eat a burrito with Victor Vito and Freddy Vasco

With this 25th Anniversary edition of "Victor Vito", Laurie Berkner is celebrating 25 years of her album so that a new generation of children can experience these timeless tunes like never before with remastered versions of our all-time favorites like "The Goldfish," "Victor Vito," "BOOTS," "Moon Moon Moon," and so much more!

Critique: Also available in a vinyl edition ($22.99), "Victor Vito" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library CD Music collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note: Laurie Berkner ( creates some of the most-played children's music in households, classrooms, and early childhood therapeutic/enrichment settings across the globe and beloved by children, parents, and educators alike!

Imagination Time with Patrick
Patrick Adams
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.99 digital

Award-winning children's musician, author, and podcaster Patrick Adams presents Imagination Time with Patrick, his eighth album especially for young people ages 6-12 and their families. The fifteen playful tunes have lyrics that explore silly, crazy, and fun scenarios such as the adventures of a hairless werewolf, an alien dance party, a pet called a "puppy cat", and more. Lively, delightful, and energetic, Imagination Time with Patrick is a choice pick for car trips, children's parties, and rainy day fun. Highly recommended! The tracks are Hairless Werewolf, Zombie Ballerina (feat. Lyric Adams), Fluffy Dinosaur, Football Bat, Space Train, Alien Dance Party, Puppy Cat, Peanut Butterfly, Purple Pepperoni Pizza, Underwater Airplane, Unicorn, Rockin' Oxen, Super Fast Sloth, Time Travel, and Imagination Station.

Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Seasons: Songs to Celebrate All Four Seasons
Katherine Dines
Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Music
$TBA CD / $9.00 digital

Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Seasons: Songs to Celebrate All Four Seasons is a new children's album by award-winning musician Katherine Dines, created to teach young people about as well as celebrate the turning of the seasons. Three upbeat, joyful songs capture the highlights of each season, in this delightfully funny and friendly family album. Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Seasons: Songs to Celebrate All Four Seasons is also highly recommended for public library children's music collections. The tracks are It's Spring!, Baby Birds Sing "Cheep Cheep", Off to Sleepyby... Maybe, Summertime, Tickle It Away, Bye Bye Bug, Autumn, Leaves, Five Jack O'Lanterns, Winter, Snowflake Snowflake Where Did You Go?, and Sleigh Ride.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Sylvia Locke and the Three Bears
David Horn, author
Judit Tondora, illustrator
Independently Published
9798988543015, $5.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

Sylvia Locke and the Three Bears pairs David Horn's first book in the 'TairyFails' series with black and white illustrations by Judit Tondora.

It explores the life of bad girl Sylvia Locke, who lives in Fairy Tale Land. Even though she was abandoned by her parents (who were more interested in travel than in their child), that's no excuse for acting out, bullying other children, and rudeness. This young mischief maker is bent on causing chaos until she receives her come-uppance in the form of an encounter she can't control.

Elementary-level chapter book readers will appreciate how bad girl Sylvia slowly changes as her story moves through a series of adventures that test her mind and mettle. Sylvia, who assumes the role of narrator of her own story early on, is just as funny as the initial observer (the Wizard of FLOSZ)'s introductory report of events in this wild and woolly kingdom: "But after all these years, Sylvia is still living on our dirt road. Misbehaving! She doesn't even help GramGram and Gramps with any farmwork. They have to do it all! Sylvia just sits on the porch in a rocking chair, checking her phone all day. Or she disappears into the woods, and no one can find her. Not even me! My flying bunnies are scared of that forest. I live on this tiny dirt road, posing as a simple farmer. I don't even need my spy gadgets or bunnies to know all about Sylvia. Gram-Gram keeps their front door and windows open."

Sylvia is both irrepressible and impish. It seems like nothing will change her trajectory and attitude... but a magic mirror named Reginald just might do the trick. Secrets, deals, tricks, and traps permeate a different fairy tale atmosphere than most, following Sylvia's antics with satirical wit and action that will keep chapter book readers engaged and laughing. From parents missing in the Mythical Mountains of the Lost, and quests to find the Earrings of Power, to life in Fairytale Land (where "a lot of things want to eat you"), Sylvia Locke and the Three Bears represents original action and humor at their best.

Libraries seeking chapter books vivid in their action and satirical in their presentation of events will relish Sylvia Locke and the Three Bears as a fine acquisition. It's highly recommended for elementary chapter book readers seeking a fresh, original voice and novel atmosphere in their fantasy reading.

Monkey Moon
Wisdom Tales
c/o World Wisdom
9781957670065, $19.95, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: "Monkey Moon" is a delightful rendering of a whimsical Asian fable about looking beyond appearances by author/illustrator Demi who retells the story of monkey mountain, an idyllic land where the monkeys frolic and play under the light of the full moon.

One evening, a monkey notices the moon at the bottom of the well. "Help! Help! The moon has fallen into the well!" he says. The other monkeys also see the moon and decide that they must rescue it by forming a chain down into the well. But when the bottom monkey tries to scoop the moon out of the water, it breaks into many pieces!

Young readers will enjoy finding out how the monkeys eventually rescue the moon in this timeless Asian fable, which teaches us that things are seldom what they seem.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated throughout, Demi's new picture book, "Monkey Moon" from World Wisdom, is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Folklore/Fairy Tale collections for children ages 4-8.

Night Stories: Folktales from Latin America
Liniers, author/illustrator
Toon Books
9781662665295, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Classic Latin American folktales get an update in "Night Stories: Folktales from Latin America", a new collection by celebrated author/artist Liniers and illustrated in a graphic novel style.

An Eisner Award winner, Liniers brings his exuberant cartooning style and irrepressible sense of humor to the spooky folktales of his childhood, telling three from across Latin America: the Iara, a mermaid (or a pink dolphin?) who lures young men to her underwater domain in the Amazon basin; La Lechuza, an enormous owl with the face of a woman, who terrorizes people who venture out after dark (a legend found in Mexico, Chile, and Uruguay); and La Luz Mala, a spooky, evanescent light that menaces gauchos and other travelers on the Argentine pampas.

Liniers animates these thrilling tales with lighthearted twists. Combined with informative backmatter on their ecological, cultural, and historical background and a bibliography, these old stories will come alive for all young readers, and be particularly appreciated by those who have grown up hearing them, as well as those who are encountering them for the first time in the pages of "Night Stories: Folktales from Latin America".

Critique: Particularly appropriate for, and unreservedly recommended to family, elementary school, and community library Children's Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology Comics & Graphic Novels collections for young readers ages 7-9, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Liniers' "Night Stories: Folktales from Latin America" from Toon Publishing is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781662665301, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Born in Argentina, Ricard Liniers Siri (a.k.a. Liniers) started his artistic career making fanzines for his friends when he realized he was not made for law school. He won the Inkpot Award for career achievement in 2018, and the Reuben Award for Best Newspaper Comic Strips in 2021. He has more than 30 books published, many of which have been translated to English, French, Italian, Czech, German, Portuguese, Korean and Chinese. He has also illustrated 7 covers of the New Yorker magazine.

The Bilingual Shelf

Miro / I Look
Gavin Bishop
Gecko Press
9781776576104, $16.99, Board Book, 36pp

Synopsis: On each spread of this delightful and bilingual (Spanish/English) board book, vibrant illustrations of faces, animals, toys, and more gaze back at the reader.

Labels give the Spanish and English words for what we see (colors, shapes, eyes, ears, nose, hair) and there are more connections to find in every illustration pair.

Words and images are chosen to include the unexpected and imaginative alongside the obvious, making this more than just a first-words book. This is a bilingual book for parent and child to learn and explore together, to ask questions, point, and talk -- or to simply enjoy quietly alone.

Critique: Fun, effective, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, this bilingual board book edition of Miro / I Look by author/artist Gavin Bishop will prove a prized and enduringly appreciated pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library bilingual & board book collection for children ages 3-8.

Editorial Note: Gavin Bishop has published over 70 books internationally, translated into 12 languages. He has written for television and stage, as well as libretti for two children's ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. He was made President of Honour of the New Zealand Society of Authors. (

Los mas Pequenos: A Sing-Along Book in English and Spanish
Nathalia Palis, author
Gabriela Garay, illustrator
First Start Music
9798990238909, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Author and musician Nathalia Palis's song "Los mas Pequenos" comes to life in this beautifully illustrated bilingual sing-along children's book. From the patient spider to the busy bee, young children will enjoy discovering amazing little creatures and their unique superpowers and will want to grab a magnifying glass and continue to discover how much we can learn from every little thing!

Critique: With the charming illustrations of Gabriela Garay in full support of author/storyteller Nathalia Palis original picture book story, this bilingual (Spanish/Englished) edition of "Los mas Pequenos" is a fun read from start to finish. While also available from First Start Music in a paperback edition (9798218376482, $12.99), "Los mas Pequenos" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library bilingual children's nature picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Nathalia Palis, LMFT, MT-BC, is a notable children's songwriter and performer originally from Barranquilla, Colombia. She has released five award-winning albums of bilingual music for kids and was a grand-prize recipient of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition in 2023. Nathalia's cites her South American heritage and passion for bilingual education as driving forces behind the content she creates.

Editorial Note #2: Gabriela Garay Garza is a versatile illustrator, graphic designer and motion graphic animator from Mexico City with over 15 years of experience. Upon graduating from Universidad Tecnologica de Mexico (UNITEC), she has worked in advertising, retail graphics, TV motion graphics and independently as Mandala Mandala MX.

The Psychology Shelf

Bruno the Angry Bulldog: Anger Management Tips
Melba Smith-Dudley
Dorrance Publishing Company
9798890272966, $17.00, PB, 24pp

Synopsis: Bruno is a sweet little Bulldog, but sometimes when he is angry, he acts out. He barks loudly and destroys things, which makes his friends afraid. Bruno does not understand why his friends do not want to play with him. Why don't they want to be his friend?

With the help of his parents, Bruno learns how to turn his anger into something good. His parents teach him that even though feeling angry is normal, he must turn his destructive behavior into constructive behavior.

Critique: "Bruno the Angry Bulldog" by Melba Smith-Dudley teaches young children ages 4-9 how to recognize and handle their big emotions in a healthy way and is an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skill/ Life Lessons picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Melba Smith-Dudley has written a book of poetry, and now a children's book. She grew up in New Orleans, La. went to Southern University, received a master's degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. and also an Institute of Children's Literature diploma in 1983. She has 10 grandchildren and several great-grands.

The Christian Shelf

Courage at the Castle
Marianne Hering
Focus on the Family
c/o Tyndale House Publishers
9781646071234, $9.99, HC, 191pp

Synopsis: When kids step into the Imagination Station, they travel back in time and across the world with cousins Patrick and Beth. Each book is this series by Marianne Hering historically accurate, and young readers will grow in their faith and knowledge of big historical events as they race through each unforgettable story.

"Courage at the Castle" is really is a different kind of adventure for cousins Patrick and Beth. After visiting the USSR in the sixties to help a Swedish pastor smuggle Bibles to believers in Russia, the cousins are swept away to fifteenth-century England to learn how the English Bible even came to be -- and the real costs it would take to make that possibility a reality.

They also meet Christian hero William Tyndale, as well the furious King Henry VIII. Patrick and Beth begin to see that God's people have always had enemies desperate to stop the spread of His love and truth.

Critique: "Courage at the Castle" is the 31st title in the unique and outstanding 'The Imagination Station' Christian fiction series by Marianne Hering. It is particularly appropriate for young readers ages 7-12 and is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Courage at the Castle" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Marianne Hering ( is the creator of the Imagination Station book series, which she started by writing for her twin sons and are published by Focus on the Family and distributed by Tyndale House Publishers.

Books in Series

Black Excellence Project series
The Lerner Publishing Group

The Lerner Publishing Group is a leading publisher of non-fiction series for young readers. One of their African-American themed series for children ages 9-14 is their 'Black Excellence Project', an eight volume series showcasing African-Americans in music, politics, sports, entertainment, business, arts, literature, activism, and 'STEM'. Three new additions to this simply out standing series are:

Black Achievements in Business: Celebrating Oprah Winfrey, Moziah Bridges, and More
Robert P. Dixon Jr.
9781728486659, $30.65 Library Binding, $10.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 32pp

All types of businesses can help the economy while uplifting the communities they serve. Black business owners have opened restaurants, started media companies, and more. Their work celebrates culture, creates community hubs, and helps pave the way for more people to start their own businesses. From Reginald F. Lewis to Cathy Hughes to Houston White, learn about how Black businesspeople in the past and present have found success and inspired future generations.

Black Achievements in Arts and Literature: Celebrating Gordon Parks, Amanda Gorman, and More
Elliott Smith
9781728486642, $30.65 Library Binding, $10.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 32pp

There are many forms of art, and all of them have changed over time. In literature, dance, and fine arts, artists and writers have shared Black life, culture, and history. Many of them have broken barriers and inspired future generations. Celebrate the artists and writers who have excelled in the past and present, including author Jason Reynolds, dancer Misty Copeland, artist Kehinde Wiley, and poet Nikki Giovanni.

Black Achievements in Activism: Celebrating Leonidas H. Berry, Marley Dias, and More
Dr. Artika R. Tyner
9781728486611, $30.65 Library Binding, $10.99, $10.99 Kindle, 32pp

Activism focuses on changing systems. Black activists address injustices in everything from education to the environment. Throughout history, activists have led protests, researched policies, organized community members, and more to transform the world around them. Shine a light on how activists such as Mari Copeny, John Legend, and Marian Wright Edelman have led change in their communities and worked to make justice possible for everyone.

Critique: Informed and informative, profusely illustrated, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, the entire Black Achievement series for young readers ages 9-14 will prove to be enduringly appreciated and unreservedly recommended picks for elementary school, middle school, and community library African American themed collections.

Editorial Note: Lerner Publishing Group creates the highest-quality nonfiction and fiction content for children and young adults in a variety of subjects and formats. Based in Minneapolis since its founding in 1959, Lerner Publishing Group is one of the nation's largest independent children's book publishers with fourteen imprints.

My Life With series
Amicus Publishing

Amicus Publishing specializes in non-fiction books in series for elementary school library and classroom collections. One of their newest for children ages 6-9 is the 'My Life With' series by author/storyteller Mari Schuh and artist/illustrator Alice Larsson.

My Life with a Parent in the Military
9781645497240, $35.70 HC, $10.99 PB, 24pp

Meet Gracen! She likes karate and ice skating. Her dad is in the military. Gracen is real and so are her experiences. Learn about her life in this illustrated narrative nonfiction picture book for elementary students. Gracen sheds light on what it's like to move often and have her dad away from home, with the help of experienced children's author Mari Schuh. Gracen's story is augmented by colorful, realistic illustrations. A dyslexic-friendly font promotes accessibility. Includes tips for kids about respecting military families.

My Life with a Grandparent with Alzheimer's Disease
9781645496663, $35.70 HC, $10.99 PB, 24pp

Meet Elias! He likes swimming and robotics. He and his family also share their home with his grandmother, who has Alzheimer's disease. Elias is real and so are his experiences. Learn about his life in this illustrated narrative nonfiction picture book for elementary students. Abe sheds light on how his family helps his grandmother live with memory loss, with the help of experienced children's author Mari Schuh. Elias's story is augmented by colorful, realistic illustrations. A dyslexic-friendly font promotes accessibility. Includes tips for kids about interacting with people who have Alzheimer's disease.

My Life with Losing a Pet
9781645497219, $35.70 HC, $10.99 PB, 24pp

Meet Abe! He likes hockey and fishing. He also lost his pet dog. Abe is real and so are his experiences. Learn about his life in this illustrated narrative nonfiction picture book for elementary students. Abe sheds light on how his mother's service dog, Odin, was part of the family and how sad he is about the animal's death, with the help of experienced children's author Mari Schuh. Abe is not defined by his grief, but he misses his dog. His story is augmented by colorful, realistic illustrations. A dyslexic-friendly font promotes accessibility. Includes tips for kids about interacting with friends who are grieving.

My Life with Losing a Sibling
9781645496687, $35.70 HC, $10.99, 24pp

Meet Peyton! She likes art and science. She also lost her brother to cancer. Peyton is real and so are her experiences. Learn about her life in this illustrated narrative nonfiction picture book for elementary students. Peyton sheds light on how she lived with her brother's sickness and then death, with the help of experienced children's author Mari Schuh. Peyton is not defined by her sadness grief, but she misses her sibling every day. Her story is augmented by colorful, realistic illustrations. A dyslexic-friendly font promotes accessibility. Includes tips for kids about interacting with friends who are grieving.

Critique: With a thoroughly age appropriate approach to sensitive subjects, this simply outstanding series is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community collections. Each of these four individual titles (whether paperback or library binding hardcover editions) comprising this series from Amicus Learning are ideal for home-schooling curriculums as well.

Editorial Note #1: Muri Schuh ( is the author of hundreds of nonfiction books for children. Focusing on beginning readers, Mari covers many science and social studies topics. She also writes educational fiction books.

Editorial Note #2: Alice Larsson is originally from Sweden. She had always dreamed of pursuing a career in illustration and connect her characters with stories. She has a wild imagination and absolutely loves to create fairytale worlds and soft drawings for all ages. When not drawing she spend time with her family and friends -- and reading plenty of books to spark my creativity. (

Maria and Mateo Go on Field Trips series
Hannah Carmona, author
Adriana Predoi, illustrator
Jolly Fish Press
c/o North Star Editions, Inc.

Jolly Fish Press is the children's book imprint of North Star Editions and has published a new four title series, "Maria and Mateo Go on Field Trips" for children ages 6-8. The collaborative work of author/storyteller Hannah Carmona and artist/illustrator Adriana Predoi, this new series features cousins Maria and Mateo, two curious second graders who love experiencing new things, and their school's field trips are the perfect opportunities to do just that.

Operation Rescue The Animals!
9781631638633, $28.50, Library Binding, 48pp

Lions and tigers and bears -- oh my! During a school trip to the zoo, Maria and Mateo get to see all sorts of interesting animals. But their enjoyment quickly turns to concern. Why are all the animals in enclosed spaces? Wouldn't they rather be free? It seems like it's up to the cousins to rescue the animals!

Classical Catastrophe
9781631638510, $28.50, Library Binding, 48pp

At first, Maria and Mateo are thrilled when they learn their next school trip will be to the orchestra. But when Mateo's parents play classical music for them, the cousins feel both sleepy and bored. They struggle to keep an open mind about the orchestra. But if they can succeed, they just might be surprised by how fun the orchestra can be!

Garden of Yuck!
9781631638596, $28.50, Library Binding, 48pp

On a field trip to a flower farm, Maria and Mateo are immersed in the colorful world of plants. But where there are plants, there are also bugs. And if there's one thing Mateo can't stand, it's creepy-crawlies! Can he overcome his disgust to learn the importance of insects for plant life?

Fright at the Museum
9781631638558, $28.50, Library Binding, 48pp

Maria and Mateo are excited for their overnight field trip to the natural history museum. That is, until they learn they'll be sleeping near a model of one of the largest land dinosaurs ever. Now their field trip is turning into a real-life nightmare! Can the cousins overcome their fears to have a great time?

Critique: Featuring high-spirited cousins as they learn more about themselves and the world around them through field trips to a zoo, a natural history museum, an orchestra, and a flower farm, and highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 6-8, it should be noted that each of the four individual titles comprising the volume set, "Maria and Mateo Go On Field Trips" are also available in a paperback edition ($9.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Hannah Carmona ( is the picture book author of Anita and the Dragons, Dazzling Travis, and Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me!, as well as the author of the series Maria and Mateo Take the Stage. She started out as a stage actor, with a BA in theater from Western Kentucky University, and went on to direct children's theater for many years after. Now, when Hannah is not writing, she narrates audiobooks and spends time studying herbal medicine.

Editorial Note #2: Adriana Predoi ( grew up in Romania, where she studied mural art in high school and later earned a BA in Fine Arts. She now focuses on children's illustration and works from her home studio in London. Her style is whimsical and features a touch of magic. She gets inspiration from plants, nature, and best of all, books!

Golden Books
c/o Random House Children's Books

The Little Golden Books is a long standing and premier publisher of fiction and non-fiction titles for children. One of their on-going series is comprised of the biographies of famous people to which they have added three new titles:

Muhammad Ali
Frank Berrios
9780593703892, $5.99, HC, 24pp

This Little Golden Book about Muhammad Ali -- the African-American boxing heavyweight champion, civil rights activist, and the original GOAT (Greatest of All Time). Illustrated by Ken Daley, it is an inspiring read-aloud for children.

Lionel Messi
Roberta Ludlow
9780593652176, $5.99, HC, 24pp

Lionel Messi is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time! Illustrated by Nomar Perez, this Little Golden Book Biography about the record-smashing star forward for Argentina, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Inter Miami is an inspiring read-aloud for young children.

Katie Ledecky
Shana Corey
9780593706251, $5.99, HC, 24pp

As they read her Little Golden Book Biography (nicely illustrated by Jen Bricking) and cheer her on at the Summer Olympics in Paris, children will be inspired by Katie Ledecky who is a world record-breaking American swimmer and two-time winner of the AP Female Athlete of the Year Award.

Critique: While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library Biography collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted that each of these three new titles in the Little Golden Books Biography series is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Frankenstein's Matzah: A Passover Parody
K. Marcus, author
Sam Loman, illustrator
Intergalactic Afikoman
9781951365202, $12.40 HB, 40 pages, Ages 5-9

Synopsis: Are you ready for a Passover adventure that combines science and tradition? Look no further than Frankenstein's Matzah! In this graphic picture book parody of Frankenstein, we follow Vee, the great, great, great Jewish non-binary grand-descendant of Victor Frankenstein, as they strive to become the world's greatest scientist by winning the school science fair.

When Vee's experiment succeeds, chaos ensues, leaving them to grapple with some Frankenstein-size ethical dilemmas. But fear not, young readers, as you can join in on the fun by conducting your own Super Seder Science experiments!

Critique: Written for reading age 5-9 years, Frankenstein's Matzah: A Passover Parody is a book that will captivate young readers and adults alike. This exciting science fiction Passover adventure invites you to join in the joy of Passover and science! Get ready to laugh, learn, and experience the magic of Passover like never with Frankenstein's Matzah! K. Marcus is an exceptional author, who has written a book that will help young children unlock the mysteries of science delightfully. Parents and educators understand the importance of fostering a love for learning in children, and K. Marcus's book does just that. Through captivating storytelling and engaging visuals, children will experience the magic of science and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Bill Bailey, Please Come Home - The Shotgun Shack Kitties
A.N. Stewart, author
Virginia de Mahy, illustrator
ANS Publishing
9781662950971, Hardcover, $20.99
9781662950957, Paperback 16.99, Kindle $8.99, 42 pages

Synopsis: Step into the vibrant streets of New Orleans, where a group of spirited cats discover the enchanting power of music in a heartwarming tale. In the city's heart, a young girl named Eartha opens her home to a collection of feline friends in her cozy shotgun shack.

Surrounded by nature's beauty and filled with love, music, and flowers, the kitties find solace in their new abode. Among them is Bill Bailey, a curious cat yearning to communicate with humans. Through a serendipitous encounter with elder cats, Bill learns the magical language of music to connect with people.

Soon, he and his feline companions embark on a musical journey through the streets of New Orleans, spreading joy with their brass band instruments and infectious melodies.

Critique: Recommended for ages 3-11, Bill Bailey, Please Come Home is a charming story not only celebrates the musical heritage of New Orleans but also highlights the importance of community and the bonds that unite us all. This tale of friendship, music, and interconnectedness will captivate families and educators alike.

A.N. Stewart's exceptional talent shines through in capturing the essence of New Orleans. Through beautiful illustrations and captivating storytelling, Stewart paints a delightful picture of the enchanting city of New Orleans. Join in a journey through the pages of Stewart's work and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of this vibrant city.

Silas on Sundays
Joel Shoemaker, author
Illustrations by Lintang Pandu Pratiwi
Wildling Press
9781957833125, $13.95, PB, $22.95 HB, 32 pages

Synopsis: Step into a realm where possibilities are endless and creativity knows no bounds. Silas on Sundays invites you to let your imagination soar freely, where you can transform into anyone or anything you desire.

Join this enchanting journey of self-discovery and let your dreams take flight. Embrace the magic of Sundays with Silas and unlock a world of infinite possibilities.

Critique: Silas on Sundays invites children to explore their imagination every day of the week! This book sparks creativity, curiosity, and innovation, providing a safe and exciting space for young minds to flourish.

Joel Shoemaker's newest creation highlights the significance of imagination and thinking unconventionally. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to unlock their creative potential and explore new ideas. The superb illustrations in Shoemaker's latest masterpiece capture the essence of the text and take readers on a journey that allows their imagination to run wild.

This talented author has a unique talent for inspiring and motivating readers to embrace their creativity and push the boundaries of what is possible. I feel this book will be a game-changer for anyone ages 4 and up looking to unleash their inner artist and explore new horizons.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

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

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