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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 33, Number 3 March 2023 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Psychology Shelf
Education Shelf Science Shelf Health Shelf
Environmental Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf World History Shelf
ABC Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Easy Reader Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Activity Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf Islamic Shelf
Biography Shelf Holocaust Studies Shelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

When You Get to the Other Side
Mariana Osorio Guma, author
Cecilia Weddell, translator
Cinco Puntos Press
c/o Lee & Low Books
9781947627611, $20.95, PB, 300pp

Synopsis: "When You Get to the Other Side" is the story of twelve-year-old Emilia and fifteen-year-old Gregorio who spend their childhood following their tenacious grandmother, Mama Lochi, through the oak- and jocote-filled mountains of Amatlan, Mexico -- gathering herbs for the folk remedies Mama Lochi makes, listening to her awe-inspiring stories about becoming a curandera, and learning how to connect with the supernatural world themselves. But, when she passes away they're left alone, with their father hundreds of miles north in the U.S. So they scrape together all their money, and pay coyotes to smuggle them to the other side.

The siblings are exhausted and famished before they even make it to the border, and they fall into only more danger after crossing. After the predatory coyotes separate Emilia from Gregorio (having their own plans for the young girl) the siblings struggle through the parching desert, and a human trafficking operation hidden within it, to make their way back to each other. They draw strength from their profound bond as well as the supernatural abilities their grandmother helped them hone, such as catching glimpses of the future and hiding to the point of invisibility. Their efforts are interwoven with flashbacks to herself, whose tales of the mystical journey she took to become a curandera teaches the siblings how insubstantial and blurred the imagined borders between past and future, self and other, and life and death truly are -- preparing them, as much as anything could, to experience all these spaces on their own journey.

Critique: Dealing with the sobering and sensitive subject of aspiring and desperate immigrants trying to cross the southern border into the United States, "When You Get to the Other Side" is truly compelling novel that was first published in Mexico and now translated into English by Cecilia Weddell, bringing the impressive storytelling talents of novelist Mariana Osorio Guma to young English readers. Accurately portraying an all to common migrant experience, "When You Get to the Other Side" moves well beyond stereotypes and superficial discussions of a persistent problem affecting tens of thousands of men, women, and children at our southern border. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "When You Get to the Other Side" is a highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for ages 13-18.

Editorial Note #1: Mariana Osorio Guma is a psychoanalyst and writer. She has published seven books of fiction in Spanish, three of which have been selected by the International Board on Books for Young People for their high quality. In 2014, she was awarded the Premio Literario Lipp La brasserie for her novel Tal vez vuelvan los pajaros. Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1967, she has lived in Mexico since 1973.

Editorial Note #2: Cecilia Weddell ( is a writer, editor, and translator from El Paso, Texas. She has a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from Boston University. Her translations from Spanish into English have appeared in World Literature Today, Literary Imagination, Harvard Review, and others. (

Colors Carter Carver's Way
Rosilyn Seay
PicBooks Publishing
9798986344706, $16.95

Colors Carter Carver's Way is a children's picture book about a smart young African American boy named Carter. Carter loves school and is good at many things. He simply does not understand the concept of colors. He's managed to keep it a secret by finding different ways to guess the colors presented to him.

Carter fears that eventually his classmates will find out that he doesn't really know his colors and has to guess them. When that happens, he's sure they will tease him. Should he keep his secret safe by just staying home from school?

His wise mother patiently listens to his concern and comes up with an idea. Hopefully, with a little support at home and some creative consideration on his part, she can help him think through his issues and possibly find a resolution.

Colors Carter Carver's Way is more than a story about color perception. It's about problem-solving, positivity, support systems, and handling the inevitable teasing that comes from being perceived as different or lacking by one's peers.

Through Carter and his mother's reactions and approach to his big issue, kids ages 4-9 receive insights on how their everyday problems may be solved through some creative alternative thinking.

Colors Carter Carver's Way provides many lessons suitable for adult and child interaction and discussion. Ideally, it will be chosen as an example of positive and creative approaches to life's adversities, empowering a child to reconsider their own abilities, disabilities, and attitudes.

Is Heaven Farther Than the North Pole?
Molly Rubesh, author
Elly Kennec, illustrator
Gatekeeper Press
9781662931710, $24.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: A year after a young girl named Willow and her little brother Jack lost their mom, they decide to set out on an adventure in search of Heaven. They pack their bags and go to the park, eat at the Dairy Bar, and lay down on the path to look up at the clouds. Even though the two children miss their mom dearly, they combine their heartache with the joy of all the good memories they have with her, and they realize an important lesson in their search for Heaven: sadness and joy can coexist.

Written by Molly Rubesh, a mother who lost her father, for her children who lost their biological mother, "Is Heaven Farther than the North Pole?" is a picture book charmingly illustrated by the artistry of Elly Kennec and specifically designed to help parents and other guardians talk about death and dying with their kids. It can show children how their loved one is still with them in everything they do, and assure them that their special person lives on even if they cannot see them.

Critique: Unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections on the sensitive subject of Death, Dying, and Grieving, "Is Heaven Farther than the North Pole?: is appropriate for any child processing grief of a parent, sibling, grandparent, or other loved one. It is a picture book story about resilience and finding Heaven all around us. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Is Heaven Farther than the North Pole?" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781662931727, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: "Is Heaven farther than the North Pole?" is a question Molly Rubesh's youngest son asked her after his biological mom passed away. It was a question Molly struggled to answer, and when her father passed away in 2022, she decided to combine her children's grief with her own journey to look for signs of Heaven in our everyday life. Recently becoming a stay-at-home mom, she felt motivated to write Is Heaven Farther Than the North Pole? to help her children and herself as they search for solace, and to help other children and parents process their own grief. Molly currently resides in Indiana with her husband Grant and their four wonderful kids. Of special note is that it was her talented niece Elly that provided illustrations for this unique picture book for children.

Grandma and the Moon's Hidden Secret
Jumoke Verissimo, author
Chinyere Okoroafor, illustrator
Cassava Republic Press
9781913175351, $20.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Aduke is a little girl who lives with her grandparents in Ibidan, Nigeria. Grandma is her favorite person in the whole world. She loves it when Grandma sings to her, and gives her treats from her stall. But one day, Aduke comes home from school and can't find Grandma anywhere! Aduke doesn't understand why Grandma can't come back, but then her aunt Yímika tells her a secret. Can she really see Grandma if she squints up at the moon?

Critique: Deftly dealing with the themes of multigenerational familes and death/dying, "Grandma and the Moon's Hidden Secret" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone and substance for children ages 3-8. "Grandma and the Moon's Hidden Secret" is an appropriate and unreservedly recommended as a very special addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jumoke Verissimo is the author of two poetry collections; I am Memory, and A Birth of Illusion, which was nominated for the 2017 NLNG Prize for Literature. Her latest work, A Small Silence. won the Aidoo-Synder Prize (2020) and was also shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize in 2020. Grandma and the Moon's Hidden Secret is her first picture book.

Editorial Note #2: Chinyere Okoroakor a freelance Illustrator specializing in 2D & 3D designs creating evocative concept art, high-end effects such as digital matte, and virtual environments. (

The Social Issues Shelf

When Words Have Power
Lisa Chong, author
Kaitlin Yang, illustrator
West Margin Press
9781513134857, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A little boy named Henry overhears someone calling his Chinese American mother a strange name at the market: "banana." But Henry doesn't understand. A banana is just a piece of fruit. What's the big deal? And what does the name mean?

Critique: Featuring beautiful illustrations by Kaitlin Yange, "When Words Have Power" by author/storyteller Lisa Chong gently reveals the powerful effect microaggressions and name calling can have, and instead shows how a little kindness and respect can lead to bright, new friendships and stronger relationships with loved ones. Thoroughly age appropriate and with an important underlying message about bullying, prejudice, racism, and name-calling, "When Words Have Power" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons picture book collections for children ages 6-9. It should be noted that "When Words Have Power" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Lisa Chong enjoys using her creative talents in a variety of ways in both her work and personal life. She is proud to use her creativity to make a difference through her writing. Lisa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Editorial Note #2: Kaitlin Yang ( is a children's book designer by day and illustrator by night in New York City. Born and raised in Taiwan, her international background prompts her to explore different cultures, emotions, and beliefs in her artwork.

Rohan and Nyra and Big Sister's Bet
Anthony C. Delauney, author
Chiara Civati, illustrator
Mascot Kids
c/o Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781637554951, $18.95, HC, 38pp

Synopsis: Rohan can't wait for his big sister Nyra to come home, but when she does, she has a surprise in store for him. What starts off as a fun game of playing catch soon turns into a powerful, loving lesson on gambling and greed that Rohan will never forget.

Critique: Unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library money and gaming picture book collections for children ages 4-8 will delight in discovering what awaits them in "Rohan and Nyra and Big Sister's Bet" by author/storyteller Anthony C. Delauney ( and artist/illustrator Chiara Civati (

Editorial Note: "Rohan and Nyra and Big Sister's Bet" is the third book in the Owning the Dash Kids' Book series from Anthony C. Delauney, founder of Owning the Dash, LLC, an organization dedicated to helping educate and inspire families as they work to achieve their financial goals.

Shawn and His Amazing Shrinking Sister
Ginger Hubbard, author
Al Roland, author
Veronika Kotyk, illustrator
New Growth Press
1301 Carolina Street, #L101, Greensboro, NC 27401
9781645073147, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis; Shawn and Annie are excited for a family camping trip, but trouble awaits! Mom and Dad tease each other, and soon Shawn follows their lead and starts teasing Annie. But every time Shawn is unkind and teases her, Annie gets a little bit smaller. As Annie shrinks, the whole family learns how teasing can be hurtful to others and how it dishonors God.

All parents would like their children to tease less and be kinder to one another, but may not notice they do the same thing. With the publication of "Shawn and His Amazing Shrinking Sister: A Book about Teasing" co-authors Ginger Hubbard and Al Roland show families the way forward with a vivid picture of how teasing "shrinks" others and points them to Jesus for forgiveness.

Of special note is the inclusion of a parent resource page presenting a biblical framework and practical suggestions to help children understand why they tease others and how to communicate in a more loving way.

Critique: Offering an important life lesson about the negative consequences of teasing, "Shawn and His Amazing Shrinking Sister: A Book about Teasing" is a timely and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shawn and His Amazing Shrinking Sister: A Book about Teasing" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Ginger Hubbard ( speaks at women's events, parenting conferences, and homeschool conventions across the country, and co-hosts the Parenting with Ginger Hubbard podcast. She is the author of Don't Make Me Count to Three, Wise Words for Moms, and I Can't Believe You Just Said That and the coauthor of the Teaching Children to Use Their Words Wisely series.

Editorial Note #2: Al Roland served in several ministries including RYFO which provides Christian host homes for traveling musicians. He is the co-author of the Teaching Children to Use Their Words Wisely series and has raised and home schooled their four children. (

Editorial Note #3: Veronika Kotyk ( is a Ukrainian illustrator who is passionate about creating quirky characters and bright worlds for children's books. After receiving a fine art degree, she explored foreign cultures and various forms of art. Her awards include the 2017 stArt Award and a gold medal at Mom's Choice Awards. She is the illustrator for the Teaching Children to Use Their Words Wisely series.

The Psychology Shelf

The Racial Trauma Handbook for Teens
Tamara Hill, LPC
Instant Help Books
c/o New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781648480126, $17.95, PB, 168pp

Synopsis: If a teenager or someone in their family has experienced racism or racial trauma (such as discrimination or racial violence) they may feel like the experience has made them different from other teens. They may now see the world as a scary or unjust place. And they may struggle with negative thoughts, sadness, anger, resentment, or shame. Over time, these negative thoughts and feelings can get in the way of school, friendships, and being their best. But there are ways a teenager can move forward and start living the life they deserve.

With the publication of "The Racial Trauma Handbook for Teens: CBT Skills to Heal from the Personal and Intergenerational Trauma of Racism", Tamara Hill presents evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skills to help a teenager overcome personal and intergenerational trauma, increase self-awareness, and build lasting confidence. They will learn how trauma can change the way you see yourself, and how you can break this cycle by learning more about your culture or heritage. Most importantly, They will find tools to help them balance their emotions, and put a stop to unwanted thoughts and memories associated with trauma, so that they can find lasting peace of mind.

Racial trauma doesn't need to define who you are. With "The Racial Trauma Handbook for Teens" as a guide, teenagers can heal from the past, discover their own hidden strengths, and cultivate a sense of pride in their identity and their place in the world.

Critique: Especially in this age of social media, teens and young adults are confronted with seemingly unending trauma from hostile sources. "The Racial Trauma Handbook for Teens: CBT Skills to Heal from the Personal and Intergenerational Trauma of Racism" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented so as to be thoroughly 'reader friendly' and appropriate for children ages 13 to 18. While an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, middle school, highschool, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Racial Trauma Handbook for Teens" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Tamara Hill is a licensed clinical child and family therapist, and an internationally/board-certified trauma therapist who specializes in treating children, adolescents, and families who suffer from mood disorders, unresolved trauma, and disruptive behavioral disorders. She is a founder of Anchored Child & Family Counseling located in Pittsburgh, PA. (

My Elephant Is Blue
Melinda Szymanik, author
Vasanti Unka, illustrator
Flyaway Books
9781947888418, $19.00, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: What will help when the blues leave you feeling as though you're crushed beneath an elephant? Will a smile do the trick? A gentle nudge? Chocolate? A walk? Can anyone or anything make the elephant go away?

Critique: Warm, empathetic, hopeful, and often funny, "My Elephant Is Blue" by the team of author/storyteller Melinda Szymanik and artist/illustrator Vasanti Unka offers an inviting exploration of the experience of living under the weight of sadness for children ages 3-7. While especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library Life Lessons picture book collections, it should be noted that "My Elephant Is Blue" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.00).

Editorial Note #1: A reading guide with discussion questions based on the book, activities to help children explore its themes, and a list of resources for more information will be available April 2023 at

Editorial Note #2: Melinda Szymanik ( is an author from Auckland, New Zealand. She writes picture books, short stories and novels for children and young adults.

Editorial Note #3: Vasanti Unka ( is a New Zealand based writer, illustrator and graphic designer who has been involved in the book and magazine industry for many years. A number of her books have been shortlisted for awards and she won Best Picture Book and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award at the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards with The Boring Book.

Making Friends With Feelings
Keith Ruffner
Neugroove LLC
9798987165603, $18.99

Keith Ruffner's Making Friends With Feelings is a gentle picture book exploration of emotions for the very young, and uses cute bunny images illustrated by Kate Gleyzer to add appeal to the story.

The basic focus is on developing understanding and compassion for others. Even little bunnies can feel confused, sad, or scared for different reasons.

Bunny Molly has been in foster care for a long time, and is facing a new place. Even though it sports toys and appeal, she is frightened and uncertain. But on the floor near the play equipment is another bunny that seems to feel even sadder than she, and so Molly reaches out. Bunny Shiner observes the two from the top of the play castle and is confused about his friendships and role.

Each emotion, from sadness to confusion and fear, is described, represented in appealing, colorful pictures, and repeated three times so that read-aloud adults can emphasize the emotion being discussed.

An array of emotions unfolds as the story progresses, from thinking and feeling to courage, happiness, and the desire to connect. The story features an emotion-based plot that easily explains each bunny's different reaction and the conflict they can introduce.

The result is an exploration of emotions that engages all ages with a story of bunnies who face others and themselves with "courage, courage, courage."

Adults who choose this story to help the very young understand their feelings will find Making Friends With Feelings visually compelling and emotionally astute.

The Education Shelf

We're Going to School
Tammi Salzano, author
Morena Forza, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664300217, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Starting a new school year brings a variety of emotions for children, especially if it's their first time experiencing formal schooling. "We're Going to School" presents a day in the life of several children from diverse backgrounds, who engage in many of the same activities on this special day -- the sometimes chaotic preparation to get dressed, have breakfast, and leave the house on time; the experience of meeting new teachers and new friends, and learning new classroom rules; and the fun and satisfaction of completing a task correctly. Children will be reminded and reassured that even though new experiences can be scary sometimes, they soon become familiar occurrences, which paves the way for enjoyment.

Critique: The collaborative project of author/storyteller Tammi Salzano and artist/illustrator Morena Forza, "We're Going to School" is a delightfully charming and reassuring picture book for children ages 3-7 -- making it an welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Tammi Salzano grew up in upstate New York and has been involved in children's books for 25 years. She has written more than 50 books for young readers and has edited countless more. (

Editorial Note #2: Morena Forza ( spent three years as a pixel artist before becoming a freelance illustrator in 2010, with her work appearing in both trade and educational books, magazines, and puzzles. Morena lives in Turin, not too far from the Alps.

The Science Shelf

Pebbles and the Biggest Number
Joey Benun, author
Laura Watson, illustrator
Independently Published
9781737818601, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Even the youngest children know big numbers: a thousand, a million, even a billion! But what comes next? A curious butterfly named Pebbles wants to know, too.

Children will enjoy follow Pebbles' globetrotting adventure and meet animal friends in exotic landscapes. From idyllic butterfly fields to scorching deserts, vast oceans, and the splendors of space, Pebbles is always eager to explore.

"Pebbles and the Biggest Number" is a fact-filled science picture book for kids is overflowing with vibrant illustrations by Laura Watson that pull the story forward. Even as the numbers grow to unimaginable sizes, author Joey Benun finds imaginative ways to help kids grasp the concept.

Big ideas feel manageable when compared to relatable, everyday objects, like sand and stars. Reading about math is made even more fun for young readers with 'Did You Know?' trivia, 'Number Notes', and 'Science Spots' on every page!

"Pebbles and the Biggest Number" is perfect for independent elementary readers or a read-with-me introduction to toddler math. Plus, there's so much to re-read and explore after the story. Dig deeper with a kid-friendly science glossary, fascinating number visualizer, and supplemental online activities.

Will Pebbles ever find the biggest number? Flutter in and find out!

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in storyline, organization and presentation, and particularly ideal for home schooling purposes, "Pebbles and the Biggest Number" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary, and community library Science & Math picture book collections for children ages 5-9. It should be noted that "Pebbles and the Biggest Number" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note #1: Joey Benun ( has always thought BIG. His fascination with numbers began when he was five years old -- the bigger, the better. Years later, a fortuitous conversation with his niece and nephews inspired him to write a book about BIG numbers for little kids. Thus, "Pebbles and the Biggest Number" was born! Today, Joey works and lives in Brooklyn, New York, as an Amazon account manager for his family-owned apparel business, The Bentex Group.

Editorial Note #2: Laura Watson ( is a freelance illustrator working in Toronto, Laura Watson has been creating whimsical illustrations for children's books, educational materials, magazines and various retail applications since graduating in 1995 from Sheridan College's Interpretive Illustration program, in Oakville, Ontario.

One Tiny Bubble
Karen Krossing, author
Dawn Lo, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771474450, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "One Tiny Bubble: The Story of Our Last Universal Common Ancestor", children are invited to meet LUCA -- our Last Universal Common Ancestor, the itty-bitty organism that every unique life-form on Earth can be traced back to.

This sprinkle-sized blob was formed from the dust of exploded stars, water, and a lot of heat. LUCA was a single cell that split into two, and these cells multiplied into more organisms that grew and changed. Over the billions of years that followed, the descendants of LUCA evolved into bacteria, mushrooms, sharks, fir trees, lions -- and humans! All the extraordinary life on Earth began with LUCA, through a miraculous process that could also occur on other planets.

Critique: The collaborative work of author Karen Krossing and illustrator Down Lo, "One Tiny Bubble: The Story of Our Last Universal Common Ancestor" is a vibrant, poetic, and impressively informational picture book that breaks down scientific concepts using simple, engaging language. The striking illustrations bring LUCA to life as the accompanying commentary reveals how we are connected to one another, and to every life-form on our planet, through 'one tiny bubble'. An ideal introduction to evolution for children ages 4-8, "One Tiny Bubble: The Story of Our Last Universal Common Ancestor" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Biology/Evolution themed science picture book collections and reading lists.

Editorial Note #1: Karen Krossing ( is the author of Sour Cakes and other stories for kids and teens. She recently graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also conducts writing workshops and book talks. Karen lives in Toronto on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinabeg and the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit.

Editorial Note #2: Dawn Lo ( is an illustrator currently based in Vancouver, the unceded lands of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. In addition to illustrating picture books, her work has appeared on stationery, greeting cards, public art installations, murals, and more.

Lizelle van der Merwe
Tilbury House Publishers
9780884489559, $18.95

Youniverse: The Quantum Kaleidoscope of You is a fun exploration connecting biology, physics, and other sciences with a young person's perspective of self and the universe. A kaleidoscope of colors moves from the microcosm of one's body and the Earth to the macrocosm of universal connections in a dance that ends with a tour of the cosmos. Readers interested in a story that holds the appeal of a picture book and the vivid descriptions of a poetic journey will find Youniverse lively, positive, and captivating.

The Health Shelf

But I'm Not Sick!
Andrena J. Zeigler, author
Mark Brayer, illustrator
Palmetto Publishing
9781638374725, $22.99, HC, 42pp

Synopsis: When a mother takes her child for a visit at the doctor's office, the child protests, "But I'm not sick!" Thanks to a wise mother and a kind doctor who explains the entire process, the child enjoys the visit and looks forward to the next well child checkup.

Critique: "But I'm Not Sick!" is a cheerfully illustrated picture book and the perfect way for parents, teachers, and caregivers to show children ages 4-10 that a visit to their healthcare provider does not have to be scary, nor do they have to wait until they are sick. Unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, community library Health/Medicine collections (and pediatrician clinic waiting rooms as well!), it should be noted for personal reading lists that "But I'm Not Sick!" is also available in a paperback edition (9781638374732, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note #1: Andrena Zeigler ( is an advanced practice registered nurse who earned her doctor of nursing practice degree as a first honor graduate from the Medical University of South Carolina, and has been a nurse practicing in the area of pediatrics for 20 years. Named as the South Carolina Primary Care Nurse of the Year in 2012, Dr. Zeigler is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner and a board-certified pediatric primary care mental health specialist. She also loves teaching the next generation of nurses and nurse practitioners in the field of pediatrics. This book was inspired by all the children in her life, including her daughters, nieces and nephews, and her patients.

Editorial Note #2: Mark Brayer ( has worked in the creative arts for over 35 years. He trained in Visual Communication at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His past job experiences include: paste-up artist, graphic artist at a community college, pre-press technician, designer at a print shop, ad designer for a newspaper, VP of Creative Services at an East Coast ad agency. He is also an award winning Editorial Cartoonist. Owning of his own illustration company for over 10 years, he is the illustrator for nearly 50 children's books.

Eat Your Superpowers!
Toni Buzzeo, author
Serge Bloch, illustrator
Rise x Penguin Workshop
cp Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593522950, $17.99, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: From grapes to beets and oatmeal to cashews, "Eat Your Superpowers!: How Colorful Foods Keep You Healthy and Strong" is reference book that highlights and explains the benefits of 25 fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, each of which are grouped into color categories and presented with the mind and body benefits they offer.

Carefully crafted one-sentence explanations from author Toni Buzzeo provide the perfect amount of information for the preschool audience, and illustrator Serge Bloch's charming and humorous art make "Eat Your Superpowers" an entertaining and uniquely appetizing reference book of food facts.

Critique: Especially appropriate for children ages 2-5, "Eat Your Superpowers!: How Colorful Foods Keep You Healthy and Strong" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Health & Food collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eat Your Superpowers" is readily available in a digital book format ($10.99) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Toni Buzzeo ( has authored twenty-eight picture books for children, including the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book and New York Times bestseller One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small. She publishes both fiction and nonfiction. Endlessly enthusiastic, Toni draws on her career experiences as an elementary school librarian in crafting her books and speaking with audiences of children in schools and libraries.

Editorial Note #2: Serge Bloch ( is an internationally renowned artist, illustrator, and author whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The WSJ, Time Magazine, as well as in over one hundred books for children and adults. He was previously the art director of Bayard Jeunesse, one of France's largest children's publishers. Serge is the winner of multiple awards, including the Society of Illustrators' Gold Medal and the Bologna Ragazzi Award for Nonfiction.

The Environmental Shelf

Climate Champions
Rachel Sarah
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781641607001, $16.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Climate Champions: 15 Women Fighting for Your Future", author Rachel Sarah introduces 15 contemporary female climate champions that are on the frontlines of science seeking to create a sustainable future on Earth.

They include climate scientists, journalists, professors, academics, researchers, and policy makers from around the world who draft policies with real-world impact, run science labs to find new answers to old problems, and lead organizations at the forefront of change. These women do not shy away from showing how racial and social injustices lie at the root of so many climate-related issues.

Their stories are accessible and energetic, with spotlights on the triumphs and struggles of women who are working to protect the planet. As young readers learn how these champions are rising up around the world, they will also learn how to be part of the solution!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Climate Champions: 15 Women Fighting for Your Future" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, middle school, highschool, and community library Environmental/Conservation/Protection Studies and YA Women's Biography collections for young readers ages 12-16. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Climate Champions: 15 Women Fighting for Your Future" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.49).

Editorial Note: Rachel Sarah ( is a journalist and the author of Girl Warriors. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Yahoo, POPSUGAR, and more. Rachel was a 2022 Kiplinger Fellow, one of twenty-two journalists from around the world selected for the Public Affairs Journalism's inaugural class in climate change reporting.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Bella Joins the Service
Julie Ellis Williams, author
Penny Weber, illustrator
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
5 South First Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781951565190, $24.95, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Bella, a fun-loving Lab, spends her days with her person, Kirk. Together, they run, swim, hike, and climb through Colorado's great outdoors. But one day, everything changes. While mountain biking, Kirk has a disabling fall that leaves him unable to use his arms and legs the way he used to. What's a Lab to do?

Bella chooses to "join the service"-service dogs. While Kirk learns a new way of life, Bella learns how to do many things with her nose, mouth, and paws that Kirk can no longer do with his hands.

With the publication of "Bella Joins the Service", children will enjoy following Bella and Kirk's journey as they come full circle to live the same adventurous life they lived before -- just differently.

Critique: Exceptional, charming, insightful, and fully appropriate for ages 4-8, "Bella Joins the Service" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets and Disabilities picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bella Joins the Service" is also available in a paperback edition (9781951565206, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note #1: Julie Ellis Williams ( is a retired elementary school teacher and school counselor. For forty-one years, she connected with and encouraged numerous teachers and students with her motto, "The way you view it, is the way you do it." She also cherishes the memories of her weekly visits to the hospital with her therapy dog, Wrigley, and sharing in fun times with Wrigley's sister Addi, at home.

Editorial Note 32: Penny Weber ( is a full-time illustrator from Long Island, New York. She works with Photoshop to create digital paintings and has illustrated many picture books for the trade and educational markets.

The Adventures of Extraordinary K9s
Sherry Bennett Warshauer, author
India Boeckh, illustrator
TriMark Press
9781943401963, $24.95, PB, 125pp

Synopsis: A blind person needing guidance, a police officer seeking aid in apprehending criminals, a troubled veteran searching for a comforting companion -- when there's risk or a call for help it's not only humans who give their support.

With the publication of "The Adventures of Extraordinary K9s, author and storyteller Sherry Bennet Warshauer presents a collection of memorable tales of amazing animals engaged in wonderful feats -- all 'come to life' in vivid color and story-telling. Lending an ear, a tail, a wag, a smile (or a powerful sniffer) these dog pals remind us why they are our best friends.

Seven stories told by a young girl named Lizzie, whose own adventures with extraordinary K9s begin when a yellow Labrador named Charlee accompanies her teacher to school, provide an important understanding to children of how much these service animals enhance our lives. Through dutiful, heartwarming, and sometimes dangerous work, these K9s bring extraordinary, selfless love and companionship to the world.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by India Boeckh, "The Adventures of Extraordinary K9s" is a compelling compendium of fun and informative picture book stories about service dogs that will have a special appeal to any young reader who has a canine companion of their own. "The Adventures of Extraordinary K9s" is unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections, as well as the personal reading list for young readers ages 5-8 with an interest learning about the diversity and range of service animals.

Editorial Note #1: Sherry Bennett Warshauer is a member of the Dog Writers' Association of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She is the Executive Director of K9sPLUSKIDS, a volunteer therapy dog program, enhancing the lives of children, especially those with learning disabilities, at public and private schools. Other books by Sherry Bennett Warshauer include: Everyday Heroes, Tails of the Heart, For The Love Of Kinsey, Time-Out For Matty.

Editorial Note #2: India Boeckh ( is an illustrator and visual development artist based in Studio City, California. She graduated with a BFA from Ringling College of Art + Design in Sarasota, Florida.

The Nocturnals Explore Unique Adaptations of Nighttime Animals
Tracey Hecht
Fabled Films Press
9781944020736. $14.99, HC, 129pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Nocturnals Explore Unique Adaptations of Nighttime Animals" kids can readily connect to the science featured in The Nocturnals middle grade fiction series by Tracey Hecht. The will enjoy discovering the special adaptations that help nocturnal animals succeed in the dark and investigate conservation efforts for these incredible species.

Critique: Enhanced for young readers with the inclusion of more than 150 full-color photographs of animals, using fun facts, and a narrative from the adventurous Nocturnals characters (Dawn the fox, Tobin the pangolin, and Bismark the sugar glider) "The Nocturnals Explore Unique Adaptations of Nighttime Animals" takes children around the world to investigate the adaptations of nighttime animals to their natural habitats.

"The Nocturnals Explore Unique Adaptations of Nighttime Animals" includes: Animals from around the world: red foxes, pangolins, sugar gliders, wombats, woylies, bandicoots, owls, crocodiles, kiwis, tuataras, aye-ayes, jerboas, bats, vipers, coyotes, and more!; Night Notes & Fun Facts; Nocturnal Feature Icon Key; Animal Glossary with full-color photos; Word Glossary to build STEM vocabulary; At-Home Science Resources.

Critique: An ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers ages 9-12, "The Nocturnals Explore Unique Adaptations of Nighttime Animals" is also readily available for personal reading lists of kids with an interest in biology, zoology, and environmental ecology in a paperback edition (9781944020729, $8.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Tracey Hecht ( is a writer and entrepreneur who created The Nocturnals, the critically acclaimed middle grade and early reader series. The American Booksellers Association chose her first book, The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions, as a Kids' Indie Next List pick. In addition, her Grow & Read early reader book, The Chestnut Challenge, was given a Mom's Choice Gold Award. With the New York Public Library, she has also created a Read Aloud Writing Program that has since been conducted in hundreds of schools, libraries, and bookstores. Other books in the Nocturnals middle grade series include The Ominous Eye, The Fallen Star, and The Hidden Kingdom.

The World History Shelf

Ancient Egypt for Kids
Oldrich Ruzicka, author
Tomas Turna, illustrator
Scott Alexander, editor
Albatros Media
9788000065991, $16.95, HC, 12pp

Synopsis: Over 5 000 years ago, the ancient civilization of Egypt developed along the Nile River and whose sights and remnants are still enchanting people from all over the world. Huge wonderful pyramids, stone temples, decorated tombs, larger-than-life statues of rulers, tall columns, obelisks, and other memorials can be seen in Egypt wherever you look. Still, many sights are waiting to be freed from the African sands and it remains somewhat mysterious how Egyptian builders could create such towering, beautiful buildings, considering the limited technology of the day. "Ancient Egypt for Kids" by author/storyteller Oldrich Ruzicka and artist/illustrator Scott Alexander showcases wonderful and historic Egyptian sights while teaching young readers what life in Ancient Egypt looked like for pharaohs, officials, soldiers, and ordinary people.

Critique: Featuring fold-out pages packed with illustrations and informative commentaries, "Ancient Egypt for Kids" is ideal for classroom curriculums for discussing Ancient Egypt. Given that 2022 is the anniversary year celebrating 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter (which launched the world wide interest in ancient Egyptian culture and history), "Ancient Egypt for Kids" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended additon to family, elementary school, and community library Ancient History collections in general, and Egyptology studies lists in particular.

Editorial Note #1: Oldrich Ruzicka ( studied at Faculty of Education and worked as teacher for a few years. Before he decided to found his own publishing house, he worked many years as a chief-editor and publisher of a big Czech publishing house. Later his publishing house became a part of Albatros Media. He is highly successful author of children's literature whose books have been translated into many languages.

Editorial Note #2: Tomas Tuma ( studied English and Art Education. Currently he is a freelance illustrator, photographer and programmer. He as an author of educational adventure books for children, where he can popularize modern technologies.

The Unofficial Guide to the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife
Bastet the Cat and Laura Winstone
Cicada Books
9781700660120, $18.99

The Unofficial Guide to the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife presents a mummified cat's perspective of ancient Egypt's death rituals, including spells, tomb options, and Afterlife visions. This is a fun way of introducing young picture book readers to some of the concepts held by ancient Egyptians of that afterlife. From how bodies are pickled and preserved to magical symbols and decorations, the specifics herein lend to insights that are graphic, intriguing, and fun. Young readers interested in ancient Egypt will find this introduction by Bastet the Cat and Laura Winstone to be colorful, compelling, and attractive.

The ABC Shelf

An ABC of Democracy
Nancy Shapiro, author
Paulina Morgan, illustrator
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711264793, $15.99, Board Book, 52pp

Synopsis: A is for Activism, B is for Ballots, C is for Country. "An ABC of Democracy" introduces complicated concepts surrounding politics and government to children ages 4-6.

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. From A to Z, simple explanations accompanied by engaging artwork teach young children about the world we live in and how to navigate our way through it.

Each right-hand page includes a brightly decorated letter with the word it stands for and an encouraging slogan. On the left, a colorful illustration and bite-size text sum up the concept. Cheerful people from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities lead the way through the alphabet.

F is for Freedom. We all deserve to be free to choose.
N is for Need. Democracy needs everyone's participation to run at its best.
Q is for Questions. Go ahead and ask!
V is for Voting. Everyone should be able to have their say.

Critique: "An ABC of Democracy" is a beautiful board book that will teach the youngest of readers about liberty and justice for all. Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections, it should be noted that "An ABC of Democracy" is also available in both a paperback (9780711264816, $19.99) and a hardcover (9780711264809, $17.99) edition.

Editorial Note #1: Nancy Shapiro helped found TurnUp Activism (, a non-profit organization whose mission is promoting youth voter turnout and activism. She created and directs their training program that has helped over 1,000 young people on their path towards becoming civically engaged. She is also a clinical psychologist and has a side career performing and teaching the oboe. Her education has included a BA from Simon's Rock of Bard College, MA from Lesley University and finally a Psy.D. from Antioch New England Graduate School. (

Editorial Note #2: Paulina Morgan ( works as an independent illustrator based in Santiago de Chile. She studied design before moving to Barcelona, Spain, to obtain her master's degree in Art Direction. She worked in advertising before deciding to pursue her passion for illustration.

The Board Book Shelf

Where Do Animals Live?
Katerina Gorelik
Schiffer Kinds
c/o Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764365157, $9.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: With this board book edition of "Where Do Animals Live?", young children will discover how animals and insects like moles, mice, squirrels, bees, bats, owls, foxes, brown bears, wolves, hedgehogs, and penguins and pets like cats and dogs live, along with clues about their behavior and way of life.

Each spread looks at various types of habitats, from hollows and beehives to doghouses and burrows, and builds vocabulary and sight word recognition. Children will be fascinated by how differently each of these animals makes their homes and where they choose to sleep and eat with their families. The bold pictures pair with the wildly informative text to fully capture the interest of little ones and have them asking to read it again and again!

Critique: "Where Do Animals Live?" is fun family story time board book to read aloud or to read independently. The topic is treated with an original approach for the youngest readers. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.50), "Where Do Animals Live?" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Pets/Wildlife board book collections.

Editorial Note: Katerina Gorelik ( was born in a small city in Russia and now lives and works in Moscow. Katerina obtained a university law degree and worked as a lawyer, but after the birth of her oldest son, she decided to drastically change her life to do what she loves most -- drawing. Since 2011, she has worked as a freelance illustrator. Then, in 2015, Katerina started making children's books. She is a mother of two children and is a great animal lover, which helps her come up with topics for her books. She is the author of the Curious Creatures series, which also includes What Do Animals Eat.

Dot, Dot, Polka Dot
Morissa Rubin
POW! Kids Books
9781576879962, $16.99, Board Book, 28pp

Synopsis: "Dot, Dot, Polka Dot" is an eye-popping, stylish board book from artist and graphic designer Morissa Rubin in which young readers are introduced to the shapes and movement of different fabric patterns that come together to form a child's quilt. From the swirling spirals of calico and the tidy diamond lines of argyle, to the brilliant blocks of kente cloth and Uroko's fish-like scales, "Dot, Dot, Polka Dot" treats children to a colorful tour of popular designs from around the world, while teaching them their unique names.

Critique: A unique, educational, and fun board book, "Dot, Dot, Polka Dot" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Board Book collections for children ages 6 months to 3 years.

Editorial Note: Morissa Rubin ( is a graphic designer. Her work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sacramento Advertising Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Graphic Design USA. After many years working in-house at the Mondavi Center for the Arts and at UC Davis, she maintains a solo design practice. She received her BFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MS from MIT's Visible Language Workshop. She teaches typography and other design courses at UC Davis and Sacramento State University, and can be followed on Instagram at @morissa.s.childrensbooks

Little Kids First Board Book: Becoming a Butterfly
Ruth Musgrave
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
101 West 104th Street, Suite 8, New York, NY 10025
9781426374128, 7.99, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: Bursting with vivid photos and featuring super-simple facts, "Little Kids First Board Book: Becoming a Butterfly" by Ruth A. Musgrave is thoroughly charming board book that explores how a butterfly becomes a butterfly! Little readers will be dazzled by the variety of colorful butterflies they meet as they learn how these beloved insects develop from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to an adult ready to spread its wings and fly.

Critique: With the publication of "Little Kids First Board Book: Becoming a Butterfly", Ruth Musgrove distills them down to the simplest nonfiction concepts for the youngest audience the life cycle of the butterfly. With their rounded square shape, bright and playful design, awesome photography, clear text, and cues to encourage interactive learning "Little Kids First Board Book: Becoming a Butterfly" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 6 months to 2 years.

Editorial Note: Ruth A. Musgrave ( has a B.S. in Education and is an award-winning children's writer specializing in marine and animal science. As a naturalist, lucky hitchhiker on scientific trips, and proud science nerd, Musgrave works with scientists around the world and shares their research and discoveries through her freelance work as a contributing writer for National Geographic Little Kids magazine. She is also the author of several books for National Geographic, including Everything Sharks, the Little Kids First Board Book series, and the National Geographic Little Kids Look & Learn series.

Maggie Li
Templar Books
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536230222, $9.99, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: From leaves and lily pads to grassy meadows and apples, hungry little Bug munches and crunches through everything it can find before entering into its chrysalis for a big change!

Critique: Especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections for children ages 2 to 5 years old, "Bug" by Maggie Li is a fun and informative board book that explores the life cycle of a caterpillar. Children can follow along with every stage of Bug's transformation into a beautiful butterfly. A die-cut throughout "Bug" emphasizes how nature is full of changes -- and how you can always tell when a hungry caterpillar has been around!

Editorial Note: Maggie Li ( is a freelance illustrator and children's book author whose books for young readers explore the natural world and the wonders of science. She is the author of Bug Detective as well as the Little Life Cycles series, and her books have been translated into multiple languages and published around the world.

Dinosaur, Dinosaur Had a Farm
Danielle McLean, author
Sanja Rescek, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350571, $9.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: The fourth book in the Dinosaur, Dinosaur series from Tiger Tales, "Dinosaur, Dinosaur Had a Farm "is a collection of popular and original barnyard rhymes with a fun dinosaur twist, perfect for sharing with a little one at story time. The rhymes by Danielle McLean include "Old MacDino Had a Farm," "Dino Had a Little Lamb," "Dino in the Dell," and many more!

Critique: "Dinosaur, Dinosaur Had a Farm" features soft, padded cover, sturdy board pages, and adorable illustrations by Sanja Rescek, making it a fun and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections for ages 2-5.

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

Editorial Note #2: Sanja Rescek lives in Zagreb, Croatia, where she studied graphic design and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. Sanja has illustrated picture books for Random House, Scholastic, and many other publishers. Sanja has also brilliantly illustrated cards for UNICEF. (

The Picturebook Shelf

A Starlit Trip to the Library
Andrew Katz, author
Juliana Levelle-Trudel, author
Joseph Sherman, illustrator
CrackBoom! Books
9782898023217, $17.95, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: One gentle summer evening, a young girl named Julia is camping out in the forest with her animal friends. Everyone gathers for the night's most eagerly awaited event: story time by the campfire. But when Julia digs through her bag, she discovers that she has forgotten to bring her book!

Will Julia and her friends have to go to bed without a story? Or will they bravely join Bertrand, the bear who loves to read, in navigating to his favorite book scavenging spot?

Critique: Simply stated, "A Starlit Trip to the Library" by co-authors Andrew Katz and Juliana Levelle-Trudel offers an impressive picture book ode to libraries and librarians in the form of an adventure will captivate children ages 3-7 with its vivid, enchanting illustrations by Joseph Sherman. As a bonus, "A Starlit Trip to the Library" also includes the lyrics to "Julia's Song" - - an original lullaby written and composed by co-author Andrew Katz and performed by Taes Leavitt, aka Boots from the two-time JUNO Award-winning children's music duo SPLASH'N BOOTS. A link to the song video is included at the back of the book, and the song is also available on music streaming services. A fun read about the value of books, "A Starlite Trip to the Library" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Andrew Katz teaches Children's Literature and Creative Writing at Dawson College in Montreal, and in 2013 he won his school's Director General's Award for Teaching Excellence. (

Editorial Note #2: Juliana Leveille-Trudel co-authored with Andrew Katz the first installment of Julia's adventures, How to Catch a Bear Who Loves to read (2018). She is also a novelist (Nirliit, La Peuplade, 2015), a playwright, and a founder of the Productions de Brousse. Her work has been translated into English, Spanish, Icelandic, Danish, and Basque. She splits her time between Montreal and the countryside of her childhood, surrounded by forests, animals, and books. (

Editorial Note #3: Joseph Sherman is a Gemini award-winning children's animation series director, with 30 years of experience in the design and production of animated series, motion graphics, and print illustrations.

Love is in the Air
Karen M. Bobos
Bobos Babes Ltd.
9798985982237, $17.99 Hardcover/$2.99 Kindle

Love is in the Air is a Bobos Babes adventure picture book that excels in positivity and fantasy. It's set in the land of Harmony, where a variety of creatures interact in a kindly manner -- especially on Valentine's Day. The three Bobos sisters are helping their parents prepare for the momentous occasion, and Alli the alligator nanny has come to keep them company one night while their parents celebrate.

A rollicking rhyme carries the story, introducing kids to a variety of supporting cast creatures with a quirky twist that brings these personalities to life: "Karl the Crocodile was Ali the Alligator's husband./He was the love of her life./Even when they were little baby hatchlings,/He dreamed of making her his wife." Whimsical illustrations by Jazinel Libranda capture the dilemma faced by the siblings and their nanny when a perfume potion goes awry, embedded with a magic that turns good intentions upside down. From singing swans to a king and queen who are still in love three children later, love is certainly in the air -- and so is adventure.

Read-aloud adults who choose this sparking picture book will find many nights of adventure pleasure, between Libranda's vivid, colorful illustrations and the unexpected events that add a potent difference to the aura of love that pervades the kingdom. Elementary-level library collections seeking a fantasy centered on proactive girls and magic will find much attraction in Love is in the Air's tale of mishaps, redemption, and adventure.

Too Many Rabbits
Davide Cali, author
Emanuele Benetti, illustrator
Angus Yuen-Killick, translator
Red Comet Press
9781636550541, $17.99, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: After a month of pleading, Dad finally takes Owen and Zoey to the pet store to adopt a rabbit. Once there, a two-for-one special offer just cannot be ignored; so they take home two rabbits - one male, and one female.

The two rabbits make more rabbits, who then make even more rabbits, and soon there are just too many of the sweet little creatures. So begins a hilarious counting adventure as Owen and Zoey find homes for all of the rabbits.

Full of little 'easter eggs' hidden in the art, "Too Many Rabbits" is a mirthful reminder to be careful of what you wish for and an hilarious lesson in chaos control.

Critique: A fun read in the form of a cautionary tale, "Too Many Rabbits by author/storyteller Davide Cali and artist/illustrator Emanuele Benetti is ably translated into English by Angus Yuen-Killick. The result is an unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that "Too Many Rabbits" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Davide Cali ( is a Swiss-born Italian writer of children's books and graphic novels. He has published over one hundred books and received numerous awards. He lives in Genoa, Italy.

Editorial Note #2: Emanuele Benetti ( is an educator with a passion for drawing and illustration, for which he has won multiple awards. He lives and works in Trentino, Italy.

Editorial Note #3: Translator, Angus Yuen-Killick ( is the founder and publisher of Red Comet Press. Originally from the UK, he lived in Rome, Italy during the 1980s where he taught English. He now lives and works in brownstone Brooklyn, New York.

Nila's Perfect Coat
Norene Paulson, author
Maria Mole, illustrator
Beaming Books
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440
9781506485812, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Nila and her mom love shopping at the thrift store. But when Nila finds the most perfect, shiny, puffy coat, Mom says no: Nila's winter coat still fits her just fine.

With a lot of determination and some birthday money from Dad, Nila sets out to prove the coat really is perfect -- but along the way, learns maybe it's perfect for someone else. Someone who needs both a coat and a friend.

Critique: A fun and engaging picture book with an important underlying message about having enough and helping others in need, "Nila's Perfect Coat" by author/storyteller Norene Paulson and artist/illustrator Maria Mole is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that "Nila's Perfect Coat" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note #1: Norene Paulson ( writes picture books that celebrate friendship, acceptance, and inclusion. She is the author of Benny's True Colors and What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair? A former language arts teacher, Norene is passionate about sharing her love of words with young readers. She's a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Editorial Note #2: Maria Mola is an illustrator from Barcelona currently living in Boston with her husband and their three children. She has illustrated Sparkle Boy, Maya Papaya, Koala Challah, and more. (

My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me
Roxanne Troup, author
Kendra Binney, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
9781953458551, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Of all the trees in Grandpa's orchard, one tree is his favorite--a pecan tree, planted for his granddaughter on the day she was born.

As the seasons change, the leaves unfurl and fall again while Grandpa tenderly cares for each tree in his orchard. Sometimes they need pruning, sometimes they need feeding. They all need harvesting, and the granddaughter loves watching the tractor hug the trees' trunks and shake until leaves and twigs and pecans rain down.

But not the child's tree--her tree is special. It is not a part of the orchard. It's for just the two of them and all the ways their relationship grows as they care for this special tree: tending its roots, harvesting its pecan treasures, and creating something delicious together.

Critique: A truly timeless tale certain to become a modern classic, "My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me" by author/storyteller Roxanne Troup and artist/illustrator Kendra Binney is a memorable and remarkable picture book about the depths of love and care a grandfather and granddaughter have for one another. "My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Roxanne Troup ( grew up along the waterways of Missouri, where everyone had a pecan tree but few grew pecans commercially. Today, she lives in the mountains of Colorado (where no one grows pecans) and writes kid's books that celebrate the wonder of childhood and beauty of family.

Editorial Note #2: Kendra Binney ( is a fine artist and illustrator from Vancouver, WA. Her paintings have been exhibited, sold, and published around the world, but her favorite place on earth is still her own backyard. There she loves to spend time with her family and menagerie of animals; giving nicknames to visiting birds, and planting things in the dirt in hopes that they will grow.

Fonchito and The Moon
Mario Vargas Losa, author
Maria Chicote Juiz, illustrator
Adrian Nathan West, translator
Kales Press
9798985955804, $20.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Fonchito is a little boy who falls in love for the very first time and discovers that there is nothing one cannot do for a loved one, even if what they wish for is the moon!

Fonchito has his heart set on winning the affection of his classmate Nereida. She is beautiful, and all he hopes for is her permission to kiss her on the cheek.

But she is shy and agrees under only one condition: that Fonchito bring the moon to her. Bring her the moon? What is Fonchito to do? And in that moment his love inspires him to find a way to do the impossible.

Critique: Featuring the remarkable illustrations of Marta Chicote Juiz, and ably translated into English by Adrian Nathan West, "Fonchito and The Moon" is the first children's book to be authored by Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the world's greatest writers. This is an enchanting story about the magic and discovering just how high you can reach for those you love -- even if they ask for the moon. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Fonchito and The Moon" is an elegant and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 6-8.

Editorial Note #1: Maria Vargasillosa Llosa ( was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 in recognition of his contribution as one of the most important voices in contemporary literature. Born in Arequipa, Peru, he received his doctorate in philosophy and letters in Madrid; after many years abroad, he made Spain's capital city his home and still resides there today. His novels include The Time of the Hero, The Feast of the Goat, and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

Editorial Note #2: Marta Chicote Juiz ( has been passionate about drawing ever since she was little, when she would spend hours with paper and pencil, drawing and drawing, creating her own space, world, and characters, giving life to the imaginary. She graduated with a degree in fine arts from the Complutense University of Madrid, specializing in design, and later studied in Leeds, England. Her illustrations have been published in numerous books throughout the world.

Editorial Note #3: Adrian Nathan West ( is the author of The Aesthetics of Degradation (Repeater, 2016) and My Father's Diet (And Other Stories, 2022) and the translator of thirty or so books, from Spanish, Catalan, and German. His work has received awards from English PEN, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Austrian Cultural Forum, and has been shortlisted for the International Booker and the National Book Award. His recent translations include Hermann Burger's Brenner, Rainald Goetz's Rave, and Sibylle Lacan's A Father: Puzzle. His essays and literary criticism have appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Baffler. He can be followed on Twitter at @a_nathanwest

Today Is A Me Day
E. V. Starkey, author
Kristiina Haapalainen, illustrator
Sami Vaha-Aho, illustrator
POW! Kids Books
9781648230028, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A young girl knows the world is calling for her, but she decides to make today a "me" day, focusing all her energies on a list of things that make her happy. And, oh what a list it is! She'll pack the day lunching with her teddy bear, brewing wild teas, and even working on her warrior pose!

Critique: Combined with gorgeous handmade collage work by the founders of Finland's Polka Paper, "Today Is A Me Day" by author E. V. Starkey and co-illustrators Kristiina Haapalainen, and Sami Vaha-Aho is a unique, charming, memorable, and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8.

Editorial Note #1: When EV Starkey ( holds an MFA degree in Creative Writing from The New School, NY and an MA (Hons) in Philosophy from Edinburgh University, UK. In 2017, she founded the Bellport Children's Festival, a whimsical, immersive children's storytelling festival set on Isabella Rossellini's newly named MAMA Farm on Long Island.

Editorial Note #2: Polka Paper ( is artists' Kristiina Haapalainen's and Sami Vaha-Aho's studio and company that works on illustration and produces stationery.

Green Papayas
Nhung Tran Davies, author
Gillian Newland, illustrator
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9780889955608, $21.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: While Oma (grandmother) lies in her hospital bed, Mama reminds them all of Oma's courage in shepherding her family through war and across the ocean to safety. After Oma passes away, they cherish the memory of this remarkable woman, and the sacrifices she made to ensure that her children, and her grandchildren, would be free to dream.

Critique: Fully child appropriate, "Green Papayas" is a sensitive and memorably thoughtful picture book story by Nhung Tan-Davies that is enriched and illustrated by the museum quality artwork of Gillian Newland. "Green Papayas" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 5-9.

Editorial Note #1: Nhung N. Tran-Davies ( is a physician and advocate for social justice through education. Her family came to Canada as refugees from Vietnam in 1978. Nhung and her family live outside Edmonton, Alberta.

Editorial Note #2: Gillian Newland ( is an artist based in Toronto, Ontario. She works mostly in watercolor, ink and pencils.

Henrietta Hedgehog's Prickly Problem
Carole P. Roman, author
Mateya Arkova, illustrator
Chelshire, Inc.
9781950080083, $29.99, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: Henrietta Hedgehog is having a bad day. She doesn't want to go to school. When her mother questions her, Henrietta admits that she doesn't want to be a hedgehog anymore.

Henrietta's quills make her feel unapproachable, and the other kids don't want to be her friend. So Henrietta comes up with a plan to fit in but discovers that sometimes the most important person to accept you is yourself.

Young readers will delight in joining Henrietta and her critter companions as they learn that the things they might not like the most about themselves can be more important than they realize!

Critique: Another deftly written and thoroughly entertaining picture book story with a positive message by Carole P. Roman, "Henrietta Hedgehog's Prickly Problem" is an unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Henrietta Hedgehog's Prickly Problem" is also available in a paperback edition (9781950080076, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Carole P. Roman ( is an award-winning author of more than fifty children's books. Whether it's pirates, princesses, spies, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children of all ages.

Percy's Perfect Friend
Lana Button, author
Peggy Collins, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772782813, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When Percy finds himself in a kindergarten classroom full of unfamiliar children, he can't help but feel uncomfortable and alone -- that is, until he meets a cuddly new friend: a plush cat he names Miss Petticomb.

When Percy's new friend is picked up by other children, Percy cautiously sets out to find her. On his journey to retrieve Miss Petticomb, Percy must decide whether it is better to share his friend with his classmates or keep her all to himself. A plush cat, a tea party, and the uniting power of toys may be the secret to saving Miss Petticomb and bringing Percy out of his shell.

Critique: With the publication of "Percy's Perfect Friend", early childhood educator Lana Button celebrates the importance of toys in play, the power they have to help children practice social skills, language skills, and imagination, and their ability to bring children together. In this fun and thought-provoking picture book by author/storyteller Lana Button, artist/illustrator Peggy Collins fully captures Percy's growth from uncertainty to confidence on his quest to save Miss Petticomb, and making new friends he makes along the way! "Percy's Perfect Friend" is a welcome and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-6.

Editorial Note #1: Lana Button ( is an early childhood educator and a children's author, educator, and entertainer who is passionate about supporting and encouraging children through entertainment. Her books, including Willow Finds a Way, have been shortlisted for the Blue Spruce Award, The Shining Willow Award, the Jean Throop IODE Award, the Rainforest of Reading Award, and more. Her most recent book, The Cow Said Boo, was a Parents Approved book.

Editorial Note #2: Peggy Collins ( is an award-winning children's book author-illustrator with more than 35 titles to her name, including Blue Spruce Award-winner Harley the Hero, In the Snow, and In the Garden. A Sky-Blue Bench was an ALA Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book. She has also written and illustrated for animated apps teaching math, indigenous history, and education.

Adam Schafer, author
Noel Tuazon, illustrator
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9780889956353, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Smash" by author/storyteller Adam Schafer and artist/illustrator Noel Tuazon is the story of a a young boy who is frustrated by all the things they can't do, but finds immense satisfaction in smashing stuff. But when he and his friends realize that they can build things by putting together the broken pieces, it's a creative breakthrough!

Critique: A fun picture book for children ages 5-8, "Smash" is an ideal story for all ages about identity and finding one's gifts. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Smash" is truly exceptional and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Adam Schafer ( grew up immersed in books, art, movies and comics. He studied film at Humber College and he currently works in visual effects production, having helped make such films as The Shape of Water and Nightmare Alley. He strives to make his picture books a cinematic experience.

Editorial Note #2: Noel Tuazon ( moved to Canada from the Philippines in the 1970s. He studied fine arts at University of Toronto's Erindale campus and, later, took storyboard and drawing courses at a small animation school (Max the Mutt). He currently works full time at Nelvana Animation and, when his schedule allows, draws comics and children's books.

Lulu the Beaver
Bethany Gano
Bunny Books
9781736147269, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: In a colony full of busy beavers, one bashful beaver is hiding a gigantic secret. Lulu tries to be a typical beaver, but her dream of being an artist is getting out! Despite her friends' encouragement, Lulu's struggle with fear and self-doubt has led her into a pattern of destroying her artwork -- until an unexpected encounter changes Lulu, and the forest, for good.

Critique: With funny asides, sound effects, and elements of comic-book style, "Lulu the Beaver" by author/illustrator Bethany Gano is eye-opening and original picture book story that urges kids to confront gloomy thinking and gives them the courage to bravely share their gifts. Ideal for unlocking creativity in ages 4 to 8, "Lulu the Beaver" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Issues picture book collections for children.

Editorial Note: For over two decades, Bethany Gano ( has worked in the commercial arts and holds two BAs (Art and Spanish) from the Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University. From production, to package design, to crafting brands, to illustration, and now, creating a children's book through her self-named studio. Bethany loves storytelling through art and design, and is extra fond of picture books -- a place where art and words can't survive without each other.

Making Happy
Sheetal Sheth, author
Khoa Le, illustrator
Barefoot Books
9781646866229, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When Leila's mother gets sick, lots of things change for her family. But one important thing stays the same: they still have each other, and they know how to find joy and laughter when they need it most!

Critique: The poetic, uplifting story and hopeful ending of "Making Happy" is based on author Sheetal Sheth's own experience battling cancer as the parent of young children. Graced throughout with the charming illustrations of Khoa Le, "Making Happy" is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 6-10 and dealing with the sensitive subjects of illness and Parent/Child emotions. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Making Happy" is also available in a paperback edition (9781646866236, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sheetal Sheth ( is an award-winning actress, author, producer and activist. Sheetal focuses on traditionally marginalized communities in all of her work and is a fierce advocate for thoughtful representation. She has starred in over 20 feature films and is the author of the popular Anjali book series.

Editorial Note #2: Khoa Le ( is a Vietnamese illustrator and author who has won awards and accolades for books published in her home country and around the world. She has a passion for travel, an eagerness to learn about different cultures and a desire to discover the beauty of the world, which she finds immensely inspiring.

Love Birds
Jane Yolen, author
Anna Wilson, illustrator
Cameron Kids
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781951836405, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Jon loved to listen to birdsong. Bright cardinals, cawing crows, chatty chickadees, wrens, and jays; barn swallows and doves' lullabies. He especially loved to listen to owls. One night when an owl hoots, throaty and lovely, the boy hoots back in a duet. And when another owl responds from the nearest pines, the bird-loving boy discovers it's not a bird at all. Sometimes the best song is the sound of a new friend!

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout by the artistry of Anna Wilson, "Love Birds" by acclaimed children's author Jane Yolen is a treasured and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections on birds and on friendship. It should be noted that "Love Birds" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Jane Yolen ( is the author of more than 400 books for children and adults, including the Caldecott Award - winning book "Owl Moon".

Editorial Note #2: Anna Wilson ( is a photographer, illustrator and designer, who loves making pictures. She is happiest when she has a pen in hand, turning the world into images.

Priscilla Puppy Is Afraid of Everything!
Madeleine Vieira, author
Alice Wong, illustrator
Troubador Publishing
9781838593025, $18.00, HC, 46pp

Synopsis: Priscilla is a little dog with a big problem. She' is afraid of everything! She worries about school work, making mistakes, and even worries about worrying. What's even worse is she's missing out on things she'd like to do, such as performing in front of an audience.

Her good friend Ollie Owl has an idea. Priscilla can overcome one of her fears by setting a goal. Taking several small steps toward that goal will help her achieve it. Wanting to play her violin in the school talent show, Priscilla agrees. As the steps become more difficult, Priscilla has to gather more and more courage to accomplish each one.

Can Priscilla achieve each step and overcome her fear even though sometimes her heart pounds and her stomach feels queasy?

Critique: Through picture book storytelling, Dr. Madeleine Vieira's I'm Afraid Anxiety Disorder Series teaches children to manage their anxiety symptoms. "Priscilla Puppy Is Afraid of Everything!", visually enhanced with the utterly charming illustrations by Alice Wong, focuses on Generalized Anxiety and includes an About Anxiety page along with a Coping Strategies page and a Stepladder page. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Issues picture book collections for children ages 6 months to 12 years, parents and mental health professionals will truely appreciate "Priscilla Puppy Is Afraid of Everything!" being particularly effective at relieving a child's anxiety symptoms.

Editorial Note #1: Madeleine Vieira ( is a Clinical Child Psychologist, author and podcaster with a special interest in childhood anxiety disorders and infant mental health based in South Kensington, London. She works in private practice offering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Behavioural Play Therapy, Play and Creative Arts Therapy, and Diagnostic Assessments to children.

Editorial Note #2: Alice Wong ( grew up in a lovely little coastal town, Penarth, just outside Cardiff in South Wales and still lives there today along with her husband (who is also an illustrator), her daughter Pearl, and her two kitties, Pierre and Baloo. Her work is self-described as quirky, cute and dreamy. She loves to paint animals as they are all so unique with different characters and have an innocence about the. Her favourite medium to paint in is watercolour but she loves to draw with her trusty 0.3mm mechanical pencil! While she loves to paint on wood and other natural surfaces, she also enjoys working with ceramics to bring her drawings to life.

Isabel and the Invisible World
Rick Allen
Headlamp Books
9798986070254, $18.95 Hardcover/$11.99 Paper

Picture book readers ages 3-7 will find Isabel and the Invisible World a study in scientific discovery that presents a young girl, her magnifying glass, and her passion for observing strange worlds around her.

Isabel is interested in not just observing life in unusual places, but solving mysteries. Her magnifying glass enlarges things, providing clues that can solve such disparate puzzles as what is eating her mother's garden plants and what is causing her dog to itch.

Large-size, colorful illustrations by Nadia Ronquillo capture Isabel's interest in solutions that solve problems around her.

"By stopping to observe, she sees things other children overlook."

Through Isabel's experiences, young readers are also encouraged to more carefully observe the world around them and the mysteries, big and small, which deserve attention and closer inspection.

Ideally, a magnifying glass gift will accompany any read-aloud effort or a self-reading child's pursuit of Isabel's world.

Bobby and Bubba's Small Adventures
Anthony Coombs
SilverWood Books Ltd.
9781800421974, $25.99

Bobby and Bubba's Small Adventures is a picture book that introduces Bobby and Bubba, British bulldogs that live in the middle of London. Their walks of discovery around Chelsea are illustrated by Adam Share, who brings to life the appeal of two dogs that survey and explore their British environment.

Adults who choose Bobby and Bubba's Small Adventures as a nightly read-aloud will find plenty of detail and fun in these "small adventures" as the bulldogs explore their world and their perceptions of it.

From Bobby's emergency visit to the vet by Daddy Alexander to Bob and Bubba's love of grooming (which feels suspiciously like a spa day adventure), Anthony Coombs presents the world through these dog's eyes, capturing the delight of their daily interactions with one another, their family, and their world.

Youngsters interested in dog stories will find much to enjoy in this title, which embeds life lessons into these experiences in a manner adults can employ to discuss values with the very young: "It dawned on them that while happiness may depend upon ourselves, true happiness is found in the little often unremembered acts of kindness to others. It was that, and not their new found stardom, which made this day their 'best by far'."

Bobby and Bubba's Small Adventures is an exploration of life experience, choices, and lessons that deserves feature both in elementary-level libraries and through home read-aloud discussions that bring forth the underlying positivity and messages of these dog's-eye experiences of life and growth.

My Sister Wants an Elephant
Lynne Podrat
Atmosphere Press
9781639887316, $12.99

Randy's younger sister is insane. And his mother seems to be enabling her. In the picture book story My Sister Wants an Elephant, narrated by Randy, almost-two-year-old Jerica makes a birthday request the family seems to actually entertain.

A tone of jealousy runs through Randy's protest of his little sister's demand, because Randy's wanted a llama "forever," but has yet to receive one.

The family lives in a Philadelphia apartment, which was the initial excuse for Randy's llama request not being granted. When they moved to a regular house with space indoors and out, Randy still did not get his dream pet. So, why isn't Jerica's elephant dream immediately discounted?

When he gets over his jealousy, Randy decides to join forces with his younger sibling.

Lynne Podrat's My Sister Wants an Elephant sports especially whimsical, engaging, creative color illustrations by Sarah Gledhill that enhance the story of Randy's decision to insist on achieving his long-term dream.

Emotional peaks and valleys are charted as Randy considers his sister's ability to get their parents to agree to the most impossible dream, and his lessons on how to turn adversity into new possibilities.

From fairness to approaching parents with one's needs, My Sister Wants an Elephant surveys many issues, offering many lessons in the course of revealing Randy's family connections and his deepest desires.

Parents who choose this story for read-aloud will find the laugh-out-loud moments many and the education value about family ties, compromising, adoption, and sharing lend to ongoing discussions and insights.

Tinee Furlbert
KP Publishing Company
9780947482121, $24.95

Novi and her mother open this picture book story with an exploration of the chocolate Bermuda fudgsicle, but young readers attracted to ice cream will soon find that the story expands to consider more than a sweet treat.

Gherdai Hassell introduces bright, fun illustrations to capture Tinee Furlbert's words, bringing Novi's world to life as her Caribbean mother decides to introduce her both to the new treat and novel concepts about life and her place in it: "Just like you, it's a smooth chestnut dynamic delight," Novi's mom said.

Unlike the American notion of a fudgsicle, these Caribbean delights come in many flavors. As the child observes the different hues of brown and relates them to people she knows, readers will relish the attraction each flavor brings to the personalities Novi pairs them with.

"Delight" is the common word used throughout descriptions which celebrate different people of color and their joyful presence in Novi's life.

The story empowers black and brown girls to not just understand color differences, but celebrate them.

Especially recommended for read-aloud inspection and fun, Fudgsicle's lesson in positivity is the perfect choice for parents seeking to teach the very young a lesson about celebrating delicious differences in life and between people of color.

The lessons on self-awareness, developing confidence, and handling disappointments that accompany this basic understanding of others and self offer many opportunities for discussion and insight, all couched in the delicious flavors of a special Bermuda treat.

Lauren the Cow
T.I. Frazier
Meritxell Andreu Publisher
9798985903829, $20.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paper

Picture book readers are in for a treat with Lauren the Cow, between T.I. Frazier's inspirational story of a cow who aspires to be something special and Meritxell Andreu's colorful illustrations that bring Lauren and her world to life.

Happy Lauren is a Jersey cow that lives on a farm with her mother. She wants to be a "jumping cow," but her wiser mother informs her that this goal isn't achievable for a cow. If there's another thing that Lauren is, it's stubborn. Obviously, all that's required is some training. And so she sets off to achieve her goal by getting stronger and testing her limits.

As parents read Lauren's story aloud, there's plenty of opportunity to add supplemental notes about perseverance, belief, empowerment, and all kinds of other themes kids need to know in order to pursue their own "impossible" dreams. As other creatures become involved in Lauren's dream, lessons about friendship and support systems also enter to form a bigger picture.

Powered by lovely, colorful drawings that bring this world to life, Lauren the Cow holds an adventure and a message that adults will find powerfully perfect for kids who need encouragement to envision and reach for their own "impossible" dreams.

A surprise twist to the story adds further delight to a picture book highly recommended for libraries and home collections alike.

Coney - A Trip to Luna Park
Jeffrey Lindberg
Flying Rabbit Press
9780578908786, $19.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: It is 1904, and a new amusement park is being built in Coney Island. Unfortunately, the construction is happening right on the dunes that Selena, a scrappy little rabbit, calls home! From her trolley car one day, Millie spots Selena, and the two become fast friends. Together, they discover and confront the men and the machines that are doing something extraordinary (building a modern, even futuristic, theme park) but while doing so are destructive to the land and its inhabitants. Their mission to save Selena's home becomes quite an adventure!

Filled with historical accuracy and a captivating tale in and of itself, this book takes readers on a ride through the old Coney Island. We follow Selena and Millie as they explore the sights and thrills of Luna Park for the first time. Against the fantastic and extravagant backdrop of creator Fred Thompson's Luna Park, the story reaches a dramatic height in the nighttime Coney Island, lit up by thousands of Edison bulbs! We hold our breath as they also encounter the "mean" men with the bulldozers. Can Millie and Selena preserve the land and still reach for the stars?

Critique: An original and fun picture book that is exceptionally well written and beautifully illustrated by Jeffrey Lindberg, "Coney - A Trip to Luna Park" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-8.

Editorial Note: An extensive listing of books by Jeffrey Lindberg can be found on the GoodReads website at

Fox and Bear
Miriam Korner
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9780889956469, $21.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Fox and Bear live happily in the forest until Fox decides to make life more productive and efficient. When Fox's inventions set off a chain of events that complicates life in unexpected ways, Bear is faced with the difficult decision about how he wants to live.

Critique: With the publication of "Fox and Bear", author and illustrator Miriam Korner has created a modern fable that raises existential questions for children. Charmingly delightful and entertaining, "Fox and Bear" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 5-8. It should be noted that "Fox and Bear" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Miriam Korner is an award-winning author and illustrator who lives in Northern Saskatchewan in a small cabin surrounded by quickly vanishing old-growth forest. Her young adult novels and picture book collaborations express her love and concern for the natural world. The illustrations for Fox and Bear were created using recycled paper cutouts and cardboard dioramas. She is also the author of young adult novels Yellow Dog and Qaqavii.

All the Colors of Life
Lisa Aisato
W-1 Media Inc/Arctis
9781646900114, $24.00

All the Colors of Life comes from a Norwegian illustrator who presents images that create evocative connections between emotions and color. "Our lives are full of color," she maintains, supporting this contention with gorgeous full-page drawings that will appeal to all ages. A variety of life experiences accompany these representations, from "you feel like you don't know the words to the song the grown-ups are singing" to "You wish there were a user manual for difficult mornings, days, and nights." The gorgeous illustrations power a book that should be a family basic read, filled with opportunities for understanding and discussing feelings and backed by colorful and fun illustrations throughout.

A Dream for Every Season
Haddy Njie and Lisa Aisato
Arctis Books
9781646900237, $18.00

A Dream for Every Season is translated by Megan Turney and Rachel Rankin and provides young picture book readers with a poetic examination of seasonal nature experiences to be found in Norway and many places of the world. Large-size, whimsical, attractive illustrations accompany four-line poems that link emotions with the wonders and fantasy of nature settings. Many of the images are particularly fanciful and striking, as in that of a girl who sports blooming flowers instead of hair. The result is a lovely celebration of dreams and seasons which lends particularly well to read-aloud pleasure.

Dark on Light
Dianne White, author
Felicita Sala, illustrator
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781534487895, $18.99

Dark on Light pairs appealing illustrations by Felicita Sala with a story that explores and contrasts dark and light experienced by kids who explore the nighttime outdoors. A gentle rhyme cements these experiences ("Silent the owl. Still the night/Dark the meadow beneath its flight.") and brings the story to life. Parents who choose this tender book for its read-aloud attraction will find it a lovely celebration of both dark and light worlds that kids will appreciate.

Bunnies in a Boat
Philip Ardagh and Ben Mantle
Candlewick Press
9781536228335, $17.99

Bunnies in a Boat returns the picture book bunny characters of previous volumes to young readers in a new hilarious adventure replete with chaos and fantasy fun. A rollicking rhyme accompanies hilarious, colorful illustrations of a variety of encounters and nautical mishaps as the bunnies struggle to stay in the boat and afloat. Adults who choose Bunnies in a Boat for read-aloud will find its delightful scenarios lend to laughter and discussion.

Penguin/Dial Books

These new arrivals represent some of the best of Penguin's books for young readers, and are recommended for libraries looking for lasting elementary-level lends that attract young leisure readers.

Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Museum of Wonders (9780399538568, $24.99) is an essential guide to the Miss Peregrine world, highly recommended for collections that have prior books in the series. Here, an encyclopedia of "peculiardom" covers this odd world and its traits, pairing black and white images with quotes and misquotes that are thought-provoking and enlightening. The visuals and discussions are fun and varied.

Groundhog Gets It Wrong by Jess Townes (9780593326152, $18.99) receives engaging illustrations by Nicole Miles as it provides young picture book readers with an alternate story of Groundhog Day in which a seemingly easily prediction process goes awry. What can a groundhog do when he misses his calling? A fun story of mishaps and unexpected consequences emerges to delight picture book fans and read-aloud adults alike.

Reese Witherspoon's Busy Betty (9780593465882, $19.99) receives large-sized, colorful embellishment by Xindi Yan that accompanies a large-print story suitable for ages 3-7. Busy Betty has always been busy, and her story of perseverance against all odds will engage readers as she tackles the challenge of giving her dog a bath ... even if she lacks soap, a bathtub, and gets easily distracted by the possibilities of bubbles. A zany story keeps Betty and her readers on their toes, problem-solving and dealing with distractions.

David Shannon's Gold! (9780593352274, $18.99) tells of Maximilian Midas, a "peculiar little boy" who doesn't like chocolate, toys, or the usual child's activities. From early youth, he's been fascinated by gold, and only wants to make millions so he can spend it on ... more gold! There's a lesson involved about accumulating riches, as Max comes to learn despite his early obsession, and adults who read picture books to the young will be happy to consider the ultimate impact of Max's focus.

Patchwork by Matt de La Pena and Corinna Luyken (9781984813961, $18.99) pairs the efforts of an award-winning author and illustrator who bring to life the idea that different talents may result in unexpected paths in life. A restless young jokester in school, for example, exhibits traits that indicate "the skill it takes to make people laugh is the skill you'll use to help people learn when you become a favorite teacher. And when a restless kid like you lands in the back of your class, you will see her, you will love her." The warm story of acceptance opens up a world of future possibilities.

Meanwhile Back on Earth ... Finding Our Place Through Time and Space by Oliver Jeffers (9780593621523, $24.99) tells of a savvy father faced with a car trip with arguing children, who decides to turn the trip into a thrilling space exploration with a cosmic viewpoints that unite them all. Solar system facts intersect with fancy to not only keep the kids quiet, but educate them about the impact of the universe on their daily lives and perceptions.

Go, Sled! Go! by James Yang (9780593404799, $18.99) presents a sled ride to young readers - but it's not your usual celebration of a snowy day. All kinds of obstacles arise that can keep the sled from speeding forward effortlessly, with hilarious results. Adults who choose this book as a read-aloud for the very young will find all kinds of opportunities for embellishment and fun in the sound effects and hilarious encounters the sled ride brings.

Awe-Some Days: Poems About the Jewish Holidays by Marilyn Singer (9780593324691, $18.99) is illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. It presents poetic celebrations narrated by a smart little girl who helps readers explore the traditions of a year of Jewish celebrations. The poems and descriptions will attract parents who will choose this as a read-aloud suitable for not just a lively story, but for discussion of these traditions.

All of these new titles are excellent choices for discriminating libraries and young leisure-reading audiences.

The Bilingual Shelf

Still Dreaming / Seguimos Sonando
Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, author
Magdalena Mora, illustrator
Children's Book Press
c/o Lee & Low Books
9780892394340, $20.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: "Still Dreaming / Seguimos Sonando" is the first children's book to describe the long-forgotten chapter of US history known as Mexican Repatriation. It is the story of a boy and his family who leave their beloved home to avoid being separated by the American government.

Faced with the prospect of being separated from each other, a young boy and his family make the difficult decision to leave their home and begin a journey filled with uncertainty. On the road, they meet other people like them. Families with deep roots tied to the land. Others that helped build the railroads. Some were shop owners and factory workers. Each with similar hopes and dreams.

Historians estimate that between 1930 and 1940, two million people living in the United States were forcibly removed and sent to live in Mexico. Telling this story from a child's perspective, author Claudia Guadalupe Martínez lyrically recounts this often-overlooked period of United States history known as the Mexican Repatriation. Emotive illustrations by Magdalena Mora help to convey this poignant tale of longing for home and permanence, which reflects many of the dreams and hopes of people today.

Critique: "Still Dreaming / Seguimos Sonando" is a bilingual (English/Spanish) picture book for children ages 4-8 that is thoroughly 'age appropriate' for ages 4-8 in content and presentation. "Still Dreaming / Seguimos Sonando" is a unique and welcome addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library 20th Century Hispanic/American History collections.

Editorial Note #1: Claudia Guadalupe Martínez ( has called Mexico and the US home. Her core childhood memories are set in El Paso, Texas. This dynamic of growing up between borders inspires her writing. She is the recipient of two Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Awards, a Paterson Prize for Books for YoungPeople, an Americas Award Commendation, a Junior Library Guild Award, and multiple starred reviews.

Editorial Note #2: Magdalena Mora ( is an illustrator and graphic designer with a special interest in children's books and visual storytelling. She illustrated Equality's Call and I Wish You Knew.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Treasure Bay

Treasure Bay publishes 'We Both Read', a simply outstanding series of 'easy reading' titles for children preschool through fourth grade. There newest publications include four bi-lingual (Spanish/English) titles:

"Picture Puzzles / Acertijos con imagenes" (9781601150516, $5.99) which as children ages 2-4 matching full color images of what doesn't belong in a full color photograph four choice images paired with a question.

"The Boy Who Carried The Flag / El nino que llevo la bandera" (9781601150578, $5.99) is the story of a young boy who volunteers for a dangerous mission during the Revolutionary War. He sets out in a winter storm carrying a new flag for General George Washington and his soldiers camped at Valley Forge.

"Ben and Becca on an African Safari / Ben Y Beca De Safari En Africa" (9781601150554, $5.99) is the bilingual story of Ben, Becca and their new friend, Kami, who go on an African safari where they see lots of wild animals in their natural habitats, solve a mystery and save the life of a baby elephant!

"The Ant and the Pancake / La Hormiga Y El Panqueque" (9781601150530, $5.99) is bilingual book for children ages 5-6 that deftly combines two funny stories: one a story about a little ant that causes big problems, and the other is about a wild chef and two mice that like to make pancakes.

All four of these English/Spanish bi-lingual books from the Treasure Bay 'We Both Read' series and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library 'Easy Readers' collections.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Hope Against Hope
Sheena Wilkinson
Little Island Books
9781912417421, $10.99, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: In the year1921, Ireland has been at war with Britain for two years. When Polly's brother Leo returns from war, it's like he's turned into a different person. After he turns violent, Polly runs away to Helen's Hope hostel in Belfast, where Catholic and Protestant girls live and work together while around them Ireland is at war with itself.

But some people hate Helen's Hope because of what it stands for. How can a few girls stand up to hatred -- especially when some of it comes from within their own walls? And when the hostel is violently attached, how can Polly keep hope alive?

Critique: Exceptionally well written with a thoroughly young reader friendly treatment of such sensitive issues as war, discrimination, hatred, survival and reconciliation, "Hope Against Hope" by Irish author Sheena Wilkinson is especially and unreservedly recommended as an addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library historical fiction collections for children ages 10-14. It should be noted that "Hope Against Hope" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Sheena Wilkinson ( is one of Ireland's most acclaimed writers of fiction for young people. Star by Star (Little Island, 2017) was selected as a BookTrust Future Classic in 2018 and won the Honour Award for Fiction at the Children's Books Ireland awards 2018. Grounded (Little Island, 2012) won the Book of the Year and Children's Choice awards at the Children's Books Ireland awards 2013. A recipient of special bursaries from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for the development of her writing, Sheena is now a full time author and writing teacher. Her books have also won awards from the Reading Association of Ireland and have been placed on the IBBY Honour List.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

Fight Back
A. M. Dassu
TU Books
c/o Lee & Low Books
9781643795881, $21.95, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Aaliyah can't wait for a concert by her favorite K-pop boy band, 3W. She isn't too concerned with stories on the news about the rise of the far right--after all, it doesn't affect her -- until a terrorist attack at the concert changes everything.

Local racists are emboldened and anti-Muslim rhetoric starts cropping up at school and on the street. When Aaliyah starts getting bullied, she knows she has to do something to stand up to the hate. She decides that, instead of hiding who she is, she will begin wearing a hijab for the first time, to challenge how people in her community see Muslims.

But when her school bans the hijab and she is attacked and intimidated for making her choice, Aaliyah feels alone. Can she find allies -- friends to stand beside her and help her find ways to fight back?

Critique: "Fight Back" by author A. M. Dassu is the follow-up to her earlier novel, "Boy, Everywhere". Of immense appeal to young readers interested in the subject of prejudice, racism, and friendship, "Fight Back" will encourage empathy, challenge stereotypes, and foster positive action, making it a timely and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fight Back" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: A. M. Dassu ( is also the internationally acclaimed author of "Boy, Everywhere" (2020), an ALA Notable Book which was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize. She has also won the We Need Diverse Books mentorship award in 2017 and serves on the Advisory Board of SCBWI-British Isles' Words & Pictures magazine. She is a director at Inclusive Minds, an organization for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality, and accessibility in children's literature. She can be followed on Twitter as @a_reflective, and on Instagram as @a.m.dassu.

For Lamb
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Holiday House
9780823450152, $18.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: "For Lamb" by novelist Lesa Cline-Ransome follows a family striving to better their lives in the late 1930s Jackson, Mississippi. Lamb's mother is a hard-working, creative seamstress who cannot reveal she is a lesbian. Lamb's brother has a brilliant mind and has even earned a college scholarship for a black college up north -- if only he could curb his impulsiveness and rebellious nature.

Lamb herself is a quiet and studious girl. She is also naive. As she tentatively accepts the friendly overtures of a white girl who loans her a book she loves, she sets a off a calamitous series of events that pulls in her mother, charming hustler uncle, estranged father, and brother, and ends in a lynching.

Critique: Told with nuance and subtlety, avoiding sensationalism and unnecessary brutality, "For Lamb" is a young adult novel that reflects female victims of white supremacy. Timely and with an important reference to the kind of Black History that is being suppressed in school and public libraries in several states today (most notably Florida, but elsewhere as well), "For Lamb" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lamb" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666631586, $22.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Lesa Cline-Ransome ( is the author of more than twenty books for young readers including the award-winning Finding Langston trilogy. Her work has received a plethora of honors, including dozens of starred reviews, NAACP Image Award nominations, a Coretta Scott King honor, the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a Christopher Award. Her work has been named to ALA Notable Books and Bank Street Best Children's Book lists.

Topping The Willow
Lori Closter
Narrowgate Media
9798986499802, $15.99, PB, 341pp
Library of Congress Control Number 2022360943

Synopsis: Hundreds of things about fifteen-year-old Brittany Warner infuriate her mother -- and vice versa. Britt wants to bask in the Hawaiian sun this summer as planned, not build her Ivy League resume at a lake cottage in Vermont. But her case against her power-attorney mother doesn't stand a chance. She's sentenced to an ordeal intended to set the course for the rest of her life.

Until she rebels, and her mother ends up in a coma.

Through a chance encounter with a waitress, Britt is sent to a Vermont horse farm where she is stranded in paradise with her guilty conscience and Will, an intriguing seventeen-year-old reformed by grace. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers secrets about her mother's past that threaten her own identity. As Britt's anger escalates, her risky decisions create a dangerous spiral that threatens to take her down, and Will with her. But a greater love is at work.

Critique: "Topping The Willow" by Lori Closter is a realistic, contemporary novel that contains little or no explicit sex or strong language, and is especially recommended for mid-teen and older readers due to mature themes and situations. The universal themes of parent-child love and our core beliefs about God, life, and death will appeal to a broad audience and bring hope to those who need it. "Topping The Willow" is especially appropriate and recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal lists of young readers ages 15-18 that "Topping The Willow" is also available in a digital book format ($4.99).

Editorial Note: In 2013, Lori Closter ( ventured into screenwriting under a friend/mentor and was one of a trio hired to rewrite a Tim LaHaye script. The experience inspired her to rewrite Topping the Willow as a screenplay. Newly renamed "Something Bigger" the feature-length drama and now newly revised novel have now garnered six contest recognitions. Lori also founded a Christian writers' critique group.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Stephane Dunn
Cinco Puntos Press
c/o Lee & Low Books
9781947627635, $20.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: When the adults can't do it, three young friends join together to figure out who killed a little boy in their neighborhood in "Snitches", this stunning debut YA by award-winning playwright Stephane Dunn.

Nia Barnes is preparing to enter high school and trying to stay on her mama's good side. Life in her small Midwestern city hasn't been the same since her father's unsolved murder, driving Nia's love of detective novels and true crime stories.

When the little boy she babysits is caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting, Nia and her best friends Dontay and Miracle Ruth secretly set out to get him justice. They look up police reports and listen to the conversations of their elders; they try to follow suspects the way Nia's favorite teen detectives might.

But the search for truth isn't straightforward, especially when you're somewhere between being kids and adults, and people want peace but are afraid to talk.

Critique: Writer and filmmaker Stephane Dunn makes her YA debut with "Snitchers", an endearing, thought-provoking, emotionally moving and original novel about loss, truth, and the reality of violence that have become so common in schools and communities everywhere across America. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Snitches" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 13-18.

Editorial Note: Stephane Dunn is a writer, filmmaker and professor. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Vogue, Ms. magazine, Chronicle of Higher Education,, The Root, and Best African American Essays 2009, among others. She is the author of Baad Bitches & Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films, and the Tirota/Finish Line Social Impact Script Competition award-winning screenplay, Chicago '66. She can be followed on Twitter at @DrStephaneDunn

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

One Girl In All The World
Kendare Blake
Disney Hyperion
9781368075077, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Into every generation, a slayer is born. One girl in all the world -- sort of.

Frankie Rosenberg is the world's first slayer-witch, but she doesn't have that slay-life balance figured out just yet. She's still reeling from the deadly explosion at the annual slayer retreat -- and new evidence that some slayers may have survived. While she's defeated her first Big Bad, ("In Every Generation") Frankie soon realizes it was just a warm-up act. Bigger, badder forces of evil are just getting started.

The Hellmouth has been reawakened and its calling old friends home. Portals are opening between Sunnydale and other dimensions. And the Scooby Gang has too many demons to contend with -- real, metaphorical, and sometimes absurdly hot.

Then an oracle warns of a new foe on its way: the Darkness. Could this be what attacked the slayers? And is it coming for Frankie?

Critique: A 'must' for the legions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, "One Girl In All The World: A Slayer Stakes Her Claim" by author Kendare Blake takes her readers back to the demon capital of the world in this inviting sequel to "In Every Generation". A fun read from cover to cover, (and the stuff of which popular television shows are made), "One Girl In All The World" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for readers ages 12 to 18. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "One Girl In All The World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Kendare Blake ( is the author of the Three Dark Crowns series, the Anna Dressed in Blood duet, All These Bodies, and several short stories.

Iron Wolf
Siri Pettersen, author
Tara Chace, translator
Arctis Books
9781646900152, $20.00, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: Juva knows all about blood readers. Praised for their Sight, they are nothing but swindlers, preying on people's fears for power and profit. Born by blood readers herself, she knows only too well, and she has vowed never to become one of them.

But when her family is threatened by vardari, the eerie lasting ones, who never age, Juva is entangled in a desperate hunt for the blood readers' legacy: a dark secret that once changed the world, and may do so again. In order to survive, she has to confront the terrifying childhood memory she fought to forget.

Critique: Launching a new epic fantasy series by novelist Siri Pettersen (and ably translated into English by Tara Chace), "Iron Wolf" is the perfect introduction to 'VarDari', drawing upon Norse mythology about 'blood, desire and addiction'. An impressively original and riveting read with more plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller-coaster, "Iron Wolf" will prove an immensely popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for teenage and young adult heroic fantasy fans ages 14-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Iron Wolf" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note #1: Siri Pettersen ( made her sensational debut in 2013 with the Norwegian publication of Odin's Child, the first book in The Raven Rings trilogy, which has earned numerous awards and nominations at home and abroad. Siri has a background as a designer and comics creator. Her roots are in Finnsnes and Trondheim, but she now lives in Oslo, where you're likely to find her in a coffee shop. According to fellow writers, her superpower is "mega-motivation" -- the ability to inspire other creative souls.

Editorial Note #2: Tara Chace ( has translated into English more than fifty novels from Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. She translates literature, crime, books for young adults and children, and non-fiction. Some of her recent translations include Edvard Hoem's Haymaker in Heaven (Milkweed Editions), Katrine Engberg's The Harbor (Gallery/Scout Press), Jan Stocklassa's The Man Who Played with Fire (Amazon Crossing), and Line Renslebraten's Under the Polar Ice (Fitzhenry & Whiteside). Her work has won the L.A. Times Prize and the American Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize.

Edwina Wyatt
Berbay Publishing
9781922610522, $19.99

Tish is the tale of an imaginary friend who just wants to be loved, and follows the children who make this fantasy mammoth into something real, if not magical. Tish's participation in the lives of children who bring him to life to experience the world makes for an easy reader for elementary grades 3-5. This audience will find this magical story of a winning, evolving relationship and its adventures to be revealing and unusual. Libraries that choose Tish will find it a top recommendation for kids past the picture book stage who want an attractive story about fantasy beliefs and creatures.

The Activity Shelf

Our Cat's Day
Radek Maly, author
Iku Dekune, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000067940, $15.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: In "Our Cat's Day" by author/storyteller Radek Maly and artist/illustrator Iku Dekune children will enjoy following the actions of a little boy and his kitten in the course of one day. During this time young readers discover that there are more similarities between humans and animals than we would think -- from sleeping and eating to playing and taking care of yourself.

On each spread there is a question asking the children about the topic concerned on the given page and making the reading experience interactive. Also, there is a little hidden object game throughout the book.

Critique: The charming illustrations of gifted artist Iku Dekune deftly augment the text by Czech contemporary poet Radek Maly. The result is "Our Cat's Day" which is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections for ages 3-6.

Editorial Note #1: Radek Maly ( is a Czech writer, poet, translator and university teacher. Of his works, his book for young adults Franz Kafka - A Man of His Time and Our Own (2017) and the collection of poems for children Postman Wind (2011; entered on the IBBY Honour Roll) have achieved international success.

Editorial Note #2: Iku Dekune ( was born in Tokyo, Japan. In 1992, she graduated from Musashino Art University. Her first published book was her own fairy-tale story The Bath (1994). Since 2002, Iku Dekune has lived in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Big Bang And Black Holes
Jeremie Francfort, author
Herji, illustrator
Jeffrey K. Butt, translator
9783907293751, $24.99, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Big Bangs and Black Holes: A Graphic Novel Guide to the Universe", young readers can go back in time with Nobel Prize-winner Michel Mayor to understand the secrets of the universe and meet the great names in physics, from Newton to Einstein and many more.

This graphic novel guide to the universe explains the universe's most complex ideas in a way anyone can understand. It's also a book full of adventure and some of the most important concepts humankind has ever studied. On the program: gravitational waves, the theory of relativity, black holes...and more!

Critique: Fun and informative, Jeremie Francfort's "Big Bangs and Black Holes: A Graphic Novel Guide to the Universe" (ably translated into English by Jeffrey K. Butt and illustrated by Herji) is especially recommended for family, middle school, highschool, and community library Astronomy, Physics, and Quantum Theory collections for young readers ages 13- 17.

Editorial Note #1: Jeremie Francfort received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, at the exact time he finished working on his graphic novel. Passionate about popularizing science, he provided the scientific basis for this book.

Editorial Note #2: Herji loves to explain complex concepts in simple illustrations. He works as an illustrator in the Swiss media and for organizations across Europe. He holds a degree in political and cultural geography and loves immersing himself in all kinds of topics. Big Bangs and Black Holes is his second graphic novel.

Editorial Note #3: Jeffrey K. Butt is a translator residing in St. John's, Canada. Jeffrey holds a Master of Arts degree in French from Memorial University of Newfoundland, as well as a Master of Philosophy in Literary Translation from Trinity College, Dublin.

By Water: The Felix Manz Story
Jason Landsel, author
Sankha Banerjee, illustrator
Plough Publishing House
9781636080536, $19.95, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: In a time of social upheaval, in a city astir with dangerous new ideas, the son of a Catholic priest becomes a leader of a nonviolent revolution.

Five hundred years ago, in an age marked by war, plague, inequality, and religious coercion, there were people across Europe who dared to imagine a society of sharing, peace, and freedom of conscience. These radicals were ready to die for their vision. They were executed by the thousands. The died by water, by fire, and by sword in both Catholic and Protestant states. Their stories come to life in a graphic novel series from the Plough Publishing House that dramatically recreates a little-known chapter in the history of the Reformation.

The collaborative creation of author Jason Landsel and artist/illustrator Sankha Benergee, "By Water: The Felix Manz Story" is a true story of friendship and betrayal set in the Swiss city of Zurich. It chronicles the conflict between establishment reformer Ulrich Zwingli (1484 - 1531) and his student Felix Manz (1498 - 1527), who at first reveres Zwingli as a father figure but ends up drowned on Zwingli's orders for insisting that only adult believers should be baptized. In this dramatic visualization of the birth of the Radical Reformation, water is both wonder and weapon, a symbol of new life and a death sentence.

This action-packed, historically accurate account of young people standing up for their convictions against the corrupt political and religious leaders of their day will awaken courage and commitment in young readers today.

Critique: From 500 years ago down to the present day, there continue to be groups of people attacked by those that surround them on the basis of being dedicated to their own understanding of how God is to be worshiped that is different from the majority. That in every generation it is often the young who find the courage to stand up against oppression of their beliefs, even at the cost of their own lives. "By Water: The Felix Manz Story" is based upon an historical event presented in a graphic novel format that is particularly appropriate for young readers ages 13 to 18. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "By Water: The Felix Manz Story" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, middle school, highschool, and community library YA History/Biography/Graphic Novel collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jason Landsel ( is a New York-based writer and illustrator with a lifelong fascination with the history of social and religious radicalism. He is also a regular contributor to Plough Quarterly and a member of the Bruderhof, an Anabaptist community movement that traces its roots to the Radical Reformation.

Editorial Note #2: Sankha Banerjee ( has illustrated graphic novel adaptations of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Wind in the Willows as well as graphic historical biographies of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright Brothers. His works have been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon, France and the India International Centre in Delhi. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Multimedia and Animation, St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, India.

The Music CD Shelf

The Okee Dokee Brothers
Privately Published
$16.99 CD / $8.99 MP3

Brambletown is an all-ages, family-friendly music album by Grammy Award-winning Americana musicians The Okee Dokee Brothers. The album uses upbeat, welcoming music to bring a forest populated by fantastic, friendly wild animals to life. Brambletown is a fantastic place where "critters can talk, trees can walk and nothing's as it seems"! The song- storytelling featuring quirky Brambletown residents like Junkyard Raccoon, Doctor Mole, Fox and Hare, Possum, Old Badger, and more delve into themes such as environmental conservation, the importance of taking care of oneself and one's relationships, respect for life, and more. Brambletown is a delightful addition to both private and public library music collections, highly recommended! The tracks are In the Bramble; Child of Nature; Junkyard Raccoon; Doctor Mole's Apothecary; Night on the Town; Weasel & Weasel's Convenience Store; Little Bird; The Varmints; Run, Little Rabbit, Run; Critter Jitter Brew; Old Badger; The Fox and the Hare; The Mycelium Underground News; Trouble in Paradise; Possum's Point of View; The Life That's in You; and Little Dipper and Big Dipper.

The Christian Shelf

God Bless Our World
Villetta Craven, author
Sean Julian, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350595, $9.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: A father deer and his fawn roam the sweeping landscape of their forest home and marvel at its wonder in this inspirational board book. The fawn learns that the world is full of surprises, from migrating monarchs to tiny acorns that grow into might oak trees. Everything in the world was given by God for all to enjoy, but it must be treated with care. God Bless Our World also explores the timely topic of conserving nature and appreciating all that it has to offer.

Critique; Based on the inspirational title "This Is Your World" from Tiger Tales, and the collaborative project of author/storyteller Villetta Craven and artist/illustrator Sean Julian, "God Bless Our World" is a heartfelt and wonderfully charming celebration of nature that reminds little ones of the beauty of God's creation, and their role in caring for the wonders around them. Showcasing Christian values, "God Bless Our World" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, Sunday School, and community library Board Book collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note #1: Villetta favorite thing about writing and editing children's books is marveling at how much can be said in so few words. She lives in London in a tall house with lots of stairs and has some of her best ideas while she's on her way to the kitchen to make strong cups of tea. Her other great passion is soccer, and she is a dedicated supporter of a team that doesn't win very often. (

Editorial Note #2: Sean Julian ( studied at the Mansfield College of Art and then moved to Bristol to study illustration. Sean has been working as a freelance illustrator and writer for years, working on many fun and exciting projects, something that he hopes will continue for many years to come.

The Anxious Lily
Mary Holloman, author
Amanda Gulliver, illustrator
End Game Press
9781637970515, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Lola the Lily hasn't a care in the world -- until she pokes through the ground and realizes that she has no clothes! This realization is only the beginning of her worries. What if her stem gets crinkled? What if her petals get wet and soggy? With so many things that could go wrong, Lola has no time to waste -- she must make herself a complete wardrobe to prepare for all her worst fears. Will Lola's worries keep her from being the lily God created her to be?

Critique: An utterly charming picture book drawing inspiration from the 'lilies of the field' comment by Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament, "The Anxious Lily" is a wonderfully entertaining story with a valued message. "The Anxious Lily" by author/storyteller Mary Holloman and artist/illustrator Amanda Gulliver would be an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library Emotions/Feelings/Values picture book collections from a Christian perspective.

Editorial Note #1: Author Mary Holloman ( is passionate about communicating deep truths through story-driven writing. She works and writes for The Pregnancy Network, an organization committed to empowering women to face their unplanned pregnancies without fear. She is a contributing author for two books, and has written for many online publications, including Her View From Home, Lifeway Research, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Editorial Note #2: Amanda Gulliver ( grew up in Surrey and studied illustration and graphics at Redruth Art College in Cornwall. After her degree, Amanda freelanced as a designer and illustrator working on natural history and dinosaur books. She then moved into children's publishing and worked as an in-house designer, working on all sorts of books for children of all ages.

God's Love in a Nutshell
Hilary Robinson, author
Mandy Stanley, illustrator
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825448027, $14.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Chitter the squirrel is worried. If God's love is too big to fit in a nutshell, a backpack, or even a wheelbarrow, how can it be nearby at all times? Chatter has the reassuring answer: God's love may be too big to be contained by things, but it's just the right size to fit in our hearts!

Critique: Enhanced on every page with charming illustrations from artist Mandy Stanley in support of a reassuring story of God's love from author Hilary Robinson, "God's Love in a Nutshell" is the ideal picture book to help children ages 4-8 to understand that God's love is never out of reach and will never run out, no matter what. A sweet book for bedtime or when a child needs reassurance in a time of anxiety, "God's Love in a Nutshell" is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Hilary Robinson ( is the award-winning author of over 60 books for children, best known for Mixed Up Fairy Tales. She lives and works in London and Yorkshire, where she is also a radio producer, broadcaster, and feature writer.

Editorial Note #2: Mandy Stanley ( is an award-winning illustrator, author, and designer, whose previous work includes Lettice the Dancing Rabbit. She and Hilary Robinson have previously collaborated on a series of books about an intrepid goose called Gregory.

I Made the Earth
Shannon Cook, author
Richard Watson, illustrator
Medlock Adams, editor
Wren & Bear Books
c/o End Game Press
9781637970539, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "I Made the Earth" is an Earth Day picture book from God's perspective. Each rhyming verse by author/storyteller Shannon Cook tells the young reader something beautiful or unique on this earth God made for us to enjoy -- things like waterfalls, forests, and the coral reef. Included are reminders to take care of God's creation. Charmingly illustrated by the artistry of Richard Watson, young readers also learns that through creation, he or she can learn about God Himself. Of special note is that "I Made the Earth" also includes end matter just for parents including ways little people can make a big impact, and fun facts about Earth Day!

Critique: A cheerfully fun picture book for children ages 4-8, "I Made the Earth" is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library collections.

Editorial Note #1: Shannon Cook ( writes a blog called Focus in the Fog and as well as devotions for a readership of around 5,000 through her church. She is active on Facebook and Instagram and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Editorial Note #2: Richard Watson ( studied illustration at Lincoln University School of Art and Design and achieved a first class BA honours degree upon graduating. He began working as an illustrator soon after leaving University in 2003 having been taken on by the Bright Agency. He uses a range of techniques to produce his artwork mixing traditional drawing and painting with collage and mixed media.

The Judaic Shelf

The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda
Shoshana Nambi, author
Moran Yogev, illustrator
Kalaniot Books
9781735087580, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Living with her family in Uganda, Sukkot is Shoshi's favorite Jewish holiday. She and her brothers love to decorate their sukkah, the hut where her family will celebrate. But who will win the Ugandan Abayudaya community's annual sukkah contest? While only one sukkah can be the best, everybody wins when neighbors work together!

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by the artistry of Moran Yogey, "The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda" by author/storyteller Shoshana Nambi is a unique, entertaining, and quite unusual picture book for children ages 4-8. With its theme of celebrating a Jewish holiday in an African setting, "The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda" is highly recommended as an addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Religious Holiday picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Shoshana Nambi grew up in the Abayudaya Jewish community in the eastern part of Uganda. When she finishes her rabbinical training in 2024, she will be the first female rabbi in Uganda. "The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda" is her debut picture book for children. (

Editorial Note #2: Moran Yogev ( is an Israeli illustrator and graphic designer. She graduated with distinction from Tel Aviv's Minshar School of Art. She lives in Kibbutz Hagoshrim. She illustrates books and magazines for both children and adults where she specialises in print techniques, such as linocut and foam stamps.

The Islamic Shelf

My First Book About Salah
Sara Khan, author
Ali Lodge, illustrator
Kube Publishing Ltd.
9780860378525, $9.95, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: In simple and easy to understand language by author Sara Khan, along with stunning, full color illustrations by Ali Lodge, "My First Book About Salah" is a very special board book that takes children through the acts of how to pray and the intentions behind them. It also features facts about prayer and common questions children may ask, such as: Why do Muslims pray? Who do Muslims pray to?

Critique: With the highest recommendations possible, "My First Book About Salah" is a unique and thoroughly 'child friendly' introduction to Islam for young children and an unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections for children ages 6 months to 5 years old.

Editorial Note #1: Fluent in German, Arabic and Urdu, Sara is both a bestselling author and qualified translator. She holds a first-class BA (hons) in Linguistics and Arabic, as well as a MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies both from the University of Manchester. As part of her degree, Sara lived in Amman, Jordan, with her husband Naveed, and studied Arabic at the University of Jordan. Living in Jordan enabled them to travel across the Middle East and experience numerous Muslim cultures, traditions, and historic sites in places such as Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Madinah and Makkah. Her postgraduate research focused on Qur'an translation and adaptation for children. Now the proud mother of a little girl called Raya, Sara aims to build upon her academic background and personal experience to help fill the gap when it comes to presenting Islam to toddlers and young children in an age-appropriate way.

Editorial Note: Ali Lodge ( attended the North Wales School of Art, where she gained a BA (Hons) Degree in Design: Illustration, and later a MA in Illustration for Children's publishing. In 2005, she had her first picture book published, and since then she has illustrated many books for children - including books for babies and toddlers, reading series titles, picture books, and novelty books. She creates her illustrations using a variety of media. This includes computer-generated paint techniques, combined with water colour pencils and pastels as well as acrylics, all dependent on the project and the effect needing to be achieved. Alongside her publishing work, she has also painted murals, created materials for libraries and schools, tourism/attraction maps, and various other printed materials.

The Biography Shelf

Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice
Sarah Warren, author
Monica Mikal, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
9781643794976, $20.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: How do we move our country forward? Stacey Abrams has an answer in "Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice", a bright and stirring biography that is ideal for children when discussing voting rights and how people working together can make a difference.

Stacey Abrams is the daughter of two civil-rights activists. She loved going into the voting booth with her parents on Election Day, knowing that their voices mattered. She loved school, even when she was the only Black student in her gifted classes. She loved her classmates at Spelman College (an historically Black institution) and worked hard to see they received the fair treatment they deserved. And today, she brings all those experiences to her role as politician, author, and voting-rights advocate, helping to ensure that every person has a say and every vote gets counted.

"Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice" follows Stacey's life from her girlhood to the present, but it also portrays the ordinary people that Stacey fights for -- the beautiful and diverse America that shows up to stand with one another. Backmatter includes a timeline of changes in US voting-rights law from the Constitution through the present day, demonstrating both how far the country has come and how far we have to go.

With its spirited text and vivid illustrations, "Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice" will inspire young readers to take their own steps forward.

Critique: A timely picture book biography of a gifted woman who is leading the charge against voting rights suppression in Georgia, "Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that "Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice"is also available from Lee & Low Books in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sarah Warren ( writes picture books about people who inspire her, from Dolores Huerta to Beyonce. Of Stacey Abrams, she says, Her work helps me remember something important: Ordinary people have power. Justice, good leadership, public health, equality -- everything we hope for is possible if we work together. An early childhood educator, she can be followed her on Twitter and Instagram at @sarahelizwarren

Editorial Note #2: Monica Mikai ( believes the stories of our lives hold great power and is passionate about bringing those stories to life through her illustrations. She has a BA from Rider University and received her MFA in painting from the New York Studio School. She can be followed Instagram at @monicamikai

Marvelous Mabel: Figure Skating Superstar
Crystal Hubbard, author
Alleanna Harris, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
9781620149560, $20.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: After watching ice skaters glide and spin at a rink in Central Park, Mabel Fairbanks was determined to learn to skate. But in the 1930s, many places didn't allow African-American skaters on the ice, so Mabel practiced on a homemade rink in her bedroom! There she learned how to perform sharp turns and whizzing spins of her own creation.

It wasn't long before Mabel needed more room to practice skating, and she returned to one of the rinks that denied her entrance. This time she refused to take no for an answer. She knew that if they just let her on the ice, she would be the most marvelous skater anyone had ever seen. And she was right, as her trailblazing talent continues to influence the sport today.

Critique: Exceptionally well written by Crystal Hubbard, and beautifully illustrated with warmth and spirit by Alleanna Harris, "Marvelous Mabel: Figure Skating Superstar" is the true story of how an African-American woman in the ages of Jim Crow racial discrimination, Mabel Fairbanks's determination and grit led her to become America's first black skating superstar. Unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library American Biography and Black History picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Crystal Hubbard ( is a full-time writer and former sports journalist. Her Lee & Low titles The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby, Catching the Moon: The Story of A Young Girl's Baseball Dreams, and Game, Set, Match: Champion Arthur Ashe have been recognized with several honors, including being named to Bank Street College's Best Children's Books of the Year and the ALA's Amelia Bloomer Project. Hubbard lives in Missouri with her family. She can be followed on Twitter at @XstalBooks

Editorial Note #2: Alleanna Harris ( is a children's book illustrator and artist who finds inspiration in the beauty of everyday things. As a kid, she would doodle on notebooks in school and on programs in church. She graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA in animation with honors.

The Holocaust Studies Shelf

We Survived the Holocaust
Frank W. Baker, author
Tim Ogline, author
John Shableski, illustrator
Imagine and Wonder
9781637610213, $24.99, HC, 156pp

Synopsis: During Adolf Hitler's rule over Germany, there were over 40,000 Nazi concentration, labor, and death camps built with the intent of erasing an entire population of Jews, Sinti, and Roma, as well as "other examples of impure races".

Bluma Tishgarten and Felix Goldberg were both young Polish Jews caught up in the Holocaust, Hitler's rise to power, the rise of antisemitism, and more. Yet they survived. Bluma and Felix's miraculous story of survival, combined with the rise of nationalism and fascism, leading to the extermination of millions of human beings, is also a cautionary tale -- a dangerous history that, if we do not heed the warning signs, could very well be repeated.

Critique: Timely with respect to the once again rising tide of anti-Semitism in America and overseas, "We Survived the Holocaust: The Bluma and Felix Goldberg Story" is a valued contribution to Holocaust studies for young readers ages 14- 17. A grim reminder for a new generation to 'Never Forget' what can (and did) happen to millions of men, women, and children simply because of the faith they were born into. In an effective graphic history telling style for young readers, "We Survived the Holocaust: The Bluma and Felix Goldberg Story" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library collections and is also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781637610206, $19.99).

Editorial Note #1: Frank W. Baker ( is an internationally recognized media literacy educator. He maintains the Media Literacy Clearinghouse and Close Reading The Media websites. His lifelong work in media literacy was recognized in 2019 by UNESCO. He is the author of "Close Reading The Media" and "Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom".

Editorial Note #2: Tim E. Ogline ( is a Greater Philadelphia based illustrator and graphic designer. Ogline is also an alumnus of Temple University's Tyler School of Art and has previously taught there. He is also currently an adjunct instructor at Moore College of Art & Design.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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

What Does Little Crocodile Say at the Beach?
Eva Montanari
Tundra Books
9781774881552, $17.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

In this charming book of sounds, Little Crocodile goes camping and visits the beach with Big Crocodile and experiences sand, sun, independence and play, ultimately enjoying their day... after a small meltdown, of course! A book written for toddlers - but I must be honest it made me laugh! The illustrations are fantastic, and parents and children will both find joy and humor in this story. (Ages 2-5)

A Is for Always: An Adoption Alphabet
Linda Cutting, author
Leonie Little Lex, illustrator
9781641706629, $16.99

Deb Greenberg

Looking for a book to explain the various aspects of adoption to kids? With simple rhymes and sweet illustrations, A Is for Always offers a creative approach that kids can understand. A is for Adoption, L is for Loving, Q is for Questions, and S is for Soothing... the friendly animals on each page depict an adoptive family cherishing a new child. (Ages 2-8)

If I Had a Vampire Bat
Gabby Dawnay, author
Alex Barrow, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652961, $15.95

Christine Irvin

Quirky, amusing, and educational are all ways to describe this book. Author Gabby Dawnay has readers imagine what it would be like to have a vampire bat for a pet. Not only is the premise endearing, but the text (which is written in rhyme), and the illustrations combine for the perfect picture book. (Ages 3-5)

I Am a Meadow Mermaid
Kallie George, author
Elly MacKay, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735271371, $17.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

A farm girl with a big imagination turns her landlocked home into an ocean playground in this dreamy picture book for little mermaids everywhere. What a wonder to be a child again. I want to be a meadow mermaid! This wonderful picture book will have you longing for the adventure and imagination of childhood. Children and parents will be swept away. Wonderfully illustrated. (Ages 3-7)

Dance with Oti: The Bird Jive
Oti Mabuse, author
Samara Hardy, illustrator
9781536225006, $17.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Slide to the right! Kick to the left! Join the class and learn the steps to the Bird Jive in this buoyant book by a winner of the top British TV dance show. Fun and colorful illustrations, this book will have the entire family up dancing! (Ages 3-7)

The Adventures of Ellie and Eve: Ellie Meets the New Baby
Paula M. Karll
True Vine Publishing Co.
9781735754093, $12.95

Deb Greenberg

When a new baby sister disrupts little Ellie's world, she has to learn to adapt and adjust. Join this multi-cultural family as the parents not only nurture their bundle of joy, but also communicate with big sister Ellie so she can enjoy and interact with her new sibling. Discussion questions and learning activities at the back of the book are useful and engaging for your little ones. (Ages 3-7)

The Green Umbrella
Jackie Azua Kramer, author
Maral Sassouni, illustrator
NorthSouth Books
9780735842182, $17.95

Christine Irvin

When Elephant takes a walk, he carries his green umbrella. But, it's not just an umbrella. Elephant has used it as a sword, a balancing pole, and a bat. Elephant meets several creatures along the way, each pointing out that the umbrella must belong to them. Hedgehog says he used it for a boat; Cat used it as a tent; and Bear used it as a flying machine. Elephant does not give any of them his umbrella, but he invites them to join him as he goes along. The repetition of the text, with the add-ons, the delightful illustrations, and the amusing characters all combine to make a sharable story, one filled with imagination and friendship. (Ages 3-7)

No No, Baby!
Anne Hunter
Tundra Books
9780735269118, $17.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

A baby squirrel wakes up each morning full of excitement, adventure and ready to play... much to the dismay of the older and grumpy forest friends. Ultimately each of the forest animals learn to appreciate and embrace the baby squirrels' joy and playfulness. (Ages 3-7)

Shipwrecked on Fudgepop Island
Jonathan Ross Notis and Deborah Raider Notis, authors
Jennifer Kaye, illustrator
Raider Reads
9798986700601, $15.99

Christine Irvin

Go on an adventure with Mr. Stanley's third grade class. Join Adam, Michael, Jay, and Ross as they wander away from their class in search of sweet treats. This whimsical, colorful, imaginative story, written in verse, teaches children about sharing, including others, problem-solving, and being open to new experiences. This fantastical adventure will put a smile on every child's face. (Ages 3-9)

Sophie Blackall
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316528948, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Author Sophie Blackall wrote this book to honor an old, abandoned farmhouse that was sitting precariously on a tract of land she bought. Before having the house torn down, she scavenged through the remains, picking up bits of this and bits of that, imagining how each item was used. This is a touching tribute to a house that was formerly loved by an entire family. (Ages 4+)

A Planet Like Ours
Frank Murphy
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111530, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Author Frank Murphy shows young readers just how unique our planet is and how we need to take care of it. He talks about the soil, and water, and animals, and trees and the air, and the people, and how everything is interconnected and dependent on us all. Additional info in the back of the book explains how the book came to be. There are also several activities for kids to do to learn more about how to protect our wonderful planet. This book would make a great addition to any youngster's library. (Ages 4-7)

The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship
Ibtihaj Muhammad and S. K. Ali, authors
Hatem Aly, illustrator
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780759555709, $18.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

It's picture day and Faizah can't wait to wear her special red dress with matching hair ribbons, passed down from her mother and sister. But when it's time for sibling pictures, Faizah realizes that she and her older sister, Asiya, don't match like her classmates do with their siblings. With help from her classmates inspired by Asiya's hijab, Faizah finds that acts of kindness can come back to you in unexpected ways. Simply put: kindness matters, no matter who you are. In this brightly colored and illustrated book the author presents exactly that. (Ages 4-8)

Rainbow Fish and the Storyteller
Marcus Pfister
NorthSouth Books
9780735845008, $19.95

Christine Irvin

This is the ninth book in the popular Rainbow Fish series. In this book, Rainbow Fish meets Humbert, a storyteller. Humbert's stories are just tall tales, but Rainbow Fish takes them seriously until he realizes the stories have been made up. Humbert uses tall tales to get attention, but his plan backfires when no one believes him anymore. How can Rainbow Fish help? This is a universal story about friendship with a lesson somewhat like that of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." The story is a good one on its own, but the colorful, sparkly illustrations make it even better. (Ages 4-8)

Bernadette Watts
NorthSouth Books
9780735845077, $19.95

Christine Irvin

Varenka lives by herself in a little cottage in the woods where she is content to spend her days alone. But things change when her quiet woods are disturbed by war. As the war rages and soldiers get closer and closer, Varenka gives shelter to those who seek it - a young artist who is carrying a flower and a picture, an old farmer who comes with his goat, and a young child who has lost her way. As her cottage gets fuller and fuller and the war inches closer and closer, she prays each night for a wall to surround her house so it can't be seen by the soldiers. This is a touching story of the powers of faith, courage, and friendship. (Ages 4-8)

Flowers Are Pretty Weird!
Rosemary Mosco, author
Jacob Souva, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735265943, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

Using wordplay and puns, a smart little bee introduces us to all kinds of flowers, including some that are quite strange. From fascinating types to smelly ones, we learn about the science of flowers... some are spooky, some are stinky, some taste yummy, and some are smaller than a grain of salt. Buzz on through the pages for a silly, yet informative, tour of the wild and weird world of flowers. Bright, textured illustrations and a section in the back with additional "strange flower" details complete this package. (Ages 4-8)

All Through the Game
Demetrius Purvis II, author
INDOS Studio, illustrator
Mascot Kids
9781637550113, $18.95

Deb Greenberg

Take your little sports fan out to the ballgame in this fun-filled sing-along to the classic tune of "The Wheels on the Bus." It's a football adventure, from the players and coaches to the fans and refs. Engaging, colorful artwork and creative, catchy text combine to entertain readers in this adorable rhythmic tale. (Ages 4-8)

Good Morning, Sunshine! The Joey Moss Story
Lorna Schultz Nicholson, author
Alice Carter, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111691, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

This heart-warming true story will make you smile, as you read about a remarkable man named Joey Moss. Joey didn't let Down syndrome stop him from being a wonderful member of society, working with the Edmonton Oilers (after legendary NHL player Wayne Gretzky got a him a job in the locker room), singing "Oh Canada" on the jumbotron, dancing on a runway, and wrestling new players. Joey is someone you want to introduce your kids to, and an amazing role model for all to follow. (Ages 4-8)

Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion
Dave Eggers, author
Julia Sarda, illustrator
9781536215885, $19.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

It all started when John "Minnie" Moore built a mine in Idaho and sold it to Englishman Henry Miller. Then Henry married a local lass named Annie and built her a mansion, hence the "Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion." After Henry died and Annie was hoodwinked - losing all but the mansion - she and her son took to raising pigs in the yard, as some are wont to do. But the town wanted those pigs out. So Annie and her crew removed the whole mansion instead - rolling it away slowly on logs - while she and her son were still living in it! I read this with my 12-year-old granddaughter, and we loved it! Well written and entertaining while historically educational for the entire family in a fun way. (Ages 4-8)

The First Day of Peace
Todd Shuster and Maya Soetoro-Ng, authors
Tatiana Gardel, illustrator
9781536207590, $18.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Featuring an afterword by Maya Soetoro-Ng, The First Day of Peace is a fable for a time when many parents and children are deeply worried about our warming planet. At once timeless and timely, it sheds light on the importance of protecting the environment and of sharing rather than fighting over the earth's precious natural resources. All it takes is one voice to make a difference, kindness, and caring matter. And peace changes everything. (Ages 4-8)

To Fly on a Cloud: Maine
Mike Edgecomb, author
Tegan Graham, illustrator
Writer's Republic LLC
9781637288511, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

Books are an amazing way to travel to and learn about other places. In the newest release in the To Fly on a Cloud series, Bandit takes Taylor and Nikki to the state of Maine. Interesting tidbits about the people, history, and environment are sprinkled throughout their floating adventure. Entertaining and educational with a map and lots of fun facts in the back. (Ages 5-12)

Splash! Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes Waves of Change
Elisa Boxer
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111431, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Elisa Boxer tells the story of Ethelda Bleibtrey, a swimmer who overcame polio and discrimination to become a champion. Repetitious text, great illustrations and page layouts all contribute to a book that is both informative and inspiring. Includes additional information about Ethelda in the back of the book. (Ages 6-9)

How to Spacewalk: Step-by-Step with Shuttle Astronauts
Kathryn Sullivan and Michael J. Rosen
MIT Kids Press
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536226218, $19.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Aspiring astronauts will be ready for liftoff with this thrilling guide to preparing for and doing a real spacewalk with the first American woman to walk in space as their partner. Have kids interested in space travel? Then this is the book for you! Real stories about space training and travel that will have them fascinated! (Ages 7-9)

The Wizard in the Wood
Louie Stowell, author
Davide Ortu, illustrator
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536214956, $17.99

Diana Perry

It's a new school year for Kit, Alita, and Josh. The three friends learn that their school is getting a brand-new library - and a brand-new baby dragon to help the library grow. They're overjoyed to look after the precious dragon egg until it hatches. But when the egg is stolen, Kit and her friends are faced with a group of evil wizards who want to change the magical world forever. Now it's up to the three of them to make sure the villains from their pasts don't return even more powerful than before... A perfect book to make kids fall in love with reading. (Ages 7-9)

Jordie & Joey Fell From the Sky
Judi Lauren
JollyFish Press
9781631635816, $11.99

Deb Greenberg

The only thing twins Jordie and Joey want is to be together, have a safe place, and be part of a family. When another foster family doesn't work out, they take off in search of their birth parents. Jordie's convinced they're aliens from another planet as their adventure takes them from Arizona to Roswell to Area 51. Their dedication to each other and their longing for answers are bound to tug at your heartstrings as you pull for every move they make. A definite page-turner, full of action and emotion, with a message about the meaning of family. (Ages 8-12)

The Rat Queen
Pete Hautman
9781536218589, $18.99

Diana Perry

For Annie's tenth birthday, her papa gives her a pad of paper, some colored pencils, and the Klimas family secret. It's called the nuodeema burna, or eater of sins. Every time Annie misbehaves, she has to write down her transgression and stick the paper into a hidey-hole in the floor of their house. But Annie's inheritance has a dark side.... Middle graders will enjoy escaping into this fairy tale mystery. (Ages 9-12)

Middle School: Safety Goggles Advised
Jessica Speer
9781641706636, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

New friends, new activities, more independence, odd behaviors, drama... sounds a little like middle school. And this is perfect guidebook to help understand what's going on, to deal with the drama, and to navigate when things get weird. Insights from hundreds of students, amusing artwork, and pick your own adventure scenarios are bound to make any child ready for the halls of middle school. (Ages 11-14)

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