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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 3 March 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Health Shelf
Writing/Publishing Shelf Education Shelf Holiday Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Sports Shelf American History Shelf
Military Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Multicultural Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Environmental Shelf Biography Shelf
Religion/Spirituality Shelf Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf
Islamic Shelf Fiction Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Multimedia Shelf Activity Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Board Book Shelf ABC Shelf Poetry Shelf
Native American Shelf Books in Series  

Reviewer's Choice

A Different Home: A New Foster Child's Story
John DeGarmo and Kelly DeGarmo, authors
Norma Jeanne Trammel, illustrator
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849059879, $14.95,

"A Different Home" is a children's book about one child's experience of living in a foster care home. Written for foster parents to read to a foster child upon placement in their home, "A Different Home" tells the story of Jessie, a seven year old girl of African American descent, who went to a foster care home from school because her mother was sick and needed special care and treatment to try to get better. Because the story is told from Jessie's viewpoint, it becomes a convincing, reassuring experience for new foster children who may be quite frightened and threatened because of their different home placement. Sensitive, expressive paintings and illustrations convey a myriad of new emotions and reactions often experienced by new foster children, such as fear, unfamiliarity, deep sadness, confusion, guilt, suspicion and mistrust of others, and finally, pleasure, joy, and gradual adjustment to strange new circumstances. Jessie gradually works through some of her complicated reactions to her foster placement and makes a successful adjustment to her different home, while waiting to return to her mother and family when she gets "her stuff worked out." A helpful Afterword called Advice for Foster Parents has a number of practical suggestions for ways to ease a new foster child's adjustment and transition to her different home. Perhaps most important of all is the idea of reassuring the child and telling her it is all right to be scared. Other resources for foster parents are suggested at Also listed is "The Foster Care Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home," by Dr. John DeGarmo, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. "A Different Home" is an excellent tool to help the smooth adjustment of children into foster care, for both children and foster parents.

Am I Pretty?
Lindsey Jensen Berke, author
Susan Shorter, illustrator
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480801066, $16.99,

"Am I Pretty?" is an excellent girls' book that can help build healthy, balanced self esteem in girls, especially when they encounter bullying and competitive behaviors in others. Julia is an imaginative girl who faces sandbox 'princesses' who tell her she must paint her nails in order to be allowed to play with them in their sandbox, because they look the prettiest, and she must conform to join their club. Julia discusses the idea of using nail polish and looking pretty with her mother, who gives her wise counsel. No matter how carefully Julia dresses herself, she wonders, "Am I pretty?" She asks her mom again. The answer is inspiring: "Julia, you are pretty smart... And you are pretty strong... pretty kind... and pretty brave... and pretty amazing. I love everything about you. But 'pretty' is too small a word to describe you. You will always be so much more than pretty." This empowering message is reinforced with descriptions and examples of each trait in Julia's behavior, as well as with resoundingly cheerful, creative, optimistic rainbow colored images and illustrations. "Am I Pretty?" does a spectacular job of dealing with the subject of objectifying beauty in children, while providing basic empowerment to girls with self esteem and body image issues or challenges.

Always By My Side
Susan Kerner, author
Ian P. Benfold Haywood, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595723369, $16.99,

"Always By My Side" is a sensitive children's story in verse about a beloved child who grows up after the death of her father. Based on the author's experience of loss of her husband to cancer before the birth of their first child, "Always By My Side" celebrates the idea that the child growing up without the living presence of her father can still accept that" My daddy is in me and everywhere... he's just here in a different way." Beautifully told in quiet verse and filled with joyous rainbow illustrations of children of different races growing up surrounded with beauty and love, "Always By My Side" is a gentle explanation of the unexplainable for children. Always present is the idea that the gift of life in all its splendor is meant to be treasured, not wasted with sadness. Children can understand that a missing father is still a part of them. This comforting book celebrates that union and presents a healing experience for both parent and child.

The Social Issues Shelf

Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters
Howard Binkow and Reverend Ana, authors
Taillefer Long, illustrator
We Do Listen Foundation
1750 Ben Franklin Drive #11G
Sarasota, FL 34236
9780982616598 $15.00

Part of an excellent, educational series featuring a plucky anthropomorphic rabbit, Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters is an children's picturebook about the basics of good manners. Howard and his friends in the Pup Scouts are preparing for a Good Manners Competition, and they have to learn more about polite behavior! "Joey does not say 'excuse me' when he bumps into people. That is not nice! / The Snorton twins have trouble waiting their turn and cut in line. That is not nice, either." Fortunately, Howard's team has help from the wise teacher Ms. Owlee. "'To have good manners is to do what makes people feel good and comfortable... To have the best manners ever, we must repeat the magical little words, 'I care.'" Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters is especially recommended for parents and educators to share with young children, as it teaches not only the forms of proper behavior, but the reason why they exist - to show consideration and respect for other people. Highly recommended!

Pay It Forward Kids
Nancy Runstedler
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 4T8
9781554553013 $19.95

Pay It Forward Kids: Small Acts, Big Change is a hardcover, nonfiction book featuring fourteen, true-life stories about young people and teens working to make the world a better place. From 16-year-old Hannah Taylor, founder of The Ladybug Foundation to aid the homeless, to 15-year-old Alaina Podmorrow and her charity event efforts to raise money for Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan (an organization dedicated to providing teachers, education, and libraries to Afghan women and girls), to 13- and 16-year-old Jack and Madi Praver's work to combat bullying with kindness, each story is thoroughly inspirational and motivational. Highly recommended, especially for grade school, high school, and public library collections!

The Health Shelf

The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma
M. Maitland DeLand, M.D.
Jennifer Zivoin
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781626340534 $14.95

Asthma is a chronic, non-contagious inflammatory disease of the airways, believed to develop from a mix of hereditary and environmental factors. Symptoms include wheezing and shortness of breath; severe asthma attacks can be fatal. The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma is a children's picturebook created especially to help teach young people about asthma and how it is treated. Whether a child has been diagnosed with asthma, or knows friends, relatives, or classmates with the condition, The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma demystifies both asthma itself and the inhalers or other medical means used to treat it. "'If you feel an asthma attack coming on, you MUST take action. You need to take medicine through an immediate inhaler,' said Katie Kate... 'It's something that helps you breathe in medicine. When you use an immediate inhaler, medicine is gently puffed into your mouth. When you press down on the inhaler container button, take a deep breath in so that the medicine goes right into your lungs...'" The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma is worthy of the highest recommendation for public, school, and children's hospital library collections. Other excellent titles in the series include "The Great Katie Kate Explains Epilepsy", "The Great Katie Kate Discusses Diabetes", and "The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions About Cancer".

1 Year, 100 Pounds
Whitney Holcombe
Simon Pulse
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, NY, NY 10020
9781582704081 $9.99

Teens interested in the process of losing weight will find Whitney Holcombe's autobiography 1 Year, 100 Pounds: My Journey to a better, Happier Life a compelling true story. At age fourteen she weighed 230 pounds and her weight controlled her life. Her autobiography charts her weight loss but also provides practical tips, exercises and habits that lead to permanent change without expensive gym memberships or crash diets. The result is a powerful key to taking control of your life, and is a top recommendation for any teen reader.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story
Rachel Lynette, author
Jan Lieffering, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599535876, $25.27,

From a middle grade educational series called Writing Builders, "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story" presents a components construction toolkit for young budding fiction authors that is appealing, carefully sequenced for optimum understanding, and attractively and clearly presented. Frank wants to enter a story writing contest but he is afraid he doesn't know how to write fiction. Fiona encourages him and helps him find a way to begin. First comes a story map, with brief descriptions of the setting, characters, and story line with beginning, middle, and end. Fiona gives Frank many helpful writing tips to make his story more interesting and vivid. Finally, it is up to Frank to begin writing and then to rewrite the story as needed to build it. Using transitions and sensory details help to place the story's action in the imagination more firmly. At the end a 6 step process is outlined for creating a fictional story, with added special ideas, a glossary, and list of resources, including web sites. "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story" is clearly written with likeable young students as budding authors and illustrated in a fun, quirky, colorful comic style, featuring adults and children of varying racial-ethnic backgrounds. Middle grade students from ages 9-11 will enjoy using this helpful literary tool to create their own works of fiction.

The Education Shelf

All in One Day
Mike Huber, author
Joseph Cowman, illustrator
Redleaf Lane
c/o Redleaf Press
10 Yorkton Court, Saint Paul, MN 55117
9781605542072, $15.95,

"All in One Day" is a colorfully illustrated book featuring children from different ethnic backgrounds joyously participating in one day's schedule of learning experiences in an organized child care setting. Each different day's scheduled activity or event is highlighted and children's activities and participation is described. There is Arrival Time, Morning Meeting, Choice Time, Outside Time, Snacktime, Small-Group Time, Lunchtime, Books & Storytelling Time, Rest Time, Group Time, Snacktime, Choice Time, an unscheduled show time that is the most fun of all, and Departure Time. Throughout the day, Josh, a new boy, and Ari a girl who likes monkeys, play and have fun together planning and producing a great monkey show with spaceships and colored flashlights for spotlights. Grownups appear, observe and applaud the show, and begin to take tired monkeys home. "All in One Day" gives a young preschool child a good idea of what to expect in a day care experience, making the transition to learning and playing with others appealing and fun. Other highly recommended titles from Redleaf Lane by the same author also describe similar preschool education experiences for young children.

The Holiday Shelf

The Puzzles of St. Patrick
Ellen Cook Nibali, author
Lon Eric Craven, illustrator
Fairland Books
PO Box 63
West Friendship, Maryland 21794
9780981815428 $16.95

The Puzzles of St. Patrick: From Slave to Saint is a children's picturebook that tells the true story of St. Patrick, the man whose tireless work to spread the Christian faith among the Irish is annually commemorated by the St. Patrick's Day holiday every March 17th. In the title, "Puzzles" refer to the many difficult and thought-provoking challenges that Patrick had to confront over the course of his life. The story stays true to what Patrick himself wrote about himself, in one of his two letters to survive to the present day. Patrick grew up the son of a noble family, but at age sixteen, raiders kidnapped him from Britain and sold him as a slave in Ireland. He labored as a shepherd for six years, then one day awakened to the voice of God, telling him that a ship would take him home. Patrick made a two-hundred-mile journey, miraculously found a ship, and persuaded the captain to take him with difficulty. But after the arduous voyage home, Patrick had trouble adjusting to the life he used to live. He had a vision calling him to teach the Irish about God, and he followed it, spreading his faith despite being beset by hardship, robbery, and unjust imprisonment. The story concludes with one of the most famous parables popularly assigned to St. Patrick - explaining the Holy Trinity of God as analogous to the three leaves of a humble shamrock. Accessible to readers of all backgrounds and faiths, The Puzzles of St. Patrick is enthusiastically recommended, especially as a way to teach young people about the noble person behind the popular holiday.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Princess Josie
Lisa Paragary Engelken, author
Karen Tarlton, illustrator
3L Publishing, LLC
9780989136051 $18.95

Princess Josie is a children's picturebook about a family and its beloved little white dog. The text tells day-to-day life from the view of Princess Josie, the devoted white dog protecting her "royal family". "When the royal family would take excursions through the kingdom, Princess Josie would forge ahead to make sure that the area was secure." (The artwork shows Princess Josie and her family taking a walk in the park). Of particular note is vivid, slightly abstract painted artwork, which adds a unique touch to the heartwarming story of a dog's love for her family. A photograph of Princess Josie and the author is on the final page. Canine aficionados of all ages will adore this book.

Molly Green Likes Worms
Doss Margiotta, author
Patricia L. Nagy, illustrator
Monograph Publishing
1 Put Lane, Eureka, Missouri 63025
9780985309343, $15.95,

"Molly Green Likes Worms" is an environmental tale that teaches children the valuable role of worms in nature. Written by a retired elementary school teacher, "Molly Green Likes Worms" features a heroine named Molly who likes to garden with her grandmother. Molly's grandmother teaches her that despite a certain "yuck" factor, worms are actually crucial to maintaining healthy, living soil and grass or plants. Because of their good work in providing tunnels for water to refresh the soil, and also because of their digestion of decomposed vegetation and other things, worms actually enrich the earth and make it possible for things to grow well. Worms are fragile, deserving respect and courtesy. When handling a worm, Molly is always gentle, and she returns worms to grassy earth when she finds them on the sidewalk after rain. Worms actually make the earth much more healthy, productive, and beautiful. So Molly decides to say "thank you" to worms by gently supporting their healthy survival whenever and however she can. Enhanced with pleasant, accurate, colored pencil drawings and illustrations, "Molly Green Likes Worms" is a gentle, educational true environmental tale for children age 6 and up.

The Sports Shelf

The Highest Number in the World
Roy MacGregor, author
Genevieve Despres, illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495753 $19.99

The Highest Number in the World is a children's picturebook about a young girl who learns about the importance of appreciating the opportunities she has. Nine-year-old Gabe (Gabriella) Murray adores hockey, and eagerly joins a new team as the youngest member. But the hockey jersey she gets has the number 9 on it - she wanted to have number 22, like her sports idol Hayley Wickenheiser! Devastated and depressed, she considers giving up her spot on the team... until her grandmother comes to teach her a new way of looking at things. Gabe's grandmother informs Gabe how lucky she is to play at all - when the grandmother was a girl, she wasn't allowed to play hockey because of her gender! Furthermore, the number 9 has a special history all its own - it was worn by so many great hockey stars, that it was retired from use in Montreal, and displayed only in the rafters (literally the "highest number"). "'Why, even Wayne Gretzky wanted number 9,' said Grandma. 'When he played junior hockey an older player was already using it, so the coach suggested he double up.' '99,' Gabe said, quietly. 'Now 99 is up in the rafters with all the others...'" A story about recapturing one's spirit and the purehearted love of sports, The Highest Number in the World is highly recommended, especially for young hockey fans!

The Streak
Barb Rosenstock, author
Terry Widener, illustrator
Calkins Creek
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590789926 $16.95

The Streak: How Joe Dimaggio Became America's Hero is a children's picturebook recounting the true story of Italian-American baseball legend Joe Dimaggio. Joe Dimaggio's legendary hitting streak took place just before World War II. For a long time, Dimaggio relied heavily on his favorite bat, Betsy Ann, but then an unknown thief stole Betsy Ann in the middle of a big game - what was a Yankee to do? Sweeping tones of the color illustrations in The Streak capture the intensity, drive, and morale-boosting fervor of baseball; this are emotions America dearly needed, as it struggled with recovery from the Great Depression and headed into the fierce fighting of World War II. The Streak is the tale of a true sports hero, highly recommended especially for young baseball fans everywhere.

The American History Shelf

Alfred the Alligator Visits Mount Vernon
Marie E. Bubelenyi, author
James Balkovek, illustrator
Mascot Books
9781620861615 $14.95

Author Marie E. Bubelenyi and her cheerful alligator hand puppet take young readers on a tour of this place that George Washington once called home in Alfred the Alligator Visits Mount Vernon, a picturebook brought to life with illustrations that have only a slight layer of abstraction distinguishing them from photographs of the location. The text teaches readers about crucial places and elements from the storied life of the America's first President. "Today, we know that it is wrong for one person to own another person. During George Washington's time, many people didn't think it was wrong. Slavery was common which is why George and Martha Washington owned slaves. As George Washington grew older, he began to realize how wrong slavery was, but he did not know how to end it in America without causing major problems for the young country. This memorial at Mount Vernon honors the men and women who worked as slaves at Mount Vernon. Around 150 slaves were buried in unmarked graves in the area around this memorial." As educational as it is entertaining, Alfred the Alligator Visits Mount Vernon is a welcome addition to public and school library children's collections.

Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom
Steven Sellers Lapham & Eugene Walton, authors
R. Gregory Christie, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Pkwy, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
97815853681982, $16.99,

"Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom" is an exciting retelling of a little known event in North American history. Philip Reid was an African slave born in a plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, before the Civil War. Philip worked with his father and craftsmen slaves until he was sold to become an assistant to a craftsman named Clark Mills, who created fancy plaster molding on walls and ceilings of fine houses. Philip moved to Washington, D. C. and learned to make plaster models and to pour bronze statues. He was a highly skilled artisan. When a 19 foot statue called Freedom came to be finished and placed atop the dome of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., he traveled with his master to help with the large plaster model. An Italian craftsman had put the five large sections of the statue together, covering the seams with plaster and making them invisible. He refused to assist in taking the model apart for the foundry until he was given more money, holding hostage the massive plan to complete the bronze statue pour of the plaster model for the Capitol dome. Then an amazing response from Clark Mills offered a solution to the expensive and dangerous dilemma posed by the Italian craftsman. He said, "My assistant, Philip Reid, can solve this puzzle." Philip came forth, examined the statue carefully, found the invisible seams, and directed the other workers in the disassembling of the statue of Freedom into five large pieces, so it could be cast in bronze and completed. This amazing achievement happened while Philip was still a slave, but in time he was freed by the petition of 1862, when slavery ended in the District of Columbia. Historical documents on the end sheets of "Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom" include parts of the Petition of 1862. Realistic paintings in tones of sepia, black, white, and grays portray the statue puzzle reconstruction in "Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom." A historical reconstruction for students ages 6-10, "Philip Reid Saves the Statue of Freedom" casts light on a little known event in black American history.

The Military Shelf

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... in the U. S. Army!
Mark Shyres, author/illustrator
Debbie Hefke, illustrator
Wigu Publishing
c/o Barron Ressler, Publisher
321 Third Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
9781939973054, $12.95,

Part of a middle grade vocational series, "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... In the U.S. Army!" is the story of Jake and his choice of a school project to learn more about how to be a soldier in the U. S. Army. Jake needs to investigate his vocational choice, dress up and give a talk about it at school. He starts with a trip with his dad to the Army Surplus store, where he learns something about the history of American soldiers' uniforms. He also learns more about the symbols and insignia telling of the officer or enlisted man's rank. He learns about patches that designate the soldier's unit. He finally chooses an Infantry Brigade arm patch or badge, learning that the infantry are the foot soldiers and make up the backbone of the Army. He learns much more about service medals and ribbons, and marksmanship badges, as well as body armor, weaponry, helmets, gas masks, and army boots. Finally Jake is ready to give his presentation to his class dressed in uniform, helmet, patches and ribbons, and boots, with a gas mask handy. He tells his class all about learning to be a soldier in the U.S. Army, since that is what he has decided he wants to do when he grows up. Photos of actual soldiers in action and color illustrations keep this lively text interesting and arresting for readers age 10 and up.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Princess Natoree and the Tree Climber
J. B. Dabo, author/illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481272827, $9.95,

"Princess Natoree and the Tree Climber" is a fairytale about overcoming limitations and restrictions for modern readers ages 5-11. Princess Natoree is the beloved royal daughter of Queen Emma and King Oska of the kingdom of Naja. Although Princess Natoree is beloved by both parents, they disagree regarding her choice of playmates. The king wishes to always keep Natoree safe and protected, and he does not approve of some of her favorite playmates because of such things as appearance, or possible differences such as handicaps. On the other hand, Queen Emma wishes her daughter to enjoy playing with many different companions, and also to choose the boy she will eventually marry. Princess Natoree tries her best to reassure her father, and listens to her mother who advises her, "Always look for the happy moments in each day." A contest is engineered by King Oska to choose the best candidate to be Natoree's prince. He will choose the boy who can climb a very tall palm tree, planted when Natoree was born, to the very top. Natoree wishes to get to know all the boys and make her own choice, but King Oska is determined his way is better to protect her future. One applicant for prince position is a former playmate named Matura, who used a crutch to walk because his left leg was not strong. Against King Oska's preference, but with Natoree's full support, Matura enters the contest and gives his best effort, eventually succeeding in climbing the tall palm tree all the way to the top. He is cheered, and Natoree says," I knew he would succeed. He is strong inside, and he never gives up." Thus everyone found a happy resolution, and Matura was selected to become trained to be Natoree's prince. The encouraging message of "Princess Natoree and the Tree Climber" is never despair or give in to restrictions, but always do your best. Plus there is an additional idea, that perhaps one should not judge others by their outward appearance. These inspiring ideas are perfectly represented in the stylized, detailed, poignant, colored illustrations of the fantasy world of Naja.

Stories for Children
Oscar Wilde, author
Charles Robinson, illustrator
O'Brien Press
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
P.O. Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425
9781847175892, $23.95,

"Stories for Children" is a beautiful hardcover edition of three of Oscar Wilde's famous stories for children reissued with original water color illustrations by Charles Robinson. It includes The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose, and the Selfish Giant. These familiar stories are filled with exotic imagery, sparkling witty asides and comments, and heart -rending compassion and love. The delicately tinted water color illustrations in high Romantic fantasy style with tinges of pre-Raphaelite influence are the perfect accompaniment to these three beloved stories selected from the five original stories published in the 1888 first edition of "Stories for Children." One of the familiar and famous illustrations is The palace of Sans-Souci, from The Happy prince. This beautiful edition is a gift to a new generation, well remembered and treasured by past generations and hopefully preserved with joy, pain, and breadth of vision intact for the edification of future hearts and minds.

The Multicultural Shelf

From Lands of the Night
Tololwa M. Mollel, author
Darrell McCalla, illustrator
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario, Canada, L3R 4T8
9780889954984 $19.95

From Lands of the Night is a children's picturebook that touches upon reverence for one's ancestors. As the author explains in a post-story note, "People believe that ancestors possess powers to assist the living during difficult times... Christianity and Islam normally discourage belief in the powers of the ancestors to help the living. But many Christians and Moslems, and people who are neither, still hold this belief. This is the case in many African countries. It's also the case in countries like Brazil and Haiti that have big populations descended from Africa..." From Lands of the Night takes place on an African savannah, from the perspective of a young girl. The girl's entire family is distraught that her baby brother has taken ill, and grows steadily sicker. The family brings him to a healer, who tells them that in order to beseech the aid of their ancestors, they must have a grand and joyful celebration. Indeed, the festivity they hold is so great that it attracts the attention of angels! The kindness of ancestors and angels restores a helpless infant to health in this gentle story, beautifully illustrated with vibrant colors and vivid depictions of traditional African garments and customs.

If You Were Me and Lived In....India
Carole P. Roman, author
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781484930861, $9.99,

Another highly recommended, award-winning educational title by the same author is "If You Were Me and Lived In....India: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World" from the innovative world culture- geography series by the same name, less the individual country's name. Accompanied by a toy cobra, jewel, rupee, and Indian flag, "If You Were Me and Lived in ... India" describes cultural terms such as common Indian names for both sexes, terms such as Maaji and Pitaji for father and mother, common currency used, famous places such as the Taj Mahal, common foods, cuisines, and games. A list of Indian terms and names with pronunciation guide is given at the end and colorful illustrations of Indian children and families in everyday activities abound throughout. This wonderful series is perfect for students from pre-K to age 8 to introduce them to a study of world cultures.

Around the World
Ana Koza, author
Shaun Crum, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
The Barrett Company (publicity)
1202 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600, Los Angeles, CA 90025
9781432799885, $16.95,

In a whirlwind tour of the seven continents of the world, six year old Ellie takes young readers to meet young friends in countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America, plus some penguins and seals in Antarctica. Included are Pedro from Columbia, who helps his dad plant coffee seeds, Eric from Australia, who likes to play soccer with friends, Abassi from Nigeria who likes to read books at bedtime and teach his friends letters and numbers, Mariana from Bulgaria who likes to play at the park and eat shospka salata and kufteta, Madhu from India, who wears a saree and eats paneer tikka masala, and Jessica from Mexico who likes Mariachi music. All the children are special friends and great people, with different skin colors, facial features and traditions. Variety is the spice of life, and children have many common joys and challenges in every setting and culture in the world. Teaching global awareness and respect for others, "Around the World" is a delightful illustrated tour that ends with five different ways to say 'See you next time!' in Spanish, English, Bulgarian, French, and Hindi. Another highly recommended title by the same author that celebrates courtesy and respect for others is called "The Magic Words (9781478703846, $15.95, illustrator Gisela Margarito)." Colorful, mixed photo and cartoon illustrations help highlight the use of polite, magic words when communicating with others. Tommy learns to remember the magic words 'Please' and 'thank you' with patient reminders from his mother. Now he helps teach the magic words to his friends, spreading the joy.

King for a Day
Rukhsana Kahn, author
Christiane Kromer, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600606595, $17.95,

"King for a Day" is a sensitively illustrated story about a boy named Malik who enters a spring kite festival in the celebration of Basant. Cheered on by his loyal sister and brother, Malik deftly engineers his special kite named Falcon from his wheelchair on a rooftop so he can capture and release more kites than anyone else. Soaring illustrations incorporating mixed media collages with fabric textures of lace, burlap, brocade, silk, embroidery and ribbons present a Moslem based community, with contrasting black outlined colorful figures framed by beautiful Moorish pointed arches and towers in silhouette. Ending with a surprise flourish and a secretive deed of great kindness, "King for a Day" is a multi-layered story that resonates with Muslim cultural values and experiences with universal application. Celebrating courage and restraint along with a love of freedom, "King for a Day" has global appeal for young reader audiences everywhere (ages 5-10). First released in 2001 with art by different illustrators, this edition of "King for a Day" is sure to bring a famous Pakistani festival to the awareness of new audiences.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Crystal Lair
D. M. Darroch
Sleepy Cat Press
11107 NE 60th Street, Kirkland, WA 98033
9781890797096, $14.99, 252pp,

Angus Clark is in big trouble. The World Jumper has misfired and sent him to another parallel world. Angus finds himself in a primitive, snowy village with no running water, no electricity, and enormous animals that haven't walked the earth for thousands of years. Together with his body-jumping friend, Ivy Calloway, Angus must battle a prehistoric monster, rescue his little sister, and transport himself back to his own world. That is, if he can find his invention. Will Angus survive the most colossal dung heap he's ever seen? Will Ivy overcome a huge flea infestation? And what will become of the tranquil Clark household when a fierce hunter moves in? The Crystal Lair is the second novel in the Inventor-in-Training series. Angus and Ivy have survived the pirates and now come face-to-face with prehistoric animals, harsh blizzard conditions, and one tough granny. Especially well written and an overall terrific reading experience, "The Crystal Lair" is a humorous science fiction adventure will intrigue middle grade readers looking for something a bit different. Also highly recommended for young readers is D. M. Darroach's novel "The Pirate's Booty" (9781890797065, $13.99).

Madi's Dollhouse
Alexis Powers, author
Jenny Manno, illustrator, John Fitzgibbons, editor
1309 E. Stoney Canyon Circle, Oro Valley, AZ 85737
9781490500584, $10.00,

"Madi's Dollhouse" is a fantasy chapter story about a deaf girl named Madi, who loves a favorite dollhouse made for her by her father. Madi is unable to speak because of her deafness, and her only way to communicate with other is by writing words on a tablet. Home schooled by her devoted mother because the tiny town school is unable to adapt to her special learning needs, Madi grows up intelligent, loved, and secure, but very lonely. She is unable to be part of any small groups of children or games because of her deafness and lack of speech. But she learns to understand, write, and read words and she enjoys trips to the dime store to buy small special things. One day on a memorable picnic with her parents, she discovers a small family of tiny human beings hidden in a flower. Madi can somehow hear and understand what these tiny beings say to her, although no one else can. Impulsively, Madi decides to take the tiny family of four (mom and dad, brother and sister) home to live in her beloved, fully furnished doll house. The family pleads with her not to do this, to let them go, but she is sure they will be happy in her dollhouse. It is a curious experiment. The family decides to remain in the doll house for a while because they see it makes Madi happy. They enjoy human food treats and the doll house library. Finally, though they tell Madi it is time for them to return to their home in the woods, for winter is coming. They ask her to take them back where she found them, explaining that though she means well, her doll house is a prison for them. They have other family members missing them and they need to be free. Madi painfully learns that sometimes the best way to keep something you love is to set it free. The small dollhouse family bestow a parting gift on Madi in gratitude. She begins to hear! First the song of birds, the wind in the trees, and later her Mother's voice. In a heart wrenching final scene, Madi is finally able to tell her mother that she loves her. Thus Madi learned her most precious life lesson from the little doll house family she found in the woods and returned to the woods. "Madi's Dollhouse" is a book perhaps meant to be read to a child by a loved adult. It deals with many unusual issues gracefully in a world partly fantasy and partly real. Encouraging empathy for those who are born differently abled, "Madi's Dollhouse" is a fine fantasy reading experienced for children age 7-8 and up.

The Treasure of Snake Island: A Captain No Beard Story
Carole P. Roman, author
Bonnie Lemaire, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781482390971, $9.99,

"The Treasure of Snake Island" is the fifth title in a fun pirate fantasy series called Captain No Beard. Laden with integrated social cornerstone values and valuable humane outlooks training for young readers, this series uses colorful pirate/crew members of both human and animal origins to run the Flying Dragon under Captain No Beard. In "The Treasure of Snake Island," the jolly mates face a morning red sky which Polly parrot warns them indicates and upcoming storm. When asked the source of this wisdom, Polly replies, "Books!" Inspired by a secret pirate treasure map, the crew and captain decide to investigate a mysterious treasure buried on Snake Island, despite crew member Hallie's dislike of snakes. A sailing adventure awaits, and at its end the mates carefully explore Snake Island to find the buried treasure at the spot on the map marked X. A brave Captain No Beard rescues a hidden snake in the burial spot and the valiant mates continue digging only to discover.... a treasure chest! Guess what lies inside? True buried treasure, books, books and more books! As the island setting fades into Alexander's bedroom, the crew spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the greatest treasure of all - books! Captain No Beard is a jolly pirate series with many positive messages and lessons for children age 4-5 and up.

The Environmental Shelf

Five Famous Mice Meet Winston of Churchill
Jean Davies Okimoto, author
Jeremiah Trammell, illustrator
Endicott and Hugh Books
P.O. Box 13305, Burton, Washington 98013
9780989429122, $16.95 (hardcover),

"Five Famous Mice Meet Winston of Churchill" is a humorous, illustrated book about climate change and effective activism for children age 5 and up. Five famous female mice, named Irene, Henrietta, Emily, Louise, and Nellie decide they must take a public stand against climate change, since it affects them just as much as other larger animals, such as polar bears. These feisty female mice decide to march on Parliament in Ottawa, Canada in support of their cause. Holding signs that say "Mice have Rights" and "We're Creatures Too" the brave lady mice do their best to make a stand for fighting/reducing climate change. Unfortunately, they are so small their protest is unnoticed. Nellie says, "Never, never, never give up," repeating famous words uttered by Canadian female rights activist Nellie McClung. The mice decide to go to Churchill, Manitoba, to visit Winston of Churchill, famous polar bear anti- climate change activist, to join his cause and march. However, when they meet Winston, he tells them only polar bears are fit and qualified to march against climate change, no rodents! Louise insists, "Mice have rights!" Louise is named after Louise McKinney, famous Canadian women's rights activist. Fortunately Winston's wife, Clementine, decides to have a word with her stubborn husband, telling him to let the mice march, for they are indeed creatures too. "Let them march, Winston, or I'm not going," she declares. Thus the five fa-mouse mice marched on the heads of the protesting polar bears and were finally caught on camera in their climate change protest action. All five mice are named for famous Canadian women activists, and their dialogue quotes famous sayings attributed to the five: Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, and Nellie McClung. Huge, humorous portraits of Winston and friends splash across the pages of "Five Famous Mice Meet Winston of Churchill for extremely amusing illustrations to this creative, educational story about protesting climate change and Canadian women's history.

The Biography Shelf

J. Milton Turner: An American Hero
Mary Collins Barile, author
Peggy A. Guest, illustrator
Monography Publishing
1 Put Lane, Eureka, Missouri 63025
9780988964303 $24.95

Based on the book "James Milton Turner and the Promise of America", J. Milton Turner: An American Hero is the picturebook-format biography of an African-American hero, written to be accessible to younger readers and illustrated in full color. Turner was born an American slave; freed as a young child, he spend his life advocating for the poor and downtrodden, especially slaves and former slaves. He served during the American Civil War and suffered a permanent injury, and founded schools to teach African-American children. He felt that the only hope for the future of African-Americans was through education - teaching the skills that would earn good jobs. J. Milton Turner: An American Hero is an excellent introduction to the true story of a man who dedicated his life to helping others, highly recommended especially for middle school and public library children's collections.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever
Benjamin Morse
Orson & Co.
c/o Lisa Weinert Consulting (publicity)
9780985813505 $30.00

Over seventy pages long, The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever is a part of "The Bible Beautiful Series", chronicling stories from the Bible. This volume teaches readers about the Old Testament (Genesis through the Book of Daniel, describing God's creation of the universe up to Rome's destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the diaspora of the Jews). Classic parables of the Bible are condensed into brief yet meaningful sentences, accessible to young readers of all ages. The vividly iconic illustrations, resembling paper cutouts on a black background, add a striking touch to this extraordinary retelling. "When God ordered the prophet Jonah to tell the Assyrians to repent and be saved, Jonah tried to run away. But he ended up being thrown off a boat and swallowed by a giant fish... for three whole days." Highly recommended, especially as a way to introduce young people to Bible stories that stay true to their source. In addition to the hardcover picturebook format, The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever is also available as an eLume App for the iPad - this is much more expansive than any ebook, allowing the viewer to tap illustrations for more insight into Biblical stories, look at a gallery of curated images, read historical context, share thoughts on social media, and more.

When God Was a Little Girl
David R. Weiss, author
Joan Lindeman, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane
Edina, MN 55439
9781592989553 $18.95

Trained theologian David Weiss presents When God Was a Little Girl, a children's picturebook about a father and daughter conversing with one another about God. The metaphor of God as a little girl may seem perplexing at first, but if God is the greatest and most perfect all beings, the omnipotence that made all there is, then shouldn't comparing God to a jubilant little girl be every bit valid as comparing God to anyone or anything else in the Universe that God created? "'God grew a great big Garden. Just like we do!' "Just like we do. It was a very pretty picture God painted, don't you think?' 'Yes.' 'What do you suppose she did next?' 'I don't know.' 'Yes you do. What do you do when you make pictures?' 'I give them to you!' 'And that's just what God did. God made someone to share the pictures with, someone who could giggle next to God at how pretty everything was.'" The astonishingly beautiful color illustrations add just the right touch to this gentle picturebook musing on the biggest questions of all.

The Christian Shelf

Sweet Song
Jane G. Meyer, author
Dorrie Papademetriou, illustrator
Ancient Faith Publishing
PO Box 748
Chesterton, In 46304-0748
9781936270439 $18.95

Sweet Song: A Story of Saint Romanos the Melodist is a children's picturebook about the gift of divine inspiration. Saint Romanos was a real person who lived in Constantinople during the second half of the fifth century, during the reign of Emperor Anastasios. In Sweet Song, Romanos devotes himself to prayer and service, but he cannot sing praises to God like his colleagues do. He prays to an icon of Mary, Mother of God. In a dream, or perhaps a vision, she gifts him with a small scroll and asks him to swallow it. When he awakens, he finds himself capable of creating the most beautiful musical prayers and songs! A one-page biography of Romanos, which mentions that over eighty of his hymns have survived to the present day, rounds out this gentle, warmly illustrated story of abiding faith and limitless love.

Bink and Slinky's Ark Adventure
Donna Arlynn Frisinger, author
Monica Gutierrez, illustrator
Standard Publishing
8805 Governor's Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249
9780784736883 $12.99

Bink and Slinky's Ark Adventure is a Christian children's book that draws upon the Biblical story of Noah's ark to offer young readers a parable about trusting in God. Bink and Slinky are two brightly colored snails who awaken to a message from God on the ground. God tells them to find Noah's Ark, so they say goodbye to their friends and the only home they've ever known, and begin their long journey. "We slide, we glide, / we're grooving side by side. / We don't know where we're going, / but we know God will provide." Bright, color illustrations and singsong rhyming enliven this gentle story with a strong moral about faith.

The Wonder of Believing
Gregory Hugh Scherrer, author
Diane Kimble, illustrator
Crossbooks Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462730926, $15.95,

"The Wonder of Believing" is a child's book explaining a shift in belief from Santa Claus to Jesus Christ that occurs with loved Christian children as they grow and mature. Written in clear verse style and illustrated with expressive crayon drawings, "The Wonder of Believing" contrasts the celebration of Christmas on both secular and religious levels, in a way that a discerning child can understand. Images of Santa Claus and shopping malls are compared to images of a dove, a light, and a baby in a stable. Eventually the image of Christ dying on the cross is contrasted with a fading, flattened Santa image. The contest is clear and the outcome is definite: "Jesus takes first place!" Thus a belief in Jesus and the gift of redemption that he offers is substituted for the former belief in the joy of tangible gifts from Santa Claus. The child reader is encouraged to put his/her picture in the square at the end to show his trust in Jesus. The real work of "The Wonder of Believing" comes at the story portion that deals with a child's doubt about the reality of Santa Claus: "But then I find my heart in doubt. Is This what life is all about? This stuff, these things, that man whose sleigh makes sleigh bells ring. Is he real? I knew that all that I had heard just could not be the final word! The pain that came out of my heart, began to take my world apart. My sin that made life seem so dark, began to change with this new spark! My love of all these Christmas things, began to sound a brand new ring. The ringing sound of God's great truth that brought to me a renewed youth. Now deep inside my soul I felt a message burning bright, that raised my thoughts to God's good Son whose life was given that holy night! My spirit came to life that day when God himself showed me the way. The path of truth and righteousness, the road to my heavenly home." "The Wonder of Believing" firmly directs a child's journey through confusing messages of materialism vs. love for all in Christ. Parents will want to dialogue with their children about the Christian messages of faith in "The Wonder of Believing."

And I Love You, God
Ruthann Barrie, author/illustrator
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449778514, $16.99,

"And I Love You, God" is a love-filled letter from God to a child telling about the love and healing power of God and Jesus. Written in simple narrative verse, with simple color illustrations that are child-directed and sweet, "And I Love You, God" is a powerful education and prayer experience for a young Christian child. The life affirming awareness of God's love for each special child radiates through the pages of "And I Love You, God," as does the central core of faith in Christ's ability to love and make whole each unique child. The images of Jesus and children are mostly light-skinned and brown-haired, but this does not significantly detract from the story's central message of acceptance and redemption through faith in Christianity. "And I Love You, God" will appeal to children age 4-5 and older.

The Prayer of St. Francis
Giuliano Ferri, illustrator
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard
Mahwah, NJ 07430
9780809167678 $12.95

The Prayer of St. Francis is a children's picturebook that illustrates a classic prayer from the beloved Cathoic friar and preacher St. Francis of Assisi (1181/1182 - 1226). The warm, gentle color artwork shows an anthropomorphic dog that St. Francis has befriended, who takes St. Francis' words to heart and practices them in his everyday life. For example, the prayer "Where there is sadness, let me bring joy," is paired with an illustration of the dog juggling to entertain a gathering of depressed animals. Beautifully capturing the spirit of St. Francis' heartfelt desire to serve others and become a better person in the eyes of the Lord, The Prayer of St. Francis is highly recommended, especially for Christian families and church picturebook libraries.

The Judaic Shelf

The Hidden Artist
Leah Chana Rubabshi, author
Phyllis Saroff, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628742 $10.95

Featuring laminated pages that are easier for little children to handle, The Hidden Artist is a beautiful, full-color picturebook written especially to help teach Jewish children about the beauty and glory of the natural world created by Hashem [God]. The story consists of simple rhyming verses paired with illustrations of striking skyscapes, graceful animals, and a young boy amazed by it all. "With all this beauty great and small, / I wonder, 'Who's behind it all?' / Because I see the truth must be, / An Artist drew this world for me." Highly recommended, especially as a gift for very young children or a read-aloud bedtime story.

The Islamic Shelf

Deep in the Sahara
Kelly Cunnane & Hoda Hadadi
Schwartz & Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1
New York, NY 10019
9780375870347 $17.99

Set in Muslim West Africa, Deep in the Sahara is a picturebook for young people ages 4-8, about local practices and the Islamic faith. Lalla is a little girl in the Muslim country of Mauritania; she yearns to wear a malafa (a colorful veil that Mauritanian women wear to cover heads and clothes in public). Lalla thinks that the malafa is beautiful, and that wearing one will make her as pretty as her mother, her sister, her cousin, and her grandmother. But her family sees the superficial desire behind Lalla's request, and teaches Lalla that wearing the malafa is not about beauty or tradition, but rather faith. The story concludes with prayer. An honest and respectful glimpse into the Islamic faith, dress, and culture of Mauritania, Deep in the Sahara is an excellent addition to multicultural picturebook shelves.

The Fiction Shelf

Girl At Arms
Jaye Bennett
Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue, PO Box 399, Unionville, NY 10988
9780898243932, $9.99, 247 pp,

The story of Joan of Arc is well-known: peasant girl, soldier, miracle worker, heretic burned at the stake and then beatified as a saint. "Girl at Arms" is a deftly written historical novel that presents what she was like and how she grew up in the rural French countryside, defied her family and tradition, and risking her soul by dressing as a boy because she believes she has a calling to save France from the cruelties of English rule. "Girl At Arms" is also the story of Erich von Zimmerman, an orphan living on the streets of Frankfurt who dreams of becoming a knight. Erich steals a horse, rides to France and eventually joins Joan in the battle to relieve the siege of Orleans and in a number of subsequent French victories over the English leading to the crowning of French king Charles VII, with Joan by his side, in Rheims. Ultimately Normandy proves the downfall of both Joan and Erich. Erich is banished and Joan is captured, abandoned by her followers and brought before the Inquisition for heresy. The forces of vengeful English generals and scheming clergy work together to put her to death. "Girl At Arms" is a deftly written work of fiction by Jaye Bennett (whose day job is that of a 5th grade elementary school teacher) that is solidly based on historical facts, making it an outstanding and highly recommended selection for middle school and community library Children's Books collections.

The Eyes Of India
M. W. Greer
Wooden Nickel Press
6650 West State Street, Unit D #195
Milwaukee, WI, 53213
9780988289109, $15.99,

The concept of death is often introduced to young children through the demise of a beloved grandparent or pet. Deftly written for young readers by M. W. Greer, "The Eyes Of India" is a truly exceptional 144 page chapter book that ably and engagingly addresses the universal question of 'What happens when we die?'. That question has been running laps in Annie's head for two days since her dog was hit by a car. When her Grandma Evelyn stops by to visit, she begins to tell a story from her past that might help Annie to see the death of her dog in a whole new way. "The Eyes Of India" begins in the fabled country of India, where and when young Evelyn and her sister, Priscilla, receive the news that their uncle has died. The two sisters then set out with a tour guide for the city of Varanasi to meet up with their traveling parents. Early in their trip the girls are separated from their guide, setting them on a journey through the jungle and into hidden villages of India. While the girls try to find their parents, they learn to follow their intuition and navigate with their third eye. From the colorful Holi festival to the funeral ceremonies along the Ghats of Varanasi, the girls make many unexpected friends along their adventure who help them to see the universal connection we all have to life and death. "The Eyes Of India" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is thoroughly 'kid friendly' and entertaining. Enhanced with eighteen illustrations by the author, "The Eyes Of India" is wholeheartedly and enthusiastically recommended for both school and community library fiction collections for children of middle school age.

Missy's Super Duper Royal Deluxe Field Trip
Susan Nees
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545496124 $15.99

Missy's Super Duper Royal Deluxe Field Trip tells of Missy, who is going on a field trip to the state capitol and wants to visit the gift shop. The only problem is: the capitol doesn't have a gift shop - what can Missy do? Color cartoon-like drawings throughout show what happens when Missy decides to make the best of a bad situation - and get a handle on her fascination for glitter pens and stickers in the process. This fun chapter book will appeal to any who are challenged readers, offering a simple story line and plenty of appealing color illustration throughout!

Revenge of the Akuma Clan
Benjamin Martin
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805312742 $17.99

Revenge of the Akuma Clan provides a fine thriller revolving around mythical Japanese monsters and warriors, and tells of American teen David, an exchange student living in Japan. In the prior SAMURAI AWAKENING he discovered he'd been possessed by a tiger god: now a Jitsugen Samurai in REVENGE OF THE AKUMA CLAN, David is charged with protecting Japan from a horrible evil. A powerful protagonist who is also a tiger god, a female warrior, and more creates strong connections between Japanese culture, martial arts and fantasy and is a fine pick for any young adult reader; especially those who enjoyed SAMURAI AWAKENING.

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

Patricia Reilly Giff's WINTER SKY (9780375838927, $15.99) opens with sirens, especially scary to protagonist Siria because her father's a firefighter. When she hears sirens she likes to chase the trucks to be certain they won't fall in any danger - but when she comes to suspect that somebody is setting fires in the neighborhood, she's charged with putting clues together to solve a deadly mystery. An engrossing saga, WINTER SKY is a compelling account of danger and survival. Karen Foxlee's OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY (9780385753548, $16.99) tells of siblings grieving for their mother and missing a father who has moved them to a city where it never stops snowing. Her father's job in a strange old museum becomes even stranger when Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a forgotten room, a prisoner of the Snow Queen - and it's up to Ophelia to help him and possibly end the ongoing winter. A journey and a complicated rescue makes for an engrossing saga, perfect for young adult fantasy readers. Laurel Snyder's SEVEN STORIES UP (9780375869174, $16.99) tells of Annie Jaffin, who meets her grandmother for the first time - only to discover she doesn't even like her. But her first night in the once-beautiful Hotel Calvert leads to a time travel encounter when she wakes up in 1937, there to encounter her grandmother in a very different way. Magic permeates a satisfying, fun timeslip encounter that young adults will find amusing and different.

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

Tim Feder's Five, Six, Seven, Next! (9781442446939, $16.99) provides a fine tale of Nate Foster's Broadway dreams, and follows Nate to New York City where he's rehearsing for a musical. It's everything he's wanted, but there are many unexpected challenges as Nate faces child stars, understudies who want him to fail, and a director who doesn't think Nate is special at all. A fine story of a young would-be actor's success is provided in a fun read young adults will relish! Chris Lynch's LITTLE BLUE LIES (9781442440081, $17.99) tells of a boy and girl in love, bound by the lies they've built in their lives. Only their relationship feels true - but when Junie dumps Oliver, he's miserable. And when Junie vanishes, it's up to Oliver to probe behind facades and lies for the truth in this complex story of change. Jason Reynolds' WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST (9781442459472, $17.99) tells of Ali, who avoids the trouble permeating his bad neighborhood. Ali's got school and boxing and home, but his best friend is always looking for trouble - and involving Ali. And his special needs brother Needles is also a challenge. When the three find their world changed, their old tactics don't work in this fine story of adaptation and survival.

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

Two new Judy and Phoebe Dunn Collections provide board books young readers will relish, and are recommended picks for any new reader. The Little Rabbit (9780385386043, $6.99) pairs Phoebe's photos with Judy's story line in telling of Buttercup the rabbit as she explores her world. Fun color photos of bunny and her girl are both whimsical and fun, juxtaposed by simple text. The Little Duck (9780385385213, $6.99) provides toddlers with the simple story of a pet duck who likes to sit on the family dog and who is growing up. Parents will find these board books perfect read-alouds for toddlers. They're durable, bright, and simple: what more could one ask for? Marilyn Sadler's TEN EGGS IN A NEST (9780449810828, $9.99) receives fine illustration by Michael Fleming and provides a brief, funny story that uses easy words and rhythm to provide colorful text and a Bright and early Book designed for an even lower age group than the famous Beginner Books. The whimsical tale involves youngsters and encourages them to read.

The Bilingual Shelf

Querido dragon quiere ayudar / Dear Dragon Helps Out
Margaret Hillert, author
David Schimmell, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599536132, $15.95,

"Querido dragon quiere ayudar/ Dear Dragon Helps Out" is a bilingual, Spanish English series title for children in grades K-2. Brightly illustrated and translated from English editions, this breezy series boosts young readers' reading comprehension, reading frequently used words aloud, and spoken language skills in two languages. Each page presents a clear illustration of the written narration, and Spanish and English translations are presented side by side, or one beneath another on each picture page. At the end of the story are suggested Reading Reinforcement activities suggestions to enhance readers' phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and text comprehension. The pleasant story presented in "Querido dragon quiere ayudar/Dear Dragon Helps Out" involves a young boy who offers to help his mother and father and friends by walking a dog, returning a baby kitten to its mother, raking leaves with a friend in a wheelchair's help, shooting basketball hoops with the same friend, and washing dishes at home. Dear Dragon (Querido dragon) is a constant, helpful companion who mirrors the helping activity. The underlying message of the value of teamwork and helping others is a nice addition. This juvenile series is first rate literary bilingual education for kids ages 5-7. Also highly recommended are the following titles from this series by the same author/illustrator team: "Donde esta querido dragon?/ Where is Dear Dragon?" (9781599536156, $15.95), "Que hay en el bosque, querido dragon?/ What's in the Woods, Dear Dragon?" (9781599536095, $15.95), "Que hay en el cielo, querido dragon?/ What's in the Sky, Dear Dragon?" (9781599536101, $15.95)," "Que hay en el estanque, querido dragon?/ What's in the Pond, Dear Dragon?" (9781599536088, $15.95), "Que tengo en el bolsillo, querido dragon?/ What's in My Pocket, Dear Dragon?" (9781599536118, $15.95), and "Querido dragon va a banco/ Dear Dragon Goes to the Bank" (9781599536149, $15.95). The entire series or complete set of 8 books (BTR-BDD-1003) can be purchased for, $127.60, a reduced rate.

Fishscale Girl and the Upside-Down Rain/ La Chiquita Escamosa y la Lluvia al Reves
Ann Hailey, author/photographer
Robyn L. Smith, illustrator
Rosita, artist/dollmaker
Cochiy Press
1035 Lincoln Road, Suite 304, Bettendorf, IA 52722
9780983281863, $17.95,

Third in the Fishscale Girl series, "Fishscale Girl and the Upside-Down Rain" follows the path of Fishscale Girl, a special doll made of a fishscale and other materials from the rain forest, and her parrot friend, Cochiy, as they track the falling rainwater from the top of the canopy to the forest floor and underground. Charming photographs of Fishscale Girl and three new doll friends, Juanita, caretaker of the rainforest soil, Sintia, guardian of the creeks and rivers, and Rosita, plant lover illustrate the fascinating story of the rain cycle. Lush plants and flowers and tiny toy parrots, a monkey, and tools and accessories decorate the carefully posed rainforest photo portraits of the dolls. Each page presents the narration of the story first in English and second in Spanish, educating a youth readership in two languages about the need for promotion of conservation of the rainforest. Proceeds from the sale of "Fishscale Girl and the Upside-Down Rain" also benefit CONAPAC's Adopt-A-School program, "Saving the Rainforest one child at a time." This fantastic, creative children's environmental education series was inspired by the craftsmanship of Rosita, a native of Yagua community, who created Fishscale Girl and her doll friends, Sintia, Juanita, and Rosita. A beautiful creation in this book is the wind symbol, a mask carved of a disk of natural material appearing to be such as a large nut shell. Children, artists, and environmentalists will adore this addition to a most creative series.

Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family
Cynthia Weill, author
Jesus Canseco Zarate, paper mache artist
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901
9781935955504, $14.95,

"Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family" is a bilingual picture story with big sister Anita introducing a cheery, well dressed complete family, including brother, sister, baby, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother and more, even a dog and a cat. There is something a bit different about these spunky family portraits, everyone is a smiling skeleton! Celebrating an ancient Mexican folk tradition of regarding the skeleton figure as a beloved, familiar friend or clown, "Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family" represents the complete skeleton family in colorful pictures of creative paper mache statues or figures, each with a cheerful smiling skull. The artistic creations of Oaxacan folk artist Jesus Canseco Zarate are amazing, new interpretations of the familiar, beloved traditions of the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture. Each portrait page is accompanied by brief text descriptions in both English and Spanish. For a bilingual, bicultural experience with a little macabre slant, read "Mi Familia
Calaca/ My Skeleton Family" with your elementary school student or child.

The Picturebook Shelf

There's a Hippopotamus in My Bed
Lynda Medlyn and Kelley Staudenmier, authors
Karen Windness, illustrator
Window Box Press
13516 Fillmore Court
Thornton, CO 80241
9780979373817 $15.95

Winner of a Mom's Choice Award, There's a Hippopotamus in My Bed and An Elephant Wants to Wear My Favorite Red Shoes is a gentle children's picturebook about a little girl who dreams of growing up to be a zookeeper. She loves animals of all shapes and sizes, but realizes that she can't keep them at her house - "What if the elephant wants to wear my favorite red shoes, or the sloth finger-paints all over the walls?" As much as she wishes the animals could come with her, she knows they will be happy at the zoo - and one day she'll make her dream of being a zookeeper come true. (But the elephant still wants to wear her favorite red shoes!) Whimsical color illustrations bring this wonderful, animal-filled story to life.

Maria Eugenia
Second Story Press
20 Maud Street, Suite 401
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2M5
Orca Books (dist.)
9781927583227 $15.95

Ink-blot is a children's picturebook about the positive value of loving and accepting oneself no matter what. Ink-blot is a girl drawn with blotchy, black-and-white ink strokes. Other badly-drawn girls stress out about their appearance, their size, or their hair but not Ink-blot - she's too busy having fun! The moral about enjoying life no matter what type of body or appearance one has is a lesson that young girls everywhere need to learn from an early age - the better to counteract unrealistic or harmful body-imagery from television and other media. Highly recommended!

Otter Out of Water
Kathy-jo Wargin, author
John Bendall-Brunello, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585364312 $15.95

Otter Out of Water is a jubilantly silly, rhyming children's picturebook filled with rollicking animal antics. What would you do, if an otter jumped out of the water and followed you home? "And what would you do when it's time to wash up? / Would you give him a scrub / in your mom's kitchen sink? / Will he wear a cap that is puffy and pink?" Exuberantly playful illustrations perfectly complement the whimsical story, as delightful as the previous animal-antic picturebooks, "Moose on the Loose" and "Scare a Bear".

Duck, Duck, Moose!
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, author
Noah Z. Jones, illustrator
Disney Book Group
114 Fifth Avenue, 14th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781423171102 $16.99

Duck, Duck, Moose! is a unique children's picturebook. The text repeats the title's humorous refrain (a parody of the popular children's game "Duck, Duck, Goose") but the playful, silly illustrations show one hapless incident after another, between a clumsy moose and two hardworking white ducks. For example, "Duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck." is paired with pictures of the ducks preparing an elaborate cake step by step, and "MOOSE!!" is paired with picture of the bemused moose, nose in a book, as he blunders into the table the cake was on, making a colossal mess. Is the poor moose just too klutzy to be friends with the industrious ducks? No, because the ducks adore their good friend the moose; they wanted to throw him a surprise party all along! A delightfully silly picturebook, that happens to be very easy for the littlest of children to read aloud.

The Tweedles Go Electric
Monica Kulling & Marie Lafrance
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Ave., Suite 801
Toronto, ON, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554981670 $16.95

The Tweedles Go Electric is a charming picturebook set at the dawn of the twentieth century (roughly one hundred years ago)! The Tweedles are pleasant, friendly family, but the neighbors all think they are behind the times - they still ride bicycles to get everywhere. So the Tweedles decide to obtain a car, but not one that runs on steam or gas; they plan to get an electric car! Charming, old-time style color illustrations add just the right touch to this whimsical tale of family adventure.

Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Meteorite Mission
Oneeka Williams, M.D., author
Valerie Bouthyette, illustrator
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620865545 $14.95

Practicing surgeon Oneeka Williams, M.D. presents Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Meteorite Mission, a Common Core-aligned children's picturebook that pairs fun science facts with a fanciful story about an African-American girl who knows "Not Even the Sky is the Limit!" Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo has had an extra-special power since she was born; she loves to heal people, animals, or things that need help, with the aid of medical tools such as "Marky Medicine Bag", "Sydnee Syringe", and "Ana Anesthetic". When Matty Meteorite falls from the sky, injuring people and animals, Dr. Dee Dee is there to disinfect and sew up all their cuts - then, she even helps put poor Matty back together again! Written to help share a love of science and medicine in young people everywhere, Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Meteorite Mission is heartwarming, positive, and highly recommended.

The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen
Diana Prichard, author
Heather Knopf, illustrator
Little Pickle Press, Inc.
3701 Sacramento Street, #494, San Francisco, CA 94118
9781939775016, $17.95,

"The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen" is a vibrantly illustrated, funny book about where food comes from, specifically Patrick O'Shanahan's father's World Famous French Toast. To his amazement, instead of milk, Patrick finds a cow in his kitchen! Then a chicken, who clucks (loudly) and lays eggs! Patrick's father is unfazed by the animals in his kitchen, calmly proceeding to mix up the French toast batter with milk which Patrick manages to milk from the cow, bravely! Instead of a jar of maple syrup in the cupboard, Patrick discovers an amazing tree with sticky sap coming from its bark. "It's Syrup!" he shouts at the cow. Finally Patrick sits down to eat his feast of French toast and maple syrup. As he steadily munches through the huge stack, chickens, cow, and maple tree gradually disappear. Next morning Patrick is so excited to discover what amazing breakfast food experiences are waiting for him he jumps out bed. Wait, does he smell.... bacon? Is that the shadow of a pig? Hilarious illustrations of wildly commonplace farmyard animals in a zany kitchen cover pages with huge, comic, written exclamations in large letters. A feast for the five senses, "The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen" describes in fantastically imaginative style where food for a special breakfast really comes from.

River Royals: Master the Mississippi
Katie Clark & Sarah Wynne, authors
Penny Weber, illustrator
Bright Sky Press
2356 Rice Blvd., Suite 202, Houston, TX 77005
9781939055712, $19.95,

"River Royals: Master the Mississippi" is an exciting narration following an imaginary journey
of Eliza Jane and Henry down the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to New Orleans and the Mardi Gras in Louisiana. Part of an educational series on American geography, "Master the Mississippi" flows from the premise that imagination can take you anywhere. Seven year old Eliza Jane, an imaginative girl bored with geography, wants to become Queen of the Classroom. Her excitement grows when she learns the Mississippi River ends in new Orleans, where they celebrate Mardi Gras by tossing beads and crowning a King and Queen every year. Thus begins her wonderful daydream journey with her brother Henry down the muddy Mississippi from the Lake Itasca source in Minnesota all the way to its destination flowing into the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans, celebrated with effervescent, vivid illustrations splashed with sunshine and joy. From the Twin Cities' skyline to the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, the explorers experience a myriad of sensory experiences down the river, state by state. This river journey flowing by 10 states is also shown on Henry's Map, illustrated inside the cover and also on the flyleaf of "Master the Mississippi," also featuring a sidebar list of Mississippi River Facts. In the end, Eliza Jane makes a crowd-pleasing presentation about her imaginary trip down the Mississippi to her classmates and concludes: "I think I'm ready for another river adventure." In conclusion, the River Royals series title "Master the Mississippi" overachieves its stated goal of introducing children ages five to eleven to American geography in a fun way. Watch for new series titles "River Royals Paddle the Potomac" and "River Royals Crash the Colorado" in fall, 2014 and spring, 2015.

Poppy and the Fat Puppy
Eli Jay, author/illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
978147870036, $19.95,

"Poppy and the Fat Puppy" is a sensitively illustrated story of how a fat, sick, lonely puppy is helped by a kind green balloon friend and a vet to become a healthy, happy, loveable puppy with a new name and a new home. Poppy, the helpful green balloon, helps Fat Puppy become Jasper just by following the vet's prescribed regime of healthy balanced nutrition and fun daily exercise. In the end, Jasper returns to his friend the vet who provides him with a home. "Poppy and the Fat Puppy" is an excellent educational tool teaching the importance of good nutrition and daily exercise for a puppy's optimum health. Large, colorful, clear illustrations and simple narrative style make "Poppy and the Fat Puppy" accessible to young children's understanding, age 4 and up.

Don't Turn the Page!
Rachelle Burke, author
Julie Downing, illustrator
Creston Books
c/o Publishers Group West
P.O. Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781939547064, $16.95,

"Don't Turn the Page" is picture book bedtime story within a story that cleverly follows a sleepy little hedgehog through the steps of preparation for bedtime with a knowing mother who cooperates perfectly with her tired child's repeated requests, "Don't Turn the page!" while continuing the appealing process of bedtime rituals. The story within the story is presented in more formal, enhanced print, in hypnotic verse, and features a sleepy little bear whose mama is also preparing for bed . Adorable soft colored detailed illustrations add to the quieting peace and palpable love of this charming double bedtime story, and in the end, a tired little Sami (the hedgehog) closes her eyes, having denied her need for bedtime to the last page. "Don't Turn the Page!" is a bedtime story that will be quickly beloved by toddlers and preschoolers everywhere.

A Monster for Tea
Walter Williams, author/artist
Fernwood & Hedges Books
7612 Fountain Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046
9780989069830, $12.99,

"A Monster for Tea" is an original, unusual fictional tale for children about a spunky little girl and a scary monster who tramples her flower garden. Although the cartoon-like, shape-shifting black and white monster portraits appear quite jagged and scary, the little girl is unafraid of him, scolding him for trampling on her garden and sending him away, which surprised the monster. However, the little girl decides to call the monster back and invite him for tea, a first for the monster, who knew about eating people and animals, tearing apart buildings, and breathing fire. Although the monster is awkward in his taking of tea and refreshments, the little girl is determined to teach him some manners, so she served him colored cookies and fed him tea from a cup. This seemed to enchant the monster, who had never experienced kindness or tea before. As he lays down to sleep, the courageous little girl wondered if he had forgotten his former destructive ways. Expressive, minimalist drawings in black and white with touches of pale color express the unusual tone of "A Monster for Tea" perfectly, creating a unique humane reform experience in compassion for young children with open minds and excellent imaginations.

Gabby: Drama Queen
Joyce Grant, author
Jan Dolby, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135
9781554553105, $18.95,

"Gabby: Drama Queen" is a delightful story filled with quirky colorful illustrations about Gabby and Roy, two creative children who use an assortment of spunky alphabet letters to create their very own stage drama about a queen with a crown and a loyal subject disguised as a swordfish. Gabby and Roy have an amazing, imaginative playtime together using various colored vowels and consonants to make the words "stage," "crown," "stream," and more. The play is titled The Perils of Queen Gabriela, and it begins with the tragic loss of the Queen's crown. A helpful neighbor lady, Mrs. Oldham provides the audience and her bathrobe for a curtain. Thanks to great teamwork and fine swordplay in the stream by the swordfish subject, all ends well and Gabby and Roy use more letters to create and enjoy crumpets and tea with Mrs. Oldham. "Gabby: Drama Queen" ends with two pages of suggested related learning activities, including drawing Roy, finding the Birdie on every page (who is holding letters that spell Gabby's royal name), finding vowels and consonants in the alphabet to write more silly stories, and playing a fun board style game called the Queen's Crown, which can be printed out at Gabby's website at, Further exciting games and activities are available at this same website, all suitable educational material for children age 5 and up, in first grade and older. "Gabby: Drama Queen" is a fantastic, fun learning resource for language, story writing, art, cooperative board games, and much more.

A Dog Named Tulip
Maryn Joseph and Anna Joseph, authors
Paloma Collins, illustrator
Bully! Pulpit Books
9780982486993, $12.99,

"A Dog Named Tulip" is an imaginative story written by twin sisters at ages nine. The story is about a girl named Jessica who wishes to surprise her mother with a special gift on Mother's Day. Hoping to pick her some flowers, she wanders to a field of tulips. In the flowers she spies something moving, it is a puppy! What a perfect surprise gift for Mother's Day! Since the puppy has no collar, she decides she must be in need of a good home. The story unfolds with special care and the wonderful scene in the restaurant where Jessica's mother spills her juice upon discovering her special gift is unforgettable. Colorful crayon drawings show each unfolding scene in accurate, childlike detail. "A Dog Named Tulip" is a special story for children written by children, full of anticipation, joy, surprise, and happiness.

When Mama Goes to Work
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, author
Jessica Phillips, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135
9781554553143, $18.95,

"When Mama Goes to Work" is a cheerful descriptive book for preschool and up children about daily routines of both parent and child when Mama goes to work. Filled with beautiful color illustrations of families with skin tones of black, brown, white, and tan, "When Mama Goes to Work" presents a positive, upbeat attitude towards the experience of separate schedules of mother and child during the day. Both mother and child have prepared for their busy days by wearing appropriate clothes, and packing a lunch in a special bag. Sometimes there is a pleasant surprise in the lunch bag left by mother or child (like a spider toy or a valentine note)! Both mother and child are busy all day long, work with different tools, and get things done. Both smile (this is important). Both think of each other during their day and also miss each other. But the child knows that Mama will be back. The end of the day brings reunion, coming home, changing clothes, cooking, eating, books and reading, and bedtime. The child dreams of growing up and working with tools, being busy all day long, and smiles. One nice touch in "When Mama Goes to Work" is the pictured occupations for the mother, which include doctor, construction worker, and astronaut. Cheery text and happy faces in the illustrations help teach the young child that Mama going to work is a good thing, and an adult goal to aspire to.

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

J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian's POEM-MOBILES: CRAZY CAR POEMS (9780375866906, $17.99) features fun drawings by Jeremy Holmes as it provides ages 4-8 with a fun picturebook story of fantastic whimsical cars. While a dragonwagon and a sloppy jalopy aren't likely to be prototypes any time soon, they do come from poets who provide whimsical, rolling rhymes and fine fun detail-filled drawings to illustrate their zany concepts of what a far-out car would be, making this a fun pick for read-aloud as well a child pursuit. Michelle Edwards' MAX MAKES A CAKE (9780449814314, $17.99) features fun drawings by Charles Santoso as it tells of Max, who needs his father's help to bake a surprise Passover birthday cake for Mommy. Unfortunately Daddy is busy and time is wasting: will Max ever get to realize his big cake-baking aspirations? Il Sung Na's A BOOK OF BABIES (9780385752909, $15.99) comes from the creator of A BOOK OF SLEEP and uses baby animals to illustrate a very basic concept. A curious duck visits babies around the world on their first day of life in this gentle story, recommended for new readers and read-aloud storytellers looking for very simple themes and large-size, attractive drawings. Tatyana Feeney's LITTLE FROG'S TADPOLE TROUBLE (9780385753722, $16.99) tells of the special challenges of becoming a big brother and documents the dilemma of a small frog who enjoys his simple life with his parents. When he becomes a big brother to nine baby tadpoles, Little Frog discovers many new challenges - especially since the tadpoles are relatively helpless and only seem good at commanding his parents' time and attention. Can his baby siblings become something more, for him? A gentle story emerges.

NorthSouth Books
c/o Myrick Marketing & Media
PMB 248, 455 Sam Ridley Parkway West
Smyrna, TN 37167

Adelheid Dahimene and Heidi Stollinger's DONKEYS (9780735841604, $17.95) tells of two stubborn donkeys who have loved each other for years when a silly argument leads them to storm off in search of a better partner. But the other animal options are too questionable - and it takes a lonely camel to help them realize that there's nobody better than the person they already have. An unusual loving story is told, perfect for kids with rudimentary reading skills and adults looking for something different in a read-aloud. Willy Puchner's THE ABC OF FABULOUS PRINCESSES (9780735841130, $19.95) provides a fun A-Z of princesses, and provides unusual illustrations to accompany the story of Prince William and a tough decision. These princesses all have different qualities - and each offers a unique gift for the prince. How can he decide who is to be his princess? It's up to picturebook readers to help. Carol Roth and Sean Julian's FIVE LITTLE DUCKLINGS GO TO BED (9780735841284, $17.95) tells of bedtime for five little ducklings. Four of the ducklings are okay with bedtime, but when the fifth rebels, it begins to turn into a comedy of errors in this fun story perfect for bedtime read-aloud.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144

Philippa Leathers' THE BLACK RABBIT (9780763657147, $14.00) tells of Rabbit, who doesn't know how to avoid a mysterious black rabbit who is following him. The rabbit is everywhere - and he won't go away. Is the new rabbit a friend, or an enemy? A fun, simple story of a bunny's unwelcome companion evolves. Timothy Basil Ering's THE STORY OF FROG BELLY RAT BONE (9780763626112, $6.99) provides a fun, dark story for ages 4-7 and tells of a special boy who just wants to find treasure. When he does, he realizes it's threatened - and he creates a monster to guard his newfound treasure. But what, exactly is the treasure - and why must they be patient to see? An unpredictable story evolves.

The Music CD Shelf

Lucky Day
Stacey Peasley
Privately Published

Lucky Day is the new children's music album from performer Stacey Peasley. Bright and jubilant, the chin-up-and-have-fun music is especially wonderful for helping little ones get over blues and doldrums. A wonderful choice for family car trips or fun during shut-in weather! The tracks are "Little Soccer Player", "Wrecking Machine", "Catching Joy", "Les Awesome", "Broken Record (featuring Mista Cookie Jar)", "Marley", "Lucky Day", "Me TV", "Stop Your Sobbing", and "Summer Day". Also highly recommended is Peasley's previous children's album, "Together" ($16.22 CD / $8.99 download).

Buy One Get One Flea
Dog on Fleas
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$12.99 CD / $8.99 MP3

Buy One Get One Flea is a new children's album from the delightful music group Dog on Fleas and Grammy Award-winning producer Dean Jones. Dog on Fleas has been creating inventive, charming, and slyly funny music for the whole family for fourteen years; Buy One Get One Flea includes both brand-new songs and some fan-favorites from previous albums. Featuring an eclectic simplicity to its musical blend, and a bare minimum of electronic instruments (just an electric bass guitar and a theremin solo), Buy One Get One Flea is a refreshingly jubilant experience that listeners of all ages can enjoy together. The tracks are "Hinterlands", "Palindrome", "It's a Ruse", "Grand March from Aida", "I Must Be a Genius", "Dry Beans", "Hundredaires", "Pardon My Pajamas", "I am a Sailor", "Herring's Head", "Thinking Good Thoughts", "Over the Waves", "High School Reunion", and "If I Were You I'd Give Me a Kiss".

Count Me In!
The Little Rockers Band
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Ideal for young people ages 2-6, Count Me In! is a the third commercial offering from Parent's Choice Award-winning music group The Little Rockers Band. A kid-friendly, dance-tastic music CD filled with lively rock tunes, Count Me In! is suitable for music-themed classroom activities or just plain fun at home. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Count Me In", "1, 2, 3, 4 Go!", "Fortune Cookie", "Hi, Hi, Hi", "Morning Train", "Old Mick Jagger", "Me & Julio", "Little Deer", "Me & My Dog", "Wild Wild West", and "In the Bathtub".

Uno, Dos, Tres con Andres!
Andres Salguero
Salsana Records
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Award-winning Colombian musician Andres Salguero presents Uno, Dos, Tres con Andres! ["1, 2, 3 with Andres!"], a children's music CD celebrating Latin culture. Spanish and English singing complement this vibrant sampling of salsa, bachata, plena, mariachi, vallenato, bolero, champeta, and more treasured aspects of Latin music heritage. A joyful album created fully in the spirit of cross-cultural sharing and the treasure that is America's immigrant heritage, Uno, Dos, Tres con Andres! emphasizes that friendship transcends all language barriers. The tracks are "Hola Amigo", "Salta, Salta!", "Los Colores", "Nuestra Fiesta", "La Clave", "If I Had a Mariachi", "My Friend Manuel", "Love Song", "Where does my salad come from?", "Daddy Was a Migrant Worker", and "O Papa".

The DVD Shelf

Drawing with Mark series
Mark Marderosian
Shelter Island
c/o Damore Public Relations
$14.98 each

Winner of a Parent's Choice Award, the "Drawing with Mark" series is a set of educational, "how-to" DVDs perfect for budding artists ages 5 and up. Each DVD has two playful lessons in which professional illustrator & comic book creator Mark Marderosian shows that drawing can be fun, plus bonus features and a simple, physical "draw-along booklet". "Drawing with Mark: Dinosaurs, Space" begins with an on-location trip to the Museum of Science and the basics of how to draw a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Pterodactyl; "Reach for the Stars" continues the tour, and shows how to draw the planet Saturn and a friendly astronaut. "Drawing with Mark: Ice Cream, Happy Tails" consists of "We All Scream for Ice Cream" which involves a trip to the local ice cream shop, and "Happy Tails", in which viewers visit a local animal shelter and learn how to care for cats and dogs as well as draw them. "Drawing with Mark: Life on the Farm, Good to Grow" has two episodes on a real, local farm, and shows kids how hard everyone works to produce food, as well as how to draw a barn, a pig, a tractor, and a sunflower. "Drawing with Mark: Something Fishy, Day at Aquarium" involves a visit to The Woods Hole Science Aquarium, where viewers learn about sea life as well as how to draw a school of fish, a sea star, a seal, and a sea turtle. The drawing lessons tend to involve images of friendly cartoons and caricatures, which young people can easily imitate with paper and pencil. All four DVDs are excellent additions to any kindergarten, elementary school, or public library DVD collection. 60 min. each plus bonus, widescreen.

Thomas & Friends: Spills & Thrills
Hit Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate (distribution)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Thomas & Friends: Spills & Thrills is a new children's DVD in the cheerful "Thomas & Friends" computer-animated series, about anthropomorphic trains who work hard to do their job helping people on the Island of Sodor. Filled with brief episodes (about 10 minutes each), the stories range from Stephen learning that learning that too much speed can be hazardous, to James confronting his fear of the dark when he's tasked with pulling the nighttime Kipper Express full of "aromatic" fish! A new anthropomorphic engine character named Porter joins the cast in this fun, family-friendly video; bonus features include a simple "Bish Bash Bosh" game, a "Go Go Thomas!" karaoke music video, and "Guess Who?" puzzles. The included episodes are "Away From the Sea", "The Smelly Kipper", "No More Mr. Nice Engine", "Gone Fishing", "Thomas' Shortcut", and "The Afternoon Tea Express". 67 min., English/Spanish/French languages, widescreen.

The Multimedia Shelf

The Little Moose Who Couldn't Go To Sleep
As told to Willy Claflin
Illustrated by James Stimson
August House
3500 Piedmont Road, NE, Suite 310
Atlanta, GA 30305
9781939160676 $18.95

A 21-minute audio CD (which is a "live field" recording of Maynard Moose) accompanies The Little Moose Who Couldn't Go To Sleep: A Maynard Moose Tale, a charming picturebook about the adventures and explorations of a very inquisitive young moose. In addition to the distinctive color illustrations, The Little Moose Who Couldn't Go To Sleep is unique in that it uses "moose vocabulary" - moose-words that are pronounced just a little bit off kilter from their English equivalents. A moose-word glossary ("Blorble: bubbling musically to oneself") eases the transition in this fun-to-read-aloud storybook. Also highly recommended is "The Uglified Ducky: A Maynard Moose Tale", another Maynard Moose picturebook with an accompanying audio CD.

The Activity Shelf

Paper Craft Airplanes
Mary Beth Cryan
Peter Pauper Press, Inc.
202 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY 10601
9781441311573, $17.95,

As a child, everyone has tried their hand at making a simple paper airplane out of a single sheet of paper and seeing how far it would soar. What's less well known is that some folk never outgrew their delight with making paper airplanes that would fly farther and higher. Case in point -- "Paper Craft Airplanes" created and illustrated by Mary Beth Cryan. This hardcover and spiral bound (so as to lay out flat upon a table our counter top) book is a 100 page compendium comprised of 24 make-it-yourself paper airplane projects. Each wonderfully colorful project is complete with step-by-step instructions; sturdy paper that is perforated and scored making cutting unnecessary; as well as identified and numbered areas to be taped or glued. Of special note are the wealth of simple tips for paper craft projects and suggestions for getting each individual airplane to go as far and as high as possible! Thoroughly 'user friendly', "Paper Craft Airplanes" is enthusiastically recommended for kids of all ages (and their fathers too!).

Giddy-Up Fairytale Cowgirl, An Imagining Book
Kat Ford, author/artist
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406,
9781492804147, $8.99,

"Giddy-Up Fairytale Cowgirl, An Imagining Book" is a black and white creatively illustrated song-lyric, story-coloring book combo, with appealing lavishly decorative illustrations featuring unicorns, flying lambs, cowgirls in boots, and even tiaras and sea dragons. The fantastic images blend into appealing matching pictures with details left blank, saying "Imagine you had your own (sea dragon...etc.)! How would you paint it?" This inspiring approach also combines with several feminine portraits with faces left blank, saying, "Put your face inside the oval." This coloring book is companion to the published eBook, due to come out in February, accompanied by a sing-along video. In the meantime, additional pages of illustrations for coloring and accompanying craft ideas are available at, and accompanying blog. For a unique encouraging artistic approach for girls, "Giddy-Up Fairytale Cowgirl" is a first class imagining experience, irresistible in its appeal and dedicated to "all girls who are not afraid to dream... and more importantly, to the ones who are."

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Jim Curious: A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea
Matthias Picard
115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
9781419710438 $19.95

Jim Curious: A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea is an extraordinary, entire wordless picturebook featuring gigantic, sweeping, 3-D illustrations of a daring adventurer's deep-suit diving venture to the bottom of the ocean. Two pairs of 3-D glasses are included in a convenient plastic pouch inside the back cover. The visionary images (black-and-white artwork, with a hint of red and blue to help foster the 3-D effect) rise off the page, revealing Jim's discoveries of a sunken pirate ship, a diversity of sea creatures, and the ruins of a lost city, and a mysterious final door leading to... where? Jim Curious: A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea makes a unique and unforgettable gift, for both the young and the young at heart. Highly recommended!

Coyote Run
Gaetan Doremus
Enchanted Lion Books
351 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592701476 $14.95

Coyote Run is an entirely wordless, surreal picturebook featuring anthropomorphic animals in a setting that blurs the line between American West homage and the light fantastic. Coyote has been taken prisoner by a mule(?) sheriff and his cat deputies. Coyote longs to be free and watch the ladybugs fly; he pickpockets the key to his jail cell and makes a run for it! The sheriff catches up to him, but when Coyote shows him just how beautiful the fluttering ladybugs are, even a stubborn mule can have a change of heart. But will the deputies in hot pursuit understand? Perhaps only a ladybug miracle can save Coyote and his new friend! Simple yet utterly unforgettable, Coyote Run is highly recommended.

The Board Book Shelf

Orange, Triangle, Fox
Sarah Jones, author/illustrator
Blue Manatee Press
3054 Madison Road, Cinncinnati, OH 45204
9781936669219, $7.99,

"Orange, Triangle, Fox" is a delightful preschool pasteboard book that teaches shapes, colors, and animals simultaneously through creatively constructed artistic impressions with brief descriptive text. Designed to appeal to children from birth to 3 years, "Orange, Triangle, Fox" introduces seven different animals illustrated in matching colors and shapes. Thus we have "brown circle hedgehog," "red square owl," "yellow star frog" and more to the end, which is "purple heart bug." "Orange, Triangle, Fox" is delightful educational learning through reading and use of multiple basic concepts. Young children will grasp its implications instinctively, while enjoying the rhythmic words and creative pictures. A second recommended title in this innovative educational series for very young readers is "Bunnies Near and Far (9781936669226, $7.99)," a counting board book.

The ABC Shelf

S is for Smiling Sunrise
Vick Wadhwa, author
9781940229126, $16.95,

Featuring various artists of, "S is for Smiling Sunrise" is a preschool educational book that teaches ABC's in rhymes meant to be sung, with a free mp3 sound track of the rhymes at, This creative ABC's primer of song is specially designed to meet four goals: teaching the alphabet to young students, increasing vocabulary and comprehension through music, art, and rhyme, supporting character development by emphasizing positive words and concepts, and having fun. Every letter has a special image paired with it and a verse about the word, accompanied by colorful illustrations of many happy scenes. Some of these verses are inspired and different, such as: "V is for Virtues/ Goodness in your heart/ Caring, sharing, and honesty/ Learn well and be smart!" Another is: "G is for Gift/ That you love to get/ Did you know, it's as much fun/ To give a gift instead?" Many other verses offer new images, concepts and ideas that emphasize the creative, positive, and humane outlook for children. "S is for Smiling Sunrise" is a wonderful educator's tool with a creative, compassionate twist, for children age 3 and up.

S is for Sea Glass
Richard Michelson, author
Doris Ettlinger, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368624 $15.95

S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet is a children's ABC picturebook in which each letter is assigned a word and a brief, beach-themed poem. "W is for Wave: Away from the wind, water always behaves. / But when they play together, they're mischievous knaves. / They crash things and smash things - / They tumble and rumble - / They storm and they love to make waves." The breezy, beautifully colored artwork adds the perfect touch to this wonderful picturebook. S is for Sea Glass is an excellent children's gift to commemorate a family vacation, or rekindle memories of summer fun!

The Poetry Shelf

The Rock and Roll Band in my Armpit and Other Poems
Robbin Tenglin and Kevin Tenglin, authors
Drew Stalker, illustrator
Privately Published
9780984895113 $14.95

The Rock and Roll Band in my Armpit and Other Poems is a picturebook of wild and wacky poetry, paired with quixotic color illustrations. The result is pure fun for parents to read aloud and share with little children, or encourage them to read the poems aloud themselves. Highly recommended! "Nose Race": One day my nose was running, / For it was in a race. / But first it stretched its nostrils before sprinting off my face.

Mark and Leaf Bailen
Splendid Benedict Publishing
Lightning Source (dist.)
9780991080908 $16.75

Earf is a colorful picturebook of tongue-twistingly whimsical poems about planet called "Earf" and the loopy people who live there. Scraggly, colorful illustrations add just the right out-of-this-world touch to Earf. The poems are lively to the point of eyebrow-raising, and a joy to read aloud to little ones! "The Hole Digger": I wanted to dig a hole / But I dug and dug until / I stopped and looked around / And found I was digging a hill.

The Native American Shelf

The Hogan That Great-Grandfather Built
Nancy Bo Flood, author
Peterson Yazzie, illustrator
Salina Bookshelf, Inc.
3120 N. Caden Court, Suite 4
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
9781893354975 $21.95

The Hogan That Great-Grandfather Built is a children's picturebook about a multigenerational Navajo family that shares work, play, festivity, and storytelling in their family hogan (traditional hand-built home, typically made of wood with packed mud and earth). Award-winning author Nancy Bo Flood has written and taught on a Navajo Reservation for years; her appreciation for the family bond and enduring traditions shines through in this beautiful, warmly illustrated, easy-to-read picturebook about cherishing all of life's everyday miracles. "This is my Grandfather. / He stacks wood for the winter / that will warm our hogan / when chilly winds blow. // Then Grandfather's voice will soften the darkness / As he teaches the star names and shows us / the string games, / telling us stories of how we began, / and of our home, our Navajo hogan, / that long, long ago, Great-Grandfather Jack / built with his hands / out of earth, water, and trees." Highly recommended, especially for school and public library picturebook collections.

Books in Series

The Poodle Tales Book Ten: The Full Service Poodle
Toni Tuso Faber, author
Benton Rudd, illustrator
Mindstir Media
1931 Woodbury Ave. #182, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Kelley & Hall (publicity)
9780991032419 $15.99 hc / $9.99 pbk

Written by the owner of two trained and certified service poodles, The Poodle Tales Book Ten: The Full Service Poodle is a rhyming children's picturebook about a young, black-and-white-furred poodle studying how to be a skilled service dog. He encounters Deja, a white show poodle who also wants to learn how to help people, and he teaches her how to fetch things on command, and other full-service tasks. The bright, cartoon-like colorful illustrations add the perfect touch to this heartwarming story about hardworking dogs. The Full Service Poodle is the tenth book in "The Poodle Tales" series of playful picturebooks grounded in real-life canine activities, all of which are ideal for young readers ages four to nine. The first nine titles are "Poodlemania", "Poodles In Bows", "The Poodle Talent Show", "A Poodle Derby", "The Skateboarding Poodle", "The Poo Detective", "The Ballerina Poodle", "Poo Agility Stars", and "The Modeling Poo", with more forthcoming!

My First Book: Musical Instruments
Sophie Helenek, author/illustrator
Nursery Books
1146 East Street, New Britain, CT 06051
9780989450522, $5.99,

"Musical Instruments" is a title in the My First Book series by Sophie Helenek, the multi-talented award- winning athlete and mountaineer, financier, and mom. The My First Book series is described as "activity books conceived to stimulate a baby's senses." Constructed of sturdy pasteboard for tiny hands to touch, "Musical Instruments" presents multiple primary colored examples of musical instruments opposite the single word naming a single black and white example emitting musical notes. Thus baby encounters her first piano, trumpet, flute, violin guitar, and saxophone. The final summary illustration covers two pages of all six instruments first in black and white, then repeated in their actual colors, such as yellow for brass, brown for strings, silver for the flute, and black and white for the piano. "My First Book: Musical Instruments" is a wonderful approach to parental bonding with infants while participating in their miraculous progressive journey through developmental milestones. Other titles in the My First Book Series that are also highly recommended include: "Sky Wonders (9780989450539, $5.99)," "Shapes (9780989450515)," and "Fruits (9780989450508)." This whole series is an invitation to experience growth together through the infant's senses.

Dinosaurs at School
Alex Appleby, author
Planman Technologies, illustrations
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433990410, $22.60,

"Dinosaurs at School" is a charming title from a cheery, creative learning series called Dinosaur School for pre-K and K level students. Filled with a rainbow of playful dinosaur student illustrations, "Dinosaurs at School" presents a total of twelve object illustrations of items associated with a school setting, narrated simply with "I see a (crayon)" and embellished with many different colored dinosaurs. Pages are numbered 1-24 in large orange numbers, and all concepts are simple and striking. "Dinosaurs at School" will encourage early reading, concept formation and understanding, counting, and memory, as well as encouraging a sense of humor and whimsicality. Early storytelling skills can be enhanced, and a final page lists an object vocabulary with accompanying illustrations. "Dinosaurs at School" is an excellent early literary development tool and belongs in juvenile libraries at home and at school. Other titles by the same author from this series that are also highly recommended include "Dinosaurs Help Out" (9781433990533, $22.60), "Dinosaurs On the Go" (9781433990618, $22.60), "Dinosaurs On the Farm" (9781433990571, $22.60), "Dinosaur's Five Senses" (9781433990496, $22.60), and "Dinosaurs at the Zoo" (9781433990458, $22.60).

What Makes Me Shine: Sam's Birthmark
Martha and Grant Griffin, authors
Mary Anne Smiley, illustrator
Griffin Group Publishing, LLC
9780692019207, $23.95,

"Sam's Birthmark" is a title from the What Makes Me Shine series about a boy who was born with a unique vascular facial birthmark. It's purpose is to celebrate the individual uniqueness of Sam and all children, to educate children about vascular birthmarks, to teach tolerance and prevent bullying behaviors, and to promote self acceptance in children who have birthmarks or other obvious differences that make them unique. In short, "Sam's Birthmark" was created to increase compassion, acceptance and awareness, particularly with regard to vascular birthmarks. Filled with charming water color illustrations of Sam and friends at play, home and school, "Sam's Birthmark" follows the birth and growth of Sam, a boy born with a red, port wine birthmark on his face by his nose. When other children notice this difference in his appearance and comment on it, he asks his parents about his birthmark, and if it makes him different from everyone else. His mother replies calmly that yes, he is different from everyone and so is everyone else. His difference shows on his face, and it is a part of him, which he can learn to accept and love as they do. The next time a child asks Sam about his birthmark, he replies: "It's my birthmark, and I like it, and it's in the right place!" Look forward to more titles in this child health series.

Crabby Crab
Chris Raschka, author/illustrator
Abrams Appleseed
c/o Abrams Books
115 West 18th Street, new York, NY 10011
9781419710568, $6.95,

"Crabby Crab" is the latest title in an innovative toddler picture book series called Thingy Things. Perfectly orchestrated with bright, humorous illustrations and minimal expressive narrative, the reader reassures the discontented crustacean that "We love you just the way you are," when he wishes to change his 8 sideways walking legs or large crab claws. Children will relate positively to the joyous humor of "Crabby Crab." Another recommended title in this highly imaginative series is "Cowy Cow (9781419710551, $6.95)." The success of the series comes partly from perfectly matched, balanced text and imagery messages and humor. Very young children will read the subtext perfectly and laugh. This series encourages self acceptance, communication skills, and early reading.

Quincy and Buck
Camille Matthews, author
Michelle Black, illustrator
Pathfinder Equine Publications
243 N. Garfield Road, Mehrsville, PA 19541
9780981924045, $15.95,

"Quincy and Buck" is the third title in a popular series titled Quincy the Horse, and takes readers on Quincy's first trail ride experience in the desert with a new horse named Buck, who turns out to be a bully. In the beginning, Quincy is afraid to go trail riding in the desert like his best friend Buck, so he asks Buck for encouragement. Buck answers: "You need to go on the trail and face the surprises. You will never feel brave if you stay home. Wild animals are as scared of you as you are of them. Most problems on the trail are caused by other things. It helps to follow an experienced horse." Quincy goes on to have an amazing adventure on his first desert ride with a new horse, Buck. Realistic paintings present illustrations of horses and riders in breathtaking desert settings. Quincy learns to protect himself from Buck's bullying while also learning good trail riding skills. Children at levels K-4th grade who are also horse fans and Quincy series followers will enjoy his courageous performance and dealing with both external and internal complex limiting factors as well as fear.

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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