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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 34, Number 3 March 2024 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Psychology Shelf Health Shelf
Pets Shelf Wildlife Shelf Board Book Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Bilingual Shelf Language Studies Shelf
Biography Shelf Elementary Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
Art Shelf Sports Shelf Books in Series
Suzie Housley's Bookshelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Quiet Night, My Astronaut
Oksana Lushcheyvska, author
Kateryna Stepanishcheva, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
c/o Sleeping Bear Press
9781668936818, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: "Quiet Night, My Astronaut: The First Days (and Nights) of the War in Ukraine" is an expressive picture book that shows children ages 7-10 the first haunting days and nights of the war in Ukraine from a child's perspective.

The child is scared, but will not be afraid. She believes in a higher power watching over them, keeping them safe -- her astronaut. As she narrates, young readers get a tender glimpse into a life on the front lines of a war now in its second year. It is a picture book filled with love and trauma, fear and hope -- offering a much needed perspective from a Ukrainian author and a Ukrainian illustrator.

Critique: Unique, compelling, and thoroughly age appropriate for its intended readership of children ages 7-10, "Quiet Night, My Astronaut: The First Days (and Nights) of the War in Ukraine" by author/storyteller Oksana Lushchevska and artist/illustrator Kateryna Stepanishcheva is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, Grade 2-6 level elementary school, and community library contemporary social issues picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Quiet Night, My Astronaut: The First Days (and Nights) of the War in Ukraine" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Oksana Lushchevska is a Ukrainian children's books writer, translator, and poet. She is an active member of PEN Ukraine. Oksana is the author of over 50 children's and young adult books. Her books were awarded a number of Ukrainian children's literature awards. Some of them were included into the White Raven Catalogue and shortlisted for BBC Ukraine Children's Book Award. She is the winner of Earth and Sky Poetry Contest funded by the Gloucester Culture Trust in 2020. Oksana's books are translated in 6 languages and published in 8 countries. (

Editorial Note #2: Kateryna Stepanishcheva is a freelance illustrator and textile designer (

Brave Bird
Judy Jamison, author
Yasemin Arkun, illustrator
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
9781958754566, $25.95, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: Little Bird became Brave Bird when she found the courage to fly. We all experience anxiety, fear, and insecurities. "Brave Bird" is a fun picture book for children 3-7 that shows the way to overcome those feelings.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by Yasemin Arkun and engagingly written by Judy Jamison, "Brave Bird" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lesson themed picture books for children. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Brave Bird" is also available in a paperback edition (9781958754573, $15.95) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Judy Jamison ( was an educator whether she was teaching my own children or running a classroom of students. She has worked with children in a crisis nursery, volunteered at many schools, and is the devoted Nana to six grandchildren. One of her greatest joys in recent years has been helping a family with sextuplets navigate life with six children under the age of 5. The sextuplets call her Grandma Judy! Of special note is her invitation to anyone who has ever been a "Brave Bird" to share their story at

Editorial Note #2: Yasmin Arkun ( is an architecture graduate, spent her "serious" professional life as a 3D visualization artist in various offices, while following her passion for drawing and building her own professional painting career. Finally, since 2018, she continues her journey as a full-time artist and realizes the dreams of art lovers with traditional materials (watercolor, charcoal, oil painting) in her Etsy shop. She enjoys painting and creating children's book illustrations.

The Psychology Shelf

The Heavy Bag: One Girl's Journey Through Grief
Sarah Surgey, author
Larisa Ivankovic, illustrator
Cardinal Rule Press
9781945369414, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Enid is a little girl who is grieving for her grandpa. She walks around with different emotions and feelings, whizzing inside of her. Enid is carrying a heavy bag and struggles to let go of the items within her bag because they remind her of grandad.

But, what happens when she opens up to people about how she is feeling and they offer to help carry the weight? Enid will learn that grief remains but takes on many forms, and when you share with others your feelings of grief can feel a little lighter.

Critique: A picture book by author Sarah Surgey and illustrator Larisa Ivankovic, "The Heavy Bag" is based upon the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness and Acceptance. Young children ages 5-7 can experience grief for a loved one; a pet; or even moving on from a school or area. When all of the emotions build up inside a child's mind, they can feel like they are carrying around a huge weight with them. For just such children, "The Heavy Bag" is an ideal and helpful read from start to finish and is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections with the theme of loss, grief, and recovery. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Heavy Bag" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Health Shelf

Sea Smiles
Bonnie Kelso
Gnome Road Publishing
9781957655208, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When an otherwise harmless apple becomes the instrument for losing a tooth, a young girl is ready to retire her smile. That is until she discovers teeth can give us all a lot to smile about.

"Sea Smiles" by author/illustrator Bonnie Kelso is humorous, informative picture story that will be of particular interest to any kid who has lost a tooth, is about to, or just loves learning cool and fascinating facts about animals with weird teeth in the sea!

Young readers can take a look inside the mouth of a Wolffish, penguin, sea krait and more. Then count up those teeth, and prepare to be surprised. One of these smiley sea animals has over 750,000 "teeth" - and it won't be the one you're expecting!

Critique: With the publication of "Sea Smiles" from Gnome Road Publishing, author and illustrator Bonnie Kelso brings blasts of color, texture and fun to an adorable cast of characters who make the business of losing teeth entertaining, and yet a normal part of life. It's an especially and unreservedly recommended addition family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school health/medicine picture book collections -- and dental office waiting rooms!

Editorial Note: Bonnie Kelso ( writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave creative self-expression. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she has a background in exhibit design and has worked on projects for NASA, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian Institution.

The Pets Shelf

The Main Line Mutt: Maggie Dog Learns Her True Worth
Nancy M. Schwartz, author
Michael S. Schwartz, author
Loving Healing Press
9781615997916, $28.95, HC, 24pp

Synopsis: When a dog named Maggie moves into a new upscale neighborhood, she encounters the snobbishness of the purebred dogs, who all look down on her because she is a mutt.

Maggie attends a big dog show but can't enter as a contestant because she isn't purebred. Through her warmth and charm, she manages to win the hearts of the judges, and a blue ribbon for 'best of all breeds.

Afterwards, all the other dogs become much friendlier to Maggie the Mutt.

Critique: Delightfully charming illustrations support this original picture book story by co-authors Nancy and Michael Schwartz resulting in a fun read from start to finish for children ages 4-8. While very highly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library dog and pet themed picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Main Line Mutt: Maggie Dog Learns Her True Worth" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781615997909, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).

Editorial Note: Nancy Schwartz and her husband Michael love to take their dog, Calder, on long walks where they can meet other dogs. In honor of Maggie the Mutt and dogs everywhere, they ask us to please do a kind act today and then share it on their website

Porter and Midge: Paws and Responsibilities
Jennie Chen, author
Giselle Nevada, author
Raise the Woof Press
9781963730005, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Co-authored by Jennie Chen and Giselle Nevada, "Porter and Midge: Paws and Responsibilities: A Kid's Guide to Welcoming a New Dog" takes young children on an educational adventure that covers various aspects of puppy care from the essential tasks of grooming and feeding to the critical elements of training and socialization.

Through catchy rhymes, children will gain a deep understanding that responsible pet ownership goes beyond the basics of providing food and shelter. To raise a well-rounded, happy dog requires love, play, and engagement.

As young readers follow along, they'll witness Lora and CJ's dedication to becoming responsible pet owners, highlighted by their commitment to regular vet visits, training and the careful selection of the right breed or rescue dog that matches their family's lifestyle.

This captivating story is a valuable resource for parents and educators seeking to instill important values such as responsibility, empathy, and a genuine love for animals into the hearts of young readers.

Critique: A fun and informative way to learn about puppy care and training, children ages 3-12 will enjoy joining Lora and CJ on an exciting journey as they discover the importance of thorough research and preparation before welcoming a new dog into their home. Especially ideal for children with an interest in getting a dog, or properly handling a dog already in their home, "Porter and Midge: Paws and Responsibilities: A Kid's Guide to Welcoming a New Dog" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pet Care picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Giselle Nevada has owned several mastiffs. Some she acquired from reputable breeders and others she rescued as adults. Fostering rescued mastiffs and helping them work through their issues led to a keen interest in socialization as a means of preventing future issues. She loves working with her dogs and has dabbled in carting, conformation, agility, rally, trick dog, nose work, and many other canine sports. Her puppy Porter is a testament to early socialization - he has achieved many performance dog titles and has done commercial work. He also has a role in a movie called Match Me If You Can directed by Marian Yeager.

Editorial Note #2: Jennie Chen has been active in purpose bred dogs since 2001 earning over 75 titles in conformation, competitive obedience, rally, herding, lure coursing, weight pull, drafting, water rescue, packing, and animal assisted therapy. She also owns a pride of Lowchen or The Little Lion Dogs. Jennie has served on various board and committee positions in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America, the Lowchen Club of America, as well as regional Newfoundland and Bernese Mountain Dog Clubs. She is a GSMDCA draft judge and weight pull judge.

The Wildlife Shelf

Waverly Braves the Breeze
Samantha Cora, author
Rosie Eve, illustrator
Tra Publishing
9781735311562, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When island breezes arrive, albatross chicks know it's time to fly away and say, "Adios!" But Waverly isn't ready to leave the Galapagos. Worry keeps this seabird grounded until Waverly, with the help of her new friends, finds the courage to take off and explore the open ocean for the first time.

Set on Espanola Island in the Galapagos and based on the real-world life cycle of the waved albatross, "Waverly Braves the Breeze" follows the process of fledgling, where upon turning 6 months albatross must fly and leave home to spend years at sea. With a highly-detailed setting and a host of animals that are true to the place, children are invited to learn about an unusual nook in the real world.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated with museum quality artwork by illustrator Rose Eve, "Waverly Braves the Breeze: The Story of a Galapagos Albatross" by author/storyteller Samantha Cora is a fun and informative picture book for children ages 4-8. Of special note is the information provided about the Galapagos islands and the many of creatures who live there. With its underlying message about having courage, "Waverly Braves the Breeze: The Story of a Galapagos Albatross" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Wildlife themed picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Samantha Cora ( is a writer and photographer with a fascination for the natural world. She grew up exploring the woods around her family farm and cabin in Wisconsin, writing stories and taking photos. Her first children's picture book was inspired by a class trip to the Galapagos Islands. After earning a BA in English from St. Norbert College, she spent the first decade of her career as an award-winning journalist and then as a magazine editor for a national environmental nonprofit. She now works in marketing, writes stories, and is the founder of the organization Playful Acorns.

Editorial Note #2: Rosie Eve ( is a children's book writer & illustrator. She has published two books with La Martiniere Groupe. Her books have been short-listed for Stratford Salariya Picture Book Prize, and the Green Picture Book Award.

Swallows Swirl
Christina Wilsdon, author
Jess Mason, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112742, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: "Down the hill I run, rain-booted and sweater-free. And all around me, swallows swirl."

"Swallows Swirl" is a picture book story of a little girl's year as it is punctuated by the life cycle of the swallows roosting in the eaves of the shed. She watches as they build nests and teach their young to snap up bugs, zipping through the air in loop-the-loops. Winter comes and she imagines their journey south, towards warmer, longer days. And when the swallows return? She greets them open armed as friends.

"Swallows Swirl" is a joyful celebration of seasons and life cycles, a lyrical ode to the wonders of nature around us. Of special note is the inclusion of back matter that includes STEM content on swallows, their life cycle, and migration paths.

Critique: A fun and informative read from start to finish, "Swallows Swirl" by the team of author/storyteller Christina Wilson and artist/illustrator Jess Mason will prove to be an enduringly welcome and popular pick for family, elementary school, and community library wildlife and bird themed picture book collections for young readers ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Swallows Swirl" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Christina Wilson ( always been a big fan of animals, and so has (and continues to be) very pleased to have grown up to write books about them.

Editorial Note #2: Jess Mason us an illustrator from Worcestershire -- the original home of Hobbits! her two main passions in life have always been making art and reading books. She can be found online at

Insectopia: The Wonderful World of Insects
Jiri Kolibac, author
Pavla Dvorska and Pavel Dvorsky, illustrators
9788000069685, $24.99

Insectopia: The Wonderful World of Insects is an oversized book suitable for display. It's designed to attract young readers of all ages with lovely illustrations by Pavla Dvorska and Pavel Dvorsky, which bring full-page wonder and exceptionally artistic efforts to illustrate many facts about the insect world. The combination of art and insect facts is lovely in a title replete with insights and beautiful images, designed to entertain and educate all in one. Libraries and readers will find it visually attractive and educationally alluring.

The Board Book Shelf

Mies van Hout
Pajama Press
9781772782875, $19.95, Board Book, 42pp

Synopsis: Who could have guessed that dazzlingly colored fish swimming in an ink-black sea would help hundreds of thousands of people around the world learn to recognize and name their emotions?

In 2012, Mies van Hout's "Happy" swept the scene as both a stunning art piece and a social-emotional learning book like no other. On each of its spreads swims a single fish, each scale and fin suffused with an emotion that the facing page names in similarly expressive letters: curious, shocked, loving, content...

Now, in this new and stunning board book edition of "Happy", van Hout's luminous fish swim across extra-heavy pages that will endure through countless readings. A gorgeous dust jacket reverses to a playful poster for home, classroom, or office.

Readers of all ages can benefit from expanding their emotional vocabulary. Use "Happy" during a story time full of energetic face-making, or emote with your whole bodies for a drama exercise. Share it one-on-one to help someone name what they're feeling, or inspire budding artists to see what they can do with chalk pastels and black paper. Or simply page through the art and lose yourself in Mies van Hout's ocean of extraordinary fish. Whatever makes you... happy.

Critique: Destined to be a classic, this new board book edition of "Happy" by author/illustrator Mies van Hout from Pajama Press is a truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-4.

Editorial Note: Mies van Hout ( is the author and illustrator of the picture books Happy, Friends, Surprise, From One to Ten, and This Is My Daddy, among others, which have been hugely popular in Europe and North America. She studied graphic design at the Arts Academy in Groningen, the Netherlands, and has worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer since 1989. Her distinctive paintings are cheerful and bold, and her work has been published in more than twenty countries.

Mies van Hout is the author and illustrator of the picture books Happy, Friends, Surprise, From One to Ten, and This Is My Daddy, among others, which have been hugely popular in Europe and North America. She studied graphic design at the Arts Academy in Groningen, the Netherlands, and has worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer since 1989. Her distinctive paintings are cheerful and bold, and her work has been published in more than twenty countries.

123 Who Comes Next?
Amy Matsushita-Beal
Star Bright Books
9781595729545, $8.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: Here comes a boy, that is 1. Next comes a girl, that together makes 2. A lady joins the two, which makes them 3. Then comes a dog! How many will they make?

Creatures great and small (and even a vegetable)all come together to help children learn to count 1 to 10 and to recognize numbers. Children will be eager to see who comes next and what number they are. The last page, of course, is the most surprising and fun to all.

Critique: With the publication of the board book "123 Who Comes Next?", from Star Bright Books, author/artist Amy Matsushita-Beal presents a simple and fun counting book that features diverse characters. The whimsical details on each individual character add another layer of playfulness for young children. "123 Who Comes Next?" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note: Amy Matsushia-Beal ( is a freelance illustrator, designer, and hand-lettering artist based in Tokyo. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from the Art Center College of Design. While she worked in a variety of styles, her work tends to focus on people, their intentions, and vibrancy in color and character. "123 Who Comes Next?" is Amy's first book with Star Bright Books.

We Share This Earth: A Community Book
Dan Saks, author
Brooke Smart, illustrator
Rise x Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593658291, $8.99 Board Book, $8.99 Kindle, 26pp

Synopsis: A rhyming, heartfelt celebration of the worldwide community and the vital role it plays in young children's lives, "We Share This Earth" is formative board book to help children ages 1-3 to acquire an appreciation of our global community and the many ways in which it helps develop empathy, compassion, and collective responsibility. Specific examples of shared community are depicted across twelve countries, inviting young children to connect with and acknowledge the importance of caring about and for one another, and the Earth we share.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by the distinctive artwork of Brooke Smart in full support of author/storyteller Dan Saks's simple and fun board book, "We Share This Earth". While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "We Share This Earth" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for toddlers and preschoolers alike.

Editorial Note #1: Dan Saks is an author, musician, and music educator specializing in early childhood education. He has lived and taught in NYC, Mexico City, and Switzerland and has traveled the world as a performing musician. He has published three books for children, centered around the theme of FAMILY. He currently lives with his wife and two daughters in Brooklyn, New York, where he produces Noodle Loaf, a popular music education podcast for kids with over one million downloads. A Top 10 Apple Podcast in Music Education for Kids, Noodle Loaf builds on the fundamentals of music through play and the exploration of musical genres and silly sounds... lots of silly sounds. (

Editorial Note #2: Brooke Smart ( is an illustrator based in Sandy, Utah, where she spends her days gathering ideas for stories and her nights telling those stories with her pen and paintbrush, inspired by her children. Brooke earned a BFA in Illustration from Brigham Young University and started her artistic career as a fine artist. She loves working with traditional media, especially with watercolor, gouache, and on occasion, acrylic paint. Her work appears in children's magazines, children's books, but also on cards and other learning materials.

The Picturebook Shelf

Everyday Brave
Colter Jackson
Beaming Books
9781506494432, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: One little girl finds it easy to speak up, make new friends, and shoo away the monsters under her bed when she has a great big lion by her side. Next to her lion, nothing is scary -- not even broccoli.

But when a classmate tells her the lion is only in her imagination, that bravery vanishes. Suddenly, the world is scary again. Until the little girl tries a roar of her own and discovers that maybe the courage she needed was inside her all along.

At once fierce and tender, Colter Jackson's "Everyday Brave" is a picture book about finding your footing, facing your fears, and discovering the lion-like roar within.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated, "Everyday Brave" by author/illustrator Colter Jackson is fun read from start to finish. With its underlying message of confidence and bravery, "Everyday Brave" is a welcome and appreciated pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note: Colter Jackson ( is the author-illustrator of the picture books The Rhino Suit and Elephants Make Fine Friends. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Epoch, Tin House and elsewhere.

The Imposter
Laura Bower, author
Kerisa Greene, illustrator
Gnome Road Publishing
9781957655222, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Olive loves her Mr. Snuggles more than anything else in the world. He's cuddly. Reliable. Perfect. And unfortunately, he's also lost!

When Mr. Snuggles mysteriously reappears, Olive couldn't be more excited. They are back on track to being best friends forever. Except, something doesn't feel quite right. Mr. Snuggles is a little too clean and a little too fluffy. He's an imposter! And when Olive finds the shiny new box, the proof is undeniable. Now Olive must make room for more than one Mr. Snuggles in her heart or find a way to rid the Imposter from her life for good.

Critique: With charming illustrations by Kerisa Greene that draw out the heart and humor of Olive's complicated relationship with the new Mr. Snuggles, "The Imposter" is the debut picture book by author/storyteller Laura Bower and is especially recommended as a bedtime or storytime read for children ages 3-7 and an ideal pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Laura Bower ( lives in Westchester, NY with her husband, three kids and their loveys Puppy, Petunia and Nedburt, who have gone missing thousands of times over the years (most often right at bedtime). They have dealt with their fair share of imposters, but have figured out how to keep it real and all get along! When not reading or writing, Laura loves traveling to new places, live theatre and walking her dog Clover.

Mighty Micah
Jane Yolen, author
Steliyana Doneva, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
c/o Behrman House Inc.
9781681156293, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Micah loved the noise maker, called a gragger, that he used at his family's Purim party. With it they celebrated the defeat of the wicked Haman, a bully from biblical times who tried to get rid of the Jews. The gragger made him feel mighty! But on his way home, the gragger was lost.

Micah was nervous that without it, he wouldn't be able to be brave, like Queen Esther who saved the Jews, and stand up to the bullies at his school.

However, this gragger was powerful. It journeyed from a raccoon's hands, to a fish's mouth, to a heron's beak, back to Micah's front steps. Micah was so happy to have his gragger back! He took it to school and showed it to the class, so everyone could feel its mighty whirr, whirr, whirr, and they too could feel powerful and safe.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by Blarian artist Steliyana Doneva in full support of author Jane Yolen's picture book story celebrating the Jewish holy day/holiday of Purim, "Mighty Micah will prove a fun and memorable read for children ages 3-6 -- and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Judaic themed picture book collections. Of special note is the inclusion by author Jane Yolen of a brief summary of the story of Purim, and how it's themes of strength, courage, and safety can apply to all children today.

Editorial Note #1: Jane Yolen, a multiple award winning author, has published over 400 books for children and adults, including The Devil's Arithmetic, Owl Moon, and the How Do Dinosaurs...? series. Her stories and poems have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, three World Fantasy Awards, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, two Golden Kite Awards, the Jewish Book Award and the Massachusetts Center for the Book award, among others.

Editorial Note #2: Steliyana Doneva's love of painting and drawing started in early childhood. She studied applied arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, specializing in children's toys. Then she graduated with a degree in graphic arts, where she found her love for children's book illustration. She has also illustrated Adam's Animals and The Persian Princess, also from Apples & Honey Press. Stela lives with her husband and three children in Bulgaria.

When You Go Into Nature
Sheri M. Bestor, author
Sydney Hanson, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112896, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: The underlying message of "When You Go Into Nature" for children ages 5-8 is that when you go into nature, just look around you. You will learn to move slowly and let go, to be flexible and soft while staying strong, and to revel in your uniqueness while working with those around you.

"When You Go Into Nature" is gentle introduction by author/storyteller Sheri M. Bestor to the value of mindfulness and meditation that encourages children to take cues from the creatures and sights around them, giving young readers tools to manage worry and big feelings. Adorable, kid-friendly illustrations by Sydney Hanson make the lessons widely accessible for little heads and hearts.

Critique: The illustrations comprising "When You Go Into Nature" from Sleeping Bear Press rise to the quality of fine art, making this nature appreciation themed picture book by Sheri M. Bestor a prized pick for family, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When You Go Into Nature" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04).

Editorial Note #1: Sheri M. Bestor spends much of her time enjoying nature and the endless discoveries found in the woods. Sheri also loves to write, read, teach yoga, create art, and spend time with family and friends. She is a literary agent with Willow Words Literary Agency. To learn more about Sheri, visit or

Editorial Note #2: Sydney Hanson is the illustrator of Why a Daughter Needs a Dad by Gregory E. Lang. Her illustrations and paintings reflect a love for animals and the natural world, in picture books such as The Donkey's Song, Panda Pants, and Hugo and the Impossible Thing. In addition to her book illustrations, Sydney is an experienced production artist who has worked for animation companies such as Nickelodeon and Disney Interactive. Follow Sydney on Instagram at @sydwiki

Rocket Ship, Solo Trip
Chiara Colombi, author
Scott Magoon, illustrator
Viking Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593326930, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Rocket is embarking on her first solo mission. Her goal? Place a satellite into orbit to take pictures of the beautiful unknown. With a few words of encouragement from Ground Control, Rocket sparks ignition and blasts off to discover all the beauty of outer space. But when it's time for reentry, she wonders if she can do it alone. With Ground Control's parting words in mind, Rocket trusts that she knows exactly what to do. She returns home at hypersonic speed and excited for her future expeditions -- maybe next time, to the moon!

Critique: With delightful rhyming stanzas by author/storyteller Chiara Colombi and charming pictures by artist/illustrator Scott Magoon, "Rocket Ship, Solo Trip" explores all the complicated emotions of big firsts and reminds readers that no matter how far they go, the ones they love are always close by. A fun read from start to finish, "Rocket Ship, Solo Trip", with its themes of the value of new experiences and building self-esteem, 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: Chiara Colombi ( never knew she wanted to be a writer. She was quite confident she would grow up to be an astronaut. In fact, she is still quite confident that she will grow up to be an astronaut. But in the meantime, she enjoys counting her lucky stars and finding words for the countless stories they inspire.

Editorial Note #2: Scott Magoon ( is the illustrator of several acclaimed picture books, including "Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Chaning Friendship" by Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes, "Misunderstood Shark" series by Ame Dyckman and the "Spoon" series by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. He is also the author/illustrator of the "Extincts" series of graphic novels, including "Linus The Little Yellow Pencil", "Breathe" and "The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot".

Let's Go!
Julie Flett
Greystone Kids
c/o Greystone Books
9781771646109, $19.95, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: Every day, a little boy watches kids pass by on skateboards, and dreams of joining them. One day, his mother brings a surprise: her old skateboard, just for him! haw ekwa! Let's go! Together, they practice on the sidewalk, at the park, in Auntie's yard - everywhere. But when it comes time to try the skatepark, the skateboarders crash down like a waterfall. Can he find the confidence to join them?

Critique: An extraordinary picture book that celebrates skateboarding, family, and community by author/illustrator Julie Flett, "Let's Go!" features a glossary of Cree words and a Cree refrain (haw ekwa!) that is repeated throughout. There is also a note to young readers from Julie Flett about her inspiration for the story. A tribute to family, friendship, and perseverance and showing young readers that there is a community of support that is all around them and ready to help them GO! A fun read from start to finish, "Let's Go!" is especially and unreservedly recommended as a choice pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Self-Esteem and Family Life picture book collections for ages 3-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Let's Go!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Julie Flett ( is a Cree - Metis author, illustrator, and artist who has received numerous awards for her books, including two Governor General's Awards, the American Indian Library Association Award, and the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Her books have been selected for Best of the Year lists by media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publisher's Weekly, The Horn Book, The Boston Globe, School Library Journal, The Globe and Mail, and Kirkus Reviews.

Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover
Lucy Ruth Cummins, author
Pete Oswald, illustrator
Flamingo Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593465943, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: It's time for Sleepy Sheepy's very first sheepover! But when it's time for bed, Sleepy Sheepy CANNOT SLEEPY! You see, his blankets scratch, and his pj's don't match! Sleepy Sheepy...misses his home! Will Grammy and Grampy ever get their favorite little sheep to sleep?

Critique: An original picture book collaboration by author/storyteller Lucy Ruth Cummins and artist/illustrator Pete Oswald, "Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover" is a fun and funny bedtime read-aloud from start to finish and one that will appeal to any child who has felt a bit unsure at their first sleepover event with friends or family. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover" is an especially recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: Lucy Ruth Cummins ( made her critically acclaimed debut as an author and illustrator with A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals. She is also the author-illustrator of Stumpkin, and Vampenguin. She is also the illustrator of several books written by other authors, including Truman, written by Jean Reidy; Sounds Like School Spirit, written by Meg Fleming; and The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures, by Curtis Manning.

Editorial Note #2: Pete Oswald ( is the illustrator of "The Bad Seed," "The Good Egg," "The Cool Bean," "The Couch Potato," and "The Smart Cookie" -- all of which are authored by Jory John. Pete's author debut, "Hike," was shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and received 5 starred reviews. Pete is also an Annie Award-nominated animation production designer best known for "The Angry Birds Movie" franchise, Oscar(R) Nominated "ParaNorman," and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

Small Things Mended
Casey W. Robinson, author
Nancy Whitesides, illustrator
Rock Pond Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593529812, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Kindly Cecil has a broken heart, but when the kids in his neighborhood start asking him to fix their valuables (a music box, a watch, a stuffed elephant) he gradually finds that he knows just how to do this mending. And in return, his circle of new friends offers the mending that his own heart needs.

Critique: "Small Things Mended" by the team of author/storyteller Casey W. Robinson and artist/illustrator Nancy Whitesides is gentle, charming, 'kid friendly', kindhearted, and original tale that brings the generations of a community together to sustain and enrich one another. It's message for children beautifully showcases the value of fixing things, loving their history, and preserving rather than quickly discarding or destroying them. While unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lesson picture book collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Small Things Mended" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Casey W. Robinson ( grew up in Maine and used to keep a shoe box of favorite words and phrases under her bed. She now lives with her family just west of Boston, in a house overflowing with books. When she's not writing, Casey is managing book events for her local independent bookstore. Her debut picture book, "Iver & Ellsworth", was a Crystal Kite Award Finalist.

Editorial Note #2: Nancy Whitesides ( is an author and self-taught illustrator born and raised in the Philippines and now based in California. Her picture book illustrator picture book debut was "Grief Is an Elephant" by Tamara Ellis Smith.

The Best Spot to Pee in NYC
Hyesu Lee
Tra Publishing
9780966438857, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Sue, a resident of New York, embarks on an amusing adventure with her dog Dutch, who is in desperate need of a pee. Together, they explore different parts of the city in search of "the perfect place to pee." However, Dutch's picky preferences keep them on the move, as he continues to search for better spots. Along the way, the story captivates children with its depiction of famous New York landmarks. Of special note is the supplemental backmatter that provides young readers with a Dutch-and-Sue approved tour guide to the city of New York.

Critique: A fun and delightfully charming picture book for children ages 4-8, "The Best Spot to Pee in NYC" is filled with imaginative storytelling, endearing characters, and comical illustrations by New York author and artist Hyesu Lee is a unique, original, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Hyesu Lee ( is an illustrator, cartoonist, and muralist originally from South Korea and now living and working in Brooklyn. She collaborates with clients across various platforms, including murals, editorial illustrations, advertising, and packaging. Hyesu also contributes regular comics to newspapers and teaches illustration at The School of Visual Arts and The Fashion Institute of Technology. Her rescue dog, Dutch, serves as her constant muse and best friend for the past six years. Together, they bring creativity and inspiration to the world of art.

Ooo... Poo!
Elliot Kreloff
Collective Book Studio
9781685556372, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Smelly, stinky, sandy poop. / Litter poop. Whose poop? / Kitty poop! Please scoop.

Yes, we all poop -- animals and humans, young and old, all those who walk and fly and swim.

And "Ooo... Poo!" by author/illustrator Elliot Kreloff is a joyful and thoroughly 'kid friendly' investigation into the who, what, why and where of poop on our planet Earth. The upbeat, rhythmic text encourages young readers ages 1-6 to celebrate both their time spent on the potty and any scat they come across in the wild.

Critique: Ideal for use by parents in the potty-training of a child, and a riotously funny and charming read from start to finish, "Ooo...Poo!" is a unique and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted that "Ooo...Poo!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Elliot Kreloff ( is an award-winning designer and children's book illustrator. His career as creative director for Scholastic Books, Disney Publishing Worldwide, MacMillan Publishing, Blue Apple Books, and his own studio, Design Five, has spanned over forty years. As an arts educator, he has taught at Parsons School of Design, New York Institute of Technology, Rutgers University and Fordham University. His books have been awarded Best Book of the Year by Child Magazine, and he has received numerous awards from various professional design organizations.

Grandpa and the Kingfisher
Anna Wilson
Nosy Crow
9798887770178, $17.99

Anna Wilson's Grandpa and the Kingfisher is illustrated by Sarah Massini. It comes with a free audio book scan link as it shares how a young child and their dog watch kingfishers with Grandpa over a year's time. As the seasons change, the birds raise a family, helping Grandpa explain the changing seasons and nature to his young charge. Beautiful illustrations follow this shared journey in a saga highly recommended for parents and kids.

Sleeping Bear Press

Sahtinay Abaza's Looking for the Eid Moon (9781534113091, $18.99) is illustrated by Sandra Eide, who explores the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan. Sara can't wait for it to come, but Eid needs a crescent moon in order to begin. If she finds the moon first, magic will happen ... even if it is frightening to be outdoors at night. A fine story of courage, magic, and facts about the Muslim Eid holiday merge in a tale that features educational and cultural revelations.

Some Days Are Yellow by Suzanne Slade (9781534112940, $18.99) enjoys simple, warm illustrations by Michelle Lee as it explores the concept of good and bad days for the very young. Some days are easy; others are tough and overwhelming. Slade walks kids through the ups and downs of life to remind them that no matter the day, the adventure in living and the lessons to be learned from good and bad experiences alike are invaluable. Featuring a lyrical text, explorations of emotions, and contrasts between different children support an uplifting, candid discussion of life experiences that kids will relish, Som Days Are Yellow is a prime pick for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

Candlewick Press

New arrivals from Candlewick Press provide a fine variety for elementary school level young readers. Candlewick's MIT Press imprint offers two science titles for advanced elementary grades.

Vicky Fang's AlphaBot (9781536226539, $14.99) is much more than an ABC primer. It focuses on mixing and matching 'Alpharobot' parts to teach creative building skills, while reinforcing an alphabet of robot words in an introduction to robotics that kids ages 3-7 usually don't receive. Lay-flat binding with spine lettering and colorful flip pages of robot-building opportunity could dissuade lending libraries, but will be perfect for homeschoolers and parents seeking a unique book to pique a young robot fan's interest.

Joy Hakim's Discovering Life's Story V. 1: Biology's Beginnings (9781536222937, 22.99) is a fine first volume in a series about the history of scientific inquiry. Beginning with the Islamic Golden Age and moving into the Renaissance to the late 1800s, the first volume profiles scientists who questioned their world and found enlightenment as they defined viruses and other world-changing influences.

Eoin Colfer and P.J. Lynch's Three Tasks for a Dragon (9781536229998, $19.99) provides elementary to early middle school grades with a lovely fantasy embellished throughout with full-page illustrations in vivid color. These lend to the story of Prince Lir, who is tricked into trying to rescue a maiden from a dragon despite his inherent lack of battle skills. Can he win through brainpower alone? Even more importantly, something appears to be manipulating would-be hero and dragon alike, and so the clever prince finds his mind a more effective battle weapon than he'd initially imagined.

Chieu Anh Urban's Illusions in Art Food (9781536223712, $12.99) is designed to play tricks on the eye. The visuals will help young eyes develop a deeper sense of perception. Each page of this board book invites kids (and read-along parents) to look closely to uncover not one, but two foods per page. Clues are provided to aid in the treasure hunt, creating a fine opportunity for training young eyes to discern delightful new opportunities.

Taxi, Go! by Patricia Toht and Maria Karipidou (9781536231533, $17.99) is the day-in-the-life story of a busy taxi that picks up passengers for all kinds of purposes. Taxi has a lot to do, so kids embark on a fun journey with vivid descriptions of seasonal and urban obstacles and sound effect suggestions that parents can employ to enhance the read-aloud experience.

Karl Newson's How to Be Brave (9781536232547, $17.99) is illustrated by Clara Anganuzzi, who adds lovely illustration to bring to life the lessons involved in trying new things. Newson's positive language ("There's a sun in the sky and a world at your feet, just waiting to be explored...") encourages kids to consider new possibilities and to face these new experiences with anticipation and positivity, rather than fear.

Steve McCarthy's The Wilderness (9781536231373, $17.99) is also a picture book exploration about fear and comfort zones, but assumes a different guise in the form of following Oktober Vasylenko, who likes his adventures to occur in an observational rather than a participatory manner. His problem is that the rest of his family loves the outdoors and personally engaging with the world. Tomorrow, Otto will join in. And, he's terrified. What if he gets lost in the Wilderness? Both are excellent examples of finding courage and trying new things.

All of these new titles are exceptional, standout books that are especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

The Bilingual Shelf

Empty and Me: A Tale of Friendship and Loss
Azam Mahdavi, author
Maryam Tahmasebi, illustrator
Parisa Saranj, translator
Lee & Low Books
9781643796222, $21.95, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: After a young girl's mother dies, Empty appears and silently takes up the big blank space left behind. For some time, the girl can't connect with her dad or any friends, and Empty is her closest companion. But then, a happy reminder of her mom pops up one day, and this bit of joy helps the little girl open up to the world around her. Empty stays around, but the little girl starts to connect with others and share new moments of happiness with them.

Originally published in Iran, this bilingual Persian-English picture book provides a gentle starting point for discussing death and grief with young readers. Its spare, poignant text and artwork gives children a concrete point of reference for the complex emotions people experience after the loss of a loved one. Readers of any age, however, will find comfort in the encouraging message of this beautiful book.

Critique: Ably translated into English by Parisa Saranj, "Empty and Me: A Tale of Friendship and Loss" is a bilingual picture book (English-Persian) by the team of author/storyteller Azam Mahdavi and artist/illustrator Maryam Tahmasebi that is truly extraordinary and very special. "Empty and Me: A Tale of Friendship and Loss" will of of particular interest for young readers ages 5-8 with an interest in dealing with the grieving process arising from the loss of a loved one, a family member, or a beloved pet. Thoroughly gentle and 'kid friendly' in tone and presentation, "Empty and Me: A Tale of Friendship and Loss" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children.

Editorial Note #1: Azam Mahdavi is a freelance author, artist, translator, and graphic designer based in Tehran. She has published dozens of books for children and young adults in Iran, which have been translated into various languages. Several of her books have received awards in different national festivals, such as the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults' Festival. Empty and Me is her first book to be translated into English and published in the U.S.

Editorial Note #2: Maryam Tahmasebi is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Tehran. She's illustrated six books published in Iran, which have been translated into Korean, Turkish, and Chinese.

Editorial Note #3: Parisa Saranj was born in Isfahan, Iran. Her writings and translations have appeared in several publications, including Ms. Magazine, Two Lines, and Consequence. She lives in Baltimore with her cat, Abnabat Choobi, which means "lollipop" in Persian. You can find both of them on social media at @PSaranj

The Language Studies Shelf

What Makes Us Human
Victor D. O. Santos, author
Anna Forlati, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802856258, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Can you guess what I am? I have been around a very, very long time. You hardly knew me as a baby, but now you cannot get me out of your head. There are thousands of me, all over the globe, and some of those forms are disappearing. I can connect you to the past, present, and future. Who am I -- and why am I so important to humanity?

Clever and thought-provoking, "What Makes Us Human" by author/storyteller Victor Santos and artist/illustrator Anna Forlati is an accessible introduction for children ages 5 - 9 on how language connects people across the world. This unique picture book celebrates all the amazing ways communication shapes our lives, including through text messages on phones, Braille buttons in elevators, and endangered languages at risk of disappearing.

Critique: A poetic riddle about language, history, and culture, released in partnership with UNESCO in honor of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), "What Makes Us Human" is a unique, fascinating, informative, thought-provoking, and fun read from start to finish. A very special, unique, and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library multicultural customs, traditions, and communications picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "What Makes Us Human" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04).

Editorial Note #1: Victor D.O. Santos is a linguist and children's author who has lived in five different countries and studied ten different languages. My Dad, My Rock, his English-language debut (Scribble), was a Kirkus Best Book of 2022. Originally from Brazil, Victor now lives in Des Moines, Iowa, where he and his Ukrainian wife are raising two multicultural, multilingual children. Victor can be followed on Instagram @linguacious_llc

Editorial Note #2: Anna Forlati ( is an artist and illustrator whose books include Yoga Poses for Kids (Albert Whitman) and My Dad, My Rock (Scribble). What Makes Us Human was featured in dPICTUS's Unpublished Picture Book Showcase and was exhibited at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Anna has studied Greek and Latin and is currently learning Arabic. She lives in Italy.

The Biography Shelf

Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough
Hayley Rocco, author
John Rocco, illustrator
G. P. Putnam & Sons
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593618097, $19.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: As a boy, David Attenborough loved exploring the wild places near his home in England, collecting fossils, rocks, and newts. When he grew older, he got a job in television, where he had an idea for a new kind of show: He would travel to wild places all over the world to film animals in their natural habitats.

Over the span of seven decades, David's innovative documentaries have been treasured by millions of people. But as time went on, he noticed the wild places he loved were shrinking. What could David do to help? What could we all do?

While "Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough" is the picture book biography of David Attenborough, it is also the story of our planet, which has changed rapidly over the course of one person's lifetime, and a clarion call for all of us to do our part to bring back the wild places and protect the creatures who call Earth home.

Critique: Strikingly illustrated by artist/illustrator John Rocco, "Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough" by author/storyteller Hayley Rocco will hold a very special attraction for young readers with an interest in the environment, green living, and recycling. A prized and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book biography collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Hayley Rocco ( is the author of How to Send a Hug, her first collaboration with her husband, John Rocco. Before dedicating herself to writing for children full-time, she worked as a publicist for several major publishers. She has five books launching in 2024 including Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough; and three of the first four books in Meet the Wild Things, a new series introducing young readers to endangered animals including: Hello, I'm a Pangolin, Hello, I'm a Sloth, and Hello, I'm a Quokka. Her second fiction picture book about a book hoarding chipmunk who learns the magic of a library card entitled All the Books, will also be launching in 2024.

Editorial Note #2: John Rocco ( writes and illustrates picture books and novels for children as well as illustrate books for older readers. Many of my books have received prestigious awards including "Blackout" which received the Caldecott Honor. He is also the illustrator for Rick Riordan's blockbuster series' Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus. Before embarking on full time work as an author/illustrator he was an art director in the entertainment businesses of movies, television, theme parks and museums.

The Elementary Fiction Shelf

Detective Stan the Crayon Man and the Missing Birthday Cake
Christine Tussing
Mama Bear Books
9781960616050, $17.99

Picture book readers who enjoy stories of intrigue and discovery will find the action-packed Detective Stan the Crayon Man and the Missing Birthday Cake both fun and appealing.

Izzy Bean's whimsical, colorful illustrations power a tale in which a glowing pink crayon indicates that ordinary Stan's persona as a detective is needed. Here, Stan learns that crayon Pretty Pink has a dilemma: the cake for Mellow Yellow's birthday has been stolen from the bakery. It's up to Stan to question everyone to piece together the clues about the fate of the missing cake -- even those getting ready for Mellow Yellow's event, such as balloon organizer Groovy Green.

Every crayon has an alibi, though, and Stan is frustrated in his investigation until clues based on color emerge to paint and save the day. Kids receive an elementary lesson in mixing colors as they follow Stan's mystery and efforts.

Read-aloud adults looking for a different way of teaching and reinforcing colors and what occurs when they blend will find Detective Stan the Crayon Man and the Missing Birthday Cake a draw not only for its mystery, but for its ultimate education in color, couched in the drama and problem-solving efforts of a young detective. Libraries, educators, and parents seeking a fun tale that cooks up charm and insights will find Detective Stan the Crayon Man and the Missing Birthday Cake a delicious acquisition.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Eliza Jane Finds Her Hero
Eliza Kelley and Debra Whiting Alexander
Luminare Press
9798886793253, $10.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook

Eliza Jane Finds Her Hero will appeal to young readers ages 6-14 with the evocative story of a girl with Tourette syndrome who strives to be a fearless superhero, and who one day transforms into "...someone she had only imagined she could be" with the help of an enchanting dog. All she's ever wanted was to be brave enough to "...hear the things she pretended not to. Things like, "It's so strange the way she whistles, isn't it?" and "Look at the way she hops. It's not normal," and "That girl needs to quit rolling her eyes. It's weird." All she needs to do is face her inner doubt, to become a superhero in her own right.

Eliza Jane's story is co-authored between award-winning author Debra Whiting Alexander and her granddaughter. It captures not just insights about Tourettes, but the joys of animals, living life to its fullest, and cultivating kindness as Eliza lives with and embraces her feelings and courage.

Black and white illustrations by Patricia Culwell and Jazlin Sobel pepper the story, adding fun embellishments to the tale of how Eliza steps into her superhero alter-ego, Tinklelocks, to address injustice and bullying.

Thought-provoking wisdom and insights abound in this tale, whether it's the process of Eliza stepping into her strengths or the friendship she cultivates with Jacob: "You can't expect yourself to be like anyone else - or them to be like you. That's the fun part - don't you know? Learning about each other's differences makes life an adventure!"

Young readers seeking an enthusiastic story rich in a blend of fantasy and real-world challenges will welcome the insights and interactions that make Eliza Jane Finds Her Hero a powerful study in contrasts, rich in superhero motivation and a passion for problem-solving.

Lost Inside My Head
Vigg, author
David Warriner, translator
Orca Book Publishers
9781459835948, $21.95, HC, 72pp

Synopsis: Vincent has a huge house in his head. It has an entrance, a living room, dark rooms, a light room, a space room and a control room. Vincent spends a lot of time in the control room trying to figure out how it all works, but with its thousands of flashing lights, buttons, levers and blinking screens, it can be total chaos. How is he supposed to know where to look? How is Vincent supposed to focus when there's so much going on at once?!

At school, when he tries to recite a fable in front of his class, he blows it. Even though he knows it by heart, not a single syllable comes to mind. Vincent feels like a misfit when people tell him to just concentrate, and he often has trouble in school. He can't seem to think, but he also can't stop thinking. Sometimes he wants to escape his own head and just be like everyone else. But maybe Vincent doesn't have to be the same as everyone else after all. Maybe he just has to learn how to look, to find the light room and see things in his own way.

Critique: Inspired by the author's personal experiences growing up with ADHD, "Lost Inside My Head" by author/storyteller Vigg and artist/illustrator David Warriner is a touching and illuminating picture book story that brings young readers ages 6-8 into the thoughts, struggles, joys and uniqueness of a young child with ADHD. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone, storytelling style, organization and presented, "Lost Inside My Head" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Health/Medicine picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Vigg is a self-taught author, illustrator and sculptor. Born in Ottawa, he grew up around the world in France, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Haiti and Switzerland. His award-winning work is published in major newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. He has written over twenty children's books. He lives and works in Quebec.

Editorial Note #2: David Warriner grew up in the UK and escaped to Quebec right after graduating from Oxford. A professional translator for nearly two decades, David nurtures a healthy passion for Quebec fiction and has translated a range of fiction, nonfiction, and children's fiction titles by Quebec authors for British and Canadian publishers. He lives in Penticton, British Columbia. (

Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle
Lea Aschkenas, author
Cornelius Van Wright, illustrator
Ying-Wwa Hu, illustrator
Star Bright Books
9781595729699, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: "Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle" is the picture book story by author/storyteller Lea Aschkemas and the husband and wife team of co-illustrators Cornelius Van Wright and Win-Hwa Hu about a little girl who loves maps and an old man who dreams of sailing the world. This unlikely pair connect through a message in a bottle. Their unusual communication inspires a visit that forges a lasting friendship expanding both their worlds.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the benefit of young readers with the inclusion of an Author's Note; a recipe for the desert called 'cascos de toronja'; a bibliographic listing for Further Read, Viewing, and Listening; and a Glossary of Spanish Words, "Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle" is an extraordinary, 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 for personal reading lists that "Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle" is also available in a paperback edition (9781595729705, $17.99).

Editorial Note #1: Lea Aschkenas ( writes with grace and insight about people and places that rarely receive, but deserve, our attention. Her prose blends artistic talent with a profound humanity, which is something we need more of in the world today.

Editorial Note #2: Cornelius Van Wright works with his Taiwanese-born wife, Ying-Hwa Hu, in creating most of his illustrations for children's books. An artist since childhood, Van Wright attended an arts-focused high school before graduating from a college-level art program. Considering his various career options, he eventually decided to work in children's publishing because of the varied subject matter.

Editorial Note #3: Ying-Hwa ( has illustrated over 30 books, many of which she collaborated with her husband Cornelius Van Wright.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

Sky Blue
M.P. Halliday
Monster Ivy Publishing
9781955060264, $18.99

19-year-old Beatrice Tilney has refused to marry for money, preferring independence; but when her father dies and leaves his estate to a questionable business partner, Beatrice finds herself without means of support. She is forced to alter her perception of what independence really means -- especially since her new guardian is intent on trapping her in marriage.

"If death is a door, then it's too easily opened." Beatrice finds that death also introduces her to new possibilities that she'd previously rejected as she considers the revised course of her life and choices.

Beatrice's move from young adult into adult circles will especially appeal to mature teens making similar moves in their lives. From her surprising acquiescence to Mr. Dumas to powerful gifts that assure her mother and sister are looked after, Beatrice makes compromises while preserving some of her values and life.

Striking descriptions detail these acknowledgements of what she must do in order to survive: "Gaston fastens around my neck a weave of gold and diamonds, dangling pearls and raw, uncut emeralds. A wish granted, the choker covers most of my neck, protecting me from unwanted touch.'I want only to please you,' he says."

M.P. Halliday provides a lively story of the power struggles involved in being a wife while simultaneously maintaining an iota of personal freedom. It's a feminist reinterpretation of the Bluebeard story which is also suitable for readers familiar with Bluebeard, who want to look at that story in a very different light.

The many issues Beatrice faces as she lends to a moving story of survival that will give many a young adult reader food for thought. As Beatrice confronts the death of a former mistress and begins to realize the precariousness of her position, readers will be drawn into a story that is vividly rendered in first-person immediacy. The mystery that evolves around the truth about Beatrice's new choices will capture attention even as the emotional components of her growth make for a thoroughly absorbing story.

Libraries interested in acquiring tales of love, intrigue, and growth for teens on the cusp of adulthood will find Sky Blue enthralling and especially recommendable for book club discussion groups considering women's choices and strengths.

The Other Side of Together
Emily Cox and Nicole Allen
Monster Ivy Publishing
9781955060257, $17.99

The Other Side of Together is a young adult story that will resonate with readers seeking realistic backdrops, characters, and scenarios that test the boundaries of cultural expectation and love. Mei Li and Marcus live around the corner from each other in San Francisco 's Chinatown . Their lives are as different as one could get, with dissimilar objectives, threats, and insights. Under normal circumstances, they wouldn't have even met. Under standard conditions, their differences would be too great to portend any kind of friendship or union. But, chance and fate play a role in their lives, bringing them together in a manner that not only connects them, but threatens their disparate worlds. Emily Cox and Nicole Allen's moving story does not fit neatly into any preconceived category.

Part romance, part suspense story, and holding dashes of cross-cultural and psychological revelation, The Other Side of Together examines the promises and prices of a perfect union which may be ill-suited, but represents the ultimate results of eighteen years of family influence and experience. As escape plans evolve and each character is tested, the story depicts the perfect union of love and disaster, tempered by a dose of extraordinary suspense and different possibilities as endings lead into new beginnings. Libraries seeking compelling sagas for young adults will find The Other Side of Together a gripping story that embraces many unexpected, thought-provoking twists and turns that most readers won't see coming, making it recommendable both for leisure reading and book club discussion circles.

Yours from the Tower
Sally Nicholls
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536223194, $17.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Tirzah, Sophia, and Polly are best friends who've left boarding school and gone back to very different lives. The year is 1896, and Polly is teaching in an orphanage, Sophia is scouting for a rich husband at the London Season, and Tirzah is stuck acting as an unpaid companion to her grandmother.

In a series of letters buzzing with atmosphere and drama, the friends air their dreams, hopes, frustrations, and romances. Can this trio of very different young women (one industrious, one artful, and one in exile) find happiness and love near the dawn of the Edwardian era?

Critique: From the impressive author and storyteller Sally Nicholls (who also wrote the romance novel "The Silent Stars Go By") comes "Yours From The Tower", a fun and original story of friendship that will have a very interest for young readers who are fans of girls friendship and women's issues fiction. Unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 9-12.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Kill Call
Jeff Wooten
CamCat Books
9780744307597, $19.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Born with the curse of prophetic nightmares, Jude sees violent murders through the eyes of the killer before they happen. His father, who shares Jude's dark gift, has trained Jude since birth to save the innocent and to kill the killer. A life for a life -- it's the only way.

But everything goes awry when Hanna Smith, the young woman he was supposed to save, rescues herself instead, and catches Jude in her home. Fate isn't inescapable, but it demands balance. While Hanna may be safe for now, Jude knows that the killer will strike again, only next time there will be no warning.

Jude must now find the killer on his own, without the visions to aid him, in order to carry out the task he's been training for before it's too late.

Critique: A riveting and fun read from start to finish, "Kill Call" by Jeff Wooten will have a very special attraction to readers with an interest action/adventure fantasy and paranormal romance. An impressively original and deftly crafted novel that is also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9780744307672, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "Kill Call" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool and community library YA Fantasy collections for young readers ages 13-18.

Editorial Note: Jeff Wooten ( has sold ten short stories over five years and then decided he was ready for novels. His second novel landed him in Pitch Wars, which was a great experience that introduced him to some great writers and he joined a writing group. He writes mostly at 5AM until the day job starts and during the week and weekends when not going to his children's soccer games, tennis matches, or football games. He is a full-time physical therapist that works with kids and adults with orthopedic issues. He also specializes in vestibular rehab.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Rescue Tails: The Treacherous Tower
StacyPlays, author
Melody Gringoire, illustrator
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
9780063224995, $18.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Stacy and her intelligent pack of wolves live in harmony together in a forest cave. But when their friend Milo the bat brings news that a baby ocelot is in danger and needs to be returned to its family, Stacy and Basil must hurry to the jungle biome in order to save the day!

After tracking the lost ocelot, they discover it's trapped in a long-lost tower that's full of obstacles, traps, and dangerous creatures. Will Stacy and her wolf Basil rescue the ocelot before it's too late?

Critique: "Rescue Tails: The Treacherous Tower" is the first book in an all-new Minecraft inspired adventure series from author/storyteller StacyPlays. Enhanced for the benefit of young readers ages 8-12 with B/W illustrations by Melody Gringoire, "Rescue Tails" is a deftly crafted, original, fun read from start to finish. While having a special attraction for readers with an interest in action/adventure, fantasy, and animal themed stories, and available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Rescue Tails: The Treacherous Tower" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library fiction collections.

Editorial Note #1: Stacy Hinojosa, better known as StacyPlays on the internet, started playing Minecraft in 2012. She immediately fell in love with telling stories through video games and began posting them to YouTube. Her imaginative building series and fun-filled adventures with her wolf pack earned her a loyal audience of over 2.3 million subscribers. When she's not visiting real-life biomes around the world, Stacy splits her time between the mountains of northern Utah and the desert in southern Utah with her dog, Molly, and her cats, Milquetoast and Pipsqueak (all rescued by her, of course). She is a YouTube sensation with more than 2.3 million subscribers! (

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods
Katie Cook
Ten Speed Press
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9781984862822, $29.99, HC, 416pp

Synopsis: In the grand scheme of the worlds at large, Callie thinks she's nothing special. Sure, she's friends with the ghost of a radish and her dad owns a magical antique shop -- but she has spent her life in the human world. Her dad won't let her join him on his collection trips in the magical realm "for her own protection", so she's only caught glimpses of that world through the gates of the town where her father's store is.

On her seventeenth birthday, Callie goes home with her friend Declan to find her home in disarray and her dad missing. Signs of a struggle point to the portal to the magical realm and when there are signs, you follow them. Now it's up to Callie, Declan, and Radish to band together and bring him home. As they face creatures good and bad, and all sorts of adventure, Callie and Declan may just find out that they are both special in their own ways after all.

The first season of mayhem, magic, vegetables, and adventure from Katie Cook's beloved Webtoon, Nothing Special, is collected in this gorgeous graphic novel, which also features exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

Critique: The first volume of what, based on "Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods" will prove to be of special attraction to readers of all ages with an interest in fantasy fiction presented in a manga style graphic novel format. Fun and funny, "Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods" thoroughly showcases author/illustrator Katie Cook's exceptionally impressive flair for originality and humor combined with a natural gift for storytelling. While especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Graphic Novel collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nothing Special: Through the Elder Woods" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781984862839, $22.99, 416pp).

Editorial Note: Katie Cook ( is the creator of the Nothing Special webcomic on Webtoon and the oldie-but-goodie webcomic Gronk: A Monster's Story (which was one of the first webcomics archived by the library of congress!). She spent several years as one of the primary writers on IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comics to the point that they made her a pony on the show (really). Then there's all those books she has illustrated and written for a tiny franchise called "Star Wars". Maybe it'll take off one day. Time will tell. She has also written and drawn comics for Marvel, Disney Publishing, Boom! and many other publishers.

Unicorn Boy
Dave Roman
First Second Books
9781250830272, $22.99, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: The first few years of Brian Reyes' life were unremarkable -- nothing weird about this kid, no sir. Then, one day, a bump appeared on his head, and it grew... and grew... and grew until it was a full-blown, sparkling, SINGING unicorn horn. That's absolutely the last thing a shy kid like Brian wants, but destiny waits for no unicorn boy.

Luckily, Brian has his reassuring pal Avery to keep him grounded as weird occurrences start stacking up, like Brian's breakfast muffin talking to him, or a bizarre black cat offering him a business card. But when shadowy creatures from another realm kidnap Avery, Brian has to embrace his fate to rescue his best friend.

In the pages of his graphic novel, "Unicorn Boy", author and illustrator Dave Roman has created a cast of charming oddballs reckoning with normal, every day problems -- like heroic destinies and the fate of all magic in the universe. Readers of Narwal and Jelly, Grumpy Unicorn, and InvestiGators will endear themselves to these lovable characters.

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, "Unicorn Boy" is an original and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, elementary school, middle school, and community library graphic novel and fantasy fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted that "Unicorn Boy" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781250830265, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Dave Roman ( is the author/illustrator of the Astronaut Academy series (winner of Maryland's Black-Eyed Susan Book Award) and writer of the graphic novels Teen Boat! Race for Boatlantis (with John Patrick Green) and Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. He has contributed stories and art to Goosebumps Graphix: Slappy's Tales of Horror, Nursery Rhyme Comics and the Flight series. Roman is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts, a former editor at Nickelodeon Magazine, and is currently the editor for First Second's Science Comics and History Comics ongoing series of nonfiction graphic novels. He draws a webcomic called Starbunny, Inc.

The Audiobook Shelf

Brilliance Audio

Brilliance Audio is a premier publisher of complete and unabridged audio book in an MP3-CD format. One of their outstanding newest offerings are the Mythos Academy novels by author/storyteller Jennifer Estep and expertly narrated by impressive vocal talents of Tara Sands. This is a six volume contemporary epic fantasy and paranormal series for teens and young adults consists of:

"Touch of Frost" (9781501218477, $19.99, MP3-CD, 9 Hours 46 Minutes) Gwen Frost goes to Mythos Academy -- a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword. Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest. But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. That kinda puts us on the verge of death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Now I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why especially since Gwen should have been the one who died.

"Kiss of Frost" (9781501218521, $19.99, MP3-CD, 10 Hours) Gwen Frost, is now a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Academy, and has no idea how she is going to survive the rest of the semester. One day, she's getting schooled in swordplay by the guy who broke her heart -- the drop-dead gorgeous Spartan Logan Quinn who slays me every time. Then, an invisible archer in the Library of Antiquities decides to use Gwen for target practice. And now, she finds out that someone at the academy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants her dead. Now, with Logan's help, Gwen will have to learn to live by the sword -- or die trying.

"Dark Frost" (9781501218552, $19.99, MP3-CD, 10 Hours 34 Minutes) Gwen Frost has seen so many freaky things since she started attending Mythos Academy last fall. She know that she is supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, Gwen feel like she is just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill her -- again! Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as the Oracle girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects -- and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But Gwen is also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead. The Reapers are the same bad guys who murdered Gwen's mother. It turns out her mother hid a powerful artifact from them before she died. They think Gwen knows where it is, but this is one thing she cannot use her magic to find. All Gwen knows is that the Reapers are coming for her and that she is in for the fight of her life.

"Crimson Frost" (9781501218606, $19.99, MP3-CD, 10 Hours One Minute) Gwen Frost goes to Mythos Academy -- a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids. And now there is also Loki, the evil god that Gwen helped set free against her will. On the bright side, Gwen finally got a date with Logan Quinn, the hottest (and deadliest) Spartan at Mythos. But she should have known it was destined to end in disaster? If there had been a swordfight, or an ambush by Reapers, The Gwen would have been more prepared. She definitely didn't expect to get arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout and accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki. The person leading the charge against agains Gwen is Linus Quinn, Logan's dad. Now pretty much everyone at school thinks Gwen is guilty. If she is going to get out of this mess alive, Gwen will have to do it herself.

"Midnight Frost" (9781501218637, $19.99, MP3-CD, 9 Hours 34 Minutes) Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can't get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove Gwen Frost wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities -- until a Reaper tried to poison her. The good news is Gwen is still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead. As Nike's Champion, everyone expects Gwen to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though she is still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. Gwen has got to get my hands on the antidote fast -- otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins. And the Reapers are sure to be waiting for her there.

Killer Frost (9781501218682, $19.99, MP3-CD, 10 Hours 4 Minute) Gwen Frost has battled the Reapers of Chaos before -- and survived. But this time she has a Bad, Bad Feeling that it's going to be a fight to the death --.most likely hers! Even with her psychometry magic, her talking sword, Vic, and even the most dangerous Spartan on campus at her side in Logan freaking Quinn, she is no match for Loki, the evil Norse god of chaos. Gwen may be Nike's Champion, but at heart, I'm still just Gwen Frost, that weird Gypsy girl everyone at school loves to gossip about. Then someone she loves is put in more danger than ever before, and something inside her snaps. This time, Loki and his Reapers are going down for good or Gwen is.

Critique: Jennifer Estep is a master storyteller and her Mythos Academy fantasy series, from Brilliance Audio and vividly narrated by Tara Sands who provides the listener a true 'theatre of the mind' experience with each of the six volumes comprising this outstanding series will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular pick for personal, highschool, and community library audio book collections for teens and young adults ages 15 and up.

Editorial Note #1: Jennifer Estep ( ) is an urban fantasy author of Galactic Bonds, Section 47, Elemental Assassin, Crown of Shards, Gargoyle Queen, Mythos Academy, Mythos Academy spinoff, Black Blade, and Bigtime fantasy series. She has written more than 40 books, along with numerous novellas and stories.

Editorial Note #2: Tara Sands ( is an American voice actress and co-host of Cartoon Network's Fridays from 2005 to 2007. Sands has voiced in anime dubs and cartoons, including Bulbasaur in the Pokemon anime series, Spyler in I Spy, Kari Kamiya in Digimon Adventure tri., Anna Kyoyama in Shaman King, Mokuba Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, as well as Chase on Fighting Foodons and Filia Ul Copt in Slayers. She also provides narration on numerous audio books.

The Music CD Shelf

Gotta Go Green
Debi Derryberry
Very DerryBerry Productions

Celebrated voiceover artist Debi Derryberry, known for her performance as Jimmy Neutron in the Academy Award-nominated film "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" among many other credits in her career of 30 years, presents her fourth children's music album Gotta Go Green. As the title suggests, Gotta Go Green contains a strong environmental message for kids and families, with songs about topics such as recycling, pollution, and things one can do every day to help make the world a more eco-friendly place. Lively, positive-minded, and memorable, Gotta Go Green is a welcome addition to family, school, and public library children's music collections. The tracks are Gotta Go Green, My Electric Car, Ooodle the Orangutan, Recycle!, I'm a Great Recycler, Don't Can the Can, Man!, Carbon Footprint, Little Tiny Molecules of H20, and Earth Day's My Birthday.

The Art Shelf

Wall to Wall: Mural Art Around the World
Mary Ann Fraser
Getty Publications
9781947440081, $22.95, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: People have been drawing on walls since ancient times. They do it to create beauty, to tell a story, to make a statement, or just to say, "I was here". You can find wall art in a remote cave in Patagonia and a desert castle in Jordan, a kingly palace in the Republic of Benin and the National Palace of Mexico, a miles-long flood channel in Los Angeles and a sky-high rooftop in Norway.

With the publication of "Wall to Wall: Mural Art Around the World", author, illustrator, and muralist Mary Ann Fraser takes young readers ages 10-14 on a worldwide journey through time, stopping to see amazing mural art along the way. Stunning color illustrations and fascinating photographs illuminate both famous and little-known examples, and lighthearted text tells engaging stories about the people who inspired or created them.

Of special note is the inclusion of a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and a section on the preservation of murals conclude the book. No young reader will ever again pass by a mural (whether in a historic building, a museum, or out on the street) without stopping to take a closer look.

Critique: This large format (9781947440081, 1.74 pounds) hardcover edition of Mary Ann Fraser's "Wall to Wall: Mural Art Around the World" from Getty Publications is beautifully illustrated and impressively informative introduction to the art and history of wall painting from antiquity to the present day. "Wall to Wall: Mural Art Around the World" is unique, special, kid-friendly, and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Art History collections for young readers.

The Sports Shelf

Baseball Buddies: Building a Team
Aaron Derr
Red Chair Press
c/o Lerner (distribution)
9781643712840, $16.99 Hardcover/$9.99 ebook

Young baseball fans ages 7-11 who look for fiction that is rooted both in the sport and in the team-building efforts it requires will find Baseball Buddies: Building a Team a compelling attraction.

Aaron Derr focuses on the art and act of team-building, opening his story with the first day of baseball practice, when the team is in its infancy of cooperative growth. As the Manatees grow their team, the individual contributions and characters of its members come to light in a manner that also builds friendships, cooperative efforts, and assessments of strengths and weaknesses to contribute to the kids' bonding process.

Derr illustrates how a seemingly disparate group can come together and how equally diverse personalities can contribute to the greater goal, whether they are "shy and quiet" or "loud and obnoxious."

Of special note are illustrations of how each individual is viewed as a friend and respected by the others (even if they are sometimes 'obnoxious'). As the team interacts with individual members and players hone their skills and interpersonal relationships, both efforts contribute to a greater good that represents the power of playing baseball and melding diversity for optimum results.

Whether the subject is the surprising evolution of a team captain like Luis, or a consideration of how even goof-offs can come together to achieve a goal, Baseball Buddies: Building a Team illustrates more than play-by-play baseball mechanics.

Young adults seeking a sports-oriented story that draws with both examples of playing process and psychological evolution will find Baseball Buddies: Building a Team an uplifting story of accepting differences, coming together, and learning the value of cooperation and competition.

Libraries seeking lively, accessible reads for juveniles will welcome the opportunities presented in Baseball Buddies: Building a Team to introduce classroom and reading group discussion topics to fans of the sport.

Books in Series

Greta The Happy-Maker Celebrates The Holidays
Nicole Stanghetti, author
Jonathan Gesinski, illustrator
Shari Wickstrom, illustrator
Welcome to the Grumble LLC
9781956025088, $22.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: In "Greta The Happy-Maker Celebrates The Holidays" a picture book by Nicole Stanghetti, Greta the pug wakes to the news that it's going to be a "Special Day."

In Greta's World, this proclamation could mean any number of amazing things... Could it be a spa day? Greta sure loves her bath and massage time... Could it be a playdate? Greta also loves going to the park to play with her friends. Greta's Mama informs her that it's actually her favorite holiday. But which one? Greta loves all of the holidays; she doesn't have a favorite. Greta makes one guess after another, readying herself for the exciting reveal.

Critique Each title in the Greta The Happy Maker picture book series is for children ages 3-8, teachers, caregivers and parents who read to children, and all devoted pug enthusiasts. Each title is a delightfully fun read with underlying life lessons and family values. The newest addition to this simply outstanding series, "Greta The Happy-Maker Celebrates The Holidays" is visually supported with the impressive artwork of co-illustrators Jonathan Gesinski and Shari Wickstrom. The result is a picture book treat that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library non-religious holiday and doggy-themed picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Greta The Happy-Maker Celebrates The Holidays" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781956025071, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note #1: After losing her Pug, Greta, in 2020, Nicole Stanghetti discovered it was a better time than ever to put her energy back into her books, creating a Children's Picture Book Series to honor Greta's memory, titled "Greta the Happy-Maker." Other Children's Books in the pipeline coming soon are: "Why Do Birds Sit On Their Eggs?" and "Elderberries Are The Wiser Berries," all of which will be released through Nicole's Publishing Imprint, Welcome To The Grumble, and available everywhere that books are sold.

The Child's World, Inc.

The Child's World is a premier publisher of non-fiction books in series for preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. An outstanding example is their new 'Foods Around The World' series published under their Wonder Books imprint. Featuring a sturdy library binding, the eight titles comprising this new series include:

"Foods from Nigeria" by Marne Ventura (9781503885301, $32.79, 24pp) Young readers are introduced to the flavors of Nigeria. Of special note is an introductory overview of Nigeria explaining the country's geography and culture. The remaining chapters highlight three iconic dishes from Nigerian cuisine.

"Foods from Germany" by K. A. Hale (9781503885349, $32.79, 24pp) introduces young readers to the flavors of Germany. An introductory overview of Germany explains the country's geography and culture, and the remaining chapters highlight three iconic dishes from German cuisine.

"Foods from Italy" by Golriz Golkar (9781503885325, $32.79, 24 pp) Introduces readers to the flavors of Italy. An introductory overview of Italy explains the country's geography and culture, and the remaining chapters highlight three iconic dishes from Italian cuisine.

"Foods from India" by Mary Shaw (9781503885295, $32.79, 24pp) introduces young readers to the flavors of India. An introductory overview of India explains the country's geography and culture, while the remaining chapters highlight three iconic dishes from Indian cuisine.

"Foods from China" by Rachel Kehoe (9781503885288, $32.79, 24pp) introduces young readers to the flavors of China. An introductory overview of China explains the country's geography and culture, and the remaining chapters showcase three iconic dishes from Chinese cuisine.

"Foods from Cuba" by Marne Ventura (9781503885318, $32.79, 24pp) introduces young readers to the flavors of Cuba. An introductory overview of Cuba covers the country's geography and culture, while the remaining chapters highlight three iconic dishes from Cuban cuisine.

"Foods from Mexico" by Golriz Golkar (9781503885271, $32.79, 24pp) is an ideal introduction for young readers to the flavors of Mexico. An introductory overview of Mexico discusses the country's geography and culture, and the remaining chapters highlight three standout dishes.

"Foods from Ukraine" by Marv Shaw (9781503885332, $32.79, 24pp) introduces young readers to the fascinating flavors of Ukraine. An introductory overview of Ukraine explains the country's geography and culture, and the remaining chapters highlight three iconic dishes from Ukrainian cuisine.

Critique: Each one of the eight volumes comprising the "Foods Around The World' series features a table of contents, sidebars, questions to inspire further thought, a simple, family-friendly recipe for one of the featured foods, a phonetic glossary, an index, and sources for further research and is especially and unreservedly recommended for children ages 5-8.

Free Spirit Publishing

Free Spirit Publishing is a premier publisher of non-fiction books for preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. The three titles comprising 'Everyday Adventures with Molly & Dyslexia' by Krista Weltner is one of their newest books-in-series for young readers ages 4-8.

"Molly's Great Discovery: A book about dyslexia and self-advocacy" (9798885540254, $16.99, HC, 36pp) Molly has a big imagination and loves to solve problems and learn new things. But Molly also struggles to spell, write, and read as quickly as her classmates. With the support of her friend Lexi (an imaginary character who represents being dyslexic), Molly summons the courage to ask her teacher Mr. Mitchell for help. Molly learns how to self-advocate and discovers that it's okay to be different.

"Molly Finds a Way: A book about dyslexia and personal strengths" (9798885540315, $16.99, HC, 36pp) Molly and Lexi (an imaginary character who represents being dyslexic) invite their friends Leeann and Izzy over to play. Together, they build a village with sticks and leaves and draw with chalk. When it starts raining, Molly and Leeann race to figure out how to save their village and drawing -- and the playdate!

"Molly Tells the World: A book about dyslexia and self-esteem" (9798885540285, $16.99, HC, 36pp) A new student joins their classroom, and Molly and Lexi (an imaginary character who represents being dyslexic) are excited to meet her. When Leeann introduces her dyslexia named Izzy, Molly's own dyslexia wants to be introduced, too. But Molly isn't ready - without Lexi, Molly wouldn't feel like herself. Lexi asks and asks until she's impossible to ignore. With Leann and Izzy's help, Molly shows Lexi to the class.

Critique: Molly and Lexi empower dyslexic children ages 4-8 to embrace their strengths. Written by Krista Weltner, a dyslexic author who is also an advocate for dyslexic kids, this three-book series follows the adventures of a young girl, Molly, and her personified dyslexia, Lexi. Together, they navigate the challenges of dyslexia with creativity and determination, touching on themes of self-advocacy, self-esteem, and personal strengths. The series helps dyslexic kids feel seen and understood and grows understanding and empathy in all children. Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'kid friendly', this three-book series is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Children & Learning Disorder collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that each of the three titles comprising the 'Everyday Adventures with Molly and Dyslexia" series is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Krista Weltner ( is an author, illustrator, filmmaker, and puppet fabricator. The Everyday Adventures of Molly & Dyslexia series marks her publishing debut. In addition to her literary pursuits, she works in the stop-motion film industry. Her work can be seen in Netflix Animation's Wendell and Wild and in Laika Studios' Wildwood. Her short film, Partially Compensated, which is also inspired by her experiences growing up with dyslexia, has been shown at film festivals around the world and has afforded her numerous opportunities to engage and advocate with others for a more inclusive world.

The Lerner Publishing Group

The Lerner Publishing Group is one of the most prolific publishers of non-fiction books-in-series titles for preschool, elementary school, middle school, highschool, and community library collections for children. One of their new offerings for children ages 8-12 is the four volume wildlife series, 'Animal Scavengers in Action' by Sandra Markle.

"Vultures: Nature's Cleanup Crew" (9781728476704, $30.65, Library Binding, 32pp) Using teamwork and keen eyesight, vultures soar thousands of feet above the ground in search of carrion to eat. Young readers will enjoy learning about the habits and life cycle of this iconic avian scavenger.

"Jackals: Nature's Cleanup Crew" (9781728476681, $36.65, Library Binding, 32pp) Jackals will eat almost anything. On the African savanna, they will even steal food from much bigger animals, like lions. Learn more about the lives of jackals.

"Tasmanian Devils: Nature's Cleanup Crew" (9781728476698, $36.65, Library Binding, 32pp) With strong jaws and teeth, Tasmanian devils can eat the tough skin of the meals they scavenge. Discover how Tasmanian devils find food, raise their young as the next generation of scavengers, and more.

"Wolverines: Nature's Cleanup Crew" (9781728476711, $36.65, Library Binding, 32pp) Wolverines are excellent scavengers with a keen sense of smell and the skills to find meals. Learn about the lives of wolverines, including how they search for food, find a mate, and raise their young.

Critique: Each volume in this simply outstanding wildlife series is beautifully illustrated with full color photography and is informatively enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of 'A Note from Sandra Markle'; Snap Facts about each animal; a Glossary, and an Index. While unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that each of these four titles is also readily available in a paperback edition ($10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.44).

Editorial Note: Sandra Markle ( is a former elementary science teacher. She is also a nationally-known science education consultant. Markle has received many honors for her series Animal Predators, Animal Scavengers, and Animal Prey. Several titles have been named as National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)/Children's Book Council (CBC) Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, and Animal Predators was honored as a Top 10 Youth Nonfiction Series by Booklist. Markle is also the author of the Insect World series and several single titles. Her book Rescues! was named a Best Book by the Society of School Librarians International and a Recommended Title of Outstanding Nonfiction by the National Council of Teachers of English's (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award committee; Animal Heroes was named a 2008 Lasting Connections title by Book Links.

Amicus Learning

Amicus Learning in as imprint of The Creative Company and an accomplished publisher of non-fiction books in series for young readers ages 5-6. One of their new six volume, library binding, series is "What Would Happen If..." by the team of author/storyteller Thomas Kingsley Troupe and artist/illustrator Anna Mongay. These include:

"What Would Happen If You Never Slept?" (9781645492924, $35.70, 24pp) Every kid as declared to their parents 'I'M NOT GOING TO BED!' But what would happen if you took it to the extreme and never slept? This humorous, fact-based cautionary tale shows the effects of no sleep on your body -- and your social life! For kids who want to know the why of everything, author Thomas Kingsley Troupe takes readers down an imaginative, subtly instructive path of what ifs. If you never sleep, forgetfulness and confusion give way to bicycle accidents, hallucinations, and a compromised immune system, leading to the conclusion that sleep is good after all.

"What Would Happen If You Only Ate Chocolate?" (9781645492931, $35.70, 24pp) Every kid as at once delcared that 'I Just Want Dessert!" But what would happen if you took it to the extreme and ate only chocolate? This humorous, fact-based cautionary tale shows the effects of too much sugar and bad nutrition on your body--and your social life! For kids who want to know the why of everything, author Thomas Kingsley Troupe takes readers down an imaginative, subtly instructive path of what ifs. If you eat only chocolate, a quick sugar rush is soon followed by rotting teeth, lack of energy, and a build-up of toxins in the body, leading to the conclusion that chocolate should be just a treat. Expressive illustrations bring these narrative nonfiction stories to life.

"What Would Happen If You Never Brushed Your Teeth? " (9781645492948, $35.70, 24pp) Every parent has had their child announce "I'm Not Bruising My Teeth!" But what would happen if you took it to the extreme and never brushed? This humorous, fact-based cautionary tale shows the effects of bad dental hygiene on your mouth -- and your social life! For kids who want to know the why of everything, author Thomas Kingsley Troupe takes readers down an imaginative, subtly instructive path of what ifs. If you never brush your teeth, stinky breath gives way to plaque, cavities, and gum disease, leading to the conclusion that brushing your teeth is good after all. Expressive illustrations bring these narrative nonfiction stories to life.

"What Would Happen If You Never Took a Bath?" (9781645492955, $35.70, 24pp) What would happen if a child were to be serious when they exclaim to a parent that "I'm Not Taking a Bath!" What would happen if they took it to the extreme and never washed up? This humorous, fact-based cautionary tale shows the effects of not bathing on your body -- and your social life! For kids who want to know the why of everything, author Thomas Kingsley Troupe takes readers down an imaginative, subtly instructive path of what ifs. If you never take a bath, body odor gives way to itchy skin, acne, and infections, leading to the conclusion that keeping clean is good after all. Expressive illustrations bring these narrative nonfiction stories to life.

"What Would Happen If You Never Left the Couch?" (9781645492962, $35.70, 24pp) Every parent has heard a child declare "I'm not getting up! But what would happen if you took it to the extreme and never got off the couch? This humorous, fact-based cautionary tale shows the effects of not exercising on your body--and your social life! For kids who want to know the why of everything, author Thomas Kingsley Troupe takes readers down an imaginative, subtly instructive path of what ifs. If you never get off the couch, isolation gives way to poor nutrition, reduced bone mass, and a shortened life span, leading to the conclusion that getting outside for some exercise is good after all.

"What Would Happen If You Never Got Vaccines?" (9781645492979, $35.70, 24pp) Often in response to anti-vaxxer propaganda a child will get it in their head to delcare "I'm not getting shots!" But what would happen if they took it to the extreme and never got vaccines? This humorous, fact-based cautionary tale shows the effects of not getting vaccinated against infectious diseases. For kids who want to know the why of everything, author Thomas Kingsley Troupe takes readers down an imaginative, subtly instructive path of what ifs. If you never get vaccines, you're susceptible to diseases such as chicken pox, influenza, COVID-19, or worse. All this leads to the conclusion that getting your vaccines is good after all. Expressive illustrations bring these narrative nonfiction stories to life.

Critique: Expressive illustrations Anna Mongay brings each individual volume of these narrative nonfiction stories by Thomas Kingsley Troupe to life and include a wealth of fun facts, tips for keeping healthy, a glossary, and further resources enhance learning. Fun and informative, and highly recommended for elementary school, and community library books-in-series collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that each of these eight titles are also available in a paperback edition ($10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Thomas Kingsley Troupe ( is the author of the fiction series Hauntiques, Furry & Flow, and the upcoming Star Belchers. Additionally he has written a number of other titles for kids ranging from non-fiction picture books, to a few installments in the Jake Maddox sports series.

Editorial Note #2: Anna Mongay ( graduated from the Sant Jordi School of Fine Arts in Barcelona and then studied scenography and various illustration courses at the Institut del Teatre. She was an illustrator was for the "Super E", published by Enciclopedia Catalana and has worked on many children and young people's textbooks and literature for several publishers, including Alfaguara, Tekman Education, Baula, Barcanova, La Galera, Casals, Mac Millan, Teide, Castellnou, Cruilla, Bruno, Barcanova, Edelvives, Everest and Bromera. Additionally, she illustrates the editorial page of the Vertex magazine and provides a children's comic page for the Cavall Fort and El Tatano magazines.

Tiger Tales

Tiger Tales is a premier publisher of books for children preschool through highschool. They have now published a two title "Diary of an Accidental With' series by co-authors Perdita & Katie Sauncers.

"Flying High" (9781664340732, $6.99, PB, 128pp) Bea Black is all settled into her new life in Little Spellshire, a town with a magical secret. She's made a bunch of friends at witch school, and she's even learned how to levitate a frog (well, almost). And with the Winter Solstice Grand Tournament coming up, she's ready to shine! Determined to prove herself, Bea has been spending more time practicing magic and less time with her best friend, Ash. He's not happy about it and suspects something is up. Will she be able to continue to keep her magic a secret from him? With black-and-white illustrations throughout.

"Secret Spells" (9781664340749, $6.99, PB, 128pp) Everyone at the Extraordinary Academy is excited for the Winter Solstice Grand Tournament, especially Bea! She's been practicing extra-hard and is ready to rise to the challenge. But then Ms. Sparks decides that this year's competition will be different -- there won't be any magic allowed! It will be a regular sports day, and the students at Extraordinary will compete against non-magic school Spellshire Academy. With magic firmly forbidden, which school will emerge victorious? And will Bea's friendship with her non-witch best friend, Ash, survive the competition? With black-and-white illustrations throughout.

Critique: Told through Bea's diary entries, the Diary of an Accidental Witch series invites young readers to follow Bea on a humorous journey of self-discovery as she learns where she truly belongs. The "Diary of an Accidental Witch" also includes: "New Girl", "Ghostly Getaway", "Unexpected Guests", "Magic Every After", and "Halloween Ball". Nicely illustrated by Katie Saunders, the "Diary of an Accidental Witch" series is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community library fiction collections for children ages 6-9.

Editorial Note #1: Perdita and Honor Cargill are a mother/daughter writing partnership and the authors of the series Waiting for Callback. Originally from the Scottish Highlands, Perdita spent many years as a lawyer before turning to writing fiction. Honor, having recently graduated from Oxford, is working on fiction and non-fiction writing projects as well as studying for a masters degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art. They both live in London.

Editorial Note #2: Katie Saunders ( knew she wanted to be an illustrator when she had a picture published in Twinkie Magazine at the age of five. Katie worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time illustrator.

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

The Gratitude Goggles
Andrea Mendoza Vasconez, PhD, author
Rita Nilson, illustrator
Wholesome Children Books LLC
9798988022947, $13.99, PB, 31pp
9798988022947, $18.99 HC, 31pp

Synopsis: As parents, we want our children to grow up happy, healthy, and prosperous individuals. And what better way to achieve this than by teaching them the value of gratitude? Recent research has shown that gratitude positively affects our well-being and physical and mental health. But how can we instill this significant value in our children? That's where The Gratitude Goggles come in.

This delightful children's book takes young readers on a journey of discovery as they imagine a particular pair of goggles that can appear by simply feeling gratitude. The Gratitude Goggles reveal the world in its proper, colorful splendor and help children appreciate the beauty and wonder of everyday life.

The book also explains the dangers of comparison and want, which can cast a gray pall over everything - as if we were wearing gray goggles. But fear not; we can always trade our gray goggles for sparkling gratitude ones, illuminating life's wonders!

Critique: With its engaging story and colorful illustrations, The Gratitude Goggles is the perfect tool for parents, teachers, and caregivers to teach children about the power of gratitude. So why not give your child the gift of appreciation and help them see the world in a new light with The Gratitude Goggles?

Andrea Mendoza Vasconez's book is a literary masterpiece, where she eloquently delves into the significance of gratitude in society. Her vibrant book educates and entertains, making it a must-read for those seeking an essential life lesson that is a fun way to explore.

Editorial Note: Suggested reading ages 2-8 years old.

Pisa Loves Bella: A Towering Tale of Kindness
Kimberly Lovato, author
Barbara Bongini, illustrator
MB Publishing LLC
9788987140161, $22.95, HC, 44pp
9798987140185 $TBA, PB
9788987140178, $TBA Kindle

Synopsis: Welcome to Pisa, where Bella, the bell tower, stands tall and proud. For centuries, the famous tower has defied gravity with her famous tilt, but one day, Bella overhears hurtful words about her appearance that shatter her confidence. With a heavy heart, Bella makes a significant change, leaving the residents of Pisa and visitors from around the world worried about their beloved historical monument.

But fear not, for Pisa loves Bella just the way she is! This uplifting rhyming tale, filled with joyful art and Italian expressions, teaches us the importance of kindness towards others and ourselves. Bella's journey of self-acceptance is a celebration of our unique qualities and a reminder to embrace what makes us different.

So come along and experience the sweet taste of spumoni as we follow Bella's inspiring story of self-love and acceptance. Pisa Loves Bella is a heartfelt and memorable tale that will warm your heart and leave you with a smile.

Critique: Pisa Loves Bella is a heartwarming tale that will take readers worldwide to Pisa, Italy, while teaching important life lessons about self-acceptance and kindness towards others. Talented author Kimberley Lovato has written an exceptional book filled with the artist's bright and colorful illustrations that perfectly capture the essence of a memorable read. I highly recommend this book to parents looking for a fun and engaging story to share with their children. Kimberley Lovato and Barbara Bongini have done an outstanding job with this book, which will leave a lasting impression. Although Pisa Loves Bella is suggested reading for children 4-8 years old, the story is beautifully told and will appeal to all ages.

The Lizard in Lizzy's Gizzard
Charles Page
Spoonful of Courage Publishers LLC
9781958827116, $23.99 HC, 32pp
9781958827093, $2.99 Kindle (Ages 1-12)

Synopsis: Get ready to embark on a side-splitting journey with Lizzy and Lazarus in The Lizard in Lizzy's Gizzard which is a delightful kid's picture book that will leave readers in stitches.

Follow Lizzy's hilarious escapades with an unexpected guest, a chameleon lizard named Lazarus, and discover the importance of enduring unjust situations, sincere prayer, and working together in life's challenges. But this book is more than just a funny story about a lizard; it also touches on themes of choices and consequences, truth-telling, and creative thinking.

With a whimsical twist on picture books that feature beloved characters that will capture your heart, it adds to the book's charm and humor. Will Lazarus survive in the green, smelly gizzard, or will he meet a muddy end?

Critique: The Lizard in Lizzy's Gizzard is a fun-loving book that promises to mesmerize adults and children. Get ready to embark on a magical journey like never before as you immerse yourself in the delightful world created by Charles Page. Stay tuned for an unforgettable adventure to spark your imagination and warm your heart!

Charles Page writing has exceeded my expectations. This captivating read is a delightful blend of fun and valuable life lessons, making it a must-have for book lovers of all ages.

The F.L.U.S.H. Files: Pass the Gas
Darryl Kluskowski
Tiny Giants Publishing
9798990039209, $14.99, PB, 100pp

Synopsis: Are you ready to join the top-secret agency F.L.U.S.H. and help protect the world from the evil forces of D.R.A.I.N.? Award-winning cartoonist and children's writer Darryl Kluskowski has created a highly entertaining book for young readers that will have you laughing out loud.

The F.L.U.S.H. Files follows two kids through wild and hilarious misadventures. With engaging graphic art and clever writing, this unique and inventive book provides a high adventure ride. Get ready for high-tech crime-fighting and skillful potty humor that will keep you entertained from beginning to end.

Critique: The F.L.U.S.H. Files is a hilarious masterpiece that will tickle your funny bone. With its perfect blend of action, humor, and intrigue, I predict this book will become a fan favorite.

Darryl Kluskowski is a superb cartoonist and writer. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, Darryl has quickly risen to new heights as he takes the literary world by storm with his combination of being a skilled artist and a talented writer. His unique combination of skills allows him to bring his stories to life so few others can match.

Darryl infuses his work with wonder and delight, whether he is crafting a whimsical children's book or creating art. His attention to detail and dedication to his craft are clear in every chapter he creates. Its witty humor and delightful cast of characters assure this book will stand out from the competition.

The Secret Doors of Cannondale
Stephanie Brick
Raritan River Publishing
9798989475414, $20.99, HC, 232pp
9798989475407, $12.99, PB
9798989475421, $7.00, Kindle

Synopsis: Get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure with Adeline Perle in The Secret Doors of Cannondale (Book One of The Cannondale Chronicles!) for young readers ages 10 - 12. This enchanting book takes you on a journey through extraordinary realms filled with magical creatures, good and evil, and a young girl's quest to find her way back home.

Adeline's story is relatable to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, craving to build lasting friendships. Her discovery of a secret treasure behind a hidden door leads her to portals of wonder and magic. But not all friends are as they seem, and Adeline soon finds herself in the middle of a war over a secret she didn't even know she possessed. Will she be strong enough to defeat those intent to destroy her?

Critique: The Secret Doors of Cannondale will transport the reader to a world of imagination and excitement. You'll root for Adeline as she faces her greatest fears and overcomes obstacles to save the universe's magic. This must-read adventure book is perfect for all ages, whether you're a young reader or a child at heart. Don't miss the opportunity to discover a magical world in Cannondale!

Stephanie Brick's debut masterpiece showcases her exceptional writing skills and will take you on a magical journey you will remember. This fabulous book is a must-read for anyone who loves to escape into the pages of a captivating story. The variety of characters makes for an interesting reading experience, where you can't wait to turn the next page to discover what is to come.

The Rise of the Legends
Jake Zortman
Good Harbor Entertainment
9798989672103, $9.99 Kindle, $14.99 PB, 353 pages

Synopsis: Are you ready for an adventure that will take you on a journey of discovery and danger? When her family moves into a creepy old house, Mikaela Kadono, a young girl, experiences being uprooted from her familiar life and thrust into a new world of mystery and intrigue. Mikaela's luck turns around when she meets George, who invites her to join The Drone Legends club. Little does she know that this will be the start of an epic adventure that will change her life forever.

On their first mission, The Drone Legends encounter a talking AI drone that seems to be far beyond any available technology. As they search for answers, Mikaela and her new friend discover a cryptic message from the past hidden in riddles and codes within the walls of her old house. Together, they embark on a quest to solve the mystery that takes them on a perilous journey from adventure on the high seas to secret tunnels deep beneath the ground. Join this thrilling journey as we follow clues, solve puzzles, and uncover secrets leading to the mastermind behind this evil plan to destroy the world. Will Mikaela and George be able to use their wit and expertise to help stop the sinister plot of destruction? Or will they be putting themselves in a pathway of danger?

Critique: The Rise of the Legends is a gripping novel that will take you on a drama, mystery, and intrigue high action ride. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves a good page-turner.

Jake Zortman has proven he is a master of this genre! Get ready to embark on an epic adventure with this expertly crafted plot and well-developed characters that captivate you from beginning to end. With his unique style, Zortman has created a mesmerizing world that will leave you breathless. Immerse yourself in the thrilling journey of The Rise of the Legends and experience the magic this incredible story offers.

River and the Amazing Yellow Wellie Adventure
(Book 1 of the Yellow Wellie Adventure Series)
Emily Dreeling, author
Misha Jovanovic, illustrator
Rising River Press LLC
9798985310528, $12.99, $9.99 Kindle, 68 pages

Synopsis: Imagine a journey to the top of a mystical mountain with four young pairs of yellow wellies and their little owner, River, to seek answers to life's biggest questions from three wise older women. Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Well, this adventure is about to become a reality! Join them as they embark on a thrilling and unforgettable journey that will push the boundaries of our imagination.

The trail won't be easy, and the challenges will be tough, but with our unwavering determination and the power of our collective wisdom, will they conquer it all and find the answers they are seeking?

Critique: Dive into a world of wonder and imagination with River and the Amazing Yellow Wellie Adventure! This delightful book is not just masterfully illustrated, but it also captures the essence of childhood adventure and curiosity.

Each turn of the page will transport you to a world where anything is possible, and each picture will bring the story to life in vivid detail. Let your imagination run wild and join River on a journey you will never forget!

Emily Dreeling has written a captivating story that will transport you to a world of wonder and imagination. As a talented author with a gift for storytelling,

Dreeling has created a literary masterpiece that will delight readers of all ages. This book is a testament to her skill as a storyteller and her ability to create worlds that capture the imagination and inspire the soul.

Editorial Note: The suggested reading age is 1-10 years.

My ABC "Chair" Book
Barbara H. Hartsfield
Book Baby
9798987590409, $23.99 HC, $4.99, Kindle, 36 pages

Synopsis: If you are looking for an innovative and engaging way to introduce your child to the world of the alphabet, look no further than My ABC "Chair" Book. This pictorial early learning book helps young children learn the alphabet while exploring the fascinating world of chairs.

The book features pictures of various chairs from the author's 3,000 Guinness World Record collection, each representing a different alphabet letter. From candy canes, clocks, teapots and bookends, the chair designs are as diverse as they are intriguing. The first alphabet naming the chair's category is enlarged and colored, making it easy for children to recognize the specific alphabet.

This book is not just about learning the alphabet. It's about exploring the world of chairs and discovering their different purposes. These chairs serve purposes other than sitting, such as decoration, storage, and play. Each chair design will amaze your child with its creativity and ingenuity.

The collection includes chairs made from various materials, such as wood, glass, ceramics, yarn, metal, iron, and attachments. Each one is a piece of art in itself to view and provides a fascinating way that it's interwoven into learning the alphabet.

Critique: My ABC "Chair" Book is more than just a book - it's a learning experience your child will treasure for years. The beauty of these chairs helps teach an essential life lesson to children.

Barbara H. Hartsfield presents an innovative approach to teaching the alphabet to children through her love of chair collecting. By incorporating her passion for chairs, Barbara has created a fun and engaging program to help children uniquely learn their ABCs.

This book introduces children to various chairs, each representing a different alphabet letter, through an engaging visual learning experience. Hartsfield's book is educational, fun, and interactive, making learning a joyful experience for children. It will positively affect young learners, and I look forward to hearing more about her creative initiatives in the future.

Editorial Note: The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded Barbara H. Hartsfield's unique 3,000-chair collection. Newspapers, magazines, books, TV, and PBS radio have featured her.

Editorial Note: The suggested reading age for this book is baby to 5 years.

The Mannamong - Volume 1
Michael Adam Lengyel
Independently Published
9781732563230, $14.99, PB, 192 pages (Ages 8-12)

Synopsis: Step into a world where mythical guardian spirits are not just a folktale but a reality. This urban fantasy comic series takes you on a journey with Kali Teal, who discovers the truth about the mannamong after being cured of a severe and unexplainable illness by them.

As Kali delves deeper into the spiritual realm, she realizes that the mannamong are not just benevolent protectors of nature but can also have their mysterious incentives. The unsettling relationship that unfolds between Kali and her tormentor will leave you on the edge of your seat. Can she trust the mannamong or not?

Critique: Get ready for a series that will leave you spellbound! The Mannamong has arrived and is ready to captivate you with its riveting storyline and lovable characters. Don't be surprised if you root for them from the first episode!

With a cast that will win your heart and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is a show you won't want to miss. So, grab your popcorn, settle in, and let the Mannamong magic transport you to a world of adventure and excitement!

Michael Adam Lengyel is the mastermind behind the captivating The Mannamong series! Not only does he have an exceptional writing talent, but he's also a gifted illustrator who has brought this fantastical world to life through his stunning artwork.

From the first page of The Mannamong series, you'll be transported into a vivid and imaginative world that Michael created. His illustrations perfectly capture the essence of the story and its characters, making it impossible to put down.

Editorial Note: Michael Adam Lengyel writes stories that he wished were available when he was a child. As he didn't enjoy reading, he was attracted to manga and the stories they conveyed, and it was this medium that ignited his passion for storytelling. When he was 12 years old, he started crafting his own stories, resulting in the creation of The Mannamong. A graduate of the prestigious Ringling College of Art and Design, class of 2015, Lengyel holds a B.A. in Business of Art and Design. Lengyel's work seamlessly blends artistic prowess with a business mindset, leaving an indelible mark on young readers with his enchanting narratives and vivid illustrations.

The Mannamong - Volume 2
Michael Adam Lengyel
Independently Published
9781732563247, $14.99, PB, 204 pages (Ages 8-12)

Synopsis: Once revered as the protectors of humanity, the mannamong spirits have become nothing more than a distant memory. But for Kali, these mythical beings are all too real, as she battles to reclaim her humanity from the clutches of Tontorus, a rogue mannamong who has taken over her soul.

As Kali struggles to keep her transformation at bay and evade the mannamong hunters on her trail, the fate of her very existence hangs in the balance. Will she succumb to the power within, or will she find the strength to overcome and reclaim her humanity?

Critique: Get ready to embark on a heart-racing journey with The Mannamong - Volume 2 - the latest addition to the collection of The Mannamong gripping reads. From the very first page, the thrilling plot and captivating characters 'll hook you.

With its fast-paced action and unexpected twists, The Mannamong - Volume 2 will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.

Michael Adam Lengyel's writing skills and artistic talents are extraordinary. With each page in turn, he'll transport you to a world of wonder and adventure you won't want to leave. From heartwarming scenes to gripping thrillers, Michael's stories will surely leave you captivated and begging for more.

Editorial Note: Michael Adam Lengyel was a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee for Best Webcomic, 2023.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

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.

Noah's Cork Adventure
Nadine Hughes Campbell
Simpl Publishing
9781739586102, $13.00

Deb Greenberg

Tag long with Noah, an Irish boy as he makes his way through the day with his mum in the town of Cork. They stop at the park, grab lunch, and get everything at the store to make dinner... then it's bubbles and brushing and pjs. Sweet rhyming text and soothing illustrations make this a picture book that'll warm the hearts of your little ones. (Ages 1-4)

Kitty & Cat: Bent Out of Shape
Mirka Hokkanen
9781536223682, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Kitty and Cat are back together. Throughout the book's pages, Kitty keeps searching for Cat. Just where is Cat? Simple text, colorful illustrations, and a fun interactive story make this a great way to teach youngsters about shapes. Can you help Kitty find Cat? (Ages 2-5)

Spread Your Wings
Emma Dodd
9781536232554, $17.99

Christine Irvin

With gentle rhymes, author Emma Dodd shows the love between a mother and a child (in this case, as momma bird and a baby bird) as the mother encourages her offspring to spread their wings and explore the world. (Ages 2-5)

A Way to the Stars
David Almond, author
Gill Smith, illustrator
9781536231250, $18.99

Christine Irvin

"Joe wanted to find a way to the stars." So starts this simple and delightful story of a father helping his son fulfill his wish. They start with a ladder, then a tower. They try a rocket and a trampoline and a pogo stick (as well as other things). The simple but expressive illustrations convey a message of joy and camaraderie between the two. A great book for a father to share with his son. (Ages 3-6)

Cosmic Wonder: Halley's Comet and Humankind
Ashley Benham-Yazdani
9781536223231, $18.99

Kimberly Waters

With a mixture of science and history, this story creatively captures the creation and travels of Halley's Comet combined with events of humanity that have happened over a period of many years. The illustrations are marvelous and easily bring to the imagination what occurred over the last few centuries. The author's clever way of making Halley's Comet come alive to see what has changed and how humans are behaving on earth captivates the readers' attention. (Ages 3-7)

Vicky Fang
MIT Kids Press
9781536226539, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

With this unique and creative flip-flap book, kids can make 729 mix-and-match robots while learning an alphabet of robot words. The book's interactive approach and friendly, colorful illustrations are bound to pique your little one's interest in magnets, gears, and everything robotics, and they'll learn about the three key abilities of robots: to sense, to think, and to act. Super educational and innovative. (Ages 3-7)

Let's Go Shopping, Grandma!
Sharon Giltrow, author
Dhwani Gosalia, illustrator
Dixi Books
9781913680510, $10.43

Deb Greenberg

Told from a little girl's point of view, this creative and engaging tale is filled with laughs for both children and adults. With the role-reversal behavior of Grandma... dawdling to the bus, needing to use the little girls' room, wanting chocolate... will they ever get the shopping done? Bright illustrations match the cheerful and playful storyline, making this book a keeper. (Ages 3-8)

Where Are My Colors?
Rebecca Porter
Independently Published
9781735339276, $20.00

Dr. Dawn Menge

Meet Lionel, he is not your ordinary colorful butterfly. In fact, Lionel is a gray, colorless butterfly. On an adventure, he waits for his colors to appear, but runs into a few messy problems along the way. This is a radiant book that discusses how different we all are and how we all have our own beauty. A great tool to open conversations with your child about what makes us special. (Ages 4+)

Eleven Words for Love
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Candlewick Press
9781536230215, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

A family flees their homeland seeking safety in another country, with only one suitcase containing photo albums that evoke eleven Arabic words that express various types of love in this moving picture book. A lyrical narrative of the migration experience and the universal bonds of family, loyalty, and friendship... a joyful read for kids and adults. (Ages 4-8)

Puppy Love Promises (Read! Write! Rescue!)
Brenda L. Fiorini, author
Anna Leliwa, illustrator
Independently Published
9798832444574, $6.50

Cynthia Kern OBrien

This story is about bringing a baby into your home when you have a dog. A new baby can be overwhelming for everyone, even your pets! The tips at the end of the book on how to introduce the baby and dog to each other and even how to manage the relationship between them as the baby grows into a toddler and young child are great! (Ages 5+)

Rescue Kitty (Read! Write! Rescue!)
Brenda L. Fiorini, author
Nathan Behmlander, illustrator
Independently Published
9798825636450, $6.50

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Cally is spotted three times by a little boy who is inquisitive about her presence. After informing his mother about the stray cat, they discover she is not only neglected, homeless, and hungry, she has a surprise for them under the bushes! Read along to find out what happens to Cally. Will she find a new home? What a great book for showing children kindness, compassion, and care for animals. This story shares how animal rescue can be life changing and rewarding. Great worksheets for children at the end. (Ages 5+)

Rescue Pup (Read! Write! Rescue!)
Brenda L. Fiorini, author
Nathan Behmlander, illustrator
Independently Published
9798819793473, $7.50

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Buddy is a young pup who has been abandoned and finally breaks free only to be faced with several dangers as a stray. He experiences many of the same feelings as humans and wonders if he will ever find someone special to love and who will love him back. This book is written in a way children can easily understand, and I highly recommend it. Great worksheets and discussion opportunities for children at the end. (Ages 5+)

STEM Crew Kids Adventures: Building a Balloon-Powered Car
Tiffani Teachey, author
Fatima Pires, illustrator
Thrive Edge Publishing
9798218194918, $25.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Teaching STEM activities in the classroom can be difficult. Tiffani Teachey is a senior mechanical engineer and has created an engaging series with the STEM Crew Kids. This very cool group of children make a balloon car out of juice boxes, caps, and balloons. Our class joined in on the fun and made their own car. It worked as it zoomed across the classroom table. This is an interactive educational book that will surely help develop interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. (Ages 5-8)

Santiago Saw Things Differently
Christine Iverson, author
Luciano Lozano, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
9781536224535, $18.99

Christine Irvin

This is the biography of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, a Nobel Prize winner who was an artist, a doctor, and is called the Father of Neuroscience. His talent for art allowed him to "see things differently" when it came to science and medicine. The book is written as a picture book to interest young readers, but because it includes so much information about this man, it can be enjoyed by older readers as well, myself included. (Ages 5-9)

We Could Fly
Rhiannon Giddens, author
Briana Mukodiri Uchendu, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536222548, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

In folk musician Gibbons' magical picture book, a young girl experiences a longing to be free, as her Granny and many of their people before her. Drawing on lyrics from the song "We Could Fly" by Giddens and Dirk Powell and African folklore, the story is one of power and resilience. Magical words and entrancing illustrations for any kid who has ever dreamed of flying. (Ages 6-9)

Ten-Word Tiny Tales to Inspire and Unsettle
Joseph Coelho and friends
9781536231359, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so different, so clever, so delightful, it just captures your interest. This is one such book. It contains 21 "tiny tales," each as the title says, only 10 words long, and each one illustrated by a different artist. They can be seen as finished stories, but author Joseph Coelho encourages readers to lengthen the tiny tales into longer stories. He includes creative ideas for doing so. What a wonderful way to introduce kids to story starters. (Ages 7-10)

Do Penguins Like the Cold?
Huw Lewis Jones, author
Sam Caldwell, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652978, $18.95

Kimberly Waters

If you like to discover fun information in encyclopedias, then you'll really like this book! Everything you ever wanted to know about penguins is here for the reading! Where they live, what they eat, the noises they make, plus so much more is included in this abundance of penguin knowledge! The illustrations capture perfectly what goes on in the life of a penguin! (Ages 7-10)

The Monarchs of Winghaven
Naila Moreira
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick
9781536218305, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

An abandoned lot in the middle of the suburbs is where young naturalist Sammie makes field notes and drawings of tiny pond creatures, a pileated woodpecker, and monarch butterflies with the new kid, Bram. But when they see flagging tape around the trees, they realize Winghaven is in danger from a local developer. Can Sammie and Bram protect this wilderness... can the two friends preserve the undeveloped land in their neighborhood? (Ages 8-12)

The Bigfoot Queen
Jennifer Weiner
9781481470803, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

In the third book in Weiner's Bigfoot Queen series, friends Alice, Millie, Jessica, and Jeremy will have to work together and be smarter and more accepting than ever, as the hidden Bigfoot community, or Yare's, are about to be exposed. Filled with adventure, this exciting tale hits on the all-important topics of fitting in, belonging, bullying, friendship, acceptance, strength of character, and being true to yourself. (Ages 8-12)

Drawing Deena
Hena Khan
Simon & Schuster
9781534459915, $17.99

Mark Graham

From the award-winning author of Amina's Voice and Amina's Song comes a tenderhearted middle grade novel about a young Pakistani American artist determined to manage her anxiety and forge her own creative path. This novel shows young girls that they can use their various talents to follow their dreams. (Ages 8-12)

Walkin' the Dog
Chris Lynch
Simon & Schuster
9781481459204, $17.99

Mark Graham

Louis hopes he can stay under the radar when he starts high school in the fall, his first experience with public school after years of homeschooling. But when a favor for a neighbor and his stinky canine companion unexpectedly turns into a bustling dog-walking business, Louis finds himself meeting an unprecedented number of new friends - both human and canine. Walkin' the Dog will teach responsibility as well as gaining a business sense. Chris shows and tells his story in a creative and fun way. (Ages 8-12)

A Friend Would Say Goodbye
Michol Whitney, author
Kayla Hargrove, illustrator
Independently Published
9781736400593, $10.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

It is very difficult to explain the permanence of death to young children. Covid hit many families and neighborhoods very hard. Some people became suddenly very ill and passed before they were able to say their goodbyes to their loved ones. A Friend Would Say Goodbye beautifully explains the process of grief and how those left behind can deal with it. Most importantly, it explains that it is ok to be feeling happy even though we are missing others in our lives. Highly recommend. (Ages 8-12)

Addie Slaughter: The Girl Who Met Geronimo
Susan Krueger, Ed.D. with Reba Wells Grandrud, Ph.D.
Story Monsters Press
9781589851979, $15.95

Deb Greenberg

Addie Slaughter was the daughter of John Horton Slaughter, a Texas Ranger, famed Cochise County Sheriff, and an early settler of the San Bernardino Valley in the 1800s. Written from young Addie's point of view, we learn about her adventurous story of traveling across the wild west from Texas to Arizona to Oregon, and then settling on the Slaughter Ranch near the Arizona-Mexico border. Super interesting and captivating historical fiction with black-and-white photos. Also includes a very useful curriculum guide in the back of the book. (Ages 9+)

The Magic In Metaphor: Empowering Children Through Healing Stories
Harley Sears
Independently Published
9798393868291, $12.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Excellent parenting and teacher guide! This is a collection of 25 short stories and activities that help children with well-being, social and emotional growth, and development. Easy for children to understand and the activities allow them to "work through it themselves," which I think is more impactful. I could have used this book as a kid! (Ages 10+)

The Final 5
Daniel Jude Miller
D. Jude Miller Publishing
9781979691512, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

A trip to the mall with his grandfather turns into a trip 13-year-old Dylan Dunski didn't anticipate when he stumbles upon the "Virtual Pod 9000" machine. Eager to try the machine, Dylan ignores the only rule... no cell phones allowed... and sneaks his phone on with him, causing a malfunction that blows him back to 1955. That's where Dylan learns about the town and the era his grandfather grew up in, but can he figure out a way to return to the present? An entertaining and insightful read for middle schoolers. (Ages 10-14)

As Red as a Munka Bean
Kristin T. Dethlefsen
Independently Published
9798354342686, $11.99

Deb Greenberg

In this contemporary fantasy about the power of friendship and believing in yourself, beings from different parts of the universe have arrived on Kamim for the yearly Interstellar Beauty Contest. Despite not having agreed to be there, 15-year-old Liam and his best friend Absalom are representing Earth. Topher, who bullied the boys on Earth, is mistakenly brought with them. An interstellar adventure addressing the topics of bullying, self-confidence, and friendship. (Ages 12+)

Reach for the Clouds
Barbara Shepherd and Shelley Anne Richter
Doodle and Peck
9798986638034, $13.99


John Smith feels he is just average, like his name implies. He can't seem to excel at anything, unlike his big brother who is successful at everything he does. John has set his heart on being an airplane pilot, but the training costs money and his parents aren't on board with his choice. So John takes on two part-time jobs. He doesn't know that he'll soon have to struggle with friends who let him down, a physical injury, and two girls hinting at romance. And one of those girls has a jealous boyfriend who is out to get him. This is a good story with a good message. (Ages 12+)

Redefine Your Purpose and Gain Peace
Dr. Erica Sheffield
Funky Fresh Nerd
9798218157012, $20.00

Dr. Dawn Menge

Life is made up of challenges and diversity that we must overcome. Dr. Erica's inspirational journal helps to guide those who are going through adversity by sharing personal examples as guides. Dr. Erica gives very sound advice in her journal - recharging your mind is necessary for a healthy and productive life. Take time to recharge, reset, and reflect every day. I highly recommend Dr. Erica's journal to help guide you through difficult times. (Ages 14+)

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