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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 10 October 2008 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice World History Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf DVD Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Crafts Shelf Halloween Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Mythology/Folklore Shelf Fiction Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Books in Series Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Winds Blow
Marianne Berkes
Illustrations by Jill Dubin
Dawn Publications
12402 Bifney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95059 800-545-7475
9781584691105 $8.95

"Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Winds Blow" is an enchanting children's work showing and counting arctic creatures in lyrics set to the familiar tune, "Over in the Meadow." The beautiful cut paper full color illustrations contain little hidden secret creatures on each two page spread, in addition to the 10 theme creatures. To maximize its impact as a teaching tool, "Over in the Arctic" contains additional information about the Arctic tundra, hidden Arctic animals in the illustrations, and tips from the author and the illustrator. "Over in the Arctic" is a beautiful and informative children's book for ages 3-8 that uses multifaceted learning approaches, adaptable to many levels.

A Musical Journey In The Footsteps Of Lewis & Clark
Anne Enslow & Ridley Enslow
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-0398
9780766032880, $31.93,, 1-800-398-2504

The Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 was one of the major exploratory ventures of American history and helped to shape the destiny of our nation. Now a unique approach to classroom curriculums for teaching children about this seminal incident in America's exploration of the West has been created by Anne and Ridley Enlsow with "A Musical Journey In The Footsteps Of Lewis & Clark". This impressively produced and performed compilation of 30 songs and tunes is presented in an elegant jewel case is ideal for inclusion as a curriculum supplement for American History/Social Studies programs and includes lyrics, chapter notes, Internet addresses, a suggestion list of further listing, and an index. Of special note is the provision of sources for each of the songs and how they relate to U.S. history. The combination of CD and a 128-page book illustrated with both color as well as black-and-white photos and pictures makes "A Musical Journey In The Footsteps Of Lewis & Clark" ideal for use with children 10 and older, and in grades 5 through 10. Also highly recommended for school and community library collections from Enslow Publishers is "Music of the American Colonies" which is available as a CD/Booklet (9780766016149) or as a CD only (9780766022393).

I'm Not Too Busy
Jodi Hills
Tristan Publishing
2355 Louisiana Avenue North, Golden Valley, MN 55427
9780931674921, $14.95,

Friendship means much more than anyone would tell you. "I'm Not Too Busy" is a collection of motivational wit and wisdom, looking at the world and focusing on the simple subject of caring between friends, between family, and just plain caring. Poetic and inspiring, "I'm Not Too Busy" is a fine pick for parents to read along with their children, highly recommended.

Bee & Me
Elle J. McGuinness & Heather Brown
Accord Publishing
c/o Andrews & McMeel
4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
9780740777349, $16.99,

A unique and ground-breaking children's book, "Bee & Me" has an underlying environmental lesson told through a thoroughly kid-friendly and engaging storyline by Elle J. McGuinness, and superbly enhanced by the lively and colorful art work of Heather Brown. Throughout the book are images that move by simply turning the page. The publishing technology that enables this is called 'Ani-motion' and will total absorb young readers of all ages and reading levels. "Bee & Me" is the story of a young boy who is able to overcome his fear of bees when he meets and talks to one, who informs him about all the good that bees do for the world. Superbly written, unique, and delightfully (as well as animatedly) illustrated, "Bee & Me" is highly recommended for family picturebook collections.

X Doesn't Mark the Spot
Ed Butts
Tundra Books
P. O. Box 1030, Plattsburgh, New York 12901
9780887768088, $11.95 1-800-788-1074

"X Doesn't Mark the Spot: Tales of Pirate Gold, Buried Treasure, and Lost Riches" is a collection of eleven tales of lost treasure, retrieved from files and treasure tales of Northeastern Canadian history. Designed to appeal to an adolescent audience, the tales contain more than a smattering of swagger and scallywagism, but the kernels of truth are perhaps still evident. Most tempting of all are the tales of treasure sought and unfound, either cursed by ghosts or lost due to natural events. Will reading "X Doesn't Mark the Spot" make someone rich? Maybe not in cash, but assuredly in valuable lore and history and even better, love of reading, the answer is a resounding yes! Salty manuscripts and supernatural events notwithstanding, author Ed Butts manages to pack in a solid dose of real Canadian colonial history.

Gus is a Tree
Claire Babin
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Enchanted Lion Books
201 Richards Street, Studio 4, Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592700783 $14.95

"Gus is a Tree" is the latest book in a children's series on science and nature for 3-6 year olds. While playing with other children, Gus falls asleep beneath a tree, then dreams of experiencing life as the tree. "Gus is a Tree" is beautifully illustrated by whimsical paintings of Gus-become-a-tree in a forest of trees (the reader can distinguish the Gus tree by its red and yellow stripes that match his shirt). Gus shares the forest with other trees, including birches, oak and beeches. He sees an autumn sunset and a wild boar family search for food. Night falls and he senses other creatures - owls, bats, even a dormouse that lives in a knot in another tree. he experiences a refreshing fall of rain and feels squirrels scamper up and down his bark. Then he is awakened by his friends who tell him it is time to go inside from the rain. In addition to the stunning illustrations and lyric narrative, "Gus is a Tree" has a helpful photo index of forest words that helps further define tree existence. It will capture young readers' interest and teach effortlessly.

The Cat Who Invented Bebop
Marshall Arisman
Illustrated by Marshall Arisman
Creative Editions
c/o The Creative Company
P. O. Box 227, Mankato, Minnesota 56002
9781568461526 $17.95, 800-445-6209

"The Cat Who Invented Bebop" introduces the reader to Stringbean McCoy, a very cool , saxophone playing young cat born to very square parents in the Mississippi Delta. "His parents and sisters, who were square as boxes, loved him but not his music.(p. 7)" Thus it develops that Stringbean is exposed to the guitar/vocal blues style of Pops, an old blind cat down by the train station with a deep, mellow voice who memorized the words to hundreds of jazz and blues songs. Stringbean tries to imitate the sound of Pops voice with his rusty, dented old saxophone. It takes time and lots of less than perfect practice. He decides that "two paws just aren't enough to play all the music I have in my head (p. 11)." Finally he graduates from Catsville High and spends all his money on a one way train ticket to New York City. Luckily he is appropriately dressed in a purple pinstriped suit with a jazzman's beige hat over his ears, looking very cool. This same lucky hat blows off his head in his first snowstorm in New York and leads him to a new friend, Cat-Dance Johnson. Cat-Dance takes Stringbean to The Blue Devil Lounge to hear real live jazz. With his hot chocolate from the milk bar in hand, Stringbean asks if he can sit in with the band, a jazz quartet consisting of Hammerfingers on piano, Thumper on bass, guitar player Porkchop LaMar (who Stringbean knows by reputation), and Sticks Warmack, the drummer. Stringbean joins in on a jazz version of "Don't Start Me Talkin'" and just to keep his audience interested, he decides to use his hind paws to play a countermelody of a different song, "Mississippi Mud Blues!" This blows the cool cats' minds completely. Hammerfingers, the band leader, shouts "Follow the cat's lead (p.30)," and they do. All the cats start playing with all four paws, two songs together. They are a hit with all the cool cats in the audience, but of course, the square cats don't get it. They say, "What is this chicken scratching?... We can't hear the melody!" But Cat-Dance asks Stringbean what he calls his new sounds, and Stringbean answers, "This be for you, Pops!' "What's that, kid?" said Cat-Dance, who was a little hard of hearing. "Bebop?" Stringbean smiled. "Right on. Bebop it is (p. 32)!" Thus a star and an art form is born. "The Cat Who Invented Bebop" is peppered with colored key names and rainbow pictures of the square and cool cats who surround Stringbean. It is a wonderful book and a wonderful experience. I am sending a copy to my uncle who has been a bebop jazz sax player since the 50's. I'll see what he says about Stringbean and his buddies.

The World History Shelf

Who's Jim Hines?
Jean Alicia Elster
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814334027, $12.95,

Based on a true story, "Who's Jim Hines?" is a story of old racism in the 1930s in the area of Detroit. Douglas Ford Jr. at the age of twelve is brought to an early and rude awakening into the world of hard labor. He begins to learn the legend of a man named Jim Hines and learns about the harsh reality of racism in his hometown. "Who's Jim Hines?" is a great period piece aimed at younger readers with an interest in history.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Everything Kids' Cookbook
Sandra K. Nissenberg
Adams Media Corporation
57 Littlefield Street, 2nd floor, Avon, MA 02322
9781598695922, $7.95,, 1-800-872-5627

Instill in a child a love of cooking and you provide them with the skills and attitudes that will serve them well throughout their lives. Now in and updated and expanded second edition, "The Everything Kids' Cookbook" by Sandra K. Nissenberg (a registered dietician and specialist in child nutrition) provides a compendium of ninety thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes specially designed for boys and girls. With step-by-step illustrated instructions the recipes range from Breakfast Crepes; Tasty Tuna Melt; Oven-Fried Fish; and Tuna Noodle Casserole; to Chicken Quesadilla with Salsa; Ultimate Peanut Butter-Chocolate Squares; and Creamy Dreamy Root Beer Float. There are even do-it-yourself recipes for Handmade Play Dough; Cereal Necklaces; and Edible Finger Paints! "The Everything Kids' Cookbook" is enthusiastically recommended for family and community library children's cookbook collections.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Yoga Zoo Adventure
Helen Purperhart
Hunter House
PO Box 2914, 1515 1/2 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501
9780897935050, $14.95,

Yoga is too often depicted as something for crazed new age adults who wear necklaces with healing crystals hanging from their neck. "The Yoga Zoo Adventure: Animal Poses and Games for Little Kids" is a guide explaining how Yoga can be taught to children and give them much benefit and education in the process. The practices of yoga can inspire creativity, imagination on top of the much more obvious physical benefits of exercise to help kids get and stay fit. "The Yoga Zoo Adventure" is a natural and innovative application of the Yoga practices, highly recommended.

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath
Nick Bruel
Roaring Brook Press
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9781596433410, $13.95 1-800-462-4703

Written by the author of the "Bad Kitty" children's books, Bad Kitty Gets a Bath is a storybook about the trials and tribulations of giving a dirty black kitty a bath! Expressive black-and-white illustrations on almost every page are sure to bring a smile to the faces of cat lovers young and old. Beyond the humorous insights into the near-futility of getting a cat to do anything it doesn't want to do, Bad Kitty Gets a Bath also offers gentle, practical advice for bathing a cat: "Try not to pour water directly onto Kitty's head. Instead, use a soft, moist towel and gently wipe her face and head." Though over one hundred and twenty pages in length, Bad Kitty Gets a Bath is more of a visual storybook than a text novel, and is well suited to young picturebook readers who are just about ready to start reading slightly more complex fare. Bad Kitty Gets a Bath is also a wonderful giftbook for cat owners of all ages!

The DVD Shelf

Preschooler Learns Spanish / Aprendamos Espanol
Galloping Minds
20266 Vista Court, Cupertino, CA 95014

Intended for preschool children one to four years of age, Preschooler Learns Spanish / Aprendamos Espanol is an educational, bilingual DVD ideal for introducing preschoolers to the Spanish language. Simple Spanish words related to family, parts of the body, foods, means of transportation, everyday objects, nature and animals, numbers and colors, and more. Vivid pictures and classical music enhance this fun DVD perfect for fostering the joy of learning in little ones. 36 minutes, color.

Why Do Giraffes Have Long Necks?
Kayo Media, LLC
1700 Seventh Ave., Suite 2100, Seattle, WA 98101
Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc. (publicity)
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Why Do Giraffes Have Long Necks? is a children's DVD starring the iconic, animated "Billy Blue Hair" and his journey through a live-action world. Introducing young viewers ages three and up to real-life bison, apes, monkeys, giraffes, zebras, and lions, Billy teaches amazing facts about wild creatures and fosters a greater appreciation for nature's wonders. Especially recommended as a birthday or holiday gift for young animal lovers! 30 minutes, color.

Teen Safety: Dating & Relationships
Learning ZoneXPress
PO Box 1022, Owatonna, MN 55060
$79.95 1-888-455-7003

Teen Safety: Dating & Relationships is a brief yet vital DVD that all teenagers and young adults should see. Providing information about date rape drugs and how to protect oneself from them, six strategies for preventing date rape, warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, and resources to fall back on when experiencing abuse at home or school, Teen Safety: Dating & Relationships is an absolute "must-have" for school and public library collections. Teaching materials are included in this indispensable DVD, highly recommended for viewing by students in grades 6 and up. 17 minutes, closed-captioned.

The Case of the Coin Purloined
WGBH Boston Video
SSA Public Relations
16027 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 206, Encino, CA 91436
9781593758387, $12.95

The Case of the Coin Purloined is a children's DVD of two episodes of the "Postcards from Buster" public television series, which feature a distinctive blend of animation and live-action documentary storytelling. The cheerfully animated white rabbit Buster visits Fort Leonard Wood, an Army base in the Ozark Mountains, in "The Case of the Coin Purloined"; he makes two new friends, siblings whose father is currently serving in Iraq. Together they solve a mystery, and Buster helps them make a video postcard for their father in this touching story. In "Buster's Baseball Meringue", Buster visits the Dominican Republic as an unofficial scout for the Elwood City Grebes baseball team. He meets a talented young baseball player, and learns about the deliciously distinctive taste of pasteles, a local delicacy! A wonderful DVD for broadening cultural awareness in young people as well as promoting entertainment and language skills, The Case of the Coin Purloined is highly recommended for public library and private children's collections alike.

Physical Science
Rock 'N Learn
PO Box 3595, Conroe, TX 77305-3595
9781934312049, $19.99 1-800-348-8445

Physical Science is an educational DVD designed to teach young people in grade 5 and up about lab safety, the scientific method, and a wide range of basic topics covered in any physical science test ranging from the parts of atoms to molecules and states of matter, understanding magnetism and electricity, motion and gravity, and much more. Three-dimensional computer-animation of playful characters host this enjoyable viewing experience, which features a special bonus section where viewers can practice earning high scores on a multiple-choice physical science test. Correlated to National Science Educational Standards, Physical Science is highly recommended as a supplementary resource for science classrooms as well as for middle school library and public library collections, especially in this modern age which needs young people to take an interest in science more than ever before! 55 minutes, color.

Arthur Season 11
WGBH Boston Video
c/o SSA Public Relations
16027 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 206, Encino, CA 91436
9781593758592, $49.95

Arthur Season 11 collects the latest season of the Parents' Choice award-winning public television series based on the popular children's books by Marc Brown. Following the animated adventures of eight-year-old aardvark Arthur Read, Arthur Season 11 includes episodes such as "Mind Your Manners", "Germophobia", "Baby Kate and the Imaginary Mystery", "The Making of Arthur" (with Matt Damon) and much more. Extra features include downloadable materials for parents and teachers, and the DVDs are enhanced with closed captions and described video for the visually impaired. A joyful and mildly educational program, enthusiastically recommended as a gift for families with young children, as well as public library children's DVD collections. 4.5 hours, color.

The Audiobook Shelf

Cybele's Secret
Juliet Marillier, author
Justine Eyre, narrator
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780739379349, $57.50 1-800-726-0600

Cybele's Secret is the unabridged audiobook version of the historical fantasy novel by Aurealis Award-winning author Juliet Marillier. Paula looks forward to accompanying her father to Istanbul on a special mission to acquire a one-of-a-kind artifact, but a hostile cult makes their trip a deadly serious affair when her father's colleagues is found murdered. Furthermore, Paula is drawn to figure out the mysterious riddle behind Cybele's legendary treasure - can she discover the secret before it's too late? A fantastic story of romance, intrigue, and destiny, Cybele's Secret is highly recommended for listeners of all ages as well as public library fantasy collections.

The Best of Broadway & Beyond: Health Series
Pennie Sempell's Place
c/o Brickman Marketing (publicity)
395 Del Monte Center #250, Monterey, CA 93940
$15.95 each 1-877-431-BEST

Children's entertainer, attorney, and health practitioner Pennie Sempell presents The Best of Broadway & Beyond: Health Series, which consists of three audiobooks on CD for children ages 3-8 and their parents. Each installment teaches listeners about health and wellness, enhancing its message with catchy tunes and home and classroom activities. "Fun Time, Relax Time: Focus on Health" (45 min.) teaches listeners why fun and relaxation are important to health, the positive effects of vitamins, food, proper sleep, and laughter, and how to handle stress. "Best Things in Life are Free" (45 min.) is a singsong adventure about the value of happiness and mental well-being. Done in the style of a radio "call-in" program, "Best Things in Life are Free" encourages young people to discover the true treasures of friendship and a positive attitude, drawing upon such popular Hollywood classics as "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin Along" and more. "Love Songs For Our Children" (50 min.) concludes the trilogy with lessons on how to strengthen one's emotional and social well-being, including how to effectively communicate, the value of friends and family, basic meditation finger plays suitable for calming emotions, and more. All three are not only perfect for families to share, but also a welcome addition to public library audiobook shelves. Highly recommended.

The Crafts Shelf

Create Your Own Paper-craft Cards: Flowers
Anne Akers Johnson
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, 8th floor, New York, NY 10012-3999
9781591745709, $16.95,, 1-800-242-7737

Mass produced greeting cards are available everywhere and all that they involve is a little cash transaction. Customized greeting cards require personal effort, time, and creativity -- and therefore means so much more for both those that send them and they that receive them. Anne Aker's Johnson "Create Your Own Paper-craft Cards: Flowers" provides anyone ten years of age and older a complete package of everything needed to craft personalized greeting cards for any and all occasions. Containing eight blank, pre-folded cards, perfectly sized envelopes, a glue tube, dimensional foam tape, glitter, die-cut paper shapes and other embellishments, as well as step-by-step instructions, "Create Your Own Paper-craft Cards: Flowers" is a complete and 'user friendly' kit that will provide hours of fun for the maker and a life-time of fond memories for the recipients of these flower theme paper-craft greeting cards.

The Halloween Shelf

Pucca: Spooky Sooga Village
Shout! Factory
2042-A Armacost Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025
9781603991087, $14.99

Pucca: Spooky Sooga Village is an award-winning animated children's DVD celebrating Halloween with a wacky twist. In Sooga Village, something spooky is going on - but the pint-sized, Kung-Fu queen Pucca won't stand for any funny business! A playful, brightly colored adventure of scares and mayhem, packed with exciting episodes such as "Them Bones", "Ghost of a Kiss", "Itsy Bitsy Enemy Within" and many more. Pucca: Spooky Sooga Village is a family-friendly treasury of laughs and surprises, and the perfect choice to round out a child's Halloween party. 77 minutes, color.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Gathering Grace
Victoria Newcomb
Hanford Mean
PO Box 8051, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
9781592750092, $15.95,

Growing up brings a lot of new things including new responsibilities, new privileges -- and new superpowers? "Gathering Grace" is a fantasy set in modern times as Grace uncovers deeply held family secrets. Unknown relatives, the risks of her new abilities and how to use them responsibility, these are what Grace must deal with. But as all teenagers know, sometimes responsibilities aren't always followed and rules are sometimes broken. A coming of age tale set in the real world with a unique fantasy twist, "Gathering Grace" is very highly recommended to young adult fantasy readers everywhere.

The Mythology/Folklore Shelf

The Legend of the Kukui Nut
Robert Brandon Henderson
illustrations by Mark McKenna
Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, UT 84663
9781599551197 $15.99

"The Legend of the Kukui Nut" is a beautifully illustrated children's book about a Hawaiian fable that explores the meaning of hope, faith, love, and compassion. The quest undertaken by the girl Melika is a ritual journey through darkness and trials from the island of Lani to the dark island of Honua and back. When Chief Makua chooses her to make this journey, he gives her a lamp and a bag of kukui nuts for oil and a spark to light the lamp. He tells her to always keep her lamp lit and never to leave it behind, then say "Aloha." Although Melika is frightened and faces many challenges on her dark journey, she learns to follow a way of caring for others that feeds the light she carries. "The Legend of the Kukui Nut" is a children's classic, beautifully presented in this attractive book.

The Fiction Shelf

The Little Big Thinkers
Patrick A. Davy
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533155231, $7.95

Story time is a valuable time between parent and child for bonding. "The Little Big Thinkers" is a collection of eight simple children's stories ideal for bed time reading. The contents of the tales touch on encouraging children to think for creative and clever ways to solve the problems life throws at them. Educational, entertaining, and tailored perfectly for its intended audiences, "The Little Big Thinkers" is a strong choice for children's fiction collections.

The Diary of Laura's Twin
Kathy Kacer
Second Story Press
20 Maud Street, Suite 401 Toronto, ON M5V 2M5
9781897187395, $14.95,

A Bat Mitzvah is something many young Jewish girls relish, but some were denied that right. "The Diary of Laura's Twin: A Holocaust Remembrance for Young Readers" tells of Laura, who has been tasked with reading the diary of a girl who age who was a victim of the Holocaust atrocity. She bonds with the girl who has been deemed her twin, and must speak for her at her own Bat Mitzvah. Through her studies, she gains much appreciation for her culture and people. Enhanced with biographies and photos of those involved in the Warsaw ghettos, "The Diary of Laura's Twin" is highly recommended reading for any young Jewish readers.

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

Judy Sierra's BEASTLY RHYMES TO READ AFTER DARK (9780375837470, $12.99) sports a zany, attractive wild lime green spotted furry cloth cover to accompany a set of wild rhymes illustrated by Brian Biggs. From 'The Lavatory Crocodile' to 'Leopard Chefs', a series of zany animal encounters makes for fun, unpredictable rhymes. Peggy Gifford's MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE WRITING THANK-YOU NOTES (9780375842702, $12.99) tells of a girl who doesn't want to write twelve thank-you notes to each person who has given her a Christmas gift. And if she doesn't, she won't get to leave for her coveted California vacation the next day. Her schemes to get her thank-you notes done in time are hilarious in this fine story for ages 8-12. Naomi Hirahara's 1001 CRANES (9780385735568, $15.99) tells of pre-teen Angela, who arrives in a small town outside of Los Angeles but wants to be home in Northern California with her friends. She's being sent away to be shielded from the pain of her parents' possible divorce but she feels no better at her grandparents' house, until plans for her help in their flower shop change her life. A heart-warming story of adjustment, this is recommended for advanced elementary through middle school age groups. Marthe Jocelyn's WOULD YOU (9780375837036, $15.99) tells of an older sister injured by a car, and four days in which Natalie and her family wait to learn if Claire will ever recover. A heartbreaking story of sudden changes will attract middle school readers. Lauren Mechling's DREAM GIRL (9780385735216, $15.99) tells of Claire, who has been having strange visions her whole life. Her visions seem useless until on her 15th birthday her grandmother gives her a rare, strange family heirloom that promises to change her life and perceptions. Nancy McKenzie's GUINEVERE'S GIFT (9780375843457, $15.99) tells of an orphan and ward of an uncle and aunt who is tomboyish and unlikely to become the queen prophecy has foretold. Guinevere's discovery of an ancient tribe whose mission is to protect her uncovers a castle plot, a mystery, and possible ancient powers at work in the land in Book 1 in the 'Chrysalis Queen Quartet'. April Lurie's THE LATENT POWERS OF DYLAN FONTAINE (9780385731256, $15.99) tells of a broken family, a female best friend who only wants to be Dylan's buddy and Dylan, who stars in his best friend's movie only to discover life is evolving in different directions for him. James Kennedy's THE ORDER OF ODD FISH (9780385735438, $15.99) tells of Jo, who has lived with her aunt Lily in the California desert all of her 13 years of life. When Lily's annual Christmas party turns up some odd characters, the two find themselves on an unusual journey to an ancient world, where Jo learns the truth about who she is and where the Order of Odd Fish fits into her mysterious heritage. All are excellent leisure reads for middle school readers.

Oddest of All
Bruce Coville
Harcourt Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780152058081, $16.00

Ages 12 and up will relish this fine gathering of nine magical stories by Bruce Coville, who uses the strange and supernatural in a series of astonishing secrets and oddities. Three have never been published before: the result is a fine gathering of chillers that will prove hard to put down and perfect for middle school leisure readers.

Walker & Company
175 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

Wendy Corsi Staub's LILY DALE: BELIEVING (0802796567, $15.99) tells of Calla, whose gift of sight attracts the attention of a killer of teen girls who has designs on her talents. Calla is just beginning to trust her perceptions: will she be able to listen to the warning signs that the killer may have her in his sights? This is the second book in Staub's paranormal suspense series set in the town of Lily Dale, and makes for an involving detective mystery. Bonnie Dobkin's NEPTUNE'S CHILDREN (0802797342, $16.99) tells of a dream vacation at a theme park which becomes a nightmare when biological terrorism causes the death of every adult on the islands. Young teens and kids survive but find themselves in a new theme park world run without authority, making for some difficult and frightening choices in this fine mystery recommended for advanced teen readers.

Ingrid Law
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9780803733060, $16.99

Mibs Beaumont is about to become a teen and thirteen is when a Beaumont's latent powers typically come into play. But the day before her birthday her father is in a terrible accident and all she wishes for is to gain a power that will help him survive. A fine story of latent powers and survival evolves.

The Midnight Twins
Jacquelyn Mitchard
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9781595141606, $16.99

Two twins have visions after battling a fire on the night of their thirteenth birthday, and each is revealed to have new powers. Mallory can see into the past and Meredith can see into the future. Their interrelationship and their ability to possibly change time itself involves a labyrinth of difficult decisions in this haunting story, the first in a new trilogy.

My Tiki Girl
Jennifer McMahon
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9780525479437, $16.99

Maggie Keller used to be popular before the accident she thinks she caused, that killed her mother. Now she walks with a limp and has a scar and is drawn to different people such as Dahlia, the strange new girl at school. Their volatile friendship involves a degree of romance and a lot of confusion in this story of first love and hardship, recommended for advanced teen readers.

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

Lin Oliver's ATTACK OF THE GROWLING EYEBALLS: WHO SHRUNK DANIEL FUNK? BOOK 1 (1416909516, $14.99) tells of a regular boy stuck living a house full of girls. When he suddenly shrinks he discovers he DOES have a long-coveted brother: a ver tiny brother and a twin who is lots of trouble. Hilarious drawings by Stephen Gilpin enhance this easy reader for grades 2-4. Tony DiTerlizzi's KENNY & THE DRAGON (1416939776, $15.99) tells of one Kenny Rabbit, who finds himself involved in a battle against a dragon in the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon. And Kenny may be on the wrong side in this hilarious story for ages 8-12. Phyllis Reynold Naylor's ALMOST ALICE (0689870965, $16.99) provides another Alice story, this one revolving around her long-standing friendships with Pamela and Liz. Alice's concern about her role as a friend to them is also complicated by Patrick's return and the senior prom in this fine tale of evolving relationships. Hope Larson's CHIGGERS (1416935843, $17.99) tells of Abby, who is back at the same summer camp, though everything is different. Her friend Rose is a cabin assistant, her friend Beth is pierced, and only the new girl Shasta isn't 'too cool' for Abby's friendship. Ages 10-14 will relish this story of secrets and changing friendships, which is told in a series of black and white cartoons. Richard Lewis' THE DEMON QUEEN (1416935894, $15.99) tells of Jesse, a boy with a mysterious past who has been in and out of foster homes his whole life. When he earns the attention of Homeland Security after a case of mistaken identity, he finds the first clues to a strange past clues which threaten his new foster home when Honor Clarke shows up and odd symbols and bird murders begin. Ages 12 and older will find it a fine fantasy story.

The Picturebook Shelf

Knights & Castles
Philip Steele
Kingfisher Books
c/o Macmillan
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9780753462287, $10.95, 1-800-225-3362

The knights, castles, kings and wars of the medieval world continue to hold a special fascination for children. Enhanced with some of the best visual art in children's book publishing, the Kingfisher edition of "Knights & Castles" by Philip Steele offers young readers an informed and informative historical survey of how knights and castles came into being, how they developed and grew more sophisticated and larger through the 'Age of Chivalry', the different fighting orders of knights, the great Crusades, castle towns and lands, heraldry, tournaments, codes of honor, and the ultimate decline of both castles and knighthood. Enhanced with the addition of a glossary of terms, an index, and a suggested bibliography of other fine books, websites, and possible activities to investigate and explore medieval society, "Knights & Castles" is an impressive and entertaining overview that will prove an immensely popular addition to school and community library collections.

Sweet Dreams
Jonathan Koshar
Broad Reach Publishing
117 East Louisa Street, Suite 378, Seattle, WA 98102
9780979457708, $14.95

Dreams are something every child cherishes. "Sweet Dreams" is a children's picturebook telling of a boy and conversation with his father about what he dreams of every night. Being a chef, a teacher, and even an astronaut, he spills out his ideas as his father listens intently. With charming water color artwork from Donna Trent, "Sweet Dreams" is highly recommended to any parent who holds the dreams of their child sacred.

It's Tough to Nap on a Turtle
Christopher Harder
Shenanigan Books
129 West End Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901
0972661492, $5.95

Where is the best place to go to sleep? "It's Tough to Nap on a Turtle" is a charming children's picturebook about a child who tries to find the best place to rest, before realizing he has a comfy bed at home. "It's Tough to Nap on a Turtle" is enhanced with simple yet functional drawings from Rolf Hardeer, giving it an enthusiastic recommendation for family, school, and community library collections.

Atheneum/Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020

Nancy Van Laan and George Booth's NIT-PICKIN (0689838980, $15.99) tells of a lice attack and the zany cures for lice in this fun story for ages 4-8. A rollicking rhyme brings the various folk treatments to life in this funny story. Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer's FARTISTE: AN EXPLOSIVELY FUNNY, MOSTLY TRUE STORY (1416928286, $16.99) tells of the artist Joe the Fartiste, who takes the stage at Paris' Moulin Rouge to perform his fart art for royalty. Boris Kulikov's bright and fun art illustrates this 'mostly true' story for ages 5-8. Margery Cuyler's MONSTER MESS! (0689864051, $14.99) receives S.D. Schindler's fun drawings as it tells of a tired monster who makes too much noise and is too messy. Ages 3-6 will appreciate sound effects and zany full-page color drawings. Sam Lloyd's MR. PUSSKINS AND LITTLE WHISKERS (1416957960, $15.99) tells of a perfectly happy cat until Emily decides to bring home the surprise of Little Whiskers. Mr. Pusskins doesn't want a kitten around, and hates playing games with it but what he doesn't know is the kitten doesn't want to play games either. All are fine choices for discriminating picturebook libraries.

Harcourt Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

Adam Rex's FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE (9780152062354, $16.00) provides a zany story in telling of Frankenstein, who just wants to marry his undead bride in peace, but faces problems when his best man Dracula is afraid of the garlic bread. While this is a funny follow-up to FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH, it needs no prior introduction to prove a hilarious addition to any library seeking something different. Gene Barretta's JACK THE TRIPPER (9780152061326, $16.00) tells of students at Dizzie Day Elementary who are flying through the air and facing vanishing homework. Parents are frantically searching for clues as to Jack the Tripper's whereabouts in this zany tale of detective fantasy. Scott Magoon's MYSTERY RIDE! (9780152060213, $16.00) will reach ages 3-7 with its fun story of a 'mystery ride' in which parents try to trick the kids into having fun. Maybe 'mystery rides' aren't so bad after all, the kids decide George McClements' BARON VON BADDIE AND THE ICE RAY INCIDENT (9780152061388, $16.00) tells of Captain Kapow and an ice ray that will change the Baron's life. The Baron only thinks about his next invention and escaping jail. When he accidentally traps Captain Kapow the truly unexpected happens.

Books in Series

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
$28.00 each

'Getting to Know the World's Greatest Inventors & Scientists' are 32-page biographies by Mike Venezia and are perfect for grades 2-4: they offer large print, a blend of vintage black and white and color illustration, and include a chatty story-like format to personalize the biography structure. ALBERT EINSTEIN: UNIVERSAL GENIUS (0531149757), ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL: SETTING THE TONE FOR COMMUNICATION (0531149765), MARIE CURIE: SCIENTIST WHO MADE GLOWING DISCOVERIES (0531149773) and THOMAS EDISON: INVENTOR WITH A LIGHT OF BRIGHT IDEAS (0531149781) are all attractive, inviting coverages.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Any elementary-level collection strong in teaching about family interactions will welcome the 'Families' set by Debbie Gallagher ($19.95 each). Each book holds 32 pages of detail featuring larger print for grades 2-4, contemporary color photos, an index, glossary and more. FAMILY CELEBRATIONS (9780761431336), FAMILY HOMES (9780761431367), FAMILY MEALS (9780761431381), FAMILY MEMBERS (9780761431398), FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES (9780761431411) and FAMILY STORIES (9780761431428) each provide strong accounts of family traditions and history. Kimberley Jane Pryor's 'Values' series ($19.95 each) offers a similar format: each holding 32 pages of large-print information centered around a theme. COOPERATION (9780761431244), COURAGE (9780761431312), HONESTY (9780761431251), KINDNESS (9780761431268), RESPECT (9780761431282) and TOLERANCE (9780761431299) each offer simple examples of each value and how it's practiced in everyday living. The 'Zoo Animals' series for the same age group is by Michael and Jane Pelusey ($19.95 each) and pairs bright color photos with zoo animal accounts. APES AND MONKEYS (9780761431442), BEARS (9780761431473), ELEPHANTS (9780761431480), GIRAFFES AND ZEBRAS (9780761431497), LIONS AND TIGERS (9780761431510) and RHINOCEROSES AND HIPPOPOTAMUSES (9780761431503) all provide easy reviews of zoo animal health, natural history, and habits. Young animal lovers in grades 4-6 will also relish the 'Animals Animals' series ($20.95 each), offering up over forty pages of animal facts and focus on different animals. Wil Mara's COYOTES (9780761429289), his DEER (9780761429265), DUCKS (9780761429272), and Steve Otfinoski's ALLIGATORS (9780761429302), SKUNKS (9780761429296) and HUMMINGBIRDS (9780761429326) are fine blends of photos and natural history information suitable for reports. All are excellent choices for the lower grade levels.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

Rapunzel's Revenge
Shannon and Dean Hale
175 5th Avenue, 8th Floor, New York NY 10010
9781599902883, $14.99

Nathan Hale's full-color cartoons enhance this graphic novel adventure of outlaw Rapunzel and her cohort Jack, Wild West outlaws extraordinaire. Any elementary to middle school collection seeking to use graphic novels to attract reluctant readers will consider this a fast-paced action adventure packed with exciting twists and turns of plot. Superbly drawn and with a quite original storyline, "Rapunzel's Revenge" will prove to be a popular read for anyone who enjoys the graphic novel medium as a storytelling format.

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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