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

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 31, Number 10 October 2021 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Environmental Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Science Shelf Art Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Board Book Shelf YA Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Activity Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
Theatre/Cinema Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Travel Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Multicultural Shelf Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes
Silke Vry, author
Finn Dean, illustrator
Prestel Publishing
9783719374741, $19.95, HC, 93 pp.

"The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes" explores many fascinating facts and features of both labyrinths and mazes, as well as their differences. Did you know you can actually get lost in a maze, but not in a labyrinth?

Beginning with such distinctions, the exploration of definitions of mazes and labyrinths continues unfolding, assisted with appealing, colorful illustrations and enlightening sidebars with definitions in contrasting colors. The first section is titled 'I Think I'm Going Crazy: Detours and Wrong turns. Physical evidence of labyrinths in humans include fingerprints, the brain, the entrails and intestines, and the chambers of the inner ear.

Other examples of spirals, mazes and labyrinths are also presented and explored, along with the spiritual/intellectual value of tracing a labyrinth pathway. Evidence suggests tracing the labyrinth even with your finger has a calming effect. Labyrinths in nature are found in fossils, DNA molecules, tornadoes, pinecones, and spider's webs. Sidebars labeled "Mind Trip" offer intriguing or helpful perspectives for experiencing and learning from labyrinths.

The exploration continues in section two, Winding Paths As Far As the Eye Can See, Famous labyrinths from history. The labyrinth of the Minotaur and Theseus is described, as well as one of the Pharaohs and other labyrinths around the world. Did you know there are even labyrinths of words, and a tradition of study associated with them? The third Section is To the Center, Please! But Then Right Back Out Again! It presents concepts like the path is the target and what is the value of exploring tangled paths?

Finally the last Section is titled Strange Paths! Mazes All Over the World. It includes suggestions for approaches to maze and labyrinth solutions, and the value of losing your way in life. There is also an instruction manual for mazes and a guide for drawing mazes.

For kids of all ages, the study of labyrinths and mazes holds great appeal. No fewer than 14 world famed labyrinths and mazes around the world are featured, along with suggestions for discovering other labyrinths and mazes in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia. "The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes" holds interest for both kids and adults.

"The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes" is a fascinating study of an ancient system of knowledge and exploration and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 7-10.

Three Lines in a Circle
Michael G. Long, author
Carlos Vélez, illustrator
Flyaway Books
9781947888326, $18.00, HC, 40pp

One line straight down. One line to the right. One line to the left, then a circle. That was all -- just three lines in a circle. The collaborative project of author Michael G. Long and illustrator Carlos Vélez, "Three Lines in a Circle" is a bold picture book for young readers that tells the story of the peace symbol (designed in 1958 by a London activist protesting nuclear weapons) and how it inspired people all over the world.

Depicting the symbol's travels from peace marches and liberation movements to the end of apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall, "Three Lines in a Circle" offers a message of inspiration to today's children and adults who are working to create social change. Of special interest is an author's note that provides historical background and a time line of late twentieth-century peace movements.

Entertaining, informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.00), "Three Lines in a Circle" is very strongly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Healing Breath
William Meyer
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608687466, $16.95

Healing Breath: A Guided Meditation Through Nature for Kids receives lovely drawings by Brittany R. Jacobs as it reviews meditation processes and its relaxation concepts for the picture book reader. The idea is to move kids away from screentime and into nature and meditative processes that help them connect with their feelings. The admonitions geared to kids ("Imagine yourself moving inland, over the vast grassy plains, watching herds of wildebeests moving across the open fields.") traverse world environments and provide fine invitations to open hearts, imaginations, and minds alike, providing a kid-centric method for appreciating all that will best be served by adults who help them in the process.

Old Kicker Legs
Robert and Ross Rubenstein
Independently Published
9798514534746, $6.20 Paper/$3.00 ebook

Old Kicker Legs tells of a grandfather's walk with his grandson, and reviews the activities they can and cannot do together. Based on real events that happened over several seasons in 2021 Maryland, the story embraces nature, Native Americans, family relationships, and themes of aging and renewal. Grandpa ("Old Kicker Legs") has a carved walking stick named Joe Elm. Joe has his own sage persona and observational style as he narrates his revised life since treehood: "This is a concrete world," Joe Elm says. He misses the mountain near the tree between three rocks where he began to breathe. Old Kicker Legs is cognizant of the fact (and informs his grandson) that he must tread carefully through life. His "old bones can crack like crystal. And he'll be gone."

Robert and Ross Rubenstein employ lovely, lyrical language to explore relationships between people and between humans and nature in this story. This feature pairs beautifully with colorful, original art by Victor Nario, which receives an added boost through the choice of the first-person in the young narrator's interactions with his grandfather. Readers who expect a sage walk, given Old Kicker Legs' physical limitations, will find that what the body resists, the mind embraces. This grandfather is more than willing to accompany his grandson through different adventures, from the joys of mud puddle play to an unexpected soccer challenge with a young player.

"What the old man can be" is still an active, engaging, fun-loving personality. The lessons imparted by this adventure are delightfully unexpected, presenting a fine contrast between attitude and physical ability. Parents using this book to help kids understand older adults and their various possibilities will be pleased that the Old Kicker Legs portrayed here still holds gumption, creative thinking, and an interest in the world that succeeds in embracing his grandson. Adults looking for a different kind of story about elder/child relationships will find many lessons and unexpected turns in Old Kicker Legs, which is especially recommended for collections looking for something different in the way of family interactions in general and grandparent depictions in particular.

The Environmental Shelf

Sparky's Electrifying Tale
Janelle London, author
Matthew Metz, author
Ilya Fortuna, illustrator
Mascot Books
9781645438601, $16.95, HC, 38pp

What can two children and a hamster do about climate change and air pollution? Tina and Rory follow gasoline's trail from the age of the dinosaurs to the family car and beyond, their journey illuminated by the vivid imagination of their new pet hamster, Sparky. Just when Rory has had it with gasoline, Sparky magically finds a solution. A charmingly entertaining story with a clear environmental message, "Sparky's Electrifying Tale" by authors Janelle London and Matthew Meta, combine their original story with the cheerful illustrations of Ilya Fortuna making this a welcome and recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Environmental & Ecology collections for children ages 9 to 14.

The Social Issues Shelf

A Pair of Pears and an Orange
Anna McGregor
Scribble US
c/o Cursor
9781950354702, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Big Pear and Little Pear love playing together. But when Orange joins in, their games don't work and Big Pear feels left out. "A Pair of Pears and an Orange" is a relatable, hilarious, and kind-hearted picture book tale by Anna McGregor that is about navigating friendship when three definitely starts to feel like a crowd!

Original, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "A Pair of Pears and an Orange" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Children's Self-Esteem & Life Skills collections for children ages 3-7.

Freddie the Fly: Truth or Care
Kimberly Delude, author
Brian Marlin, illustrator
Boys Town Press
13603 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, NE 68010
9781944882549, $10.95, PB, 32pp

Freddie the Fly stirs up a hornet's nest of trouble with his brutally candid opinions. But Freddie doesn't understand how anyone could be hurt by his honesty. Afterall, isn't he supposed to be truthful no matter what? It's not until Freddie tries to earn his Truth or Care Patch in Bug Scouts that he discovers what his opinions have been missing - kindness. Children ages 4-7 will enjoy seeing how Freddie takes the sting out of his harsh opinions by being more considerate and caring.

Speech-language pathologist and author Kimberly Delude proves once again that children (and bugs!) can successfully navigate tricky social situations. Charmingly illustrated by Brian Marlin, in this original tale young readers learn how to speak their truth with kindness and compassion. Included at the end of the story are tips for parents, counselors and educators -- making "Freddie the Fly: Truth or Care" unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills paperback collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Freddie the Fly: Truth or Care" is also readily available in a digital book format ($8.76).

The Cookbook Shelf

Green Kids Cook
Jenny Chandler, author
Jem Venn, illustrator
Kirstie Young, photographer
Pavilion Books
9781911663584 $23.95 158 pages

"Green Kids Cook" is all about creating and sustaining an eco-friendly, smaller "foodprint" while exploring creative, tasty, healthful new food solutions appealing to both kids and adults. Simple step by step instructions accompanied by color photographs and fun illustrations help make recipes easily accessible to cooks of varying ages. Measurements are given in both metric and standard amounts for convenience of a wide audience. Colorful sidebars offer tasty alternative additions or suggestions, as well as added information about recipes and nutrition, as well as green cooking practices.

Over 60 healthy and delicious recipes are included in this fabulous and practical cookbook. Recipes are divided into Breakfast and Brunch, Snacks, Soups and Salads, Mains, and Sweet Things. Some tasty examples include overnight oat and Fruit Muesli, Veg-Peel Crisps, Halloween Hummus, Aquafaba Mayo, Green pea and Coconut Soup, Syrian Lentils with Slow-Fried Onions, Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Peanut Butter Curry, Black Bean Quesadillas, Banana, Chocolate and Walnut Muffins, and Blackberry and Apple Galette. Helpful suggestions describe ways to make beeswax wraps and other green wrappings, reasons not to buy plastic containers of food, and ways to "stay local, shop small, and eat natural." "Green Kids Cook" helps bridge the gap between wishing and doing when it comes to building a better tomorrow for upcoming generations of Planet Earth.

Disney Princess Cookbook
Cynthia Littlefield, Amy Croushorn, Cristina Garces, and Joy Howard, authors
Joanne Schmaltz, et. al., photographers
Adrienne Brown Disney Storybook team, illustrators
Disney Press
9781368060738 $17.99 144 pages

Aimed at a juvenile audience of kids ages 6-8 years, "Disney Princess Cookbook" is a harvest of 140+ pages of delightful recipes inspired by the characters of Rapunzel, Tiana, Cinderella, and all the other favorite Disney princesses. to help young chefs tackle cookery, recipes are rated on a five crown scale, starting with the easiest recipes at one crown and working up to the most complex creations at five crowns. Princess illustrations jazz up intro sections on preparations before you begin, measuring ingredients, safety first!, preparing fruits and vegetables, and cleaning up. Recipes are divided into 8 chapters including: Breakfast, lunch, Dinner, Sides, Snacks, Beverages, Sweets, and Magical Menus. The last chapter offers six suggested Disney princess special magical menus using recipes from the "Disney Princess Cookbook". These include a Summer Picnic and magical Princess Party menu as well as a Midday Feast and Family Dinner.

Beautiful color photographs illustrate nearly every page of recipes. The simple layout of each recipe includes a color framed list of ingredients (standard measurements) on the left, with simple step by step direction to the right for each recipe. Difficulty or crown rating is at the top left above ingredients. Some starring submission include the following recipes: Scrumptious Scottish Scones, Baked Caramel French Toast, Hoppin' John, Seven Dwarfs Soup, Magic Carpet Roll-Ups, Unbearably Delicious Fish Cakes, Lucky Cucumber Salad, Southern Spoon Bread, Pasta Shell Salad, Wondrous Homemade Hummus, White Hot Chocolate, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo magic Wands, Monkey Bread, and Princess Pink Popcorn. A handy glossary to all recipes follows the Magical Menus chapter, to help inspired young princess chefs choose their favorite recipes. Including over 50 delicious recipes in all, the "Disney Princess Cookbook" is sure to appeal to fans of the Disney princesses of all ages.

Also highly recommended from the Disney Press are the following new Disney Princess titles : "Disney Princess: Magical Worlds," 9781368045223, $10.99, and "12 Days of Princess," by Holly P. Rice, 978136807478, $10.99. Both titles are written for the enjoyment of children ages 3-5 years.

The Science Shelf

The Universe and You
Suzanne Slade, author
Stephanie Fizer Coleman, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781534111080, $16.99, HC, 32pp

During the night, as we sleep, a beautiful celestial dance is taking place. While Earth seems solid and still, it's actually spinning on its axis and circling the sun. Joining Earth in this orbit around the sun are the other seven planets in our solar system, along with dozens of moons and millions of comets and asteroids. Containing our solar system is the wondrous Milky Way galaxy, with its billions of stars, just like our own sun, swirling and whirling around. And on from there are the billions of galaxies with their own stars swirling and whirling into the ever-expanding space called our universe. When the sun rises on a brand new day, the dance continues. Through her lyrical text, science writer Suzanne Slade takes young readers on an exploration of our solar system, galaxies beyond, and finally the universe as a whole. Back matter includes science facts, making "The Universe and You" a highly commended selection for family, elementary school, and community library science picture book collections for children ages 5-8.

The Art Shelf

Doodling 101
Mel Willems
9781368075015, $19.99

Doodling 101: A Silly Symposium is an art book with a difference: it invites kids to turn doodling into a playbook of fun. This is a young artist's starter kit, giving directions for drawing characters, making puppets, participating in creative games, and more. Because 'doodle tools' are included along with invitations to draw on the pages, Doodling 101 will best be employed as a personal book that invites artistic experimentation and projects. It's a colorful, multi-faceted presentation that will delight kids by inviting them to turn their doodling into serious art pursuits and projects.

The Picturebook Shelf

Twitchy Witchy Itch
Priscilla Tey
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763689810, $17.99

Twitchy Witchy Itch tells of Itch the witch, who counts down to tea time as she worries about how her messy house will appeal to guests. Lovely, colorful full-page illustrations enhance the story as a potentially good hostess struggles to use magic to put her house in order. The problem is that her twitchy house refuses to stay in place. This fun story of spells and struggles for order will delight young readers with its whimsical tale of a witch's dilemma and a house's resistance to change.

A Friend Like You
Frank Murphy, author
Charnaie Gordon, author
Kay Harren, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781534111127, $16.99, HC, 32pp

There's nothing in the world like a wonderful friend. Friends are there to laugh with you and ready with a hug when you need one. There are forever friends and brand new friends. Friends for adventures and friends for cozy days indoors. Friends who are just like you and friends who are nothing like you at all. Highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections, "A Friend Like You" by the team of authors Frank Murphy and Charnaie Gordon, and artist/illustrator Kay Harren is a picture book for children age 5-8 that celebrates all the many and marvelous ways to be a friend!

A Thousand White Butterflies
Jessica Betancourt-Perez, author
Karen Lynn Williams, author
Gina Maldonado, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580895774, $16.99, HC, 40pp

Isabella has recently arrived from Colombia with her mother and abuela. She misses Papa, who is still in South America. It's her first day of school, her make-new-friends day, but when classes are canceled because of too much snow, Isabella misses warm, green, Colombia more than ever. Then Isabella meets Katie and finds out that making friends in the cold is easier than she thought! "A Thousand White Butterflies" is a thoroughly charming, engaging, and entertaining picture book for children ages 5-8 and highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

When I'm Not Looking
Farren Phillips
Yeehoo Press
9781953458070, $15.99, HC, 32pp

Legs isn't quite sure what her pet duck gets up to when she's not looking. Is her duck dressing like a knight and fighting dragons, starting an army of ducks, building a rocket, and even trying on Leg's best trousers? Children ages 4-8 will enjoy joining Legs on her quest to solve the mystery, with their detective skills, critical thinking and imagination. A combination of humorous detective story, fun fill-in-the-blanks, and laugh out loud details, "When I'm Not Looking" by the team of author/illustrator Farren Phillips is especially recommended for family picture book collections. It should be noted that "When I'm Not Looking" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Let's Play Outside
Pat Rumbaugh, author
Daniel Nakamura, photographer
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595729187, $16.99, HC, 32pp

The world has so much for children to explore and discover. There's no better way to see it all (and grow with healthy bodies and curious minds) than by getting outside and playing! Playing outside is fun to do with family or friends, and is a great opportunity to embrace new and exciting experiences.

With author/storyteller Pat Rumbaugh's "Let's Play Outside", youngsters ages 3-6 can discover many different ways to enjoy the outside - at a playground, in a park, in safe neighborhood streets, or in one's own backyard - including running, biking, swinging, hula-hooping, doing handstands, and exploring. There's no shortage of play activities to choose from! Featuring bright photos of children in motion from mixed backgrounds and abilities by photographer Daniel Nakamura, "Let's Play Outside" will inspire young ones everywhere to get outside and play in their surroundings.

"Let's Play Outside" also offers helpful resources to promote successful play, including suggested activities, play locations, and rules -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted that "Let's Play Outside" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781595729194, $6.99).

My Friend Scarlet
Patricia A. Cozzi, author
Susan Szecsi, illustrator
Independently Published
9781736917701, $21.99, HC, 34pp

Nature loving Hallie is a young girl who falls asleep on a leaf pile and awakens in an enchanted forest. She forms a strong friendship with Scarlet, who is a bit unusual -- her being a leaf. Scarlet teaches Hallie the importance of kindness. One day a strong storm strikes the forest and changes everything forever.

The charming illustrations by Susan Szecsi are a perfect complement to author/storyteller Patricia Cozzi's deftly crafted storybook tale. Unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 1-12, this appealing and original story is a simply unforgettable tale about love, loss, kindness, and everlasting friendship.

It should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Friend Scarlet" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780578869254, $9.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Peggy's Impossible Tale
Slavia Mild, author
Roy Miki, author
Mariko Ando, illustrator
Tradewind Books
9781926890210, $17.95, HC, 64pp

The collaborative work of authors Slavia Mild and Roy Miki, and beautifully supported by the illustratins of artist Mariko Ando, "Peggy's Impossible Tale" is a children's picture book told in the voice of a remarkable guinea pig. Full of action and surprises, "Peggy's Impossible Tale" is guaranteed to captivate the attention of beginning readers ages 6-8 as Peggy learns how to communicate with the loving family that adopted her, and she goes on to win a much-coveted prize for her accomplishments. While highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Peggy's Impossible Tale" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.05)

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Three new picture books offer especially inviting formats and attractions for young leisure readers and discriminating collections catering to them.

Dr. Dean Lomax's Prehistoric Pets (9781536217148, $17.99) is a gorgeous pop-up book featuring colorful illustrations by Mike Love. It focuses on seven selected prehistoric ancestors of modern pets. What did a guinea pig's ancient family look like? Palentologist Dr. Lomax considers links between fossil evidence and modern pets to provide a dynamic 3-D visual journey that kids will find thoroughly engrossing; especially since it relates to animals they already well know.

Once Upon A Time There Was and Will Be So Much More by Johanna Schaible (9781536222135, $18.99) provides an appealing picture book that blends colorful art with a survey that traverses time. Each page becomes smaller in the course of the narration, until a surprise is reached, at the end. Parents who would teach the very young about the passage of time and changing geologic and human affairs will find this a lovely visual and physical emphasis.

Eric Geron's Poultrygeist (9781536210507, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Pete Oswald, the New York Times best-selling illustrator, that bring to life a playful twist on monsters, chickens, and the transformation of a chicken into a "poultrygeist." As the story evolves, kids receive a zany set of circumstances that surveys a hilarious dilemma. All are outstanding new leisure reads.


These four new picture books are recommended for read-aloud and independent reading alike, offering diverse stories that are appealing and fun.

Jory John's Summer Camp Critter Jitters (9780593110980, $17.99) enjoys fun illustrations by Liz Climo as it explores potential summer camp attendees who are jittery about the experiences being proposed. Bear fears the woods. Duck can't swim. And other challenges face them all in an unfamiliar camp environment. How can they conquer their fears? A fine story evolves, which will particularly interest potential camp attendees who are afraid of the outdoors or new challenges.

If You Were An Elephant by Leslie Staub (9781524741341, $16.99) provides a natural history of elephants that contrasts their habits with those of humans, offering some lively facts about elephant habits and habitats in an engaging manner. Staub is almost poetic in her descriptions of their lives: "You'd send buckets of water splashing all over. You'd be a fountain spraying rainbows around!" These descriptions, paired with attractive drawings by Richard Jones, provide a different, engaging view of elephant lives.

Dev Petty's Moth & Butterfly (9781524740511, $17.99) receives whimsical drawings by Ana Aranda which add a sense of fun to the story of two caterpillar friends who share many interests. When they transform, however, everything changes. Including their identities. Can their friendship survive such changes? Butterfly and moth contrasts power a fun tale of best friends who find their lives on different trajectories.

Sophie Blackall's Negative Cat (9780399257193, $17.99) tells of Max, who appreciates nothing. His new family tries to engage no avail. They all give up except for one boy determined to do anything to keep his cat. Even if he does leave hairballs on the rug, put his tail in the butter, and poop in the vestibule.

All are excellent picture book stories that offer delightful reading opportunities.

Random House

Two new picture books provide entertaining and absorbing stories that lend to read-aloud and independent reading alike.

Vern Kousky's Milo is Missing Something (9780593173428, $17.99) tells of a new hatchling that faces an unfamiliar ocean world and its creatures, only to find something missing from this life. What is the thing that he misses? Kids are invited to speculate as Milo navigates an unfamiliar world seeking something mysterious.

Frances Gilbert's Too Much Slime! (9780593303573, $17.99) is illustrated by Vin Vogel, who accents the whimsical story of a creepy, slimy presence that is oozing towards the school. It's seemingly unstoppable...but, what can it be? Kids will appreciate the fun illustrations that bring a slimy mystery to life.

Both are winning, engaging, fun stories.

Simon and Schuster/Atheneum
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513

Five new picture books from Simon and Schuster represent winning picks for parents and libraries alike.

Lita Judge's Even the Smallest Will Grow (9781534457256, $17.99) imparts a much-needed message to the world: that "there is strength in even the smallest things." As a mother tells of acorns that grow into something larger and relates them to her small child ("...just as you, stretching your toes under warm sheets and resting your head on a dream-filled pillow, will grow."), kids receive a positive book filled with future possibilities that reflect the rhythms of life and growth - perfect for bedtime read-aloud.

Deborah Freedman's Is Was (9781534475106, $17.99) contrasts the words 'is' and 'was' with descriptions that capture the sense of past and present for the very young who are absorbing these concepts of time's passage. Ages 4-8 will appreciate an exploration in contrasts as nature is depicted, from "where singing was, a buzz is" to an emphasis on 'is' and 'was' events. The very simple approach and sometimes-wordless picture book pages will require an adult's read-aloud, interactive participation to bring to life its gentle possibilities and contrasts.

Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins (9781534466982, $17.99) tells of a small vampire and a penguin who decide to switch identities. Ages 4-8 will appreciate a lively, original venture that introduces something different (and delightfully unexpected) to the penguin enclosure at the zoo in a story that is whimsical and fun. The author's drawings are just as delightful as her story line.

Gabi Snyder's Listen (9781534461895, $17.99) will reach kids ages 4-8 with a lovely tale illustrated by Stephanie Graegin as it advocates a slower pace of in a piece directed to the very young. The portrait of a girl's day and how she absorbs new wonders by taking more time to enjoy them offers satisfying lessons about all the things that can be learned and felt when the time is taken to truly listen.

Alex Willan's Dragons Are the Worst! (9781534485112, $17.99) will reach ages 4-8 with the funny story of Gilbert the Goblin, who admits that he's been wrong in the past...but certainly not about his opinion of dragons. There's only one problem: the pot is calling the kettle black. As Gilbert faces unexpected results from his innate prejudice, readers are treated to a story about fear, truth, and different sides of a scary countenance that may actually represent something else.

All are exceptional picture books for kids.

Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor MI 48104

Sleeping Bear Press publishes consistently noteworthy books, and these new arrivals are no exception to its rule of pairing quality illustrations with fresh, original writing.

Leslie Kimmelman's The Ghouls' Guide to Good Grammar (9781534110953, $16.99) is a recommendation for Halloween and year-round enlightenment alike as it follows young ghouls to school, where they tackle a frightening subject. Mary Sullivan's whimsical, fun illustrations add a delightful flavor to this different approach to learning grammar, encouraging kids to have some fun during the course of exploring grammatical snafus. Lessons kids can easily absorb include how to use commas, periods, and comparison words appropriately.

Saguaro's Gifts by Kurt Cyrus (9781534111301, $16.99) provides a whimsical tale of community and desert life as it follows animals who enjoy the rich gifts of a big saguaro cactus which provides a hundred years of shelter and food. The rhyming text presents fun descriptions, but it's Andy Atkins' gorgeous illustrations that capture the desert's nature in an eye-catching manner.

Alexandra Alessandri's Isabel and Her Colores Go to School (9781534110632, $16.99) receives large-size, vivid drawings by Courtney Dawson as it features a girl who feels that English is "wrong" in comparison to the warmth of the Spanish language. Charged with learning English at a new school, Isabel makes an attempt to overcome her resistance and prejudice towards the English language, but receives some unexpected lessons in friendship and inclusiveness from a surprising new experience. Young readers for whom English is a second language will find this an endearing approach to the challenges of learning another language.

All are excellent, lasting recommendations for discriminating children's libraries and readers.

Eerdmans Publishing Co.
4035 Park East Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Three new picture books offer delightfully different approaches and are recommended picks for discriminating collections.

Renato Moriconi's The Very Hungry Plant (9780802855763, $17.99) provides a fine story of a beautiful plant that happens to need more than sunlight and water. This carnivorous plant can't be satisfied and evokes shades of The Little Shop of Horrors as it embarks on an all-consuming mission. Kids will enjoy the fun fantasy of a plant that never quite gets everything it wants.

Debora Vogrig and Pia Valentinis's Black and White (9780802855756, $17.99) tells of very different colors that hold different perspectives about the world, as well. White wants to explore, but black likes the cover of darkness. With such very different psyches, how can Black and White venture out into the world together? An intriguing tale of friendship emerges.

Reem Faruqi's I Can Help (9780802855046, $17.99) receives fine drawings by Mikela Prevost as it tells of volunteer student Zahra who tries to help Kyle, and enjoys the experience until she begins being teased by her classmates for doing so. How can she help him and retain her status among them? Faruqi writes with an evocative hand that will delight youngsters ages 4-8: "Later at recess, I take my turn on the swings. When I'm all the way up high, I realize the leaves are no longer thinking about changing colors. They are already the colors of red pepper, cumin, and turmeric, the spices Nana uses."

These are delightful reads highly recommended for all types of audiences.

The Board Book Shelf

Disney Baby: Baby Signs - First Words
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368065573, $7.99, Board Book, 24pp

Many child development experts believe that baby sign can aid in communication for little ones from ages 8 months to 2 years before developing verbal skills to express their needs and emotions. Appealing to this need, "Disney Baby: Baby Signs - First Words" is a board book packed with adorable Disney characters and introduces 12 easy-to-learn signs so babies and toddlers can tell you when they are happy, hungry, and more! "Disney Baby: Baby Signs - First Words" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, and community library board books for children ages infancy to 2 years.

Where's Brian's Bottom?
Rob Jones
Pavilion Books
9781843654667, $9.95, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: Brian is a very long sausage dog. So long he's lost his bottom! Where could it be? Maybe it's in the living room, with Alan the hamster? Or could it be in the bathroom with Derrick the duck? Oh, where has it got to? Children will enjoy helping Brian find his bottom with this unique board book that just keeps growing and growing! As well as being entertaining, it teaches young children all about the different rooms in a house, about different animals and the sounds they make, and encourages a sense of curiosity. A lot of joyful fund, "Where's Brian's Bottom?: A Veeerrry Long Fold Out Book" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Dog's First Baby
Natalie Nelson
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781683692799, $9.99, Board Book, 28pp

Welcoming a new baby to the family isn't always easy. When his humans bring home someone new, Dog is determined to sniff out the truth. Is this arrival another dog, or something else? As Dog investigates, he might just find a new friend in this loud, silly creature.

With "Dog's First Baby", Natalie Nelson captures the wonder and humor of a new baby through a dog's eyes in a board book format that is certain to delight kids ages 2-5. Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections, it should noted that this original, playful and heartwarming board book is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Let's Find Momo Outdoors!
Andrew Knapp
Quirk Books
9781683692621, $9.99

Let's Find Momo Outdoors!: A Hide-and-Seek Adventure with Momo and Boo is a delightful children's board book illustrated with full-color photographs and featuring a fun activity. Each two-page spread has a grand picture with lovable canine pals Momo and Boo, along with various other objects (shown in close-up pictures to one side). Children are invited to find Momo, Boo, and the objects in the grand picture, which is always in a beautiful outdoors setting. Let's Find Momo Outdoors! is a joy for parents and children to share. It should be noted that Let's Find Momo Outdoors is also available in a Kindle edition. Also highly recommended is the previous board book in the series, Let's Find Momo (9781594749582, $9.81 board book / $5.99 Kindle).

Spidey and His Amazing Friends: Meet Team Spidey
Steve Behling
Marvel Press
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023
9781368069908, $7.99 Board Book

Spidey and His Amazing Friends: Meet Team Spidey is a colorful board book in the shape of Spidey's face. Ghost-Spider and Miles Morales team up with Spidey to battle bad guys and save the day, in this simple, delightful storybook with cutesy art. Spidey and His Amazing Friends makes an excellent gift for the youngest Spider-Man fans!

Sleeping Bear Press
2395 South Huron Parkway, Suite 200; Ann Arbor MI 48104

Two board books will appeal to young audiences with their attractive illustrations and simple stories. Linda Vander Heyden's A Horse Named Jack (9781534111554, $9.99) enjoys charming barnyard animal drawings by Petra Brown as it explores a bored horse who is only entertained when children come to visit. Tired of waiting for them, Jack decides to take matters into his own hooves, and a delightful tale of newfound freedom emerges.

Deborah Diesen's Catch a Kiss (9781534111547, $9.99) is a sweet story best used for read-aloud. It tells of a mother and daughter's loving relationship. Kris Aro McLeod's fun drawings illustrate what happens when a kiss blown by a mother blows away. Izzie just wants her mother's love back. But, a wise mother points out that her kiss holds a different powers in this warm, appealing story.

The YA Fiction Shelf

Everything All At Once
Ivy Cayden
The Hidden Meridian, LLC
9781949293005, $19.99, PB, 496pp

Nearly sixteen, Kila Lorens showers herself in music, lives in plush corduroys, and always applies a double layer of lip gloss. She longs for the answers to this irritating trio of questions: When will she have her first kiss? Will Angus Lyr ever stop obsessi-texting Reese Seratine? And why did her former best friend, Brixton Kading, silently bow out of her life six months ago? The particulars of these unknowns - along with her mission to convince Maya Malta to share some sizeable news with a certain seventeen-year-old before he finds out from someone else -- keep Kila's eyes open at night.

But one late hour delivers something worth hiding: a private Nektir message from Timothy Cardiff, the tall, inky-haired enigma who rarely speaks in school, yet somehow morphs into Salt for Swordsmen's frontman on the weekends. Amidst tandem listening and dizzying revelations, the two form an unlikely attachment. When their covert communication spills into the halls of Cypress High, they both wonder if this will be a short-lived or long-lasting entanglement.

Ethan Lorens (Kila's cautious but optimistic older brother) mostly focuses on his new drums and his indie band's potential. An after-school visit to Casper's Music Underground presents some unexpected industry intel. Following years of hiatus, Emerald Rock plans to host another EmOpen. Casper encourages the boys to prepare for the contest, but Ethan, Brixton, and Angus wrestle with the group's shortcomings. Could the young French chef they meet at The Hidden Meridian be the band's missing link?

Sometimes dreams come out to play. Mixing Kila and Ethan's friends together on a parentless weekend induces irreversible crushes, late-night courtship, and stinging heartache. With an elaborate, 67-song playlist to embed you in every magnetic moment and missed connection, you'll experience the rush of "Everything All At Once", the first book in the Chorduroys and Too Many Boys series by Ivy Cayden.

Original, entertaining and memorable, "Everything All At Once" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Contemporary YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-189. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Everything All At Once" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Kristin Durfee, author
Arielle Haughee, editor
Orange Blossom Publishing
9781949935219, $13.99, PB, 272pp

Sixteen-year-old Stevie Albie is a religious person, but nothing prepares her for meeting Mary. Like the Mary, mother of Jesus. Just as Stevie becomes convinced she has a special connection with God, doctors discover a brain tumor in her frontal lobe they claim is causing the hallucinations.

Her parents insist on removing the tumor as quickly as possible, but Stevie isn't so sure. Feeling special for the first time in her life, she runs away to a religious cult that's convinced her visions are their salvation and vow to protect her. But as time goes on she suspects they have their own agenda. Torn on who to trust, Stevie wonders if she'll have to choose: her visions or her future?

"Mass" by Kristin Durfee is a compelling page turner of a read from cover to cover. Original and laced with unexpected plot twists and turns, "Mass" is especially and unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections.

The Lady or the Lion
Aamna Qureshi
CamCat Books
9780744303445, $24.99, HC, 400pp

As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul is a young woman who will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar's gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. His family has three months to prove their innocence, or they will all have war.

As Durkhanai races to solve who really orchestrated the attack, ambassadors from the neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each with their own intentions for negotiations, each with their own plans for advantage. When a mysterious illness spreads through the villages and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must dig deep to become more than just a beloved princess -- she must become a queen.

To distract Durkhanai from it all is Asfandyar Afridi, the wry ambassador who tells her outright he is a spy, yet acts as though he is her friend-or maybe even something more.

Unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for young readers ages 13-17, "The Lady Or The Lion" by Aamna Qureshi is a retelling of "The Lady or the Tiger?" set against a Pakistan inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues. All the more impressive when considering that this is the author's debut as a novelist, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lady Or The Lion" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780744303421, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

This Is Ellen Jones Reporting
Alayne Smith
Ellard Publishing
9781736644805, $16.99, PB, 257pp

"This Is Ellen Jones Reporting" by Alayne Smith is the story of Ellen Jones as she follows her dream to become a broadcast journalist. Set in 1961, this sequel to "Ellen and the Three Predictions" draws on the developing stories of the familiar characters of Luke the Legend and Ellen with glimpses of her beloved Callander home and the vibrancy of their college years at a small college in Miami.

Set against the backdrop of a tenuous time in the nation's history, the characters come to grips with their changing personal stories and the change at play in the world. Ellen, now in her junior year of college, faces a pivotal decision. Will she return to finish her degree or will she follow Luke to the career of his dreams when he graduates in May?

Ellen and Luke both enter news stories for competition in broadcast journalism's prestigious Peabody Award.One wins the award. The other is expelled from college.

Another deftly crafted gem of a YA Fiction novel by author/storyteller Alayne Smith, "This Is Ellen Jones Reporting" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library collections for young readers ages 13-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Is Ellen Jones Reporting" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Up All Night: 13 Stories Between Sunset and Sunrise
Laura Silverman, editor
Algonquin Books
9781643750415, $17.95 hc / $1.99 Kindle

Synopsis: It's a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It's a time for breaking up, for falling in love - for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours.

Full contributor list: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia

Critique: Up All Night: 13 Stories Between Sunset and Sunrise is an anthology of short stories for young adults, written by a variety of talented and award-winning authors. Each tale is set between the hours of dusk and dawn. From romantic prom nights to thrilling ghost hunts, these stories will also appeal to adults with fond memories of their own coming of age! Highly recommended, especially for public and school library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Up All Night is also available in a Kindle edition ($1.99).

Editorial Note: Laura Silverman earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. She is the author of Girl Out of Water and You Asked for Perfect. You can reach out on Twitter at @LJSilverman1 or through her website

Scholastic, Inc.
555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

Five new books from Scholastic provide engaging stories for middle to high school readers, and are top picks for collections looking to build leisure read interest.

Molly Knox Ostertag's The Girl from the Sea (9781338540574, $14.99) is a full-color graphic novel about fifteen-year-old Morgan, who seeks to escape her island home one day soon. She wants to finish high school and move away from her dysfunctional family and even her best friends, who don't really know her. Morgan holds a lot of secrets. For one special secret, leaving home is her only option for a better, more inclusive future. Collections strong in alternative relationships will find this an appealing tale of romance and change, couched in an unusual graphic novel format.

Alan Gratz's Ground Zero: A Novel of 9/11 (9781338245752, $17.99) documents the experience of being at ground zero on 9/11 through the eyes of Brandon, who is visiting his father at work at the World Trade Center when disaster strikes. It juxtaposes this event with those in Afghanistan on September 11, 2019, seen through the eyes of Reschima, who experiences a battle in her village and develops a relationship with wounded American soldier Taz. As each character confronts not only challenges to their survival but issues revolving around their choices and the consequences of their actions, young adults receive moving, interlinked stories set in very different situations of conflict that will give them much food for thought, evoking much empathy.

Mason Deaver's The Ghosts We Keep (9781338593341, $18.99) tells of a sibling's recovery from the death of his brother in a car accident. More than loss and grief is involved, however. Liam must now navigate the world without his biggest supporter in it, while simultaneously fielding the increasing distance of friends and the world around him. This story of grief goes beyond loss and probes how a younger sibling learns to live without his older mentor.

Jennifer A. Nielsen's Rescue (9781338620993, $17.99) tells of a girl whose father left their French home to fight against the Nazis in World War II. He's been taken prisoner by them, and has left behind a mystery for her to solve, which is key to drawing her into the struggle. When Meg is further challenged by finding an injured British spy, the decisions she makes and the journey she undertakes lead her into danger.

Justin A. Reynolds writes Miles Morales Shock Waves (9781338648034, $12.99), a graphic novel which ties into the Marvel universe for middle-grade readers as it tells of ordinary Miles, who is struggling with school and his alter ego of Spider-Man. After an earthquake strikes his mother's Puerto Rican birthplace, Miles must head a fundraiser, face a friend's missing father, and solve a mystery, all at the same time. Does even Spider-Man have enough strength to do all these things?

All are engaging leisure reads that teens will find involving.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

A Queen To Come: An Aster Prequel Novella
Frances Ellen
Wolfkin BV
9789083086811, $11.99 pbk

Synopsis: The five Asters, brothers and sisters in magic, battle an unknown Dark King to ensure their new Queen ascends to the throne, in this debut YA fantasy prequel series. Together with Affinites, who have no magic but unique affinities for specific skills, the Asters have been protecting humans from the Dark Kings' reigns of terror for generations; even since their first and, until now, only Queen bestowed six Affinites each with one of her own magic powers 500 years ago. The one unique magic that the original Queen didn't pass on would only return if there was a dire need of it: to bring balance back into the world. Now, 500 years later, her reincarnation predicts a threat to the peaceful existence that generations of Asters had created and protected.

Up until her eighteenth birthday the new Queen was brought up as human in a secret location, with no knowledge of the crown she will be expected to wear or the rare magic she possesses. She will join the Asters, and she will become the most powerful creature to ever live. But a Dark King knows of her upcoming accession, and will do whatever it takes to stop it. He starts abducting Affinites in the hopes that one of them might know the Queen's secret location. He wants to steal her magic before she learns how to use it against him. It is up to the five Asters to make sure that he doesn't.

Critique: A prequel to the "Aster" fantasy YA series, A Queen To Come is a novella that will appeal to readers of all ages. The five "Asters", each with an extraordinary power, are tasked with protecting the human-raised Queen, who is about to return to her home and birthright. The Asters' nemesis is the Dark King, a ruthless enemy who abducts victims and yearns to steal the Queen's extraordinary magic power for himself. A Queen To Come is an utterly enthralling saga of magic and subterfuge. Also highly recommended are "Aster prequel" novellas, "A Threat to Remain" and "A World To Lose".

Editorial Note: Frances Ellen is a Dutch-English native. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a degree in English Literature and from London Middlesex University with a Master's in Novel Writing. The idea for the Asters series came when she was only fifteen years old on a summer holiday in France. Next to writing, Frances fosters and trains assistance dogs in the first year of their training and is a part-time canine instructor. A Queen To Come is her first ever published work. Frances can be followed on and her website is

The Poetry Shelf

There's a Light at the End of My Muddle
Ellen Palestrant
Ep Creative Enterprises
9780997478396, $12.95

Poetry readers of all ages (but especially the young) will find There's a Light at the End of My Muddle a whimsical invitation to all kinds of verse that encourages both imaginative thinking, read-aloud, and performance fun alike.

The idea, expressed in the beginning of the collection, is to 'open up new doors' of variety and creativity for readers of all ages. This sentiment is best expressed in "Living Life in Pause," which offers a thought-provoking survey of being overly cautious about life experiences: "Are you.../living Life in Pause,/tidying up your drawers,/sweeping clean your floors,/stepping...gingerly...outdoors?" Further examples of these attitudes and how they can influence perception and life experience lie in poems such as "Mrs. Naysayer," who "considers negation her ongoing victory."

Because such works may require some degree of interpretation for the very young, this is a collection that excels in being employed by read-aloud parents. This audience will find much discussion fodder for interacting with kids about positive life attitudes and fun encounters in daily and routine experiences, from a rudely-slurping uncle to an angry tabby cat. Palestrant's simple yet whimsical black and white illustrations throughout add interest to her words.

Adults who want opportunities for engagement with young poetry readers will find this collection the perfect place for exploring characters, emotions, life circumstances, and whimsical observations; all couched in a literary expression that is delightfully unexpected in its various portraits.

If You Shut Your Eyes, You'll Hear Some Cosmic Verse
Ellen Palestrant
Ep Creative Enterprises
9780997478389, $11.95

The poems and black and white line illustrations in If You Shut Your Eyes, You'll Hear Some Cosmic Verse will appeal to all ages, from young poetry readers to adults well versed in the genre. They provide humorous, thought-provoking, imaginative creations that at first appear to hold more insight for the young. However, many an adult who cultivates being young at heart will find these short works whimsical and imaginative explorations of "a new world from a new dimension."

Take "Nincomdroops!" for one example. This builds on previous observations to note that "The Droops of Evil/cause upheaval/everywhere they go./Can't walk in a line./Can't read a sign./Go fast instead of slow." The intergalactic journeys, hilarity, and bouncing, rollicking rhythms that describe alien places and spaces will also delight read-aloud parents who encourage levity and celebration in the young, cultivating an appreciation for poetry that mixes fanciful environments with fun wordplays and fantasy observations about the creatures that inhabit these other realms.

Kids are encouraged to absorb multiple word interpretations and differing observations and conclusions about these intergalactic environs and their inhabitants as they romp through a cosmic and literary journey. Adults looking to introduce kids to a variety of poetic forms will appreciate the diversity Palestrant employs in these celebratory explorations, the humor, and the fantastic descriptions. Her black and white illustrations provide just the right zany, simple touch to help these cosmic verses come to life in a presentation especially recommended for young readers new to poetic experiences.

The Activity Shelf

Pippa Park: My Journal About Life
Erin Yun
Fabled Films Press
9781944020682, $10.99, PB, 144pp

"My Journal About Life: Awesome Quizzes, Listicles & Writing Activities to Explore the Real You!" by Erin Yun is a DIY an interactive journal that will keep tweens ages 9-12 entertained for hours and helps them to celebrate their individuality and create a time capsule of their lives. Packed from cover to cover with over a dozen different writing activities that are inspired by tween obsessions including family, friends, school, and themselves, "Pippa Park: My Journal About Life" is a journal that will help tweens increase communication skills, self-esteem, and emotional vocabulary and is very highly recommended and will provide hours and hours of useful entertainment.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Steaming Up the Mississippi: Lucky Luke
Rene Goscinny, author
Morris, illustrator
Cinebook Ltd.
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
9781800440173, $11.95, PB, 48pp

Passing through New Orleans, Lucky Luke stumbles upon a heated argument between two steamboat captains. The argument soon turns into a wager: whichever boat reaches Minneapolis first after steaming up the Mississippi will win the exclusive rights to the route. Captain Barstow quickly invites Luke to travel on his Daisy Belle, fearing that his opponent will cheat. And while he's not wrong, the biggest danger to both boats remains Old Man River himself!

Laugh out loud funny from cover to cover, "Steaming Up the Mississippi: Lucky Luke" is an especially recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Steaming Up the Mississippi: Lucky Luke" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle/comiXology, $7.55).

The Audiobook Shelf

The Brementown Musicians: A Tale With Music
John Pruessner, narrator
Ina Allen, pianist
Independently Published
$12.24 CD / $8.99 MP3 / $TBA audiobook

The Brementown Musicians: A Tale With Music is an audio CD retelling the classic parable of four performing animals alongside classical piano music. A wonderful audio storytelling experience especially for pre-school through elementary age children, The Brementown Musicians: A Tale With Music is highly recommended especially for school and public library children's collections, and also makes an excellent gift. 24 min.

The Music CD Shelf

Flor Bromley
8 Pound Gorilla Records
$10.00 CD / $9.99 digital

Peruvian music artist Flor Bromley presents Pachamama, a music album featuring English and Spanish songs. Themes of nature are a recurring feature in this rhythmic, lively cultural celebration offering a wide variety of music styles ranging from bachata from the Dominican Republic, to Tex-Mex quebradita, tango, country/folk, Pervuian hip-hop fusion, and much more. Highly recommended. 66 min.

Ben Tatar and the Tatar Tots
Privately Published
$10.00 CD / $10.00 download

An all-ages music album that will especially appeal to young listeners ages 4-8, Seconds features clever, catchy songs about food. A delightfully upbeat and peppy collection, Seconds is pure-hearted, playful fun. The tracks are "Jambalaya", "Peanut Butter!", "Can You Write A Song About Broccoli?", "I Got The Greens", "The Breakfast Song (Start It Right)", "Bake Me A Cake", "Back To The Buffet", "Thinking Of Pizza", "Oh Cookie", and "Sweet Nectarine". 33 min.

A Mi Me Gusta Ser Yo / It's Okay To Be Me
Twinkle Time Records
$9.99 CD / $9.99 download

A Mi Me Gusta Ser Yo / It's Okay To Be Me is a bilingual English/Spanish album especially for kids ages 5-12 and their families, by Peruvian-American performer Twinkle. The high-energy, pop songs celebrate individuality, self-confidence, and personal pride. The English-language tracks are "It's OK 2 Be Me", "Be The Flamingo", "Brand New Day", "Be Kind", "Let's Keep It Movin'", "Gotta Roll With The Punches", "GateKeeper (feat. Jace Blain)", "No Boxes No Labels", "Mask It Up", "For Humanity", "LOVE", "One Word", "Together (feat. MC Magic & Izzi Def)", and "Music Unites"; each song also has a Spanish-language performance. A Mi Me Gusta Ser Yo / It's Okay To Be Me is a choice pick for bilingual children's music collections, highly recommended.

Sing Your Song
The Harmonica Pocket
Privately Published
$12.99 CD / $9.99 digital

Two-time Parents' Choice Gold Award-winner The Harmonica Pocket presents Sing Your Song, their fifth album both for and about families with children. The jubilant songs celebrate family love and close ties, while encouraging imaginative play and celebrating differences. Sing Your Song is upbeat, outgoing, and highly recommended. The tracks are "Sing Your Song", "One Two I Love You", "Nest", "Sand Song", "Everything Is Everywhere", "Take A Little Finger", "Apples On The Sun", "Itchy 9", "Twinkle Twinkle", "I Can Be The Princess", "Stand By Me", "Wee A Tilly", and "Ukulele Lullaby". 43 min.

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Marie Chow, author
Sija Hong, illustrator
Marvel Press
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023
9781368069960, $12.99, HC, 32pp

The combined work of author/storyteller Marie Chow and artist/illustrator Sija Hong, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Who Guards My Sleep" is a stunningly beautiful picturebook that explores the fantastical elements of the new Marvel Studios film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings while introducing readers to a child-aged Shang-Chi and his family -- making it unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-5.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Disney Classic Storybook Collection
Disney Books, author
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368065795, $17.99, HC, 304pp

From Dumbo to The Lion King, and from Peter Pan to Pinocchio, the best-loved stories of all time are now even better and re-create the movie magic of the most beloved Disney films in the pages of the "Disney Classic Storybook Collection". Enhanced with new pieces of art from the Disney archives, these stories are still the ideal length for reading aloud. While certain to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers ages 5-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that the "Disney Classic Storybook Collections" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Little Red, the Detective
Lois Wickstrom, author
Frankie Mion, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
9780916176990, $20.99, HC, Large Print, 28pp

Grandma has been teaching Little Red Riding Hood to recognize flowers. When Grandma asks Little Red to visit for her new sweater fitting, she asks for coneflowers. Little Red has her flower identification book with her. The wolf gives her the wrong flowers, but she isn't fooled. But it takes time to find the right flowers and check them in her book. By the time she gets to Grandma's house, the wolf has done his sneaky deed. Little Red is suspicious. She gets out her fingerprint kit and takes the wolf's prints. They don't match Grandma's. How will she use her knowledge to rescue Grandma and capture the wolf?

A wonderfully entertaining variation of a classic fairytale, "Little Red, the Detective" is the collaborative work of author/storyteller Lois Wickstrom and artist/illustrator Frankie Mion. While also available in a paperback edition ( 9781954519008, $11.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "Little Red, the Detective" is especially commended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

The Travel Shelf

Bodhi Sees the World: Thailand
Marisa Aragon Ware
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781611808261, $16.95, HC, 32pp

In a plane on her way to Thailand, a young girl named Bodhi is high above the clouds,. She's never been to the city named Bangkok, and she's not certain what sights, sounds, and experiences await her there. Stepping into the streets, Bodhi suddenly finds herself a long way from home and not sure if she belongs in this new place. The city is a symphony of noises with horns beeping, engines roaring, and people speaking in Thai.

But after visiting the golden temple and quieting her mind, Bodhi begins to see that Thailand is not that different from home after all. Trees still grow tall, kids play games just like her friends, and a smile is the same in every language. With this new outlook, Bodhi opens her heart to the kindness and compassion already within and realizes that even though she is far away from the place she calls home, she is right where she belongs amongst the busy streets, Loi Krathong celebrations, and floating markets of Bangkok.

Critique: Informative, entertaining, original, "Bodhi Sees the World: Thailand" by author and illustrator Marisa Aragon Ware is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bodhi Sees the World: Thailand" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Longest Letsgoboy
Derick Wilder, author
Catia Chien, illustrator
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452177168, $16.99, HC, 48pp

As a dog and his little girl go on their final walk together, he experiences the sights, smells, and wonders of this world one last time before peacefully passing on. But for such a good boy (oh yes, he is!) and his foreverfriend, that doesn't mean it's the end. Offering a unique and noteworthy take on death, "The Longest Letsgoboy" by author/storyteller Derick Wilder and artist/illustrator Catia Chien deftly balances the somber topic with a dog's ever-optimistic viewpoint, all woven together with its unconventional yet fitting approach to language. Family members, librarians, art-lovers, and educators alike will use "The Longest Letsgoboy" as an accessible and comforting introduction to the ever-difficult topic of death, discussed and related in a new way with hopeful, uplifting, innovative language.

Poignant, hopeful, and lovingly told, "The Longest Letsgoboy" is the picture book story of a dog's journey (as told by the dog himself in his own unique words) and proves that love abides beyond a lifetime, out of sight but never far away. While especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-5, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Longest Letsgoboy" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

The Multicultural Shelf

Kiki Goes to Brazil
Victor D.O. Santos
9781649620996, $13.99

Parents seeking to introduce the concept of foreign languages, words, and polygot speakers at an early age will find Kiki Goes to Brazil another fine addition to the Linguacious picture book collection that promotes multicultural encounters, understanding, and language skills.

The polygot kids are traveling to Brazil, the country of their father's birth, where they enjoy the warm Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and encounter people from different countries. Words in their mother's tongue (Ukrainian) as well as in Chinese and in Portuguese introduce some new concepts to kids, but the action swirls around pet chicken Kiki, who goes missing. Even more important than the adventure and language lesson is the example of being helpful and sharing new experiences. The story of an evolving friendship that introduces yet more possibilities to the polygot family creates an inviting story about being open to and understanding cultural differences.

The contrast between different cultures and how they become friends is the real heart of a story. Colorful, inviting illustrations by Eszter Mikl˘s illustrate the tale of how a travel encounter creates new understanding for all ages. Collections strong in cross-cultural representation and lessons supporting positive attitudes and encounters among diverse ethnic groups will find that Kiki Goes to Brazil is delightful in its presentation and perspective.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Story Monsters LLC is dedicated to helping authors of all genres strive for excellence through our marketing and publicity services, Dragonfly Book Awards contests, Story Monsters Approved! awards program, opportunities for connecting with schools, and the award-winning Story Monsters Ink(R) magazine.

Count On Me 123
J.B. Frank, author
Ela Smietanka, illustrator
9781641704380, $8.99

Christine Irvin

In this colorful board book filled with adorable, diverse characters, children count the everyday heroes around them, from 10 crossing guards and 9 firefighters down to 2 parents, and of course, 1 you!

My Big Birthday Party: Early Concepts
Jeffrey Turner
Schiffer Kids
9780764360053, $9.99

Christine Irvin

Poodle's special day is full of surprises, friends, and a little bit of science. Colorful illustrations combine lovable animals and hilarious situations for a simple introduction to opposite word pairings, building vocabulary skills, and strengthening early concepts. (board book)

Everyone Shares (Except Cat)
Jamie Michalak, author
Katie Mazeika, illustrator
9781623542764, $8.99

Diana Perr

All the animals at the playground like to share - just like the characters in their favorite book. All except Cat, that is. Why won't Cat share the seesaw? Maybe he can be convinced to give it a try? Maybe sharing can be even more fun than being top dog... er, cat? Parents will find this a great book to encourage reading and the perfect bedtime story. (board book)

Everyone Says Please (Except Cat)
Jamie Michalak, author
Katie Mazeika, illustrator
9781623542771, $8.99

Diana Perry

Little Cat forgets his manners and demands cheese from Mama, but he's missing the magic word. After an outrageous meltdown, he sees Mouse receive cheese after asking politely and remembers to ask for what he wants using his best manners. Sweet and silly, Chicken Soup for the Soul Babies makes lessons easy and fun for the littlest readers. (board book)

"Not That Pet!"
Smriti Prasadam-Halls, author
Rosalind Beardshaw, illustrator
9781536217766, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Any kid who has ever longed for a pet will identify with Mabel as she tries to pick out a pet that will work for her and her family. Of course, she has to try out some rather exotic pets - an elephant, a snake, and a skunk (among others) - which are all rejected before she settles on the perfect one. Colorful, expressive, kid-friendly illustrations, coupled with rhyming verse and humor, make this a sure-to-please story for all. (Ages 2-5)

Little White Cat (Interactive Animals)
Anders Roseberg
Independently Published
9780998232393 $9.99

Diana Perry

What a great book to bring out the young artist in every early reader! A white cat is presented. Instructions are that if you want to change your cat, you dip your fingers in the imaginary paint and then a different color cat is shown. This book encourages little ones to use their imaginations in lieu of an electronic device. (Ages 2-7)

Roy Digs Dirt
David Shannon
The Blue Sky Press
c/o Scholastic (distribution)
9781338251012, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Do you have a dog like Roy? Roy digs dirt! He really does. He not only digs in the dirt, he really, really likes dirt. He spends his whole day outside, playing in the dirt, burrowing in it, rolling in it, and digging in it where he often finds buried "treasures." Although it's great fun to dig in the dirt, sometimes things get a bit messy. Kids will love watching Roy's antics as he digs through the dirt. (Ages 3-5)

What If Everybody Thought That?
Ellen Javernick, author
Colleen Madden, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542091374, $14.99

Christine Irvin

What do you think when you see someone confined to a wheelchair? You probably think they can't compete in a race. But you might be wrong if you think that. What would you think if someone in your class has a hard time reading? You might think they are not very smart. But you might be wrong if you think that. The author and illustrator show kids several scenarios where it's easy to judge a person's character just by a quick observation, but they make it clear that by doing so, you may be shortchanging that person and yourself. (Ages 3-7)

Pirates Don't Go to Kindergarten!
Lisa Robinson, author
Eda Kaban, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542092753, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Pirate Emma has finished preschool and is headed for kindergarten. This is a big step for her as she loved her preschool teacher and the teacher's pirate-themed classroom. The kindergarten teacher's room has a spaceship theme. Emma is not sure if she is ready to cross the plank from preschool to kindergarten, because pirates don't go to kindergarten... but maybe astronauts do. (Ages 3-7)

Donut Leads the Team
Stacy Marie Roberts, author
Kaviya Pugazhendi, illustrator
Skylight Books
9781732830844, $15.95

Christine Irvin

It's class project time at Poochton Elementary School. The students are going to plant their own garden, and everyone is eager to help. Their teacher, Ms. Sunshine chooses Donut as the project leader. It's an important job, and Donut does her best, but she soon learns how difficult it can be to be a good leader. This is a good introduction for young readers about the value of working together as a team. (Ages 3-9)

The Case of the Vanishing Caterpillar (Gumboot Kids)
Eric Hogan and Tara Hungerford
Firefly Books
9780228101949, $6.99

Christine Irvin

Scout and Daisy search for clues in The Case of the Vanishing Caterpillar when Scout notices that his caterpillar friend has disappeared. Where did she go? Will they be able to find her? Kids will learn about the lifecycle of a caterpillar as they watch Scout and Daisy solve the mystery. And there is an easy-to-do craft project at the end of the book where readers can make their own butterflies using flower petals. (Ages 4-7)

Maia's Mermaid Friend
Lois Wickstrom, author
Ada Konewki, illustrator
Gripper Products
9780916176631, $12.99

Christine Irvin

Maia has a new mermaid friend that her human friend can't see. Maia's human friend thinks Maia is just pretending to have another friend, putting the two at odds with each other. Any child who has an imaginary friend will identify with Maia's problem. (Ages 4-8)

Stephanie Theban, author
David Barrow, illustrator
Doodle and Peck Publishing
9781733717014, $10.99

Christine Irvin

Alfred the moose wants to take dancing lessons, but he is awkward and clumsy and doesn't fit in with the rest of the class. He's too big to fit in the studio, he doesn't know the right moves, and he doesn't have the right clothes. The rest of the students in the class make fun of him and he runs away in shame. But will Alfred give up or will he do whatever it takes to learn to dance? (Ages 4-8)

No Dinosaurs Allowed
Deborah Hunt, author
Ashleigh Heyns, illustrator
9781955547727, $12.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Bobby tries to take his friend Teddy the Dinosaur to a party, the library, and the zoo, but unfortunately, dinosaurs are not welcome. Finally, they go to the park but there are no swings or slides and only one little boy. But Teddy saves the day by allowing the little boy and Bobby to use him as a swing and slide. A good lesson for all little readers to remember. Following the story is a fun Q&A with the author and illustrator that kids may enjoy. (Ages 4-8)

There's a Dodo on the Wedding Cake
Wade Bradford, author
Kevin Hawkes, illustrator
9781536208849, $16.99

Christine Irvin

A misunderstanding by the musician hired to play at a wedding leads him to heroic measures to save the wedding cake that is being defaced by a dodo. Lively illustrations, humor, and a surprise ending make this a delightful story. (Ages 4-8)

Faraway Things
Dave Eggers, author
Kelly Murphy, illustrator
Little, Brown
9780316492195, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Lucian lives in a lighthouse where he collects things the tides leave on the beach each day. His father called them "faraway things." One day, Lucian finds a magnificent cutlass on the shore, a real one, one he wants to keep forever. Beautiful artwork, lyrical prose, and a great storyline combine perfectly to make this book a real keeper. (Ages 4-8)

The Magical Underwater Activity Book
Mia Underwood
Button Books
9781787080454, $14.99

Christine Irvin

Do you wonder what types of creatures live under the water? Author/illustrator Mia Underwood has created a "magical" activity book that takes a look at the underwater world. The pages are filled with a variety of activities for children as well as facts about underwater sea creatures. There are several pages of colorful, life-like stickers in the book that correspond to various pages, with some extra ones just for fun. (Ages 4-8)

Baloney and Friends: Going Up!
Greg Pizzoli
Little, Brown
9780759554801, $12.99

Diana Perry

Another great Baloney and Friends graphic novel that early readers will enjoy. This time, Baloney is up to many things - like writing a song and finding out what happens to a sneeze when it doesn't come out. Baloney has many more funny adventures in this story. I really loved the drawing tips in the back. (Ages 6-9)

Lulu & Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park
Barbara Joosse, author
Renee Graef, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111332, $16.99

Christine Irvin

This is a great way to introduce kids to a well-known tourist destination as the characters in the book share their adventures in the park, highlighting the fun that can be had in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Other books in the series explore the cities of Milwaukee, Detroit, Nashville, and Indianapolis. (Ages 5-8)

My Grown-Ups
Kate Costigan, author
Sarah Turner, illustrator
Halo Publishing
9781612449920, $13.95

Diana Perry

Come take a look at one neighborhood, where everyone is welcome, and no two families look the same. This heartwarming story celebrates differences in family and teaches children that love is what makes a home. Early readers can relate to this book as it's told through the point of view of a little one. I hope it makes them appreciate and realize all the many things that the grown-ups in their lives do.
(Ages 5-10)

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
Michael Rex
Nancy Paulsen Books
c/o Penguin
9781984816269, $17.99

Christine Irvin

It can be difficult to learn the difference between a fact and an opinion. This very kid-friendly book gives easy-to-understand examples of each with the help of very lovable robots. The illustrations are great, the text is simple to understand, and the examples given are ones that kids can relate to. (Ages 5-8)

Tweedledee and Tweedledum
Anders Roseberg, author
Alex Preyzner, illustrator
Independently Published
9780998232386, $16.99

Diana Perry

Tweedledee and Tweedledum look so much alike that it really is hard to tell them apart. They look the same and dress the same, but are they really the same? We now get to dive into the private lives of our beloved twins to find out how different they really are! A very fun book to read. (Ages 6+)

I am Monster Magnificent: A Collection of Student Poems and Artwork
Raven Howell, compiler
Sarah Gledhill, illustrator
Story Monsters Press
9781589852013, $14.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

As an appreciator of poetry, I found the works in this collection as promised, magnificent! This collection of poetry written by our amazing youth gives us quiet moments to think, and to see our future develop. It is not only filled with awareness and creativity but hope and inspiration as we peek into the minds and hearts of our future generation on the rise! A perfect book for any coffee table. Perfect for continual perusing! (Ages 7+)

Marvin's Monster Diary 4: Neighborhood Bully
Raun Melmed and Caroline Bliss Larsen, authors
Arief Kriembonga, illustrator
9781641704632, $12.99

Diana Perry

All Marvin and his friends want is to enjoy their turf - the park across the street - and play superheroes to their hearts' content. But when bullies arise, so does conflict. Suddenly a power struggle erupts over playground dibs. It's Marvin and his band of Super Scarers versus Drake the Dreadful and his too-cool-for-school henchmen! Early readers will love reading about all of Marvin's plans and learn that if you don't succeed, try, try again. (Ages 7-9)

A Place to Land
Barry Wittenstein, author
Jerry Pinkney, illustrator
Neal Porter Books
c/o Holiday House
9780823443314, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is well known and many books have been written on the subject. But author Barry Wittenstein takes a new approach to the topic by providing readers with a peek at the timeline of the speech - how it evolved and what happened the night before King presented it. The author's lyrical text and the illustrator's detailed pictures make this an engaging book for a young audience. (Ages 7-10)

Marion Dane Bauer
9781536214116, $16.99

Christine Irvin

When Ben goes to a remote island to spend the summer with his mom, he dreams of being able to bring his divorced parents back together. Author Marion Dane Bauer tackles a heavy subject with insight and compassion, giving Ben an imaginary friend he can rely on when his parents fail him. This is a great book for teens coping with issues that are out of their control. (Ages 8-12)

I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001
Lauren Tarshis, author
Corey Egbert, illustrator
c/o Scholastic
9780545207003, $5.99

Diana Perry

This is the story of a young boy in New York City named Lucas. This graphic novel takes young readers throughout Lucas's daily life, much like that of any other young boy, until on September 11, 2001, the unimaginable happens. Includes a timeline on how the events unfolded as well as descriptions of how our first responders were true American Heroes. (Ages 8-12)

Scott J. Langteau, author
Erik Ly, illustrator
Shake The Moon Books
9780692143339 $17.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

Bullying has escalated to new heights in our present time. Our personal opinions and preferences are held emotional hostages to the loudest voice on the scene. A voice often shouting to drown out its own shame. In his thoughtful reflections, the author takes his stand. Not with harsh shouting or shaming demands, but with the gentleness of understanding, he offers an enlightened hand. May it sink in like rain on dry land! (Ages 8-12)

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design