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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 11 November 2013 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Holiday Shelf Art Shelf
Biography Shelf American History Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Board Book Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Picturebook Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Fiction Shelf Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf
Botany Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Multimedia Shelf Activity Shelf
Math Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Science Shelf
Books in Series    

Reviewer's Choice

A Beginner's Guide to On-Line Security
Wendi Finn
4900 LaCross Rd.
North Charleston, SC 29406
9781491032268, $15.99,

A Beginner's Guide to On-Line Security: A Workbook for All Ages shouldn't be limited to youngsters alone, but will appeal to age groups from elementary level through adult as it simply explains basic security concepts for new users of online technology. From accessing the Internet and understanding its risks to using technology in the classroom, chapters receive fun illustrations throughout by Kari Shakley as they explore such topics as safe email use, protecting one's identity online, and more. The appearance of the slim 25-page workbook with its sheets for fill-in answers may seem to indicate its appropriateness for the very young but new users should not be fooled: there's a wealth of information and basics here, paired with dialogues that are well beyond the picturebook level reaching from grades 6 to adult.

The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and Maya
Rich Okun, author/illustrator
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452571690, $23.99,

"The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and Maya" is a collection of "little sayings about enormous things," each illustrated by an inspirational image involving a little beloved Shih Tzu puppy and scenes of nature. All the material is crafted so as to encourage individual spirituality and growth. Each page begins with a special inspirational quotation, illustrated by a background painting of Maya, and further illuminated by an interpretive poem, highlighting magic in the everyday as a part of Maya's gift and experience. Here are a few of my favorites: "Around the Bend/ When things just don't work out as good as you really thought they would...It's not rotten, it's not over, it's not finished, or the end. All it means is something better is waiting for you around the bend (Doe Zantamata, p. 5)." Another favorite: "To Want To Have To Do/ We spend most of our lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, and to do. - Evelyn Underhill / To want/ to have/ to do/ seems what/ this world/ expects of you/ But to care/ to love/ and live in peace/ is what the world/ needs us to increase/ and never ever cease (p. 15)." The last example is illustrated by a portrait of three inquiring ostrich heads, dreamily regarded by the gaze of Maya. From Important Moments, to Stormy Seas, from Living in the Past to Begin Our Real Journey, here are nuggets of true wisdom expanded and illuminated, encouraging inner growth, harmony, forgiveness, and blossoming. "The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and Maya" is really a book of sayings for all ages, using the lens of love for a special little puppy to shed rainbows of light and enlightenment on the universal mind.

The Holiday Shelf

America's Real First Thanksgiving
Robyn Gioia, author
Cox Deaton and multiple sources for illustrations
Pineapple Press
P.O. Box 3889, Sarasota, FL 34230
9781561643899, $14.95,

"America's Real First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Florida, September 8, 1565" is a researched, illustrated account of a Thanksgiving celebration involving Native Americans and Western, Spanish explorers that predates the traditional Plymouth first Thanksgiving celebration with the Pilgrims and the Indians by over 50 years. This first Thanksgiving involved the Timuca people, also known as the People of the Shell Mounds, and Pedro Menendez, Spanish Admiral and explorer, and associates. The welcoming celebration feast probably included cocido, a rich stew made with pork, garbanzo beans, and onions, accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. The Timucua may have brought meats such as wild turkey, venison, or sea foods and vegetables such as corn, beans, squash, fruit, and greens. A suggested reconstruction of this first Thanksgiving feast in north America contains imaginative descriptions of the historic event, with vivid sounds, smells and sights to appeal to the senses. "America's Real First Thanksgiving" also includes updated photographs of related sites and images of St. Augustine today, in addition to an excellent recipe for Cocido, made with garbanzo beans, spices, vegetables, and chorizo. The final pages include a handy chronological timeline from 1492-1621, glossary, and author's note. Because St. Augustine is the first permanent city in the United States of America to be founded and also the site of the first thanksgiving feast, it is important to remember these early pre-Colonial moments in history. Award winning author Robyn Gioia brings this historic event to life for students age 10 and up.

Tallulah's Nutcracker
Marilyn Singer
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547845579, $16.99,

TALLULAH'S NUTCRACKER receives fine drawings by Alexandra Boiger as it tells of a holiday dance where Tallulah gets a part in a professional production of The Nutcracker - even though she's only cast as a mouse. All seems to be going well, until on the night of the production disaster strikes. Can she become more than she's been trained for? A fun holiday tale emerges, perfect for picturebook readers.

The Christmas Wish
Lori Evert
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780449816813, $17.99,

Per Breiehagen's fine color photos accept the lovely picturebook read THE CHRISTMAS WISH, a classic Nordic story retold for young readers and starring the husband and wife author/artist team's daughter Anja. Here Anja wants to be one of Santa's elves - which seems possible, since she lives near the North Pole. One year she sets out to make her dream come true, journeying into the snowy world to meet Anta and see if he'll grant her wish to become part of his workshop. The lovely story and color photos require either good reading skills or parental read-aloud involvement, but parents will find this an original holiday story the entire family will enjoy.

The Art Shelf

An Eye For Art
National Gallery of Art
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613748978, $19.95,

Specifically written for children ages 7 through 12, "An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work" showcases the artwork and provides succinct biographical sketches for fifty famous artists ranging from those of the 13th Century and down to the present day. Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work" is enhanced for young readers with forty fun, educational, 'kid friendly', and skill-building activities. Ideal for home schooling and traditional art class curriculums, "An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work" is highly recommended for both school and community library collections. Indeed, although meant primarily for young readers, "An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work" would be found enjoyable and informative for non-specialist general readers of any age with an interest in the field of Art History. It should be noted that "An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Biography Shelf

The Royal Recount
Tobi Osinubi, author
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781481794534, $13.66,

"The Royal Recount" is an excellent intimate look at the daily life of a real live princess who is 13 years old, from a small town in Nigeria, and attending a Princess School in Leicestershire, U. K. Written by a 9 year old real live princess, "The Royal Recount" is full of daily trials and tribulations that almost could be happening to any girl anywhere, genuine princess material or not. Ava Rivers, the heroine of "The Royal Recount," faces many common preadolescent issues in her daily life. There is Willow, a schoolmate who is her nemesis, who knows why, and there is having to sit up straight and learn to eat state dinners neatly, and for fun there is Stormalong drama experiences and eating and shopping with friends. Best of all, Ava gets to go on a trip to Nigeria with her classmates, experiencing parts of that mysterious, exciting country. "The Royal Recount" is written in a casual, intimate, chatty mode that is perfectly inviting to young teens and preteen girls. Finally, there is an intriguing mystery: Is it possible that Ava's schoolmate Echo is her long lost sister? Only a blood test can tell for sure. Ava can tell there is more to the story her parents have told her about her sister, whom they say wandered away one day and never returned. Young girls of all ethnicities and backgrounds will find something to identify with in "The Royal Recount," a valiant first effort destined to be continued in a followup publication soon.

The American History Shelf

My Massachusetts
Elisabeth Villa, author
Nicole Fazio, illustrator
Little Beach Books
P.O. Box 6148, Falmouth, ME 04105
978098913402, $16.95,

"My Massachusetts" is an exciting, brightly illustrated versed paean for children to the historic and beautiful state of Massachusetts. Illustrations point out historic and modern sites and buildings in Boston, the Swan Boat rides, a walk on the Freedom Trail, and a statue of Paul Revere. Further beach excursions to Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard promise lazy days and fun rides, while cheering for the patriots, Celtics, Sox and Bruins appeals to sports fans. Gloucester's fishing fleet yields prime seafood and the South Shore provides cranberries for all. The Berkshires in fall, Salem for Halloween, and Plymouth for Thanksgiving all are Massachusetts' famous places that promise fun, adventure, and excitement.

The Self-Help Shelf

In My Corner on the Moon
Rachel Rashkin-Shoot, Psy.D., author
Dale Hormuth, Jr., illustrator
PDAN Press
P.O. Box 79468, Atlanta, GA 30357
9780989207416, $12.95,

In "In My Corner on the Moon: A Story for Kids Who Experienced Trauma" is a gentle, therapeutic book designed to help children ages 10-13 who have a history of experiencing trauma. It is likely that children of this age range are vulnerable to PTSD, researchers have found. As well as reaching out to the target audience of traumatized pre-teens, "In My Corner on the Moon" can help children experiencing high conflict divorce or separation, children who have parents with personality disorders, children who show symptoms of ADHD, and children who are in foster care or have experienced changes in adoption. The goal of this therapeutic book is also to prepare and educate parents, caretakers, and teachers about personality disorders, helping provide children with tools to encourage emotional health and well-being. "In My Corner on the Moon" is written from the child's viewpoint by a child who has experienced emotional or psychological trauma. The gentle narrative's tone is nonjudgmental and supportive. Reading it can help a child to interpret and understand why some of their reactions or feelings are affected by the traumatic experience. It can also help them find coping strategies and ways of caring for themselves until they heal. Each section ends with an instructive question to the child relating to the area discussed. The last section called Parents Corner gives further information valuable to parents/caretakers of traumatized children and concludes with a listing of other resources, including publications, groups, web-sites, and more. "In My Corner on the Moon" is sensitively illustrated by a talented artist in soft colors that provide a cushioning, comforting effect. This book is highly recommended as an excellent therapeutic publication for its target audience, traumatized children ages 10 to 13.

Whimsy's Heavy Things
Julie Kraulis, author/illustrator
Tundra Books
1 Toronto Street, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M5C 2V6
9781770494039, $17.95,

"Whimsy's Heavy Things" is an unusual children's story that teaches children new ways to think about letting go of anxiety and stress. The expressive images in the pastel and dark colored illustrations really embody and personify the narrative individually. Whimsy is a sad fragile looking blonde girl who has been weighed down by her heavy things. She decides she must do something, but hiding doesn't work, nor does floating them to sea in an upside down umbrella. Ignoring the heavy things, represented as ugly black balls, is unsuccessful, and pretending does not make them go away. Finally Whimsy decides to break all the heavy things down to smaller bits and transform them individually. With some of the smaller pieces of heavy things, she is able to make marbles for her best friend. She plants another small heavy thing and it grows into a beautiful peach tree. Pieces of a third heavy thing help Whimsy build steps to see over the tallest wall. An incredible vision of butterflies sailing awaits her at the end of her climb. Breaking down another heavy thing allows Whimsy to swim faster than ever before, feeling so much lighter. Whimsy decides to keep the last heavy thing to remind herself not to get weighed down, because "heavy things are just light things in disguise." "Whimsy's Heavy Things" is a beautiful self-help book for children ages 4-6.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Wacky World of Wendy White!
Barbara Ann Bonilla, author/illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478715436, $12.99,

"The Wacky World of Wendy White!" is an entertaining foodie fantasy for kids ages 8-12. An intriguing, versed narrative incorporates food chain restaurant references to construct a love story that is centered on favorite fast food references. Kids can enjoy picking out the restaurant references in each chapter and playing other food related games as the story unfolds. The moral of the story is "Life is so delicious that each one of us is blessed!" Wendy's tale is a winding trail through many experiences, always with a happy ending and a yummy snack just around the corner, expressed in pages of witty verse laced with colorful embroiderings of the tale's fast, funny twists and turns, incorporated with delightful food experiences and references. "The Wacky World of Wendy White" ("A Whopper of a Tale") is almost, but not quite, too good to be true.

The Poetry Shelf

Alexis York Lumbard, author
Flavia Weedn, illustrator
Wisdom Tales
1501 E. Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786151, $14.95,

"Angels" is a delectable non-denominational illustrated story of different angels who shelter, help, protect and care for children everywhere in the world. Filled with embroidered, painted detailed, devotion -laden images of kind seasonal angels, healing angels, and protecting, faith- nurturing angels, the poem story gently seeps into a child's awareness as dreams begin to become real. "Angels" represents angels in winged human forms of different racial origins and skin colors for ethnic inclusiveness. The effect of "Angels" is to soothe, charm, prolong, and protect with thoughts of gentle blessing presences through out the days and years, unseen but always caring. "Angels" is a lovely book for children of all backgrounds ages 2-4 and up.

The Board Book Shelf

I Like Berries, Do You?
Marjorie W. Pitzer, author/photographer
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Rd., Bethesda, MD 20817
9781606131831, $11.95,

"I Like Berries, Do You?" is an educational toddler board book filled with beautiful color photographs of children with Down syndrome eating different healthy foods. A visual parade of children enjoying such treats as berries, yogurt, carrots, broccoli, corn, watermelon, bananas, meat, chicken, and corn chips are featured. Each child appears happy and healthy. As a bonus, all featured foods are gluten free, for special dietary needs. The repeated question, "I like blank, do you?" encourages all children to experiment and try new tastes, developing their sensory, oral and motor skills. "I Like Berries, Do You?" is an educational board book that benefits normal and special needs young children both.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Adventures of Bongwe in the Kingdom of Njase, Book 1
Esnat Phiri, author
Lillian Avon, editor
Gavin Coates, illustrator
The Minster Press
The Old Brewery, 14/15 Mill Lane
Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1LN, England
No ISBN, 9.00 British Pounds,

"The Adventures of Bongwe in the Kingdom of Njase, Book 1," (subtitled Bongwe and the Kingdom/ Bongwe and the Harvest) is the first of a series of 5 Bongwe books. Written from Zambian traditional teaching stories, this fresh African series was created to give children insight while simultaneously raising charity support by sending half the proceeds to CONTESA, a charity working to help children affected by Aids or HIV in Zambia. An unlikely baboon anti-hero of the teaching tales, Bongwe is a mischievous, devious, destructive personality who is not helpful to the other African animals as they desperately seek a solution to their experience of drought. Allowing others to find a solution and work hard to achieve it, Bongwe mocks the outcome but decides to take advantage when it results in the discovery of precious underground water. Each animal is named and plays a valuable part in this story, and the animals also sing work songs together while they dig to find the underground water. In the end, Bongwe outwits his peers again, escaping punishment, censure, and thirst by trickery and showmanship. Amusing illustrations portray animal faces with more human expressions, and keep story interest high. Further Adventures of Bongwe in this highly creative series include Book Two - "Bongwe the Runner/ Bongwe and his Conscience," Book Three - "Bongwe, the Lion and the Hyena; The Return of Bongwe," Book Four - "Bongwe and the Mystic/ Bongwe and the Cave," and Book Five - "Bongwe and the Msandire River I/ Bongwe and Msandire River II."

The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies
Heather Forest, author
Susan Gaber, illustrator
August House, Inc.
3500 Piedmont Road, NE, Suite 310
Atlanta, GA 30305
9781939160713, $8.95,

"The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies" is a magical retelling of a traditional Scottish tale embellished with fabulous poetic illustrations that appeal to the imaginations of children ages 4-8 and up. A highly skilled bakerwoman becomes known to the fairies for her baking skill. The only problem is, she bakes such excellent cakes they want to keep her in the fairy mound forever to keep baking for them! Fortunately the bakerwoman is resourceful and clever, and she manages to find a way to please the King of the Fairies and all his subjects and still regain her freedom. The incredible narrative is perfectly realized and expressed by the flowing, effortless color-drenched illustrations that gently shine out of dark backgrounds reminiscent of the fairy mound. This award-winning team has collaborated on three previous publications that are equally entrancing : "Stone Soup (9780874836028)"; "Contest Between the Sun and the Wind (9780874838329)"; and "The Baker's Dozen (9781939160706)".

The Picturebook Shelf

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!
Beryl Young, author
Jason Doll, illustrator
Peanut Butter Press
9-1060 Dakota Street
Winnipeg, MB, R2N 1P2, Canada
9781927735008, $19.95,

"Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!" is a hilarious illustrated story about a sailor's pet parrot named Guapo who is left to live with a family after learning to speak some choice phrases taught by disreputable sailors (not exactly pirates). Sure enough, Guapo's language is shocking to his new family, although his burps and whistles are sometimes extremely funny. Guapo's deceptive parrot voice can even imitate a phone ringing, a trick that can cause lots of trouble. The family try putting him outside on the porch, but he causes even more trouble by imitating car alarms and fire sirens. However, Guapo's family begin to appreciate his unique talents when they are set to endure the annual visit of Auntie Patti, whom no one really enjoys. Guapo shocks her with his "Hi there, sweet stuff!" remark, which pleases the children enough to feed him marzipan. Guapo finally tops it by calling Auntie Patti "Auntie Pantie," which also delights the children (Zack and Zoe) enormously, having noticed Auntie Pattie's dripping panties hanging on the bathroom shower rod. Further upsetting and gross interactions occur between Guapo and Auntie Patti, until she finally decides to leave early, promising never to return until the family gets rid of Guapo. Zack and Zoe agree with Mom and Dad that the family are definitely keeping Guapo. "Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!" is filled with zany, comical illustrations that underline the grossness and hilarity of Guapo's behavior and language. An additional page is filled with facts about African Grey Parrots, which is what Guapo, who was based on an actual parrot, was. "Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!" is a very funny book with a slightly twisted message about acceptance of differences which will be greatly enjoyed by kids of all ages.

Standing In for Lincoln Green
David Mackintosh, author/illustrator
Abrams Young Readers
115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011
9781419707872, $16.95,

"Standing in for Lincoln Green" is an intriguing tale of a boy and his overworked double image, a mirror image twin who can be relied upon to stand in for Lincoln and perform all his needed chores and unpleasing tasks while Lincoln is busy doing important things like listen to his favorite radio programs, play with his friends, and drink fizzy sarsaparillas. Alas, eventually Lincoln's double decides to take his life to the next level, discovering the joy of friendship, shared activities, and more. This ultimately leads Lincoln Green to a realization that it is his turn to do the less favored but required chores and activities, sometimes accompanied by his new friend, Billy. This really pleases his mother. He is also allowed to join the High Altitude Hot Fries and Ketchup club with Billy and his stand-in. Charming color pastel illustrations bring a nostalgic Lincoln Green to life with all his favorite fantasies and activities, as fantasy and reality merge to make a happier Lincoln Green.

A Little Book About Friendship
Samantha Kurtzman-Counter & Abbie Schiller, authors
Charlotte Blacker, illustrator/ character designer
Based on screenplay by Ruby Vanderzee
The Mother Company
11759 San Vicente Boulevard, #2
Los Angeles CA 90049
9780988282728, $12.95,

Part of an award winning line of Ruby's Studio publications, "A Little Book About Friendship " is a magical social skills survival kit for young children beginning to experience the joys and pitfalls of making/losing friends. Charming collage/mixed texture animal toys demonstrate how to interact with new friends, like learning to say "Hi" and introduce yourself. Children learn kindness makes a friendship stronger. Ways to support and forgive friends are also suggested by animal characters like Lionel and Louie. Great suggestions like listen, help, share, care, work out our problems and use our words are explained and demonstrated by Lionel and Louie. An additional note to parents explains more about helping children cope with developing friendship skills. "A Little Book About Friendship" is perfect for young children age 4 and up.

A Day at School
Severine Cordier, author
Cynthia Lacroix, illustrator
Sara Quinn, translator
Owl Kids Books
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781926973951, $16.95,

A followup title to the award winning "Picture My Day" and "Picture My World," (and a companion title to "A Day at the Farm"), "A Day at School" describes in detailed illustrations a variety of objects, activities, and interactions that occur when a child begins attending school. The book traces daily steps of individual members of a whole family of five with one child in kindergarten, one child in first grade, and one child in day care, plus two parents who go to work daily. Designed to be enjoyed by preschool and older, children ages 2-4 years, "A Day at School" presents the school and day care attendance experience in bright, colorful, descriptive pictures and brief, simple language enriched by symbols and communicative drawings. "A Day at School" encourages children's creativity, imagination, and curiosity, while soothing some of the usual fears of the unknown to bridge into a new schedule, experience and routine. In "A Day at School," every word and every illustration seems to do double or triple duty in communicating nonthreatening ideas about new experiences. For example, one illustration shows a child playing with small toy figures in groups, clearly working through a going to school routine. All illustrations show children and respected adults of different ethnic backgrounds, teaching acceptance of diversity. "A Day at School" is a great educational book for all families who experience a daily routine of preparing for and attending outside educational/prevocational events.

Summer Saltz: "I'm So Hollywood!"
Connie Sewell, author
Elyse Whittaker-Pek, illustrator
Tiny Hands Publishing
19 Shelter Cove Lane, Suite 207
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
9780988832404, $16.95,

"Summer Saltz 'I'm So Hollywood!'" is a charming, pink, glitzy book about a girl who loves wearing all things Hollywood, including her new weird sunglasses and her pink cupcake purse. Summer Saltz adores dressing the part of "I'm so Hollywood!" However, when her friend Molly comes to Summer's Hollywood party wearing the same weird glasses, feelings become treacherous. Even dog-caused food disasters at the Hollywood party can be resolved with a little quiet talk time between Summer and her Mom, and Summer eventually reconnects with her friend Molly and a new concept of herself beyond an embodiment of Hollywood. Sparkling illustrations and a light and bouncy narrative style help convey the message of "Summer Saltz 'I'm So Hollywood," teaching good self image development and friendship skills.

The Old Green Chair
Traudi Allen, author
Rob Cowan, illustrator
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452505985, $16.95,

"The Old Green Chair" is a beautifully realized children's story about re-imagining and creativity. The expressive, richly imaginative illustrations are a vibrant interpretation of the simple narrative text. An old green chair experiences many roles in upholding young and old persons who sit upon it over the years. Finally it has a broken leg through rough play of two children, and is discarded. A woman who formerly enjoyed the chair chooses to rescue it from the rubbish and refurbish it with a new identity, so it can once again be a supportive companion to a friend in need of a seat. "The Old Green Chair" is as much about creating, cherishing, and embellishing fond memories as it is about reconstructing happy lives for all. Highly recommended for children age 4 and up.

Brian Floca
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, NY, NY 10020
9781416994152, $17.99,

Locomotive straddles the line between fiction and nonfiction as it provides a fine reader for ages 4-10 and tells of rail history and the crews that fostered trains. Here a family heading West in the summer of 1869 to start a new life chooses to ride the country's first transcontinental railroad, and the details of their journey weave neatly into train history to entertain and educate young picturebook readers. Those with a prior fascination with trains will find LOCOMOTIVE especially involving.

Random House/Knopf/Delacorte
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1
New York, NY 10019

Four new picturebooks offer young readers a fine medley of fun and different tales. Lisa Moser's COWBOY BOYD AND MIGHTY CALLIOPE (9780373870569, $17.99) tells of an unusual horse who is short, slow and lumpy - for in fact, she's not really a horse. But Cowboy Boyd has faith in her abilities to help at the ranch, and both try to prove themselves at ranch work against all odds, until a storm drives all the cattle away. Can the dynamic duo succeed where others have failed? Whimsical drawings by Sebastiaan Van Doninck add a fun element to the story. Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf's SOPHIE'S SQUASH (9780307978967, $16.99) tells of two best friends who do everything together, from story time to visiting friends. This wouldn't be an issue - except for the fact that Bernice is a squash. Sophie believes Bernice will last forever - and refuses to consider her mother's recipe suggestions. Can a girl befriend a squash? A fun theme evolves. Kate Bernheimer and Jake Parker's THE GIRL WHO WOULDN'T BRUSH HER HAIR (9780375868788, $17.99) provides a fantasy story of what could happen if a girl refuses to brush her long hair. When mice begin moving in to a new 'nest' problems quickly evolve in this zany story, which requires good reading skills from picturebook enthusiasts. Louise Yates' DOG LOVES COUNTING (9780449813423, $17.99) tells of the precocious Dog, who loves books so much that he can't fall asleep. So he decides to count - first sheep, then other creatures he's encountered in his books. And soon he finds his endeavor is even more complicated in this fun story of counting quandaries. All are fine picks for young picturebook readers.

Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9

Eric Walters' MY NAME IS BLESSING (9781770493018, $19.99) provides a fine story illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes and telling of a young Kenyan boy with a disability. Muthini and eight cousins live with their grandmother: all are poor and Muthini's disability is stressing the family. Grandmother and grandchild must embark on an unusual journey for the good of the family in this warm story. Julie Kraulis' WHIMSY'S HEAVY THINGS (9781770494039, $19.99) tells of a girl whose heavy things are weighing her down. She tries to get rid of them but they always come back, even when she sails out to sea to be rid of them. Finally she realizes she has to handle them one at a time - and a surprising solution evolves in this gentle story of how to tackle too many problems.

G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

L.J.R. Kelly's BLANKET & BEAR, A REMARKABLE PAIR (9780399256813, $16.99) tells of two 'lovies' which have always gone everywhere with their boy - until one day they are accidentally left behind. The two embark on an adventure to travel across oceans in search of their boy, and discover new friends in the process. Yoko Tanaka's fine drawings are lovely embellishments. Jacqueline Woodson's THIS IS THE ROPE: A STORY FROM THE GREAT MIGRATION (9780399239861, $16.99) receives fine drawings by James Ransome as it shows how a rope connects generations in South Carolina. For three generations the rope is used for everything form games to tying suitcases on a car for the move north to New York City. This fine focus on the Great Migration makes for a fine Afro-American saga of journeys and connections.

The Bilingual Shelf

Don't Say a Word, Mama/ No Digas Nada, Mama
Joe Hayes, author
Esau Andrade Valencia, illustrator
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901
9781935955450, $8.95,

"Don't Say A Word, Mama/ No Digas Nada, Mama" is a lushly illuminated bilingual original tale with a precious moral for all times, the value of sisters' sharing of carefully harvested garden bounty and love. However, as the Mama of Rosa and Blanca said, "You can never have too many tomatoes, and you can never have too much corn. But what was I going to do with all those hot chiles!" So the secret, loving sharing of garden bounty between a mother's two daughters becomes proof to her that she is the luckiest mama in the whole wide world! "Don't Say a Word, Mama" is a beautiful tale of sharing plenty that is exactly what the notion of thanksgiving is about. The magical, dancing images of the corn, tomatoes and chiles are the ideal manifestations of edible love in this Hispanic influenced original story.

The Fiction Shelf

Team Player
Jack Travers
TotalRecall Publications, Inc.
1103 Middlecreek
Friendswood, Texas 77546
9781590950524 $19.95

Team Player is a novel for teens and young adults, about a privileged seventeen-year-old suburbanite forced to adapt to dramatic changes in his life. Kyle Donovan enjoys being the star running back of his high school football team, and has hardly a care in the world... until harsh reality intrudes. His father's business fails, and his parents divorce; Kyle must live with his grumpy, blue-collar grandfather in the ethnically diverse Boston neighborhood of Crandall. Depressed by the sudden loss of his wealth and social status, Kyle must slowly realize that there are many things in life more valuable than either - such as the bond with his grandfather, the cameraderie of his new friends, and the love of sports that they all share. Uplifting and insightful, Team Player has a strong positive message and speaks to readers of all ages, particularly in the context of today's tough economic times.

Touched by Fire
Irene N. Watts
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495241, $19.99,

Touched by Fire tells of teen Miriam, who is headed to America in 1910 in search of freedom from persecution. Haunted by nightmares of her past, she finds friendships on board, reunited in America with her father, and sees her dreams becoming true - until a fire at the Triangle Waist Company threatens her life. This fictionalized story of a true event provides young adults with a gripping, realistic account of immigrant politics and labor issues of the times.

The Boy on the Porch
Sharon Creech
Harper Collins
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061892356, $16.99,

THE BOY ON THE PORCH tells of a boy who appears suddenly to a young couple. The boy is mute and can't explain his history - and John and Marta come to realize they have been chosen to care for him. As the truth begins to emerge about the boy's origins, the couple finds their greatest challenge is yet to come. A gentle story of discovery, love, and letting go emerges.

Random House/Knopf/Delacorte
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1
New York, NY 10019

Peggy Eddleman's SKY JUMPERS (9780307981271, $16.99) tells of Hope, who lives in a small town still trying to recover from the green bombs of World War II, which destroyed almost everything. The town's hope lies in attempting to re-invent the world - but Hope is terrible at invention, and lives to sky jump into a band of compressed air that covers the crater the town was built in. When bandits discover the town holds medicine, further dangers may make Hope and her friends the town's last chance for survival. A pleasing apocalyptic story evolves. Sonia Gensler's THE DARK BETWEEN (9780375867026, $16.99) is set at the turn of the 20th century where three different teens run from their past in a world where seances are the rage and scientists investigate the dark forces of the human mind. Add their discovery of a dead body in the course of their flight and you have an absorbing story of death, life beyond death, and the real-world challenges of teens. Robin Bridges' THE MORNING STAR (9780385740265, $17.99) is Volume III of 'The Katerina Trilogy' and is set in Russia in 1890. Katerina wants to be known as a doctor, but the tsar forbids women to attend medical school and is only interested in Katerina's ability to raise the dead. Her powers work against darkness but have involved her in a search for a sword that will led the Tsar to command an army of supernatural warriors - unless she can prevent his bid for total control. Fans of the prior books will find this conclusion captivating and fast-paced. David Levithan's TWO BOYS KISSING (9780397931900, $16.99) tells of Craig and Harry, who aren't a couple any longer, but who want to set the world's record for the longest kiss. Two other sets of boys have their own, different perspectives on the project and their relationship - but Cooper is alone. The boys form meaningful bonds that will change their worlds in this story of gay teens and romance. Dana Reinhardt's ODESSA AGAIN (9780385739566, $15.99) tells of Odessa Green-Light, whose temper tantrum in her room has resulted in her being flung back in time 24 hours. What at first seems like adversity turns into opportunity as Odessa contemplates doing things differently in a fine tale middle-school readers will find compelling and fun. Stewart Lewis' THE SECRET INGREDIENT (9780385743310, $17.99) documents family troubles, a teen chef, and a restaurant in trouble as teen Olivia decides to find a job to pay a restaurant mortgage and comes to understand the summer and her decisions will be pivotal. A new romance, realizations about her two fathers, and a search for a missing mother come together to make her summer one of emotional discoveries. All are fine leisure reads teens will appreciate!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Susan Beth Pfeffer's THE SHADE OF THE MOON (9780547813370, $17.99) provides a powerful conclusion to the 'Life As We Knew It' series and is set two years into the future of the original saga, when Jon and his family are living in a safe haven in always-tenuous circumstances. Jon is too aware that only his abilities in soccer are saving his family, and that even romance can change his position and cause their eviction from the safe town. A powerful saga of survival against impossible odds emerges. Lisa Jahn-Clough's NOTHING BUT BLUE (9780618959617, $16.99) tells of a teen girl who has lost her memory and is wandering the streets only knowing that she has survived some kind of disaster that killed everyone else. Her slow discoveries of herself and the world around her make for an engrossing novel of survival with many unexpected twists. Laura Bickle's THE OUTSIDE (9780544000131, $16.99) is set in a future where two thirds of the population has been killed by a plague of vampires, with survivors hiding in isolated areas. Katie has been exiled from her Amish community in this world, and enters this dangerous outside place in search of answers. The journey is fraught with vampires and problems but in the end Katie must make some difficult decisions in this captivating story, recommended for older teens.

Simon & Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
NY, NY 10020

Michelle Dalton's FIFTEENTH SUMMER (9781442472679, $17.99) tells of Chelsea, who is facing her first family summertime at the lake since her grandmother died. But her summer changes when she meets a boy in a bookstore, forms a romance, and discovers that they have much in common. The only problem is: the romance will likely not last beyond the summer, when they go their separate ways. This gentle story of teen romance and changes is a fine pick for any leisure reader, and details Michelle's life in realistic, absorbing passages that create a fine blend of romance and insights into motivations and change. Mark Walden's EARTHFALL (9781442494152, $16.99) tells of Sam, who awakens one morning to find UFOs have invaded the planet and are brainwashing and enslaving humans. Sam discovers he might be the only person on Earth immune to the hypnosis of the aliens - and he goes into hiding. When he emerges, it's to find a strange, changed world with himself at the head of a battle to save humanity. A powerful story emerges, perfect for teens who enjoy science fiction. Jessi Kirby's GOLDEN (9781442452169, $16.99) tells of teen Parker Frost, who is a valedictorian and new graduate who has always followed the rules. The only problem is, a new mystery requires her to break rules she has long held true - and she won't be able to move forward without taking initiative. A fine story of growth will attract teen leisure readers.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012-3999

Book 4 of 'Curse of the Ancients' is Matt De la Pena's INFINITY RING (9780545386999, $12.99), which revolves around a terrifying future foreseen by Sera, who is stranded thousands of years in the past with friends Dak and Riq. Their only hope for help comes form the ancient Maya, who claim to know about the future and who may be able to fix the past to change the future. It's a game and a book in one, linked to the website, and will appeal to any reader looking for a multimedia experience. Tui T. Sutherland's WINGS OF FIRE: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM (9780545349208, $16.99) tells of rainforest dangers and dragons and centers around Glory, who wants to learn more about her family now that the RainWings aren't fighting a war. Unfortunately the peace facing the kingdom isn't the same peace offered to the RainWings, who have been mysteriously disappearing into the forest - and it's up to Glory and her friends to rescue them and find out the truth in this fine story.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Josh Schneider's THE MEANEST BIRTHDAY GIRL (9780547838144, $14.99) earned the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and provides picturebook readers with a fine chapter book telling of Dana's birthday. She can do what she likes - and what she likes to do is tease, steal, and torment others. What can keep her from being mean? A delightful, different approach is covered in this story of a bully's birthday. Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard's MR. PUTTER & TABBY DROP THE BALL (978015205726, $14.99) tells of one Mr. Putter and his cat, who love to take naps. The trouble is, they sleep too much: they need a sport to get them involved. But can old Mr. Putter really play ball, and can Zeke participate? A fun story of sports gone awry emerges. Greg Trine's THE ADVENTURES OF JO SCHMO: SHIFTY BUSINESS (9780547807966, $12.99) presents a fourth grade superhero who fights crime with the help of her drooling dog and her retired sheriff grandfather. Together they keep the streets of San Francisco free of crime: but can they fight a crime wave? Jo is busy learning new superhero skills, as well: this too challenges their abilities. A fun chapter book outlines zany adventures.

The Christian Shelf

Women of the Bible
Margaret McAllister, author
Alida Massare, illustrator
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781612613727, $16.99,

"Women of the Bible" contains ten stories about women in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, re-written or re imagined from a first person point of view. Bible tales with a twist, here are found the stories of Mother Noah, Rachel, Miriam, Ruth, Mary of Nazareth, Martha and Mary, the Canaanite Woman, Lady Procula, wife of Pilate, Mary of Magdala, and Lydia. Beautifully illustrated with flowing lines and a soothing, inviting palate of colors, "Women of the Bible" invites children to imagine themselves as near or one of these famous figures of Biblical history, weaving dreams and fantasy with history and tradition in a vivid and entrancing tapestry of Judaic and Christian origins.

Pirates on the Farm, from The Next Door Series
Denette Fretz, author
Gene Baretta, illustrator
5300 Patterson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310723486, $12.99,

"Pirates on the Farm" is a hilarious juvenile book that is based on learning to enact the Second Commandment, "Love your neighbors as yourselves." Teaching and educating children about Christian charity to neighbors who are different was never so entertaining or so memorable. "Pirates on the Farm" uses humor and shock value to take charitable acceptance beyond the box. An ordinary farm family of four experiences rollicking adjustments to their standard behavioral expectations of neighbors when a group of five swashbuckling pirates pool their doubloons and move into the farm next door. Mother and Dad have different reactions to many of the outrageous and funny antics of their pirates- become-farmers neighbors. At first Mother is horrified, like many townspeople by the pirates' "lack of social savvy." Dad, on the other hand, pitches in and tries to educate the pirates about reasonable farming practices. Both the kids enjoy the colorful spectacle of the pirates' unusual behavior. A new plateau is reached when the family allow Joey to invite the pirates to New Year's Day dinner. The pirates arrive laden with gifts for each family member and proceed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. When the community try to collect for damages and expenses from the pirates (pay up or lose the farm), Mother has an unusual reaction. She redirects her "Move Away from the Pirates Fund" to rescue the pirates, and proceeds to have more frequent enjoyable social contacts with her odd neighbors. Dad concludes, "When you plant love, it grows." The fantastically funny illustrations of all things pirate in "Pirates on the Farm" do a huge part of conveying the essence of the Second Commandment and what it means in everyday realities. The blarney-laced text and dialogue do the rest, and children who read "Pirates on the Farm" can be assured of a thorough but painless Sunday School lesson on true Christian tolerance and charity.

The Judaic Shelf

Benny's Mitzvah Notes
Marc Lumer, author/illustrator
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628698, $12.95,

"Benny's Mitzvah Notes" is a wonderful story about a boy whose mother wrote him mitzvah notes that his father illustrated every day, to take to school, where his teacher put them on a tree. These notes would praise Benny for doing good things, such as welcoming a guest, saying Shema at night, washing his hands in the morning, etc. When Benny made mistakes, he would try to fix it as soon as he could. Doing a mitzvah, or earning a mitzvah note, was not always easy, but Benny knew it always felt right. Benny's father taught him that life is like an album of mitzvos. Benny continued to learn more about doing mitzvos, and finally one day he received his last mitzvah note on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, also his 13th birthday and the day he becomes obligated to do mitzvos. After that, later, Benny was ready to go to Yeshiva, or Jewish school. Although his Abba (father) and Ima (mother) were sad to see him go, they were happy when they found his last mitzvah note to them, thanking them for teaching him to love doing mitzvos! "Benny's Mitzvah Notes" is a beautiful story affirming the intrinsic value of doing good deeds for their own sake, and for the sake of spreading goodness and God's love. A glossary in the introduction gives translations for the many Hebrew terms used in the text.

The Botany Shelf

Fiddleheads to Fir Trees
Joanne Linden
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426065, $12.00,

Fiddleheads to Fir Trees: Leaves in All Seasons is illustrated by Laurie Caple and provides a fine beginner's guide to identifying plants and trees. From water lilies and other floating leaves to catalpa trees and star-shaped leaves, young readers are invited to identify some fourteen North American plants. A poem introduces each, followed by explanations of leaves and plant qualities. A seasonal arrangement makes it easy to locate plants that change through the year, while lovely watercolors by scientific illustrator Laurie Caple completes the appealing picture.

The Audiobook Shelf

Always October
Bruce Coville, author
Read by Zac Fletcher, Nancy O'Connor, and the Full Cast Family
Full Cast Audio
101 Clark Street, 1st floor
Syracuse, NY 13210
9781936223480 $55.00

Always October is the audiobook adaptation of Bruce Coville's one hundredth book for young adults. When sixth-grader Jacob Doolittle discovers a strange baby on his front porch, his mother decides to care for the child. But an ever bigger surprise is in store when Jacob observes "Little Dumpling" under the light of a full moon! When Jacob and his best friend Weird Lily Carker find themselves in the mysterious world of "Always October", home to monsters hidden from mortal eyes, they must not only search for a way home, but also protect Little Dumpling from his nonhuman would-be kidnappers. The fate of two worlds depends on it! Featuring age-appropriate casting and a fresh voice for every character in the Full Cast Audio tradition, Always October is a choice pick for children's library audiobook shelves, and year-round fun for listeners ages 8 and up - adults too! 8 CDs, 8 1/4 hours.

The Music CD Shelf

Wiggle Jiggle Fitness Fun
RONNO & Liz Jones-Twomey
Kimbo Educational
PO Box 477
Long Branch, NJ 07740-0477

Wiggle Jiggle Fitness Fun is a music CD for children ages 4-7 that emphasizes moving about for exercise, fun, and sensorimotor development. Third in RONNO & Liz Jones-Twomey's excellent, movement-themed series (after "Catch A Brain Wave Fitness Fun" and "Smart Fitness, Smart Foods"), Wiggle Jiggle Fitness Fun encourages little ones to balance, gallop, jump, spin, dance, march, and imagine! Enthusiastically recommended, especially for teachers, parents, and child care providers as a means to enrich and enliven children's daily activities. The tracks are "Wiggle Jiggle" (Whole-Body Fitness), "Let's Hop" (Gallop & Twist), "Jump Up" (Jump & Spin), "Twirl, Twirl, Twirl" (Balance-Booster), "Jump High! Catch A Dragon" (Cardio Workout), "I Can Dance" (Dancin' & Pumpin'), "Imagine This..." (Creativity & Listening), "Be, Be, Be, Be Yourself" (Marching & Self-Esteem), "Move to the Zanzibar Zoo" (Soothing Cool-Down), "R & R Star" (Reflex Integration), "Move to the Zanzibar Zoo" (instrumental, transitions), and "R & R" (instrumental, stress release, creative movement). Highly recommended!

Bean Bag and Ball Play
Michael Plunkett
Kimbo Educational
PO Box 477
Long Branch, NJ 07740-0477

Intended for little ones ages 0-5+, Bean Bag and Ball Play is a music CD designed to stimulate children's motor development through physical activities with simple balls and/or bean bags. Mini-games that involve balancing, tossing, passing, or rolling balls and bean bags encourage hand-eye coordination, concentration, listening, team work, rhythm and creativity. Three instrumental tracks also encourage parents or children to create their own games! Bean Bag and Ball Play is choice pick for sharing with little ones during activity time (bean bags and balls not included). The tracks are "Roll It" (2:40), "Big Ball Game" (3:08), "Who's Got the Ball?" (2:42), "Freeze Ball" (2:41), "Passing the Bean Bag" (3:05), "Bean Bag Crab Walk" (3:02), "Pass & Clap" (1:46), "The Balance Game" (2:10), "Toss the Bag" (2:44), "Bean Bag Endurance" (2:47), "Bean Bag Relay" (2:52), "Goodbye to You (Ball Cool Down)" (2:15), "Freeze Ball (Instrumental)" (2:47), and "Bean Bag Endurance (Instrumental)" (2:48).

ABC Fiesta
Mister G
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$TBA CD/ $9.99 digital

Parent's Choice Gold Award-winning children's performer Mister G presents ABC Fiesta, a bilingual English/Spanish album created to encourage literacy and celebrate Hispanic heritage. Friends of Mister G enrich the songs with their performances, including Grammy award-winning percussionist Eguie Castrillo and bilingual child vocalists. In addition to the upbeat songs that proclaim the joy of letters, words, and reading, interludes between the songs teach how certain Spanish words are used in different ways in Latin America. Highly recommended, especially for multilingual families! The tracks are "Hola Amigos", "Quiero Leer", "Cuento", "Habichuelas", "ABC Fiesta", "Vamos a la Maya", "La Guagua", "Cocodrilo", "Frota tu Panza", "Paletas", "Ratones", and "Bongo Bongo".

Lishy Lou and Lucky Too
Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$15.00 CD / $10.00 digital

The lovable Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band present Lishy Lou and Lucky Too, a kid-friendly album in the style of an old-time radio hour with elements of the variety show. Lishy Lou (Alisha Gaddis) and her real-life husband Lucky are the main performers; their show is set in a magical treehouse, which also serves as a bilingual English/Spanish household; the songs describe challenges and problems they have to solve by working together. Music and dance blend with educational and creative themes in this wonderful, varied, and adventuous song collection. The tracks are "Lishy and Lucky Radio Show", "Lishy Lou and Lucky Too! Theme", "What's a Thingamajig Again?", "Thingamajig", "Batter Up", "Jackie", "Time with Tina", "8000 Ft.", "Duck Ellington", "The Ol' Switcheroo", "Pockets", "Til There Was You", "Goodnight My Love", "Fun's Just Begun", and "When I Grow Up".

The Dirty Socks Come Clean
The Dirty Sock Funtime Band
Special guest Laurie Berkner
Privatley Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Laurie Berkner performs as a special guest in The Dirty Socks Come Clean, the latest music album from The Dirty Sock Funtime Band, who owe their origins to a successful non-profit rock-'n'-roll education programs for NYC kids. Recommended for young listners ages 4-9, the creative, cheerful songs are brimming with energy and silly lyrics. Parents who enjoy rock-'n'-roll will find The Dirty Socks Come Clean a pleasure to listen to along with little ones! The tracks are "The Dirty Socks Come Clean", "Garbage Bugs", "Hold of the Sun", "National Hiccup Day", "Lenny the Cat", "We're In Love", "I'm Hungry", "Mama's Song", "Anybody Got A Watch", "Monster's Lullaby", "Danceology", "Cheese World", "Waking Up", "Robots from the 4th Dimension", "Kitty Kat Yeah", "Mystical Science Librarian", "Start of the End", and "The Dirty Socks Come Clean (Reprise)". 42 min.

The Best Day Ever!
Baze and His Silly Friends (Marc Bazerman)
Doodle Hollow Records
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Parent's Choice Award-winning children's band Baze and His Silly Friends present their latest children's album, The Best Day Ever!, drawn directly from Marc "Baze" Bazerman's day-to-day life raising two rambunctious young sons. Funny, lively and inspiring, The Best Day Ever! is a great way to encourage young people ages 3-7 to look on the bright side of life. The tracks are "Poor Mother Goose" (2:14), "Fly (a caterpillar's tale)" (2:26), "A Little Green" (3:19), "Riverside" (2:14), "Wonderful Day" (2:34), "Silly Sandy Shark's Swinging Summer Surf Song" (2:28), "Friend" (2:27), "Wake Up (it's time to go to bed)" (2:03), "School Days" (2:22), "Another Bedtime Story" (2:49), "Superhero" (3:01), and "Dah Day" (1:06).

The DVD Shelf

Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike
Danbury, CT 06816

Three new storybook DVD adaptations (with original music!) from Weston Woods, each with a read-along option, are brief yet delightful adventures to share with young children. Tom Lichtenheld's "Cloudette" (0545570328, $59.95, 12 min., for ages 3-7) followed a little cloud who learns despite her small size, she can still make big contributions! A bonus feature shows Lichtenheld leading a bookmaking workshop for children. Philip C. Stead's "Bear Has a Story to Tell" (0545570255, $59.95, 9 min., for ages 2-6) is a tale of true friendship, in which Bear helps various animals get ready for winter - but will any of them stay awake long enough to listen to his story? Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee's "Bink & Gollie: Two for One" (054557031X, $59.95, 14 min., for ages 4-8) is about two girls who are the best of friends despite their differences. When a marvelous fair comes to their town, they find teamwork to be essential for making the most of the experience! All three are excellent choices for public or elementary school library children's DVD collections.

The Tails of Abbygail series
Created & narrated by Terri Lynn Link
Statner Media
c/o ChicExecs PR
1487 Poinsettia Ave. Ste 125
Vista, CA 92081

The award-winning "Tails of Abbygail" live-action video series is a succession of brief (roughly a half hour each, or an hour for double features), delightful DVDs featuring the Jack Russell terrier Abbygail, and the mysterious toys that come to life and share adventures with her. No humans are visible in the shows, only friendly animals, who often have positive messages to deliver. Though intended for young people ages 2-10, these upbeat, colorful mini-movies are a treat for animal lovers of all ages and backgrounds! Highly recommended. DVDs in the series include the double feature "The Tails of Abbygail: New Friends and Adventures / The Adventures of Pookie Lu Little" ($24.99), and the double feature "The Tails of Abbygail: Abbygail Finds Betty and Dreams Come True" ($14.95). Parents, please note that Jack Russell terriers such as Abbygail are an extremely high-energy breed of dog, unsuited to apartment life. Despite their small size, they require a tremendous amount of exercise and play time, and since they were originally bred to hunt vermin, they will attack cats or other small animals. They are recommended as pets only for families who can give them the high amount of space, attention, and activity that they need.

The Multimedia Shelf

Listen to the Birds
Anna Gerhard, author
Cecilia Varela, illustrator
Helene Roulston and Sabrina Diotalevi, translators
The Secret Mountain
3816 Royal Avenue, Montreal, QC, H4A 2M2, Canada
9782923163895, $16.95,

"Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music" is a lovely collection of classical music selections inspired by birds. Flawlessly and imaginatively illustrated in earth tone colors and a whimsical style, "Listen to the Birds" explores 20 musical selections by a variety of composers, including examples from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern, or 20th Century eras. Some of the selections are The Cuckoo and the Nightingale concerto for organ and orchestra by G. F. Handel, The Raven lied for voice and piano by Franz Schubert, Dance of the Firebird for orchestral suite by Igor Stravinsky, and The Robin from Small Sketches of Birds by Olivier Messiaen. Each selection is presented with an illustrated introductory description, followed by a brief listening guide in numerical order, and a list of brief biographical sketches of the composers. The accompanying CD contains 26 minutes of music along with illustrations, explanatory notes, and a glossary of musical terms as a printable PDF file. Also helpful is an enclosed two page timeline of composers and periods, with color cued blocks to shade the different eras of Western music represented by each composer. "Listen to the Birds" is a rich introductory experience in classical music for children age 6 and up, with adult assistance.

Tom Lichtenheld, author/illustrator
Christy Ottaviano Books
c/o Weston Woods
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780805087765, $16.99,

Cloudette was a very small cloud who generally accepted the advantages her size gave her. Even though she did not partake in the big clouds' important jobs, she had ambitions, like wanting to make a garden grow, a brook babble, or a waterfall fall. Cloudette pondered what her role might be, what sort of important things she might do. She became sad when nothing seemed to fit her small size offerings. One day a huge storm blew Cloudette to a strange new, wild neighborhood where she did not know anyone. Hearing a small frog in a dried up pond, Cloudette found her purpose. With great deliberate effort, she got herself ready to pour rain on the little dried up pond. When she was done, a perfect pond invited all kinds of frogs to jump in. These frogs thanked Cloudette in frog language, "Ribbit!" The bigger clouds also were impressed with Cloudette's achievement. Cloudette happily concluded there were other important things she could do even if she was small. "Cloudette" is a charming children's illustrated story about finding a helpful, constructive role even if you are small and unimportant- seeming. The entrancing illustrations are done in ink, pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor. The watercolor was partly water collected in a bucket during a rainstorm, so the book is indebted to clouds for its inspiration and its illustration material. There is a joyous rainbow of delight hiding behind every lovely page of "Cloudette' for children to enjoy. The accompanying CD contains the story read with and without page turn signals and an original Cloudette song by Jack Sondrud and Rusty Young.

Mama Doni's Jewish Holiday Party
Mama Doni
SoundView Media Partners

Two-time Parent's Choice Award winning children's musician Mama Doni presents her debut DVD for young people, Mama Doni's Jewish Holiday Party. Featured are three live-action episodes that teach children about the Jewish holidays of Chanukah, Passover, and Shabbat, including the stories behind them and the fun ways in which they are celebrated. Informative, accessible, and just plain fun, Mama Doni's Jewish Holiday Party is brimming with songs, dances, and festive joy. A bonus music CD also features thirteen brand new Mama Doni songs! Highly recommended as an engaging and educational show, ideal for teaching young people of all backgrounds about these commemorated holidays.

The Activity Shelf

The Racecar Book
Bobby Mercer
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
9781613747148 $14.95

The Racecar Book is a hands-on, how-to guide to creating 25 toy racecars from ordinary household items (such as potato chip cans, mousetraps or rubber bands). Lessons about basic scientific principles of physics are woven into the fun, making The Racecar Book as educational as it is entertaining. Although The Racecar Book is ideal for young people and rainy-day fun, hobbyists of all ages will also enjoy building and racing their own creations! Highly recommended.

The Math Shelf

Sizing Up Winter
Lizann Flatt, author
Ashley Barron, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781926973821, $14.95,

Third in the "Math in Nature" series, "Sizing Up Winter" exhibits elegant, lacy collage art illustrations in tandem with poetic prose propositions that imagine the presence of math and number concepts in nature, with a winter context. Kids are challenged to compare the sizes and masses of a mother polar bear with her cubs, find the tiniest underwater trout, match the bird feeder size birds of different sizes, and find imaginative ways a weasel might count weeks, or groundhogs might track hibernating months, or porcupines might make pine piles to record days passed by. Many creatures in nature exhibit properties that are related to math and number concepts, but only humans are able to quantify them. Additional Nature Notes on the exciting winter species of animals are presented at the end of "Sizing Up Winter," with small portrait cues to remind the eye of the creature being described. "Sizing Up Winter" is an imaginative math skills teaching book for young students (age 5-7), with integrated nature observation and seasonal awareness enhancement.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Houghton Mifflin Harcurt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Two science titles for grades 3-6 are lovely, highly recommended picks that pack contemporary color photos with accounts of unusual animals and scientists working in the field with them. Mary Kay Carson's THE BAT SCIENTISTS (9780544104938, $8.99) is accompanied by lovely color photos by Tom Uhlman and follows the work of Dr. Merlin Tuttle and his colleagues at Bat Conservation International as they educate people about bats. In the early years bats were commonly regarded as feared pests: thanks to these scientists, bats today are applauded for their beneficial qualities. The only trouble is - they are also endangered, threatened with extinction. This book follows the evolution of bat research and provides a fine natural history of bats, and will reach into adult circles with its fine details and captivating photos. Sy Montgomery's THE TAPIR SCIENTIST: SAVING SOUTH AMERICA'S LARGEST MAMMAL (9780547815480, $18.99) enjoys fine color photos by Nic Bishop as it documents tapir research and natural history. Grades 4-6 and beyond will find this offers details on tapir natural history and threats to its survival as a species. While many books cover the tapir in more general approaches to conservation, this is one of the few to focus entirely on the animal. Both are excellent additions to any elementary-level science collection.

The Science Shelf

Joel Levy
Zest Books
35 Stillman Street, Suite 121
San Francisco, CA 94107
9780982732298 $10.99

Why? Answers to Everyday Scientific Questions is a simple book with no-nonsense answers to 50 common scientific questions. Though written to be accessible to young adults and teenagers, Why? is a fascinating browse for readers of all ages! Questions answered include "Why does the sea appear blue?" ("...because water absorbs more red and yellow light than blue light."), and "Why is there no life on Mars?" ("...because it is too cold and dry, as it has almost no plate tectonics and thus does not benefit from the greenhouse effect.") Each answer is followed by a couple more pages to explain and elaborate current scientific knowledge, sometimes enhanced with a black-and-white illustration. An index rounds out this wonderful way to fire up curious young minds! Highly recommended, especially for public and school library collections.

Books in Series

Thurgood Marshall
Gary Jeffrey, author
John Aggs, illustrator
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349
New York, NY 10003
9781433975035, $ 23.95,

"Thurgood Marshall: The Supreme Court Rules on 'Separate But Equal'" is an educational title from the innovative new series, A Graphic History of the Civil Rights Movement. Filled with quality action-oriented comic style illustrations as well as vintage photos and historic ephemera, this series traces the important components of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from 1865 to 1988 and beyond. Using minimal but explanatory narrative and dialogue to accompany the brilliant comic artworks, "Thurgood Marshall: The Supreme Court Rules on 'Separate But Equal'" details the complex history of black civil rights pioneer and champion, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and his battle to use law and legal action to force desegregation upon all states at all levels. The presentation and acceptance of psychological evidence in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1952 is succinctly described as groundbreaking, with a compelling illustration of two identical dolls, completely alike except for skin color, used to demonstrate children's harmful perceptions and interpretations of the concept of 'separate but equal.' In addition to the comic illustrated narrative, the title presents further biographical information about Justice Thurgood Marshall and also a glossary of terms. "Thurgood Marshall: The Supreme Court Rules on 'Separate But Equal'" offers crucial accurate education to students age 9 and up about the history of the civil rights movement in the United States. Other titles in this highly recommended series include "Malcolm X and the Fight for African American Unity (9781433974878, $23.95)," by Gary Jeffrey, illustrated by Emanuelle Boccanfuso, "Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (9781433974991, $23.95)," by Gary Jeffrey, illustrated by Nick Spender, "Medgar Evers and the NAACP (9781433974953, $23.95),' by Gary Jeffrey, illustrated by Nick Spender, "Martin Luther King Jr. And the March on Washington (9781433974915, $23.95)," by Gary Jeffrey, illustrated by Nick Spender, and "The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for Equal Education (9781433974830, $23.95)," by Gary Jeffrey, illustrated by Nana Li.

Come Clean, Carlos: Tell the Truth
Sara Eason, author
Ailee Busby, illustrator
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
9780766043060, $22.60 or, $16.95 (for schools and libraries),

"Come Clean, Carlos" is a You Choose series teaching book for children ages 5-8 dealing with issues relating to telling the truth. Five different illustrated examples of problem situations are offered in which Carlos can make a choice between three options which include telling the truth or other reactions. After listing and describing choices a, b, and c, the reader is asked "What would you choose to do?" An explanation follows telling why it is always better to tell the truth. Helpful ideas about how to use this book are offered on pages 28-29 for the teacher or caretaker or parent plus a Glossary explains vocabulary and terminology. Fun, expressive color illustrations that are inclusive and show multi-ethnic origin help children to identify with Carlos and get into the spirit of each example. Other titles by the same author/illustrator team from the You Choose Series that are also highly recommended include: "Hand It Over, Harry: Don't Steal (9780766043084, $16.95)," "Don't Play Dirty, Gertie: Be Fair (9780766043077, $16.95)," and "Chin Up, Charlie: Be Brave (9780766043053, $16.95)."

Earth-Friendly Christmas Crafts in 5 Easy Steps
Anna Llimos, author
Nos & Soto, illustrators
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
9780766041882, $22.60 list / $16.95 for Schools and Libraries

"Earth-Friendly Christmas Crafts in 5 Easy Steps" is a great illustrated crafts book for children ages 8-9, in grades 3-4. From the Earth-Friendly Crafts in 5 Easy Steps Series, this delightful book offers 14 different easy Christmas craft project suggestions, with each of the five steps clearly explained and illustrated, including a handy list of materials needed for each project. Projects include place card clips, angels, ornaments, greeting cards, wrapping paper, reindeer and sleigh, decorations, a winter scene, little bells, and more. Materials are easily available and nontoxic, with minor adult supervision suggested. In the Read About and Index section, additional craft books and internet addresses are offered as fun resources. "Earth-Friendly Christmas Crafts in 5 Easy Steps" is a great collection of accessible, creative, thrifty crafts for children to work on during the winter holiday season. Additional starred and recommended titles in this series by the same author include: "Earth-Friendly Clay Crafts in 5 Easy Steps (9780766041899, $16.95)," "Earth-Friendly Crafts From Recycled Stuff in 5 Easy Steps (9780766041905, $16.95)," "Earth-Friendly Crafts With Nuts and Veggies in 5 Easy Steps (9780766041912, $16.95)," "Earth-Friendly Papier-Mache Crafts in 5 Easy Steps (9780766041929, $16.95)," and "Earth-Friendly Wood Crafts in 5 Easy Steps (9780766041929, $16.95)."

Galactic Academy of Science series
Tumblehome Learning, Inc.
201 Newton Street
Weston, MA 02493
$9.95 each

The first four books of the Galactic Academy of Science series blend elements of science fiction, time-travel, and mystery into fast-paced novels ideal for young people ages 9-13. Pendred Noyce's "The Desperate Case of the Diamond Chip" (9780985000806) sends young Mae and Clinton on a time-traveling trip to teach them more about how science and electronics work - when they're not dodging the gestapo or skydiving from a plane! Barnas Monteith's "The Furious Case of the Fraudulent Fossil" (9780985000851) takes Benson and Anita on a museum visit, which spirals into a series of adventures from confronting Chinese imperial soldiers to exploring the harsh landscape of the American West. Pendred Noyce & Roberta Baxter's "The Vicious Case of the Viral Vaccine" (9780985000875) has Mae and Clinton witness humanity's historic battles against lethal diseases such as smallpox, rabies, polio, as well as the pioneering work of people like Louis Pasteur, Jonas Salk, Maurice Hilleman and more to make the world a healthier place. In Barnas Monteith & Roberta Baxter's "The Harrowing Case of the Hackensack Hacker" (9780985000882), Anita and Benson must work together to save not only the Galactic Academy of Science, but also the Earth from a rampaging computer virus! Peppered with occasional color illustrations, all four books strive to educate as well as entertain, and are excellent addition to public, middle school, and junior high school library collections.

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

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