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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 10 October 2007 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice DVD Shelf Art Shelf
eBook Shelf American History Shelf Judaic Studies Shelf
Science Shelf Bilingual Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Activity Book Shelf Christmas Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Fiction Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Books in Series Picturebook Shelf Biography Shelf
Language Studies Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Anne Jankeliowitch, author
John Pendray, illustrator
Philip Plisson, photographer
115 West 18th Street, New York NY 10011
9780810916241, $18.95

For thousands of years ships have carried people around the world: now young people can enjoy their stories and history paired with Philip Plisson's gorgeous color photos of the world's most famous ships. From oil tankers to speedboats and sailboats, SHIPS receives a fine history text by Anne Jankeliowitch and not only Plisson's color photos but John Pendray's illustrations.

Top 10 Survival Tips for Kids (and Parents) on the Move
Chelsea and Cheryl Williams
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
9781425118501, $10.99 1-888-232-4444

Top 10 Survival Tips for Kids (and Parents) on the Move is a colorfully illustrated, flat-spined book for kids preparing to make the transition to a new home. Put together by 11-year-old Chelsea Williams (who has personally moved multiple times) with help from her mother Cheryl Williams, Top 10 Survival Tips for Kids packs a wealth of ideas for having fun and celebrating a move into its twenty-four pages. "Ask your parents to organize a going away party for you... Other ideas include a bowling or slumber party. A pizza or make-your-own sundae party is also a fun way to celebrate friendships. Whatever you enjoy doing... make sure to enjoy it with your friends before you leave." Highly recommended.

Go, Pack, Go!
Aimee Aryal
Mascot Books
PO Box 220157, Chantilly, VA 20153-0157
9781932888942, $14.95

Very nicely illustrated by Miguel De Angel, "Go, Pack, Go!" by Aimee Aryal is the story of a game day in Wisconsin as the Green Bay Packers football team plays at Lambeau Field. Packer fans cheer on their team during a hard fought game that gets even more challenging as a blizzard hits during halftime. "Go, Pack, Go!" is a charming and engaging picturebook story that is highly recommended for young Packer fans. There is even information on how they can join 'Junior Power Pack', the official Green Bay Packers kids club. Simply stated, no Wisconsin school or community library should be without a copy of "Go, Pack, Go!"

Playdate Kids Publishing
PO Box 2785, Malibu, CA 90265

The 'Growing-Up' series from Playdate Kids Publishing is a charmingly illustrated series of books for young children that focus on commonly encountered problems that range from parental break ups, to friends who move away, to the death of a beloved pet, and more. Deftly and entertainingly authored by Annie Theil, with the colorful cartoon-style artwork of W. M. Edwards, the series is comprised of "Dakota Gets Lost", dealing with getting lost at the mall; "Cosmos' Blended Family" the adjustments needed when divorced parents remarried; "Chloe Loses Her Pet", the death of a beloved animal companion; "Danny's Secret" exploring the difference between tattling and getting a friend necessary help; "Dakota's Mom Goes To The Hospital", when a parent becomes ill; "Cosmos' Mom And Dad Are Moving Apart", experiencing divorce; "Chloe's New Baby Brother" adapting to a new sibling; and "Danny Is Moving", having to move, leaving friends behind, and adjusting to new circumstances and strangers. Thoroughly 'kid friendly', and very strongly recommended for family, school, and community library collections, each title in this outstanding series is available in both a hardcover ($11.95) and a softcover ($6.95) edition.

The DVD Shelf

One Wee World Celebrates Mexico
Tracy Douglas
One Wee World, LLC
PO Box 4807, Valley Village, CA 91617-0607
NTSC $19.95,

"One Wee World Celebrates Mexico" is the debut title of a planned four DVD series for preschool and kindergarten children, that is specifically designed to introduce them to some very special countries. As the title implies, "One Wee World Celebrates Mexico" focuses on the nation, culture, people of Mexico. Special features enhancing "One Wee World Celebrates Mexico" include an 'Ambassador Commentary' by Tracy Douglas, complete live action performances, vocabulary, and 'Stop Motion Skits'. Accompanied by an animated friend, Tracy Douglas serves as host to young viewers as they see a cultural celebration of Mexico's music, landscape, folklore, dance, food, and toys. Superbly combining information with entertainment, "One Wee World Celebrates Mexico" is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library DVD collections for young children and has a total running time of 30 minutes.

The Art Shelf

The Usborne Book Of Art
Rosie Dickins
EDC Publishing
PO Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74146-6515
0794512224, $22.95 1-800-475-4522

Deftly designed, engagingly written, and profusely illustrated for young readers, "The Usborne Book Of Art: A Complete Introduction For Beginners" by art expert Rosie Dickins, assisted by learned contributors, has created an informed and informative historical survey of art. Beginning with an introduction defining and explaining just what is meant by art, how to look at paintings, including story paintings, portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and 'modern art', there are chapters dedicated to Ancient & Medieval Art (prior to 1400 A.D.); The Renaissance (1400 to 1600); Baroque & Rococo (1600 to 1800); Revolution (1800 to 1900); Breaking Away (1900 to 1914); Dreams & Conflicts (1914 to 1945); New Directions (1945 to 1969); and Anything Goes (1970 to date). Of special note is the final chapter, 'Behind the scenes' covering such divers topics as artist materials, 'tricks of the trade', preserving pictures, fame and fortune as an artist, and 'faking it' with forged artworks. Enhanced with a timeline, a glossary, biographical snippets about the artists, instructions for using the internet, and an index, "The Usborne Book Of Art" is a seminal and strongly recommended addition to family, school and community library Art History and Art Appreciation reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Dropping In On Romare Bearden
Pamela Geiger Stephens & Jim McNeill
Crystal Productions
PO Box 2159, Glenview, IL 60025-6159 1-800-255-8629
CP-1919-1, $41.00 Book & DVD

Part of the outstanding 'Dropping In On..." series of books and DVDs from Crystal productions introducing elementary school aged children to lives and work of world famous artists, "Dropping In On Romare Bearden" is engagingly written by Pamela Geiger Stephens and charmingly illustrated by Jim McNeill. Puffer is a cat who is in New York City to interview Romare Bearden, an artist who uses a variety of media to make his unique images with the themes of family, urban life, and music. Puffer analyzes the artworks and thereby helps children to learn new ways to observe and think about art. The animated DVD is the perfect companion to the picturebook. Other titles in this unique and strongly recommended book/DVD series for school and community libraries include "Dropping in on Grant Wood" (CP-5540-1, $41.00); "Dropping in on Andy Warhol" (CP-5546-1, $41.00); "Dropping in on Picasso" (CP-5542-1, $41.00); "Dropping in on Matisse" (CP-5541-1, $41.00); and "Dropping in on Rousseau" (CP-5543-1, $41.00).

The eBook Shelf

PACE EnhanceBooks®
PO Box 5081, Bergenfield, NJ 07621-5081

A electronic book (ebook) is a book that is 'published' on a CD or a CD-Rom. PACE EnhanceBooks® has produced an impressive 'New Wave Kids' series of illustrated ebooks for young children ages 3 to 6, each of which includes an audio book read option; an interactive thumbnail forward; 3D page turn viewing with sound, mouse click performance, customizable slide show; interactive sound effects; music; and can be printed out. Priced at $9.99 each, these thoroughly 'kid friendly' titles include "New Wave Kids® in Shiver Me Timbers It's Bath Time" (9780976249900); "A Safety Counting eBook" (9780976249917); "Adventure: A Pin-Up coloring Ebook Reader Summer to Winter" (9780976249924); "New Wave Kids® in A Monster Bath Dream" (9780976249986); "New Wave Kids® in Barnacle Boat Island" 9780976249955); "New Wave Kids® in Thou Shall...10 Commandments" (9780976249962); "New Wave Kids® in Popcorn Town, A Tasty Fairy Tale" (9780976249931). Parents and libraries should note that PACE EnhanceBooks® has also published two ebook anthologies each of which features 3 titles in their series: "A Monster Bath Dream/BarnacleBoast island/Thou Shall...10 Commandments" (9780976249993, $20.99) and "A Safety Counting eBook/Shiver Me Timbers It's Bath Time/Adventure (9780976249979, $2099). All are totally engaging, constructively fun, inexpensive, and enthusiastically recommended self-run audio stories with text and music, requiring Windows operating system on a PC or IBM computer.

The American History Shelf

River Roads West
Connie Roop & Peter Roop
Calkins Creek
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590784303, $19.95 1-877-512-8366

It was the many and diverse river systems of North America that first enabled the exploration and settlement by European of what would become the United States of America. Even before the coming of the white man, it was the river systems that enabled the rise of Native American empires and commerce. It was these rivers that saw canoes and rafts evolve into flatboats and steamboats as first explorers and then settlers occupy the country. These rivers were also important culturally as reflected in the songs, poetry, legends, myths, and stories of the people. Now experienced river guides Peter and Connie Roop provide young readers ages 8 and older with an historical overview of how the rivers were utilized in the exploration and settlement of the country in "River Roads West". From the Hudson, the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Missouri, to the Rio Grande, the Colorado, and the Columbia, the story of these rivers is enhanced with photographs, paintings, prints, and original maps. With a list of thematically appropriate websites and a selected bibliography for further readings, "River Roads West" is very strongly recommended for both school and community library American History collections.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

The History of the Jewish People
Jonathan D. Sarna & Jonathan B. Krasner
Behrman House Inc.
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9780874411904, $12.95 1-800-221-2755

Professor Jonathan D. Sarna and Professor Jonathan B. Krasner combine their scholarly and teaching expertise in The History of the Jewish People Volume 1: Ancient Israel to 1880's America, an consumable textbook designed to involve junior high and high school students deeply and personally in the flow of history. Sample questions and observations with blank lines for the student to write in an answer include "Describe one way you may have influenced a non-Jew by teaching him or her about Judaism and Jewish culture", and "In what ways are modern ghettos similar to those that were first established for Jews? In what ways are they different?" Each chapter includes a historical overview, investigative questions for students to explore, key vocabulary words, maps, spotlights of famous personages, and "then and now" sidebars that encourage reflection. Full color illustrations enrich this interactive text created especially for young Jewish students.

The Science Shelf

Will It Blow?
Elizabeth Rusch & K.E. Lewis
Sasquatch Books
119 South Main Street, Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98104-2555
1570615098, $13.95 1-800-775-0817

Nicely enhanced with the colored artistry of K.E. Lewis, "Will It Blow?: Become A Volcano Detective At Mount St. Helens" by Elizabeth Rusch is an ideal introduction to vulcanism from students age 6 and older. While its been more than 25 years since the last eruption of Mount St Helena, it is still emitting steam and pushing up a wall of lava. "Will It Blow?" will enable children to understand the inner workings of a volcano and learn that science is a lot like detective work and become able to put together the 'clues' to determine the answer to such questions as whether or not the visitors that flock to view the volcano from five miles away at Johnston Ridge are in danger; could airplanes and helicopters flying over Mount St. Helena be in danger from having volcanic ash clog their engines; could the houses and cabins in the valley below the volcano be swept away? As engaging and entertaining as it is informed and informative, "Will It Blow?" is a perfect addition to elementary school science class curriculums and highly recommended for use by home-schooling parents.

The Bilingual Shelf

Alicia's Happy Day/El Dia Mas Feliz De Alicia
Meg Star, author
Ying-hwa Hu & Cornelius Van Wright, illustrators
Star Bright Books
30-19 48th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
9781595721167, $5.95

Alicia's Happy Day/El Dia Mas Feliz De Alicia is a softcover, bilingual English/Spanish picturebook featuring enthusiastic color illustrations, a dash of Latino culture, and a spirit of all-around mirth. A young girl is have one of the happiest days of her life, and wishes to share that happiness. The reason for her joy is revealed on the last page - it's her birthday! "May you have a day that's twirly-swirly. / May you hear salsa and start to dance. / May the flags all fly for you. / Taxicabs all stop for you." The gushing joyful sentiment is quite contagious in this delightful read-aloud story.

The Christian Studies Shelf

101 Favorite Stories from the Bible
Ura Miller
TGS International
PO Box 355, Berlin, OH 44610
9781885270474, $14.99

Featuring beautiful color illustrations, 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible is an anthology of classic biblical tales. Written and presented to be shared between parents and children, 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible features a complete, plain-terms version of each biblical story on the left page of each two-page spread, and an illustration along with comments and questions directed to parents and children on the right page. Tales from both the Old and New Testaments abound in 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible, the ultimate read-aloud storybook for Christian households.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Erec Rex
Kaza Kingsley
Firelight Press
PO Box 15758, Cincinnati, OH 45215
9780978655563, $17.99 513-646-6803

Writer, artist, singer, and movie buff Kaza Kingsley presents Erec Rex: The Dragon's Eye, a fantasy adventure novel for young adults set in the magical world of Alypium, a place hidden within our own world and brimming with mysterious magic and wondrous creatures. But something has gone wrong with the very Substance that connects the planet, and an evil presence whispers its plot to destroy all. The king is hypnotized and his castle is turned on its side. And twelve-year-old Erec Rex has been forcibly transported from our world to this strange place in peril. He must learn how to survive in Alypium, uncover hidden truths about himself; ultimately, only the powers of trust and love can help save him, his mother, and all of Alypium. An engaging adventure, accessible to readers of all ages but especially recommended for YA libraries and reading shelves.

The Heart of the Caveat Whale Book One: The Captives
S. J. R. Smith
Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd.
28-30 High Street, Guilford, Surrey, GU1 3HY
9781905529933, $8.99

The Heart of the Caveat Whale Book One: The Captives begins a trilogy set in a world struggling against the tyrannical domination of the MerKing. Peaceful, human-like ocean dwellers known as aquavians were once numerous, yet now they are controlled by cruel means to fight for the MerKing, since they can breathe on land while mermen cannot. One young aquavian, orphaned in a magic-induced quake twelve years ago, retains his own mind due to chance isolation; he is the key to a prophecy predicting the end of the MerKing's rule. Yet before the war for freedom can be taken to the sea, first the captives on land must be freed. Thus begins a sweeping epic, written for young adults yet appealing to fantasy lovers of all ages. Highly recommended.

The Activity Book Shelf

Mad Tausig vs The Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol
Ben Tausig & Goopymart
4N Publishing
44-73 21st Street, D-6, Long Island City, NY 11101
9780974131948, $7.95

Mad Tausig vs The Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol is a puzzle book for kids. Humorous black-and-white illustrations and a whimsical space-mystery and adventure story frame this collection of puzzles created by Ben Tausig, whose crosswords have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Reader, among other newspapers. Though crossword puzzles are the primary feature, a medley of other brain-teasers round out Mad Tausig vs The Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol. Answers and solutions to the puzzles are in the back. A literacy-building, consumable book ideal for young people on car trips or for rainy-day fun.

The Christmas Shelf

Bobby Bright's Greatest Christmas Ever
John R. Brooks
Old Farm Press
PO Box 20894, Oklahoma City. OK 73156-0894
9780978822705, $16.95

Bobby Bright's Greatest Christmas Ever is a magical holiday novel for young adults, about a strand of Christmas tree light bulbs miraculously created with the amazing ability to talk among themselves. They hope to shine brightly at Christmastime and make everyone happy; but year after year, they are condemned to the back of the McGillicuddy's Christmas tree. On the tenth year, the Bright family of bulbs and blue bulb Bobby Bright in particular finally gets a chance to shine. Excitement ensues when the McGillicuddy's grandson, Remington, comes by for Christmas and discovers for himself the unique and amazing Christmas tree bulbs! A heartwarming and cheerful read.

The Audiobook Shelf

Michelle Moran, author
Cassandra Campbell, narrator
Books On Tape, Inc.
400 Hahn, Westminister, MD 21157
9781415939406, $129.00 1-800-541-5525

Nefertiti: A Novel is the unabridged audiobook that brings to life the political intrigue of ancient Egypt. Written with rapt attention to historical detail, Nefertiti: A Novel follows Nefertiti and her younger sister Mutnodjmet as they are raised in an influential family as potential wives for powerful rulers. Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, a young pharaoh distinguished by his instability and heretical desires; though she is beloved by the people, when strives to produce a son she overlooks plots against her husband's rule. Mutnodjmet, who does not share her sister's craving for power, anticipates the ill shift in politics and wishes to marry for love, not political gain - a choice that will put her at odds with her sister. A dramatic narrative of strong women living in ancient times, unforgettably narrated by Cassandra Campbell. 13 CDs, 16 hours.

The Fiction Shelf

Allan Richard Shickman
Earthshaker Books
PO Box 300184, St. Louis, MO 63130
9780979035708, $9.95

Written by artist, teacher, and historian Allan Richard Shickman, Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure is an action-packed novel for young adults age 11 and up. Set in an era long before kings and cities, Zan-Gah follows a boy's journey to manhood and the responsibilities of leading his people over the course of three years. Zan-Gah's proof of courage battling a lioness is only the beginning; he must study his enemies of a rival tribe, including their tactics and poisoned weapons, and hone his capabilities for diplomacy as well as for battle. As Zan-Gah searches for his missing brother, he befriends the beautiful and gifted healer Lissa-Na, whose aid will prove invaluable in the trials ahead. Highly recommended for young adult library collections.

Ellen Wittlinger
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
9781416916222, $16.99

The struggles of a transgender teen usually are not explored by youth audiences or in publications for youth which is why PARROTFISH is such a breakthrough for young adults. The fictional story of Grady, whose coming of age involves a newfound realization of differences between her physical form and inner identity, makes for an important, breakthrough book essential for any forward-thinking collection which would consider gay and transgender teen issues.

Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Emily's family moved from the city to the country and she's not happy: there's nothing to do in the woods or so she thinks. Her explorations reveal a locked playhouse which houses a young, lonely ghost and her entry into her new friend's world may prove a trap for them all in Marion Dane Bauer's fast-paced SECRET OF THE PAINTED HOUSE (9780375840791, $11.99). Mary Pope Osborne's MONDAYS WITH A MAD GENIUS (9780375837296, $11.99) offers #38 in the 'Magic Tree House: A Merlin Mission' series. Here a mysterious message from Morgan le Fay, magical librarian of Camelot, involves two children the key to helping magician Merlin discovery joy in his life again. First they must journey to the magic tree house for 1500s Italy, and meet Leonardo da Vinci no prior familiarity with the series is required to make this a fun, inviting read.

Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019 1-800-726-0600

Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris in 1330 and centuries later is an acknowledged Alchemyst said to have discovered the secret of eternal life but though he supposedly died, his tomb is empty and nobody knows his elixir is successful until Dr John Dee discovers the most powerful book which ever existed, containing both the secret and the possibility of destroying the world. Michael Scott's The Alchemyst: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flaitiel (9780385733571, $16.99 ) is gripping: fast-packed action packs a powerful story of the supernatural perfect for teens in grades 7-10. Adam Selzer's HOW TO GET SUSPENDED AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (9780385733694, $15.99) tells of a class project where a teen's class is chosen to make educational videos for younger grades. Leon's determination to create something outrageous changes to a genuine desire to make sex education something real until the program's director suspends him for its disturbing content. Real issues are revealed in a novel about sexuality and censorship. Marissa Walsh's A FIELD GUIDE TO HIGH SCHOOL (9780385734103, $15.99) tells of Andie, who has just finished eighth grade and will soon begin high school. Her big sister will be graduating as she enters school and her guide for new freshman Andie contains wisdom and fun to delight any middle school reader contemplating high school's challenges. Judy Blume's SOUPY SATURDAYS WITH THE PAIN AND THE GREAT ONE (9780385733052, $12.99) offers up seven new stories centered around how brothers and sisters relate to one another. From math woes to parties and bike riding, SOUPY SATURDAYS evolves a fun set of brother/sister encounters.

Edward's Eyes
Patricia MacLachlan
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
1416927433, $15.99

Jake lives a life packed with music, art and baseball and he has brother Edward, who is special. From discussions about being married to baseball to insights on what makes people special in the world, EDWARD'S EYES explores changes and hanging on to good times, and is a gentle, warm story young adults will find compelling.

The Ghost of Popular Point
Cynthia DeFelice
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York NY 10003
0374325405, $16.00

Summer is finally here and 'ghost magnet' Allie is tired of dealing with ghosts and looking forward to non-ghostly fun until a new ghost causes her to babble in a foreign language, haunts her dreams with frightening images, and challenges her life. Add in conflicts when a new rich girl steals Allie's role in an upcoming pageant and ghosts and world reality become especially action-packed in this fun, different ghostly story joining others in the author's lineup, but standing well on its own.

Dial/Dutton Books
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

Emma Laybourn tells of Ned, who's gotten into a fancy new school where everyone can do magic except him. MISSING MAGIC (9780803732193, $16.99) tells of a volatile period at a new magic school where kidnapping, enemies, and failing magic skills affect Ned's first semester. When Ned and his classmates are kidnapped, will he be the only one who can help? Sue Wilkowski's THE BAD LUCK CHAIR (9780525477945, $15.99) tells of Allison, who one day finds everyone standing by her desk, and discovers the infamous school Bad Luck Chair is about to become hers. She seems doomed to be cursed forever but some secret Chair information helps explain how to reverse the curse and Addy may be the only kid who can stand up to it. Hilarious fun ensues.

The Big One-Oh
Dean Pitchard
G.P. Putnam's Sons
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9780399245473, $15.99

Charley has never been one for parties but turning ten seems a milestone and he decides to throw a horror theme party for himself. Only problem is, he needs to make some friends to invite to the party and ends up inviting the class bully. A series of disasters seem to make the party an impossibility in this hilarious story for advanced elementary to early middle school grade levels.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

My First Book About Reptiles
Kama Einhorn
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375836855, $7.99

Sesame Street's My First Book About Reptiles is a winner, pairing the bright Sesame Street characters with simple facts about reptiles coupled with especially vivid color photos throughout. As a new reader's introduction to the topic, MY FIRST BOOK ABOUT REPTILES is appealing on many levels and is a top pick for kids just beginning to learn to read about reptiles.

Books in Series

Reference Point Press
PO Box 27779, San Diego, CA 92198

'Compact Research' is a series dedicated to providing elementary school students with an informed and informative introduction to contemporary social issues. A thoroughly 'kid friendly' research reference, each individual volume in this outstanding series includes a 'Glance' section giving succinct topic summaries; objective overviews that provide basic background and context; Primary Source Quotes sections highlighting conflicting opinions; Facts and Illustrations sections enhancing the text with visual insights; Ky People, Advocacy Groups, Related Organizations sections that can enable the student to proceed with further research in the subject area; and Source Notes model appropriate citation forms. The most recent additions to this invaluable series (at $24.95) each include "Nuclear Weapons and Security" (9781601520210); "Global Warming and Climate Change" (978-1-60152-019-7); "National Security" (9781601520203); "Energy Alternatives" (9781601520173); "Free Speech" (9781601520180); "Terrorist Attacks" (9781601520227); "Club Drugs" (9781601520050); "Alcohol" (9781601520076); "Cocaine and Crack" (9781601520012); "Hallucinogens" (9781601520142); and "Inhalants" (9781601520159). 'Compact Research' is very highly recommended for both school and community library collections, and is especially appropriate as a supplement for home-schooling curriculums in contemporary social issues.

Box 39, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-0398

Grades 3-4 will find appealing and well detailed these fine new books, and libraries will find them lasting lends. Edwin Brit Wyckoff's THE MAN WHO INVENTED BASKETBALL: JAMES NAISMITH AND HIS AMAZING GAME (0766028461, $22.60) provides 30 easy pages of biography as it tells of a tough life and a dropout who invented one of the biggest sports in history. Naismith was great at sports but seemed destined for a quiet life on a Canadian family farm. His story will inspire and intrigue any young fans of the sport. Philip Johansson's THE CORAL REEF: A COLORFUL WEB OF LIFE (0766028135, $23.93) offers just under 50 pages of detail on coral reef life, from formations to plants and animals who utilize the reef. Bright pages of color photos explore the life of a coral reef biome. Both are fine picks for easy elementary school readers and pair vivid color with lively topics.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Cavendish's 'Animals Animals' series ($23.95 each) offers a little under 50 pages of basic animal facts, expanding the series with Group 6 additions of new titles. Each book packs in color photos, eye-catching close-up cover photos, and natural history and physiology facts. SWANS (9780761425304) and RABBITS (9780761425281) by Melissa Stewart, SEA HORSES (9780761425298) and KOALAS (9780761425267) by Steven Otfinoski, and BEAVERS (9780761425243) and OTTERS (9780761425274) by Will Mara each pack in details and color suitable for both leisure reading and reports, and will make for very basic collection additions perfect for high-interest lending, display, and use. Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradlin's 'Turning Points in American History' series ($20.95 each) packs in a little under fifty pages to each presentation, including an index, bibliography, timelines, color photos and lively facts. Schools assigning American history reports at the elementary grade levels will relish the details presented in THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION (9780761420446), THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION (9780761420385), THE BOSTON TEA PARTY (9780761420354), THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG (9780761420439), THE U.S. CONSTITUTION (9780761420361), and THE TRAIL OF TEARS (9780761420415). Descriptions cite sources but provide different historical views, insights on controversies, and more.

The Picturebook Shelf

Franklin The Fly
R. O. Blechman
Creative Editions
123 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001
9781568461489, $17.95

Imaginatively written and nicely illustrated by award winning artist and animator R. O. Blechman, "Franklin The Fly" is the story of a little fly who lives in the big city where he is constantly swatted at, frets about flypaper, and is ridiculed by his fellow flies for his eccentric ways. Franklin likes country air, flying loop-the-loops, and cleaning up crumbs. Taking as optimistic an outlook on life as a fly can have, Franklin's easy-going heroics are wonderfully entertaining and highly recommended for young picturebook readers and for anyone of any age who enjoys an iconic story which is as carefully crafted as it is charmingly original. "Franklin The Fly" would make an exceptionally popular addition to any school or community library collection.

The Serif Fairy
Rene Siegfried, author
Joel Mann, translator
Mark Batty Publisher LLC
36 West 37th Street, Penthouse, New York, NJ 10018
9780979048623, $15.95 1-866-407-6302

The Serif Fairy: Explorations in the World of Letters is a most unusual children's picturebook, featuring highly simplistic, two-color illustrations in which all creatures and things are represented by stylized letters and patterns assembled from letters. In this sparsely beauteous world, a little letter-fairy has lost her left wing. Her search to find her missing wing will take her from a great gate to a busy street to the shores of a placid lake. The text of The Serif Fairy is innocently charming, though complex enough to be ideal for young readers who are almost ready to move on to chapter books, yet the true appeal of The Serif Fairy lies in its ingeniously minimal, all-letter illustration style. Highly recommended.

Knopf/Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019 1-800-726-0600

Meghan McCarthy's STRONG MAN: THE STORY OF CHARLES ATLAS (9780375829406, $15.99) blends humor and the drama of fiction with biographical details to sketch the life of Charles Atlas, a boy once picked on by bullies who became known as America's strongest man. Angelo used exercise and developed a fitness routine to become famous and strong: STRONG MAN details how he came up with his ideas and how he succeeded. Sue Strauffacher's NOTHING BUT TROUBLE: THE STORY OF ALTHEA GIBSON (9780375834080, $16.99) tells of a girl who is 'nothing but trouble' - but Althea doesn't care what they say; she knows she's destined for fame - and so does recreation leader Buddy, who watches her athletic skills improve and who introduces her to the game of tennis. Althea doesn't like rules - but she doesn't like to lose either. Her determination will lead her to become the first Afro-American to compete for and win the Wimbleton Cup in this fine biographical story of a winner. Mini Grey's GINGER BEAR (9780375842535, $15.99) stars a gingerbread bear with a mind of his own. Ginger Bear loves to whip up cookie friends who perform circus acts and thwart a dangerous dog who loves cookies. Can the short-lived cookie friends survive? Hanoch Piven's MY DOG IS AS SMELLY AS DIRTY SOCKS AND OTHER FUNNY FAMILY PORTRAITS (9780375840524, $15.99) tells of an artistic little girl who has problems trying to capture her family's fun emotions on paper. Her use of everyday objects to explore and express emotions makes for a fun, lively presentation using rich full-page visual images to reinforce playful text.

c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014 1-800-847-5515

Bradford Morrow's DIDN'T DIDN'T DO IT (9780399244803, $16.99) pairs wordplay with the fin story of Didn't and his friends, who decide to build a tree house against all odds - and against the tree's previous bird owners, who aren't happy. Fun wordplay teaches kids language while providing an entertaining story line with some rollicking results. Nancy Carlson's I DON'T LIKE TO READ! (9780670061914, $15.99) tells of mouse Henry, who likes most things about first grade - except for reading. Everyone else loves to read but Henry can't - until some extra help and an unexpected need lead him to succeed. Brod Bagert's SHOUT! LITTLE POEMS THAT ROAR (9780803729728, $16.99) tells of little poems which say a lot, from a noisy classroom zoo account to a vivid description of play time. These are rollicking, zany poems illustrated by Sashiko Yoshikawa and filled with action and adventure, going far beyond the usual sedate poem to fill kids with excitement about the possibilities of poetry and relating poems to familiar kid topics. Patricia Polacco's GINGER AND PETUNIA (9780399245398, $16.99) tells of elegant lady Ginger, an accomplished pianist and socially active whose passion is her pampered pet pig Petunia. When Petunia is left on her own, she decides to pose as Ginger - and body even notices This lively, fun animal story requires good reading skills or adult assistance but also makes a fun read-aloud. True Kelly's THE BLABBER REPORT (9780525478096, $15.99) tells of Blabber Mouse, who is afraid to talk. His greatest habit is talking - except when it comes to a scary assignment: oral book reports. He's too busy chatting to work on his assignment - and as Oral Report Day comes nearer, he's more worried. Can he translate his greatest talent to a fine report? Oliver Jeffers' THE INCREDIBLE BOOK EATING BOY (9780399247491, $16.99) tells of one Henry who loves books for meals. He's even smarter than his teachers at school as he eats information - but will it come back to haunt him? Steve Bresen's STICK (9780803731240, $16.99) tells of a young frog to likes to do things on his own with no help from Mom - until he gets carried away by a big, strong dragonfly and is pulled from his swamp home into a busy city. A near-wordless picture book documents a series of zany mishaps in this fun story. Kathy Shaskan's HOW UNDERWEAR GOT UNDER THERE: A BRIEF HISTORY (9780525471783, $16.99) is a whimsical story of how underwear has affected history, from King Tut who was buried with 145 pairs to how underwear has affected fashion and society alike. It's a zany, fun read which will attract leisure readers as much as fiction: all are recommended picks for libraries seeking something different.

The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder
Little, Brown
c/o Hachette Group
237 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
0316011797, $15.99

Chowder the dog is off to the Fabu Pooch Boot Camp but he just doesn't fit in until he discovers a trampoline. It's a camp where beautiful dogs are turned into fabulous dogs and Chowder is able to discover his own beauty in an unexpected place and fashion in this whimsical tale dog lovers will relish.

A Child's Guide to Common Household Monsters
James Otis Thach
Front Street
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
1932425586, $16.95

What's a girl to do when she realizes her home is filled with monsters? One thing to do is make friends a rollicking rhyme follows the monsters as they hide through the house, and follow a girl's discovery of their presence. An added surprise awaits the reader who won't expect these household monsters have their own feelings about humans, making this a very satisfying, fun read for picturebook fans seeking something different.

All Afloat on Noah's Boat!
Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees
c/o Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439873975, $16.99

Life on Noah's Ark is busy and noisy and close quarters are getting everybody grumpy. So Noah decides to invite warring factions to a creature cabaret to get the Ark in fun mode but what animal act will form the grand finale? A rollicking rhyme exposes 'animal tantrums and insect miffs' alike while a fun story line offers up an unexpected conclusion perfect for picturebook collections seeking something different.

The Biography Shelf

Saladin: Sultan of Egypt and Syria
Richard Worth
Enslow Publishers Inc.
Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-0398
0766027120, $34.60

SALADIN is an excellent biography for ages 11 and older, holding over 150 pages packed with historical and biographical facts and adding to the 'Rules of the Middle Ages' series. From a chronology of events and lively biography background to chapter notes and Internet resources for further stud, SALADIN follows the ruler's influence on Egypt, Syria and the entire region.

The Language Studies Shelf

Woe Is I Junior
Patricia T. O'Conner
G.P. Putnam's Sons
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9780399243318, $16.99

The junior version of Patricia O'Conner's WOE IS I, the best-selling grammar guide for adults, is written in a witty, fun manner for elementary to middle school grade levels and provides a lively series of examples covering both good and bad grammar. From confusing look-alike words to plural verbs which help multiply subjects, WOE IS I JUNIOR is an excellent survey adding life and fun to the topic of understanding English.

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

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