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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 33, Number 5 May 2023 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Environmental Shelf Science Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf Young Adult Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Biography Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf Mythology Shelf
Books in Series Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Your Freedom, Your Power
Allison Matulu, author
Clelia Castro-Malaspina, author
Carmella Kendall, illustrator
Running Press Kids
c/o Running Press
9780762478385, $16.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: The First Amendment of the Constitution grants kids and every other citizen five vital privileges including: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government. Because the First Amendment is everywhere in their lives, kids know more about it.

With the publication of "Your Freedom, Your Power: A Kid's Guide to the First Amendment" by co-authors Allison Matulu, and Clelia Castro-Malaspina, middle grade readers get a focused look at their freedoms and rights through the lens of this all-powerful First Amendment.

Illustrated by Carmella Kendall, "Your Freedom, Your Power" engages children in learning more about their country and their rights and responsibilities. Each section will answer key questions readers may have thought about like: Do I have the right to protest at school? Can I be punished at school for something I say on social media? Why can't I wear whatever I want? Can I text whatever I want?

While answering these questions and explaining fundamental legal concepts every kid should know, "Your Freedom, Your Power" also shares the fascinating stories behind some of the most important legal cases and social movements that have affected kids' lives and rights.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Your Freedom, Your Power: A Kid's Guide to the First Amendment" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school and community library Political Science collections for young readers ages 10-13. It should be noted for personal reading lists and home-schooling parents that "Your Freedom, Your Power: A Kid's Guide to the First Amendment" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Allison Matulli ( is a former attorney and educator, and the Founder of The Little Lawyers, an organization promoting legal awareness for children. Allison is also an educational reform activist who consults with schools worldwide on how to provide those tools by introducing and teaching educators and kids to address issues of race, systemic racism, prejudice, legal literacy, diversity, and inclusion. She continues to use her voice to speak up for children's rights, whether as a keynote speaker on Tuesday Times (a round table sponsored by The New York Times) or as a contributing writer for journals such as Education Week.

Editorial Note #2: Clelia Castro-Malaspina is a former attorney whose goal is to make the law more accessible to kids. She received her bachelor's degrees in English and Communications from Boston College, her law degree from American University Washington College of Law and her Master's in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College.

Yellow Butterfly
Oleksandr Shatokhin
Red Comet Press
9781636550640, $21.99, HC

Yellow Butterfly is filled with hope, symbolism, and possibility as it covers the war in the Ukraine and a yellow butterfly's representation of freedom. It's the perfect picture book of choice to cover the war and it's impact and possibilities for the very young, and a portion of the sales proceeds will be donated to The Universal Reading Foundation, which sends children's books to Ukraine.

Black and white and yellow wordless pictures capture the vivid threat of war and the symbolism and possibilities of yellow butterflies that portend a time of peace and freedom in the future. Adults choosing this wordless picture book will find it replete with images which will encourage discussion about war, Ukraine, and hope.

You and Me
Caley Nunnally, author
Audrey Schmid, illustrator
Ninewise Publishing
9781735713892, $19.50, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: "You and Me" by the team of author Caley Nunnally and illustrator Audrey Schmid is a celebration of the things that make each of us different and unique!

While each of us seem the same in many ways (we all have eyes, ears, noses, and hands), but it is those very things that are also what make us very unique from one another.

Where one friend loves noodles, another friend may say, "Eww, no thank you!" It's these differences that make the world (and each of us) more interesting. Mine make me ME, and yours make you YOU!

The world was made for us to play, learn, and dream. If we were all the same, how boring would that be?

Critique: "You and Me" from Ninewise Publishing is the first children's picture book for ages 3-6 to be written by an SLP to teach the concepts and life skills of perspective taking and empathy. Of special note is the inclusion of 'Tips for Learning and Teaching Perspective Taking" for guiding the developmental experience at different levels and stages. While also available in a paperback edition (9781959044017, $12.99) and dealing with the subject of emotions, feelings, and self- esteem, "You and Me" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Caley Nunnally ( is is a pediatric speech-language pathologist. She is passionate about educating and empowering parents of children of all abilities.

Anxious?: A Choose Your Own Attitude Book
Gail Hayes, author
Helen Flook, illustrator
Flowerpot Press
9781486727001, $14.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: There are many things in life that cannot be controlled. In fact, we cannot decide much of what happens to us. But what we can decide is how we react to what happens to us. That is where the Bubble and Slug Choose Your Own Attitude books can help. Learning which thoughts lead to good outcomes is powerful, but it starts by learning that we do get to choose those thoughts.

"Anxious?" guides young readers through some examples of times when they may have to deal with anxiety and shows just how Bubble and Slug guides each protagonist through their dilemmas. Each scenario asks the young reader to choose between Bubble and Slug and ultimately determine how each story ends. Using techniques author Gail Hayes has developed through her work as a counselor, "Anxious?" gives children a chance to explore the choices we make daily and learn about their impact.

Learning which thoughts and actions lead to happier feelings helps us understand that we can choose our own attitude. Understanding that power to choose is a gift. In "Anxious?", these choices are contrasted between Bubble Thinking and Slug Thinking. Children are encouraged to see that Bubble Thinking offers a self-driven approach to happier living.

Critique: Exceptionally 'child friendly' is both illustration and storyline/commentary, "Anxious?: A Choose Your Own Attitude Book" by the team of author Gail Hayes and artist Helen Flook is especially appropriate and recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons picture book collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of children ages 5-8 with an interest in understanding emotions, self-esteem, and feelings, that "Anxious?" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781486727018, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Gail Hayes has a master's degree in counseling psychology and a bachelor's degree in psychology and child studies. She has been working with youth her whole career including over fifteen years in private practice. Choose Your Own Attitude is a series of books that she hopes will help address issues and feelings frequently encountered in her practice. Gail focuses primarily on a cognitive behavioral approach to therapy and many of the techniques implemented by Bubble are the same techniques her clients have found most useful over the years. She hopes to inspire Bubble Thinking as a self-driven approach to the challenges in children's lives.

Editorial Note #2: Helen Flook ( was born and currently lives in Wales. She studied art at Norwich School of Art and obtained a BA Hons in graphic design. and has had two of her own books published and has illustrated books by well known authors like Ian Rankin, Terry Deary and Rachel Billington. She takes pride in illustrating a number of books for Welsh speaking children about Welsh culture. One book 'Welsh Cakes and Custard' won the Tir na Nog prize for the best Welsh children's book in 2014.

The Environmental Shelf

Climate Warriors
Laura Gehl
Millbrook Press
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
9781728460406, $31.90, Library Binding, 72pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Climate Warriors: Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet", author and neuroscientist Laura Ghel introduces young readers to fourteen different scientists, each of whom are working to solve the climate crisis and the surprising ways they are doing it.

Along with explanations of different areas of science and the many ways scientists are working to save the climate, young readers will find tips for how they too can work for change. The purpose of "Climate Warriors" is to inform young readers and gives them the tools they need to make a difference.

"Climate Warriors" introduces young readers to these incredible scientists, the projects they are working on, and what inspired them to choose their fields of study. The principle message is that from ecology to civil engineering, computer modeling to food science, there are a great many ways to combat climate change. Along with explanations of different areas of science and climate solutions, "Climate Warriors" explains what the young reader can do to make a difference.

Critique: Impressively illustrated throughout with full color photos, "Climate Warriors: Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways We Can Save Our Planet" is informatively enhanced with the inclusion of 'How to Write a Letter to the Government', a Glossary, a listing of Source Notes, a Selected Bibliography, a list for Further Reading, and an Index. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Climate Warriors" is a solid pick for family, elementary school, and community library Science & Environmental picture book colleges for children ages 9-14.

Editorial Note: A former science teacher with a PhD in neuroscience, Laura Gehl is also an award-winning author of more than three dozen picture books, board books, and early readers including Who Is a Scientist?, I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, Dibs!, and Climate Warriors: Fourteen Scientists and Fourteen Ways to Save our Planet. (

The Science Shelf

The Who, What, Why of Zoology
Jules Howard, author
Lucy Letherland, illustrator
Wide Eyed Editions
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711277069, $19.99, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: An exciting first book on this fascinating field of science., young children will enjoy uncovering the secrets of the animal kingdom in "The Who, What, Why of Zoology: The Incredible Science of the Animal Kingdom", a funny, fact-packed introduction to zoology. From the deepest oceans to Himalayan valleys, zoologists explore far and wide to better understand the worlds of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and nearly anything else that can walk, fly, or swim!

Not only is "The Who, What, Why of Zoology" packed from cover to cover with up-to-the-minute facts about favorite animals, it also goes behind the scenes and out in the field to show how real zoologists find out more about the creatures we know, and even discover new ones.

Each individual chapter comprising "The Who, What, Why of Zoology" dives into a different real-world environment to observe the animals that live there, then fills the scene with zoologists to explore how this exciting science actually works. Then, turn the page to learn about the modern mysteries to which scientists are still searching for answers. Every page is bursting with previously unknown facts as well as plenty of funny detail to keep young readers searching for hours.

Critique: "The Who, What, Why of Zoology: The Incredible Science of the Animal Kingdom" by Jules Oward is the perfect introduction to an important STEM topic that combines the expertise of zoologist author Jules Howard with vibrant and humor-filled illustrations from Lucy Letherland. Unreservedly recommended for home-schooling families, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for children ages 6-9, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Who, What, Why of Zoology" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Jules Howard ( is an author, zoology correspondent, and science presenter. As well as writing regularly for The Guardian and BBC Wildlife Magazine, Jules appears regularly on TV and radio, including BBC Breakfast. He has written numerous books for both adults and children on the natural world.

Editorial Note #2: Lucy Letherland ( is an illustrator based in London. She graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2011 with a First Class BA (Hons) in illustration with animation. Lucy's work is strongly led by humor and narrative, creating a playful, graphic quality. Atlas of Adventures was Lucy's first book for children, and the series has since grown to include Atlas of Animal Adventures, Atlas of Adventures: Wonders of the World, Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures, Atlas of Ocean Adventures, Atlas of Adventures: Activity Fun Pack, Atlas of Adventures: Travel Edition, and Atlas of Record-Breaking Adventures.

My First Book of Electromagnetism
Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferron, author
Eduard Attarriba, illustrator
Button Books
c/o The GMC Group
9781787081246, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Today electricity and magnetism are all around us and we use them for nearly everything. In fact, it's hard to find anything that works without them. But what actually is electricity? What has it got to do with magnets? What is magnetism? And the most fascinating thing of all, what has all this got to do with light? All these questions are answered in this introduction to the fabulous world of electromagnetism.

A picture book by the team of author Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferron and illustrator Eduard Altarriba, "My First Book of Electromagnetism" tells the story of humankind's growing understanding of the forces around us, from Thales of Miletus's first experiments with magnetic attraction in 600 BCE to Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell unifying the fields of magnetism and electricity to develop the theory of electromagnetism. At various stages in this fascinating journey the reader can find out how to make their own experiments, including making their own electroscope to test for electric charge and how to construct a working motor from safety pins, wire, sticky tape, a magnet and a battery.

Critique: "My First Book of Electromagnetism" is an ideal introduction for children ages 8-16 to a complex area of science in a fun and entertaining way. Teachers and parents will enjoy how the content is presented and find that it increases their own understanding as well. With an easy-to-follow and succinct text that uses different colors to draw out key words and information, making them easier to absorb and remember, "My First Book of Electromagnetism" is unreservedly recommended for home-schooling family, elementary school, middle school, highschool, and community library Electromagnetic Science collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferron is a science and physics enthusiast with degrees in physics and pharmacy. Since graduation, he has been teaching science to children, continuing to study physics, working in the pharmaceutical field and staring at the Universe with his telescope. (

Editorial Note #2: Eduard Altarriba ( is a graphic designer and illustrator. He runs Alababala, a studio producing games, exhibitions, animation, apps and practical and fun workbooks for children.

Picnic Planet: A Lunchtime Guide to Your Galaxy's Exoplanets
Asa Stahl, author
Nadia Hsieh, illustrator
Creston Books
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781954354234, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: If you could go anywhere beyond our galaxy for the perfect picnic, where would you go? With the publication of "Picnic Planet: A Lunchtime Guide to Your Galaxy's Exoplanets", author/storyteller Asa Stahl and artist/illustrator Nadia Hsieh introduces young readers to some of the fascinating exoplanets we know about it. This is science at its most fantastical. What other worlds are out there, and will the young person reading this book grow up to discover even more?

Critique: Informative and fun, "Picnic Planet: A Lunchtime Guide to Your Galaxy's Exoplanets" will prove to be an immediately and enduringly popular addition to elementary school and community library Astronomy/Science picture book collections for children ages 7-11 as they "Join an astrophysicist on a trip around the galaxy to explore worlds beyond our own."

Editorial Note #1: Asa Stahl ( is an astrophysicist who loves to make science interesting for the youngest readers. His previous book with Creston was the award-winning The Big Bang Book.

Editorial Note #2: Nadia Hsieh ( uses art to tell stories. Her previous book, Eighteen Vats of Water, told a traditional slice of Chinese history. In Picnic Planet, she literally takes us out of this world.

A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054
James Gladstone, author
Yaara Esher, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771474986, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: The supernova of 1054 was one of the brightest supernova events recorded in human history. And its remnant, the Crab Nebula, is still studied today.

Beginning at the moment of a supernova explosion thousands of years ago, this story travels forward in time to 1054, the year people around the world saw the unparalleled light of an exploding star appear in Earth's sky. The story then travels deep into space to see the remnant of this supernova (the Crab Nebula) followed by a continuing trip forward in time.

Taking a unique approach integrating astronomy, cultural history, and advances in technology, "A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054" encourages young readers to think about the world around them and their place in the universe. Told in minimal, poetic text with stunning watercolor and ink illustrations, "A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054" closes with an invitation for young readers to imagine a time when they, too, might see the rare event of a supernova shining in the sky.

Critique: Beautifully composed, impressively 'kid friendly' in commentary and presentation, "A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054" is an entertainingly informative and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Science & Astronomy picture book collections for children ages 4- 8.

Editorial Note #1: James Gladstone is an author of picture books for children, including When Planet Earth Was New, Earthrise, and Journey Around the Sun. He has an Owlkids page at:

Editorial Note #2: Yaara Eshet ( was born in Israel and studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Yaara has illustrated over thirty books for children and adults. She has exhibited her art in galleries and museums, in solo and group exhibitions, in Israel and Canada.

Isabel and the Invisible World
Alan Lightman, author
Ramona Kaulitzki, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536223330, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: There's only one gift Isabel wants for her sixth birthday: a way to see invisible things. She can hardly think of anything else! Finally, the day of her party arrives. Unwrapping a big box, Isabel finds a surprise inside '' a glass prism that makes a dazzling world of previously invisible color emerges, lighting up the room around her. What else could be out there, waiting for her eyes to discover?

In simple, engaging language and fully complemented by luminous artwork from illustrator Ramona Kaulitzki, in the pages of "Isabel and the Invisible World", author and physicist Alan Lightman unveils the hidden world of light waves -- the ones you can see and the ones you can't.

Of special note is the Back Matter that delves briefly into the subject of wavelengths, radio waves, and X-rays for young readers curious to know more.

Critique: Simply stated, "Isabel and the Invisible World" is a very special, welcome, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Science picture book collections for children ages 4-6. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Isabel and the Invisible World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Alan Lightman ( is a physicist, educator, and acclaimed author for children and adults. His debut picture book, Ada and the Galaxies, illustrated by Susanna Chapman, was published by MIT Kids Press in 2021. He is also the best-selling author of Einstein's Dreams. Alan Lightman has a PhD in theoretical physics and is a professor of the practice of humanities at MIT.

Editorial Note #2: Ramona Kaulitzki ( is the illustrator of many books for children, including Winter Lullaby by Dianne Whiteand the #1 New York Times bestseller Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush. Ramona Kaulitzki lives in Potsdam, Germany.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Teaching Tornero: The True Story of a Sloth Superstar
Georgeanne Irvine
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press
9781943198177, $14.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: When Tornero the two-toed sloth was born at the San Diego Zoo, his wildlife care team knew his life would be special. Tornero would grow up to be a wildlife ambassador, just like his mother, Xena. Wildlife ambassadors have a special job: they help teach people about the species and inspire people to care about animals and nature.

While Tornero was being raised by his mother, his wildlife care specialists taught him what he needed to know about being an ambassador: how to get used to new sights, smells, and sounds; how to be around groups of people; and even how to ride in a van nicknamed the Sloth Express. Making special appearances at places like schools, hospitals, and TV stations would be an important part of his ambassador duties!

Once Tornero was old enough, he quickly became one of the most popular wildlife ambassadors at the Zoo, touching people's hearts at every presentation.

"Teaching Tornero: The True Story of a Sloth Superstar" is a picture book story of Tornero the sloth and how, with the help of his wildlife care specialists and his mother, he learned to become a wildlife ambassador -- a superstar for sloths and wildlife around the world.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout with full color photography, "Teaching Tornero: The True Story of a Sloth Superstar" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Wildlife Picture Book collections for children ages 6-10.

Editorial Note: "Teaching Tornero" is part of the Hope & Inspiration Series which includes Karen's Heart, Ruuxa & Raina, Fabulous Floyd, Mosi Musa, Saving Moka, and Raising Don. Get all the books to be truly inspired!

Genius Noses: A Curious Animal Compendium
Lena Anlauf, author
Vitali Konstantinov, illustrator
NorthSouth Books
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735845350, $24.95, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: "Genius Noses: A Curious Animal Compendium" is special collection of animals that takes young readers around the globe and amazes them with the curious diversity of nature. Whether it's the musk weevil, the elephant, the pig, or the saiga antelope -- they all have wonderful noses. In addition to a wide array of functions, noses tell us a lot about animal habits and habitats.

Author Lena Anlauf has compiled the most exciting facts and stories about noses from the animal kingdom, while illustrator, Vitali Konstantinov, introduces us to the individual animals in impressive portraits -- with an impressive wit and attention to detail.

Which animal can smell underwater? Which one uses their nose as a snorkel? What can animals do with their noses besides smell? Young readers will find out this and more in this entertaining collection filled with surprising and unusual facts.

Critique: Informative and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Genius Noses: A Curious Animal Compendium" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Lena Anlauf ( was born in the Ruhr region of Germany. Growing up, the Taschen-Brockhaus Tiere quickly became one of her favorite books, and she set up snail conservation areas in her backyard. Later on she studied book studies and philosophy in Mainz and Leiden and completed a further education course on pedagogy of literacy and literature as well as a remote course on children's and young adult literature at the STUBE in Vienna. Today she lives in Marburg, works as editorial director and editor at the kunstanstifter verlag, researches historical picture books, and writes and designs her own book projects. Genius Noses is her children's book debut.

Editorial Note #2: Vitali Konstantinov ( was born in Ukraine. Vitali studied architecture, graphic art, painting, and art history, and has taught illustration courses at universities in several countries as well as numerous workshops for children. His work has been exhibited extensively, has received many prizes, and has been published in forty different countries. Most recently he was nominated for the Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis. Today Vitali works as a freelance illustrator and author and lives in Marburg.

The Most Important Animal of All
Penny Worms, author
Hannah Bailey, illustrator
North Star Editions
2297 Waters Drive, Mendota Heights, MN 55120
9781631637018, $19.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: A picture book by author/storyteller Penny Worms and artist/illustrator Hannah Bailey, "The Most Important Animal of All", seven children champion an animal for that top spot.

Is it the ELEPHANT or the BEAVER, who both create habitats where other creatures can live and thrive? Is it the TIGER or the SHARK, who are both top predators, or the BAT, who keeps insect populations down? Is it the tiny KRILL, a food source for many sea creatures, or the BEE, the master pollinator?

Young readers will delight in joining the children in finding out how special these creatures are in this very first introduction to ecosystems.

Critique: Informative and fun, "The Most Important Animal of All" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Most Important Animal of All" is also available in a paperback edition (9781838138141, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Penny Worms ( has 30 years' experience writing, editing, and producing children's books. She has written many noteworthy nonfiction and activity books, including Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2010) in association with Aardman and the BBC, Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures & Glorious Inventions (Carlton Books, 2008), A History of the World with Google Earth (Carlton Books, 2012), a number of books in Carlton Books' hugely successful Creativity Book series, and a series of math books for Arcturus Publishing. In 2019, she founded the independent publishing company Mama Makes Books.

Editorial Note #2: Hannah Bailey ( is an award-winning artist and illustrator living and working in Somerset, England. Hannah's illustrations begin with pencil sketches that are traced and each tiny shape and segment hand-cut into a stencil. She then uses vibrant inks to fill the shapes with texture and colour, digitalises the elements and rearranges them into a final composition. Hannah is inspired by the natural world, growing things and history, specializing in non-fiction children's books as well as editorial and food illustration.

The Board Book Shelf

Tears Are Not Forever
Elizabeth Ferdick, author
Narieka Heinlen, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631986901, $9.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: "Tears Are Not Forever" reassures very young children that everybody cries and gives them space to cry and experience their "down" feelings.

Sadness and disappointment are common, recurring emotions that children can learn to understand, handle, and grow from. With vivid illustrations and straightforward suggestions, "Tears Are Not Forever" provides practical advice for coping with these challenging feelings. "Remember, tears are not forever. In a little while, you'll feel better."

A section for adults reinforces the message that crying is a natural, normal response to strong feelings -- and includes tips and activities to help children express and handle their feelings.

Critique: With its important message for ages 6 months to 4 years, this outstanding board book collaboration by author Elizabeth Verdiek and illustrator Marieka Heinlen, "Tears Are Not Forever", children will learn that "everybody cries, how crying can help them, and ways they can cope with challenging feelings" and that "You cry when you're sad or mad. Crying gets the hurt out." It should be noted for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library collections that "Tears Are Not Forever" is also available in a paperback edition (9781631986871, $11.99, 40pp, Ages 4-7).

Editorial Note #1: Elizabeth Verdick ( writes books for babies, toddlers, teens, and every age in between. She especially loves creating new board book series -- including the Happy Healthy Baby(R) series, which is designed to capture the interest of your littlest readers. Elizabeth's Toddler Tools(R) series helps young children and their parents cope with those tough times and transitions that happen every day (like naptime and bedtime). In the Best Behavior(R) series, she helps toddlers reach new milestones and improve their day-to-day behavior. Elizabeth also enjoys getting the chance to look at the funny side of life in the Laugh and Learn(R) series, which helps kids ages 8-13 get a handle on the social-emotional skills they're developing throughout the elementary and middle school years. She's also co-author of The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (And Their Parents), which offers kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) their own comprehensive resource for both understanding their condition and finding tools to cope with the challenges they face every day.

Editorial Note #2: Marieka Heinlen ( received her BFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and also studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. She launched her career as an award-winning children's book illustrator with Hands Are Not for Hitting and has illustrated all of the books in the Best Behavior(R) and Toddler Tools(R) series. Marieka focuses her work on books and other materials for children, teens, parents, and teachers.

Our World: India
Meera Sriram, author
Neethi, illustrator
Barefoot Books
9781646866281, $9.99, Board Book, 20pp

Synopsis: With the publication of Barefoot Books latest board book, "Our World: India", young children can come along for a day in India! Wake to a myna bird's song, dine on dal, count mango trees and more.

Critique: With "Our World: India, author/storyteller Meera Sriram and artist/illustrator Neethi collaborate and draw on their personal experience of life in India in order to create an especially appealing board book as part of the Our World series for very young readers. "Our World: India" is fully and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 6 months to 4 years.

Editorial Note #1: Meera Sriram ( grew up in Chennai, India and moved to the U.S in 1999. An engineer in the past, she now enjoys writing, leading early literacy programs and advocating for diverse bookshelves. She has also written A Gift for Amma and Dumpling Day for Barefoot Books, and contributed a story to Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery.

Editorial Note #2: Neethi ( is an illustrator and muralist based out of Bangalore, India. Bright pattern-infused scenes, with a touch of fantasy, are a recurring theme in her work. She once won first place for her rendition of "The Monkey and the Cap Seller" in kindergarten.

MIT Kids Press
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

MIT Kids has now published two unique and science oriented board books by Jill Esbaum and the Wonderlab Group in their 'Big Science for Tiny Tots' series.

"Bath Time Physics" (9781536229653, $8.99 BB, $7.99 Kindle, 24pp) focuses on the forces of physics at work in the context of Baby's bath. Gather up your gear: floating toys, fluffy towels, warm tub, favorite little lab partner (may take multiple attempts). Place tiny tot in the tub (note water displacement), and proceed to explore buoyancy, gravity, and evaporation. Now it's time to make waves and see that third law of motion in action. Go, baby, go! In a bright, graphic board book leavened with dry humor, photos of happy tykes and a tongue-in-cheek running dialogue are sprinkled with factual asides that define basic concepts of physics.

"High Chair Chemistry" (9781536229660, $8.99 BB, $7.99 Kindle, 24pp) shows that chemistry is all around us -- starting with Baby's high chair! In a bright, graphic board book loaded with dry humor and comic timing, photos of happy, outrageously messy toddlers (and exhausted parents) complement a tongue-in-cheek running dialogue, interspersed with factual asides that define basic concepts of chemistry. So rest assured, with a high chair tray as a lab bench, your precocious little one can master chemistry multiple times a day!

Both "Bath Time Physics" and "High Chair Chemistry" are fun, informative and unreservedly recommended additions to family, daycare center, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

The Picturebook Shelf

In a Patch of Grass
Fran Hodgkins, author
Dan Tavis, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
9780884484639, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Famed environmentalist and bug David Antenborough narrates this picture-book send-up of a nature documentary, sounding just like the real-life David but with more gesticulations, since he has six limbs at his disposal.

Equally famed film director and bug Stephen Spielbug tries to keep the cast of characters on task, but it's worse than herding cats: The orb-weaving spider would like to eat one or two other actors; the grasshopper is a diva; the worm is too busy munching dirt to emerge from the ground on cue; the robin has joined a union and declines to show up for the predation scene; and the slug is too embarrassed by his slime to perform.

As David and Stephen near the wrap-up, filming is interrupted by a whuffling noise and then a foul-smelling hurricane, and Fido the dog sniffs his way through the grass and onto their set. The panicked actors flee at top speed (which is not very fast in the slug's case), but the intrepid Antenborough continues narrating, Spielbug keeps directing, and they bring the film to a dramatic conclusion.

Despite the chaos (or maybe because of it) we learn some things about these animals, and backmatter nature facts give us more. color throughout

Critique: A thoroughly original and unique environmentally themed picture book for young readers ages 6-8, "In A Patch Of Grass" is as fun as it is informative from first page to last. Of special note is the inclusion of 'Cast and Crew, in order of appearance' and ranging from spider and housefly to cicada and earthworm -- and more!

Editorial Note #1: Fran Hodgkins ( is the author of more than 20 books for young readers, including The Whale Scientists, a Junior Library Guild selection, and How People Learned to Fly. Her book The Secret Galaxy (Tilbury House, 2014) was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, and a California Reading Association Eureka Gold Award winner.

Editorial Note #2: Dan Tavis ( has been doodling since his first math class in elementary school and was inspired to paint upon discovering Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Watterson's work remains a major influence. Dan is the illustrator of Common Critters (2020), The Whale Fall Cafe (2021), and Fluffy McWhiskers and the Cuteness Explosion (2021) and indulges his passion to illustrate characters that emotionally connect with the viewer and tell stories through visual narrative. Dan creates illustrations with watercolor, ink, and digital media.

The Magic Box
Maria Jose Ballesteros
9788418599750, $16.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Miss Pink Nose, the mail carrier, delivers a box to brothers River and Jan. It is for their father and she tells them not to open it. The two boys wait and wait and wait! They touch it, weigh it and smell it, and as their curiosity grows, the brothers imagine, all morning, and until their dad comes home, just what weird and wonderful things might be in that magical box!

Critique: Also available in a Spanish Language edition from NubeOcho, "The Magic Box" by author/illustrator Maria Jose Ballesteros is a picture book delight and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6.

Editorial Note: María Jose Ballesteros is an illustrator, designer and artisan from Toledo (Spain). She studied illustration at the Toledo School of Art and has a postgraduate degree from the University of Barcelona. She has published several picture books and has worked creatively for brands such as Coca-cola and Cuatro TV and her artistic work has been exhibited in several art galleries in Spain. (

Davy in the Snow
Brigitte Weninger, author
Eve Tharlet, illustrator
David Henry Wilson, translator
NorthSouth Books
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735845022, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A deep blanket of snow covers the wintery forest! Davy and Mia are unstoppable. They set out with their sled and a cake to visit their grandparents. Grandpa Rabbit tells Davy the story of when he and his brother were lost in the snow, while Grandma Rabbit plays a game with Davy's sister. Davy and his sister head home with a warm send off of cookies and juice. But when they tumble out of their sled, the way home becomes confusing in the deep snow.

Luckily, big brother Davy remembers Grandpa Rabbit's wise advice -- stay in one place, keep warm, help will come soon. And so, cozy and warm, under a large fir tree with glowing branches, Davy and Mia tell stories and sing songs. Until at last -- the family tracks down the two snow bunnies. Davy worries that it's his fault, but his parents praise him for his responsible decisions.

Critique: Translated into English by David Henry Wilson, "Davy in the Snow" is the latest in the popular Davyseries by author/storyteller Brigitte Weninger and artist/illustrator Eve Tharlet. Over 25 years ago, this unbeatable duo created the cheeky rabbit with a head full of mischief, but who is also helpful and compassionate. And it is precisely this compassion that carries through the latest loveable story. With its underlying them of solidarity between siblings, "Davy in the Snow" is a simply outstanding children's picture book for ages 4-8 and highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note #1: Brigitte Weninger ( was born in Kufstein, Austria, and spent twenty years working as a kindergarten teacher before turning to writing full-time. She has since published more than sixty books, which have been translated into forty languages and received numerous awards. She continues to be heavily involved in promoting literacy, writing, and storytelling. She lives in Kufstein.

Editorial Note #2: Eve Tharlet ( was born in France but spent much of her childhood in Germany. After graduating from the Superior School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg, France, she began working as a freelance illustrator in 1981 and quickly received international acclaim. Her big breakthrough came with the series about Davy, the cute and cheeky bunny, which propelled her name around the world.

Editorial Note #3: David Henry Wilson ( is a playwright, novelist, children's book author, and translator. His plays have been produced in many well-known theaters in Great Britain as well as abroad, and his children's books (especially the Jeremy James series) have been translated into many languages. His novel The Coachman Rat received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. For many years he lectured at the universities of Bristol (England) and Konstanz (Germany), where he founded the university theater. His translations from French and German cover many subjects, ranging from literary theory, art, travel, and general culture to children's novels and picture books.

Elmer and the Gift
David McKee, author/illustrator
Andersen Press USA
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
9781728492056, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Aunt Zelda has a gift to give to Elmer from his Grandpa Eldo, but she can't remember what it is or where it is. Zelda's memory sometimes escapes her, and her hearing isn't what it used to be, so they set off together to find Grandpa Eldo and solve the mystery of the forgotten gift. Elmer's love, patience, and respect for his Aunt Zelda and Grandpa Eldo make for a heart-warming depiction of elephant family life with elderly relatives.

Critique: With the theme of caring for elderly family members,"Elmer and the Gift" is the last Elmer storybook from master picture book author, illustrator, and BookTrust Liftetime Achievement Award winner David McKee and a prized, unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Elmer and the Gift" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781839131608, $10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.87).

Editorial Note #1: David John McKee (2 January 1935 - 6 April 2022) was a British writer and illustrator, chiefly of children's books and animations. For his contribution as a children's illustrator, he was UK nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2006. (

Sasquatch and Squirrel
Chris Monroe, author/illustrator
Carolrhoda Books
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
9781728404660, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Most animals are afraid of her, but Strawberry the Sasquatch doesn't really mind. She's happy doing all the alone things a sasquatch does -- things like hiking and foraging as well as dance moves and logger pranks. Then one day, an extremely friendly squirrel named Nutty shows up. After a series of hilarious mishaps, Strawberry isn't sure she and Nutty can get along. But thanks to some cloud watching, seed portraits, and stale marshmallows, the two find a way to be friends.

Critique: An original and fun picture book for children ages 4-8, "Sasquatch and Squirrel" by author and illustrator Chris Monroe will have a very special appeal for kids with an interest in myths, humor and friendship. While especially and unreservedly recommended as an addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sasquatch and Squirrel" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Chris Monroe ( is an award-winning author, illustrator and cartoonist. Her picture books include Sneaky Sheep, Bug On a Bike and the Monkey With a Tool Belt series, which inspired the Netflix show Chico Bon Bon: Monkey with a Tool Belt. Chris is also the author and illustrator of the comic strip Violet Days, which has been in print for more than 20 years.

The Duck Book
Kenneth Kuenster
Histeria Kids
c/o Histria Books
9781592112081, $19.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: "The Duck Book" is a picture book by Kenneth Kuenster which is meant for children ages 5-7, their parents, and anyone else who appreciates children's humor (and ducks!).

It is specifically designed to encourage dialogue between kids and parents, and to bring laughter and entertainment. It is filled with absurd questions and situations, like "Have you ever made a giraffe laugh?" combined with just such a picture, or "Have you ever grown a carrot too big for your pet pig?" Again with a picture. Also, "Have you ever shared a cake with a snake?" Now beginning to explore fear of all kinds, but lightly.

It includes all the many situations allowing kids to expand their imaginations. like "Do you sometimes get ahead of yourself?" Pictured on a trapeze, or "If you could fly would you land in a cherry pie?" with a very messy illustration. Absurdity is the key word, and the situations are flexible, and hopefully always funny, and unlimited in variety, for example, "Can you hoot like an owl?", or do you share hot dogs with friendly frogs?" Or "If you pull a whale's tail, do you go to whale jail?"

Critique: A fun and imaginative read (and ideal for child/parent bonding), "The Duck Book" is wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library humorous picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Duck Book" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Kenneth Kuenster has written three novels. He is also a visual artist. His fiction and his visual art influence each other. The subject matter of his novels is art and artists of all kinds. He has spent much time in Europe, where many of the stories in his fiction take place. He has BFA and MFA degrees from Yale.

Baby Dragon's Big Sneeze
Sheryl Bass
Be-Kind Publishing
9798987040607, $18.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$.99 ebook

Remesh Ram provides colorful, fun illustration to Sheryl Bass's exploration as a sick baby dragon who finds that his fiery sneezes are causing problems for everyone around him. Can those threatened by his destructive potential find it within their hearts to forgive and help him? One little girl bravely enters the cave to discover the truth about this fiery dragon's desperate situation.

Bass provides all kinds of emotional lessons in her story, from empathy and problem-solving to courage, family connections, unexpected relationships that can emerge from adversarial situations, and understanding one's world. Parents of kids who love fairytales and dragon stories will find the book's initial allure and promise of a dragon situation will give them the edge to open discussions about emotional topics that kids of this age typically don't understand.

Baby Dragon's Big Sneeze teaches kids ages 3-7 about empathy and trust, and will delight read-aloud parents seeking books that are attractive for their adventures and emotional insights. School and community libraries will find Baby Dragon's Big Sneeze colorful, attractive, and a popular choice for read-aloud parents and kids who love fantasy stories.

Miracle Mello
Sahel Amani-Ghoreyshi
Precious Gifts
9798985244700, $26.28 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle

Parents and teachers who choose Miracle Mello for its messages on positivity, keeping hope alive, and experiencing life's miracles will find their read-aloud experience with the very young enhanced by not just an uplifting message, but Lole Rosa's gorgeous illustrations.

A yellow-eyed kitten enjoys a lovely picnic in the park with her mother, but disaster strikes when she becomes separated from her mother while heading home and finds herself literally up a tree in the dark. Meanwhile, Ms. Safa has been longing for a kitty of her own. It seems destiny when they connect. It also feels inevitable that they will separate.

As Sahel Amani-Ghoreyshi explores these miracles of reconnection, connection, and new beginnings, adults have many opportunities to explore the magic and wonder of life with the very young. The final message, that "miracles happen every day," will both enlighten and provide hope and understanding to all ages, building a foundation of flexibility and positivity.

School and community libraries, as well as read-aloud parents looking for an uplifting message about life's changes and handling downturns will find Miracle Mello an important story to share and discuss, especially during hard times.

All in a Day
Chihiro Takeuchi
Berbay Publishing
9781922610546, $18.99, HC, 40pp

All in a Day follows a family's routine from seven in the morning, when grandma is having breakfast with her friends and the baker's been baking for hours, to the opening hours at various businesses after 10AM. An interactive format invites kids to count clocks, locate animals and images in the pictures, and do basic math to compute a variety of scenarios, from how many people are celebrating to which friends and animals have retired for bedtime. The appealing combination of counting and visual skills encourages kids and read-aloud parents to participate in educational observation in a picture book highly recommended for elementary-level libraries and read-aloud pursuits alike.

Benny the Bananasaurus Rex
Sarabeth Holden
Inhabit Media
9781772274424, $17.95

Benny the Bananasaurus Rex is a fun picture book story that melds bananas and dinosaur antics in an unusual manner. Emma Pedersen's whimsical, colorful illustrations shine as Benny tackles his extreme love of bananas and his voracious ability to include them in virtually every meal. Kids who love particular foods will relate to Benny's story of his insatiable appetite for bananas, reveling in the fantasy and fun of a tale that lends particularly well to read-aloud attraction.

City Beet
Tziporah Cohen
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112711, $18.99

City Beet is the fun story of a community potluck and a beet that first needs to be grown for the salad dish. Victoria and her elderly neighbor join forces to tend the beet, which grows until harvest day. The only problem is that the giant beet refuses to be pulled from the ground. Can the two still contribute their special salad to the potluck? This lovely tale of community efforts and cooperation will prove a particularly effective read-aloud for parents seeking to instill the basics of gardening, problem-solving, and working together in the very young listener.

Food for Hope
Jeff Gottesfeld
Creston Books, LLC
9781954354241, $18.99

Food for Hope will reach picture book readers ages 7-12 with its lively story of how John van Hengel started the world's first food bank in 1967, prompting a network of such banks through the Feeding America program. The concept of feeding the hungry with food that would otherwise be wasted is illustrated in a combination of lively history and colorful illustrations by Michelle Laurentia Agatha which bring to life the effort and people who connect through such programs. Libraries seeking social issues and historical reviews for picture book readers will find Food for Hope a lesson in social reform and activism, creating an inspiring, revealing platform for discussion and empowerment among the very young.

Henry the Snail
Katarina Macurová
Albatros Books
9788000067933, $16.95

Henry the Snail presents the picture book tale of a snail that wants to be like everyone else, but feels he stands out in bad ways. Much as Henry yearns to be different, there are things he can't change ... and other things he can. This snail's-eye view of the world and his place in it offers important lessons on willpower, overcoming adversity, and accepting differences that will serve as fine food for thought and discussion between adults and kids. The inviting story is highly recommended for libraries looking for lessons in positive thinking and diverse approaches to life.

High Top
Tom Lacey
Tiger Tales
9781664300163, $18.99

High Top: The Sneaker That Just Can't Stop! captures an out-of-the-box zest for life as High Top the sneaker's enthusiasm spills out into the world, trampling those around him who approach life differently. High Top just can't resist or repress his high-octane approach, but this creates problems for others as well as himself. He doesn't want to be just anyshoe - but how can he stand out without throwing himself to the winds? Tom Lacey creates an absorbing, whimsical story filled with shoe references, lively interactions, and thought-provoking scenarios that will prompt kids and read-aloud parents to discuss issues of high-energy living and its impact on those around them. Its fun lessons will appeal on both a contemplative and entertainment level as it features an action-driven series of encounters in which High Top evolves to find a better path to self-satisfaction and life interactions.

The Little Fearless Farm Boy
Astrid Lindgren and Marit Tornqvist
Floris Books
9781782507642, $17.95

The Little Fearless Farm Boy comes from the creator of the classic Pippi Longstocking books and presents the picture book story of a lovely day in Sweden. However, Goran the bull is filled with fury. Nobody can calm him down, but a little boy may have an unusual solution to Goran's rage. Marit Tornqvist's colorful drawings bring out the atmosphere and countryside as the story evolves. Rural life and Sweden come alive in a tale that is perfect for read-aloud discussion about community involvement and problem-solving, with appealing illustrations adding to a story that will especially attract libraries looking for tales set in European nations.

Our Incredible Library Book and the Wonderful Journeys it Took
Caroline Crowe
Floris Books
9781782507513, $17.95

Our Incredible Library Book and the Wonderful Journeys it Took is a lively celebration of the library book's power to explore new worlds. It benefits from attractive illustrations by John Joseph as it surveys a worn library book that has been read extensively - and shows it. Rigorous lending activity affects a book that has been lost, torn, and soaked in the rain, but is still much-loved. The magic of books and reading is captured in a warm celebration of the library book that invites young picture book readers to embrace the appearance and contents of a much-loved book. Libraries and picture book readers alike will relish Caroline Crowe's special message in this journey into reading and other worlds.

We Don't Lose Our Class Goldfish
Ryan T. Higgins
Disney Hyperion
9781368076982, $18.99

We Don't Lose Our Class Goldfish tells of a girl who is scared of Walter, the class goldfish. So when she's tapped to take a turn bringing Walter home for the weekend, the little T. Rex finds herself facing her biggest fear. The ironic specter of a biting goldfish who frightens a T. Rex student much fun into the underlying message of confronting one's biggest (and littlest) fears, and will provide read-aloud adults with an engaging story backed by winning, unique illustrations.

Dark on Light
Dianne White
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020
9781534487895, $18.99, HC

Picture book readers interested in embarking on an inviting night adventure that contrasts light and darkness will find Dark on Light a fine journey that contrasts the two with fine illustrations by Felicita Sala. The simple tale welcomes twilight and evening's arrival as children explore this transformed world through an inviting series of simple rhymes that capture its atmosphere: "Inviting the trail. Timid the fawn./Dark the hedge that borders the lawn." Read-aloud parents will find it an inviting exploration of night wonders.

Every Little Seed
Cynthia Schumerth
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112698, $18.99, HC

Three generations of a gardening family work together to revitalize a backyard garden, with youngsters participating in the seasonal effort in the picture book Every Little Seed. Rhymes, lovely art by Elisa Paganelli, and an attention to revealing how seeds and plants contribute to a garden's overall ecology and allure makes for a basic gardening guide that encourages kids to both understand the nature and attraction of a garden and learn how to best work with it. Elementary-level libraries looking for a very simple gardner's celebration will find this introduction especially attractive for young readers.

Mina Belongs Here
Sandra Niebuhr-Siebert and Lars Baus
Floris Books
9781782508113, $17.95

Mina Belongs Here tells of a newcomer to kindergarten who views the entire experience as alien and challenging, from unfamiliar language to stories and songs that feel impossible to learn. Mina doesn't know how to respond and is lonely and lost in this sea of noise and confusion. But her nighttime dreams combine with these new experiences to spark her slow understanding of her environment and its new possibilities in this gentle picture book of adaptation and change. Libraries and young readers seeking stories about integration and acceptance will find Mina Belongs Here both entertaining and thought-provoking.

My First Pop-Up: Endangered Animals
Owen Davey
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536228441, $18.99, HC

Pop-up books are usually filled with entertainment value, but require adult participation to assure the pop-ups aren't torn by young fingers. Fifteen selected endangered animals in My First Pop-Up: Endangered Animals are profiled in a lovely survey of animals around the world, from the South African Geometric Tortoise, which sports striking yellow shapes on its shell, to the okapi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is elusive and equally colorfully patterned. These lovely pop-ups provide three-dimensional educational value perfect for parent and child read-aloud.

My Mommy Marches
Samantha Hawkins
9781915244123, $18.99, HC

My Mommy Marches tells of a young girl who observes her mother proudly demonstrating in the streets for what she believes in, providing young picture book readers with a joyful exploration of activism in action. The different emotional peaks and valleys of marching and activism are covered as the child observes the purpose of marching and protesting and absorbs the reminders of love, tolerance, and freedom such actions can promote. My Mommy Marches is the perfect first primer for parents who would teach kids the basic premise and experience of activism at an early age.

The Name Game
Elizabeth Laird and Olivia Holden
Tiny Owl
9781910328880, $16.99, HC

The Name Game tells of a boring day stuck indoors made new by a different outlook on nature and imagination. It is a picture book that delights in its perspective on how to better interact with the world, both indoors and outside. When a bird tap at the window introduces sparks a child's imagination, the story expands into a lesson on surprise, creative names, and observations of nature that prove rich and fun as a bored child begins to rename what she sees in her world. Young picture book readers and read-aloud parents will find The Name Game a treat with an important lesson on developing new perspectives.

Wonder: A Song of the Seasons
Julia Key
World Wisdom
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington IN 47401
9781937786069, $18.95

The rhyming picture book Wonder receives gorgeous colorful illustrations by Helen Cann as it encourages ages 4-8 to become more engaged with the natural world. Two young girls who cycle through the day, seasons, and landscapes lead the story with observations that also invite young readers to join in ("Who conducts the dawn chorus from high in the sky?/Paints the colors of morning, and blows the page dry?"). The invitation to observe and engage is captivating and will especially work well to spark dialogue between adults and young picture book learners.

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

Two new picture books from Wm. B. Eerdmas are recommended choices for kids seeking enlightening, educational and attractive reads.

Jeremie Decalf's The Sky is Not the Limit (9780802856029, $18.99) provides a first-person space probe from the Voyager 2's point of view, inviting kids to learn about the adventures and discoveries made by the pioneering NASA spacecraft. Lovely art by Decalf enhances a story that ages 5-9 will find simple, yet compellingly lyrical: "Barely time for a glance./Nothing stops my advance."

Martin Lemelman's The Miracle Seed (9780802855909, $18.99) provides a colorful graphic novel for ages 8-14 that blends world history, science, and the story of the Judean date palm's journey from the edge of extinction to rebirth. From human revolts and historic clashes to the seed's ability to return to life against all odds, readers receive the true story of an ancient plant's perseverance and reincarnation by archaeologists and female scientists who bring them back to life.

Both of these new titles are attractive, compelling stories and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers.


Nubeocho's picture books represent fine stories for libraries seeking artistic quality in illustration paired with stories suitable for read-aloud or young reader pursuit.

Raquel Diaz Reguera's I Am Mine Alone (9788419253590, $17.99) tells of Mousy, who moves in with Buck, only to find him possessive and controlling. Mousy isn't happy about Buck's ongoing questions about her activities and life, but she wants to make him happy. How can she regain her independence as he begins to isolate her from everything she loves? A very adult theme of controlling people evolves which probes love, relationships, and maintaining independence. This will serve as important discussion material between young girls and adults who oversee their growth.

Ruby the Rambunctious by Jose Carlos Andres and Lucia Serrano (9788418599989, $16.99) tells of a girl newly diagnosed with a disability, which causes her parents to treat her very differently. Ruby just wants to be the same as everybody else, especially her brothers. How can she defy her diagnosis to return to normalcy? By being rambunctious and bad! A fun story evolves where Ruby does everything in her power to assure her parents return to treating her equally.

Daniel Fehr and Jorge Martín's There's a Cow in My Bed (9788418599699, $16.99) outlines the dilemma that confronts a young girl who insists she can't go to bed because it's too crowded ... with a cow. Her father can't see the problem, but the little girl isn't making it up. As the cow returns to cause further challenges to sleeping, the girl's approach to problem-solving involves her father in a vivid test of imagination and possibilities.

All three of these new titles from Nubeocho are exceptional stories that stand out.

Penguin Random House

These are two excellent choices for discriminating picture book and graphic novel collections.

Shark Princess by Nidhi Chanani (9780593464601, $12.99, Viking Books for Young Readers) is a color-packed graphic novel about shark Kitana, who is the first princess shark of her kind. Her best friend, Mack, wants to be a princess too, but he is well aware that he's a different kind of shark, and likely unfit for the position. He's simply too dangerous to be a princess in this water world. Or, is he? Nidhi Chanani's story illustrates the power of friendship, perseverance, and self-discovery as Mack begins to realize his own strengths during the course of an undersea adventure that lures young readers into the reading world. It's an original, fun story that kids will love.

Ana Aranda's Our Day of the Dead Celebration (9780525514282, $17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books) explores the rituals and meaning of the Day of the Dead - which sounds morose, but is actually a happy day that many Latin families celebrate. From going to market to buy sugar skulls and flowers to acknowledging dead relatives, the Day of the Dead's meaning is explored in a lively survey of rituals and family connections that is rich in colorful images and equally potent explanations.

Penguin/Dial/Random House

These four newly published picture books offer young readers engaging stories and attractive insights that create both entertainment and educational value, making them highly recommended for elementary-level libraries and readers looking for high-impact books.

Kimberley Annece Henderson's Dear Yesteryear (9780593529249, $18.99) comes from a historian and curator whose open letter to ancestors utilizes archival photos of Black Americans from the turn of the 19th century. It draws readers with a vivid blend of letters and vintage images that ask questions and encourage young reader interest in history. The reminiscences on 'dear yesteryear' offer personal and emotional connections to the past, and will attract a wide audience with its special blend of historical and emotional revelations.

Brad Montague's The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination (9780593323472, $18.99) is accompanied by lovely pictures by Brad and Kristi Montague as it surveys a fantasy world where special agents (called 'figments') keep creativity at large. Sparky's journey over the exploding Cave of Untold Stories and into the world of figments that produce imaginative, whimsical scenarios is lively, fun reading that read-aloud parents can use to encourage imaginative thinking in their kids.

Chad Otis's The Bright Side (9780593530627, $18.99) reflects optimism against all odds and tells of a child who lives in an old school bus rather than a normal house. Poverty and being new in school seem insurmountable obstacles to building new friendships and connections, but the boy in this book well knows how to look on the bright side of life, and employs this talent in a way that gains him not only attention, but attractive new friends and opportunities. Fun drawings accompany his journey into adversity and revised perceptions of life's ups and downs.

Mojdeh Hassani and Samira Iravani's Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar (9780593110614, $18.99) receives illustrations by Maya Fidawi that capture the culture of a bazaar environment and a grandmother and grandaughter's shared experience. It is especially recommended for picture book libraries looking for warm stories embracing Middle East environments. The focus on the chador as not a symbol of hate and repression, but as a veil that brings comfort and protection, offers a more enlightened, revealing view of Middle Eastern women and their experiences that gently educates child and read-aloud adult alike as the story of a day at the market unfolds.

All four of these new titles are original, bright, appealing picture books that young readers will enjoy.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513

Six new Simon & Schuster picture books are delightful stories that draw with powerful illustrations and tales that are entertaining and thought-provoking.

Annie Silvestro and Ramona Kaultzki's Bravo, Little Bird! (9781665906920, $18.99) for ages 4-8 tells of an old man who plays lovely music on the piano. A little bird listens silently, until she feels she just must join in. This forms a bond between bird and man which is touching, especially when the music seems to stop and Little Bird seeks a way to honor the old man's memory. Simply gorgeous illustrations bring this story to life.

Anita Lobel's Good Morning, Good Night: A Book of Opposites in the City (9781534465947, $18.99) walks through city life contrasting opposites that are surprisingly thought-provoking. Consider, for example, the calm ceramic cat in a window versus the fierce live cat chasing his prey outside ... or the thin whistle of a piccolo versus the 'round growls' of a bass in a street band. Urban delights come to life in a story which profiles very different contrasts in sight, sound, and city life.

Patricia Polacco's Palace of Books (9781534451315, $18.99) tells of how the author's family moves to a new town in Michigan, which doesn't begin to feel like home to her until she discovers its large library and friendly librarian, Mrs. Creavy. Its doors are always open; but even more importantly, the information she finds there leads her to become the first member of the Audubon bird club at Fremont Elementary. This lovely exploration of Polacco's childhood experience will bring books and new environments to life for kids who are faced with different worlds and their new opportunities.

Patricia Tanumihardja's Ramen for Everyone (9781665904353, $18.99) is illustrated by Shiho Pate and will reach ages 4-8 with a fine survey of the family tradition of eating ramen on Sundays, using a recipe that has been handed down between fathers. Hiro dreams of making his own perfect bowl of ramen after watching his father and taking careful notes, but when his efforts go awry, he discovers that cooking isn't as easy as it looks. The story of creativity, problem-solving, and a wise father's intervention comes to life with lovely drawings and a concept that reinforces family tradition and shared efforts.

Nell Cross Beckerman's When the Sky Glows (9781534450394, $18.99) receives lovely illustrations by David Litchfield as it provides a simple review of sunrises around the world. Atmospheric conditions translate to different, colorful skies, from Hawaii ("which is known as 'the Rainbow State' because the combination of wet weather and sunny skies produces so many rainbows") to how the skies are affected by volcanoes, firefly glow, and meteor showers. The result is a gorgeous illustration of how the skies change color from different influences which can all be appreciated.

Jeff Newman's The Greedy Worm (9781442471955, $18.99) reaches ages 4-8 with the warm story of a greedy worm whose treasure of an exceptionally big apple is not shared with his bug buddies. The result is a big slug whose snubbed friends face a hard choice when the greedy worm attracts the wrong kind of attention. Whimsical illustrations bring this largely-wordless story to life.

Jenna Beatrice's The Loud Librarian (9781665910545, $18.99) receives engaging illustrations by Erika Lynne Jones as it tells of a student librarian who seems perfect for her job - except for one little detail. She is loud. She talks too loudly, thunders through her world, and threatens the library's intrinsic silence. Penelope still dreams of becoming a librarian, so how can a girl who is "perfect for the job" increase her status without shouting? This fun self-examination will attract any child who has been accused of being too loud.

All are recommended reads for discriminating school and community libraries seeking top works for elementary-level readers.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

These four new picture books from Candlewick Press are lovely recommendations for libraries and parents seeking read-aloud fun.

Eco-Girl by Ken Wilson-Max (9781536228090, $17.99) tells of young Eve, who lives next to a forest and loves the baobab trees in particular. Her pleasure and appreciation is heightened by her grandmother's gift of a baobab seedling, which she plants. Having her own tree to nurture is a family tradition that lives on in the young, providing moments of closeness with family and nature that picture book readers will find engaging and thought-provoking.

Aaron Becker's The Tree and the River (9781536223293, $18.99) is set in another time and world, and tells of a mighty tree on a river that oversees the changes around it. As a family farm turns into a town and growing industry, the long-lived tree witnesses rituals and a reshaping of nature that threatens to change its environment. The lovely wordless picture book reinforces a powerful message.

Eoin McLaughlin's I Am Not an Octopus (9781536225051, $18.99) receives whimsical and colorful embellishments by Marc Boutavant as it tells of a "regular guy" who just happens to have some extra limbs and a love of tuna. Terry doesn't live in the ocean, either. In fact, his entire life seems to revolve around denying his identity. Is he boy, or octopus? A fun story follows Terry's efforts to test his boundaries and abilities.

Camilla de la Bedoyere's Birds Everywhere (9781536229738, $17.99) is illustrated by best-selling artist Britta Teckentrup, whose colorful approach captures the lovely soaring birds of the world in living color. This celebration of birds offers fine contrasts between disparate types of birds, from flightless to flying, and those who live in very different environments. The result is a history of birds that is colorful, lively, and fact-filled. Birds Everywhere is the perfect item of choice for elementary-level library collections seeking a combination of entertainment value and natural history lesson.

All are excellent choices for libraries and adults seeking outstanding books for kids.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover St, Somerville, MA 02144

All three of these new titles from Candlwick Press are fine recommendations for young picture book readers and the school/community libraries catering to them.

Nina LaCour's My Friend, Loonie (9781536213935, $18.99) will please picture book readers with its story of Loonie the balloon, who makes all children's activities brighter until Loonie has to float away home. Without the balloon, magic vanishes. Or, does it? Ashling Lindsay's appealing drawings illustrate the story of a girl who is sad when her friend leaves, but begins to notice new facets of life emerging in Loonie's absence.

Christo and Jean-Claude Wrap the World by G. Neri (9781536216615, $18.99) captures the story of two environmental artists whose works received acclaim and sparked debates and insights. Elizabeth Haidle illustrates the intriguing story of their vision and how their art wrapped, embraced, and changed various monumental possibilities. The picture book story will intrigue adults looking to illustrate contemporary artists' efforts for picture book readers.

Monique James-Duncan's Mommy Time (9781536212266, $17.99) receives simple drawings by Ebony Glenn as it tells of the typical busy day of a stay-at-home mom and her two children. From music and dancing to grocery shopping, laundry, naps, and more, the busy day of a parent is covered with love affection, promoting a young reader's understanding of their parents' worlds.

The Bilingual Shelf

Apple Pie Picnic
Alicia Duran and Brian Fitzgerald
Red Comet Press
9781636550619, $18.99

In Apple Pie Picnic, Rosa and her familia are celebrating el manzano, the apple tree that grows near the house where Rosa lives. The injection of Spanish words throughout the story adds educational value to the tale of a little girl who appreciates the seasonal attractions of an apple tree as it provides warmth and changes helpful to children, cats, and family endeavors. Picture book libraries looking for a largely English story punctuated by Spanish words will find Apple Pie Picnic an attractive tale.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

We the Future
Cliff Lewis
Jolly Fish Press
c/o North Star Editions
9781631636967, $19.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Ever since he learned about climate change, twelve-year-old Jonah has dreaded a weather-beaten future where not even his asthma medication can save him. Luckily, a girl from that future arrives just in time to throw Jonah a lifeline.

Sunny traveled back to the 2020s with a mission: help Jonah launch a climate strike big enough to rewrite history. To do it, he'll have to recruit his entire school before Halloween. Why so soon? Sunny won't say. But how can Jonah win over 600 classmates when the only thing he dreads more than the end of the world is talking to other kids?

Critique: Clever, fun, original, and with an important underlying message about taking care of the environment and dealing with climate change, "We the Future" by Cliff Lewis is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Science Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-14. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "We the Future" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Cliff Lewis is a professional writer, a hometown story-slam winner, and a keynote speaker living with his family in Pennsylvania. In his spare time, Cliff volunteers for local progressive organizations, which once led to a crew of young climate activists devouring all of his family's traditional election-day chili.

When Impossible Happens
Jane De Suza
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593530122, $17.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: When the pandemic hits and India goes into lockdown, high-spirited Swara keeps up her daily chats with her just-as-imaginative grandmother, Pitter Paati, through video calls. But soon Pitter Paati becomes too ill to even call, and then Swara's parents say she has died of the virus.

Swara can't believe it. Pitter Paati would not just leave! It's impossible!

As Swara investigates the mystery of her grandmother's disappearance, she stumbles upon a neighborhood mystery as well. With help from her friends, usually-annoying brother, and clues she's certain came from Pitter Paati, Swara solves that very real mystery and, slowly, comes to terms with the truth about her grandmother.

She also realizes Pitter Paati will be with her, in many important ways, forever.

Critique: With its theme of family life and loss, "When Impossible Happens" by Jane De Suza will be of special interest to young readers ages 8-12. Original, memorable, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone and substance, "When Impossible Happens" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Impossible Happens" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Jane De Suza is the author of several popular adult and children's books published in India. She writes a humor column for The Hindu, a daily newspaper in India, and had a parenting column for Good Housekeeping. Jane earned an MBA at the Xavier School of Management in Jamshedpur, India, and has worked in advertising for many years as a Creative Director. She currently lives in Singapore with her family.

Jeff Pennant's Field Guide To Raising Happy Parents
Kelli McKinney
Chicken Scratch Books
9781953743183, $13.99, PB, 266pp

Synopsis: Why don't parents come with an instruction manual? Enjoy childhood, they say. I will. I do. Or, at least, I did.

I'm over here living my best life with my best friends and science club. And in three weeks, we're going to GamerCon. Suddenly, my parents want to talk about my choices. It's so unfair. Why am I grounded for enjoying my childhood? I'm doing exactly what they said to do.

I know I'm not a parent. But I'm pretty sure 'doing what you say you'll do' is in the top five rules of parenting. It's right up there with 'feed the kid'. Just my opinion.

Now I've lost everything good because the grown people in my life don't make any sense. If I can't spend time with my best friends, how do I keep them? And how do I get out of trouble when I'm not sure how I got there in the first place?

Critique: A laugh out loud theme that every kid will recognize and appreciation, "Jeff Pennant's Field Guide To Raising Happy Parents" by author Kelli McKinney os a fun read from first page to last. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), "Jeff Pennant's Field Guide To Raising Happy Parents" is an original and especially recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Pre-Teen Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-13.

Editorial Note: Kelli McKinney ( earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and her graduate degree in radio/tv/film from the University of North Texas. She enjoyed an eclectic-yet-fulfilling career in corporate marketing before wandering off to be a children's author. It is interesting to note that "Jeff Pennant's Field Guide To Raising Happy Parents" is her debut middle grade novel.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone
Paul E. Doutrich
Luminare Press
9798886790436, $16.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook

In The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone, sixteen-year-old Donnie becomes caught up in patriotic fervor and enlists to be part of the war during World War I. Joining other fighter pilots in the conflict, he finds that the struggle is only beginning when, at war's end, he returns to a much-changed civilian life. Or, is it he who has changed?

As he encounters various social figures, starts an air delivery service, and finds himself on the wrong end of the law, Donnie falls into a series of dead-end jobs and dangerous possibilities until his wandering ways are brought to a halt by the former mentor who taught him how to fly.

The special strength in Paul E. Doutrich's story lies in his ability to weave a tale that moves concurrently through personal growth and society's evolution. Historical facts captured through the eyes of young Donnie thus become more personal, vivid, and certainly more memorable as he finds his path in the aftermath of a world-changing war. Doutrich cultivates a rich 'you are here' feeling by presenting the world through Donnie's first-person experiences.

Readers of all ages not only absorb this milieu, but sit beside Donnie as he moves through life, learning new lessons and crafting a better idea of where he is heading and how to get there.

Readers who enjoy stories of aviation experiences will find Donnie's flights especially engaging as he builds familiarity with his craft and designs new opportunities for himself. These grow to embrace other realizations as the years pass, bringing with them Japanese internment camps, labor struggles, McCarthyism, and the Vietnam War. Donnie Malone's many adventures represent a vivid attention to detail and psychological development which demonstrate how viewing history through a character's eyes can bring it to life and make it memorable.

Historical fiction readers, those interested in aviation-centered stories, and readers from teens through adults who look for rollicking good flights into the skies and heart will find The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone a captivating story of growth and change.

Stars and Smoke
Marie Lu
Roaring Brook Press
c/o Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
9781250852816, $19.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Meet Winter Young -- an international pop sensation, with a voice like velvet and looks that could kill. His star power has smashed records, selling out stadiums from LA to London. His rabid fans would move heaven and earth for even a glimpse of him -- just imagine what they'd do to become his latest fling!

Meet Sydney Cossette -- part of an elite covert ops group, Sydney joined their ranks as their youngest spy with plans to become the best agent they've ever had. An ice queen with moves as dangerous as her comebacks, Sydney picks up languages just as quickly as she breaks hearts. She's fiery, no-nonsense, and has zero time for romance -- especially with a shameless flirt more used to serving sass than taking orders.

When a major crime boss gifts his daughter a private concert with Winter for her birthday, Sydney and Winter's lives suddenly collide. Tasked with infiltrating the crime organization's inner circle, Sydney is assigned as Winter's bodyguard with Winter tapped to join her on the mission of a lifetime as a new spy recruit. Sydney may be the only person alive impervious to Winter's charms, but as their mission brings them closer, she's forced to admit that there's more to Winter Young than just a handsome face.

Critique: A spellbinding novel of romance, intrigue, and adventure, "Stars and Smoke" showcases author Marie Lu's originality, as well as her impressive and narrative driven storytelling skills. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Stars and Smoke" will prove an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-18.

Editorial Note: Marie Lu ( is the author of the Legend series, The Young Elites trilogy, the Warcross series. the Skyhunter series, Batman: Nightwalker, and The Kingdom of Back. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, where she worked as an artist.

The Other Side of Infinity
Joan F. Smith
Feiwel & Friends
9781250843388, $19.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: It was supposed to be an ordinary day at the pool, but when lifeguard Nick hesitates during a save, seventeen-year-old December uses her gift of foreknowledge to rescue the drowning man instead. The action comes at a cost. Not only will Nick and December fall in love, but also, she envisions that his own life is now at risk. The other problem? They're basically strangers.

December embarks on a mission to save Nick's life, and to experience what it feels like to fall in love -- something she'd formerly thought she'd never do. Nick, battling the shame of screwing up the rescue when he's heralded as a community hero, resolves to make up for his inaction by doing December a major solid and searching for her mother, who went missing nine years ago.

As they grow closer, December's gift starts playing tricks, and Nick's family gets closer to an ugly truth about him. They both must learn what it really means to be a hero before time runs out.

Critique: Original, memorable, entertaining, and an unexpected finale, "The Other Side of Infinity" nicely showcases author Joan F. Smith's natural flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps young readers focused interest from first page to last. While readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) for personal reading lists for young readers with an interest in dystopian and contemporary romance stories, "The Other Side of Infinity" is an especially recommended addition to highschool and community library YA Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Joan F. Smith ( is the author of The Other Side of Infinity and The Half-Orphan's Handbook, a dance instructor, and a former associate dean of creative writing. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Joan lives and writes in Massachusetts, where she was the 2021 Writer-in-Residence at the Milton Public Library.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Wildes: The Amazon
Roland Smith
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111943, $19.95, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Ring and Asia Wilde's life is anything but ordinary. Some of their closest friends are endangered monkeys and rare birds. Instead of attending middle school, they accompany their parents (scientists who work to save endangered species) on adventures around the world. They spend more time climbing trees, tracking animal prints, and taking on three-hundred-pound anacondas than they do filling out worksheets.

But a research trip to the Amazon rainforest turns into a dangerous mystery when their mother goes missing. Who kidnapped Dr. Jane Wilde, and why? Ring and Asia have the skills to survive the jungle -- but do they have what it takes to rescue their mom?

Critique: An original, fun, and simply riveting action/adventure novel from first page to last, "The Wildes: The Amazon" by children's author Roland Smith will prove a welcome and enduringly popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers ages 8-11 who have an interest in 'whodunnit' mysteries. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wildes: The Amazon" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.05).

Editorial Note: Roland Smith ( is an American author of young adult fiction as well as nonfiction books for children. A former zookeeper and leading expert on red wolves as well as an author, he lives on a small farm near Portland, Oregon.

Cobra Pose
Susan Rogers and John Roosen
9780645413625, $6.99 ebook

Cobra Pose, the second book in the Yoga Mat Mysteries series, benefits from but requires no prior introduction to its predecessor in order to prove accessible and inviting to mystery readers.

Elaina Williams is a yoga instructor who uses Cobra Pose to boost her energy. Ironically, adversaries and hackers The Cobra and The Wolf, who may be involved in her father's disappearance, hold their own special abilities as they reach out to embroil Australia in an international scam that threatens the global economy.

Readers move from the microcosm of Elaina and her new love (photojournalist Ric Peters) and their relationship and latest mission to the bigger picture of the worldwide threat posed by adversaries whose skills are well beyond amateur sleuth and yoga instructor Elaina's abilities ... and maybe even Ric's special hidden skills.

It's rare to see a yoga milieu incorporated into a thriller that evolves on international playgrounds, but the two subjects dovetail nicely in a story replete with nuances and insights into both worlds.

It's also rare to observe the blends of philosophical, political, and thriller influences that so neatly create an exceptionally vivid atmosphere in which intrigue evolves in satisfyingly unexpected ways. As the story evolves, thriller readers will relish the twists of plot which bring Elaine and Ric ever closer to an astonishing truth and test of each individual's abilities, while those interested in yoga will find added value in the emotional and physical connections created by the yoga interludes and lessons.

The attention to atmospheric detail is not lost in the fast pace of the unfolding mystery, which is also a notable feature of a plot which takes the time to create delicious scenes: "They sat down to chicken parmesan, roasted vegetables and pasta stuffed with spinach. In the refrigerator, the chocolate mousse was chilling next to whipped cream 'at the ready' to serve as a topping. The Italian rolls were from the local bakery."

Australia's foreign, financial, and national interests come to life, requiring no prior familiarity with the country from readers. Those interested in a gripping story of intrigue will find Cobra Pose tests the relationships and personal mettle of characters who often seem both capable and in unlikely positions to solve a mystery of international importance.

Libraries and readers seeking compelling stories firmly rooted in a sense of place, and characters who are each tested to operate beyond their intrinsic training and abilities, will find plenty to appreciate as Cobra Pose evolves its ultimate message about cyber-attacks, schemes, and decisions which lead to discovery, recovery, and uncommon courage and sacrifice.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Coyote King
Sally Alexander
Independently Published
9781958459089, $24.99 Hardcover/$3.99 Kindle

The fifth book in the Caitlin and Rio adventure series for ages 8-12 presents a new dilemma faced by a girl and her magical cat when a pack of wild coyotes threatens children and pets. The opening chapter recapping Ragdoll cat Rio and human Caitlin's previous adventures provides a smooth introduction that allows newcomers to immediately understand the magical milieu of the two, while prior fans can choose to skip the review to delve right into the story in the second chapter, which opens with a Saturday Pajama Day celebration.

Several streams of adventure run through this lively tale, from a new family in the neighborhood to the reappearance of the ever-evil MacDougal, along with a problem-causing pack of wild coyotes. Between all these tense encounters, Caitlin and Rio seem to have their hands and paws full. It's a good thing they have best friends to help. It's also a plus that Rio's magical abilities give them an added edge over evil's powers.

Sally Alexander creates an engrossing story that once again tests Caitlin and Rio on many levels; from their inherent abilities and connections with each other and supportive friends to their determination to try to lead an ordinary life under extraordinary circumstances. This objective is too often tested, but Caitlin remains determined to enjoy her childhood: "The morning of the party, Caitlin was determined that she was not going to let anything upset her."

The trappings of winter and coming holiday festivities also lend an atmospheric seasonal touch as Caitlin and Rio become involved with animated fighting Snowmen and holiday decorations that develop new ways of fighting the coyote pack. Rio is determined to protect Caitlin from these wild teeth, but both feel danger hot on their heels as their different defenses fall apart.

Young readers will find The Coyote King spirited. It's filled with confrontations, realizations and discoveries, holiday trappings, and the injection of evil into the celebratory picture. The Coyote King is another winning adventure that both adds to the series and stands nicely on its own for newcomers.

Water and Blood
N.K. Carlson
Creative James Media
9781956183887, $11.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle

Water and Blood is the second book in the young adult fantasy series The Chronicles of Terrasohnen, and presents a blend of mystery, fantasy, and swashbucking pirate story. It will especially engage prior readers of the epic sword-and-sorcery clash between powers experienced by Reith and his friends.

Here, the band that has fled the Elven capitol must both warn the dwarves about the stretching power of the Shadow and learn more about its strength and weaknesses so they can better defy its hold. If they can't reach the dwarves in time, avoiding attempts to destroy them in the course of the journey, the entire kingdom of Terrasohnen will fall. That's a weighty objective to place on the shoulders of a ragtag band in general and Reith in particular, who is just coming into his own abilities and learning about his limitations and strengths.

Storms, winds of adversity, and darkness that "works in subtle and manipulative ways" to lead them down the wrong path are all elements that must be overcome if Reith and his friends are to make headway, both physically and in matters of their own hearts and perceptions. They receive guidance and warnings from others savvier about the process and dangers involved in their quest: "Good becomes evil when evil is used to achieve some seemingly noble and good end," Eynali said. "There can be no partnership between Light and Dark." Is Reith strong enough to tempt fate and bad luck?

N. K. Carlson's fantasy for teens and young adults can be accessed both by prior fans of Reith's adventures and newcomers to his world. The seamless integration of past and present adventure allows for an immediate immersion into events that are challenging, growth-inducing, and unexpected. As fate, luck, and destiny coalesce, nonstop action and solid characterization power this tale's attraction and evolution.

Libraries and teens looking for epic fantasy series reads in which young people evolve a sense of purpose and better perceptions of good and evil's draw and dangers will find Water and Blood especially adept at juxtaposing vivid action with personal insights about power and how it is confronted and wielded.

Immortality: A Love Story
Dana Schwartz
Wednesday Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250861016, $19.99, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: Hazel Sinnett is alone and half-convinced the events of the year before (the immortality, Beecham's vial) were a figment of her imagination. She doesn't even know if Jack is alive or dead. All she can really do now is treat patients and maintain Hawthornden Castle as it starts to decay around her.

When saving a life leads to her arrest, Hazel seems doomed to rot in prison until a message intervenes: Hazel has been specifically requested to be the personal physician of Princess Charlotte, the sickly granddaughter of King George III. Soon Hazel is dragged into the glamor and romance of a court where everyone has something to hide, especially the enigmatic, brilliant members of a social club known as the Companions to the Death.

As Hazel's work entangles her more and more with the British court, she realizes that her own future as a surgeon isn't the only thing at stake for her. Malicious forces are at work in the monarchy, and Hazel may be the only one capable of setting things right.

Critique: Of special interest to young readers ages 13-16 who enjoy historical romance blended with sword & sorcery style fantasy, "Immortality: A Love Story" by novelist Dana Schwartz is an original and fun read from first page to last. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), it is an especially recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Dana Schwartz ( is a writer with bylines for Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Marie Claire, the New Yorker, GQ, and more. She is also the creator of the viral Twitter accounts @GuyInYourMFA and @DystopianYA, and the host and creator of the chart-topping history podcast Noble Blood.

City of Vicious Night
Claire Winn
c/o North Star Editions, Inc.
2297 Waters Drive, Mendota Heights, MN 55125
9781635830842, $14.99, PB, 456pp

Synopsis: It's been four months since runaway heiress Asa crash-landed on the matriarchal outlaw colony Requiem, bringing a nasty AI and a host of deadly secrets with her. Now, she runs with her almost-girlfriend Riven's smuggler crew, stealing kisses between gunfights and heists. But when a mysterious hacker sabotages their latest job, other gangs turn against them, blaming them for the destruction the rogue AI caused. Nowhere in the city is safe.

The only way to protect their crew is a series of trials for control of an underworld faction -- and vying for a matriarch's throne is a dream Riven can't let go. But as the trials intensify, the saboteur hounds Asa and Riven's every step, determined to kill Asa and right her father's wrongs. When the saboteur reveals a horrific conspiracy threatening all of Requiem (one involving the crew member they thought they'd lost) the girls must decide whether to risk their own skins for a city that loathes them.

Critique: The sequel to science fiction and fantasy author Claire Winn's riveting SciFi novel "City of Shattered Light", this latest adventure of Asa and her crew, "City of Vicious Night" is another compulsive page turner of a fun read from cover to cover. With more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller-coaster, "City of Vicious Night" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Science Fiction collections for young readers ages 14- 18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "City of Vicious Night" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Claire Winn ( often spends her time immersed in other worlds through LARP, video games, books, nerd conventions, and her own stories. Since graduating from Northwestern University, she's worked as a legal and technical writer. Aside from writing, she builds cosplay props and armor, tears up dance floors, and battles with boffer swords.

Lei and the Fire Goddess
Malia Maunakea
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593522035, $17.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Curses aren't real. -- At least, that's what twelve-year-old, part-Hawaiian Anna Leilani Kama ehu thinks when she listens to her grandmother's folktales about sacred flowers and family guardians. Anna's friends back home in Colorado don't believe in legends, either. They're more interested in science and sports -- real, tangible things that stand in total contrast to Anna's family's embarrassing stories.

So when Anna goes back to Hawai i to visit her T t , she has no interest in becoming the heir to her family's history; she's set on having a touristy, fun vacation. But when Anna accidentally insults Pele the fire goddess by destroying her lehua blossom, a giant hawk swoops in and kidnaps her best friend, and she quickly learns just how real these mo olelo are. In order to save her friends and family, Anna must now battle mythical creatures, team up with demigods and talking bats, and evade the traps Pele hurls her way.

For if Anna hopes to undo the curse, she will have to dig deep into her Hawaiian roots and learn to embrace all of who she is!

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a fun read from first page to last, "Leis and the Fire Goddess" by Malia Maunakea is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Leis and the Fire Goddess" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Malia Maunakea ( is a part-Hawaiian writer who grew up in the rainforest on the Big Island before moving to a valley on O ahu in seventh grade. She relocated to the continent for college in Colorado and can be followed on Twitter @MaliaMaunakea

Restart: Book 1
Drew Samuelsen
Cosby Media Productions
9798885262620, $15.99, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, never seems to make noise on the world scale. That is, until now. Ulysses (Uly) is a teenager with dreams. Most of which range from earning straight A's in school, making money, and marrying the girl of his dreams one day. None of these include saving the world, but Ulysses has learned to always keep his options open.

But one day, all his dreams and hopes crash and burn when a worldwide apocalypse is transmitted through electronics such as cell phones, laptops, and TV screens, bringing the entire planet grinding to a halt. Even worse, Ulysses is now being hunted by ruthless humans called The Changed, programmed to hunt and kill survivors, controlled by a female scientist only known as Eve. Separated from his family, Ulysses teams up with his friends Xavier, Maxine, and Tyler, along with a dog named Finn McCool, determined to stop Eve's plans and restore the world in... a Restart!

Critique: "Restart" by Drew Samuelson is original, riveting, and certain to leave young readers looking eagerly forward to the next volume in this fully entertaining science fiction series. While highly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Science Fiction collections for ages 13-18, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Restart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Drew Samuelsen ( is a multi-award winning author of fiction and a podcaster. A former Marine, he teaches English and lives with his wonderful family in Central Pennsylvania.

Hale: The Prophet's Journal
JK Noble
Independently Published
9781636981529, $18.95

Middle-grade readers to adults who enjoyed the story of boy/griffin hero/villain in Hale: The Rise of the Griffins will find its sequel, Hale: The Prophet's Journal, a satisfyingly, equally powerful follow-up.

It carries Hale into more adventures as he continues to confront his new powers and role in life. The story opens with Hale's father Felix's nightmares and his determination to break away from his dearest, oldest friends to confront King Bayo's rule and son Hale's dangerously powerful, growing gift.

As the story moves between Bayo, Hale, and Felix, it develops a powerful plot in which young readers once again are called upon to question who is the hero, who is the villain, and who is only human, in their responses to life's adversity and opportunities. Hale trusted his Griffin brother Bayo, who let him down. It's been eleven years, but the latest rescue attempt shatters all hope that Hale can be saved. And yet, this is not the end of the story; but the beginning.

As events unfold with a host of characters questioning their intentions, beliefs, and impact upon their worlds, prior fans of The Rise of the Griffins will appreciate the same attention to psychological development and conundrums that made the first book so compelling. As Hale, a siren song, and an awful power are changed by an unexpected savior, satisfying twists and turns develop which continue to challenge the young reader's perception of who are the good and who the evil characters in the plot. Nothing is black and white. Nor are the motives and questions of a host of characters that struggle with danger and sometimes even act against their own interests.

Sometimes readers will admire Hale: "Epic battles showcase Hale's courageousness and righteous actions when he defends the innocent. The more Marcus watches, the more he is in awe of Hale. For every obstacle Hale overcomes, he remains true to his character." Sometimes, they will hate him. This changing sense of purpose, perspective, and a waking world in which the history of the Griffin clan comes dangerously to life, makes for a complex, involving read that is one of the hallmarks of a superior fantasy story.

All ages will appreciate the ghosts, mysteries, and struggles which continue to evolve, involve, and consume Hale, his family, and those around him. The blend of fast-paced action, multifaceted characters and purposes, and more developing details about the Griffin clan and their world makes for a satisfying sequel that should be in any collection seeing patron interest in Hale: The Rise of the Griffins.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Gunhild, Volume 1: The New God?
Fred Tornager
Rockport Publishers
c/o Quarto
9780760381915 $13.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the world of Norse mythology, humans revere the mighty gods and fear the mystical, nature-wielding Jotuns, and Gunhild is a fire Jotun. Abandoned by her own kind and raised in a human girls' orphanage, Gunhild wishes to prove to her peers that she's more than a little troublemaker. Every step of the way, it becomes clear that Gunhild must fight for what's right and follow her own sense of justice, seeing as no one else will fight for her.

Gunhild's quest leads her to meet all the famous gods she's heard about in schools, like Odin and Thor, though the one she's most interested in is the mischievous Jotun god Loki, who's chained up in a cave hidden in a location known only by the gods.

Her travels lead mainly to many foes, but a few enemies become friends, persuaded by Gunhild's unwavering determination and burning passion for her own cause. Being a tiny Jotun against a big, powerful world, Gunhild must fight smart and learn a trick or two from Loki to earn the title of godhood. Certainly, Gunhild will stop at nothing to forge her own fantastic path and make her dream come true.

Gunhild is rated Y for Youth, recommended for ages 10 and up.

Critique: Part of the "Saturday AM" line of diverse, manga-inspired comics and graphic novels for young readers, Gunhild, Volume 1: The New God? is a colorful adventure inspired by Norse mythology, written especially for young adults ages 10 and above. Gunhild is a a 12-year-old fire Jotun (a race of giants) raised in human girls' orphanage. As the world spirals toward disaster, Gunhild longs to prove that she's more than a troublemaker; her quest to find her own path and help those who need it most will bring her face-to-face with legendary deities like Odin and Thor. She has a particularly keen interest in the notoriously mischievous Jotun god Loki, who is chained up in a hidden cave! The colorful, action-packed art brings this spirited saga to life. Gunhild, Volume 1 is especially recommended for school and public library children's graphic novel collections, and Norse mythology connoisseurs of all ages and backgrounds are sure to enjoy Gunhild's energetic adventures as well! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Gunhild, Volume 1 is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Ahiahia the Orphan
Levi Illuitok, author
Nate Wells, illustrator
Inhabit Media
9781772274431, $19.95, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: After his parents are brutally murdered, Ahiahia is raised by his grandmother in a camp surrounded by enemies. His grandmother knows that eventually the camp will turn on Ahiahia, just as it did his parents, so she chants a protection chant over the clothing that she lovingly sews for him, over the amulet and necklace she gives him, even over the dog that is his companion.

When he is attacked, Ahiahia must use his agility, hunting skills, and the protection imparted by his grandmother to stay alive.

Critique: "Ahiahia the Orphan" is traditional Inuit story that is vibrantly retold by Kugaaruk Elder Levi Illuitok, and dramatically illustrated in a comic book/graphic novel style by the artwork of Nate Wells. Highly recommended for personal, middle school, highschool, and community library Graphic Novel collections for readers ages 12 years and older, "Ahiahia the Orphan" is an ancient Inuit tale now rescued from oblivion for new generations to enjoy.

Editorial Note #1: Levi Illuitok was born in Qilijauqtuaq, Kugaaruk, a community in Nunavut. While growing up, he and his family travelled by land and did not stay in one place for long. Levi enjoys going out on the land and hunting. He also teaches his traditional knowledge to students.

Editorial Note #2: Nate Wells is an illustrator and designer living in Texas. While studying graphic design at Texas Tech University, Nate began his career in cartooning at the school's newspaper, The Daily Toreador, where he worked as an editorial cartoonist. Nate now works in the fields of comic books, film, and music, creating posters, sequential art, and concept art.

The Biography Shelf

Debbie's Song
Ellen Leventhal, author
Natalia Grebtsova, illustrator
Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc.
241 First Ave. N, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781728443010, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Debbie's Song: The Debbie Friedman Story" is the story of Debbie Friedman who, when she was a young girl, had music bubbled up inside her, and as she grew, she dreamed that her music could bring people together. Although she had many obstacles to overcome, she did want no one else had done. Debbie created Jewish music that welcomed, included, and honored everyone. And through her music, she created a community, just as she had dreamed.

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Ellen Levernthal and artist/illustrator Natalia Gretsova, "Debbie's Song: The Debbie Friedman Story" is unreservedly recommended as a prized and popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Biography picture book collections for children ages 3-8. It should be noted that "Debbie's Song" is also readily available from KarBen Publishing in a paperback edition (9781728443027, $8.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.54).

Editorial Note #1: Ellen Leventhal ( is an educator and writer in Houston, Texas. She taught in a Jewish school where Debbie Friedman's music could be heard as she walked down the hallways. Ellen is the author of several picture books as well as short stories and poetry.

Editorial Note #2: Natalia Grebtsova draws digitally to create amazing worlds. She is inspired by her love of nature and animals. Her nickname is "Belouhaya Marmozetka," which means "White-Eared Marmoset." She lives in Moscow, Russia and has a page on the Bright Agency website at:

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Dear Mama God
Daneen Akers, author
Gillian Gamble, illustrator
Watchfire Media
9781734089530, $25.00, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Dear Mama God -- With those simple and yet revolutionary words comes a wondrous child's prayer addressed to the Divine in feminine form. Warm, comforting, and full of gratitude, these innocent and earnest words of thanks help us see anew through the eyes of a child how we can approach God as Mother and as She.

Critique: "Dear Mama God" by the team of author/storyteller Daneen Akers and artist/illustrator Gillian Gamble is a unique, spiritually enhancing, thoroughly 'kid friendly', and beautifully presented children's book that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6

Editorial Note #1: Daneen Akers is a writer, documentary filmmaker, teacher, and mother who believes deeply in the power of stories. Her latest project is "Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints", an illustrated middle-grade anthology featuring original portraits and profiles of people of faith who worked for love and justice in their corner of the world, even if that rocked the religious boat.

Editorial Note #2: Gillian Gamble ( is the writer and illustrator of Darcy Daydream, amongst others, She resides in County Durham, England, with her two young daughters.

The Mythology Shelf

The Genius Kid's Guide to Mythical Creatures
Sara Novak
North Star Kids
c/o North Star Editions
9781952455124, $16.99, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: From beautiful mermaids and gentle unicorns to fire-breathing dragons and bloodthirsty vampires, mysterious beings and magical beasts appear in stories told all around the world.

With the publication of "The Genius Kid's Guide to Mythical Creatures", author Sara Novak showcases 20 of these legendary beings, detailing each individual creature's appearance and behavior, as well as where and how legends about it began. The informative and illustrated text also explores how the stories have changed and developed over time.

Young readers will learn everything they need or want to know about their favorite myths and monsters -- as well as plenty of fun trivia to impress their friends.

Critique: Profusely illustrated in full color throughout, "The Genius Kid's Guide to Mythical Creatures" will have a very special appeal to young readers with an interest in myths, legends, and monsters and is unreservedly recommended for personal, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for children ages 8-14.

Editorial Note: North Star Kids ( nonfiction books fuel young readers' passion for the topics they love the most. Bite-sized text sections and bold, engaging photos make these all-encompassing resources a must-have for any young reader who wants to be a Genius Kids!

Books in Series

Florence's Journey: Proving Something
Victor Hess
Independently Published
9780999564059, $12.95

Florence's Journey: Proving Something is the first book in the Wesley Club series for young readers and follows nine-year-old Florence Abigail Williams, who is, as the story opens, convinced that her mother's reference to a surprise means many possibilities of an improvement to their home and lives. Surprise! It involves a journey that, in 1955 Ohio, is no light undertaking when Florence's parents are accused of a crime and arrested, leaving Florence with too many questions and an uncertain future.

Florence's diary entries describing her experience juxtapose with third person observations of trials, errors, and foster homes that teach Florence about different worlds and lives. As her parents learn how to parent from a distance and maintain contact with Florence, the child embarks on a new life under vastly revised conditions, learning to participate in the community church and life in a very different way.

It doesn't help their case that her parents don't recall where they were or what happened, so Florence becomes involved in an investigation that holds some surprising twists and turns. It's unusual to see a pre-teen read where the young protagonist is unwittingly pulled into an adult world of legal and criminal processes while simultaneously navigating her own understanding of strange circumstances.

The intrigue added by Florence's own perception of those who arrested her parents introduces another layer of possibility to the mystery that young people won't see coming (and neither will adults). As time goes by, Florence's ability to adapt to new circumstances and participate in rebuilding not just her life, but those of her parents, creates a moving and engrossing story that flavors its backdrop of 1950s Ohio with social observations and spiritual reflection.

The mystery, character development, and spiritual growth dovetail nicely with scenes that profile both the times and the proactive determination of a young girl charged with getting her family back together against all odds and impossible circumstances.

Libraries and readers looking for realistic stories of trials, difficult choices, and a savvy, concerned child who might be the only one able to help her parents resolve their own unexpected struggles will find Florence's Journey: Proving Something an astute story of courage, conviction, and spiritual growth. It ideally will attract a wide audience. This is the first book of the Wesley Club Adventure series.

Falling Star
Michele Kwasniewski
Rand-Smith Books
9781950544363, $20.00, HC

Falling Star is the third book in the Rise and Fall of Dani Truehart series, and opens with a powerful scenario in its prologue that claims the narrator has "just made the biggest mistake of my life" before a terrible accident.

Dani then awakens to the impact her talent manager has on her life as he and his creepy assistant Carlton force her to add fuel to the fire of her tragedy by involving her in a cover-up. Dani is no ordinary girl. She's a pop star whose talents have propelled her to the top, but she's not immune to making poor choices, or the influences of those around her who are determined to preserve her fame and fortune.

As Dani faces the impact of her decisions, she falls prey to the notion that her career is worth any sacrifice. Even another life. The lure of her abilities and their ongoing appeal and strength cannot be denied under any circumstances: "In spite of everything going on in my life offstage, my performance is sheer perfection! It wipes away any misgivings I've had about the choices I've made over the past few days. I am meant to be on this stage and give my fans what they want. Whatever it takes to keep me here is what needs to happen." Or, can they?

As Dani faces violations on many levels and comes to realize her own strength and choices in handling those around her, she struts on a different stage of empowerment and comes to acknowledge the moral and ethical sacrifices involved in reaching for the stars. Michele Kwasniewski crafts a powerful voice in following Dani's rise and fall and her blossoming self-awareness.

Dani's moving story comes to life for prior fans and newcomers to the series, offering many touching moments of self-inspection and life processes that can serve as discussion points for teen reading groups. Painted with the lure of music, romance, and women's issues, Falling Star is a powerful story highly recommended for any library strong in teen fiction, and for young adults attracted to stories of growth and self-realization.

The Forgetful Ferret
Sally Alexander
Independently Published
978958459041, $24.99 Hardcover/$7.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook

Book 4 of a Caitlin and Rio adventure for elementary-level readers, The Forgetful Ferret, follows Caitlin Maggert and her magical Ragdoll cat Rio into a new dilemma when a lost time-traveling ferret enters their lives. Caitlin wants to help Daisy return to her home, but she also realizes that the ferret represents a unique opportunity to go back in time and change the series of events that brought the evil terrorist MacDougal into their world to threaten it.

As readers ages 8-12 absorb Caitlin's dilemma over treading carefully lest her own timeline be corrupted and damaged, they receive a rollicking good adventure story. The Forgetful Ferret requires no prior familiarity with the preceding series stories in order for newcomers to dip right into the characters and scenarios. This is because a brief introduction sets the stage by condensing past encounters with MacDougal and following his foray into even more dangerous territory in The Forgetful Ferret.

Can Daisy help them stop MacDougal, or will she enter the time portal without them? Is Caitlin's dangerous plan enough to protect her beloved Rio? As Caitlin combines forces with best friends Molly and Trudy, who each exhibit different abilities to solve problems and decipher clues to puzzles, Sally Alexander's excellent adventure benefits from a side dish of realization about the supportive strengths friends can provide in times of adversity. The result is a tale that simmers with action, mystery, a nautical treasure hunt, and a pet that offers underlying lessons on friendship and the true meaning of treasure.

Elementary-level libraries and readers looking for standalone adventures that are engrossing and well-written will find The Forgetful Ferret an excellent choice.

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.

Mister Kitty Is Lost!
Greg Pizzoli
Little, Brown
9780316056540, $16.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Mister Kitty is missing somewhere inside this book! Will you help us find him? Join the hunt for five yellow spots, four orange paws, three purple bells, and more, exploring numbers and colors along the way in an interactive countdown. Cutouts interacting with Greg Pizzoli's vivid artwork reveal a surprise after each page turn, all leading up to the biggest twist of all at the end! A great book for fun, engagement and playtime with toddlers and preschoolers! (Ages baby-3)

Dinosaurs Like Bananas Too!
Erin Ciaravino, author
Celina Preston, illustrator
Independently Published
9798987236529, $16.99

Deb Greenberg

When you're open to adventure, there are lots of new things to try. Tag along with Logan and his new dinosaur friend as they venture out for a day of fun and meet a monkey, a whale, a bear, and a bird. Colorful and expressive artwork, along with simple, rhyming lines, are bound to keep the attention of your little one. (Ages 1-6)

Anna Kang, author
Christopher Weyant, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542039611, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

It's the beginning of the new school year and the teacher's desk is alive with supplies. This entertaining book introduces class rules to the child and shows us that we all make mistakes. Making mistakes is ok and we all work together to correct them. This is a fun book that my students enjoyed reading and writing a book report on. (Ages 3-7)

Misty the Cloud: Friends Through Rain or Shine
Dylan Dreyer, author
Rosie Butcher, illustrator
Random House Children's Books
9780593180426, $19.99

Deb Greenberg

Author and meteorologist Dylan Dreyer offers a lesson about compromise in book 2 of her Misty the Cloud series, while also teaching a bit about science and weather. When Misty's party with her cloud friends is interrupted by the sunbeams, can they work out their differences and agree on a game to play? With the cheerful illustrations and added weather facts and activity, you'll want to cuddle up and share this story with your little ones... rain or shine. (Ages 3-7)

My Self, Your Self
Esme Shapiro
Tundra Books
9781774880234, $18.99

Christine Irvin

What is "Your self"? What does that mean? Author Esme Shapiro attempts to answer that question using conversations between creatures in a forest. The topic of personal identity is a good one, and one that should be explored, but it can be difficult to understand. The author does a good job through most of the narrative, but it felt as though they went a bit off course a couple of times. However, if the book the book is shared with parents or care givers, it could lead to a meaningful discussion of "self". (Ages 3-7)

Zoey Abbott
Tundra Books
9780735271418, $18.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Zoey Abbott tackles parental distraction in a quirky and hilarious way in this parable about too much of a good thing. With her trademark wit and engaging illustrations, she introduces a very wise kid and a not-so-wise parent who eventually see eye to eye in a story that will delight readers of all ages. (Ages 3-7)

Magnificent Mocha Monty
Holland Jordan
Independently Published
9781734851809, $11.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Is there anything more magnificent than mocha colored skin? Not according to Magnificent Mocha Monty. Monty knows his skin is so magnificent and brown. This book will inspire kids to love the skin they're in, build self-esteem, especially "skin-esteem" and encourage self-acceptance. It is important for children to see and read about other children who look like them and how magnificent they really are. My granddaughter loved this book! (Ages 3-7)

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

Cynthia Kern OBrien

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

Dressing Up the Stars
Jeanne Walker Harvey, author
Diana Toledano, illustrator
Beach Lane Books
9781534451056, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

Growing up in a small mining town, shy little Edith had few friends and spent her afternoons dressing up her toys, pets, and even wild animals using fabric scraps she collected from the nearest town. After setting her sights on Hollywood, talking her way in to a sketching job, and teaching herself costume design, she became the first woman to head a major studio costume department and went on to achieve many awards. A super interesting picture book biography with a lesson about working hard to achieve your goals. (Ages 3-8)

A Bucket of Questions
Tim Fite
Atheneum Books
9781665918312, $18.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Why do kids lose their teeth? Why do seals clap? What is at the bottom of the ocean? Artist and musician Tim Fite is here to almost-answer all your most important questions - and then some! - in this marvelously wacky, utterly imaginative, and irreverently playful picture book. Sure to keep kids entertained as they puzzle through the twist-and-turn answers! (Ages 4-8)

This Is a Story
John Schu, author
Lauren Castillo, illustrator
9781536204520, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

A beautifully illustrated introduction to how a story is developed and where do we find an abundance of worlds? The library, of course. This is a story that outlines the makings of a book, as words, pages, and covers. The jacket has a gorgeous poster included encouraging children to read, read and read. I really enjoyed reading it. (Ages 4-8)

Cool Green: Amazing, Remarkable Trees
Lulu Delacre
9781536220407, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Have you ever thought of eating a tree? The mighty Moringa is a miracle tree. You can toss them in a salad, steam them like asparagus or eat the peanut-like seeds. The Wollemi tree lived with the dinosaurs and looks like a Palm tree. The General Sherman tree is the biggest clean air machine and is over 2,000 years old. This amazing book teaches our children how important trees our to our existence and how wondrous they are. I highly recommend this book for an upper elementary school child. (Ages 4-8)

My Friend, Loonie
Nina LaCour, author
Ashling Lindsay, illustrator
9781536213935, $18.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Having a balloon as a friend can be a fun and unusual experience. A young girl receives a big yellow balloon and spends her days with her newest friend. Sadly, her new friend flies away and the little girl feels lonely. Her parents distract her with some gardening and soon she sees a bright yellow flower. This is a beautiful story of building a friendship, the loss of it, and then a newfound way to enjoy the memories and make it positive. (Ages 4-8)

Namaste Is a Greeting
Suma Subramaniam, author
Sandhya Prabhat illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536217834, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

What is namaste? A simple greeting with a lot of meaning, it exists in a smile, a friendship, or a celebration. For one small girl in a bustling city, namaste ("I bow to you") is all around her in a busy marketplace. Read along to see what she does with the little plant she brings back. Colorful illustrations bring out the concept of mindfulness and complement the sweet and soothing words. (Ages 4-8)

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf
Davide Cali, author
Marianna Balducci, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735269910, $17.99

Christine Irvin

This is a humorous, imaginative take on the old classic story of The Three Little Pigs. In this version, the big bad wolf tells the story his way, which starts out very, very short: "Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. Then the wolf ate them. The end." An unseen reader is clearly unhappy with this story and responds by asking for a longer one. The wolf obliges, and makes the story a bit longer, but it's still not long enough to suit the reader. This give-and-take continues throughout the book, with a fun twist at the end. This cute take on an old classic, with a text that plays with numbers, and bright, expressive illustrations, with an abacus used to keep track of how many little pigs are added to the story, should make this a new classic. (Ages 4-8)

The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story
Jocelyn Watkinson, author
Marcus Cutler, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111608, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Author Jocelyn Watkinson gives readers an entertaining twist on an old tale (or is it tail?) with a Canadian flare (or is it flavor?). This version includes a snow fort (where the three pigs live together) and a lively game of hockey. Will the pigs win the game or end up in the frying pan? Descriptive text and lively illustrations team up for the perfect picture book combo. (Ages 4-8)

Let's Build a Little Train
Julia Richardson, author
Ryan O'Rourke, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111455, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Let's start with the base, add a boiler, give the driver a cabin, and make sure there's a coupling on the end for cars to carry coal and cargo. Rhyming text and vivid illustrations teach little ones how trains are put together making this a fun book for young train enthusiasts. Having a woman as the engineer makes this a great book for young girls. (Ages 4-8)

Fire Chief Fran
Linda Ashman, author
Nancy Carpenter, illustrator
Astra Young Readers
9781635924268, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Who doesn't love firetrucks and firefighters and such? Author Linda Ashman will keep young readers spellbound with her inside look at the everyday workings of a fire department. The story features a female fire chief, a big, red fire truck, plenty of action, lively text, and just the right amount of repetition. (Ages 4-8)

Scoochie & Skiddles: Scoochie's Adoption Story
Tom Tracy, author
Dustin James, illustrator
Scoochie & Skiddles, LLC
9798985624403, $10.99

Deb Greenberg

Scoochie's Adoption Story includes diverse characters and a representation of a wide variety of families, with kid-friendly explanations of the adoption process. Told from the point of view of an adopted child, the story takes the reader from the "match" process between her birth mom and two dads to the adoption hearing that legalizes her adoption. Today's family is more diverse than ever before, and Scoochie's Adoption Story is a perfect way for kids to learn about the many ways a family can be created. A definite keeper for your child's bookshelf. (Ages 4-10)

The Reason I Held You Close
Evelyn Garland, author
YoungJu Kim, illustrator
Independently Published
9780578326252, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

There are so many reasons parents hold and keep their children close... from a baby to a toddler to a kid to a preteen to a teenager to an adult. This tender book explains the love parents have for their kids as they raise them and get them ready for possibilities and accomplishments of their own. Soothing artwork accompanies this endearing story for kids and adults of all ages. (Ages 4-10)

A Is for All of Us
Karyn Albrecht Luke
9781665572569, $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

In this lovely book, the author takes the reader through the alphabet with a new child for each letter. Each child has a unique quality and helps the young reader understand how different and special we all are in this world. "One of the greatest things that I have found is everyone's talents make the world go 'round." What a lovely thought to plant and grow in your child's mind. (Ages 5-8)

Zara's Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure
Hena Khan
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Group
9781534497627, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

In book two of the Zara's Rules series, Zara's shiny, new bike disappears from the park. When her parents say she'll have to buy a new one herself, Zara decides to start a business. Should she sell lemonade? Painted rocks? Read on to see her perfect idea: a Treasure Wagon, a roving garage sale of knickknacks from her family basement. But can she make enough money while avoiding any new trouble? A wonderfully written and crafty adventure about family, friendship, and working hard to achieve your goals. (Ages 7-10)

Cloaked in Courage
Beth Anderson, author
Anne Lambelet, illustrator
Calkins Creek
9781635926101, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Deborah Sampson felt so strongly about the cause of the American Revolution that she wanted to fight for our country. But, as a woman, she couldn't enlist in the Army. So, she pretended to be a man and fooled enough people to earn a name for herself as a brave fighter. Author Beth Anderson presents Sampson's story in an interesting and engaging format. At the end of the book, she includes an Author's Note with additional information about Sampson and how she put together her story. There is also a bibliography of sources used for the book. (Ages 7-10)

Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards
Emma Bland Smith, author
Becca Stadtlander, illustrator
Calkins Creek
9781635923926, $18.99

Christine Irvin

The well-known book, Make Way for Ducklings, was written by Robert McCloskey and published in 1941. Since then, it has become a classic in the world of children's literature. Emma Bland Smith tells, in delightful detail, the story behind the story of how the idea was conceived and written. It's a story that will interest fans of the book, in particular, as well as people, like myself, who are interested in books in general. It's always interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at something, particularly when it's done as well as this one. There are several pages of extra information about McCloskey at the end of the book. (Ages 7-10)

The Flying Man
Mike Downs, author
David Hohn, illustrator
Astra Young Readers
9781635925500, $17.99

Christine Irvin

When you think about the history of flight, the Wright Brothers probably immediately come to mind. They were very influential in the field, but they got some of their ideas from Otto Lilienthal. Lilienthal was captivated by the idea of flight. The prevailing wisdom during his lifetime was that flying was impossible. He and his brother, Gustav, set out to prove everyone wrong. After many failures, they finally came up with a glider that could be piloted, making Otto "The World's First Pilot". Colorful, expressive illustrations help convey the message of the text. The author includes additional information about Otto in the book's back matter. (Ages 7-10)

Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press
9781536231953, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

Follow a small Indiana town's female basketball team as they struggle for gender equality in high school sports, in this informative and enlightening graphic novel. Unlike the boys' team, the Lady Bears have to practice at night at an elementary school, they aren't given buses for away games, they have no uniforms, and they aren't provided with meals. But nothing can squash their drive and commitment, as they work their way to the state championship. Readers are bound to be cheering for the girls and for even more gender equality in sports. (Ages 8-12)

Flip Turns
Catherine Arguelles
Jolly Fish Press
9781631636356, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

All Maddie wants is to focus on her swim team, and for classmate Lucas to stop asking her out. She tries to ignore him, but when someone starts sabotaging Maddie's family-owned pool - glass on the deck, ketchup in the pool, chlorine leak - she suspects it's her admirer trying to get even. Maddie's parents attribute it to harmless pranks, but Maddie and her best friend, Ez, launch their own investigation. With friendship, harassment, and competition among the story's issues, once you dive into Flip Turns, you won't stop flipping the pages til you see how it all turns out. (Ages 8-12)

Calling the Moon: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors
Edited by Aida Salazar and Yamile Saied Mendez
Candlewick Press
9781536216349, $22.99

Deb Greenberg

Calling the Moon is a collection of 16 stories and poems about menstruation, written by BIPOC authors. The girls in these stories learn that getting their period brings not only changes to their bodies, but also joy, sorrow, and self-discovery. Definitely a unique way to address a universal topic. (Ages 10-13)

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