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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 30, Number 11 November 2020 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Biography Shelf ABC Shelf Board Book Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
Activity Shelf Genealogy Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Reference Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf American History Shelf
Mythology Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Computer Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

When the World Stays Inside
Mikey Woz, author
Sara Panchaud, illustrator
Two Fools Publishing
9781771368841, $12.99, PB, 33pp

The current pandemic has resulted in the closure of schools, social distancing, refraining from going out in public for non-essential purposes, and not visiting friends and family members like grandparents and cousins.

"When the World Stays Inside" is a unique, original and fully entertaining children's book created by author Mikey Woz and artist/illustrator Sara Panchaud during the 2020 pandemic about all of the exciting things that can be done to pass the time indoors -- and teaches both parents and children to cherish that special time that we spend with the people we love.

While especially timely and unreservedly recommended for family and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When the World Stays Inside" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Cities - Then & Now
Joe Fullman, author
Lindsey Spins, illustrator
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781788689236, $18.99, HC, 24pp

Joe Fullman is a freelance author based in London. Over the past 20 years, he has written and contributed to guidebooks to around 20 countries Fullman has also written books on everything from dinosaurs and space to music and ancient history. He authored "Incredible Cabinet of Wonders" for Lonely Planet Kids (2017).

Browsing through the pages of "Cities - Then & Now" by Fullman and featuring the illustrations and artwork of Lindsey Spins, children ages 9-12 will take an entertaining and informative journey back in time to see what twelve mighty metropolises actually looked like during an important moment in their history. In this interactive and fact-filled tour, kids will discover intriguing facts about each historic city, what it looked like in the past, and how a significant event changed it forever.

On each page, young readers will open the gatefolds and lift the flaps to discover how these historic civilizations have evolved into modern cities, and compare their past appearance with their current one. Experience daily life in Great Zimbabwe, witness the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, see how Las Vegas went from a desolate desert to a booming city, and lots more.

Historical cities featured include: Thebes, Egypt, Africa, c. 1200 bce; Babylon, Iraq, Asia, c. 550 bce; Pompeii, Italy, Europe, 79 ce; Constantinople/Istanbul, Turkey, Europe/Asia, c. 550; Aarhus, Denmark, Europe, c. 950; Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, Africa, c. 1250; Tenochtitlan/Mexico City, Mexico, North America, c. 1520; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America, c. 1560; London, England, UK, Europe, 1666; Sydney, Australia, c. 1780; Las Vegas, USA, North America, c. 1905; and Shanghai, China, Asia, c. 1950.

Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Cities - Then & Now" from Lonely Planet Kids is an especially fun, informative, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Raj's Rule (For the Bathroom at School)
Lana Button, author
Hatem Aly, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771473408, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Raj is a little boy who has only one rule: he never uses the bathroom at school. It's just not the same as the one at home. All day, he avoids bathroom trips. Easy enough, since he lives by these tips: Don't linger at the sink. Stay away from anyone who makes you laugh. Watch out for distractions, especially schoolwork. And sit still: no running, jumping, cartwheels, or sneezing. Until one day -- achoo! Raj has to break his own rule.

After he faces his fear and uses the bathroom at school, Raj feels different. He doesn't have to rush! He can try new things, laugh, explore and even enjoy his work. He can stay awhile and play. Raj discovers things are better if you just go when you need to.

Told in speech bubbles with bright, lively art that features a diverse group of kids, "Raj's Rule (For the Bathroom at School)" by author/storyteller Lana Button and artist/illustrator Hatem Aly is a riotous rhyming read-aloud with an empathetic take on facing a common fear -- making it especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

What They Don't Teach Teens
Jonathan Cristall, Esq.
Quill Driver Books
9781610353588, $19.95

What They Don't Teach Teens: Life Safety Skills for Teens and the Adults Who Care for Them compiles safety skills for teens and the adults looking out for them, covering all kinds of concerns from computer use and social media to dating, using smartphones, and sexual exploration. Young adults receive a guide that covers all the basics, from encounters with the police to handling violence, abuse, and various forms of misconduct. While parents will likely be the audience for this survey, many teens who pick it up will be surprised to see it offers advice and admonitions for all kinds of situations, making for practical, valuable reading for navigating life's challenges.

The Social Issues Shelf

Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America
Deborah Diesen, author
Magdalena Mora, illustrator
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534439580, $17.99, HC, 48pp

The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only property owning white men of means were allowed to vote.

"Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America" by author Deborah Diesen and artist/illustrator Magdalena Mora is an unflinching and inspiring picture book history of voting rights for children ages 3-8 that looks back at the activists who answered equality's call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.

Made especially relevant in this current political atmosphere of voter suppression efforts and get-out-the-vote countermeasures, "Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America" is an urgently and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Contemporary Social Issues and American History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Does This Make You a Bully?
Julian Van Dyke
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781796099898, $14.99, PB, 26pp

Deftly written and appealingly illustrated by Julian Van Dyke for children ages 5-6, "Does This Make You A Bully?" is a charming and thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book about the different ways bullying goes on in societies around the world -- and the hurtful and disrespectful feelings we get from it. A very important subject matter that's illustrated in a way that kids will enjoy and that those that who "open minded" and young at heart will find informatively entertaining as well. "Does This Make You a Bully?" is especially recommended as an addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

The Cookbook Shelf

Kids Can Cook
Esther Coombs, illustrator
Button Books
c/o The GMC Group
9781787080713, $17.99, HC, 64pp

One of the major parental responsibilities is to help their child develop good eating habits by teaching them how to cook. Now they have an invaluable resource for helping them carry out this basic child rearing task with the publication of "Kids Can Cook: Fun and Yummy Recipes for Budding Chefs".

In this thoroughly 'user friendly' resource with its beautifully illustrated step-by-step recipes will show children ages 6- 12 how they make delicious and nutritious food. As well as finding out how easy it is to make lots of yummy things to eat, they will practice culinary skills like measuring, weighing and counting without even realizing it. Packed from cover to cover with ideas for everything from pizzas to pancakes, including breakfasts, snacks, main meals and sweet treats, there's plenty to keep kids busy in the kitchen.

"Kids Can Cook: Fun and Yummy Recipes for Budding Chefs" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library cookbook collections for children.

The Biography Shelf

Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker
Patricia Hruby Powell, author
R. Gregory Christie, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534406230, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 - December 13, 1986) worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists.

In the pages of "Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker", Caldecott Honor winner R. Gregory Christie's powerful pictures pair effectively with Patricia Hruby Powell's poignant words to paint a vivid and memorable portrait of the fight for the freedom of the human spirit for children ages 4-8 -- making this an memorable and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book Biography & African-American History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Joey: The Story of Joe Biden
Jill Biden, author
Amy June Bates, illustrator
Paula Wiseman Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534480537, $19.99, HC, 48pp

Joe Biden grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His parents always encouraged him and his siblings to be independent and strong. The family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where at twenty-nine, Biden was elected one the youngest United States Senators ever elected. This is his story.

Written by his wife, Jill Biden, and charmingly illustrated by Amy June Bates, "Joey: The Story of Joe Biden" is the first ever picture book about the young life of Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, and includes never before told family stories about presidential candidate and former vice president's childhood.

While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book American biography collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Joey: The Story of Joe Biden" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797118123, $19.99, CD).

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice
Nikki Grimes, author
Laura Freeman, illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534462670, $17.99, HC, 40pp

When Kamala Harris was a young girl, she often accompanied her parents to civil rights marches -- so many, in fact, that when her mother asked a frustrated Kamala what she wanted, the young girl responded with: "Freedom!"

As Kamala grew from a small girl in Oakland to a senator running for president, it was this long-fostered belief in freedom and justice for all people that shaped her into the inspiring figure she is today. From fighting for the use of a soccer field in middle school to fighting for the people of her home state in Congress, Senator Harris used her voice to speak up for what she believed in and for those who were otherwise unheard. Her dedication led to her being selected as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2020 election.

Told in Nikki Grimes's stunning verse and featuring gorgeous illustrations by Laura Freeman, "Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice" is an impressively informative and entertaining picture book biography brings to life a story that shows all young people ages 4-8 that the American dream can belong to all of us if we fight for one another.

While unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library American Biography picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The ABC Shelf

A White House Alphabet
Arioth Harrison Smirne, author
Rocco Smirne, author
John Hutton, illustrator
The White House Historical Association
9781950273089, $9.95, HC, 28pp

The White House has served as the home and office of the President of the United States for more than two hundred years. Its history fills thousands of books, but the best place for children ages 4-6 to start to learn about the President's House is with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet! Here in the pages of "A White House Alphabet" kids will enjoy finding every letter here from A to Z!

It is inherently interesting to note that it was five-year-old Rocco Smirne and his mother who collaboratively created this book to share a story for each letter. They will take young readers to see the Marine Band, the Queens' Bedroom, the Oval Office and rooms that are all red, blue, and green. Rocco's favorite picture is of Marine One, the helicopter drawn for the letter H!

"A White House Alphabet" is a unique and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library ABC books for children.

The Board Book Shelf

Animals Sing Aloha
Vera Arita, author
Ron Louis, illustrator
BeachHouse Publishing
c/o The Bess Press
9781933067292, $7.95, Board Book, 20pp

Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, "Animals Sing Aloha" is a unique and very special board book is specifically designed to begin introducing young children ages 5-6 to phonics through a vibrantly illustrated text by artist Ron Louis and that can be read or sung to an original musical score by the author, Vera Arita. "Animals Sing Aloha" is such a fun, whimsical book that kids wont even know they are learning.

As a special education teacher for over 25 years, Arita wanted to share a book that would help kids remember how to sound-out letters through repetition, visual cues, and movement. Each letter can be traced by hand. By doing so, your child will learn how to write the letter and will also remember the name and sound of the letter through his/her movement.

The text, so simple and so fun, repeats the sound of the letter, and the beautiful, whimsical illustrations help put a picture to the sound. But besides the learning involved, this is a fun, colorful board book just for local kids with animals, things, and places they can relate to.

Dedication Promises
Carol A. Wehrheim, author
Roz Fulcher, illustrator
Flyaway Books
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202-1396
9781947888296, $10.00, Board Book, 16pp

Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.00), "Dedication Promises" is a board book that will help explain to children the significance of their dedication in church and the promises their family and church community made to them on that special day.

Featuring easy-to-follow language by Carol Wehrheim, and bright and inclusive artwork by Roz Fulcher, and four simple prayers, "Dedication Promise" is an inspiring book shows young children ages 0-3 just how important they are to God and to the whole church.

Very highly recommended and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone and presentation, "Dedication Promises" includes a special dedication page in the front of the book and is perfect for gift giving.

The Picturebook Shelf

I Wish You Happiness
Michael Wong and Ann Baratashvili
Picco Puppy
9781925973129 $TBA

I Wish You Happiness is an encouraging, positive picture book that offers kids a set of affirmations for leading a good life.

Ann Baratashvili's lovely illustrations compliment this message with happy images of kids riding bikes, reading books, dreaming, and having adventures. It presents new words that reinforce both vocabulary building and positive life perspectives: "I wish you success and prosperity, to trust yourself and your ability to succeed."

From kindness and generosity to faith and hope in the future, moments taken in nature with peace and tranquility, and the notion that risk-taking requires courage and strength, but rewards greatly ("...for the magic begins at the end of your comfort zone."), these are much-needed messages countering a world of angst and confusion. They offer adults the opportunity to instill in the very young a sense of excitement and positive perspectives about life, the world, and the future.

This simple, optimistic picture book presentation deserves a place in any parent's shelf as a read-aloud reinforcer of how to view the world and cultivate a better life and attitude towards it.

5-Minute Sleepy Time Stories
Disney Books / Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368055383, $14.99, HC, 208pp

Comprised of Get twelve enchanting adventures featuring a cast of favorite Disney characters, "5-Minute Sleepy Time Stories" is especially ideal and commended for nap time or bed time 'getting settled' activities for children ages 5- 8.

Beautifully illustrated throughout in the classic Disney tradition, young readers can go for a campout with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, race off to sleep with Lightning and Mater, have a sleepover with Tiana and Charlotte and more! Of special note is that each individual story can be read in just five minutes.

Perfect for bedtime, storytime, or anytime, "5-Minute Sleepy Time Stories" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library 'storytime' collections!

Bear's All-Night Party
Bill Harley, author
Melissa Ferreira, illustrator
August House Littlefolk
c/o August House
3500 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9781947301672, $8.95, PB, 32pp

On the night of the full moon, Bear wants to celebrate, but none of his friends are interested. The birds want to sleep. Porcupine doesn't get the point. Moose thinks it just won't work. But their lack of interest doesn't stop Bear. Undaunted, he distributes invitations, sweeps the clearing, prepares the food, and rests up for his party, even if it's going to be a party of one. Fortunately, it doesn't take long for his music and song to draw in a hesitant Dad Fox with his brood of fox cubs. By the time the moon rises, all of the animals, birds, and insects from the field and forest are singing and dancing under a full moon.

Critique: Originally published in hardcover in 2005, "Bear's All Night Party" is now available for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7. Author and storyteller Bill Harley's unique ability to blend a story's narrative into the structure of a song, combined with artist and illustrator Melissa Ferreira's beautifully detailed, acrylic paintings makes "Bear's All Night Party" an instant classic. Also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.95), "Bear's All Night Party" is an original picture book story encourages children to stop and celebrate the here-and-now!

The Mayfly and The Greedy Bullfrog
Jo Allen
c/o Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishers
9781910903443, $7.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 35pp

Have you ever been suddenly taken by surprise by something that has never happened to you before? Imagine that. That would be shocking for most of us. This is what happened to a greedy bullfrog named Butch.

It happened while floating down the pond one morning having his breakfast. Suddenly he experienced something that had never happened before. So shocking, his eyes bulged right out of their sockets. For Butch, he wondered was this real or imagined? It would make us all wonder. We may ask ourselves is this really happening?

In author and illustrator Jo Allen's new and charmingly entertaining picture book, "The Mayfly and The Greedy Bullfrog", children will find out what follows as they learn a life lesson from this original story -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Harry: the Very Hairy Hare
Dan Wohleber
Archway Publishing
9781480890800, $22.95, HC, 28pp

Harry grows up a happy rabbit with lots of friends to play with. As he gets older, a funny thing happens. Harry gets hairier and hairier until his friends start making fun of him. They taunt Harry for being different, and he soon feels like he has no friends at all.

Then, something terrible happens to Henry the hare, and "hairy" Harry comes to his rescue. Despite his friends being mean, Harry chooses to be kind and helpful. His actions make the other rabbits realize it doesn't matter what they look like, but it does matter how they treat each other.

Sadly, many children today experience bullying in a variety of forms. "Harry: The Very Hairy Hare" is about overcoming bullying through kindness and acts of love. We're all responsible for our words and actions, so instead of being cruel, smile, share a kind word, and do a good deed.

A gentle, charming, and impressively entertaining picture book with a timely and timeless social message by storyteller and illustrator Dan Wohleber, "Harry: The Very Hairy Hare" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Harry: The Very Hairy Hare" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781480890824, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.49).

One Happy Chicken
Diane Calkias, author
Sharon Davey, illustrator
Book Baby Publishers
9781543980622, $9.95, PB, 32pp

Zoe is a tiny chick with a big attitude. Stranded all alone on a busy sidewalk, Zoe finds a new home when a kindly woman comes to her rescue. She gets more than she bargained for though when her new family comes with two children, three dogs, six cats, two small parrots, and a bunny! But with a lot of moxie and a bit of mischief, Zoe quickly becomes head of the pack. What other adventures will Zoe get into as she grows up with her new family?

Inspired by a true story, "One Happy Chicken" is a delightfully charming children's picture book from writer and animal advocate Diane Calkins on the subject of pets and pet care by author/storyteller Diane Calkias. Brought to life by the whimsical illustrations of Sharon Davey, "One Happy Chicken" is an ideal bedtime story, babies, toddlers, and young kids will learn about the importance of family, acceptance, and the human-animal bond.

While highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library children's picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "One Happy Chicken" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.80).

Over and Under the Rainforest
Kate Messner, author
Christopher Silas Neal, illustrator
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452169408, $18.99, HC, 48pp

In the pages of "Over and Under the Rainforest" by author Kate Messner and artist/illustrator Christopher Silas Neal, children ages5-8 will enjoy discovering the wonder that lies hidden among the roots, above the winding rivers, and under the emerald leaves of the rainforest.

"Over and Under the Rainforest" features animals like the slender parrot snake to the blue morpho butterfly, explores the canopies, where toucans and pale-billed woodpeckers chatter and call, while other animals include capuchin monkeys who swing from vines and slow-moving sloths who wait out daily thunderstorms

Under the canopy of the rainforest hundreds of animals make their homes, but up in the leaves hides another world. "Over and Under the Rainforest" is perfect for kids who can't get enough of the rainforest and all the animals living in it.

Both entertaining and educational, "Over and Under the Rainforest" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Over and Under the Rainforest" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

It's Only One!
Tracey Corderoy, author
Tony Neal, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781680102277, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Sunnyville is the perfect place to live, until one day Rhino tosses a candy wrapper on the ground. "What?" he says. "It's only one." But soon, others start throwing their trash on the ground, too, and it begins to pile up. Giraffe doesn't want to look at the garbage, so he picks a flower from the park to brighten his home -- but then everyone picks the flowers, and now there aren't any left. Soon things become messier, noisier, and grumpier. Can anyone save the day?

A delightfully entertaining picture book with a critically important message about good citizenship and taking care of our community, "It's Only One!" by author/storyteller Tracey Corderoy and artist/illustrator Tony Neal is an especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7.

Harlem Grown
Tony Hillery, author
Jessie Hartland, illustrator
Paula Wiseman Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534402317, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: "Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood" by author Tony Hillery and artist/illustrator Jessie Hartland tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration.

Five years later, the kids and their parents, with the support of the Harlem Grown staff, grow thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. All of it is given to the kids and their families.

Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, as well as being available in a digital book format, "Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' and inspiring for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that Harlem Grown is an independent, not-for-profit organization -- and that the author's share of the proceeds from the sale of this picture book will go directly to Harlem Grown to further their work.

Issa Watanabe
Gecko Press
9781776573134, $18.99, HC, 40pp

With forceful simplicity, "Migrants" by author and illustrator Issa Watanabe narrates the journey of a group of animals leaving a leafless forest. Borders must be crossed, sacrifices made, loved ones left behind. It takes such courage to reach the end. At last the journey is over and the migrants arrive. This is the new place.

Watanabe takes extraordinary care to show the individuality and humanity of each migrant -- through the detailed patterns on their clothing, their care of each other as they set up camp, the symbol of the blue ibis showing the connection between past and future, life and death.

With his museum quality artwork transforming what might have been an ordinary picture book for children ages 5-9 into an extraordinary visual storytelling experience with a critically relevant and timely message about emigrants, Issa Watanabe's "Migrants" will be an immediate and enduringly treasured addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Kat Patrick, author
Evie Barrow, illustrator
Scribble US
9781950354450, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Maggie has had a very bad day. First of all, the sun was the wrong shape, in a sky that was too blue. The spaghetti was too long, and her pajamas were the wrong kind of pajama. Then Maggie begins to have wolfish thoughts!

"Howl" is an impressively original and deftly written picture book for children ages 3-7 by the team of author/storyteller Kat Patrick and artist/illustrator Evie Barrow about a young girl's way of expressing and resolving big feelings.

A thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book entertainment, "Howl" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Night Night, Norman
Marie Dimitrova, author
Romi Caron, illustrator
Hello World Publishing
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781735036403, $17.95, HC, 36pp

The collaborative work of author/storyteller Marie Dimitrova and artist/illustrator Romi Caron, "Night Night, Norman" is a wonderfully charming and funny picture book in which Norman the horse wonders where Ellie goes after she hugs him goodnight.

One night he loosens the latch on his stall and sneaks out. When he pushes his horse-sized body through the door and into Ellie's house, he smells something delicious coming from the kitchen. While Ellie sleeps, Norman investigates. His equine curiosity and clumsy hooves create all sorts of chaos, leaving us wondering, will he wake Ellie?

A light-hearted, spirit-lifting, wonderfully entertaining picture book story for children ages 3-6 about what horses do at night while we sleep, "Night Night, Norman" is ideal for nap time and/or bed time. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Night Night, Norman" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

The Rounders and the Tallers
Matt Bell
Covenant Books, Inc.
9781646708031 $13.95 pbk.
9781646708048 digital

The Rounders and the Tallers gives picture book readers and read-aloud adults an intriguing lesson in diversity and acceptance as it outlines a world which houses two types of people: mean round folk and sad, thin ones. Surprisingly, the thing that makes the Rounders the meanest is the one thing that should bring pleasure to all: the beach. This is also the thing that makes the Tallers the saddest. Good reading skills or parental assistance for the younger readers will lend to enjoyment of this compelling story of how this world became so divided. Surprisingly, and although it likely wasn't written for this purpose, this story becomes a parable for COVID times and new restrictions as the Rounders and the Tallers confront the evolution of rules designed to keep the Tallers from the place they love.

As the years pass and rules proliferate and conditions worsen, where is the answer that can return joy to both groups? The whimsical, thought-provoking illustrations are perfect accompaniments to a story that poses a dilemma, traces the evolution of prejudice and repression over the years, and offers some surprising solutions that also contain insights about better living. What better story for this new age of COVID than one which teaches tolerance and win-win situations for all? The topics of exclusion and community growth and involvement will delight parents looking for discussion points for the very young, as well as picture book readers who harbor the skills to absorb multiple paragraphs of evocative description and detail. The Rounders and the Tallers is very highly recommended as a 'coming together' title that advocates understanding and revised thinking that embraces connection and shared joy in life's opportunities.


These lovely books provide engaging primers to young readers with good reading skills who look for detailed descriptions of nature and accompanying colorful, delightful drawings.

Leslie Bulion's Leaf Litter Critters (9781682631836, $7.99) receives whimsical and fun drawings by Robert Meganck as it explores soil and leaf litter and the creatures that call such places their home. Leaf litter ecosystems are not common explorations in children's stories, but here come alive as Bulion pairs simple, fun rhymes with a paragraph of science notes to draw readers into these worlds. The captivating drawings are icing on the cake of a unique, fun exploration.

Bulion and Meganck also join forces in Amphibian Acrobats (9781682631843, $7.99), which provides middle readers with the same appealing blend of illustration, science, and poetry to offers especially engaging details on amphibians. The whimsical, fun celebration of different kinds of acrobats in this world will draw readers into the science with a flavor of opportunity missing from more staid scientific discussions. Both books are outstanding, top recommendations for advanced elementary through middle school grades.

Picture book readers ages 4-8 will relish Lisa Papp's Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog (9781682631492, $17.99), which follows Madeline's puppy's education in becoming an official therapy dog. As Star trains with Madeline's assistance and masters skills, the ultimate goal becomes clear and close, posing new challenges as Star and his friend journey to a retirement community to test his newfound abilities.

Kids receive solid information on therapy dogs and their abilities and training, along with a lovely story of a girl who loves her puppy and his special goal in life. Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep by Catherine Rayner (9781682632222, $17.99) will reach kids ages 3-7 with a story of insomnia that's perfect for bedtime read-aloud. A gentle, calming refrain repeated in the course of his story outlines mindfulness techniques which parents can use to help their child adjust to bedtime sleepiness. The message of calmness is very nicely done.

Mary Batten's Life in a Frozen World: Wildlife of Antarctica (9781682631515, $18.99) excels in gorgeous color drawings by Thomas Gonzalez as it surveys Antarctica's landscape and wildlife. Mary Batten worked at The Cousteau Society when he took a group of children from around the world to Antarctica, and has been fascinated by the region ever since. Her book pairs the gorgeous drawings with much in-depth information suitable for readers ages 6-10, making for an outstanding scientific exploration directed to an age group that usually doesn't receive such colorful depth.


Lisa Graff's Wonderful You (9781984837387, $17.99) receives fun drawings by Ramona Kaulitzki, who outlines the excitement different families experience over a new baby's imminent arrival. The forthcoming child receives descriptions that relate to fruit, flowers, and vegetables in a rhyming survey that emphasizes joy, celebration, and the busy routines of preparing for a new addition to the family.

The lively descriptions and multicultural families are nicely presented and emphasize the involvement of all kinds of families as they prepare. Luci Soars by Lulu Delacre (9781984812669, $17.99) comes from a bestselling artist who adds a fine touch to a story that starts out with black and white illustrations and ventures into a colorful realm as it describes a girl who is born without a shadow. Luci is teased for her lack of a shadow and views her condition as a detriment, but as time goes by, she learns to view her omission as a strength...perhaps even a superpower. It's a lesson on greatness designed for a generation that will benefit from more messages about personal abilities and using them wisely.

These are excellent, unique additions to any leisure reader's collection.

Sleeping Bear Press

The season's new arrivals from Sleeping Bear Press represent an outstandingly diverse collection of recommended leisure reads.

Katia Wish's Raccoon's Perfect Snowman (9781534110670, $16.99) tells of Raccoon's love of building and decorating the perfect snowman when winter arrives. He invites his friends to try out their hands at the task, but can't resist giving them all 'helpful tips' to improve their efforts. Unfortunately, his directions are sometimes anything but helpful. How can Raccoon help his friends without demanding their perfection?

A fine lesson on interpersonal relationships evolves. Deborah Diesen's Sing Some More! (9781534110526, $16.99) receives gorgeous colorful illustrations by Howard Gray as it follows four birds who blend their skills to provide a neighborhood sing-along concert. The lilting rhyme that explores this musical effort is the perfect delivery vehicle of choice as kids are introduced to musical concepts, vocabulary, and insights that pair fun examples with definitions.

Judy Young's Bobby Babinski's Bathtub (9781534110328, $16.99) enjoys whimsical, fun drawings by Kevin M. Barry, who brings to life a lesson not just in bathtub fun, but hygiene. The large-size, uniquely captivating drawings pair nicely with a lilting rhyme as a father tries to entice his son to enjoy bath time despite the child's initial reticence. And who wouldn't enjoy bath time with the zany results explored in Judy Young's whimsical tale?

Ann Ingalls and Sue Lowell Gallion's Tip and Tucker, Paw Painters (9781534110991, $9.99) will appeal to grades K-1 with Book 3 in a series of Tip and Tucker adventures. Andre Ceolin's pictures are engaging and bright, offering fun embellishments to this story of hamster friends whose different approaches to life are educational. Mr. Lopez's class is involved in art projects, but the little hamsters have a challenge in joining in. Delightful snafus will have kids laughing and reading.

Stephanie Shaw's Tails from the Animal Shelter (9781534110489, $16.99) receives engaging drawings by Liza Woodruff as it surveys the experience of adopting a pet from the animal shelter. Poetic stories and explorations of how community animal shelters work to connect people with pets provide information to parents and young readers ages 4-8, who have the reading skills and comprehension to understand both the humor and the practical information. Parents and kids who want to learn more about animal adoption will find Tails from the Animal Shelter a whimsical, fact-filled exploration.

These are lovely surveys highly recommended for picture book readers and read-aloud parents looking for striking blends of illustration and story line.

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Five new books from Eerdmans provide young leisure readers with choice opportunities for fun and reflection.

Bibi Dumon Tak's Leave a Message in the Sand (9780802855480, $17.99) collects poems about hoofed animals, receives engaging drawings by Annemarie van Haeringen, and is translated by Laura Watkinson. These poems are excellent in their diversity, from a letter that presents readers with "..the monstrous warthog! Look! Just one sight/is such a fright!" to a message on the sand in 'The Wild Bactrian Camel': "Strong. V.faithful./Flexible. Can take the heat..."

Nathalie Dargent and illustrator Magali Le Huche's The Christmas Feast (9780802855374, $17.99) explores what happens when Wolf, Weasel, and Fox steal a turkey for their holiday feast, only to find that the main course has her own opinion about how she should be served up. The whimsical drawings compliment an equally zany plot.

Petr Horacek's The Last Tiger (9780802855527, $17.99) receives beautifully bright, large-size drawings as it tells of a brave tiger who faces hunters with pride, until he is captured and faces a terrible truth about their intentions and his real powers. Lee Bennett Hopkins' Night Wishes (9780802854964, $18.99) is illustrated by Jen Corace and provides a whimsical poetry collection considering how various inanimate objects might say good night. Hopkins and thirteen other poets provide reflections perfect for bedtime consideration.

Rose Robbins's Talking is Not My Thing (9780802855497, $16.99) comes from a nonverbal girl who finds words and verbal expression quite challenging, even though others around her use words with apparent ease. As the autistic child explores other methods of preferred communication, young readers receive insights into various forms of expression and how the young narrator uses flash cards and visuals to receive and transmit messages to the world around her.

All are wonderful, involving leisure choices kids will relish.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Rise of the Halfling King
David Bowles, author
Charlene Bowles, illustrator
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781947627376, $12.95, PB, 64pp

Sayam has always been different from other kids -- he's very short for his age, his best friend is a monkey, and most curious of all: he was born from an egg! His grandmother, a witch, found him and taught him all the ancient magic she uses to help her people. So when a giant snake starts terrorizing a nearby city, Sayam decides it's time for him to use his knowledge to help others, and steps into action.

But the beast might not be Sayam's biggest problem: the ruthless King Kinich Kak Ek sees Sayam as a threat to his throne. Prophecy declares that whoever succeeds at three impossible tests will be king. Monstrous snakes and impossible tests are a lot for a boy to handle, but Sayam is brave and has a loyal monkey, a wise grandmother, and magical knowledge on his side!

Fans of adventure tales with a mythological focus (such as Bowles' previous work with Latin American myths, The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande and the Garza Twin series, as well as Rick Riordan Presents, especially the Storm Runner novels) will love this exciting and accessible graphic novel.

"Rise of the Halfling King", the first volume of the 'Tales of the Feathered Serpent' series, is also an invaluable educational tool for middle school students because it is a well-researched introduction to Maya culture, made accessible by an expert in Mesoamerican culture and juvenile literature. Bowles previously stitched together tales from Maya, Aztec, and other ancient mythology from pre-Columbian Mexico in the his YA book, "Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky".

Simply stated, "Rise of the Halfling King" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers ages 8-13.

Brea Grant, author
Yishan Li, illustrator
Six Foot Press
9781644420294, $18.99, PB, 144pp
Everyone expects sixteen-year-old Mary to be a great writer. After all, her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother are all successful writers (as they constantly remind her) -- not to mention her famous namesake, the OG Mary Shelley, horror author extraordinaire.

But Mary is pretty sure she's not cut out for that life. She can't even stay awake in class! Then one dark and rainy night, she's confronted with a whole new destiny. Mary has the ability to heal monsters -- and they're not going to leave her alone until she does!

With the help of a mysterious (and mysteriously cute) stranger, a Harpy, a possessed stuffed bunny, and her BFF Rhonda, Mary must uncover her family's darkest secret if she's going to save the monster world -- and herself!

An inherently interesting, fully entertaining, and impressively original graphic novel by the team of author/storyteller Brea Grant and artist/illustrator Yishan Li, "Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter" will be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as middle school, high school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers ages 12-18.

Cinebook Ltd.
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706

Wotan's Fire (9781849185363, $11.95, PB, 48pp) When Ingrid, Yoko's organist friend, invites her to a German castle, what are the chances it's merely for a concert? Among a collection of ancient instruments she is there to authenticate, Ingrid found a strange, technologically advanced device. It belonged to a physicist whose final work was, supposedly, a so-called 'death ray'. Trouble soon follows, and to prevent a mysterious gang from stealing the horrific technology, Yoko and her friends may have no choice but to use it!

The Klondike (9781849184960, $11.95, PB, 48pp, Ages 6-8) Gold has been found in the Klondike, a remote region in the Canadian far north! Jasper, the manservant of 'Tenderfoot' Waldo, went to try his luck... and vanished. Worried about his man, Waldo calls upon his old friend Lucky Luke. The two men will have to make the dangerous trip to the Klondike, only to face all those who, in that desolate, inhospitable land, will stop at nothing in order to fleece their fellow man.

Oklahoma Jim (978184918537, $11.95, PB, 48pp, Ages 6-8) Kid Luck, still travelling with Old Timer, arrives in Mushroom City. After months in the wild, they're both glad to find a place where they can have some fun! While the old gold miner has every intention to enjoy himself, though, he immediately sends Luke... straight to school! A horrible sentence for the young cowboy-in-the-making, who is about to meet a quartet of already nasty little brats, and a pistolero with somewhat flexible morals!

Something Borrowed, Something Blue (9781849185318, $11.95, PB, 48pp, Ages 6-10) War rages on, and the wounded pile up -- including Blutch, courtesy of Confederate artillery. The Union Army doctors are swamped. In order to address his shortage of healers, General Alexander brings in a quartet of female nurses. But while he did also recruit a foul-tempered 'matron' of sorts to discourage anyone more interested in flirting that doing their duty, he may not have planned for the possibility of one of the nurses falling for a certain small, unruly, bald corporal!

The Music CD Shelf

Songs With My Daughters
Elliott Park
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Songs With My Daughters is a family music album is the creative collaboration of music artist Elliott Park and his three teenaged daughters Anna (18), Autumn (16), and April (14). The lyrics of these upbeat, original songs range from wholehearted and open to tongue-in-cheek quirky. A delightful listening experience for the whole family, Songs With My Daughters is highly recommended for both family and public library music collections. The tracks are "To the Moon and Back", "Follow", "Bloom", "Rock, Paper, Scissors", "Blue Skies Over the Rainbow", "Beautiful", "Crickets' Ball", "Set Me Free", "Sky Whales", "Orange Jello", "Three Bottles In the Wind", and "The Flute Song".

The Activity Shelf

The Awesome Things I Love
Vincent Kelly
Covenant Books
9781645593485, $23.95, HC, 20pp

There are many great things in the world to see and love. So many things to like and try, so much that can pass you right by! Two is better than one, so let's come together and share what brings us lots of cheer, from bedtime to playtime and people we hold dear. Family is great and friends are fun. Let's explore airplanes, jungle gyms, and animal races...let's all run! Insert pictures of your loved ones and make this a keepsake. Keep this for years to come and look back on all the memories you were able to make.

A unique combination of children's picture book and a keepsake activity book, "The Awesome Things I Love" by Vincent Kelly is an extraordinary, entertaining, and certain to be a treasured family heirloom that is especially and unreservedly recommended for children ages 5-8.

The Genealogy Shelf

Roots for Kids: A Genealogy Guide for Young People, third edition
Susan Provost Beller
Genealogical Publishing Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 229, Baltimore, MD 21211
9780806321066, $24.50, PB, 106pp

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and newly revised 3rd edition, "Roots for Kids: A Genealogy Guide for Young People" by Susan Provost Beller reflects both the recent explosion of interest in genealogy and the changes in how we can now do our family history research.

While "Roots for Kids" is especially suitable for teachers seeking to supplement their social studies curriculum with material on family history, it is also a wonderful resource for families looking for a meaningful project to work on together, and for any young person interested in making their first attempt at genealogical research.

"Roots for Kids" first takes the young readers through an introduction to genealogy. Then proceeds to discussions of their families and their parents' families, teaching them now to ask questions, what documents to look for, how to organize materials, and how use the internet to conduct research in local, state, national, and international records.

Critique: An ideal introduction for children into genealogy, "Roots for Kids: A Genealogy Guide for Young People" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Genealogy Studies lists. For children who are not yet ready to get into the detailed records contained in "Roots for Kids", genealogist Susan Beller has also written a companion instructional guide called "Roots for Kids: Finding Your Family Stories" (Genealogical Publishing Co., 9780806321073, $18.50, PB, 80pp, 2020).

Editorial Note: Susan Provost Beller is the author of 29 books about history for young readers, but her first love has always been genealogy, and she has enjoyed doing family history research for almost 50 years. She also worked for many years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Vermont, teaching teachers how to better utilize historic resources such as primary sources and historic sites to make history more interesting for their students.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Kids Knit
Kerry Kimber
The GMC Group
9781784945824, $19.95, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: "Knitting for All: Kids Knit" by established needlecrafter Kerry Kimber is a stylish and aspirational DIY instructional guide and 'how to' containing age and stage appropriate knitting techniques and patterns. The projects enable children to learn the basics of knitting and start creating simple items very quickly. "Kids Knit" has beautiful photography, knitting jokes and activities and attractive illustrations. The start of each level contains photographed step-by-step tutorials covering new skills to make learning straightforward.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and step-by-step presentation, "Kids Knit" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended illustrated knitting instruction manual that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kids Knit" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Based in Edinburgh, Kerry Kimber always wanted to teach her children to knit, so she thought hard about how to do it in a way that would encourage and enthuse them from the start. She realized the potential to teach these skills more widely, and she began the Kids Knit program, which after proving to be a rip-roaring success became Knitting for All, an educational organization which teaches knitting to children, young people and adults.

The General Fiction Shelf

Silent Journey
Carl Watson, author
Andrew Bosley, illustrator
One Elm Books
c/o Red Chair Press
PO Box 333, South Egremont, MA 01258
9781947159303, $16.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: Young Scott Schroeder dreams of a day when he and his father can have a home of their own. Following an accident that took his mother's life eight years before, doctors discovered Scott was suddenly deaf. Blessed with being an accomplished gymnast and skilled at signing and reading lips, Scott's biggest challenge is convincing others he is able to do all the same things as those in the hearing world. Picking up on conversations he observes along the way, Scott figures out a big family secret concerning his father and uncle and makes his mind up to play a part in their reconciliation.

Critique: Written for a young readership ages 9-14, "Silent Journey" by Carl Watson is an inherently engaging and entertaining novel with an ultimately inspiring social message. Charmingly enhanced with occasional black-and-white illustrations by Andrew Bosley, "Silent Journey" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Silent Journey" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Wings to Fly
Jarnell Stokes, author
Howard Flam, author
Eunsoo Jeong, illustrator
Creation Nation Animation, LLC
9781734245202, $12.95, PB, 35pp

"Wings to Fly" is a children's book about gaining confidence and working to succeed as told from the perspective of a young girl who loves to play basketball. She is often left out by her teammates until she meets her guardian angel who teaches her that success takes perseverance.

Charmingly illustrated by Eunsoo Jeong, "Wings to Fly" is written by the team of NBA player Jarnell Stokes and movie producer Howard Flamm. A wonderfully entertaining read with a strong and uplifting message, "Wings to Fly" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers.

My Life in the Fish Tank
Barbara Dee
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534432338, $17.99, HC, 320pp

When twelve-year-old Zinnia Manning's older brother Gabriel is diagnosed with a mental illness, the family's world is turned upside down. Mom and Dad want Zinny, her sixteen-year-old sister, Scarlett, and her eight-year-old brother, Aiden, to keep Gabriel's condition "private" - and to Zinny that sounds the same as "secret." Which means she can't talk about it to her two best friends, who don't understand why Zinny keeps pushing them away, turning everything into a joke.

It also means she can't talk about it during Lunch Club, a group run by the school guidance counselor. How did Zinny get stuck in this weird club, anyway? She certainly doesn't have anything in common with these kids -- and even if she did, she'd never betray her family's secret.

The only good thing about school is science class, where cool teacher Ms. Molina has them doing experiments on crayfish. And when Zinny has the chance to attend a dream marine biology camp for the summer, she doesn't know what to do. How can Zinny move forward when Gabriel (and, really, her whole family) still needs her help?

"My Life in the Fish Tank" by Barbara Dee is a thoroughly engaging, entertaining, and 'kid friendly' novel for young readers ages 9-13. Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) for personal reading lists, "My Life in the Fish Tank" is very highly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections.

Quiet No More
Nikki Barthelmess
c/o North Star Editions, Inc.
2297 Waters Drive, Mendota Heights, MN 55125
9781635830637, $14.99, 352pp

Synopsis: After surviving sexual assault by her father and six months in foster care, college freshman Victoria Parker is trying to move on with her life. She's focusing on the positives -- attending college, living on her own, repairing old relationships and making new ones, and getting involved with an abuse survivors activist group on campus.

But everything's thrown into disarray when a strange woman shows up, claiming to be Victoria's aunt and asking Victoria to lie about what happened to her.

With her father's sentencing in a few months, Victoria's nervous about having to share the truth of what happened with a judge. She's not even sure if she has the strength to go through with it. But when her fellow club members begin pressuring her to speak out, Victoria has to decide how to share her story while remaining true to herself.

Critique: A deftly crafted and compelling sequel to "The Quiet You Carry" by Nikki Barthelmess, "Quiet No More" is appropriate for young readers ages 13-17 and recommended for middle school, high school, and community library general fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Quiet You Carry" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Yamile Saied Mendez
Algonqin Young Readers
c/o Algonquin Books
PO Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225
9781616209919, $17.95, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother's narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother's shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she'd get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn't easy. Her parents don't know about her passion. They wouldn't allow a girl to play futbol -- and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn't have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren't the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied.

As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her. Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl's journey to make her life her own.

Critique: An inherently engaging and impressively well crafted novel for young readers ages 14-18, "Furia" by Yamile Saied Mendez will prove to be an extraordinary and enduringly popular addition to middle school, high school, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Furia" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.61) and in a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781664566699, $34.99, CD).

Pretty Funny for a Girl
Rebecca Elliott
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781682631478, $17.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Haylah Swinton is an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an incredibly patient sister to a four-year-old nutcase of a brother. Best of all, she's pretty confident she's mastered making light of every situation -- from her mom's new boyfriend to unsolicited remarks on her plus-sized figure. Besides, she has a big secret: one day, she'll be a stand-up comedian star.

So when impossibly cool and thirstalicious Leo reveals he's also into comedy, Haylah jumps at the chance to ghost-write his sets. But is Leo as interested in returning the favor?

Even though her friends warn her of Leo's intentions, Haylah's not ready to listen -- and she might just be digging herself deeper toward heartbreak. If Haylah's ever going to step into the spotlight, first she'll need to find the confidence to put herself out there and strut like the boss she really is.

Critique: Engaging, entertaining, "Pretty Funny For A Girl" showcases author Rebecca Elliott's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that is the hallmark of a successful novelist. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Pretty Funny For A Girl" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as middle school, high school, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 12-16.

Alone in the Woods
Rebecca Behrens
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781492673378, $16.99, HC, 320pp

Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends -- until one day they aren't. Jocelyn's not sure what happened, but she hopes the annual joint-family vacation in the isolated north woods will be the perfect spot to rekindle their friendship.

But Alex still isn't herself when they get to the cabin. And Jocelyn reaches a breaking point during a rafting trip that goes horribly wrong. When the girls' tube tears it leaves them stranded and alone. And before they know it, the two are hopelessly lost.

Wearing swimsuits and water shoes and with only the contents of their wet backpack, the girls face threats from the elements. And as they spend days and nights lost in the wilderness, they'll have to overcome their fractured friendship to make it out of the woods alive!

A deftly crafted, suspense laden, inherently entertaining, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' novel by an author with a remarkable talent for the kind of narrative driven storytelling skills that will keep a young reader's riveted attention from beginning to cliff hanger ending.

"Alone In The Woods" by Rebecca Behrens is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections for children ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Alone In The Woods" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781728231013, $7.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.15).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Even Goats Need Closure
Jane Donovan, author
Holly Trechter, author
Sky Candle Press
9781939360106, $13.99, PB, 256pp

After Covid-19 ends, sixteen-year-old Theo yearns for her life to get back to normal. Instead, her mother plans to move her from Chicago to a small, sleepy town in the Midwest. Her best friend warns her she is heading to a redneck land, where people's knuckles scrape the ground, so it is with some trepidation that Theo arrives at her family's Minnesotan fishing resort.

Trying to find her footing in her strange, new environment, she gets entangled in the mystery of multiple dead bodies -- which inconveniently keep popping up. As she seeks answers, she becomes involved in the Miss Apple Blossom pageant, where contestants literally risk their lives because the pageant is cursed! While searching for the serial killer, coping with auditory worries, and struggling with her parents' divorce, she optimistically keeps fishing for her first kiss.

Against a background that could well be drawn from next year's headlines, "Even Goats Need Closure" by the team of authors Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter is a fully entertaining blend of humor, romance, mystery, teenage angst, and the kind of coming of age story that will prove to be a winning combination -- making this deftly crafted novel especially and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of young readers ages 13-18, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Broken Wish
Julie C. Dao
Disney Hyperion
9781368046381, $18.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide. She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She's heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow.

But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner-none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it's too late!

Critique: A riveting good read from first to last, "Broken Wish" by Julie C. Dao is an extraordinary fantasy by an author with a definitive gift for imaginative originality and a mastery of the fantasy genre. Especially recommended for young fantasy fans ages 14-18, "Broken Wish" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Broken Wish" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

A Golden Furty
Samantha Cohoe
Wednesday Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
9781250220400, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher's Stone (whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold) but just when the promise of the Stone's riches is in their grasp, Thea's mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother's notes, Thea learns that there's a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of a revolution looming, Thea is sent to live with the father who doesn't know she exists.

But there are alchemists after the Stone who don't believe Thea's warning about the curse -- instead, they'll stop at nothing to steal Thea's knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "A Golden Fury" is author Samantha Cohoe's debut as a novelist, this deftly crafted and original action/adventure style fantasy will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Golden Fury" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Young Listeners, 9781250772145, $45.99, CD).

The Whizbang Machine: Royal Deception
Danielle A. Vann
Waldorf Publishing
9781943847921, $14.95 PB, $9.99 MP3 CD, 404pp (Ages 12-16)

Fans of the magical Whizbang Machine typewriter of prior books will relish the addition of another segment to the drama: Royal Deception. Readers start by attending the bleak funeral of narrator Elizabeth's mother, her Grandpa Jack beside her, as she faces the Whizbang machine's demands and her loss. Adversity and danger drive her and her Grandfather into another adventure even as the reluctant Elizabeth is tasked with solving problems her mother Laurel could not adequately resolve.

Kids who enjoy stories of magic and family relationships will relish this latest Whizbang saga; especially if they've already absorbed its premise in the prior books. Danielle Vann cultivates a vivid blend of dialogue, action, and psychological self-inspection that brings the story to life. The Whizbang Machine serves as a provoker, entreating Elizabeth to step outside her life and its crushing pain to tackle bigger pictures. Those around her provide their own individual angst and perceptions, often challenging the Whizbang Machine's edicts. Once readers become used to the continual crashing and banging of the machine's admonitions and prophecies, these assume a compelling countenance as they inject drama, urgency, and information into Elizabeth's newfound life on the run.

Royal Deception excels in many twists and turns as Elizabeth and those around her re-examine their roles, objectives, and perceptions of the truth and the purposes of their enemies. There are puzzles, magical interludes, and close encounters that keep everyone, including the reader, on their toes. Prior fans of the Whizbang adventures will relish the depth and complexity of this latest addition as Elizabeth continues to stretch the limits of her abilities and matures in unexpected ways. The changing relationship between herself and her grandfather are satisfying interpersonal strengths in a story that is impossible to predict and difficult to set aside.

Middle grade readers and older, who like stories of magic and adversity, will relish this action-packed saga.

D.R. Mattox
Warren Publishing
9781735302355, $15.95 PB, 228pp (Ages 10-12)

Ko and Aileen don't anticipate anything more than a quiet visit to Stono Beach when they begin their day, but when they are kidnapped and taken to the Aphotic, a hidden layer of the universe, everything changes. Kids ages 10-12 will find much to like about this fantasy as Ko and Aileen find not only the boundaries of their world challenged, but their role in it.

D.R. Mattox uses the first person narrator Ko to capture this world and his relationship to it and his sister. This lends an observational immediacy to the tone and experiences which draws in young readers; especially since Ko is much older than his sibling and holds rationales and insights that come with the wisdom of age. His ability to perceive possible futures and scenarios in present-day incarnations and experience gives Aphotic such a deliciously analytical tone, yet keeps its experiences in logical sync with its young protagonists. As events and perspectives move from Ko and Aileen to Sam, Joan, encounters with the Light Reaper's possibilities, and more, readers are led into a full-fledged fantasy that holds a quest, a challenge, and many battles.

Mattox moves from the first person to a third person narrative, but by then young readers are thoroughly immersed in the situations, perspectives, and struggles of a myriad of characters. As various prisoners of the Aphotic search for a way out, the story is reminiscent of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, but with a broader cast of would-be heroes and children who struggle to make sense of this new world and their place in it. The safety of a galaxy lies in these young hands and the choices they face to preserve it.

Middle grade and older readers with a special interest in fantasy quests will find Aphotic a marvelous saga of courage, self-resilience, and change.

The Reference Shelf

Britannica All New Kids' Encyclopedia
Christopher Lloyd, editor
What On Earth Books
9781912920488, $30.00, HC, 424pp

With more than 100 expert consultants from around the world, and over 1000 images, including specially commissioned illustrations and stunning photography, and expertly edited by Christopher Lloyd, "Britannica All New Kids' Encyclopedia: What We Know & What We" is a single-volume encyclopedia specifically designed for kids ages 8-12.

Unlike old encyclopedias that are structured from A to Z, this encyclopedia's format takes young and curious readers on a journey from the beginning of time to the present day -- and even into the future! It explores a wide range of topics and is divided into eight chapters by subject: Universe, Earth, Matter, Life, Humans, Ancient & Medieval Times, Modern Times, and Today & Tomorrow.

"Britannica All New Kids' Encyclopedia: What We Know & What We" is a compendium of illustrated and amazing facts that will provide hundreds of hours of fun learning for curious children and their families -- making it an ideal and enduringly popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library reference collections.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

100 Crazy Questions: Creatures
Ben Grossblatt
becker&mayer! kids
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780760368886, $9.99, PB, 144pp

What if a kangaroo jumped on a trampoline? What happens when a chameleon gets mad? Would an aardvark raid your fridge? There's no question too crazy for this book. The wilder the better! Children ages 7-14 will enjoy finding out the answers to these and the other simply silly scenarios in the animal kingdom -- all with answers and explanations based on real science and research.

"100 Crazy Questions: Creatures" is an information and joke-packed book that covers weight-lifting gorillas (impressive) or playing volleyball with a puffer fish (not recommended). Full-color illustrations and photographs bring the animals and their challenges to life, making this a certain to be appreciated and unique addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "100 Crazy Questions: Creatures" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise
Adrian Raeside
Harbour Publishing
9781550179422, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Seven-year-old Rick and his beloved dog Koko are inseparable. They cavort in the swimming hole, chase each other through the fields, play fetch and wrestle. But their relationship changes as Koko grows old and his health declines.

With Koko's passing, Rick is devastated. But then one night, he is woken by Buster, a flatulent but well-intentioned messenger dog, who suddenly appears at the boy's bedside. Buster ferries Rick to a magical paradise for pets where Rick is reunited with Koko; it fills Rick's heart with joy. It's a place where cats burrow through fields of catnip, no couch is off-limits to dogs and frisbees are flung endlessly. This mysterious adventure is truly a holiday miracle!

Author, storyteller, artist and illustrator Adrian Raeside has created a magical tale of adventure for pet lovers of all ages in the picture book pages of "The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise". Using his gift for creating spunky characters, Raeside has created an entertaining and invaluable fable for anyone who cherishes the companionship of a family pet and the special bond that can be created between humans and their pets. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-6, "The Rainbow Bridge" will have a special appeal to any child with a pet of their own.

The American History Shelf

America's Outlaws and the Treasures They Left Behind
W. C. Jameson
August House
3500 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9781947301634, $16.95, PB, 252pp

By combining the allure of outlaws from the Wild West with the mystery of lost treasure, in the pages of "America's Outlaws and the Treasures They Left Behind", renowned treasure hunter and author, W.C. Jameson has created a blockbuster collection of over two-dozen outlaw tales.

Americans have always been fascinated by outlaws. We are attracted to their daring and adventurous escapades; we cheer them on as they break the rules and even when they escape from their pursuers. The stories in this new collection showcase an eccentric cast of misfits, bandits and adventurers like the infamous Frank and Jesse James, treacherous Dalton Gang, notorious Doolin Gang, Black Jack Ketchum, daring Texan Sam Bass, glamorous Belle Starr, bloodthirsty John J. Glanton, Mexican bandit Tiburcio Vasquez, the Apache warrior, Chief Victorio, legendary Montana outlaw Henry Plummer, Curly Bill Brocius, deadly Ella Watson, along with the pirate Jean Lafitte and more.

One reason for W. C.'s enduring popularity as an author is that he meticulously researches his stories and has actually backpacked into many of the remote sites on treasure hunting expeditions. As a result, his writing has a unique level of authenticity. In this newest compilation of outlaw stories and lost treasure, Jameson takes his readers along on an exciting journey through the dangers of the Wild West including treacherous desert canyons, deserted ranches on the high plains, abandoned mountain mines, lost treasure caches from railroad heists, and missing loot from bank robberies that people are still searching for today.

A genuine treat for all dedicated western adventure enthusiasts who appreciate well crafted yarns about inherently fascinating people and events, "America's Outlaws and the Treasures They Left Behind" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library 19th Century American History collections for young readers ages 9-13.

The Mythology Shelf

Classic Tales from India
Vatsala Sperling, & Harish Johari
Bear Cub Books
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591433866, $18.99, PB, 240pp

"Classic Tales from India: How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head and Other Stories" is a full-color illustrated collection of classic tales from India, in which children ages 5-11 will learn about the playful, loyal, strong, loving, and wise gods, goddesses, and heroes of India.

Young readers will discover how the deity Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, got his elephant head, how the goddess Parvati won the heart of the great god Shiva, and how the goddess Ganga came to Earth from Heaven in the form of the holy Ganges River. They will also discover how Krishna's childhood as superhero and mischievous boy prepared him to fulfill his destiny as an avatar of the god Vishnu.

In two tales drawn from the Ramayana, children will learn about prince Ram and his victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravana and how the monkey-god Hanuman moved a medicine mountain to save Ram's brother. In two stories from the famous epic the Mahabharata, children will discover how Karna became the greatest archer in the world to help good triumph over evil and how Arjuna compassionately fought his own cousins to bring peace to the kingdom of Hastinapur.

The glowing illustrations, executed in transparent watercolors and tempera paints, are done in a centuries-old method traditional to India. Richly detailed, they bring to life the colorful cast of characters (humans, gods, and demons alike) and allow young readers to become immersed in the mystical world of ancient India.

Enriched with museum quality artwork by Pieter Weltevrede, Nona Weltevrede, and Sandeep Johari throughout, "Classic Tales from India: How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head and Other Stories" by the team of authors Vatsala Sperling and Harish Johart is a truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library Mythology & World Religion collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Classic Tales from India: How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head and Other Stories" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

David Roberts' Delightfully Different Fairy Tales
Lynn Roberts-Maloney, author
David Roberts, illustrator
Pavilion Children's
9781843654759, $19.95, HC, 90pp

In the pages of "David Roberts' Delightfully Different Fairy Tales", artist/illustrator David Roberts joins forces with his author/storytelling sister, Lynn, for the retelling of three classic tales: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel. These stories are presented for young readers ages 3-6 with a distinctive feminist twist with Disney quality leading ladies full of personality. David Roberts and Lynn Roberts-Maloney introduce Cinderella as a 1920s flapper girl who spends an evening in a beautiful art deco ballroom; Sleeping Beauty as a 1950s sci-fi nerd who pricks her finger on a record player and is woken by a resourceful young historian; and Rapunzel as a groovy 1970s chick who lives in a tower block!

These are wonderfully entertaining and classic fairy tales that are deftly redesigned for a modern audience and are unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Fairytale/Folklore collections.

The Computer Shelf

Ready, Set, Code!: Coding Activities for Kids
Heather Catchpole & Nicola O'Brien
Csiro Publishing
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781486312351, $23.95, PB, 120pp

Synopsis: "Ready, Set, Code!: Coding Activities for Kids" by Heather Catchpole (a children's author and founder of the phenomenally successful Careers with Code magazines) and Nicola O'Brien (founder of Code Rangers, a start-up that teaches kids to code and helps teachers to bring coding to their schools, and who currently works at the Australian Computing Academy, University of Sydney) explains to children ages 8-12 how cutting-edge digital technology works and its surprising uses now and in the future.

Filled with interesting examples, each chapter explores a different topic, such as artificial intelligence, sensors and data, and applies it with a fun, hands-on coding project. Kids will learn how to create their own chatbot, translate messages into different languages, construct a burglar alarm, make digital art and music, and launch a citizen science project. Plus, they will learn how to protect themselves online and much more.

Suitable for beginners, "Ready, Set, Code!" provides illustrated step-by-step instructions to teach kids to code with the highly acclaimed Scratch programming language, popular micro:bit mini computers and simple app building tools.

An ideal curriculum textbook for students in grades 1-6, "Ready, Set, Code!: Coding Activities for Kids" is also very highly recommended for home schooling parents, as well as elementary school, middle school, and community library computer science collections for young readers.

The Self-Help Shelf

Crying is Like the Rain
Heather Hawk Feinberg, author
Chamisa Kellogg, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884487234, $17.95, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Is it possible we've misunderstood crying all along? That's the discovery one big sister sets out to share with her little brother as they walk to school and get caught in a storm. Along the way they explore sadness, loneliness, fear, frustration, anger and more, through gentle metaphor. Their journey examines our tears revealing how they begin, why they happen, and what to do with them.

Throughout this beautifully produced picture book for children ages 6-8, the message of "Crying is Like the Rain" by author/storyteller Heather Hawk Feinberg and artist/illustrator Chamisa Kellogg is that we are safe in our emotional experiences and that feelings, like the weather, come and go. This is an empowering story about navigating and understanding our feelings as a healthy, important, and very natural part of our lives.

Have you ever noticed you feel differently after you cry? That's because Crying is like the Rain.

Critique: A deftly crafted and impressively entertaining picture book with an important and uplifting message for young readers, "Crying is Like the Rain: A Story of Mindfulness and Feelings" is a truly extraordinary and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Crying is Like the Rain: A Story of Mindfulness and Feelings" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.05).

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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

Vote for Me!
Ben Clanton
Tundra Books
9780735267589, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Donkey and Elephant are running for office. Both of them want your vote because each believes he is the best person for the job. Donkey says you should vote for him because he's number one. Elephant says you should vote for him because he's super cute. The two exchange insults and barbs, each trying to outdo the other. Who really is the best candidate? Who will win the election? Cartoon-like illustrations on alternating red and blue backgrounds make the perfect backdrop for this satire of the current state of America's politics, as well as a light-hearted lesson about the nature of politics. (Ages 3-7)

Bear's Book
Claire Freedman, author
Alison Friend, illustrator
9781536205718, $16.99

Diana Fisher

Reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh, Bear's Book is a heartwarming adventure about friendship and creativity. The soft, cute illustrations are adorable and the characters sweet as can be. Bear, whose beloved "big book of stories" has fallen apart, decides to write a book of his own, but he doesn't have any story ideas. Over and over he gets sidetracked helping his woodland friends, which, in the end, provides the solution to his problem. (Ages 3-7)

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost
Flavia Z. Drago
Candlewick Press
9781536211146, $16.99

Christine Irvin

How do you get people to notice you when you're a ghost and you're shy? Gustavo loves playing his violin. He wants to make friends and share his music, but in order to do so, he has to figure out a way to make other ghouls and goblins see him. And, he needs to do it soon, as the town will soon hold their annual Day of the Dead celebration. (Ages 3-7)

The Camping Trip
Jennifer K. Mann
Candlewick Press
9781536207361, $17.99

Julianne Black DiBlasi

Endearing and inviting, The Camping Trip is a beautiful story about trying new things, pushing beyond comfort zones and making s'mores! Laid out much like a graphic novel, the text and images seamlessly play back and forth to tell a deeper story than either could have done alone. Mann's line drawings are engaging and full of emotion, while not being over complicated. They have their own voice that allows the story to be experienced slowly, one moment at a time, echoing the natural environment and peace the main character experiences. Perfect for any city kid looking to try something new! (Ages 3-7)

Story Boat
Kyo Maclear, author
Rashin Kheiriyeh, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735263598, $17.99

Christine Irvin

This simple yet powerful picture book gives young readers a gentle introduction to the topic of refugees and the current refugee crisis faced by various peoples around the world. In this story, a little girl and her younger brother, along with the rest of their family, must leave their home and try to make a new home for themselves in a new place. When you are faced with such a crisis, even the most ordinary things, like a cup, a blanket, a lamp and flower, can provide comfort and take on new meanings. In this case, these simple items becomes symbols of hope for the future so their story can continue. (Ages 3-7)

Just Bunny and the Great Fire Rescue
Jeanne LaSala Taylor, author
Ana Sebastian, illustrator
Mascot Books
9781645431442, $15.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This story reflects in appreciation for those who give their time and service to the protecting of our most precious belongings. Francesca learns firsthand the great importance of the fire department when she is scurried out of a restaurant after a kitchen fire has broken out. In their hurry, she leaves behind her most beloved companion, Just Bunny! The realization is more than she can accept and she pleads with the firemen to find her beloved friend. This is a great opportunity for children to look into scary things from a very safe position, and see that there is help in troubled times. (Ages 3-8)

Honeycake: Counting All My Blessings
Medea Kalantar
Independently Published
9781777289737, $9.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This story holds gems for us all. Change can be difficult for many of us, especially if it demands adjustments. No matter what age it may be introduced, dealing with it is highly personal and necessary. Nala is faced with changes as a new little brother has entered her small world. And, she's not sure how she feels about it. The family all gather with laughter and happy voices, but Nala's tummy stirs with unhappy feelings. Suddenly, she no longer holds the spotlight and new feeling emerge. Uncertain of what is happening, she gives a cry for help. Grandma readily and lovingly steps in and leads Nala into sorting and dealing with those very real emotions. A great story to ease into these very necessary conversations as our little ones grow. (Ages 3-8)

More Beautiful than Heaven
Lotus Kay, author
Chey Diehl, illustrator
Eifrig Publishing
9781632332240, $9.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

It is amazing to step back and look at our world. The magnificent beasts, astounding creatures of every size. We turn each page with smiles and wonders, only then to discover our dangerous blunders. If we're not careful, our beautiful paradise may be lost. Truly an eye-opener to what wonders we have that often slip our attention. So often, we don't know what we have until it's gone. (Ages 3-10)

The Little Dragon
Sheri Fink
Whimsical World
9781949213034, $24.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

Growth and self-discovery can be scary. Experiencing new feelings and uncomfortable reactions can unsettle our comfortable norms. In those sometimes sudden opportunities, we are faced with options in how we will handle them. Often, they surprise us and we have responded without thought or consideration, and we slink away feeling hurt and confused. But, luckily as the little dragon discovers, it's not too late and we can still make wise decisions for the next time we may find those same stirrings rise. A great opportunity to discuss emotions and their consequences with little ones! (Ages 3-8)

Big H and Little h Dog
Victoria Smith, author
Sketchy La Rue, illustrator
Independently Published
9781913409326, $9.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This allegorical tale draws the reader into the depths in which love is willing to plunge when faced with daunting circumstances. Big H is willing to dedicate himself to the cause of Little h's need until hope becomes their reality. Those so moved will also join the cause, for all proceeds from the book will be donated to the charitable cause of curing Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A fun coloring book is also offered for sharing your opinion of the
story. (Ages 4-8)

Paper Son: The inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist
Julie Leung, author
Chris Sasaki, illustrator
Schwartz & Wade
9781524771874, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This fascinating story will surely open our eyes to the simple things we can carelessly neglect. Such things as a name we are given, or our standing in life. A little boy is given a small script to learn. He must memorize answers to exacting questions that will be required of him to answer. His script is written and learned in order to grant him a full life of meaning. One that was not afforded to him on his own in the mid 1900s. The dream of his father is to bring his son to a new land brimming with opportunity. But, to gain such privilege he must learn and pretend to be someone else. This one boy's story turns out well and affords him a happy ending. How many are as lucky? (Ages 4-8)

Oliver the Curious Owl
Chad Otis
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9780316529877, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Oliver the owl questions anything and everything in this charmingly funny story that asks who, what, when, where, and why! When his curiosity gets the better of him, Oliver and his best buddy, Bug travel far from the safety of home to get answers about the wonderful world they live in. But after a day of exploration, how will the friends find their way back? Children will identify with Oliver, the curious owl that questions everything. Kid-friendly illustrations combine with a great storyline to make this a sure-to-be favorite for children. (Ages 4-8)

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor: Celebrating Diversity with Empathy
Maria Dismondy, author
Donna Farrell, illustrator
Cardinal Rule Press
9780984855834, $10.95

Dr. Dawn Menge

It's Gabe's first day of school in America, and he doesn't speak English. This story shows how a simple act of kindness is worth more than a thousand words. This book teaches a wonderful lesson about tolerance for students who are different. Being new and not knowing the language spoken is a very scary experience for young children. I really liked the concepts the author explained as the student meets new friends at school and learns the language while teaching others about soccer. (Ages 4-11)

Sing Some More!
Deborah Diesen, author
Howard Gray, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110526, $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Before the sun even rises, a confident group of birds is warming up their vocal chords preparing for a full day of singing. They perform solos and a capella and arpeggios. And they sing and sing - and sing some more! The colorful artwork enhances the delightful lyrical flow of this tale. The thrill of dedication these joyful birds possess is truly contagious! You'll want to read it again and again, until you'll find yourself singing along. (Ages 5-7)

Bobby Babinski's Bathtub
Judy Young, author
Kevin M. Barry, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110328, $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

When little Bobby Babinski is reluctant to get into his tub at bath time, his father gets to work to make the event more fun. Cutting a hole in the roof of the house, Papa Babinski constructs a massive slippy-slide for Bobby to use. And while doing loopity-loops and glippetyglides is great fun, it's still not enough for Bobby. Children will roar with hilarity as they read this delightfully rhyming tale! The lengths a father will go to for his child is captured with romping fun in each illustration. Kids will want to hear it again and again. (Ages 5-7)

The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World
Maria Dismondy
Cardinal Rule Press
9781733035972, $15.95

Dr. Dawn Menge

This is a super cute book about being kind and doing things for others. Brother and sister Leah and Dexter fight and compete with each other over many things. Until one day, they learn from an older woman how to be kind and respectful to each other and those around them. (Ages 5-7)

Magic in the Attic: A Button and Squeaky Adventure
Jim Shore
Happy Fox Books
9781641240642, $14.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

On a boring and rainy day, a lonely teddy bear named Button is feeling blue and needs something to do! Magic in the Attic is a story filled with imagination, love, and the joy of friendship. This was an adorable book about a lonely bear who didn't know happiness. He found a balloon friend while exploring the attic that showed him happiness with what he found in a secret chest. I really enjoyed reading this book to my class. (Ages 5-7)

Leif and the Fall
Allison Sweet Grant and Adam Grant, authors
Merrilee Liddiard, illustrator
Dial Books
9781984815491, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

It is autumn, and Leif is afraid to fall. But he is determined to find a different way down, and with his friend Laurel, he uses the resources around him to create a net, a kite, a parachute in hopes of softening his landing. What will happen when a gust of wind pulls Leif from his branch? This is a cute book about problem-solving for a leaf that is changing during autumn. It is an entertaining book that speaks of brain-storming to resolve issues in your life. I highly recommend it as a catalyst for teaching this skill. (Ages 5-8)

Acoustic Rooster's Barnyard Boogie Starring Indigo Blume
Kwame Alexander, author
Tim Bowers, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111141, $16.99

Christine Irvin

On the eve of singing at a community festival, a bout of stage fright threatensa little girl's confidence. This delightful picture book is filled with great illustrations, a lively text, colorful characters, and just plain fun. Follow Indigo as the animals in the barnyard help her overcome her stage fright. (Ages 6-8)

Truth and Honor: The President Ford Story
Lindsey McDivitt, author
Matt Faulkner, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110625, $16.99

Christine Irvin

When Gerald Ford became president after the turmoil of the early 70s, Americans were ready for an honest, hardworking politician. And that is just what they got with President Ford. If you're looking for a picture book with lots of good information about President Gerald Ford, this one fits the bill. It's not only interesting, it is kid-friendly. (Ages 6-8)

Jefferson Measures a Moose
Mara Rockliff, author
S.D. Schindler, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763694104, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Thomas Jefferson loved sharing his discoveries and reading the discoveries of others. But when a famous Frenchman published a book about America, Jefferson was appalled: all the information in the book was wrong! Detailed illustrations, interesting text, and an unusual story about a former president make this book great reading for children interested in learning more about historical figures. (Ages 6-9)

Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery
Meeg Pincus, author
Yas Imamura, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110403, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Having been caught once in the mass migration of monarchs, I was delighted with this story. The efforts of such a diverse mass population all working to understand and document this amazing migration echoes the extension of community. As these beauties captivate the hearts and interests of so many as they fly across the states, it brings a true work of unity. (Ages 7-10)

The Voice that Won the Vote
Elisa Boxer, author
Vivien Mildenberger, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110496, $16.99

Christine Irvin

In August of 1920, women's suffrage in America came down to the vote in Tennessee. If the Tennessee legislature approved the 19th amendment it would be ratified, giving all American women the right to vote. The historic moment came down to a single vote and the voter who tipped the scale toward equality did so because of a powerful letter his mother, Febb Burn, had written him urging him to "Vote for suffrage and don't forget to be a good boy." The Voice that Won the Vote is the story of Febb, her son Harry, and the letter than gave all American women a voice. A timely story. (Ages 7-10)

H is for Honey Bee: A Beekeeping Alphabet
Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, author
Eileen Ryan Ewen, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110700, $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

An alphabet book based on the distinction of the honey bee, one of the most important insects on our planet. But the health and welfare of honey bees are in dire need of our attention and help. Habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change are threatening bee colonies around the world. This is presented as a picture book but is filled with many important facts about the honey bee's contribution to our world. I recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about this amazing creature. (Ages 7-10)

Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy
Ruthy Ballard
Spinning Wheel Press
9780997853278, $12.95

Christine Irvin

Frankie Russo is a loveable character many kids can easily identify with. He lets his imagination get carried away to the point where he ignores his teachers and he ignores his parents. When he is mysteriously whisked away to a strange planet, Urth, he has to change his whole way of thinking in order to get back home, not an easy thing to do for someone like Frankie, who lives for the moment. (Ages 8-12)

Wanda Seasongood series
Susan Lurie, author
Jenn Harney, illustrator
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
9781368043151, $15.99
9781368043229, $15.99

Christine Irvin

These first two adventures in this series - Wanda Seasongood and the Mostly True Secret and Wanda Seasongood and the Almost Perfect Lie - were a delight to read. Wanda is a great heroine and the talking bluebird Voltaire is a fun character. The author certainly used her imagination in creating the creatures that live in the Scary Wood. I hope there are more books featuring Wanda Seasongood. (Ages 8-12)

The Firefly Warriors Club
Susan Count
Hastings Creations Group
9781952371998, $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a great read! There are many nuggets to gather and store. The excitement of summer, the expectation of hope, the disappointment of setbacks and what appears to be defeat, all working together to build a legacy! Boys learning responsibility, building bonds, finding interests of importance beyond themselves. Maturing in defining character that will lead them for a lifetime. Davy and Anderson learn to work together, even in disaster. Though just young boys, they prove to be a true asset to the community, and a help to the existing ecosystem. There is much presented for the reader to learn and enjoy about fireflies. (Ages 9-12)

Dress Coded
Carrie Firestone
G.P. Putnam's Sons
9781984816436, $17.99

Kerri Lukasavitz

In this debut middle-grade girlpower friendship story, an eighth grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion. Firestone uses quick, short chapters to keep young minds moving forward to read the whole story. It's not only entertaining, but delivers a great message about girls' body images, the damage bullying can do, and how young readers can take a stand against outdated "rules" and make changes for the better, one podcast at a time. Very relevant in today's world. A great story. (Ages 10-12)

Ice Queen
Felicia Farber
Pyramid Press
9780996470841, $14.99

Christine Irvin

How can an innocent high school junior get caught up in a sexting scandal? Blair Evans learns that it's pretty easy. Getting out of it is the hard part. Even worse, Blair discovers that the very laws that are meant to protect her end up turning her into a criminal. This is a must-read for high school students (or those about to enter high school). The author does a great job of outlining the dangers of social media as well as the problems with cliques and bullying in school settings. (Ages 13-18)

More Than Just a Pretty Face
Syed M. Masood
Little, Brown & Company
9780316492355, $17.99

Christine Irvin

With a title like this, you'd expect this to be a pretty shallow book, a story about looks, for sure, but maybe not much else. Thankfully, that is not the case. The author manages to combine history, humor, religion, culture, and relationships, along with great characters, to create a story that will go beyond your expectations. My only complaint is that because the main character is of Pakistani descent and many foreign words/phrases are included in the text; I would have liked to seen a glossary included in the back of the book. (Ages 14+)

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Diane C. Donovan, Editor
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