Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Children's Bookwatch

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 5 May 2005 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Pets/Wildlife Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Fiction Shelf Video/DVD Shelf Biography Shelf
Native American Shelf Nature Shelf Art Shelf
Other Lands, Other People Easy Reader Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

After You Lose Someone You Love
Amy, Allie, and David Dennison
Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
1575421690 $9.95

After You Lose Someone You Love: Advice And Insight From The Diaries Of Three Kids Who've Been There is a self-help book especially for young people who have experienced great loss. Sample diaries including black-and-white reproductions of drawings by young people explain in simple terms that hard feelings are natural and normal. A unique advice guide from kids' point of view, for kids, especially valuable for parents and children to share.

Saying Goodbye To A Grandparent
Chrysalis/Smart Apple Media
1980 Lookout Dr, N. Mankato, MN 56003
1932333169 $27.10

The Chrysalis Saying Goodbye To ' series from Smart Apple Media teaches children how to understand facts and feeling surrounding bereavement, examining common responses from anger to guilt, and answering questions about death and saying goodbye. A fine survey of grieving, Saying Goodbye To A Grandparent includes specifics on mourning a grandparent.

Color, Color, Where Are You, Color?
Mary Koski
Trellis Publishing
PO Box 16141, Duluth, MN 55816
1930650353 $14.95

The color virtually explodes from the pages of Color, Color, Where Are You, Color? by Mary Koski, and profiling illustrator Janeen Mason's visual feast in full displays of colors found in nature, ranging from lemon yellow fish to the olives and leaves of green. Highly recommended for family, school, and public library collections, Color, Color, Where Are You, Color? is a lovely, warm treat packed with eye-catching combinations of animals, flora and nature settings evolves.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

For The Love Of Chimps
Martha E. Kendall
Perfection Learning Corporation
10520 New York Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50322
0874067790 $8.95

Packed with color photography throughout, For the Love of Chimps: The Jane Goodall Story traces Goodall's remarkable contribution to science. For years, scientists wondered what could be learned about humans from studying chimpanzees, yet since chimps lived in remote African jungles and ran from people, no one could study them - until Jane Goodall came and learned how to seamlessly blend with chimps' environment. Her discoveries, emotional attachment to the chimps she quietly observed for so long, and the humanitarian causes Jane Goodall supports are all presented in this educational and eye-opening book, especially recommended for young people interested in learning more about chimpanzees.

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, #308, NY, NY 10118

Two new series sets by Crabtree provide thematic animal study topics for picturebook learners in grades 2-4. The Endangered' series by Bobbie Kalman each focuses on a single animal per book, with 32 pages to each title including an index, glossary, and plenty of color photos to supplement facts. New additions include Wolves (0778718549, $16.95), Komodo Dragons (0778718573, $16.95) and Mountain Gorillas (0778718557, $16.95): each pairing a review of habits and natural history with a focus on why the animal faces extinction. Pet Care' is a Bobbie Kalman series of 32-page books for the same grade level, revealing specifics of caring for certain kinds of pets. Each book comes packed with photos of kids caring for pets, and each includes discussions of breeds and varieties and their differences, setting up an environment for the pet, choosing a pet, and care. Additions here include Goldfish (0778717593), $16.95, Ponies (0778717585, $16.95), Parakeets (0778717577, $16.95) and Rabbits (0778-717569, $16.95).

All About Sharks!
Jim Arnosky
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0590481665 $15.95

Jim Arnosky's All About Sharks deserves ongoing attention for its attraction for younger picturebook readers seeking a solid introduction with realistic color drawings which are startling but not terrifying. Full color and the inclusion of anatomical cut-aways for simple viewing make for an excellent basic introduction.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Legend Of The Old Man Of The Mountain
Denise Ortakales & Robert Crawford
Sleeping Bear Press
10911 Technology Place, San Diego, CA 92127
1585362360 $17.95 1-800-231-5163

Enhanced throughout with the memorable artwork of Robert Crawford, Denise Ortakales' The Legend Of The Old Man Of The Mountain recounts the legendary story of the Mohawk Indian Chief Pemigewasset and his love for the maiden Minerwa. The marriage of the chief and his wife brought peace for many years. But when Minerwa left to visit her dying father, Chief Pemigewasset had to stay behind. He waited steadfast, devoted to her, yet she did not return. When winter fell he continued to wait despite the bitter cold, and though his people feared for him, he would not go back on his word to Minerwa. At last the Great Spirit claimed the chief; his people buried him facing in the direction Minerwa had left, so that he could gaze upon her when she returned. Amazingly, the very profile of Pemigewasset became immortalized within the cliff, and his visage gazes out to this day. A powerful and moving tale of unyielding devotion, strikingly illustrated in cool tones.

Our Principal Promised To Kiss a Pig
Kalli Dakos & Alicia DesMarteau
Albert Whitman & Company
6340 Oakton Street, Morton Grove, IL 60053-2723
0807566292 $15.95 1-800-255-7675

Carl DiRocco illustrates the rollicking story of a principal who promises to kiss a pig if his students read lots of books. Good reading skills will help young picturebook fans enjoy this zany and entertaining story of a pig-kisser, which is based on a true story.

Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?
Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Rising Moon/Northland Publishing
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002-1389
0873588800 $15.95

Mike Gordon's large and appealing drawings adeptly illustrate an engaging and recommended picturebook story of a princess and her father who wander through the woods observing wonders. Scary woods encounters such as bees and dragons are revealed as a father tells his daughter what might be encountered in a woods walk or not.

Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003

Jane Cutler's deftly written Rose And Riley (0374363404, $15.00) includes engaging color drawings by Thomas F. Yezerski as it tells of a vole and a groundhog who are very good friends. Three easy-reader stories about run, parties and worry dolls provide young picture book readers with easy chapters of adventure. Lyn Rossiter McFalrnad's Mouse Went Out To Get A Snack (0374376727, $16.00) excels in zany illustrations by Jim McFarland and a whimsical story of a mouse whose appetite gets the most of him. It's the drawings which capture the fun side of a hungry mouse and Lyn McFarland's equally whimsical text which reels em in and concludes with an unexpected hilarious result. Barbara Jean Hicks and Alexis Deacon's Jitterbug Jam (0374336857, $16.00) provides a different kind of monster story: Bobo is a young monster afraid of what may be under his own bed: it could be a boy with frightening pink skin ready to scare him. Boo-Dad knows all about frightening bed creatures and knows how to scare them away, but Bobo wants to find his own courage in this engaging monster tale. Uri Shulevitz's Travels Of Benjamin Of Tudela: Through Three Continents In The 12th Century (0374377545, $17.00) is hard to easily peg: working from the original Hebrew and other source materials, Shulevitz re-creates the story of 1159 traveler Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Rome, Jerusalem, Baghdad and more, over a hundred years before Marco Polo's more celebrated journeys. A first-person format brings a fictional eye to the story line: good reading skills required, but the you are there' atmosphere is compelling.

Brothers And Sisters
Rob Lewis
Hodder/Trafalgar Square, Dist.
0340866004 $16.99 1-800-423-4525

He's energetic and untidy; she's tricky and gets him into trouble Brothers And Sisters uses two funny rabbits to provide a realistic story of siblings who can be friends as well as annoyances to one another. Funny moments reinforce the affections in this simple picture book story.

Whuppity Storrie
John Warren Stewig
Holiday House
425 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10017
0823417492 $16.95

Preston McDaniels has illustrated many other children's books, and kids with good reading skills will appreciate John Stewig's retelling of the classic Whuppity Stoorie, paired with McDaniels' fine drawings. A poor goodwife trusts a mysterious witch to cure her ailing sow and finds herself in a struggle for her greatest treasure in this classic folk story of trust and courage.

Hyperion Books
77 West 66th St., NY, NY 10023-6298

Emily, Roger and their classmates are having a fine kindergarten year: Miss Cribbage always has fun activities for them to do, and learning adventures they can take home to their families. The kindergarten experience comes alive for the entire family and readers receive a host of fun animal learners in the warm My Kindergarten by Rosemary Wells (0786808330 $16.99). Doreen Rappaport's The Secret Seder (0786807776, $16.99) receives Emily Arnold McCully's realistic illustrations as it tells of one Jacques, who is hiding from Nazis in a small village in France, pretending to be Catholics. They haven't given up their beliefs, and Jacques is determined to celebrate Passover with his father, risking his life to attend a secret seder in the mountains.

The Money In The Honey
Aidel Backman
Merkos Publications
291 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213
0826600301 $13.00

Aidel Backman adapts and illustrates The Money In The Honey, which requires good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance. A rich but lonely widow decides on a temporary move for a change of climate: but where can she hide her fortune in her absence? Her cleverness isn't rewarded when she finds her coins missing and a real puzzle in their wake.

Joe Van Der Katt And The Great Picket Fence
Peter J. Welling
Pelican Publishing
1000 Burmaster St., Gretna, LA 70053
1589802810 $15.95 1-800-843-1724

The working cats in the New York Dutch settlement of Litterbox are tired of being poor and working for pennies in the Cat's Cradle Company. When Joe stops pussyfooting and asks for a raise, he's offered extra work instead and when payday comes, revolution is in the air. Joe Van Der Katt And The Great Picket Fence is a fun story filled with puns, jokes and colorful drawings.

115 W. 18th St., New York NY 10011

Laurent de Brunhoff's Babar's Busy Year (0810958643, $9.95) tells of Babar's seasonal routines, from gathering apples and corn in the fall and skiing in winter to swimming in the summer. Through Babar's family activities kids get a feel for the changing seasons in this very simple picturebook story of a beloved elephant. Arthur Yorinks' Happy Bees (0810958-66X, $15.95) includes a bonus cd of ten songs including the title song, and tells of happy bees and less happy humans who live amongst them. A lyrical and funny text/picture combo shows bees at work and animals and humans in chaos in this whimsical storybook. Margaret Wild's Piglet And Mama (0810958694, $14.95) tells of a piglet who has lost his mother. All the other animals have a mother to turn to and offer Piglet hugs, but Piglet won't be comforted by anything other than his mother. A very simple, engaging story of a child's search for a missing parent. Erica S. Perl writes Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early (0810949261, $14.95), telling how each evening hour that passes brings another farm animal to bed. Each animal has a different routine for bed-time, too: George Bates has a strong illustration background for numerous projects and his whimsical yet simple animal drawings will attract and maintain youngster interest. Susan Meyers' Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! (0810958562, $15.95) is the perfect easy reader for kids who love dogs: David Walker's warm and funny drawings lend to a light survey of puppy activities throughout the day.

Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 189431

Bear wants to read, write and think: his friend Goose wants to talk, talk talk. How can they be friends? Suzanne Bloom's A Splendid Friend, Indeed (1590782860 $15.95) provides a very simple and funny set of scenarios telling how such very different personalities can get along. Rebecca Kai Dotlich's Over In The Pink House (1590789272, $15.95) appeared some time ago but deserves ongoing recommendation as an exciting gathering of over thirty jump rope rhymes. Lovely drawings accompany each rollicking rope rhyme.

The Fiction Shelf

Zoo School
Laurie Miller Hornik
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue S., NY, NY 10003
0618342044 $16.00 1-800-225-3362

Kitty and friends have just entered a strange Zoo School where something fishy is going on: batty teachers, loony lessons, and a vanished principal. Is the silly school worth saving when inspectors decide to make ridiculous rules for it? The group must decide kids in grades 2-5 will find Zoo School a very different read.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of Americas, NY, NY 10020

Susan Cooper's The Magician's Boy (06-8987622X, $14.95) tells of Boy, who does all the grunt work for a magician who puts on a puppet play. One day he can't locate a puppet and the Magician is transported to a strange Land of Story where he must find the puppet to gain freedom. Boy's adventures will reach ages 8-12 in an easy reader packed with action. Coleen Murtagh Paratore's The Wedding Planner's Daughter (0689873409, $15.95) tells of a pre-teen who moves to a new town, meets a new best friend, and encounters a possible new father in her English teacher Sam: all these positive changes are affected by one big negative in this fun, zany story of romance and change. Older teen readers will appreciate Charmain Hussey's The Valley Of Secrets (0689878621, $16.95), in which a distant uncle's death brings Stephen to find he's the only heir to a great estate in the countryside. His journey to his new home brings him to a puzzling abandoned mansion, a recluse uncle, and a confrontation with a mysterious presence in the house. When Stephen discovers his great-uncle's diary and journey through the Amazon, a strange truth evolves which will make Stephen the keeper of a rare secret.

Random/Knopf/Delacorte Press
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

If it's leisure choices that are needed for elementary through middle school readers, be sure to check out these latest publications from Random: diverse plots and strong characterization make them recommended picks above others. Ian Bone's Fast Forward (0385732112, $14.95) is Book 2 in the Time Trap' series, and tells of Kaz, who finds a special DVD in the library which involves her in part of the movie to be sure the good guy wins. Her involvement in a fictional character's life and game belays the fact her own real world is in chaos in this dramatic story. Another Akiko is presented by Mark Crilley in Akiko: The Training Master (038-5730438, $9.95): Akiko is tired of her daily routine, and in the mood for some excitement when she discovers the beloved King Froptoppit has enrolled her and the gang in the Intergalactic Space Patrollers Training Camp. They may be the planet's last hope but unfortunate events seem to show it'll continue to be impossible for an Earthian to graduate from Space Camp. Dick King-Smith's Babe The Gallant Pig (0375829709, $16.95) is lovingly reprinted in a fine 20th anniversary edition with its lovely black and white drawings by Maggie Keen, and is a recommended pick for libraries seeking quality replacements for worn holdings as well as for parents looking for keepsake editions of classics. And fans of Dick King-Smith's animal world will also relish The Golden Goose (0375829849, $15.95), with Ann Kronheimer providing the engaging drawings to accompany a story of a farmer fallen on hard times until Joy the Golden Goose is born. But Joy may be bringing something other than pleasure! Mary Pope Osborne's new Carnival At Candlelight (0375830-332, $11.95) provides Magic Tree House #33 in the ongoing saga, here presenting a new Merlin mission for jack and Annie: to save the Grand Lady of the Lagoon from a terrible disaster by traveling back in time. But Merlin's instructions are confusing, leaving Jack and Annie in a strange world with an uncertain destiny unless magic can help them.Morris Gleitzman's Toad Heaven (0375827641, $14.95) presents the second adventure of a toad on a quest to locate toad heaven: a place where cane toads will be free. Limpy is on his way to find such a haven as soon as he can escape his bucket. A zany, fun fantasy evolves. Paul Stewart and Chris Tiddell's The Edge Chronicles: Beyond The Deep Woods (0385750684, $12.95) joins other Edge stories: this telling of young Twig, abandoned at birth in the dangerous Deepwoods, raised by trolls, and who strays from the set path to discover a new world. Twig's uncertain discovery of his real roots leads to many revelations and a fast-paced fantasy thrill. Few who love a good ghost story will be able to resist Joan Lowery Nixon's The Haunting (0440420-024, $5.50): set in an old plantation inherited by a family seeking to adopt a large family. Everything would be perfect but Lia enjoys her status as an only child, and when they discover the picturesque old mansion is haunted, Lia hopes this will deter her parents from their mission. An effort to encourage ghosts turns into a surprising effort to be rid of them with unexpected results in The Haunting's gripping story line. Narinder Dhami's Bollywood Babes (0385731787, $14.95) follows her successful Bindi Babes, continuing the story of three headstrong sisters who try to earn the good graces of their Indian Auntie, with disastrous results. Issues of freedom and cross-cultural communication are brought into play in Bollywood Babes, a fine story of Indian culture and American norms. Christopher Paul Curtis' Bucking The Sarge (038532-3077, $15.95) is set in Flint, Michigan and tells of Luther's mother, aka the Sarge, who has built an empire of slum housing and group homes where neglect makes her a winner. Luther wants to escape his mother's evil: if he can win the science fair he'll have potentials for a future and getting away to college. But his rival is his own beautiful love Shayla can he escape at her cost? An intriguing story of abuse and freedom. Anjali Banerjee's May Running (0385746563, $15.95) tells of an Indian girl who is the only brown-skinned middle schooler in her Manitoba town. Maya doesn't fit into either culture, with her roots in India and her upbringing in Canada: when a beautiful cousin arrives to steal her unrequited love, Maya finds herself appealing to old Indian idols for help. The new Girls in Pants' story by Ann Brashares, The Third Summer Of The Sisterhood (0385729359, $16.95), tells of the last summer before they depart for college: their last summer together before adult-hood. The Pants magic affects Tibby, Carmen, Bridget and Lerna differently, encouraging each to try to prepare for the future and understand underlying reasons for changes and decisions. A thought-provoking story of changes and near-adulthood. Sharon Dennis Wyeth's Orphea Proud (0385324979, $15.95) provides an almost poetic account of one Orphea Proud, who not only has discovered her identity as a lesbian, but is sharing it with an audience. Orphea can't help who she loves, and discovers ways to understand it in this novel for mature teens. E. Lockhart's The Boyfriend List (0385732-066, $15.95) follows the stormy path of teen Ruby, who has a shrink and whose whole life has changed in the space of ten days, as she's had arguments with boys, suffered through anxiety attacks and losses of friendships, and makes lists to try to gain control of her life. Markus Zusak's I Am The Messenger (0375830995, $16.95) is also recommended for older readers: protagonist Ed is an underage cab driver with no future, in love with his best friend and living a life of routine until he stops a bank robbery, by accident. His inadvertent heroism leads him to become a messenger, helping and hurting through town, until the truth behind his new mission in life becomes clear. Tammar Stein's Light Years (0375830235, $15.95) tells of Maya, who leaves Israel to study at the University of Virginia, escaping the violence of her past in the process. Maya's stint in the Israeli army and her love for a boyfriend kille in a suicide bombing for which she has some responsibility are all unusual facets explored in a novel which tells of her attempts to reconcile her Israeli past with a new future. Kim Ablon Whitney's See You Down The Road (03758-24677, $15.95) tells of a teen who has been promised in marriage, and whose parents wish her to quit school early so she can help in the family business. Her whole future seems decided but Bridget is about to set off on a new adventure which may leave her family behind in this moving story of change. Elisa Carbone's Last Dance On Holladay Street (0375-828966, $15.95) is set in 1878, when pre-teen Eva has lost her entire family, and sets out to find an unknown birth mother in Denver. But Eva's discovery of her mother's dangerous world in a house of ill repute brings with it a heavy price, and Eva comes to realize her new home in the frontier West brings new dangers. Victoria McKerman's Shackleton's Stowaway (03-75826912, $15.95) is set in 1914 and tells of a teen stowaway on the crossing of the Antarctic. A stranded crew months later faces their greatest challenge for survival in this moving story, based on the facts of Perce Blackborrow and the Endurance's voyage to the South Pole. Isobelle Carmody's Night Gate (0375830162, $16.95) is Book One of The Gateway Trilogy' : here a girl whose mother lies in a coma turns into a fantasy involving a forest magic gate and four animal friends transformed by the gate to real warriors, animals, and changed companions. Rage enters a world where a dark city's magic is dying, prompting her and her companions to undertake a journey which will have consequences for her own family. Libba Bray's A Great And Terrible Beauty (0385732-317, $8.95) is the perfect book of choice for teens who enjoy a good Gothic horror story. Teen Gemma is sent to a London academy when tragedy strikes her family in India: there she has a hard time adjusting, and has vision of a dangerous future which may come all too true. Real-life concerns blend with supernatural overtones n an exciting thriller. Patricia Reilly Giff's Maggie's Door (0385326580, $15.95) provides an Irish immigrant's story from two perspectives: that of Nory and her neighbor Sean. Each is journeying to life with Nory's sister Maggie in New York: each will find a very different set of experiences between Galway and America in this companion to Nory Ryan's Song.

Orchard Books
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999

Orchard Books offers some of the best leisure reads available for advanced elementary to middle school grade levels: these picks from their latest list represent some of the best. Angela Woolfe's Avril Crump And Her Amazing Clones (0439651301, $9.95) will attract a wide age range, telling of a strange lab accident where a kindhearted female scientist meets a trio of animal and human clones and an evil creator who wants to destroy her newfound pals. Abby Klein's Don't Sit On My Lunch! (0439556015, $15.95) joins others in the Ready, Freddy!' series for pre-teen readers, telling of Freddy's confrontation with a really big bully when they both decide to compete for a coveted position on the hockey team. Black and white illustrations by John McKinley pepper the funny story. Dawn Barnes' The Blackbelt Club: Seven Wheels Of Power (0439639352, $16.95) receives Bernard Chang's black and white drawings as it tells of an average karate student invited to join an exclusive Black Belt Club, where a secret mission prompts him to demonstrate not only karate skills, but a courage and intelligence. A good story of friendship, teamwork and success on different levels. Nick Place's The Kazillion Wish (0439692156, $15.95) tells of siblings on a mission to locate the perfect stepmom to cheer up a sad father. Their encounter with a strange wish-granting creature who demands an answer to a magical riddle before he'll grant any wishes leads to adventure and interplanetary oddities. Dietlof Reiche's Freddy To The Rescue (0439531578, $16.95) provides Book 3 in the ongoing Golden Hamster Saga' stories of Freddy. Here, the civilized Freddy learns of a tribe of endangered field hamsters, and places his own life in jeopardy when he joins with a wise tomcat and a pair of guinea pig poets/opera singers to rescue fellow rodents. Sofie Laguna's Surviving Aunt Marsha (0439644-852, $15.95) tells of siblings who must endure three whole weeks with the dreaded Aunt Marsha when their parents leave town. Aunt Marsha hates comic books, won't let the faily dog in the house, and cooks kidney pie: can Bettina and her siblings make it through the vacation? Yes, with unexpected results Patrick Carman's Land of Elyon Book 1 title The Dark Hills Divide (0439700930, $11.95) provides the winning fantasy of a girl who looks forward to another summer with her father, exploring the old lodge where she stays each year. She's eager to solve the mystery of a strange old hall and the evil which lurks in the forests but her search for the truth leads to danger and new powers in the process of discovery.

Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116

Luli Gray's Falcon And The Carousel Of Time (0618448950, $15.00) tells of pre-teen falcon, who is too old for magic and fantasy but has a family legacy of such which can't be denied. When her aunt suffers a heart attack, only Falcon's heritage and belief in magic may be able to save her, as she journeys to 1903 New York for the answer in a time-travel expedition. Bonnie Geisert's Lessons (061847899X, $15.00) tells of Rachel, who's looking forward to summer's end and the start of fifth grade, but who finds her family harboring a secret about her baby brother. Rachel begins asking for answers and discovers some hard challenges to adjust to, in the process of learning the truth her parents are hiding. A warm story of family change and acceptance.

Lost In America
Marilyn Sachs
Roaring Brook Press
c/o The Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Road , Brookfield, CT 06804
1596430400 $16.95 1-800-462-4703

Set just after World War II, Lost In America is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who has come to America from France. She likes ordinary pleasures such as banana splits, eating chocolate, her warm red coat, and a boyfriend she met on a double date. But her aunt pressures her to take up smoking to become a "real American girl", and making a new life for herself in a strange land offers greater challenges every turn., and memories of losing her family to the murderous campaign of the Nazis haunt her. A moving story about coming of age from Marilyn Sachs, author of more than thirty-five award-winning books and coeditor of the acclaimed "The Big Book for Peace".

525 B Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101-4495

Theodore Taylor's Ice Drift (0152050817, $16.00) is set in 1868: teen Alika and his younger brouther are hunting seals on an ice floe attached to their Arctic island when the floe breaks free of land, setting the two adrift from their home and family. A six-month journey down the Greeland Strait will pit the brothers against cold, starvation, bears and even each other in this fine adventure. Ann Rinaldi's Brooklyn Rose (0152051171, $17.00) is set in 1900: teen Rose leaves her family home in the South to live with a new husband in the North: a wealthy Brooklyn man she barely knows. As she faces new independence and challenges, Rose begins to find romance and a real place in the world. Rinaldi's use of the diary form makes Rose's feelings and adventures spring to life.

Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140

Natalie Ghent's No Small Thing (07636-24225, $15.99) tells of three siblings who discover an ad for a free pony, and who find their struggling single mother unexpected amenable to its acquisition. Nat finds having his own pony makes it easier for him to handle his father's absence and his newfound responsibilities for his sister, until a barn fire threatens his only happiness. Clara Gillow Clark's Hattie On Her Way (0763622869, $15.99) tells of Hattie's journey from her rustic familiar Hawk Hill beginnings to a new home with Grandmother, where she's to obtain a good education. As she struggles with a prim grandmother and the death of her beloved mother, along with the taunts of a girl next door, Hattie discovers newfound courage to grow past her roots in this sequel to Hill Hawk Hattie, which even includes a dose of family mystery to spice an already-moving plot.

The Video/DVD Shelf

Kick To Get Fit Jr. For Kids
Rich Grogan
Grogan Fitness
c/o 411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
$18.95 1-877-438-6348

Led by Rich Grogan, a certified Martial Arts Instructor and Fitness Professional with a degree in Kinesiology Education and over 20 years experience, Kick To Get Fit Jr. For Kids is a non-violent exercise program on DVD, designed especially for young people. Keeping the muscle mechanics, balance and flexibility training, strength development and more of a kick-focused cardio-vascular workout without the violent characteristics of throwing a punch, Kick To Get Fit For Kids is enthusiastically energetic and good clean fun. Highly recommended, particularly in an era marked by increased sedintary habits and rising obesity, particularly in children.

Off Da Hook F-Troop Style
Fenton "F-Troop" Fulgham
Well Go USA
c/o 411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953

Off Da Hook F-Troop Style is an exciting new choreography DVD that teaches the viewer to perform high-energy hip-hop dance routines like the stars. Offering subtitles in Chinese and English, Off Da Hook F-Troop Style is great for exercise, self-instruction or just plain fun. A bonus audio CD includes songs the instructors teach to and a the new hip-hop single "Moves Me" from Demi Lovato. Run time is 65 minutes. Also highly recommended is Off Da Hook Kidz ($24.95), Fenton Fulgham's lively and entertaining hip-hop dance instructional video for young people with the bonus audio CD "Bounce, Shake Wiggle", ideal for parties or healthy, active fun.

The Declaration Of Independence
Goldhil Home Media International
5284 Adolfo Road, Camarillo, CA 93012
1594435332 $24.95 1-800-250-8760

The latest in the "Just the Facts" learning series, The Declaration Of Independence is an educational DVD especially recommended for young people but enjoyable for all ages. The Declaration of Independence narrates crucial events of history prior to and during 1776, and answers common questions such as: Why is John Hancock's signature so prominent? Why is Independence Day celebrated on July 4th, given that the Declaration was adopted on July 2nd? Who is generally credited as the principle author of the Declaration? Special features include on-screen subtitles, a teacher's user guide, profiles of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, a multiple-choice quiz, and the complete text of the Declaration of Independence with printable PDF. Ideal for classroom use, holiday celebration, home schooling, or just plain educationally oriented family fun.

KOCH Vision
22 Harbor Park Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050

KOCH Vision presents two brand-new releases in the Popular Mechanics for Kids DVD series, which as won multiple awards including Parents' Choice and is based on the successful Popular Mechanics magazine which has provided answers to questions about the workings of things for more than 100 years. Each DVD features 4 episodes and 90 minutes of programming hosted by colorful personalities, and designed to educate as well as entertain. X-Treme Sports & Other Action Adventures (1471227664, $14.98) offers episodes "Sports", in which viewers get to meet star basketball player Damon Stoudamire learn how to throw a pitch from major league master Pedro Martinez; "X-Treme Rides" such as racing down a hill and waterskiing that can have one literally flying, "Sports: Riding, Gliding & Sliding" that includes hands-on surfing experience and what it takes to be a goalie in the NHL, and "Fun in the Desert" which is all about off-road racing desert-style. The DVD Gators & Dragons And Other Wild Beasts (1417227648, $14.98) contains the episodes "Zoos", which deals with the daily reality of everything from zoo feeding time to clipping elephant toenails, to "Talk To The Animals" which gets up close and personal with the coolest members of the animal kingdom, to "Swamps & Gators" which includes a safari in the Everglades and "Killer Creatures" that covers everything from Komodo Dragons to meat-eating bears to tigers. Excitement and enrichment go hand-in-hand in these DVDs, both highly recommended. Both are approximately 92 minutes, color.

The Biography Shelf

Rachel Carson
Thomas Locker & Joseph Bruchac
Fulcrum Publishing
16100 Table Mountain Parkway, #300, Golden, Colorado 80403
1555914829 $17.95 1-800-992-2908

Rachel Carson was best known for her book "Silent Spring": her ideas were adopted by environmentalists around the world and fostered many changes and improvements. Carson's life is profiled in Rachel Carson: Preserving A Sense Of Wonder, a picturebook biography offering color reproductions of painted landscapes by Thomas Locker to pair with a survey of her life. A lovely tribute which also covers Rachel Carson's basic concepts.

Morgan Reynolds
620 S. Elm St. #223, Greensboro, NC 27406
$24.95 Each

Four new biographical guides are good solid picks for middle school grades, each offering almost two hundred pages of facts on major U.S. history figures. Earle Rice Jr.'s Ulysses S. Grant, Defender Of The Union (1931798486) and Robert E Lee: First Solider Of The Confederacy (1931-798478) each provide in-depth focus on two major leaders of the South. From childhoods to political and social influences, each book does an excellent job of going beyond adult achievements to probe the nature and interests of each leader. Calvin Craig Miller's A. Philip Randolph And The African-American Labor Movement (1931798508) probes Asa Philip Randolph's stands against injustice. His parents always encouraged his family to resist 1900s racism: a teaching which followed him in his journey north to pursue a career as an actor, and his later full-time involvement in civil rights issues. An excellent survey of the Afro-American labor movement coincides with the biographical sketch of Randolph's life. Nancy Whitelaw's Victory In Destruction: The Story Of William Tecumseh Sherman (1031-798311) provides a survey of Sherman's early battle for survival: as an orphan he was given to neighbors to raise and yet graduated from West Point in 1840, the served in the army before he became a banker and developed a support for Southerners' rights to own slaves. A lively story of his beliefs and involvement in the Civil War evolves.

Benchmark/Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591
$20.95 each

The third set of Benchmark's Great Explorations' series is out, this reaching grades 4-6 with an excellent series of biographical coverages of major explorers. Harold Faber's Samuel De Champlain (0761416080) recounts the life and achievements of the major explorerer of Canada, Steven Otfinoski's Vasco Nunez De Balboa (0761416099) details the discoveries of the Pacific region explorer, his Juan Ponce De Leon (0761416102) tells of the discoverer of Florida, Patricia Calvert's Zebulon Pike (0761416129) outlines the harrowing story of an explorer who became lost in the Rockies he was charting, her Vasco De Gama (0761416-110) tells of an act of audacity and a South Seas explorer who took many risks, and Milton Meltzer's Francisco Pizarro (076-1416072) tells of Pizarro's conquest of Peru and his encounter with Ican wars. Each book holds over 70 pages of information, includes an index, glossary and bibliography along with plenty of color illustration, and outlines risks, motivating factors, and influences of each explorer and his world for a well-rounded presentation.

The Native American Shelf

Blackbirch Press/Gale
PO Box 9081, Farmington Hills MI 48333

Two new additions to the Tribes of Native America' series collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Marla Felkins Ruan & Linda Schmittroth for grades 2-4 provide 32 pages each of colorful photos and introductory information on Native American tribes, with each book offering a particular tribe focus. Abenaki (1567115748, $22.45) surveys the tribe which lived in Maine and Canada in the east, and in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the west. Maps, population graphs and more illustrate past' and present' trends. Pima (156711699X, $22.45) covers the Pima, who lived in parts of the Sonoran Desert. From history to daily life, all aspects of culture, customs and identity are revealed with emphasis on modern experiences. It is this emphasis which sets the series apart from competitors.

The Nature Shelf

Revealed Rainforest
Jen Green
DK Publishing
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3657
0756605385 $12.99

Lovely see-through pages present a transparent layer of color over each fine section of graphics and photos, making Jen Green's Revealed Rainforest far more exciting than its many competitors on the topic. A gorgeous, exciting presentation which should stand up to the rigors of library lending.

Cool Woods
Jane Drake & Ann Love
Tundra Books
PO Box 1030, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
0887766080 $19.95

There are plenty of children's books about forests, but Cool Woods: A Trip Around The World's Boreal Forest is something different: it offers a narrowed focus on woods around the top of the globe from North America to Siberia and Europe, and it provides a regional focus allowing kids to consider not just natural history, but history, folklore, and plants as well. The black and white and color artwork throughout by Andrew Kiss is gorgeous: Kiss spends much of his time viewing wildlife in its native habitat and his background lends to these exquisite illustrations.

The Art Shelf

Art ABCs
Patricia Kodet
Art ABC, Inc.
c/o Crystal Productions, dist.
1812 Johns Dr., Glenview, IL 60025-1681
CP1940 $175.00 1-800-255-8629

An educational CD-ROM compatible with PC and Macintosh computers, Art ABCs is especially meant for use by teachers, home schoolers, and other educators, as it presents 72 art lessons for children in grades 1-6, which have been successfully used on thousands of children in public and private school classrooms. In addition to the basic lessons in how to draw, paint, create collages and more, Art ABCs is packed with printable handouts, charts displaying relationships of lessons to the Elements and Principles of art, charts showing relationships of lessons to curriculum standards, an Interactive Art Alphabet, a recommended book list for teachers and students, numerous illustrations, and internet resource links. A superb base for instruction, or even self-teaching for the complete art novice.

Imagine That!
Joyce Raimondo
Watson Guptill
770 Broadway, New York N 10003
0823025020 $12.95 1-800-451-1741

Joining others in the Art Explorers' series for elementary-level readers is Imagine That: Activities And Adventures In Surrealism: a solid introduction for the entire family which focuses on the surrealist movement for an age group which normally doesn't receive this kind of depth in a surrealist exploration. Six great Surrealist artists invite kids to view contrasting works and use their own interpretative skills, encouraging exploration through hands-on activities. These reinforcing activities make Imagine That an exceptional introduction.

Other Lands, Other People

Beliefs And Cultures: Sikh
Catherine Chambers
Sea to Sea
1980 Lookout Dr, N. Mankato, MN 56003
1932889140 $27.10

Pair an information book with an activity guide of supporting hands-on projects, pack it into 32 pages of contrasting bright color photos, and add a fine history covering religious and social traditions and you have an excellent introduction to the Sikh religion and culture for elementary grades 2-4. Color sidebars of interviews and detail supplement an excellent guide.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 585, Katonah, NY 10536 1-800-336-5588

Two new, spineless paperback, easy reader picturebooks from Richard C. Owen Publishers are sure to delight the very young. A Little Green Dandelion (15727-46009) features warm-hearted illustrations by Cathy Morrison and simple text by Jane Scoggins Bauld, about dandelions that grow tenaciously between cracks in the sidewalk, nourished by sun and rain despite being stepped on all day. Lynda Cohen illustrates So Many Strawberries (1572746033), Judy Merrow's charming tale about a young girl who picks so many strawberries that they make more delightful treats than she can stomach! Both titles are excellent for young people learning to sound out their first words, and for guided reading.

Books in Series

Creative Education
123 S. Broad St., Mankato, MN 56001

Two fine new additions to the series What In The World ($28.50 Each ) will reach grades 4-6 with coverages which lend to understanding. Jill Kalz's The Mona Lisa (1583412727) reveals the volatile history behind the painting and the world in which it was created. From the art techniques perfected during its creation to early influences, The Mona Lisa reaches beyond the art world in providing an embracing history of its times. Mary Hoff's World of Wonder' titles ($27.50 each) invite kids to learn through 32 pages each of bright color photos and natural history reviews contrasting different creatures. Fighting Back (1583412662) discusses the defense mechanisms of animals, from smells and camouflage to armor and poison. Life At Night (1583412670) discusses the senses of night creatures from insects and fish to mammals and birds. Both are bright, colorful coverages. Jennifer Fandel's The Light Bulb (1583412719) provides almost 50 pages of facts about the light bulb, from technological evolution leading to its creation to historical background and social insights on how the light bulb changed human conditions. Vintage black and white and color photos and art illustrate a captivating history.

Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Three new titles provide youngsters in grades 3-5 with excellent reads. Barbara Kramer's Gloria Estefan: Never Give Up (076602380X, $23.93) provides 48 pages packed with color photos, illustrations, easily read text, a glossary and an index to compliment biographical detail for report writers. The focus on musician Estefan's values provides an additional perspective not just on the usual life events, but the underlying values driving success. R. Conrad stein's The Sioux: A Proud People (0766024520, $23.95) begins a new series for grades 3-4 covering Native Americans. 48 pages packed with colorful photos and illustrations includes an index, glossary, and plenty of background history and culture suitable for a solid introduction. Felicia Lowenstein's What Does A Police Officer Do? (0766025411, $21.26) provides grades 1-3 with a simple overview of a police officer's work. 24 pages include an index, bibliography, and overview of police work for a grade level which usually doesn't see such detail. New to the Oceans of the World' series are Doreen Gonzales' The Pacific Ocean (0766051-927, $19.95), a' title for grades 4-6 which uses internet links and screen shots to supplement information, and a web site to keep it all current beyond the usual print format. An excellent report-oriented beginner's introduction with 48 pages packed with detail. The same can be said for Stephen Feinstein's Venus (0766-053008, $25.26), another reportlinks' title which pairs the written word with Internet web updates to assure the written fact keep current with new discoveries. All are recommended, lasting library references.

PO Box 9081, Farmington Hills MI 48333

Almost fifty pages of basic introductory information per book makes the "Life During The Great Civilizations" series ($23.70 each) most accessible to grades 3-5, with bright, contemporary drawings and illustrations accompany plenty of facts suitable for reports. It's unusual to see discussions of many of these civilizations for this grade level, furthering the value of the series. Choose Sheila Wyborny's The Han Dynasty (1567117376), Charles George & Linda George's Maya (01567117384), Sheila Wyborny's Aztec Empire (156711-7368), Don Nardo's Ancient Greece (1567117414), Lucile Davis' Ottoman Empire (1567117392), and Don Nardo's Ancient Rome (1567117422) to spice up a history set for younger audiences. Thomson's Kidhaven Press' titles are designed to involve kids with bright, eye-catching covers and unusual topics, and Kris Hirschmann's Creatures of the Sea' titles ($23.70 each) are perfect choices for grades 3-5, each providing 45 pages of detail and captivating color. Flying Fish (0737723416), Sea Horses (0737723440), and Jellyfish (0737723424) each provide narrowed focuses on intriguing sea life, covering life cycles, senses, survival tactics, and unusual ecology. It's the unusual topics and bright photos which will readily attract leisure browsers. Heather L. Miller's Black Widow (0737717653, $22.45) joins the "Bugs" series in covering the life cycle and habits of the black widow spider. A glossary, index and bibliography add to 32 pages of color photos and detail. John E. Becker's Gray Whales (0737722-932, $23.70) adds to the Returning Wildlife' series, with almost 50 pages detailing the near-extinction of the gray whale and its comeback. From whaling's threats to protection efforts and conflicts, Gray Whales makes for intriguing reading.

Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Road, Brookfield, CT 06804

Bob Raczka's More Than Meets The Eye: Seeing Art With All Five Senses (0761327975) is a top pick for any elementary-grade library seeking quality, lasting art titles: here, it's explained art can be tasted, heard, and even smelled! Chapters advise on how to let the picture capture imagination and revitalize the senses of vision, with plenty of fine art examples throughout showing just how it can work. Grandma Hekmatt Remembers by Ann Morris (0761328645) joins others in the What Was it Like, Grandma?' series: this presenting an Arab-American family story. Three New Jersey Arab-American girls learn about the Arab country of Egypt, which they will soon visit, and life there through Grandma Hekmatt's memories and teachings. Both vintage old country photos and modern family photos by Peter Linenthal provide a focus on the children's perspectives and Arab cultural experiences.

Stargazer Books
PO Box 227, Mankato, MN 56002

Two new series collections provide kids in grades 3-5 with excellent reference materials suitable for reports. New to the Natural Disasters' series ($27.10 each) are Volcanoes (1932799044) and Earthquakes (1932799079) each provide 32 pages packed with detail discussing the geologic and human effects of each natural disaster. Chapters focus on how and why they happen, typical destructive results, and more. Historical facts and examples of major events accompany timelines and bright color photos throughout each title. The Focus on Europe' series ($28.50 each) will reach kids in the same age group with clear geography guides to different countries. Spain And The Spanish (1932799-15X) and Italy And The Italians (1932-799141) each provide solid introductory materials, from basic history and geography to cultural insights. Bright contemporary photos and illustrations mark each page and invite kids to enjoy.

Gareth Stevens
330 W. Olive #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212

How do you use math in everyday life? Plenty of books provide problems to solve and formulas to memorize, but the "Mathworks" series ($18.50 each) goes a step further, drawing important links between math and careers. Using Math To Be A Zoo Vet (083684209X), Using Math To Win A Grand Prix (0836842146), Using Math To Solve A Crime (0836842138), Using Math To Fly A Jumbo Jet (0836-84212X), Using Math To Conquer Extreme Sports (0836842103) and Using Math To Create A Movie Stunt (08368-42111) each provide 31 pages of colorful photos, facts, and math challenges pertaining to each sport or occupation. The solid links between math and real life invite problem-solving and perception skills, building important relationships between the math and real worlds. Gareth Stevens' "What Makes A Masterpiece?" Series ($16.50 each) is a lovely set: each book takes a narrowed focus on a particular art theme, pairing excellent reproductions of acclaimed fine art with discussions of how different artists treat the themes. Figures In Art (0836843797) discusses silhouettes, perspective, and representation of human figures in art, Faces In Art (0836843789) discusses styles, reliefs, and expressions; Food In Art (08346843800) surveys museum and gallery photos alike, illustrating the changing appearance and importance of food in art over the ages, and Houses In Art (0836843819) focuses on different structures and how they are viewed in perspective in art pieces. All are excellent surveys by Brigitte Baumbusch.

Lerner Publishing Group
1251 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1036

"Continents" is a new and informationally impressive series for children grades K-3 showcasing the culture, wildlife, and geography of each of the seven continents. Superbly illustrated with color photography offering a perfect visual support of an informative text (written at a second grade level of vocabular and comprehension by Madeline Donaldson), each individual, 32-page, library bound title is replete with fun facts and maps. This outstanding series which is especially recommended for school and community library Social Studies collections (and would prove ideal for use in home schooling curriculums as well) includes Africa (082-2547201); Antarctica (0822547244); Asia (0822547-21X); Australia (082254718X); Europe (0822547198); North America 0822547-228); South America (0822547236). Although each individual title can be acquired separately (22.50 each), school, community, and family libraries would be well advised to acquire the entire seven volume series (0822502923, $158.20) for their young readers.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design