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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 31, Number 5 May 2021 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Environmental Shelf
Psychology Shelf Biography Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Counting Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Music CD Shelf Native American Shelf Literary Shelf
Middle Grade Fiction Shelf YA Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Christian Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
LGBT Shelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down
Lindsey Rowe Parker, author
Rebecca Burgess, illustrator
BQB Publishing
9781945448928, $19.95, HC, 50pp

The vibration in her feet when she runs, the tap-tap-tap of her fork on the table at mealtime, the trickle of cool water running over her hands--these are the things that calm her jitters down.

The collaborative project of author/storyteller Lindsey Rowe Parker and artist/illustrator Rebecca Burgess, "Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down" is a picture book for children ages 5-7 about Sensory Differences and will prove to be a welcome and entertaining read for every child who has ever felt the need for a wiggle, stomp, or squeeze!

Original, charming, joyful, and certain to be an immediate and enduringly welcome addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Outside, You Notice
Erin Alladin, author
Andrea Blinick, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772781939, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Time spent in the outdoors stirs a child's imagination. Nature sparks wonder, wonder leads to curiosity, and curiosity brings about a greater knowledge of the world and one's self. In "Outside, You Notice", a meditative thread of child-like observations (How after the rain / Everything smells greener) is paired with facts about the habits and habitats of animals, insects, birds, and plants (A tree's roots reach as wide as its branches).

In the pages of "Outside, You Notice", author Erin Alladin invites young scientists and daydreamers to look closely and think deeply in this lyrical nonfiction text, celebrating all the kinds of "outside" that are available to children, from backyards to city parks to cracks in the sidewalk. Artist/illustrator Andrea Blinick portrays these spaces bursting with small wonders with a child's-eye view, her naive and nostalgic style capturing the joy of endless discovery.

Fun and informative, "Outside, You Notice" is unconditionally and unreservedly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Megan E. Freeman
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534467569, $17.99, HC, 416pp

When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She's alone -- left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.

With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten.

As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie's most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie's stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?

"Alone" by poet and storyteller Megan E. Freeman is an inherently engaging novel for young readers ages 10-14 told in verse. Unique, entertaining, and even though dealing with a harrowing plot line and subject matter is thoroughly 'kid friendly' in method and outcome, "Alone" is highly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction and Narrative Poetry collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Alone" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Megan E. Freeman is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and an award-winning teacher with decades of classroom experience. Megan has taught multiple subjects across the arts and humanities to students of all ages and maintains an informative website at

Potty-Training Day
Akilah Trinay and Ziana T. Washington, authors
Brad Myers, illustrator
Revision Publishing
9781736328019, $18.99, HC, 34pp

Together ZiZi and Mommy explore the joys, challenges and frustrations when transitioning from being a baby into becoming a Big Girl. Potty Training is not a one-size-fits-all process, and everyone experiences it differently. That's why in "Potty-Training Day" by collaborative authors Akilah Trinay and Ziana T. Washington, and artist/illustrator Brad Myers celebrates that space in between where your little one is curious and ready and as a parent you are eager and scared for what a potty-trained baby really means. Thoroughly charming and with a practical utility, "Potty-Training Day" is especially and unreservedly recommended for the parents and caregivers of children ages 2-4. It should be noted that "Potty-Training Day" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781736328026, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Science Shelf

A Quick History of the Universe
Clive Gifford, author
Rob Flowers, illustrator
Wide Eyed Editions
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711262737, $14.99, PB, 128pp

Starting with the Big Bang, and bringing us right up to present day, "A Quick History of the Universe" by the team of author Clive Gifford and illustrator Rob Flowers informs young readers ages 8-12 about such facts as: What was the universe like when it was a few seconds old? How had it changed by its millionth birthday? And when did time even start, for that matter?! The story of the last 13.8 billion years in this one handy volume, kids can read about the start of stars, the growth of galaxies and the production of planets. Plus, there are some great dad jokes!

Critique: Packed from cover to cover with fun cartoons and inherently interesting facts, "A Quick History of the Universe" tackles the biggest topic in the universe in chronological order -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Science & Astronomy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Quick History of the Universe" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley's Comet
James Gladstone, author
Yaara Eshet, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771473712, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Told in minimal, poetic text paired with detailed captions for context, "Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley's Comet" begins with sightings in ancient civilizations, where for centuries, the comet was a mystery recorded in art and writing. From Edmond Halley's successful prediction of the comet's return in 1758, through the advent of technologies like cameras and eventually a spacecraft that photographed its ice core, Halley's Comet tells an inspiring and wide-reaching story of scientific advancement and cultural history.

"Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley's Comet" closes by inviting readers to wonder what our world might look like the next time Halley's Comet is visible from earth, expected in 2061. What will the comet "see," next time it passes by on its journey?

Halley's Comet, visible from Earth only once every 75 years, tells its own story in the pages of "Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley's Comet", a unique informational picture book by the team of author James Gladstone and illustrator Yaara Eshet. With each return of the comet, "Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley's Comet" highlights human life at that time, and how science has advanced toward a greater understanding of our universe -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book science collections for young readers ages 4-8.

The Environmental Shelf

The Story of Climate Change
Catharine Barr and Steve Williams, authors
Amy Husband and Mike Love, illustrators
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711256309, $19.99, HC, 40pp

Combining history with science, "The Story of Climate Change: A first book about how we can help save our planet" charts the changes in our Earth's climate, from the beginnings of the planet and its atmosphere, to the Industrial revolution and the dawn of machinery. Children ages 5-8 will appreciate learning all about the causes of climate change, such as factory farming and pollution, and the effects that climate change has on humans and animals across the world.

As well as discovering the effects of global warming, young readers will discover practical ways we can work together to solve it, from using renewable energy to swapping meat for vegetables in our diet. With fact-packed text by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams, and supported by vibrant illustrations from Amy Husband and Mike Love, "The Story of Climate Change" will provide all the information need to inspire children to do their part to fight the climate emergency -- making this an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book science and climate change collections.

The Psychology Shelf

Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide
Summer Batte
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631986208, $14.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Anxiety in kids is on the rise: 4.4 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have diagnosed anxiety disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And even more kids experience some level of anxiety in their daily lives. In kid-friendly language for young readers ages 9-13, "Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide" explains what anxiety is, how it works, and how to manage it.

Written by a parent whose child has anxiety and vetted by Myles L. Cooley, Ph.D., author of A Practical Guide to Mental Health & Learning Disorders for Every Educator and an expert in the field with more than forty years of experience, "Name and Tame Your Anxiety" provides practical strategies to help kids manage anxiety, including: Write down your schedule; Make anxiety into something funny; Make a calming toolkit; Deep breathing; Name the things around you

This combination instructional guide and manual will help kids to understand what is happening in their brains and show how learning to manage anxiety can help them do the things in life they need and want to do -- by practicing anxiety-taming strategies, going to therapy, and/or taking medication. It also includes information about how kids can self-advocate for what they need to manage anxiety as well as how to interpret some of the common things adults say to kids about anxiety.

"Name and Tame Your Anxiety" helps kids better understand and improve their mental health. It also includes self-check and planning exercises, quotes from real kids, and a glossary of terms about anxiety.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, personal, professional, elementary school, middle school, community library, and community counseling center Teen & Young Adult, Depression & Mental Health, Anxieties & Phobias, Anxiety Disorders collections.

The Biography Shelf

We are Explorers
Kari Herbert
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500652398, $19.95, HC, 144pp

Women have always explored the globe, but their stories aren't always well-known. In "We are Explorers: Extraordinary Women Who Discovered the World" by author and illustrator Kari Herbert, fourteen intrepid women and their incredible adventures finally get their due. These fearless explorers trekked across deserts in search of the source of the Nile, crept through jungles to discover rare butterflies, journeyed into the Arctic, and so much more.

From the famed travels of Sacagawea to the lesser-known achievements of pioneers in aviation, botany, and mountain climbing, this book dives deep into the lives of women who changed the world. They hailed from places as varied as the United States, Japan, Germany, and New Zealand, but all of them followed their curiosity far from home - astronaut Mae Jemison traveled into space!

Kari Herbert is herself the daughter of a celebrated polar explorer and brings these adventurers to life with an engaging narrative style and richly painted portraits. Young readers ages 9-12 will enjoy reading the true life stories of women who hiked, sailed, and flew to places few people (male or female) had been before. "We Are Explorers" is the perfect inspiration for any child who dreams of travel and adventure.

Critique: An exceptionally well written and illustrated combination of true life adventure, history and biography, "We are Explorers: Extraordinary Women Who Discovered the World" is a truly groundbreaking and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Cougar Crossing
Meeg Pincus, author
Alexander Vidal, illustrator
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534461857, $17.99, HC, 40pp

P-22, the famed "Hollywood Cougar", was born in a national park near Los Angeles, California. When it was time for him to leave home and stake a claim to his own territory, he embarked on a perilous journey (somehow crossing sixteen lanes of the world's worst traffic) to make his home in LA's Griffith Park, overlooking the famed Hollywood sign. But Griffith Park is a tiny territory for a mountain lion, and P-22's life has been filled with struggles.

Residents of Los Angeles have embraced this brave cougar as their own and, along with the scientists monitoring P-22, raised money to build a wildlife bridge across Highway 101 to help cougars and other wildlife safely expand their territories and build new homes -- thereby ensuring their survival for years to come.

As entertaining as it is informative, "Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood's Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife" by the team of author/storyteller Meeg Pincus and artist/illustrator Alexander Vidal is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library wildlife picture book collections for children ages 3-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cougar Crossing" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Animal Helpers
Stepanka Sekaninova, author
Misha Bera, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000059464, $16.95, HC, 48pp

"Animal Helpers" by the team of author Stepanka Sekaninova and illustrator Misha Bera, is an informative book for children ages 6-10 about the extraordinary bond between humans and animals, which is everlasting -- animals as hard workers, friends, and faithful companions. They have been with us since time immemorial. Some are close to us, others we treat with great respect. And they help us: dogs as guides, elephants as warriors, cats as gods, cheetahs as hunters, pigeons as postmen, horses as therapists, dolphins as rescuers, pigs as truffle hunters, geese as guards, camels as racers, and cows as carriers. To find out more, "Animal Helpers" offers and informative and insightful combination of pictures and stories about how wild animals became helpers and true friends of humans -- making it a welcome and recommended addition to family, elementary school and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers.

World Record Animals
Oldrich Ruzicka, author
Tomas Pernicky, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000059310, $14.95, HC, 32pp

"World Record Animals" by the team of author/storyteller Oldrich Ruzicka and artist/illustrator Tomas Pernicky is an informative and entertaining compendium of animal superheroes, animal record holders, and fascinating facts from the animal kingdom in the form of an animal Olympics! The animal world has almost infinite variety. Many of its creatures have strengths similar to superheroes.

The world's fastest animals can move at the speed of a race car; one small creature has the strength of a trained weightlifter; the world's strongest animal can lift many times its own weight; and the longest-lived animal survives for several hundred years.

Fastest, slowest, strongest, largest, smallest, longest living, furthest jumping, most dangerous, most beautiful, ugliest, deepest diving - these and many other record holders from the animal kingdom fill "World Record Animals" with unexpected, fascinating facts -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers ages 6-10.

Sentient Beings In the Kingdom of Bhutan
Laurie S. Chambers, author/photographer
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781982232702, $24.45 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 66pp

Bhutan is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by China to the north and India to the south. Nepal and Bangladesh are located in proximity to Bhutan but do not share a land border. The country has a population of over 754,000 and a territory of 38,394 square kilometers (14,824 square miles) which ranks 133rd in terms of land area. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with Mahayana Buddhism as the state religion. (Wikipedia)

"Sentient Beings in the Kingdom of Bhutan" is a beautiful photographic collection of portraits of Bhutan's protected canine population, who are regarded as sentient beings or "creature(s) that can suffer and feel pain, mostly animals and humans (Lloyd Duhaime's Law Dictionary)."

Shaped by predominant Buddhist beliefs, Bhutan's law protects dogs and all animals because they are regarded as sentient beings, possessing Buddha nature, and having the potential for enlightenment. Humans and animals are interrelated, part of a single family. A dog or a human being may be related from a previous life. Dogs and humans especially in Bhutan share a sense of community and loyalty. Because people in Bhutan believe dogs are potentially their ancestors, and sentient beings, they need to be cared for and not harmed, but helped to live out their lives in harmony.

"Sentient Beings in the Kingdom of Bhutan" by Laurie S. Chambers contains a litany of canine portraits with associated captions or thoughts such as love, curiosity, trust, mindfulness, etc. Each dog is valued as are humans as it goes throughout the seasons of its lives. The dog is looked after, assisted, and helped, or shepherded through its lifetime, just as humans are assisted and cared for by Buddha.

Dogs and humans live in harmonious relationship in Bhutan. An added footnote explains that in the mid 2000's Bhutan had implemented a humane spay-neuter-vaccination program to help control the canine population growth and promote canine health. This program is successful and has resulted in the stabilization of the canine population, decreasing from estimated 100,000 in 20001 to 85,000 in 2018, having undergone the sterilization program to limit the population of the community of dogs.

A very highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers, "Sentient Beings in the Kingdom of Bhutan" is an inspirational look at the beloved dog population of Bhutan and the interrelated network of compassion that connects humans, dogs and all sentient beings.

The Counting Shelf

1, 2, 3 Salish Sea
Nikki McClure
Little Bigfoot
c/o Sasquatch Books
1904 Third Ave, Suite 710, Seattle, WA 98101
9781632173362, $16.99, HC, 32pp

A celebration of the unique Salish Sea ecosystem, "1, 2, 3 Salish Sea: A Pacific Northwest Counting Book" by author and illustrator Nikki McClure is counting book will inspire children ages 2-5 to learn more about the creatures who are found here, like stubby squids, lumpsuckers, banana slugs, orcas, nudibranchs, and sculpin. Each image is lovingly created by the artistry of Nikki McClure in an intricate papercut style and fully captures her passion for this special place in the Pacific Northwest. Unique, informative, fun, "1, 2, 3 Salish Sea: A Pacific Northwest Counting Book" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library oceanography and basic counting collections.

The Board Book Shelf

Curious About Insects
Cathryn Sill, author
John Sill, illustrator
Peachtree Petite
c/o Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781682632116, $6.99, Board Book, 22pp

In the new Peachtree Petitie board book "Curious About Insects", educator and author Cathryn Sill introduces very young children ages 2-6 to basic facts about insects with the help of beautifully detailed and realistic illustrations from noted wildlife illustrator John Sill.

Very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections, and with its simple and clear descriptions of how insects look, where they live, what they eat, and how they move around, "Curious About Insects" (the third title in the Discovering Nature series) is a dependable, entertaining, and informative beginning resource for learning about insects and the wonders of the natural world.

Stanley's Toy Box
William Bee, author/illustrator
Peachtree Petite
c/o Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781682632840, $6.99, Board Book, 18pp

In "Stanley's Toy Box" by storyteller and artist William Bee, everyone's favorite hard-working hamster Stanley teams up with friends to introduce young readers ages 2-6 to basic toys and their uses. Children will enjoy join Stanley at the park where he and his friends explore and play with all the toys in his toy box. They bounce balls, sail toy boats, and fly kites. What else is in Stanley's toy box?

Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community board book collection as an early introduction to the toy vocabulary and object identification, "Stanley's Toy Box" is very special and entertaining board book that will appeal to Stanley's youngest fans.

Where, Oh Where, Is Barnaby Bear?
Wendy Rouillard
Andrews McMeel Publishing
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106-2109
9781524858810, $8.99, Board Book,18pp

Where, oh where, is Barnaby Bear? We're searching for him everywhere. Has he flown to the moon? Is he in a balloon? Is he up in a tree? Is he down by the sea? He's everywhere a bear should be! Children ages 1-4 will enjoy following Barnaby and friends on this rhyming board book adventure. They will appreciate the combination of colorful illustrations and a sing-song rhyme that they will want to repeat each night before bed! While highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections, it should be noted that "Where, Oh Where, Is Barnaby Bear?" by storyteller and artist Wendy Rouillard is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

What Do I Do with Worry?
Dr. Josh Straub and Christi Straub, authors
Jane Butler, illustrator
B&H Kids
c/o B&H Publishing Group
1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234
978108773155, $12.99, Board Book, 24pp

Do your what-ifs have you worried? New to the neighborhood, little Willow has some big "what-if" worries. What if the kids don't like me? What if my new bedroom is scary? Thankfully, Grandma is ready with a plate of cookies and some wise words about how Willow can name her "worry birds" and give them to God. "What Do I Do with Worry?" authors Dr. Josh and Christi Straub know that today's children have a lot of real "what-ifs" -- about diseases and disasters, friendships and failures, and all-things-growing-up. Charmingly illustrated by Jane Butler, Willow's board book story offers practical lessons for children ages 4-8 to help those worry birds fly away -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections.

What is Daddy Going to Do?
Carly Madden, author
Juliana Perdomo, illustrator
words & pictures
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711263260, $9.99, Board Book, 14pp

Dads are often busy and have lots to do, but they have fun too! In the board book pages of "What is Daddy Going to Do?" by author/storyteller Carly Madden and artist/illustrator Juliana Perdomo, children ages 1-3 can look at what a Daddy is doing or wearing and see if they can guess what he's about to do -- the open the flap on each spread to discover the answer in a delightful, colorful scene. With sturdy flaps to aid hand-eye co-ordination and a question on each page to prompt conversation between parent and child, this bright, engaging board book is the perfect exploration of the activities that make up a parent and toddler's day and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for young children.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Boy Who Illustrated Happiness
Victor D. O. Santos
9781649623003, $23.99 HC, $13.99 PB, 34pp

The Boy Who Illustrated Happiness, a book for children ages 4-9 by author/illustrator Victor Santos tells of young Ben, who is always late for everything because he never wants to stop drawing. He likes illustrating everyday events and he shows his feelings through his art, from drawing his plans for the day to producing creations that make other people smile.

One day, he realizes that his solitary pursuit could be made better by involving others. What if everyone became happier through a shared art effort? As Ben creates a Happiness Club and encourages everyone around him to tap their own unique talents to contribute, the world around him begins to change for the better. The club evolves to attract members around the world ("Not all members spoke the same language. But that was okay, because they communicated through drawings, words, songs, origami, facial expressions, hand gestures, photographs, and many other ways that anyone could understand.

Happiness was the official language of the club, and that was a powerful language everyone understood. Last year, the Happiness Club had more than a million members in over fifteen countries!") as Ben moves into adulthood with a new mission to not just draw, but change lives. Kids receive a lovely message: "What have YOU done today to make someone happy?" This places the onus of injecting positivity into the world at large directly on the reader's shoulders, irregardless of the age, which is an important lesson to absorb as early as possible...yet, is too often omitted from children's reading.

It's the central message in a book that teaches creative positivity and helps young people understand how personal talents and efforts can change the world - a much-needed concept in an era too often criticized for lack of positive opportunities to cultivate new connections. The Boy Who Illustrated Happiness has a lovely message to kids about creative positivity and helps young people understand how they can use their personal talents to change the world. Lovely illustrations add pizzazz and interest to a story which holds a powerful message for young readers about their own importance in and contributions to the world's psyche.

The Doll
Nhung N. Tran-Davies, author
Ravy Puth, illustrator
Second Story Press
9781772601657, $19.95, HC, 24pp

Inspired by real events, "The Doll" is a picture book by author/storyteller Nhung N. Tran-Davies and artist/illustrator Ravy Puth about a young girl and her family arrive in an airport in a new country. They are refugees, migrants who have travelled across the world to find safety. Strangers greet them, and one of them gives the little girl a doll. Decades later, that little girl is grown up and she has the chance to welcome a group of refugees who are newly arrived in her adopted country. To the youngest of them, a little girl, she gives a doll, knowing it will help make her feel welcome. A wonderfully entertaining story for children ages 5-9 with an important underlying message about immigration, "The Doll" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

The Shaman's Apprentice
Zacharias Kunuk, author
Megan Kyak-Monteith, illustrator
Inhabit Media
9781772272680, $16.95, HC, 32pp

A beautifully designed picture book the team of author/storyteller Zacharias Kunuk and artist/illustrator Megan Kyak- Monteith, "The Shaman's Apprentice" tells the story of a young shaman in training who must face her first test -- a trip to the underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. Facing dark spirits and physical challenges, the young shaman must learn to stifle her fear and listen to what Kannaaluk has to tell her.

Impressively entertaining and original, "The Shaman's Apprentice" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers ages 9-12.

The Lady of the Library
Angie Karcher, author
Rachel Sanson, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781534111028, $16.99, HC, 40pp

A ghostly lady haunts her local library for years, roaming the halls and walking through walls. When the library is scheduled for demolition, the building is closed to the public, books are removed, and workmen begin dismantling all the fixtures. The ghost is dismayed. Are her days of haunting over? But then a young girl decides the library needs to be saved. Ghost and girl work together, coming up with creative, inventive ideas to rescue the library and bring patrons and booklovers back.

A unique, lovely and wonderfully entertaining celebration of public libraries and a timely reminder of the important role they play in their local communities, "The Lady of the Library" by the imaginative and talented team of author/storyteller Angie Karcher and artist/illustrator Rachel Sanson will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lady of the Library" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.14).

The Magic Shoes
J. Leilani
Palmetto Publishing Group
9781641115032, $20.00, HC, 26pp

"The Magic Shoes" by author/illustrator J. Leilani follows the adventures of a young boy who has the power to go anywhere in the world with the help of his magic shoes! Children ages 2-12 will enjoy following him along to the land of talking animals, a land made of candy, and so much more! Charmingly illustrated, impressively original, and inherently entertaining, "The Magic Shoes" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Do Not Mess with the Circle of Life
Masoud Malekyari, author
Roer Matasnadal, illustrator
Magink Books
9783966560047, $11.99, HC, 48pp

There are lots of animals in the forest. But have you ever thought how these animals find their food? What if they don't want to eat other animals? Is it possible? Ribo is a young frog. He doesn't like the circle of life. He wished that he could change it... But as it is always said, be careful on what you wish!! The importance of the rules of nature and why the Circle of Life matters, has been beautifully clarified in this picture book story by the team of author/storyteller Masoud Malekyari and artist/illustrator Roer Matasnadal. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "Do Not Mess with the Circle of Life" is an especially recommended addition to family, elementary school and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Bad Apple
Huw Lewis Jones, author
Ben Sanders, illustrator
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500652435, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Apple is not a normal, nice kind of apple. Not a peaceful piece of fruit, no siree. He's rotten to the core. In this irreverent new picture book by award-winning author and storyteller Huw Lewis Jones and accomplished artist/illustrator Ben Sanders presents "Bad Apple", a truly terrible piece of fruit is wreaking havoc far beyond the rim of the fruit bowl. Bad Apple is dead set on making life miserable for Pear, Plum, Cat, and Spoon, and it seems like no one will stop him. He pinches, steals, and breaks his way through the kitchen -- until he encounters Snake. Could Snake be a match for the most mischievous snack in the house? A wonderfully entertaining story with a strong underlying message about unsocial behavior and its consequences, "Bad Apple" is certain to be an immediately popular and enduringly appreciated addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3- 5.

Rocketship Made of Stars
Lois Wickstrom, author
Nicholas Milano, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9780916176938, $24.99, HC, 32pp

Shirl takes Eee-ahh to school. The kids figure out that Eee-ahh is an alien, because she is green and has an antenna. Eee-ahh draws a map of the stars to show where she is from -- it's a constellation that looks like a rocket ship. The kids start naming other constellations and the Teacher loves the new names. Now all the kids want to look at the sky and tell stories about what they see.

Charmingly illustrated by Nicholas Milano, "Rocketship Made of Stars: Naming Constellations" by author/storyteller Lois Wickstrom will have a very special appeal to children ages 4-8. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9780916176945, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "Rocketship Made of Stars: Naming Constellations" is an especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Arno and His Horse
Jane Godwin, author
Felicita Sala, illustrator
Scribble US
c/o Cursor
9781950354467, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Arno had a horse,
it was brown and it was black.
He took it with him everywhere,
but did he bring it back?

When Arno loses his precious toy horse, all the kids in town help him to look for it. They look everywhere, but will Arno ever see his horse again? The collaborative work of author/storyteller Jane Godwin and artist/illustrator Felicita Sala, "Arno and His Horse" is a charmingly presented picture book story about memory, dreams, and the mysterious ways we feel connected to those we love. Beautifully written with a rhyming text, matched with exquisite illustrations, "Arno and His Horse" deftly explore the themes of love, memory, loss and the power objects can hold -- making it a unique, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6.

The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable
Bette Midler, author
Michiko Kakutani, photographer
Joana Avillez, illustrator
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593176764, $18.99, HC, 40pp

How do you get people to appreciate what is right in front of them? In "The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable" it takes a mysterious, beautiful duck and a clear-eyed kid to point out the obvious! Bette Midler's distinctive voice joins striking photos of the real duck by Michiko Kakutani and charming black-and-white drawings by Joana Avillez. "The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable" will have readers of all ages coming back to visit the fantastical interpretation of New York City and its odd ducks -- both feathered and human. Of special note is an informative Afterword by Ms. Kakutani that adds details to the facts behind this one-of-a-kind story of the Mandarin Duck. While very highly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book Wildlife collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Best Friend in the Whole World
Sandra Salsbury, author/illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781682632505, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Roland lives a quiet life filled with books, music, and tea parties for one, but sometimes he feels rather lonely. When Roland finds the perfect companion in Milton (Good listener! Enjoys music! Also alone!), he is overjoyed. It's okay that Milton is just a pine cone; they have so much in common.

Then clues start popping up in the woods, suggesting someone else might be missing their best pine cone friend. Roland must decide if it's worth leaving someone else in their loneliness to keep Milton in his life.

All the more impressive when considering that this sweet and moving picture book is Sandra Salsbury debut as an author/storyteller and artist/illustrator, "Best Friend in the Whole World" explores friendship, compassion, loss, and the transformative power of connection. Her soft watercolor illustrations bring a charming forest and endearing characters to life.

While "Best Friend in the Whole World" is wholeheartedly recommended for 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 it is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

My Nana's Garden
Dawn Casey, author
Jessica Courtney-Tickle, illustrator
Templar Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536217117, $16.99, HC, 40pp

A little girl visits her grandmother in summer and winter, and together they explore the wonders of her garden. Until, one day, Nana isn't there anymore. But as winter gives way to spring, the girl learns that life goes on, and so does the memory of those we love. The collaborative work of author/storyteller Dawn Casey and artist/illustrator Jessica Courtney-Tickle, "My Nana's Garden" is a truly extraordinary, gently charming, and exceptionally recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Nana's Garden" is also readily available in both a paperback edition (9781787416635, $11.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Summer Adventure for Groot!
Brendan Deneen, author
Cale Atkinson, illustrator
Marvel Press
c/o Disney Press
9781368000710, $12.99, HC, 32pp

It's finally summertime! The Guardians of the Galaxy are off on a trip to map the cosmos with plans to see as much as possible in one day. From surfing the waves of Zenn-La and riding a tandem bike on Morag to playing hide-and-seek in Asgard and enjoying a dazzling display of fireworks on Xandar, Rocket and Groot are determined to enjoy all the best activities that summer in space has to offer! The collaborative work of author/storyteller Brendan Deneen and artist/illustrator Cale Atkinson, "Summer Adventure for Groot!" will inspire young readers to create their own to-do list for the ultimate summer adventure. While a highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-5, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Summer Adventure for Groot!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Always By My Side: A Stuffie Story
Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Random House
9780593173824, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 40pp

Always By My Side: A Stuffie Story celebrates a toy and the love a child an attribute to an inanimate object, providing read-aloud parents and the very young with a memorable exploration of feeling connected to a friend. It's unusual to see emotions and connections attached to a love object. Jennifer Black Reinhardt does an outstanding job of following a young child's comfort toy from that toy's perspective. Her narrative blends fantasy with the real emotions of a child attached to his 'lovie' and how it brings him comfort. The drawings are inviting and fun for children ages 3-7.

Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor MI 48104

Four new arrivals from Sleeping Bear Press offer libraries and leisure readers a selection of highly recommended picture books.

Aimee Bissonette's Headstrong Hallie! The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female "Fire Guard" (9781534110618, $16.99 HC, $15.67 Kindle, 40pp) will reach ages 6-10 with a fine presentation spiced by illustrator David Hohn's lovely drawings. Hallie is an outdoorsman, hunter, and the first female fire guard in the country. Born in 1878, she was putting out fires in California from the time she was a child, and used her passion and skill to forge a unique career for a woman of her times. From boarding school in San Francisco to her struggles with a Forest Service that refuses to hire a woman, this is an appealing story that personalizes her life and ambitions.

Hedreich Nichols, Leigh Ann Erickson, and Kelisa Wing's Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change (9781534186781, $17.99 HC, $16.44 Kindle, 48pp) will reach readers ages 10 and older with a basic introduction to racial history in America. This subject has often been regulated to older readers, but here, a younger age range is given age-appropriate discussions about race and inequality which are especially important for classroom discussion. Designed to reach a wide audience of all ages, this book's survey of racism, anti-racism movements, white privilege, and other topics often deemed "too adult" for children will encourages early enlightenment and racial issue savvy.

Also key to this effort is Marching for Change: Movements Across America by Joyce Markovics (9781534186774, $17.99 HC, $17.09 Kindle, 48pp), which presents the age range of 7-9 with a history of marches and protests over various issues, laws, and social change. It documents famous marches in US history, their impact on effecting change, and considers connections between action and change that reinforce the ideals of American values while drawing important connections between marches and decisions made to support freedom.

Gloria Whelan's Summer of the Tree Army: A Civilian Conservation Corps Story (9781585363858, $17.99 HC, $17.09 Kindle, 32p) receives lovely drawings by Kirbi Fagan. It offers a particularly vibrant artistic embellishment of this history of the start and evolution of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Charlie Brightelot sees barracks being built in the woods near his home and hears his father questioning the need for the CCC, but when he becomes friends with its members and faces a forest fire's threat, he and his new companions may be the only ones who can save his home. This adds to the Tales of Young Americans series and covers the evolution of a social program, yet employs the drama of a fictional piece and the bright compelling illustrations of an exceptional artist to bring the discussion to life for young readers ages 6-9.

Wm. B. Eerdmans
4035 Park East Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Two books from the Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing house are excellent presentations recommended for elementary-level libraries in particular.

Maria Jose Ferrada and Maria Elena Valdez's Ninos: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile (9780802855671, $18.99, HC, 76pp) receives fine illustrations by Maria Elena Valdez as it surveys how thirty-four children under the age of fourteen vanished during Augusto Pinochet's regime. Thirty-four poems (one for each lost child) memorialize their lives and personalize their names and perspectives, going beyond any factual review to involve young readers in the emotional impact of their lives and loss.

Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer's A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela's Hope for His Nation (9780802855022, $18.99, HC, 48pp) provides kids with good reading skills with a biographical review of Mandela's life and work. It explores his fight for equality and decades of South African history and struggle alike, and will reach ages 7 and up with a survey that is more accessible and personal than some: "Mandela covered fear with confidence. Courage. And calm."

Both of these new children's books are excellent surveys for elementary-level collections.

Wm. B. Eerdmans
4035 Park East Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Two new picture book stories are top recommendations for young readers and collections looking to include multicultural reads.

Karen Lynn Williams provides a fine survey of immigration experiences as she traces young Enrique's trials in Facing Fear: An Immigration Story (9780802854902, $18.99, HC, 44pp) for children ages 5-9. Sara Palacios provides simple, appealing illustrations to highlight Enrique's family's fears of deportation or being split up. Enrique thinks it's worth the risk to travel to his team's soccer tournaments, but is forced to respond in a different manner when trouble arrives on their doorstep. His story paves the way for a classroom discussion about undocumented immigrants and their families.

Taia Nadareishvili's picture book for children ages 3-7, Sleep Like Me (9780802855664, $17.99, HC, 32pp), tells of a little boy who can't fall asleep. It's a common theme, but his approach is to ask the animals for their advice, learning how each of them achieves the goal of sleep in a different way. But, which of these ways will work out for a little boy? He tries and tries, but has no luck.

Those with good reading skills will relish both the stories and their underlying messages in these two excellent multicultural reads.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover St, Somerville, MA 02144

These two new arrivals from Candlewick are lovely presentations highly recommended for a wide audience of young readers.

Sam McBratney's Mindi and the Goose No One Else Could See (9781536212815, $16.99, HC, 40pp) is illustrated by Linda Olafsdottir and tells of a girl's fear of a goose that nobody else can see. Adults tell her the threat isn't real, but Mindi feels danger nonetheless, and no parental reassurances can calm her. Her father seeks advice from a wise old man friend, who invites Mindi to look at the problem from a different angle. Parents with fearful children ages 3-7 will find this read-aloud an exceptionally fun approach.

Martin Jenkins and James Brown's lovely, oversized survey A World of Plants (9781536215328, $25.00, HC, 64pp) will attract advanced elementary-age kids into middle school levels (ages 7-10). Many an adult will also find it a compelling discussion that covers details other (more cursory) discussions of plants don't offer. These include a visual presentation of three types of seeds, cutaway drawings of how trees work, and discussions of different kinds of soil on a soil profile and classification page.

The images are gorgeous embellishments that illustrate all kinds of topics, from plant environments and natural history to how plants spread, interact, and are classified and grouped.

Peachtree Publishing
1700 Chattahoochee Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Four new Peachtree picture books are excellent choices for libraries and at-home readers. Each offers superior stories and illustrations to keep young minds engaged.

Board book readers will find Stanley's Lunch Box by William Bee (9781682632833, $6.99, Board Book, 18pp) the fun tale of hamster Stanley's assembly of a lunch box from the local market. Kids ages 3-6 will receive a basic introduction to food choices, shopping, and lunch box possibilities in a simple, vocabulary-building read that is fun and enlightening.

Kathleen Doherty's The Thingity-Jig (9781561459599, $17.99 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 32pp) is a whimsical story that receives fun illustrations by Kristyna Litten. It presents a problem-solving bear who, bored, wanders into a people town and discovers a strange "Thingity-Jig" that's bouncy, springy, and fun. He needs help carrying it home and tries to engage his sleepy forest friends to help him, to no avail. Can he bring his treasure home himself, through creative engineering and some special problem-solving prowess? The Thingity-Jig is a fun, engaging story of playful descriptions and independent thinking for children ages 4-8.

No! Said Rabbit by Marjoke Henrichs (9781682632949, $17.99 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 32pp) tells of a young bunny who doesn't like to be told what to do. This is a big problem because Mom is always telling him how to live his life, and resistance to her suggestions is ongoing and usually futile. One particularly conflict-laden day, Rabbit has a startling realization about his mother and his "no" reactions to life. It's a delightful story many any young child ages 2-6 will readily relate to.

The lovely Bird Show (9781682631287, $16.99 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 32) is written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale, and connects clothing terms to bird descriptions. Children ages 2-6 receive a bright contrast between bird plumage and human clothing, learning about patterns, color, diversity, and bird characteristics along the way.

All four of these new Random House titles for children are wonderful, creative presentations highly recommended for libraries and at-home readers alike.

The Music CD Shelf

All Together Now!
Jenn Cleary
Privately Published
$15.00 CD / $9.99 digital, 32 min.

All Together Now! Rockin' Songs for Kids of All Ages is a children's music album featuring positive messages of environmental stewardship and social consciousness. The catchy, jubilant, and compassionate songs are a treasure for both personal and public library children's music collections. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Our Wild Family", "My Sisters and Me", "Scat's the Word for That", "Clean Water", "Love Right Now", "Bubbles", "Backyard Farm", "Dinosaur Friend", "Less Gravity", and "Families of All Kinds".

All Together
Kathryn the Grape
Privately Published

All Together is a children's music album with a strong, empowering theme about the importance of mental health and self- care. Filled with dance-happy, life-affirming songs, All Together makes a wonderful addition to family, school, and public library children's music collections. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Shake Shake Shake", "I Like Being Me", "It's Okay To Cry", "Just Be", "You Matter To Me", "Let's Celebrate", "Jump With Joy", "Choosing Kindness", "I Am That I Am", and "I Feel Good About Myself".

The Strawberry Band
The Story Pirates
Face Cake Records
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

The Strawberry Band is the fourth family-friendly music album by The Story Pirates, featuring up-tempo, dance-friendly pop songs. Vibrant and cheerful, The Strawberry Band is a joy to share especially during car trips or stay-at-home fun. Highly recommended. The tracks are "The Strawberry Band", "The Case of the Musical Cinnamon Buns", "Fun Crazy Weird Hair Store", "Weird Sisters", "Hedgie & The Cloud Kingdom", "Glowy & The Friend Adventure", "The Strawberry Band (Interlude)", "The Fairy Without Wings", "The Night I Started Sharing A Room With My Sister", "Blue Night", "The Strawberry Band (Reprise)", and "I Have a Cookie".

Slow Clap
Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Uniroo Records
$10.00 digital

Slow Clap is a children's album of lively dance party music. A great way to encourage fitness and just plain fun, Slow Clap features quirky lyrics, catchy tunes, and feel-good vibes. Highly recommended. The tracks are "Sticky Icky", "Ice Cold Lemonade" "Putt Putt Butt Butt", "Backyard Swimsuit", "Forklift", "Sneakin' Downstairs", "Pranks a Lot", "Ink", "Lazy Life", "200 Worms", and "Password".

We're All Fruit Salad! The Wiggles Greatest Hits
The Wiggles
Privately Published
$12.98 CD

We're All Fruit Salad! The Wiggles Greatest Hits is a wonderful, career-spanning album released to celebrate the group's 30th anniversary. Filled with family-friendly music at its finest, We're All Fruit Salad! The Wiggles Greatest Hits showcases forty of the group's rockin' hits. We're All Fruit Salad! The Wiggles Greatest Hits is joyful, lighthearted fun, highly recommended both for family and public library children's music collections.

The Grumpytime Club
Carrie Ferguson
Walking Songs Music
$10.00 CD / $10.00 digital, 39 min.

Award-winning singer-songwriter Carrie Ferguson presents The Grumpytime Club, a wonderful children's music album centered the uplifting themes of accepting feelings, celebrating differences, and loving oneself. The positive message of self-acceptance is crafted especially to boost self-confidence in both gender-conforming and gender-nonconforming youth. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Cat and Piggy", "The Puppy Song (You and I)", "Mishy Mashy Mushy Mooshy Moo", "The Grumpytime Club", "Tavi's Song", "The Best Way to Be", "Do It Again", "Up and Down", "Lend Me Your Glasses", "Aza's Song", and "Hope Parade".

The Native American Shelf

A Peacemaker for Warring Nations
Joseph Bruchac
Wisdom Tales Press
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786878, $18.95, HC, 56pp

A Peacemaker for Warring Nations: The Founding of the Iroquois League uses the teachings of modern and traditional Iroquois stories to tell the story of how "the Peacemaker," a divine entity, helped bring peace to the Iroquois Nations. The arrival of peace to these five warring Iroquois entities lead to the formation of a League that alter served to influence the U.S. Constitution. David Kanietakeron Fadden, a Mohawk artist, provides beautiful illustrations that bring to life a detailed fable and series of insights into Native tribal encounters, perspectives, and struggles over war and peace. More so than most books on the topic, A Peacemaker for Warring Nations provides in-depth history for young readers ages 4-9 that reads with the high drama of fiction, but incorporates many facts suitable for classroom discussion and elementary-level Native American studies.

We Are Still Here!
Traci Sorell, author
Frane Lessac, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781623541927, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter of the American Old West instead of an ongoing story. "We Are Still Here!" by author/storyteller Traci Sorell and artist/illustrator Frane Lessaac is the companion picture book to the award-winning "We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga" offers young readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people's past, present, and future.

Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here! Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including forced assimilation, land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination, relocation, self-determination, Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development, Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.

Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in commentary, organization and presentation, "We Are Still Here!" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school and community library Contemporary Native American History & Culture picture book collections.

The Literary Shelf

That Way Madness Lies
Dahlia Adler
Flatiron Books
9781250753861, $18.99, HC, 336pp

West Side Story. 10 Things I Hate About You. Kiss Me, Kate. Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of Shakespeare's most beloved works. Now, in the pages of "That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined", some of today's best writers for teens take on the Bard in these 15 whip-smart and original retellings!

Compiled and edited by Dahlia Adler, the contributors "That Way Madness Lies" includes Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew), Lily Anderson (As You Like It), Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter's Tale), Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet), A. R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing), Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147), Joy McCullough (King Lear), Anna-Marie McLemore (Midsummer Night's Dream), Samantha Mabry (Macbeth), Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus), Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night), Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar), Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet), Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest), and Dahlia Adler (reimagining The Merchant of Venice), .

Especially recommended for family, middle school, highschool, and community library Short Story Anthology collections for young readers ages 12-18, "That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined" is extraordinary, unique and entertaining. It should be noted for personal reading lists this remarkable compendium is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Sea of Kings
Melissa Hope
Jolly Fish Press
c/o North Star Editions
2297 Waters Drive, Mendota Heights, MN 55120
9781631634437, $12.99, PB, 352pp

Thirteen-year-old Prince Noa has hated the ocean since the day it caused his mothers death. But staying away from the sea isn't easy on his tropical island home where he's stuck trying to keep up with his dim-witted and overconfident younger brother Daganthe brawn to Noas brains.

When a vengeful pirate lays siege to their home, Noa and Dagan narrowly escape with their lives. Armed with a stolen ship, a haphazardly assembled crew, and a magical map that makes as much sense as slugs in a salt bath, the brothers set sail for the realms other kingdoms in search of help.

But navigating the sea proves deadlier than Noas worst fears. To free his home, Noa must solve the maps confusing charts and confront the legendary one-eyed pirate before an evil force spreads across the realm and destroys the very people Noa means to protect.

Deftly combining elements of fantasy, magic, action and adventure, "Sea of Kings" by Melissa Hope is an inherently engaging, impressively original, and splendidly entertaining read from first page to last. While "Sea of Kings" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers ages 9-12, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Pippa Park Raises Her Game
Erin Yun
Fabled Films Press
9781944020262, $15.99, PB, 288pp

Life is full of great expectations for Korean American Pippa Park. It seems like everyone, from her family to the other kids at school, has a plan for how her life should look.

When Pippa gets a mysterious basketball scholarship to Lakeview Private, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself. At school, Pippa juggles old and new friends, a crush, and the pressure to get As and score points while keeping her past and family's laundromat a secret from her elite new classmates.

But when Pippa begins to receive a string of hateful, anonymous messages via social media, her carefully built persona is threatened. As things spiral out of control, Pippa wonders if she can keep her old and new lives separate, or if she should even try.

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read from first page to last, "Pippa Park Raises Her Game" by Erin Yun also deftly deals with such universal issues as self-identity, social pressure, familial expectations and more. While especially and unreservedly recommended as an addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers ages 9-12, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Pippa Park Raises Her Game" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781944020286, $8.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

The Good, the Bad, and the Backstory
Melissa Minery, author
Stephanie Hider, illustrator
Boys Town Press
13603 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, NE 68010
9781944882716, $9.95, PB, 172pp

Their day begins in the early morning hours when each of them is roused from slumber. Some awaken to the sound of an annoying alarm. Others are scared out of bed by Mom or Dad. Then there's Ryan, who oversleeps, again. He forgot to set his alarm clock and no one's ever at home to wake him.

Ryan gets to school late. Melanie arrives excited and energetic. Taara comes anxious and distracted. Andrew shows up ready to bully someone, and Ashley enters sad and sulking because of unkind gossip she heard on the bus.

As they walk the hallways, attend class and navigate the dreaded lunchroom, they experience all of the messiness of middle school -- the fragile friendships, the peer pressure, the fickle social hierarchy and the relationship drama. Issues at home and interactions at school influence how they relate to one another, their classmates and their teachers throughout the day.

In "The Good, the Bad, and the Backstory" author/storyteller Melissa Minery gives young readers ages 9-12 a birds-eye view of a middle school day as it unfolds for each character, offering an unflinching look at how a child's backstory; family life, values, beliefs, triumphs and tragedies; influences his or her actions.

Written to specifically appeal to middle schoolers and enhanced with the black-and-white artwork of illustrator Sephanie Hider, "The Good, the Bad, and the Backstory" is a true-to-life story with a valuable message about courage, forgiveness, empathy and understanding -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school and community library collections for young readers.

The YA Fiction Shelf

The Sky Above Us
Natalie Lund
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780525518037, $18.99, HC, 384pp

The morning after their senior year beach party, Izzy, Cass, and Janie are woken by a thundering overhead. Then they and their classmates watch in shock as a plane crashes into the water. When the passengers are finally recovered, they are identified as Izzy's twin brother, Israel, Cass's ex-boyfriend, Shane, and Janie's best friend, Nate. But Izzy can feel when her brother is in pain, and she knows he's not really dead. So she, Cass, and Janie set out to discover what actually happened that day -- and why the boys were on the plane.

Told in alternating timelines and points of view, "The Sky Above Us" by Natalie Lund is follows the three boys in the weeks leading up to that fateful flight, and the girls they left behind as they try to piece together the truth about the boys they loved and thought they knew. "The Sky Above Us" is about the ripple effects of tragedy, the questions we leave unanswered, and the enduring power of friendship.

An extraordinary novel for young readers ages 12-17, "The Sky Above Us" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Sky Above Us" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

I Can See Clearly: Rise of a Supernatural Hero
James A. Cusumano
Waterside Productions
9781951805470, $22.95, HC, 376pp

Sixteen-year-old star basketball player, Luc Ponti wins an important tiebreaker game for the Palo Alto Vikings with a three-point basket during the last few seconds of play. He is simultaneously critically injured with a flagrant foul by a player from the opposing team. Luc dies for several minutes but is revived after having a near-death experience (NDE). He inexplicably begins to develop superpowers, which change the course of his life and have a profound impact on the world.

Luc becomes caught in a tangled web of espionage, blackmailed by the CIA to use his powers of remote viewing to spy for them. This creates conflict in his life, most significant -- how can he pursue his long-time dream of playing varsity ball for a top college; major in engineering; and possibly go pro after graduation.

A compelling and original novel "I Can See Clearly" by James A. Cusumano is the story of a talented teenager seeking the Meaning of Life and his Life Purpose, while fighting the grip of the CIA. While very highly recommended, especially for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Can See Clearly" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781665025607, $29.95, CD).

Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger
Margarita Engle
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534464964, $18.99, HC, 224pp

The people of Cuba are living in the special period in times of peace. At least that is what the Cuban government under Fidel Castro insists that this era must be called, but the reality behind these words is starvation.

Liana is struggling to find enough to eat. Yet hunger has also made her brave: she finds the courage to skip a summer of so-called volunteer farm labor, even though she risks government retribution. Nearby, a quiet, handsome boy named Amado also refuses to comply, so he wanders alone, trying to discover rare sources of food.

A chance encounter with an enigmatic dog brings Liana and Amado together. United in hope and hunger, they soon discover that their feelings for each other run deep. Love can feed their souls and hearts -- but is it enough to survive?

"Your Heart My Sky" by author Margarita Engle tells a painful het poignant story of love in a time of hunger that is inspired by her own family's struggles during a dark period in Cuba's history under the Castro regime. Impressively well written and thoroughly engaging from first page to last, while "Your Heart My Sky" is unequivocally recommended for Middle School, Highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 12-18, it must be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Fade into the Bright
Jessica Koosed Etting, author
Alyssa Embree Schwartz, author
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780593174913, $17.99, HC, 336pp

Abby needs to escape a life that she no longer recognizes as her own. Her old life (the one where she was a high school volleyball star with a textbook-perfect future) has been ripped away. Abby and her sister, Brooke, have received a letter from their estranged dad informing them he has Huntington's disease, a fatal, degenerative disorder that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. And when the sisters agree to genetic testing, one of them tests positive.

Fleeing to Catalina Island for the summer, Abby is relieved to be in a place where no one knows her tragic history. But when she meets aspiring documentary filmmaker Ben (tall, outdoorsy, easygoing, with eyes that don't miss a thing) she's thrown off her game. Ben's the kind of guy who loves to figure out people's stories. What if he learns hers?

Critique: An inherently engaging story of love, hope and sacrifice, "Fade into the Bright" by the storytelling team of Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 12-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fade into the Bright" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

State of the Union
Kitty Felde
Chesapeake Press
9781735976792, $9.99, PB, 308pp

Synopsis: Fina Mendoza, the 10-year-old daughter of a congressman, is sitting in the House gallery of the U.S. Capitol when a mysterious bird poops on the head of the president during the State of the Union address.

That bird could be a Chickcharney, the legendary bird from the Caribbean, which has come to Washington to deliver a secret message for Fina's friend, a cashier at the Capitol snack bar. Fina hopes the bird also carries a message from her own mother, who passed away not so many months ago. Fina gets detecting help from a pair of congressional dogs as she searches for clues in the U.S. Capitol.

Fina's grandmother has finally moved to Washington to take care of the motherless family, much to the joy of the Mendozas. But Abuelita's bossiness cramps the family's style, with a restricted diet for Papa, a dress code for teenage Gabby, and Abuelita's insistence on walking 10-year-old Fina to school. Tensions finally explode when Abuelita and her congressman son clash over the best way to reform the nation's immigration laws.

Fina's investigations take a personal turn when she must track down her grandmother, who has run away from home after Abuelita's TV interview at an immigration protest outside the Capitol. Can Fina find her missing grandmother and outsmart the Secret Service, Capitol Police, and most of Capitol Hill to find that bird?

Critique: The second title in the new and outstanding Fina Mendoza Mystery series by author and storyteller Kitty Felde, "State of the Union" is an impressively original, exceptionally well written, thoroughly entertaining, and unreservedly recommended read for children ages 7-12. Currently available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "State of the Union" will be available from Chesapeake Press for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Mystery Fiction collections for young readers in Grades 3-5 in a paperback edition (9781735976792, $9.99) on August 13, 2021.

Editorial Note #1: It should be noted that the first volume in this fun and educational series, "Welcome to Washington Fina Mendoza" (9781735976747, $17.99, HC; 9781735976723, $9.99, PB; $3.99 Kindle) is readily available from both and the publisher directly.

Editorial Note #2: Kitty Felde writes kids books and plays that have been produced around the world. Her debut middle grade mystery "Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza" was inspired by her many years covering Capitol Hill as a public radio reporter. The book now appears as an episodic podcast called "The Fina Mendoza Mysteries" available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen. Kitty is also host and executive producer of the award-Book Club for Kids podcast, winner of the "Excellence in the Humanities" award from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, the California Library Association Technology award, and named one of the Top 10 Podcasts for Kids in the world by The Times of London. Kitty co-founded Theatre of Note, wrote for TV, and taught playwriting to inner city kids. She maintains two informative websites: &

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Witching Moon
K. E. Bonner
Brandylane Publishers
5 South 1st Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781947860926, $18.95, PB, 298pp

Every once in an eon, when the Earth eclipses the moon on a winter solstice, an immortal is born under a witching moon. Anne has always had the strangest feelings -- memories she couldn't place; strangers she inexplicably yearned for. After she rescues the enigmatic Phillip from a shipwreck, her comfortable life on the island of Cusabo is shattered, and the mystery of her destiny starts to fall into place. Anne leaves behind the life she's always known and sets out with Phillip on an arduous journey to Amaranth, where her ancient family awaits her. But the path is dark and daunting, and Anne's powers have only just begun to manifest.

Critique: An impressively original and deftly crafted fantasy novel by K. E. Bonner, "Witching Moon" is especially commended to the attention of young readers ages 14-18 and will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections.

The Trickster's Sister
R. Chris Reeder
Black Rose Writing
PO Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
9781684336777, $22.95, PB, 439pp

Synopsis: After getting kidnapped by a demigod and imprisoned in another dimension, Makayla was really hoping that her life would get back to normal. Or at least as normal as life could be when you had a goblin for a best friend.

But now her sleepy Midwestern town is being invaded by shadows. Her neighbors are being stolen away and replaced by changelings. And when she tries to escape, her path threatens to take her to the one place she never wanted to return to: the mysterious and dangerous Land of Annwfyn.

Makayla and Brynn must confront their deepest fears and their worst enemies as their journey takes them to the farthest ends of the Earth and beyond.

Critique: The sequel to YA fantasy author R. Chris Reeder's "The Changeling's Daughter" (Black Rose Writing, 9781684331819, $14.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 305pp), in the pages of "The Trickster's Sister" once again young readers ages 13-18 will encounter and be entertained by a deftly crafted action/adventure fantasy hallmarked by originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that will keep their rapt attention from cover to cover -- and look eagerly to more books in Chris Reeder's 'The Coblyn Chronicles' series. While very highly recommended, especially for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Trickster's Sister" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

The Stolen Kingdom
Jillian Boehme
Tor Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
9781250298829, $18.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings.

Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner's daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king's second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir -- and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.

When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

Critique: A riveting fun read from first page to last, "The Stolen Kingdom" by Jillian Boehme is an epic action/adventure fantasy of the first order. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of young readers ages 13-18 that "The Stolen Kingdom" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Christian Shelf

The Story of the Plain Brown Wren
Suzanne Anderson
9781489730770, $17.99, PB, 24pp

Mocked and laughed at for her plainness, Wren helps her birdie friends discover how we should recognize and honor our unique characteristics. Wren saves her birdie friends using the special talent God gave her, and helps her friends learn a valuable lesson about boasting and bragging.

Highly recommended for family, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library collections, "The Story of the Plain Brown Wren" by author/illustrator Suzanne Anderson is a delightfully charming picture book story teaches little children ages 5-8 about God's incredible gifts and talents for all of His creation with lessons straight out of God's Word that deftly correlate with The Nest Christian Academy's biblically based curriculum.

God Gave Us Prayer
Lisa Tawn Bergren, author
David Hohn, illustrator
WaterBrook Press
c/o WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
9780525654117, $14.99, HC, 56pp

Little Pup discovers Mama sitting silently by the lake, praying. But what does that mean? And how does Little Pup go about praying to God? And what do you say to God? Little Pup's questions spill out as he and Mama walk through the woods. Mama patiently helps Little Pup learn the importance of prayer, forgiveness, gratefulness, and compassion toward others.

With guided prayers for children to use and inspiration to help them create their own, "God Gave Us Prayer" by the team of author/storyteller Lisa Tawn Bergren and artist/illustrator David Hohn gently models the ACTS method of prayer: adoration, confession, thanks, and supplication.

A part of the simply outstanding 'God Gave Us' series from WaterBrook Press, "God Gave Us Prayer" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "God Gave Us Prayer" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610

The "Tree Street Kids" is a new series of Christian action/adventure novels by Amanda Cleary Eastep for young readers ages 8-12.

In the debut novel for this new series, "Jack vs. the Tornado" (9780802421029, $8.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 192pp), 10-year-old Jack is shocked to discover his parents are moving from their rural homestead to the boring suburbs of Chicago. Full of energy and determination, Jack devises a plan to get himself back to his beloved farmhouse forever. Only three things stand in his way: a neighbor in need, a shocking discovery, and tornado season. Will Jack find a solution? Or is God up to something bigger than Jack can possibly imagine?

"The Hunt for Fang" (9780802421029, $8.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 192pp) is Book 2 of the Tree Street Kids series. Jack and his friends learn some survival skills at the church's summer camp. They'll need them! Determined to find Ruthie's lost cat and protect Jack's new puppy from Fang, the local wildlife, the kids head deep into the woods. Just when they think they've cornered the "enemy," the kids realize someone has gone missing. Is Fang up to no good? Or will faith and friendship be enough to see the kids make it out alive?

The Tree Street Kids live on Cherry, Oak, Maple, and Pine, but their 1990s suburban neighborhood is more than just quiet, tree-lined streets. Jack, Ellison, Roger, and Ruthie face challenges and find adventures in every cul-de-sac and creek -- as well as God's great love in one small neighborhood. This new series is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Charlie Russell and the Gnomes of Bull Head Lodge
Emily Crawford Wilson, author
Jeanne Bowman, illustrator
South Dakota Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
9781941813300, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Deep in the woods of Glacier National Park, artist Charlie Russell struggles to create his latest painting. With fellow artist Joe De Yong, he hikes into the wilderness to clear the cobwebs from his mind. Just as the artists disappear from sight, three gnomes funny little creatures that Charlie built from twisted branches and birch bark POP! POP! POP! to life. They know how to inspire Charlie's next masterpiece! Jumping down from the porch, they search the forest floor for just the right thing to jog his imagination.

Creating an afternoon of magical mischief, author and storyteller Emily Wilson deftly "Charlie Russell and the Gnomes of Bull Head Lodge", an original and modern fairy tale based on the life of the artist Charles M. Russell (1864 1926) and his many letters. Artist and illustrator Jeanne Bowman fills each page with the beautiful colors and wildlife of Glacier National Park -- a genuine landscape that still conjures awe in visitors to this very day.

Simply stated, "Charlie Russell and the Gnomes of Bull Head Lodge" is a wonderfully entertaining and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library fairytale picture book collections for young readers.

Kindness Tales: World Folktales to Talk About
Margaret Read MacDonald
August House
3500 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9781947301665, $16.95, PB, 175pp

Compiled by Margaret Read MacDonald, "Kindness Tales: World Folktales to Talk About" is the third book in an outstanding trilogy that includes "Peace Tales" and "Earth Care". With this latest volume, Margaret curates a collection of her favorite stories that celebrate the timeless power of kindness to make our world a gentler, safer, and more loving place.

"Kindness Tales" is comprised of more than forty folktales that illustrate the transformative power of kindness through leading, sharing and caring for one another. These stories share a common theme of using thoughtful and sometimes generous acts of kindness to make the world better. In addition, these stories demonstrate how taking personal responsibility can help other people in unexpected ways.

Supplemented by generous reference notes, source information, and suggestions for further reading on the topic of kindness, these stories can be shared with groups of all ages. Some of these tales easily engage preschool and primary school-aged children, while other stories are more thought-provoking and engaging for teenagers. These timeless tales from the world's great oral traditions are a delight to tell, read aloud with a group, or simply enjoy as a quiet reading experience. "Kindness Tales" can also be used as a personal meditation for reflecting more deeply on the impact of quiet acts of kindness.

Critique: An inherently entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking collection of folktales, "Kindness Tales: World Folktales to Talk About" is unreservedly commended for inclusion into the personal reading lists and family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Folktale/Fairytale collections for young readers ages 8-10.

Editorial Note: Margaret Read MacDonald is well known for her lively retellings of folktales. Drawing on her extensive background in folklore (Ph.D. Indiana University Folklore Institute) and her many travels throughout the world, MacDonald searches out unusual tales from the world's folk literature and oral traditions. She has a unique gift for telling these stories in her performances so they appeal to children and adults alike. Margaret is a prolific writer having published over 55 books.

Okinawan Princess
Lee A. Tonouchi, author
Laura Kina, illustrator
Masashi Sakihara, translator
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573065320, $18.95, HC, 47pp< br>
When Gramma notices how much her granddaughter wishes she could look like a supermodel, Gramma shares how her own mother was made fun of when she moved to Hawai'i from Okinawa due to the bold blue hajichi tattoos on the back of her hands.

Gramma then reveals the legend behind those mysterious markings. When the Okinawan Princess is kidnapped by Japanese pirates, will she wait for someone to save her or will she be able to outwit her captors? This multilingual story is written in Hawai'i Creole, then translated into Japanese and the endangered indigenous Okinawan language called Uchinaaguchi. "Okinawan Princess" is part of ongoing efforts to revitalize Okinawan language, history and culture worldwide.

While very highly recommended, especially for family, elementary school and community library picture book collections, "Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos" is a beautifully illustrated, transpacific feminist fairy tale for all young readers and one that deftly illuminates an ancient tradition while pushing back against normative standards of beauty.

The LGBT Shelf

Adventures with My Daddies
Gareth Peter, author
Garry Parsons, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781682632819, $16.99, HC, 32pp

"Adventures with My Daddies" by the team of author/storyteller Gareth Peter and artist/illustrator Garry Parsons offers a series of incredible adventures for children ages 4-8, showcasing an endearing, diverse family as the bedtime stories they read burst into colorful life. Together, the daddies and their little one battle dragons, dodge deadly dinosaurs, zoom to the moon, and explore the world in a hot air balloon, before winding down to sleep in a wonderfully cozy ending.

"Adventures with My Daddies" is a unique, imaginative, heartwarming entertainment filled with bright, optimistic acrylic and pencil illustrations that celebrate the magic of books and unique family stories as well as the beauty of diverse families -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library LGBTQ picture book collections.

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.

A Stone Sat Still
Brendan Wenzel
Chronicle Books
9781452173184, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This simple story captures and relays the profound reality of perspective. A simple stone sitting still in a solitary place becomes many things to many observers. In itself, it never changes, yet it enlightens the ability of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship. Every encounter with the stone produces a personal experience relative to the individual's faculty to process and identify with its presence, thereby making it unique to each and every observer. (Ages 3-5)

Balloons for Tiger
Lori Orlinsky, author
Vanessa Alexandre, illustrator
Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781645435235, $14.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet story offers children a different view to help them process their grief. Whether pet or person, loss can be devastating. This young family brings closure to the loss of their beloved cat by sending bright and happy balloons filled with love and memories on a heavenly adventure. Questions are also provided to engage in heartfelt discussion. (Ages 3-7)

I Love You (Almost Always)
Anna Llenas
Sterling Children's Books
9781454939504, $24.95

Christine Irvin

Ralph is a roly-poly and Rita is a firefly. They are good friends. They are very different from each other, and that is a good thing, usually, mostly, until they start to find fault with each other's differences. Rita starts to think that Ralph's shell is too hard. Then Ralph begins to think that Rita shines too brightly. How can they reconcile their differences and find a way to keep their friendship intact? The story of Ralph and Rita is told with the help of 3-D pop-ups and interactive flaps on the pages. (Ages 3-7)

Mindi and the Goose No One Else Could See
Sam McBratney, author
Linda Olafsdottir, illustrator
9781536212815, $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This cute story explores an old thought-provoker: Is something real if we're the only one who sees it? And it gives us a gentle peek into anxiety. Little Mindi is troubled by a goose in her room that no one else could see. Dad and Mom do their best to shoo it away, but it was very hard when they can't actually see it. Knowing when and where to get help is very important to overcome any real problem, and dad finds just the help they need to handle theirs. An insightful story with warm and appealing illustrations. (Ages 3-7)

Julius and Macy: A Very Brave Night
Annelouise Mahoney
Two Lions
9781542007160, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Julius and Macy like to play heroes. Julius pretends he's the defender of the forest, while Macy has a quieter strength. When their snack disappears one night, they both have to be brave in their own ways to find out who took it, and they ultimately discover that the real thief isn't anything like they imagined. Soft, expressive illustrations, lyrical language, and a story of friendship and bravery will make this book a favorite for readers both young and old. (Ages 3-7)

Nature Activity Book
Alain Gree
Button Books
9781787080478, $12.99

Christine Irvin

Get your kids excited about learning about nature and the great outdoors. The activities in this book deal with farms, the seaside, animals, plants, and more. The pages are filled with fun activities and puzzles like mazes, dot-to-dots, word searches and coloring. There are over 100 stickers included in the book that correspond to various pages in the text. The activities will provide hours of educational fun for kids. (Ages 4-6)

Moon Puppets
Baxter B. Bramatti, author
Taylor J. Graham, illustrator
Flowing Rock Publishing
9780578662398, $11.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This story is filled with inspiration and imagination and heartily fueled by determination! Providing aspiring steps to be all we can be. Flora Figglesworth proves herself to be as delightful as her name, as she encourages each reader to reach for their dreams. (Ages 4-7)

Princess Dinosaur
Daniel Kibblesmith, author
Ashley Quach, illustrator
Little, Brown
9780316457606, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Perfect for fans of Princesses Wear Pants, this spirited and expectation-defying story introduces a spunky heroine who knows she can be anything she wants. With a simple storyline and wonderful illustrations, author Daniel Kibblesmith teaches girls that they can be anything they want to be, even a princess AND a dinosaur at the same time! (Ages 4-8)

A Small Kindness
Stacy McAnulty, author
Wendy Leach, illustrator
Running Press Kids
9780762495221, $17.99

Anita Lock

Call it a game of tag; it's more like a moment of magnetism, positive infectious energy when one child in her classroom smiles to another. A smile leads to saying hello, sharing, courtesy, complimenting, and the list goes on. The ripple effect of kindness is made even more profound with a multiracial cast (including those with disabilities) as the grayscale depictions, replete with subdued facial expressions, slowly morph into hues that close this wonderfully contagious story with happy faces and vibrant colors. An eye-catching book with scant text providing a timeless read with a powerful message. (Ages 4 to 8)

On the Day the Horse Got Out
Audrey Helen Weber
Little Brown and Company
9780316459846, $18.99

Anita Lock

It's all things frightening and frolicking when a horse gets out of its pen. There's nothing "peaceable" about this striking debut, reminiscent of Edward Hicks's The Peaceable Kingdom as a chain of realistic and imagined ups and downs unfold. While roses and clouds cried and a rabbit dug a hole too deep, the ants played house and the kids danced. Set to large-print rhyme and verse with an anticipated repetitive stanza against enchanting scenes, On the Day the Horse Got Out is sure to be a new favorite for little ones. (Ages 4 to 8)

Jackie Wins Them All
Fabian E. Ferguson, author
Alisa Aryutova, illustrator
F. Ferguson Books
9780578752211, $17.60

Anita Lock

Middle schooler Jackie J. Spade is top in sports, science, spelling, and the list goes on. Not only that, she has an array of awards to prove it. But on the day of the 200-meter race, the tide unexpectedly turns and someone else wins. How Jackie reacts to the game-changing moment will either make or break her. Spirited couplets seamlessly complement the equally energetic cheerful-and-muted pastel scenes, to capture one little girl's incredibly talented abilities. An encouraging read and a must-have addition to African American literature. (Ages 4 to 8)

Roman Adventure Activity Book
Jen Alliston
Button Books
9781787080430, $9.99

Christine Irvin

This activity book is focused on the history of Ancient Rome. History books can be bland and boring, but this one sure isn't. It is filled with activities and puzzles such as anagrams, codes, coloring, connect-the-dots, and many others that deal with the people, places, and things of Ancient Rome. There are also over 100 stickers included in the book that correspond to various pages in the text. Let your kids have fun while they learn about the ancient civilization of Rome. (Ages 4-8)

One More Dance with Grandma
Mary Lou Rosien, author
Igor Rosien, illustrator
White Bird Publications
9781633633988, $12.99

Diana Perry

Grandparents are as much a treasure for children as grandchildren are to them. I loved how dancing was chosen as the main focus because it is not only physically interactive, but creates lasting memories for all. This book made me remember and miss my own grandparents and hope it serves to get all who read it to contact the grandparents in their lives. If you don't have any, visit an elderly person in the neighborhood or take a trip to a nursing home. The world needs more books like this one; it's medicine for the heart. (Ages 4-10)

Where in the Zoo are You?
Robin Blumenthal
Book Villages
9781944298715, $15.00

Diana Perry

Ten days after a flood at the Living World Zoo, the zookeepers are finally able to get inside to check on the animals. They discover that while all the animals endured the flood, they each had a very different experience. The community joins the zookeepers and together they work to help the animals feel loved and safe again. I felt that there was a comparison with animals feeling isolated and trapped, with children suffering isolation and loneliness during Covid-19. It's the perfect indirect message to comfort children who haven't been able to fully interact with their friends and teachers and shows that bad times don't last forever. This is the best book I've read so far to help children understand why they're feeling sad and to select the right words to express it. (Ages 5+)

Antoinette the Tree Frog
Geraldine Elschner, Xaviere Devos
Schiffer Kids
9780764361104, $8.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This gorgeous board book is a child's first introduction into the beautiful paintings done by Claude Monet, who loved water lilies so much, he dug a pond for them to grow and included them in almost 300 of his paintings. This exquisite board book will delight the young and old and provide a little art history lesson. (Ages 5-7)

Hide-and-Seek with Little Hippo
Geraldine Elschner and Anja Klauss
Schiffer Kids
9780764361111, $8.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This beautiful board book introduces the land of Pyramids in Egypt. Follow Little Hippo as he changes colors to match his surroundings and becomes covered with flora and fauna. This collection of board books is a must for a young child's library to introduce them to art history and its importance. (Ages 5-7)

Small or Tall, We Sparkle After All
Aditi Wardhan Singh, author
Noor Alshalabi, illustrator
Raising World Children
9781733564984, $11.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

What a wonderful way to build a child's self-esteem and confidence. Shreya believed she would suddenly grow tall on her birthday. Her family helps her to see that being small has many advantages. I especially loved how it explained the pituitary gland and hormones and how we each receive our own genes. It's how you see yourself that matters and not to worry about what others believe. (Ages 6-9)

Baloney and Friends: Going Up!
Greg Pizzoli
Little, Brown
9780759554801, $12.99

Christine Irvin

Whether it's writing the lyrics to their own original theme song, having an epic sleepover in a tent, experimenting with an incredible new device that lets them reach for the sky, or thinking deep (or deeply funny) thoughts about the world around them, this new collection of mini-tales and three mini-comics will have you cheering and rooting for Baloney the pig, Bizz the bumblebee, Peanut the horse, and everyone's favorite grumpy rabbit, Krabbit! Greg Pizzoli has created the perfect book for newly independent readers, and a lesson on how to draw the characters in the book, all done in a kid-friendly comic (graphic) book style. (Ages 6-9)

The Garden and the Glen: A Fable about Character and the Courage to Be Different
Elizabeth Moseley, author
Maggie Green, illustrator
Lenox Street Press
9781732844308, $27.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

With identity being challenged on all sides, this entertaining story reminds us where the victory hides. Many agendas arise when bullies begin to define the norm, and each one must search their hearts to know where they stand. Little blue butterfly finds herself in just such a position. Among the many angles this provides, one is able to weigh and discover their options. Blue butterfly finds her ground and makes her stand. She embraces her difference and makes a difference! It's scary to make a stand, but sometimes it's the very entrance we need to be our very best. (Ages 6-12)

Dragon Girls
Maddy Mara
$5.99 each

Diana Perry

Dragon Girls is a super collectible new series that celebrates the inner fire of everyday girls. Azmina, Willa, and Naomi are thrilled to learn they're Glitter Dragon Girls. Summoned to the Magic Forest by its magnificent ruler, the Tree Queen, the girls quickly find out their dragon-selves have unbelievable abilities. But with this newfound magic comes a big responsibility... This book will make any reader smile. I found it a pleasure to read. (Ages 7-10)

I Can Say NO
Jenny Simmons, author
Kristin Sorra, illustrator
National Center for Youth Issues
9781937870775, $9.95

Anita Lock

Zuri has a message to share about her superpower; it comes in the form of a small word made up of two letters that when joined together can change the course of life events: No. Cleverly fashioned, thought-provoking rhyme and verse communicate the power that comes with saying "no." Various quasi graphic-novel-designed scenes that includes a full array of a multiracial and multicultural cast and a fearlessly declarative centerfold highlight ways that saying "no" builds dignity and respect for self and others. Tips included at the book's closure. (Ages 7 to 11)

Thomas Creeper and the Gloomsbury Secret
J.R. Potter
Regal House Publishing
9781646030590, $15.95

Diana Perry

Thomas hasn't been dealt the best hand in life: heir to a miserable family funeral business, in the miserable seaside town of Gloomsbury where the sun only shines a few times a year. Then a body arrives on the doorstep of Creeper & Sons Funeral Home with signs of foul play Thomas's meticulous father overlooks, Thomas is thrust into the middle of a terrifying mystery, one which will reveal the link between his family and the darkest secret of his hometown. This book was hard to put down as one page pulled you forward to the next. (Ages 7-12)

Forever this Summer
Leslie C. Youngblood
Little, Brown
9780759555204, $14.49

Christine Irvin

Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of small-town USA - aka Bogalusa, Louisiana - where Mama grew up and Great Aunt Vie needs constant care. Author Leslie C. Youngblood tackles an array of subjects in this middle grade novel about family, adoption, friendships, Alzheimer's, physical deformities, racial prejudice, all while creating an interesting story with great characters. (Ages 8-12)

But I don't want to say Goodbye!
Ta'Shay Mason, author
Tanya Colton-Cauley, illustrator
Belshay House
9780578759357, $11.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Grief is personal and exacting on the heart. It's a path laid in heavy overgrowth and can be difficult to navigate. Children and adults alike may find themselves thrust upon this path, unwillingly. But, helpful lighting and well-placed rest stops can make traveling successful. This child's story of finding peace in saying goodbye in dealing with the greatest losses of life will help light those difficult journeys and lead us back to brighter paths. (Ages 8-12)

Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code
Bridget Farr
Little, Brown
9780316461573, $16.99

Diana Perry

Margie is excited to start sixth grade but when she realizes that the strict dress code is for girls only, she comes out of her shyness to lead the girls into a peaceful revolt to change the rules. Young readers will cheer on Margie in her quest for equality. Margie has her ups and downs, but never gives up which will encourage readers to find the strength in themselves when times get difficult. A fun-to-read book, kids will relate to Margie who is always shy, always polite, but has developed a deep sense of fairness for all as she finds a way to lead the other girls on their mission to acquire fairness for all in the school's dress code. (Ages 8-12)

The Secret Starling
Judith Eagle, author
Jo Rioux, illustrator
Walker Books
9781536213652, $16.99

Diana Perry

Clara Starling lives a life of dull rules, deadly routine, and flavorless meals under her cold uncle's strict regime - until the day Uncle disappears, leaving Clara alone in his old mansion. When streetwise orphan Peter and his rescue cat arrive unexpectedly, the children seize the chance to live by their own rules. Diabolical villains, plucky orphans, and glamorous ballet stars populate this absorbing adventure with a classic feel. A great book for boys and girls alike, it's filled with adventure, danger, hope and inspiration while the characters bond and learn to trust each other. (Ages 10-14)

Moon & Shadow: A Tale of Liamec
J. Steven Lamperti
Lamprey Publishing
9781734597400, $8.99

Diana Fisher

Moon & Shadow is an enchanting fairy tale-style story, complete with a young hero, Sebastian, a dangerous and magical quest, and a host of engaging characters. Told with a great deal of charm and anticipation, the author skillfully weaves the story as threads in a tapestry, keeping the reader entertained and turning pages until the satisfying end. Many little life lessons are woven in as well - gratitude, self-worth, maturity, and the magic that derives from pooling the gifts and talents of many to serve the good of all. Recommended for middle grade readers and up. Adults will also thoroughly enjoy this book. (Ages 12+)

Flat Earth
Brent Golembiewski
Baba Jaga Books
9781734887501, $12.99

Diana Fisher

Beginning with a familiar but mysterious wall and an anomalous meteor shower, a series of strange incidents startle James out of his small-town life as a high school baseball player into a futuristic world that, at first, makes no sense. Things become clear as he discovers the dangerous truth, with the help of a feisty, beautiful girl and a band of young rebels trying to save the humans on Flat Earth. Plot twists, nonstop action, and mysteries will keep the reader turning pages until the end. For teens and young adults who like action-packed sci-fi adventure, Flat Earth is an exciting read. (Ages 13+)

The King's Decree
Torina Kingsley
Trunk Up Books
9781734906240, $9.99

Diana Perry

Princess Devina's life was quite normal right up until she turned 15. On her birthday, her emotions seemed to leave her and all she felt was empty. Her father issued a decree that whichever young man could make her smile again would win her hand in marriage. This unusual fairy tale takes a twist on the normal where we learn that the handsome young prince is not actually what Devina needs to make her smile again. There's a lot of twists and turns and surprises. This book is just right for bedtime or a rainy day. (Ages 13-18)

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