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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 10 October 2013 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Computer Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Native American Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Health Shelf
Board Book Shelf Easy Reader Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Activity Shelf Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf Blu-ray Shelf
Christian Shelf Islamic Shelf Halloween Shelf
Crafts Shelf Books in Series  

Reviewer's Choice

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
Barb Rosenstock, author
John O'Brien, illustrator
Calkins Creek
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590789322 $16.95

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library is a children's picturebook about one of Thomas Jefferson's many enormous contributions to American History. When Jefferson was a child, he loved to read and collect books; he built his first library as a young man, and never stopped trying to make bigger and better libraries. His beloved book collection would help create the largest library in the world - the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., which hosts over 35 million books today! Wonderful color illustrations, fascinating facts, and an author's note embellish this wonderful true story about Thomas Jefferson the bibliophile. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library children's collections.

The Blue Goblin
Donna Pisella, author
Dustin Pike, illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd., Parker, CO 80134
9781478712695, $22.95,

"The Blue Goblin" is a fun fantasy story that has a hidden agenda: tempting young children to eat their healthy vegetables and greens. Enhanced by funny, spunky colored illustrations of the blue/green goblin and friends, "The Blue Goblin" is a tickling, teasing tale of a grumpy, scary goblin who ate an unvaried diet of green worms, which made him feel grumpy because he was hungry, and inadequately nourished. One day he forgot to eat green worms and tried fresh blueberries instead, with spine-tingling results! He turned blue, which, it turns out, made him not very scary anymore to children. But the key reaction here was in the goblin himself,: He felt better! Things develop in his limited palate and lifestyle, and ultimately the blue goblin learns to love many wonderful (green) foods including peas, Brussels sprouts, and more. The reformed blue goblin decides to give up scaring children, plant and tend a garden of his favorite vegetables, and give a party for all his goblin friends, with a feast of veggie stew and green wriggly worm pie. Bottom line: Reading "The Blue Goblin" to toddlers will help them learn to be adventurous and try new, healthy foods!

Harriet's Homecoming
Susan Sachs Levine, author
Erin Burchwell, artist
Orange Frazer Press
P.O. Box 214, Wilmington, OH 45177
9781933197975, $19.95,

"Harriet's Homecoming: A High Flying Tour of Cincinnati" is the exciting, illustrated story of how a young peregrine falcon gets lost in downtown Cincinnati after she accidentally collides with a skyscraper and is rescued by a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Harriet finally flies off to explore downtown Cincinnati in hopes of finding her family nest which is near Fountain Square. Along her way, Harriet meets a number of helpful animal guides who tell her more about the different landmarks and features of Cincinnati. "Harriet's Homecoming" features colored background sidebars about different famous landmarks, such as the Carew Tower, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, Eden Park, and more. Eventually Harriet finds her sister Maria, who takes her home to her parents after an exciting time discovering the big city of Cincinnati. Color illustrations of Harriet and her surroundings merge with actual photographs of peregrine falcons and chicks in the Cincinnati area. Additional information about peregrine falcons and the history of Cincinnati is provided at the end of "Harriet's Homecoming," along with phone numbers and web sites for 23 famous Cincinnati historic landmarks. "Harriet's Homecoming" is an exciting nature adventure story based on real life for children age 7 and up.

Oh No, School!
Hae-Kyung Chang, author
Josee Bisaillon, illustrator
Magination Press
PO Box 92984
Washington, DC 20090-2984
9781433813337 $14.95

Oh No, School! is a children's picturebook about a young girl who dreads going to school! Her kind mother listens to her daughter's problems, comforts her, and helps her understand positive ways to face her problems, with the help of a bunny rabbit puppet. "'Do you have to practice your ABCs or sing or jump rope even if you're not sure how?' asked Bunny. 'Yes! Ms. Leonard tells me to sing even when I don't know the words,'... 'Doing something for the first time is hard,' said Bunny. 'You might feel embarrassed because you don't think you did it well. But if you keep trying and practicing then you will get better.'" Filled with appealing, iconic color illustrations, Oh No, School! tackles common childhood fears and problems head-on, and is worthy of the highest recommendation especially for parents preparing their children to face a new school day, as well as for public library children's picturebook collections.

The Computer Shelf

A Beginner's Guide to On-line Security
Wendi Finn, author
Kari Shakley, illustrator
IS Security Solutions LLC
9781491032268, $15.99,

Written by a concerned parent who is also an on line security expert, "A Beginner's Guide to On-line Security: A Workbook for All Ages" consists of a series of technology usage education chapters with paired assignments meant to be done by a leader (parent or teacher) with a child, all designed for an audience of computer-neophyte adults, teens, and children age 7 and up. Chapter subjects include technology today, definition of the internet, instructions for internet access, defining risks of internet access, security online, e-mail, video chat, social networking, classroom technology, and additional information in the appendix labeled Tips for Parents. Chapters are brief, with illustrated subcategory headings, and usually consist of an informative section called Learn About It, and a refection/exercise page called What Do You Know? Helpful information is also given in the Appendix under http// This valuable on-line security resource for children and parents is a must for households and classrooms everywhere.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Dragons of Pan Gu
Kevin White, author
Rex White, illustrator
Chimeric Press
5299 Rau Road, West Branch, MI 48661
9780984712267, $15.95,

"The Dragons of Pan Gu," subtitled "From the Scrolls of the Sanshee Wanderer," is an East Asian creation myth retold, about opposites symbolized by a black and a white dragon, struggling for control, but always seeking balance. The magnificent colored illustrations present an omniscient, dreaming Creator presence called Pan Gu in chalk drawings, who works his way through the intricate puzzle of creation of a balanced Earth. Finally a young boy and his Grandfather complete the story by sharing a lesson about wisdom, control, and fishing. "The Dragons of Pan Gu" is a vibrant creation story with deeply stirring implications, creatively presented for children ages 5-10 and up.

Aesop's Fables
Michael Rosen, author
Talleen Hacikyan, illustrator
Tradewind Books
202-1807 Maritime Mews, Vancouver, BC Canada V6H 3W7
Orca Book Publishers (dist.)
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
9781896580814 $16.95

Aesop's Fables is a children's picturebook of brief, classic parables by Aesop, usually presented in the form of a short story that plays out between animals. Each fable has a classic moral, and all of them are presented in plain terms readily accessible to young readers. The fables range from the well-known "Fox and Grapes" (moral: "Don't fool yourself into saying that something is bad, when really you know it's good. You're probably only saying it because you can't have it".) to lesser-known tales such as Cockerel, Dog and Fox (moral: "If someone stronger than yourself is attacking you, or if you think someone is trying to get the better of you with clever words, then go and get help from someone who can defend you.") The stylized, striking color illustrations add the perfect touch to this captivating sampler of Aesop's timeless tales and morals (of course, Aesop told many more fables than can fit between the covers of a picturebook such as this one). Highly recommended!

The King With Dirty Feet
Rob Cleveland, author
Tom Wrenn, illustrator
August House Story Cove
c/o August House
3500 Piedmont Road, NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
National Book Network (distributor)
4270 Boston Way, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781939160744, $4.95,

"The King With Dirty Feet" is a charming presentation of an old Indian folk tale about a king who did not like to bathe. Finally, after a year of not bathing, he was so dirty and smelly he finally agreed to take a bath in the river. Crowds cheered as the king bathed for 3 hours. However, when he stepped out of the river, his wet feet became dirty again because dust stuck to his wet feet. The king decides someone needs to discover a way for him to keep his feet clean after bathing, or he will never take another bath. His advisor, Gamar, tries sweeping or washing the dirt away, with a pronounced lack of success. Finally he has all the people stitch together a leather ground covering for the king to step on. Although this works, it works too well. The trees and flowers cannot grow where the leather covered the ground. An old man presents an inspired solution: Snipping and the leather ground covering, he creates the first pair of foot coverings which will be called shoes. This works perfectly and the king desires to reward the old man, but he replies, wisely and with a twinkle in his eye, "You can all go about your business and stop making so much fuss. Go on home now. Shoo. I said shoo." And they did. The king was very happy, and proclaimed shoes to be a wonderful new invention that everyone should have. "The King With Dirty Feet" is a wise fable, imaginatively presented, and embellished with chocolate-dripping (faux) comic illustrations that will draw laughter from all readers.

The Native American Shelf

Standing Bear of the Ponca
Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, author
Thomas Floyd, illustrator
University of Nebraska Press
1111 Lincoln Mall, Ste. 400, Lincoln, NE 68588
9780803228269, $14.95,

"A Standing Bear of the Ponca" is a moving illustrated biography of a famous leader of the Bear Clan of the Ponca (1829-1903) who made a legitimate legal case in Standing Bear v. Crook (1879) that he was a human being and entitled to certain basic rights under the law. Simply written in factual language, "Standing Bear of the Ponca" tells a sad but heroic story of one man's efforts to shield and protect his clan in the face of unbelievable persecution and heartless disregard. The Poncas were forced to leave their homeland in Nebraska near Niobrara and march on their own desperate Trail of Tears, like that of the Cherokee, earlier. Finally, after much hardship, sickness, starvation, and death, the Ponca were allowed to return to the Niobrara area, although much of their former territory was not restored to them fully. "Standing Bear of the Ponca" tells a true tale that is filled with sadness, difficulties, hardships, and death, but the ending honors a great man and a great tribe and clan of peaceful First Americans who were finally awarded a legal status of being considered fully human under the law of the land. A Timeline and Glossary at the end of the book add to the coherence of the biography. "Standing Bear of the Ponca" is first rate Native American biography material, written by a woman of Ponca and Sioux descent for young readers ages 8 and up.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Second Hand Cat
Vell Sweeny, author
Elizabeth Mifflin Sweeny, illustrator
Pink Pig Press
980 Broadway, Suite 248, Thornwood, NY 10594
9780981636023, $14.95,

"Second Hand Cat" is a remarkable true story about a real shelter cat who became a beloved family member after being adopted by his forever family. Phantom was dirty, white, and deaf, with unmatched eyes, and he lived a long time at the shelter before finally being adopted. He did not know he was deaf, but discovered a style of cat-to-cat communication with another cat, Kit-Kat. The miracle of Phantom was that he remained determined in the face of all discouragement. When he finally was taken home by his family (along with his friend Kit Kat), he discovered showers, large spaces, positive human attention (otherwise known as love), and a fear of second hands on clocks. Because Phantom had been called a second hand cat, he was afraid the second hands on the clocks would somehow lead the family to return him to the shelter! Showing unusual fortitude and imagination, Phantom put a plan in action to stop the Second Hand Sequence once and for all. The astonishing conclusion of "Second Hand Cat" will restore faith in human/animal friendships and inspire cat lovers everywhere. The charming mixed crayon illustrations convey the warmth and kind regard that Phantom inspired in his adoptive family. "Second Hand Cat" is a wonderful book to share to teach children responsibility and caring for feline and other animals.

Where Snow Leopard Prowls
Naomi C. Rose
Dancing Dakini Press
77 Morning Sun Dr.
Sedona, AZ 86336
9780983633303 $17.95

Strikingly realistic paintings illustrate Where Snow Leopard Prowls: Wild Animals of Tibet, a children's picturebook filled with amazing facts about Tibet's native species. One or two pages and a brief amount of text is devoted to each of several extraordinary creatures of the Tibetan plateau: the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, wild yak, Himalayan tahr (a wild goat), golden snub-nosed monkey, black-necked crane, and more. The last few pages offer some simple activities kids can undertake (such as "write a poem about your favorite animal"), a brief glossary of words to know, and more. Highly recommended for public and school library collections, as well as gift-giving for young animal lovers!

In Deep With the Octopus
Norma Dixon
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 4T8
9781554552702 $19.95

In Deep With the Octopus is an educational picturebook for young readers ages seven and up, filled with amazing facts and beautiful, full-color photography. Chapters cover everything from the octopus' life cycle, to its natural predators, to the threats that pollution and the pet trade pose to the species. In Deep With the Octopus does not condemn eating octopuses, but it does speak out against the cruel practice of eating octopuses while they are still alive. "Because octopuses have sophisticated and complex nervous systems, they feel pain just as strongly as we do." In Deep With the Octopus also discourages the practice of keeping octopuses as pets - they are hard to keep alive in aquariums, which deprive them of their freedom. "People who want octopuses for novelty pets might not realize they are being cruel and they don't always know it's against the law to buy and sell them." A simple index rounds out this excellent and eye-opening book, highly recommended especially for public and school library children's nonfiction collections.

Animal Helpers Zoos
Jennifer Keats Curtis, author
Sylvan Dell Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781607188506, $9.95,

"Zoos" is a bright new title from the Animal Helpers series for children, containing a narrated photographic journal of the many caretaker tasks performed with different exotic animals in zoos. Perfectly adapted for students in grades K-2, "Zoos" presents additional animal related learning activities and wildlife conservation status systems, a true/false animal zoo quiz, and information about zookeepers, zoologists, and veterinarians. "Zoo" is chock full of portraits of zoo animals and their caretakers up close and will thrill young students of nature and living creatures. "Animal Helpers Zoos" is also available as an e-book in English and Spanish (9781607188513, $9.95, and 9781607188520, $9.95).

The Perfect Pet
Samantha Bell, author/illustrator
Sylvan Dell Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781607186212, $17.95,

"The Perfect Pet" is a great story about a child deciding upon a pet selection by asking "Which animal will be the best pet?" The answer comes through a journey to Kingdom Animalia, from vertebrates to invertebrates, learning animal classification and habitat needs of different animals. A humorous, versed narrative and realistic paintings of many animals decorate the pages of "The Perfect Pet." The light approach appeals to children of all ages, and "The Perfect Pet" covers Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and social studies education for grades K-3. Fortunately a realistic Mom tells the future pet owner that specific responsibility, daily care and supervision tasks are expected of all good pet owners. This leads the child to consider investigating adopting a member from the Kingdom Plantae. Further educational activities about animal classifications are suggested in the final pages of "The Perfect Pet," along with a Kingdom Animalia classification outline, and color coded sidebars of the five major classes of vertebrates. Comparing and contrasting the animals teaches scientific observation and literacy skills. "The Perfect Pet" (also available in Spanish, in paperback, and in eBook format) is an excellent educational and recreational experience for young readers and pet owners. Additional excellent educational titles of recommended resources also from Sylvan Dells include the following: "The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story About the Six Simple Machines," by Lois Spangler, illustrated by Christina Wald (9781607186328, $9.95), "A Day in the Deep," by Kevin Kurtz, illustrated by Erin E. Hunter (9781607186298, $9.95), "A Butterfly Called Hope," by Mary Alice Monroe with Linda Love, photography by Barbara J. Bergwerf (9781607188568, $9.95), and "Dino Tracks" by Rhonda Lucas Donald, illustrated by Cathy Morrison (9781607186311, $9.95).

Taco/Fatso: The Story of a Fat Dog, Too Fat to Fly
Joe Famularo, author
Ivy Marie Apa, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466949263, $17.25,

"Taco/Fatso, the Story of a Fat Dog, Too Fat to Fly" is an inspiring children's story about how Taco, with the help of his human owner, Chiara, solved his weight problem with special diet food and exercise. Even more important, Taco was able to get his weight down from 27 pounds to 20 pounds, the flight maximum weight for a dog to be allowed to fly. Since Chiara and her family lived part of the time at Key West, Florida, Taco needed to be able to fly. Taco encounters both discouraging and encouraging, supportive reactions from his canine and feline friends and acquaintances on his weight loss journey. Chiara proves herself to be Taco's best trainer and life coach, helping him to accept the new special diet dog food and to have fun running and exercising every day. The story of Taco is true, the real Taco was a half terrier/half Chihuahua who was much loved by Chiara and his adoptive family until he died October 22, 2012, struck by a hit and run driver. Showcased with pleasing color illustrations of Taco's daily actions, "Taco/Fatso, the Story of a Fat Dog, Too Fat to Fly" is an inspirational true story for kids of all ages.

About Penguins, A Guide for Children
Cathryn Sill, author
John Sill, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561457434, $7.95,

' "About Penguins" is a recent title from the 'About ....' series of factual books about animals and birds for young children. Beautifully illustrated with 18 full page color plates of different penguins in their natural habitats on land and sea, "About Penguins" is the perfect junior natural observer's companion. Brief, explanatory sentences describe penguins' characteristics, habits, feeding and hatching behaviors and more. An Afterword provides additional explanations and data about penguin life observed in each page illustration, or plate. A glossary, bibliography, and list of websites complete this informative and appealing nature guide to penguins for children ages 4-8.

Who Pooped in the Cascades?
Gary D. Robson, author
Robert Rath, illustrator
Farcountry Press
P.O. Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781560373629, $11.95,

"Who Pooped in the Cascades: Scats and Tracks for Kids" is a juvenile nature study text from the series titled Who Pooped in the Park? Kids are taught that by examining scat (poop) and tracks, they can learn to identify different animals who live in the Cascade area, in Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. Michael and Emily enjoy camping in the Mt. Hood National Forest with their family and friends. They wonder what animals they might encounter on their mountain hikes. A mountain lion? A bear? They are taught by a parent about reading clues in scat animals leave behind, such as the black tailed deer, ermine, or the great horned owl. They also find a nest and scat of a mountain cotton-tailed rabbit. On this trip, the children learn to identify different animal's tracks as well as their scat, and other signs, like owl pellets and claw marks and marking territory with claws and urine (by the mountain lion). In the end, the children learn to identify signs of 10 different species of animals and birds (including Townsend's big-eared bat, the flying squirrel, ermine and coyote) in the Cascades. "Who Pooped in the Cascades" also includes excellent narrative and illustration about geological features of the area, such as Mount St. Helen's.

Creamy Goes to Heaven
Deb Jackson, author (Creamy's human)
Deb Jackson and Jocelyn Turney, illustrators
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449787622, $17.45,

"Creamy Goes to Heaven" is a story of how the death of a loved cat named Creamy affected everyone who loved her, told from the viewpoint of her best friend, Sheila, a Queensland heeler dog. Sheila is forthright and open in sharing her sadness that Creamy has died. Sheila knows Creamy has gone to heaven just like other dog and cat friends who have died. To help the sadness, Sheila likes to think about the fun things she did with Creamy, like cooperative herding games, and playing until they were tired and needed to rest or do something else. Sheila encourages her readers to tell stories and memories of pets or loved humans they miss who have died. Sheila also explains that Creamy had a long cat life of 17 years and at the end had a sickness that could not be cured by the Vet. Sheila says everybody that is born dies. This can be a comforting thought, through the sadness. Sheila also tells about the process of death and dying, for both humans and pets. Hospice staff can help support a family when someone is dying. So Creamy's mom, a Hospice worker, decided to do home Hospice care for Creamy when he was going to die. Sheila tells about Creamy having visits as he gets weaker and stops eating, and is kept comfortable at home. One morning, Creamy has died in his sleep and gone to heaven. Sheila also tells bout going to heaven and being with God. Sheila is also a Hospice dog, and she promises to tell more about her life in another story called "The Life and Times of Sheila the Cow Dog." A stellar book from the RedshoesDeb series, "Creamy Goes to Heaven" is a reassuring, honest book especially for children, about dealing with death, dying, and grieving.

The Health Shelf

I Can See Just Fine
Eric Barclay, author/illustrator
Abrams Appleseed
c/o Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10011
9781419708015, $14.95,

"I Can See Just Fine" is a story about Paige, a young girl who thinks her vision is A-OK, but this is not the case observed by her teachers, her parents and her friends. Although Paige has trouble seeing the blackboard, reading her music, telling the difference between a skunk and a kitty, and reading a book right side up, she says "I can see just fine!" Finally her parents take her to the eye Doctor for a checkup. There she reads a chart of letters of decreasing size, looks through a mask with nobs and buttons, and discovers that she needs glasses. This does not please Paige, who insists she can see just fine. Then she tries on many different eyeglasses to find the pair that looks just right on her. After Paige gets her new glasses she can see everything, the blackboard at school, the notes of music on the page, the skunk in the yard, and more. However, now she needs to learn to keep her glasses clean so she can see (everything) through them. A charming, humorous, nonthreatening story with witty, detailed, chunky, pastel illustrations, "I Can See Just Fine" is a shoo-in for helping children fearful of glasses and eye doctors to accept healthy enhancement and treatment for their vision.

Sticky Icky Booger Bugs
Sherry Frith, author
Card Newell Walter, illustrator
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480800830, $16.99,

"Sticky Icky Booger Bugs: A Day in the Life of Young Boy Living With Cystic Fibrosis" is a story of a boy named Kory who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Because of his diagnosis, Kory coughs and sneezes a lot every day, sticky icky booger bugs. He takes medicine and an inhaler and uses a shaker machine to keep the sticky icky booger bugs away. He spends lots of time doing the shaker treatment, so he entertains himself with books, DVDs and watching his brothers. The treatments are to help Cory cough and sneeze out the sticky icky booger bugs so they won't make him sick. Kory also takes pep pills and gas attack pills with his meals and snacks. Kory goes to school and learns and plays with other children, receiving medicine from the school nurse when he needs it. When Kory gets home from school, he has shaker, inhaler, and smoker treatments to shake out the sticky icky booger bugs. Kory can play outside with a friend after this is done. Then it is shower and salt wash spray time to clean out his sticky icky booger bugs. Although there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, Kory can lead a full life with the help of special treatments, routines, and medicine, and lots of love and support from his mom and family. "Sticky Icky Booger Bugs" is filled with loving, humorous illustrations that help encourage a child to continue in a battle for a normal life with a chronic disease.

The Board Book Shelf

Little Dance
Renee Benoit, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower St., Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368846, $8.99,

"Little Dance" is a charming illustrated board book for children (age birth and up) featuring a series of 10 riddles with visual clues, all written in verse and pertaining to dance (pre-ballet) lessons for young children. The sturdy board book format is perfect for young children who are both active and curious, wanting to answer each riddle on the flip of the page. The reader uncovers simple definitions for ballerina, stretch, tap shoes, tutu, hop, music, tights, dance teacher, leotard, and recital. "Little Dance" appeals to many of the senses with pleasurable stimulation, visual, auditory, tactile, and more. Its impact is encouraging early education and literacy with dollops of fun.

The Easy Reader Shelf

A Funny Little Bird
Jennifer Yerkes, author/illustrator
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402280139, $15.99,

Awarded the Opera Prima finalist in the Bologna Book Fair Ragazzi, "A Funny Little Bird" is a distinctive illustrated fable that uses white space to define desirable character traits in a nearly invisible, funny little bird. A morality tale told in almost minimalist pictures and spare, sophisticated prose, "A Funny Little Bird" gets its message about the value of the unsung hero or heroine across. Feeling criticized and rejected by other, fancier birds, a charming little white bird defined only by a visible eye, beak, and claws, becomes attracted to pretty objects he collects. Unfortunately, wearing these items (a feather, a flower, a leaf, etc.) makes the funny little bird visible to his predators, the fox. Suddenly the little bird understands the value of camouflage, and he loses his fancy feathers and even uses his hiding abilities to protect some of his friends. An essay in sophisticated design, this charming art fable will appeal both to the very young and their parents and grandparents.

Andy Pritchett, artist/author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763666163, $15.99,

"Stick!" is a wonderful, sparsely worded story told in vibrant action pictures of an excited black and white dog chasing a stick. The exuberant dog tries introducing his wonderful plaything STICK to other animals, who definitely have other interests! The cow, for example, prefers grass, while the chicken, likes worm and the pig likes mud! Just when the dog is giving up, another brown dog throws guess what at him? You guessed it, STICK! Even better, both dogs and even the other animals, join in a dance of celebration of FRIENDSHIP! The fantastic illustrations steal the story narrative, making "Stick!" a wonderful story for very young children. The hilarity and bright orange background colors convey the energy of this charming story about a dog and his best friend.

Come Back, Ben
Ann Hassett and John Hassett
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
9780823425990 $14.95

Part of the "I Like to Read" series ideal for beginning readers, Come Back, Ben is a children's picturebook about a smiling little boy, whose balloon takes him flying ever higher. "Ben's balloon went up. 'Come back, Ben,' said the rain. 'Come back, Ben,' said the rainbow." At last the friendly moon allows Ben to weigh himself down with moon rocks and return - but then Ben's sister wants to fly ever higher on the balloon too! The large, easy-to-read letters, simple turns of phrase, and inviting color artwork make Come Back, Ben perfect to share with the littlest and newest readers.

The Picturebook Shelf

Noni is Nervous
Heather Hartt-Sussman, author
Genevieve Cote, illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770493230 $19.99

The sequel to "Noni Says No", Noni is Nervous is the picturebook story about a young girl who's on edge about the first day of school. She's so nervous she chews her fingernails, twirls her hair, and chatters incessantly. But is school really all that scary? Having fun at school can be as easy as introducing oneself to new friend on the bus! The charming, minimalist illustrations add the perfect touch to this excellent school season read-aloud storybook. Also highly recommended for young people who are wary about being on their own in school is Rachel Eugster's "The Pocket Mommy" (9781770493001, $17.99), a wonderfully expressive picturebook in which a young boy wish brings him an imaginary "pocket mommy" to help him and keep him company during the school day - but keeping her out of trouble is far more difficult than might first appear!

A Very, Very Noisy Tractor
Mar Pavon, author
Nivola Uya, illustrator
Cuento de Luz
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
9788415619659 $15.95

Award-winning children's poet Mar Pavon and award-winning illustrator Nivola Uya present A Very, Very Noisy Tractor, a picturebook about the importance of not listening to pointless negativity. The simple prose story is about a hardworking woman farmer, sporting a beehive hairdo, rubber boots, and thick glasses. When she drives her tractor around, people criticize her and say that women like her shouldn't be operating farm equipment! But the tractor is so noisy that she can't hear them, and she wouldn't pay attention to their vitriol if she could. When she shares a dinner at home with her husband and children, she learns that he daughter dreams of becoming a farmer just like mom. "Darling, my work is very hard, but if that's what you want, then go for it! I'll only give you one piece of advice: make sure that your tractor is very, very noisy - so noisy that you can't hear the silly things people shout at you." Highly recommended.

The King of Little Things
Bil Lepp, author
David T. Wenzel, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561457083 $16.95

The King of Little Things is a fantastic picturebook parable with the moral that even the smallest of things are crucial to everyday life. The voluminous King Normous is a worldwide conqueror, while the King of Little Things is content with his dominion over tiny animals and objects. Then King Normous turns his hungry gaze toward the King of Little Things' dominion! But subjugating the King of Little Things is a much more difficult task, since the King's little but loyal subjects will have none of it - insects infest the army's food, nails refuse to stay nailed, buttons won't button, and fungus grows between toes. Eventually King Normous has to relent, because his own people can't get anything done amid the full rebellion of all things small. "And King Normous? Ah, well, he spent the rest of his days looking for his keys, his spectacles, his pocket watch, his socks, his wallet, his hair net... And he never thought about little things in the same way again." Young readers are encourage to study he elaborate, colorful illustrations to find pictures of little things represented on the inside front and back covers, making The King of Little Things a charming look-and-find book! Highly recommended.

Ileana Katzenelson
Soul Prints Press
c/o KSB Promotions
55 Honey Creek Ave NE
Ada, MI 49301-9768
9780985933401 $18.73

Illustrated in a strikingly stylized, stained-glass style, Bimbambu is an original, delightful children's picturebook about the value of giving. Bimbambu is a brightly colored bird who lives in a forest with many other animals. Winter is coming, so Bimbambu gives one animal after another some of his beautiful feathers to turn into warm garments. But what about poor, cold Bimbambu? Each of the animals Bimbambu has gifted presents him with a handmade article of clothing out of his own feathers! "Bimbambu felt lucky to have so many friends, and deep down inside he knew he had such good friends because he knew how to be a good friend too." Gentle and compassionate, Bimbambu is an excellent read-aloud picturebook for storytime or bedtime.

Wilhelmina's Butterflies
Clarice Thornton Davis, author
Dwight Nacaytuna, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781483671031, $21.99,

"Wilhelmina's Butterflies" is the delightfully illustrated story of Wilhelmina, a young African American girl who loves classical music, and her first attendance of a Symphony Orchestra concert. Eight -year-old Wilhelmina loves to listen to her favorite classical music from morning till night, but no one understands why. Her brother teases her, and adults and children are mystified by her attachment to beautiful classical music. Wilhelmina is very excited to attend a concert at Symphony Hall with her entire class, but she also feels strange, like having butterflies in her stomach. At school only Wilhelmina's friend Penny, an Asian girl, seems to understand her love of classical music. Worried about her butterflies, Wilhelmina is determined to enjoy attending the symphony concert and hearing all the different sounds of the concert instruments. The wonderful concert continues through music by Sousa, Haydn, Pachelbel, Johann Strauss II, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At the end, all the audience applauded and shouted "Bravo!" and Wilhelmina felt very happy, while her butterflies faded away. At the end of "Wilhelmina's Butterflies" is a vocabulary list of musical terms used in the narrative, plus a wonderful two page illustration of a complete symphony orchestra in performance with an American flag nearby. "Wilhelmina's Butterflies" is a wonderful musical and educational experience for children age 7-8 and up, with excellent pro-diversity messages in the text and illustrations.

Saturday is Dadurday
Robin Pulver, author
R. W. Alley, illustrator
Walker Books for Young Readers
c/o Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780802786913, $16.99,

"Saturday is Dadurday" is a charming story about special times spent together by Mimi and her Dad on Saturdays, after her twin siblings came to the family. Mimi and her Dad would make special lists of their favorite things to do, and then they would try to "match" items to find the best bets for shared activities for Dadurday. A crisis loomed when Mimi's Dad needed to work on Saturday, but they tried to start Dadurday when he got home from work. Mimi was unsatisfied with this shortchanging of her special time, and called it BADurday. While Mimi's mom coped heroically with the twin babies, Mimi got impatient and angry, and called it MADurday. Mimi made lists and waited for her Dad all day long. Mimi called it SADurday, then complained to her mom that it wasn't MOMurday, and got told it also wasn't MIMIday. After quite a pouting reaction, wanting it to be me, me, me, nothing but ME, Mimi changed her tune. She helped her mother with the twins and decorated a welcome banner for her Dad to celebrate Dadurday when he got home, because she loved her Dad and he loved her too. "Saturday is Dadurday" is a wonderful story about learning to mature, adjust to change and focus on the good things in life. Children 5 and up will love this story and "get" all the funny illustrations' implied jokes.

Anton's Fine Horse
Margaret Matus Belan, author
Frank Monahan, editor
Aileen Riggalls, illustrator
Rocket Science Productions
9781937121501, $14.99,

"Anton's Fine Horse" is a moving children's tale based on an old Slovak proverb. "As long as you have the horse, why worry about a saddle?" Anton was a peasant boy who owns a fine horse named Kamil. Anton fed and cared for Kamil with the best he could give him, and rode him proudly without a saddle. One day he was tempted to buy an expensive saddle for Kamil, which ended up being a burden for Kamil. Even worse, he makes the same mistake again buying an even heavier fancy saddle that greatly burdens Kamil. Anton became so preoccupied with work for the saddle maker that he neglected Kamil and no longer fed, brushed and cared for him diligently. Finally Anton realized that he was losing the fine health of Kamil for nothing more than a distracting, expensive saddle. He sells the saddle and vows to brush, feed, and care for Kamil the best he can. Once again, Kamil becomes Anton's fine horse, admired by all. Crayon and pencil illustrations present a sincere image of Anton and his Kamil, proudly parading through the countryside. "Anton's Fine Horse" teaches young readers a fine lesson in remembering what is most important despite tempting distractions.

King of the Zoo
Erica S. Perl, author
Jackie Urbanovic, illustrator
Orchard Books
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780545461825, $16.99,

"The King of the Zoo" is a cleverly illustrated zoo story with an unusual star. Who is king of the zoo? Is it the kangaroo, hippo, pygmy shrew, giraffe, tiger, elephant, monkey, or chameleon? Carlos the chameleon thinks he's so clever he is king of the zoo. The really funny trick occurs when Carlos gets mad at all the other animals who also think they are king of the zoo. When Carlos gets close to them, he takes on their colors, stripes, sports, or plain, and all sorts of colors too! Finally he Carlos gets the recognition he desperately desires from just one little girl who admires his color/pattern camouflaging ability. This is all Carlos really needs, just a little recognition how cool he is! "King of the Zoo" is a great story for young children about honoring our innate natures and gifts, and humility.

Skinny Little Tree
Jayme Martin, author
Richard Clark Andrews, Jr., illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478708704, $13.95,
9781478708131, $18.95,

"Skinny Little Tree" is a charming, sing-song, versed story about a sensitive tree, a boy, some Wiggly Worms, a Blue Bird, and life. Brought to enhanced life by delicate, expressive illustrations, "Skinny Little Tree" is an experience that reminds adults and teaches children that although good things in life may go away, but they will return. The reader is encouraged to identify with the feelings expressed by Skinny Little Tree and to express their own feelings in creating pictures of a blue bird, leaves, a smile, and even a skinny little tree. "Skinny Little Tree" is an experience in innocence and exploration, perfect for children beginning to explore the world and their place in it.

How the Octopus Got Eight Arms
Yvonne Arroyo, author
Carl Wanzong, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432793692, $23.95,

"How the Octopus Got Eight Arms: Two Arms Are Never Enough" is a delightful, illuminated undersea fantasy romance in sprightly verse about the love between Oscar Octopus and Sharkey McGhee. After wedded bliss begins, this couple produce 8 fantastic progeny. Oscar finds that his two arms are not enough to hold all his beloved children, both shark and octopi. However, Oscar is challenged to his limits to care for his 8 youngsters when his Sharkey has to leave to care for an ailing mum. Finding him passed out in exhaustion, Sharkey rushed Oscar to the Dr., who administered a cure which magically produced 8 amazing arms for Oscar to hold his 8 amazing children! This humorous undersea fantasy has particularly poignant pictures in crayon colors, that complement the lilting sea-song narrative perfectly. "How the Octopus Got Eight Arms" is ideal undersea fantasy for children age 6 and up.

A Mountain of Friends
Kerstin Schoene
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 4T8
9781554553136 $18.95

A Mountain of Friends is a heartwarming children's picturebook about how the love and cooperation of friends can make the impossible possible. A little brown penguin is despondent that he can't fly like other birds, so his friends work together to form a big tower, lifting the little penguin above the clouds! The little penguin is overjoyed to have his dream come true, and tells all his friends "Thank you!" Precocious young readers are encouraged to help the little penguin by turning the book vertical at a certain point, in this delightful read-aloud story.

Catty Jane Who Loved to Dance
Valeri Gorbachev
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590789827 $16.95

Catty Jane Who Loved to Dance is a children's picturebook about finding balance in life. Young Catty Jane is a fabulous orange feline who aspires to become a ballerina. But ballerinas have to practice so very much! Catty becomes so absorbed in her dancing that she neglects her closest friends, and doesn't even realize she's being hurtful to them. Can Catty learn how to devote herself to her passion while maintaining the respectful bonds of true friendship? The playful, exuberant art add just the right touch to this delightful storybook.

The Hungriest Chickadee
Eileen Ziesler, author
Andrea Korpinen, illustrator
Toad House Publishing
W7425 Old 14 Road
Ladysmith, WI 54848
9780981883168 $16.95

The Hungriest Chickadee is a children's picturebook about sympathy for the littlest of birds surviving a cold and hungry winter. The titular chickadee dines on seeds, but as winter sets in his favorite thing to eat becomes harder and harder to find. He asks one animal after another if they know how to find seeds, but the squirrel, raccoon, bear, and other creatures are all eating other things. "Who has some seeds for Chickadee to eat? / Seeds are scarce in the woods dark and deep. / It is YOU! Little child with grandpa in tow... / filling the feeders that wait in a row." A one-page sing-along song and instructions for making simple bird treats from dried bread, peanut butter, and seeds round out this delightful storybook, sure to encourage children's interest in feeding wild birds!

Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly
Nicola Muir, author
Annie Hayward, illustrator
New Internationalist Publications Ltd.
c/o JKS Communications
9781780261300 $8.95

Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly is a charming children's picturebook about the miracle of migratory flight. A young girl learns from her grandmother about the tenacious and resilient godwit birds, whose regular migration flights take them to many different nations in search of food. "'Do you think you have to be brave to fly so far?' 'You find the courage along the way. Sometimes, little one, being brave is having no other choice left.'" A delightful parable, in which the wise old grandmother teaches her precocious grandchild important life lessons about awareness, compassion, and courage, Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly is highly recommended.

Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Betsy Lewin's THUMPY FEET (9780823429011, $16.95) tells of cat Thumpy Feet, whose life consists of playing, napping, and hunting. Simple sound effects teach young picturebook readers the basics of words associated with sounds in a presentation featuring large-size illustrations and easy reading. Parents will want to use this as a read-aloud with their kids. Emily Arnold McCully's PETE WON'T EAT (9780823428531, $14.95) tells the unusual story of a little pig who won't eat - not even his Mother's special treat. The other little piglets love their green slop - but Pete won't even try it, certain of his dislike. How can his mother get Pete to eat without being cruel? A fine story evolves.

Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020

Patricia Polacco's THE BLESSING CUP (9781442450479, $17.99) provides a fine companion to her book The Keeping Quilt and follows her great-grandmother's life before leaving Russia, delving further into the legacy of the family's china tea set. Anna can't understand why the czar's soldiers are so mean, but as a young girl in early 1900s Russia, her family always seems to be in trouble. Ordered to leave Russia along with other Jews, Anna and her family journey to America - and bring with them a treasured tea set her parents received as a wedding present which is deemed to hold magic. A fine immigrant's tale evolves. Judi Barrett's CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 3: PLANET OF THE PIES (9781442490277, $17.99) receives fine drawings by Isidre Mones and joins others in the series for ages 4-8. Kate and Henry hear amazing news - that astronauts have landed on Mars and discovered that the sky is raining pie filling. But Grandpa actually knows more about Martians than the experts, and soon Kate and Henry find themselves undertaking an amazing journey. Good reading skills will lend to a thorough enjoyment of this saga. Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman's SUPERHERO JOE AND THE CREATURE NEXT DOOR (9781442412682, $16.99) receives fine drawings by Ron Barrett and will reach ages 4-8 with its fun account of a new neighbor - a creature. Joe suspects the neighborhood will never be the same, and that it's up to his superhero powers to overcome the creature's influence in this whimsical, fun exploration.

c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10014

Wendell Minor's HOW BIG COULD YOUR PUMPKIN GROW? (9780399246845, $16.99) provides fun art to accompany the story of giant pumpkins and what could be done with an enormous pumpkin. From carving a pumpkin into a boat to a pumpkin monster gobbling tall roller coasters, this assumes whimsical, fun proportions in a reader all ages will find surprising and fun. Ben Gibson's THE GHASTLY DANDIES DO THE CLASSICS (9781595145277, $17.95) tells of a breed of beast who are well dressed and interested in classical literature. Their interest lies in retelling classic stories such as Frankenstein - from the monster's perspective. A fine, whimsical account emerges.

The Fiction Shelf

The Bulldoggers Club: The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish
Barbara Hay
The Roadrunner Press
PO Box 2564
Oklahoma City, OK 73101
9781937054151 $16.95

Winner of the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction, The Bulldoggers Club: The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish follows four boys who join a club to celebrate their passion for riding, roping, and fishing. The titular ill-gotten catfish refers to a record-setting prize fish that the boys catch when fishing in a place they weren't supposed to be! Everyone wants to know about their secret fishing spot, and worst of all, one of the boys has a puffed-up ego and is taking all the credit for himself! The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish is a free-spirited and fun adventure, written especially to encourage young boys (and girls who love the great outdoors!) to read more. Highly recommended! The Bulldoggers Club series continues with Book 2, "The Tale of the Tainted Buffalo Wallow" and Book 3, "The Tale of the Disappearing Herd", which are forthcoming in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, respectively.

Trouble at the Scriptorium
Anne E. Johnson
Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue, PO Box 399
Unionville, NY 10988
9780880923927 $9.99

Trouble at the Scriptorium is a historical novel for young adults, set in medieval England. Harley is the son of the court jester; he was raised with the graceful and beautiful Lady Margaret, but their difference in class and rank has created a vast gulf between them. This begins to change when they find an illustrated chantbook with a secret code, warning about the malevolent deeds of the new head of the scriptorium. A suspenseful novel of life-or-death intrigue, Trouble at the Scriptorium keeps the reader hooked until the very end! Also highly recommended for YA fiction collections are Joyce Esely's "Oil Field Brats" (9780880925297, $9.99) and Leslie J. Wyatt's "River Rats" (9780898243789, $9.99) .

The Amazing Sparkey
Kenneth Ian Segel, author
Amory Abbott, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9781481750073, $17.99,

Sparkey the wonder dog was the versatile and talented pet of Char and Tommy Kelly and their family from the time they were in second grade and kindergarten, respectively. Sparkey had many unique talents and abilities not usually seen in dogs. For example, he could do arithmetic, sing, talk (with barking and other sounds), and he could read. He enjoyed going grocery shopping and pawing at items he particularly liked to eat. As a trick, he would swim across the family's pool to give the neighbor cat, Noodles, to have a water ride. Sparkey's final talent was sleuthing. The Kelly family noticed a number of odd things happening at home, such as food, homework, and clothing disappearing. Finally the family decided to ask Sparkey to help them solve these mysteries. Detectives United, the family sleuthing name, came up with an amazing solution to the missing items with the help of the one and only Sparkey. "The Amazing Sparkey" is further enlivened by colorful illustrations of an unusually smart brown dog happily playing and working with his family. "The Amazing Sparkey" is a great book for young pet owners, admirers, and caretakers. A second title about responsible pet care by the same author that is also highly recommended is "A Big Decision," by Kenneth Ian Segel, illustrated by Sonny Heston (9781481750059, $19.99).

The Belly Button That Escaped
Charles Zigman, author
Janice Phelps Williams, illustrator
Allenwood Press
9780979972225 $24.95

Although The Belly Button That Escaped is shaped like a picturebook and packed with simple color illustrations, the story is sufficiently text-heavy to be suitable for young people who are almost ready for chapter books. The high-spirited adventure is about the belly button of fourth-grader Artie MacGivillray. Disgusted by how much junk food Artie eats, the belly button escapes Artie's body, and embarks on its own wild adventures! But Artie realizes his misses his belly button, and wishes it would come home. A wildly crazy and silly story unafraid to invoke body humor, The Belly Button That Escaped is a great way to encourage children to develop their reading comprehension skills!

After Iris
Natasha Farrant
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780803739826, $16.99,

AFTER IRIS tells of Blue, whose twin sister Iris died three years ago. Her family hasn't been the same since: surviving siblings have gone in different directions, her parents spend weeks away and apart from each other, and life becomes even more complicated when au pair Zoran and Joss, a troublemaker neighbor boy, enter their lives. Film transcripts and diary entries are used to impart the feel of changed lives and challenges in this artistic, moving story.

Nancy Hartry
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770494053, $17.95,

SMOKESCREEN tells of Kerry's first summer job, doing fieldwork in the wild which is as far from her background in competitive dance as one can get. Her new partner is questionable, her boss is out to get them, and when forest fires break out, Kerry and Yvette are called up for fire duty and sent deeper into the bush. What Kerry doesn't expect is an investigation that will reveal an international crime that could threaten her life and the world she knows. A powerful story of survival and growth emerges with a complex mystery entwined with a powerful saga perfect for teen readers.

Simon & Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020

Alan Snow's WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA! (9780689870491, $17.99) provides a satisfying sequel to the author's HERE BE MONSTERS and returns readers to Ratbridge, where residents have run out of their favorite product Black Jollop. The Nautical Laundry, a rat pirate ship, and her crew must embark on a journey to obtain more of the medicine's secret ingredient in this humorous saga, packed with numerous black and white illustrations to accompany a hilarious story line. Catherine Lew's ONCE, TWICE, THRICE TOLD TALES: THREE MICE FULL OF WRITING ADVICE (9781416957843, $16.99) provides ages 12 and up with a highly illustrated, whimsical story about three mice, using their encounters to explain a variety of literary terms and techniques in the process. Nursery rhymes are retold, concepts defined, and readers come to understand the three mice as distinct individuals with a plot showing how they became blind. A hilarious blend of nonfiction and fiction evolves, recommended for all levels of readers.

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

Amy Christine Parker's GATED (9780449815977, $17.99) provides older teens with a fast-paced, modern thriller set in a world following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when leader Pioneer invites her family to join the Community and escape world evil. Now seventeen, Lyla knows Pioneer is her leader, Will is her love, and the world is doomed to end. What she doesn't know is how she will love if none of this belief comes true. A fine thriller about an end-of-the-world community keeps reads on their toes. Stacey Jay's OF BEAST AND BEAUTY (9780385743204, $17.99) is set in a domed city where a blind princess is slated to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city's survival. Outside the city, a mutant beast rights to save his people. With each slated to save their people, a curious association develops where long-kept secrets come to light, Isa's sight returns, and she comes to believe she is slated for greater things as the unifier of two very different races. A fine futuristic novel evolves. Corina Vacco's MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN (9780385742429, $16.99) tells of Jason, who finds his world changed by his father's death and his mother's distance. As he turns his anger and despair to the abandoned factories that plague his poor town, he is joined by two other rebellious boys who all rage against a town affected by industrial waste. When they vandalize one of the mill, Jason finds the chain of events that follows threatens the world he's always known. A riveting saga of destruction, change, and rebirth evolves. Chris Gravenstein's ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY (9780375870897, $16.99) tells of Kyle Keeley, who has two older brothers; one an athlete and one an intellectual. Kyle's answer to these tough family winners is to develop an interest in board games, and when he learns the world's most famous game maker has designed the new library and is hosting an exclusive event, he decides to crash the party. What he doesn't know is that he'll soon be playing the game of his life in this engrossing thriller. Esther Friesner's SPIRIT'S CHOSEN (9780375859082, $17.99) tells of a Japanese princess whose world is changing as an attack by the Ookami clan has left much of her tribe dead or enslaved. Himiko develops a plan to save the survivors: one which demands she become not only a shaman but a warrior, and one which seems to be succeeding - until the Ookami capture her and enslave her. What she discovers in the course of her new life will change her beliefs in this engrossing historical saga. All are fine leisure reads young adults will relish.

Scholastic Press
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012-3999

Sam Fisher's SCARE SCAPE (9780545521604, $16.99) tells of toxic vapor worms, king crab spiders, and more beasts featured in a creepy comic book: creatures that don't scare Morton Clay, who beliefs them to be safely contained in the pages of the comic world. But when he and his siblings find an old stone statue buried in their yard, monsters suddenly become all too real in this engrossing saga, especially recommended for middle school readers. Meg Cabot's AWAKEN (9780545284127, $17.99) provides a satisfying new 'Abandon' novel centered around teen Pierce, who is doomed to live forever in the underworld by accepting the love of John Hayden. But now her love for him is further threatened because the Furies have discovered John has revived a human soul - and unless retribution is made somehow, the Underworld and Pierce's home on earth will all be destroyed. There's only one way order can be restored: by death. Older teens will find this a mesmerizing read. Natalie Standiford's THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE (9780545334815, $17.99) tells of an unusual connection between an American girl and a Russian boy, made when Laura decides to spend a semester in Russia to learn the language and culture. The last thing on her mind is falling in love: but when she meets the boy on the bridge, romance blossoms - and threatens a world where truth is dangerous. An engrossing saga of an international romance will intrigue any teen interested in romantic fiction. Lois Ruby's REBEL SPIRITS (9780545426237, $17.99) blends a ghost story with a historical novel as it tells of Lori Chase, now living in a town obsessed with its Civil War history. The old inn her parents run is supposedly haunted by dead soldiers - but when Lori meets such a soldier, she becomes involved in a dangerous mission that will solve his murder and put his soul to rest at last. A satisfying ghostly romance story evolves. Garth Nix and Sean Williams' TROUBLETWISTERS: THE MYSTERY (9780545258999, $16.99) tells of an old man in an old house who dies mysteriously, involving twins Jack and Jaide Shield in a dangerous treasure hunt in some deep places. The two are gifted with magic and cursed by an evil force that wants to destroy their world - and an old house holds the key to the evil's interests. But Jack and Jaide aren't the only ones searching for the treasure - and as the mystery becomes more complicated, even friends are becoming suspect in this thriller, recommended for any fan of mystery and the supernatural. Eric Gansworth's IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE (9780546417303, $17.99) tells of a poor American Indian and his struggles to gain respect and friendships in a hostile environment. His friendship with George, a new kid in town, involves a series of increasingly complex lies designed to overcome poverty and the stigma of being a Native American in this engrossing saga. All are fine picks for any leisure reader!

Simon & Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020

Rick Yancey's THE FINAL DESCENT (9781442451537, $18.99) tells of teen Will Henry, apprentice to Dr. Warthrop who fears that Will's loyalties may be changing. At the heart of Dr. Winthrop's operation lie monsters - and Will finds that in the course of a single day he will be called upon to face the ultimate horror. Mature young adult readers will find this a fine addition to the 'Monstrumologist' series and will find the plot unpredictable and involving. Jonathan Maberry's FIRE & ASH (9781442439924, $18.99) continues the saga of Benny and his friends, who have found the Sanctuary in a zombie world - but who find their troubles aren't over. Sanctuary is a hospice, Chong is nearly dead - and nearly inhuman - and Benny makes a startling discovery about the zombie world that could change everything. Ages 12 and older will find this a satisfying conclusion to the series, which should interest any with an affection for zombies. Jennifer Bradbury's A MOMENT COMES (9781416978763, $16.99) tells of eighteen-year-old Tariq, who focuses on how goal to study at Oxford while the rest of India waits the country's uncertain division. Tariq's desire to fulfill his family dreams seems hopeless for a Muslim born and raised in India, until he's offered a job connected to establishing the new borders in his country. His unexpected romances with Margaret and another staff member adds complexity and high drama to this story of the partition of India. Jenny Hahn and Siobhan Vivian's FIRE WITH FIRE (9781442440784, $17.99) is a pick for ages 14 and older and tells of a trio of girls who work together in secret to take down those who wronged them at (of course) the Homecoming Dance. When their plot goes awry, consequences develop and revolve around revenge and unlikely powers. Burning passions and angers fuel an emotionally charged plot recommended for any who like stories of passion and change. Fowler DeWitt's CONTAGIOUS COLORS OF MUMPLEY MIDDLE SCHOOL (9781442478299, $16.99) provides a Mumpley Middle School read for ages 7-10 and, illustrated in black and white by Rodolfo Montvalo and tells of one Wilmer Dooley, who observes, analyzes and draws conclusions from life. When some of his classmates develop a mysterious illness that includes unnaturally colorful skin, Wilmer must rely on his scientific investigations to find a cure and battles with his arch-nemesis Claudius to both cure his classmates and win the Sixth Grade Science Medal. A fine saga of talent and abilities evolves in a whimsical recommendation for advanced elementary through middle school readers.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam
Tracey Corderoy, author
Steven Lenton, illustrator
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
9780763668389, $14.99,

Children from age 4-8 will enjoy the unique, dastardly appeal of "Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam," a rhyming tale about a pair of untalented robbers who mean well but bungle all attempts. That is, all attempts (at burglary) until they decide to throw a tea party as a cover for robbing their guests. Shifty and Sam work hard to whip up wonderful treats for the party and they discover their culinary talents are a huge hit! Unfortunately their robbing effort plan fails when all their guests tiptoe after them to catch them in the act. True to form, Shifty and Sam are too soft hearted to complete their robbery when they realize the acts make others unhappy. Instead, someone makes a wonderful suggestion: Why don't they open a cafe, serving their very own yummy cupcakes and jam tarts? Shifty and Sam do so in a trice and discover their true vocations as caring bakers! The nifty 60's style painted illustrations are just slightly retro and wholly refreshing in a "What's New Pussycat?" style of venue, complete with shiny silver moon disk and flashlight beam on the cover.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Diego's Dragon Book Two: Dragon's of the Dark Rift
Kevin Gerard
Crying Cougar Press
17453 Plaza Cerado #105
San Diego CA, 92128
9780985980207 $13.95 pbk. / $2.99 Kindle

Sequel to the award-winning young adult fantasy novel "Diego's Dragon Book One: Spirits of the Sun" (9780615536347, $11.95 pbk. / $2.99 Kindle), "Diego's Dragon Book Two: Dragons of the Dark Rift" continues the saga of a preteen Hispanic boy named Diego and his cosmic dragon friend, Magnifico. In Book Two, Diego's girlfriend Racquel has also befriended a dragon, by the name of Estrella, and together they must work to bring about a Mayan prophecy of peace and worldwide rejuvenation. But Magnifico's sworn enemy Vipero wants a different prophecy to come to pass - one of global extinction! Elements of Latino history blend with fantasy adventure in this excellent and engaging series. Although the Diego's Dragon series is intended especially for young adults, dragon lovers of all ages and backgrounds will enjoy it from cover to cover.

My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel
Hayao Miyazaki, original story and art
Tsugiko Kubo, novelist
Jim Hubbert, translator
Viz Media LLC
295 Bay Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
9781421561202 $17.99

My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel adapts the classic, all-ages Studio Ghibli anime (Japanese animation) film directed by Hayao Miyazaki into a novel for young adults. Featuring original black-and-white illustrations by Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel is a new way for young people to experience the magic and wonder of a timeless story. My Neighbor Totoro follows eleven-year-old Satsuki and her little sister Mei have moved to the country to be with their sickly mother; as they adjust to a strange new place and their unsettling new house, they befriend a majestic forest spirit, Totoro. Totoro is not a pet; they can't necessarily call or see him whenever they want, but when Mei becomes lost, Satsuki turns to Totoro and his magical friends for aid! Gentle and heartwarming, My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel is highly recommended especially for public library and middle grade children's collections.

Master Davey and the Magic Tea House
Susan Chodakiewitz and David De Candia, authors
Kent Yoshimura, illustrator
Booksicals / The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (co-publishers)
9780988697003, $16.95,,

"Master Davey and the Magic Tea House: Legend of the Blue Tiger" is a wonderful tea discovery adventure for children. Hopper Smith is a boy who believed Master Davey's teas were magical. He discovers a very special magical tea named Blue Tiger Tea, which is endangered, and about to be lost to the world forever. Hopper is determined to save the Blue Tiger Tea and ventures on to discover where its ingredients may be grown and found. One thing leads to another and finally, Hopper must face the huge, terrifying Blue Tiger and offer him a ceremonial scarf and ask permission to gather seeds from the special tree he guards. What happens next is amazing and transforming: In an encounter with ancient Chinese emperor Shen Nong, Camellia, Hopper's friend, and Hopper have earned the privilege to be a keeper of the Blue Tiger Tea. Carefully the children plant twelve seeds of the special tea tree and then they must wait 7 years to harvest the tea. When the day finally comes, Hopper tastes the tea and is given a tiny seedling tree with buds to return to Master Davey in the Magic Tea House. The fantastic rainbow illustrations of "Master Davey and the Magic Tea House" make reading this book a special adventure and treat for children age 7 and up. Also, the hidden three words in the book's pictures intrigue readers to discover the three powers needed to unlock the magic of the tea.

In the After
Demitria Lunetta
Harper Teen
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062105455, $17.99,

IN THE AFTER is a powerful novel that assumes 'War of the Worlds' proportions from the perspective of a teen survivor whose life is changed in an instant when the world is attacked by Them. Facing the death of her family and most of the population and surviving by sheer luck, Amy manages to rescue a toddler, learn about Them, and spends years in hiding until she and Baby are rescued and taken to a colony of survivors. What she learns from the colony will go beyond rebuilding a new world and fighting Them; for it holds a close-kept secret that threatens everything she's survived for. A powerful saga, IN THE AFTER holds the medal for keeping the real story line a winning surprise right up to the end.

The Activity Shelf

Coloring for Joy
Barbara and Charlotte Evans, authors/artists
Crystal Wings Healing Art
12324 Cranes Avenue, Richland, MI 49083
9780983636922, $20.00,

"Coloring for Joy" is an inspirational healing mandala coloring book with special templates to color inscribed with positive Key Words such as Love, Peacefulness, Hope, Joy, Strength, Support, and more. Gentle statements to start a written meditation such as "I feel peaceful when..." provide a guided journal experience for the young artist. Although "Coloring for Joy" is aimed at a juvenile audience (children age 8 and up), it also has appeal and application for an adult audience. The healing art exercises and meditations are calming, centering, and can be profoundly supportive to the individual. "The purpose (of coloring these templates) is to have fun and feel loved, empowered and supported within the world."

The Goddess in Every Girl
M.J. Abadie
Beyond Words Publishing
20827 NW Cornell Road, Suite 500
Hillsboro, OR 97124
9781582704272, $21.99,

The Goddess in Every Girl is an inspirational account written to empower and inspire girls who want to reveal their goals in life. Games, exercises and activities mark pages that show girls how to become physically, emotionally and spiritually powerful beings, and explores the topic of exploring an 'inner goddess'. While new age collections will be the likely readers here, any collection strong in empowering young adults and preteens will find this an inspirational, different acquisition designed to entertain and enlighten girls of all ages.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

Draw Out the Story
Brian McLachlan
Owlkids Books Inc.
10 Lower Spadina Avenue, Suite 400
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2Z2
9781771470032 $9.95

Writer, artist, and cartoonist Brian McLachlan presents Draw Out the Story: Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics is a basic how-to cartooning and comic creation guide; although aimed at young adults, its solid advice will benefit aspiring cartoonists and comic makers of all ages and backgrounds. The chapters are packed with tips, tricks, and techniques for effectively telling stories through the marriage of words and pictures, with colorfully illustrated examples. "Photographs give us a complete picture - all the details. Icons give us the bare bones - the simplest way of showing something. Those are two extremes. In between them is an area called 'cartoony'. Instead of having all the details or none of them, you have some of them. Which ones? Choosing wisely is essential because it's often the details that tell your reader what's important in a story." An accessible, user-friendly resource and font of inspiration, Draw Out the Story is a worthy companion volume to classic how-to guides such as Scott McCloud's "Making Comics", highly recommended especially for budding young artists and children's or teen library collections.

Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action
James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost
First Second
175 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
9781596437326 $9.99

Part of the playful and inspirational Adventures in Cartooning series, Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action is part color comic story, part user-friendly guide to cartoons and simple comic storytelling. The majority of Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action demonstrates its principles - a courageous cartoon knight is the main character, and even though his face can't be seen, his emotions are clearly expressed through his actions. He befriends a movie director who tries to teach him about the ways of the silver screen, while running an impromptu audition. "'Knights should be judged for their courage and skills, not for the way they look!' 'You REALLY don't know how movies work...'" The last few pages explicitly spell out the cartooning ideas demonstrated by the playful story, such as how body language and costumes distinguished the main characters, how adjusting head/body proportions can telegraph the age of a cartoon character, iconic cartoon expressions that anyone can practice drawing, and much more. Highly recommended, especially as encouragement for imaginative young artists!

Viz Media LLC
295 Bay Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Three full-color graphic novels for young readers from Viz media are packed with excitement and daring. Hello Kitty: Here We Go! (9781421558783, $7.99) by Jacob Chabot and Jorge Monlongo features the universally beloved children's icon, the bow-bedorned Hello Kitty, in a series of globe-spanning adventures, accompanied her many animal friends. The brief stories are completely wordless, and none the less inviting; Here We Go! is a treat for Hello Kitty fans of all ages. Mameshiba: Enchanted (9781421555249, $6.99) by James Turner and Jorge Monlongo features the Mameshiba cast of characters, each of which looks like a cross between a dog and a colored jellybean. From ghosts to magic turtles who teach humility to a magical book that traps the Mameshiba within, Mameshiba: Enchanted is one fantastic voyage after another! Uglydoll: Shhhhhhhh! (9781421557236, $7.99) edited by Traci N. Todd is an anthology of outrageous antics of the colorful Uglydoll critters. Each vignette is short and wildly silly; the bright illustrations and simple text make Uglydoll: Shhhhhhhh! especially ideal for encouraging literacy in beginning readers. All are excellent picks for public and school library children's comic collections.

The Multimedia Shelf

A Gift for Sophie
Gilles Vigneault, author
Stephane Jorisch, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
3816 Royal Avenue, Montreal, QC, H4A 2M2
Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
9782923163987, $16.95,

"A Gift for Sophie" is a delightful illustrated storybook with an accompanying CD filled with 9 lively songs and a reading of the story, a total of 33 minutes of play. "A Gift for Sophie" deals sensitively with the complex issue of dying, and somehow simultaneously is a creative lift to the senses. Delicately detailed, unusual illustrations bring to life Sophie, a spunky 7 year old redhead with pigtails who loves to draw, and her best friend, Emilio, a caramel-skinned 8 year old boy who loved bringing Sophie found sea treasures. There are other eccentric story characters, a cat named Sir, a crow, and an old uncle named Old Man Tom. The songs and lyrics add to the wealth of detail in this curiously compelling story. Sophie and Emilio learn to accept a gift left for them by Old Man Tom before he passed - perhaps it could be called 'play.' It is beautifully expressed in the song titled 'The Suitcase Waltz.' A Gift for Sophie is meant to be treasured and unwrapped slowly, in many layers, on many levels. One such gift will always be the parent or caretaker who takes the time to share this lovely book with a beloved child.

Stones & Bones
Char Matejovsky, author
Robaire Ream, illustrator
Polebridge Press
Willamette University
200 State Street, Salem, OR 97301
9781598150049, $19.00,

"Stones & Bones" is a marvelous book of versed knowledge of the history of human evolution, set in intricately detailed, imaginative illustrations of libraries, dinosaurs, humans, pets and puzzles. It is accompanied by a CD which contains the Stones & Bones Song and the Song of the Meadowlark preformed by the Santa Rosa Children's Chorus, directed by Carol Menke and accompanied by Mark Osten, music and lyrics by Char Matejovsky. This is the most witty, accurate, scientific, succinct, intriguing treatment of a summary of human and life evolution over 60 + million years that has presented complete to date. It is designed to appeal to a juvenile audience, but adults will find it enjoyable also. The amazing illustrations incorporate scientific terms into games and word puzzles while catching dinosaurs and woolly mammoths, quadrupeds, and Neanderthals interacting with a boy and girl and pet cat, at the feet of their aged wise teacher. The library of "Stones & Bones" is vivid and inviting, covering so many ages of prehistory so easily in the verse narrative, which becomes a charming song on the accompanying CD. A pronunciation key at the end lists phonetic pronunciations of some of the difficult terms contained in "Stones & Bones." This book and CD are delightful ways to introduce topics related to prehistory and evolution to students age 8 and up. Even younger children will enjoy the entertainment of the book and presentation. Its impeccable science and background is also a strong selling point for solid education.

Green Golly & her Golden Flute
Keith Torgan & Barbara Siesel, writers & performers
Suzanne Langelier-Lebeda, illustratror
Eifrig Publishing
PO Box 66, Lemont, PA 16851
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127
9781936172527 $19.99

Green Golly & her Golden Flute is a children's picturebook with an accompanying, 57-minute music CD "Green Golly audio", a Parents' Choice Gold Award winner. Families can also experience the wonderful music and story on their mobile device or computer! The story is an original fable (based on the classic Rapunzel story, but with a few twists) about a motherly witch who raises a young girl named Green Golly, then locks her in a tower when boys take a little too much interest in her. Green Golly learns to play the flute in the tower, including the classical works of Mozart, but eventually she becomes so lonely that she knows she just has to escape! A heartwarming story about burning independence and a lifelong love of music, Green Golly & her Golden Flute is a timeless treasure.

The Strawberry Fairies
Bright Sky Press
2365 Rice Blvd., Suite 202
Houston, TX 77005
9781939055149 $24.95

The Strawberry Fairies: How Strawberries Become Red is a fantastic children's picturebook featuring sweepingly beautiful, high-quality artwork of delicate fairies, and an accompanying music CD of original sing-along songs. The story follows a young girl who befriends the tiny fairies that make strawberries grow so red and juicy! A simple tale of magic and wonder, The Strawberry Fairies is a treasure to read aloud and share with little ones.

The Audiobook Shelf

Treasure Hunters
James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, authors
Juliana Neufeld, illustrator (images in .pdf format)
Bryan Kennedy, narrator
Hachette Audio
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
9781478924654 $23.00

The unabridged audiobook adaptation of the popular novel by award-winning author James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, Treasure Hunters is an adventure about three children of the veteran treasure hunters of the Kidd family, Beck, Tommy and Storm. When their world-famous, treasure-hunting parents suddenly vanish, it's up to the Kidds to uncover the secret of their parents' most recent mission - a dangerous undertaking on a life-or-death deadline! The original pictures by award-winning artist Julia Neufeld are included on a .pdf file, in this funny, heartwarming, and suspenseful adventure. 5 CDs, 6 hours.

The Music CD Shelf

Bear Hunt!
Josh & the Jamtones
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Boston-based kids' band Josh & the Jamtones presents Bear Hunt!, their second family-fun album packed to the brim with dance-worthy music. Songs touch upon a broad variety of styles from New Orleans street to reggae, folk, country/bluegrass, and more. The playful lyrics are at times zany, at times a rousing good vs. evil adventure (especially when it comes to hunting scary bears), and encourages listeners of all ages to sing along. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Swing Low" (feat. Father Goose), "Bear Hunt", "Everybody Dance!", "Pirate's Life", "I Love U" (feat. Father Goose), "Death Valley Cornfield of Doom", "Sunflower", "The Snow is Falling Down", "Snow Day", "Lightning Lake of 1,000 Sea Monsters", "Green & Spakkled Frogs", "Water is Wide", "The Evil Scary Bear from Bear Mountain", and "Fill It Up".

S.S. Brooklyn
Lloyd H. Miller
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$TBA CD / $8.99 MP3

S.S. Brooklyn is a lively children's music album by solo performer Lloyd Miller, produced by Grammy winner Dean Jones. Born from the joy of community singing, S.S. Brooklyn brims with energy, silly sing-along lyrics, and sheer enthusiasm for the bonds of friendship and family. Many songs are created with the clarity of just two instruments; all encourage listeners to join in and express themselves freely! The tracks are "I'm Gonna Light Up the World", "I'm a Duck!", "Working on a Bridge", "Gowanus Canal", "Sing-a-long Song", "Brooklyn by Bike", "This Little Light of Mine", "Henry (Hi Ya Ya)", "Carroll Street Bridge", "Them Bones", "Do the Tub-Tub-Tubman", "I'm a Rat", "Seventeen Years (a cicada love song)", "Honk Honk (Major Deegan)", "Big Trip", and "S.S. Brooklyn".

The Blu-ray Shelf

King of the Railway: The Movie
Hit Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate (distribution)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

King of the Railway: The Movie is a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack of a feature-length, computer-animated movie about Thomas the Tank Engine and his steam-powered friends on the Island of Sodor. One of Thomas' new friends, Stephen, is based on "Stephenson's Rocket", one of the most advanced steam locomotives of its time! Thomas, Percy, and James are delighted to discover suits armor, coats of arms, and legends of knightly heroes, but when Stephen suddenly goes missing, the quest to find him quickly escalates into a bravery challenge worthy of a knight! Featuring strong positive themes of friendship and cooperation, King of the Railway: The Movie is a wholesome pick for young viewers, highly recommended for gift- giving, children's parties, or rainy-day TV. 62 min., English/Spanish/French languages, widescreen.

The Christian Shelf

The Holy Ghost is Like a Blanket
Annalisa Hall, author
Corey Egbert, illustrator
Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South
Springville, Utah 84663
9781462112296 $14.99

The Holy Ghost is Like a Blanket is a picturebook written especially to help young Christian children understand the Holy Ghost. A father and mother teach their young daughter about the Holy Ghost by comparing it to familiar, everyday objects. "The Holy Ghost is like a blanket. He is a special gift from Heavenly Father to comfort you. The Holy Ghost wraps you in a warm and comforting feeling when you are sad or need a friend." Every comparison is drawn from a brief passage in Biblical scripture, all of which are listed in the final two pages. The warm, gentle color illustrations add the perfect touch to this wonderful storybook, highly recommended especially for Sunday School libraries.

The Queen & the Cross: The Story of Saint Helen
Cornelia Mary Bilinsky, author
Rebecca Stuhff, illustrator
Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
9780819874612, $10.95,

From the Tales & Legends series for children ages 5-8 years, "The Queen & The Cross: The Story of Saint Helen" tells the exciting life story of Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine of Rome, and her search for the true cross on which Jesus was crucified. Queen Helen lived more than 300 years after Jesus was crucified on the cross, but in the later years of her life, she became determined to seek and find the true cross in Palestine. She went on a perilous journey by ship and land to Jerusalem, where she visited Bishop Macarius. She decided to climb Mt. Calvary, where the cross had stood, with two others. Climbing Mt. Calvary was very hard for the aging Helen, but she imagined how much harder it would have been for Jesus, burdened with his cross. Because the place was in ruins and there was no record of what had been done with the cross, everyone felt Queen Helen would not be able to find the cross. Amazingly, she discovered a green growing plant of holy basil, the sweet herb of kings, on the hill. She decided to tell her laborers to dig there. They dug and found not one, but three crosses buried in the earth and rubble. Because none of the crosses were marked, it was not possible to tell which one belonged to Jesus. Bishop Macarius suggested the crosses be tested by bringing them to a young girl who lay sick and dying, to see if the true cross had healing powers. By tradition, the girl was wakened and began to heal when touched by the last of the three crosses, so Bishop Macarius declared it to be the true cross on which Jesus had been crucified so long ago. Queen Helen took only a small piece of the true cross with her back to Rome to protect and display for all the faithful Christians there. Today wood from the holy cross is sheltered and honored at special churches and basilicas in Rome, Spain, Europe and Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Queen Helen was allowed to use money from the Roman Empire to build churches and help the poor and needy. She made her trip to the Holy Land when she was 80 years old, in 327 AD. The exciting story of Queen Helen and her quest for the True Cross is ideally presented with commanding cartoon illustrations and an exciting narrative. In addition to retelling the complete legend, "The Queen & the Cross" also contains an opening hymn and prayer, a brief biography of the rest of Queen Helen's life, a listing of locations of pieces of the True Cross today, and a quotation from Emperor Constantine in a letter to Bishop Macarius.

The Islamic Shelf

The Camel in the Sun
Griffin Ondaatje, author
Linda Wolfsgruber, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554983810 $17.95

Inspired by the retelling of a traditional Muslim hadith (an accounting of the words or actions of the Prophet Mohammed), The Camel in the Sun is a children's picturebook with a strong moral lesson about empathy for animals. A desert merchant relies heavily upon his camel to transport goods, yet he overworks his faithful animal terribly, and neglects it under the hot son. It takes a visit from the Prophet to help the merchant understand how much he has made his loyal beast of burden suffer, and change his ways to treat it with the respect and compassion it deserves. The simple, shaded illustrations bring this heartwarming parable to life. As necessitated by respect for Islam, the Prophet is never visually depicted - all illustrations are of the merchant, the camel, and the desert. Highly recommended.

The Halloween Shelf

Monster Needs a Costume
Paul Czajak, author
Wendy Grieb, illustrator
Scarletta Kids
10 South Fifth Street, Suite 1105
Minneapolis, MN 55402
9781938063091 $16.95

Monster Needs a Costume is a colorful picturebook about a shaggy blue, nine-foot-tall monster (and good friend of an upbeat little boy) faced with a dilemma - what costume will he wear for his favorite day, Halloween? Astronaut? Fireman? Cowboy? Ballet dancer? Ninja? His final idea is a surprising hit! Playful and exuberant, Monster Needs a Costume perfectly captures the joy of Halloween trick-or-treating.

The Crafts Shelf

Teen Craft Projects 2
Tina Coleman & Peggie Llanes
ALA Editions
50 East Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
9780838911525 $45.00

Teen Craft Projects 2 is an anthology of hands-on crafts and activities designed especially to engage preteens and teens in grades 6-12, and tested in public library settings to rousing success. Each of the dozen projects lists all tools and equipment needed, and gives step-by-step instructions with black-and-white photographs. Additional information about the difficulty of each project, a suggested timeframe for the activities, "quick-fire" modifications if time is strictly limited, and more round out this excellent supplementary reference and resource for teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, parents, sitters, and anyone else looking to share a hands-on creative and educational experience with young people. Also highly recommended is the author's previous book, "Hipster Librarian's Guide to Teen Craft Projects" (9780838909713, $45.00).

Books in Series

Olivia and Oscar Build an Opinion Piece
Andrea Pelleschi, author
Caroline Hu, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599535821, $25.27,

"Olivia and Oscar Build an Opinion Piece" is a library bound edition from the Writing Builders series for young writers age 8-9 and up. A carefully written, sequenced writing approach to building an opinion piece is presented for students age 8 and up. Olivia and Oscar are concerned about the proposed school board budget cuts that will result in losing some of the school's safety crossing guards. Following a 10 step procedure, they carefully compose a well written opinion piece letter to the editor that presents their point of view and the argument in favor of keeping all the crossing guards. Some concepts and tools that are helpful to them include the cluster diagram, a hook, a clear topic choice, transition phrases, and considering and addressing arguments against their opinion by presenting convincing counterarguments. Finally, revision for clarity and brevity and collecting feedback from prereaders are two suggested techniques. In addition to brightly colored illustrations, a brief Glossary and Bibliography is included at the end. "Olivia and Oscar Build an Opinion Piece" is an excellent reference tool from the Writing Builders series for juvenile authors. Other titles from this series that are also highly recommended include: "Jesse and Jasmine Build a Journal," by Rachel Lynette and illustrated by Carlos Aon (9781599535852), "Will and Wendy Build a Website with Digital Tools," by Darice Bailer, illustrated by Sean O'Neill (9781599535845), "Neil and Nan Build a Narrative Nonfiction," by Andrea Pelleschi, illustrated by Yu-Mei Han (9781599535869), Rick and Rachel Build a Research Report," by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Chi Chung (9781599535838), and "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story," by Rachel Lynette, illustrated by Jan Lieffering. All volumes in this series are also available as e-books.

Kookaburra Tales #2: Shy Not, My Friend
Moh Ana, author
Kenn Yapsangco, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466931930, $17.03,

"Shy Not, My Friend" is the second of a series titled Kookaburra Tales. Swallow is beautiful and acrobatic, but so shy she can never say anything. Kookaburra watches her with admiration and wonders why she flies alone, without friends or family. One bright day Swallow is exhausted from her flying and she is trapped in the grapevine tendrils. She is approached and rescued by a friendly Red Butterfly, who works long and valiantly to free her. Even then, she cannot thank him before she flies away, for she is too shy. Another day, Swallow sees the Red Butterfly entrapped in the silk of a hungry Spider. Again, she is unable to say anything, but the brave Swallow manages to rescue the little Red Butterfly from the hungry Spider, with daring and clever flying antics. Red Wing the Butterfly, thanked Swallow, and all his Butterfly friends told her he had rescued her earlier. Kookaburra makes the ending wise comment: "I have never seen or heard of anyone so grateful that she would do something so dangerous... I hope she will no longer be quiet and shy but be brave and friendly." "Shy Not, My Friend" is a lovely teaching fable with exotic, detailed expressive illustrations that depict shyness, bravery, and joy in the actions of Swallow and Butterfly.

How to Make Paper Airplanes
B. B. Adams, author
Kelsey Oseid, illustrator
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive
Mankato, MN 56003
9781623235628, $27.07 List / $18.95 Library

"How to Make Paper Airplanes" is an exciting book from a juvenile crafts and activities series that teaches students in clearly illustrated, sequenced steps how to build 6 different paper airplane projects or related activities. Included are plans for the arrow, the dart, the flying fish, the Nagamura, the great glider, and the remnant. In addition, there is a Glossary and a Bibliography section with both books and web sites. "How to Make Paper Airplanes" can be a useful reference book or tool for kids age 8 and up who want to learn about aerodynamics and build their own flying paper airplane. Other titles from the Make Your Own Fun series that are also highly recommended include "Sports Safety (9781623235413) by Elizabeth Lang, "How to Make Stuff with Duct Tape (9781623235635)" by Samantha Bell, "Magic Tricks with Cards (9781623235574)," by Jenna Lee Gleisner, "Magic Tricks with Coins (9781623235567)," by Jenna Lee Gleisner, "Magic Tricks with Science (9781623235598), by Samantha Bell, "Magic Tricks with String (9781623235611), by B. B. Adams, "How to Face Paint (9781623235604), by Megan Atwood; and "How to Make Balloon Animals (9781623235581), by Megan Atwood, all titles illustrated by Kelsey Oseid.

The Child's World, Inc.
1980 Lookout Drive
Mankato, MN 56003

Especially for young boys in grades 2 through 5, the use of sports to teach basic math skills is an especially useful classroom strategy. That's why The Child's World "Math in Sports" series would make a particularly valued addition to classroom and home school basic mathematics instruction curriculums. This outstanding series of six titles includes "Auto Racing: Math at the Racetrack"; "Baseball: Math at the Ballpark"; "Basketball: Math on the Court"; "Football: Math on the Gridiron"; Hockey: Math at the Rink"; and "Soccer: Math on the Field". Each 32 page title is enhanced with full-color photography and features a reinforced library binding for an extended shelf life, a table of contents, informative sidebars, a glossary of key words and phrases, sources for further research (including thematically appropriate web sites), a comprehensive index, tables and graphs, and sample math problems. Although the six titles comprising this superbly crafted and produced "Math in Sports" series can be obtained individually ($27.07 List /, $18.95 Library), grade school libraries especially would do well to acquire the entire series intact ($162.42 List /, $113.70 Library).

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3308
New York, NY 10118

Two new book sets for grades 2-6 provide fine introductions and specifics perfect for reports, with covers eye-catching enough to appeal into leisure reader circles. The 'All Over the Map' series ($19.95 each) each holds 32-pages of detail and teaches the basics of cartography and map reading, using colorful art, exercises, and discussions of different kinds of maps and their applications. ATLAS AND GLOBE SKILLS (9780778744900) provides both a history of cartography and specifics on how to utilize different gloves and atlases. Accompanied by hands-on exercises, students receive all the basics key to understanding maps. CLIMATE MAPS (9780778744917) teaches how to understand climate maps for different climate zones and how to use these maps to track climate changes and conditions. From latitude and climate relationships to ocean currents and climate zones, this covers all the basics. POLITICAL MAPS (9780778744931) teaches boundaries of countries, cities and states plus discusses areas such as lakes and oceans. From coloring a political map to considering borders and elections, this explains how political maps are formed and how they can be interpreted. PHYSICAL MAPS (9780778744924) demonstrates how landscape is represented through colors and symbols, and offers color maps to explain different features and landscapes from forests to mountains. From sidebars of facts to plenty of insights, these are top recommendations for any geography collection. The 'My Path to Math' series ($16.95 each) for grades K-3 presents a series of 24 pages in length and breaks down math exercises into a series of narrowed focuses kids can more readily understand. WORD PROBLEMS: MASS AND VOLUME (9780778710813) pairs real-world problems with strategies to solving one-step world problems about mass and volume, TIME WORD PROBLEMS (9780778710776) teaches how to measure time intervals in minutes and how to represent time problems on a number line, LENGTH WORD PROBLEMS (9780778710790) teaches the basics of using drawings, symbols and number lines in real-world applications, and CALENDAR MATH (9780778710752) draws important links between calendars, counting, and math applications. All are top references for any elementary-level collection looking for bright covers, easy explanations, and exercises geared to a child's real world experiences.

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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