Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Children's Bookwatch

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 33, Number 11 November 2023 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Christmas Shelf Environmental Studies Shelf
Jobs/Careers Shelf Science Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Multicultural Shelf Biography Shelf Music CD Shelf
Multimedia Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Elementary Fiction Shelf LGBTQ Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf
Mythology Shelf Books in Series Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Do I have Something on my Face?
D. L. DiBenedetto
The Book Publishing Solutions
9781962204217, $8.95, PB, 36pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Do I have Something on my Face?", young readers will meet Michael, a remarkable boy with Down Syndrome who opens his heart and world in this endearing story, connecting with children of all ages as they step into Michael's shoes and experience life through his eyes, a world painted with his unique experiences, thoughts, and aspirations.

Told from the vantage point of the real-life Michael, "Do I have Something on My Face?" shares Michael's 'inner perspective,' allowing us to see the world through his unique lens and understand his personal experience. He takes us on a journey that not only reveals the challenges and victories encountered by individuals with disabilities but also conveys his distinct point of view, authentic voice, innocence, and resilience.

With its uplifting message of self-acceptance and positivity, "Do I have Something on my Face?" is an invaluable resource for those wishing to impart empathy, tolerance, and the profound impact of viewing the world through another person's eyes to their children.

Critique: "Do I have Something on my Face?" is fun and vibrantly illustrated children's book is essential reading for any young soul who has ever grappled with feeling distinct or struggled to find their place. The motto is: We laugh often, we cry sometimes, but above all, we try!

While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99), this paperback picture book is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-11.

Editorial Note: D.L. DiBenedetto draws deeply from personal experiences and heartfelt interactions while intimately revealing her nephew's contemplations, obstacles, and victories, capturing his unique essence and viewpoint as a young individual with Down syndrome. With this narrative crafted through his perspective and mannerisms, D.L. believes in the power of Michael's authentic voice to shape his own story. She aims to not only spread awareness, but also to foster a sense of understanding, empathy, and acceptance for those who have special needs among young readers and their families.

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale
Aya Khalil
Tilbury House Publishers
9780884489672, $18.95 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 32pp (Ages 7-10)

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale enjoys vivid drawings by Anait Semirdzhyan as it continues the story of Kanzi, the immigrant girl featured in the prior The Arabic Quilt. She now feels welcome in her American school until a new book-banning program causes important works about minorities to vanish from the school library.

Can the kids institute a rebellion that returns these books to their lives? Even more importantly, will Kanzi's newly-acquired and fragile sense of acceptance be restored by this effort?

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale is an important story of diversity and freedom offers many discussion points that adults will welcome.

Taigh~A Flying Squirrel's Adventure
Loralee Evans
Independently Published
9798851948770, $14.95, HC, 176pp (Ages 3-12)
9798851946134, $12.95 PB / Kindle $0.99

Taigh~A Flying Squirrel's Adventure adds another fine middle-grade animal-oriented story to author Loralee Evans' widening list of appealing tales. Like Jean Craighead George, who penned numerous books profiling animals for middle grade readers, Evans performs a meaningful and important service in bringing the animal world to life for young minds, even if her writings anthropomorphize wildlife more than Jean George's works.

Taigh Squirrel doesn't just fly. He's also an artist who paints what he sees in the forest world around him. Like her character, Loralee Evans reflects words of wisdom given to Taigh by employing her artistry to capture Taigh's motivations, natural world, and squirrel lifestyle.

Perhaps her own words best capture the sentiments driving this warm story: "A good painting, Augustus had told Taigh, a smile curving up the corners of his ivory-colored beak, tells a story. It stirs imagination, and helps folks think and wonder and imagine. Let your paintings tell stories."

Evans uses word paintings to tell Taigh's story, capturing a world embedded with fairies, quests, art, and insights. As Master Taigh Squirrel (friend of Felicity Sparrow and Augustus Ivory-billed Woodpecker) embarks on an adventure to find out why all the ivory-billed woodpeckers vanished, kids will enjoy the special blend of fantasy and animal facts which exist side-by-side in this enthralling adventure story.

From Spanish-speaking bats to questions that Taigh resolves in the course of his experiences, middle graders will find the blend of action, mystery, and natural history compellingly fun. Libraries and readers seeking animal-based fantasies that feature a diminutive squirrel's proactive thinking, artistic talents, and quest will find Taigh~A Flying Squirrel's Adventure a choice that promises high entertainment value, while accompanying reflections on the natural world will lend to young reader book club discussions.

Bustling Cities of the World
Magdalena Konecna and Jana Sedlackova
9788000070025, $18.95

Bustling Cities of the World is an oversized book that celebrates the world's major and busiest cities, from Cairo to London and Sydney to Vancouver. Introductions to each capture a sense of place and environment ("It's raining again-no surprise to Londoners. Nobody leaves home without a hat, cap, or umbrella-just look at Sherlock Holmes, a palace guard, even the Queen!"). Each city receives a two-page spread packed with illustrations of its major attributes, from foods and historical buildings to local districts, bridges, markets, and more. The result is a lively leisure read that holds educational attraction, as well.

The Christmas Shelf

'Twas the Day before Christmas in Bethlehem Town
Leslie Bond Diggins
Pauline Kids
c/o Pauline Books & Media
9780819875594, $24.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Young shepherd Ben is annoyed by the crowds of people flocking to Bethlehem. Little does he know that his small act of kindness in a big crowd will prepare his heart for a life-changing event. What will Ben see on this day before Christmas? And who will he meet at the end of it?

"'Twas the Day before Christmas in Bethlehem Town" by author/storyteller Leslie Bond Diggins is heartwarming, read-aloud Nativity story that brings first-century Bethlehem to life through rhythm and rhyme inspired by the classic Christmas poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," by Clement Clarke Moore. Children will enjoy pondering the miracle of Christmas through the eyes of young Ben, whose small act of compassion leads to an unforgettable encounter with the Son of God. Dramatic illustrations by Erin Nielsen help to recreate the original wonder of that first Christmas night for a story that families will cherish year after year.

Critique: "'Twas the Day before Christmas in Bethlehem Town" is an original and delightfully welcome contribution to family, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library Christmas picture book collections for children ages 6- 8

Editorial Note #1: Leslie Bond Diggins ( is blessed to have spent most of her life happily surrounded by children. One of eight siblings and a mother of five, she has served in youth ministry and as a religious educator and had the privilege of working as a journalist for the National Right to Life Committee. Currently, she works as an elementary school literacy tutor and resides in Massachusetts with her husband and as many of their adult children as they can entice home for a visit.

Editorial Note #2: Erin Nielson ( is a freelance illustrator in McKinney, Texas, (just outside of Dallas). She works from her home studio, and collaborates with clients on everything from commissioned pet portraits, to magazine graphics and illustrations, to middle grade cover and interior artwork.

A Puppy's First Christmas
Holly Webb, author
Sophy Williams, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664340596, $5.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: Aria is so excited to have a new puppy named Jackson. She is looking forward to taking him on long walks, building snowmen, and playing games. She even bought him a special present! But when her extended family comes to stay for the holiday, things don't go the way Aria had planned. Jackson scares Aria's younger cousin, and then he chews Grandma's fluffy boots! Will Aria and Jackson get their perfect Christmas?

Critique: A part of the 'Pet Rescue Adventures series, "A Puppy's First Christmas" by the team of author/storyteller Holly Webb and artist/illustrator Sophy Williams is a delightful and original holiday themed Christmas story that will prove to be a fun read for children ages 6-9 and an ideal pick for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Pet Rescue Adventures is a series of heartwarming animal tales. Each book focuses on one kitten or puppy and their unique journey to find their new "forever home." A wonderful collection of heartwarming tales, perfect for animal lovers!

Wish Upon a Snowman
Danielle McLean, author
Paula Bowies, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350823, $9.99, Board Book, 12pp

Synopsis: It's Christmas, and that means it's time for fun in the snow. In the sturdy pages of this board book edition of "Wish Upon A Snowman", Children agews 3-5 will enjoy being introduced to elves, reindeer, polar bears, penguins, and Santa Claus himself! This bright, fun board book features rhyming text, adorable illustrations, and a squishy foam snowman that is visible through the die-cut cover and on every interior spread.

Critique: Deftly combining author Danielle McLean's rhyming text with artist Paula Bowies' charming illustrations, and featuring a die-cut, squishy snowman, "Wish Upon A Snowman" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Holiday themed board book board book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Danielle McLean is a children's book editor who lives in South London, England. When she's not writing and editing children's books, she can be found in ballet class pursuing her other childhood dream.

Editorial Note: Paula Bowles has lived in Bristol for more than 15 years, where she has worked on books with many different publishers. She also enjoys watching and photographing wildlife, and can spend many hours with a pair of binoculars, a DSLR camera, and a packed lunch.

The Very Snowy Christmas
Diana Hendry, author
Jane Chapman, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350861, $7.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: In search of the perfect holly with shiny berries to decorate his Christmas tree, Little Mouse begins to make his way home. Suddenly soft white flakes begin falling all around him. "The sky is coming undone!" fears Little Mouse. As he hurries home to tell Big Mouse his imagination overwhelms him.

First, he sees a "strange creature" waving its arms at him as he passes the water. Then when he turns around he sees that an invisible monster is leaving footprints right behind him! Finally, after running circles Little Mouse arrives home only to find a giant "white monster" in front of the door.

When Big Mouse finds Little Mouse outside he reassures him that the sky is not coming undone, but that it is snowing; after explaining away lIttle Mouse's fears, he shows Little Mouse that snow makes for a magical Christmas indeed.

Critique: An original, charming, fun, and a delightfully Christmas themed board book for children ages 2-5, "The Very Snowy Christmas" is an ideal and choice selection for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Holiday Board Book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Diana Hendry ( is a poet, short story writer, and the award winning author of more than 30 books for children and young adults.

Editorial Note #2: Jane Chapman ( studied illustration at Brighton University. She has illustrated over one hundred books, and is celebrating 25 years in Children's Books!

Christmas, Slide and See First Words: Christmas
Helen Hughes, author
Kathryn Selbert, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350830, $9.99, Board Book, 12 pp

Synopsis: Children can slide the sliders across the page to learn fun Christmas and winter words with "Christmas, Slide and See First Words: Christmas" by author Helen Hughes and illustrator Kathryn Selbert.

This sturdy board book includes interactive prompts and sliders on each spread, which help promote early language skills, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills. Children ages 2-5 will enjoy discovering which animals help Santa Claus to fly; what color Santa's hat is; what a snowman's nose is made of; and much more. Simple questions keep readers young readers engaged and learning fun facts about winter objects and activities.

Critique: "Christmas, Slide and See First Words: Christmas" is a fun and exciting board book made especially for the Christmas Season and an especially recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Helen Hughes has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. Now as a grownup, she feels so lucky to be able to immerse herself in the world of children's books and call it a job! As well as books, Helen loves tree-lined roads, sea views, and feeling the sun on her skin. She is based in London, England.

Editorial Note #2: Kathryn Selbert ( is a freelance illustrator who creates artwork for children, patterns, greeting cards, and stationery.

Dinosaur, Dinosaur, It's Christmas & Other Holiday Rhymes
Danielle McLean, author
Sanja Rescek, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350724, $9.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: "Dinosaur, Dinosaur, It's Christmas & Other Holiday Rhymes" is the fifth padded board book by Danielle McLean and features the utterly charming illustrations by Sanja Rescek. Comprised of many popular and original Christmas rhymes with a fun dinosaur twist. Selections include "Jingle Bells," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Christmas Star," "Deck the Dino Halls," and many more. This is a follow-up to Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Say Good Night; Dinosaur, Dinosaur, I Love You; Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Fall Is Here, and Dinosaur, Dinosaur Had a Farm.

Critique: With its soft, padded cover, its sturdy board pages, and the adorable illustrations by Sanja Rescek make Danielle McLean's "Dinosaur, Dinosaur, It's Christmas & Other Holiday Rhymes" an ideal board book for children ages 2-5. Of special note is the inclusion of a dedication page for gift-giving purposes. Simply stated, "Dinosaur, Dinosaur, It's Christmas & Other Holiday Rhymes" is an exceptional and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Christmas themed board book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Danielle McLean is a children's book editor who lives in South London, England. When she's not writing and editing children's books, she can be found in ballet class pursuing her other childhood dream.

Editorial Note #2: Sanja Rescek lives in Zagreb, Croatia, where she studied graphic design and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. She has illustrated picture books for Random House, Scholastic, and many other publishers, and she has also illustrated cards for UNICEF. When she is not illustrating, she enjoys painting and designing children's furniture.

'Twas the Night
William Dean, author
Sarah Lowe, illustrator
Tyndale Kids
c/o Tyndale House Publishers
9781496476074, $15.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: In the spirit of Clement C. Moore's well-loved poem, this retelling of Luke 2 was written in 2018 for a church Christmas program. With the publication of 'Taws the Night" from Tyndale House Publishers, 'Twas the Night has been deftly adapted to a picture book format by William Dean and brought lovingly to life by Sarah Lowe's artistry.

Originally read aloud to children who were nestled by a Christmas tree, this true story is for sharing the joy of Christmas with your little ones year after year.

Critique: 'Twas the Night Features includes: A rhyming text which makes it an easy read-aloud book; A Christmas classic poem with the true meaning of Christmas; An accurate retelling of the night before Christmas (no wise men, only shepherd visitors); Classic illustrations portraying Middle-Eastern characters for a historically accurate representation. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), 'Twas the Night is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library Christmas themed picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: William Dean, a graduate of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, realized he loved to write and create when he started putting together humorous scripts and building ingenious props for puppet shows which he instigated and produced for the enjoyment of his church family. He found great delight in being able to present spiritual truths through imaginative means. The Christmas productions became his favorites, and over the years, he directed numerous holiday programs for the church and elsewhere. His first children's book, 'Twas the Night, was penned in preparation for a program he directed in 2018.

Editorial Note #2: Sarah Lowe ( is an illustrator of textiles, games, decor, and dozens of book covers. She can be followed on Instagram @thelowescrete

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh!
Mo Willems, author/illustrator
Union Square Kids
9781454952770, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: It's the most wonderful time of the year -- for driving a sleigh! 'Tis also the season -- for driving a sleigh! Oh, and joy to -- driving a sleigh!

The Pigeon (who aspires to driving a sleight) has made a list and checked it once. Can his holiday dream come true? Or will The Pigeon be left out in the cold?

Critique: "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh!" is author/illustrator Mo Willems' ninth Pigeon book and is a fun and welcome pick for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Christmas Holiday picture book collections for children ages 3-5.

Editorial Note: Mo Willems ( is an author, illustrator, and the inaugural Education Artist-in-Residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has been awarded three Caldecott Honors for his picture books, two Theodor Seuss Geisel Medals and five Geisel Honors for his celebrated "Elephant & Piggie" early readers. His debut book, "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!", was inducted into the Picture Book Hall of Fame. Mo began his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he garnered six Emmy Awards.

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney?
Mac Barnett, author
Jan Klassen, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536223767, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When Santa arrives at a child's house on Christmas Eve, does he go down the chimney feetfirst or headfirst? What if he gets stuck? What if there's no chimney? Maybe he slides under the door, as thin as a piece of paper? Or is it possible he pours himself through the faucet? What happens once he's inside?

Whether it's shape-shifting or impromptu laundry use, author/storyteller Mac Barnett's iconic talent for earnest deadpan humor and artist/illustrator Jon Klassen's irresistibly funny art honor the timeless question with answers both ridiculous and plausible, mounting in hilarity as the night continues. Channeling a child's fanciful explanations (and begging for further speculation), this latest collaboration by the team of Barnett and Klassen will find a secure spot among family holiday traditions.

Critique: Fun and funny, "How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney?" is an ideal, enduringly popular, and unabashedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Christmas picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney?" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.50).

Editorial Note #1: Mac Barnett ( is a New York Times best-selling author of several books for children, including Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, the Shapes Trilogy, and many others illustrated by Jon Klassen. He is also the author of Just Because, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; A Polar Bear in the Snow, illustrated by Shawn Harris; John's Turn, illustrated by Kate Berube; and Twenty Questions, illustrated by Christian Robinson. Winner of three New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book Awards and the Boston Globe - Horn Book Award,

Editorial Note: Jon Klassen ( is the creator of I Want My Hat Back, which won a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor, and its companions This Is Not My Hat, which won a Caldecott Medal and a Kate Greenaway Medal, and We Found a Hat. He is also the author-illustrator of The Rock from the Sky and The Skull, and the illustrator of Extra Yarn, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, and the Shapes Trilogy, all by Mac Barnett.

Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas
Matt Tavares, author/illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536230130, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: With only one sleep left before Christmas Eve, Dasher can't contain her excitement for her favorite holiday. With the sound of Christmas carols on the breeze and twinkling lights radiating from a nearby city, she sneaks off to visit the festivities. But as night deepens and snow starts to fall, Dasher realizes she can no longer spot the North Star in the sky to lead her home. Will the kindness of a child, an unexpected gift, and a dose of Christmas spirit get her back in time to help guide Santa's sleigh?

Critique: With the publication of "Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas", children's book author and illustrator Matt Tavares has successfully crafted another delightful picture book journey featuring everyone's favorite Christmas reindeer doe in an original and entertaining story full of giving, joy, and holiday magic. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.17), "Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas" is a very special and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Christmas picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Matt Tavares ( is the author-illustrator of the New York Times best-selling picture book Dasher, as well as Red and Lulu, the graphic novel Hoops, and several sports biographies, including Becoming Babe Ruth and Growing Up Pedro. He is also the illustrator of Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Jeff Gottesfeld, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, and Over the River and Through the Wood by L. Maria Child,among many other picture books.

We Disagree About This Tree: A Christmas Story
Ross Collins, author/illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536231984, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Bear and Mouse have finally overcome their differences and are living together in perfect harmony, that is until it's time to decorate the Christmas tree! Bear wants dazzling lights, while Mouse prefers gigantic ornaments. Did Mouse just put a manatee on the top of the tree? After Bear attempts an upside-down tree, it looks as if Christmas might be ruined for the pair. But maybe, just maybe, Bear and Mouse can reach a compromise in the spirit of the season.

Critique: A festive follow-up to "There's a Bear on My Chair" and "There's a Mouse in My House" by author/illustrator Ross Collins, "We Disagree About This Tree: A Christmas Story" is his fun and funny children's picture book for the Christmas holiday season and unreservedly recommended as a very special seasonal pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Christmas collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note: Ross Collins ( has illustrated more than one hundred books for children and is the author-illustrator of This Is a Dog, There's a Bear on My Chair, There's a Mouse in My House, This Zoo Is Not for You, and What Does an Anteater Eat? When he's not creating children's books, he enjoys working on character development for animation studios, including Laika and Disney.

The Sugar Plum Bakers: And the 12 Holiday Treats
Patricia Tanumihardja, author
Bonnie Lui, illustrator
Melissa de la Cruz Studio
c/o Disney Hyperion
9781368089579, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: What's a holiday without holiday treats? "The Sugar Plum Bakers: And the 12 Holiday Treats" is magical new picture book where kids can follow the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Gingerbread Man, and their team of bakerinas as they create delicious goodies from around the world -- and discover that the real magic is teamwork.

With a pinch of hope and a dash of zing, we can do anything! The bakerinas are hard at work creating holiday goodies for kids around the world when a blizzard whips up trouble. Will the bakerinas deliver their treats in time?

Critique: With enchanting illustrations by artist Bonnie Lui and a charming, kid friendly text by author/storyteller Patricia Tanumihardja, :The Sugar Plum Bakers: And the 12 Holiday Treats" introduces young readers ages 3-7 to tasty treats from around the world -- and even includes a recipe in the back so kids can make some Christmas culinary magic of their own! Fun and thoroughly 'kid friendly', "The Sugar Plum Bakers: And the 12 Holiday Treats" will prove an enduringly popular pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for the Christmas season.

Editorial Note #1: Pat Tanumihardja ( was born in Jakarta to Indonesian-Chinese parents and raised in Singapore. As an immigrant twice-over, she's brimming with stories to tell, and hopes that children of every color and creed will see themselves reflected in books, whether hers or other #ownvoices authors. Before becoming a children's book author, Pat wrote cookbooks and loves to weave food-centric themes into her stories for young people.

Editorial Note #2: Bonnie Lui ( is an illustrator and cat enthusiast who loves to play. Her work can be found in books, games and television. She is always looking for ways to create fun in all forms of media for everyone to enjoy.

Monsters At Christmas
Laura Baker, author
Nina Dzyvulska, illustrator
Happy Yak
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711276727, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Merry monsters, hairy monsters, monsters trailing slime. Shiny monsters, tiny monsters, all at Christmas time!

Children ages 3-6 will love "Monsters at Christmas", a super-fun picture book from Happy Yak and packed from cover to cover with hilarious monsters preparing for Christmas! Kids will enjoy following along with the monsters as they play in the snow and slide on the ice, decorate the house, and go shopping for presents -- and watch out for Santa monster hiding in every scene!

There is plenty to spot on every page, with playful, bright artwork, and lots of festive, amusing mishaps. Spot Sprinkle monster baking up a storm, Teeth monster decking all the halls, Roar monster trying out Santa's sleigh, and so much more!

Energetic, wacky, and characterful monsters are drawn in a vibrant, contemporary style by Ukranian illustrator Nina Dzyvulska. While the simple narrative with fun wordplay and a gentle rhyme by Laura Baker is perfect for reading aloud, ideal for preschoolers and early readers as they build up their vocabulary and reading confidence.

Critique: Original, bold, bright, and playfully fun, "Monsters at Christmas" is a picture book that is certain to be enjoyed time and time again by young readers as they are thrilled by the merry escapades of the Christmas monsters! Also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Monsters at Christmas" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library picture book collections for the Christmas season.

Editorial Note #1: Laura Baker ( grew up in Canada with a passion for stories. An author and editor, she now lives in a lovely coastal town in Wales with her husband, two sons, and big basset hound. She loves finding special stories to tell in the everyday, relatable world of a child (or dog).

Editorial Note #2: Nina Dzyvulska ( is an illustrator from Ukraine, who now lives in Colorado, USA. She is passionate about merging the world of motherhood with her art. Nina studied at the Kiev Academy of Arts and Architecture. Her brightly colored, fun loving illustrations portray a sense of joy and youthfulness.

Our Italian Christmas Eve
Danielle Sedita, author
Francesco Sedita, author
Luciano Lozano, illustrator
Viking Children's Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593621868, $17.99, HC, 20pp

Synopsis: The siblings, Francesco and Danielle, are very excited to celebrate at Aunt Babe's house, where there are too many aunties, uncles, and cousins to count. And all is peaceful and bright -- until they realize that someone forgot to bring the dessert!

Francesco and Danielle know they can save Christmas, but only if they can remember their mother's cheesecake recipe before it's too late!

Critique: A fun read from start to finished, "Our Italian Christmas Eve by co-authors Danielle Sedita and Francesco Sedita" is charmingly enhanced with illustrations by artist Luciano Lozano. This festive tribute to food and family will get young readers in the holiday spirit and make them very hungry for a Christmas feast -- Italian style! While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.00), "Our Italian Christmas Eve" is especially appropriate and recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Christmas themed picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: Danielle Sedita and Francesco Sedita were both born in Manhattan's Little Italy and later moved with their parents to New Jersey. They have enjoyed years together in the kitchen with their family and are often on the phone discussing their latest favorite recipes. Danielle still lives in New Jersey, and Francesco lives in Manhattan. This is their first book together. To learn more about Francesco's other books, please visit

Editorial Note #2: Luciano Lozano ( is the illustrator of Boys Dance!, Mayhem at the Museum, The Sun Shines Everywhere, and Diana Dances, which he also authored. His art is regularly seen in newspapers and magazines worldwide. He lives in Barcelona and can be followed on Instagram @Ilustrista

The Christmas Doll
Amy Sparkes, author
Katie Hickey, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536231366, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Susan is very young when she's evacuated from London during World War II and sent to live in the countryside with a family she has never met. Uncertain of her new surroundings and desperately missing home, she holds out little hope for the months ahead. Then, on Christmas Day, she receives a doll that she names Lizzy. It is the best present she's ever had.

Only decades later, when Susan and her great-granddaughter Evie bring the precious doll in for repairs and Susan narrates the tale of her tumultuous childhood. Does she realize the true meaning and scope of the gift she received that long-ago Christmas morning?

Critique: "The Christmas Doll: A Repair Shop Story" by author/storyteller Amy Sparkes and artist/illustrator Katie Hickey, is a festive read-aloud to share during the Christmas holidays. From the bustling endpapers showing the repair team at work restoring a legacy to glowing illustrations evoking nostalgia and warmth, "The Christmas Doll" is a cozy picture book tale based on an episode of the British TV series The Repair Shop and a very special, unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Christmas picture book collections for children ages 7-9.

Editorial Note #1: Amy Sparkes is the author of The House at the Edge of Magic, The Tower at the End of Time, and the Pirate Blunderbeard series. She lives in the UK.

Editorial Note #2: Katie Hickey is the illustrator of Bess the Barn Stands Strong by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia, about which Kirkus Reviews commented that "visual treasures abound in the corners of the art." Katie Hickey lives in the UK.

Editorial Note #3: The Repair Shop is a British television series that airs on Discovery + in the US. Host Jay Blades and some of Britain's most skilled restoration experts repair broken or damaged family heirlooms brought to their shop by members of the public, who share the personal stories behind the items.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

The Uninhabitable Earth
David Wallace-Wells
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593483572, $11.99, PB, 384pp

Synopsis: The climate crisis that our nation (and the rest of the world) currently faces, ranges from rising temperatures, to unfathomable drought, to devastating floods, to unprecedented fires, just to name a few, are alarming precursors to what awaits us if we continue on our current path.

In this adaptation of "The Uninhabitable Earth" for teens and young adults from journalist and author David Wallace-Wells tells it like it is -- and it is so much worse than anyone might think. Global warming is effecting the world, if left unchecked, it promises to transform global politics, the meaning of technology and the trajectory of human progress.

In sobering detail, Wallace-Wells lays out the mistakes and inaction of past and current generations that we see negatively affecting all lives today and more importantly how they will inevitably affect the future. But readers will also hear (loud and clear) his impassioned call to action, as he appeals to current and future generations, especially young people. As he states: "the solutions, when we dare to imagine them... are indeed motivating, if there is to be any chance of preserving even the hope for a happier future -- relatively livable, relatively fulfilling, relatively prosperous, and perhaps more than only relatively just."

Critique: Exceptionally well adjusted and tailored to a young readership, "The Uninhabitable Earth" is an especially timely, informative, and inspirationally motivating explanation of what, if unchecked, climate change will mean for not-so-future generations. While unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library Contemporary Environmental & Climate Change collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "The Uninhabitable Earth" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Librarians note that there is now a library binding edition of "The Uninhabitable Earth" (9780593483558, $14.99).

Editorial Note: David Wallace-Wells is a national fellow at the New America foundation and a columnist and deputy editor at New York magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of The Paris Review. (

The Jobs/Careers Shelf

See It, Dream It, Do It
Colleen Nelson, author
Kathie MacIsaac, author
Scot Ritchie, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772782882, $19.95, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "See It, Dream It, Do It: How 25 people just like you found their dream jobs" by co- authors Colleen Nelson and Kathie MacIsaac provide young readers with an introduction into the life of an architect, a paleontologist, a pilot, and so many more through detailed job profiles and full-colour photos.

How does a comedian write the perfect joke? How does a private investigator crack a mysterious case? Questions about jobs you know, and don't know, are answered in a fun and accessible way through pro tips, spin-off job sidebars, and spotlight features about young people already achieving their dreams.

"If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It", features men and women of many backgrounds, genders, and abilities, along with a wide range of representation, in both people and jobs. "If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It" is a first step to young people discovering their own career possibilities. This information-packed resource shows how education can come in many different forms, such as university, college, trade school, apprenticeship, or specialized training.

A wide range of job profiles provides valuable insight into how each individual developed the skills and expertise they needed for their career.

Critique: "See It, Dream It, Do It: How 25 people just like you found their dream jobs" is nicely illustrated by Scot Richie and an ideal, highly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library Jobs/Careers collections for young readers ages 8-12.

Editorial Note #1: An author and elementary school teacher, Colleen Nelson earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in her hometown of Winnipeg. Her previous titles include the critically acclaimed Harvey Stories, The Undercover Book List, and If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs. Colleen writes daily in between appearances at hockey rinks and soccer fields in support of her two sports-loving sons.

Editorial Note #2: Kathie MacIsaac is an award-winning literacy advocate and children's author passionate about books for middle-grade readers. She is a co-author of the blog Bit About Books and a co-founder of the website MG Book Village, which facilitates connections between members of the middle-grade community.

Editorial Note #3: Scot Ritchie ( is an award winning author and illustrator from Vancouver Canada. He mostly does kids books, but also does 'not books' including portraits, writing, commissions, products, editorial & cartoons.

The Science Shelf

Space Care
Jennifer Swanson
Mayo Clinic Press Kids
9798887700076, $16.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Space Care: A Kid's Guide to Surviving Space will attract aspiring young astronauts and readers of all ages who would better understand the rigors of space exploration and environmental control. It is packed with answers from astronauts who address kids' common questions about the space experience, addressing many specifics about staying healthy in space, from what happens to bodily fluids to how exercise and diet are fine-tuned to support astronaut functions and bodies.

From the atmosphere control and systems of the International Space Station to how the station stays in orbit and its effects on the human body, young readers learn many facts about everything from a sense of balance to eye health and syncing one's body clock to new indicators of time and sleep cycles. Discussions also include issues that can challenge an astronaut's body, from radiation to allotting leisure time that fosters positive psychological relationships between astronauts.

Packed with colorful photos, diagrams, and insights, Space Care: A Kid's Guide to Surviving Space may be tailored for young readers ages 8-12, but actually sports a fact-filled and lively format that should appeal well beyond these years, even reaching into adult audiences interested in the nuts and bolts of astronaut experience.

Libraries will find few like it on their shelves, and will want to recommend it for discussion groups interested in space challenges and adaptation.

Sound Switch Wonder
Dr. Christine J. Ko, author
Owen Whang, author
Katie Crumpton, illustrator
West Margin Press
c/o Turner Publishing
9781513141459, $22.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Most people either can or cannot hear sound -- but some people can do both! In the pages of "Sound Switch Wonder", young readers will meet a deaf boy with cochlear implants and follow him as he moves about his day.

Sometimes he prefers not to hear, but when he wants to connect with the hearing world, he puts on his cochlear implants. Can he explain to his hearing parents what the absence of sound is like? Suddenly he has an idea of how to share this part of him with those he loves.

Critique: With whimsical, bright illustrations by artist Katie Crumpton and lyrical words co-authored by Dr. Christine J. Ko and Owen Whang, :"Sound Switch Wonder" is a tender, impressively informative, and thoughtful picture book story about sharing and embracing differences. While highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Physical Disabilities picture book collections for children ages 5-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sound Switch Wonder" is also available in a paperback edition (9781513141466, $9.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Dr. Christine Ko ( is an author, mother, and a Professor of Dermatology and Pathology at Yale University. Her debut children's book, Sound Switch Wonder, was inspired by her son and was written to include more representation of deaf people in books and the spectrum and range of deafness.

Editorial Note #2: Owen Whang is currently in 8th grade. He has bilateral cochlear implants as he was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy at age two. He has an older sister, and they enjoy spending time together. His favorite class is gym. He enjoys video games, playing sports, and hanging out with friends.

Editorial Note #3: Katie Crumpton ( is an illustrator for children's books and consumer products. Born in South Carolina, she started drawing since she could hold a pencil and decided at five years old that she was going to be professional artist someday. As she is deaf and blind on one side, she believes it is important to see deaf representation in children's books. Katie now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Do You Know?: Polar Animals and Other Cold-Climate Creatures
Pascale Hedelin, et al.
c/o Barbour Publishing
9782408046200, $16.99, HC, 96pp

Synopsis: A part of the "Do You Know?" series from Twirl, "Polar Animals and Other Cold-Climate Creatures" by Pascale Hedelin covers all the types of animals who live in the cold regions of the earth and how they survive in extreme temperatures.

Also featuring an in-depth looks arctic and antarctic wildlife, and other cold climate environments, "Polar Animals and Other Cold-Climate Creatures will especially interest children who want to know everything about them.

Critiques: "Polar Animals and Other Cold-Climate Creatures" by Pascale Hedelin features engaging and educational answers to many popular questions, a wealth of labeled full-color illustrations contributed by Didier Balicevic, Ma‰lle Cheval, Yating Hung, and Yi-Hsuan Wu. Of special note is that the educational content of "Polar Animals and Other Cold- Climate Creatures" has been reviewed by experts. "Polar Animals and Other Cold-Climate Creatures" is a highly recommended pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife collections for children ages 5-12.

Editorial Note: There is a lengthy listing of books by Pascale Hedelin available at

Baby Horse: A Foal's First Year
Ellen F. Feld, author
John Cebula, photographer
Willow Bend Publishing
9781733767484, $12.95, PB, 64pp

Synopsis: Have you ever met a newborn foal? Luna, a beautiful Morgan Horse, has just had a baby. Her baby, named Bella, has long legs, and soon she's using those wobbly legs to stand. By the time she is a day old, Bella is out in a field playing and running very, very fast.

With the publication of "Baby Horse: A Foal's First Year" by Ellen F. Feld, young children will enjoy following along with Bella as she grows and learns all that a young horse must know in her first year.

Over forty gorgeous photographs by John Cebula help to illustrate the story of Bella as she gets her first haircut, has her hooves trimmed, and even gets a visit from the dentist. And you don't want to miss joining Bella as she celebrates her first birthday with her mother, aunt, and grandmother!

Critique: Ideal for children ages 3-7, "Baby Horse: A Foal's First Year" is a fun and informative picture book that is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Ellen F. Feld ( began writing about horses more than 20 years ago. At first she wrote for small, regional magazines, but within a few short years, her work began to appear regularly in large, national publications. To date, Ms. Feld has authored over twenty books, including seven in the Morgan Horse series and three in the best-selling Donkey-Donk series.

Editorial Note #2: There is a listing of books illustrated with the photograpy of John Cebula at

Odd Couples: A Guide to Unlikely Animal Pairs
Maria Birmingham, author
Raz Latif, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771475280, $18.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Hummingbirds and giraffes, sharks and snails, meerkats and bees -- at first glance, these pairings may seem as different as can be. But guess what? Hummingbirds and giraffes are both hummers, sharks and snails both have thousands of sharp teeth, and meerkats and bees are both huggers.

Featuring eight unexpected animal pairings, "Odd Couples: A Guide to Unlikely Animal Pairs" is informative and entertaining picture book that gives young readers an implicit lesson in empathy, highlighting that we are all more alike than we think.

Critique: Written by author Maria Birmingham in an interactive question-and-answer format perfect for reading out loud, and enhance with the colorful illustrations of Raz Latif, "Odd Couples: A Guide to Unlikely Animal Pairs" is nonfiction fun with lots of visual humor and appeal, making it an informative, fun, and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections for children ages 6-9.

Editorial Note #1: Maria Birmingham is a longstanding contributor to OWL and Chickadee magazines, and the award-winning author of several books for young people, including Snooze-O-Rama, Acting Wild, Biometrics, and A Beginner's Guide to Immortality. Maria lives in Brampton, Ontario.

Editorial Note: Raz Latif ( has contributed to numerous publications including Chickadee, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and Scientific American. Odd Couples is his debut as a children's book illustrator, but it definitely won't be his last.

The Multicultural Shelf

A Kid's Guide to Anime & Manga
Samuel Sattin, author
Patrick Macias, author
Utomaru, illustrator
Running Press Kids
c/o Running Press
9780762483938, $17.99, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: Whether they are watching anime on Netflix and Crunchyroll or bringing home stacks of manga from the library or bookstore, there is no denying that young fans need a guidebook to help them navigate the geeky space of Anime and Manga. Written by anime and manga fans, writers, and reviewers Samuel Sattin and Patrick Macias, "A Kid's Guide to Anime & Manga: Exploring the History of Japanese Animation and Comics" includes chapters on: The history and importance of anime and manga; Offers breakdowns of how anime and manga are made; Gives recommendations of popular series and films to enjoy; Provides professional tips on how to create their own anime and manga and be involved in cosplay communities

"A Kid's Guide to Anime & Manga" is packed from cover to cover with eye-catching two-color illustrations by Utomaru, fascinating facts, inspiring interviews, a glossary, and more to help young fans navigate and contribute to the growing anime and manga space.

Critique: An accessible, inclusive, informative and fun guide aimed at helping young fans celebrate the history of anime and manga, while giving these young readers informative and practical advice on how to explore and interact with this fandom, "A Kid's Guide to Anime & Manga: Exploring the History of Japanese Animation and Comics" is a unique, and unreservedly recommended for personal, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers ages 8-12.

Editorial Note #1: Samuel Sattin is a writer and coffee addict. In May of 2022, he launched a Kickstarter with the artist team Gurihiru for Unico: Awakening in coordination with Tezuka Productions in Japan. He is also the writer of Buzzing, and the forthcoming history of roleplaying games, Side Quest. He adapted the Academy Award-nominated Cartoon Saloon Irish Folklore Trilogy (WolfWalkers, Song of the Sea, and The Secret of Kells) to graphic novel format, has written screenplays for PBS, and previously wrote books such as Bezkamp, Legend, and The Silent End. His nonfiction work has appeared or been featured in The Nib, The Atlantic, NPR, and elsewhere. He graduated with an MFA in comics from California College of the Arts and a creative writing MFA from Mills College, freelances in animation development, and works as a studio writer for Schulz Creative Associates, aka Snoopy Central.

Editorial Note #2: Patrick Macias ( is the editor in chief of Otaku USA magazine, the founding editor of Crunchyroll News, and the author of numerous books about Japanese pop culture including TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion. In addition to contributing liner notes to the Criterion Collection and Arrow Video, he also wrote the original story for the anime series URAHARA which was simulcast globally in 2017.

Editorial Note #3: Utomaru is a Japanese anime/magna illustrator with extensive examples of his artwork available on-line at

The Biography Shelf

Cookie Queen
Kathleen King, author
Lowey Bundy Sichol, author
Ramona Kaulitzki, illustrator
Random House Children's Books
9780593485668, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Kathleen King was positively obsessed with baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She experimented over and over and over with different recipes (less flour, more butter, longer baking time) until she got it just right.

Customers flocked to her family's farm stand on Long Island for Kathleen's enormous, buttery chocolate chip cookies. And when she grew up, Kathleen started a cookie company called TATE'S BAKE SHOP(R). Her cookie company grew into a multi-million-dollar empire and, today, they are a household name and their cookies are sold all over the country!

Critique: Delightful, charming, inspiring, "Cookie Queen: How One Girl Started TATE'S BAKE SHOP(R)" by author/storyteller/cookie-baker Kathleen King, in collaboration with co-author Lowey Bundy Sichol and artist/illustrator Ramona Kaulitzki is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library American Biography/Memoir picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cookie Queen" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Kathleen King ( is the founder of TATE'S BAKE SHOP(R), a multimillion-dollar cookie company, named after her beloved father. Tate's best-selling cookie is, of course, its Chocolate Chip Cookie. Many famous people have called Tate's the best chocolate chip cookie in the world! Kathleen is also the author of Baking for Friends and The TATE'S BAKE SHOP(R) Cookbook. This is her first book for children.

Editorial Note #2: Lowey B. Sichol ( is an award-winning children's author. She is a leading expert in teaching business and entrepreneurship to kids. Her various work has won: Junior Library Guild Gold Selection, 2020 Best Children's Book Council book, 2020 International Literacy Association Book, 2020-2021 Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, among many more.

Editorial Note #3: Ramona Kaulitzki ( is a book illustrator based in Potsdam, Germany. She is also the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestseller Sisters First, Badger's Perfect Garden, and Wonderful You, among others.

Golden Books
c/o Random House Children's Books

Four new Golden Books titles for young readers have now been added to their list of Little Golden Book Biographies:

The Bee Gees (9780593645161, $5.99, HC, 24pp) by author Kari Allen and illustrator Leo Aquino is about The Bee Gees -- the three harmonizing brothers with hit songs including "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" -- and is an inspiring read-aloud for young children, as well as their parents and grandparents who are fans of Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.

Oprah Winfrey (9780593645253, $5.99, HC, 24pp) by author Alliah L. Agostini and illustrator Tara Nicole Whitaker is about Oprah Winfrey -- who is the host of the highest-rated daytime talk show in American history, and one of the most influential and successful women in the world. This is an inspiring read-aloud for young children, as well as their parents and grandparents.

Ronald Regan (9780593645185, $5.99, HC, 24pp) by author Lisa Rogers and illustrator Catherine Pape is about about an actor who became the 40th president of the United States who also loved horses and jellybeans. This is an inspiring read-aloud for young girls and boys.

The Beatles (9780593645123, $5.99, HC, 24pp) by author Judy Katschke and illustrator Maike Plenzki is about four friends from Liverpool who became the best-selling music act of all time. This is an inspiring read-aloud for young children, as well as their parents and grandparents who are fans of the Fab Four from their humble beginnings to their unforgettable arrival in the U.S.

Critique: Also available in a digital book format ($5.99), all four of these Golden Book biographies are unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Biography collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note: Other titles that comprise this simply outstanding series of Little Golden Book biographies for young /children include: Misty Copeland; Frida Kahlo; Iris Apfel; Bob Ross; Queen Elizabeth II; and Harriet Tubman.

The Music CD Shelf

The Get-Together
Red Yarn
Privately Published
$10.00 CD / $20.00 vinyl / $7.00 digital

The Get-Together is a family-friendly music album of original songs inspired by music of the 50's and 60's. Elements of rock, rhythm & blues, doowop and soul influence these lively songs, performed with verve that encourages singing and dancing! A wonderful album perfect for parties or just plain fun, The Get-Together is highly recommended for both personal and public library children's music collections. The tracks are The Get-Together, Playground Crew (feat. Mista Cookie Jar), Gotta Lotta Love, Daydreams, Come On Buddy (feat. Hi Joe Kye!), Inside My Books (feat. Arietta Ward), Trouble, Best Friend Forever (feat. Zach Knox & Kymberly Stewart), Say the Word (feat. Ms. Jessie), Party Like an Animal, Ready Freddy (feat. Lewis & Mira), Dream Come True (feat. Sonia De Los Santos & Uncle Jumbo).

Brand New Toy
Cowboy Andy and the Salamanders
Salamanders Music LLC
$12.00 CD / $10.00 digital

The fourth album by Cowboy Andy and the Salamanders, Brand New Toy is especially ideal for young listeners ages 2-10, but its warmhearted sense of joy and discovery will appeal to all ages. The whimsical and wonderful original songs of Brand New Toy are a delight for both personal and public library children's music collections. The tracks are Brand New Toy, I Can't Wait for Winter, MechaStraw, I Wanna Go Fishing With You, Ghost Riders in the Sky, Strawberries, I Think My Grandma Is a Spy, Time for Bed, I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones, Pirate Cowboy, Brand New Toy (Radio Edit), and I Think My Grandma Is a Spy (Radio Edit).

The Multimedia Shelf

A Feast Beneath the Moon
Christiane Duchesne, author
Jerome Miniere, author
Marianne Ferrer, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
9782898360466, $16.95, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Once upon a time there were four friends who always had oodles and oodles of fun together. After their last adventure full of surprises that ended with a big picnic in the sun, a sudden torrential rainfall forces Bertie and gang to take shelter atop the Blue Mountain.

When they emerge, they encounter an extraordinary girl named Alice, who can grow big or small at the snap of her fingers. Together, they spend a magical night singing and dancing under the moon and shooting stars.

Critique: "A Feast Beneath the Moon: Bertie and Friends Hit the Road" by co-authors Christiane Duchesne and Jerome Miniere is a sequel to "A Picnic in the Sun". This imaginative musical tale is interspersed with four beloved traditional songs and 14 original tracks performed with an abundance of pizzazz and emotion. The whimsical illustrations of Marianne Ferrer accompany this joyful and unforgettable celebration. Of special note is that "A Feast Beneath the Moon" also includes a QR code to access the narrated story and songs online. Here is a unique picturebook that is fun, original, and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library performing arts picture book collection for children ages 5-7.

The Board Book Shelf

Feelings on the Farm
Heather Wall and Claire Young
MamaBear Books
9781960616036, $9.95

A board book, Feelings on the Farm offers the very young an easy introduction to exploring feelings, powered by a farmer and animals that each represents a different emotion.

David Lock's inviting illustrations bring to life a series of emotional animals, from cranky chickens who cannot find their eggs to peaceful pigs lounging in the sty.Further reinforcement of emotional responses are created by facing pages of emotions that are positive and negative, accompanying simple scenarios of how each critter expresses his feelings and why they are prevalent.

As read-aloud parents explore these blossoming emotions with the very young, opportunities are created for parents to discuss feelings with children (as well as appropriate expressions of disappointment, joy, or simply feeling grouchy). The result is a fun farm animal tale that holds important underlying messages and instructions about recognizing and understanding emotions for a playful take on emotional intelligence.

Libraries and parents seeking board books that excel in the easy understanding of emotions by the very young will find Feelings on the Farm a major attraction.

Rhyme Hungry
Antonia Pesenti
Scribe Publications Pty Ltd
9781957363660, $18.95, Board Book, 20pp

Synopsis: From Instant Poodles, to Cheese Ghostie, to Strawberry Milkshake, "Rhyme Hungry" is the ultimate board book of lunchtime wordplay for children ages 1-5. Kids will enjoy flipping the flaps to reveal unexpected rhymes and bold, bright illustrations. "Rhyme Hungry" is a large format (7.99 x 10 x 1.85 inches, 15.8 ounces) board book that will delight adults, appeal to design lovers, and get young kids squealing and begging to read it again and again.

Critique "Rhyme Hungry" from author/illustrator Antonia Pesenti (the creator of award-winning "Rhyme Flies") is a fun and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections for young and inquisitive children.

Editorial Note: Antonia Presenti ( is a French/Australian architect and illustrator based in Sydney. She combines directing the multidisciplinary design practice, Studio Fable, with illustrating, designing and making beautiful books, exploring all formats from experimental zines through to picture books. She can be followed on Instagram @_antoniadraws

Our Little Library
Tabitha Paige
Paige Tate & Company
9781958803578, $29.99, Board Book Box Set, 100pp

Synopsis: Designed by a professional watercolor artist and licensed speech therapist, "Our Little Library: A Foundational Language Vocabulary Board Book Set for Babies" by Tabitha Paige is an elegant boxed set that includes five board books, each of which features charming images and foundational vocabulary that will help parents, caregivers, and teachers build a child's vocabulary. The durable materials and small book size also make them perfect for a baby's little hands.

The "Our Little Library" series includes five board books featuring foundational words from the following categories: Farm Animals; Forest Animals; Fruits and Veggies; Toys; Transportation.

Critique: The back of each board book in this first word series also includes a "seek and find" activity to help parents encourage their little ones to learn to identify the pictures on the page. Created by speech therapist Tabitha Paige, CCC-SLP, author of the board book set: "Our Little Adventures", "Our Little Library" is a new and fun box set of first words books features functional language. With a timeless artistic design, "Our Little Library is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, and preschool board book collections and would make a truly memorable and charming gift for expectant parents.

Editorial Note: Tabitha Paige ( is a fine artist based in Fort Worth, Texas. Tabitha creates unique landscapes and wildlife paintings showcasing earthy hues and tones.

What Lurks in the Dark?
Kelly Ward-Wills, author
Steven James, illustrator
Eye of Newt Books
9781777791827, $11.95, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: Mysterious creatures roam the earth in the dark of night. Each animal has a unique ability Some use heightened senses to make their way in the night and some use the dark to their advantage. "What Lurks in the Dark?" by author Kelly Ward-Wills and illustrator Steve James brings these creatures (rarely seen in the light of day) to full-colour life for little eyes and little hands so that exploring our landscapes at night can begin at even the earliest age.

From the pangolin to the yellow-winged bat, this beautifully illustrated, full-color non-fiction board book reveals the hidden world in the darkest night. A part of Eye of Newt Book's 'Yikes! Discovery' series, "What Lurks in the Dark?" is aimed to spark an early curiosity for the wonderful animals we share the planet with.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in style, tone, organization and presentation, "What Lurks in the Dark?" is an ideal and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library wildlife/zoology board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note #1: Kelly Ward-Wills is a writer and children's book editor. Her fiction, poetry, and journalism have appeared in various publications across Canada. Her short fiction has won the Lush Triumphant Award for Fiction and appeared in The Journey Prize Stories: The Best of Canada's New Writers. She is the author of one collection of short stories, Keep it Beautiful as well as What Dwells in the Deep? the first book in the Yikes! series. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Editorial Note #2: Steve James ( is originally from a small village in North Yorkshire, but he now lives on the outskirts of the vibrant city of Leeds with his partner and their daughter. There are lots of arty folk in Steve's family, so it was only natural that he should have a love for drawing from a young age, taking his early influence from the Beano and Dandy comics to Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons.

The Little Monster's Big Birthday
Sheri Fink
Whimsical Worlds
9781949213485, $12.95, Board Book, 12pp

Synopsis: "The Little Monster's Big Birthday" by author/illustrator Sheri Fink is a delightful children's board book for ages 0-4 and is based on her outstanding children's picture book, "The Little Monster". Young children will fully enjoy discovering all the fun of celebrating their own birthday along with family and friends, balloons and confetti, cake and candles, and gifts and gratitude. -- Plus, the cover glows in the dark!

Critique: Fun, child friendly, and unreservedly recommended, "The Little Monster's Big Birthday" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for very young children.

Editorial Note #1: Sheri Fink ( is an inspirational speaker, a best-selling author, a mermaid who believes in magic, and the president of Whimsical World.

Editorial Note #2: Whimsical World is an empowering brand created by two accomplished authors and inspirational speakers -- Sheri Fink and Derek Taylor Kent. Whimsical World's mission is to inspire, delight, and educate children of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem and high achievement.

Counting on Shabbat
Nancy Churnin, author
Petronela Dostalova, illustrator
Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc.
9781728460680, $8.99, Board Book, 12pp

Synopsis: The Jewish holiday of Shabbat brings 1 table, 2 candles, and 3 braids in the challah, kittens waiting to be fed, friends knocking at the door, smiles all around, and more. Count from 1 to 10 as you get ready for Shabbat!

Critique: An ideal pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-4, "Counting on Shabbat" by author Nancy Churnin and illustrator Petronela Dostalova will prove a welcome and prized addition. It should be noted that "Counting on Shabbat" from Kar-Ben Publishing is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Can I Sit in the Middle?
Susanne Strasser, author/illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776575855,$12.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: A child, a cat, a zebra, and a lion -- everyone's on the sofa to share a book.

"Wait!" says zebra, "Stork isn't here yet!" Then cat needs a cushion, hamster's missing, someone's sitting on lion's tail, fish wants to be in the middle. NOW they'll be able to start -- won't they?

Critique: "Can I Sit in the Middle?" by author and illustrator Susanne Strasser is a fun, humorous, child friendly, and original story about the familiar chaos of piling onto the sofa with your friends and nicely builds to a climactic and happy ending when its discovered that sharing a book in an ideal reading spot might actually be behind the sofa and under a blanket tent!

As a storyteller and artist, Susanne Strasser is well known for her snowballing animal stories that very young children love. "Can I Sit in the Middle?" is her newest board book for children ages 3-6 and is a welcome and unreservedly recommended acquisition choice for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note: Susanne Strasser studied communication design and illustration in Munich and London. She is the author and illustrator of many successful picture books. She lives with her family in Munich, Germany.

Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books is a premier publishing of books for young children including their "Our World" titles in a simply outstanding series of board books that now has four new titles added to it:

"Our World: Greece" (9798888590188, $9.99, 20pp) explores Greece with seeing the ducks at Zappeion Gardens, discovering what the farmers are selling at the Laiki open market, and tasting sweet, fluffy loukoumades. Author Agatha Rodi and illustrator Fotini Tikkou draw on their personal experiences living in Greece to create this appealing board book.

"Our World: Argentina" (9798888590102, $9.99, 20pp) presents a day of exploring the sights and sounds of Argentina from morning light to city night. Snacking on medialunas, counting the stalls at la feria and riding the caballito on the carousel. Argentinian author and illustrator Aixa Perez-Prado and Mariana Ruiz Johnson (Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Run Little Chaski, The Last Hazlenut) draw on their lived experiences in Argentina to create an authentic picture of modern Argentinian life

"Our World: Ethiopia" (9798888590119, $9.99, 20pp) Selam! It's a beautiful day in Ethiopia with Babi (Daddy). Have a breakfast of spicy chechebsa together, ride horses in the park and gather around the mesob for dinner. Ethiopian author Fitsum Tesfaye Habtemariam and illustrator Netsanet Tesfay draw on their personal experiences of life in Ethiopia to create this sweet board book for very young readers.

"Our World: China" (9798888590065, $9.99, 20pp) N h o! Let's spend a day in China! Fly kites in the square, buy sweet lychee at the market and go paddle boating at the lake. Author Songju Ma Daemicke and illustrator Jam Dong draw on their personal experiences growing up in China to create this appealing board book for very young readers.

Critique: Fun, informative, and especially recommended for children ages 1-3, all four of these new "Our World" titles are unreservedly recommended for family, daycare, preschool, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note: A women-founded, independent publisher, Board Books started as a small home-based business in England in 1992. This year they celebrate our 30th anniversary. The overarching theme of their children's books is to offer kindness. On a small scale, kindness can be towards oneself, nurturing positive identity development. Kindness can also ripple out to larger and larger spheres -- to the development of global awareness and taking a stand for our planet. Our mission guides our publishing decisions more than ever, as we are committed to opening children's hearts, minds and worlds so that they can embody kindness in all its forms.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Feather Necklace
Brian Mulcahey
DartFrog Plus
9781959096900, $26.96 Paper/$15.99 ebook

The Feather Necklace is a vibrant picture book story packed with jungle scenes, intrigue, and adventure. It follows three young scientists who navigate the jungles of Peru looking for creatures to study. The story is narrated by young Tulio, the third member of the group, who explains: "I am from the Kukama tribe and this forest is my backyard."

As picture book readers follow Tulio's forest explorations, they receive a combination of vivid, colorful nature scenes paired with equally compelling descriptions that adults who read aloud to the very young will find useful for its action-packed words and bilingual inclusion: "Whap, womp, whoosh went the leaves and branches as I cut the trail. I scanned for animal tracks while avoiding spiny plants, singing as I went. "Buenas noches, dulces suenos. Te amo, te amo, mi corazon." Goodnight, sweet dreams. I love you, I love you, my heart." As nature's wonder unfolds, even the forest-savvy Tulio finds much to celebrate about creatures' habits: "The cacique, yapu, and masked tanager, tsiin, started to bob, weave, and wiggle." The result is a celebration of Peruvian jungle creatures, a boy's participation in a contest of discovery, and a vibrant story that will attract a wide age range with its blend of science, nature, and cross-cultural revelations.

Libraries seeking picture books that stand out from the crowd will find The Feather Necklace a unique and attractive acquisition.

Little Curiosity
Fatima Pimienta
Atmosphere Press
9781639888191, $17.50

Little Curiosity is a black and white picture book story about a little caterpillar that sees the world in black and white. Every day, she climbs to a leaf, eats, sleeps, and repeats. It's a simple life, made all the more one-dimension by its lack of color -- but it's a happy life.

One day, her curiosity leads her to discover first one, then numerous shades of gray. Soon she finds numerous shades of gray, black, and white in her world. What else can there be?

Picture book readers will find that the color emerges slowly in this tale, while adult read-aloud participants will appreciate receiving the Spanish/English multilingual opportunity which is rare in books for this age range. Caterpillar's transformation is not your usual form of cocooning, but incorporates new realizations about her world and her place in it when she becomes something New.

Most picture book tales about caterpillars end with physical change, but Fatima Pimienta takes the transformation a step further, featuring accompanying emotions that also introduce new realizations to Caterpillar's world. These elements, combined with simple illustrations (which will appeal to kids interested in coloring and drawing themselves), make for a fine Spanish/English story that benefits from full Spanish translation on every page and a full-bodied attention to all the facets of change which adults will find useful and inviting for discussions with kids ages 1 and older.

The multifaceted transformative experiences profiled in Little Curiosity make it a top recommendation for read-aloud and discussions that would move beyond physical changes alone.

The Palace Rat
Lynne Marie, author
Eva Santana, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
9781953458643, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Henri is a palace rat living as the pampered pet of King Louis the XVI! He's waited on paw and foot -- but not everybody is happy about it. When a dastardly plan by the royal staff casts Henri out to the streets, he must find his own way safely home. Country mice take Henri in and kindly show him their ways of living. To survive, Henri will eat field strawberries, fashion new clothes out of rags to match the latest Parisian styles, and sleep on grass nests, dreaming of his return to the palace.

When the time comes for Henri to determine how his own story will conclude, will he choose to stay with his new friends on the street or return to his regal life of comfort?

Critique: Original, imaginative, memorable, and a fun picture book read from start to finish, "The Palace Rat" is the collaborative work of author/storyteller Lynn Marie and artist/illustrator Eva Santana and an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Lynne Marie ( is the author of several picture books. She loves culture, art, history and mythology, and travels the world in search of stories. A visit to the Palace of Versailles in France inspired The Palace Rat (Yeehoo Press, 2023).

Editorial Note #2: Eva Santana ( is a writer and an illustrator from Badalona, Catalonia. As far back as she can remember, she writes and has always liked drawing too. She has published more tan thirty children's books and she also coordinated children's magazines.

Poppy and Sam and the Hunt for Jam
Cathon, author
Susan Ouriou, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
9781771475921, $18.95, HC, 52pp

Synopsis: Hibernation is hard when a craving comes! Especially for Sam, who wakes up his pal Poppy in the middle of their winter slumber with a hankering to make rosehip jam. Full of determination, Sam sets out to find his friends in the snowy forest and collect the necessary ingredients.

All seems well, but on his way home, Sam gets trapped in a winter storm! He finds shelter in a cave, only to discover someone else is already hibernating there -- a giant bear! It turns out that Ursula the bear is also hungry for a mid-hibernation treat. Luckily, Ursula is not craving miniature panda, and helps Sam get back to Poppy and the safety of home -- where at last they enjoy some tasty snacks!

Critique: The adorable, cartoon-like illustrations by Canadian author/illustrator Cathan will keep young readers ages 5-8 rooting for Sam's success in "Poppy and Sam and the Hunt for Jam", the fourth and newest installment of the popular Poppy and Sam graphic novel style series. A fun and delightful pick for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, "Poppy and Sam and the Hunt for Jam" isably translated into English by Susan Ouriou.

Editorial Note: Cathon is an artist and creator of children's books and comics, including the Poppy and Sam series. She studied visual arts and media at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, and is the illustrator of A Fire Truck for Chuck in addition to several books in French. Cathon lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Editorial Note #2: Susan Ouriou ( Susan Ouriou is a Canadian fiction writer, literary translator and editor.

Potatoes for Pirate Pearl
Jennifer Concepcion, author
Chloe Burgett, illustrator
Feeding Minds Presss
9781948898157, $22.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Pirate Pearl and her parrot Petunia are HUNGRY, and after they make the hardtack biscuits walk the plank, they go in search of a perfect provision for their next sea voyage. Where do they end up? On Farmer Fay's potato farm! Farmer Fay shows Pirate Pearl how potatoes grow on the farm and how potatoes can be cooked into many different delicious potato recipes.

Pirate Pearl and Petunia not only gain an understanding of farming but also a new friendship with Farmer Fay!

Critique: Children ages 4-8 will be happy to join Pirate Pearl and her parrot Petunia as they learn how potatoes are planted, grown, and harvested in this hilarious debut picture book about food and friendship by the team of author/storyteller Jennifer Concepcion and artist/illustrator Chloe Burgett. Of special note is the inclusion of back matter that is packed with potato facts, information on growing your own potatoes, and recipes. Fun, informative, and unique, "Potatoes for Pirate Pearl" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Jennifer Concepcion was born in Haiti, raised in northern British Columbia and now lives in Costa Rica with her three children. She holds a Bachelor's degree in International Studies, and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. Jennifer teaches bilingual Kindergarten and writes for kids of all ages. In her spare time she can be found building pirate forts at the beach or hammock-swinging under the mango tree, lost in a good book.

Editorial Note #2: Chloe Burgett ( is a children's book illustrator living in the Great Plains with her husband, Seth, and their orange cat, Pencil. Her favorite books respectfully portray children as the competent, brave, and resourceful human beings they are, with words to match. She aspires to telling stories about curious protagonists taking joy in and wondering at the weirdness in life. Maybe they can find magic along the way, too. She is the former SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for Nebraska, and her clients have included: Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Highlights Magazine, Sourcebooks, Magination Press, and Feeding Minds Press

I Love You to the Moon And Back
Amelia Hepworth, author
Tim Warnes, illustrator
Little Tiger Press
c/o Tiger Tales
9781801041508, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When the sun comes up, Big Bear and Little Bear think of new ways to share their love. Big Bear loves Little Bear more and more as each day passes, right up to each new moon - and back.

Now this joyful celebration of the love between a parent and child can be treasured forever with this elegant cloth-textured, silver foil and peep-through cover edition - the perfect gift for a special person in your life. Ideal for fans of Guess How Much I Love You and While We Can't Hug.

Critique: A beautiful hardback gift edition from Little Tiger Press of the internationally acclaimed picture book, "I Love You to the Moon and Back" is a proven bedtime favorite that deftly combines a familiar and reassuring text by Amelia Hepworth with the heartwarming illustrations by Tim Warnes. Also available in a board book format (9781589255517, $7.99), "I Love You to the Moon and Back" is a welcome and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note: Amelia Hepworth ( is the author of several children's books from London, England. Being a parent herself and passionate about the emotional growth of young children, Amelia understands from personal experience what engages and teaches young children of today.

Editorial Note #2: Tim Warnes ( has had 80+ picture books published by major publishing houses (including Little Tiger Press, Penguin Random House, Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster) and spoken at many events ranging from school visits to the Edinburgh International Literary Festival.

Share Your Love
Susan B. Katz, author
Jennie Poh, illustrator
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
9781645471110, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Worried or sad, grateful or glad, you can send good wishes to yourself, others, and the whole world with your thoughts! Just repeat these simple phrases: "May you be protected and safe. May you feel happy and pleased. May your body be healthy, and may you live with ease."

The collaborative work of author/storyteller Susan B. Katz and artist/illustrator Jennie Poh, "Share Your Love" teaches young readers that even from far away, you can wish others happiness, good health, peace, and safety.

Starting with the individual child and extending outward to the whole universe, the rhyming couplets and beautiful art carry the reader through the thoughtful process of extending love and kindness to yourself and all those around you. "Share Your Love" makes a great daily ritual to increase loving kindness, and if a child is having a rough time or witnessing outside struggles, they can use the repeated phrases in "Share Your Love" to find peace and calm.

Critique: Charming, fun, original, memorable, inspiring, "Share Your Love" is an extraordinary and very special picture book illustrating and showcasing emotions, feelings, and values. While a highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Share Your Love" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Susan B. Katz ( is an award-winning bilingual author, National Board Certified Teacher, educational consultant, and long-time meditation practitioner. Susan is also the founder and executive director of Connecting Authors, a national nonprofit bringing children's book authors and illustrators into schools and libraries as role models of literacy and the arts. Katz served as the Strategic Partner Manager for Authors at Facebook and delivers keynotes at conferences nationally and internationally.

Editorial Note #2: Jennie Poh ( was born in London and spent her formative years in Malaysia, returning to the UK at the age of nine. She studied fine art at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, alongside illustration courses at Central St. Martins. She mainly works digitally but enjoys making her own paintbrushes and textures, using natural materials such as leaves, bark, flowers, and anything else she may find while out walking. Jennie's clients include Bloomsbury, Little Tiger Press, Harrods, Magination Press, Baker Publishing, Capstone Publishing, Sleeping Bear Press, Lantana Press, and Eden Cooper.

Boban From Zoltan
Mike Purewal
Austin Macauley Publishers
9781398458840, $9.95, PB, 30pp

Synopsis: Boban is a funny, wise, kind and charismatic wizard who sparks creativity and imagination in the minds and hearts of all children in "Boban From Zoltan" by author/illustrator Mike Purewal.

Boban teaches the art of gratitude by touching on the miracles of life that are often overlooked in the everyday. From the magical order of nature, like making the rain fall to ensuring the sun rises to the inner workings of our mind and body. He takes the reader on a visual adventure, sharing what he does and doesn't do with his magical powers in his own whimsical way.

Critique: Original, charming, and fun, "Boban From Zoltan is just the kind of picture book story that will leave children 3-7 with a broader perspective and appreciation of life's little miracles in a very humorous and heart-warming manner! While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.50), "Boban From Zoltan is an especially and unreservedly pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Mike Purewal worked in corporate for twenty years culminating as a Vice President of Sales. Along the way, he took the road less travelled by unplugging and living in the majestic Red Woods in Northern California for a year, studying happiness, mindfulness and meditation. This experience radically changed Mike's outlook on life and he is now following his passion of writing children's books that inspire humour, creativity and imagination. His ultimate goal is to bring more laughter and joy to the world for both children and adults alike.

Runaway Pond
Nancy Price Graff, author
Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536219982, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Long Pond (clear, reflective, and bent in the middle like a crooked finger) has been a source of joy and nourishment to a Vermont village for many years. But when a sudden late-summer storm causes the pond to swell and burst its banks, endangering everyone in its path, only one person is fast enough to warn the villagers downstream.

Spencer Chamberlain, the long-legged winner of countless foot races, sprints off to cries of "Run, Chamberlain, run!" All survive, thanks to his efforts. But after the storm the glassy pond is gone, leaving the village, and future generations, with something altogether different -- and every bit as nourishing.

Critique: "Runaway Pond" from Candlewick Press is an elegant picture book story that was inspired by true events that are explored in an informative Afterword. The engaging story by Vermont author Nancy Price Graff reveals the constantly evolving landscapes all around us, while artist/illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline's museum quality paintings speak to the beauty and inevitability of change. Simply stated, "Runaway Pond" is an exquisite and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture story book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Nancy Price Graff is the author of seven previous books for children and adults, including In the Hush of the Evening and Taking Wing, and her work has been nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award.

Editorial Note #2: Bagram Ibatoulline ( has illustrated many acclaimed books for children, including The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman; On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Great Joy, both by Kate DiCamillo; and The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson.

Emily Gravett
Boxer Books
c/o Union Square Kids
9781914192597, $16.99

Dogs comes from an award-winning author and illustrator who provides picture-book readers with a romp through the dog world, chasing after an elusive chain of sausage links. All kinds of dogs covet the prize, but as the size of the dogs grow, so do their involvements and the counting challenges that evolve from their efforts. Fun, zany encounters and the underlying benefit of learning numbers contributes to a dog tale that young picture book readers and read-aloud adults will both relish.

I Will Swim Next Time
Emily Joof and Matilda Ruta
Floris Books
9781782508298, $17.95

I Will Swim Next Time is a story about playing in all kinds of waters and learning to appreciate the environment. Mama is convinced there's no rush for water enjoyment, but the young narrator keeps putting off what she might relish, afraid of swimming experience. Any child who hesitates to swim will find plenty to relate to in a story that celebrates watery worlds, new skills, and the importance of doing things on one's own time frame of comfort and ability.

Jonathan and the Giant Eagle
Danny Christopher
Eye of Newt Books
9781777081751, $15.95

Jonathan and the Giant Eagle is a pet story with a difference, because Jonathan's parents never expected him to choose a giant eagle for his new pet. The mythical eagle at first feels like a bad fit for the family, and a difficult choice to live with, but there are definite advantages to having a pet with a wingspan slightly over thirty-six feet. Rhyming descriptions and whimsical mishaps compliment good-sized illustrations that lend especially well to adult read-aloud.

Listening to the Quiet
Cassie Silva and Frances Ives
c/o Lerner Books
9781915244482, $18.99

Listening to the Quiet is a gentle story of hearing loss and transition points and tells of Jacki's mother, who is slowly losing her hearing. Mother and daughter learn sign language to keep their communications going, but as her mother's world becomes quieter, Jackie's remains full of sound. How can Jackie and her mother share their former interests when so much has been lost? This fine story of transitions into new shared experiences should be on the shelves of any collection strong in picture book stories about adaptation, acceptance, and forming new bonds under revised conditions.

My Teacher Has Tattoos
Darren Lopez and Bhagya Madanasinghe
Soaring Kite Books
9781953859952, $18.99

My Teacher Has Tattoos is a picture book tale about self-expression that focuses on Xavier and his classmates, who share revelations about individuality, different cultures, and ideals of what is positive and negative in the world. While the wide-ranging messages of this collection (which are based on interactive discussions raised by the classroom characters) seem complex and adult in nature, their relevance and accessibility to young picture book readers is important, creative, and effective. The result is an unusual story about stereotypes and the masks people wear or sport as they go about their lives.

Simon & Schuster

New picture book releases from Simon and Schuster provide kids with stories that are colorful, original, and entertaining, making them highly recommended for read-aloud and library acquisition for ages 4-8.

The Welcome Home by Amy June Bates (9781534492325, $18.99) tells of Mr. and Mrs. Gargleson-Bittle, who live in a big empty house, and feel lonely with too much space. They begin to fill it with all manner of pets, creating an environment of inclusion and diversity that results in an odd family of expanding love. From snails to elephants, each creature adds something different to the mix as the menagerie grows and hearts expand. The story excels in crafting discussion points that adults can raise with kids interested in tales of love and inclusion.

Water Day by Margarita Engle (9781665918718, $18.99) receives illustrations by Olivia Sua that enhance the story of an area where water is scarce. Water is brought in by a water man and his horse, who fill household tanks with the precious liquid. This is the perfect introduction to environmental challenges and adaptations, couched in a first-person exploration of how life works goes on with limited resources.

Saira Mir's Always Sisters (9781665901567, $18.99) is illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani, who brings to life the story of a baby sister who doesn't make it home from the hospital. The subject of grieving a sister who has been eagerly anticipated is not typically addressed for the very young, which makes the discussion opportunities in Always Sisters rare, important, and highly recommended.

Jan Thomas's Problem Solved! (9781665939997, $15.99) presents a problem attacked by Porcupine Pete, the problem-solving porcupine. At first, his approach seems logical. It's not long before a rabbit's messy room quandary turns into a fiasco of impossibilities, because Porcupine Pete isn't so much a problem-solver as he is able to come up with creative solutions that actually create more issues. Is the problem solved? Not by a long shot. Kids and parents will find the oversized drawings and zany situations hilarious.

Xelena Gonzalez's Remembering (9781534499638, $18.99) receives gorgeous drawings by Adriana M. Garcia as it explores the customs of Dia de los Angelitos, one of the rituals in the ceremonies for the Day of the Dead. The focus on honoring animal companions who have passed away creates a beautiful, warm account of family participation and experience in the grieving process which is especially highly recommended for any child missing a beloved pet.

Robyn McGrath's There's Always Room for One More (9781665925372, $18.99) receives inviting illustration by Ishaa Lobo as it surveys a family that expands with a grandfather's addition. A bigger table is needed to replace their beloved old family table, and when it arrives, a host of helping hands provides the support that translates to accepting new people and memories to love.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman (9781665942447, $9.99) continues the Bear saga by presenting a Thanksgiving story about how Bear creates a nice, big dinner for his friends so he can give thanks to them. His friends show up with platters of food ... but Bear continues to fret over the fact that he actually has nothing to offer, himself, but the ideal of shared largess. What is Bear to do? A gentle rhyme accompanies appealing drawings by Jane Chapman which outlines and enlivens the dilemma and its resolution.

Frank Asch's Tacos (9781481480666, $18.99) presents another bear book for ages 4-8 which revolves around a father's business trip and Baby Bear's first journey with him. Baby Bear worries about being far from home; especially when Papa orders a food he's never had before - tacos. What will he eat if he doesn't like them? This gentle story of exploration, discovery, and accepting new opportunities will work especially well as a read-aloud point for discussion.

Each one of these new picture book titles for young readers are excellent, standout choices for discriminating picture book collections.

Wm. B. Eerdmans

These picture books are delightful presentations that lend well to leisure reader discoveries and entertainment.

On the Edge of the World (9780802856128, $18.99) is written and illustrated by Anna Desnitskaya and translated by Lena Traer, reaching ages 7-11 with almost fifty pages of detail following the life of Vera, a Russian girl who lives on the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, on the ocean. Her first-person explorations of school, home life, environment, and friends creates an inviting introduction that teaches kids about Russian daily life.

Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (9780802856081, $17.99) is written for ages 5-9 and comes from an Indian poet and writer. Illustrations by Satwik Gade accompany the life story of one of India's finest mathematicians, following his evolution from childhood, his early influences and contributions, and the discoveries which made him a standout. This lively biography requires no prior familiarity with Ramanujan to prove attractive to young readers.

Nelson Rodriguez and Leonardo Agustin Montes present Colorful Mondays: A Bookmobile Spreads Hope in Honduras (9780802856166, $17.99), which will appeal to ages 5-9. It tells of Luis, who finds that the bookmobile that comes to his town gives a sense of hope and discovery to small villagers whose lives can be sad. Books aren't the only thing the bookmobile introduces to his life: it creates connections with others, entertainment via puppet shows or songs, and brings new surprises every Monday. Lawrence Schimel's a fine translation brings the story to life, while illustrations by Rosana Faria and Carla Tabora capture the color and culture of Honduras.

Sleeping Bear Press

Sleeping Bear Press has several new picture books that are receive top billing for library acquisition and parent read-aloud alike.

Beth Kander's Do Not Eat This Book! Fun with Jewish Foods & Festivals (9781534111882, $18.99) features whimsical, funny illustrations by Mike Moran as it juxtaposes Yiddish with humor to examine Jewish experiences and traditions. A rhyming text carries readers through various celebrations and related traditional Jewish foods, with the supporting colorful art bringing everything to life. Kid-friendly recipes encourage participation by the very young in a delightfully mouth-watering celebratory experience.

Bobbie Peyton's Dancing the Tinikling (9781534111967, $18.99) is illustrated by Diobelle Cerna and follows Jojo, who tries to dance the hopping tinikling dance even as he also hops between his Filipino background and American life. Lola makes it look easy, so even though Jojo has failed before, he responds to an invitation to come dance in a story that is uplifting, fun, and informative about Filipino traditions.

These are two quite excellent titles that deserve acquisition for any children's book collection for young readers.

The Elementary Fiction Shelf

Thor Quest: Hammers of the Gods
Jackson Lanzing, author
Collin Kelly, author
Billy Yong, illustrator
Marvel Press
9781368074353, $14.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Thor, mighty thunder god. Loki, trickster without equal. But once, they were kids. And like all kids, they needed... a babysitter!

What? No one tells Thor what to do! Not even Sif, trained as a warrior from birth! Not even Fandral, Thor's best friend, who sees all of Thor's flaws! To prove that he can take care of himself, Thor decides to go on a Thor Quest.

Along for the ride are a secretive Loki, a loyal Fandral, and an annoyed Sif -- who has better things to do than watch Thor. They will tackle sea serpents, robot dinosaurs, and (most horribly of all) their own mistakes.

Critique: Enhanced for the enjoyment of young readers and Marvel Universe fans ages 8-12 with art, comics panels, and wild and hilarious twists, "Thor Quest: Hammers of the Gods" by co-authors Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, and artist/illustrator Billy Yong, is first book in the new Thor Quest series that will prove to be highly prized additions to elementary school, middle school, and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Thor Quest: Hammers of the Gods" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly are screenwriters and comic book creators, known for "Joyride" (Boom! Studios), "Star Trek: Year Five" (IDW), "Batman & Robin Eternal" (DC Comics), "Gotham City Garage" (DC Comics), "Dark One" (Vault), "Zojaqan" (Vault), and Alyssa Milano's "Hacktivist" (Archaia). Parallel to their comics career, Lanzing.Kelly are also screenwriters who, since 2010, have developed and written screenplays on spec or assignment for directors/producers like Peter Berg, Akiva Goldsman, Tim Kring, Adam Goodman, and Barry Josephson. They also wrote all 13 episodes of YouTube Red's original animated series "Kings of Atlantis" and produced/starred in two live-RPG series: "Vast" (Legendary Digital) and "Champions of the Earth" (Nerdsmith).

Editorial Note: Billy Yong ( is an illustrator and character designer. Since starting out he has drawn storyboards, visual development and even voice acted for animation, games, and children's books. Outside of his professional doodlings, he can be found in a cafe, drawing or painting in his sketchbook, developing his personal projects, or teaching Japanese swordsmanship in the dojo. Billy currently lives in sunny Singapore.

The LGBTQ Fiction Shelf

Jimmy Matejek-Morris
Carolrhoda Books
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
9781728457598, $19.99, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Calvin knows he's destined to be a star... if he can just stop making embarrassing mistakes onstage, like getting stuck on a single line ("Forsooth!") during the school play. The summer after seventh grade, he's hoping for a fresh start. All he has to do is prove himself as an actor and fix the awkwardness with his friends that started after the play.

But nothing's going according to plan. His parents don't get his love of performing. His best friend is moving on without him. And he might have a crush that could change everything.

Surrounded by drama on all sides, Calvin will have to go off script if he's going to be a real friend and be true to himself.

Critique: A fun read that will have a very special appeal to young readers ages 11-14 with an interest in the performing arts and LGBTQ issues, "Forsooth" is an age appropriate and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school and community library General Fiction and LGBTQ Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Forsooth" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Jimmy Matejek-Morris ( earned undergraduate degrees in Film and English at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After graduating, Jimmy moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he earned an MA in Children's Literature and an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College (now University). He currently lives in Massachusetts with his husband Scott. His first novel, My Ex-Imaginary Friend, was named a Best Children's Book of the Year by the Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Food Fight
Linda Davis
Fitzroy Books
9781646033430, $15.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Food Fight provides middle grade readers with a hilarious account of just desserts. It follows a young picky eater just entering middle school who finds his strange food fetishes subject to peer discussion and ridicule. Ben's newfound goals under such conditions are simple -- maintain his food choice independence while thwarting bullies and pursing the girl he's attracted to.

More than just an account of food follies alone, Food Fight also explores and presents the atmosphere of middle school in a way that will immediately attract young readers with familiar explorations: "Everybody knows that where you sit on the first lunch of middle school will determine your spot in the social hierarchy for eternity. And it's complete chaos in here. As new sixth graders, we're all scrambling to decide who to eat with and where to sit. From the other side of the floor-to-ceiling windows, I bet the cafeteria looks like an aquarium during a feeding frenzy."

Author Linda Davis does more than present a funny, entertaining read. Embedded in the story of a picky eater are social observations about food's place in making connections. These introduce food for thought, as well: "She'll probably think it's suspicious that I don't eat pizza. I've heard it before. The worst is unpatriotic. Like not liking pizza means I'm not a Chicagoan. Or American. But it might be true. I've read a lot of official-sounding pizza-related statistics - like ninety-three percent of Americans have had a slice of pizza in the past month. And on average, Americans eat forty-six slices of pizza in a year. But I've never even had one. 'Nah, I'm not hungry,' I say, knowing it doesn't sound believable."

The result is an original tale that attracts with the strong veneer of fun and interpersonal dilemmas, educates with insights into food's role in building relationships and connections, and leaves young readers hungry for more. In a nutshell, Food Fight is a middle grade read that is delightfully original, sassy, and satisfying, presenting a powerful series of conundrums and experiences that young readers will find attractive and libraries catering to them will want to recommend.

Calvin and the Sugar Apples
Ines I. Oliveira, author
Vanessa Balleza, illustrator
The Collective Book Studio
9781685552190, $14.95, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Ten-year-old Amelia has always had Calvin, her chinchilla friend, to talk to about her problems. But Calvin is no longer in his cage, and her parents just say he's in a "better place." When Amelia and her best friend, Camila, have an argument, and Amelia later misses the school talent show, she doesn't know what to do. Without Calvin, who does she talk to about her disappointments at school? And who does she talk to about missing Calvin?

Just when Amelia thinks she's completely alone, a new student arrives, and they begin to sort things out together. Amelia learns that it's always possible to make new friends, that expressing yourself can happen in different ways, and that it all starts with talking it out.

Critique: Thoroughly appropriate for children ages 7-10, "Calvin and the Sugar Apples" by the team of author/storyteller Ines I. Oliveira and artist/illustrator Vanessa Balleza will be of special and particular interest to young readers with its intertwining themes of friendship, companionship, emotions, feeling, and death/dying. Original, deftly crafted, and inherently interesting from start to finish, "Calvin and the Sugar Apples" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library fiction collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Ines F. Oliveira ( is a debut author from Portugal. She holds a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University and committed many years to the technological field. That was before turning to words and writing. She believes words have the power to scatter light into children's eyes and insists on reading aloud with her own children every night.

Editorial Note #2: Vanessa Balleza ( is a Venezuelan author and illustrator of children's books, with a knack for capturing warm moments with vivid detail and imagination. She seeks to involve adults and children in fostering a lifelong love of reading and art, using the power of imagination and creativity as her tools.

Fly Back, Agnes
Elizabeth Atkinson
Carolrhoda Books
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
9781541578203, $17.99, HC, 296pp

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Agnes hates everything about her life: her name, her parents' divorce, her best friend's abandonment, her changing body. So while staying with her dad over the summer, she decides to become someone else. She tells people she meets that her name is Chloe, she's fourteen, her parents are married, and she's a dancer and actor -- just the life she wants.

But Agnes's fibs quickly stack up and start to complicate her new friendships, especially with Fin, whose mysterious relative runs a local raptor rehab center that fascinates Agnes. The birds, given time and care, heal and fly back home. Agnes, too, wants to get back to wherever she truly belongs. But first she must come to see the good in her real life, however flawed and messy it is, and be honest with her friends, her family, and herself.

Critique: A carefully crafted work of fiction dealing with the subject of the emotional impact of marriage and divorce upon adolescent children's self-esteem, "Fly Back Agnes" by Elizabeth Atkinson is an entertaining, thought-provoking, and unreservedly recommended pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library Contemporary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fly Back Agnes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.71).

Editorial Note: Elizabeth Atkinson ( has been an editor, a children's librarian, an English teacher, and a newspaper columnist.

Rocket: The Blue-Ribbon Pony
Ellen F. Feld
Willow Bend Publishing
9781733767491, $12.95, PB, 154pp

Synopsis: Rocket is a very naughty pony. Sara desperately wants to win a blue ribbon with Rocket, but the two-year-old colt has grown into a very unruly pony who loves to get into trouble. When it's time to come in from the field, he runs away; he loves to chew on his lead ropes, and he nips at Sara whenever she tries to work him. Convinced that showing Rocket will help him learn to be a good pony, Sara decides to take him to a local horse show. What ever could go wrong?

Critique: With a very special appeal to young readers with an interest in horses, "Rocket: The Blue-Ribbon Pony" is part of author Ellen Feld's 'The Miniature Morgan' series. A fun and thoroughly 'kid friendly' read from start to finish, "Rocket: The Blue-Ribbon Pony" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-14.

Editorial Note: Ellen Feld ( began writing about horses more than 20 years ago. At first she wrote for small, regional magazines, but within a few short years, her work began to appear regularly in large, national publications. In 2001, while waiting for her next assignment, Ms. Feld wrote a short story about a Morgan. That tale became the first chapter of Blackjack: Dreaming of a Morgan Horse. The book went on to win a coveted Children's Choices award (as did the second book in the series, Frosty), an honor bestowed jointly by the International Reading Association and the Children's Book Council. The book was also picked up by Breyer Animal Creations to be sold with a model of the star of the story, Blackjack. To date, Ms. Feld has authored nineteen horse books, including seven in the Morgan Horse series and three in the best-selling Donkey-Donk series.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Love in Winter Wonderland
Abiola Bello
Soho Kids
c/o Soho Press
9781641295079, $18.99, HC, 312pp

Synopsis: Charming, handsome Trey Anderson balances the pressures of school popularity with a job at his family's beloved local bookshop, Wonderland.

Quirky, creative Ariel Spencer needs tuition for the prestigious art program of her dreams, and an opening at Wonderland is the answer. When Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of being shut down by a neighborhood gentrifier, they team up to stop the doors from closing before the Christmas Eve deadline -- and embark on a hate-to-love journey that will change them forever.

Critique: Of special appeal and interest for young readers who are dedicated fans of Christmas themed romance novels, "Love in Winter Wonderland" by Abiola Bello is a 'must' choice for the personal reading lists. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Love in Winter Wonderland" is an original, exceptional, wholesome, and fun pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Romance Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Abiola Bello ( is a British-Nigerian author from London, England. She is the bestselling, award-winning author of the children's series Emily Knight I Am and contributed to The Very Merry Murder Club anthology. Love in Winter Wonderland is her debut YA. Abiola has won London's BIG Read 2019, was a finalist for the People's Book Prize Best Children's Book and was nominated for the Yoto Carnegie Award.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

Sierra Blue
Suzanne Morgan Williams
Independently Published
9798989025503, $15.99, PB, 250pp

Synopsis: The summer before ninth grade, Magic Kendall's best friend lets her secret out -- she sees animals' auras. Now the teasing and texting doesn't stop. She finds refuge at her aunt's horse ranch in a small mountain town, Willow Bridge, California.

Sure that no one will discover her weird, psychic abilities, she helps with therapy riding and makes a quirky group of friends. And she just might have a crush on a young cowboy who works at the ranch.

All is going well until she witnesses a terrible horse-trailer crash. Magic knows from the energy of the Thoroughbred's aura, that she can save Sierra Blue. But will the filly ever race again? Is it worth risking her fragile new friendships in order to save Sierra Blue? What will Magic learn about truth, friendship, and all kinds of "different"?

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish, "Sierra Blue" by novelist Suzanne Morgan Williams will have a special appeal for young readers ages 9-15 with an interest in unique coming-of-age stories, horses, a bit of fantasy, and happy endings. Whiles also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "Sierra Blue" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Suzanne Morgan Williams ( is the author of more than a dozen books for people ten and up, including her upper MG/YA book, Sierra Blue, and the young adult novel, Bull Rider which won a Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Her articles have appeared in Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI Bulletin and The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children, as well as in The Children's Writers' and Illustrators' Market, and Nevada Humanities' Heart to Heart. Suzanne is a Nevada Arts Council teaching artist and Regional Advisor Emerita of the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators, Nevada Region.

The Search for Us
Susan Azim Boyer
Wednesday Books
c/o Macmillan USA
9781250833709, $21.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Samira Murphy will do anything to keep her fractured family from falling apart, including caring for her widowed grandmother and getting her older brother into recovery for alcohol addiction. With attendance at her dream college on the line, she takes a long shot DNA test to find the support she so desperately needs from a father she hasn't seen since she was a baby.

Henry Owen is torn between his well-meaning but unreliable bio-mom and his overly strict aunt and uncle, who stepped in to raise him but don't seem to see him for who he is. Looking to forge a stronger connection to his own identity, he takes a DNA test to find the one person who might love him for exactly who he is -- the biological father he never knew.

Instead of a DNA match with their father, Samira and Henry are matched with each other. They begin to search for their father together and slowly unravel the difficult truth of their shared past, forming a connection that only siblings can have and recovering precious parts of their past that have been lost.

Brimming with emotional resonance, author Susan Azim Boyer's novel, "The Search for Us", beautifully renders what it means to find your place in the world through the deep and abiding power of family.

Critique: An immediately absorbing read, "The Search for Us" showcases author Susan Azim Boyer's genuine flair as a novelist with respect her narrative storytelling style that keeps and holds the readers attention from start to finish. "The Search for Us" is especially recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections for readers ages 12-18. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of those with an interest in sibling fiction, coming of age stories, and characters having to deal with anxiety disorders, that "The Search for Us" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Susan Azim Boyer ( is the author of "Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win", and writes young adult fiction featuring Iranian American heroines who make messy, complicated choices that rapidly snowball into avalanches.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Secret of the Black Widow
Eugene M. Gagliano
Crystal Publishing, LLC
9781942624806, $9.95

There is a screaming, veiled widow over at the Foster cabin. Her anguish and hidden countenance draws young Chad to investigate, especially since this effort is prompted by bullying that forces Chad to step out of his comfort zone and take action against all his inclinations to stay safely distant from adversity.

Secret of the Black Widow attracts middle grade readers from its first sentence and keeps the action coming non-stop. Succinct descriptions capture and pinpoint the many sources of Chad's own angst as he perseveres:

The scream from the direction of the widow Foster's cabin made the hair rise on the back of Chad's neck.

"Scared?" James Junior asked.

"No, I just don't think it's right. She ain't never bothered me none," Chad said, but in his heart, he knew the truth. He was afraid.

As he learns more about the Widow Foster and forces that influence right and wrong actions and reactions, Chad learns more about his new friend Aubrey and the mystery behind the veiled screaming widow's actions and past.

Kids drawn by the intrigue will find unexpectedly thought-provoking moments throughout the story as Chad moves into better understanding his world, the forces affecting adults and peers alike, and starts to make decisions based not upon peer pressure, but upon his own heart's perception of what is right and wrong.

Kids attracted to mystery stories receive the added value of these insights in a plot that embraces a powerful sense not just of purpose, but place. The result may lure with mystery components, but is far more satisfyingly revealing than centering on intrigue alone.

Solving the secret is only the introductory part of the puzzles surrounding Chad's life. The growth involved in better understanding and perceptions of personal power also drive Eugene M. Gagliano's story in an equally compelling manner. The result is a gripping saga kids will find just as involving for its interpersonal relationship developments, historical sense of time and place in the 1800s, and astute consideration of Chad's changing role in his family and others' lives.

Libraries seeking multifaceted middle grade fiction will find Secret of the Black Widow attractive and highly worthy of acquisition and recommendation.

Ice Cave Mystery
Eugene M. Gagliano
Crystal Publishing, LLC
9781942624790, $9.95

Many kids love stories involving caves, while others are attracted to mysteries. Both are the main focus of Ice Cave Mystery, which opens with a recap of young Chad's life when a move from Indiana along the Oregon Trail results in the death of his younger sibling. Despite further loss, life goes on ... and so does its mystery. In this case, the intrigue surrounds a missing treasure chest of stolen gold that lures Chad and his friend Aubrey into an adventure that tests their ability to problem-solve, confront robberies and intrigue, and even survive.

Author Eugene M. Gagliano spins a powerfully compelling yarn that builds characters ranging from Chad's family to his friends. The growing dilemma introduces adult perceptions and realities into his young world of hopes and dreams. Changing seasons and times permeate these adventures with realistic insights and backdrops set in 1890s Wyoming.

Gagliano focuses as much on the moral and ethical conundrums young Chad faces (along with his dreams of riches) as on the escapades that evolve around Wildcat Tom's legacy. The result is a vivid adventure that serves both a sequel to the prior book Secret of the Black Widow and holds the ability to stand alone for newcomers to Chad's world through a strong introductory recap of events and an equally powerful attention to the details of his much-revised life.

Libraries seeking middle grade fiction that promises action and thought-provoking growth alike will find that Ice Cave Mystery delivers what it promises (a rollicking good read) in a title that embraces caves and intrigue.

Miss Demeanor: The Case of the Long Blonde Hair
Edward White
Histeria Kids
c/o Histria Books
9781592111060, $24.99, HC, 120pp

Synopsis: There's a new crime fighter in town. She's smart. She's fearless. She's thirteen-years-old and determined to be the world's greatest detective. Enter the brave world of Celia J., as she uses the skills learned at a CSI summer camp program to investigate an attempt to defraud her father.

Following the tragic loss of her mother, Celia's father enrolls her in the classes to ease her grief and to keep her in a safe environment. Celia excels at the investigative lessons earning her the respect of both her classmates and Detective Lieutenant Beth. Celia sees Beth as her new heroine and, hopefully, a suitable companion for her father.

But, a devious woman with long blonde hair already has her sights on Celia's dad -- especially his money. Aided by her accomplice, a scary tattooed man, the woman proposes a phony investment scheme. When Celia suspects something is wrong and launches her investigation and surveillance, she is trapped in a dangerous predicament far from home and help.

Miss Demeanor is an exciting character-driven middle-grade mystery, filled with a compelling cast of heroes and villains, a clever plot, crime scene investigative tools, suspense, humor, and a heart-warming backstory. A page-turner for both young and adult. It draws the reader deep into the narrative as though it took place in their hometown; much like Alan Bradley's juvenile sleuth, Flavia de Luce involves her English village.

Created by Ed N. White, Miss Demeanor offers young readers a character they can identify with and enjoy. Celia J. is not without a few minor flaws, which enhances her appeal as a real person. The crime scene investigative techniques are detailed at a level of understanding for the middle-grade reader. Life lessons are learned. The emotions of the grieving father and daughter are shared, and the backstory of Celia's dad and Detective Beth offers hope.

Editorial Note: Original, fun, and thoroughly 'kid friendly', "Miss Demeanor: The Case of the Long Blonde Hair" will have a particular appeal to young readers ages 9-12 with an interest in crime thriller novels. While a highly recommended pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Miss Demeanor: The Case of the Long Blonde Hair" is also available in a paperback edition (9781592112975, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Edward White, a writer of mysteries and a teller of tales. He turned his imagination to the world of middle-grade literature, creating a precocious teen girl detective, writing as Celia J. to protect her anonymity. A grandfather of five girls, he has been a keen observer of their progress as they made their mark in a challenging world.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Werecats Convergent
Mark J. Engels
Fazed Angle Media
9798988190233, $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

Book 2 of the Forest Exiles Saga, Werecats Convergent, returns teenager Pawly to center stage as she faces a Christmas in San Francisco as a were-lynx whose interests include family and survival. These are no light tasks, as Pawly fights to keep scientist and rival werecat Mawro from weaponizing her family's abilities while also struggling to protect her love life from this confrontation.

Author Mark J. Engels introduces Pawly's latest challenge with a focus on Mawro, adding information that will ease any transition by newcomers. That note in mind, ideally, such readers will already be familiar with Pawly's prior dilemmas in Werecats Emergent. This will not only lend to a smooth transition to this story, but serves as a powerful opening read. From Pawly's struggles with a human lover who becomes mixed up in paranormal affairs to her confrontations with militaries intent on tapping her family's extraordinary abilities for their own special purposes, the action plays out on several levels.

These are spiced with references to sports Cup playoffs and interests that emerge on both a human and metaphysical level. Intrigue that's more usually associated with a thriller than a paranormal read keeps the story vigorous, with many twists and turns emerging that continually challenge Pawly's relationships, ideals of safety and love, and her loyalty and commitment to family secrets and realities.

This gives the story not only a fast pace, but presents many thought-provoking encounters that young adults familiar with paranormal stories won't see coming. It also tests international waters and special interests as events converge on Pawly's life and family in cataclysmic ways.

Libraries seeking blends of romance, thriller, and paranormal fantasy will find all these elements dovetail in Werecats Convergent, a story that is satisfyingly unpredictable and perfect for teens just entering into adult reading levels of complexity and attraction.

The Trials of Imperium
Lyndsey Garbee
Warren Publishing
9781957723457, $32.95 Hardcover/$22.95 Paper

The Trials of Imperium is a young adult sword and sorcery fantasy recommended for teens interested in epic tales of powerful women who rise above their stations in life to assume more commanding, authoritative roles.

Princess Liliana Storidian is regal in title only, and is not slated to inherit any position of power. Her lot in life shifts with a series of extraordinary events where she is forced to utilize her innate savvy about her place and those around her to best advantage. Liliana is capable of astute, adult observations of the women and figures that surround her: "Liliana didn't have anything specific against Easternalia. The woman was attention seeking, but she was passive. The most dangerous thing about her was the low-cut, extravagant dresses she wore that always threatened to expose her... lady parts. She would not murder, wrongfully convict, or do anything exceptionally malicious to further her own social agenda.

However, she would buy her way into power at the Aurjnegh Court. She would monopolize three and a half hours of a diplomatic meeting talking about her children and their minute accomplishments. She would spread false fidelity rumors about Liliana's mother around the court. She would change her birth name from Easter to Easternalia, giving it three more syllables and so much more "feminine charm!""

When a tired king creates an opportunity for those who harbor the mark of Imperium ("God of power") to compete to become the new ruler of the kingdom, Liliana and commoner Ellegance both see an unprecedented opportunity to assume greater control of not just the kingdom, but their lives. Lyndsey Garbee creates a moving story that holds the feel of The Hunger Games paired with the strong characterization of women who have little to lose and much to gain from stepping into revised roles of power.

Supporting characters of both sexes provide intriguing contrasts in purpose and perception to keep the story fast-paced and thought-provoking: "Aoran shook off the strange encounter, pushing it into the sewers of his mind. Sometimes it was better to approach life like a soldier. Take orders, don't speak back, and for Imperium's sake, don't think. Thinking was what got soldiers in trouble. It got normal people in trouble, too, especially if they had a propensity for the wrong kind of thoughts. He rolled his eyes; no wonder Liliana and Teo were such damn grouches. Thinking that much about anything - much less the fate of an entire kingdom - was prone to ram a naman up anybody's ass."

Many a teenage and young adult reader will find this fantasy powerful in its contrasts, characterization, and action, finding it surprisingly accessible and involving for its concurrent themes of women's empowerment and struggles for personal and political control.

Libraries seeking acquisitions for mature teens that nicely straddle the boundary between young adult and adult reading will find the epic fantasy action, characters, and struggles of The Trials of Imperium make for an involving choice that should attract a wide audience with its ageless theme of good intentions gone awry.

Kantara: The Traveler
Stephen and Mary Weller
Warren Publishing
9781960146007, $30.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

Young adults interested in time travel sci-fi which embraces aliens, apocalypse, and a college student's unusual role as (perhaps) the savior of Earth will find the heroic adventure Kantara: The Traveler a particularly full-faceted story that stands out in the world of young adult time travel fiction.

A time-hopping prologue and introduction move first into the past, where Zurens and humans face clashes and paradoxes; then into far future's darkness, where Moti faces an environment where intention is the only thing that matters. In this case, Moti requests that the timeline be opened backwards. This action leads the story to college student Keiji, who learns he has superhuman abilities that may be the only key to thwarting an evil force set to destroy everything.

Keiji is not the only proactive, courageous character in the story, but his actions drive a quest for the Kantara Scrolls which promise solutions to impossible problems. His interactions with others through various possibilities that link past, present, and future are winningly revealed.

Co-authors Stephen and Mary Weller craft a fast-paced adventure that introduces using the third person, then moves to the first person as Keiji interacts with his world, new ideas, and new skill sets he is barely able to comprehend, much less handle.

As emperors face time loops and impossible traps and attacks leave behind a trail of carnage and new possibilities, young adults will find Keiji's world replete with confrontation and shifting alliances. These types of challenges force Keiji to redefine not only his perception of reality, but the role he plays in bigger pictures than his own future alone.

Libraries and young adult readers seeking vivid clashes, thought-provoking time travel dilemmas, and proactive characters who struggle with impossible choices and their consequences will find Kantara: The Traveler a riveting adventure that concludes nicely, but leaves the door well ajar for follow-up stories.

Splintered Magic
L. L. McKinney
Disney Hyperion
9781368046367, $18.99, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: Twins Trey and Tai are not like other high schoolers. Trey struggles to suppress his surging magical abilities, which continually impede his dream of making first chair cello in orchestra. A budding photographer, Tai just wants to take pictures and maybe find someone to take them with. But disturbing images keep appearing in Tai's camera lens, reigniting the twins' search for their mother, who mysteriously disappeared ten years earlier. As the two discover more clues, Trey and Tai also uncover strange secrets about their magical ancestors and about a cunning villain who threatens their very survival. Together, Trey and Tai must work to unearth the past and preserve the future of their family.

Critique: Original, well written, and a fun read from start to finish, "Splintered Magic" by L. L. McKinney will have a very special appeal to young readers ages 14-17 who have an interest in contemporary fantasy combined with coming-of-age elements to the novel. While a strongly recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Splintered Magic" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: L.L. McKinney ( is an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing, and the creator of the hashtags #PublishingPaidMe and #WhatWoCWritersHear. She was named one of The Root's 100 most influential African Americans of 2020.Her previous works include the Nightmare-Verse books, Nubia: Real One through DC, Marvel's Black Widow: Bad Blood, and more.

Mirrorverse: Pure of Heart
Delilah Dawson
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368078917, $18.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Set in a fantasy land that is familiar but slightly changed, "Mirrorverse: Pure of Heart" by Delilah Dawson begins as Snow White helps a young deer in the forest. This isn't the Snow White that Disney fans know: she has been recently transformed by the creation of the Disney Mirrorverse and given magical powers that she does not yet know how to wield. Despite her new abilities and the strange things happening in her world, Snow White, or "Snow" as her friends often call her, has been carrying on as normal... until now.

As she returns to her cottage, Snow spots her seven friends with dark, angry expressions, and glowing white eyes. They attack her, claiming they need to capture "the heart of Snow White." Snow desperately tries to reason with her friends, but they refuse to listen to her, and she ultimately has to use the strange magic she has recently acquired to fend them off.

Snow is horrified when it seems that she has accidentally killed her friends in her attempt to protect herself. It is only when a strange talking creature, who she learns to be Sorcerer Mickey, the ruler of the Disney Mirrorverse, arrives and explains that the creatures she defeated were not her friends. They were a group of Fractured: evil copies created by Dark Magic. Snow believes that the evil Queen has taken her friends, and it is up to Snow to retrieve them and the Fractured Mirror, the source of the Mirrorverse's power, before it can be used to destroy Snow's home world forever.

But Snow doesn't need to face the Queen alone. Mickey assigns her a team of Guardians, powerful beings from many different worlds who have committed to thwarting the Fractured and protecting the Mirrorverse from evil. Snow meets Tiana (an expert potion-maker). Rapunzel (a fighter who knows how to wield a frying pan) Stitch (a chaotic blue alien who can change forms), Sully (a monster with a big heart), and Hades -- the lord of the underworld, who has offered to join the mission to see what this whole "Guardian gig" is about.

This unlikely crew ventures into Snow's world, where they find growing Fractured, a determined huntsman, and a newly poisoned dark forest. On the way to the palace, each character faces a challenge seemingly created just for them.

Critique: An exceptionally well crafted and impressively original, Disney-style fantasy that reinvents some of their truly classic characters and a thoroughly fun and reader engaging story, "Mirrorverse: Pure of Heart" will prove a welcome and enduringly popular pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the legions of young Disney fans ages 12-18 that "Mirrorverse: Pure of Heart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Delilah S. Dawson ( is the author of Star Wars: Phasma and Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire, The Violence, the Minecraft Mob Squad series, the Hit series, the Blud series, the Shadow series (written as Lila Bowen), Mine, Camp Scare, and the Tales of Pell, written with Kevin Hearne. Her comics include Marvel Action: Spider Man, Star Wars Adventures, Disney Descendants, and Adventure Time, as well as the creator-owned Ladycastle, Sparrowhawk, and Star Pig.

Champion of Fate
Kendare Blake
Quill Tree Books
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
Blackstone Audiobooks
9780062977205, $19.99, HC, 480pp

Synopsis: The Aristene are an order of mythical female warriors. Though heroes might be immortalized in legends, it's the Aristene who guide their paths to victory. They are the Heromakers.

Raised by the order after being orphaned, Reed grew up surrounded by her future sisters-in-arms and the incredible stories of their quests. She's been counting the days until her initiation, and now one final test stands in her way: shepherding her first hero to glory on the battlefield. Succeed, and her place in the order is secured. Fail, and she'll be cast out of the only home she's ever known.

But Reed didn't count on Hestion, her assigned hero, being both infuriating and intriguing. When their strategic alliance turns into something more, it forces Reed to question the cost of becoming an Aristene. As battle looms and fate hangs in the balance, Reed must make an impossible choice: her hero or her order.

Critique: Original and terrifically entertaining for young readers ages 12-18 with an interest in epic fantasy, "Champion of Fate" is the first volume of an action/adventure duology by novelist Kendare Blake and an unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, highschool and community library YA Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Champion of Fate" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212696425, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Kendare Blake ( is a graduate of Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York and received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. She is the author of several novels including "Anna Dressed in Blood", "Antigoddess", and "Three Dark Crowns".

Follow the Shadows
Rosemary Drisdelle
c/o Spark Point Studio
9781684632183, $17.95, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: When Marise Leeson gets her hands on a crystal ball, she believes her knowledge of Wicca is about to expand. The magic, however, goes horribly wrong. In short order, she's thrown into an alternate world, attacked by a dragon, and rescued by Javeer -- a young male dragon in search of a friend.

Marise is desperate to get home alive. Instead of dabbling in scrying and spells, she must now use her Wicca skills to survive in Moerden -- while navigating rival dragon factions, riding Javeer without falling, and dodging unknown perils of an alien landscape. Through a series of adventures and mishaps, she learns that the dragons face slow extinction from a mysterious disease. Some see Marise as part of the cause. Some hope she's a key to a cure.

Marise grows up fast as her focus switches from escape from Moerden to saving the dragons. She draws upon her powers, intuition, and some help from home as she and Javeer begin a quest to solve the puzzle of the stagger. If they survive, and if their trust and courage are strong, they may succeed. If they do not, the dragons of Moerden will cease to exist.

Critique: Original, imaginative, laced with humor and unexpected plot twists and turns, "Follow the Shadows is a simply riveting read from start to finish, and one that verifies author Rosemary Driselle as a master storyteller. Highly recommended for fans of epic fantasy in general, and dragons in particular, "Follow the Shadows" is an ideal pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Follow the Shadows" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Rosemary Drisdelle ( has written on various nonfiction science and professional topics. A fascination with parasites (where fiery serpents are not unknown) inspired her science book Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests. She has always had a weakness for reptiles and hopes to meet a real live dragon some day; however, there don't seem to be any in Bedford, Nova Scotia, where she currently lives.

Rick Riordan Presents: The Spirit Glass
Roshani Chokshi
Rick Riordan Presents
9781368093392, $16.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Corazon yearns to finally start training as a babaylan (a mystical healer and spirit guide) under her powerful guardian, Aunt Tina. As soon as her magic awakens, Corazon plans to bring her parents back from the dead and no longer have to rely on a soul key to allow visits with their ghosts for a few hours every Saturday night.

But when a vengeful ghost steals Corazon's precious key, the fragile balance between the human world and the spirit world is thrown out of whack. Aunt Tina reveals that if Corazon wants her magic to awaken, then she must lay the ghost to rest by fashioning a new soul key.

With her rather bloodthirsty gecko companion, Saso, Corazon embarks on a quest through the spirit realms. But they must move quickly, for if the ghost gets through the spirit glass, all hope will be lost.

Critique: As an author, with the publication of "Rick Riordan Presents: The Spirit Glass", novelist Roshani Chokshi pays an impressive tribute to her Filipino heritage with this action/adventure fantasy novel of magic and fantasy. A fun read from start to finish, "Rick Riordan Presents: The Spirit Glass" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted that "Rick Riordan Presents: The Spirit Glass" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Roshani Chokshi ( is the author of commercial and critically acclaimed books for middle grade and young adult readers that draws on world mythology and folklore. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and has frequently appeared on Best of The Year lists from Barnes and Noble, Forbes, Buzzfeed and more. Her New York Times bestselling series includes The Star-Touched Queen duology, The Gilded Wolves, and Aru Shah and The End of Time, which was recently optioned for film by Paramount Pictures.

Five Hieroglyphs
Stephen T. Person
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
9781634896214, $19.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: A cruise to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World turns dangerous for 17-year-old Dante Rivera when he defies orders to stop blogging about a shadowy organization that collects legendary antiquities.

As Dante falls ever deeper into harm's way, his connection to Thoth (the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom, magic, and writing) grows.

The sudden appearance of a series of Egyptian hieroglyphs (signals from Thoth, that he's convinced) leads Dante to revelations that could spark an untapped talent and self-discovery.

Inspired by this new guide to push on, Dante begins to gain insights into the secretive organization, its connection to an Ancient Wonder lost to history, and its possible link to his estranged father. Will Dante prevail against the weight of a haunting childhood memory and the nefarious organization dead set on his downfall?

Critique: Especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, high school, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-18, "Five Hieroglyphs" is a vivid and deftly crafted action/adventure novel of myth, mystery. finding both courage and purpose during moments of crisis. All the more impressive when considering that this is author Stephen T. Person's debut as a novelist, and of special note is that "Five Hieroglyphs" is illustrated with 26 original woodcut-style drawings. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Five Hieroglyphs" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Stephen T. Person ( served in the US Navy aboard the USS Trippe and he circumnavigated the globe. Later he worked as a magazine editor and corporate communications manager, with assignments that took him to England, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. Now he's sharing his experiences and love of archaeology, astronomy, and music with young readers.

River of Crows
N.P. Thompson
Inky Cove
9780995994249, $12.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

River of Crows contains all the trappings of an attractive middle-grade read: mystery and secrets, prophecies and challenging family drama, and a strange magical world that leads two children to struggle with their revised roles in life.

Book One of the Arcanium series opens with an action-packed dilemma:

"Eldrin Duclanach plowed frantically through the dark undergrowth, gasping with every breath. Branches clawed at his face and hands and snagged on his clothes, but he barely noticed them. He needed to get home. By the Goddesses, how could he have been so careless? He'd only been trying to do the right thing - to help an injured man. How was he supposed to have known that the man was a Siershasai'dan freedom fighter? Emperor Blackthorn had declared them enemies of Arcania, and anyone caught providing any kind of assistance to them was also considered a traitor and dealt with accordingly. It was an automatic death sentence, not just for the perpetrator, but for that person's entire family."

The crows featured in the book's title appear early in the action to add portents of doom and participation into the saga. The tale centers on twelve-year-old Ty's concurrent struggle with his emerging powers and the impact of new friends and enemies that introduce situations he'd never encountered before.

From a mother's important secret mission to a legacy Ty must step up to (even though it's new information to him), N.P. Thompson weaves a compelling tale in which young heroes and flawed characters alike are challenged to make adult decisions "even though they are just kids."

The drama is heightened by the psychological growth challenges and relationship evolution between the young people and those who inhabit and influence this strange world. Seemingly-adult complex scenarios extract extra problem-solving abilities from each young character:

"'Where do we even start...?' Ty already felt defeated by the scope of their task. How were they ever going to find what they needed in this mess? They had to find someone who dealt in illicit spells and someone who knew how to get into the Citadel undetected. And they had to do it without triggering anyone's suspicions, without attracting the attention of the Black Guard, and without getting themselves killed by the criminals they were going to have to talk to in order to get what they wanted."

River of Crows is a compelling fantasy backed by an avian army and the shifting intentions and perceptions of young people forced into unpredictable situations. It will delight middle grade readers (and older) who will find the blend of action, growth, and fantasy to be riveting and hard to put down.

The Poetry Shelf

Imagine a Garden: Stories of Courage Changing the World
Rina Singh, author
Hoda Hadadi, illustratory
Greystone Kids
c/o Greystone Books
9781771647137, $18.95, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Imagine a Garden: Stories of Courage Changing the World, children's author and storyteller Rina Singh shares seven real-life stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for their communities amidst war, poverty, and violence.

With vivid, textured images from Iranian artist/ illustrator Hoda Hadadi, this powerful picture book is a celebration of everyday heroes and how they make their communities a better place, as well as a teaching tool for facilitating difficult but hopeful conversations about conflict in our world, and the people who are making a difference in their own way

Critique: While also available for the personal reading list in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) for children ages 6 to 10, and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture bok collections, "Imagine a Garden: Stories of Courage Changing the World" is comprised of eloquent and thought-provoking verse that reveals our complex world through the poetry of love, compassion, and inspiration.

Editorial Note #1: Rina Singh ( is an award-winning Canadian Children's Author and Spoken Word coach. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Concordia University, Montreal, and a teaching degree from McGill University. She has written many critically acclaimed books for children and she is drawn to real life stories about social justice and the environment. Her books have been translated in many languages. Grandmother School, (Orca Books) which won the BC & Yukon Prize for literature affirms the life-changing power of education. A Garden of Grenades, (Greystone Books) told in free verse, reimagines our troubled world through the lens of love and compassion. (Coming in 2023) 111 Trees, (Kids Can Press) has won many awards including the Social Justice literature award. She can be followed on Twitter & Instagram @storiesbysingh

Editorial Note #2: Hoda Hadadi ( has illustrated over 60 children's books. Her intricate artwork, created by hand, is recognized worldwide. Her awards include the Gold Medal for Best Picture Book, International Book Award 2018 USA and Gold Medal for Best Illustrator at the Literary Classics Awards in 2017 for Drummer Girl.

A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year
Lou Peacock, author
Matt Hunt, illustrator
Nosy Crow
9798887770253, $40.00, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: "A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year" is a collection of 366 hilarious poems about animals, families, school, food, holidays, and much more!

Compiled by Lou Peacock and featuring the illustrations of Matt Hunt, "A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year" is an anthology of poems for children that is packed from cover to cover with unforgettable classics and new discoveries the also include poetry in translation.

The spectacular range of poems for children includes works by poets ranging from Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, Langston Hughes, and Edward Lear, to Ogden Nash, Judith Viorst, William Carlos Williams, and Jane Yolen. Each individual poem is visually enhanced by Matt Hunt's comical and vibrant artwork.

Critique: Whether shared out loud or read alone, this large format (10.03 x 1.38 x 11.1 inches, 4.93 pounds) is the perfect volume of verse for helping children aged 4-8 to appreciate and enjoy the benefits of poetry! Of special note is a ribbon marker and the glossy double-page spreads. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Children's Poetry collections, "A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year"is a perfect gift for any occasion.

Editorial Note #1: Lou Peacock ( is lucky enough to have one of the best jobs in the world: "Publishing Director of Picture Books" at Nosy Crow. She has a degree in English Literature from Oxford University, and over twenty years' experience in children's publishing. She started her editorial career working on novelty books, but has focused on picture books and poetry for the last 15 years. She often puts her author hat on to write picture books for Nosy Crow and has a notebook full of scribbled ideas.

Editorial Note #2: Matt Hunt ( was born in Redditch in Worcestershire, England, in 1988. Starting out as a fine artist, he graduated from the Birmingham School of Art, and from these roots, developed a love for children's illustration. Matt works in mixed media, utilizing paint, pens, crayons, and digital methods. He's influenced by old movies, classic illustration, cartoons, and books.

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

Disney 100 Years of Wonder Storybook Collection
Victoria Saxton, author
Disney Storybook Art Team, illustrators
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368083935, $17.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Inspired by the upcoming Disney 100th Anniversary Celebration, this hardcover keepsake edition of "Disney 100 Years of Wonder Storybook Collection" by Victoria Saxton and the Disney Storybook Art Team features favorite Disney fairy tales, classics, and contemporary stories that celebrate the wonder of Disney.

Children of all ages (and their parents!) can celebrate the magic of Disney's 100 years of storytelling with this hardcover keepsake volume featuring favorite Disney fairy tales, classics, and contemporary stories. This curated 304-page collection features stories filled with wonder--from the wonder of kindness in Snow White to the wonder of courage in Encanto.
Each heartwarming story is accompanied by beautiful storybook art that makes these memorable moments come to life.

Perfect for all ages (from children to gift-givers to collectors) "Disney 100 Years of Wonder Storybook Collection" is a volume of Disney stories that will be enjoyed by families for years to come. The stories comprising "Disney 100 Years of Wonder Storybook Collection" include: Lion King; Frozen; Moana; Finding Nemo; Cars; Bambi; Toy Story; Snow White; Cinderella; Up; Raya and the Last Dragon; The Aristocats; Little Mermaid; Dumbo; Encanto; 101 Dalmatians; Beauty & The Beast; Lady & The Tramp.

Critique: Deftly compiled by Victoria Saxton and beautifully illustrated throughout as only the Disney artist folk could accomplish, "Disney 100 Years of Wonder Storybook Collection" is essential reading for the legions of Disney fans and is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, family, elementary school, middle school, and community library short story anthology collections.

Editorial Note: Disney Press is for readers of all ages who embrace the heart, humor, and imagination of Disney and Pixar's unique brand of storytelling as told through Disney Baby, Classics, Princess, Villains, Disney Junior, Disney Channel, Feature Animation, and Live Action.

The Mythology Shelf

Welsh Monsters & Mythical Beasts
C.C.J. Ellis
Eye of Newt Books
9781777081775, $29.95

Welsh Monsters & Mythical Beasts is written and illustrated by C.C.J. Ellis. It explores Welsh heritage with full-page color illustrations accompanied by details about the mythical creatures which are a large part of Welsh heritage and culture. From the dragons of Dinas Emrys to the giant white, bird-like Adar Llwch Gwin or the gigantic pale boar Twrch Trwuth, gorgeous illustrations of each myth are accompanied by documentation of its origins and literary and cultural presence and impact in Welch lore. All ages will find Welsh Monsters & Mythical Beasts alluring and involving, unprecedented in its quality and focus.

Books in Series

The Child's World, Inc.

A premier publisher of books in series for children, 'Into the Wild Outdoors' is a new 12 volume series for children ages 7- 10 with a focusing on the different types of hunting and fishing.

"Outdoor Sportsmanship" (9781503869783, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Christopher Forest explores important principles of sportsmanship that any outdoor enthusiast should know when hunting or fishing, including guidelines for respecting both fellow hunters and anglers, as well as the environment.

"Upland Bird Hunting" (9781503869752, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Jenny Crooks-Johnson explores the techniques and equipment needed for upland bird hunting, provides background information on upland bird hunting regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Waterfowl Hunting" (9781503869721, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Christopher Forest Explores the techniques and equipment needed for waterfowl hunting, provides background information on waterfowl hunting regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation

"Turkey Hunting" (9781503869769, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Kelly Anne White explores the techniques and equipment needed for turkey hunting, provides background information on turkey hunting regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Deer Hunting" (9781503869714, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Samantha S. Bell explores the techniques and equipment needed for deer hunting, provides background information on deer hunting regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Fly Fishing" (9781503869738, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Clara MacCarald explores the techniques and equipment needed for fly fishing, provides background information on fishing regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Freshwater Fishing" (9781503869745, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Ryan Gale explores the techniques and equipment needed for freshwater fishing, provides background information on fishing regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Saltwater Fishing" (9781503869776, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Kelly Ann White
explores the techniques and equipment needed for saltwater fishing, provides background information on fishing regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Bowhunting" (9781503869707, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Clara MacCarald explores the techniques and equipment needed for bowhunting, provides background information on hunting regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Orienteering" (9781503869806, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Isabel Teitelbaum explores the competitive activity of orienteering, describes various styles of orienteering, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

"Firearm Safety" (9781503869790, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Samantha S. Bell explores firearm safety guidelines that are important knowledge not only for hunters but for anyone who may encounter a firearm.

"Bear Hunting" (9781503869691, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) by Christopher Forest Explores the techniques and equipment needed for bear hunting, provides background information on bear hunting regulations, and covers guidelines for safety and conservation.

Critique: Each individual title features includes full color photographs, a table of contents, sidebars, infographics, Fast Facts, critical thinking questions, a phonetic glossary, an index, and sources for further research. Individually or as a complete 12 volume set, (9781503887374, $393.48) each title comprising the "Into The Wild Outdoors' series is unreservedly recommended as an acquisition for elementary school and community library hunting, fishing, and outdoor sports collections for young readers.

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.

Ruffles and the New Green Thing
David Melling
9781536229820, $17.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

There's a new green thing in Ruffles's bowl, and he does not want to try even the smallest nibble. When his friend Ralph comes to play, he spots the new green thing and happily takes a big bite. If Ralph can try the new green thing, then so can Ruffles. He quickly discovers that the new green thing is, in fact, delicious! The perfect story to encourage picky eaters to try new foods. (Ages 2-5)

The Child and the Tree
Nohra Bernal, author
Ruben Rodriguez Ferreira, illustrator
9781954548077, $10.50

Deb Greenberg

A child wanders about in the middle of a desert and meets a little tree. Follow this sweet adventure as their friendship evolves. After a storm uncovers parts of the ancient tree that were under the sand, the child plants a new forest before she and her family are forced to move on. This fascinating story about trees, migration, resiliency, and regeneration is told with simple text and captivating illustrations. A Spanish language version is also available. (Ages 3+)

Dakota Crumb and the Secret Bookshop: A Tiny Treasure Hunt
Jamie Michalak, author
Kelly Murphy, illustrator
9781536223309, $17.99

Christine Irvin

In this second book of the Dakota Crumb series, Dakota Crumb must solve a series of clues to help her cousin find a book that is reported to be rare and priceless. Dakota Crumb diligently searches through the clues, but what she finds isn't what she expected. Those who are already Dakota Crumb fans will certainly enjoy this delightful new book. New readers will probably want to read the first book in the series after they finish this one. (Ages 3-7)

As Brave as a Lion
Erika Meza
9781536225082, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Sometimes life is scary, especially for children. When this young girl has her lion with her, she feels able to do anything. One day, the girl discovers that sometimes even her lion feels afraid. Then, she must be the brave one. Joyful, expressive artwork glowing with bright primary colors brings to life the story of a special bond - and a child's discovery of unexpected courage. (Ages 3-7)

Betty and the Mysterious Visitor
Anne Twist, author
Emily Sutton, illustrator
9781536234862, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Betty loves spending time in Grandma's garden, Acorn Hollows. It's filled with wildflowers and berry bushes. When the berries are ripe, they make jam together and sell it at a local farmer's market. One night something comes into the garden and starts to destroy the beautiful flowers and bushes. Betty feels hopeless to save Acorn Hollows, but she devises a plan to thwart the intruder. The text is interesting and the illustrations are bold and bright. (Ages 3-7)

From Here to There: A First Book of Maps
Vivian French, author
Ya-Ling Huang, illustrator
9781536225112, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Author Vivian French introduces the topic of maps and map making in this fun fictional story. Zane sends Anna an invitation to come to his house. Included in the invitation is a map showing the route from Anna's house to Zane's. Anna doesn't think the map is quite right, so she sets out to create one of her own. In the process, she learns about drawing maps to scale, using symbols on maps, and many other aspects of map making. This is a great beginning story about maps, sure to spark the imaginations of future cartographers. (Ages 3-7)

Windrush Child: The Tale of a Caribbean Child Who Faced a New Horizon
John Agard
9781536228533, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Based on the true story of a group of people who emigrated from the Caribbean to Britian to start new lives. They were known as the Windrush Generation, as they traveled on the British ship named the Empire Windrush. This book features a young child who leaves his home, uncertain of his future, but full of hope. The simple text is lyrical prose and the illustrations are bold and colorful. The author includes more information about these immigrants at the end of the book. This would be a great book to add to any child's history library. (Ages 4-7)

The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish
Chloe Savage
9781536228519, $18.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

The Arctic Circle is filled with wonders: playful orcas, the glowing aurora borealis, and formidable ice shelves - but will Dr. Morley find what she is searching for? Or, perhaps, will it find her? Bringing the stark and breathtaking beauty of the Arctic to life, author-illustrator Chloe Savage's whimsical and charming adventure into the unknown is sure to capture the imaginations of young explorers. Beautifully illustrated with so many details on every page. Would highly recommend for adventurers of the sea! (Ages 4-8)

The Together Tree
Aisha Saeed, author
LeUyen Pham, illustrator
Salaam Reads
9781534462960, $18.99

Christine Irvin

When Rumi goes to a new school, he doesn't fit in because he looks different than the other kids. During recess he sits in a quiet place under a willow tree, away from the other kids because most of them make fun of him, except a boy who just watches quietly. One day, the quiet child stands up to the kids who are bullying Rumi. This is the start of not only a friendship between the two boys, but also a change in perspective for the whole class. This beautifully written and beautifully illustrated book presents a powerful lesson for all, a lesson about being different but being included. (Ages 4-8)

Henry Helps a Friend
Doreen Pullo-Fleisch, author
Nita Candra, illustrator
Independently Published
9798218199500, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

When Frankie the dachshund injures his paw chasing squirrels in the yard, he doesn't want to go to the vet. But his faithful friend Henry the beagle helps him by offering to go with him. Little readers will delight in seeing the two puppy pals interact as they learn about friendship, kindness, and helping others. A wonderful tale with super adorable illustrations. (Ages 4-9)

The World of Emily Windsnap: The Truth About Aaron
Liz Kessler, author
Joanie Stone, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536225563, $5.99

Deb Greenberg

Follow semi-mer Aaron and his friends, Emily and Shona, as they try to retrieve Aaron's stolen pendant in this early reader, an underwater adventure with a meaningful message. When a mysterious ship docks at Aaron's castle in the middle of the ocean, he lets the crew members look at his trident keepsake. When they don't return it, the three friends set out to get it back, and learn not only about the royal meaning of the pendant, but also about special friendships. Kids are bound to enjoy book this third book of the series. (Ages 5-8)

Santiago Saw Things Differently
Christine Iverson, author
Luciano Lozano, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
9781536224535, $18.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Santiago Ramón y Cajal's father, the village doctor, wants Santiago to be a doctor. He discourages his willful son's love and aptitude for art. But drawing and painting are as necessary to Santiago as breathing, so when his father confiscates his art supplies, the boy finds a way to draw in secret. He's an artist and always will be, even after he grows up and becomes a doctor. And art helps him discover what no one else could: branching connections within the nervous system. Two lessons can be learned from the story of Santiago. For parents: All children do not learn the same way or have the same passions as you. For children: there is greatness within you. Believe in yourself, and you will shine! (Ages 5-9)

Flying Scotsman and the Best Birthday Ever
Michael Morpurgo, author
Michael Foreman, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652947, $17.95

Deb Greenberg

Jump aboard the Flying Scotsman, the world's most iconic train, and follow along with its biggest fan, a girl named Iris. As the daughter of the train's driver, she wants more than anything to be in the driver's cab with him. It's this adventurous desire that leads her to stow away as it travels from London to Edinburgh, breaking the speed record for steam locomotives. Read about the golden age of steam travel and the incredible workers who kept the railways running. And Iris? She grows up to be one of the first women to work on the railways during WWII. A super interesting Fact File is included in the back of the book. (Ages 6-8)

DJ Bear
Baruch Inbar
Independently Published
9798715914613, $16.99

Deb Greenberg

Author and illustrator Baruch Inbar offers several meaningful messages in this sweet story about a young bear who follows his family's footsteps into the honey trade business instead of following his dreams of a music career. As kids tag along on DJ Bear's adventure, they'll see why it's important to listen to your wants and desires so they can be confident and fulfill their dreams. Bright engaging artwork completes this must-read for your kids. (Ages 6-10)

Teaching Tornero: The True Story of a Sloth Superstar
Georgeanne Irvine
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press
9781943198177, $14.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

A true story of a two-toed sloth named Tornero born at the San Diego Zoo who would grow up to be a wildlife ambassador and a superstar for sloths around the world! The pictures are adorable, I couldn't stop looking at them! The book is wonderfully written in a way for children to easily understand and learn. (Ages 6-10)

Babble! And How Punctuation Saved It
Caroline Adderson, author
Roman Muradov, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735265837, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

It takes the gift of a little girl to teach the villagers how to communicate. When she gives them a period (what is this thing that looks like a freckle?), then a question mark, quotation marks, and so on, they start to learn and slowly stop their arguing and yelling. Told in a fairy-tale format, this creative approach to teaching the importance of punctuation is quite an entertaining and useful tool. Includes additional "fancy" punctuation in the back. (Ages 7-10)

Middle School and Other Disasters: Worst Broommate Ever!
Wanda Coven, author
Anna Abramskaya, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781665925280, $14.99

Deb Greenberg

When Heidi Heckelbeck begins her middle school career at Broomsfield Academy, the only school in the country that offers secret classes for witches in training, she is excited yet nervous about making new friends. Join Heidi as she juggles the everyday mayhem at her new boarding school, where she learns that her roommate is her old rival and an epic prank war spirals out of control. The doodles and black-and-white illustrations throughout add to the entertainment of this first book in the series. Ages (8-12)

Talia's Codebook for Mathletes
Marissa Moss
Walker Books
9781536218022, $19.99

Deb Greenberg

Doodles, graphs, and puzzles fill the pages of this first book in a new series for math fans and anyone who has had to navigate the unfamiliarity of a new school. The new social rules of middle school are confusing to math-loving Talia, as her best friend is embarrassed to be best friends with a girl and the mathlete captain doubts her abilities because she's a girl. Cheer on Talia as she starts her own all-girls mathlete team and attempts to get her best friend back and bring her team to victory. (Ages 8-12)

Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup
Zita Nauryzbai and Lilya Kalaus, authors
Shelley Fairweather-Vega, translator
Amazon Crossing Kids
9781662507014, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

In this fantasy adventure, Batu is your everyday ordinary kid in present-day Almaty... until he meets the Golden Warrior, Aspara, and they set out with his friends to locate the Golden Cup, confronting creatures from Kazakh mythology and other obstacles along the way. Despite some unfamiliar vocabulary, readers will be more than entertained as they experience another culture in this action-packed series opener. (Ages 8-12)

Red Thread Sisters
Carol Antoinette Peacock
Viking Books
9780670013869, $16.99

Mindy Neuman, Grade 8

In the compelling and heartwarming book of Red Thread Sisters, by Carol Antoinette Peacock, Wen is adopted from Tong Du orphanage, where she priorly dreaded not having a family of her own. Although her wish is now gratified, she is determined to spend enormous amounts of work and energy for her best friend, Shu Ling, to be adopted despite the difficulty she goes through doing so. I particularly love how the author distributes various inspiring messages through Wen's response of fight and courageousness when attempting to bring joy to Shu Ling, despite the constant failing through the process of finding her a family. This book gives a major positive impact to those who relate from a mirrored perspective on the circumstances of a rough adoption situation. This book also gives a vital impact to those who relate at a windowed perspective with the inexperience of such difficulty, and therefore can learn and gain understanding from this reality. This book demonstrates the message of empowering the urge, inclination, and aspiration to attain what one desires by disregarding the emotions and discomfort that hold back from achieving this goal. (Ages 8-12)

Finally Seen
Kelly Yang
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781534488335, $17.99

Jason Fan, Grade 4

Ten-year-old Lina Gao thought her life in America would be like Lisa Simpon's in The Simpsons, but it turns out to be much different. After spending five years with her grandmother (Lao Lao) in China, she finally joins her parents and younger sister in America, only to live in a cramped house, help her mom make bath bombs to pay rent, and face impatient classmates. With the support of her teacher Mrs. Oritz, her friends Finn and Carla, and her loving family, Lina finds her own American dream. Finally Seen is an enjoyable read that is recommended particularly to children facing challenges. (Age 8-12)

Three Tasks for a Dragon
Eoin Colfer, author
P.J. Lynch, illustrator
9781536229998, $19.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Kings, dragons, and magic spells! Will Prince Lir rescue the maiden Cethleen from the dragon and inherit the crown? Three tasks must be performed to find out! Magnificent renderings transport you through the fantasy and excitement. With wit and gorgeous art, New York Times bestselling author Eoin Colfer and multi-award-winning illustrator P.J. Lynch team up again for a quest story of knights, dark magic, and a maiden with powers of her own. (Age 8-12)

Thankful Fur You!
Hillary Harper, author
Felipe Calv, illustrator
Bear With Us Productions
9798988363613, $15.99

Deb Greenberg

A little girl named Cami and her adorable furry friend Cannoli are the perfect pair to show little ones the true meaning of the holidays. Cannoli thinks his favorite holiday... Thanksgiving... is cancelled when he sees all the stores already decorated for Christmas. He and his canine friends launch an enormous effort to be on their best behavior as they learn what it means to be thankful. Delightful and detailed artwork combine with sweet and simple text to offer a lesson about the importance of loving family, friends, and pets for who they are and not for what they do or don't do. (Ages 3+)

Molly, Olive, and Dexter Play Hide-and-Seek
Catherine Rayner
9781536228410, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Molly loves to play hide-and-seek. She encourages her friends, Olive and Dexter, to hide so she can find them. But she discovers that hide-and-seek can be a bit scary when you open your eyes and you can't find your friends anywhere. This is a sweet story about friendship, one that kids will relate to, with delightful illustrations that complement the text. (Ages 3-5)

Busy Betty & the Circus Surprise
Reese Witherspoon, author
Xindi Yan, illustrator
Flamingo Books
9780593525128, $19.99

Rachelle Stanger

Busy and outgoing Betty loves being creative, having fun, and... surprises! When it's her mom's birthday, she just has to plan the PERFECT surprise party! They plan all the circus-related fun, and even when things don't go quite as planned, Betty's mom is so happy for her surprise! (Ages 3-7)

Maisy's Big Book of Kindness
Lucy Cousins
9781536233544, $17.99

Kimberly Waters

If you think there's only one or two ways to be kind to others, think again. Maisy the Mouse shows us many ways to be kind through her wonderful example, positive attitude, and a smile that never quits. Sharing, caring, and playing together are only a few of her ideas to show kindness. The bright colors and clever animal illustrations are a plus to help young or old discover the world of being kind. (Ages 3-8)

Ups and Downs: A Book of Emotions
Mike Wohnoutka
9781536227376, $17.99

Kimberly Waters

The illustrations say it all in this simple, yet comprehensive book of emotions. With just a one-word emotion on each page, then a brilliant and expressive picture to complement it, every child can relate and compare their own feelings to the feelings described in this book. For a child who's not sure about what they're feeling, this book will light their way to understanding and knowing that "It's OK to feel this way!" (Ages 3-8)

Gracie O'Ghoul Goes to School
Avery Spooks, author
Mariano Epelbaum, illustrator
Jolly Fish Press
9781631637537, $7.99

Deb Greenberg

When Gracie makes a mess at every attempt to help on her parents' farm, they send her to the local elementary school to scare the students. She does her best to frighten and disturb, but what if she'd rather make friends with her classmates? Follow Gracie's spooky attempts to see if she succeeds. (Ages 4-8)

See the Ghost: Three Stories About Things You Cannot See
David LaRochelle, author
Mike Wohnoutka, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536219821, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

The creators of See the Cat and See the Dog bring back their characters for more giggles as the dog, the cat, and the book meet things they can't see: a ghost, the wind, and a teeny-tiny fairy. Beginning readers will gain confidence as they giggle their way through the three stories accompanied by delightful illustrations and speech bubbles. Boo! Whoosh! Wheee! (Ages 4-8)

The Great Zombie Pumpkin Parade!
Robert Burleigh, author
Wendell Minor, illustrator
Christy Ottaviano Books
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316331975, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Every Halloween, the zombie pumpkins come out for their parade. There's Dumpkin and Zlumpkin and Cumpkin and Wumpkin, and so many more. Lively rhymes, imaginative names, and expressive illustrations make for a fun, silly, and almost-spooky Zombie Pumpkin Parade. (Ages 4-8)

Seinfeld: The Day of Nothing
Micol Ostow, author
Brittany Baugus, illustrator
Little, Brown
9780316506779, $18.99

Rachelle Stanger

Are you a fan of the '90s hit TV show, Seinfeld? Share with your kids this love by living a day in the life of Seinfeld characters... as kids! Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and Newman do "nothing" while gallivanting around the city in hopes of seeing their friend's new baby brother! Find hidden show references as you reminisce about this fun sitcom! (Ages 4-8)

Skeletown: Si. No!
Rhode Montijo
Little, Brown
9780316464932, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Skully and Skelly are reading a fun book with only two words in it: yes and no! They live in Skeleton town and are getting ready for a party. This is the first in a series that will be centered around the imaginative world inspired by Dia de los Muertos. (Ages 4-8)

A Monster for Meg
Lois Wickstrom, author
Nicolas Milano, illustrator
Gripper Products
c/o Look Under Rocks
PR: Lois Wickstrom -
9781954519671, $12.99

Cynthia Kern OBrien

Meg is visually impaired, and because she cannot see them, her big sister Sue describes why monsters are scary. Through a series of details, analogies, sounds, and senses, Sue finds a way to help Meg visualize and experience being scared by a Monster. What a great book and experience for someone who cannot see. Well done! (Ages 5+)

Winter Solitude
Jeff Lang, author
Jade Lang, illustrator
Orange Hat Publishing
9781645384373, $11.99

Deb Greenberg

Experience winter way up north in the woods of Wisconsin through the words and illustrations of Winter Solitude. The smell of a log crackling on the fire, the crunching of snow beneath your snowshoes, watching the animals from the frosty little cabin window, a moose munching on cattails, the silence of the surroundings... all perfect for reflecting on the simpler things we often overlook. A fascinating account of the winter woods for all kids to enjoy. (Ages 5+)

A Weekend With Shaggy
Tracey Sullivan
9781665732215, $14.99

Christine Irvin

Shaggy and Stella are dogs but they behave the same way kids do. When Shaggy comes to spend the weekend, Stella ends up getting bossed around by Shaggy. Stella can't wait for the weekend to end. But when it does, they're both sad and can't wait until they can spend time together again. Kids often act like this, so they will relate to this story. Colorful, expressive illustrations work well with the text. (Ages 5-7)

Bitsy Bat, School Star
Kaz Windness
Simon & Schuster
9781665944427, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Bitsy, like many children, doesn't fit the norms when it comes to being like the rest of her classmates. She has very unique ways of doing things that the others think are strange. They keep telling her she is doing everything wrong. But, with a bit of creativity, Bitsy helps bring her classmates around to her way of doing things. This cute story combines nonfiction information about bats with information about autism in a fictional tale. The story is written in short sentences with easy-to-understand language. Colorful, expressive, kid-friendly illustrations make this a fun book to read and look at. (Ages 5-8)

Coy the Coconut Tree
Tracey L. Williams
Independently Published
9798843461041, $12.03

Dr. Dawn Menge

When we were all little, we couldn't wait to grow up. We all thought life would be better for us when we could make our own decisions and be everything we imagined. Coy the baby coconut is no different. He wants to be taller than the sky to watch over everyone, to protect others just like the policemen. His mother coconut tree says, "You will, little Coy, you will! In time they will see! For very soon you'll be the tallest most magnificent coconut tree!" What a fun, colorful read for your young one who is forgetting to enjoy their youth and wishing to be big. It's their time to have fun and explore their options in life. (Ages 5-8)

Find Out About Animal Camouflage
Martin Jenkins, author
Jane McGuinness, illustrator
9781536228366, $17.99

Rachelle Stanger

Want to know all about the animals that are good at hiding? Check out animals in the snow... animals in the desert... animals in the forest... IF you can find them! Animals of all kinds camouflage for different reasons! Learn their names and special hiding skills, all in one book. (Ages 5-9)

Mercy Watson Is Missing!
Kate DiCamillo, author
Chris Van Dusen, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536210231, $16.99

Deb Greenberg

When Mercy Watson the pig disappears, the Deckawoo Drive neighborhood springs into action. Bossy Eugenia Lincoln and Baby Lincoln hire a private investigator, PI Percival Smidgely with his pigeon Polly. And Frank and Stella launch their own case into the missing pig. Narrative comedy, abundant artwork, and visual slapstick combine for another silly and satisfying story. Appearances by every favorite character in the Mercy Watson books add to the fun in Book 7 of the Deckawoo Drive series. (Ages 6-9)

Cornbread & Poppy at the Museum
Matthew Cordell
Little, Brown
9780316508575, $6.99

Mark Graham

This is the story of two mice that live in the small village of Moonville. These two mice are totally different but are best friends. Cornbread invites Poppy to the museum for a special gathering, and Poppy reluctantly agrees. Their evening is full of spectacular treasures, including hand-carved hairbrushes, diamond-encrusted perfume sprayers, and a solid gold ice cream scoop. What other wonders will these mice discover? In each chapter, the typeface is easy to read and the pictures tell the story well. Each chapter could be a story itself. Highly recommended for preschool and even primary age children to learn about what's important about having friends and how friends can help each other. (Ages 6-10)

InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S.
John Patrick Green
First Second Books
9781250220059, $12.99

Shiv Bhatt, age 8

This book is an action adventure? as well as a comedy. It's a story about two alligators called The Investigators at a headquarters called S.U.I.T. At S.U.I.T, agent Mango's partner Brash was eaten by a waffle, which turns out to be his former partner, Daryl! Brash was rescued by Mango before waffle poured concrete on him. Brash was saved! A Dino named Houdino breaks out of a maximum-security prison, steals a device called the Embiggener, and creates a bunch of giant ants! Then Houdino teams up with an evil astronaut and wrecks the stores. But can the Agents of Investigators defeat them? I would recommend this book for kids who enjoy action and solving cases in fun ways. This book makes readers perk up. The author's illustrations are colorful and relaxing. Kids will not want to stop reading it. (Ages 7-9)

Shiny Friends Super Squad: Starr of the Show
Leigh Reagan Alley, author
Mark Nathan Hurry, illustrator
Piggy Bank Press
9798218245962, $8.99

Deb Greenberg

When Starr tells a little lie, it spirals out of control and could ruin the special bond she has with best friend Sunny. Not to mention that it could also cost her in science class and at Family Night. Tune in to Book 1 of Shiny Friends Super Squad and see how it all plays out for Starr. Also includes a reading guide and a social-emotional learning connection in the back of the book. (Ages 8-12)

Love Has No Skin Tone
Michol M. Whitney, author
Kayla Hargrove, illustrator
Self Published
9781736400531, $10.99


Nova, a young girl who lives in an area that has experienced rioting travels with her family to a grocery store in another neighborhood. She is confronted with negative emotions from the store owner. Nova's journey, along with her parent's guidance, help teach others to recognize and confront racism. Having open and honest discussions with our children about diversity, inclusivity, and discrimination with our children is difficult at times. Love Has No Skin Tone helps to open up the discussion in homes and classrooms. We are one. (Ages 8-12)

Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil
Danette Vigilante
Jolly Fish Press
9781631635755, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

The only thing 13-year-old Tia wants to do during her summer vacation is hang out with her best friend, Julius. But everything changes when she witnesses a murder from her window. She doesn't dare tell anyone... for what if he comes after her too? When she starts receiving secret messages telling her to keep quiet, Tia turns to her Puerto Rican grandmother's favorite place, the eerie botanica. A thrilling non-stop page-turner for middle schoolers. (Ages 10-14)

The Night Raven
Johan Rundberg
Amazon Crossing Kids
9781662509599, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

In Book 1 of the Moonwind Mysteries, orphan Mika is only 12 when she gets involved in a murder investigation. Set in 1880 in the frigid city of Stockholm, a newborn baby is left at Mika's orphanage in the middle of the night by a boy with a cryptic message. And when Detective Hoff recruits her to help him with his investigation into a murder, Mika sees it as an opportunity to be someone who matters. Intriguing, thrilling, and entertaining for fans of YA mysteries. (Ages 10-14)

My Thousand Treasures
Licia Chenoweth
Orange Hat Publishing
9781645384908, $15.99

Deb Greenberg

The first book in a new series by Licia Chenoweth is an action-packed adventure about 11-year-old Raini who tries to solve the mystery of a gold coin left behind by two young boys. In her search for answers, she discovers some riveting information. A mix of suspense and laughter, believable characters, and non-stop excitement make this a page-turner that will definitely have you eager for Book 2. (Ages 10-14)

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design