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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 25, Number 11 November 2015 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Easy Reader Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Environmental Shelf Hunting Shelf
Sports Shelf Christian Shelf Holiday Shelf
Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Judaic Shelf Multimedia Shelf Poetry Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Money Shelf Fiction Shelf
ABC Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Music CD Shelf Gardening Shelf Aviation Shelf
Biography Shelf Native American Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

The Survival Guide for Kids with Physical Disabilities & Challenges
Wendy L. Moss, Ph.D. and Susan A. Taddonio, D.P.T.
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
9781631980336 $14.99

The Survival Guide for Kids with Physical Disabilities & Challenges is a guide written especially for young adults searching for ways to cope with physical challenges such as muscular dystrophy, juvenile arthritis, cerebral palsy, or other afflictions. Chapters discuss how to tell other kids about one's disability, ways to stay motivated and reach for one's personal goals, the value of staying positive (including use of positive self-talk and dealing with fears), becoming more independent, getting the most out of school, and more. "If you want your parents or other adults to listen when you ask for more independence, show them that you deserve it. For example, imagine you want to have a job at home to earn money, but you never complete the chores you already have. Your parents probably won't think you're responsible enough to take on extra work." Notes to parents, a list of resources, and an index round out this reader-friendly guide, enthusiastically recommended for every young adult with a physical disability as well as school and public library collections.

Crane Boy
Diana Cohn, author
Youme, illustrator
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781941026175, $8.95,

"Crane Boy" is the beautiful story of a boy in Bhutan who loved the return of the black-necked cranes to his valley each year. To especially honor the black-necked cranes, and to protect and encourage them, the boy, Kinga, decided to help create a special children's crane dance to celebrate the migrating black-necked cranes, whose numbers have been diminished to 203 in recent years. An ancient Bhutan tradition holds that the trung, or cranes, bring good luck to their crops each year, and strength to the Bhutanese archers. Kinga asks special permission from the monks to begin planning a new festival, to celebrate the cranes with a crane dance performed by children. A monk named Sangay helps the children to begin by observing the cranes so they can dance like cranes. The monks have danced traditional dances for centuries, and many hours of practice are required to learn to dance these dances. However, the children will be encouraged to create their own crane dance, under the supervision of the monks. Kinga and the students work hard observing the cranes, learning the steps, and creating special crane costumes and crane-like movements. A wonderful new Crane festival is danced and performed, and even the King of Bhutan attends, giving his blessing. Kinga is renamed Crane Boy because of his dedication to help create the Crane Festival and dance. Beautiful paintings of Crane Boy and the students learning their Crane dance steps decorate the pages of this amazing book. Special acknowledgements are made of the Crane Festival, held on November 11 each year in Bhutan since 1998, many environmental educators and protectors, and the International Crane Foundation. "Crane Boy" was made possible by a network of kind Bhutanese teachers, guides, hosts, and families, and also the Royal Society for Protection of Nature in Bhutan.

If Picasso Went to the Zoo
Eric Gibbons
Firehouse Publications
8 Walnut Street, Bordentown, NJ 08505
9781940290423, $19.95, 128pp,

With the help of fifty art teachers, Eric Gibbons has created a unique and effect way to introduce diverse artists and art styles to young children ages 5 to 7 and students preschool through second grade with "If Picasso Went to the Zoo". Each page of this educational children's book contains a beautiful animal themed art piece created by one of fifty art teachers from all over the world who have all chosen a famous artist to emulate. A great tool for inter-curricular teaching, "If Picasso Went to the Zoo" deftly combines art history, zoology, and poetry that is informative and entertaining. Also included are leaf icons placed under each picture to indicate whether the animal is thriving, threatened, endangered, critically endangered, extinct, or a hybrid animal not found in nature. The art and poetry will educate children about the rich traditions of art history as well as inspire kids to learn more about the famous artists that are honored on every page. Simply stated, no preschool, elementary school, or community library should be without a copy of "If Picasso Went to the Zoo" in their collection. For families and personal reading lists it should be noted that "If Picasso Went to the Zoo" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

The Moment You Were Born
Sandra M. Lane, MA, SLP and Brenda S. Miles, PhD, authors
Shelly Hehenberger, illustrator
Magination Press
PO Box 92984, Washington, DC 20090-2984
9781433819643 $14.95 hc / $9.95 pbk

The Moment You Were Born is a unique picturebook created for parents to read aloud and share with their prematurely born children - especially during the critical weeks when parental physical contact with a premature baby may be limited out of necessity, and voice is an alternative way to connect with a child in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The Moment You Were Born is not a book "about" premature babies; it is for premature babies, and about cherishing the special moments together. "Waiting is hard, and sometimes we'll take / little steps forward and big steps back. // But I'll search for hope / in that tiny place / where you grow, // in other parents around me / who are also waiting, / and in your victories - quiet and courageous." A final note to parents and caregivers complements this beautiful and comforting picturebook, enriched with soothing illustrations in a gently sweeping art style.

The Science Shelf

Junk Drawer Chemistry
Bobby Mercer
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613731796 $14.95

Illustrated with black-and-white photography demonstrating steps of each experiment, Junk Drawer Chemistry: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don't Cost a Thing is packed cover to cover with adventurous, educational science experiments ideal for young adults ages 9 and up. Furthermore, there is no need for costly laboratory equipment; all items can easily be scavenged around the house or from one's junk drawer. For example, the "Wriggling Wrapper Snake" experiment requires only a paper-wrapped drinking straw and a cup of water; the "My Soda Has Gas" experiment requires a balloon, salt or sugar, a full bottle of carbonated soda, and an outdoors area; and the "Mysterious Floating Paper Clip" experiment requires only a bowl of water, two small paper clips, and facial tissue. Each experiment has illustrated, easy-to-follow instructions followed by a "Science Behind It" section that explains how and why the experiment works. Junk Drawer Chemistry is an excellent and educational activity book, highly recommended.

The Health/Medicine Book

My Mom Is Having Surgery: A Kidney Story
Brenda E. Cortez, author
Dindo Contento, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781634498159, $9.99,

"My Mom Is Having Surgery" is a child -friendly true story about a woman's donation of a kidney to another mom, told from the viewpoint of her daughter, Kailey. In explaining her choice to her daughter who is worried and fearful for her, the kidney donor explained: "I know in my heart I am meant to do this, and I want to help someone by doing what I hope someone would do for me or my family." Kailey is reassured by her mother's words plus the information that her doctors are especially trained, highly competent medical professionals, whose job it is to take excellent care of her and restore her to health without excessive pain. Kailey and her brother Kyle are further comforted by their Grandmother and Father during her mother's surgery and recovery at the hospital. After the surgery, her mom is taken to a recovery room, then to her hospital room where Kailey and Kyle can visit. They are surprised to see that her mom is still sleeping, but her nurse explained that this is quite normal, and that her mom will need to rest and recover and sleep a lot in the next few weeks to heal from the kidney surgery. Finally Kailey's mom is ready to come home after four days in the hospital. Kailey and Kyle understand they will need to do more chores at home and help her mom during her home recovery from the kidney removal, which is considered major surgery. Although it was scary for the children, they realized that their mom had done a truly great thing in donating her kidney to another mom of a friend of theirs. They were proud of their mom for being a hero. "My Mom Is Having Surgery: A Kidney Story" is an excellent example of medical biography for juveniles, with good information and realistic reassurance for children facing a loved one's major surgery. It should be noted that a donation of, $1 per book sold goes to Donate Life America, an organization which increases awareness for organ donation.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Crow Made a Friend
Margaret Peot
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823432974 $14.95

Part of the "I Like to Read" line of easy reader titles from Holiday House, Crow Made a Friend is a delightful picturebook ideal for little ones who are just beginning to read their first words. The simple story is about Crow (whose beautiful plumage shines with many colors), a lonely bird who wants a friend. Crow tries to make a friend first out of leaves and twigs, then out of snow and sticks. "The sun shines. / Oh, no!" Will Crow ever find a true companion? Crow Made a Friend is a simple and heartwarming story, perfect for showing the youngest of children that reading can be fun and exciting.

The Picturebook Shelf

Papa's Backpack: A Tribute to the Bond Between a Child and Military Parent
James Christopher Carroll, author/illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
9781585366132, $15.99 32pp,

"Papa's Backpack" is a terribly touching, beautifully illustrated book about a little bear whose Papa has to go away to be a soldier. Wanting to go along, the bear child imagines himself in his Papa's backpack, safe together through the scary wartime journey experience. Realizing he cannot really go, but wanting to stay close to his Papa, the little bear makes a bear doll just like himself to go in his Papa's backpack. A sensitive poetry narrative accompanies tenderly expressive bear family portraits in a layered, contemporary style to complete this helpful book for children of all ages who experience separation from a parent for military service.

Seriously, You Have to Eat
Adam Mansbach, author
Owen Brozman, illustrator
Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781617754081 $15.95 hc / $3.99 Kindle

Seriously, You Have to Eat is the kid-friendly picturebook rendition of the more adult-oriented humor title "You Have to ****ing Eat" (9781617753787, $14.95). All four-letter curse words have been delicately edited out of Seriously, You Have to Eat, as opposed to the uncensored original. Seriously, You Have to Eat retains the chuckle-inducing sense of parental frustration in its singsong rhymes and colorful illustrations. "A lot of kids don't get asparagus, / Show a little respect for them. Eat." Will Seriously, You Have to Eat encourage children appreciate their beleaguered parents a little more, and eat their nutritious meals? Maybe not, but it's still a fun title to read aloud and share!

An A from Miss Keller
Patricia Polacco
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399166914 $17.99

An A from Miss Keller tells of Trisha, who is chosen to participate in a very difficult writing class run by a teacher who supposedly never grants an 'A' to her students. And Trisha finds that the discussions of Miss Keller's demanding teaching is true; for she can never seem to please her. It will take a great change to enable Trisha to realize her skills and - even more importantly - gain Miss Keller's respect. This companion to three other teacher stories is based on the mentor who got Patricia Polacco to become a writer and provides readers with a compelling tale.

Saving Annie's Mountain
Children of Wild Dance Farm
Cold Run Books
PO Box 651, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
9780979080814, $18.99, 38pp,

"Saving Annie's Mountain" is the picture book story of a protest in West Virginia coal country that takes on new meaning when four children meet someone who witnesses the original 1921 battle for miners' rights. An impressive blending of historical information and a children's picture book format make "Saving Annie's Mountain" a very highly recommended addition to family, school, and community library collections for young readers.

Sweet Dreams, Wild Animals!
Eileen R. Meyer
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426379 $12.00

Sweet Dreams, Wild Animals! A Story of Sleep receives warm illustrations by Laurie Caple and considers the widely different ways that fourteen selected animals rest and sleep. From giraffes and dolphins to bats, anteaters and owls, this makes for a fun and engrossing contrast between different creatures and is a fun introduction and possible bedtime read for kids who love

The Worst Day Ever!
Debbie Reece, author
Ron Head, illustrator
BeeBop Books Publishing
PO Box 1424, Howe, TX 75459
9780692230848, $14.99, 32pp,

Young readers were first introduced to Farmer Bill's young son James in Debbie Reece's charming holiday themed picture book "The Christmas Pumpkin" (9780615662329, $14.99 HC, $8.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle). In "The Worst Day Ever!" young James likes going to school and seeing his friends, Molly and Will. But what happens on those days when everything seems to go wrong? "The Worst Day Ever!" charmingly addresses every day issues that early elementary school children face daily. Self control, impulse behavior, or just having a hard time adjusting to school rules. Sometimes friends are having a bad day and just need a hug too. In the end, James, and his friend, Molly, learn the valuable lesson that there is someone who will hug and love them, no matter how bad their day is. "The Worst Day Ever!" is enhanced for young readers with the inclusion of a coloring page where children can draw how a hug feels to them. Solidly entertaining and with a laudable moral value, "The Worst Day Ever!" is very highly recommended for children preschool through second grade.

Quackers Wants to Fly
Susan Wolff, author
Justin Currie, illustrator
Friends at the Pond
9781606530740, $12.95, 32pp,

Quackers the Duck has a problem and he doesn't know what to do. He waddles off to ask his friends at the pond for help. Join Quackers, Gertrude the Goose, Dena the Dragonfly, Ollie the Owl and Clementine the Duck, on an adventure of friendship, patience and fun. "Quackers Wants to Fly" is the first volume in the picture book series 'Friends at the Pond', written by Susan Wolff and illustrated by Justin Currie. "Quackers Wants to Fly" will inspire young children preschool through first grade to 'spread their wings and try new things'. Wonderfully entertaining from beginning to end, "Quackers Wants to Fly" is especially recommended for family, preschool center, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5 through 7.

Bears Don't Read!
Emma Chichester Clark, author/illustrator
Kane Miller EDC Publishing
4901 Morena Blvd., Suite 213, San Diego, CA 92117
9781610673662, $12.99,

"Bears Don't Read!" is a creative tale about a bear named George who wanted more than the usual bear things. What satisfied all his brothers and sisters was not enough for him. One day he found a book with bear pictures and words in it. George determined he needed to learn to read, to enrich his bear life. Warned by his family that bears learning to read was not something that was done, he was nevertheless determined to overcome the obstacles. George traveled with his book to a village full of humans, to find a place where someone could teach him to read words. Unaware, George caused quite a commotion wherever he went to seek a reading teacher. Finally a tense scene emerges with George surrounded by police in riot armor gear, confused about why these strange men felt he was such a threat to them. Although the police chief declared he was a dangerous animal, a great ferocious grizzly bear, George insisted he was a just bear hoping someone could teach him to read, not that other sort of bear at all. In came a brave school girl named Clementine, who announced that George did not look dangerous, and that he had her book. Since Clementine's mother approved, the police chief allowed George to move into Clementine's summerhouse temporarily, so Clementine could teach him how to read, after school. Clementine was patient and kind, and even though it was hard, George learned well. Even the police chief visited with a book of his favorite poetry to read. One day Clementine handed George a book and announced he could read it all by himself. So he did. "And for George, that was just the beginning". Lovely, comic illustrations of George and his bear friends in the forest, learning his letters with Clementine in the garden, and with the police avoiding a confrontation are keen story supplements for encouraged young readers. "Bears Don't Read!" is a wonderful teaching story with a positive empowerment message at its core: You too can access an enriched life like George, by exercising your right to read!

The Good Little Book
Kyo Maclear, author
Marion Arbona, illustrator
Tundra Books
329 Front St. West, 12th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3B6, Canada
9781770494510, $18.99 (Canada), $16.99 (U.S.),

"The Good Little Book" is the amazing story of a boy and a book, who met quite by chance. The boy had been sent to the study to think things over, and just happened to choose the ordinary looking good little book, which didn't even have a cover. Unexpectedly, he became intrigued and enchanted by the stories in the good little book. Something quite exciting happened. The boy was transported by the book. He read it again, remaining fascinated by it, and carried everywhere in his daily life. After time went by, one day the boy lost the good little book. He feared for its safety, and he missed it dearly. After all it wasn't even wearing a proper jacket. Unsuccessful in his search, the boy ended up at the library where he gradually began reading other books. Slowly, they also began to open his heart. Meantime what happened to his good little book? A few animals noticed it, but finally a little girl found it and began to read it. One day the boy saw her intently reading the good little book, as she walked by. Instead of trying to claim the book back for himself, the boy let the girl continue her own adventure with the good little book. "In the seasons that followed, the book the boy thought too quiet and helpless to survive in the world did just fine. In fact, you could say it blossomed." Wacky, zany, dazzling illustrations surprise the reader of "The Good Little Book" at every turn, once again proving that old adage, "You can't tell a book from it's cover." "The Good Little Book" is a timeless fable that embroiders and celebrates the timeless value of the reading of books.

Nut and Bolt
Nicole de Cock, author/artist
Margriet Ruurs, translator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, L3R 4T8, Canada
9781554553648, $17.95 32pp,

"Nut and Bolt" is a charming story told in art and spare narrative about the special friendship between a donkey and a mouse. Translated from the original Dutch to English, "Nut and Bolt" demonstrates all the qualities of a real friendship. Nut is the mouse, who dances, reads, grooms, feeds, and protects his donkey friend because "real friends would do anything for each other." Bolt is the donkey friend who benefits from the loving sacrifices of Nut. What does Bolt do for Nut? The mysterious answer is portrayed in a sensitive portrait of the snugly sleeping mouse sheltered in the long, shaggy ear of his donkey friend. "Nut and Bolt" is a charming story for children that explores the unique aspects of real friendship.

The Little Tree
Muon Van, author
JoAnn Adinolfi, illustrator
Creston Books, LLC
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
Publishers Group West (distributor)
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781939547194, $16.95 32pp,

"The Little Tree" is a touching picture book story for young children that teaches an important meaning of nurturing love: sometimes you have to let go to let your loved one grow. In pages filled with bright painted images of the little tree in her larger forest filled with flying birds, the story of "The Little Tree" unfolds in something akin to narrative free verse. The little tree lives in a shrinking group of mighty old trees surrounded by encroaching human development, and she hopes for a better growing environment for her little seed. She is inspired by the wisdom of a little brown bird who flies to her and tells her of wonderful places where all kinds of trees grow to be a hundred feet tall, with thick leaves and shade everywhere. Though she loves her little seed and will miss her, she asks the brown bird to promise to do her a favor and flap his wings with all his might. Finally the little tree let go of her little seed, watching it fly away with the little brown bird. Much later, after many days and seasons, the little tree asked the brown bird about her little seed. "Where is my little seed? Is it strong and tall? Does it remember me at all?" And after much more waiting, the little tree received an answer, in the form of a floating leaf, shimmering with the color of emeralds. In a joyous, celebratory two page scene, the little tree understood the message of the floating leaf. Her little seed was alive and well, grown into a wonderful tree, and it still remembered her. "The Little Tree" was written by a daughter for her Vietnamese mother, part of an immigrant family who became a model for "The Little Tree" in what she courageously did for her children. A poignant author's note explains a part of the many resonances of the inspiring message of "The Little Tree."

The Peddler's Bed
Lauri Fortino, author
Bong Redila, illustrator
Ripple Grove Press
PO Box 86740, Portland, OR 97286
9780991386635, $16.99 40pp,

"The Peddler's Bed" is a delicious story for children, rich with humor and warm with compassion. A peddler with a fine bed on his cart rode by an old man working in his small garden with his dog, Happy. The man admired the fine bed, which the peddler informed him was for sale. The bed was so sturdily made it would never squeak, the peddler assured the old man. Unfortunately, the old man had not even one penny to give for the fine new bed, though he would have loved to have it. The peddler made him an offer: he could have the bed free if he could find a way to make it squeak by sunset. There followed an amazing series of kindly, sharing actions and events that had the sound of little squeaks always present as the old man proceeded to offer water, a meal, and hospitality to the peddler and his pony. The little old man worked very hard, with well worn, squeaky furniture and tools to make a simple soup supper for the peddler, sharing vegetables from his garden, meat from his larder, and water from his well. The peddler enjoyed every moment of the old man's squeaky, creaky hospitality and kindness. Then he asked if he could rest awhile on the fine bed, which the peddler had gotten down from his wagon to demonstrate. A truly touching ending transpires to this quirky little tale that expresses the core message of kindness and hospitality, sharing what you have with others, no matter how humble or how fine. Splendidly expressive illustrations, lit with clownish joy and humor, enshrine the message of "The Peddler's Bed" for readers of any age.

If An Elephant Went to School
Ellen Fischer, author
Laura Wood, illustrator
Mighty Media Press
1201 Currie Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
9781938063619, $14.95 32 pp,

"If An Elephant Went to School" is a spunky new back to school story that explores just what education might be for a fascinating series of different animal "students," ending with the idea, "If I went to school, what would I learn?" A companion book to the earlier "If An Armadillo Went to a Restaurant," "If An Elephant Went to School" meets multiple curriculum standards alignment including Common Core standards for English language arts plus Next Generation Standards for Science comprehension regarding animal behaviors, body parts, and their functions. Appealing to young readers ages 4-7, "If An Elephant Went to School" entertains while it teaches effortlessly, using contrast between ridiculous ideas and factual observations, such as in the following: "If a CATERPILLAR crawled into a school, what would she learn? A caterpillar would learn how to spin a cocoon," accompanied by amusing multi-colored caterpillars sitting at desks, studying numbers, contrasted with a row of hanging caterpillars gradually transforming into cocoons with a DO NOT DISTURB SIGN beneath the branch. A wonderful, positive message accumulates by the final pages, when the reader is encouraged to respond, "I would learn to READ, WRITE, SHARE, and MAKE FRIENDS." But the best ending is a question, "What would YOU learn?" Filled with charming, amusing illustrations and a series of contrasting comparisons, "If An Elephant Went to School" is perfect for the back to school audience of kids age 4 and up.

Down Here
Valerie Sherrard, author
Isabelle Malenfant, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, L3R 4T8, Canada
9781554553273, $17.95 32pp,

"Down Here" is an intriguing, cleverly illustrated tale of a creative boy's talent for creating fantastic worlds that are perceived as "messes" by his mom. Jamie worries that while his brother and sister have special talents, he has none, except his amazing imagination and talent for building. Unfortunately his mother only sees the messes he makes, and scolds him, every time. Finally Jamie takes some different approaches to looking at his creations, and decides things look different "up there" from "down here." When his mom takes the time to look at his latest creation from a position seated on the floor, her eyes open to a new world, and she no longer sees just the mess, but says: "You will be a great builder some day!" Amazing, imaginative, mixed media illustrations underline the power of imagination, and the droll, comic presence of the supportive gray cat accomplice is a perfect echo of all the wonder of Jamie's world "Down Here."

Love From a Star
Katherine Cutchin Gazzetta, author/illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
2305 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
9781585369508, $14.99 32pp,

"Love From a Star" is a tender, touching story poem illustrated by sensitive watercolor paintings that reassures a little bear he is never alone because a special star that is the light in God's eyes is always with him. "Love From a Star" is like a quiet bedtime breath prayer and lullaby combined. The little bear with his trusted stuffed rabbit companion snuggles in the security of his special star, a gift from above, reassuring him that God's love is always present, and he is never alone. "Love From a Star" is a wonderful bedtime story for children age 4 and up, deserving its special awards and honors including the Mom's Choice Award Honoring Excellence.

The Perfect Tree
Chloe Bonfield, author/artist
Running Press Kids
2300 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
9780762455867, $16.99,

"The Perfect Tree" is a magical artist's tour of a boy's exploration of the value of trees. Truly stunning mixed media artwork animates this story of Jack's search for the perfect tree..... to chop! Jack is guided by first a woodpecker, then a squirrel, and finally a spider in his search for the perfect tree. Eventually it becomes clear that all the trees Jack has been led to are very special indeed. A tree can be a host for flocks and hosts of different birds and animals. A tree can store a whole winter's worth of food for a squirrel. A tree can provide a living framework for the most beautiful, dew-spangled web for a spider. A tree can even provide shelter for a boy from dripping rain. Finally Jack understood. Every tree was perfect. He put down his axe and the next day he began a different tree quest. "No, not a perfect tree to chop! A perfect tree to climb, a perfect tree to draw, and most of all.... a perfect tree to love!" The slightly quirky, dark and nature-colored images of mixed rural/urban scenes and influences keep all the jagged portraits of trees, boy, and creatures fresh and engaging. "The Perfect Tree" can be enjoyed by children ages 3 and older. They will enjoy poring over the complex, colorful scenes of trees and other living creatures.

JoJo and the Big Day!
Leslie Duran, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781503584174, $15.99,

"JoJo and the Big Day!" is the delightful story of a darling monkey son whose mother takes good care of him every day. She helps him dress, prepares him his favorite food (bananas in milk) for breakfast, takes him to school and to the swings in the park, and brings him safe to a good supper, bath, and bedtime. Because he loves his mom very much, JoJo decides to do something special for her one day. On Mother's Day, JoJo surprises his kind, loving mom with a special gift, made of his favorite things. Children will smile at the surprise JoJo makes for his loving mother. Delicate pencil/crayon illustrations create the world of JoJo and his mother in loving, literal detail, inviting to young readers to explore.

Two Is Enough
Janna Matthies, author
Tuesday Mourning, illustrator
Running Press
2300 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19103
9780762455614, $19.99,

"Two Is Enough" is a welcome, inspiring verse story that celebrates love in families of two. All through the seasons, a variety of fun shared activities, diverse small families of two persons are pictured enjoying their time together. A father and daughter, a mother and daughter, a grandmother and grandson of different races, all these and more are small families who show that "Two Is Enough," no matter what your skin color, nationality, or size. Some of the shared moments shown in the enchanting illustrations are scary, but all are made better because "Two Is Enough." The lilting narrative verse has many moments of laughter and fun, or comfort when things are tough. "In winter and spring, in summer and fall, I love you! I love you! I love you through all! Sure as one plus one will always be two, Two is enough when it's me plus you!"

The Turnip
Jan Brett
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399170706, $17.99, 32pp,

"The Turnip " is a rollicking, cumulative tale about a badger family and their friends Hedgie, Mr. Ram and Vanya, and their horse - struggle to pull up a giant turnip. A cocky rooster steps in and pulls, sending him into the air, holding onto the turnip. No one knows that a mother bear in her underground den has kicked the turnip up through the soil to give the family room to sleep through the winter. Once again Jan Brett wonderfully colorful illustrations and storytelling talents brings an original twist to a favorite folktale. Snow covers the farm in rural Russia as badgers and friends in old-fashioned clothes, and bears marching through bright-colored borders, send children ages 3 to 5 laughing aloud from page to page. Very highly recommended for family, preschool, kindergarten, and community library children's picture book collections, it should be noted that "The Turnip" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Bug in a Vacuum
Melanie Watt
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770496453 $24.99

Kids ages 5-9 will find Bug in a Vacuum a fun picture book that holds more pages than most (nearly a hundred) but provides an adventure surrounding a bug that gets sucked into another world. The bug goes through all kinds of emotions as he confronts his mysterious new habitat, and kids will be carried along for an unexpectedly whimsical, fun read in a story that focuses on a bug's dilemma, reactions, and eventual resolution of his vacuum woes.

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

Christian Trimmer's Simon's New Bed (9781481430197, $17.99) receives simple and fun art by Melissa van der Paardt as it tells of a dog's excitement over his brand new bed. One of the most engaging aspects of Simon's story is that it stays true to typical dog habits, from his method of refreshing himself out of the toilet to his confrontation with a rude interloper who would take over his brand new acquisition. Kids with dogs will relish Simon's solution to a problem in sharing, and will find the story line simple, fun, and delightful. Sonia Manzano's Miracle on 133rd Street (9780689878879, $17.99) receives lovely drawings by Marjorie Priceman as it explores a holiday theme for ages 4-8. It's Christmas Eve and Jose's mami is preparing their family feast. There's only one problem: it's too big for their home oven. Jose comes up with an idea but when they leave their apartment, it looks like nobody else knows it's Christmas Eve - they are surrounded by bickering, angry people. Can their Christmas dinner dilemma turn into something heartwarming to revive the holiday spirit, as well? A fun story of Christmas problems and resolutions evolves. Linda Davick's Say Hello! (9781481428675, $17.99) will reach ages 4-8 with a very easy reader beginners will relish, and explores all the different ways people (and a few non-humans) greet one another. From hugs and gifts to nose-bumps and tail wags, this is a very easy reader that offers a positive review of communication methods that basically say the same thing.

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

Sangmi Ko's A Dog Wearing Shoes (9780385383967, $16.99) tells of a little girl who finds a lost dog wearing yellow booties, and provides ages 4-8 with a fun black and white picture book peppered with color and telling of a girl who finally gets a dog. Her dog has unusual skills that would indicate he once belonged to someone - and when Mimi discovers the truth, it will hold heartache, changes, and new possibilities. A warm and winning story evolves. Lori Evert's The Reindeer Wish (9780385379212, $17.99) excels in lovely color photos by Per Breiehagen as it tells of Christmas Eve in the far north where snow isolated Anja and her family from the world. She wants a pet and dreams of a dog, but when a baby reindeer enters her life instead and offers her an unusual friendship, Anja finds herself drawn to something she never expected - and just in time for Christmas. The beautiful color photos are action-filled, joyful, and replete in Norwegian culture and color.

The Environmental Shelf

The Secret Bay
Kimberly Ridley, author
Rebekah Raye, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884484332 $17.95 hc / $8.99 Kindle

Award-winning author Kimberly Ridley and gifted nature artist Rebekah Raye present The Secret Bay, a children's picturebook about estuaries - the bays where rivers connect with the sea, and fresh and salt water mingle. Pages alternate between a simple, singsong rhyme ("You'll find me right here, where the river meets the ocean - // shining and muddy and always in motion"), and more detailed, educational side paragraphs ("Most of the fish and shellfish we eat need estuaries to complete their life cycles.") Striking color illustrations in a warm yet realistic art style add the perfect touch to this beautiful, and informative addition to grade school and public library picturebook collections. Also highly recommended is Ridley and Raye's previous picturebook The Secret Pool (9780884483397, $16.95 hc / $6.99 Kindle), which is about vernal ponds.

If You Love Honey
Martha Sullivan, author
Cathy Morrison, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Way, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695332, $16.95, 32pp,

Honey is a sweet gift from nature. Honey is linked in a very real way to dandelions, earthworms, mushrooms, the old oak tree and even the blue jays squawking in its branches. "If You Love Honey" takes another look at honey. If you love nature's honey, you are sure to love nature too. How sweet it is! "If You Love Honey" author Martha Sullivan fell in love with bees as an amateur beekeeper, and then learned to appreciate flowering plants even ones she once considered weeds as an important nectar source. And then she realized how the plants were connected to insects and soil. A simple but accurate diagram in the back matter explains how bees make honey and also pollinate plants, as well as the role of beneficial insects and decomposers. Enhanced with the inclusion of activities and a recipe for children, "If You Love Honey" is a simply wonderful picture book for young children and highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections. It should be noted that "If You Love Honey" is also available in a paperback edition (9781584695349, $8.95) and in a Kindle format ($6.99).

The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea
Peter Walters, author/illustrator
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628556315, $17.95 32pp,

"The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea' is an educational story about the chain of life in the seas of the South, surrounding a pair of islands known as New Zealand. Written in riddling rhyme, the story asks again and again, "Who has the hungriest mouth in the seas of the South?" A journey begins with a cloud of green plankton and travels up the food chain through many marine creatures, visiting and rejecting the seahorse, krill, a petrel (a bird who dives in the ocean), a squid, blue cod, swordfish, a long tail ray, yellow-eyed penguins, barracuda, Hector's dolphin, the brown fur seal, a great white shark, and even a sperm whale . The journey ends with the black and white Orcas who earns the title of "The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea." Fabulous lushly colored, textured, multi- media illustrations lead the reader from page to page by hinting at the next marine creature to appear, following up the food chain of the seas. Additional learning activities are included in the For Creative Minds section at the end, with facts about marine mammals, predator and prey matching, food web cards, and suggested Hungriest Mouth games. Appealing to children ages 4-8, "The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea" has had all its marine lore or sea facts vetted by Jack Cover, general curator, and Kate Rowe, media relations at the National Aquarium.

Rosa Blooms
Lori Batcheller, author/illustrator
Mother's House Publishing Inc.
2814 East Woodmen Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
9781618881359, $13.95,

"Rosa Blooms" is the lavishly illustrated nature story of the growth of a little shrub in a large forest on the foothills of the Rock Mountains. Many different animals and birds share the early days and nights of Rosa's beginning life, in addition to the warm sun, the silver moon, and the wind, rain, and soil. Hikers and explorers, families with children and dogs would walk by Rosa on the trail. Rosa saw much insect and other life around her and longed to take her part in their world. She began to doubt her purpose in living. She dreamed of moving about, like Mr. Sun, but she couldn't because of her roots. Mrs. Moon also refused her request to be taken for a night ride with her, because of her roots. Rosa couldn't move as she longed to, but could only grown roots, thorns and leaves, and occasionally, talk to the animals. Then the days got colder and Rosa felt the coming of winter, deciding to take a long nap. Many months later, Rosa awoke to discover a springtime breeze and a change in her thorny stems. She had tiny pink buds emerging. Rosa had found her purpose; she was beginning to bloom! Honeybees came to gather her blossom's nectar. Springtime mountain hikers admired her, naming her a wild rose. And Rosa understood at last what it was she had to do. She did not have to move. "All she had to do was bloom." The author's delicate illustrations help explain that the growth cycle of the wild rose, native to the Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado, and elsewhere in the U. S.

The Hunting Shelf

Sam's Big Deer
James Stearns, author
Jason King, illustrator
Farcountry Press
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781591521631 $18.95

Book one of the "Hunting Adventures with Sam West" series, Sam's Big Deer is an upbeat picturebook about a young boy eager to hunt his very first deer. Sam's father thinks that Sam is too little to hunt, but Sam is determined to prove him wrong. Sam and his dog venture into the woods by themselves, chase a rabbit, and have a dangerous close encounter with a bear. Then Sam finds a stately buck and points his rifle. "As the buck stepped out into the open, Sam let out a loud shout, 'KaPow!'" (It appears that Sam only yells instead of shooting the buck, perhaps because he is too small to carry a deer carcass home by himself). Colorful, cartoony illustrations bring this high-spirited hunting escapade to life.

The Sports Shelf

My First Book of Football
Beth Bugler and Mark Bechtel, authors
Bill Hinds, illustrator
Sports Illustrated Kids
c/o Time Inc. Home Entertainment
PO Box 11016, Des Moines, Iowa 50336-1016
9781618931511 $11.95

My First Book of Football is a simple picturebook designed to teach young readers about the basics of the sport of football. Full-color photographs of actual football players in action illustrate the game's fundamental concepts, described in plain terms. "Oh, no! It's a FUMBLE! The ball carrier dropped the ball. // It's a free-for-all! Whichever team picks up the ball gets to keep it." Commentary from a little cartoon character enlivens this highly accessible book, perfect for sharing with children prior to watching an action-packed football game with them (whether in an actual stadium or on the TV)! Highly recommended.

Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends
David Stabler, author
Doogie Horner, illustrator
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594748028, $13.95,

"Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends" is a 208 page compendium comprising twenty true stories taken from the childhood experiences of famous athletes. From Babe Ruth (so incorrigible that his parents put him in reform school at age 7) to Muhammad Ali (who learned to fight at age 12 after a thief stole his bicycle), "Kid Athletes" is packed from cover to cover with inspirational stories from the world of sports. Billie Jean King rose from modest circumstances to win 39 Grand Slam championships; race car champion Danica Patrick fended of bullies who told her "girls can't drive"; and martial arts legend Bruce Lee credited his success, in part, to childhood dance lessons. Every goal, touchdown, and championship comes to life in these kid-friendly and relatable stories. Exceptionally well written by David Stabler and enhanced with Doogie Horner's whimsical full-color illustrations, "Kid Athletes" is especially recommended for young readers ages 9 to 12 and students in grades 4 to 7. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kid Athletes" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.44).

If Winning Isn't Everything, Why Do I Hate to Lose?
Bryan Smith, author
Brian Martin, illustrator
Boys Town Press
14100 Crawford Street, Boys Town, NE 68010
9781934490853, $10.95 32pp,

"If Winning Isn't Everything, Why Do I Hate to Lose?" is a great self teaching book about the true value of sportsmanship for kids, girls and boys. Kelsey is a competitive girl who wants to win at any game, at any cost. Her basketball coach reminds her of the importance of her team's promises when she cheats against another player, pulling her hair to make her miss a basket. Her coach explains that displaying sportsmanship means not cheating and winning and losing with class, and also learning from mistakes. Actually, Kelsey likes to call it sportsgirlship, but she does eventually learn that "if you cheat, you never know if you would have won fair and square." Kelsey learns that although she does need to learn to try her hardest, she also needs to learn to say "Good game!" and shake the winner's hand. Kelsey has many more experiences learning how to keep the Lady Leopards' Team Promises, which are: "Work hard, make sure we have good 'sportsgirlship,' and learn from our mistakes." The closing pages of this handy sportsgirlship guide has Tips for Parents and Educators to help encourage good sportsmanship, and other corollaries of the Golden Rule.

The Christian Shelf

My Kiss Won't Miss
Lesley Dahlseng, author
Mirela Tufan, illustrator
WhetWord Press, LLC
PO Box 492, Alexandria, MN 56308
9780615987040, $17.99,

This lovely bedtime story for young children ages 2-5 is based loosely on Romans 8:38-39 "Nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus." With a gentle, soothing narrative verse like a lullaby, accompanied by lush, dark, expressive illustrations of a boy being tucked in to sleep at night, "My Kiss Won't Miss" uses a delicate chain of serene images to reassure a child that he/she is surrounded by love no matter what, or where he hides. An enchanting succession of different children in many lands and locations are mysteriously wrapped and enfolded in the blown kiss, symbol of parental love and the love of God. A wonderful second layer of reassurance is reinforced by the images of little girls and boys of different races, in different homes, all of whom are dearly loved and kissed by God. "My Kiss Won't Miss" is a magical manifestation of a powerful metaphor, whose meaning children will treasure all their lives.

The Holiday Shelf

The Remembering Day / El Dia de los Muertos
Pat Mora, author
Robert Casilla, illustrator
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100
Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558858053 $17.95

The Remembering Day / El Dia de los Muertos is a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook that touches upon the Mexican holiday of Dia de Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead. Spanning October 31st to November 2nd, Dia de Muertos is a time meant to honor, pray for, and remember those who have passed on. The story is about a young girl Bella and her beloved grandmother, Mama Alma. The two are close; they work together and enjoy nature's beauty together. But the time of all human beings in this world is limited. "When evenings became cool, Bella covered Mama Alma with a soft blanket. Mama Alma was very weak. She patted Bella's hand. 'I will always be with you, Bella,' whispered Mama Alma." The Remembering Day is about cherishing and celebrating the lives of those closest to us; a brief author's note at the end of the story teaches readers a little more about this venerable observance. Highly recommended.

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story
Pat Zietlow Miller & Jill McElmurry
Schwartz & Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780307981820 $17.99

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story is a rhyming children's picturebook about a family Thanksgiving dinner in nineteenth century America. The family works hard to prepare a delicious feast that's not so different from what we eat today! "Grandma, bake your pumpkin pie. / Whip the topping light and high. / High enough to reach the sky. / Grandma, bake the pie." Charming illustrations in warm, holiday colors add the perfect touch to this read-aloud celebration of the traditions of a cherished national holiday.

The True Spirit of Christmas
Dorothy Thurgood Manning, author/illustrator
33 Loretta Kids' Books
387 Wawona Street, San Francisco, CA 94127
9780986345401, $17.99,

"The True Spirit of Christmas" is a delightful Christmas story for children ages 4-8 that explores the idea that giving is more important than receiving, at Christmas and other times. Written in catchy rhyme and colorfully illustrated with strong expressive faces on the characters, "The True Spirit of Christmas" strikes to the heart of holiday acquisitiveness, often a substitute for the meaning of Christmas. Maddie is a girl who values quantity and commercial appeal of gifts given to her over the message of love that is intended by the giver. She scorns to give her handmade gifts to her parents and actually waits for Santa to complain to him that her pile of presents is not big enough. Santa quickly straightens Maddie out, by telling her, "Madeline, my dear, If you don't like your presents, I'll give them to children Who aren't so unpleasant." He further suggests that she might want to give the homemade presents she made to her family, even though they might not be perfect. All in all, the message is clearly received, when Maddie receives a homemade gift from her brother Jack, a Christmas wreath made from a white paper plate decorated with green macaroni. Instead of discarding or refusing it in disgust, as her parents clearly feared she would, Maddie says, "Thank you!" with a smile to her brother. "The True Spirit of Christmas" presents an old idea that is always new: Giving is better than receiving, and thankfulness is a blessing.

Santa's Search for the Perfect Child
Donna Faulkner Schulte, author
Dennis Chadwell, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781504904223, $19.99,

"Santa's Search for the Perfect Child" is a holiday story about Santa's special gift for that one perfect child, who was unselfish, helpful, never complained, and was so filled with love that he made everyone feel better that came in contact with him. One day in the off season, Santa was found looking sad by his head elf, Percy. To help Santa be happy again, Percy offered to go to cities and states and search for the perfect child, who was to receive Santa's special gift that had never been given before. Percy took on an everyday appearance guise, and traveled to many different states and cities in search of the perfect child. Instead, he saw many children who showed spoiled, bad behavior that made others unhappy with them. Finally Percy got to Fayetteville, North Caroline, and he was found by a boy named D. J., or David, pulling a wagon full of empty cans. D. J. Was worried about Percy because he looked so discouraged and unhappy, and he offered to help him look for whatever he was seeking that was so difficult to find. A bit of further conversation showed Percy that D. J. was the perfect child he sought, helping his hardworking mother to get through a tough time, earning money by salvaging cans to help pay bills so they could move forward and spend more time together. Percy promised D.J. that he would have a special Christmas surprise that year, even though they were so short of money. The story's ending has a healing message, as D.J. receives a very special gift from Santa: a kitten (stuffed) that will come to life when he is alone, that he will not have to feed, and that will live forever. The soft focus, rosy-background drawings provide an ideal image of the imaginary kitten friend that D. J. receives for his special Christmas gift.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

Tofu Power: What Does Tofu Have to Do With Kung Fu?
Eileen Hu, author
Anthony Yumul, illustrator
Victory Press
543 Lighthouse Avenue, Monterey, CA 93040
9781878217431, $6.99,

"Tofu Power" is a black and white graphic novel series starter that seeks to answer the questions "How can five average teenagers fight corruption and evil in today's complex world," as well as What is the connection between Bruce Lee, king of kung fu, and tofu? The first book of this series introduces 15 year old Tina Long, along with four friends, who "use kung fu (and tofu) to save elderly folks from abuse. The story of a rescue of two elderly residents from an abusive care facility orchestrates the beginning coalition of the 5 kung fu students to help the elderly. These five friends are introduced as Tina Long, Phong Ha, Eric Pitmen, Guadalupe Lopez, and Joseph Smith, each with an abiding interest in kung fu training. The story continues as the students of kung fu learn how to create tofu, a special healthful vegetarian food traditionally eaten by the masters of Shaolin kung fu. This exciting graphic novel will be especially appealing to mid grade students ages 9-12, initiating a new series of the same name, "Tofu Power."

Birthday Party SBD
Elizabeth Passo, author
Joe Badon, illustrator
Happy Knack Publishing
9780989496834 $5.00

Colored in black, white, and livid green, Birthday Party SBD is a humorous, rhyming comic book created to broaden the vocabularies of young people ages 9-14, as well as entertain with gross-out humor. SBD stands for "Silent but Deadly - a fart that is not heard but smells so bad that it could knock you over". Who could have dealt the coma-inducing killer stink? The aunt? The dog? The dad? A glossary at the end helps young readers review 75 vocabulary words featured in the comic, including "cacophony", "decorum", "mitigate", "tad", and many more. Birthday Party SBD is a riotous resource to help young people practice their language and reading skills, even as they laugh out loud!

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Hunter's Promise
Joseph Bruchac
Wisdom Tales Press
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786434 $16.95

The Hunter's Promise: An Abenaki Tale is illustrated by Bill Farnsworth and will reach ages 7 and up with a lovely story of a mysterious wife and children who appear one winter out of nowhere to keep him company, but will not interact with others in the village. Add in enchantment and a folk saga steeped in Native traditions, retelling a traditional tale that can be found among various tribes of the Northeast, and you have a picture book story recommended for those with good reading skills and an interest in Native cultures and representations.

The Dinner That Cooked Itself
J.C. Hsyu & Kenard Pak
Flying Eye Books
62 Great Eastern Street, London, England EC2A 3QR
9781909263413 $17.95

The Dinner That Cooked Itself is set in ancient China where a lonely, hard-working man offers to look after a big snail - only to find something unusual happens each night when he returns home. Will his kindness to a lowly snail be repaid, and why are his dinners being cooked for him by some mysterious benefactor? This lovely folk story with gorgeous color photos is a recommended 'must' for any picture book collection strong in wisdom tales in general and Chinese folk stories in particular.

The Tiger Who Would Be King
JooHee Moon, illustrator/author
Based upon an original fable by James Thurber
Enchanted Lion Books
351 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592701827, $18.95,

"The Tiger Who Would Be King" is a fabulous artistic recasting of a James Thurber classic fable by original artist, JooHee Moon. Stunning panoramas of limited palette colors of orange, green, black and white portray savagely specific portraits of the tiger, the lion, and all the animals in the jungle. Because of the savagery suggested by both the fable and the images, "The Tiger Who Would Be King" is deemed appropriate for older children as a reading audience. Indeed the subject of rebellion, strife, warfare, and destruction, resulting in chaos and death is heavy. Still, children grasp much of the meaning and significance of the fable and it's concluding moral: "You can't very well be king of beasts if there aren't any." From the rising sun scene in the front inside pages to he same scene at night on the back inside pages, "The Tiger Who Would Be King" is splendid, terrible, arresting, curious, and a marvel to behold. Watch for all the individual animal portraits, with primitive toothy smiles, and the center foldout battle scene. "The Tiger Who Would Be King" is a powerful artistic argument for peace that children of a certain age will grasp immediately.

How the Elephant Got Her Trunk
Rudyard Kipling, author
Retold by Stephanie P. Gilman
T. G. Tjornehoj, illustrator
Flowerpot Press
2160 South Service Road, Oakville, ON L6L 5N1
9781486706624, $10.99,

"How the Elephant Got Her Trunk" is a beautiful retelling of the Rudyard Kipling classic, with delicate, expressive illustrations of the beloved characters of Ellie, Aunt Ostrich, Sir Parrot the Wiser, the friendly snake, and the treacherous crocodile. Ellie is a young elephant with a very short trunk who is curious about so many things. Her questions annoy adult animals, except for Sir Parrot the Wiser and her friend the wise snake. The story unfolds in classic form, with Ellie finally learning what it is that crocodiles eat ....and the way to grow a trunk is to have a good friend, like snake, to help you stand your ground against a hungry crocodile. "How the Elephant Got Her Trunk" lives up to all the rich promise of the original tale in this beautiful new retelling of the classic wisdom tale, for children of all ages.

Norwegian Folk Tales
Retold by Jean Russell Larson
Penfield Books
215 Brown Street, Iowa City, IA 52245-5801
9781932043976 $9.95

Enriched with an introduction and descriptions of trolls and huldra (nefarious creatures that lured men to their doom, similar to the sirens of Greek mythology), Norwegian Folk Tales of Anthon and Gurina Johnson presents eight brief Norwegian folk tales for young adults ages 9 and up. A handful of black-and-white illustrations enliven this short yet sweet cultural anthology. Highly recommended!

The Social Issues Shelf

Out in Front: Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Marriage
Katherine Don
Morgan Reynolds Inc.
620 S. Elm St., Suite 223, Greensboro, NC 27406
9781599354668 $27.45

Out in Front: Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Marriage teaches teenagers and young adults about the true-life story of Nujood Ali, a young girl in Yemen. At age nine, her father forced her to marry a thirty-year-old man. Even though the man promised that there would be no sexual contact until Nujood had physically matured, he raped Nujood at the first opportunity. Nujood could not bear to live as the child bride of an abusive rapist, and worked to free herself from him, becoming the youngest person ever to get a divorce. Nujood's story is only one of millions of children who are forced into marriage at early ages, which pushes them into abusive relationships, sexual assault, and teen or preteen pregnancies (which have a substantially higher risk of severe complications, including the death by childbirth). Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Marriage tells of women's and girls' efforts to change the world into a place where they are free to determine both who they will marry, and when they will marry. A troubling, head-on confrontation of a systemic and horrifically widespread societal injustice, Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Marriage is a "must-have" for school and public library collections. Also highly recommended is "Out in Front: Grace Akallo and the Pursuit of Justice for Child Soldiers" (9781599354569, $27.45), the true story of a girl who survived being abducted and forced to fight in the Lord's Resistance Army led by the monstrous Joseph Kony, and the efforts to end such barbaric practices.

Two White Rabbits
Jairo Buitrago, author
Rafael Yockteng, illustrator
Elisa Amado, translator
Groundwood Books
c/o Publishers Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781554987412, $16.95,

"Two White Rabbits" is the simple, moving story of a girl and her father who are trying to travel far from their home to another country. To charm away the long hours of unsafe, unpredictable travel, the girl counts things she sees, like five cows, four hens, and one chucho (their dog companion). She also counts clouds, people who live by train tracks, stars, but not soldiers, there are too many of them. The poignant pictures tell a story of a danger-filled uncertain, furtive journey, with many frustrating interruptions and betrayals. The girl's father tries to find work, to finance their trip to a better land. The girl is delighted by a box of two white rabbits given to her by a boy she met. The underlying question quoted from Patricia Aldana, President of the IBBY Foundation is as follows: "What do those of us who have safe comfortable lives owe to people who do not?" To celebrate the publication of "Two White Rabbits," Groundwood Books has made a donation to USBBY ( in support of REFORMA's Children in Crisis Project, which provides reading and writing materials to refugee children crossing the southern border into the United States.

I'm New Here
Anne Sibley O'Brien, author/artist
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580896122, $16.95,

Three children from far away countries are new at school in a small town in North America. Jin is from Korea, Maria is from Guatemala, and Fatimah is from Somalia. Each child feels scared, facing a new school, new language, new religions, new skin colors, and new cultures. The new children face so many changes and unfamiliar sights, sounds, words, tastes, and experiences. Each child is at first uncertain, afraid, overwhelmed, and quiet. Gradually, the many strange new words, sounds, faces, and experiences begin to become more familiar. A key unlocks strange symbols to new words for familiar objects. Despite sadness, confusion, and alienation, the three children find new bridges to friendships through games, art, and written and spoken words. Supportive new friends, classmates and teachers do a lot to help the transitions. "I'm New Here" is an adjustment model textbook that encourages children to be good neighbors to their friends from far away. More children's books with a similar theme are available at, "I'm New Here" is a powerful celebration of diversity and tool to assist adjustment and transition for a transplanted child from far away.

I Am Not a Minority! I'm Part of the Majority!
Valerie Christopher
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483429571, $19.99, 40pp,

The word minority in part means smaller and less power. No race should be associated with a word that suggests little or less. Sheer numbers should not determine what degree of power we should expect. Children are not less because they are sometimes outnumbered. They are more because of who they are inside, and for their natural thirst to grow in every way when it is not discouraged. Children who possess physical characteristics that are noticeably different need to be inspired to celebrate their unique place in this world. With rhyming text and a reinforced message, this one-of-a-kind, uplifting, delightful, and motivating story offers encouragement, promise, determination, and confidence in young ones. "I Am Not a Minority I'm Part of the Majority" will become the "go to" book for big-hearted children of many age groups. It will serve as a reminder of what they are meant to accomplish, and an inspiration to adults for the hope, assurance and courage it instills in their youths, and for posterity. With political controversy over immigration being so divisive, "I Am Not a Minority! I'm Part of the Majority!" offers young readers (and their parents!) an invaluable perspective. Very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted that "I Am Not a Minority! I'm Part of the Majority!" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

The Judaic Shelf

The Miracle Mitzvah Moose
Dawn Wynne, author
Gloria Pineiro, illustrator
Dawning Press
1625 Espinosa Circle, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274
9780991614417, $17.99 (HC), $5.99 (Kindle) 32pp,

"The Miracle Mitzvah Moose" is a charming Hanukkah story about a very special mitzvah miracle that a girl named Abbey discovered in a new home deep in snowy woods, far from her old home. Abbey was fretful and sad because she and her mother had to move far away to a home in the cold north just at Hanukkah. However, she was to discover a most unique treasure in this new home, a visiting moose with antler tips that seemed to light up the night like a magical menorah. The real meaning of charity giving or making a mitzvah is gently explored through this sweet story with its haunting, snowy scenes. Abbey discovers she is happiest when she appreciates the natural miracles in her life, doing mitzvahs or good deeds to help others to show thankfulness. Inspired by the appearance of her mitzvah moose, Abbey creates a positive attitude and sets to work finding ways she can make a mitzvah, like doing laundry to help Mom, or donating some of her old toys for other less fortunate children to enjoy. Abbey is honored by the appearance of her special moose, with moonlight and starlight illuminating his antler tips, until the eighth night of Hanukkah when she saw him with eight glowing antler tips in the darkness. Abbey's special moose helped her to learn to love her new home and rejoice in new miracles of light, love, and kindness.

Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match
Karen Rostoker-Gruber and Rabbi Ron Isaacs, author
CB Decker, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9781681155012, $17.95 32pp,

"Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match" is a funny, pun-laced, quirky Hanukkah tale about a bachelor farmer whose animals are like family. What happens when the animals decide to "help" a match with a likely lady named Polly? Farmer Kobi invited Polly to his farm for a date on the second night of Hanukkah. What could go wrong? All the animals contrived to make Polly's Hanukkah dinner date with Farmer Kobi memorable. But Polly was simply not convinced that geese, goats, sheep and a donkey belonged in the house, serving dinner. Finally Polly told Farmer Kobi how she really felt about his animals serving her in the house. "There are feathers floating in my limonana, drool on the dreidel, wool wound 'round the menorah, and mud mushed into my dress. I came here to know you better, not them. If I wanted to be with animals, I'd go to the zoo!" Luckily, after the departure of Polly, another, lovely lady entered Farmer Kobi's home, with very different reactions. "Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match" is a lovely story about acceptance of love and family, including furred and feathered members. Kids will rejoice at the puns, laugh at the animals' thoughtful efforts, and root for the perfect match, meanwhile learning a bit about compassion for animals, cooperation, traditional foods and celebration of Hanukkah, and welcoming guests.

The Multimedia Shelf

Springtime Dance
Valerie Leonhart Smallkin, author, composer, performer
Kimberly Hopkins, illustrator
Small Kin Music
9780996074902, $16.99 32pp,

"Springtime Dance" is both a vivid, illustrated song story and an audio CD of the song, "Springtime Dance," plus three other songs by the author/composer: "Dino Dance," " Recycle," and "Bam She Bam." "Springtime Dance" is the vibrant, energy-infused creation of the creator of "Silly Goose & Val," a children's puppet song-filled act of author /composer Val Smallkin, compared to the older gentle puppet acts of Shari Lewis. The toe tapping verses of "Springtime Dance" are joyously interpreted in the bright, stimulating precise pictures of birds, bees, frogs, worms and flowers, dancing their springtime dance. The audio CD adds to a child's enjoyment of the bright pictured pages, with three more lively songs for bonus listening. Begging to be sung, read, and listened to, "Springtime Dance" is a winner, not only of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award but also of the hearts and imagination of every lucky child who experiences it.

The Poetry Shelf

Amazing Places
Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrations by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600606533 $18.95

Amazing Places is a children's picturebook anthology of selected poems by diverse authors, showcasing a variety of incredible locations and hard-working people across America. Part travelogue and part tribute, Amazing Places is a vibrant celebration; each of its poems is paired with a vivid, striking illustration. Also highly recommended is the previous book in this wonderful two-part series, "Amazing Faces" (9781620142233, $11.95). "Fenway Park": In Major League's oldest / baseball park / Red Sox Nation / provides a spark. // Its brick veneer / holds a diamond within. / We hurry inside. / Game's about to begin.

Poems in the Attic
Nikki Grimes, author
Elizabeth Zunon, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, Suite 1205, New York, NY 10016
9781620140277, $19.95,

"Poems in the Attic" is a sensitive collection of two sets of memories captured in two verse styles, tanka, and free verse. The poems celebrate and explore the experience of moving from place to place as the child of an Air Force military family. One set of poems is discovered by the heroine, a young African American girl, in her attic. She is amazed to discover they were written by her mother about her experiences moving with her grandfather when she was a girl. The girl decides to also write poems, to "keep all my rememberings safe..." The tanka poems are brief, descriptive, and evocative, compressed verse in five lines, varying between five and seven syllables each. The original form of tanka poetry comes from Japan. The girl's mother wrote her poems in tanka, while the girl writes hers in free verse. A deeply moving story unfolds, in which two girls find solace from loneliness and change in their ability to write poetry. Here is one poem in free verse: Grandma Says / Memories can be like sandcastles / the waves wash away. / My mama glued her memories with words / so they would last forever. "Poems in the Attic" was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection for excellent reasons. Tender, lyrical illustrations in acrylic, oil, and collage show mother and daughter as girls in different settings around the world where US Air Force bases exist. A list of eleven different such Air Force Bases is included in the ending pages, mapping out the journeys made by many military families and children to be with their parent(s) in military service. Inspired by stories shared with friends as well as the author's own experiences, "Poems in the Attic" explores the reality of a childhood in transition, using writing to help cope with multiple challenges of growing up a "military brat."

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Once Upon a Zombie
Billy Phillips and Jenny Nissenson
The Toon Studio Press
c/o Smith Publicity
9781935668343 $17.95

Once Upon a Zombie Book One: The Color of Fear is a spine-chilling fairy tale gone horribly wrong. Caitlin Fletcher is a young woman struggling to cope with a genius older sister, her single father's sudden move to London, and recurring panic attacks that leave her short of breath. Her world is completely turned around when she stumbles into a fantasy realm where iconic fairy tale characters such as Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty have all become ravenous zombies! A fast-paced and witty blend of fantasy, horror, and coming-of-age, Once Upon a Zombie will appeal not only to teens, but also zombie fans of all ages.

Ungodly: The Goddess War
Kendare Blake
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765334459 $17.99

Ungodly: The Goddess War concludes a series that began in 2013 with Antigoddess, and while this reviewer hasn't seen the others; Ungodly stands well on its own as well as the conclusion to the story of Greek gods and goddesses in the 21st century. Here immortals are dying and Cassandra, who has been reincarnated as a New York high school student, holds the key to their survival - if she can be found. Athena and Hermes must locate her even as a trap threatens Olympus and leads them to the battle of their lives - and even as Cassandra's quest could end everything. Ghosts, gods, gore and twilight worlds intersect in an engrossing saga recommended for mature teen fantasy readers who enjoy myths come to life.

Precious Bones
Mika Ashley-Hollinger
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780307930705, $7.99, 392pp,

In "Precious Bones" by Mika Ashley-Hollinger, young readers ages 9 to 12 will meet ten-year-old Bones, whose playground is the Florida swamps, brimming with mystical witches, black bears, alligators and bobcats. Bones' father, Nolay, a Miccosukee Indian, is smart and mischievous. Her Mama, practical as corn bread, can see straight into Bones' soul. It's summer, and Bones is busy hunting and fishing with her best friend, Little Man. But then two Yankee real estate agents trespass on her family's land, and Nolay scares them off with his gun. When a storm blows in and Bones and Little Man uncover something horrible at the edge of the Loo-chee swamp, the evidence of foul play points to Nolay. The only person that can help Nolay is Sheriff LeRoy, who's as slow as pond water. Bones is determined to take matters into her own hands. If it takes a miracle, then a miracle is what she will deliver. An exceptionally entertaining read from beginning to end, "Precious Bones" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library General Fiction collections for young readers.

Freeze-land: A New Beginning
Huda Ayaz
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480802698, $28.99, 110pp,

Samantha Ringle is your average fourth grader-or so you might think. She loves winter and all it brings: fluffy snowflakes, warm clothes, igloos, ice skating, cocoa, and snowball fights with friends. But in a heartbeat, everything she thinks she knows about winter will change. Samantha has just made a new friend-a snowflake fairy princess named Rebecca who needs her help. In her home world of Freeze-Land, life was once joyful, and laughter rang through the streets-until the darkest day in its history, when Santa Claus died in a freak accident. Now an evil warrior named Lord Ninstragger is in charge. A dark sun shoots dark rays into a sky filled with tiny black rocks and even black snowflakes. Everywhere she looks, she sees darkness and danger. Goblins blow fountains of smoke, working with black rain clouds to keep out the light. Lord Ninstragger wants the world to be as sad as it can be, and he's succeeding. If there is any hope that joy can return to their world, the Freezians know they need a champion, and Samantha is just the girl for the job. She's filled with confidence that she can save her friend-but will her confidence and new superpowers be enough to save her friend's world? Six earlier champions have failed, and Samantha is Freeze-Land's last hope. Can Samantha defeat Lord Ninstragger and his ninstings? "Freeze-land: A New Beginning" is all the more impressive when considering that its author, Huda Ayaz, is herself in the fourth grade. A lovely little story that is an imaginative entertainment for young readers from beginning to end, "Freeze-land: A New Beginning" is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Freeze-land: A New Beginning" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480802674, $11.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).

The Money Shelf

Fifteen Dollars and Thirty-five Cents: A Story About Choices
Kathryn Cole, author
Qin Leng, illustrator
Second Story Press
20 Maud St., Suite 401, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 2M5
9781927583821, $15.95,

From the educational series called I'm a Great Little Kid, "Fifteen Dollars and Thirty-five Cents" is about making wise choices. A multi-national cast of kids explore the meaning of the Golden Rule, when Joseph and Devon find money in the schoolyard. Is the proper response "Finders keepers, losers weepers," as Joseph tries to tell Devon? Devon is terribly tempted especially when Joseph offers to share the found money with him. Later the friends discover two girls, one in tears, because she had lost the, $15.35 for a gift for her mother. There are some doubtful moments, but Devon listens to his helpful teacher and arrives at a good solution when he thinks of the answer to his teacher's question, "What would you want someone to do if it was your money that was lost?" Helpful suggestions for exploring the lessons in "Fifteen Dollars and Thirty-Five Cents" are included at the end of this delightfully illustrated story about doing the right thing.

The Fiction Shelf

Brain Launch & Other Perfectly Awesome Stories
Jerry Chris
Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue, PO Box 399, Unionville, NY 10988
9780898244594, $9.99,

Written and compiled by academician Jerry Chris, "Brain Launch & Other Perfectly Awesome Stories" is a 138 page compendium comprised of ten short stories specifically designed for middle grade readers. Each story focuses on an attribute that lifelong learners will apply through highschool, college, and throughout the adult years. The story supported attributes are: Inquirer, Knowledgeable, Risk-Taker, Communicator, Principled, Open-Minded, Thinker, Caring, Balanced, and Reflective. Of special note is that each story takes place in a commonly encountered real-life middle school conflict. "Brain Launch & Other Perfectly Awesome Stories" is very highly recommended for public school, private school, home school, and community library collections.

The Perfect Blindside
Leslea Wahl
Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Pauls Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
9780819860132, $10.95, 240pp,

Fresh off a championship medal, Jake is becoming overwhelmed by everyone who wants something from him: reporters, fans, girls, companies, his parents. He can't figure out who is real and who just wants something. To top it all off, his parents have dragged him to a middle-of-nowhere town in Colorado, far away from his teammates and anything interesting. Then there's smart and savvy Sophie. She has spent the summer before her junior year of high school following Jake Taylor, recent snowboarding sensation, in every magazine and article she could find. Now he's moved into Silver Springs and she finds out what the reporters and everyone else seems to have missed Jake's letting the fame go to his head. He's just a jerk and Sophie has no respect or patience for that. Peaceful Silver Springs, however, has an even bigger problem than Jake's inflated ego. Wildlife is dying inexplicably, tires are getting slashed, and everything seems to be falling apart. Can Jake and Sophie work out their differences to discover what's really been happening at the abandoned silver mine? Follow Sophie and Jake into secret tunnels as they unravel the mystery and challenge each other to become who God wants them to be. Exceptionally well written and a thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "The Perfect Blindside" is very highly recommended for high school and community library YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Perfect Blindside" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.40).

Rodeo Princess
M. G. Higgns
Saddleback Publishing Inc.
3120 Pullman Street, Cosa Mesa, CA 92626-4564
9781680210613, $9.95, 99pp,

From the Great Plains to the borderlands to the Mississippi Delta, rural America is struggling. The population is shrinking. And the economy is shifting away from agriculture. Without a safety net, rural families struggle with depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, and other problems. The 'Gravel Road Rural' series addresses the contemporary issues affecting rural America in an unflinching way. "Rodeo Princess" is the latest volume in this outstanding series and is the compelling story of a teenage girl in just such circumstances. "The last time I talked to Amy McNair more than three years ago she said 'Stay out of my life. Or I'll tell...'. One of the prettiest girls in school. She's horse crazy. And an amazing barrel racer. But I'm going to win at the annual rodeo. Beat her. It's all I've got. Even my boyfriend's parents don't accept me. Mainly because of my brothers. They aren't exactly upstanding citizens. People think I'm the same as them. If only they knew." Also available in a library binding edition (Turtle Back Books, 9780606372312, $20.80) "Rodeo Princess" is very highly recommended for both community and school library YA Fiction collections.

Secret Side of Empty
Maria E. Andreu
Running Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780762451920, $16.95, 336pp,

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.'s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant. With senior year of high school kicking into full swing, M.T. sees her hopes for a "normal" future unraveling. And it will take discovering a sense of trust in herself and others for M.T. to stake a claim in the life that she wants. Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience to tell a story that is timely, relevant, and universally poignant. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of young readers 13 and older that the "Secret Side of Empty" is also available in a paperback edition (9780762459162, $10.95) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Jasper and Willie: Wildfire
Bryn Fleming
WestWinds Press
c/o Graphic Arts Books
PO Box 56118, Portland, OR 97238-6118
9781941821923, $28.99, 130pp,

Life on his family's Central Oregon ranch is pretty good for shy, bookish Jasper, except for two problems. He longs for a dog of his own and he is a target for the school bully, Colton. For Jasper's twelfth birthday he is allowed to choose a dog from the local shelter, and he feels an intense bond with Willie, an old dog whose blind eyes seem to see into Jasper's heart. Jasper has faith in his new companion, Willie, even though he is nothing like Colton's dog, the fastest agility racing dog in the county. At the County Fair that year, Colton's little sister disappears from the fairgrounds as wildfires rage nearby. Will Jasper and Willie be able to help find the girl in time and prove Willie's worth to the others? The newest addition to the outstanding 'Range Rider' series by Bryn Fleming, "Jasper and Willie: Wildfire" is a terrifically entertaining read from beginning to end and especially commended to the attention of young readers ages 8 to 12. "Jasper and Willie: Wildfire" is very highly recommended for school and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Jasper and Willie: Wildfire" is also available in a paperback edition (9781941821718, $9.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.49).

The ABC Shelf

The Alphabet
Reg Down
Lightly Press
6187 Greenhaven Drive, Sacramento, CA 95831
9781515202547, $24.95, 90pp,

Summer is almost over and Tom Nutcracker is soon to go to school. But deep in the forest on his father's farm two gnomes called Pine Cone and Pepper Pot are worried. What if the school does not teach Tom his letters properly? What if the teacher messes the alphabet up? Then Tom might spell the Pine Cone as NEPI NOEC, or Pepper Pot as PREPREP TOP. He might even spell the famous Tiptoes Lightly as TOESPIT THIGLLY. That would be a disaster. A huge disaster! So the two gnomes, with the help of Tiptoes Lightly and Farmer John, set out to teach Tom his letters. Tom's younger sister, June Berry, insists on being taught too, and never will they, or anyone else who reads this tale, forget their ABC's - or their LMNOP's or QRST's either! "The Alphabet: how Pine Cone and Pepper Pot (with the help of Tiptoes Lightly and Farmer John) learned Tom Nutcracker and June Berry their letters" is a unique and delightful, and filled with stories, songs, pictures, plays and adventures silly and bold. "The Alphabet" is a large format, full color book, suitable for children from late kindergarten to grade three - and for homeschooling parents seeking to enrich the art of learning to write for their children ages of elementary school age. It should be noted that the humorous use of the word 'learned' instead of 'taught' in the subtitle, while colloquial, is quite correct. It dates from circa 1300 and extends into our times. "The Alphabet" is very highly recommended and is as subtly educational as it is sheer fun!

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Spit & Sticks: A Chimney Full of Swifts
Marilyn Grohoske Evans, author
Nicole Gsell, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580895880 $16.95

Spit & Sticks: A Chimney Full of Swifts is a children's picturebook about a nesting family of chimney swifts. The simple story follows the swifts as they use spit and sticks to build a nest, hatch hungry babies, feed their children and teach them to fly, and eventually migrate to their other home. Meanwhile, the human family who has watched the swifts nest in the chimney has been busy raising a brand new baby boy! An afterword teaching young readers more about these fascinating, gregarious little birds and their life cycle. Spit & Sticks: A Chimney Full of Swifts is highly recommended for grade school and public library children's picturebook collections.

Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy
Rita Goldner
Dancing Dakini Press
9780983633358 $17.95

Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy is a children's picturebook about orangutans that is both educational and entertaining. The story follows the everyday adventures of a young orangutan in the perilous forest, alternating between simple text and striking color illustrations. Almost every page of text adds a "fun fact" about these amazing animals. The final page offers several websites where readers of all ages can learn more about human efforts to protect orangutans and their rainforest habitat. Highly recommended, especially for school or library picturebook collections with a focus on nature and wildlife.

Fire Birds
Sneed B. Collard III
Bucking Horse Books
c/o Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780984446070 $17.00

Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests uses in-depth interviews and research and a picture book format to document for young readers who dozens of species of birds use burn areas. A number actually prefer burned forests over other environments, neatly refuting the idea that a burned area is a habitat wasteland not conducive to wildlife. The focus on the research of University of Montana professor Richard Hutto blends his findings with gorgeous close-up color photos of birds in burned areas, providing large-size and uniquely captivating images to delight not just young naturalists with good reading skills, but parents who will find the coverage and concept eye-opening.

Discover More Animal Faces
Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545791212 $7.99

Discover More Animal Faces is a lovely read-aloud or introductory book for young picture book readers who have graduated beyond the board book level but who still require stiffer, thicker pages that don't rip as easily as later picture book pages could. It covers animal faces and senses from frogs and cats to snakes and insects and it pairs colorful pages packed with information with winning good-sized photos that are chosen for their attraction and amazing color. Parents will find this a fine choice for introducing the very young to natural history science.

Mighty Mole and Super Soil
Mary Quattlebaum, author
Chad Wallace, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Way, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695387, $16.95, 32pp,

Below your feet, Mighty Mole is on the move. Like a swimmer in dirt, she strokes through the soil. Her tunnels are everywhere! She finds food, eludes a predator, has a family, and helps to make the Super Soil so necessary for plant growth. Moles live almost everywhere yet are rarely seen. Similarly, soil is a largely invisible ecosystem and yet is vital to the health of the world. Following the story that comprises "Mighty Mole and Super Soil", there are two Explore More for Kids pages offer a matching challenge and a review of some of the remarkable traits that make moles "mighty." Two additional pages of Explore More for Teachers and Parents offers activities in visual and language arts, science, technology, and math. Impressively well written and exceptionally well illustrated, "Mighty Mole and Super Soil" is enthusiastically recommended for family, school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections. "Mighty Mole and Super Soil" is also available in both a paperback edition (9781584695394, $8.95) and in a Kindle format ($6.99).

The Audiobook Shelf

The Boxcar Children: The Poison Frog Mystery
Gertrude Chandler Warner, author
Tim Gregory, narrator
Oasis Audio
289 Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613755082 $9.99

The Boxcar Children: The Poison Frog Mystery is the unabridged audiobook adaptation of a mystery-adventure in "The Boxcar Children" series for young adults. Henry, Jessie, and Violet once lived on their own in a boxcar... in "The Poison Frog Mystery", the siblings investigate a striking new exhibit at the local zoo. Then a pair of rare ferrets is stolen, and two California condors are the thief's next target. Is someone who works for the zoo the culprit? How can the "inside job" be stopped? A rousing adventure, The Boxcar Children: The Poison Frog Mystery is an excellent and entertaining addition to public and school library young adult audiobook collections. 2 CDs.

"Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights?"
Lemony Snicket, author
Seth, illustrator
Read by Liam Aiken
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Audio
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781478959649 $23.00

Superbly performed by award-nominated actor Liam Aiken, "Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights?" is the unabridged audiobook rendition of the first novel in Lemony Snicket's new series, "All the Wrong Questions". Snicket is well-known for his popular "A Series of Unfortunate Events" novels for young adults; the quintessential dry wit, sardonic insight, and keen sensory impressions of his writing style flourish in this fresh adventure! PDF files of the novel's original illustrations round out this consummate collector's listening experience. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library young adult audiobook collections. 5 CDs, approximately 5 hours.

Daniel X: Lights Out
James Patterson & Chris Grabenstin
Hachette Audio
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781478953333, $23.00,

"Daniel X: Lights Out" is the sixth and last installment of the Daniel X audio book series from Hachette Audio. Daniel is a teenage, alien-hunting, orphaned hero who is finally ready to take on the biggest threat in the galaxy: The Prayer -- the same beast that brutally murdered his parents long ago. But even with his incredible ability to create almost anything, Daniel will have to push his powers beyond the brink in order to bring down a monster that has the powers of a god. This epic showdown of good versus evil is a thrilling finale to an enduringly popular science fiction series. Deftly read by Aaron Landon, is highly recommended for personal listing and for community and school libraries for children 8 to 12 years, and in grades 3 to 7. (5CDs, 6 Hours).

The Music CD Shelf

Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs
Laurie Berkner
Two Tomatoes Records
c/o Razor & Tie Direct (distribution)
PO Box 543, Village Station, New York, NY 10014
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
$13.98 CD / $12.99 download

Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs is a two-CD compilation of almost sixty classic children's songs, from "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" to "Old King Cole", "When The Saints Go Marching In", and many more. Laurie Berkner brings these beloved favorites to life with her joyous singing voice. Some of the songs are re-mastered, previously released tracks while others are Berkner's first performance; all are timeless treasures, making Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs a worthy addition to public library children's music collections and an excellent gift for little ones. Highly recommended. 2 CDs, 129 min.

Mighty Wolf
Jeff & Paige
Rocky Mountain Music, Inc.
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)

Ideal for little ones ages 3-8, Mighty Wolf is a music CD that is both educational and entertaining. Cheerful songs jubilantly performed by Jeff & Paige teach young children about insect migration, adaptations of arctic wildlife, lightning safety, ladybug ecology, spider anatomy, the Appalachian trail, and much more. Parents and caretakers will also enjoy these lilting, musical appreciations of the magnificent wonders of nature and science! Highly recommended. The tracks are "Mighty Wolf", "Meet Wolf", "Triple Rainbow", "Ladybug Man", "Aphid Banquet for Two", "Just Because You're Scared of Spiders...", "Black Widow", "Timber!", "Beaver", "The Scavenger", "Dead and Delicious", "What is it?" "Ungulate", "Relaxing by the Fire", "Grandma Gatewood", "Thunderstorm!", "Lightning", "To the North Pole!", "The Arctic's Freezing", "Bedtime", "That's Not the Way", "Plant More Milkweed Please", and "The Great Monarch Migration." 51 min.

Put Our Heads Together
Hot Peas 'n Butter
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.99 download

Put Our Heads Together is the latest children's music album from multicultural family music band Hot Peas 'n Butter, winner of multiple Parents' Choice Awards. The songs vary in style from hip-hop to kindie rock to world pop, and strive to educate (about bullies, calories, seasons, and more) as well as entertain. Energetic and delightful, Put Our Heads Together makes an excellent children's gift and is a welcome contribution to public library young adult music collections. The tracks are "Amistad", "Magic Elevator", "Seasons", "No Bullies", "Put Our Heads Together", "Hot Peas 'n Butter! Redux", "Fresh Spokes", "Colores", "Here at Last!", "Graduation Day", "Fresh Spokes" (acoustic version), and "Fresh Spokes" (dance re-mix).

Tim Kubart
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)

Home is the second family album by performer Tim Kubart (also known as "Tambourine Guy" as part of Postmodern Jukebox on YouTube). Tim and guests sing original (well, mostly) songs about the adventures one can have around the house, from backyard swinging, to dancing in the kitchen, to the discovery that chores and jobs at the house can be fun! Home is an upbeat, good-natured glimpse into the wonders hidden within everyday life, delightful and recommended. The tracks are "Last Turn Home", "Breakfast Club", "Showtime", "Job at the House Part 1", "Biggest Brother", "Sunday Crafternoon", "Better", "Job at the House Part 2", "Backyard Swinging", "Rooms", "Halfway Down", "Dancing in the Kitchen", "Job at the House Part 3", and "Moving Day."

The Gardening Shelf

A Kid's Herb Book: For Children of All Ages
Lesley Tierra
Robert D. Reed Publishers
1380 Face Rock Drive, Bandon, OR 97411
9781885003362, $19.95, 264pp,

With "A Kid's Herb Book: For Children of All Ages" by herbalist expert Lesley Tierra children can learn all about the helpful and useful properties of a wide variety of herbs, most of which can be easily grown in a family garden. Kids will be able to use this impressively well written, illustrated, organized and presented instructional manual and workbook to make their own healing potions, salves, syrups, and remedies. "A Kid's Herb Book: For Children of All Ages" features a cornucopia of recipes, projects, stories, songs, and herb related activities and gardening tips. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' from beginning to end, "A Kid's Herb Book: For Children of All Ages" is very highly recommended and certain to be a unique and enduringly popular addition to family, school, and community library collections.

The Aviation Shelf

Flying Cars: The True Story
Andrew Glass
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780618984824, $17.99

Flying Cars: The True Story gathers the tales of dreamers, manufacturers, and those who took the classic audio idea a step further, and provides a lively aviation history geared to an unusual age range: advanced elementary to middle school readers. It's packed with vintage black and white photos and illustrations throughout, it surveys various flying cars and prototypes and discusses their evolution, influences and inception, and it creates a winning account that many an adult auto buff will find absorbing.

The Biography Shelf

Noah Webster: Man of Many Words
Catherine Reef
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544129832, $18.99

Noah Webster: Man of Many Words provides a little over two hundred pages of discussion on Webster's life and achievements. From his fondness for language and his goal of making it more user-friendly to his determination to achieve, this biography is more than the saga of one man's life, it thoroughly reviews his times and the nature of changing language and will be key to middle school readers understanding how English evolved.

The Native American Shelf

Whispers of the Wolf
Pauline Ts'o, author
Wisdom Tales Press
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786458 $16.95

Although Whispers of the Wolf is a fictional children's picturebook, it accurately portrays details of Pueblo culture, language, and traditions 500 years ago. The story follows a young boy named Two Birds who cares for an abandoned wolf pup. The two grow up as fast friends, but when wild wolves call, the young wolf longs to join his free-spirited brethren. Can Two Birds bring himself to let his cherished companion return to the wild? A heartwarming story about respect for life, beautifully illustrated with captivating color artwork, Whispers of the Wolf is highly recommended.

Books in Series

Helping the Community series
PowerKids Press
c/o The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010
$23.60 each

Available in both a library binding and paperback editions, the Helping the Community series teaches young readers about vital jobs that people do every day. Individual titles shine a spotlight on librarians, police officers, garbage collectors and much more. Each book alternates between full-color, full-page photography of people hard at work to help both adults and children, and simple sentences accessible to beginning readers. "First, you give the librarian your library card. Then, you can borrow things." An excellent, early reader-friendly introduction to the wide and wonderful world of careers, highly recommended for preschool, elementary school, and public library children's collections. The titles are "What Do Librarians Do?" (9781499406436) by Mary Austin; "What Do Mail Carriers Do?" (9781499406535) by Nick Christopher; "What Do Police Officers Do?" (9781499406580) by Nick Christopher; "What Do Firefighters Do?" (9781499406283) by Amy B. Rogers; "What Do Garbage Collectors Do?" (9781499406344) by Richard Alexander; and "What Do Doctors Do?" (9781499406238) by Amy B. Rogers.

When a Dragon Moves In Again
Jodi Moore, author
Howard McWilliams, illustrator
Flash Light Press
527 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781936261352, $17.95 32pp,

"When a Dragon Moves In Again" is a sequel to "When a Dragon Moves In". A small boy and his imaginary dragon companion experience the introduction of a new family member. He is small, similar to you, messy, drooly, and stinky, and he cries a lot. Although the boy (and his huge red dragon friend) attempt to amuse and entertain the new baby with loud songs, spilling stunts, and bowling games, Mom and Dad are not amused. Neither is the boy's older sister. Finally there is a confrontation between boy, dragon, and baby brother, and parents impose a dreaded Time Out. Small children (ages 4-8) will identify with the mixed feelings of the boy when he tries to share his beloved blanket with a crying baby, while a helpful dragon makes wordless helpful suggestions to stop baby brother's crying. A temporary truce is attained at last; thanks to quiet dragon lullabies, and a tired brother and family decide together that this baby can stay; (at least until tomorrow). "When a Dragon Moves In Again" is superbly told and fantastically illustrated, providing a storybook experience that matches all the exuberant energy and emotions of an imaginative small boy.

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

Two new series collections are recommended library acquisitions for ages 8-11 and provide some exciting books promising lasting library lending value. The 'Disgusting & Dreadful Science' series ($20.70 each) holds a number of titles, but Slimy Spawn and Other Gruesome Life Cycles by Barbara Taylor (9780778714026) and Smelly Farts and Other Body Horrors by Anna Claybourne (9780778714040) will compel kids to pick up books by title and subject one. Slimy Spawn discusses disgusting babies from bed bugs to moths and offer color descriptions of how these creatures evolve while Smelly Farts focus on smelly physiological realities of all kinds of animals. The result will be a style of science elementary-level readers will find fascinating and educational alike. Clive Gifford's 'Get Connected to Digital Literacy' ($27.60 each) provides a series for grades 4-5 and teaches a basic understanding of computers, networks, programs and coding. It builds 21st Century Learning Skills and supports the technology part of the STEM requirements as it examines a range of computer-driven subjects, from The Science of Computers (9780778715108) and Awesome Algorithms and Creative Coding (9780778715085) to Computer Networks (9780778715092) and Amazing Applications and Perfect Programs (9780778715078). From basic organization and navigation procedures to taking the next step in comprehension and computer technology applications, many an adult bare-bones beginner will also find these discussions simple and compelling.

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

The 'Race Further with Reading' series supports the Common Core State Standards for Reading Literature (Grades 3 and 4 - Key Ideas and Details) and provides fewer than fifty pages each of stories that encourage kids to build reading skills. Each book offers an adventure and a winning protagonist who involves kids in their story. Julia Jarman and Sam Hearn's The Magic Scooter (9780778720867, $31.32) tells of Casper's new birthday scooter which would seem to hold extraordinary powers; Ann Bryant and Kelly Kennedy's The Fantasy Soccer Wall (9780778720614, $31.32) tells of a boy's desperation to score in soccer and impress his teammates, which fails until he finds magical powers; Penny Dolan and Andy Elkerton's The Egyptian Cat Mystery (9780778720607, $31.32) tells of friends who uncover a mysterious cat statue in a museum but hardly have time to investigate before it goes missing; Karyn Gorman and Maddy McClellan's Betty Q Investigates (9780778720294, $31.32) tells of a girl who also happens to be an ace detective with a nose for solving mysteries and who finds herself confronted by a pet dilemma; Christophe Miraucourt and Delphine Vaufrey's Pirate Treasure (9780778720317, $31.32) tells of a secret treasure map which leads two children to Skeleton Island and in direct competition with a pirate who wants it too, the two authors provide a sequel in The Pirate's Daughter (9780778720881, $31.32) which tells of a girl who longs to be a pirate and decides to uncover treasure to prove her abilities, Maggie Pearson and Dan Chernett's The Pop Star Pirates (9780778720898, $31.32) tells of musicians who want to be pirates and who realize their dreams when a girl joins in, and Enid Richemont and Gustavo Mazali's The Night of the Were-boy (978077870-20874, $31.32) tells of a cat who turns into a boy under the full moon and surprises owner Martin. Will his pet cat ever change back? All are fun, adventure-filled reads.

Curious George Discovers Space
Monica Perez, adaptation
Craig Miller and Joe Fallon, authors
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544501997, $14.99 32pp,

"Curious George Discovers Space" is a fun, educational space exploration story from the Curious George Discovers series, featuring the famous monkey character and his friend, the man in the yellow hat. A winning combo of lovable fictional characters and real scientific space exploration information stirs interest and imagination while inserting many curious sidebars of real facts about the International Space Station, the NASA space shuttle program, the solar system, including Mars and Earth's moon, and the Mars Rover experiments. George is able to play a helpful role in solving several space exploration problems, even though he is a curious monkey. At the end of the adventure, a Great Gravity Experiment is described as a kid friendly project to explore the meaning of gravity, free fall and weightlessness. Additional resource pages are titled Planet Picnic, with a comparative size table for the planets with edible stand-ins, and a vocabulary list of Words to Know. "Curious George Discovers Space" is an appealing educational book for elementary school children age 4 and up.

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

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