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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 25, Number 3 March 2015 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Self-Help Shelf Botany Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Picturebook Shelf Science Shelf
Fiction Shelf Holiday Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Activity Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf ABC Shelf
Board Book Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Christian Shelf
Math Shelf Jobs/Careers Shelf Multicultural Shelf
American History Shelf Cookbook Shelf Holocaust Studies Shelf
Poetry Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Education Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Psychology Shelf Books in Series

Donovan's Bookshelf

A Wolf at the Gate
Mark Van Steenwyk
Mennonite Worker Press
2420 11th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Paperback: 9780986233340 $16.99
Hardcover: 9780986233302 $23.49
Ebook: 9780986233319 $8.99 78 pages

Ages 7-12 will relish the fantasy adventure that is A Wolf at the Gate: but don't let the story's intended age group fool you. It sports a healthy dose of food for thought in the form of a perceived animal-devouring wolf threat and presents not a classic story of a wolf's dangers, but what actually proves to be a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Couched in the guise of storytelling are many elements: the parable of good blending into a perceived evil's form, a retelling of the legend of Saint Francis and the Wolf, and the meaning of violence and love in a questionable world where nothing holds clear answers and presumptions are usually wrong guesses.

First, the illustrations should be mentioned: they are lovely embellishments to the story line, blending a black and white peppering of images throughout with pages of woodblock full- color images that render Saint Francis, the wolf, and other creations as appealing entities.

Gentle accounts of wolf and human interactions create a lovely interplay between characters and a saga that is appealing and compelling throughout: "Some of the naughtiest children would pull her fur too hard. Even then, Sister Wolf wouldn't growl but simply remember the scent of that child and never let them ride on her back again."

The teachings are clear as the story unfolds: there are choices in how to react to the world - even a violent world - and there are courses of action that reinforce the overpowering meaning of love without allowing for personal sacrifice and vulnerability.

As all ages read A Wolf at the Gate, these underlying and powerful concepts become clear, marking its territory with stories of outlaws, noblemen, and a determined wolf's efforts to bring peace to her corner of the world against all odds: "It wasn't much; wolves can only carry with their mouths, but she hoped it would keep the men from attacking wealthy travelers on the road."

The result is a Saint Francis legend like none other you're familiar with, told not from the usual viewpoint of the Saint but of the wolf, who tries different ways of interacting with the world before finding one that ultimately works best.

Adventures and travels blend with accounts of little acts of kindness and courage to create a compelling fable that all ages will enjoy in a story of promises and hard lessons learned in the forest of life.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

The Self-Help Shelf

The Dream Doctor
Kathryn Anaries, author
Kathleen Beening, illustrator
Ozark Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
9781886940369, $8.50,

"The Dream Doctor: A Lighthearted Journey to Help the Children in Your Life Discover That Dreams Have Something to Teach Us" is an incisive teaching story about a school-age girl named Jewel who suffered from scary dreams that she couldn't understand. Her weary parents showed their concern by taking her to a series of professional experts: a medical doctor, a psychologist, a dentist, and a school counselor. All of them offered advice, but because none of them believed in the reality of Jewel's dreams, none of it was helpful. Finally Jewel's mother took her to Dr. Dream, the dream doctor. He had dream catchers hanging in his office, and he spoke in wise verse, the only professional to do so. Jewel found she was able to confess her deepest fears to Dr. Dream and not feel belittled or ridiculed. Dr. Dream told her that her subconscious mind gave her dream images to communicate a message from herself to herself. Dream symbols are a kind of universal language for the mind, Jewel found. Dr. Dream ended his session with her by repeating the words to "Row, Row, Your Boat." When Jewel asked him if he believed the words he was humming, he answered: "We will only know if this life is a dream when we awaken in the afterlife where we may again find ourselves rowing down another stream. I leave you with that thought to ponder. Keep heeding the messages from your dreams and do not wander." The empowering messages of "The Dream Doctor" Are subtly and skillfully underlined by the calm, detailed black and white drawings of Jewel and her mother in quest of better understanding of dreams. "The Dream Doctor" is an excellent resource for parents, teachers, caretakers, and children age 7 and up.

The Botany Shelf

Trees: A Compare and Contrast Book
Katherine Hall, author
Arbordale Publishing
9781628554533, $17.95,

"Trees" is a K-3 color photo illustrated volume from the Compare and Contrast series by Katherine Hall. Brief but informative narrative is shown in contrasting type against stunning two page portraits of many different types of trees. Ideal for teaching nonfiction, cross-curricular, Common Core standards, "Trees" presents fascinating information about properties of trees, different environments supporting trees, and many direct and indirect ways in which trees help humans and all life systems. Ending with a section for study titled For Creative Minds, "Trees" offers an array of learning activity suggestions, with a teaching activities guide available on Fun matching games, quizzes, and further information about trees and animals fill the final pages of this exciting Compare and Contrast book.

Spring Walk
Virginia Brimhall Snow, author/illustrator
Gibbs Smith
P.O. Box 667, Layton, Utah 84041
9781423638797, $16.99,

"Spring Walk" is a skilled artist's impression of nature's first spring flowers as they may be encountered in a walk shared between children and grandparent in the early spring. Stunning color portraits of individual blooms are named and displayed against delicate violet on white drawings of the nature walk. 24 different flowers are featured: including crocus, primrose, African daisy, pansy, tulip, bleeding heart, forget-me-not, columbine, bluebell, and rose, and more. With spare verse narrative describing each floral encounter, "Spring Walk" appeals to multiple senses with its descriptions of attributes of spring flowers. The delicate backdrop of each floral portrait shows the full glory of each blossom in full display, a spring miracle of growth. To complete the botany lesson, a flower matching game, egg carton garden, flower bouquet creation, and list of fun flower facts are presented as enriching learning activities. "Spring Walk" is an excellent intergenerational reinforcing nature lesson, with multiple sensory identification skills enhancement benefits for children.

The Slippers' Keeper
Ian Wallace, author/illustrator
Groundwood Books
House of Anansi / Groundwood Books
c/o Publishers' Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781554984145, $18.95,

"The Slippers' Keeper" is an exquisitely illustrated true story of a boy named Joe Purdon who loved walking and exploring the Canadian woods with his dog, Laddie. On his walks he observed and learned to know many things about the plants and animals of his beloved woodlands. One special discovery that he treasured was the Showy Lady's Slipper, which he discovered was a flower unable to pollinate itself and bloom without the help of bees or insects. The delicate wild orchid also required just the right balance of water and sunlight to thrive. Joe decided to make it his project to help Showy Lady's Slippers to grow in the fen. This was not a project that had the full support of his father, who approved Joe's activities only after his farm chores were done. Fortunately Joe's mother understood he needed to pursue his special interest for pleasure in the beauty of the wild orchid. Joe studied and observed the needs of the wild orchid and persisted in his plan to aid the spread of Showy Lady's Slippers in the fen near his farm home. Joe grew into a man who loved his work with the wild orchids, maple syrup production, and woodworking with felled trees, rather than farming. Gradually he watched his orchid colony grow and increase, just as his own family did also. Joe's work with the preservation of the Showy Ladys' Slipper was later preserved and honored by the Purdon Conservation Area, later the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. "The Slippers' Keeper" honors this amazing legacy with narrative and tender portraits of the beautiful landscape of the Showy Lady's Slipper in eastern Ontario, Canada.

The Social Issues Shelf

It's Alright To Look Different
Benedict Coulter, author
Salva Ferrando, illustrator
Baby's Brilliant
c/o Teaching Baby LLC
13636 Ventura Blvd., Suite #288, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
9780990947509, $10.89,

"It's Alright To Look Different" is a vital modern fable which helps young children to identify with those who look different, and to feel compassion and empathy for all. Straightforward, simple narrative with hidden verse elements tells the story of one little chick who is different from his fluffy yellow hatchmates: he is brown, a different color. Because of his appearance, the other chicks ignore and exclude him, which hurts his feelings, increases his loneliness and feelings of isolation. The brown chick seeks and finds a safe, quiet place, hidden through a hole and down an alley, where he cries and comforts himself. Then the night comes when a hungry fox decides to hunt fluffy yellow chicks for dinner. The yellow chicks look quite fearful and desperate, but luckily the brown chick heard their cries and offered his hiding place as a sanctuary. Overcoming his feelings of pain and rejection, the brown chick makes a magnificent, heroic gesture to rescue the other yellow chicks. "It's Alright To Look Different" teaches compassion, kindness, and acceptance of differences for young children. Expressive colorful illustrations highlight the feelings and emotions of the little chicks, encouraging young readers to empathize and understand the chicks and each other. The powerful message of the deep value of compassion and caring for all is emphasized in a healthy, positive updated fable in the esteemed tradition of "The Ugly Duckling."

Molly and the Bully: the Daily Rounds of a Hound 2
Ed Payne, author
Britt Sekulic, illustrator
Round Hound Publishing
2743 Fairfield Drive SW, Marietta, GA 30064
9780692312650, $10.99,

Book Two of the Daily Rounds of a Hound series, "Molly and the Bully" is a charming illustrated story in verse about a dog's eye view of such things as bullying, stereotyping, and love. First, the back story is told of Molly, the shelter dog who found a forever home and surprised her new family by giving birth to nine puppies. In Molly's puppies is a little hound named Patches who is targeted by neighborhood dogs for bullying and rough treatment, which makes him very sad. Molly comforts him with her tongue the best she can, remembering her painful experiences when she was homeless, and received helpful counsel from an unusual pit bull therapist named Frederick. Though he was shunned and hated because of dog stereotypes, Frederick told Molly: "Love... is the key to it all. They can scorn you. They can hate you. But it's up to you to love one and all." The next time the little pups went out, Charlee, a bully Chihuahua, barked and threatened the puppies, calling them names and being very cruel. But the puppies organized and told her: "Stop right there....We love you, Charlee, and we don't care if you ignore us.... We're all just hounds, None are better. None are worse. Some come from breeders, some come from shelters. Some are different, but none are first." The puppies overcame Charlee's threats and bullying behavior with love. The touching narrative, expressively adorned with charming pictures of Molly's puppies and the other, bullying dogs, ends with these wise lines: "A bully is not how you're born, but how you act. And remember it well as you consider this fact. Whether purebred or stray, whether pretty or with fleas. Love your hound, tan, red or brown and you'll get more in return you'll see." What a touching message of tolerance, told in hound terms especially for kids!

Her Pink Hair
Jill Dana, author/illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing
12430 Tesson Ferry Road, #186, Saint Louis, MO 63128
9789781616335687, $9.95,

Suggested for reading audiences ages 5-8, "Her Pink Hair" is an unusual, sensitive children's book about a child's experience with a friend named Stephanie who changed, became ill, lost her hair, and finally re-grew and dyed her hair pink while battling with a life threatening disease, cancer. Creative mixed media illustrations of colorful clay sculpted figures add a dimension of whimsey and reality to the tender story. The child's viewpoint is poignant and sincere: she had a friend with long brown hair at school, then her friend was not at school. She visited her and they played while the friend was ill and tired. Then her friend had no hair, and finally she had short pink hair, which her mother had dyed for her. Stephanie told her friend she would not be coming back to school, in a sad but calm voice. The most moving part of "Her Pink Hair" comes when the friend at school says: "But then I did not see her any more with my eyes...." Adding, "But if I close my eyes and think of pink hair, I see a picture of Stephanie in my mind. My friend, Stephanie, has pink hair." The portrait of Stephanie shows her with long pink hair, revealing that she continues a living presence in the mind of her friend. Another delicate nuance of this friendship between two girls is the skin colors of the girls differs: One is white, the other is dark. "Her Pink Hair" is a gentle story that teaches children ways to think about hard subjects like terminal illness, even death, of a young friend.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Boy & the Book [a wordless story]
David Michael Slater, author
Bob Kolar, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580895620 $16.95

Also available as an ebook, The Boy & the Book [a wordless story] is an original tale told entirely with brightly colored pictures. A young boy loves to read, but he doesn't understand how to handle books - he wantonly tosses library books around and tears their pages. Poor, innocent books! The anthropomorphic books of the library help the boy's literary victim recover with tape and care, but what will they do when the boy comes back? Will the boy ever learn not to be so rough with books? A simple tale about learning to respect the things one loves, The Boy & the Book [a wordless story] is highly recommended.

Chasing Freedom
Nikki Grimes, author
Michele Wood, illustrator
Orchard Books
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780439793384 $18.99

Written and illustrated by a team who each earned the Coretta Scott King Award, Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony Inspired by Historical Facts is a children's picturebook with a most unusual premise: what if two great women from American history, each of whom fought to earn civil rights, sat down together for tea? What stories of their deeds would they share? Chasing Freedom is a work of historical fiction that draws upon the documented accomplishments of both women and others who labored to shape history, with the intent of leaving the world a better place than they found it. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library picturebook collections.

P. Zonka Lays an Egg
Julie Paschkis
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561458196 $16.95

P. Zonka Lays an Egg is an original children's picturebook influenced by the Ukranian tradition of crafting colorful, decorated eggs with patterns of beeswax and layers of dye. These artistic eggs are called pysanky (the plural of pysanka), and they are the inspiration for P. Zonka's name. In P. Zonka Lays an Egg, P. Zonka is an unassuming hen who doesn't lay eggs. The other chickens accuse her of being lazy or daydreaming, because she spends so much time staring up at the sky. But when P. Zonka tries with all her might, she lays an egg like no other - its brilliant colors reflect the wonders she sees in the sky up above! Simple yet dazzling illustrations add a vibrant touch to this delightful picturebook.

Timothy Knapman, author
Patrick Benson, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763674786 $16.99

Soon is a wistfully atomospheric children's picturebook, about a long journey that a mother elephant and her calf, Raju, take together. They travel past crocodile-infested waters, tall grasslands where tigers prowl, and up the slope of a grand mountain. Whenever Raju asks his mother when they can go home, she says, "Soon". At last, they can see the wide world from the mountain's slopes... and when Raju asks, his mother says they can go home "Now." "'When can we do it all again?' Raju asked. 'Soon,' said his mother." Beautiful illustrations in a naturalistic style perfectly complement this story about discovery, patience, and love.

Go Fast, Goo
Todd Murphy
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781620244890 $7.99

Go Fast, Goo is a softcover children's picturebook with striking, colorful artwork about a snail who is tired of being slow. With help from his dragonfly, grasshopper, and spider friends, Goo tries as hard as he can to become faster and capable of traveling farther. But when the spider's bundle of babies goes missing, only a slow and careful search performed by someone like Goo can find them! A gentle story about learning to embrace one's strengths, Go Fast, Goo is a delight to read aloud and share. Go Fast, Goo comes with a coupon code for a free audiobook digital download from Tate Publishing's website (

Fiddle Dee Dee
Faye Alison Gilbert, author
Jackie Berndt, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
9781612252766 $12.99

Intended for young people ages 5-12, Fiddle Dee Dee is a rhyming, softcover picturebook about Robbie, a precocious, knobby-kneed eight-year-old boy with myriad hobbies and passions. When he discovers his love for the violin, he practices so much that he drives his parents crazy - and he won't say any words but "Fiddle Dee Dee"! With the help of Robbie's music teacher, Robbie's parents begin to understand Robbie's laser-like focus - just as Robbie moves on to a new focus! "Said Robbie, 'I'm finished. I want something new. / I'm quitting the fiddle to play the kazoo.'" Lively color illustrations bring a sense of whimsy and wonder to life, in this warmhearted story.

I Carry Your Heart With Me
E.E. Cummings
Cameron & Company
9781937359522, $16.95,

I Carry Your Heart With Me interprets E.E. Cummings' poem and pairs it with warm pictures in the story of how a mother introduces her child to the natural world and her own love. One might not ordinarily think that a poem many an adult has read would be suitable for a child, but Cummings' poems lend perfectly to a picture book format, given their simple approach to life, their brevity, and their warm and winning observations which will be easily understand by young and old alike. Artist Mati McDonough's mixed media illustrations inject new life and spirit into the poem for young audiences, and lend particular well to a read-aloud venture between parents and children, making this a highly recommended parent/child pick.

The Smile That Went Around the World
Patrice Karst, author
Jana Christy, illustrator
DeVorss Publications
PO Box 1389, Camarillo, CA 93011
9780875168753, $15.95,

"The Smile That Went Around the World" is a charming children's story about a smile shared by a Justin when he shared his cookies with some hungry people. The smile is contagious. It travels from Justin, to Rupert Price at the airport, to Mrs. Green, to Hong Kong, to Coach Martinez, the pilot, who flew back home and returned the smile to Justin, just when he really needed it. This beautifully illustrated, optimistic story is conveyed both in and soft, bright colored illustrations, ending with this observation: You never really know how far a smile can go. When one comes your way, it may have traveled thousands of miles and cheered millions of people before it ever reached you. But even more amazing than that, just think about how far your next smile might go!"

David Miles, author
Natalie Hoopes, illustrator
Familius LLC
9781939629654, $16.95,

"Book" is a fantastic apologia for books, written especially for children. Real, paper, written books, that look perfectly ordinary on the page until you look closer, and closer, and closer....As rainbow fantasy illustrations bloom on the page, the reader is entranced and enchanted by the imaginary world of the reader to be found in books. Poetic language describes the incredible world of books... "Where imagination scrapes the skies of opportunity, the forests of what-could-be stretch beyond the horizon, and the friends of fact and fiction make believe all night long under the milky stars of possibility." Books can console, enfold, comfort, or stimulate and educate. Books cannot get sick or be turned off, or lock you out. Books are always there for you. "Book" is a winning presentation of the enduring value of books (as opposed to other media for readers), enhanced by truly magical illustrations that encompass a trip to Fairyland and back.

The Boy On The Page
Peter Carnavas, author/illustrator
Kane Miller
c/o EDC Publishing
P.O. Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74147
9781610672450, $11.99,

"The Boy On the Page" poses an interesting dilemma for young readers. What if the picture of the boy on the page were real? What if the boy on the page began to question his existence, or to chafe at being trapped in the confines of a page and imagination? Even if the boy began to grow, change, and have wonderful, new experiences, he still could question why he was, in fact, on the page. Finally the boy, who has become a man, jumps off the page, leaving behind a bewildered little pig and yellow bird, his friends on the page. But soon he tumbled straight back to the page, and what did he find there, waiting for him? "Every animal he had ever cared for and every person he had ever loved." As all celebrate the boy's return to his world on the page, he smiles contentedly, for now he knows why he is here. "The Boy On the Page" is told in imaginative, blossoming illustrations against a white, plain background, and terse narrative. Young children will enjoy following the story in both pictures and words.

Letters From a Southern Mother
Alex Anthony Beene, author
Danny Martin, illustrator
Hilliard Press
Hilliard Institute for Educational Wellness
9780991279241, $20.00,

"Letters From a Southern Mother" is an inspirational tribute to the author's mother, written in the form of loving adages of advice upon the first day of school for her son, long ago. Sharing the historical lessons and cultural legacy of Southeastern United States, "Letters From a Southern Mother" conveys a profound awareness of the need to encourage respect and dignity for all, whatever their differences. The mother's helpful statements to her fearful son, Jack, are each illustrated with a life view from recent years in the Southeast. For example, she tells him "If you see classmates needing help, lend them a hand." The accompanying illustration shows a strong black man carrying an elderly Asian or white lady through deep water, with the caption: "Acts of kindness in the wake of Hurricane Katrina helped promote dignity in a time of chaos. New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005" She makes several more profound observations that are shown through the lens of historic happenings in the Southeastern states. Some of these are "...preserve your character and your working area. Clean up after yourself." "Be kind and understanding to others, even if they're different .. from you." "Never be afraid to learn new things." "Always speak up for what you know to be right, even if it isn't popular with your classmates." "...even when you have a bad day, remember to look for the bright spots." After being reassured by his mother's calm advice, Jack felt better about his first day of kindergarten. When he asked his mother where she learned all that stuff, she smiled and said, "Son, I learned all those lessons from the South and its people.... You'll experience all these traits in time, too. Just hold on to what I taught you." "Letters From a Southern Mother" has an eloquent Forward by Dr. Charlotte Fisher, in which she asks: " How can we assist our children in making a difference by challenging this world as we know it?" The answer is explored by the lessons to be learned from reading "Letters From a Southern Mother," a beautiful and valuable educational book for young readers of all backgrounds.

A Violin for Elva
Mary Lynn Ray, author
Tricia Tusa, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780152254834, $16.99,

"A Violin for Elva" is a touching, heartening story about a little girl who heard beautiful music and wanted a violin to learn to make more beautiful music. Sadly, her parents were unable to grant her request for a violin, so she spent many childhood hours imagining and pretending that she could play a violin. Long after Elva grew up and worked at a responsible job, she recalled her youthful dream about learning to play the violin. Even though her hair is gray and years have gone by, Elva takes a daring step, buying herself a magical instrument and trying to learn to play it by herself. Eventually, she spent her money to buy a course of lessons, with children much younger than she is. Although it is not easy or quick, with much practice, Elva learns to make beautiful music with her violin. The satisfaction and happiness that she feels permeates the pages of swirling musical dream notes and artist's rest at the end. The message of "A Violin for Elva" is laced with gratitude for beauty, the beauty of music. Charming, expressive, unique illustrations show the irrepressible spirit that fills Elva's life with a love for making music. The wonderful awareness that it is never too late to begin living your dreams is the gift of "A Violin for Elva."

Silver Bunny and the Secret Fort Chop, Fujimini Adventure Series #8
Eileen Wacker, author
Curt Spurging, illustrator
Honolulu, Hawaii 96821
Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781938806117, $10.99,

"Silver Bunny and the Secret Fort Chop" is the eighth volume in the award-attracting Fujimini Adventure series introducing young readers to exciting aspects of Asian cultures in a fantasy adventure format. Drawing from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultural influences and traditions, the Fujimini Adventure series casts an intriguing set of animal characters in an imaginary island setting with mountain slopes, a Fu Fun Forest, rocky shores, a glassy bay, grassy fields, and a glen with an obstacle course. Beginning with a handy map and legend to help readers locate characters including pandas, dragons, penguins, hamsters, bunnies and various sea creatures, "Silver Bunny and the Secret Fort Chop" promises to be an exciting adventure featuring the quiet taekwando student. Although her teacher, Orange Bunny, tells her she is gifted and could earn a black belt, Silver Bunny is temporarily immune to inspiration by the traditional taekwando ideals of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self- control and spirit. Although Orange Bunny makes a stunning demonstration of her mastery of taekwando, Silver Bunny prefers to divert the other students to another project, building a secret clubhouse called Fort Chop, making a taekwando movie with a rainbow trampoline, uploading it to Fuji-tube, and getting rich. Silver Bunny basically wants to do it the easy way, having fun instead of working, doing assigned tasks, or cleaning. Gradually Silver Bunny and her followers recruit different friends to surf together, build the secret fort and trampoline, and make the taekwando movie. However, reality intervenes when Silver Bunny attempts a trampoline, board smacking, fake taekwando trick. An injured paw and a burned Green Hamster causes Dynasty Dragon's mother to come to the group's rescue. Rainbow Panda attempts to deceive Mother Dragon, but she tells him: "You can't lie to a dragon. We can see into the past and future!" Soon orange Bunny and Brown Hamster, the adults in charge, come to inquire into the group's action. Gradually, all the younger animals learn that including everyone in their secret club is more fun, and practicing taekwando moves can lead to a better performance. Most important of all, Silver Bunny learns a valuable lesson from her teacher: "Train with purpose, live with purpose!" (Also, bowing with courtesy to a teacher and others is good form). Every colorful character in the Fujimini series has a rainbow type color matching its name. Even more interesting is the Glossary of "Chic" Asian Associations at he end, explaining in detail with illustrations many common Asian elements in the story inspired by the different cultural traditions. "Silver Bunny and the Secret Fort Chop" meets all the criteria of high interest, entertainment options, while incorporating cultural and character forming ethics from varied Asian traditions seamlessly. This series makes learning on many levels fun and easy for children ages 4-7. In addition, further learning opportunities are available in online games and more about the Fujimini series characters at,

Tillie & Clementine Noises in the Night
Dan Killeen, author/illustrator
Happy Fun Books
c/o Clovercroft Publishing
106 Kilkerry Way, Loveland, Ohio 45140
Buoyancy Public Relations
9780989847414, $11.99,

"Tillie & Clementine: Noises in the Night" is a delightful cartoon modern fairytale story about a father's comic child care efforts at creative bedtime storytelling, with slightly unexpected results. Expressive colored cartoons show Tillie and Clementine and their father being left to cope while their mother goes to a board meeting. Hilarious results occur when the father's bedtime story of a dragon scaling castle walls to climb to the pudding-strewn room of Princess Tillie and Princess Clementine. In funny reversals, the story unfolds, and the curly haired mommy returns home from the "bored" meeting just in time to praise and rescue her confused and battered husband from his evening adventure of caring for the two resourceful princesses. "Tillie & Clementine: Noises in the Night" has all the earmarks of a successful series entertaining to children and adults.

King Burue Changes the Rules
Natalija Bajlo, author
Amene Beheshti, illustrator
Bajlo Innovative Enterprises
Nancy Sayles, publicist
The Sayles Organization
9781628404920, $21.95,

"King Burue Changes the Rules" is an exciting story celebrating diversity, filled with important life lessons written by an eight year old student who developed it to teach children to love more and hate less. "King Burue Changes the Rules" is about a goose of royal lineage who falls in love with a parrot named Kimiko. He finds this is in conflict with a traditional rule of the kingdom, "A goose shall only marry a goose." Unable to accept this as truth, King Burue travels in quest of a better vision, finally meeting his wise old Grandpapa Goose, who tells him: "...kindness, honesty and happiness are not found in the color of your feather or your fur... It doesn't matter what you look like. A rule can't tell you about your heart." Thus Burue learns that rules can be changed when they don't apply, or don't work. He can love Kumiko, a Japanese parrot, and other friends in unmatched pairs can likewise continue their valuable relationships. "King Burue Changes the Rules" is a wise, compassionate modern fable of diversity and acceptance, delicately illustrated with charming animal companions who explore and express the immense variety of and richness of love and life. "King Burue Changes the Rules" is more than a game-changer; it enlarges and informs the human heart.

Swimming, Swimming
Gary Clement, author/illustrator
Groundwood Books
House of Anansi Press
c/o Publishers Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781554984503, $16.95,

"Swimming, Swimming" is the fabulously detailed illustrated picture story behind the song of the same name quoted here: "Swimming, swimming in a swimming pool. When days are hot, when days are cold, in a swimming pool. Breaststroke, sidestroke, fancy diving too! Oh don't you wish you never had anything else to do?" Vast, two page illustrations show a boy who loves swimming waking up, making preparations, then meeting his friends for a day of fun at the pool. After ice cream treats and a nutritious supper, the boy feeds his goldfish and prepares to sleep and dream of swimming and fun. The pool illustrations are filled with incredible detail that children ages 4-7 will adore to trace and discuss. The song and dance motions to "Swimming, Swimming" are to be found by visiting

Turkey Trouble
Judy Walker, author
Kathy Kerber, illustrator
WestBow Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490843711, $15.99,

"Turkey Trouble" is a charming modern fable that teaches the Golden Rule in tongue-twister turkey-talk. Written by a creative teacher who imagined the original cast of characters as part of puppet theater used in her classroom, "Turkey Trouble" takes classic interaction problems to the magical realm of imagination, where a whole Royal Ranch of tough turkeys belonging to the King of Yummy Land must be taught to be tender turkeys. This troublesome task is awarded to Tender Tillie the Turkey and her friend Pokey, the donkey, after royal interviews of many dazzling applicants are completed. Pokey and Tilly are assisted by the other applicants in their terrible task, including the horse named Tennessee Tyler, who "strummed his guitar and twittered tunefully: Love, you Tender Turkeys! LOOK your BEST! DO your BEST! And BE your BEST! Let Love do all the rest! Then you'll be Tender, Turkeys!" This becomes the turkeys' top theme tune as they gradually learn to clean up, shape up, tune up, and polish up their manners and consideration for each other. The troubling thought of an ultimate fate of Royal consumption of the Top Tender Turkey becomes a theme for a magnificent group rescue effort for Tilly, but ultimately Tenderness Tops All, as Tilly discovers she is not to be ON the Royal menu, but rather she is invited to be an honored guest at the royal feast. Wise Sir Who, the owl, reminds all that someone special is missing, and magically Pokey appears at the feast in time to have Tilly declare, with tears in her eyes: "Pokey, I love you. You were the one that helped me become the BEST I could be." "Turkey Trouble" is wonderfully entertaining reading, with many a thoughtful moral imbedded in fun turkey talk, enhanced by tasteful tintypes and colorful portraits of all turkey and other characters, filled with mischief and fun. "Turkey Trouble" is ideal for elementary students ages 6-10.

Sidewalk Flowers
JonArno Lawson, author
Sydney Smith, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o Publishers Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781554984312, $16.95,

"Sidewalk Flowers" is an exquisite spring story painted in beautiful black and white illustrations with single bright splashes of color used to highlight the important story details. A child in a red hooded jacket walks the city streets with a distracted, cell phone multi-tasking father, collecting stray sidewalk flower blooms into a fragile bouquet. Wonderful emotions of surprise, delight, distraction, sadness, joy, and life affirmation are conveyed in the simplest strokes of color and pen and ink. The child lays a few precious blooms on the breast of a dead bird, a sleeping homeless man, and in the collar of a friendly dog belonging to a friend of the father. By the time the child and father reach their home, the color of each page has spread to all details of the picture, emphasizing love, warmth, and healing security of the growth of spring and embrace of the mother and younger siblings. The child looks up at birds in flight and tucks a flower in her hair. This exquisite book is described as "an ode to the importance of small things, small people, and small gestures." It is meant to be savored and cherished by children and adults of every age.

Orna Landau
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544290013, $16.99,

Sadie is having a wonderfully fun sick day, and that includes a confrontation with a very different illness, 'leopardpox', which includes claws, fur, a tail, and more. Her mother is determined to search for a cure in this fun saga of a girl who turns into a leopard - and who finds out just how much fun it is to be sick at home. Omar Hoffmann's drawings are whimsical, inviting embellishments to the story, which will appeal to any picture book reader looking for something different and fun.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Score One for the Sloths (9780544324053, $8.99) by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger provides a winning picture book story about being an individual as it tells of the sloths at Sleepy Valley Sloth School, who are happy to be lazy until the Society for Organizing Sameness decides to investigate the school's terrible learning history. It falls upon one feisty sloth to thwart the intentions of the Society to make the sloths more productive - but how can Sparky use her energy to defend the rights of sloths to be lazy? An unusual solution evolves. Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger children's book Pookins Gets Her Way (9780544324060, $8.99) tells of a mean-tempered child who uses tantrums and apples to get what she wants - until she meets her match in a magic gnome. When she demands three wishes, what she gets is beyond her expectations in this fun story of happiness and frustration. Both are fun and fine books for young readers.

Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023

Vincent X. Kirsch's Freddie & Gingersnap Find A Cloud To Keep (9781423159766, $16.99) tells of a strange cloud that engages Freddie and Gingersnap with its songs, questions, and inviting ways. Freddie wants to keep it, but Gingersnap knows clouds aren't for keeping. A very simple format - including the drawings - assures that this story will be an easy, different kind of read. Holly Huckins's The Cat Who Tamed The West (9781484714959, $8.99) tells of Callie, who rides into the town of Mean and Messy Corners to confront a frightened group of residents and some mean banjo stealers. Can Callie and Sparky make the town right and find a home at the same time? A fun story with cartoon cats evolves, with Marco Bucci providing exceptionally vivid color drawings. All are fine picks for early readers.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Lauren Child's The New Small Person (9780763678104, $17.99) provides a warm story that will lend particularly well to parent/child read-aloud and discussion as it tells of one Elmore, who begins life as an only child with his own room, and finds his life changed by a 'new small person' who comes into his room, follows him around, and won't leave his things alone. Worst of all, Elmore comes to believe people like this new small person better than they do Elmore. A fine story of sibling interactions and the move from only child to sibling invites young picture book readers to understand the presence of a younger child in the family. David Elliott's Nobody's Perfect (9780763666996, $16.99) is illustrated by Sam Zuppardi and is also about a sibling: a child who faces a loud sister, a show-off best friend, a mother who doesn't understand that sometimes a dog needs to sleep with a boy, and more. It's all about perfection or the lack thereof as the boy assesses the faults of those around him - those he loves - and comes to understand and accept that faults are a part of everyone. Both are gentle picture book stories perfect for readers who like oversized cartoon drawings.

The Science Shelf

Dino Treasures
Rhonda Lucas Donald, author
Cathy Morrison, illustrator
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628554502 $17.95

Dino Treasures is a rhyming children's picturebook about what the science of paleontology has discovered about dinosaurs. From ancient dinosaur diets, to a preserved fossil showing a dinosaur that slept with its head tucked under its wing (just like birds today), to evidence of dinosaur headbutting, Dino Treasures is as fascinating as it is fun. The last four pages offer additional fascinating facts and suggested activities for creative minds. Dino Treasures is a wonderful way to encourage young people to learn more about science and natural history, and is enthusiastically recommended for public and school library collections.

Pitter and Patter
Martha Sullivan, author
Cathy Morrison, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695080, $16.95,

"Pitter and Patter" is an accurate and beautifully illustrated story of two falling raindrops, who greet many creatures as they fall. Written in enchanting prose-poetry narrative, "Pitter and Patter" decorates each encounter in pages filled with portraits of an otter, a dragonfly, fox, deer, hawk, snake crayfish, mayfly, and many other creatures. Pitter and Patter even find their way underground to a bat, a salamander, a cricket, and more. Finally Pitter and Patter wash into a stream that flows into a river, that sweeps them out to sea. There they meet sea creatures seal and squid and also the warm rays of the sun, which evaporate them so they float up into the sky to once again become part of the gray cloud, their old friend. "Pitter and Patter" is a vivid illustration of the water cycle in nature, ending with a two page illustrations of every step previously described in the narrative. Additional information and definitions follow, with suggested learning activities related states of matter, the water cycle, the watershed, and water habitats. "Pitter and Patter" is ideal nature and water education reading for children ages 4-10.

The Earth
Nuria Roca and Carol Isern, authors
Rocio Bonilla, illustrator
Barron's Educational Series
250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppage, NY 11788
9781438004754, $7.99,

"The Earth" is a marvelous, compact tour of the development and history of the third planet in The Solar System series, ideally showcased and presented for kids age 7 and up. Exciting color illustrations help focus attention on the magnificent panorama of the evolution of Earth. "The Earth" begins with the Big Bang and moves swiftly through formation of earth, sea, and atmosphere, early life, the dinosaurs followed by extinction, history of Earth, study of the stars and space, and finally the conclusion of accepting the challenges of ongoing life on Spaceship Earth. "The Earth" is concluded with a series of special related activities, including Meteorites at Home and a Rocket Race, plus a helpful Parents' Guide with condensed nuggets of related known facts and information about the formation of planet Earth. Additional titles in this exciting series include "The Sky," "The Sun," and "The Moon."

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

Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm's Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Change The Earth (9780545577854, $18.99) considers the nature of fossil fuels and how they have come to be important in mankind's world, explaining how oil, coal and gas are "buried sunlight" trapped beneath the surface of the planet for millions of years, and how humans are using them to provide energy and, in the process, changing the environment. Cycles of life and balance in nature are explained using picture book images and discussions perfect for kids with good reading skills who still require an image-driven exploration. The Special Edition 2015 of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! (9780545681629, $16.99) will appeal to grades 4 and up with its bright 3-D cover and chapters devoted to the eerie, the odd, and the curious. From strange creatures and superpowers to creepy crawlies, odd houses, gravity-defying abilities, and more, Ripley excels in collecting the strangest of facts and giving them much visual embellishments, along with sidebars and information and colorful eye-catching pages, to invite even the most reluctant of readers to imbibe. David Yates,'s Hope For Winter: The True Story Of A Remarkable Dolphin Friendship (9780545750370, $17.99) tells of Winter, a famous dolphin who learned to swim again after receiving a prosthetic tail. Her recovery was amazing, but that didn't end the story: fans learn of what happens when her longtime, aging dolphin friend Panama faces changes. The efforts of the Clearwater Marine team and their involvement with dolphins makes for a heart-warming saga.

The Fiction Shelf

Mom's Big Catch
Marla McKenna
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
SoCal Public Relations
9781617777615, $9.99,

Ashley's dream was to catch a ball hit by her favorite team, so at the last game of the season, she wouldn't dare leave her seat. If she had, she might have missed, Mom's Big Catch! Join Marla McKenna in this exciting tale and heartwarming story of one family's adventure at the old ball game! Author Marla McKenna's delightfully entertaining story is a twenty-eight page illustrated delight from beginning to end and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, school, and community library collections. It should be noted that "Mom's Big Catch" is also available as an Audio Book Download ($3.95).

Sadie's Big Steal
Marla McKenna
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
SoCal Public Relations
9781632687449, $10.99,

The sequel to author Marla McKenna's "Mom's Big Catch" (9781617777615, $9.99), "Sadie's Big Steal" is 36 page pages of pure entertainment. Sadie's plan was to steal Mom's Big Catch, but when faced with choosing between right and wrong, Sadie's adventure takes her on a heartfelt journey where she steals something much more important. An inspiring tale of friendship and fun, "Sadie's Big Steal" is very highly recommended for young readers and as an addition to school and community library collections.

Freddy the Penny
Gabrielle Begun, author
Novella Genelza, illustrator
Margarita Begun
Lekha Publishers, LLC
102 Parkgrove Drive, South San Francisco, CA 94080
9781937675110, $11.95, 50pp,

Written by ten year old Gabrielle Begun and illustrated by Novella Genelza, "Freddy the Penny" is the engaging and entertaining tale of Freddy, a brave young penny who goes on an exciting quest. As soon as Freddy enters the world, he is filled with curiosity. His adventures begin when he makes two friends: a pretty penny named Betty and a wise quarter named George. The three friends set out across the country on an adventure, meeting many new friends and even encountering some fearsome foes. Through the characters' journey, young readers will have a delightful time learning about friendship, family, and more. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' and great fun from beginning to end, "Freddy the Penny" is especially recommended for family, school, and community library children's books collections.

Mistake Wisconsin
Kersti Niebruegge
Privately Published
9780990871019, $6.99, 160pp,

Twenty-four musky mailboxes are missing in the small town of Mistake, Wisconsin. One crooked politician blames the local teenagers, but sophomore Megan Svenson smells something fishy -- and it's not just her job at Brabender's Bait, where she runs into three out-of-towners visiting for musky fishing Opening Day. The sheriff is hot on the trail of the mailbox thieves, but Megan suspects she's the only one who can exonerate her classmates. With a little creative thinking, Megan is determined to save Mistake's beloved fishing holiday in this humorous tale of the eccentric Northwoods. "Mistake Wisconsin" is a deftly crafted Wisconsin culture based novel that demonstrate author Kersti Niebruegge's impressive storytelling talents ideal for young adult readers. "Mistake Wisconsin" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library YA Fiction collections. It should also be noted that "Mistake Wisconsin" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Daydreams for Night
John Southworth, author
David Ouimet, illustrator
Simply Read Books
501-5525 West Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6M 3W6
9781927018170, $17.99,

"Daydreams for Night" is a poignant, strangely whimsical collection of bittersweet short stories recount strange adventures with unlikely characters and unexpected heroism. Grotesque yet charming black and white illustrations trace unworldly portraits of stories such as Fingus the Fisherman and the First Watermelon, The Secret Lawn Bowling Society, Railroad to the Moon, or The Strange Man Who Kept a Ferris Wheel in His Back Yard. The characteristic touch of the macabre can be found in the end of the last story: " On some snowy nights when all was quiet, Earl would bring out a flask of hot cider to a pale young man dressed in second-hand funeral clothes that he'd find curled up on one of the Ferris wheel seats." Also pervading each intensely vivid short story is an intermittent bright thread of joy and delight, such as in The Magic Box with the Elephant: "Tonight, when everyone is asleep, Glenn will dress in his best navy blue suit and take the magic box with the elephant painted on its side all the way down the winding steps to the stony beach, where he will sit and listen once more, as if it was the first night of his life." The strange images and tales of each story are wonderfully imagined and displayed in the haunting chiaroscuro-effect illustrations, which casually yoke the fantastic with the ordinary in a miraculous yet realistic, secretly humorous way. "Daydreams for Night" may not be bedtime reading for young children, but it surely holds appeal for the middle grade and up reader with a taste for the eccentric.

Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel
Jane Ellen Freeman, author
Eric Hammond, illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
12430 Tesson Ferry Road, #186, Saint Louis, MO 63128
9781616335731, $19.95,

"Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel" is an intriguing chapter book for young readers of the series Chapbooks for Tweens. Jeremiah is eight years old, living alone with his widowed mother, and trying hard to be responsible. His worrying and other problems contribute to his forgetfulness, which leads to other complex problems. But at a crucial moment, Jeremiah discovers an unusual ally: a guardian angel who looks a great deal like a leprechaun. Through clear descriptions and appealing actions, the story of Jeremiah and his struggle to learn, to grow, to accept responsibility, and to keep promises. Well rounded, comic black and white illustrations add interest and humor to an appealing story for tween readers ages 7-10. "Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel" is a wholesome chapter book for children who understand latchkey loneliness and the pains of growing up.

It's Up to Charlie Hardin
Dean Ing
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780306, $16.99,

It's Up to Charlie Hardin is set in the summer of 1942 and Charlie is facing a long hot world in his Texas home with only one admonition from his parents: to stay out of trouble. But when a secret path leads to a different world, a dangerous criminal plot, and adventure, Charlie finds his impulse for adventure irresistible. Can Charlie avoid all the temptations that defy his parents' simple request throughout a long summer? A fine story of adventure and self-discovery offers a believable story line and compelling plot.

Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's THIS SHATTERED WORLD (9781423171034, $17.99) tells of a rebel and a captain who under normal circumstances would never have met. The one thing about war is that it brings together not only opposing forces and beliefs, but individuals who have their own reasons for leading or rejection rebellion - and when Jubilee and Flynn meet, the confrontations between prisoner and leader personalize the scenario of a senseless war. This is the second book in the Starbound trilogy and offers a powerful saga teens will find compelling. Familiarity with the prior book is recommended. Alastair Grim's ODDITORIUM (9781484700068, $16.99) tells of a poor chimney sweep who is abused by a cruel master - until he hides in a coach belonging to a mysterious guest and enters the puzzling world of the Odditorium at the other end. While Grubb could be enchanted by its wonders, he has no time to relax: the Odditorium is attacked and Grubb finds only he can prevent its destruction. A powerful story evolves, perfect for preteens who love fantasy and adventure. Jennifer Donnelly's ROGUE WAVE (9781423182009, $17.99) tells of six mermaids who are summoned to learn that the ancient evil that destroyed Atlantis is rising again - and only mermaids can stop it. But only if they can find the original talismans that kept them safe. Serafina is charged with locating her talisman in the sea, while Needa faces the disbelief of her parents. What evolves is an epic treasure hunt against the backdrop of destruction in a story that holds no parallel to any other, and much to attract young adult audiences. All are recommended leisure reads.

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

Dan Smith's MY FRIEND THE ENEMY (9780545665421, $17.99) is set in the summer of 1941 and tells of Peter, whose father is fighting along with other British soldiers against the Nazis. Everything seems distant, until one day a German plane crashes in the woods and Peter's investigation leads to a German airman survivor who is seriously wounded. Why should Peter help the enemy? A compelling story evolves. Alaya Dawn Johnson's LOVE IS THE DRUG (9780545417815, $17.99) introduces straight-A student Emily Bird, whose perfect future at an Ivy League school seems assured until she meets a government agent at a party and wakes up several days later with amnesia. Everything has changed since her lapse: a deadly flu virus is destroying the world and forcing quarantines and martial law and the agent is sure Bird knows something about the virus or her parents' secret work. A compelling story of the near-future makes for engrossing young adult reading.

The Holiday Shelf

Mariam's Easter Parade
Marianne Markarian, author
Margaret Markarian Wasielewski, illustrator
Pomegranate Publishing
PO Box 43, Carpinteria, CA 93013
9780976737711 $16.00

Mariam's Easter Parade is a picturebook about how people of the Armenian culture celebrate Easter. Set in the early 1900's, the story shows how people dressed in colorful costumes, paraded through villages, visited with friends and neighbors, and shared elaborate dishes such as pilaf, shish kebab, cheoreg, and paklavah. There were competitive egg-fighting contests (which were a little bit like thumb wrestling, but with eggs); the winner was the one holding an uncracked egg at the end of the day. A final page teaches young people how to decorate eggs the Armenian way (a parent's supervision is recommended, since it involves boiling water) or engage in an easter egg-fight! Highly recommended.

Happy Easter, Davy!
Brigitte Weninger, author
Eve Tharlet, illustrator
Rosemary Lanning, translator
NorthSouth Books Inc.
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735841611, $15.95,

"Happy Easter, Davy!" Is a charming children's Easter story with a young rabbit as a hero. Davy is excited to hear from his friend Max that the Easter Bunny will be coming, bringing presents and pretty eggs. Mother and Father Bunny have never heard of the Easter Bunny, but all their rabbit children including baby Mia go off to search for the Easter Bunny, with great anticipation. All their searching for the Easter Bunny is fruitless, but Davy begins to get an idea. Being an older brother bunny, he decides to make a project of creating presents and eggs and baskets for his younger siblings. He made Easter eggs out of round pebbles, a basket, dolls and a boat out of grass and twigs. On the night before Easter, Davy secretly distributed the Easter surprises, acting like the Easter Bunny for his younger siblings. Mother and Father Rabbit watched the joy of all their children, then asked Davy if the Easter Bunny had brought anything for him. Imagine Davy's surprise when he found a pretty painted egg and a little wooden flute! The pride of Mother and Father Rabbit in their son Davy, the Easter Bunny to his siblings, is clear in the delicately expressive pastel illustrations, skillfully representing the miracle of Davy and the Easter Bunny. Originally published in Switzerland in German, "Happy Easter, Davy!" will delight English speaking children age 5 and up.

Let's Celebrate Earth Day
Barbara deRubertis, author
Shutterstock, photographic images
Kane Press
225 E. 46th St., #4D, New York, NY 10017
9781575657578, $7.95,

"Let's Celebrate Earth Day" is a nonfiction title for readers ages 6-10, interest level grades 1-4, from the Holidays & Heroes series. Like other exciting titles from this acclaimed series, "Let's Celebrate Earth Day" narrates the origins of the actors and events of the holiday, provides a stimulating visual background of context, stimulates reading/comprehension skills, and extends learning through website activities to enrich learning. Founded by Democrat Senator Gaylord Nelson and co-sponsored by Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day led to ground breaking legislation to support, clean, and protect the environment and help restore a clean, healthy Earth. With the help of original planner Denis Hayes, Earth Day continues to be celebrated on April 22, growing to a global effort, with goals of massive recycling, and planting one million trees to help clean the polluted atmosphere of the Earth. Today a billion people around the Earth will celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Everyday acts of celebration can include walking, bicycling, or carpooling to help clean the air, conserving the precious resource of water, conserving energy by turning off lights, and being responsible about growing, conserving, and consuming food. On Earth Day and all year round, the focus is on developing and continuing Earth-friendly habits such as cleaning up litter, recycling, planting trees and gardens, and eating healthy fruits and vegetables. It is everyone's responsibility to practice Earth-wise stewardship every day, so the legacy of a healthier Earth will be passed on to future generations. Fun color photos throughout "Let's Celebrate Earth Day" reinforce this positive message with vibrant strength. Further related activities and resources are available at,

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Forever Smurfette
Peyo Creations
160 Broadway, Suite 700E, New York, NY 10038
c/o NBM Publishing
160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing, New York, NY 10038
9781629915081 $5.99

Before the cartoon series or the movie skyrocketed their popularity, the Smurfs were comic strip characters. Forever Smurfette is a full-color graphic novel anthology of five brief comic stories ("A Kiss for Smurfette", "Baby Owl", "Little Red Riding Smurf", "The Haunted Castle", and "Bombollino Visits the Smurfs") by Peyo, the creator of these lovable, hard-working, and occasionally mischievous little blue people. Each of the stories features Smurfette, the lone female Smurf, in a key role! Packed with rollicking adventure, Forever Smurfette is a joy for all ages, and a lighthearted soiree into the magical world of the Smurfs.

The Audiobook Shelf

The 26-Storey Treehouse
Andy Griffiths, author
Read by Stig Wemyss
Brilliance Corporation
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
9781486227891 $14.99

The 26-Storey Treehouse is the unabridged audiobook rendition of another rollicking adventure from author Andy Griffiths! Andy and Terry have expanded their extravagantly implausible treehouse; the 13 new storeys include a dodgem car rink, a skate ramp, a mud-fighing arena, an anti-gravity chamber, and ice cream parlor with 78 flavors (run by a robot named Edward Scooperhands). If you're wondering how Andy and Terry first met, they'll tell you - their story might even be mostly true! High-spirited, whimsical, and just plain fun, The 26-Storey Treehouse is a choice pick for public library children's audiobook collections. Also highly recommended is the previous novel in the series, "The 13-Storey Treehouse".

The Music CD Shelf

Watching the Nighttime Come
Suz Slezak
Fronie Rose Music
c/o Waldmania!
$15.00 CD / $8.99 MP3

The debut solo album of Suz Slezak (a core member of award-winning indie folk band "David Wax Museum), Watching the Nighttime Come is a moving collection of nocturnal serenades - some original songs, some traditional favorites, all superbly performed with melodious grace. Created to appeal to adults as well as children, Watching the Nighttime Come is a beautifully soothing lullaby anthology, perfect for encouraging warm and wonderful dreams. The tracks are "Where Did You Come From", "You Got Love", "Watching the Nighttime Come", "Leather Winged Bat", "Jessie's Waltz", "Tallis Canon", "Caballito Blanco", "The Quietest Star", "Yodel Lullaby", and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye". 31 min.

Yoga Lounge
Putumayo World Music
413 Carpenter Rd.
Charlotte, VT 05445

Yoga Lounge is an album of music ideal for immersion while practicing yoga, meditating, or simply relaxing the body and spirit. Featuring fluid, ambient songs by a variety of skilled composers, Yoga Lounge brings a distinctly global flavor with its use of a vast array of world instruments, ranging from traditional to light electronica. Highly recommended as an audio complement to yoga proactice to calm, soothe, and settle the body and mind. The tracks are "Dreamcatcher" (5:45), "Rama Bolo" (5:21), "Om Tare Tuttare" (3:27), "Nectar Drop" (4:01), "Sapano Se Pucho" (3:51), "Cosmic Flow" (3:52), "Mahamrtyunjaya Mantra" (5:45), "Evening Star" (5:08), "Peace Song" (5:56), "Prajna's Dream (Remix)" (5:05), "Ra Ma Da Sa (Putumayo Version)" (6:14), and "Shanti (Peace Out)" (6:02). 60 min. 39 sec.

The DVD Shelf

Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2
Viz Media LLC
1355 Market Street, Suite 200
San Francisco CA 94103
$44.82 DVD / $69.99 Blu-ray & DVD combo

Available both in a 3-disc DVD version and a 6-disc Blu-ray & DVD combo pack, Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 2 contains the second half (episodes 24-46) of the first season of the widely beloved and popular anime (Japanese animated television show) Sailor Moon. The episodes feature both English and Japanese audio tracks, as well as optional English subtitles. Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, and Sailor Venus are ordinary teenage girls who happen to be the reincarnated celestial protectors. Each awakened to her power in a different manner; together, they must combat the mysterious menace posed by the minions of the malevolent Queen Beryl. The final showdown with Queen Beryl looms large and menacing! Although created especially to appeal to young girls, Sailor Moon has an enduring fandom across demographics, even decades after its original broadcast. 23 episodes on 3 DVDs, 530 min.

The Activity Shelf

Animals of Alaska: A Coloring and Activity Book
Lisa Rhodes, author/illustrator
Alaska Northwest Books, an imprint of Graphic Arts Books
P.O. Box 56118, Portland, OR 97238
9780882409917, $4.99,

"Animals of Alaska" is an accurate, black and white coloring and activity book about famous animals that live in Alaska, with both uncolored, narrated pictures of animals in their natural habitat plus fun puzzles, games, and activities about Alaskan animals. "Animals of Alaska" presents information about 28 different species of Alaskan animals, plus an introductory map of Alaska, and a helpful solutions key to the puzzles included. "Animals of Alaska" will provide hours of entertainment, education, and fun to kids age 6-9. The names of the featured animals are inscribed on a brown frame around the cover title, along with further sketches of the animals.

Lego Chain Reactions
Pat Murphy and the Scientists of Klutz Labs
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, 8th floor
New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545703307 $21.99

Spiral bound for ease of use, Lego Chain Reactions is an interactive book-and-Lego-pieces kit that encourages young people to build their very own, working Rube Goldberg machines! Rube Goldberg machines are complicated devices consisting of whimsical chain reactions; they're often seen in cartoons or comedy movies. For example, one possible creation has a marble roll into a bucket, which falls, lifting a brick that bumps another marble into a trigger, releasing a hammer that can catapult a gum wrapper into the trash bin. Full-color instructions teach inquisitive young minds how to assemble different possible "chain reaction" pieces, which can be combined in any number of ways. It should be noted that Lego Chain Reactions expects the user to have their own supply of basic Lego blocks; the included Lego pieces and paper add-ons enhance a Lego set, making complex contraptions possible. An endless source of creative fun for rainy days, Lego Chain Reactions is highly recommended for children ages 8 and up! (The small pieces need to be kept away from infants and toddlers, since they are a potential choking hazard).

Loop Loom Bracelets
Anne Akers Johnson
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, 8th floor
New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545703185 $21.99

Loop Loom Bracelets is a combination book and craft kit for children ages 8 and up. The book features 11 user-friendly projects (with step-by-step instructions and color photographs) for "loop loom bracelets" - stylish looped bands made with bright, stretchy cords and colorful beads, perfect for sharing with friends. The kit includes a custom loop loom, crochet hook, 102 feet of elastic cord in 7 colors, 350 beads in 7 colors, and a cardboard workstation with removable beading trays. (The elastic cord does contain latex, and should not be used or worn by anyone with a latex allegery). A wonderful source of hands-on creative fun for weekends, rainy days, or sleepover parties!

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Best Friends Through Eternity
Sylvia McNicoll
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770497108, $19.99,

Best Friends Through Eternity tells of teen Paige, who was abandoned in China as an infant and adopted by Canadian parents. Her past has always been a mystery - unsolvable until an impulsive decision to take a shortcut through the woods that brings her directly into a train. Transported to another world, she meets the former best friend she thought had moved away years ago, and confronts the possibility that she might never return home. As time travel and other worlds change her life, Paige finds herself facing some difficult decisions in this moving series of surprises and twists.

Christopher Conroy
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
The Barrett Company Communications
9781497582811, $10.99 (PB), 160pp,

Ten-year-old Justin Cavell prays for his parents' safety as they fly a single-engine airplane through a treacherous storm. While Justin waits at home for good news with his grandparents, he discovers a mysterious comic book in his bedroom. The book, 'The Path of Possibilities', will lead him on a journey that will test his inner strength and resources in magical ways beyond his wildest imaginings. Justin is shocked to meet Poofy, an enchanted creature called an Anzard: part angel, part wizard. In an unexpected answer to Justin's prayers for help, Poofy leads Justin down the Path of Possibilities and into the strange new world of the planet Spiritania. Justin and Poofy join forces with the Tribe of Truth, a gang of animal guides consisting of a turtle, an eagle, a chipmunk, and a strange goat-man named Billy. When the evil witch Nosefeen sends a swarm of Batflies to capture Poofy, Justin and the Tribe band together to rescue the Anzard. By listening to his inner voice and calling on his own reserves of courage and smarts, Justin has the chance to save Poofy and ensure the safety of his parents back on Earth. Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' for ages 8 to 12, "Anzard" documents author Christopher Conroy as an especially talented and original science fiction/fantasy storyteller. "Anzard" is very highly recommended and will leave its readers looking eagerly toward Christopher Conroy's next book!

Twist of the Blade
Edward Willett
Coteau Books
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK, Canada, S4P 0T2
9781550505993, $14.95,

The second volume in Edward Willett's 'The Shards of Excalibur' trilogy, "Twist of the Blade" reveals that having saved the first Shard of the sword Excalibur from Internet mogul Rex Major (aka Merlin), Ariane and Wally are on the lookout for the second. Wally's worried that the power of the first Shard is already changing Ariane, giving her the strength to do good and evil -- and when she seriously hurts his bullying sister, Flish, it seems he's right. Meanwhile, they have a serious problem: Ariane's located the second Shard in France. Sure, her inherited powers from the Lady of the Lake enable her to travel magically through fresh water, but it hasn't escaped their notice that there's a huge saltwater ocean separating them from their next target. And Rex Major is already on his way there. As Major uses Wally's doubts -- and his secret wish to be more than just a nerdy sidekick--to cause a rift between the friends, Ariane takes the chance to go it alone. But if the first Shard's power is barely controllable, how will she fare when two Shards are united? And what can Wally do to get his friend back? A superbly crafted, 256 page, action-adventure fantasy that will have immense appeal for young readers ages 12 to 15, "Twist of the Blade" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.12).

Jasper and the Magpie
Dan Mayfield, author
Alex Merry, illustrator
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849055796, $15.95,

Written by a writer/musician with experience working with different aged people on the spectrum of autism, "Jasper and the Magpie: Enjoying Special Interests Together" is a unique children's book that explores different ideas of what is considered normal as well as the value of learning to accept and celebrate people's differences. Jasper is a boy who loves shiny metal things, because they shone and glittered and also they helped him feel safe and calm and to sleep at night. His parents worry about his odd taste for things a magpie would like, and also his rusty collection of stuff that glittered. But when they try to suggest he change his tastes and interests, Jasper becomes very upset, saying words that are not printable and smashing a plate of his favorite foods. He is so upset he can't sleep well for a week, until his birthday comes. His birthday surprise touches him deeply, however, and his parents assist him to create a lovely vision of a magnificent magpie decorated with saved shiny things all over its head, tail and wings. Using warmth, humor and love, "Jasper and the Magpie" conveys a profound feeling of acceptance after misunderstanding the fundamental outlook of a person as unique as Jasper. "Jasper and the Magpie" is a positive story of hope for sharing between different outlooks.

Bob Is a Unicorn
Michelle Nelson-Schmidt, author/illustrator
Kane Miller
c/o EDC Publishing
4901 Morena Blvd., Suite 213, San Diego, CA 92117
9781610671552, $14.99,

"Bob Is a Unicorn" is a different kind of children's animal story. It begins with many full page expressive illustrations of puzzled animal friend faces, obviously friends of Bob, who are reacting to statements by Bob that he is a unicorn, or requests to guess what is. We see less and less patient expressions on the faces of Henry, a rooster, Larry, a beaver, Francis, a turtle, and even Ted, a polar bear, plus many more. The consensus is all Bob's animal friends do not have time to play pretend games with him, and they fairly unanimously do not believe he is a unicorn. But no picture shows just what or who Bob is, until... a magically beautiful, glittering little fairy smiles at Bob and tells him he is the most beautiful unicorn she has ever seen. The next page shows, exactly as imagined, a beautiful sparkling white unicorn with a magical horn. But wait, there's more.....The final two pages of illustrations show Bob and the magic fairy as perhaps they appear to others ...The little fairy is a little red haired girl dressed up in a pretend fairy dress, flowers and wings. She is hugging her friend Bob the unicorn, who looks like... a gray elephant with a pretend tree branch pole tied on his forehead for a horn. Last of all, the two friends saunter off together in perfect accord, with a shared vision of their fantasy/dream selves. Who is to say which is real? "Bob Is a Unicorn" is a fabulous story to share with small and large children, for no one is too old to be immune to the magic of Let's Pretend.

The Boy Who Loved the Moon
Rino Alaimo, author/illustrator
Familius LLC
9781939629760, $16.95,

"The Boy Who Loved the Moon" is a stunning children's heroic fantasy book based on an internationally acclaimed short film of the same name, created also by Rino Alaimo. This award winning film has spawned an equally original children's book about a boy's heroic quest to win his unlikely love, the Moon. Magical chalk drawings of orange, gold and flame against inky black portray the determined boy's efforts to win the love of the Moon with exotic gifts, such as a rose, a pearl from the depths of the ocean, or a dragon's diamond eye. But the capricious Moon gently rejected all his precious, hard won, gifts of riches. A wise man advised the boy that it could be dangerous for him to keep trying to win the Moon's love, he could be changed into something dire or very bad. But the brave boy persisted. With ingenuity and full exertion of every imaginative faculty, he contrived to offer the Moon a truly stunning gift she had never before experienced: the beauties of the colors of every day. This one page of rainbow, sun-splashed sky and clouds is so dramatically contrasted with all the other night-drenched chalk drawings that it leaves the reader breathless with delight. "The Boy Who Loved the Moon" is a transcending experience for children and adults, "a passionate journey to happiness."

Mortal Gods
Kendare Blake
TOR Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765334442, $17.99,

MORTAL GODS: THE GODDESS WAR blends horror with fantasy and tells of Ares, god of war, who is leading the other dying gods into a battle. Athena has her own war to consider, so Ares' plans are just fine with her: perhaps their immortality will even be restored and even if not, they will all die and leave her and Hermes in peace. Cassandra is the girl who can kill gods - but she just wants her lost love returned to life. Get Athena and Cassandra together and what you have is a global war and a desperate search for gods, enemies, and an elusive peace that will engross any teen interested in stories of conflicts between neo-gods.

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

Jack Chabert's Eerie Elementary series expands with The Locker Ate Lucy! (9780545623964, $15.99), a fun chapter book illustrated with black and white drawings, packed with action, and offering an eye-catching cover title. It turns out that Eerie Elementary is literary alive - and hall monitor Sam may be the only thing patrolling the borders between danger and the school boundaries. Though a locker swallows Lucy and Sam and Antonio are trapped inside the school, there's even more danger facing them in this fun and inviting chapter book read. The eleventh novel in Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series introduces The Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 (9780545504904, $9.99), documenting a carnivorous commode which has an insatiable appetite for revenge. Will humanity literally fall into the toilet, and will Wedgie Power prevail, or will even Captain Underpants lose the flush of success? A zany presentation and inviting black and white drawings make this another series winner. Troy Cummings' The Notebook Of Doom: Whack Of The P-Rex (9780545698962, $15.99) fills its notebook with monsters: this time the notorious 'P-Rex' and a boy always on the lookout for monsters. It takes a giant footprint to trip him up, however, in this fun tale of a group's confrontation with yet another monster. Jeffrey Brown's Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return Of The Padawan (9780545621250, $12.99) tells of a second year at Jedi Academy where the hero builds a robot, takes a field trip to an ice planet, and faces some of the most challenging Star pilot training in his life. Black and white cartoon-like panels and hand printed pages contribute a lively feel to the story. Tedd Arnold's Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks (9780545493291, $6.99) provides more 'Fly Guy' wackiness: this time as he tries out new tricks for his circus. Fly Guy is a boy's pet fly with a penchant for trouble. Large-size color drawings contribute to a fun tale for early readers just starting to move away from the picturebook format.

Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019

Lanie Bross' CHAOS (9780385742849, $17.99) tells of Corinthe, a Fate from another world, and Lucas, a California teen who broke the rules of the universe by falling in love with her. Love is not without consequences, and as their two very different worlds fall apart, Luc discovers that Corinthe may be doomed by his love unless he can save her. Add a dual romantic quandary as Luc's younger sister begins to discover her own life in chaos and danger and you have a compelling fantasy. Dana Walrath's LIKE WATER ON STONE (9780385743976, $16.99) is set in 1914, when the Ottoman Empire is facing violence and the unlikely possibility that an eagle's feather will save whoever finds it. Shahen dreams of going to New York while his twin sister wants to stay home forever. When the Ottoman pashas plan to eliminate all Armenians, both twins become caught up in an attack that changes their lives and leads them on a flight from danger that will change - or end - their lives. A gentle blend of social commentary and fantasy makes for an involving saga.

The ABC Shelf

J is for Jazz
Ann Ingalls, author
Maria Corte Maidagan, illustrator
Bright Connections Media
c/o World Book, Inc.
233 North Michigan Ave, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60601
9781622670260 $16.99

J is for Jazz is a children's ABC picturebook that celebrates America's fine history of jazz with exuberant, stylized color illustrations. Every letter is devoted to an aspect of jazz music and culture - or a famous jazz performer! "C is for Count Basie, the jazz pianist and songwriter. // The Count said, 'If you play a turne and a person don't tap their feet, don't play the tune.'" J is for Jazz is truly a read-aloud joy for music-loving parents and children for share!

Angry Aardvark to Zealous Zebra: Curious Creatures ABC
Scott Thomas, author
Robert Byrd, illustrator
Bright Connections Media
c/o World Book, Inc.
233 North Michigan Ave, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60601
9781622670284 $8.99

Even though Angry Aardvark to Zealous Zebra: Curious Creatures ABC is a paste-board alphabet book, featuring tongue-twisting animal alliterations for every letter of the alphabet. For example, the entry for "W" is "A wealthy worm wearing a weighty white wig." Zany, colorful illustrations of the most dubiously extraordinary beasts fill this charming, memorable, and delightful alphabet book. A read-aloud treat for parents and children to share!

The Board Book Shelf

It's Easter, Little Bunny!
Elizabeth Jaeger, author
Robin Boyer, illustrator
CandyCane Press
c/o Ideals Publications
2630 Elm Hill Pike, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37214
9780824919498 $12.99

It's Easter, Little Bunny! is a holiday-themed children's board book, about a lively Easter Egg hunt. Rhyming text and exuberant color illustrations make It's Easter, Little Bunny! a joyous celebration. Adding to the festivity is a music player in the book's upper right corner; young children can press the button and listen to the song. The music player does use a battery; in order to protect young readers, the battery cover cannot be opened without a screwdriver. Also recommended for holiday or everyday festivity is "Somebunny Loves You!" (9780824919504, $12.99) by Melinda Rumbaugh, a gentle board book about the love shared between a rabbit family, featuring warm color illustrations and a button to press for music.

The Berenstain Bears' Please & Thank You Book
Mike Berenstain
Ideals Children's Books
2630 Elm Hill Pike, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37214
9780824919450 $7.99

The Berenstain Bears' Please & Thank You Book is a board book designed to teach little ones the most basic manners - how to use the words "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome". When Mama bakes cookies, she is surprised by how rudely her cubs demand some! She gently teaches her cubs how to behave politely and with respect, and the cubs cheerfully follow the good example of their parents. "Papa poured himself a glass of milk. Some milk spilled. 'Will you please help me clean up the spill?' Papa asked the cubs. 'Of course' they said. 'Thank you!' said Papa. 'You're welcome!' said the cubs." It's never too early to help children get in the habit of good manners, and The Berenstain Bears' Please & Thank You Book is an excellent teaching tool! Also highly recommended is "The Berenstain Bears' Sleepy Time Book" (9780824919467, $7.99), in which the beloved Berenstain Bears get ready for bed (although they find "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" a rather scary bedtime story!)

Pookie Pop Plays Hide-and-Seek
Jannie Ho, illustrator
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144
9780763676001 $7.99

A "Tiny Tab" book, Pookie Pop Plays Hide-and-Seek is an interactive board book intended for infants and toddlers ages 0-3. Pookie Pop is an anthropomorphic cat playing hide-and-seek with her friends. Young children can pull on the stiff cardboard tabs to reveal Pookie's friends or other surprises. Pookie Pop Plays Hide-and-Seek is quite durable; the tabs cannot be removed from the board book, and can withstand a sizeable amount of force. Highly recommended!

The Adventures of Max the Minnow
William Boniface, author
Don Sullivan, illustrator
Andrews McMeel Publishing
1130 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO 64106-2109
9781449464905 $9.99

The Adventures of Max the Minnow is a rhyming children's board book, about adventures under the sea! The text tells the story of a little minnow named Max, who wants to be a "Big Fish". When Max has to match wits against a shark, he learns that being a "Big Fish" isn't just about size! "But as he fled, it dawned on Max, / That brains mean more than bulk. / He spied a hole where sharks don't fit, / And slipped out through the hulk." A distinctive feature of the exuberant color illustrations are the 3D holographic eyes in every picture, which peer through specially sculpted holes in each page. The Adventures of Max the Minnow is an enjoyable story with a positive message to read aloud and share with the littlest of children. Also highly recommended is the board book "Hop, Pop, and Play" (9781449460532, $5.99), a brightly-colored easy-reader featuring baby animals who jump and play in the spring sunshine.

Why Do Tractors Have Such Big Tires?
Jennifer Shand, author
Daniele Fabbri, illustrator
Flowerpot Press
142 Second Avenue, North Franklin, TN 37064
9781486703814, $8.99,

"Why Do Tractors Have Such Big Tires?" is a colorful board book for early readers which answers classic unanswerable questions small children ask about machines, such as " Why do tractors have such big tires? Why do some planes leave a long, white trail behind them when they zoom through the sky?" The first answer is a fantastic, imaginative one, that a child might think of, such as "Is it so they can crush the other machines on the farm?" Or, "Is it because they are trying to make a path to find their way back home?" Then a factual, simply stated answer is provided, prefaced with, "No, that's silly!" The juvenile nonfiction series "Why Do...?" has several board book titles dealing with colorful rainbows, stinky feet, and more. Amusing, stylish illustrations with a touch of whimsy add to the board book lesson to make it fun for all. "Why Do Tractors Have Such Big Tires?" is a great preschooler's reading experience for child and adult, with built in appeal and durability. Also highly recommended are the following titles in this series by the same author/ illustrator team: "Why Do Rainbows Have So Many Colors?" (9781486703838, $8.99), "Why Do Feet Get So Stinky?" (9781486703814, $8.99), and "Why Do Computers Know So Much?" (9781486703845, $8.99).

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Animal Helpers: Raptor Centers
Jennifer Keats Curtis
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628554472 $17.95

Fifth in the "Animal Helpers" series, Animal Helpers: Raptor Centers is a children's picturebook about real-life human efforts to help birds of prey who are injured, poisoned, shot, orphaned, or otherwise distressed. The people who work at raptor centers wash birds covered in mud or oil; use medical science and technology to splint broken bones; and care for baby birds while preparing them to be nested with wild "foster parents" who will raise them and teach them how to hunt. Striking, full-color photography of raptors in need and people who work to help return them to the wild fills this captivating book. Extra pages at the end offer additional activities for curious young minds, as well as more fun facts about different types of raptors, and stress that raptors are absolutely not pets. "The best way to help a raptor in need is to call for help. Find a raptor center or licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you... Do not try to take the raptor home or keep it as a pet. It is illegal to have raptors in captivity or to disturb nesting raptors without the proper permits from the State and Federal government." Other highly recommended titles in the "Animal Helpers" series include "Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators", "Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries", "Animal Helpers: Zoos", and "Animal Helpers: Aquariums".

Salamander Season
Jennifer Keats Curtis, J. Adam Frederick, and Shennen Bersani
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628555561 $17.95

Salamander Season is an educational children's picturebook about the life cycle of salamanders, ubiquitous amphibians that lay eggs in water, and undergo metamorphosis as they grow into adults. As a boy and his scientist father watch the salamanders mature, the father teaches the boy all about these amazing animals. Simple, colorful artwork illustrates the main story; an additional four pages "For Creative Minds" offer more detailed information about salamanders and the environmental biologists who study them, and color photographs. Highly recommended, especially for school and public library nonfiction collections.

A Penguin Named Patience
Suzanne Lewis, author
Lisa Anchin, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Pkwy., Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368402, $15.95,

"A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story" tells the incredible story of the rescue, transfer and survival of 19 African Penguins from the disaster ravaged Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Patience is featured as the calm and steadfast leader of the frightened penguins. With the assistance of their faithful keeper, Tom, and many others, Patience and the penguins were able to endure the changes of increasing temperatures, confined air travel, and relocation to a new temporary home at the Monterey Aquarium while the Audubon Aquarium was restored as a safe penguin habitat. "A Penguin Named Patience" tells this moving story in both moving narrative and expressive illustrations, showing the different personalities of all the frightened penguins shepherded by Patience and her keeper. "A Penguin Named Patience" finishes with an Author's Note that provides more fascinating background information to this true story.

The Christian Shelf

Before I Sleep I Say Thank You
Carol Gordon Ekster, author
Mary Rojas, illustrator
Pauline Kids, a Division of Pauline Books & Media
Publishing House of the Daughters of St. Paul
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
9780819812254, $14.95,

"Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You" is an outlined bedtime prayer ritual for children based on the Examen Prayer. It is designed to teach young children the importance of practicing gratitude every day. Pleasant, brightly colored illustrations laced with humor and delight accompany a young boy's preparations for bedtime prayer. Helped by his mother, he remembers things that happened during his day, sometimes things he could have done better, or ways he could have been kinder. Then he recounts five special blessings, things he is especially thankful for. At the end, hi mother sings their special goodnight song, kisses him, and waits for him to take his "peaceful breath." First he breathes in on "peace-" to bring peace inside him, then he breathes out "-ful," sending peace out to the whole world, everyone everywhere. "Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You" begins with a note for grown-ups that traces the origin of the Examen prayer, introduced by St. Ignatius of Loyola, enabling children and adults to share a beautiful daily practice of shared peace and gratitude.

The Super Gifts of Spring
Dandi Daley Mackall, author
Katherine Blackmore, illustrator
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433682339 $9.99

The Super Gifts of Spring is a picturebook created for Christian children, celebrating the season of Spring as one of God's wonderful creations. "Springtime! Great time! Check that date! / Know what's coming? I can't wait. / Easter! Time to celebrate. / Thank You, God, for spring." Playful color illustrations add just the right touch to this joyous outpouring of love, faith, and exuberant gratitude to the Lord.

The Math Shelf

Albert Starts School
Eleanor May, author
Deborah Melmon, illustrator
Kane Press, Inc.
225 E. 46th St., #4D, New York, NY 10017
9781575657424, $7.95,

"Albert Starts School" is a Mouse Math series volume for pre-K-grade 1 students that focuses on the days of the week as a math concept. This innovative, entertaining, and award winning series combines early math and literacy skills and goals in a perfectly appealing package, which also includes extra learning activities. Sweetly humorous cartoon illustrations showcase Albert Mouse as he anticipates his first week starting school. On every pair of pages is a differently formatted sequential weekly calendar, with different school activities highlighted for each day. As Albert progresses through his first week at school he learns many things. First he learns that school is different from home; he can't always do whatever he wants to as long as he wants to, he must wait patiently for his turn, or the right time for the activity. So Albert learns at school that Monday is Library Day, Tuesday is Art Day, Wednesday is Music Day, Thursday is Gym Day, and Friday is Snacks Day. Albert learns to cooperate with his teacher, Mrs. Munch, and to enjoy all the activities with his new friends. In fact he enjoys it so much that when Albert finally gets to Saturday, he decides to spend his free home time playing School! "Albert Starts School" is ideal reading for children age 4 and up, as is the entire Mouse Math series. Also highly recommended from the Mouse Math series is the following title: "Lost in the Mouseum" (9781575656441, pb, $7.95), by Eleanor May, illustrated by Deborah Melmon.

The Jobs/Careers Shelf

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Nurse!
Wigu Publishing
9781939973016 $12.95 print / $2.99 Kindle

Available in both softcover and Kindle ebook formats, When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Nurse! Amber's Accidental Journey is the latest career-focused title for children in the "When I Grow Up I Want To Be..." series. Colorful illustrations are interleaved with photographs of real-life nurses on the job. The story follows Amber, a young African-American girl who becomes injured on the soccer field and learns to confront her fear of hospitals. The hospital nurses help her overcome her fear, and Amber learns about the hard work that nurses do so that she and people like her can get better and return to their everyday lives. Will the field of nursing become Amber's future career? Other titles in the excellent, educational series include "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... in the U.S. Army!", "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Teacher!", "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Firefighter!", "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... in the U.S. Navy!", and "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Veterinarian!", with more forthcoming.

Big Bill and His Little Mixer Truck
Rose Ann Woolpert, author
Jaguar Design Studio, illustrations
Yes We Will Books
P.O. Box 50001, Watsonville, CA 95077
9781939341020, $17.99,

"Big Bill and His Little Mixer Truck" is the story of a man (Bill) come home from the Navy who needed to find work. Imagining jobs like pumping gas, or serving ice cream and sodas, Bill knew he needed something different. When he is offered a job driving to deliver concrete to new building sites, he knows this is his chance, so he answers, "Yes, I will." Fitting in at the new job was not easy. Sometimes the other men played tricks on him, just because he was new. Then he encountered a little green Ford mixer truck with an orange drum, and a beautiful partnership began. Bill had to learn to be careful with the little truck, filled with two yards of wet concrete weighing four tons, as heavy as a hippopotamus! Even though the little green Ford truck could not carry as heavy a load as bigger trucks, Bill and his partner were able to deliver many trips and loads of concrete to help build a new hospital. All the other men congratulated him when he helped complete such a big job. "Big Bill and His Little Mixer Truck" is based on a true story of a real man named Bill who drove a 1950 orange and green Ford chassis for the Granite Rock Company for 46 years. Today Big Bill's fully restored Little Mixer Truck can be seen in parades and festivals in San Francisco and Monetary Bay. The story of "Big Bill and His Little Mixer Truck" is enhanced by a blend of colored and black and white vintage photos, and educational cartoon illustrations/sidebars that explain details of mixing, pouring, and transporting concrete. Ideally created to inspire young readers age 3 and up. This story is part of the series of "Yes We Will Books," inspirational vocational reading for children grounded in the history of Northern California.

The Multicultural Shelf

If You Were Me and Lived in ....Scotland
Carole P. Roman, author/illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500531331, $9.99,

"If You Were Me and Lived in... Scotland" continues the appeal of this award-winning world cultures educational series for elementary school children. Pleasant, bright cartoon illustrations show Scottish children playing games (golf), eating meals (tattie scones, porridge, or haggis), celebrating at the Highland Games, vacationing at Loch Ness, and more. Boys might be named Ian or Malcolm, and girls might be named Aillen or Margaret, while their parents are addressed as Mathair and Daddah. The architecture of Edinburgh is influenced by classic Greece, and the official animal of Scotland is the unicorn, an imaginary beast associated with grace, purity, healing, and happiness. Gaelic and English are spoken, and British pounds or Scottish notes are currency. Armchair traveling for kids is easily achieved by reading this creative series, appealing to all. An additional title from this series that is also highly recommended is the following: "If You Were Me and Lived in.... Hungary" (97815004837220, by Carole P. Roman.

Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui
Icy Smith, author
Gayle Garner Roski, illustrator
East West Discovery Press
PO Box 3585, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
9780991345489 $19.95

Featuring striking, colorful illustrations, Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui is a children's picturebook that tells a story about what life might have once been like in the ancient, mysterious city of Sanxingdui. An archaeological site in China famous for its astonishing bronze artifacts, Sanxingdui was once a thriving civilization. What happened to its people? Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui is a speculative story about a family and their child who must flee their homeland to escape an invasion. The final two pages are devoted to an "author's note" about the historic archaeological finds of Sanxingdui. Highly recommended, especially for public library multicultural picturebook collections!

The American History Shelf

Flags Over America: A Star-Spangled Story
Cheryl Harness, author/illustrator
Albert Whitman & Company
250 South Northwest Highway, Suite 320, Park Ridge, IL 60068
9780807524701, $16.99,

Beginning with an inspiring quotation from none other than President Barack Obama, "Flags Over America" tells the story of the United States of America flag, and all flags. "Each time I look at that flag, I am reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and thirteen stripes." Exciting color illustrations show how ancient flags were used to symbolize a specific group of people, lands, factions, or faiths. In the beginning of recorded Western history, America is explored by members of many different countries, displaying flags from Spain, Great Britain, France, Holland, and others. As U. S. History evolved, the British flag was replaced by different flags representing the opinions of the colonists that England's rules for taxation without representation was unfair. Two full pages display 10 different flags that were flown by colonists in Revolutionary North America. Finally on June 14, 1777, the first flag of the new young country to be was approved by the Continental Congress and supposedly was sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. Another key American flag was the large one commissioned in 1814, when the White House and U.S. Capitol were set on fire by the British. Made by Mary Pickersgill, her daughter, two nieces, and an African American serving girl, the new flag was thirty feet wide and forty-two feet long. Further versions of the American flag are shown, featuring the circle of stars from 1777, a star of stars in 1781, staggered rows of stars in 1795, and the final 50 star version adopted in 1960. The choice of the anthem "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key is recounted, and "Flags Over America" ends with an American Flag Timeline from June 14, 1777, to September 11, 2001, plus a useful flag glossary with definition of terms used in flag history and description. Succinct narrative and exciting illustrations portray many of the passing moments of change in the history of our familiar American flag of the United States of America.

The Cookbook Shelf

Your Kids: Cooking
Barbara Brandt, M.Ed.
Pukka Publishing, LLC
2434 Riata Road, Missoula, MT 59808
c/o Smith Publicity
9780982595213 $39.95

Spiral-bound for ease of use, Your Kids: Cooking is an award-winning cookbook created especially to be accessible to young people. It is expected that preteen cooks will use Your Kids: Cooking under a parent or guardian's supervision, since the recipes do involve potentially dangerous kitchen elements such as sharp knives or a hot stove. Full-color photography illustrates virtually every step of food preparation, including the ingredients, utensils used, and how to use them. Recipes such as Fried Egg Sandwich, Tamale Pie, Stir-Fry, Chicken Fried Steak, and Apple Crisp will appeal to all ages! Highly recommended.

Kids Cook French
Claudine Pepin
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
Dalyn Miller Public Relations
9781592539536, $21.99,

"Kids Cook French" is a unique bi-lingual (French/English) 96 page compendium comprised of 'kid friendly' recipes for dishes they can make on their own (or with a bit of parental supervision) that will help them to appreciate good eating and French culinary culture. Each recipe is laid out in English on one page and French on the other page. The palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, fun to prepare dishes range from Deviled Eggs Jeannette; Cheese Fondue; Croque-Monsieur; and Boeuf Bourguignon; to Gratin Dauphinois; Ratatouille; Creme Brulee; and Crepes. Of special note is the provision of blank lined pages so that kids can write down their own Menus. Enhanced with illustrations by Jacques Pepin and illustrative personal stories, "Kids Cook French" is enthusiastically recommended for family and community library cookbook collections for children.

The Holocaust Studies Shelf

Grandpa's Third Drawer
Judy Tal Kopelman
Jewish Publication Society
2100 Arch Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia PA 19103-1399
9780827612211, $12.95 (PB), 40pp,

Of all the places in the world, Uri really loves to be at his grandparents' house. There he can stay up way past his bedtime and eat as many sweets from the chocolate box as he likes. There's only one forbidden place in that house: the third drawer in Grandpa's desk. This drawer is locked. No one ever opens it until one day when Uri finds the key to the third drawer. From that moment, nothing is ever the same. "Grandpa's Third Drawer" takes up the difficult challenge of discussing the Holocaust with young children, of teaching its heritage and memory, all in a gentle and unobtrusive manner. The story of a silent grandfather unexpectedly confronted by his curious and loving grandchild is accompanied by rich illustrations that show authentic preserved objects donated by Holocaust survivors from Theresienstadt. Specially written and intended for children ages 5 to 8, "Grandpa's Third Drawer" should be a part of every school and community library collection -- especially in a time when antisemitism and ethnic cleansing are once again on the rise in the world. It should be noted that "Grandpa's Third Drawer" is also available in a hardcover edition (9780827612044, $17.95) and a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Poetry Shelf

Jason Steinberg
Dream With Me Press
Kelly & Hall Book Publicity
9780990817314, $19.99,

"Expanzaramadingdong" is a 176 page compendium comprised of poems for readers of all ages by Jason Steinberg. Enhanced with simple yet elegant illustrations by Keith Klein, "Expanzaramadingdong" is a wonderfully entertaining and highly recommended addition to family, school, and community library poetry collections. 'Chess': The king didn't want to do it / And the queen also said no / The rook was way too busy / And the Bishop didn't want to go. / The knight was just too tired / So it was left for the pawn to do /Life is just a chess game / Which piece are you?

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11
N. Griffin
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763661458, $15.99,

Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 receives black and white illustrations by Kate Hindley as it provides middle school readers with the story of a missing hamster that involves Smashie in a web of conspiracy and suspicion. It's up to Smashie and her best friend Dontel to search out the real thief - who apparently has been involved in more than just hamster-napping. This fine story of investigation and discovery is perfect for advanced elementary to middle school leisure readers.

The Education Shelf

The Survival Guide for School Success
Ron Shumsky, Susan M. Islascox, and Rob Bell
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
9781575424828 $14.99

Written especially for young people ages 10-14, The Survival Guide for School Success: Use Your Brain's Built-In Apps to Sharpen Attention, Battle Boredom, and Build Mental Muscle is a practical guide to building study skills that help one learn, focus, and get schoolwork done efficiently without sacrificing quality. Individuals who have learning, social, or behavioral disabilities may find The Survival Guide for School Success especially valuable, but even gifted students or college-bound adults will benefit from these strategies. Using "mental apps" as metaphors for academic techniques (the better to appeal to the digital generation), The Survival Guide for School Success includes both general descriptions and specific examples of its study skills. "To make sure I can recall mean, median, and mode from memory, I cover up the definitions I wrote in my notebook. Then I retell them in my own words. I also make up examples of each. Once I can do that correctly three different times, I know that I've got it." Highly recommended, especially for public and school library children's collections, and for parents to share with children while motivating them to improve their classroom performance.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Pine and the Winter Sparrow
Retold by Alexis York Lumbard
Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
Foreword by Robert Lewis
Wisdom Tales Press
PO Box 2682, Bloomington, IN 47402
9781937786335 $15.95

Pine and the Winter Sparrow is the picturebook retelling of an ancient legend attributed to the Cherokee Indians, about how pine trees stay green throughout the winter because of the kindness they once showed towards an injured little sparrow. Award-winning author/illustrator team Alexis York Lumbard and Beatriz Vidal bring this powerful fable about the virtue of charity to life. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library children's picturebook collections.

The Psychology Shelf

Chippy Chipmunk: Friends in the Garden
Kathy M. Miller
Celtic Sunrise
PO Box 174, New Ringgold, PA 17960
9780984089321 $19.95

Winner of the Mom's Choice Award Honoring Excellence, Chippy Chipmunk: Friends in the Garden is a children's picturebook dealing with the serious topics of death, loss, and grief. Chippy, an eastern chipmunk, is shocked to learn that his best friend Pickle the meadow vole is gone forever, eaten by a fox. One by one the other woodland and meadow creatures console Chippy, and help him learn acceptance and peace. "The house finch began to chirp softly. 'I'm sorry about Pickle. When I sing one of my favorite songs, it makes me feel a little better.'" While Chippy hibernates, he has dreams of owls who offer wisdom and comfort. The loss of a loved one hurts, but life really does get better. Chippy Chipmunk: Friends in the Garden is especially striking in that it is entirely illustrated with beautiful, full-color natural photography of wild animals; adults as well as children will linger in awe and the breathtaking imagery. Also highly recommended are the first two books in the award-winning series, "Chippy Chipmunk: Parties in the Garden" and "Chippy Chipmunk: Babies in the Garden".

Books in Series

Classic Stories Series
The Child's World, Inc.
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, MN 56003
9781609731656, $125.44 List / $87.80 Library

The Classic Stories Series is comprised of four outstanding works of short fiction including Toni Cade Bambara's "Raymond's Run"; Langston Hughes' "Thank You M'am"; Joan Grant's "The Monster That Grew Small"; and Robert Graves' "Two Wise Children". Each individual 24 page book has a reinforced library binding, features full-color illustrations, and has an informative and succinct introduction to the author. All four titles have a 4th grade reading level, a 3rd to 6th grade interest level, and are suitable for Common Core K-5 curriculums. Although each title is available individually ($31.36 List/$21.95 Library), school and community libraries are strongly recommended to acquire the complete four volume set. It should also be noted that the Classic Stories Series is exceptionally appropriate for home schooling literary and reading resource curriculums as well.

China for Children series
Tommy Tong
China Books & Periodicals, Inc.
360 Swift Avenue, Suite 48
South San Francisco, CA 94080
$14.95 each

The China for Children series is a set of historically accurate picturebooks for young people about the culture, antiquity, and modernity of the storied nation of China. Individual titles focus on great leaders from Chinese history, as well as broad overviews of everyday Chinese life. The full-color art is in a style deliberately reminiscent of ancient Chinese scrolls and portraits. The China for Children series is an excellent, educational addition to public and school library collections. Series titles include "Emperors of China!", "Bodhi Goes to China!", "Let's Go to China!", "Genghis Goes to China!", "Zheng He of China!", "Festivals of China!", and "Marco Goes to China!".

First Step Nonfiction - Pollination
The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
$23.99 each

First Step Nonfiction - Pollination is a picturebook series designed to teach beginning readers fundamental facts about plant reproduction. "Pollination is when pollen moves between parts of flowers. All insects pollinate plants in similar ways." Full-color photography, and a brief glossary and index make each book accessible. An excellent, educational series for the very young! The series titles are "Parts of a Flower" by Candice Ransom (9781467757393), "Insect Pollinators" by Jennifer Boothroyd (9781467757386), "Animal Pollinators" by Jennifer Boothroyd (9781467760690), "Cross-Pollination" by Jennifer Boothroyd (9781467760676), and "Self-Pollination" by Jennifer Boothroyd (9781467760713).

Acrostic Poems
Lisa M. Bolt Simons, author
Kathleen Petelinsek, illustrator
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, MN 56003
9781631436925, $27.07 List / $18.95 Library,

"Acrostic Poems" is a title from the Poetry Party Series for young readers and poets which uses text and illustration to define a poem, descriptive acrostics, and story acrostics. After defining and giving examples of acrostic poems, the story inspires young poets to try their hands at a fun style of poetry. A helpful page of Tips for Young Poets helps get the poetry creation process jump started, while a glossary with phonetic pronunciation lists meanings for new words written in colored text. Additional resources such as books and web sites are also included in this fun acrostics poem definition and how to manual. Appealing color illustrations present bold contrast. Other titles from the Poetry Party Series for young readers that are also highly recommended include the following: "Cinquain Poems" (9781631436932), "Concrete Poems" (9781631436949, $27.07), "Limericks" (9781631436963, $27.07), "Narrative Poems" (9781631436994, $27.07), "Haikus" (9781631436956, $27.07), "Prose Poems" (9781631436970, $27.07), and "Rhyming Poems" (9781631436987, $27.07). All of these truly outstanding titles are written by Lisa M. Bolt Simons and illustrated by Kathleen Petelinsek.

Michelle Levine, author
Amicus High Interest/ Amicus
PO Box 1329, Mankato, MN 56002
9781607534754, $28.50,

"Mammals" is a new high interest series title for grades K-3 that provides vividly photo-illustrated descriptions of characteristics of mammals, describing their place in the animal kingdom. Each pair of pages contains text on one side and page portraits of animals on the other, with sidebars of important questions and answers about mammals. Chapters cover definition of a mammal, the cycle of life, living on land or in water, making babies, and mammals in the world. Stunning page portraits of mammals include the American bison, red deer, the warthog, a hippo, a wolf, a sloth, a whale, kangaroos, a polar bear, and more. Ending sections include a glossary, bibliography, and websites of related interest. "Mammals" is an excellent high-interest educational title from a stimulating series. Also recommended are the following titles from this series: "Reptiles" (9781607534761, $28.50), by Michelle Levine, "Amphibians" (9781607534716, $28.50), by Michelle Levine, "Fish" (9781607534730, $28.50), by Michelle Levine, "Birds" (978607534723, $28.50), by Allan Morey, and "Insects" (9781607534747, $28.50), by Allan Morey.

Be the Change in Your School
Shannon Welbourn, author
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10118
9780778706267, $23.60,

From the Be the Change series for elementary/middle school students, "Be the Change in Your School" presents ideas and formats for students to be the change, helping create a positive learning and growing environment at school and in the community. Inspiring color photos of students in different schools who create projects such as planting a school garden for healthy snacks, creating a welcome club for new students, creating a project encouraging safe spaces, to prevent bullying, organizing litterless lunch days, and more. Step by step processes are described, including making an action plan, doing it, sharing ideas and celebrating, thinking about it, and realizing that helping others helps you. Ending pages list related websites and books on Learning More, and lists new vocabulary words in Words to Know. "Be the Change in Your School" is an excellent, inspiring text that breathes fun into helping actions of kids learning to Be the Change. Additional titles from the Be the Change series that are also very highly recommended include the following: "Be the Change for the Environment" (9780778706205, $23.60), by Megan Kopp, "Be the Change in the World" (9780778706229, $23.60), by Lisa Dalrymple, and "Be the Change in Your Community" (9780778706243, $23.60), by Megan Kopp. All the volumes in this outstanding series are at guided reading level L.

Dear Dragon Flies a Kite
Margaret Hillert, author
Jack Pullan, illustrator
Norwood House Press
PO Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599536743, $21.27,

"Dear Dragon Flies a Kite" is a charming illustrated title from the Beginning-to-Read series which encourages readers to gain independence in reading skills while enjoying shared reading time with a parent or caretaker. Use of familiar, common sight words and exciting pictured details boosts the child's expanding practice reading and comprehension. The story of Dear Dragon flying with a kite and his friends presents an ideal Beginning-to-Read experience. Action pictures in sequence and simple narrative text with repeated expressions help make reading accessible and fun. At the end, a section on Reading Reinforcement discusses phonemic awareness (the /k/ sound), phonics, vocabulary, fluency (echo reading), and text comprehension, plus a word list with seven new vocabulary words written in bold type. Additional titles in this series that are also highly recommended include the following: "Dear Dragon Goes to the Police Station" (9789781599536767, $21.27), "Dear Dragon Goes to Grandpa's Farm" (9781599536750, $21.27), and "Dear Dragon Goes to the Aquarium" (9781599536774, $21.27), all the titles in this outstanding series are written by Margaret Hillert and illustrated by Jack Pullan.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Girls and young women on the autism spectrum will find Kate E. Reynolds' three new 'Ellie' titles of approximately 32 pages each hold large-sized color drawings, anatomically correct pictures, and simple text that teach young women with autism and related conditions how to understand sexuality and social etiquette. These are candid discussions that can be used in a sex education class for autistic kids, as well as to instigate discussions between parents and children. ELLIE NEEDS TO GO (9781849055246, $14.95) surveys public toilets and safety: basically it's a book about good bathroom habits in public places (though it does miss the point about using sanitary paper over toilet seats, and doesn't mention the possibility of keeping safe in public places.) WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ELLIE? (9781849055260, $14.95) discusses puberty and how Ellie begins to notice changes to her body. Girls with autism receive specific coverage of all these changes, including emotional new feelings as well as physical changes. THINGS ELLIE LIKES (9781849055253, $14.95) is a rather surprising survey of sexuality and masturbation and focuses on public and private behaviors and the differences between the two. All are unique, recommended picks for families and caregivers with girls on the autism spectrum.

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

Natalie Hyde's HOW TO WRITE AN ADVENTURE STORY (9780778716556, $26.60) provides a fine saga that introduces young would-be writers to the art of producing an adventure tale. From classic examples ranging from Black Beauty to Dr. Doolittle to discussions of plot, theme, setting and more, this uses adventure story successes to discuss how young writers can achieve their own adventure story writing, and offers all this in 32 pages packed with color and an exciting tone. 'Be the Change' titles by Paula Smith ($20.70 each) offers a series to ages 5-8 that advocates identifying areas for change, better communication, and creating an action plan to overcome obstacles, and provides a fine set of specific guides to different kinds of change in the world. THE ENVIRONMENT (9780778706205) tells how to make a difference in the environment, from planting trees to becoming more cognizant about food choices and recycling, IN THE WORLD (9780778706229) considers global disaster relief and different needs around the world, advocating a global awareness and community in the process; IN YOUR COMMUNITY (9780778706267) tells how to understand a community's makeup and how to act for the common good, from volunteering at local retirement facilities to donating unused items to local charities, and IN YOUR SCHOOL (9780778706267) tells readers how to use their talents and skills to improve school environments. All invite kids to begin early, and to feel empowered. The new 'Earth's Cycles in Action' series by Diane Dakers ($23.49 each) for ages 10-13 provides full color illustrations and a clear support for Next Generation Science Standards and teaching methods, using text-based questions to support CCSS standards while adding diagrams, photos and charts to reinforce learning. EARTH'S CYCLES (9780778706403) explains the patterns and cycles created on Earth from it's rotation and magnetic poles, THE CARBON CYCLE (9780778706724) explains how carbon is found in all living things and explores the Earth's supply of carbon in nature; THE NITROGEN CYCLE (9780778705994) surveys the cycles of earth's supply of nitrogen and explains fixation, dentrification and more; and THE WATER CYCLE (9780778706175) explains how the Earth's supply of water moves from the planet to the atmosphere and back again. All are excellent picks highly recommended for any elementary-level science holding.

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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