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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 10 October 2005 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Music Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Bilingual Shelf World History Shelf
Holiday Shelf Art Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Poetry Shelf Picturebook Shelf Biography Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Nature Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

My Librarian Is A Camel
Margriet Ruurs
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431
1590780930 $16.95

How are books brought to children around the world? We're used to a library consisting of a building - but some move from place to place by bus, boat, and even animal or wheelbarrow. Mobile libraries are often the only ways books come to remote world locations - and My Librarian Is A Camel comes from libraries around the world. Margriet Rurrs asked librarians to share stories about their libraries: the result often was not only a verbal description and stories, but color photos: all of which are included in this lively, unusual, and enthusiastically recommended title.

Jerusalem Sky
Mark Podwal
Doubleday/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
038574689X $15.95

Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, And Crescents celebrates the holy city through paintings, observations and poems, providing a lovely picturebook celebration with reflections on the sights, sounds, and meaning of Jerusalem. All religions' feelings about the city are reflected in very simple surveys.

Chrysalis Education/Creative Company
123 S. Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001

Medicine is advancing all the time, bringing with it new questions of ethical treatments, payment issues, and progress for developing nations. Anne Rooney's Medicine Now (1593891210, $29.95) is under 50 pages and directed to a younger audience than these issues usually reach, but it does a terrific job of synthesizing complicated issues to a grade level which ordinarily doesn't have access to such considerations. Two new 'World Issues' series titles are also excellent recommendations for elementary-grade levels. Clive Gifford's Racism (1931983836, $29.95) provides a little over fifty pages covering how racism affects millions of people around the world. From racism's origins and basic contentions to what it does to victims and how society treats it, this is an excellent mix of personal stories, debates and facts. Ditto for Penny Tripp's Animal Rights (1931983801, $29.95), which discusses human relationships with animals and the ethical issues surrounding animal rights and use. All are excellent choices for elementary-level collections.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

The three billy goats don't have enough money to cross the troll bridge: they'll have to pool their pennies with the Three Bears and a host of other fairy tale inhabitants to cross the bridge in style in Margie Palatini's The Three Silly Billies (068985-8620 $15.95). Whimsical large color drawings by Barry Moser illustrate a zany story of a unique carpool effort. Helen Oxenbury's Pig Tale (1416902775, $16.95) tells of two bored pigs who dream of being rich. They fill their treasure chest with gadgets and their new toys break down - soon they're working so hard, they have no time to play. What is the meaning of wealth? Pig Tale tells all. Amy Reichert's While Mama Had A Quick Little Chat (0689851707, $15.95) receives Alexandra Boiger's warm drawings and presents the funny tale of a girl left to her own bed-time devices when her mother gets on the phone. All manner of company drops in while her mother is occupied - and Rose must handle wild guests, strange foods, and even magic. The large-size drawings are whimsical and fun. Geoffrey Kloske and Barry Blitt's Once Upon A Time, The End (Asleep In 60 Seconds) presents a picture book of fairy tales with something different: they're told in short, abbreviated versions with only the 'important parts' featured. Thus Chicken Little becomes too tired to worry about the falling sky, the three little pigs become two, and a small girl with a red hood finds a woodsman comes to her rescue before going to bed.

Rose And Riley Come And Go
Jane Cutler
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374363412 $15.00 1-888-330-8477

Thomas F. Yezerski provides the engaging color drawings throughout the cute chapter presentation Rose And Riley Come And Go. Rose, a vole, and Riley, a groundhog pal, are presented in three new quiet adventures as they seek the perfect seashell, wildflowers, and songbirds. Two good friends share good times here.

The Best Worst Brother
Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, author
Charlotte Fremaux, illustrator
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817
1890627682 $14.95, 1-800-843-7323

The Best Worst Brother is an engaging picturebook about an older sister struggling to get along with her three-year-old brother with Down syndrome. Her brother can't talk yet, so she and her parents try to teach him sign language to help him communicate. She is frustrated that her brother isn't as cheerful or as easy to please as he was when he was a baby, while at the same time he isn't grown up enough to talk or play with her. But an exciting visit to the school's Open House day shows that Isaac really is learning and growing up - one day at a time - and that he really is her "Best Worst Brother". A brief section of questions and answers about sign language rounds out this excellent book especially meant to be shared for young children with family members or friends who have Down syndrome.

Little, Brown
1271 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

Two deftly written and enthusiastically recommended reads invite kids and parents alike. Karma Wilson's Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive (0316988413, $15.99) receives Karla Firehammer's zany drawings to illustrate what happens when two cows steal the keys on go on their own personal cattle drive joyride. Their adventure, told in rhyming verse, is whimsical and fun - and lends to read-aloud too. Jennifer A. Ericsson's Home To Me, Home To You (0316609226, $15.99) receives Ashley Wolff's warm and realistic drawings as it tells of a separation which happens when work takes a child's parents from her. Their reunion upon the parents' return provides a sensitive, realistic account of love and family togetherness.

Usborne Stories From Shakespeare
Anna Claybourne & Elena Temporin
Usborne/EDC Publishing
PO Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74146-6515
0794509126 $24.95, 1-800-475-4522

Usborne Stories From Shakespeare presents classic stories from Shakespeare's famous plays retold by Anna Claybourne in straightforward prose for young adult readers, illustrated by Elena Temporin with simple and charming color artwork. Though the prose simplifies Shakespeare's complex iambic pentameter verses, it does not change the spirit of the stories or soften the calamity in Shakespeare's famous tragedies. The stories retold are "Twelfth Night", "Macbeth", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Taming of the Shrew", "The Tempest", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Hamlet", "The Merchant of Venice", "As You Like It", and "The Winter's Tale". A final section offers one-page summaries of Shakespeare's other plays. Usborne Stories From Shakespeare is an excellent introduction to classic literature, especially for young readers who are not yet familiar enough with the linguistic style of Shakespeare to fully understand his classics in their original theatrical format.

Dropping In On Picasso
Pamela Geiger Stephens & Jim McNeill
Crystal Productions
PO Box 2159, Glenview, IL 60025-6159
156290325X $15.95 1-800-255-8629

Readers old and young will enjoy Pamela Geiger Stephen's humorous, lighthearted, but informative approach which combines Jim McNeill's deft illustrations with actual art images from the work of Pablo Picasso. As Picasso's masterworks are presented and explored, the characters in this lively picture book pose open-ended questions that will prompt the reader to make his or her own critical analyses and interpretations of these seminal works of art. Indeed, it's finding out that Picasso's artwork continues to pose answered questions is a major part of the attraction of this unique approach to art instruction for young (and not-so-young!) readers. Also very highly recommended is the Crystal Productions VHS video tape format of Dropping In On Picasso that has Puffer dropping in on Pablo Picasso in an animated approach that combines sequences with details and full-screen images of the artwork. This superbly produced video is accompanied by a guide with suggested activities, making it ideal as a supplement for school art history and art appreciation curriculums and classes.

The Science Shelf

Guinea Pig Scientists
Leslie Dendy & Mel Boring
Henry Holt
115 W. 18th Street, New York NY 10011
0805073167 $19.95

Self-experimenters in science and medicine often fostered discoveries and advancements which hastened the invention of much-needed cures, yet are seldom discussed: that's why middle school students will find Guinea Pig Scientists so important. C.B. Mordan provides black and white illustrations to this gathering of biographies and discoveries which charts bold experiments which helped change the world - and risked the lives of scientists.

Sources Of Forces
Vicki Cobb
Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Road, Brookfield, CT 06804
0761315748 $24.90

Steve Haefele provides zany, fun drawings to pair cartoon attraction with real science facts for picturebook scientists in grades 3-5. Here are excellent suggestions for having fun while learning about force fields and forces in science, from working with magnets to understanding attractions. Sources Of Forces is a fun book which includes many tongue-in-cheek jokes kids might find refreshing.

Go Figure!
Johnny Ball
DK Publishing, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756613744 $15.99,

Go Figure! A Totally Cool Book About Numbers is a book specifically designed to show young readers that the science of math and numbers can be cool, fun, and crucial to understanding the universe's secrets. Each two-page spread teaches the reader about fascinating numerological concepts in plain and simple terms, from brain-twisting logic puzzles (a TV game show host has you pick from three garage doors, each with a car behind it. After you pick one, he knowingly reveals that one of the doors you didn't pick is empty. Should you switch your choice?) to the amazing shapes of fractals to the fascinating properties of the "golden ratio" phi and much more. Illustrated throughout with full-color diagrams and photographs, Go Figure! takes an adventurous approach to stimulating young minds and exploring mathematical mysteries. Very highly recommended for both elementary school and homeschooling science studies reading lists.

The Music Shelf

Music: Rock And Pop
Nicolas Brasch
Smart Apple Media/Creative Education
123 S. Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001
1583405461 $27.10 1-800-445-6209

Rock and pop music developed in the 1950s and 60s and is the most popular music of young people even today, though it's evolved quite a bit from its original appearance: Music: Pop And Rock follows all these transitions and changes, from different styles of music such as rap and romantic movements to female performers, techno and more. Packed with color and black and white photos, Music: Pop And Rock is a history plenty of parents will sneak a look at, too: bright and inviting.

Music Time
Johnette Downing
Wiggle Worm Records
c/o Waldmania! Publicity
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
JD02 $15.00

Johnette Downing draws upon Cajun, Creole, Zydeco, and jazz musical traditions and influences to create and perform fifteen lively songs for young listeners to enjoy. The selections comprising this highly recommended addition to any family, school, and community center CD music collection for kids includes: Shaky Tooth (2:53); Honey Jar (1:54); Getting Dressed (3:03); Riding My Bike (2:17); Body Parts (1:50); Rhythm Band (3:42); Tick Tock Rock (3:07); Fish Dance (2:24); Wonderful Friends (2:24); Wonderful Friends (2:19); Make It Rain (3:28); Tennis Shoe (1:32); Peanut Butter Sandwiches (1:50); Hurray! (3:15); Chugg-A-Lugg-A-Choo-Choo (2:08); and the title piece, Movie Time (2:55). Original, fun, and superbly performed.

Making Music
Ann Sayre Wiseman & John Langstaff
Storey Kids
210 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175120 $9.95

From tambourines to trumpets, walnut castanets to homemade drums, there's a wealth of music in the most ordinary 'instrument', and a quirky gathering of sounds from 'found objects' are the focus of Making Music. Two-color art accompanies step-by-step directions on finding and making instruments from everyday objects. Though full color would have added attraction, kids will still find the simple drawings and directions fun and inviting.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Animal Watch
Susan Ring
Chelsea House
1974 Sproul Road, #400, Broomall, PA 19008-0914
0791074099 $23.00

Youngsters are invited to hone their observational skills to become new young scientists in On The Job: Animal Watch, which tells them how scientific observation of animals is achieved. Focus isn't just on big animals, but starts small, with insects, and works into birds and mammals. Researcher methods and studies are the highlight of an exciting title packed with photos of scientists at work in the wild.

Centipedes, Millipedes, Scorpions & Spiders
Daniel Gilpin
Compass Point Books
3109 West 50th Street, #115, Minneapolis, MN 55410-2102
0756512549 $26.60 1-877-371-1536

The latest in the impressively presented and highly recommended "Animal Kingdom Classification" series from Compass Point Books, Centipedes, Millipedes, Scorpions & Spiders is a hardcover picturebook that introduces young readers to common groups of animals. Centipedes, Millipedes, Scorpions & Spiders features full-color photography on every page as it teaches inquisitive minds about the thousands of diverse species, their behavior, their life cycles, strange behavior, their role in ecosystems and much more. An amazing, fact-filled look at the science of creepy-crawly critters, sure to delight young readers eager to learn more about these ubiquitous tiny creatures.

Gail Gibbons
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10017
0823418804 $16.95

There are well over a hundred different kinds of owls living on every continent except Antarctica, and details on twenty of them living in North America are the focus of Gail Gibbons' introductory Owls, with drawings depicting owls as Gibbons surveys owl natural history from egg to owlet to adult. Plenty of facts makes for good, solid owl information.

Face-To-Face With The Duck
Pascale Hedelin
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
1570914575 $9.95 1-800-225-3214

Face-To-Face With The Duck by Pascale Hedelin is an informative picturebook for young readers about the ecology and life cycle of ducks. Illustrated throughout with sharp color photographs by the Colibri Agency, Face-To-Face With The Duck teaches young people about the marsh that is the duck's natural habitat, their feeding and migration habits, the phases of a duckling from egg to adult, the hazards ducks face from hunters to habitat destruction to lead poisoning from ingesting spent hunting cartridges, cousins of the duck, and much more. An excellent introduction to a common yet hardy and fascinating waterfowl, especially recommended for children who want to learn more about their local feathered friends.

The Bilingual Shelf

Quinito's Neighborhood / El Vecindario de Quinito
Ina Cumpiano & Jose Ramirez
Children's Book Press
2211 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110-1811
0892392096 $16.95,

Quinito's Neighborhood is a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook by Ina Cumpiano about the local neighborhood of a young boy, Quinito. Quinito knows that his neighborhood consists of much more than just buildings, streets and shops - its most important element is all the people he knows and loves, such as his cousin who studies how to make people laugh in clown school and his aunt who paints murals to make the streets brighter. The bold color illustrations by Jose Ramirez strongly resemble the simplified yet vibrant artwork style of murals themselves. A cheerful picturebook that emphasizes the importance of community building blocks.

The World History Shelf

The Greeks
Rachel Wright
Sea to Sea/Creeative Company
1980 Lookout Dr, N. Mankato, MN 56003
1932889019 $27.10 1-800-445-6209

Take an ancient history topic very common, such as The Greeks, blend facts with activities and craft ideas, and you have something new and more appealing than the usual approach. The Greeks offers a lot: color maps and illustrations, tips on making a Grecian vase and mythology mask, details on education, history and sports, and more.

Travel Through Egypt
Elaine Jackson
QEB Publishing
23062 La Caneda Drive
Laguna Hills/Irvine, CA 92653
1595660593 $27.10

Kids in grades 2-5 will love the bright, contemporary look of Elaine Jackson's Travel Through Egypt: it isn't a history per say, but because so many kids associate Egypt with ancient history, they'll be in for a surprise with the travelogue/you are there atmosphere which blends history with contemporary culture. An excellent way of getting kids interested in early Egypt: by exploring its modern face, first.

The Holiday Shelf

The Night Before Christmas
Clement C. Moore, author
Christian Birmingham, illustrator
Running Press
125 South Twenty-Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
0762424168 $9.98 1-800-345-5359

The Night Before Christmas: The Anniversary Edition is a large-sized picturebook featuring the classic Christmas poem by Clement C. Moore and warm, colorful, museum quality illustrations by Christian Birmingham . The typeface is so big that it is quite easy to read along with young ones, and the twinkling gleam in Santa's eyes is perfectly captures in the impressively memorable artwork. A beautiful reissue of a timeless holiday classic, The Night Before Christmas is an ideal family gift for the holiday season and would make a popular edition for community library holiday picturebook collections.

The Art Shelf

Stargazer/Creative Company
123 S. Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001

Budding young picturebook artists have two wonderful 'Mastering Art' beginner's guides by Anthony Hodge to choose from: Drawing (193279901X, $27.10) and Painting (1932799001, $27.10). In each a professional artist introduces materials, discusses basics in working with the medium, and provides a wide range of creative projects to enhance learning. Clear art examples from successful, completed works accompany very simple explanations all ages can readily learn from, from grades 4 on up.

The Audiobook Shelf

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
030728365 $75.00 1-800-726-0600

Jim Dale provides a riveting performance in this latest Harry Potter book, appearing unabridged on 17 compact discs for maximum impact and losing nothing in translation. Jim Dale's is the voice of all the characters in the audio series: the continuity of the same award-winning voice enhances this latest story of Harry's continuing maturity. Harry's search for the boy who became the dreaded Lord Voldemort offers keys to his own personality and dangers in this latest fantasy of war and survival. A gripping, tense thriller comes alive in an outstanding audio treatment.

Cairo Jim And Doris In Search Of Martenarten
Geoffrey McSkimming
Bolinda Publishing, Inc.
2 Trap Falls Rd, #113, Shelton, CT 06484
1740931173 $32.00 1-888-235-2019

Expert archaeologist, fearless adventurer, and under-appreciated poet Cairo Jim (assisted by Doris the macaw and Brenda the Wonder Camel) are searching in Egypt's famous Valley of the Kings burial grounds for the lost tomb of Pharaoh Martenarten, Worshiper of the Moon and King of Ancient Egypt. But devious treachery and a well manicured villain await our hero and his companions in this superbly produced audiobook adventure story imaginatively written and dramatically narrated by Geoffrey McSkimming. Complete and unabridged (4 CDs; 4 hours, 8 minutes; tracks for easy book marking), Cairo Jim And Doris In Search Of Martenarten will prove a welcome and very popular addition to school and community library collections for young listeners.

The Poetry Shelf

Kate's Castle
Julie Lawson & Frances Tyrrell
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
121 Harvard Ave., #2, Allston, MA 02134
1550051415 $7.95,

Kate's Castle is a softcover children's picture book by Julie Lawson about a young girl who builds a sandcastle not only on the beach, but also with the power of her imagination. The lyrical verse flows with memories of a joyful seaside experience, while the soft color illustrations by Frances Tyrrell bring to life ponderings of fantastic mermaids, and mussels in a makeshift moat. A treasure ideal for reading aloud with young ones to reminisce and anticipate trips to the beach. And now the sand is moon-drenched and bare; / A silent mermaid combs her hair, / Watching the ebb of the restless tide, / She waits for another sun to rise / When Kate will gather new treasurely finds - / Moon snails and agates and sea urchin spines - / And build another castle of sand. / The castle of sand that Kate built.

Shanghai Messenger
Andrea Cheng & Ed Young
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10016
1584302380 $17.95,

Shanghai Messenger is a book of poetry by Andrea Cheng and pictures by Ed Young describing an eleven-year-old girl's trip to visit her extended family in Shanghai, China. Half-American, half-Chinese Xiao Mei is both excited and fearful as she sets foot in a strange land, yet the words of her grandmother - to look about herself and remember - reverberate in her heart. Bit by bit she comes to understand a different way of life and appreciate her Chinese heritage. She experiences everything from traditional braids to Tai Chi to making wontons and meeting her relatives for the first time. At last the day comes when she has to return home, full of precious memories to share with Grandma Nai back in the States. A gentle and encouraging book about learning to appreciate differences, as well as the roots of one's family history. Making Wontons: Auntie chops the onions / so fine / with her big knife / moving fast. / Pork, green onions, / each wrapper gets a bit, / the fold the thin dough / and pinch tight. / My wontons are too fat. / One cracks, / but Auntie says, "Hen hao Xiao Mei." / Very good. / At the end / there's a speck of meat / left in the bowl. / Auntie unwraps a wonton, / careful not to break the skin, / tucks the speck inside / and folds it back.

Know What I Saw?
Aileen Fisher, author
Deborah Durland DeSaix, illustrator
Roaring Brook Press/Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Road, Brookfield, CT 06804
1596430559 $16.95, 1-800-462-4703

Written in simple poetic verse and illustrated in full color with a warm, realistic style, Know What I Saw? is both a counting book and an expression of wonder of the everyday joys and miracles of life in the country. A young girl travels around the local country farm seeing animals of all shapes, sizes and numbers to marvel about. With its rhythmic lyrics and adventurous attitude, Know What I Saw? is a delight to read aloud to the very young. "Know what I saw / when we drove the car / Into the country / rather far? // 2 deer jumping / black hooves thumping - / graceful to look at / as wild deer are. // Know what I thought / when I sat on a stone / all by myself / by myself all alone? // That I wouldn't be lonley / if only... if only / I had 1 puppy to call my own, / a pert little puppy / to call my own.

The Picturebook Shelf

Flying Feet: A Story Of Irish Dance
Anna Marlis Burgard & Leighanne Dees
Chronicle Books
85 Second Street, 6th floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441
0811844315 $15.95, 1-800-722-6657

Written by Anna Marlis Burgard and illustrated by Leighanne Dees with aid from the watchful eyes of Irish dance and folklore experts, Flying Feet: A Story Of Irish Dance is a fantastic children's picturebook inspired by a true event - a singularly memorable dance championship that took place when two master dancers tested their talents to determine who was worthy to become the dance instructor of Ballyconneely. A two-part unfolding page reveals the climactic moment when one of the contestants is so entranced in the passion of the moment he appears to take to the skies! The exuberant color illustrations emphasize a celebration and appreciation of Irish dance and cultural heritage. An afterword at the end offers some educational notes about the history of Irish dance.

Tres Seymour
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763612421 $16.99 1-800-526-0275

When Aunt Lou hears about the county auction she is so excited - until she comes face to face with her auction rival Miss Logsdon, who also can't stand to lose a bid. But bidding wars can become insane, as Tres Seymour proves in Auction!, a whimsical story receiving fine embellishment drawings by Cat Bowman Smith.

The Lost Thing
Shaun Tan
Simply Read Books
501-5525 West Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6M 3W6
1894965108 $16.95

The Lost Thing is a picturebook about a young boy who, when scavenging for bottle-top caps for his collection, discovers a freakish creature - bizarre in the extreme, and so unusual that no one but him can seem to notice it. So it's up to him to find a place where the "Lost Thing" belongs. The simple story is brilliantly brought to life with Age of Steam-style artwork, offering unforgettable illustrations of the young man and his Thing lost amid the maze of a big city and endless diagrams. A truly splendid visual treat combined with a heartwarming story. Highly recommended.

Child & Family Press
c/o Child Welfare League of America
440 First Street, NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC 2001-2085

Vanita Braver is the Psychiatric Medical Director at Bonnie Brae, a residential treatment center for troubled youth. She has drawn upon her experience and expertise to write two very special picturebooks for very young readers ages 4 through 8 as part of the Child & Family Press "Teach Your Children Well" series. Pinky Promise (0878688935, $7.95) finds that while five-year-old Madison didn't mean to break the camera, she still didn't want to get in trouble for it, so she lied when her mom asked what happened. But then she began to feel guilty, her stomach hurts and she can't eat. But with the help of her parents and her favorite stuffed bear, little Madison learns how much better it feels to be honest. Party Princess (1587600382, $8.95) is about Madison and her friends who are celebrating Madison's birthday. She wants to look extra pretty for her party, but when she tries to add a "special sparkle" by using her mom's makeup, Madison finds herself in a very ugly situation! Can the Wisdom of the Owl and a present from her best friend Emily give Madison the opportunity to show everyone how truly beautiful she really is? Both of these charming, warmly entertaining picturebooks are enhanced with the colorful illustrations of Cary Pillo and welcome additions to any family, school, or community library collection for young readers.

A Really Good Snowman
Daniel J. Mahoney
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618475540 $15.00, 1-800-225-3362

Written and illustrated by Daniel J. Mahoney, A Really Good Snowman is an upbeat winter picturebook about a young boy bear with a little sister who loves to "help" him, but whose "help" always seems to cause trouble. When he decides to get together with his friends and build a snowman in the park capable of winning the Snowman Contest, his tries to leave his little sister at home - but she follows him! Even though the snowman he builds with his little sister isn't quite the prize winner, it's still an excellent snowman, and when the day is over, he earns a "Best Brother" trophy made by his little sister's own two paws. A tender story about the importance of family bonds and teamwork.

Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes
Demian Elaine Yumei, author
Nicole Tamarin, illustrator
Illumination Arts Publishing
PO Box 1865, Bellevue, WA 98009
097401902X $15.95, 1-888-210-8216

Inspired by Zen teachings, Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes is a children's picturebook about a young girl who explores the circle of life and marvels at the collaboration and effort involved in cultivating fruits she loves so much. Written in singsong rhyming verse, and beautifully illustrated in full color, Little Yellow Pear Tomatoes explores the fundamental connections between all people, labors, and things big and small. "I am in these little yellow pear tomatoes, too, / because if I didn't love eating them / so much, my daddy wouldn't plant them! // Each little yellow pear tomato / has the entire earth and all of heaven / in it... just like me. // I love little yellow pear tomatoes!"

Sebastian's Roller Skates
Joan de Deu Prats & Francesc Rovira
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038-8515
1929132816 $15.95, 1-800-968-1930

Sebastian's Roller Skates is an award-winning picturebook by Joan de Deu Prats about a very shy young boy who has a lot to say but can't bring himself to talk much. One day he finds a pair of old roller skates in the park - and as he tries them on and practices, he learns not only how to skate, but also much more! The whimsical color illustrations by Francese Rovira are the perfect complement to the entertaining story about growth and self-discovery through applying oneself to a new talent. Highly recommended.

Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Bright new picturebooks promise hours of leisure enjoyment for young readers. Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds' Harry And The Dinosaurs At The Museum (0375833382, $15.95) tells of what happens when Harry brings his dinosaurs to the museum. A bucket of dinosaurs has trouble getting along in such close quarters, and Harry gets into trouble when he decides to let them loose for a breather. Judy Sierra's Schoolyard Rhymes (03758-25169, $15.95) receives Melissa Sweet's fun drawings as it presents kids' own rhymes for rope skipping, ball bouncing and more. Fifty of the funniest such rhymes cover everything from exposed underwear to roller coasters and criminal pickles, many an adult will readily recognize these fun rhymes. Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Punk Farm (0375824294, $15.95) presents an animal punk rock band which takes place after Farmer Joe goes to bed. With a cow on drums, pig on amp, and more, the entire farm is ready to rock. A blazing finale leads to a predictable morning after scenario in this zany tale. Debbie Bertram & Susan Bloom's The Best Time To Read (0375830251, $14.95) receives Micahel Garland's oversized and simple but engaging drawings as it tell of a boy who longs to read aloud to adults. But everyone is 'too busy' to listen, so a new young reader must take matters into his own hands. Rowan Clifford's Rodeo Ron And His Milkshake Cows (0375831959, $15.95) tells of the small town of Cavity, which is no place for Rodeo Ron and his milkshake cows - nobody in Cavity will drink milk; they just drink sweet sodas. It's time to challenge the soda jerks to a shake-off milkshake vs. soda: and Rodeo Ron is determined to win. Marc Kompaneyets' The Squishiness Of Things (037-5827501, $15.95) tells of one genius Hieronymus, who knows all the facts in the world, until a single hair falls to him which doesn't match any of the 36 million hairs in his collection. Can he uncover the origin of the hair? His quest is hilarious and puzzling, promising wisdom and laughter.

The Honest-to-Goodness Story of Raggedy Andy
Patricia Hall, author
Joni Gruelle Wannamaker, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053
1589802519 $15.95, 1-800-843-1724

The Honest-to-Goodness Story of Raggedy Andy is a picturebook based on the true story of Johnny Gruelle, creator of the famous Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls. The charming narrative written by a devoted Raggedy Ann and Andy collector, and the delightful color illustrations by Johnny Gruelle's granddaughter, tell of a beloved family Christmas present made by repairing an old doll with scraps of house fabric, which in turn became the genesis for the popular Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls created and distributed worldwide. The Honest-to-Goodness Story of Raggedy Andy especially focuses on the creation of Raggedy Ann's younger brother, made because the children who loved Raggedy Ann thought she felt lonely. Also very highly recommended is The Real-for-Sure Story of Raggedy Ann.

The Biography Shelf

Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Three excellent biographies are highly recommended picks for pre-teens and early teens in grades 4-8, offering lasting value through feature of famous personalities in formats suitable for reports. Adding to the new series 'Holocaust Heroes and Nazi Criminals' is Spring Hermann's Anne Frank: Hope In The Shadows Of The Holocaust (0766025314, $23.95): 160 pages of biographical material explores both Frank's life and the events which shaped her life, told through excerpts from her diary and writings both before and after her seclusion. The social and political analysis of the times is especially revealing. Anne Schraff's Rosa Parks: Tired Of Giving In (0766024636, $23.95) tells of a rural Alabama black woman whose soft- spoken defiance on a city bus sparked the beginnings of real civil rights activism. While most accounts highlight the bus incident, it was only part of Parks' life and achievements: the rest is to be found here. Carin T. Ford's Roberto Clemente: Baseball Legend (0766024-857) joins others in the 'Latino Biography Library' to cover the achievements of a player 'born to play baseball'. His Puerto Rican roots and rise to fame make for revealing reading for young sports enthusiasts.

Immigrant Kids
Russell Freedman
Puffin Books
345 Hudson, New York NY 10014
0140375945 $8.99

If your family came to America 100 years ago, what was life like for them? Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman provides insights which pair with vintage black and white photos to describe work challenges, living conditions and more. The blend of visual and history will appeal to elementary grades 3-5, but many an older reader will find it equally unusual & compelling.

Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Three different grade levels are aptly served by Thomson's fine biographical sketches. Elementary grades 2-4 will find the 'Kidhaven Press' imprint of 'Inventors and Creators' biographies offer almost 50 pages each of brightly-illustrated simple biographies of major figures. Adam Woog's E.B. White (0737726121, $23.70) considers one of America's most famous writers, from his early childhood to the birth of Stuart Little and others. Hayley Mitchell Haugen's Daniel Handler: The Real Lemony Snicket (0737731176, $23.70) tells of a writer who doubles as a performer, and whose children's books have gained him much acclaim. Both are particularly notable as they cover popular contemporary authors kids will readily recognize. Two new to the 'Giants of Science' series will appeal to grades 3-5, presenting strong coverages of under-considered yet very important figures. John Allen's Robert Boyle: The Father Of Chemistry (1567118879, $23.70) tells of a man whose groundbreaking experiments in chemistry and physics surely should have received far more mention over time. He assembled the first scientific research team, was the first to publish his results in detail, and was one of the greatest scientists in history. Toney Allman's J. Robert Oppenheimer: Father Of The Atomic Bomb (1567118895, $23.70) tells of a theoretical physicist whose discoveries led to the world's first atomic bomb. His Manhattan Project would change the world and challenge his own ethics. Older readers in grades 5-8 will find two new 'Heroes and Villains' additions appealing and intriguing. Elizabeth Silverthorne's Joan Of Arc (1590185544, $28.70) presents a little over a hundred pages revealing the life, battles and achievements of the early heroine Joan of Arc, discussing the politics and struggles of her times in the process. Louise Chipley Slavicek's biography Alexander The Great (15901-85951, $28.70) tells of a warrior whose name has become famous through time, with chapters adding black and white illustration throughout for added interest. All are fine, lasting reads.

Leonardo Da Vinci
Kathleen Krull
Viking Press
345 Hudson, New York NY 10014
067005920X $15.99

For over thirty years Leonardo Da Vinci was obsessive about investigating everything in the natural world, from the color of the sky to mountains and water sources. Packed with anecdotes and much research yet lively in tone and presentation, grades 4-7 will find a lovely coverage spiced with Boris Kulikov's drawings in this new 'Giants of Science' addition.

211 First Avenue N., Minneapolis, MN

Four biographies will reach different age ranges with excellent overviews. The very young will find appropriate Gwenyth Swain's Sojourner Truth (1575056518, $23.93), an 'On My Own' biography designed for grades 1-3 which reads like fiction, includes large print and colored drawings, and does a fine job of providing a very basic survey of Truth's life. Older readers in grades 4-6 will appreciate the titles slightly over 100 pages each which are suitable for reports: Philip S. Hart's Bessie Coleman (0822524694, $27.93) which reveals Coleman's life beyond being the first black woman pilot, from her cotton-picking youth to her French speaking abilities; Norman H. Finkelstein's Ariel Sharon (0822523701), covering his military leadership, controversial actions and legendary abilities; and David R. Collins' Cesar Chavez (0822522489, $27.93), revealing his very poor childhood and the early influences of a migrant worker who was to grow up to foster farmworker rights. All are outstanding.

Morgan Reynolds Publishing
620 S. Elm, #223, Greensboro SC 27406

Earle Rice Jr.'s Empire In The East: The Story Of Genghis Khan (1931798621, $24.95) is a fine survey of a young Asian steppes lad born to a minor nomad chieftain who came to be known as one of the most dreaded leaders in history. From his early poor childhood to his ability to lead his people in early 1189, the story of Temujin makes for engrossing reading, peppered with color photos and black and white illustrations. Bruce L. Brager's biography John Kerry: Senator From Massachusetts (1931798648, $21.95) may not be as meaningful now that he's not made the presidency - but Kerry is still an important political figure and senator, and this biography remains a strong pick for students of political history, surveying Kerry's first venture into political to his current impact. Lee Gimpel's Fighting Wars Plannign For Peace: The Story Of George C. Marshall (1931798664, $26.95) packs in nearly 200 pages of details about a man who shunned publicity yet was twice selected as Time magazine's Man of the Year, and who won a Nobel Peace Prize. Marshall never had any desire to rise in politics: his World War II command led the country into becoming a reigning world power, leading the struggle for peace. Speaking of peace, Lisa Frederiksen Bohannon's Freedom Cannot Rest: Ella Baker And The Civil Rights Movement (1931798710, $26.95) is an important choice for any who would understand some of the key issues and figures of the movement. Baker helped found scores of organizations and coalitions during the struggle, yet her name is under-mentioned in comparison with others of her times. Understanding her past is key to understanding the progress of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and other major groups. John Duggleby's Uh Huh! The Story Of Ray Charles (193179863X, $26.95) will appeal to many an adult reader as well as young adults, providing a lively biographical coverage of a major figure born to a poor single mother. How did a poor blind boy rise to become a major star? Uh Huh tells how. Lisa J. Aldrich's Nikola Tesl And The Taming Of Electricity (193179846X, $24.95) provides an important survey of Tesla's adventures and inventions, from his youth as a brilliant student to his journey to New York City and battle with another great scientist who finally earned much of the credit due Tesla. Peggy Caravantes' Best Of Times: The Story Of Charles Dickens (1931798680, $26.95) will reach into middle school and perhaps even high school with its 160-page in-depth survey of author Dickens' life. While Dickens' books are famous and assigned reading in almost every classroom across the country, his life hasn't received nearly the attention for young adult students. Best Of Times reveals Dickens' hard childhood, early experiences working in a factory, and more.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Heather Forest & Marcia Cutchin
Littlefolk/August House Inc.
PO Box 3223, Little Rock, AR 72203
0874837553 $16.95 1-800-284-8784

Written by Heather Forest and illustrated by Marcia Cutchin, Feathers is an enthusiastically recommended children's picturebook retelling a traditional folktale of Eastern Europe. When a gossip monger is brought before a wise rabbi, he must teach her about the harm of spreading false rumors in a way she will remember. So he charges the accused woman to take his feather pillow to the market square, cut it open, scatter the feathers, then retrieve them all. When she attempts the seemingly bizarre task, she learns the truth about the feathers. "'I suppose,' she sighed / as she lowered her head, / 'They are like the words / I can't take back, // from the rumor I spread.' // Cruel words like feathers fly / Cruel words reach far and wide. / They leave the mouth a bitter rind. // May all your words, my friends, be kind." The color illustrations add the perfect touch to this simple yet powerful story about the moral value of minding one's tongue and respecting others' feelings.

The Prince's Diary
Renee Ting & Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Shen's Books
40951 Fremont Blvd, Freemont CA 94538
1885008279 $16.95,

The Prince's Diary by Renee Ting is a picturebook retelling of the classic Cinderella - from the Prince's point of view! "Dear Diary, I have fallen in love with the most beautiful girl, but I don't even know her name!" the prince writes, one lovelorn day. He must devise a way to search the land for his one true love. The Prince's Diary lets the reader know what the prince was really thinking when he met Cinderella's stepsisters, and offers a "behind-the-scenes" twist on a timeless fairytale. Each two-page spread features an exuberant color illustration by Elizabeth O. Dulemba on the left and the prince's story on the right. The Prince's Diary is a charming fable especially recommended for young readers on the verge of making the transition from picture books to chapter books.

The Socksnatchers
Lorna Balian
Star Bright Books
42-26 28th Street, Suite 2C, Long Island City, NY 11101
1595720030 $15.95, 1-800-788-4439

The Socksnatchers is a charming picturebook story about a family of Socksnatchers who co-exists with a human family. The tiny Socksnatchers live in their hidey-hole according to strict rules: "1. Snatching socks is sharing. 2. Snatching a pair of socks is stealing and absolutely forbidden. 3. Clean socks are useless. 4. Keep the door locked at all times. 5. Beware of the cat." The Socksnatchers wear used socks, eat smelly sock soup, and sleep in smelly sock beds. But one day both the Socksnatcher and the human household turn chaotic when Abner Socksnatcher breaks the rules and brings back a pair of clean socks - and worse, the cat discovers their secret hidey-hole! It takes a moment of quick thinking to save the day and restore harmony in this delightful fairy tale.

The Nature Shelf

America's Seashores Guide To Plants And Animals
Marianne D. Wallace
Fulcrum Publishing
16100 Table Mountain Parkway, #300, Golden, Colorado 80403
1555914837 $11.95, 1-800-992-2908

The latest in the "Guide to Plants and Animals" series from Fulcrum Publishing, America's Seashores Guide To Plants And Animals is a softcover children's picturebook introduction to the plants, animals, and natural wonders of the seashore. Written and illustrated by former school science teacher Marianne D. Wallace, America's Seashores Guide To Plants And Animals covers features of the coasts all across North America, and varieties of natural life ranging from seaweeds to birds, seashells, crabs, wildflowers and much more. A glossary, index, and list of resources for young minds hungry to learn more round out this educational and entertaining tour for young readers who are almost ready to make the transition from picture books to more advanced reading. Also highly recommended are these other nature titles for young readers from Fulcrum Publishing: America's Deserts, America's Mountains, America's Wetlands, and America's Prairies And Grasslands.

Ken Robbins
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0689850417 $15.95

Young readers receive a clear primer on how seeds grow, how they differ in size and shape, and how they perform differently in nature with the same goal in mind: to produce growing plants. From different shapes and sizes of seeds in fruit and flowers to trees and plants, excellent large-size color photos and very easy explanations makes Seeds useful for grades 1-4.

Books in Series

Blackbirch Press/Thomson-Gale
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Six new guides provide high drama and interest for even the most reluctant young reader, adding action and adventure and many colorful photos. Two new to 'The Planet's Most Extreme' series are Biters (1410303896, $23.70) and Stinkers (141-0303977, $23.70). Each provide nearly fifty pages blending color photos with facts about the ten 'most wanted' stinkers and biters in the animal world. Fans of Jeff Corwin's dramatic series now have three new 'Jeff Corwin Experience' series to enjoy. Into Wild Australia (1410302393), Into Wild Costa Rica (1410302261, $23.70), and Into Wild Tasmania (1410-302474, $23.70) each provide grades 3-5 with a dramatic first-person encounter with wild animals, using TV show narrator Corwin's flair for the dramatic to accompany lovely color animal shots. Dianne Maddox's Science On The Edge: Nanotechnology (1410305309, $23.70,$23.70) provides grades 3-5 with almost fifty pages of introductory detail on the latest science craze. From thinking small and modern nanotechnology advances to possible future applications, it's refreshing to see an advanced science topic covered for a younger elementary-level audience like this.

Crabtree Publishers
350 - 5th Avenue, #3308, NY, NY 10118

Crabtree's 'Bobbie Kalman' books are gorgeous productions overall, and these science and nature new arrivals will reach grades 2-5 with lovely photos, dramatic covers which invite leisure browsers to learn, and topics which are geared to curriculum needs. Each provide 32 pages of information and photo blends to educate and attract. Insects That Work Together (0778723429, $23.92), Insect Life Cycles (0778723437, $23.92), Insect Bodies (0778723402, $23.92), and Helpful And Harmful Insects (0778723410, $23.92) stand out from many other insect books on these topics for this age range, offering exceptionally bright, captivating covers and very solid organizational structure. Camouflage: Changing To Hide (0778722-724, $23.92) and Metamorphosis: Changing Bodies (0778722732, $23.92) cover changes and abilities to hide. Changing Seasons (0778722759, $23.92) covers the basics of spring, winter, summer, fall, showing how animals, plants and nature adapts and changes to weather patterns, while Photosynthesis: Changing Sunlight Into Food (0778722740, $23.92) reveals how plants gain sustenance. Coral Reef Food Chains (0778719480, $23.92) narrows the focus to coral reefs and the unique environments they create for all kinds of creatures. All are gorgeous, highly recommended acquisitions.

World Almanac Library
330 West Olive Street, #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Six 'Environmental Disasters' titles in a colorful, contemporary series are geared for grades 5 and up each offer 48 pages of historical background which blends timelines and facts with maps, diagrams, photos, and web site and bibliographical references to provide well-rounded coverages. Each book uses a key environmental disaster as an example of underlying issues: thus wildfire dangers are revealed in Los Alamos (0836855078, $29.26), chemical contamination in Bhopal (0836855035, $29.26), nuclear dangers in Chernobyl (0836855043, $29.26), chemical spills in Danube (0836855051, $29.26), pollution crises in Love Canal (0836855086, $29.26), and oil spills in Exxon Valdez (083685506X,$29.26). This outstanding series is very highly recommended, especially for school and community library collections for young readers.

There are but few sanctuaries for the solicitude of thought, reflection, meditation, and study. A forest glade, a cathedral, a mountain top, a cloistered abbey, a secret garden. But the one most readily accessible and familiar to us is the library with its books, hushed quiet, and dedication to all the diverse legacies of human history, discovery, thought, and endeavor.

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

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