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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 11 November 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Social Issues Shelf Biography Shelf
Education Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Computer Shelf
Environmental Shelf Autism Shelf Christmas Shelf
Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf Native American Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Crafts Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Health Shelf World History Shelf Humor Shelf
Poetry Shelf Sports Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Activity Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Multimedia Shelf Art Shelf
Christian Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf
Multicultural Shelf Books in Series  

Donovan's Bookshelf

Racing to Heaven
Harriet Tramer
Biblio Publishing
c/oThe Educational Publisher Inc.
No ISBN, $9.95,

Young adult horse stories are usually pretty straightforward and even hold quite predictable plots: girl loves horse (and/or boy), girl longs to ride/own horse, girl overcomes adversity, and in the end girl gets horse (and/or boy). Not so Racing to Heaven, which is a horse of another color and provides a heart-pounding race into and outside of reality to keep young adult and adult readers guessing.

Yes, it's a racetrack saga and yes, it revolves around a young female jockey. But take those elements and run with them; because that's what Harriet Tramer does as she presents the story of an unstable teen who demonstrates an innate talent for psychic communication with horses.

The story opens with a bang (but is it set in heaven, hell, or somewhere in between?): "The place where I am now goes by so many different names - nirvana, heaven, paradise - that I long ago gave up on trying to decide what name fits it best. And I also gave up trying to figure out something else: how long it has been since I fell off a horse just seconds after I won the biggest race of my life and ended up here. It might be five years, my best estimate. But then again it might be a much longer or a much shorter period of time. There is no way to know for certain, because in this realm nobody keeps track of those things the way they do on Earth. There are no clocks, calendars, computers or cell phones I can use to check the time and date."

So it's a new age novel about the supernatural, right? Not really...because the protagonist and her equine concerns are firmly rooted in the vivid reality of horse racing circles. Then, it's a horse story, right? In a manner of speaking - because the progression is anything but your usual horse saga.

Think 'magic'. Think 'spiritual connections'. Take a classic good-versus-evil story and then turn it on end with a splash of intrigue and action. Stir the cauldron of complexity, then season liberally with discussions of how the protagonist comes to realize that being a jockey is in her future (hint: via supernatural means).

There's social commentary ("Nobody seemed the least bit bent out of shape when members of that association forced a woman to dig up literally hundreds of begonias she had planted next to her house because they were the wrong color. It seems that the flowers in question were an off shade of white and only pink flowers were allowed."), there are moments of revelation accompanied by moments of down-to-earth reality ("I could not help figuring that despite the hard traveling he had endured Roberto was luckier than me in a way. He did not owe anybody anything because he was getting precious little from them. That man was free, while I certainly was not because my parents remained convinced that I owed them a great deal. They expected me to be a dutiful daughter fixated on her school work in return for their having given me the "luxurious" life I was leading; I was figuratively if not literally shackled by their expectations."), and most of all, there's a teen's growth and coming of age, whether it takes place on Earth or somewhere else.

So don't pick up Racing to Heaven expecting your usual teen horse saga: readers who do so might be disappointed if they're expecting a horse-centric, predictable formula plot. DO choose Racing to Heaven for its unique brand of coming of age story paired with horse-oriented action and social and spiritual reflection. When other horse books are simply pounding around the same track, this one's heading full speed to the winner's circle, spirits flying high.

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind
Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805312841, $17.99 (HC), $15.95 (PB), $9.99 (Kindle)

How do you win a game when you are weaker than your opponent? Teen protagonist Jet Black is a ninja - but she doesn't know it. In fact, she doesn't begin to realize the extent of her abilities until her mother dies and she is tasked with traveling to her family's homeland, Japan, to locate and protect an ancient family treasure, weakened by her lost love.

So Jet Black and the Ninja Wind is a glorified treasure hunt with a martial arts and Japanese theme? Not quite: there's a lot more going on than a one-dimensional mystery, even if it is spiced with Japanese culture and martial arts insights.

For one thing, Jet herself is being pursued by an assassin. And it's never a smart thing to fall in love with your killer - so Jet struggles with both facets of this complex scenario. She is weakened by her love.

Then, there's Japanese culture, threats to sacred places, and the mission of uncovering who Jet really is; all woven into an action-based plot filled with demanding encounters, history, and cross-cultural interactions. At every point Jet is challenged to reassess her self, her potentials, her values and her place in the world - and at every point Jet succeeds in taking yet another step towards the ultimate goals of staying alive and being an effective force in her own life. She is weakened by her ignorance of the wider world of her heritage.

Perhaps it's this crux of the story that makes Jet Black and the Ninja Wind a recommendation above and beyond its intended advanced young adult readership: any who enjoy complex coming-of-age stories that add in history, cultural examination, and moral confrontation will readily identify with Jet.

It should be noted that in many ways this is not a light pursuit. Chapter titles are presented in both Japanese and English and there are some fifty of them (although the total page count of over 300 doesn't make it a tome, by any matter of means).

The protagonist and her world are also definitely teen-oriented from the first sentence: "The party had just started, and Jet stood in Amy Williams' kitchen, wearing the two-dollar black dress she'd bought at the thrift store. "That's such a cool outfit," Amy told her, pushing a drink into her hand. The girls gathered, staring as if trying to remember

whether they'd seen the dress in a catalog or a store window. Still, Jet knew it would've been cooler to have a date or to buy clothing that hadn't belonged to someone living in an old folks' home."). So adult readers who venture into Jet's world should be prepared for teen-oriented concerns as well: Jet isn't some sassy neo-adult, as some coming-of-age novels depict (likely with adult readers in mind) but a genuine teenager whose seemingly-average world is about to be turned upside down.

It's what she chooses to do with these series of world-altering events that is the pulse of Jet Black and the Ninja Wind and the driving force that keeps it both vivid and unique: qualities surprisingly rare in young adult leisure reads.

Take the source of her training, for example: it's not just about martial arts prowess, but underlying messages: "Suddenly, the image of her mother returned to her, on the mountain that night, the last night of the game. In a flash, she understood. That had been her final lesson. Satoko hadn't had the locket. She hadn't needed it. She'd been born into her tradition, and her powers were her birthright. She'd been trying to teach Jet her true power - that they were women, and brute force wasn't their skill. It wasn't going to be possible for her to beat Takumi like this. Her mother had been sick and frail, yet had still won by being totally present.

She'd endured using everything, the moonlight and the wind, her awareness of the earth, to harness her last remaining power. Now Jet understood that what her mother had taught her in that last game on the mountain was how to fight when you were weaker than your opponent."

It's fine to add elements of history and international intrigue into a novel for any age group; but add wider issues of environmental and cultural preservation, greed, and choices about direction and how to handle others' motivations, and that's where the real essence of a quality piece has the opportunity to evolve, separating it from the deluge of shallow leisure writings dominating young adult fiction these days. So don't look here if it's casual entertainment that's desired: such entertainment is embedded in an overall multifarious story line that pulls no punches and just keeps hitting.

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind stands well on its own as a powerful blend of literature and leisure, mixing a compelling, feisty protagonist and a series of nearly-unbelievable adventures with a Japanese flavor that is made all the more authentic for the fact that this book was some 15 years in the making.

It's already won numerous awards - and it's easy to see why. With its taste for action and adventure tempered by historical and cultural insights, a powerfully-drawn protagonist whose motivations and concerns are clearly inspected, and a story line replete with 'bigger picture' world concerns, Jet Black and the Ninja Wind is a truly satisfying read for many audiences operating on many levels.

H. W. Vivian
Lulu Publishing
9781483409184 (sc), $19.99
9781483409191 (hc)
9781483409207 (e)


Amazon: &qid=1410283084&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble:

A small Colorado town harbors a close-held secret about its children; but if this theme portends a Stephen King-like story, think again: Chasers is truly a horse of another color, and is a gem of a read in more ways than one.

One shining example of the unexpected occurs when 'special' teen May goes missing, prompting her close friend Gary to enlist help from an unexpected adversary (May's bully Shelby) who holds the wits and aggressive determination to track down what really happened to May.

Now, it's important to note that Chasers is narrated in the first-person, from a teenager's perspective. This means that her observations are suitable reflections of her age and concerns, that they often read like a teen's journal of her life and challenges (which tend to be self-centered in the beginning before they expand outward to include mystery and intrigue and greater 'truths'), and that adult readers may find such a perspective lacking the approach of an adult thriller.

No matter - adults aren't the intended audience, here; and what's lacking in nonstop action is more than adequately made up for in attention to a teen's perspective and concerns, which will delight the young adult audiences this book intends to reach. 'Nonstop' is emphasized because this isn't to say there's no action: indeed, Vivian's descriptions are satisfyingly vivid representations: "As I stepped carelessly onto the soil, a sinking feeling prompted me to jerk my leg back immediately. I looked down at the ground and found it eerily rippling, like water in a bath tub. I watched as it ebbed and flowed and rose into pillars that shifted and morphed like enchanted clay, and started gathering up toward the sky." They just don't assume the staccato-like, relentless proportions of most adult titles... and that's a real 'plus', especially for teen readers.

Sure, the 'condition' of many of these small town 'special children' is rare and unusual - but, that's just one of the delights of a novel that provides a truly unique focus and develops it well, involving very different young adult personalities in a dangerous game linking their lives and the ultimate reason they were born 'special'.

Notice the tiptoeing around this definition. That's because Chasers holds many surprises, this is just one of them, and it's unfair to give away one of the main shockers before readers have a chance to discover this for themselves.

Another satisfying device: the three teens involved don't get along. Their 'special' connections don't handily translate to instant camaraderie from shared adversities; and considering the fact that many books use danger to create near-instant (and often unbelievable) connections, H. W. Vivian's is the more satisfyingly-realistic approach here. The result is a young adult story that's truly original, pragmatic, and compelling.

The Social Issues Shelf

Hope Springs
Eric Walters, author
Eugenie Fernandes, illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495302 $17.99

Hope Springs is a colorful children's picturebook based on a true story about a drought in Kenya. Water is scarce in Kenya; people depend on the rainy season to survive. When water becomes scarce, there are long lines at the only spring where local villagers can obtain what they need to drink. When children at the local orphanage try to obtain water, the villagers verbally attack them and push them to the back of the line, saying that they are not "from here". Their caretakers at the orphanage gently explain that villagers' hostility is not out of cruelty, but rather fear - fear that their own families will not have enough water. Once a well is completed near the orphanage, the children have enough for their own needs, but what of the villagers? Is there a way to not only help them, but also restore hope and empathy? The last couple pages offer the true-life tale behind the picturebook story of generosity. Hope Springs is a read-aloud treasure not only for its message about the virtue of kindness, but also for its reminder that the life-sustaining riches in the developed world - such as a steady supply of clean water to drink or wash in as needed - are not freely available to everyone, and shouldn't be taken for granted. Highly recommended, especially for public library children's collections.

The Biography Shelf

Ben Franklin's Big Splash
Barb Rosenstock, author
S.D. Schindler, illustrator
Calkins Creek
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620914465 $16.95

Ben Franklin's Big Splash is a children's picturebook based on a true story about the young Ben Franklin, who would grow up to become one of the most famous Founds of the United States of America. As an eleven-year-old boy, Ben Franklin loved swimming so much he considered ways to become more efficient at it. Observing fish in action, he devised a simple invention that would allow people to swim like fish - and he kept improving his design when the first version wasn't as effective as he hoped! It was this spark of creativity and perseverance that would push him to devise more wonderful inventions, from America's first political cartoon to the lightning rod and bifocals, as well as become a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution! A superb blend of biography and inspiration, Ben Franklin's Big Splash is enthusiastically recommended especially for public and school library children's collections.

Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids, His Life and Ideas, second edition
Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen, author
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin St., Chicago, ILL 60610
9781613744741, $16.95,

Designed for young readers age 9 and up, "Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids" presents the fascinating outline of the famous architect's life, career, and accomplishments, complete with black and white historic photographs, details of famous masterpieces of design, and added information about Wright's education, family, and complex background history. Winner of a Parents Choice Award, "Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids" contains suggestions for 21 hands-on creative activities related to history, architecture and art, plus a new time line, glossary, bibliography, and list of current houses to visit and explore. "Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids" is a rare children's biography that invites readers to explore the complex of systems of knowledge that come to fruition in the lifework of a famous architect.

Spic and Span!
Monica Kulling
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770493803, $19.99,

SPIC AND SPAN?: LILLIAN GILBRETH'S WONDER KITCHEN tells of an 1878 woman who was born into a privileged life, but who wanted a more adventurous world. It's a story of how she and her husband became efficiency experts, how they ran a household of eleven children, and how Lillian persevered when her husband died. Her job with a new gas company tasked with improving kitchen design led to new revelations about what does and doesn't work in a household and makes for an inviting biography for any picturebook reader with good reading skills and an interest in women's achievements.

The Education Shelf

How I Learn
Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson, authors
Jane Heinrichs, illustrator
Magination Press
PO Box 92984
Washington, DC 20090-2984
9781433816604 $14.95

Ideal for young people ages 4-8, How I Learn: A Kid's Guide to Learning Disability is a picturebook designed to teach young readers about the concept of a learning disability, emphasizing the fact that people with such disabilities can learn new things; it's just optimal for them to do so in a different way. "There are different kinds of LDs. Some kids have trouble reading, like me. Other kids have trouble writing, like Carmen. Some kids have trouble with math, like Henry. And that's OK. Some people might think that we don't try hard enough, but that's NOT true!" The final two pages are packed with informative notes to parents, caregivers, and professionals on the subject. A valuable resource to teach all children about strategies for learning, How I Learn is a choice pick for school library picturebook collections. Also highly recommended is "My Sister Beth's Pink Birthday: A Story About Sibling Relationships" by Marlene L. Szymona and Christine Battuz, a thought-provoking picturebook about two sisters, one of whom becomes jealous over the other's birthday celebration, with suggestions to parents and caregivers about handling the dynamics of sibling relationships and tensions.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Witch, the Cat, and the Water Dragon
Joanne Lecuyer, author
Brooke Alexander, illustrator
Topsy Books
9781927353349, $14.99,

"The Witch, the Cat, and the Water Dragon" is a chapter fantasy sequel to "The Witch, the Cat, and the Egg," continuing a compelling tale of the young witch and healer, Juliane, her cat guide/familiar, Magicus, and the hatched baby water dragon, Tarak, the last of his kind. Juliane is challenged with the twin responsibilities of managing and raising the young male water dragon, and guiding strangers, who may not always be what they seem, through Ennyar Forest. Luckily Juliane has many magical abilities including visions, an owl familiar who helps her interpret these, and a mother named Alana, who is also a witch and healer. Action and character development move quickly through the beautifully illustrated 7 chapters, a perfect combination of suspenseful, exciting reading for young chapter book readers and lovers of fantasy. The author's purpose in creating these books is to excite and interest children aged 7-10 in creative exploration of imaginative explorations of fun solutions to real or imaginary situations and problems. Devouring the series sequel of "The Witch, the Cat, and the Water Dragon" is exciting and greatly enhanced by the frequent colored illustrations and a map of Ennyar Forest, the scene and magical setting for this series. In the course of honoring her duties, Juliane experiences danger and threats to the magic Forest, which require courage and imagination in use of all her resources to help others, accomplishing good deeds in tandem with natural allies and forces. Like it's prequel, "The Witch, the Cat, and the Water Dragon" ends triumphantly but with a hint of the ongoing challenge of future adventures for the young witch guide. A cast of characters, vocabulary list, and clearly labeled map of Ennyar Forest are helpful additions to this intriguing tale of mystical adventures. Additional titles of chapter book fantasy for young readers that are highly appealing include: "the Witch, the Cat and the Egg (9781926945026, $12.99)," by Joanne Lecuyer, illustrated by Max Courville, and "My Friend Merlin (9781927353448)," by Joanne Lecuyer, illustrated by Rich Lauzon.

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

Paula Weston's HAZE (9781770495500, $19.99) tells of Gabby, who is living with her best friend, working in a library, and recovering from the death of her twin brother. Her life seems to be returning to normal - until Rafa arrives to tell her she's actually descended from fallen angels, and that demons are coming for her. Plus, her brother might not be dead, after all. What evolves is a compelling, involving adventure recommended for advanced young adult readers looking for complex, appealing fantasy-based stories. Ellie Marney's EVERY BREATH (9781770497726, $17.99) tells of Rachel Watts, who has just moved to Melbourne from the country - and who hates the city. James Mycroft is her neighbor, and he's a troubled seventeen-year-old who loves forensics. When Mycroft asks Rachel to help him investigate a murder, she becomes part of a dynamic young duo tasked with finding a killer in this appealing twist on the Sherlock Holmes theme.

Wings of Fire: The Brightest Night
Tui T. Sutherland
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545349222, $16.99,

Wings of Fire: The Brightest Night tells of Sunny, who has always taken the Dragonet Prophecy seriously and who will do anything for her beloved dragons. She is confident they can all end the war and has cultivated ideas on how this will be done - but new events indicate that not only will Sunny fail, but the dragons' destiny will become entwined in a terrible demise. Secrets and change permeate this fantasy story that takes the dragon theme and injects an added dose of intrigue and adventure into the mix.

The Only Thing Worse Than Witches
Lauren Magaziner
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803739185, $16.99,

The Only Thing Worse Than Witches tells of Rupert, who can't stand his teacher. Mrs. Frabbleknacker is unreasonable: she forbids the class to talk to one another - even outside of her classroom - and she smells. So Rupert is happy when he sees a new possibility in an advertisement to become a witch's apprentice. Unfortunately Witchling Two isn't what he expected - and an involvement in witch magic gone awry is in his future in this zany, fun leisure story recommended for advanced elementary to middle school readers.

Mandy Hager
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616149093, $17.99,

RESURRECTION: BLOOD OF THE LAMB BOOK THREE tells of Maryam, who tries to share a miraculous remedy and also challenges the Apostles' religious rule. Unfortunately her decisions lead to her re-capture and involvement in a deadly ritual that the islanders have all fallen for - and her pleas that they think for themselves are falling on deaf ears. How can she advocate independence to a people who want little more than to be led? An involving story evolves, especially recommended for prior fans of the other Blood of the Lamb books.

The Computer Shelf

Savvy Cyber Kids at Home: The Family Gets A Computer
Ben Halpert, author
Taylor Southerland, illustrator
Savvy Cyber Kids, Inc.
4780 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Suite A312
Atlanta, GA 30338
9780982796825, $26.99,

"The Family Gets A Computer" is the first volume of a children's series called The Savvy Cyber Kids at Home, an excellent illustrated educational series that teaches restraint, moderation, and making wise choices with regard to use of technology from the very beginning. "The Family Gets a Computer" introduces Tony (CyberThunder) and Emma (CyberPrincess) and gives good counsel in verse, such as "Use your Savvy Cyber Kid name and think twice./ Not all people online are nice." Emma and Tony learn to use their protected Savvy Cyber Names and learn to play games with their new computer in safe ways. "The Family Gets a Computer" includes activity sheets for coloring and drawing and is vividly illustrated with dashing cartoon images of transformed Savvy Cyber Kids as well as excited every kids at play at home. The Savvy Cyber Kids series is an excellent tool with exciting features that promotes moderation in screen time, varying computer and technology interaction with outdoor activities and other interactions. This fine series targets young children at early ages to begin teaching appropriate decision making in a world of interactive technology. Two followup volumes that are also essential for young Savvy Cyber Kids are the following: Adventures Beyond the Screen (9780982796818, $26.99)," and "The Defeat of the Cyber Bully (9780982796832, $26.99)," both also written by Ben Halpert in verse narrative and brilliantly illustrated by Taylor Southerland.

The Environmental Shelf

The Prairie That Nature Built
Marybeth Lorbiecki, author
Cathy Morrison, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Way, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584694915 $16.95

The Prairie That Nature Built is a picturebook that teaches young readers about the ecology of the prairie. The text is a singsong rhyme in the style of the nursery classic "The House that Jack Built", but packed with fascinating prairie facts. "These are the birds that sing and fly, / Chomping the insects that bring pollen by / To all the plants that shoot for the sky, / Up from the roots that plunge so deep. / Some high-soaring birds when looking to eat / Find prairie dog meat a tasty treat." Beautifully elaborate, full-color illustrations in a realistic style make The Prairie That Nature Built almost come alive in one's hands. Readers can even take this vivid effect one step further by scanning a code on the back cover (or going to to enjoy a free pop-up app tied to The Prairie That Nature Built!

Kupe and the Corals
Jacqueline L. Padilla-Gamino, author
Marjorie Leggitt, illustrator
c/o Taylor Trade
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200
Lanham, MD 20706
9781589797536 $15.95

Kupe and the Corals is a children's picturebook in which a young boy, Kupe, learns about the importance of coral reefs - beautiful, colorful formations that form a vital part of lagoon ecology, yet which are endangered by pollution and other threats. While snorkeling, Kupe himself collected a sample of tiny coral larvae, baby corals that are produced by the millions each year by adult corals in the lagoon. But corals are critically important for creating the habitat that other underwater animals need to survive; Kupe realizes the error of his ways, and returns the coral larvae to the sea. Colorful artwork in a realistic style adds the perfect touch to this wonderful blend of storybook and ecological education, highly recommended. Kupe and the Corals is also available in bilingual a English/Spanish edition (9781589797765), English/Hawaiian (9781589797802), English/Tahitian (9781589797796), French/Tahitian (9781589797574), English ebook (9781589797772), and French/Paumotu ebook (9781589797772).

The Autism Shelf

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Jessica Kingsley is best known for their adult health books focusing primarily on Asperger's and other topics; but these new lines of children's books will appeal to younger audiences and providing fine insights to help children understand the world around them. Lauren Brukner's THE KIDS' GUIDE TO STAYING AWESOME AND IN CONTROL: SIMPLE STUFF TO HELP CHILDREN REGULATE THEIR EMOTIONS AND SENSES (9781849059978, $19.95) holds a little over a hundred pages of information and is packed with exercises and ideas for helping kids control their emotions and senses. Kids ages 7-14 years will learn everything from breathing exercises and finger pulls to techniques for emotional and sensory regulation, and will receive many insights into staying in control and happy. Kate E. Reynolds teams with illustrator Jonathon Powell to provide a three-book focus on character Tom, who is autistic and growing older. THINGS TOM LIKES (9781849055222, $14.95) offers parents and other adults an easy way to teach boys with autism or other special needs about masturbation, including when it's appropriate and where. From private zones to the difference between public and private behavior, this is a fine introduction for autistic pre-adolescents. TOM NEEDS TO GO (9781849055215, $14.95) offers a discussion about public toilet safety for boys and young men with autism and related conditions and teaches how a boy can use a public bathroom safely and make appropriate decisions on its use. WHAT'S HAPPENING TO TOM? (9781849055239, $14.95) discusses the changes of puberty. Together all three easy picturebook readers will reach autistic children through frank discussions and illustrations of appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors.

The Christmas Shelf

How Many Sleeps 'til Christmas?
Mark Sperring, author
Sebastien Braun, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589251601, $16.99,

"How Many Sleeps 'til Christmas?' is a charming holiday tale of Daddy Grizzle and Little Pip, two bears who discover together exactly how long it is until Christmas day. In this story, Little Pip wakes up each day hoping the day of Christmas has come, but Daddy Grizzle patiently tells him there are still four, three, two, or one more sleep(s) until Christmas. Each day is filled with holiday activities, such as writing and delivering cards, finding and decorating a tree, wrapping presents, building special snow friends, etc. The final twist in "How Many Sleeps 'til Christmas?" is one every parent will fully recognize and treasure, almost as much as Little Pip enjoys his Christmas day. All the full page illustrations express joy, anticipation, fun, and a furry bear's pleasure in the winter season of giving. The surprise ending caps a heartwarming holiday tale.

Perfect Princess Christmas
Lisa Ann Marsoli, author
The Disney Storybook Art Team, illustrators
Disney Press
1101 Flower Street, Glendale, CA 91201
9781423172031, $12.99,

"Perfect Princess Christmas" is a collection of four lavish fantasy Christmas tales for four Disney Princesses. First, Princess Ariel plans a magical seaside treasure hunt for prince Eric and her guests in The Little Mermaid: The Holiday Treasure Hunt. In Sleeping Beauty: Aurora's Homemade Holiday, Princess Aurora entertains her fairy godmothers with a nostalgic Christmas celebration like the ones she treasured as a girl growing up in the forest cottage with them. Even though some of the handmade special treats and presents were a bit unique, it was the best Christmas celebration ever! In Cinderella: A Perfect Party, Princess Cinderella learns that it is fine to plan just the right celebration for all your friends, even the ones with fur and four legs. Finally in The Princess and the Frog: One Magical Feast, Princess Tiana wants to host a wonderful holiday meal and celebration for her first Christmas with Prince Naveen in New Orleans. Together they shop for supplies and Prince Naveen helps Princess Tiana prepare all the best foods for a New Orleans Christmas feast, inviting all their friends and family. As a special surprise, Princess Tiana takes Prince Naveen on a canoe ride into the bayou to see many large bonfires on the shores, lighting the way for Papa Noel, who is a mysterious Christmas visitor in red traveling in a pirogue pulled by alligators. Princess Tiana invites friends they meet on the bayou tour to her restaurant feast, and favors are handed out by Louis, the friendly alligator. Princess Tiana catches glimpses in the crowd of someone she thinks may be Papa Noel, but he eludes her. Nonetheless, wonderful food and jazzy Christmas music and dancing make her party the best and most magical that Prince Naveen has ever seen. All four Princess Christmas stories are beautifully illustrated in rich jewel tones with lavish full page pictures. "Perfect Princess Christmas" comes with a Royal Christmas App for iPhone and iPad at the App Store at, "Perfect Princess Christmas" is the perfect Christmas gift for any beloved princess on your shopping list.

The Great Pirate Christmas Battle
Michael G. Lewis, author
Stan Jaskiel, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053
9781455619344, $16.99,

"The Great Pirate Christmas Battle" is a humorous, foreboding, verse narrative with hearty pirate companion illustrations of Captain McNasty and crew. "The Great Pirate Christmas Battle" takes a new twist on traditional holiday stories. For these pirates have hatched a scheme to steal all the presents that Santa left out for children on Christmas eve! However, the pirate ship does not escape with all booty without a flying descent of Santa, sleigh, reindeer, and elves. The pirate crew bluster and fight, but Santa's helpers outmatch them. Finally St. Nick himself squares off with Captain McNasty, candy cane against hook: "Well, blow me down, they beat us!/ Aye, they did, no doubt!/ As They quickly sailed away,/ Santa turned to shout: "I hope you learned your lesson/ and won't be stealing toys/ that I leave around the world/ for all the girls and boys!" Of course, Captain McNasty has to steal a little surprise in the ending, but all jolly times are guaranteed for children awaiting Christmas in reading "The Great Pirate Christmas Battle."

A Chick 'n Pug Christmas
Jennifer Sattler
Bloomsbury Children's Books
175 Fifth Avenue, 8th floor
New York, NY 10010-7728
9781599906027, $16.99,

A Chick 'n Pug Christmas tells of Santa Pug, who is ready for Christmas, even though it involves a scratchy Santa suit, a sidekick elf, and a dangerous winter venture to spread cheer against all odds. Chick and Pug aren't just holiday minions - they are superheroes determined to spread the holiday spirit no matter what. A fun tale evolves, perfect for holiday picturebook readers seeking something different.

The Board Book Shelf

What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock
R. Bradley Snyder and Marc Engelsgjerd, authors
Need To Know Publishing, Inc.
11019 N. 73rd. St., Scottsdale, AZ 85260
9781940705057, $8.95,

"What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock" is a unique, board book format for presenting issues, icons, history, and significance of the movement of popular music known as punk rock for middle grade (and earlier) students. Describing the punk rock phenomena as both a style of music and "a way of thinking about and interacting with society," the two authors (interested parents both) present basic definitions and information with integrity, humor, honesty, and style. An interesting overview of the cultural impact of punk rock is given in a timeline marked by decade time banners of punk rock band movement developments, from the 1970's to the 2010's. Exciting colored and black and white photos and bold graphic prints decorate the sparse text and board pages. The concluding pages illustrate the underlying sense of humor and self criticism of the authors thus: "If you have understood this book, then you may recognize that a board book about punk rock is not very punk rock." On the other hand, it certainly seems to be appropriate, immediate, and effective, with very few pretensions, a striking visual and intellectual experience. Tweens and older kids who are curious about punk rock will enjoy reading "What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock."

The Picturebook Shelf

A Book is a Book
Jenny Bornholdt, author
Sarah Wilkins, illustrator
Gecko Press, Whitireia Publishing
PO Box 9335, Wellington 6141, New Zealand
Lerner Publishing Group (distributor)
9781877579929, $14.95,

"A Book is a Book" is a compact, densely poetic story about books for children age 7 and up. Each tiny page of precise, priceless prose is daintily decorated with cheery miniature pictures of the story of books. "If it's Sunday and raining, / a book is the perfect thing. / Even a small book, because / boredom can be very big." This quotation is a perfect example of the pungency of each page, striking to the core of a child's definition of books. Another page reads, "You can go right inside a book," illustrated by a girl entering the covers of a book that is spilling leaves, jungle, vines, flowers, and even a giraffe, bee, and butterfly. "A Book is a Book" is the perfect book definition in miniature for young readers, with spare, evocative prose that appeals to a youthful sense of humor balanced by correctness. Children will love exploring this small, nonthreatening book about books. It perfectly portrays the ability of books to open worlds to readers, no matter how young.

Kobee Manatee
Robert Scott Thayer, author
Lauren Gallegos, illustrator
Thompson Mill Press
2865 S. Eagle Rd., #368
Newtown, Pennsylvania 18940
9780988326989 $7.99 pbk
9780988326927 $16.99 hc

A winner of the Mom's Choice Award, Kobee Manatee is a wonderfully illustrated picturebook for young readers ages 4-8, about a manatee who has swum all the way from Florida to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. But winter is approaching, and if Kobee doesn't make the twelve hundred mile journey home he could die from the cold! Kobee makes new friends on his journey, including Pablo the hermit crab and Tess, an inquisitive seahorse. True facts about the threatened manatee species are interwoven into this delightful read-aloud adventure. A short guitar-drum-ukelele music CD produced by Jim Cravero, "Kobee's Song" ($TBA CD / $0.99 MP3, is separately available.

On the Wing
David Elliott, author
Becca Stadtlander, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763653248 $16.99

On the Wing is a rhyming children's picturebook celebrating the mysteries and wonders of birds a-wing, from the fierce bald eagle to the raucous blue jay at one's backyard feeder. Fifteen different birds are celebrated in verse and sweeping artwork, in this read-aloud treasure for young avian fans! "The Japanese Crane: What music do they hear / that makes them flutter so? / It's early spring; / the cranes are dancing, / dancing in the snow."

This Orq. (He Cave Boy.)
David Elliott, author
Lori Nichols, illustrator
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620915219 $15.95

This Orq. (He Cave Boy.) is a silly yet charming picturebook about a young cave boy. His life is filled with hazards, such as a hungry sabertooth tiger - fortunately he befriends a kindly and very BIG wooly mammoth named Woma! Will Orq's mother accept Woma into the family? The comical yet heartwarming color artwork tells the expressive tale of friendship's bond, and the text is written in a very simple "caveman speak" style. "Orq get big idea. Teach Woma tricks. Mother think Woma smart. Mother think Woma cute. Mother love Woma."

Little Jimmy Says, "Same Is Lame"
Jimmy Vee, author
Mike Motz, illustrator
Allen J. Venezio, editors
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780985478223 $17.99

Husband, father, author, motivational speaker, and children's entertainer Jimmy Vee presents Little Jimmy Says, "Same Is Lame", a picturebook about celebrating one another's unique talents. Exuberant, colorful cartoon-style images bring to life the central point that even though different people have varying appearances, perspectives, styles of dress, and cultures, it's how one applies oneself that truly matters. "Some people have freckles. Others wear braces. / We vary in sizes. And are of different races. // But no matter your race or what's on your face, / It's these things you embrace to carve out your place. // For all this to happen you must make a shift / and realize that 'different' is truly a gift. // We all are unique in our own special way. / We all have our talents to work and to play." Little Jimmy Says "Same Is Lame" is an excellent, read-aloud picturebook with a strong positive message, highly recommended.

Mister Horizontal and Miss Vertical
Noemie Revah, author
Olimpia Zagnoli, illustrator
Claudia Bedrick, translator
Enchanted Lion Books
351 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592701612 $17.95

Smoothly translated from the original French, Mister Horizontal and Miss Vertical is a children's picturebook inspired by a photograph of a man, a woman, and a child, in which Dad wears horizontal stripes, Mom wears vertical stripes, and the child wears a checkered shirt. The pages contrast "Mister Horizontal", who "likes water-skiing and boating, and always looks out at the horizon while floating on the waves", and "Miss Vertical", who "likes elevators. Going up and down in them is a big treat. And she can often be found on staircases". The illustrations emphasize iconic, black-and-white figures on solid color backgrounds, emphasizing the eerily wild and fun contrast between two radically different personalities. "Now what do you think... / their child will love?" The original, inspirational photograph is on the final page of this just-plain-fun read-aloud picturebook.

Just Right for Two
Tracey Corderoy & Rosalind Beardshaw
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144
9780763673444 $15.99

Just Right for Two is a charming children's picturebook with an underlying message that objects and collections aren't the most important thing in life. The story follows Dog, who feels that his cherished blue suitcase has everything he needs packed inside. Then he meets Mouse, and learns that his life is richer and more satisfying when shared with a friend. Even a cozy, comfortable blue suitcase has room for two to sit on it! Just Right for Two is a gentle, kindly story brought to life with warm color illustrations.

Susan Kapanke, author
JP Roberts, illustrator
Suite 300 - 852 Fort Street, Victoria, B.C., Canada V8W 1H8
9781460222805, $14.99,,

"Budaniel" is a touching story of a boy of Asian descent adopted by an American family who had a pleasant visit with his young cousins, aunt, and family. His name was Nathaniel, but a younger cousin called him "Budaniel," so that became his nickname. Budaniel brought a treasured stuffed animal, Simba, along for company and support during his visit, but in the course of a busy day, Simba was lost. This caused Budaniel grief and distress, but he was comforted by his parents and aunt, who suggested that Simba was merely away on an adventure, or trip, or safari, and would return. In the meantime, Budaniel was greatly diverted by playing fun games with a live kitten named Max. His parents even bought him a stuffed animal that looked like Max, whom he named, what else, Max. Finally, the next day, his mother found Simba under the bed where he had been hidden, and Budaniel was so happy. All the way home he held both Simba and Max on his lap. The tender, expressive, mellow tinted illustrations of "Budaniel" amplify the feelings suggested in the narrative of this sensitive story. "Budaniel" is a wonderful story teaching children about ways of coping with change, loss, and the restoration of hope. It also perfectly illustrates the author's underlying conviction: "Every child should experience the love of family."

Who's Coming Tonight?
Jeongim Choi, author
Min Jeong Gang, illustrator
Joy Cowley, language arts consultant
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, Illinois 60631
9781599536538, $22.60,

From the MySELF Bookshelf series, "Who's Coming Tonight?" is an exciting multi-dimensional juvenile title that teaches responsibility, bravery, cooperation, and endurance through social emotional learning. Beautifully articulated and quietly enhanced with angular autumn-colored graphics scenes, "Who's Coming Tonight?" addresses the topic of how to overcome fear, failure, and worse with responsible planned action and determined follow through. Three brave ducks are commissioned to act as sentinels when a flock of ducks are warned that an evil red fox is coming. Unfortunately, the sentinel ducks become exhausted after being tricked into a three night vigil awaiting the fox. While they sleep, the fox steals all the remaining ducks. However, disastrous as this is, the three brave ducks find a way to turn the fox's trick back upon him, luring him into three fruitless nights of wakeful sentry duty, then freeing the flock of ducks when the fox finally succumbs to sleep. As a final coup de gras, the ducks place a net over the fox, and he is lifted and carried far away from the calm little lake and forest by a flock of wild geese. The rescued flock of ducks write a grateful thank you note to the three brave ducks. Additional learning activities for social and emotional learning focus on responsibility are suggested, plus a Reader's Theater edition of "Who's Coming Tonight?" can be accessed at a website of,, or by scanning the QR code. A second title from the MySELF Bookshelf series that is also highly recommended is "We Are Proud of You" (9781599536422, $22.60) by YeShil Kim, illustrated by the Pope Twins.

Grand-ma-MA Stories: Grand-ma-MA and her Grand-Grand-Kids
GigiK, author
Thinkstock, illustrations
Lulu Publishing Services
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781483408736, $ 19.99,,

"Grand-ma-MA and her Grand-Grand-Kids is the first volume in a series about exploring the relationship between a grandchild and grandmother, someone who always loves you no matter how far away you are. The "Grand-ma-MA Stories" were written in charming verse with colorful illustrations of many different grandmothers, of many races, to encouraging grandchildren to explore and treasure their feelings of being especially loved and cared for by a grandmother, the mother of their mother. This delightful children's book ends with the words: "So a mother's mother is a Grand-ma-MA,/ Even if you can't find her or she's not around,/ Just look in your heart way deep down:? A special Grand-ma-Ma is there to be found." This page is accompanied by a warm illustration of five different loving grandmothers, of different races, wearing different clothing, but each one smiling and opening her arms to demonstrate love and affection for her grandchild. Thus the "Grand-ma-MA Stories" accomplish their aim of finding a special Grand-ma-MA for each child to help bring lightness and love into their hearts and lives. The second title of the series, "Grand-ma-Ma Stories: Grand-ma-MA's Adventures With Her Grand-Grand Girls (9781483408712, $19.99)," by GigiK, continues the cycle of loving play adventures shared between grandmothers and grandchildren.

Pickin' Peas
Margaret Read MacDonald, author
Pat Cummings, illustrator
August House: Little Folk
3500 Piedmont Road, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9781939160836, $8.95,

"Pickin' Peas" is a traditional children's tale with Southern roots, retold in color- illustrated rich detail by Margaret Read MacDonald, with suggested song setting and accompanying actions and story games. "Pickin' Peas" tells the tale of Little Girl, who planted herself a garden of peas to harvest and eat. While picking peas, she sang a little song, then heard a funny echo: "Pickin' peas./ Land on my knees!" Cleverly, she waited and caught the pesky intruder, a pea-eating rabbit. Even more cleverly, the trapped rabbit found a way to amuse and entertain Little Girl with his pea pickin' song, dancing his way to ultimate freedom, with opportunity for more pea pickin' in Little Girl's garden. "Pickin' Peas" is a fun, vividly illustrated traditional children's tale that begs to be performed by a storyteller in tandem with a young audience. A second title from August House/Little Folk that is based on a traditional ballad, also highly recommended, is "A Natural Man: The True Story of John Henry (9781939160850, $9.95)," told by Steve Sanfield, illustrated by Peter J. Thornton.

Handy Mr. Hippo
Chae InSeon, author
Kim YouDae, illustrator
Joy Cowley, language arts consultant
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599536521, $22.60, www.norwoodhousepress.o/com

"Handy Mr. Hippo" is a title from the MySELF Bookshelf series written to support social emotional learning in children. Encouraging children age 6 and up to learn early reading skills while simultaneously developing higher communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills. SEL, or social emotional learning, has been proven to be helpful to both development of self awareness and responsibility, but also positive relationship skills and higher academic achievement. "Handy Mr. Hippo" presents a story about a friendly, hard-working little hippo who fixes all kinds of things for all his friends. One day the mean old hairy giant called Mr. Hippo and ordered him to fix everything that was wrong or broken in his house. Everyone was afraid of the hairy, mean giant, but Mr. Hippo agreed to come and start fixing things tomorrow morning. The rest of the story is a wonderful series of patient fixing projects and quiet, good mannered exchanges between Mr. Hippo and the mean hairy giant. Finally, when everything else in his house is fixed, the giant asks Mr. Hippo to help him make and keep friends, so Mr. Hippo does. The fantastic, imaginative illustrations give full expression to all the feelings of fear, doubt, dread, and joy that Mr. Hippo and all his friends feel as they gradually accept the new, polite hairy giant. Additional games of practicing courtesy are suggested at the end of the book, along with a Reader's Theater link for an integrated approach to encourage fluency and comprehension. "Handy Mr. Hippo" is a hero of helpfulness to all his friends, a wonderful book to encourage children about acceptance of differences and working through tough obstacles.

The Little Bear Who Wanted to Play the Cello and Others
Ruzanna Topchyan, author
Susan Shorter, illustrator
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491872499, $20.99,

"The Little Bear Who Wanted to Play the Cello and Others" is a collection of three unique animal fables by a modern teacher of English, Armenian, and Russian heritage. This amazing little creative fable teaches children that it is important to follow your dream, no matter how unlikely it is, or what obstacles you face. Despite many obstacles, a little bear is helped to follow his dream, finding a way to create an play his own cello, which he does, to the great joy of all the animals of the forest. Even the evil witch of the forest and her paralyzing bell cannot stop the bear from its best gift of cello music, when the bear's friend rabbit helps him use his imagination to dissolve the difficulties created by the evil witch's enchanted bell. "The Little Bear Who Wanted to Play the Cello" is an inspirational, original, modern fable, filled with hopeful ideas and colorfully illustrated along with two other fables, "The Spider Who Could Spin an Amazing Web," and "The Quick Mousie Who Wanted to Make Friends." The author is an educator and member of the Armenian Writers' Union, with many published children's works in Armenian. "The Little Bear Who Wanted to Play the Cello" is her first publication in English. A sequel is expected for publication soon. The author encourages all children to imagine creating their own fables and tales.

The Cake
Dorothee de Monfreid, author/illustrator
Gecko Press
PO Box 9335, Marion Square
Wellington 6141, New Zealand
9781877579455, $17.95,

"The Cake" is a story artfully told as much by picture as by narration. A huge, yellow striped tiger wants to make a chocolate cake, but his animal friends disagree as to what flavor of cake is preferred. After a tremendous discussion and ultimate threat (by the tiger, who is very hungry), his animal friends go away and surprise him with a chocolate cake. The last page tells it all in this exciting cartoon ballad of the making and eating of a tiger's chocolate cake. "The Cake" is exciting action art and storytelling at its best.

The Gigantic Sweet Potato
Dianne De Las Casas, author
Marita Gentry, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781589807556, $16.99,

Written by Dianne De Las Casas, and illustrated by Martia Genry, "The Gigantic Sweet Potato" is a cumulative, 32page, picture book story adapted from the Russian folktale 'The Giant Turnip'. In this version, Ma Farmer has a hankering for some sweet potato pie. But the sweet potato she has planted is too big to pull up, even with the help of just about every animal on the farm, from Pa Farmer, to Bessie Cow, to Ralphie the Dog, to Kittie Cat. Can Lily Mouse be the one to solve the problem? A page of fun facts and a sweet potato pie recipe are included. Especially appropriate for children ages 5 to 8, "The Gigantic Sweet Potato" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, school, and community library fairytale/folklore picture book collections.

Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's UNI THE UNICORN: A STORY ABOUT BELIEVING (9780385375559, $17.99) provides a fine story about believing, pairs it with engaging color drawings by Brigette Barrager, and offers a horse of a different color when a young unicorn believes little girls are just make-believe legends. Only Uni believes that little girls actually exist - and sets out to prove it. A delightful, whimsical fantasy evolves, perfect for kids with some reading skills who want the next level beyond very easy readers. MARLENE, MARLENE, QUEEN OF MEAN (9780385379083, $16.99) comes from Jane Lynch, who works with Lara Embry, PhD and A.E. Mikesell - and illustrator Tricia Tusa - to produce a fun story of a very mean girl who excels at pinching, scowling, and general cruelty. It seems that Marlene has carved a negative niche for herself in life: can anything change her ways? Jane Lynch plays the on-screen bully in the TV show Glee, so she's in the perfect position to produce this fun story; especially as she's working with a clinical psychologist and an author who team up to provide realistic, fun insights into the bully's mind and techniques.

c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10014

Four new titles provide fine, involving themes for any interested in exceptional picturebook fiction. Kim Cooley Reeder's RUNAWAY TOMATO (9780803736948, $16.99) pairs pictures by Lincoln Agnew with the story of a giant tomato that's ready to roll out. Every scooter, tractor, and chopper in town tries to control it, but they only make a big mess. It will take a boy and his dog to bring things under control in this saucy, fun read. Leeza Hernandez's CAT NAPPED! (9780399164385, $15.99) tells of a too-curious cat who faces problems when she wakes up from a nap only to find she's lost. It will take an animal shelter and the kindness of strangers to find her home and reunite her with her friend. Easy, two-word pages lend to beginning reader comprehension and involvement. Anika Denise's BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA'S (9780399242441, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Christopher Denise as it celebrates baking day and three little bears who show up at grandma's ready to work. A rhyming text accompanies a fun, warm family story of winter fun and warmth, with accompanying illustrations enhancing a light-hearted story celebrating families and cooking. Hallie Durand's CATCH THAT COOKIE (9780525428350, $17.99) issues an APB for a missing six-inch cookie with raisin eyes (six of them!) and a taste of molasses, and presents a funny, zany modern version of The Gingerbread Man classic. David Small's fun drawings enhance the story of a boy who believes in eating cookies and the riddle of vanishing gingerbread men. The fun mystery is a delightful story for kids with good reading skills who still look for fun picturebook presentations.

The Native American Shelf

Sequoyah and His Talking Leaves: A Play About the Cherokee Syllabary
Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin, authors
Siri Weber Feeney, illustrator
Red Chair Press
Myrick Marketing & Media
9781939656360, $27.93,

From the Setting the Stage for Fluency series, "Sequoyah and His Talking Leaves" is a play in ten scenes with fourteen actors created for a juvenile cast of kids age 9 and up. Using simple dialogue illustrated with colorful artwork and pictures, "Sequoyah and His Talking Leaves" tells the story of how the great Cherokee Sequoyah created a writing system, or syllabary to record documents in the native Cherokee language. Ending with the great mystery of the last book written by Sequoyah telling the story of the Cherokee people, "Sequoyah and the Talking Leaves" entices young readers and performers to learn more about this fascinating original genius. A vocabulary list and additional resources are suggested to readers wanting to discover more about Sequoyah.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Blind Boy & the Loon
Aletha Arnaquq-Baril, author/illustrator
Daniel Gies and Aletha Arnaquq-Baril, illustrators
Inhabit Media
146A Orchard View Blvd.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4R 1C3
9781927095577, $16.95,

"The Blind Boy & the Loon" is a traditionally sourced modern retelling of an ancient traditional Inuit tale originally known as "Lumaajuuq." Because the original story is widely told among Inuit all across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia, it probably predates circumpolar migrations of the Inuit, and is very old indeed. Different variations of "Lumaajuuq" are found in different areas, but the similarities by far outweigh the differences. This ancient story has layers of meaning that clearly speak from the pages of "The Blind Boy & the Loon," expressed in the contrasting dark and light, spirit-infused illustrations, and in the intimate storyteller's tone of the carefully honed narrative. A blind boy who was once a great hunter was miserably fed and poorly sheltered by his cruel mother, who treated him much worse than she did his seeing sister. Resenting the burden of the blind boy's care, his mother made him feel useless and worthless. The boy waited for spring to follow his sister to the lake to find a red-throated loon to help heal him of his blindness. A loon is a good spirit guide for someone who is blind because of its sharp eyesight. The boy found a loon who told him it was his mother who had deliberately made him blind by rubbing dirty whale fat in his eyes and cursing him. She did this for revenge, because she had lost the boy's father. The loon also told the boy he could help him see again. This he does by riding the loon through a succession of three dives into the deep cold water, finally exclaiming at his vision of individual blades of far away grasses growing in the distance. He was told he could then see as well as a loon. After thanking the loon, the boy returned to his mother and eventually tricked her into being tied to a harpooned whale who dragged her into the ocean. The last sound she made was "Lumaajuuq," a glugging and gurgling sound. Somehow in the deep, cold water the cruel mother was transformed into a narwhal, whose doomed shape was a symbol of the worthless value of revenge, for all acts of revenge lead only to more cruelty and suffering. Thus the narwhal is a reminder the only way to break the chain of revenge is by forgiveness. "The Blind Boy & the Loon" is a deeply significant Inuit myth that touches and teaches all who are able to share it today, thanks to the vast talents and long chain of traditional elder teaching experiences of author/illustrator Aletha Arnaquq-Baril.

The Snow Girl
Robert Giraud, author
Helene Muller, illustrator
Floris Books
15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburgh, EH11 1SH, UK
9781782501329, $17.95,

"The Snow Girl" is a lovely retelling of an old traditional story of Slavic origins. An elderly couple are happy together but sad because they have no child. When snow falls, they hear children playing outside in the snow. Together, they decide to create a snow maiden, to be the little girl they have always wanted. When they are finished, dressing her in a coat and scarf, the snow girl glows with life and becomes exactly like a real little girl. A happy time follows through the winter, for the snow girl brings the couple joy and delight every day in their home. However, as winter fades and spring emerges, the snow girl becomes sad and pensive. Finally the couple send her off to the woods to play with other girls on Midsummer's Day, and she eventually leaps over a fire they have built, in a traditional game of the season. As she passes over the flames, she becomes a misty cloud in the air and the girls are forced to return without her. Although the couple are very sad to miss their snow girl, they here a hopeful message from a misty cloud on a summer breeze, "Winter will bring back what summer drives away." Tender, pastel illustrations of Slavic children and families playing in the snow and woods in different seasons bring this well-loved traditional tale of love and imagination to a new incarnation.

An Illustrated Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen, author
Anastasiya Archipova, illustrator
Floris Books
15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburghy, EH11 1SH, UK
9781782501183, $16.95,

"An Illustrated Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales" is a 216 page compendium comprised of classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytales including: Thumbelina; The Princess and the Pea; The Snow Queen; The Brave Tin Soldier; The Emperor's New Suit; The Little Match Girl; The Little Mermaid; and The Christmas Tree. What makes this anthology stand out is the magnificent artwork of Anastasiya Archipova. This profusion of images wonderfully enhances these stories making them a delight for young readers and ideal for parents to read to younger children. Of special note is an informative two page illustrated article about Hans Christian Andersen. Simply stated, "An Illustrated Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales" will make an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library Folktale/Fairytale collections.

Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate
Dianne De Las Casas, author
Holly Stone-Barker, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455614592, $16.99,

Written by Dianne De Las Casa and illustrated by Holly Stone-Barker, "Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate" is a 32 page picture book story of how a long, long time ago, the Sun God spent his days enjoying a very special secret treat: rich, dark cacao. Unlike the Wind God, the Sun God did not want to share this heavenly food with the creatures of the Earth. One day, the Wind God transformed himself into the Rana Azul, or Blue Frog, and he taught the children of the Earth where to find the secret cacao beans through song. "Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate" is enhanced for children ages 5 to 8 (Kindergarten - 3rd Grade) with a recipe for hot chocolate and a sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases enhance this intricately illustrated folklore fable. A thoroughly entertaining picture book from first page to last, "Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate" will prove to be welcome and popular addition to family, school, and community library collections.

The Crafts Shelf

Super Sands! Awesome Activities for Sands Alive! And Kinetic Sand
Colleen Dorsey & Gail E. Kollmar, authors
Design Originals
c/o Fox Chapel Publishing
1970 Broad St., East Petersburg, PA 17520
9781574219807, $9.99,

"Super Sands!" is a creative, exciting craft and hobby book for kids age 5 and up with instructions for 15 projects and other games and activities involving super sands such as Kinetic Sand and Sands Alive! These new super sands are a combination of ordinary sand with an active ingredient of Silly Putty that looks and feels like wet beach sand, yet is completely dry. They are easy to clean up, and safe to use, Starting with information about the science of super sands, sands super powers, suggested tools and experiments, "Super Sands!" continues with lavish color photos demonstrating sand craft steps and projects, plus fun green sidebars for creative ideas and other information. Some projects call for use of molds, tools, or templates, which are provided in a separate section. Special games are suggested and described, along with scenes such as a Construction Zone, Spacewalk and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. There is no doubt that using super sands is a fun new experience that kids will literally scoop up with joy. "Super Sands!" has multiple uses for teaching, sensory education and exploration, creativity stimulation, and more. "Super Sands!" is a juvenile craft book resource that is fun to read, show, and use.

Fun and Festive Fall Crafts: Leaf Rubbings, Dancing Scarecrows, and Pinecone Turkeys
Randel McGee, author
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
9780766043206, $25.27 each / $18.95 each for schools/libraries

A title from the Fun and Festive Crafts for the Seasons series, "Fun and Festive Fall Crafts" offers eight different craft projects with autumn themes for children age 8-9. A general introduction to the season of autumn begins the book, followed by eight delightful, creative autumn craft projects, complete with lists of required items, step by step instructions, and color photos of examples. Here are complete instructions for leaf rubbings, a pencil pal, a book protector, a birdie bookmark, bat marionette, potato stamp place mat, pinecone turkey, and a barn-dance scarecrow. Patterns for projects plus enlarging or shrinking suggestions are included in a separate chapter, along with a list of books on related topics and internet addresses. "Fun and Festive Fall Crafts" is just right for classroom use and use as a home enrichment resource. Happy crafting with kids greeting fall! Additional titles by the same author in this highly popular, creative series include: "Fun and Festive Winter Crafts (9780766043176)," "Fun and Festive Spring Crafts (9780766043183)," and "Fun and Festive Summer Crafts (9780766043190)."

The Self-Help Shelf

The Garden in My Mind: Growing Through Positive Choices
Stephie McCumbee, author
Lisa M. Griffin, illustrator
Boys Town Press
14100 Crawford St., Boys Town, NE 68010
9781934490549, $12.95,

"The Garden in My Mind" is a self help story for elementary to middle school students that uses positive flower imagery to promote the child's ability to distinguish and make lasting good choices in social interaction and learning. Maci and Trey are students who have gotten into the habit of teasing other students and disrupting class, making poor choices to nurture their own growing and learning. Mrs. Jillian tells Maci and Trey, "Grass withers and flowers fade every time a bad choice is made." Asked to explain this, Mrs. Jillian says, "Your brain is like a sponge. It has many flower seeds just waiting to grow. Each time you are doing your best, you are watering your seeds. Each time you make a bad choice, your flowers begin to fade. It's time you start to think about your choices and how they may be hurting you." Maci's mother further explains this idea by suggesting she needs to take responsibility for her actions. Some suggestions for how to avoid poor choices when Trey encourages her include: "Try not to make eye contact with him... Don't respond... Stay focused on your work....(if this doesn't work), tell your teacher." Maci decides to implement these suggestions the next day. Her success is enhanced by her vision of lovely gardens of flowers growing from some children's "sponges," while others look wilted and neglected, not growing at all. Maci decides to sit with Shaina, whose mind garden was growing nicely. At the end of the day, Maci can feel her own garden in her mind flourishing, and she is proud of her achievement and even eager to try to help her friend Trey to start to make better choices to help his mind garden grow. Bright colored illustrations filled with light and humor deliver and frame the messages of "The Garden in my Mind," an excellent tool to teach students responsibility for their own choices and behavior, encouraging them to grow and learn. Accompanying "The Garden in My Mind" is "The Garden in My Mind Activity Guide (9781934490556, $20.95)," filled with lessons for social skill and common core development. This teacher's guide is rife with "classroom ideas for teaching the skills of ignoring distractions from others and making positive choices," and is also very highly recommended for elementary grade teachers and others.

George Can! (And You Can Too!)
Maria Stuckey-Leach, author
Ginger Nielson, illustrator
Privately Published
9780990427001 $TBA

George Can! (And You Can Too!) is an inspirational children's picturebook grounded in the positive message of affirmation. The story follows a playful black Labrador puppy named George, who needs to be adopted by a loving family. His littermates are all picked for adoption before him, but he never stops believing in himself. His can-do attitude sustains him when he sets out into the wide world to find new friends. "'I CAN!' he shouts as he passes the old red barn. 'I WILL!' he shouts as he darts past the cornfields with their large, green leaves. 'I BELIEVE my new friend is down the road!' Panting he plops down across the railroad tracks." George Can (And You Can Too!) is a merry, joyful adventure with an uplifting message about holding fast to hope and seeing the best in other people. A list of questions at the end (such as "When George meets the pack of dogs, they try to get him to turn around. What was George's main goal? Do you have a goal?") encourages young readers to think about how the story applies to everyday life.

The Health Shelf

The Yoga Game By the Sea
Kathy Beliveau, author
Denis Holmes, illustrator
Simply Read Books
501-5525 West Boulevard
Vancouver, BC, V6M 3W6 Canada
9781927018491, $16.95,

Children are naturally interested in yoga and enjoy discovering the magic of imitating nature while focusing on their breathing. "The Yoga Game By the Sea" is written as a series of riddles in rhyme, illustrated by children in the yoga pose of the answer to each riddle. Thus we have delicately tinted playful illustrations of children demonstrating poses such as moon, rainbow, dolphin, clam, ocean, seal, and many more. Colored text clue questions and answers plus effervescent, lilting rhymes, mimicking the rhythms of the ocean help make "The Yoga Game By the Sea" a first class exploration in play, imagination, and young practice of yoga.

The World History Shelf

Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology That Changed the World
Cheryl Mullenbach, author
Chicago Review Press
814 N. Franklin, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613746905, $16.95 144 pages,

"The Industrial Revolution for Kids" has been described as "a blend of authoritative historic overview and human interest stories." Complemented by twenty one creative learning activities and a photo- sidebar time line from 1791 to 1913, "The Industrial Revolution for Kids" guides a young audience (age 9 and up) through the American experience of perhaps the most important turning point of modern history. Students are familiarized with the Industrial Revolution through individual portraits or miniatures of real children who lived and worked through the era. For example, Lucy Larcom was an 11 year old girl who worked in a textile mill in 1835. Isaac Myers, a young African American caulker in Baltimore, offered employment to African American workers and helped start the Colored Caulkers' Trade Union Society of Baltimore. He helped lead the battle for equal pay and opportunities for black workers. Often the lives of the wealthy and famous are contrasted with lives of the working poor. Black and white historic photographs are used as frequent illustrations, some formal portraits and some tragic circumstances and events. Sidebars suggest related hands on activities such as playing "Monkey Tag," creating a time line of your life, modeling an elevator, and more. Seven chapters cover the beginning of the era through kids at work, catastrophes, unions and strikes, and finally help and hope a better future, ending with an overview of World Fairs during the Industrial Revolution. An Epilogue takes a thoughtful look at the 100 odd years of the Industrial Revolution, examining the question, who are the heroes of the Industrial Revolution? The famous or the unnamed? The wealthy tycoons or the Chinese and other immigrants who labored to create the underpinnings of the infrastructure of wealth? What about the women, girls and boy, children who worked in unsavory and unsafe conditions to better their families lives? A striking example is this one: "Was Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce, a hero because he allowed himself to be called by an English name and moved his people out of the way of the Industrial Revolution (p.118)?" Altogether, complete with resources, notes, and a bibliography, "The Industrial Revolution for Kids" is a fantastic educational text, with wide scope and humanitarian vision laced with history of child and human welfare in the modern world.

The Humor Shelf

DOGS Don't Care, Dogs POO Everywhere!
Lynn Chang, author/illustrator
self published
Lynn Chang Enterprises
9780615922256, $19.99,

"Dogs Don't Care, Dogs Poo Everywhere" is a humorous illustrated narrative verse story about all kinds of dogs and their poo habits. Here are Beagles, Pugs, Greyhounds, Pitbulls, and more, all cheerfully doing what dogs do best! This is a stitch for kids to read, and an added plus is that proceeds from book sales will be donated to a variety of favorite pet rescues in America for all kinds of homeless dogs. "Dogs Don't Care, Dogs Poo Everywhere" teaches compassion and humor and spreads love for canines of all varieties with its message.

The Poetry Shelf

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold
Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547906508, $17.99,

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold offers a fun survey of how animals brave the cold winter months, from how tundra swans sleep to what happens to honeybees when it snows. Explorations take the form of fun rhymes accompanied by natural history descriptions on facing pages, while beautiful full-page color drawings invite kids to discover more about the world around them.

The Sports Shelf

Sports Illustrated Kids Football: Then to WOW!
Sports Illustrated Editors
Sports Illustrated
c/o Goodman Media (publicity)
9781618931160, $19.95,

"Sports Illustrated Kids Football: Then to WOW!" is an 80 page, fully illustrated compendium specifically intended for young readers ages 8 and older showcasing how all aspects of football have evolved along with football history and trivia about the game. Enthusiastic young readers will see a football transform before your eyes from a melon-like ball crudely stitched together to the aerodynamic pigskin it is today; or watch as a quarterback evolves from a scrawny helmetless player of the 1930s to a hulking play caller of the modern era. From rules to equipment to the all-time greats, "Sports Illustrated Kids Football: Then to WOW!" is a journey through the game spanning the years and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections.

Sports Illustrated Kids What are the Chances?
Sports Illustrated Editors
Sports Illustrated
c/o Goodman Media (publicity)
9781618933744, $14.95,

How often do golfers make a hole in one? What are the chances you'll catch a foul ball at a baseball game? How often do Number 1 draft picks become Super Bowl winners? Profusely illustrated and written for young readers ages 8 and older, "Sports Illustrated Kids What are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports" is a 128 page compendium providing the perfect combination of little-known stats, amazing plays, and fun facts. Addressing all the burning questions that curious young sports fans want to know, "Sports Illustrated Kids What are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports" will highlight some incredible moments and underscore exactly how special those highlight-reel plays are. Very highly recommended for school and community library collections.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Buzz on Honeybees
Cahty Kaemmerlen, author
Kathy Coates, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street
Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455614578 $16.99

The Buzz on Honeybees is an educational children's picturebook about honeybees - insects that serve a vital function pollinating plants, and create a food which never spoils. The bright color illustrations complement the text, which is told from a honeybee's point of view and includes information about basic bee terminology. "We bees live in large groups called colonies. Our home is called a hive, with three types of bees living there: the queen, the drones, and the workers, like me." Amazing facts about the history of beekeeping are also interwoven into this fascinating, reader-friendly picturebook. An excellent addition to elementary school and children's library nonfiction shelves!

Bug Wars
Steve Parker
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781783251469, $12.99,

Bug Wars: Deadly Insects and Spiders Go Head-To-Head is designed to be visually stimulating and exciting and packs in some 80 pages of vivid color photos and illustrations that support the idea of insects and spiders who embark in 'wars' and confrontations. From who has the deadliest venom or the strongest jaws to captivating photos such as a Madagascar hissing cockroach assailed by a spiny flower mantis, this excels in high drama, visual appeal, and science facts that will involve and excite readers from grades 4-7.

Beetle Busters
Loree Griffin Burns, author
Ellen Harasimowicz, photographer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547792675, $18.99,

Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People Who Track It pairs lovely beetle photos by Ellen Harasimowicz with discussion of the Asian long horned beetle, a killer that is native to Asia but which has spread around the world with a tree-eating appetite that led it to invade even urban areas such as Chicago. This beetle is hungry and elusive: kids are invited to learn about its threat to the northeastern hardwood forest, and will receive detailed natural history information perfect for those with good reading skills and a prior interest in insects.

The Activity Shelf

The Dragon & the Knight
Robert Sabuda
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781416960812 $29.99

The Dragon & the Knight: A Pop-Up Misadventure is a splendidly elaborate pop-up book that will appeal to not only children, but also those who cherish the child at heart. An intrepid knight pursues a bright orange, fire-breathing dragon through a mash-up land of fairy tales, from "Rapunzel" to "Aladdin", "The Three Little Pigs", "Puss in Boots" and more. But who will triumph when the knight catches up to the dragon? A playful surprise about the knight's identity and the nature of the chase waits at the end! The story has a modest amount of text, but should be accessible to any child old enough to properly handle a delicate pop-up book, and three-dimensional art perfectly enhances this delightful tale. Also highly recommended are other pop-up fairy tales by author Robert Sabuda: "The Little Mermaid", "Peter Pan", "Beauty and the Beast", and "The Wonderful Wizard".

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Pokemon Black and White Box Set 2
Story by Hidenori Kusaka
Art by Satoshi Yamamoto
Perfect Square
c/o Viz Media LLC
1355 Market Street, Suite 200
San Francisco CA 94103
9781421577746 $25.99

Young and old pokemon fans alike will enjoy Pokemon Black and White Box Set 2, a boxed set anthology of black-and-white manga (Japanese comics) based on the smash hit video games "Pokemon Black" and "Pokemon White". Major characters (especially gym leaders ranging in temperament from boistrously business-obsessed to exquisitely cultured) from the story will also be immediately recognizable to fans of the "Pokemon Black & White" anime (Japanese animated cartoons) on television or DVD. It's worth noting that the manga's storyline is substantially different from that of the anime. The anime's main character Ash is not present; instead, the primary protagonists are Pokemon Trainer Black and Pokemon Trainer White, the male and female player characters from the games. Each has their own journey to make, connecting with pokemon, testing their skill and mettle against opponents, and defying the global-domination ambitions of the mysterious Team Plasma! Box Set 2 contains volumes 9 through 14 plus a small (less than twice the size of the box) poster. Each volume is meant to be read right-to-left, in order to preserve the original art style rather than mirror it. Pokemon Black and White Box Set 2 is a high-spirited adventure all the way through, to be continued in future manga volumes! Pokemon fans of all ages will also enjoy Pokemon Adventures Ruby & Sapphire Box Set Volumes 15-22 (9781421577760, $59.99), a different pokemon-themed graphic novel series (with bonus poster) by the same author/artist team. This box set continues a separate madcap saga based on the Pokemon games "Pokemon Ruby" and "Pokemon Sapphire" (again, it's worth noting that these stories are significantly different from those of the anime television show and movies)!

The Music CD Shelf

Animal Tales
Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke
Worm Hole Productions
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

Parents' Choice Gold Award-winning duo Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke present Animal Tales, a family-friendly music album filled with upbeat, wacky songs focusing on different animals. Listeners of all ages will appreciate the witty lyrics and catchy tunes, in this excellent choice for car trips or everyday fun. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Animal Kingdom" (2:41), "Frog Fiesta" (3:19), "The Buck Stops Here" (1:51), "Bear Song" (3:46), "Platypus" (2:08), "Katy Caterpillar" (1:57), "Bombardier Beetle" (2:17), "Armando Armadillo" (3:15), "Alligator Get-Together" (3:13). "Beastapuss" (3:35), "Larry the Lobster" (4:03), "Hippo Dance" (2:24), and "Animal Island" (4:45).

Fun O'Clock
In the Nick of Time
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

The fourth studio CD from In the Nick of Time (the Parents' Choice Award-winning duo of Nick Deysher and Tracey Freitag), Fun O'Clock is a playful album ideal for young people ages 2-8. Songs trace a whirlwind time-travel tour through 100 years and various styles of popular music, including 80's hip-hop, ska/reggae, Celtic, indie rock, classic rock, jazz, country, and even a nod to the Renaissance. Eclectically diverse and overflowing with joy, Fun O'Clock is a great way to introduce little ones to the wonderfully rich and varied tapestry of musical traditions. The tracks are "Fun O'Clock", "Doin' a Little Dance", "You've Only Got One Body", "Road Trip", "Hey Nonny No (The Princess Song)", "'Til a Pig Does a Jig", "My Favorite Sneakers", "Mama Don't Allow", "Flutter By Butterfly", "Wrong Way Joe", "Namaste", "Best Friends", "Don't Say Can't", and "Down on Lemongrass Lane."

All Around This World: Latin America
Jay Sand
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
$14.00 CD / $9.00 digital

First in a series of world music album for children 0-9 years old, All Around This World: Latin America is a treasury of authentic Latin American music, suitable for educational use or family fun. An energetic celebration designed to stimulate curiosity about Latin American cultures and traditions, All Around This World: Latin America is especially recommended for children's library music collections. The tracks are "We Are Happy", "La Guacamaya", "Bambo du Bambu", "La Colora", "Wang Boto", "Cachumbambe", "Our Story Must Be Sad", "Este Torito", "A Canoa", "Un Barco Chiquitito", "Nino Colla", "Citron", "La Llave", "O Piao", "Las Mananitas", "Mayan Peace Song", "La Luna", "Tambobambino", "Ahora es Cuando es", "Arroro mi Nino", "Los Pollitos", "Azulao", and "Goodbye".

The DVD Shelf

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?
Written by Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Narrated by Jorjeana Marie
Music by Jon Carroll
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816
9780545790369 $59.95

Ideal for young people ages 5-8, Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? is a DVD adaptation of the true-life children's picturebook about the first woman doctor in America. In the 1830's, society expected all women to be wives, mothers, and nothing more. Elizabeth Blackwell defied convention, pursued knowledge of medicine, and proved herself capable, blazing a path for all future female doctors. Highly recommended, especially for children's library DVD collections and elementary homeroom viewing! 11 minutes, English subtitles, closed-captioned. Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? is also available as an audio CD (9780545790413, $12.95) and a hardcover picturebook/CD combo (9780545790420, $29.95).

The Multimedia Shelf

May All Children
Kenneth K. Guilmartin, author/composer
Kristina Swarner, illustrator
Music Together LLC
66 Witherspoon St., Princeton, NJ 08542
9780985571962, $13.95,

"May All Children" is a Singalong Storybook from a series released by the award- winning early childhood developmental music and movement program for children age birth to 7, with parents or caretakers. Those who are familiar with Music Together Curriculum could easily begin singing the song and using the music activities of "May All Children" immediately. Others new to the program can find suggestions on page 31 for ways to use the Singalong Storybook songs, also referring the reader to the video "Using Your Singalong Storybook Musically" at, "May All Children" is presented as a beautifully illustrated narrated song poem containing a prayerful request for all children and all people everywhere to live in peace, sweet peace, peaceful minds, peaceful hearts, peace on earth, sweet peace. Additional suggested activities include call and response, discussion, lullaby, and use of other musical arrangements available on the Music Together website. Copies of performances of "May All Children" are also available, and the book includes a simple notated melody with lyrics. This is a beautiful singalong storybook with many options for sharing with young children. "May All Children" was originally written to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of UNICEF and was later re-titled in memory of September 11, 2001. It is the fourth Singalong Storybook title from Music Together, and has universal appeal reinforced by lush, spangled, flowing illustrations to go with the music. Other exceptional titles in this innovative series by the same author include: "Ridin' in the Car (9780989781428, $13.95)," "All Around the Kitchen (9780989781404, $13.95)," and "Sandpiper (9780985571986, $13.95)."

The Art Shelf

Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes
Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781442499003 $17.99

A Junior Library Guild Selection that is also available as an ebook, Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes is a children's picturebook about the work of self-taught artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972), who enjoyed crafting "magic boxes", sporting three-dimensional sculpted scenes crafted with engravings and collages. His creations were so striking that artists would travel to his home on Utopia Parkway in Queens, New York to meet him, collectors bought his works, and he was eventually able to quit his job selling textiles to focus on his passion. Cornell especially appreciated the interest children had in his magic boxes, and was known to loan them out to neighborhood kids. The simple text and sprightly illustrations of Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes carry a sense of delightful wonder. Highly recommended!

Mix it Up!
Herve Tullet
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452137353, $15.99,

Mix it Up! is the perfect book for any young aspiring watercolor artist, and comes from the creator of the immensely popular PRESS HERE, which has encouraged hundreds of thousands of children to press, shake and tile their books. This one is all about mixing and creating colors, and offers very simple instructions per page to show kids how colors are mixed and created. The result is a board-type book of very simple directions all ages can follow, encouraging kids to experiment with painting and colors.

The Christian Shelf

Treasury of Bible Stories
Kelly Pulley
David C. Cook
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
c/o Litfuse Publicity Group
19011 8th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98155
9780781409179 $19.99

Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times is a children's book that adapts classic stories of the Bible to rhyming verse. Almost all of its 351 pages are illustrated with lively, full-color cartoon representations of key moments in scripture, from the serpent's temptation of Eve to the resurrection of Jesus Christ's death, resurrection, and subsequent ascent to heaven. "The day He died was not the end. / Believe, and life begins! / For Jesus died for everyone, / the payment for our sins!" Treasury of Bible Stories is a superb choice for Sunday School libraries and an excellent read-aloud storybook for Christian parents and children to share, highly recommended.

A Children's Rosary
Kathy O'Neil, author
Cynthia Meadows, illustrator
Brown Books Kids
16250 Knoll Trail Drive, Sutie 205
Dallas, Texas 75248
9781612541709 $14.95

A Children's Rosary is a prayer book especially for young Catholic children learning how to pray with the rosary, a string of beads specially designed for counting and reciting these prayers. The pages, beautifully illustrated with simple drawings and soft colors, relate the four sets of rosary mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious. ("Rosary mystery" refers to a biblical event that inspires deep, prayerful contemplation. For example, the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is "The Carrying of the Cross: Jesus has to carry his cross to Golgotha where he will be crucified.") Especially recommended as a giftbook in recognition of sacraments such Holy First Communion or Reconciliation, A Children's Rosary also makes an excellent addition to Catholic Sunday School library shelves.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Found Things
Marilyn Hilton
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781442450874, $16.99,

Found Things tells of River Rose Byrne, who has found many things, from a strange new friend named Meadow Lark to a missing brother and more. In fact, she specializes in finding missing objects and people - but her talents are challenged on many levels, from a bully to a mysterious woman who invades her dreams. There are many mysteries to solve and everything seems to rely on River Rose's talents - which may not be up to the task of solving the ultimate challenge. An intriguing saga evolves.

Neil Flambe series
Kevin Sylvester
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
$7.99 each

Award-winning writer Kevin Sylvester presents the Neil Flambe series, a set of culinary-mystery novels especially for young adults ages 8-12. Neil Flambe is an eccentric genius at his calling; he's a chef so talented that he runs his own high cuisine restaurant - even though he's only fourteen! But his mind, mettle, and cocky attitude are put to the test in these elaborate adventures. In "Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders" (9781442446052), the best chefs in the city are suddenly being murdered - and the police suspect Neil! In "Neil Flambe and the Aztec Abduction" (9781442446083), a kidnapper holds Isabella hostage, threatening to kill her unless Neil throws the "Azteca Cocina" battle of the chefs in Mexico; he'll need all the help he can get to find and rescue her before it's too late. In "Neil Flambe and the Crusader's Curse" (9781442442870), one disaster after another strikes Neil's cooking and his restaurant, which the Department of Health abruptly shuts down! A curse of misfortune has seemingly plagued Flambe chefs through the centuries, and Neil must find a way to defuse it before he's relegated to a job in the fast food industry. In "Neil Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure", Neil's former sous chef Larry decides to pursue a career as a manga artist. After news arrives that Larry went missing during the sea voyage to Tokyo, Neil notices a subtle change in Larry's online manga - could Larry still be alive? Only a trip to Japan can give answers! All four are exiting tales designed to stimulate an interest in not only reading, but also in developing one's personal skills to their utmost. Highly recommended, especially for children's library collections. Each novel of the Neil Flambe series is also available as an ebook.

Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106

Four new 'Nick and Tesla' titles "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steven Hockensmith offer fun mysteries and high-technology-based plots for ages 9 and older, with each book holding some 270 pages of detail. Moreover, this comes from a writing team of an elementary school teacher and an Edgar-Award-nominated author, and provides fun plots packed with imaginative inventions and approaches involving science. It's refreshing to see a set illustrated in black and white and packed with action based on unusual situations, and these captivating stories are certain to intrigue even non-readers. SUPER-CYBORG GADGET GLOVE (9781594747298, $12.95) tells of a science museum in trouble because its robotic replicas of history's scientists keep having trouble. It's up to Nick and Tesla Holt to uncover the cause, which involves adding their own gadget to the mix to see what happens. SECRET AGENT GADGET BATTLE (9781594746565, $12.95) also includes gadgets young readers can build themselves as it explores a third mystery revolving around a spy and secrets in the home of their beloved Uncle. Who in his household could be pilfering his secrets? The duo must create outrageous new inventions to detect the burglar. ROBERT ARMY RAMPAGE (9781594746499, $12.95) tells of robbers who hit Half Moon Bay and involve the two sleuths in a plot to build new contraptions to bag them. It's a robot-themed follow-up to HIGH-VOLTAGE DANGER LAB (9781594746482, $12.95), and features detailed instructions for building four different androids out of ordinary household objects in the process. Speaking of DANGER LAB, this holds all the trappings of a magnificent mystery for reluctant readers, from an abandoned house and a mysterious girl to a neighborhood replete with oddities. When the duo come to live with their eccentric uncle, there's all manner of secrets that require their technological prowess to solve. It's refreshing to see a series directed to advanced elementary to early middle school readers that combines science, mystery, and a fun approach to intrigue and danger.

The Fiction Shelf

Leon's Share
Mabel E. Singletary
26 Meadow Hills Drive, Somerset, NJ 08873
9780988655300, $9.99,

Why does Derrick have to be so perfect? He's good looking, he's taller, and he's great at sports! As if that weren't enough, Nana bakes a sweet potato pie just for him. Leon's grandparents are proud of his big brother Derrick, but he wants to be noticed too. Leon decides the best way to get his share of the attention is to become the best joke telling kid in the fifth grade. But when a new student named Autumn Tanner shows up, everything changes and Leon begins to learn and understand the true meaning of sharing. "Leon's Share" is the first volume of the 'The Young Conquerors' series by Mabel E. Singletary who draws upon her many years of experience and expertise teaching in the New Jersey Public School system. "Leon's Share" reveals a true gift for entertaining storytelling and being able to deft weave the message of how children who accept disabilities in others can themselves benefit and grow socially. Very highly recommended for young readers ages 8 to 13, "Leon's Share" will make an important and valued addition to family, school, and community library collections. It should be noted for parents, teachers, and school counselors that there is a companion title: "Leon's Share Question & Answer Activity Book: The Young Conquerors Series Book" (9780988655317, $9.99) available as well.

In Real Life
Lawrence Tabak
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804844789, $16.99,

IN REAL LIFE introduces teen math prodigy Seth Gordon, who wants nothing more than to play video games. All his minutes are preoccupied with playing Starfare, the world's most popular computer game. His goal is to take on top players in South Korea and to become rich and famous in turn. But these semi-pro players are trained to be tops, while Seth has school and a home life diverting him from his course - and a girlfriend who may be the only one to understand his world. A fine story of conflicts and achievement evolves for teen leisure readers.

Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Two new additions to the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne are fine picks for any reader who want advanced chapter book or simple readers, and excel in mystery and adventure. MUMMIES IN THE MORNING (9780385387583, $14.99) is illustrated in black and white by Sal Murdocca and tells what happens when the magic tree house takes Jack and Annie to ancient Egypt, involving them in a mystery with a ghostly Egyptian queen. Jack and Annie must solve the puzzle so they can all escape - or wind up as mummies, themselves. Osborne works with Natalie Pope Boyce in SURVIVAL GUIDE (978055349373, $12.99) which gathers up a host of survival methods for scary situations involving fires, earthquakes, sharks and more. From a bear encounter to power outages and weather changes, this blends possible scenarios with the impossible in a fun picture-enhanced read kids will love.

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

Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller's NIGHTMARES! (9780385744256, $16.99) provides middle-grade readers with the fun story of one Charlie, whose father marries a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch. She lives in a purple mansion which is frightening after work, he has nightmares all the time, and when those nightmares begin invading his waking world, it's time for Charlie to act. With its delightful spooky plot, this is an involving read that looks weighty at over 300 pages, but includes fun black and white drawings by Karl Kwasny peppered throughout an involving story. Sarah Zettel's BAD LUCK GIRL (9780375869402, $17.99) is part of the 'American Fairy' trilogy and tells of a half-fairy girl living in jazz-page Chicago. It's Book Three of the series, so readers might wish to begin at the start, which will allow for smoother transition into this final story of Callie, whose dream of her family being together has finally come true. Unfortunately the process of realizing that dream has lead to a war between two fairy factions, sending Callie and her best friend Jack on a flight away from danger. Is Callie the prophesized savior, or will she prove the end of her people? This is a powerful conclusion to an exciting series. James Dashner's THE RULE OF THOUGHTS (9780385741415, $18.99) is set in a future world where cyber-terrorism, games, and a dangerous computer program that has become sentient involve Michael and his friends in a desperate battle to root out terrorism lest artificial intelligence takes over. Transitions, dangers, and threats permeate a science fiction world where nothing is safe and everything may become subject to a computer's law. Young adult science fiction readers will find this a compelling adventure.

The Multicultural Shelf

Princesses From Around the World
Katell Goyer, author
Misstigri, illustrator
Auzou Publishing
24 - 32 rue des Amandiers
75020 Paris, France
9782733829516 $19.95

Princesses From Around the World is a coffee-table-sized, lift-the-flap book featuring gorgeous color artwork and true stories of princesses around the world. From Rosetta the French princess to the Chinese princess Li Chaowei to the Egyptian princess Neferure, the Eskimo princess Nukka, the Persian princess Scheherazade, and many more, Princesses From Around the World draws upon both folklore and history. Although the potentially delicate flaps make Princesses From Around the World unsuitable for public library collections, it's an excellent read-aloud giftbook to share with young girls, and simply beautiful to page through. Also highly recommended is the Aurelia Hardy's lift-the-flap book Dancers of the World (9782733830673, $19.95), portraying fifteen talented, hard-working young women who cherish the skill and art of their cultural dances.

Books in Series

The Science of Earthquakes
Matt Anniss, author
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433986550, $31.95,

"The Science of Earthquakes" is a natural disaster educational series title for students age 7-9 which covers the science of earthquakes, the cost of earthquakes, studying earthquakes, including prediction and of recasting, and fighting nature, or being prepared for when an earthquake strikes. Each chapter contains factual and practical information as well as Real-Life Science examples, with frequent color photos and pertinent sidebars. A glossary, related titles for more information, and website list is included at the end. "The Science of Earthquakes" is an excellent informative resource for young students of natural disaster related education. Also recommended from this exciting series are the following titles: "The Science of Tornadoes" (9781433986635, $31.95) by Matt Anniss, and "The Science of Hurricanes" (9781433986598, $31.95), by Angelica Royston.

Emergency Aid
Amie Jane Leavitt, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
PO Box 196, Hockessin, DE 19707
9781612286136, $29.95,

"Emergency Aid" is a color photo illustrated juvenile resource title from the Charity & Philanthropy Series for students age 9 and up. It presents well documented information on global disasters and responses, over a time line from 816 to 2014 AD. Five chapters and 41 pages cover statistics and organized (U. S. and other) responses to disasters such as forest fires, typhoons, wars, poverty, drought, famine, cyclones, earthquakes, and tornados. Key points are help with disaster preparation, Red Cross organization for relief and other established humanitarian groups, communication (ham radio to the rescue in chapter 4), reuniting with lost family, preparing for disaster and using U.S. troops for disaster relief. A list of What You Can Do to Help is given on page 42, along with a timeline of known historical disasters, suggestions for further reading including internet resources, and a glossary. This excellent nonfiction series is highly educational and supportive to furthering global humanitarian values. Additional titles in this highly recommended series include the following: "Helping Children with Life-Threatening Medical Issues" (9781612285719, $29.95), by Joanne Mattern, "Environmental Protection" (9781612285733, $29.95), by John Bankston, "The Quest to End World Hunger " (9781612285702, $29.95), by Marylou Morano Kjelle, "Support for Education" (9781612285771, $29.95), by Tammy Gagne, "Helping Our Veterans" (9781612285726, $29.95), by Tammy Gagne, "Conquering Disease" (9781612285764, $29.95), by Marylou Morano Kjelle, and "Preserving Human Rights Around the World" (9781612285740, $29.95), by Tammy Gagne.

Charlie Girl: A Story of Love and Instinct
Elizabeth Frogel, author and art director
Don Kossar, illustrator
Penny Black Publishing
c/o LSZ Communications
400 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022
9780986079108, $24.95,

"Charlie Girl: A Story of Love and Instinct" is a lovely, delicately illustrated true story about a beloved French poodle and her growing family in the bustling city of New York. Second volume in the Charlie Girl series, "A Story of Love and Instinct" traces the beginning of change in the perfect family, in Charlie's eyes. Charlie Girl wanted her life to go on as it was, perfect, she thought. Then a big change loomed, culminating in a tiny new member of the family, a baby "sister," Ava. Charlie Girl was not at all certain that this was a good change, or that as Mom had told her, "Everything will come up roses!" However, once Baby Ava had arrived and the crazy celebrations subsided, Charlie Girl gradually grew more accustomed and attached to the tiny newcomer. Despite crying, wondering, and feelings of displacement from the spotlight, Charlie began to see the good side of having a sister. They began to have fun together. Their relationship grew as Ava grew, and soon Charlie understood a new definition of a picture perfect life - one that included her "sister" Ava. Sensitive watercolor and ink illustrations portray Charlie Girl and Ava enjoying their daily routine in new York City, including meeting canine friends in Central Park for exercise and games. "Charlie Girl: A Story of Love and Instinct" is a caring and compassionate story of the love and bonding between pets and family members set in the unique, sophisticated, theater and art-influenced setting of New York City. "Charlie Girl: A Story of Love and Instinct" is also being released in a creative, Deluxe Enhanced Animated eBook format, #2: (9780986079108, $9.99), plus other non-enhanced regular eBooks at, $5.99 will also be available. For every copy of "Charlie Girl: A Story of Love and Instinct" sold, $ 1 will be donated to the ASPCA to help animals in need. The Charlie Girl series delivers wonderful messages about bonding relationships, couched in very stylish, faintly retro settings, with sophisticated costumes by Chloe and references to luxurious settings such as Bergdorf Goodman's, plus quotations and allusions to Stephen Sondheim musicals and Broadway costumes and productions. The Charlie Girl series is perfect for children age 6 and up.

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118
$16.95 Each

Three new 'Motion Close-Up' titles by Natalie Hyde are recommended picks for ages 5-8, with each book offering some 24 full color pages that help children understand how forces use energy to move objects. Photos pair with text to encourage children to make their own observations and conclusions, while the entire series supports Next Generation Science Standards and includes an experiment or design challenge linked to building critical thinking. The latest titles are SPEEDING UP, SLOWING DOWN (9780778705307, $16.95), WHAT IS MOTION? (9780778705277, $16.95), and PUSHING AND PULLING (9780778705291, $16.95).

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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