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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 34, Number 5 May 2024 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Environmental Shelf
American History Shelf World History Shelf Science Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Wildlife Shelf Board Book Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Elementary Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Poetry Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
Sports Shelf Gardening Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf Books in Series
Suzie Housley's Bookshelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Quiet Night, My Astronaut
Oksana Lushchevska
Tilbury House Publishers
9781668936818, $18.99

Oksana Lushchevska's Quiet Night, My Astronaut: The First Days (and Nights) of the War in Ukraine is a haunting portrait of war's impact on a young narrator, capturing her perspective through words and gorgeous illustrations by Ukrainian illustrator and textile designer Kateryna Stepanishcheva.

Best employed by adult read-aloud participants who can utilize its concepts and opportunities for discussion on all manner of topics, ranging from events in Ukraine to war, Quiet Night, My Astronaut covers life on the front lines of war, the trauma involved in living near conflict, the uncertainty surrounding survival of self and home, and the hope that today (or someday) "there will be peace."

The personal perspective and enlightening words and images make for an accessible, involving story that should be in any elementary-level library.

Five Stories
Ellen Weinstein
Holiday House
9780823451678, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Jenny Epstein and her family arrive on a steamship from Russia in the 1910s. Jenny writes letters in Yiddish to her grandmother, while practicing her English in her new neighborhood. By the 1930s, when Anna Cozzi and her Italian family move into the building, Jenny has become a teacher in Anna's school. Then Jose Marte moves in during the 1960s, Maria Torres in the 1980s, and Wei Yei in the Lower East Side of today.

Critique: A perfect choice for choice for children ages 4-8, "Five Stories" by Ellen Wenstein is 5 generation cross-section of American history and celebrates the many diverse cultures that make up our nation from the food we eat, to the ways we worship, and the families we love. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library American Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Five Stories" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Ellen Weinstein is the illustrator of the picture book Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity and the author/illustrator of Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People. As an illustrator, she is a regular contributor to Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, amongst many others. Seven pieces of Ellen's work are in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. Ellen is a third-generation resident of New York's Lower East Side.

Coco the Mooing Horse
Leila Summers, author
Olesya Burina, illustrator
Poppy Oak Press
c/o Pure Ink Press
9781776416202, $12.99, PB, 39pp

Synopsis: Coco was a rare old horse. Instead of neighing, he used to moo. He said it was in his genes, but some said he was a loon and as mad as a hatter. After all, horses don't moo -- cows do!

Coco had big dreams of becoming a star, so when he heard about a singing contest at a nearby inn, he decided he was going to seize the moment and enter. The other animals mocked him, but he didn't need their consent and wouldn't let them shatter his dreams.

Critique: "Coco the Mooing Horse" by author/storyteller Leila Summers and artist/illustrator Olesya Burina is a delightful picture book in the Humorous Healing Anagrams series in a series of children's picture books using words made from anagrams of common childhood illnesses or other issues to create a fun story. "Coco the Mooing Horse" uses words that are anagrams of the phrase "common cold" and other connected words and phrases.

Let Coco offer children ages 5-11 some light-hearted fun by taking their minds off their problems, allowing them to focus on something different. With "Coco the Mooing Horse" they will discover that anything is possible if they hold fast to their dreams and follow their hearts! Of special note is that at the end of the book is a list of the anagram words that were used to create this story. Children can write their own funny stories using this list of words. Original and fun from start to finish, "Coco the Mooing Horse" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library word game book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Leila Summers ( is an author, editor, and book coach with a love for all things creative and human. She specializes in the writing, editing, publishing, and promotion of books and currently runs her own publishing company. Leila is also a trained Heal Your Life(R) teacher. She has always had a passion for storytelling. It Rains in February: A Wife's Memoir of Love and Loss is her first book.

Editorial Note #2: Olesya Burina ( is an artist/illustrator who trained at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and can be followed online at

Red Comet Press

Two vivid standouts from Red Comet Press earn high marks for originality and illustration. They should be included in any elementary library's collection.

Serenella Quarello's Extinctopedia (9781636550725, $26.99) enjoys captivating illustrations by Alessio Alcini, a solid translation by Margaret Greenan, and the distinction of the Smithsonian endorsement of quality. It explores species that have "left us", from birds "Lost in the Skies" (such as the Labrador duck or the North American heath hen) to those still among us but "at risk because they're strange" (such as the aye-aye or the pangolin). Entries simmer with natural history insights, lively presentations, and vivid drawings.

Kaylin Melia George and Mae Waite work together on Aloha Everything (9781636551128, $19.99), the magical story of a young girl who absorbs colorful facts and attractions in her island home. Gorgeous color illustrations bring this world to life as an exploration of island geology, natural history, and human habits and culture intersect; from what hula teaches the girl, to island history and lore. Aloha Everything's unique appreciation of Hawaii will attract young readers drawn by vivid description and imagery.

The Social Issues Shelf

An Ode to Cleve
John Paul McKinney
Miramont Press
9798218258511, $10.99, PB, 146pp

Synopsis: Sixth grader, Nicholas Tullamore, faces constant torment because of his stuttering. When he discovers that he is most comfortable talking to his dog, Cleve, he decides to enter the school's annual speech contest and bring Cleve with him on stage, hoping that a solid performance will stop the teasing and end the bullying he endures.

However, just days before the contest, his plans are threatened when the principal informs him that dogs are not allowed in the school. With the looming threat of a lifetime of bullying, will Nick devise a new plan or risk being publicly humiliated by his peers?

Critique: "An Ode to Cleve" by John Paul McKinney is ideal reading for children ages 7-12 or anyone who has ever felt different because of some physical attribute, learning disability, or social skills issue. "An Ode to Cleve" is an inspiring story and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "An Ode to Cleve" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: John Paul McKinney is an EVVY award winning author who holds a PhD degree in developmental and clinical psychology from Ohio State University. He has taught at McGill, Smith College, and Michigan State in Psychology and in Pediatrics and Human Development. He is the author of numerous articles, chapters, encyclopedia entries and widely used text books, and former North American book reviews editor for the international Journal of Adolescence, McKinney has also written short stories, one of which won an award (Writers-Editors Network International Competition) and another of which was published in The Mountain Scribe Anthology. "Charlie's Angle" is his EVVY award-winning first novel.

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

Synopsis: "The Heavy Bag: One Girl's Journey Through Grief " by Sarah Surgey is the picture book story of Enid is a little girl who is grieving for her grandpa. She walks around with different emotions and feelings, whizzing inside of her.

Enid is carrying a heavy bag and struggles to let go of the items within her bag because they remind her of grandad. But, what happens when she opens up to people about how she is feeling and they offer to help carry the weight? Enid will learn that grief remains but takes on many forms, and when you share with others your feelings of grief can feel a little lighter.

Critique: Dealing with the emotions and feelings of grief associated with love and loss, death and dying, "The Heavy Bag: One Girl's Journey Through Grief" by author/illustrator Sarah Surgey is especially appropriate and recommended for children ages 5-7. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), this picture book edition of "The Heavy Bag" from Cardinal Rule Press is unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills collections dealing with the subject of the five stages of grief.

Editorial Note: Sarah Surgey ( is an SCBWI children's author who is based in the UK but published worldwide. Her books have been published in 16 different languages and used in collaboration with NGOs such as UNICEF & Voices of Children (Ukraine).

All About Grief
Lora-Ellen McKinney, author
Sophia Touliatou, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506491271, $17.99, HC, 88pp

Synopsis: Grief. -- It is a normal, natural response to loss. Everyone experiences it in different ways. It cannot be avoided. Grief can be hard to understand and difficult to talk about -- especially for a child.

With the publication of "All About Grief", Dr. Lora-Ellen McKinney (a psychologist who has worked with children experiencing grief), answers the big questions that surround feelings of loss. This engaging handbook looks at grief from many different angles, examining how it influences our emotions and relationships, our brains and bodies, and our behavior.

Preteen readers will get to know when and why we are most likely to grieve, what purpose grief serves, and strategies for healing and finding hope moving forward.

Critique: Nicely supported by the illustrations of Sophia Touliatou, "All About Grief" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' in commentary, style, organization and presentation. Especially appropriate and recommended for children ages 9-13, "All About Grief" is unrestrictedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills collections in general, and with dealing with the challenges of grief. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "All About Grief" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note #1: Dr. Lora-Ellen McKinney ( is a psychologist who has worked with, researched, and taught about children, families, and supportive or harmful systems. She worked in public health policy, conducting research and writing legislation. Dr. McKinney graduated from Vassar College, the University of Washington, and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Editorial Note: Greek-born and Athens based Sophia Touliatou has studied Graphic Design and works as an illustrator, doing mostly children books, many of which have gained merits and awards. (

The Environmental Shelf

The Secret Life of the Forest: Trees, Animals, and Fungi
Jana Sedlackova, author
Katarina Kratochvilova, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000070957, $18.95, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Secret Life of the Forest: Trees, Animals, and Fungi ", young readers will fully enjoy a journey into the heart of the forest to explore its enchanting ecosystem, with our fun and fact-filled friend Little Seed as our guide. In this fully illustrated book, we will explore the hidden wonders of the forest, from its majestic trees to the bustling community of animals and fungi that call it home. Uncover the intricate web of connections that sustain this vibrant, interconnected ecosystem, where every creature has a vital role to play and everyone must work together.

"The Secret Life of the Forest: Trees, Animals, and Fungi" is an especially engaging and educational introduction for children ages of 6 - 9 to exploring the intricate web of relationships that sustains a thriving forest. This introduction to ecology will spark curiosity and environmental awareness, presenting fascinating facts that turn learning into an enjoyable experience.

"The Secret Life of the Forest: Trees, Animals, and Fungi" is especially designed for inquisitive young minds and nature enthusiasts alike as it nurtures a profound love for the natural world.

Critique: Informatively and effectively illustrated throughout by the artistry of Katarina Kratochvilova, this large format (9.2 x 0.5 x 10.7 inches, 1.2 pounds) hardcover edition of "The Secret Life of the Forest: Trees, Animals, and Fungi" from Albatross Media will prove to be an enduringly welcome and highly prized addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library forestry and ecology picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Children's book author Jana Sedlackova enjoys, among other things, singing in a choir and decorating gingerbread during Christmas. Her love for fairytales fuels her conviction that those who don't read them are still searching for the perfect one. She graduated from the School of Textile Design and Management in Brno, Czech Republic.

Editorial Note #4: Katarina Kratochvilova creates editorial illustrations for magazine covers, children's books, and games, using expressive lines and a combination of analog and digital media. Her work focuses mainly on children's and young adult illustrations, as well as Japanese culture. In 2022, her comic book Used Kimono Store won a bronze Japan Manga Award. She is based in Prague.

The American History Shelf

Free to Learn
Cynthia Levinson, author
Mirelle Ortega, illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781665904278, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Alfredo Lopez has so many questions before starting second grade! Will his friends be in his class? Will his teacher speak Spanish? But then his parents tell him that he has to stay home, and Alfredo's questions change. Why can't he go to school with the other kids? And why is his family going to the courthouse?

In 1977, the school district of Tyler, Texas, informed parents that, unless they could provide proof of citizenship, they would have to pay for their children to attend public school. Four undocumented families fought back in a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Alfredo was one of the students involved in Plyler v. Doe, which made a difference for children all over the country for years to come.

Critique: A true story told in a picture book format by author/storyteller Cynthia Levinson and artist/illustrator Mirelle Ortega, "Free to Learn: How Alfredo Lopez Fought for the Right to Go to School" is a welcome and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Free to Learn: How Alfredo Lopez Fought for the Right to Go to School" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Cynthia Levinson is the author of nonfiction books for young readers that focus on social justice, including The Youngest Marcher, The People's Painter, and Fault Lines in the Constitution. Her books have received the Sibert Medal, the Carter G. Woodson Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and numerous other honors.

Editorial Note #2: Mirelle Ortega is a Mexican writer and artist based in Los Angeles. She is the author-illustrator of Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land, a Pura Belpre Honor Book, and the illustrator of several books, including Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julian and Joaquin Castro by Monica Brown and Free to Learn by Cynthia Levinson. Mirelle has a BFA in digital art and 3D animation from the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico and an MFA from Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

The 50 States in 50 Words: My First 50 States
Heather Alexander, author
Sol Linero, illustrator
Wide Eyed Editions
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711287815, $19.99, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: In the pages that comprise "The 50 States in 50 Words: My First 50 States", children will be introduced the 50 states that form the United States of America in 50 iconic words for things ranging from proud mascots to colorful quirks.

Included are delicious foods, amazing animals, storied skyscrapers, and more that are associated with the various states. Huskies race fast in Alaska, blueberries burst with goodness in Maine, and sailboats bob by in Rhode Island!

Younger kids will love recognizing the tiny critters and big, bright sights from their state and beyond, while older readers will find a memorable fact on every page.

Starting in Alabama and finishing in Wyoming, and with D.C. and the US territories explored for good measure, The 50 States in 50 Words is a gentle guide to the USA by way of new and familiar early-learning concepts, from shapes and colors to sizes and sounds.

In between the states, there are maps that pop with facts and a gallery of the state flags, putting each word in context and helping young readers learn more about the USA.

With friendly text that's perfect for reading out loud from author Heather Alexander, and illustrations from artist Sol Linero, "The 50 States in 50 Words" is sure to delight readers of any level, and take them on their first steps to discovering the states.

Critique: Unique, informative, and a fun read from cover to cover, "The 50 States in 50 Words: My First 50 States" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library American history books for children ages 3-5.

Editorial Note #1: Heather Alexander ( is the author of numerous books for children, both fiction and nonfiction, including Only In America, Eat Bugs: Project Startup, A Child's Introduction to the Nutcracker, A Child's Introduction to Egyptology, and the Wallace and Grace early chapter book series. Heather also works as a children's book editor.

Editorial Note #2: Sol Linero is a children's book illustrator and graphic designer from Buenos Aires. Her distinctive artwork is filled with rich detail, bright colors, and a love for local culture. She has worked for Airbnb, Pottery Barn Kids, Unicef, and international magazines such as Oprah, Jamie Oliver, Wired, and Scholastic. With Wide Eyed Editions, Sol has also illustrated the best-selling 50 States series. (

The World History Shelf

Be A Scribe! Working for a Better Life in Ancient Egypt
Michael Hoffen, author/illustrator
Christian Casey and Jen Thum, co-authors
Callaway Children's Classics
9798987412435, $24.99, HC, 96pp

Synopsis: "Be A Scribe! Working for a Better Life in Ancient Egypt" is an extraordinary translation of a papyrus dating from ancient Egypt's Middle Kingdom era by 16-year-old author Michael Hoffen (with the help of co-authors Dr. Christian Casey and Dr. Jen Thum).

Hoffen became fascinated by the text, known as The Instruction of Khety, when he learned that it tells the tale of a teenage boy named Peop who lived in Egypt almost 4,000 years ago.

Pepi wonders what career path he should choose, an important matter still contemplated today by millions of teenagers forty centuries later. His father Khety takes him on a long journey up the Nile to enroll him in a school far away from home, where Pepi will learn to read and write. Along the way, Khety explains 18 other terrible jobs Pepi could end up having to work at if he is not hired as a scribe.

This tale of a teenage boy in ancient Egypt shows readers that working for a living has never been easy!

Sail up the Nile with an ancient Egyptian father and son and discover what daily life was like along the way. Experience the wonderful world of ancient Egypt with the help of countless artifacts and paintings. Delight in four-thousand-year-old humor and immerse yourself in the choices facing a teenage boy in Egypt then.

Critique: This large format (9.7 x 0.5 x 12.2 inches, 1.11 pounds) hardcover edition of "Be A Scribe! Working for a Better Life in Ancient Egypt" from the Callaway Children's Classics series will prove of immense attraction to young readers with an interest with respect to Art History in general, and Ancient Egyptian History in particular. Fun and informative from start to finish, "Be A Scribe!" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that " Be A Scribe!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) as well.

The Science Shelf

The Observologist
Giselle Clarkson
Gecko Press
9781776575190, $24.99

The Observologist: A Handbook for Mounting Very Small Scientific Expeditions blends a fun exploration of nature with a field guide to the very small worlds of wonder which often go unnoticed, right under our noses.

Giselle Clarkson encourages kids to identify, examine, acknowledge, and explore these diverse worlds, from odd insects (such as centipedes and how they differ from millipedes) to techniques such as saving a worm in danger of being stomped on (which requires a special approach and dexterity), or sneaking up on a creature (such as a frog or a grasshopper) to observe without frightening it.

These fun explorations encourage kids to embark on adventures in their own small worlds. The Observologist will appeal both to educators and libraries looking for practical advice and whimsical fun for instructing kids about the power and challenges of observing nature.

Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs. Comet
Dr. Marc J. Kuchner, author
Matt Schu, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536227352, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: There's a comet speeding in from the outer solar system, and it's about to slam into an asteroid. Who will be left standing after this interplanetary smackdown? The pockmarked asteroid, a veteran fighter who's already seen some action? Or the dazzling comet, with its incredible velocity and a tail that stretches millions of miles?

Kicking off a dynamic science based series on cosmic collisions, "Asteroid vs. Comet" starts by author Dr. Marc J. Kuchner starts off by comparing the two opponents, then offers hints and context to encourage readers to use real science to form a hypothesis. Action-packed full-color illustrations with a graphic, comic-book feel by artist/illustrator Matt Schu will attract reluctant readers and kids who love smash-and-crash along with budding scientists.

Of special note is the inclusion of back matter addressing the question of fact versus fiction, how to become a citizen scientist, and comets and asteroids in the news.

Critique: Certain to entertain and educate young readers ages 7-9, this striking edition of "Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs. Comet" is certain to be a favorite addition to elementary school and community library Astronomy/Meteorology Science collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs. Comet" is also available from MIT KidsPress for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781536236637, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note #1: Dr. Marc J. Kuchner ( is an astrophysicist, author, and science communicator who has published more than 110 professional papers in the peer-reviewed literature on topics including white dwarfs, gamma ray bursts, and supernovae, as well as articles for Astronomy Today, Physics World, and Scientific American.

Editorial Note #2: Matt Schu ( is the illustrator of Cut! How Lotte Reiniger and a Pair of Scissors Revolutionized Animation by C. E. Winters and My Cat Does Ballet by Robert Heidbreder. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, and likes drawing trees, rocks, houses, and dark skies.

The Awesome Physics in Your Home
The Amazing Theatre of Physics, author
Tomas Kopecky, illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000070940, $17.95, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: "The Awesome Physics in Your Home" is fully illustrated children's book that reveals the hidden physics in our everyday lives and our homes, from the kitchen to the bathroom.

Young readers ages 9-12 will be introduced to the extraordinary world of everyday physics that reveals the physics that surrounds us within the comfort of our homes, thereby transforming the mundane into the extraordinary. By exploring real-life situations in the kitchen, living room, garage, bathroom, and garden, "The Awesome Physics in Your Home" demystifies complex scientific concepts through relatable scenarios and provides safe, hands-on experiments for curious young minds.

"The Awesome Physics in Your Home" ably serves as an informative gateway to understanding the wonders of physics in everyday life. It presents science as an exhilarating activity, bridging the gap between theoretical concepts and real-world applications. Authored by the Amazing Theatre of Physics, renowned for their entertaining and educational science experiments, "The Awesome Physics in Your Home" guarantees an engaging and enlightening journey into the realm of physics. Whether you're a young science enthusiast or a parent looking to inspire a love for learning and the sciences, "The Awesome Physics in Your Home" is the perfect tool to spark curiosity and exploration.

Critique: Effectively illustrated throughout by Tomas Kopecky, this large format ( 9.06 x 0.47 x 11.5 inches, 1.25 pounds) hardcover edition of "The Awesome Physics in Your Home" from Albatross Media will prove a welcome and highly prized addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library science collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: The Amazing Theatre of Physics is an entertainment and educational group that performs science experiments in order to show people how the world around us works in a way that is fun and exciting. They're like magicians, only they explain how their tricks work. Having started performing in 2008, they travel around the world with their show, performing in a wide range of venues, from theaters, town squares, and schools to churches, synagogues, and retirement homes.

Editorial Note #2: Tomas Kopecky ( is an illustrator of children's books and computer games. Working as part of a creative duo with his wife Tereza, he began his career as a pixel art mobile game designer in Prague, and in 2019, he illustrated his first book, A Bug Hotel.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Delish Kids (Super-Awesome, Crazy-Fun, Best-Ever) Cookbook
Joanna Saltz, author
Hearst Home Kids
c/o Hearst Home Books
9781950785438, $23.00, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: "The Delish Kids (Super-Awesome, Crazy-Fun, Best-Ever) Cookbook" by Joanna Saltz is packed from cover to cover with more than 100 recipes that will make cooking so much fun for children ages 7-10.

Throughout young chefs will learn basic skills, like how to make the gooey grilled cheese (the secret: use a waffle iron!) and upgrade your favorite store-bought foods (Chicken Nuggets! Woohoo!). Chapters include recipes for breakfast (Banana Split Oatmeal!), snacks (Cool Ranch Chickpeas!), lunches and dinners (Chorizo Tacos, Hot Dog Cubanos, and Best-Ever Fettucine Alfredo), as well as party treats. Plus, there are two whole chapters devoted restaurant copycat recipes and desserts and snacks inspired by beloved pop culture characters.

The showcased and 'kid friendly' DIY recipes range from: English Muffin Pizzas; Spaghetti Lo Mein; Edible Cookie Dough; and Mason Jar Ice Cream; to Chili Cheese Dog Casserole; Zucchini Tots; Mini Boston Cream Pies; Perfect Fudgy Brownies; Holiday Cookie Pops -- and so many more!

Each individual recipe comprising the "Delish Kids Cookbook" shows the equipment young chefs will need and how easy (or challenging) a dish is to make. Helpful tips, step-by-step photos, and simple instructions clearly explain methods and techniques. Plus, color photographs, fun facts about the cultural history of dishes and special family recipes contributed by grandmas across the country make this an ideal culinary compendium for young kitchen cooks.

Critique: While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "The Delish Kids (Super-Awesome, Crazy-Fun, Best-Ever) Cookbook" is a welcome, high value, and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library children's cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Joanna Saltz ( is the Editorial Director of Delish, which she relaunched with her team in 2015. She is also the author of Delish Eat Like Every Day's the Weekend, Delish Insane Sweets, and Delish Ultimate Cocktails. Delish is the fastest growing food website, with more than 48M monthly views. Every week Delish publishes hundreds of stories, videos and recipes that are some of the most engaged with content on the Internet. The Delish motto is, "Come for the food, stay for the fun."

Kids in the Kitchen
Rossini Perez
Rock Point
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9781631069499, $19.99, PB, Flexibound, 192pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Kids in the Kitchen: 70+ Fun Recipes for Young Chefs to Stir Up!", parents can hello to a culinary world of hands-on kitchen fun that will ignite a passion for cooking and creativity in your kids.

"Kids in the Kitchen: is a compendium of curated healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, and drinks that not only tantalize taste buds but also foster independence and confidence. This is a compendium of find fun facts about different food favorites such as bagels, lemonades, chocolate, and empanadas, among much more, as well as nutritional facts, kitchen term definitions, and advice for picky eaters.

Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Kids in the Kitchen" features:

Chocolate Chip Protein Pancake Muffins: Whip up a batch of these delightful and nutritious treats that will have your little chefs beaming with pride as they conquer the art of baking.

Rainbow Fried Rice: Watch as your kitchen transforms into a palette of vibrant colors and flavors with this whimsical take on the classic fried rice. It's not just a meal; it's a masterpiece in the making!

Pepperoni Pizza Empanadas: Ignite the spirit of culinary adventure with these scrumptious, handheld delights that will have your little ones feeling like kitchen superheroes.

Easy One Pot Mac and Cheese: Unleash the magic of simplicity and taste with this creamy, cheesy classic that's perfect for their solo kitchen escapades.

Strawberry Drink Refresher: Let their creativity flow as they concoct their own refreshing and fruity beverage that's as delightful to make as it is to sip.

2-Ingredient Red Velvet Cake: Unveil the secret to baking wizardry with this unbelievably easy yet stunning red velvet cake that will leave everyone in awe of their newfound kitchen skills.

Pear and Apple Nachos: Transform snack time into a gourmet adventure with these fruity and fun nachos that are as fun to make as they are to munch on.

"Kids in the Kitchen: is not just another cookbook. It is a DIY gateway to a culinary world of endless possibilities and unforgettable food adventures.

Critique: This large format (7.87 x 0.87 x 10 inches, 1.5 pounds) paperback edition of Rossini Perez' "Kids in the Kitchen: 70+ Fun Recipes for Young Chefs to Stir Up!" from Rock Point is a fun and unreservedly recommended pick for family and community library cookbook collections for children ages 8-12 and elementary school/middle school Home Economics curriculums for Grades 3-7.

Editorial Note: Rossini Perez is a dedicated foodie and mother who combines her love for her daughter and love of food to create her own unique kid- and family-friendly meals. She is bilingual (English and Spanish) and has gained an online following because of her creative, fun, and healthy lunch ideas. She has a large and dedicated following who eagerly watch and share her cooking and lunch videos. She can be followed on TikTok (@ross_ini), Instagram (@tinatakeslunch and @ross_ini), and YouTube @RossiniPerez

The Wildlife Shelf

Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night?
Steven J. Simmons, author
Clifford R. Simmons, author
Ruth E. Harper, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
9781623542979, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: All ocean animals must sleep. Many of those ocean animals are active during the day, but where and how do they sleep at night? From sharks to dolphins and sea turtles to octopuses, plus parrotfish and whales and more, "Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night?" will reveal to children ages 3-7 what these ocean creatures do when it's time to go to sleep and the day is through.

Critique: Co-authored by Steven and Cliffor Simmons, and featuring the illustrations of Ruth Harper, this informative and rhyming picture book dives deep to look at where and how ocean animals sleep in the sea. Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Marine Wildlife collections, "Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night? is newest addition to a three-book series, which also includes "Where Do Creatures Sleep at Night?" and "Where Do Big Creatures Sleep at Night?".

Editorial Note #1: Steven J. Simmons has been a professor of law and government, a White House aide on domestic policy, and a leader in the cable industry. Steven is the author of Where Do Creatures Sleep at Night?,and the best-selling Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches, and coauthor of Where Do Big Creatures Sleep at Night?

Editorial Note #1: Clifford R. Simmons's lifelong passion for writing and love for his nieces and nephews fuels his enthusiasm for children's books and coauthorship with his father, Steven. Cliff formerly worked at Google and now runs his own business. He is the coauthor of Where Do Big Creatures Sleep at Night?

Editorial Note #3: Ruth Harper ( ) is a self-taught artist from England. She loves to echo nature in her work. She lives in Iowa with an adorable husband--they have six grown-up kids between them (plus handfuls of grandbabies!). She is the illustrator of the NYT bestseller The Kissing Hand (with Nancy M. Leak), Happy Mamas, Where Do Creatures Sleep at Night?, and Where Do Big Creatures Sleep at Night?

The Sea Hides a Seahorse
Sara T. Behrman, author
Melanie Mikecz, illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781685556440, $18.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Hidden in the ocean of colorful fish, octopus, kelp, sea sponges, and other sea life is a most unique creature: the seahorse.

Featuring different species of seahorses and seadragons across the world, "The Sea Hides a Seahorse" by author Sara T. Behrman and deftly supported by the illustrations of Melanie Mikecz is a subtle seek-and-find story that journeys underwater to provide a glimpse into the secrets of seahorses as they swim, hide, hunt, court, mate, and more.

Of special note is that included at the back of this picture book is more information about seahorses and how to support their protection and conservation.

Critique: A fun and informative read from start to finish, "The Sea Hides a Seahorse" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Marine Wildlife picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Sea Hides a Seahorse" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sara T. Behrman ( is a children's book author, technical writer, and former librarian. She loves to travel and, like seahorses, has found her way to all five of the world's oceans: Arctic, Southern, Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific.

Editorial Note #2: Melanie Mikecz ( specializes in a mixed-media style that blends digital and traditional media. Her vibrant color palettes and bold patterns can be found in her illustrations and abstract work. In addition to her picture books, Melanie has worked on projects ranging from greeting cards to puzzles to large-scale murals and wall art.

Genius Ears: A Curious Animal Compendium
Lena Anlauf, author
Vitali Konstantinov, illustrator
Marshall Yarbrough, translator
NorthSouth Books
9780735845626, $24.95, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: Ears can do much more than just pick up sound waves. In the animal kingdom, ears are sometimes an animal's strongest asset! For example, a fleeing black-tailed jackrabbit uses the position of its ears to help it confuse its pursuers and get away from danger. Some animals can close their ears to protect their bodies or use them to cool down or stay warm. Whether long, tuft, or goblin, ears can tell a lot about animals and their habits and habitats.

Which animal has the longest ears relative to its size? Which animal communicates through surprisingly high-pitched chirping sounds? And which animal can pinpoint the location of its prey using only its ears? With "Genius Ears: A Curious Animal Compendium" young readers will find out all this and much more in this entertaining collection filled with unique and unusual facts.

Critique: Ably translated into English by Marshall Yarbrough for the benefit of American children in Grades 1-4, "Genius Ears: A Curious Animal Compendium" is the collaborative project of author/storyteller Lena Anlauf and artist/illustrator Vitali Konstantinov. This large format (9.2 x 0.5 x 11 inches, 1.15 pounds) hardcover edition of "Genius Ears: A Curious Animal Compendium" from NorthSouth Books will prove an enduringly welcome and highly prized pick for family, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections for young readers ages 6-12.

Editorial Note #1: Lena Anlauf was born in the Ruhr region of Germany. 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 at the kunstanstifter verlag, researches historical picture books, writes and designs her own book projects, and puts on readings and workshops for children. "Genius Noses" (NorthSouth Books) was her children's book debut.

Editorial Note #2: Vitali Konstantinov was born in Ukraine. As a child he saw the desman at the natural history museum and was fascinated. 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.

Editorial Note #3: Marshall Yarbrough is a writer, translator, and musician. He has translated works by Ulla Lenze, Norman Ohler, and Wolf Wondratschek, among other authors.

The Board Book Shelf

Play With Me
Kat Chen
Rise x Penguin Workshop
9780593659717, $8.99 Board Book or eBook

Play With Me pairs words by Kat Chen with art by Lorraine Nam to create the effect of a "playdate in a book," which read-aloud parents will find inviting and unusual for ages 1-3. Unlike most invitations to enjoy play, this board book promotes feelings of empowerment by offering kids a series of decision-making opportunities for how they will play.

Ellison and his friend Rabbit invite children to join him for a picnic, outlining food and drink choices and complimenting young audiences on whatever they choose, in response. Parents who go on this picnic adventure with their young charges will appreciate the book's lively interactive touches as Ellison outlines the process of making choices, contributing memories and experiences to conversations, and enjoying life.

The result is a board book filled with interactive encouragement as well as fun -- a tool adults can employ to encourage kids to grasp the rudiments of interactive participation and positive reinforcement. The bright art and revealing discussions are major attractions, offering an experience the very young do not ordinarily receive from picture books.

Eye Guess: A Forest Animal Guessing Game
Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, author/illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
9781623544478, $8.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: Do you know whose eye is looking at you? Featuring familiar forest animals, with "Eye Guess" by author/illustrator Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, children ages 1-3 will fully have fun guessing who the animal might be, and then turning the page to finding out if they are right! A unique, fun, and educational addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections, "Eye Guess" is a very highly recommended pick.

Editorial Note: Phyllis Limbacher Tildes is the author/illustrator of "Animals in Camouflage", "Baby Animals Black and White", as well as the illustrator of "Apples" and "Pumpkins". (

Global Baby Grandparents
Maya Ajmera
Charlesbridge Publishing
9781623544539, $6.99, Board Book, 16pp

Synopsis; Grandparents all over the world have a special connection with their grandbabies. They play, sing, read, eat, and cuddle together. Most of all, grandparents give lots of kisses and so much love!

Critique: Adorable photos of babies and their grandparents from all around the globe make this delightful board book by Maya Ajmera perfect first read for children ages 1-3 as well as an ideal gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents' Day, and baby showers. Especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections, It is worthy of noting that part of the proceeds from this book's sales will be donated to Global Fund for Children to support innovative community-based organizations that serve the world's most vulnerable children and youth.

Editorial Note: Maya Ajmera is the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Society for Science and the Public as well as Publisher of its award-winning magazine, Science News. She is also the founder of Global Fund for Children, one of the largest networks of grassroots organizations working on behalf of vulnerable children. Maya is the author of the beloved Global Babies series and the co-author of more than fifteen books, including To Be a Kid, Children from Australia to Zimbabwe, Faith, Back to School, and Come Out and Play.

Chicken Soup for the Soul BABIES: Keep Trying (Dont Give Up!)
Andrea J. Loney, author
Hazel Quintanilla, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
9781623544652, $8.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: Chick and Lamb want to play outside, but it's raining. Once the rain stops, Lamb struggles to put on rain boots. As Lamb laments "I can't!", Chick replies, "Keep trying!" Then Chick is struggling to jump over the rain puddles. As Chick cries, "I can't!", Lamb replies, "Keep trying!" As they congratulate each other for their determination, a rainbow arcs above them.

This lighthearted board book playfully addresses perseverance. A warm and winning message for little ones!

Critique: The Chicken Soup for the Soul BABIES series from Charlesbridge Publishing imparts good family values through heartwarming and humourous stories to help little ones put their best foot forward in life. With its deftly embedded message about the value of persistence, "Chicken Soup for the Soul BABIES: Keep Trying (Dont Give Up!)" is a prized and solidly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note #1: Andrea J. Loney's works include the Caldecott Honor winning picture book Double Bass Blues, the Lee and Low New Voices Award winning and an NAACP Award nominated picture book biography Take a Picture of Me, James Vanderzee!, the picture book Bunnybear, an ALA Rainbow List title VIP Stacey Abrams: Voting Visionary. Her work can also be found in the critically-acclaimed children's poetry anthology No Voice Too Small. Her other titles include Curve and Flow: The Elegant Vision of LA Architect Paul R. Williams and futuristic chapter book series Abby in Orbit.

Editorial Note #2: Hazel Quintanilla studied graphic design and illustration. She enjoys putting the bold colors and cute shapes living in her mind on paper. Hazel has produced work for numerous brands and magazines, as well as illustrating over one hundred children's books published around the world. She's the proud mom to nine dogs and lives in Guatemala with her husband.

Gus and Sully Watch the Weather
Steve Light
Candlewick Press
9781536230048, $7.99, Board Book, 16pp

Synopsis: When Gus the rhino and Sully the mouse check out the weather each morning, they see and feel the same thing, but they experience it a different way. Bright sun is too hot for Gus and perfect for beach-loving Sully. Clouds inspire Gus's imagination ("I see a bunny!") but they just look like clouds to Sully. The wind is perfect for kite-flying for one, but threatens to blow someone small away. Whether rain or snow or sleet, Gus and Sully are on the spot, reporting back in their unique way.

Critique: With the publication of "Gus and Sully Watch the Weather" as a board book, author/illustrator Steve Light showcases an appealing new art style with a simple, funny and original story that is ideal for children ages 1-3 who are just beginning to explore the wide world around them. Fun and funny, "Gus and Sully Watch the Weather" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library Board Book collections.

Editorial Note: Steve Light ( is the creator of the board books Black Bird Yellow Sun; Mama Tiger, Tiger Cub; Up Cat Down Cat; and Have You Seen My Lunch Box? Among his many picture books are Have You Seen My Dragon?, Have You Seen My Monster?, Road Trip! A Whiskers Hollow Adventure, and A Spider Named Itsy.

Hello, Rain!
Katherine Pryor, author
Rose Soini, illustrator
Schiffer Kids
c/o Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764367755, $9.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: When raindrops begin to fall, a young family pulls on boots and heads outside to play and explore nature. As the clouds grow darker, they return home to wait out the storm where it is safe, warm, and dry. Charming watercolor illustrations by artist Rose Soini deftly enhance the lyrical text by Katherine Pryor in celebration of the fun very young children can have when it rains!

Critique: From jumping in puddles to making mud to feeling the rain as it falls, "Hello, Rain!" from Schiffer Kids is a fun and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note #1: Katherine Pryor is an award-winning children's author who loves writing about the natural world. She grew up in sunny Arizona and California but now splashes puddles on an island near Seattle. Learn more at

Editorial Note #2: Rose Soini is an award-winning illustrator who has always loved playing in water of all forms - rain, creeks, ponds, ocean, and puddles. She lives in rural Washington with nature, dogs, and horses.

My Hands Can
Ammi-Joan Paquette, author
Sabrena Khadija, illustrator
Rise x Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593660447, $8.99 Board Book, $8.99 Kindle, 24pp

Synopsis: "My Hands Can" by author/storyteller Ammi-Joan Paquette and artist/illustrator Sabrena Khadija, is the first book in a series of three board books that showcase the body's amazing abilities -- from the straightforward to the meaningful. This new series will provide young readers ages 1-3 with a deep understanding and appreciation of everything their hands can do, and invite them to look beyond what's known and obvious.

Written in a lyrical, affectionate tone, and illustrated in bright, warm colors, "My Hands Can" celebrates our bodies everywhere and is sure to spark wonder, love, and respect for everything hands can do.

Critique: Fun and informative from start to finish, this board book edition of "My Hands Can" will prove an immediately welcome and enduringly popular pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections. It should be noted that "My Hands Can" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Ammi-Joan Paquette ( spent her formative years moving from place to place, which left her with an insatiable curiosity about the wide world and everything in it. A voracious reader since early childhood, she's thrilled to now be able to share her stories with readers everywhere. She lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing and her day job as a literary agent.

Editorial Note #2: Sabrena Khadija ( is a Sierra Leonean-American illustrator based in Washington, D.C. She has done editorial work for several clients, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Google, NYLON, and Society6. "My Hands Can" is her third illustrated children's book following Ride, Roll, Run and Bing, Bop, Bam.

Artichoke to Zucchini
Alice Oehr
9781957363691, $18.95, Board Book, 32pp

Synopsis: "Artichoke to Zucchini" is an alphabet board book of delicious things from around the world. For example: A is for artichokes and long spears of asparagus. It's for bright, creamy avocados and salty little anchovies!

From apple pie to zeppole, and everything in between, "Artichoke to Zucchini" introduces young readers ages 3-7 to fruit, vegetables, and dishes from around the globe. Full of tasty favorites and delicious new discoveries, it is sure to lead to inspiration in the kitchen!

Following on from her award-winning "Off to The Market", with "Artichoke to Zuccini" artist Alice Oehr takes children on a mouth-watering trip through the alphabet and around the world.

Critique: This large format (9.4 x 0.4 x 10.5 inches, 1 pound) board book edition of "Artichoke to Zucchini: An Alphabet of Delicious Things from Around the World" is an ideal selection for:
Storytime librarians looking to engage with the smallest of readers with an engaging read-aloud alphabet book; Parents and caregivers who are encouraging young children to try new foods; Kids who are interested in food shopping and cooking; and children who love bright, fashion-forward illustrations. "Artichoke to Zucchin" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school and community library Board Book collections.

Editorial Note: Alice Oehr ( is a graphic artist from Melbourne. Her distinct colorful style incorporates her love of food, pattern, collage, and drawing. Many of her ideas have made their way onto textiles, homewares, magazines, books, and even once as a series of 6ft tall Ancient Egyptian statues for a marquee at the Spring Racing Carnival. Alice's work has been sought-after commercially by clients local and international. Alice is very interested in the changing medium of illustration in our digital age. She runs workshops for all ages with both HB pencils and Apple pencils.

The Picturebook Shelf

Ged Adamson
Two Lions
Amazon Publishing
9781542039376, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Brian loves dinosaurs. When he discovers that frogs were around when dinosaurs were alive, he decides that makes him a dinosaur -- a Brianosaurus, in fact. At first, it's fun. But his woodland friends think he should roar all the time, not use trampolines or read books. And the frogs think he's making the pond look bad. So Brianosaurus decides to act exactly the way they want. The trouble is, he isn't happy -- until he decides to be himself.

Critique: "Brianosaurus" by author/illustrator Ged Adamson is an original and fun picture book about frogs, dinosaurs, and peer pressure. A fun read from start to finish, "Brianosaurus" is unique and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that 'Brianosaurus" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Ged Adamson ( is a children's book author and illustrator. His picture books include Bird Hugs, named a Best Children's Book of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education; A Fox Found a Box; Douglas, You Need Glasses!; Shark Dog!; and Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed). He has also worked as a cartoonist, storyboard artist, and composer for film and TV.

Malika Oakley, author
Mark Nino Balita, illustrator
Independently Published
9798320603988, $10.99, PB, 36pp

Synopsis: Cecilia is a little girl who feels uneasy in her new home. Something ominous lurks out of sight. Mostly, it stays hidden in the basement. But one night, it calls Cecilia.

Will Cecilia uncover the truth about the phantom or remain haunted by the mysteries of the basement?

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Malika Oakley and artist/illustrator Mark Nino Balita, "Basement" is a suspenseful picture book tale will have children ages 3-8 on the edge of their seats before demonstrating how an illuminating the truth can banish scary imaginings. Children will fully enjoy following timid Cecilia on her journey from fear to empowerment as she solves the basement mystery and learns sometimes things aren't as scary as they seem. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99), "Basement" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Malika Oakley is a masterful storyteller whose narratives draw their power from the wellspring of her personal journey. Inspired by her own experiences, she crafts stories that inspire courage in young readers. Her debut book, Basement, showcases her talent for weaving engaging tales that captivate and uplift. Oakley's unique perspective and heartfelt storytelling make her a rising star in the world of children's literature.

Editorial Note #2: Mark Nino Balita ( is a freelance children's book illustrator from the Philippines. I majored in Philosophy but I took a different career path and decided to be a professional illustrator.

The Last Day Julian Was My Best Friend
Jody Jensen Shaffer, author
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, illustrator
Two Lions
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781662516160, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Best friends and neighbors Anthony and Julian are having the summer of their lives. Making pancakes, riding bikes to the beach, playing in the sand and surf... They have everything they need for an epic summer vacation. But Anthony is worried. He has a secret -- a secret about Julian's missing marble. And he knows that once Julian finds out about it, he'll be mad. He may not even want to be Anthony's best friend anymore. So Anthony is determined to have the best last day as Julian's best friend... until he can't hold in his secret any longer. But maybe Julian has a surprise of his own to share with Anthony!

Critique: With its underlying themes of friendship and forgiveness, "The Last Day Julian Was My Best Friend" by author/storyteller Jody Jensen Shaffer and artist/illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff is a charmingly crafted, original, and fun read from start to finish. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Last Day Julian Was My Best Friend" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Jody Jensen Shaffer is an award-winning poet and the author of more than eighty books for children, including Prudence the Part-Time Cow, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, a Missouri Show Me Award finalist; A Chip Off the Old Block, illustrated by Daniel Miyares, a nominee for the Iowa Goldfinch Award; and the Amazon bestseller It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!, illustrated by Claire Messer. Jody lives in Liberty, Missouri, with her family. Learn more at and follow her on X @jodywrites4kids

Editorial Note #2: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff is the acclaimed illustrator of many children's books, including the bestselling updated edition of The Invisible String and its companion titles, all written by Patrice Karst; Stacy McAnulty's Beautiful and Brave; and Who Will I Be?, written by The View cohost Abby Huntsman. Born in Malaysia, Joanne grew up in Los Angeles, studied at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, and now lives between Amsterdam and Malaysia. Learn more at and follow her on Instagram @joannelewvriethoff

Charlotte Cheng, author
Dan Santat, illustrator
Rocky Pond Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593531754, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Everyone knows that dragons are fierce, capable of taking on the world!

But this dragon can't stop sneezing long enough to get a roar out. Even with friendly Phoenix insisting that Dragon get some rest, this powerful creature refuses to stop for any orange ginger tea or a drop of bone broth soup.

It's only when Dragon realizes Phoenix has caught the same cold that they are both able to take the break they so badly need.

Critique: A modern Chinese themed folktale, "Roar-Choo!" by author/storyteller Charlotte Cheng and artist/illustrator Dan Santat is a beautifully scripted story about helping friends and valuing their differences. A fun read from start to finish, "Roar-Choo!" is an original, charming, beautifully presented, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Roar-Choo!" from Rocky Pond Books is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Charlotte Cheng ( is the author of Night Market Rescue, Explore China: A Mulan Discovery Book and BoBo Loves Dumplings. She has also illustrated the picture books Silly McGilly and A Moment in Time. In the field of education, she has written and illustrated K-12 curriculum for a variety of companies such as LeapFrog, Disney, and Wonder Workshop.

Editorial Note #2: Dan Santat ( is the author and/or illustrator of more than one hundred titles, including the Caldecott Medal winner The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. He graduated with honors from the Art Center College of Design, and is the creator of the Disney animated hit The Replacements.

Linden: The Story of a Tree
Collean Muske, author/illustrator
Marble Press
9781958325100, $18.99, HC, 38pp

Synopsis: Some trees grow up wanting to be tall lighthouses or big red barns full of horses. Not Linden. He is grateful just being a tree. Through snowy winters full of caroling to summertime picnics beneath his shady boughs, Linden watches over the people who love and care for him.

Critique: Featuring a positive message of friendship and community, "Linden: The Story of a Tree" by author and illustrator Colleen Muske is a charmingly heartfelt, gorgeously illustrated, picture book celebration of the simple joys of loving one's community. An original story about the many ways nature supports and surprises us, "Linden: The Story of a Tree" is a perfect pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note: Colleen Muske ( has been practicing art her whole life. When her 6th grade teacher told her she had talent, she decided to become a real artist. She has studied at Minneapolis Community College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and many artists' private studios. Colleen likes to say she is community educated since her most valuable education is from fellow artists, workshops, and conferences. After taking her first Children's Book Illustration class, Colleen knew she had found her calling. Writing classes at The Loft Literary Center soon followed. Many classes and many drafts later, her stories are coming to life! Colleen's art is full of nature, animals, and everyday life. Colleen's artwork is overflowing with pattern, color, and texture.

My Favorite Season is Spring
Patrice Wilkerson, author
Brooke Beaver, illustrator
Skippy Creek
9781954978799, $15.99, PB, 22pp

Synopsis: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Patrice Wilkerson and artist/illustrator Brooke Beaver, "My Favorite Season is Spring" is a beautifully illustrated picture book which every child ages 3-5 will fully enjoy from start to finish. Through rhythm and rhyme, young children will take a fun and exciting journey with little girl named Susie as she describes Spring -- her favorite season of the year. She finds so many fun things to do and she loves the outdoors, and kids will too!

Critique: With a nursery rhyme style text and accompanying visually charming illustrations, "My Favorite Season is Spring" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Patrice D. Wilkerson is an MBA graduate who loves writing poetry. She has been writing poetry since she was eight years old and loves to inspire others through words. She's written a collection of poetry entitled, Through It All, I'm Going to Make It, which she published in 2010.

Editorial Note #2: Brooke Beaver ( is an accomplished graphic designer and illustrator.

Worm's Lost & Found
Julie Wellerdiek, author
David Henry Wilson, translator
NorthSouth Books
9780735845572, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Worm runs one of the best lost and found offices in the world. He has a rare ability to find things. Lost umbrella? Missing keys? Misplaced toy? If it is lost, then Worm can find it. But then the unthinkable happens: Worm can't find his hat!

Worm's absent-minded friend Seal is always losing things. But can she help Worm find his beloved hat? Seal has the perfect solution: look left, look right, then . . . make pancakes? Can Seal's silly solution actually help Worm find his favorite cap?

Critique: With the publication of "Worm's Lost & Found" (author and illustrator Jule Wellerdiek's first book with NorthSouth) children ages 4-8 will enjoy humorous way to deal with things that are lost, and celebrating the joy that comes with finding things when you least expect it. Of special note is the inclusion of a seek and find game. Ably translated into English for American children by David Henry Wilson, this hardcover edition of "Worm's Lost & Fount" from NorthSouth Books is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Jule Wellerdiek was born in Bielefeld, Germany. After studying design at Munster University of Applied Sciences, she now works as a freelance illustrator. Most days she can be found doing what she loves most: dreaming up stories and turning them into pictures - preferably with lots of weird characters and details. Her debut, Holgers Haus, was released in 2022. Worm's Lost & Found is her first book published in the US. Jule lives in Bochum, Germany.

Editorial Note #2: Born in London (1937), 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.

If My Hair Had a Voice
Dana Marie Miroballi, author
Patricia Grannum, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506493602, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: An ode to loving your hair and your culture, "If My Hair Had a Voice" by author/storyteller Dana Marie Miroballi and artist/illustrator Patricia Grannum follows a young Black girl as she grows from being disappointed in her natural hair to developing an amazed appreciation for the long history of Black hair.

From blossoming floral motifs in celebration of spring to intricate braided codes for spreading revolutionary messages, she discovers that Black hair goes beyond simple adornment -- it also tells the story of a rich cultural history filled with diversity, resistance, artistry, and, of course, beauty.

Critique: Of special note is the Backmatter in "If My Hair Had a Voice" that explores the history of each hairstyle featured in this very special picture book from Beaming Books. A fun and informative read from start to finish, "If My Hair Had a Voice" is a choice pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library African-American history and Self-Esteem picture book collections for children ages 3-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "If My Hair Had a Voice" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09).

Editorial Note #1: Dana Marie Miroballi ( is a biracial teacher turned speech-language pathologist writing books for young readers. She grew up in Germany, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan, and now lives in Chicago with her husband and children.

Editorial Note #2: Illustrating from her home in Trinidad and Tobago, Patricia Grannum's work is fueled by a passion for ensuring that children of color see themselves in the books they read. Her art reflects the cultural vibrancy of her Caribbean upbringing, with a focus on conveying a sense of wonder in the books she illustrates. (

Mama's Panza
Isabel Quintero, author
Illana Galvez, illustrator
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593616420, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Everyone has a panza (belly). It can be big and round, soft and small, or somewhere in between. But a young boy's favorite panza of all is Mama's. Her panza is capable of remarkable things, and she loves it as an important part of herself. Her panza was also his first home. Even before he was born, it cradled and held him.

When he's feeling shy and needs a place to hide or when he wants somewhere to rest during a bedtime story, Mama's panza is always there. With affirming text by Isabel Quintero and vivid art by Iliana Galvez, "Mama's Panza" is the picture book story of a young boy's love letter to his mother -- along with a celebration of our own bodies and bellies.

Critique: Charming, original, memorable, "Mama's Panza" from Kokila is a unique and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mama's Panza" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Isabel Quintero ( is a writer and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. "Gabi, A Girl in Pieces", her first YA novel, was the recipient of multiple awards, including the Tomas Rivera Award, the California Book Award Gold Medal, and the Morris Award for Debut YA Novel. She is also the author of chapter books and a non-fiction YA graphic biography, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, which was awarded the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Most recently, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, earned the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award, the Pura Belpre Illustration Honor Award, the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, and many other recognitions.

Editorial Note #2: Iliana Galvez is a queer Latinx illustrator, mother, and pug whisperer born and raised in the San Fernando Valley who is currently based in Houston. She started her Instagram page @GrowMija as a love letter to her baby sister, Chachis, to show her art that looked like her and to let her know how amazing she is. (

Old Clothes for Dinner?!
Nathalie Alonso, author
Natalia Rojas Castro, illustrator
Barefoot Books
9798888590683, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Magaly enjoys the yummy Cuban food her Abuela has been cooking since arriving from Havana, but when Magaly's sweater goes missing, she discovers that Abuela is making ropa vieja for dinner. Old clothes for dinner? Yuck! Magaly needs to hide the rest of her clothes before her family eats them up.

Of special interest are the Endnotes which feature other imaginative names of food around the world, facts about Cuba, a Spanish vocabulary list, and two delicious recipes for ropa vieja and arroz con leche.

Critique: An original and fun picture book by the team of author/storyteller Nathalie Alonso and artist/illustrator Natalia Rojas Castro explicitly for young readers ages 4-8 and an especially recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Hispanic themed picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Old Clothes For Dinner?!" is also readily available from Barefoot Books in a paperback edition (9798888590690, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Nathalie Alonso ( is a Cuban American journalist and writer from Queens, New York. In addition to writing books for children, she has contributed to a myriad of newspapers, magazines, and websites. True to her Cuban roots, Nathalie is a huge baseball fan and has worked for Major League Baseball as a translator, producer, and reporter since 2006.

Editorial Note #2: Natalia Rojas Castro is an illustrator based in Bogota, Colombia, who works in various visual fields, including books, magazines, and advertising. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, observing passers-by in order to portray them with her style of seeing the world. (

Baxter and Jeffrey
Ariane Erickson & Todd Erickson, authors
Gabriel San Martin, illustrator
Norse-Gael Books
9798987974117, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: In a hustling, bustling forest, a young dragon named Baxter spots a young boy named Jeffrey learning how to be a knight, and quickly decides he can help him. The only problem is that Jeffrey wants to become a knight all by himself.

Will Jeffrey welcome Baxter's help and friendship? Will they both learn what it takes to become a knight? Will the castle's stained glass window ever look the same again?!

Herein lies the charming tale of two young heroes who learn how to become brave, kind, and helpful -- together.

Critique: Of special appeal to young readers with an interest in dragons and knights, "Baxter and Jeffrey" by co-authors Ariane Erickson and Todd Erickson, together wit artist/illustrator Gabriel San Martin, is a thoroughly charming and fun picture book from start to finish. While also available in a paperback edition (9798987974100, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "Baxter and Jeffrey" is a solidly entertaining pick for personal reading lists as well as elementary school and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note #1: Todd Erickson, along with his wife, Ariane, founded their publishing label, Norse-Gael Books in 2023, and "Baxter and Jeffrey" is their debut picture book.

The Egg Incident
Ziggy Hanaor and Daisy Wynter
Cicada Books Ltd.
9781800660434, $19.99

The Egg Incident tells of Humphrey, an egg who winds up in trouble. It assumes the format and presentation of a graphic novel for the very young as show-off Humphrey demonstrates skills; any one of which could land him in trouble. His encounter with Princess Jean introduces further conundrums in the egg's life as Humphrey faces disasters and longs to go home. This hilarious story will have young egg appreciators laughing and enjoying Humphrey's mishaps and adventures.

Candlewick Press

Susannah Buhrman-Deever's Before the Seed (9781536226577, $18.99) receives gorgeous illustration by Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius, providing picture book readers with a sense of discovery on what happens before seeds become plants. Facts about plant propagation, pollen, the animals that move pollen between flowers, and how plants interact with and reward pollinators contribute to a lively presentation filled with facts. These pair nicely with vivid, colorful pictures of birds and flowers. The survey stands above many other similar tales of botanical discovery for young readers.

Michelle Knudson's Luigi the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten (9781536219111, $18.99) is illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. It is the fine story of a big, hairy spider who takes refuge in a nice, dark house, only to find that a mysterious benefactor thinks he's a kitten. He's pretty sure he's not. But how can he resist the treats and affection a kitten enjoys, over a spider's typical life? Appealing drawings by Kevin Hawkes brings this whimsical picture book tale to life in a way many a read-aloud adult will relish for its originality and fun. Both are excellent library choices.

Wm. B. Eerdmans

Two new picture books from Wm. B. Eerdmans provide young readers with inviting stories that lend especially well to adult/child discussions.

J. Bradley Wigger's Thank You, God (9780802856265, $10.99) will attract the attention of young picture book enthusiasts up to age 4 with a warm, lyrical celebration of God's goodness in daily life. This review, illustrated by Jago, points out life attractions that can lead to gratitude and thanks. It links daily life with the feeling that God's goodness is reflected in all the good things, from a cozy home to rain.

Isabelle Simler's Home (9780802856203, $18.99) will reach picture book audiences ages 5-9 with a poetic journey through animal homes around the world. Vineet Lal translates this celebration from the French, making accessible Simler's illustrations and lovely contrasts of different animal abodes, from the 'lace citadel' of the cross orbweaver spider to the 'mossy miniature home' of the hummingbird. Natural history meets first-person description and gorgeous drawings, imparting not just a lyrical and warm welcome into the animal world, but facts about animal orders, families, and science. Both are exceptional standouts.

Floris Books

Lovely stories for elementary-level picture book audiences mark the latest releases from Floris Books.

Dawn Casey and Stella Lim's The Bumblebee Garden (9781782508625, $18.95) follows young Ben as he spots a bumblebee in his garden and learns about its changes throughout the seasons. Lovely color illustrations (full-sized, on facing pages) marry text with imagery as bumblebees are appreciated and explored by Ben and his Grandpa, who bond over their shared wonder.

Cecilia Heikkila's Finding the Way to Faraway Valley (9781782508540, $17.95) tells of a little bear who asks his Grandpa about the postcard of Faraway Valley, which is on their refrigerator. This sparks the goal of sharing a long journey, during which grandfather and child study up on their beautiful destination and wonder, together, if it will truly be as enchanting as the postcard. Nature and wilderness appreciation is embedded in this gentle tale of appreciation and wonder.

Both of these new titles from Floris Books will find active patron interest in libraries wanting appealing stories for children that hold the potential for intergenerational interactions.

Nosy Crow

Nosy Crow presents picture books that are standouts highly recommended for elementary-level readers.

Laura Mucha and Ed Smith pen Welcome to Our Table: A Celebration of What Children Eat All Around the World (9798887770185, $21.99). Harriet Lynas adds colorful illustrations to accent facts, phrases, insights on culture and food habits around the world, reviewing traditions which are food-based and interesting (such as the chapter 'Pickles and Ferments: Do You Know What Sour Tastes Like?'). In-depth detail about food textures, tastes, and cultural appreciation differences create understanding while providing many facts for educational enlightenment.

Katrina Charman's Hen in the Bed (9798887770451, $17.99) comes with a free audiobook opportunity, receives vivid illustrations by Guilherme Karsten, and includes a whimsical counting lesson for kids. It opens with 10 hens in a bed and follows how they roll over, flop, tumble out of bed, and interact. As the bed empties of hens, readers enjoy and learn from a progressive countdown. Action flaps encourage interactive learning.

Both of these new titles from Nosy Crow are original, creative productions and highly recommended for library acquisition.

Sleeping Bear Press

New arrivals from Sleeping Bear Press provide picture book readers with engrossing subjects accented by lovely illustrations and captivating words.

Sheri M. Bestor's When You Go Into Nature (9781534112896, $18.99) will reach kids ages 4-8 with an inviting blend of natural history and lyrical accompaniment that draws kids into observing nature. Sydney Hanson introduces early concepts of mindfulness and meditation to accompany this foray into nature. This approach will especially delight read-aloud adults seeking more than another picture book about outdoors discoveries. From learning to move slowly (from the snail's example) to lessons on teamwork (via the bees), or letting go (as do falling leaves), kids will benefit from a survey steeped in not just nature, but wisdom.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson's The Girl Who Loved Poutine (9781534113169, $18.99) explores a Canadian dish many Americans (including adults) might not be familiar with. As young Zoey explores this traditional Quebec dish, made with potatoes, beef gravy, and cheese curds, readers learn about Canada Day special celebrations through a five-year-old's appreciation of traditions in general and the taste of poutine in particular. Rachel Qiuqi's illustrations add fun embellishments to the experience.

Judy Campbell-Smith's Ice Cream Everywhere: Sweet Stories from Around the World (9781534113084, $18.99) receives yummy, delightful illustrations by Lucy Semple as it explores the presence of ice cream around the world, from Italy and Jordan to Cuba and Rwanda. There's more to the story than ice cream varieties, however. Each country's ice cream habits are accompanied by warm descriptions of family interactions and kids' observations. These reflect on taste, togetherness, and local history such as Syria's original Bakdash, one of the world's oldest ice cream shops. The result is a delightful blend of history, flavors, and insights that works on different levels to bring young readers a fine, expansive survey.

Swallows Swirl by Christina Wilsdon (9781534112742, $18.99) provides ages 4-8 with a celebration of spring and barn swallows that swirl around, eating insects and looking for materials to build nests. Here, one little girl develops a special attraction to them and follows their lives over a year's time, learning their habits and relishing their presence. Lovely illustrations by Jess Mason are especially delightful notes that capture swallows in action.

Michelle Schaub's Leafy Landmarks: Travels With Trees (9781534112872, $18.99) gives ages 6-10 an inviting blend of poetic and travelogue observations of trees. It employs a range of poetic forms to enhance tree observations across America. The facts blend geography, natural history, and arboreal facts in an inviting manner supported by Anne Lambelet's lovely drawings. These illustrate everything from an Arbor Day oak planted by Morton in hopes of healing the earth to the creation of a cedar Wishing Tree, whose idea began in Seattle, Washington and spread across the country. The history and tree insights combine culture, nature, and bigger-picture thinking into a presentation that moves far beyond most nature-oriented discussions of trees to consider their influence upon and meaning in human affairs.

Each of these new titles are very highly recommended picks for elementary-level libraries seeking picture books that excel in creative, original subjects.

The Elementary Fiction Shelf

Sandy the Service Dog: Lost in a Hurricane
Michelle M. Deyarmin, author
Jess Burhans, illustrator
Independently Published
9780578565194, $9.99, PB, 39pp

Synopsis: A hurricane is days away from hitting the shores of Florida. A service dog named Sandy, her owner Shelby, and their family must prepare for the storm that will soon change their lives forever. When the hurricane hits, Sandy is swept away by the current. Will Sandy ever make it back to her family? Will she ever see Shelby again? With the help of a few pals she meets along the way, Sandy must find her way home.

Critique: The collaborative effort of author/storyteller Michel Deyarmin and artist/illustrator Jess Burhans, "Sandy the Service Dog: Lost in a Hurricane" is a delightful charming and thoroughly 'child friendly' story that will be of particular interest to young fans of dog stories and the roll of a canine companion in family life. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "Sandy the Service Dog: Lost in a Hurricane" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 5-8.

Editorial Note #1: "Sandy the Service Dog: Lost in a Hurricane" is Michelle M Deyarmin's ( first published book. Additionally, Michelle writes lyrics and has 6 fully finished songs. She also dabbled in poetry when she was younger and the winner of numerous contests.

Editorial Note #2: Jess Burhans ( also has a website showcasing her work at

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

The Tusslebaum Twins: Adventure Begins
Mark Putman, author
Sarah Kelly, illustrator
Birch Cottage Press
9798989805600, $9.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Twins Zoey and Chloe Tusslebaum love adventure. The funny thing is they never have to find it -- adventure always seems to find them!

Critique: With the publication of "The Tusslebaum Twins Adventure Begins" by author Mark Putman, and with occasional B/W illustrations by Sarah Kelly, young readers ages 7-12 will fully enjoy following Zoey and Chloe, along with their friends Brad, Mike, and Bertie, as they are caught up in an mystery adventure none of them could have imagined! This paperback edition from Birch Cottage Press is highly recommended reading and a prized pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Mark Putnam has always had a love of both reading and writing. Stories of mystery and adventure were typically found in his boyhood library. Mark is now a grandfather to six wonderful, adventurous grandchildren. It was only natural that he found a desire to combine two loves in his life by writing stories of adventure for his grandchildren. The thought initially was to simply write something to read to them. This eventually turned into two books, with a third in the works. With the encouragement of his children, Mark decided it was time to share the Tusslebaum Twins with a larger audience.

Stanley: A Prairie Dog's Tale
Robert Nehls, author
Eric Castleman, illustrator
Sweet Grass Books
Farcountry Press
9781591523444, $16.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: There are many reasons for hope after Stanley and his sister Zylon triumphantly return from Colony Two. But the Legend of the Star and family weigh heavy on Stanley and he knows he must first deal with the rebels that are intent on ruling the Kingdom.

A family emergency seems to bring everything into focus. Stanley and Zylon are forced into action. They must once again gather their friends from Colony Two and begin a new mission with the help of the mighty hawks.

Hold on tight as the adventure unfolds and the true meaning of the Legend of the Star becomes clear to Stanley, his friends, his family, and you!

Critique: "Stanley: A Prairie Dog's Tale - Family, Friends, and Unfriendly Foes" by author/storyteller Robert Nehls is enhanced for the young reader's benefit with the occasional B/W illustrations of artist Eric Castleman. The result is a fun read from start to finish and featuring anthropomorphic prairie dogs in an original tale of action and adventure that will have immense appeal and interest for children ages 8-12 and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Robert Nehls has been a story-teller a good share of his life, mostly in the form of poetry. Being a welder for over forty years gave him a great deal of time to think as he lived under his welding hood and skillfully controlled the arc. The light of the arc led to numerous characters and stories ending up in poems that have been presented in a variety of publications as well as many local newspapers of places he has lived.

Galloping Away
Robin Kolb
Chicken Scratch Books
9781953743305, $13.99, PB, 274pp

Synopsis: When almost 13-year-old Alex forms a true bond with a newborn colt, she secretly promises to make him her own. But like all horses born on her family's Rosen Ranch, this colt is slated to be sold.

Alex thinks if she can prove herself a capable horse trainer, there might be a chance to keep the colt. But when her attempt to work with a spirited filly ends in disaster, her secret hope is shattered.

Now Alex must rebuild trust with her parents-and regain confidence in herself-before her dream horse gallops away forever.

Critique: An original and deftly crafted children's story of a girl and her horse, "Galloping Away" by Robin Kolb is a fun read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections for young readers ages 9-12, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Galloping Away" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Robin Kolb is an award-winning author who lives in Western Montana. Growing up, she spent countless hours riding her pony, or reading a book (you guessed it - a horse book!). Her passion for horses grew from that first pony to working in show stables, to breeding and training her own foals.

The Pinchers and the Diamond Heist
Anders Sparring & Per Gustavsson
Gecko Press
9781776575664, $18.99

The Pinchers and the Diamond Heist provides advanced elementary to middle grade readers with a fun adventure that contains many original elements, from vanishing socks and dynamite to a gold diamond. Action flavors these events with a sense of unexpected encounters and fun revelations as readers receive their adventures delivered in unpredictable scenarios: "The difficult thing about running away from jail is that the door's locked from the outside. But Grandma has a lock pick, for picking locks." Elementary-level libraries will find it easy to recommend The Pinchers and the Diamond Heist for leisure readers seeking something whimsically, refreshingly different.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

S.A. Fanning
Immortal Works LLC
B0CYNSDMPR, $4.99, Kindle

One moment can change your life forever, as senior linebacker Ben Hoy discovers in Hometown.

The moment-by-moment tension of a football game, narrated in the first person, introduces an immediacy and power to the story that simmers with action from the start: "The screams, the cheers, the throttle of anticipation -- usually I put it away and played the game. All of us did. At nine wins and zero losses, we'd been killing it all season. We'd worked since summer conditioning camps -- since last season's overtime loss in the state semifinals. Besides, we'd beaten Briggs two straight years, so no one would say it, but we were looking past this game and forward to our yearly showdown with Clearview before hitting the playoffs full stride. This was the year."

This game is different, though. Prejudice rears in the form of an incident that prompts Ben to make a comment that will change his life and challenge his fellow team players, resonating through the wider world at large to drive him not to sports success, but into the maelstrom of conflict between Blacks, Whites, and ideological thinking.

S.A. Fanning uses this incident as the spark for considering a teen White boy's coming of age, a town's immersion in historical presence and conflicts that involve Confederate versus Rebel forces (albeit, in modern times), and consequences that force Ben and his siblings to leave their school for another refuge -- only to find that it, too, has been contaminated with the very issues he thought he'd left behind. There is no escaping racial, historical, and social precedent, as Ben learns through his newfound efforts to make his world a better place.

Fanning introduces hard-hitting topics and contemporary struggles in a manner that tests his ability to adapt and formulate his own values: "I looked down to my scuffed dress shoes on the polished floor. Hear them out. It seemed I got to hear everyone's grievances these days. At Sal's, at school, on the field. What about my grievances, my fears and anger? Anger at these two men. At our town and the world in general."

Teens will find much to relate to here; not only from the realistic high school and football culture that permeates Ben's life, but in the adult issues that pop up to lend new meaning to his endeavors, and bigger-picture thinking to his life.

These added-value elements are why Hometown is highly recommended not just for teen readers and libraries catering to them, but for classroom discussion groups and book clubs seeking material that draws on personal experience to explore social, political, historical and racial precedents and the choices that young people face in modern-day life.

28 Days of Neon
Meira Rosenberg
All Things That Matter Press
9798988335399, $14.99, PB, 141pp

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Neon Blue Greene is queen of the cafeteria, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and has the most amazing dog any seventh grader could ask for. Her only complaint in life is that her parents named her after the color of a sports energy drink ~ until the morning she overhears them whispering and learns that she has twenty-eight days left to live.

Neon needs a miracle, but how can she get one in only twenty-eight days? Then it hits her. She'll do a good deed every day.

She starts doing good deeds for everyone in town, from motorcycle gang dropout Knuckles Malone to her autistic classmate Bobby, who becomes a hero and friend when she needs one most.

But when her best friends ditch her and her good deeds go sideways, Neon wonders if she'll get the miracle she needs before it's too late!

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish for kids ages 10-18, "28 Days of Neon" is a compelling story told with author Meira Rosenberg's distinctive, effective, and narrative driven storytelling style. Especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library contemporary fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "28 Days of Neon" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Meira Rosenberg ( received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College, and taught English and Writing at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State Community College.

The Letters We Keep
Nisha Sharma
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781662500732, $28.99, HC, 254pp

Synopsis: It doesn't take long for ambitious freshman and aspiring engineer Jessie Ahuja to learn about two university legends. One is the haunted history of Davidson Tower, where more than fifty years ago, two ill-fated lovers disappeared in a devastating fire. The other is Ravi Kumar, a privileged billionaire nepo baby who's aggravatingly charming and occupying more brain space than Jessie has room for. Things change when a campus prank locks them both in the old tower's ghostly library.

There, Jessie finds letters from the fabled lost lovers, forgotten in a hollowed-out copy of Persuasion. One by one, the letters suck Jessie and Ravi into a beguiling mystery and an achingly beautiful long-ago romance destined to go up in flames. It's also drawing Jessie and Ravi (who are every bit as star-crossed) closer together. Can they overcome whatever fate has in store for them? Or are they just as doomed as the young lovers whose tragic end has become legend?

Critique: An original, fascinating and fun read from start to finish, "The Letters We Keep" by novelist Nisha Sharma is a deftly written and unreservedly recommended reading for teen and young adult readers with an interest in coming of age fiction and contemporary romance stories. Highly recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Letters We Keep" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781662500749, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99)

Editorial Note: Nisha Sharma ( is the author of The Karma Map, Dating Dr. Dil, and other adult contemporary and YA romances. Her books have appeared in best-of lists by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, and more.

Michael Gross
Independently Published
9798865879305, $14.99, PB, 286pp

Synopsis: It's 1976, and The Big Apple is in sorry shape. Besieged on all sides, the city has become a graffiti-coated, garbage-filled, crime-ridden cauldron, teetering on the edge of total collapse. Adding to New York's towering woes, a revolutionary group called the Satanic Vanguard has kidnapped the mayor, set fire to Coney Island and threatened further mayhem. All that Gotham has to hope for are its resurgent Yankees, who've come back from the dead to reach the World Series by riding the arm of their rookie phenom Nick "The Swan" Spillage.

But Satan and his Vanguard plan to snuff that hope out too, and they've targeted a young couple to help with their diabolical scheme.

Joan and Eliot are a rock and roll-loving pair who came of age in the late 1960s when the counterculture peaked. They've lived together in New York's East Village for eight years, making sweet music on the subways while their beloved city crumbled around them. Then, in shades of the Faustian musical Damn Yankees, Joan develops an obsession with The Swan and makes a deal with the Devil to capture his heart. Meanwhile, Eliot wrestles with what it means to preserve his own soul as he makes a valiant effort to win her back and save the day.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a riveting read, "Spillage" by novelist Michael Gross is a wickedly funny return to a yesteryear time in the Big Apple. A fun read from start to finish and laced throughout dark humor, "Spillage" combines a love story with a search for identity in a world that's has run amuck. While especially and unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections for teens ages 15-18, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Spillage" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Michael Gross began writing Spillage in 1976, the year the story takes place, while working as Managing Editor of Fiction magazine, teaching, and earning his MFA at New York's City College. He also has a BA from Trinity College and an MBA from NYU, and was the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. In 1978, he embarked on a 45 year career in crisis communications, culminating in his serving as CEO of Finsbury (now FGS Global).

The Bluffton Christmas Shoppe
Mike Raymond
Independently Published
9798866764563, $17.99, HC, 115pp

Synopsis: In the farthest corner of South Carolina lies the town of Bluffton. The locals insist that living here requires a 'state of mind,' something acquired only after immersion in this bizarre culture. There is diversity, formulated from deep, Civil War wounds, descendants of emancipated slaves, eclectic artisans and early entrepreneurs. In this community, myth and spirituality intersect.

In the ten short stories by Mike Raymond that comprise "The Bluffton Christmas Shoppe" readers will encounter the fascinating characters of the Lowcountry as they struggle with challenges that threaten to overwhelm their daily lives. Facing job loss, dangerous weather and seas, family sorrow and eminent perils, they find a way forward with life-changing gifts from The Bluffton Christmas Shoppe.

During the darkest hours of despair and fear, a hand up can be most welcomed -- even if it comes in a very unusual way.

Critique: The very definition of literary excellent, the ten short stories comprising "The Bluffton Christmas Shoppe" showcase author Mike Raymond's genuine flair for originality and a storytelling style that is as effective as it is entertaining. This is a collection of stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bluffton Christmas Shoppe" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798866913022, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Mike Raymond, an industrial designer by trade, practiced business as a consultant helping American companies solve complex operational problems. He has also served in the military sector, as an elected official in municipal government and continues to actively support the local community through work with Rotary International. His weekly column, commentary on national politics, has been published by multiple southern newspapers.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The One That Got Away with Murder
Trish Lundy
Holt Books For Young Readers
c/o Henry Holt & Company
9781250292162, $19.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Robbie and Trevor Cresmont have a body count -- the killer kind.

Handsome and privileged, the Crestmont brothers have enough wealth to ensure they'll never be found guilty of any wrongdoing, even if all of Happy Valley believes they're behind the deaths of their ex-girlfriends.

First there was soccer star Victoria Moreno, Robbie's ex, who mysteriously drowned at the family lake house. Then, a year later, Trevor's girlfriend died of a suspicious overdose.

But the Crestmonts aren't the only ones with secrets. Lauren O'Brian might be the new girl at school, but she's never been a good girl. With a dark past of her own, she's desperate for a fresh start. Except when she starts a no-strings-attached relationship with Robbie, her chance is put in jeopardy. During what's meant to be their last weekend together, Lauren stumbles across shocking evidence that just might implicate Robbie.

With danger closing in, Lauren doesn't know who to trust. And after a third death rocks the town, she must decide whether to end things with Robbie or risk becoming another cautionary tale.

Critique: Age appropriate for young readers 14-18, "The One That Got Away With Murder" is all the more impressive when considering that it is author Trish Lundy's debut as a novelist. A gripping read from start to finish, "The One That Got Away With Murder" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA mystery/suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Trish Lundy is an East Coast transplant who now calls California home. She received her BA in English from UCLA, where she fell in love with the craft of writing. She's worked in the film industry, in marketing, and is also a former hospice & palliative care volunteer. The One That Got Away with Murder is her debut novel.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Storm Dragons: Lightningborn
Julie Kagawa
Disney Hyperion
9781368090308, $17.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Remy is a boy who spends his days trying to survive the mean streets of Cutthroat Wedge -- one of the many islands floating in the gravitational pull of the magical Maelstrom raging below. But his life changes forever when a violent storm brings a baby dragon to his doorstep, and he feels a bond he has never felt with anyone. Remy names the dragon Storm and vows to protect this new friend, no matter the cost.

Gem is a young girl who longs for the day when she call herself a true mage. That is, if she can convince her teachers and peers that just because she's a princess doesn't mean she's lazy and spoiled. But when Gem learns that the floating islands that make up her kingdom are rapidly sinking into the Maelstrom, she makes it her mission to save her world.

Against the king's wishes, she accesses forbidden research and discovers the secret to saving humanity may lie in a True Dragon -- a dragon capable of intelligent thought and able to cast and use magic. But True Dragons are extinct... aren't they?

Remy's and Gem's lives will never be the same when their fates collide, thanks to Storm. With an evil pirate mage named Jhaeros determined to claim the rare dragon for himself, the two must learn to trust in each other as they team up with a shifty pirate captain and her crew, stand together against impossible odds, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Critique: Launching a new fantasy series called Storm Dragons, "Lightningborn" by Julie Kagawa is a fun read from start to finish and will hold a very special attraction for young readers with an interest in deftly crafted and solidly entertaining fantasy fiction complete with a wealth of unexpected plot twists, memorable characters and (of course) dragons. While a strongly recommended pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated dragon lovers and fantasy fans that "Lightningborn" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Julie Kagawa ( is the author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series. She can be followed on Twitter @JKagawa, Twitch @SylverKit, and on YouTube @JulieKagawa

Paper Dragons: The Fight for the Hidden Realm
Siobhan McDermott
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593706114, $18.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: An outsider in her village above the cloud sea, 12-year-old orphan Yeung Zhi Ging's only hope of escape is to win the single invitation to train as a Silhouette: an apprentice to the immortals. After her ill-fated attempt to impress the Silhouette scout leads to a dragon attack on the jade mountain, Zhi Ging is sure that her chances, and her life, are over. But the scout spots her potential and offers her protection and a second chance. She's in.

In her lessons in Hok Woh, the underwater realm of the immortals, Zhi Ging must face the challenging trials set by her teachers to prove that she's worthy of being a Silhouette -- despite her rivals' attempts to sabotage her. But as Zhi Ging's power grows, so do the rumours of the return of the Fui Gwai, an evil spirit that turns people into grey-eyed thralls.

When the impossible happens and the Fui Gwai attack the Silhouettes, can Zhi Ging use her newly uncovered talents to save her friends and the world beyond? Or will the grey-eyed spirit consume them all?

Critique: Fantasy dragons and a pronounced Asian theme, "The Fight for the Hidden Realm" launches 'Paper Dragons', a brand new fantasy series from Delacorte Press by first time author Siobhan McDermott. A fun fantasy from start to finish, "The Fight for the Hidden Realm" will hold a special attraction for fantasy fans ages 10-13 and is a highly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fight for the Hidden Realm" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Siobhan McDermott was born in Hong Kong and grew up on a steady stream of stories filled with Chinese legends and Irish folklore. She now lives in the UK. Paper Dragons: The Fight for the Hidden Realm is her debut novel and was chosen as Waterstones Children's Book of the Month. The story was inspired by moments across her life: from childhood ferry trips between Lantau Island and Hong Kong, to travelling around Taiwan, Italy and Spain.

The Poetry Shelf

Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes
Mindy Bingham, et al.
Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes
9780970794499, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes" is a great way to begin teaching very young children about the natural wonders they will inherit. Newly revised to reflect important environmental aspects of today's eco messages, this fully and beautifully illustrated picture book of poetry will initiate an appreciation of our planet in both children and adults. The rhymes carry the sing-song cadence and whimsy that help language development for kids ages

The watercolor illustrations in "Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes" depict all the nursery rhyme favorites from lady bugs to elephants. At the end of "Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes", the co-authors have added a Rhyme Time Quiz (questions to ask older children) and resources of places to visit locally and online.

Critique: In this era of human driven climate change, it is vitally important for parents and caretakers to instill a love of nature in the young minds of children who, when grown to adults, will ultimately decide the ecological fate of the world. "Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library poetry and environmental issues collections for children ages 1-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes" is also available in a paperback edition (9780977476398, $14.95).

Editorial Note #1: Social entrepreneur and author, Mindy Bingham's titles have sold over two and a half million copies worldwide. She is the recipient of numerous national, regional, and local awards including a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Innovative Approaches to Curricula by the United States Congress.

Editorial Note #2: Creator and award-winning author of sixteen children's titles and a book shepherd and art director for many more, Penny Colville holds a Fine Arts degree from Goldsmiths College, London.

Editorial Note #3: There is an extensive listing of books by Sandy Stryker online at

Editorial Note #4: A celebrated water colorist, Itoko Manoe has been a Teaching Artist with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for over twenty years. She has also illustrated more than twenty picture books.

Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for Our Animal Friends
Lee Bennett Hopkins, editor
Lita Judge, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802855466, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins (1938-2019), "Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for Our Animal Friends" is adorable, often amusing collection of poetry on the subject of pets.

In "Bless Our Pets" contributors Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Lois Lowry, and twelve other poets give thanks for those who bark, purr, chitter, and slither. The poems feature fourteen different animal companions, including a cat snoozing in her bed, a goldfish dancing in her bowl, and a gerbil nestling in an overall pocket.

Splendidly illustrated in warm, tender, and delightful detail by Lita Judge, "Bless Our Pets" captures the charms (and antics) of pets and the people who love them.

Critique: From puppies to mice to turtles to ponies, "Bless Our Pets" is an endearing anthology of very expressing a child's gratitude for creatures big and small. "Bless Our Pets" is an ideal tribute to the friends who bring so much joy into everyday lives. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets & Poetry collections for children ages 4-8, "Bless Our Pets: Poems of Gratitude for Our Animal Friends" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04) as well.

Editorial Note #1: The contributors to "Bless Our Pets" include Ann Whitford Paul; Rebecca Kai Dotlich; Linda Trott Dickman; Eric Ode; Ralph Fletcher; Sarah Grace Tuttle; Kristine O'Connell George; Darren Sardelli; B.J. Lee; Charles Ghigna; Lois Lowry; Prince Redcloud; Joan Bransfield Graham; and Lee Bennett Hopkins

Editorial Note #2: Lee Bennett Hopkins (1938-2019) was an acclaimed children's poet and anthologist. His books include I Remember (Lee & Low), America at War (Simon & Schuster), Manger, and Night Wishes (both Eerdmans). In 2011, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Lee as the world's most prolific anthologist of poetry for children-with over 100 titles to his name. He also founded the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the ILA/Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award to recognize excellent writing for children. Until his death in 2019, Lee lived in Cape Coral, Florida, where he wrote many poems about animals-including Duke, his old cocker spaniel. (

Editorial Note #3: Lita Judge ( is the illustrator and often author of many children's books, including Dogs (Abrams), Red Sled (Atheneum), The Wisdom of Trees, and Homes in the Wild (both Roaring Brook). Her books have received numerous starred reviews and have appeared on best-of-year lists from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the New York Public Library. Lita lives in New Hampshire, where she used her own pets-as well as friends' pets and family photos-as models for this book's art.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Puzzled: A Memoir about Growing Up with OCD
Pan Cooke
Rocky Pond Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593615614, $23.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Pan Cooke is ten years old when anxious thoughts begin to take over his brain like pieces of an impossible puzzle. What if he blurts out a swear word while in church? What if he accidentally writes something mean in his classmate's get-well card? What if his friend's racy photo of a supermodel ends up in his own homework and is discovered by his teacher? More and more, he becomes hijacked by fears that can only be calmed through exhausting, time-consuming rituals.

Pan has no way of knowing that this anxiety puzzle and the stressful attempts to solve it are evidence of a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is his story of living with and eventually learning about OCD. Told with endearing honesty and humor and in a graphic novel format, "Puzzled" shows young readers the importance of empathy for oneself and those going through something they don't yet understand.

Critique: A thoroughly 'kid friendly' graphic novel style memoir about growing up with OCD, "Puzzled" by author/illustrator Pan Cooke is a unique and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Graphic Novel, Children's Biography/Memoir, and Anxiety Disorder collections for young readers ages 10-14 and Grades 5-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Puzzled" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780593615621, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Pan Cooke ( is an Irish artist and "cartoonivist" residing in Dublin, Ireland. He frequently posts cartoons about social issues on Instagram, where he has a large following, and he has created comics for Amnesty International and Campaign Zero. This memoir is his first book.

Olivia Wolf and a Million Olivias
Jose Fragoso
9788419607683, $14.99, PB, 80pp

Synopsis: It's Sam's birthday, and Olivia and her friends are celebrating it at an amusement park, which has the most incredible ball pit in the whole of Monstrocity. But little do they know, Marquis Three-Eyes, a fearsome villain, has bewitched the balls in the pit, and from its depths dozens of evil Olivias begin to emerge who want to destroy the entire amusement center.

Can the wolf girl and her friends stop the clones and the malicious Marquis Three-Eyes before its too late? There are no dull days in Monstrocity!

Critique: A fun and original read from start to finish, "Olivia Wolf and a Million Olivias" by author and illustrator Jose Fragoso will have a very special appeal to graphic novel fans with an interest in action/adventure and mystery/crime stories. A strongly recommended pick for elementary school and community library graphic novel collections for young readers ages 7-10, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Olivia Wolf and a Million Olivias" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Jose Fragoso ( has lived in the USA for ten years. He taught illustration at the Instituto Cervantes of New York and Chicago and the United Nations International School NY. He was also an in-house illustrator for Picture Farm Productions, in Brooklyn. His books have been published in Spanish, English, Italian, Chinese, Korean. His illustrations have also appeared in publications such as 33 Magazine or Creative Quarterly.

The Music CD Shelf

Strawberry Wind Deluxe Edition
Jessie Baylin
New West Records
$TBA CD / $9.99 digital

Strawberry Wind Deluxe Edition is a new release of Jessie Baylin's critically acclaimed, award-winning album for families, with the addition of four bonus tracks (three on the vinyl edition). Strawberry Wind is a wonderful, jubilant pop album with catchy songs that will appeal to all ages. A choice pick for car trips, family gatherings, rainy weekends that keep the family indoors, or public library children's music collections, Strawberry Wind Deluxe Edition is highly recommended. The tracks are Dream Catcher, Supermoon, Strawberry Wind, Same Old Tune, Sparkle Shoelaces, Little Bird, Magic Of Your Mind, It's The Summertime, I Am A Dreamer, Power In Words, We Need Each Other, Big Feelings, Come Over, I Can Bring Love, and A Beautiful Life.

Swingset Serenade
Mel and Friends
$14.00 CD / $9.99 digital / $25.00 vinyl

Swingset Serenade is a joyful album for listeners of all ages, drawing upon swing, jazz, and big band traditions. Exciting, engaging, and nostalgic for the music traditions of decades past, Swingset Serenade is a treasure for the whole family and a choice pick for public library children's music collections, highly recommended. The tracks are Swingset Serenade, Jugo de Naranja, Make a Garden, Mariposa, Ruth's Couscous, Come Back Balloon, The Speed of Light, Me Gustan las Estrellas, Bunk Bed, and Bedtime.

The Sports Shelf

Out of the Park!
James Buckley Jr.
becker&mayer! kids
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760386828, $19.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Officially licensed with the Hall of Fame, "Out of the Park!: True Stories of the Greatest Players Who Changed the Game" by James Buckley Jr. follows the incredible careers and lives of popular ballplayers ranging from Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter.

Organized by key aspects of the game, each chapter features biographical snapshots of four players who excelled in that arena (from hitting to fielding to leadership on and off the field) as well as fun facts, historical trivia, infamous quotes, important stats and baseball lingo, and photos from the Hall of Fame's collection.

Some of the significant players and their historical moments include: Babe Ruth establishing a single-season home run record that will last for 34 years in 1927; Ted Williams finishing the 1941 season with an average above .400, a magical mark attained by only a few; Joe DiMaggio establishing what many argue is baseball's most "unbreakable" record (a 56-game winning streak) in 1941; Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby breaking the MLB color barrier in the landmark 1947 season; Derek Jeter, "Captain Clutch," playing his last game, 2014, ending in a walk-off single to win the game.

Kids in the middle grades will meet over 150 players in this all-encompassing collection, your go-to reference for learning about great athletes.

Critique: "Out of the Park!: True Stories of the Greatest Players Who Changed the Game" is the project of prolific sportswriter James Buckley Jr., and the perfect addition to any elementary school and community library Sports/Baseball collection. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Out of the Park!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: James Buckley Jr. has been writing sports books for adults and young readers for more than 25 years after working for Sports Illustrated and NFL Publishing. Among his most popular titles are National Baseball Hall of Fame Collection, America's Classic Ballparks, Ballpark Bucket List, Perfect: The Story of Baseball's Perfect Games, Unhittable, Eyewitness Baseball, The Visual Dictionary of Baseball, and Obsessed with Baseball. He is the author of more than 20 sports biographies for young readers, including the graphic nonfiction title Babe Ruth: Baseball's All-Time Best. His company, Shoreline Publishing Group, produces dozens of books each year for major publishers including Penguin, Scholastic, DK, National Geographic Kids, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, and many others.

The Gardening Shelf

The Souls of Flowers
Pavlina Kourkova, author/illustrator
Albatros Media
9788000071008, $24.99, HC, 88pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Souls of Flowers", young readers will delight in discovering the beauty and significance of 21 common meadow and garden plants through breathtaking full-page illustrations, detailed information, and poetic reflections on botany.

Drawing inspiration from nature's most exquisite flowers, acclaimed Czech botanical painter Pavlina Kourkova explores the countryside with infectious enthusiasm. Her watercolor renditions captivate not only the eye but also the heart, providing insights into the origin, occurrence, and symbolism of these plants.

"The Souls of Flowers" also offers budding young naturalists and art enthusiasts alike a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating world of common plants found in meadows and gardens throughout North America and Europe.

With its stunning illustrations and rich botanical insights, it serves as a gateway for older kids ages 12-15 to develop an appreciation for the beauty of nature. Young readers will not only be captivated by the book's visual splendor but also enriched by its wealth of knowledge regarding plant origins and the so-called language of flowers.

"The Souls of Flowers" is a perfect blend of art, science, and wonder that promises to inspire curiosity and a deeper connection to the natural world.

Critique: This large format (9 x 0.6 x 13.1 inches, 1.95 pounds) hardcover edition of "The Soul of Flowers" from Albatros Media is a magnificent showcase of some of the loveliest flowers to be found in a meadow or planted in a garden. Featuring full page and double-page museum quality paintings of the featured flowers with informative commentary/captions, "The Soul of Flowers" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Gardening and Flower/Plant collections for young readers 12-15.

Editorial Note: Pavlina Kourkova ( is a Czech painter, illustrator, and landscape architect. She studied natural sciences and garden and landscape architecture, giving her a deep understanding of plants. During her study placement in Holland and work experience in England, she was involved in various projects. Pavlina has been inspired by nature since she was a child, and continues to draw from it in her work. Her hometown is Czechia.

The Soil in Jackie's Garden
Peggy Thomas, author
Neely Daggett, illustrator
Feeding Minds Press
9781948898164, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Jackie and her garden friends embrace the joys of planting a garden, nurturing and harvesting their own food, and recycling scraps to compost, ensuring that the magical cycle of growth and sustainability continues anew in the picture book, "The Soil In Jackie's Garden"

Woven into the story are science facts about soil, plants, pollinators, decomposers, and more are included on every spread. The result is a a fun way to engage young readers in becoming environmental stewards, learning how to care for a garden, understanding a plant life cycle, discovering the power of pollinators and the importance of composting.

"The Soil in Jackie's Garden," is a playful celebration of how things grow, return to the earth, and grow again will inspire young readers to try their hands at gardening and composting. Back matter includes information on the soil cycle and how to make a compost pile.

Critique: "The Soil in Jackie's Garden" by author/storyteller Peggy Thomas and artist/illustrator Neely Daggett is a charming picture book for children ages 6-8 that showcases gardening science facts about soil, plants, pollinators, decomposers, and more. Fully engaging children ages 6-8 in becoming environmental stewards, learning how to care for a garden, understanding a plant life cycle, discovering the power of pollinators and the importance of composting, "The Soil in Jackie's Garden" is a charming, instructive, inspiring, and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Gardening themed picture book collections. Of special note is the back matter that includes information on the soil cycle and how to make a compost pile.

Editorial Note #1: Peggy Thomas ( is the author of more than twenty award-winning nonfiction books for children including Hero For the Hungry: The Life and Work of Norman Borlaug", illustrated by Sam Kalda, and "Full of Beans: Henry Ford Grows a Car", illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, which earned the AFBFA 2020 Book of the Year Award.

Editorial Note #2: Neely Daggett ( lives with her husband and three children in tree-filled Portland, Oregon. Making picture books is her passion, but Neely also loves to work in her garden, take her dog Luna on long walks, and visit the Oregon coast with her family.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Song of the Raven
Amanda Hall
Wisdom Tales
9781957670041, $19.95

Song of the Raven: An Inuit Tale of Harmony With Nature is the lovely saga of a vanished sun, a hard life, and the efforts of ordinary boy Little Darkness to change everything when he decides to pick up a strange object. As events unfold, this Inuit tale of respect for people, animals, and the natural world teaches kids important lessons. The boy may never have seen light before, but holds the ability to sing, trust in his voice, and ultimately change his world. Attractive illustrations accompany a powerful message that should be in any picture book library where Indigenous wisdom and folktales are valued.

The Christian Shelf

Preach It, Grace
Susan Count
Hastings Creations Group
9781952371189, $18.99 Hardcover/$3.99 eBook

Preach It, Grace is a Christian horse story about faith, friendship, and how both are tested when the effort of sharing a pony goes awry. But, this isn't the usual band of girls who do the sharing. It's Grace and her elderly neighbor, which enhances the plot by surveying intergenerational differences and conflicts when Mr. Harvey suddenly sends Preacher away... and won't tell Grace where and why he's gone.

Mr. Harvey has been talking about Preacher's behavior issues and handling. Grace's efforts to tame Preacher and demonstrate that he is, indeed, a good horse creates an aura of kindness and understanding that surrounds her with faith and well-being, but events also introduce challenges that lead her to question her own motivations and heart: "Why wouldn't Mr. Harvey think about what she said? She talked to herself as she collected the eggs. 'Get over it, Grace! So you didn't get what you wanted. Were you only helping him because you're selfish?' - That question niggled her heart. That would make me a terrible person. I help him because I want to. Because it's the right thing to do. Because I love that cranky old man like my own grandpa."

Where other stories about horse-crazy girls focus on horses pretty much to the exclusion of interpersonal relationships, Susan Count 's focus on the evolving, changing dynamics of faith and friendship adds value to Grace's horse-centric experiences and focus. It also creates opportunities for Christian young reader group discussions. The insights on friendship, motivation, perception, and conflict resolution rest on a series of interactions that will not only entertain girls who love horses, but gently leads them to consider accompanying issues of sharing jobs, friendship, faith, and the interactions and contrasting perceptions of old age and youth.

All these facets make Preach It, Grace of exceptional and special interest to Christian young readers. This audience will receive all the passion and lively experiences of horses, tempered by the equal passion for God, family and friends, and growth. All these elements make Grace a realistic, compelling character who learns invaluable lessons about interacting with the world around her.

The Judaic Shelf

Anything is Possible
Rochel Sandman, author
Chana Zakashansky-Zverev, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
9781945560774, $12.95, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: Zayde Mendel is determined to bake shmurah matzah, even though it's during World War II and there's no wheat for sale. His clever and loyal wife, Bubba Hinda, is just as determined. Together, this extraordinary couple proves that "With Hashem's help, anything is possible!"

Critique: Ideal for use with children ages 3-6, "Anything is Possible" by author/storyteller Rochel Sandman and artist/illustrator Chana Zakashansky-Zverev is a charming picture book story recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: "Anything is Possible" is based on true events in the lives of Zayde Mendel and Bubbe Hinda Deitsch -- real people who lived the former Soviet Union not very long ago. In 1941, they left almost everything behind to escape the war by traveling east to Samarkand, later settling in Tashkent. Even in the most difficult circumstances, they devoted their lives to learning Torah, performing mitzvos, and helping others. Although Bubbe Hinda did barter for wheat during hard times, the events and conversations in this story are fictional.

Benjy's Messy Room
Barbara Diamond Goldin, author
Rita Tan, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
c/o Behrman House Inc.
9781681156309, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synoposis: Passover starts tomorrow, and Benjy's room is a mess. His race car set, his superheroes, and his firetruck are spread across his room, along with all his other toys. He knows he needs to clean them up, especially with Passover and the breadcrumb hunt starting tonight. But it's much more fun to have a pretend hunt with his little sister, Shira. Benjy crumbles up pieces of paper to be the crumbs. He hides one under his race car, and under his firetruck, and all around his room. They get so caught up in the game, Benjy doesn't notice it was almost sundown. Now he'll never finish in time! That is until he realizes that cleaning might not have to be a chore.

Critique: A fun read from start to finish for children ages 4-7, "Benjy's Messy Room" by author Barbara Diamond Goldin and illustrator Rita Tan is a thoroughly charming picture book story about making chores fun, and the bonds between siblings, as well as introducing children to 'bedikat hametz' -- a fun pre-Passover ritual in which families hunt for bread crumbs throughout the house on the night before Passover. "Benjy's Messy Room" is an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Jewish themed picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Barbara Diamond Goldin is the recipient of the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. She has written many award-winning books on Jewish themes, including Night Lights: A Sukkot Story, A Persian Princess, The Passover Cowboy, and Meet Me at the Well: The Girls and Women of the Bible. Barbara recently retired from her position as the director of a public library and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. (

Editorial Note #2: Rita Tan ( grew up in Indonesia, where she taught herself art. She loves drawing digitally, as it gives her more freedom. If she's not drawing, then she's writing stories, gardening, cooking, reading or spending time with her two children, the source of her inspiration. She currently resides in England.

Books in Series

Bad Skool: Protest Stories
Robert Rubenstein
Independently Published
9798864950906, $25.42 Hardcover/$17.76 Paperback

Bad Skool: Protest Stories joins others in the Old Kicker Legs series, compiling prior stories into one volume for fourth graders to adults. This young audience will enjoy the blend of whimsy and serious contemplation that mixes in Bad Skool -- and will also especially appreciate that these individual tales, when presented here as a unit, unite and expand the themes of Rubenstein's prior writings in an unusual manner.

Full-page color drawings abound as the tales evolve. Robert Rubenstein has created a rich, fantastic approach to their protest stories of life, community, and magic which come to life in a way young people rarely receive: "Mudville was spooked. Charlie hurried on. The headmaster could change his Medieval mind. Magic Chicken went along. The Yankees were playing the Orioles that day. The Chicken was a fan, but it only clucked for birds."

Uniting these tales are Charlie, Old Kicker Legs, Magic Chicken, and a host of odd supporting characters, from teacher Master McGooey to the baseball games which fuse man and beast alike. Underlying the whimsy are the quite serious subjects of discriminatory elements in school problems, accidents and prejudices, and the rise of beasts intent on destroying the school.

Parents will want to interact with kids who choose this magical book to explain its subtler nuances and allegories, while elementary-level libraries will find Bad Skool: Protest Stories a lesson in both magical realism and school and community politics and processes. It plays on the intersection of both to create a compelling, engrossing story that promises wide appeal to audiences of adults and kids alike.

Sherlock Bones and the Horror of the Haunted Castle
Tim Collins
Buster Books
9781780559223, $9.99, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: When a wealthy dog spots a ghostly figure haunting her kennel in the Catpathian Mountains, she come to Bones and Catson for help. Bones is convinced there are no such things as ghosts... but even he's at a loss to explain the creepy sounds and strange goings-on that he and Catson encounter after a night in the crumbling kennel.

Things get even more spooky when Bones is suddenly called back to London, leaving Catson to crack the case on her own. Can Catson unmask the ghost and escape the haunted kennel in one piece?

Critique: The fourth book in Buster's Sherlock Bones mystery fiction series and featuring 28 puzzles (including spot-the-differences, number chains and tangled line games) that are woven into the action, so the young reader feels immersed in the exciting detective plot -- and told across 14 chapters, "Sherlock Bones and the Horror of the Haunted Castle" is another original and quite thrilling story by the team of author/storyteller Tim Collins and artist/illustrator John Bigwood. Ideal for middle-grade readers ages 7-9, "Sherlock Bones and the Horror of the Haunted Castle" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school collections and will have a very special appeal to young readers with an interest in dog-based mystery stories and interactive adventure.

Editorial Note: The other volumes in the Adventures of Sherlock Bones series from Buster Books include:

9781780557502 Sherlock Bones and the Case of the Crown Jewels
9781780557519 Sherlock Bones and the Curse of the Pharaoh's Mask
9781780559216 Sherlock Bones and the Mystery of the Vanishing Magician

Also available in the series:
9781780557502 Sherlock Bones and the Case of the Crown Jewels
9781780557519 Sherlock Bones and the Curse of the Pharaoh's Mask
9781780559216 Sherlock Bones and the Mystery of the Vanishing Magician

The Child's World, Inc.

The Child's World is a premier publisher of non-fiction books-in-series for children. Their imprint Wonder Books offers a new series, "Dealing With...", comprised of 8 books on dealing with life's challenges.

"Dealing With A Move" by Samantha S. Bell (9781503885400, $32.79, 24pp) explores how to cope with a move and adjust to a new home.

"Dealing With Bullying" by Steph Giedd (9781503885387, $32.79, 24pp) explores how to cope with bullying and seek support.

"Dealing With Disagreements" by Steph Giedd (9781503885424), $32.79, 24pp) explores how to handle, avoid, and resolve disagreements.

"Dealing With Peer Pressure" by Steph Giedd (9781503885363, $32.79, 24pp) explores both positive and negative peer pressure and how to handle it.

"Dealing With Illness, Steph Giedd (9781503885370, $32.79, 24pp) explores how to handle illness, both when oneself is sick, when a loved one is sick, or when a friend is dealing with illness.

"Dealing With Family Changes" by Steph Giedd (9781503885417, $32.79, 24pp) explores how to handle family changes such as divorce, illness, loss, new siblings, and more.

"Dealing With Loss" by Samantha S. Bell (9781503885394, $32.79, 24pp) explores how to cope with loss and how to support friends experiencing this situation.

"Dealing With Divorce" by Steph Giedd (9781503885356, $32.79, 24pp) explores how to process and cope with the divorce of one's parents.

Critique: Additional features for each individual volume in the "Dealing With..." series features a library binding format, as well as including a table of contents, sidebars, an infographic, Fast Facts, questions to inspire further thought, a phonetic glossary, an index, and sources for further research. Unreservedly recommended for use with children ages 5-8, each title comprising this simply outstanding and thoroughly 'kid friendly' series is appropriate for daycare center, preschool, and elementary school collections.

Editorial Note #1: Steph Giedd is a former high school English teacher who now works as a sports editor. (

Editorial Note #2: Samantha S. Bell ( is the author of more than 30 nonfiction books for children.

Brown Bear Books Inc.
c/o The Creative Company

Brown Bear Books has an outstanding new six book series called "Moneywise" by Nancy Dickmann for young readers on and about the subject of money.

"What Is Money?" (9781781219256, $35.70, 24pp) People have been using money for thousands of years, and we've come a long way from the days of shells, beads, and simple coins. Today we don't even need notes and coins -- we can pay with the tap of a card or smartphone.

"Earning and Saving" (9781781219324, $35.70, 24pp) People earn money by getting paid for something they do. "Earning nd Saving" looks at how people earn money, the difference between wages and salaries, and why people pay tax. It also explains why people save money and how to keep savings safe.

"Borrowing Money" (9781781219294, $35.70, 24pp) We borrow money if we want to buy something that we can't afford. Sometimes people borrow from friends or family. But for big expenses, like a house or a car, people might get a loan from the bank. "Borrowing Money" looks at different ways of borrowing money; how the money gets paid back; and why it's usually better to save for what you want.

"Smart Spending" (9781781219270, $35.70, 24pp) Smart spenders make their money go further. "Smart Spending" gives tips on how to make good decisions about spending money, from shopping around for the best deal to looking for second-hand bargains. It also looks at technology, such as apps, help people compare prices and set limits on their spending.

"Managing Money" (9781781219287, $35.70, 24pp) Having a bit of money to spend is a good feeling. But what happens if we spend more money than we earn? "Managing Money" looks at how to plan a budget and why it makes sense to save some money for a rainy day.

"Keeping Money Safe" (9781781219300, $35.70, 24pp) Money is useful -- and it's valuable too. It's everyone's responsibility to keep their money safe, which might mean anything from a piggy bank at home to putting it in a bank account. "Keeping Money Safe" looks at different ways that people and banks can keep money safe, from vaults and deposit boxes to PINs and knowing how to avoid scams.

Critique: Each of the six titles comprising the Moneywise series at the concept of money, exploring how it developed, how money is now used around the world, keeping money safe. Each book features a library binding and includes a short quiz (with the answers on the last page) so young readers ages 7-9 can test their knowledge of the specific aspect of money covered in it. While especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Money & Money Management collections for young readers, it should be noted that each of the six titles in the Moneywise series is also available in a paperback edition ($7.25).

Editorial Note: Nancy Dickmann has written more than 150 nonfiction books for children, specializing in science and history. Before becoming an author, she worked for many years as an editor and publisher of children's books. There is an extensive listing of her titles online at

The Lerner Publishing Group

Lerner Publications is a major and respected source of consistently excellent and high-standard non-fiction books-in-series for young readers. Their new 3 volume series, Destination Mars is on the subject of the planet Mars.

"Landing On Mars" by Margaret J. Goldstein (9781728490649, $30.65, 32pp) Conditions on Mars make landing there very challenging. Young readers get a close-up look at these challenges, plus information on how scientists have successfully landed rovers on Mars and how they might land humans there someday.

"Investigating Mars" by Margaret J. Goldstein (9781728490663, $30.65, 32pp) Are there signs of life on Mars? What is on the Martian surface? Scientists are investigating the planet to find out, and readers can learn about their plans to send human explorers one day!

"Living on Mars" by Ty Chapman (9781728490656, $30.65, 32pp) Explore the obstacles humans would face if they were to try living on Mars. Those who've wondered how we'd eat or breathe on the Red Planet will want to dig in!

Critique: Profusely illustrated, impressively informative, thoroughly 'kid friendly' and engaging in organization and presentation, this three volume, library bound edition of the Destination Mars series for young readers ages 8-12 will prove a popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Space Science collections and curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that each of these three informative volumes is also available in a paperback edition ($10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.66).

Editorial Note #1: Margaret J. Goldstein was born in Detroit and graduated from the University of Michigan. She is an editor and the author of many books for young readers.

Editorial Note #2: Ty Chapman is the author of Sarah Rising (Beaming 2022); Looking for Happy (Beaming 2023); A Door Made for Me, written with Tyler Merritt (WorthyKids 2022); as well as multiple forthcoming children's books through various publishers, and a forthcoming poetry collection through Button Poetry. Ty was a finalist for Tin House's 2022 Fall Residency, Button Poetry's 2020 Chapbook Contest, and Frontier Magazine's New Voices Contest. He is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts and was recently named a Loft Literary Center Mirrors & Windows fellow and Mentor Series fellow.

Star Bright Books

Star Bright Books is a premier publisher of children's books including bilingual and dual-language board books, picture books for babies, toddlers, and very young readers. One of their latest series are the five 'Mouse & Mole' picture books they have published so far by author/storyteller Joyce Dunbar and artist/illustrator James Mayhew for children ages 4-8.

"Mouse & Mole" (9781595729019, $17.99 HC, $7.99 PB, 40pp) Best friends Mouse and Mole experience life's daily misadventures together as they wait for the perfect day to have their picnic.

"Mouse and Mole Have a Party" (9781595729033, $17.99 HC, $7.99 PB, 40pp) Mole often stumbles into precarious situations, from delicately handling the first daffodil of spring to trimming his uneven whisker lengths. Luckily, he has his best friend Mouse to guide him through each scenario-even when he least expects it!

"Happy Days for Mouse and Mole" (9781912050383, $17.99, HC, $7.99 PB, 32pp) When Mouse makes himself a hammock, Mole is only too happy to test it for his friend, and Mouse is equally eager to help Mole find his lost spectacles. But who will catch the falling leaf?

"A Very Special Mouse and Mole" (9781595729347, $7.99 PB, 40pp) Simple pastimes help Mosue and Mole realize there's something special in everything -- including themselves. Mouse and Mole return in three heartwarming stories of friendship, imagination, and joyful surprise.

"Mouse and Mole: A Fresh Start" (9781595729866, $7.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 40pp) Mouse and Mole are two unlikely friends who love spending time with each other - and they can't help getting caught up in silly adventures! From giving their friendship a fresh start, to deciding on a toy boat to sail on the pond, and creatively avoiding a storm on their walk home, Mouse and Mole discover a newfound appreciation of each other and have fun along the way.

Critique: Charming, kid friendly, and fun reads from first page to last, these colorfully illustrated and original animal stories for children ages 4-8 are especially and unreservedly recommended picks for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Joyce Dunbar is the author of more than 80 children's books, including the bestseller Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep. She has been praised for her humorous, charming, and quirky writing. Joyce's Mouse and Mole series was adapted for an animated TV series, and later, a TV Christmas special. Her books have been translated into 20 different languages. Joyce lives in Norwich, England.

Editorial Note #2: James Mayhew ( says that art was always his favorite subject at school. He remembers when when he was 10 years old and his teacher first introduced him to sketching with a scratchy old dip-pen and a bottle of ink. It was love at first sight, and he still use pen and ink to this day. He went on to study illustration at Maidstone College of Art, graduating in 1987 with first class honors

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Melody The Unicorn's Big Worry
Subani Maheshwari, author
Noor Alshalabi, illustrator
Stories by Subani
9781737425861, $19.99 HC, 36 pages

Synopsis: Step into the captivating tale of Melody the Unicorn and join her on a journey of overcoming fears and embracing confidence. In this charming tale, Melody's story mirrors every child's anxiety when venturing into the unknown.

Through engaging exercises and heartfelt storytelling, Melody the Unicorn's Big Worry offers a roadmap to conquer worries, silence self-doubt, and nurture unwavering self-assurance. Let the vibrant illustrations and empowering narrative guide young readers through a transformative experience, teaching them to unleash their inner strength and dance through life with courage.

This book transcends age barriers and is a must-have for every household and educational institution, delivering a timeless message of resilience and empowerment. Dive into the world of Melody the Unicorn and watch as fears fade away, making room for boundless confidence to shine.

Critique: Melody The Unicorn's Big Worry is a delightful story is not just for children, but also for adults seeking a heartwarming tale that resonates with the inner child in all of us. Let Melody's journey inspire you to face your worries with courage and optimism.

Enter the enchanting world crafted by Subani Maheshwari, where every page whisper profound life lessons that will resonate with your soul. Brace yourself for a captivating journey filled with wonder, magic, and a touch of brilliance that will linger in your heart long after you turn the last page.

Editorial Note: Recommended reading age 5-8 years.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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

Peekaboo Who?
Elena Selena
9791027612192, $14.99

Kimberly Waters

This is a creative and interactive book for young children learning the names of different animals. The pages are brightly colored and work a little like a puzzle, figuring out what animal is under those flaps. Children will love this book and be amused at which little animal they will find on each page. (Baby-3)

Who's the Boss?
Emile Jadoul
9791036364242, $12.98

Kimberly Waters

Each animal in this story claims that they are the boss, arguing and fussing over this lead position. They are each convincing until... a surprise ending reveals who the boss really is. The colors are bright in this sturdy hard page book. (Baby-3)

Potty Training Day
Akilah Trinay, author
Stephanie Hider, illustrator
Revision Publishing
9798987184806, $24.99

Deb Greenberg

Like most things, potty training is a different experience for everyone, and can be a process that parents and little ones need to ease into. In the story, Malcolm and his daddy share the challenges of potty training with no expectation that it'll be learned in one day. Bright and colorful artwork and a rhyming format make this a sweet story with a meaningful message. (Ages Baby-4)

The Good Fortune
Shawana Davenport
Independently published
9781088058589, $19.99

Deb Greenberg

Tag along with siblings Frannie and Willie as they visit their Aunt Bea at her cozy cottage, indulge in her delicious cooking, listen to her stories, and play an amazing game... a game filled with adventure that takes them to unusual places with loads of possibilities. See what they learn from the game in this bright and energetic story with a sweet and delightful message. (Ages 3-7)

The Concrete Garden
Bob Graham
9781536233803, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Amanda lives in an apartment building with many other kids. There is no grass yard for them to play in, just a slab of concrete in the front of the building. One day, Amanda brings a box of chalk with her and draws a multi-colored design on the concrete. When the other kids see her doing that, they grab some chalk and add to her drawing, filling the concrete with flowers, creating a "concrete garden." This is a great book about friendship and making the most of what you have - a good lesson for anyone and everyone. (Ages 3-7)

The Schoolyard Raccoon
Shana Hollowell
Independently Published
9780997878554, $23.99

Deb Greenberg

Follow along with Victor the raccoon as he searches a schoolyard night after night for treasures left behind by students. Will his perseverance pay off? Join the sneaky little raccoon on his mission and see what he stumbles upon under the big oak tree. The rhyming format accompanied by soothing illustrations make this a delightful read with a meaningful message. (Ages 3-7)

At the Poles
David Elliott, author
Ellen Rooney, illustrator
9781536205992, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Author David Elliott shares short, descriptive poems about animals you find at the North and South Poles. Among them are poems about polar bears, orcas, emperor penguins and colossal squid. Each poem is colorfully illustrated and takes up a two-page spread. Learn a little zoology while you enjoy each verse. (Ages 3-7)

Metis Like Me
Tasha Hilderman, author
Risa Hugo, illustrator
Tundra Books
9781774881125, $18.99

Kimberly Waters

This is a fun book filled with children comparing their family traditions and cultures. We learn much about the Metis people, what they eat, what they do for a living, and what kind of entertainment they enjoy. It brings out the differences in people and how they can all still get along even if they do things differently than their neighbors. What a great learning experience! (Ages 3-7)

Penguin Huddle
Ross Montgomery, author
Sarah Warburton, illustrator
Walker Books
9781536231311, $17.99

Rachelle Stanger

This hilarious story follows a group of penguins who love to snuggle close for warmth, but get themselves in quite a pickle when they freeze together... literally! Will their animal friends be able to help them? How far will they travel to get out of their huddle? (Ages 3-7)

Ellie the Crop Duster Saves the Farm
Rebecca Victor, author
Penny Weber, illustrator
Rebecca Victor Books
9798987257005, $14.99

Rachelle Stanger

Follow the daily life of Ellie the crop duster, as she works hard at her job, taking care of the crops on the farm! She and her farm animal friends are worried about the farmer being able to keep his farm. What will they do to save it? Read this sweet story as they find a unique way to save the crops from danger and keep their home! (Ages 3-8)

The Most Important Animal of All
Penny Worms, author
Hannah Bailey, illustrator
North Star Editions
9781631637018, $19.99

Christine Irvin

When kids arrive for class, their teacher tells them they will be learning about different types of animals during the school year. At the end of the year, each of them has to decide which animal is the most important. The author combines the fictional idea of a classroom setting with the nonfiction information presented about each animal, making this an enjoyable and informative read for everyone. The bright illustrations greatly enhance the text. (Ages 4-8)

Rocco at the White House Easter Egg Roll!
Rocco Smirne, author
John Hutton, illustrator
White House Historical Association
9781950273393, $9.95

Deb Greenberg

Join Rocco as he takes us on a tour of one of the many special ways that the president and first lady welcome kids to the White House. On Easter Monday, thousands of families roll eggs, take drawing lessons, and decorate cookies, while listening to the Marine Band. Check out the Easter fun and games which can be done in your own backyard. A sugar cookie recipe and art activity pages round out this bright and cheerful story. (Ages 4-8)

Willow and Bunny
Anitra Rowe Schulte, author
Christopher Denise, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542025690, $17.99

Rachelle Stanger

Sweet little Bunny needs a cozy place to stay and to keep safe. Beautiful Willow Tree has the perfect comfort zone. Through the wildness of the forest, Bunny and Willow become close friends as Willow's branches protect and comfort Bunny and the other forest animals by giving of herself with kindness. (Ages 4-8)

Jack the Runaway Terrier
Gill McLean
North Star Editions
9781631636981, $19.99

Christine Irvin

When the opportunity presents itself, Jack just can't help himself. He takes off through the door and out across the fields, following his nose, wherever it goes. Then he comes back when he's good and ready. But one day, Jack's nose takes him to the deck of a ship. Before anyone realizes that Jack is on board, the boat is far offshore. Although Jack is always looking for adventure, this is not the adventure he had in mind. This is a cute story with a loveable main character that kids can relate to. (Ages 5-8)

A Groomer Gets Ready
Brenda Fiorini
Independently published
9798369259306, $9.10

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Three different pooches have very different dilemmas and need the help of a professional groomer. Find out why! Brightly colored and fun illustrations! A great way to help kids understand what happens to their dog at the groomers as well as the importance of the importance of animal grooming, care, and kindness. The worksheets at the end are wonderful. (Ages 5-8)

Desert Friends: Travels With the Pack
Linda Harkey, author
Mike Minick, illustrator
Story Monsters Press
9781665712743, $13.95


I just love the illustrations in Desert Friends: Travels With the Pack. The 3D look accents the characters on each page. Who are the desert friends? A roadrunner and a quail learn all about each other as they travel through the Sonoran Desert. I highly recommend Linda Harkey's adventure book for your home and classroom library. She has enclosed lesson plans and vocabulary building in the back of the book to help build lessons about the desert. (Ages 5-9)

Beulah Has a Hunch!
Katie Mazeika
Beach Lane Books
9781665903639, $18.99

Mark Graham

Inventions galore in this story. Katie Mazeika has written a picture book on a real woman by the name of Beulah Louise Henry. Even as a child Beulah liked to see how things worked. She is a person who has some special abilities that contribute to being and becoming an inventor of some very famous inventions. Beulah has to overcome discrimination to be able to get noticed for her work. This would make for a good history and/or social studies lesson. (Ages 5-9)

We, the Curious Ones
Marion Dane Bauer, author
Hari & Deepti, illustrators
9781536218596, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

For centuries, humans have been telling stories about the earth, the sun, and the universe. Written in lyrical poetry, author Bauer asks thought-provoking questions about the world, sparking wonder and curiosity. Mesmerizing illustrations and a comprehensive afterword tracking contributions to the study of the universe complete this dazzling picture book. (Ages 6-9)

Stone Age Beasts
Ben Lerwill, author
Grahame Baker-Smith, illustrator
9781536231342, $19.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Have you ever heard of a Gigantopithecus? This is an ape that lived during the Stone Age that would have towered over a human. It became extinct 100,000 years ago. The Saber-toothed cat had gigantic front teeth, growing up to 11 inches long. They were around until 10,000 years ago. This is a fascinating book that educates adults and children alike about the prehistoric animals that roamed our earth and when and how they were discovered. I highly recommend reading this book. (Ages 6-9)

Boyogi: How a Wounded Family Learned to Heal
David Barclay Moore, author
Noa Denmon, illustrator
9781536213706, $17.99

Rachelle Stanger

Sweet little "Butta Bean" is so excited when his daddy returns home from a war. But he soon realizes that life as a military dad can be extremely hard. Butta Bean wants to do everything he can to help his dad with his struggles and help him to be happy again. This sweet and realistic life story will touch your heart, especially if you relate to military life. (Ages 6-9)

Samara Rubin and the Utility Belt
Sharon Giltrow, author
Thu Vu, illustrator
Clear Fork Press
9781950169887, $10.99

Deb Greenberg

In the first book in an entertaining new series for younger middle schoolers, Samara has always wanted to stand up to Toby King, the meanest boy at school. On her eleventh birthday, she's given a mysterious utility belt. Along with the belt's magical tools is a catch: all tools must be used within seven days. Buckle up and see what Samara will do with her magical belt. Includes an illustrated guide of the utility belt and a preview of book 2, written from the point of view of Samara's bully, Toby. (Ages 6-11)

Finally... Horses
Janet Wolanin Alexander, author
Lesley A.J. Baumann, illustrator
Swishtails & Tales
9798988090113, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

It started when she was a little girl with a childhood dream of owning a real horse to ride... not her bike-horse or the stick horse she made... or the painted one on the merry-go-round or the rocking one. Follow the author's dream of owning a horse from childhood to adulthood, and all the steps in between that lead her to achieve her goal. Dreams are worth following as she sends a powerful message to chase your dreams and achieve your goals. A sweet story with inviting illustrations, complete with gait definitions and breed information in the back. (Ages 7-12)

The GIFTS Friends Give Us
Deborah Burke Henderson, author
Anna Famulska, illustrator
Independently published
9798853168268, $24.99

Christine Irvin

This is a story about how a little bunny overcomes his stuttering problem. In the process, he makes new friends. The book is filled with interesting information about many topics, and the author includes lots of additional informative pages at the end of the book. There is also a Discussion Guide about the book with at least one question presented for each of the book's 15 chapters, as well as a page of creative activities that relate to the story. Overall, it's a good story worth reading. (Ages 7-12)

Find Me in Time: Meeting Columbus
L.T. Caton, author
Nabeel Hayder, illustrator
Find Me in Time
9798987396100, $10.24

Deb Greenberg

In the first book in this captivating adventure series, a magical tree house transports five friends back to Guanahani in 1492 where they witness the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World and his impact on the Taino people. Ashley, Emma, Keith, Aaron, and Harry are the Treehouse Club in this historical fiction book, filled with suspense and excitement when they realize Columbus came not only to discover the New World but also to conquer it and claim it for the Queen of Spain. Meeting Columbus is the perfect combination of entertaining and educational. (Ages 8-10)

Let's Fill This World with Kindness
Alexandra Stewart, author
Jake Alexander, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500653104, $19.95

Christine Irvin

Sometimes it feels like the world is a rather bleak place, but author Alexandra Stewart says otherwise. Her book is filled with more than two dozen stories of people who have shown kindness in the face of adversity. She highlights well-known historic figures like Harriet Tubman and Jesse Owens, as well as everyday heroes like Afroz Shad, who made it his mission to clean up a polluted beach in India. The author also includes a glossary of terms used throughout the text, as well as a page of references for her sources. This is a great book for every library, but particularly for a middle school social studies collection. (Ages 8-12)

Pizza, Pickles, and Apple Pie
David Rickert
Kane Press
9781662670138, $19.99

Christine Irvin

Did you ever wonder where pizza came from? Or ice cream? Or waffles? These questions (and many more) are answered in this interesting, creative, and fun book about the origins of some of our most popular foods. Author/illustrator David Rickert presents the information in comic book form, with fun illustrations and loads of trivia about each highlighted food. Rickert includes some extra pages at the end of the book that make this book not only informative but also interactive. Bon appetit! (Ages 8-12)

Two-Headed Chicken: Beak to the Future
Tom Angleberger
Walker Books
9781536223224, $12.99

Mark Graham

The two-headed chicken is back with twice the adventure, twice the jokes, and a lot more heads (wait, did they just accidentally turn into a double-headed space snake?). Having lost the Astrocap(TM) somewhere in the multiverse, our intrepid hero dons the Timecap(TM) to scour the timestream, which looks a lot like broccoli, in search of it. But danger and drama await with every time-hopping POOZB! Totally recommend for a fun fast read. (Ages 8-12)

Mattie and the Machine
Lynn Ng Quezon
Santa Monica Press
9781595801180, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

Meet Margaret (Mattie) E. Knight, a 19th century female inventor who strives to obtain recognition in this historical fiction book. In 1868, Mattie is only 15, but she works as a mechanic in Columbia Paper's all-female bag division. After learning that the men's pay is thirty percent more than the women's and her boss says that's because men are better with machines, she sets out to prove him wrong by proposing that if she can build a machine that fully automates their paper-bag-making process, then the women will get equal pay. This fascinating account of Mattie's story also includes an appendix with her actual patent application and drawings for her Bag Machine. (Ages 12+)

Some Days Are Yellow
Suzanne Slade, author
Michelle Lee, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112940, $18.99

Kimberly Waters

Everyone has yellow days, days when everything is bright and sunny and the world feels right. But, not every day is yellow and sunny. Author Suzanne Slade puts life in perspective showing young readers that everyone has good days and bad days, but that "No matter your day, tomorrow's brand new!" Young readers will enjoy the lyrical text and the colorful illustrations. (Ages 2+)

Rainbow's Promise
Mary Clark Dalton, author
Michael J. Fuller, illustrator
Independently Published
9798772444023, $13.50

Dr. Dawn Menge

One of the greatest skills to learn in life is to be patient. Being the last caterpillar in his class to receive his wings causes poor Rainbow's classmates to tease him. He dreams of being beautiful colors and flying with his friends. But his mom tells him to be patient and look for things that only a caterpillar can do. This is a colorful book that will teach many life lessons and also give your child a chance to try their hand at coloring the pages in the back of the book. (Ages 2-10)

Simon Says Good Night
Orit Bergman, author
Annette Appel, translator
Amazon Crossing Kids
9781662514289, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

We all remember playing "Simon Says" as a child. This is a fun book about a young boy who is playing the game as he is going to bed. A parent might want to use the book to help their child learn to nestle into bed at night. Use your imagination and have a wonderful time taking turns being the "Simon Says" controller. This game also teaches listening skills. (Ages 3-7)

A Curious Boy Named Jeff
Kay B., author
Adriana Cifuentes Acosta, illustrator
Independently Published
9781980973409, $7.99

Deb Greenberg

The first book in the Little Kids' Big Lessons series is about a man who started and runs his own company... a rather large company. Jeffrey P. Bezos is the man and Amazon is the company. When Jeff was little, he wanted to know how everything worked, so he would ask a lot of questions. He paid attention and listened to his teachers. He loved to read, gaining knowledge and using his imagination. He also liked to create things and to observe other people, and he eventually became curious about computers and the internet. Super interesting book to teach little kids what they can accomplish if they want to learn. (Ages 3-7)

We Are One
Jackie Azua Kramer, author
Raissa Figueroa and Nina Mata, illustrators
Two Lions
9781542016940, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Two girls meet at a lantern festival. One of the girls lives in the city with her mom. The other girl lives on the beach with her brother and her two dads. The two girls are very different, but the text illustrates and celebrates the idea that no matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, we are all in this together. Short sentences pair with big ideas and colorful, detailed illustrations that convey a sense of community for everyone. (Ages 3-7)

Miss MacDonald Has a Farm
Kalee Gwarjanski, author
Elizabet Vukovic, illustrator
9780593568163, $18.99

Lindsay Moretti

A delightful female rendition of Old MacDonald where Miss MacDonald tends a garden of colorful vegetables that climb, twirl, zoom and E-I-E-I-GROW. This upbeat, rhyming story celebrates the value of hard work as Miss MacDonald water-waters here and prune-prunes there to grow delicious and healthy vegetables everywhere. Readers will enjoy singing along to the tune while learning the process of growing things they can eat. (Ages 3-7)

Reach for the Stars Like Kalpana
Kay B., author
Adriana Cifuentes Acosta, illustrator
Independently Published
9781513640297, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

The second book in the Little Kids' Big Lessons series is about a young girl's dream of becoming an engineer so she could fly space shuttles. With a lot of hard work, Kalpana Chawla didn't let anything get in her way of being the first Indian-born woman to travel to space. This wonderful series teaches kids to reach for the stars and follow their dreams, while introducing them to careers they can have and what they can achieve if they put their mind to it. (Ages 3-8)

VJ & AJ's Adventures: Our Family Vacation
Kay B., author
Adriana Cifuentes and Juan Sierra, illustrators
Independently Published
9798430754075, $11.99

Deb Greenberg

Tag along with VJ and AJ as they take an exciting family vacation to the city to see tall buildings and big statues; to the beach to collect seashells and swim; to the lake for a picnic; to the mountains for some hiking; and to the science museum, the big city zoo, and some national parks. The rhyming text and vibrant illustrations are bound to pique any child's interest. Includes ten activities at the back of the book: color by numbers, drawing a sunset, a crossword puzzle, and others. (Ages 3-8)

I Am Happy!
Michael Rosen, author
Robert Starling, illustrator
9781536231281, $14.99

Kimberly Waters

This colorful book for young readers brings on energy and happy dances as the puppy and his friends go through lots of fun actions, bringing a smile to the reader's face. The rhyming words are clever and the characters are cute and, of course, HAPPY! (Ages 4-6)

The Wilderness
Steve McCarthy
9781536231373, $17.99

Kimberly Waters

The Vasylenko family are all adventurers who love wild places and wild things. All, that is, except young Oktober. He also dreams of adventure, but it's the kind that takes place between the pages of a book, indoors, where it's safe and warm. This is a fun book about overcoming your fears through the eyes of a young boy. The illustrations are very creative. (Ages 4-8)

The Trouble with Bubble Gum
Shari Schwert, author
Mari Sebastian, illustrator
Mascot Kids
9781637556948, $19.95

Deb Greenberg

Can a gooey and sticky wad of gum really cause any trouble? You're only chewing and enjoying the sweet flavor, right? But what if you learn to blow bubbles? And what if one of the bubbles bursts? See the mess that a bubble-blowing boy gets himself into and his mom's solution to the problem. An adorably written and illustrated story with a message that many can relate to: the trouble with bubble gum is that it goes straight to your head. (Ages 4-8)

I Am Gravity
Henry Herz, author
Merce Lopez, illustrator
Tilbury House
9781668936849, $18.95

Larissa Juliano

What a fascinating, beautiful, and ethereal book about something that surrounds us every day, yet we probably do not give it much thought! Each page describes something that gravity provides for our world and universe. The back matter talks about the science behind gravity. This exquisite story is a perfect pairing for children of any age interested in the universe, science, and how our world has been so intricately designed and created. (Ages 4-8)

This is Not My Lunchbox
Jennifer Dupuis, author
Carol Schwartz, illustrator
Tilbury House
9781668936856, $18.95

Lindsay Moretti

A salute to biodiversity within a forest ecosystem. Repetitive text, stunning illustrations, and page-turning hooks will engage the reader throughout, all while highlighting the diet of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. A great addition to any classroom or home library! (Ages 4-8)

Mama's Love Language
Elisa Stad, author
Ry Menson, illustrator
Ginger Lotus Press
9798988378501, $12.99

Larissa Juliano

A young girl, an American father, and her Chinese mother - a child surrounded by love and two different cultures and styles of parenting. While this is a profound topic for many families, author Elisa Stad thoughtfully shares the journey of a young girl figuring out who she is and how she can relate to her mother. A colorful, poignant, and sweet story about the blending of families and cultures and how our family history and traditions can have such an impact on our loved ones. (Ages 4-8)

Ellen the Elephant
Kay B., author
Adriana Cifuentes A., illustrator
Independently Published
9798679646230, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

The third book in the Little Kids' Big Lessons series is based on comedian Ellen DeGeneres and her kindness toward others. In the story, many animals don't want to interact with Ellen the elephant because she looks different. But she doesn't let that stop her from following her dreams and being kind to make a difference for others. Sharp and vibrant artwork accompanies the meaningful message of kindness and generosity. A word search and coloring pages in the back are an added bonus for kids. (Ages 5-7)

The Curious Creatures
Carl E. Pickhardt
Independently Published
9781413474893, $20.99

Mark Graham

C.E. Pickhardt has written a children's book that shows and describes the similarities and differences of others and that being curious can be good. C.E. Pickhardt shares many lessons for the readers in each of these creatures' stories. There are stories on coping strategies, acceptance of others, and learning about self. I would recommend this book for diversity curriculums in the classroom. (Ages 5-8)

Just Flowers
Erin Dealey, author
Kate Cosgrove, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112827, $18.99

Lindsay Moretti

Filled with botanical wordplay, this story follows Izzy, who delivers bountiful blooms (and joy) to members of her community when her disgruntled neighbor wants nothing but his beloved roses. Just Flowers celebrates the power of flowers to spread joy and kindness, and touches on the beauty of diversity within community, and adds a good dose of botanical wisdom. Colorful illustrations complement the text beautifully and are bound to inspire thoughtfulness (and perhaps a green thumb) in readers of all ages. (Ages 5-8)

My Shyness Won't Stop Me: Amara Makes Friends
Kay B., author
Adriana Cifuentes and Juan Sierra, illustrators
Independently Published
9798853072602, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

When Amara and her family move to a new town, she struggles to make new friends. She tries to say hello, but is too shy to do more than that. Then her dad tells her to try again by introducing herself and asking a few questions to learn about the other person. Watch as Amara goes from making her first friend to performing in the school talent show. Activities for kids in the back of the book complete this little package with a big lesson about confidence, perseverance, and friendship. (Ages 5-8)

Alycat and the Sunday Scaries
Alysson Foti Bourque, author
Chiara Civati, illustrator
Pelican Publishing
9781455627790, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

The newest book in the Alycat series is filled with important messages as Alycat and her friends embark on a Sunday of adventure. Assisting Kit so she won't fall while riding her new bike, helping Spotty make it safely down from the treehouse, and banding together to sell Eleonor's lemonade... the kitten crew relies on friendship, imagination, and creativity to tackle each problem. But what about Alycat and her Sunday Scaries? See if they can turn it into a Sunday Funday. A wonderful story with uplifting and useful themes for all kids. (Ages 6-8)

Frankie and Friends: Breaking News
Christine Platt, author
Alea Marley, illustrator
Walker Books
9781536237948, $5.99

Mark Graham

In a charming new chapter book series by a social-change advocate, young Frankie emulates her journalist mama by reporting on household news with the help of her sister and an unlikely news crew. I recommend this book for teachers at the primary school level for use during a social studies/living lesson and career days when parents come to school and describe what their jobs entail. It is also a great book to show diversity in the world as well as in journalism. (Ages 6-8)

T is for Trails: A Hiking Alphabet
Judy Young, author
Sharisse Steber, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112773, $18.99

Larissa Juliano

How I love alphabet books! Any opportunity to enhance vocabulary and connections with letters in a poetic and informational way, I am in! This narrative nonfiction book does not disappoint and packs SO much information from letters A-Z all the while taking a reader on an adventure through 20 plus different hiking trails all across the American and Canadian landscape. Make sure you bring THIS book along with your hiking gear! (Ages 6-9)

Silly Pickles
Krista Johnston Rietz, author
Daniel Majan, illustrator
WestBow Press
9781664279520, $12.95

Kimberly Waters

Silly Pickles illustrates how to be kind, caring, and understanding of those who have special needs. Nell and Ruth exemplify acts of kindness toward a fellow peer by including him in their activities, showing others that no matter how long we have on earth or what circumstances we live in, love and kindness go a long way. The artwork is beautiful and captures the emotions of two young girls befriending a young boy with special needs. (Ages 7-10)

The Brainiac's Book of Robots and AI
Paul Virr, author
Harriet Russell, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652862, $17.95

Christine Irvin

Author Paul Virr covers a variety of topics in this comprehensive book about robots and artificial intelligence. Included are some hands-on activities, like how to build a robot hand or make a mechanical hopping frog. The kid-friendly layout and illustrations will draw young readers to the pages. The plethora of facts and trivia will keep them interested. This book would make a great addition to any science classroom with STEM-related materials. (Ages 7-10)

India Finds a Home
Kathleen Gibbs
4RV Publishing
9781950074334, $13.99

Deb Greenberg

Dog didn't have a name, but she had food, water, a roof over her head, and a boy to play with her... until the day the man took her for a ride, told her to get out, and abandoned her. She waited but no one came back. Why didn't her people want her anymore? What would she do? Read this captivating and intriguing story for tweens to see what happens to Dog. Will this furry friend find a new family? (Ages 8-12)

From Shore to Ocean Floor
Gill Arbuthnott, author
Christopher Nielsen, illustrator
Big Picture Press
9781536229745, $24.99

Christine Irvin

Author Gill Arbuthnott takes readers from the ocean shore to the ocean floor with a colorful, informative book packed with facts and trivia galore. The book is divided into 10 chapters, each covering a different topic. The variety of page layouts, the assortment of text types and sizes, the colorful illustrations, and the myriad of interesting information make this a book for all ages, especially for those interested in anything to do with the ocean. It would also be an excellent addition to any science library. (Ages 8-12)

The Last Real Cowboy
Kathleen Gibbs
4RV Fiction
9781940310602, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

It's 1871 and Jonathan Calhoun works for his father's magazine company in New York and frequents social events with Rebecca Ann. Before they get married, he yearns for an adventure, so he takes a job with the Cripple Creek Cattle Ranch in Armadillo Flats, Texas. Ride along with Calhoun through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, then to Montana as he changes from a rich Easterner to a real... and free... cowboy. (Ages 12+)

Jennifer Gennari
Simon & Schuster
9781534463660, $7.99

Leena Mozden, grade 3

Muffled is a great, first-person novel with lovely descriptions. It unveils feelings and problems the main character faces throughout the whole story. The character uses strategies to help them overcome these obstacles in their journey. Muffled is a good book for kids ages 8-12 years old. It is a charming story about overcoming and persevering through hard challenges, and learning to make friends even if they're incredibly different from you! (Ages 8-12)

Hello, Universe
Erin Entrada Kelly
Greenwillow Books
9780062414168, $9.99

Alayna Han, grade 5

Hello Universe, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, is a book that showcases the emotions and thoughts of four very different middle schoolers as they face all sorts of challenges, big and small! The students possess different abilities, hidden talents, and opinions. This book takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion that pulls readers into a breathtaking adventure. It definitely keeps readers wondering what will happen next. This book would be great for fourth graders and up, as it helps deepen the understanding of perspective and shows us that there is more than meets the eye. It also helps readers to understand that there are multiple points of view and, therefore, a problem can have many solutions. Overall, this was a great book, and I will look forward to reading it again! (Ages 9-11)

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

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