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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 32, Number 10 October 2022 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Holiday Shelf Environmental Shelf
Science Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Biography Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Photography Shelf ABC Shelf
Counting Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
YA Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Activity Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
Christian Shelf Buddhism Shelf Art Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Native American Shelf Books in Series
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Citizen She!
Caroline Stevan, author
Elina Braslina, illustrator
9783907293720, $19.99, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: "Citizen She!: The Global Campaign for Women's Voting Rights" tracks the global fight for women's suffrage from the first pioneers in the eighteenth century to the heroines of today, from American Lucretia Mott to Egypt's Huda Sha'arawi to China's Qui Jin.

It addresses such questions as: What does it mean to have a vote, and why did women have to fight so hard to get one? How did they fight for it? And why are they still fighting in many countries around the globe?

In illuminating the global struggle for women's rights, "Citizen She!: The Global Campaign for Women's Voting Rights " shows us how far we've come -- and given the recent Supreme Court decision denying women the right to choose -- that there is a lot left to fight for.

Critique: Supported by artist Elina Braslina's illustrations, "Citizen She!: The Global Campaign for Women's Voting Rights" by author and activist Caroline Stevan is especially, uniquely, and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Women's History & Political Science collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Caroline Stevan has been voting since her 18th birthday, in Switzerland and in France. She studied political science and journalism and then worked for the Swiss daily newspaper, Le Temps, in the international and culture sections. She began working for the Swiss National Radio in 2019 and is co-host of the podcast "Le Pont J" and co-curator of the photography festival Alt+1000. She dreams of the day when the word feminism might lose its sting. Citizen She! Is her third book for Helvetiq, following Blablacar, la France et moi, and Be my Quarantine with Marko Stevic. She has an author's page on the Amazon website at

Editorial Note #2: Elina Braslina ( is an illustrator from Riga, in Latvia. She has illustrated over 20 books: mainly children's stories and novels by Latvian writers. She also illustrated Lawrence Schimel's board books Bedtime, Not Playtime! and Early One Morning; Kate Wakeling's poetry collections Moon Juice and Cloud Soup; and Patricia Forde's picture book Imagine! She also creates animated films and feminist art in her free time. Citizen She! is the second book she has illustrated for Helvetiq. The first was Ting!

Enzo Isn't There
Thomas M. Ellis with Lily Coyle
Beaver's Pond Press
939 Seventh Street West, St. Paul, MN 55102
9781643438078, $16.95

Enzo Isn't There is a children's picture book about death and dying, presenting the aftermath of a lonely child who wants to talk with Enzo about all kinds of life experiences, but feels lost and alone.

The first-person revelations offer candid discussion points that read-aloud parents will want to pursue with their kids ("I wish I was where Enzo is and Enzo could be here.").

The explorations of all who grieve the loss of Enzo is another facet that sets this picture book story of death apart from others on the subject: "I hate it the most when Dad cries. Dad hates it the most when I cry. I hate this. Dad hates this. We hate this."

Enzo's wisdom and reflections about life and what he's observed are threads that augment the grief experienced and expressed by the young narrator.

A storm of emotions is revealed as the youngster processes his sibling's demise: "I got so mad today I ripped up all of Enzo's cards because Enzo wasn't there. Then I felt bad and taped them together because Enzo isn't here."

Paired with evocative and beautiful, colorful landscapes by illustrator Brian Schmidt, Thomas M. Ellis and Lily Coyle's Enzo Isn't There is simply gorgeous. It's a fitting adjunct to other stories about death for the very young, created in a format and presented in a manner that encourages discussion of different reactions to death.

Read-aloud parents will find it stands head and shoulders above similar books, while libraries will find Enzo Isn't There deserves not just a prominent place, but display and discussion in any collection catering to the young.

Psychological groups for all ages tackling the subject of death, loss and dying will find Enzo Isn't There simple, yet especially effective for pinpointing feelings surrounding loss and dying, offering excellent fodder for discussion.

What the Bread Says
Vanessa Garcia, author
Tim Palin, illustrator
Cardinal Rule Press
9781735345185, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Children will enjoy joining Papan and Vanessa on a baking adventure and getting ready to bake some delicious bread while they travel from Spain to France to Cuba and back again -- all before the kitchen timer dings. The will learn while kneading, dancing, singing, and hearing stories from the past that help shape Vanessa's present and future!

Based on a true story, "What the Bread Says: Baking with Love, History, and Papan" by the team of author/storyteller Vanessa Garcia and artist/illustrator Tim Palin is how Vanessa, when she was a little girl, learned to bake bread with her grandfather, Papan, and how she also learned about her grandpa's story, which was also hers!

Baking bread requires a lot of patience. Some of it is about mixing ingredients together, and another part (and a big part of it) is about waiting. Waiting while the dough rises, rests, rises, bakes. What makes baking between Vanessa and Papan fun is that Papan tells the amazing adventures of his life while they wait, and Vanessa listens!

In this picture book account, Vanessa learns about her roots, and the power of love and family, and how stories can carry us through no matter what. Additional resources for the family and classroom on the publisher website ( Food and family connect us through the story as it all comes together in Papan's kitchen!

Critique: Charming, fun, unique, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "What the Bread Says: Baking with Love, History, and Papan" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elemental school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-7.

Editorial Note #1: Vanessa Gardia is a Cuban-American multidisciplinary writer. She has written for Sesame Street and Caillou among other shows. Her novel, "White Light", was named one of the Best Books of 2015 by NPR, and won an International Latino Book Award. She also co-hosts a podcast about family with my mother and sister, called Never the Empty Nest, which is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. As a journalist and essayist, my pieces have appeared in The LA Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, National Review, ESPN, among others. She has a dedicated website at

Editorial Note #2: Tim Palin is a professional artist with experience and expertise in deign, illustration, and photography, as well as video and website production. He has a dedicated website at

Dear Wild Child: You Carry Your Home Inside You
Wallace J. Nichols, author
Wallace Grayce Nichols, author
Drew Beckmeyer, illustrator
Abrams Children's Books
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781951836467, $18.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle 32pp

Synopsis: In the shade of ancient redwood trees, by a creek, not far from the ocean, a father builds a house for his newborn daughter, where she grows up wild and strong in their coastal canyon home. When a wildfire takes back their beloved house, a father writes his now-grown daughter a letter telling her it's gone.

Inspired by the real letter the author wrote his daughter, this poignant story (written together by father and daughter) joyfully declares that a home is more than just wood and stone; it is made of love and can never be taken away. You carry home with you wherever you go.

Critique: Given the climate change driven increases in the numbers and ferocity of wildfires (as well as those of floods, hurricanes, tornados, droughts, and other natural disasters), "Dear Wild Child: You Carry Your Home Inside You" is a timely, uplifting, reader friendly, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note: Wallace Grayce Nichols is a student of sustainable design, problem solver, and water lover. Her father, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, is a marine biologist and the author of the "Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do". Drew Beckmeyer is a fine artist, illustrator, and elementary school teacher.

The Holiday Shelf

Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday
Denise Kiernan, author
Jamey Christoph, illustrator
Philomel Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593404416, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: All across the world, among hundreds of cultures and across centuries, people have come together to give thanks. But Americans didn't have an official Thanksgiving holiday until the 1800s. The holiday Americans know today exists because of a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, a spirited letter-writing campaign, a sympathetic president, and a civil war.

"Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday" is a beautifully illustrated picture book that shares the true story of how Thanksgiving became a national American holiday and offers a look at the timeless and global power of gratitude.

Critique; Clearly laying out the inherently fascinating story behind Thanksgiving Day becoming a beloved American holiday, "Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday" by author/storyteller Denise Kiernan and artist/illustrator Jamey Christoph will be a welcome and highly valued addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Holiday picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Denise Kiernan ( is an American journalist, producer and New York Times bestselling author. She has written several history books, including We Gather Together, The Last Castle, and The Girls of Atomic City. She can be followed on Instagram (@iamdenisekiernan) and on Twitter (@DeniseKiernan)

Editorial Note #2: The illustrations of Jamey Christoph ( have appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and in several award winning children's books. He has received multiple recognitions from the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and 3 3 Magazine.

Little Pumpkin: A First Halloween Story
Lisa Edwards, author
Kat Kalindi, illustrator
Viking Children's Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593465189, $7.99, Board Book, 12pp

Synopsis: With a gentle, rhyming text by author/storyteller Lisa Edwards, "Little Pumpkin: A First Halloween Story" is perfect for the smallest readers to celebrate the fall holiday. While exploring the love between a parent and child, "Little Pumpkin: A First Halloween Story" is board book that is an excellent expression of love with a unique fall theme as Little Pumpkin and Big Pumpkin greet their nighttime friends, from bats to cats to owls and beyond.

Critique: With its fun Halloween theme and charming illustrations by Kat Kalindi, "Little Pumpkin" is board book with a fun and special cover -- making it ideal for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note #1: Lisa Edwards is a former children's publisher who is now a freelance writer, editor, and Yoga teacher. She splits her time between the United Kingdom and India, and is committed to bringing the spiritual ideas she has learned to a young audience, to encourage them to discover and celebrate the joy that lies inside every living being, including themselves. She has a web page at

Editorial Note #2: Kat Kalindi ( is an illustrator and surface pattern designer from the sunny Gold Coast, Australia. Kat has been illustrating for over twelve years.

The Environmental Shelf

Footprints Across the Planet
Jennifer Swanson
Reycraft Books
9781478876045, $17.95 Hardcover/$8.95 Paper

Every footprint in the world leaves its mark. What kind of footprint will you make? Young readers who choose Footprints Across the Planet for its ecological message and bright, attractive cover receive a story filled with vivid color photos and answers to the question of one's personal impact on the world.

These answers take the form of close-up examples of all kinds of animal feet, paired with lovely close-up shots of the creatures (including humans) making them.

Jennifer Swanson's simple, enlightening words are just as vivid as the photos: "Footprints come in all shapes and sizes, colors and species. Some are large and deep, strong and purposeful. Others are small and shallow, barely leaving any imprint at all... Footprints are also as diverse as the people on the planet."

The lovely visuals, including slices and cutaways of mountains, people, and animals, reinforce the observations with a particularly powerful hand to representing the interconnectivity of world environments and creatures.

The result begins small, with the notion of a single footprint's impact, but expands into a blossoming story showing how each individual can make a big difference.

The picture book concludes with biographical sketches of humans who successfully changed the world through their actions and choices.

More so than most books about intention, personal impact, choice, and consequences, Footprints Across the Planet presents a powerful display that will reach a wide age group (including adults) with a strong message of empowerment and positivity.

If only one children's book were to be chosen on these topics, Footprints Across the Planet should be at the very top of such a list. Its opportunities for not only personal enlightenment but discussion between youths and adults who read along are boundless, as is the enthusiasm with which it is written and the obvious care taken to choose only the most powerful striking imagery to highlight its important message.

Libraries and individuals who choose Footprints Across the Planet will find it rich in thought-provoking opportunities and rich rewards for the effort of imbibing.

The Science Shelf

Porch Talk
John R. Erickson, author
Douglas K. Boyd, author
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9781682831229, $19.95, PB, 112pp

Synopsis: When John Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog book series, saved up and purchased a tract of Panhandle property near Perryton, it set off a chain of discovery. Who lived in Texas over a thousand years ago? With the publication of "Porch Talk: A Conversation About Archaeology in the Texas Panhandle", John Erickson and his archaeologist friend Doug Boyd investigate this question while explaining the art and science of archaeology for middle school readers.

On the Perryton ranch, John and his friends unearthed a ghost town that dated back to around 1300 CE. They found a sprawl of widely spaced pit houses occupying an area of 300 acres in John's West Pasture. It is unclear how many people lived there, but it was a place where babies were born and the elderly died and were buried. Women nursed children, made cornmeal in stone metates, and stitched clothes of leather while the men hunted bison using arrows tipped with points made from Alibates flint.

"Porch Talk" features the kind of conversation John and Doug might have on the porch after a day of work in the field. For more than twenty years, they worked together on this and other prehistoric sites, sharing a fascination for the ancient people who occupied the area. How did these people work, play, and survive?

Anyone today who picks up a copy of "Porch Talk", young or old, will learn about archaeology, prehistoric Texas, and the importance of taking care of the land. The conversation will ignite your curiosity and make you aware of the brave and sturdy people who occupied this land long ago.

Critique: An ideal and effective way to introduce the science of archaeology, "Porch Talk: A Conversation About Archaeology in the Texas Panhandle" is especially and unreservedly recommended to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Archaeology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists for children ages 8-12. It should be noted that "Porch Talk: A Conversation About Archaeology in the Texas Panhandle" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note #1: John R. Erickson, one-time bartender, handyman, cowboy, and founder of Maverick Books, has written and published seventy-five books and more than 600 articles. He is the author of the Hank the Cowdog series of books, audiobooks, and stage plays. His writing has garnered many accolades, including the Audie, Oppenheimer, Wrangler, and Lamplighter awards, and his works have been translated into many languages. A fifth-generation Texan, Erickson owns a ranch in Perryton, Texas and has a web page on the Wikipedia website at:

Editorial Note #2: Douglas K. Boyd is senior archeologist at Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc., in Austin, Texas. He has more than forty years of archeological experience, mostly in Texas and the surrounding states. Boyd has provided over 100 presentations to public and professional audiences, has conducted countless on-site tours, and has authored or co-authored numerous reports and publications. He also has a web page on the ResearchGate website at

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

5,000 Awesome Facts About Animals
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
101 West 104th Street, Suite 8, New York, NY 10025
9781426372612, $19.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by the staff of National Geographic, "5,000 Awesome Facts About Animals" answers a wealth of questions such as: Did you know that a grizzly bear's bite is strong enough to crush a bowling ball? Or that a breed of dog yodels instead of barking? How about that wombat poop is cube-shaped?

A coffee-table style volume (9.5 x 0.8 x 12.15 inches) fairly bursting with fascinating and fun facts, "5,000 Awesome Facts About Animals" is a veritable treasure trove of illustrated information on all things animals -- and leaves no habitat unexplored or unusual animal ability unmentioned!

Ever wonder how smart a chicken is? Why a tiny island is home to thousands of venomous snakes? What sound a rhino makes when it's happy? Young readers ages 8-12 will find these answers and 4,997 more in this entertainingly informative and colorful collection featuring vibrant photography and a bold, eye-catching design.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections, "5,000 Awesome Facts About Animals" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for both the casual browser and the truly fact-obsessed!

Editorial Note: As a publisher, the mission of National Geographic Kids is to inspire young adventurers to explore the world through award-winning magazines, books, website, apps, games, toys, television series, and events -- and is the only kids brand with a world-class scientific organization at its core.

The Biography Shelf

Unsinkable Lucile
Hugh Brewster, author
Laurie McGaw, illustrator
Firefly Books Ltd.
9780228103820, $19.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: She was one of the world's most glamorous women and the most famous fashionista of the Edwardian age. Yet, couturiere Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon was born just plain Lucy Sutherland and grew up in a stone farmhouse in Ontario, Canada. How she went from a backwoods farm to presiding over an international fashion empire is a remarkable story of unshakeable determination and female achievement at a time when it was thought that a woman's place was in the home.

"Unsinkable Lucile: How a Farm Girl Became the Queen of Fashion and Survived the Titanic" is a lavishly illustrated picture book story of Lucile's lively childhood, her rise to the top of the fashion world and her survival of the Titanic disaster and its aftermath, during which she was unjustly vilified. Time and time again, she proved that nothing could sink her spirits or stop her drive to innovate and create.

Among Lucile's many innovations were the first fashion shows, the first fashion models and the Edwardian craze for oversized hats. She helped free women from the corset and coined the word "chic." Lucile was also a fashion adviser to millions and the creator of clothes seen in over 115 movies.

Critique: Featuring historical photos and beautiful paintings by artist/illustrator Laurie McGaw, "Unsinkable Lucile: How a Farm Girl Became the Queen of Fashion and Survived the Titanic" is a humorous, touching, empowering, and informative picture story by Hugh Brewster of a woman who beat the odds, never backed down and changed the world of fashion forever. "Unsinkable Lucile" is recommended as a prized addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library picture book biography collections for children ages 9-12.

Editorial Note #1: Hugh Brewster ( is an award-winning author, editor, historian and playwright who has written 13 books for young readers. Hugh worked with Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, to create the international bestseller The Discovery of the Titanic and Exploring the Titanic. Hugh oversaw the creation of Titanic: An Illustrated History, a book that provided inspiration for James Cameron's film. His other titles include 882 1/2 Amazing Answers to All Your Questions About the Titanic; Deadly Voyage (I Am Canada series); Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage; Anastasia's Album; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose; The Other Mozart; and Dinosaurs in Your Backyard.

Editorial Note #2: Laurie McGaw ( has previously collaborated with Hugh Brewster on a number of award-winning illustrated books, including Polar the Titanic Bear, which was nominated for a Governor General's Award. Her other titles include To Be a Princess, African Princess and Journey to Ellis Island. She is a renowned portraitist and has painted portraits of Oscar Peterson, Norman Jewison and David Suzuki among others. She has also been commissioned to create 34 coins for the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Cookbook Shelf

Gaby's Latin American Kitchen
Gaby Melian
America's Test Kitchen
9781954210264, $22.99

Adults who regularly look for outstanding cookbooks well know that America's Test Kitchen's results are virtually foolproof, as each recipe presented is vetted by their culinary team. That's one reason why Gaby's Latin American Kitchen is recommended over other children's cookbooks as a fine illustration of what kids can accomplish in the kitchen.

Another reason is that competing Latin America cookbooks for kids tend to focus on elementary-level basics alone. These 70 kid-tested, kid-approved recipes take the next step in introducing kids to a wider range Latin American flavors that are child-friendly. From Guiso de Lentejas (Lentil Stew) to Tostones Con Mojo de Anjo (Fried Green Plantains with Garlic Dipping Sauce), recipes are geared to advanced elementary to middle school grades, and are accompanied by color photos of completed dishes to add attraction. The directions are broken down into "Ready!," "Set!," and "Go!" to further the sense of attraction and adventure created by lively descriptions of the dishes.

The Photography Shelf

Extraordinary Women with Cameras
Vanessa Perez, author
Darcy Reed, author
Rocky Nook
1010 B Street, Ste 350, San Rafael, CA 94901
9781681988795, $16.95, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: Ever since photography was invented almost 200 years ago, women have broken barriers and influenced the artform. "Extraordinary Women with Cameras: 35 Photographers Who Changed How We See the World" is a children's book about women photographers and tells the stories of 35 of the most talented historical and contemporary shutterbugs.

Filled with colorful illustrations, "Extraordinary Women with Cameras" includes stories about Dorothea Lange's haunting portraits of American history, Margaret Bourke-White's bravery as the first female war correspondent in WWII, Florestine Perrault Collins' influential images depicting Black life in the 1920s, and many more. Including explanations of key photography terms, photo project ideas, and suggestions for other women photographers to study.

Critique: "Extraordinary Women with Cameras: 35 Photographers Who Changed How We See the World" by the team of authors Vanessa Perez and Darcy Reed is a thoroughly charming and impressively informative history of women and photography that will inspire children (especially young girls ages 8-12) to pick up a camera and make their own memorable photographs. While especially recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library History of Photography and Women's Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Extraordinary Women with Cameras" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: From a young age, Vanessa Perez ( knew she had a connection with art and telling stories through drawings. This love for creating led her to pursue a career in illustration. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from California State University Long Beach, Vanessa has been working as a freelance illustrator, creating drawings for individuals and small businesses. She primarily works digitally and occasionally with gouache paint.

Editorial Note #2: Darcy Reed ( is a writer, editor, and actor. Her books include: The College Bucket List, Disney: Ninety Years of Mickey Mouse, Wonder Woman Trivia Deck, The Photography Trivia Deck, Captain Marvel, Extraordinary Women With Cameras, and Shakespeare: Famous Last Words.

The ABC Shelf

A Is for Always: An Adoption Alphabet
Linda Katherine Cutting, author
Leonte Little-Lex, illustrator
9781641706629, $16.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With gentle rhymes by Linda Katherine Cutting, and lovely illustrations by Leonte Little-Lex, "A Is for Always: An Adoption Alphabet" celebrates the joy and love of adoption from A to Z. With B for birth parents, Q for questions, and U for understanding, it frames challenging aspects of adoption in a way children can understand. Best of all, each individual page shows a different adoptive family of cuddly animals welcoming and cherishing a new child.

Critique: Unique, charming, gentle, inspired, "A Is for Always: An Adoption Alphabet" is a children's book about adoption written in verse. Especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6, "A Is for Always: An Adoption Alphabet" is an ideal introduction to the subject of adoption and family life.

ABC Ireland!
Aoife Dooley
Little Island Books
9781912417872, $11.99, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: A is for Aran jumper. B is for bog. C is for Connacht, D is for DART, Y is for Yer Man. Illustrator, comedian and neurodivergent author Aoife Dooley's board book, "ABC Ireland!" features uniquely Irish images that will inspire giggles in young children -- and a love of all things Irish!

Critique: Charmingly illustrated and a fresh approach to learning their ABCs (J is for Jig), author and illustrator Aoife Dooley's "ABC Ireland!" is a fun and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-4.

Editorial Note: Aoife Dooley ( is an illustrator, comedian and neurodivergent author. Her graphic novel about a child with autism, Frankie's World, is due from Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic, this year (2022). Her previous board book with Little Island, 123 Ireland! won Children's Book of the Year (Junior) at the 2019 An Post Irish Book Awards.

The Counting Shelf

Counting Arctic Animals
Coco Apunnguaq Lynge
Inhabit Media
9781772274479, $12.95, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: One bowhead whale! Two polar bears! Three orcas! Children from infancy to the age of 3 will enjoy joining Kuluk and Asa as they count all the animals they see! This novel introduction to counting and to Arctic animals will help young children to develop their counting skills through short rhymes. It also introduces interesting collective nouns, like a blessing of narwhals and a bob of seals.

Critique: Sturdy and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation, "Counting Arctic Animals" by author and illustrator Coco Apunnguaq Lynge is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note: Coco Apunnguaq Lynge ( is an illustrator and artist. She was born in Greenland and raised in Denmark, which has made her long for her Greenlandic roots. This longing often expresses itself through her personal work. She is a graduate of The Animation Workshop in Denmark, and has also studied multimedia and fashion design.

The Board Book Shelf

Bedtime With Daddy
Nancy I. Sanders, author
Felia Hanakata, illustrator
End Game Kidz
9781637970393, $9.99, Board Book, 18pp

Synopsis: All around the world, it's bedtime, and daddies are tucking little ones into bed. From the penguins in the Arctic to the lions of Africa, it's time for snuggles, prayers, songs and bedtime kisses. "Bedtime With Daddy" is an adorable board book that features a daddy and baby animal in eight different habitats getting ready for bed. The final spread features Daddy playing a guitar and putting his son to bed.

Critique: A thoroughly charming board book by author/storyteller Nancy I. Sanders and artist/illustrator Felia Hanakata, "Bedtime With Daddy" would make a sweet baby shower gift for new parents and is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-4 years.

Editorial Note #1: Nancy I. Sanders is the author of over 100 children's books, published with houses both big and small. Nancy's nonfiction picture book, D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, (Sleeping Bear Press) won various awards and her delightful classroom bestseller with Scholastic Teaching Resources, 25 Read and Write Mini-Books That Teach Word Families, has sold over 300,000 copies and is still selling strong. She has a dedicated website at

Editorial Note #2: Felia Hanakata is an Indonesia-based illustrator. She went to Academy of Art University and completed her BFA in Illustration in Spring 2017. She thinks story-telling breathes life and colors into the world. She has a dedicated website at

Windy Days
Deborah Kerbel, author
Miki Sato, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772782707, $11.95, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: For preschoolers, windy fall days mean excitement and play. Strong winds stimulate children and their surroundings, as though an invisible hand is shaking the world. Gentler breezes help plants scatter their seeds, set pinwheels in motion, and keep kite strings taut. But fiercer winds begin to sting the cheeks as they bring about a new season!

In "Windy Days", author/storyteller Deborah Kerbel once again captures the magic of early childhood awe and wonder with rhyming couplets as light as a breath of fresh air. Artist/illustrator Miki Sato's unique tactile collage art pops off the page through its detailed use of hand-stitching and textural materials.

Critique: Fun, charming, and recommended, "Windy Days" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note #1: Deborah Kerbel ( is the author of several picture books, including Sunny Days, Before You Were Born, and award-winners Snow Days and Sun Dog. Deborah also writes novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Born in London, England, she moved to Canada at the age of two and went on to attend the University of Western Ontario. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year, and the Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award.

Editorial Note #2: Miki Sato ( is a Japanese Canadian illustrator who uses a variety of different textures and materials to create three-dimensional images. Originally from Ottawa, she moved to Toronto to complete her degree in illustration from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her first picture books are Golden Threads written by Suzanne Del Rizzo as well as Snow Days and its companion Sunny Days that were written by Deborah Kerbel.

Slide and See First Words: Animals
Helen Hughes, author
Isabel Aniel, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781664350403, $9.99, Board Book, 12pp

Synopsis: The collaborative project of author Helen Hughes and illustrator Isabel Aniel, "Slide and See First Words: Animals" is an interactive and sturdy board book specifically and expertly designed to promote early language skills and fine motor skills children ages 2-5.

Children will enjoy moving the sliders across the pages to learn first animal words and animals sounds. Simple questions keep young readers engaged and learning fun facts about animals on the farm, at home as pets, and in the wild, such as what sound a cat makes, what elephants like to do, and more.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Slide and See First Words: Animals" is a fun, informative, and highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Pets, Farm, and Wildlife themed board book collections.

Smart Pop
c/o BenBella Books

Two new board books with a Star Trek theme from Smart Pop are ideal for children ages 1-3.

"Star Trek: My First Book of Space" (9781637741665, $11.99, 22pp) by author Erin McDonald and illustrator Jason Kayser even the youngest of Trekkies to explore strange new worlds and see the universe through a Starfleet Academy telescope. Illustrations of some of Star Trek's most iconic space-faring vessels, including the Enterprise, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, a Klingon Bird of Prey, and the Kataan probe are paired with real photographs of an asteroid, the planets, Pluto, the Sun, and even a nebula! And because this pop culture primer is filled with more visual Easter Eggs and jokes than there are stars, it makes the perfect gift for the adult collector, too!

"Star Trek: My First Book of Colors" (9781637741641, $11.99, 22pp) by author Robb Pearlman and illustrator Jason Kayser invites even the youngest Trekkies to explore strange new worlds and see the universe through the eyes of a Starfleet cadet. Of special note are the illustrations of a Shiny Silver space station, a Gorn Green captain wearing a gold lame tunic and brown gauntlets, and of course Starfleet officers wearing Blue, Yellow, and Red shirts! And because this pop culture primer is filled with more visual Easter Eggs and jokes than there are tribbles, it makes the perfect gift for the adult collector, too!

Very highly recommended for family, daycare center, and community library board book collections, these two Star Trek themed board books offers readers and fans of all ages an age-appropriate, entertaining, and energizing first contact with a comprehensive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education. It should be noted that both board books are also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Picturebook Shelf

Girls Can
Deb Preston, author
James Henry Dufresne, illustrator
Black Rose Writing
9781685131159, $22.95, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: The collaborative picture book by author/storyteller Deb Preston and artist/illustrator James Henry Dufresne, "Girls Can" offers the heart-to-heart message that every girl ages 3 to 8 needs to hear. It celebrates that girls can play princesses or brave knights! "Girls Can" follows powerful and confident young girls as they skateboard, build robots, adventure outdoors, and explore careers as doctors, pilots, farmers, law enforcement, and more.

But "Girls Can" does so much more than imagine girls in under-represented arenas. Underlying every playful rhyme, and bringing it all home at the end of the picture book, "Girls Can" equips and empowers young girls with the mental scripts they need to overcome stereotypes. Emphasizing themes like acceptance that some may not understand them and allowing their actions to speak for themselves, it reassures young girls that they do have a place in this world and in fact, were born for it!

Critique: After years of writing about parenting, Deb Preston makes a powerful debut as she shifts to speak directly to children with her debut picture book, "Girls Can". Exploring a wide range of interests and bolstering girls' self-esteem with sincerity, humor, and irresistible confidence, and supported by James Henry Dufresne's charmingly effective illustrations, "Girls Can" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Deb Preston ( is an author, editor, amateur gardener, and professional cheese lover. Originally from Iowa, she now lives just outside of San Antonio, Texas with her husband, daughter, and unnecessarily loud beagle. When her daughter was born, she yearned for an opportunity to laugh, cry, connect with, and encourage other moms in the same crazy boat. She launched her blog in 2017 to meet those needs and has been writing about parenthood, faith, and health ever since.

Editorial Note #2: James Henry Dufresne, as an artist/cartoonist has a Facebook page at and a persona/professional website at

Wilbur and the Watering Can
Cynthia L. Clark
Outskirts Press Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd., #515, Parker Colorado 80138
9781977254726, $15.95 Print/$3.99 Kindle

Wilbur and the Watering Can is the picture book story of Magnolia and Lily, who live on a farm sporting wide open spaces with lots of room to play. Mama, too, loves to play with them, and plants flowers she waters with a "magic watering can" painted with bright images. When the kids uncover a toad in the pumpkins during watering, they name him Wilbur. Little Wilbur, too, loves the watering can, and manages to squeeze his way inside even though he's growing bigger and bigger.

As the garden flourishes, so does Wilbur. His ability to give the 'wildflower family' a surprise concludes a gentle, fun story of gardening and family enjoyments. Cynthia L. Clark's story celebrates gardening, the outdoors, and parent/child project-building. Bright, colorful drawings by Blueberry Illustrations capture the characters and fun expressions as they move through their world.

Adults seeking easy reads that highlight the adventure of interacting with nature by building a garden environment that all can enjoy will find Wilbur and the Watering Can a gentle lesson in cooperative efforts and fun.

The Rowdy Randy Wild West Show
Casey Day Rislov
Mountain Stars Press
9780578294421, $18.95

The Rowdy Randy Wild West Show is a fun picture book story powered by a rowdy female horsefly character captured by the especially vivid illustrations of Zachary Pullen. It portrays a "gutsy cowgirl who worked better alone" and opens with a compelling image of her astride a mythical jackalope as she makes hard decisions about which creatures will make the cut to appear in her wild west show.

Casey Day Rislov is especially skilled at adding Randy's first-person insights into the psychology of leadership and creative effort: "It takes a confident cowgirl to recognize the talents of others," she admitted." These reflections add psychological depth to the story as beautiful illustrations depict various animals working together to make this rowdy western show a memorable creation.

"Act big and dare to be mighty!" Randy reminded the contestants. Kids receive a vivid tale that is both entertaining and holds subliminal messages about positivity, leadership, and achievement. All this is presented in a manner that read-aloud parents will want to reinforce with discussion. (Hint: said parents will find the story so fresh, original, and inviting, and the large-size illustrations so creative and colorful, that the read-aloud effort for youngster enlightenment will become a good excuse for adult pleasure, as well.)

The Rowdy Randy Wild West Show is very, very highly recommended for picture book libraries that look for standouts in illustration and action.

DinoDogz: Eggzellent Adventure
Mystery Mike McHale
Mystery Mike's FunHouse Publishing
9780578388601, $14.99

DinoDogz: Eggzellent Adventure provides a picture book mystery that follows five DinoDogz as they travel to a secret island to rescue five StegoPup eggs stolen by the evil Dr. D. Stroy. He may have created the DinoDogz for nefarious purposes (to take over the world), but Dr. D. Stroy's creations have turned on him (and become good) as they reject their original purpose and try to gain control of special eggs (laid by a dog) that hold dino DNA and the possibility of furthering the evil doctor's take-over of the world.

The dynamic team faces many obstacles, from exploding coconuts thrown by evil gorillas Hal and Sal (who are in cahoots with the bad doctor) to a transformation caused by a Dino DNA-infused bone that turns dog Bull into a BrontoBulldogosaurus.

Illustrator Mike Goldstein adds a host of eye-catching, colorful drawings to bring Mystery Mike McHale's adventure to life as the DinoDogz face down not just an adversary, but his intentions to use them to change the world. The result is a lively adventure that looks and reads like an action-packed graphic novel, but holds the added value of humor and dinosaur attractors to engage even the most reluctant reader.

Libraries that choose DinoDogz: Eggzellent Adventure for its mystery and rollicking adventure will find it just the ticket for a journey into an unexpected, fun world that romps through quasi-science and extraordinary possibilities alike.

My Fade Is Fresh
Shauntay Grant, author
Kitt Thomas, illustrator
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593387085, $17.99, PB, 32pp

Synopsis: When a little girl walks into her local barbershop, she knows she wants the flyest, freshest fade on the block! But there are so many beautiful hairstyles to choose from, and the clients and her mother suggest them all: parts, perms, frizzy fros, dye jobs, locs, and even cornrows!

But this little girl stays true to herself and makes sure she leaves the shop feeling on top with the look she picks!

Critique: Author/storyteller Shauntay Grant's sweet, rhyming picture book story encourages young girls ages 3-7 to be self-confident and celebrates the many shapes and forms Black hair can take. Through her stunning illustrations, the artist Kitt Thomas is able to bring life and movement to the versatile styles featured in the pages of "My Fade Is Fresh". While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists for those with an interest in picture books with Children's Black & African American and Female Self-Esteem themes that "My Fade Is Fresh" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Shauntay Grant is an author, poet, playwright, and multimedia artist. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia, and is an associate professor of creative writing at Dalhousie University. A former poet laureate for the City of Halifax, her honors include a Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize, and a Poet Of Honour prize from the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. She has a dedicated website at

Editorial Note #2: Kitt Thomas is a New York Times best-selling illustrator and NAACP Image Award winner. An author, and a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in visual studies, Kitt's mission is to celebrate Black culture with her drawings and to encourage inclusion in all forms of art, as she found it hard to see herself as properly represented in the media she enjoyed growing up. Kitt has worked with such companies as Netflix, Hasbro, and Cartoon Network. She has an online author's page at

Upside Down
Katarina Macurova
Albatros Media
9788000065953, $16.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "How lovely it is!" rejoiced the teddy bear upon discovering a strange plant in his garden. Every day he watered it and shielded it from the sun with a parasol, and he never forgot to say "Good night" to it before bedtime. But the plant didn't react. "Why won't you bloom?" brooded the little gardener. But little did he know what was going on underground!

Critique: A fun and original picture book entertainment for children ages 3-6, "Upside Down" by storyteller and artist Katarina Macurova is a simply delightful and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Author and illustrator Katarina Macurova studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. She has an additional interest in 3D graphics. Her innovative work has already won her several prestigious awards, including the Communication Arts Award of Excellence in the USA. She has a dedicated author's page on the Albatros Media website at

Lulu and Malek: Sail Off To Sea!
June N. Foster, author
Rob Scheer, author
Gill Guile, illustrator
Hubble & Hattie
9781787117631, $10.60, PB, 32pp

Synopsis: Adventurous friends Lulu and Malek make fantastic discoveries, take care of our planet, and meet new friends as they explore the wonders of the world under the sea with "Lulu and Malek: Sail Off To Sea!".

With vibrant illustrations by artist Gill Guile and endearing characters created by the team of authors June Foster and Rob Scheer, "Lulu and Malek: Sail Off To Sea!" is a fun-to-read rhyming picture book that is certain to become a child's favorite, and one that they will want to read over and over again!

Critique: Original entertaining, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation, "Lulu and Malek: Sail Off To Sea!" will be thoroughly enjoyed by children ages 3-5 and unreservedly recommended as an addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library marine and conservation themed picture books.

Editorial Note #1: In 2018 June Foster published The Girl and the Golden Leaf, a suspense novel that touches upon poverty and human trafficking and has been optioned for a film production. June is currently writing a short-story collection with a writer from Garissa, Kenya, and has completed two children's illustration books. Through her online store, and other ventures, she is able to support a variety of children and conservation organizations. June's passions are storytelling, child advocacy and conservation. Her stories reflect her love and concern for those in need, especially children, across the world. She has a dedicated website at

Editorial Note #2: Rob Scheer is the CEO of Comfort Cases and the author of A Forever Family: Fostering Change One Child at a Time. To date, Comfort Cases has positively impacted over 110,000 children, and has recently opened a chapter in the United Kingdom. Comfort Cases has been featured on The Ellen Show, The Today Show, The View, and NBC Nightly News. In 2018 Rob Scheer was named one of CNN's Heroes. He has two relevant and dedicated websites: and

Editorial Note #3: Gill Guile has illustrated more than 600 titles with over 20 publishers and written around 50 of those herself. Most of her art work is in acrylic gouache but she also works in pen and ink. She has a dedicated website at

Luna's Green Pet
Kirsten Pendreigh, author
Carmen Mok, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781534111615, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Luna longs for a pet but the apartment building where she and her family live has a very strict NO PETS! policy. Not even goldfish are allowed.

While her friends try to help with alternate pet suggestions, none interest Luna. Almost ready to give up, Luna spies in the trash something small, something green, something someone has discarded -- a wilted plant. Perfect! Luna names her new pet Stephanie, confident she can nurse the plant back to health.

When others question Stephanie's suitability as a pet, Luna's devotion is unwavering. She knows Stephanie is perfect just as she is. But will Luna's love and care be enough to bring Stephanie to full health? And what are those strange bumps growing on her?

Critique: Combining artist/illustrator Carmen Mok's warm, expressive artwork, this charming picture book story by author/storyteller Kirsten Pendreigh's of one young girl's belief, determination, and out-of-the-box thinking is perfect for any child who has ever wished for a pet, only to be told no. Of special note is the back matter that includes tips on how to grow your own "Stephanie". "Luna's Green Pet" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note #1: Kirsten Pendreigh ( is a poet and children's author and a former broadcast journalist and producer with NPR and CBC. She lives in British Columbia, Canada

Editorial Note #2: Carmen Mok ( is an award-winning illustrator whose books include Grandmother's Visit and Tough Like Mum. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

The Lonely Daffodil
Emily Langhorne, author
Heather Heyworth, illustrator
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
5 South First Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781953021731, $23.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: One day, when a farmer is planting daffodils at the top of a hill, one of the bulbs slips from the basket, rolls down the hill, and lands at the forest's edge. While there, the daffodil befriends many different creatures, but he can't help feeling lonely each night when he hears the other daffodils singing together at the top of the hill. The daffodil longs to join in, but when the other daffodils refuse to let him, he must find a different way to use his voice.

Critique: Combining the exquisite artwork of illustrator Heather Heyworth with the charmingly gentle storytelling of author Emily Langhorne, "The Lonely Daffodil" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Emily Langhorne ( has worked as a writer for nearly a decade. She has written about a variety of topics, including education policy, Southern literature, blended finance, and international development. Her articles have been featured in The Washington Post, Forbes, The Hill, and elsewhere. Emily grew up in Norfolk, Virginia

Editorial Note #2: Heather Heyworth ( lives and works in a Suffolk market town in the UK. After graduating from Goldsmiths College, London University, she went on to become creative manager within a busy London design studio, then an art editor at a large greeting card publisher. Her introduction to the world of children's books started with illustrating, designing, and co-publishing her own licensed character books. She wrote and illustrated her first picture book in 2009.

Rock That Vote
Meg Fleming, author
Lucy Ruth Cummins, illustrator
Dial Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593108352, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Fins, paws, wings, or claws? With so many choices for a new class pet, these kids has the big task of picking a critter to become part of their classroom family. To make sure it's all fair and square, they put it to a vote! As the students make posters to support their choice and excitedly submit their ballots, readers can join the chants and cheers to make sure everyone rocks that vote!

Critique: An interactive, joyful celebration of classroom elections and the power of voting, "Rock That Vote by author/storyteller Meg Fleming and artist/illustrator Lucy Ruth Cummins is an impressively fun, charmingly engaging, exceptionally informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Meg Fleming ( is an award-winning children's book author, as well as a voice teacher and former music educator. As an author, Meg draws upon on her love of rhythm, rhyme, and lyricism to create and imagine stories. Her previous titles include Here Comes Ocean, Sometimes Rain, and Ready, Set, Build.

Editorial Note #2: Lucy Ruth Cummins ( is an art director who works on everything from children's picture books on up to young adult novels. She is the author-illustrator of Stumpkin and Vampenguin and has previously illustrated This Is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins, Truman by Jean Reidy, and From Ed's to Ned's by Gideon Sterer.

The Brooch: A Magic Within
Sandeep Kumar Mishra
Independently Published
9798842684960, $9.99 Paper/$1.99 Kindle

Read-aloud parents and picture book readers alike will find The Brooch: A Magic Within the perfect item of choice for an adventure that pairs well with lessons about good deeds and helping others.

Adults can use this story to open discussions about concepts such as paying it forward and helping those in need, while kids will appreciate the touch of magic involved in this feel-good story about cultivating kindness and compassion in the world.

Inspired by author Sandeep Kumar Mishra's daughter's request for such a tale, The Brooch tells of a child's generosity and a stranger's unexpected reward.

The story is simple but powerful. At times, its language creates some confusion. A final polish could help smooth these passages which inject some degree of grammatical confusion, but the strength of this story lies in its illustrations of how to foster good in the world.

Paired with very colorful illustrations that bring the tale home,

The Brooch provides concrete examples of the ripple of generosity that begins with a boy and a brooch and moves into the world as the magic changes hands.

Read-aloud adults who use this picture book story as a starting point for illustrating the personal power of individual choice and action will find the diverse examples of all ages involved in the brooch's magic to be thought-provoking.

Its fine lesson of positivity in the world will best be employed via interactions between adults and the young, via discussions which will augment the story's important messages and examples.

Sal Boat: A Boat by Sal
Thyra Heder
Abrams Children's Books
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781419757501, $18.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle, 48pp

Synopsis: Sal is a young boy who loves the water. All day, he thinks about it: being out there, just him and the waves, alone. More than anything else, he wants a boat. And he knows just what it would look like. So he decides to build it himself.

It isn't long before everyone in town starts sharing advice. But Sal doesn't need their help. He knows just what he's building. And he does it! Except that he forgets one crucial detail -- that no project, big or small, can be launched without a little help!

Critique: Written and illustrated by Thyra Heder, "Sal Boat: A Boat by Sal" is an original, clever, and heartfelt picture book story about creativity, collaboration, and how you don't always have to be alone to be free. A delight from first page to lost, and also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Sal Boat: A Boat by Sal" is an unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note: Thyra Heder ( is the author and illustrator of Fraidyzoo, The Bear Report, Alfie, and How Do You Dance? She is also a scenic designer and storyboard artist for film and advertising.

Penelope Pine
Amelia & Evan Balkan, authors
Alexandra Maxim, illustrator
Histria Books
9781592110865, $24.99, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: Penelope is a pine tree. She lives in the forest with oaks, poplars, and maples, and enjoys playing with her tree friends. But when autumn rolls around and her friends turn beautiful colors, Penelope the evergreen believes that she doesn't measure up. But when winter comes and her friends are suddenly very cold without their leaves, Penelope learns that she is perfect just the way she is.

Critique: "Penelope Pine" is an original and fun picture book story was deftly crafted by the daughter and father team of Amelia and Evan Balkan, and charmingly illustrated by Alexandra Maxim. "Penelope Pine" is a delightful and very special picture book story that teaches young readers to be happy with who they are! While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781592111527, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Penelope Pine" is an unreservedly recommended addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-7.

Editorial Note: Amelia Balkan, 16, is a junior at Towson High School, in Towson, Maryland. Penelope Pine is illustrated by talented, young Romanian artist, Alexandra Maxim, who lives and works in the Canary Islands in Spain. Evan Balkan has published seven books of nonfiction and three novels, as well as many essays and short stories. His screenplays have won numerous awards. He teaches writing at the Community College of Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins University.

American Desi
Joyoto Rajan Gopal
Little, Brown
9780316705301, $18.99

American Desi is the story of a child whose Indian heritage influences her life in America. It provides picture book readers with a lively discussion of biculturalism and Indian heritage that contrasts her life in the U.S. with the wellsprings of her cultural connections. Is she American, or Indian?

A rollicking rhyme blends with colorful illustrations by Supriya Kelkar to bring Jyoti Rajan Gopal's story to life with the bright colors and culture that comprises India. Any child who comes from other ethnic roots and wants a sense of how they fit into America's melting pot will find American Desi revealing and positive as it asks "What is the color of me?"

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Three new picture book stories are top recommendations from Candlewick Press. They deserve prominent display in elementary-level picture book collections, but are especially recommended for adults seeking read-aloud winners.

Frann Preston-Grannon's The Bad Day (9781536223781, $18.99) tells of a host of animals who each are experiencing a bad day - at the same time. All of them have problems, but the biggest of all is Mousy, who is inside Fox's belly. How can animals already besieged by their own woes rescue poor Mousy? Whatever will they do? The fun story comes with a lesson about helping self and others, and is reinforced by whimsical animal drawings that attract young reader attention with color. Parents who choose The Bad Day for read-aloud also have the perfect opportunity to explore bad days and helping others as they interact with their young listeners.

Bethany Christou's Nervous Nigel (9781536223866, $18.99) is also recommended for read-aloud enlightenment and picture book libraries alike. Nigel the crocodile comes from a line of champion swimmers and achievers. It makes sense that he also loves to swim and is attracted to water, but there's one problem. Nigel hates the competitions that attract his other family members, leading to their fame. He doesn't want to disappoint them or stymie their hopes for his own swimming success, but competitions really aren't his thing. How can he support both his family and his own innate sense of how he wants to lead his life?

Fun drawings accompany a dilemma adults will want to discuss with the very young. Marianne McShane's The Fog Catcher's Daughter (9781536211306, $18.99) receives lovely illustrations by Alan Marks as it presents the story of an enchanted fairy isle and a yearly charge at midsummer to row to Linashee to collect the magic in the island's fog. Daughter Eily only realizes her father's protective charm is missing after he sets sail for the island. Can she enter the storm-tossed seas to save him? A fun, magical tale evolves, filled with adventure and attraction. All are top picks for read-aloud adults looking for adventure and enlightening discussion points about personal empowerment against all odds.

Penguin Books

Six new picture books are highly recommended picks for libraries looking for lasting lending value. Each holds a winning combination of attractive illustrations and discussions which not only entertain kids, but help them understand life experiences.

Maya Tatsukawa's Sunday Pancakes (9780593406632, $17.99) focuses on comfort food and encourages young chefs to try making their own pancakes, providing a child-friendly recipe at the end of a story about enjoying pancakes for breakfast. A series of kitchen escapades evolves as the animal chefs try to make pancakes without making a mess. Their fun interactions highlight a story of achievement that both entertains and encourages kids to enter the kitchen.

Zadie Smith and Nick Laird's The Surprise (9780593525975, $17.99) receives fun drawings by Magenta Fox as it introduces Maud, a guinea pig who wears a judo suit and who is Kit's birthday present. She's an odd standout in the animal and pet world, and doesn't quite fit in. But she sports a special vision of life that teaches Kit new ideas. The fun story is engaging both pictorially and for its lessons about life, differences, and strengths.

Nadiya Hussain's Today I'm Strong (9780593525944, $17.99) is about tapping one's inner strength. It receives intriguing illustrations by Ella Bailey as it considers a little girl's fear of a too-busy schoolyard which contains not just fun, but mean bullying. With an invisible tiger by her side, the little girl discovers how she can believe in herself and cultivate courage against all odds.

Gillian Sze's You Are My Favorite Color (9780593203101, $17.99) celebrates brown skin and Fall with lyrical descriptions as it centers on a mother's celebration of her child's brown skin. Nina Mata provides the winning, cheerful illustrations that support this mother's discussions with her children, while the lyrical first-person language especially lends to read-aloud: "I will gather you in my arms and say that when I look really, really closely at you, I can spy warm flecks of precious gold."

Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This County by Kelly Yang (9780593463055, $18.99) enjoys colorful illustrator support as it provides a picture book history of key Asian American achievers. Kids interested in change-makers and their dreams will find its focus on contemporary figures enlightening, especially since each discussion is illustrated by a different renowned Asian American or Asian artist. The result is encouraging ("For we can be ANYTHING. All we have to do is dream it."), and is highly recommended for adult read-aloud, child leisure reader pursuit, and biographical study.

Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Back to School (9780593352441, $18.99) excels in vibrant, colorful art as it explores young Llama's end of summer and back to school experiences. No! Summer can't be over so soon! The little llama is horrified. But Mama Llama is wise, and makes the specter of returning to school a fun proposition. Youngsters who resist the idea of returning to school will find much to appreciate in this story of a little llama that looks for the positives in life experiences, and the wise mother who guides him to them.

Random House/Knopf/Doubleday

Five new picture book titles are top picks from this publisher, offering bright, original stories suitable for read-aloud and young reader pursuit.

First up is Gideon Sterer's The Disappearing Mr. Jacques (9780525579410, $17.99), a study in entertainment follies illustrated by Benjamin Ghaud. Mr. Jacques is a magician. He can perform unprecedented tricks. Nobody finds him on the first try. But, as this story unfolds, young readers learn about blurring, wedging, hiding, and trickery. Read-aloud parents will delight in the opportunity to embellish action words ("Thrump Thrump Thrump" or "Swish Swish Swish"), while youngsters will appreciate a whimsical story filled with humor and an invitation to see the world in a different way.

Suzanne Slade's The New Kid Welcome/Welcome the New Kid (9780593426326, $17.99) presents two sides to one story in a survey illustrated by Nicole Miles. Two approaches are covered in the process of welcoming a new kid, each offering a different outcome. One discusses resenting someone different; the other tells of students who discover that being welcoming leads to new opportunities. Adults who use this contrast to start discussions about friendships, tolerance, and inclusion will find The New Kid Welcome/Welcome the New Kid an engrossing survey that lends to enlightenment.

Carrie Finison and Erin Kraan's Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School! (9780593305669, $17.99) tells of a little tortoise determined to be on time for her first day. The only trouble is that she is slower than her classmates, and prone to getting lost. Should she arrive late, or just give up? It takes a concerned adult to help her not only get to school, but accept the method in which she moves through the world. This is a gentle lesson adults can use to teach the very young about time management, independence, and different abilities.

The World's Longest Licorice Rope by Matt Myers (9780593180013, $17.99) offers the fun story of a boy who tries to get the most out of a five-cent licorice rope, which is the longest in the world and brings him on many unexpected journeys. Travel can be expensive, but somehow the rope overcomes the world's tendency to charge a nickel for every crossing or adventure. Whimsical fun permeates the tale of a boy who is approaching the end of his rope in a different manner. The story lends to read-aloud as well as individual reading, and will delight all ages with its unexpected world encounters and the possibilities in a licorice rope and a determined boy who sets out to make the most of it.

Everything In Its Place: A Story of Books and Belonging (9780593378823, $17.99) by Pauline David-Sax receives engaging illustrations by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow as it surveys the life of a shy girl who chooses the library over interpersonal interactions. Her perspective on life changes when she encounters members of a women's motorcycle club at her mother's diner and comes to realize that even though she is different, she doesn't have to hide. Those who love books and reading over making friends will find much food for thought in this picture book story's survey of the connections created by diverse people with shared special interests.

All of these new picture books from Random House/Knopf/Doubleday are highly recommended acquisitions for libraries and read-aloud adults alike.

The Bilingual Shelf

Taking Flight With Captain Mama
Graciela Tiscareno-Sato
Gracefully Global Group
9780997309096, $26.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Picture book readers interested in aviation and bilingual Spanish/English books featuring women involved in the industry will find Taking Flight With Captain Mama an inviting look at the job of captaining an aircraft.

The story incorporates many aviation terms which are defined in a glossary in the back of the book, from boom operator and flight deck to crew chiefs. Other terms, such as egress and navigation, are included to assure young readers and listeners to the read-aloud story thoroughly understand the routines involved in flying an Air Force aircraft.

Linda Lens provides inviting mixed-media color drawings that capture this experience, recreating the feel of being on a jet and the excitement of a class field trip that moves from the anticipated observation to a surprise experience.

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato provides an engaging aviation story of military operations and basic flight that covers aerial refueling, Nighthawk jets, flying in turbulent weather, and more. It's a tale inspired by her decade of active-duty service on this unusual aircraft.

The "you are there" feel is heightened by action-packed experiences, aircraft communications and explanations, and discussions of military deployment that help the young narrator better understand his mother's service, duties, and the special role she holds as a Captain on a military aircrew.

Details about the stealth fighter jet educate kids about different types of military planes, while the adventure component keeps children both involved and educated.

The result is an important and unique survey of women, including Latinas, in aviation and military service that showcases several womens' important work, reflective of other women who have earned command and aeronautical positions in our armed forces.

These facets, and the bilingual approach of the story, make for an outstanding opportunity to learn more about women in service and in active military roles, making Taking Flight With Captain Mama the perfect picture book of choice for assignments during Hispanic Heritage Month, Veterans Day, Women's History Month, and general-interest reading year-round.

Its information, delivery, and action-oriented story are compellingly presented and unequalled in the picture book world.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Blazes & Brimstone
Linda Gruenberg
Kenda Press
9789198631739, $10.99

Blazes & Brimstone combines historical middle-grade fiction with an equine-oriented perspective that will delight horse-crazy middle grade readers. Set in 1871, it tells of three children who rescue horses from a stable when the city of Holland, Michigan burns down. As Lyle, Aggie and Rudy respond to a terrible fire that reaches out to change their community and lives, young readers receive an adventure that goes beyond a horse-centric story alone.

This story considers changing times in the melting pot of a bygone America which leads young people to not just react, but act in extraordinary ways. From its social and cultural observations to historic events and settings, it's evident that Linda Gruenberg has done her homework on the times and their influences.

Vivid descriptions capture this atmosphere from the start: "The church pew was hard and narrow beneath him, the psalter hymn book heavy in his lap. His older brother, Rudy, was warm on one side and his father warm on the other. The dominie - or preacher, as the Americans called him - prayed in low, gurgling, singsong Dutch for rain and to escape the burning flames of Hell's fire - or the real fire, Lyle wasn't sure which."

As middle graders absorb the dilemma of threatened horses and the brave youngsters who rescue them, they will also come to perceive the wider issues impacting these kids, and will realize that saving horses isn't the only challenge in the story. Adults who want to introduce young readers to the lure of historical fiction by tapping an inherent interest in horses will find Blazes & Brimstone as strong in its adventure component as it is in its social inspections.

The result is a powerful story that's highly recommended for middle school libraries looking for attention-grabbing historical fiction.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Becky Chalmers Beautified
Diane Campbell Green
DCG Books
9798986589909, $12.99

What would you give to be beautiful? Ten-year-old Becky has her perceptions of beauty -- and they don't include her looks.

That's why she wishes for something different on her birthday: the type of beauty that turns heads. Including her own.

As advanced elementary-grade readers absorb these eight short stories about Becky Chalmers, they will be called upon to think about their own definitions of beauty and how these can change over time.

Diane Campbell Green introduces a discussion of the subject for readers of a much younger age than the usual beauty-oriented audience. But, Becky Chalmers Beautified isn't about physical, outward beauty alone.

As Becky investigates cosmetics and other approaches to enhancing her outward beauty, she receives lessons in beauty that help her understand what the real goal is: to appeal to herself rather than just to others.

Becky does more than contemplate. As she interacts with psychiatrist Mr. O-Angel, her family, and her friends, Becky receives gentle lessons about the elements which make her royalty in her own mind as well as in the eyes of others.

Green cultivates a soft, appealing atmosphere in these lessons, using interpersonal interactions and revelations to introduce these life-changing moments of realization.

Life revolves around more than beauty. Becky learns about adaptation, as well; from a challenging new move to Massachusetts to a return to Yardley and being able to perceive when others around her are unhappy.

As lessons about faith, kindness, and friendship unfold, young readers receive a compelling story about growth that ideally will be discussed in reading groups and with adult assistance to be sure the book's valuable messages are completely understood.

The result is an excitingly original probe into everyday life, growth, and perception of self and others that opens with the story of Becky's desires to change and takes transformation and self-improvement to new levels of understanding for elementary grade readers.

Libraries and parents seeking materials that lend to young reader enlightenment about emotional and physical beauty will find Becky Chalmers Beautified provides the rare opportunity to better understand the world and one's place in it.

The Prince of Steel Pier
Stacy Nockowitz
Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc.
241 First Ave. N, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
9781728430331, $17.99, HC, 248pp

Synopsis: "The Prince of Steel Pier" by novelist Stacy Nockowtiz, is the story of a young boy named Joey Goodman who is spending the summer at his grandparents' struggling hotel in Atlantic City -- a tourist destination on the decline.

Nobody in Joey's big Jewish family takes him seriously, so when Joey's Skee-Ball skills land him an unusual job offer from a local mobster, he's thrilled to be treated like "one of the guys", and develops a major crush on an older girl in the process.

Eventually disillusioned by the mob's bravado, and ashamed of his own dishonesty, he recalls words of wisdom from his grandfather that finally resonate. Joey realizes where he really belongs: with his family, who drive him crazy, but where no one fights a battle alone. All it takes to get by is one's wits -- and a little help from one's brothers.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "The Prince of Steel Pier" is author Stacy Nochowitz's debut as a novelist, her treatment of the subject of peer pressure, early 20th century Jewish family life, and coming of age issues is a fun and thought-provoking read for children ages 8-13. While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781728430348, $9.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49), "The Prince of Steel Pier" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Historical Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Stacy Nockowitz ( is a middle school librarian and former language arts teacher. She received her bachelor's degree from Brandeis University and holds master's degrees from Columbia University Teachers College and Kent State University. Lily. The Prince of Steel Pier is her first novel.

The YA Fiction Shelf

Murderer's Blade
Allison Moores
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781631957505, $15.95, PB, 198pp

Synopsis: "Murderer's Blade" by Allison Moores is a dystopian novel following a world broken up by war. The government is corrupt, and it has established orphanages throughout the country which secretly serve as screening centers for a secret program. The brightest and most talented kids are identified and sent to an elite assassin training academy where they are taught to hunt the most dangerous criminals.

Scarlet is one such candidate. An orphan without a family, she navigates friendships, dangerous adventures and even falls in love for the first time. Until, one day, her world turns upside down. Maybe the people she is trained to hunt are not the enemy. Maybe Scarlet's family is closer than she thinks. And maybe, just maybe, her friend is not who she seems to be.

Critique: With a very special appeal to readers with an interest in dystopian fiction, "Murderer's Blade" is a simply riveting read from first page to last. Deftly crafted, impressively original, and highly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Murderer's Blade" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Drawing Outside the Lines
Susan J. Austin
c/o Spark Point Studio
9781684631599, $12.95, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: In 1883, eleven-year-old Julia visits the amazing new Brooklyn Bridge -- an experience that ignites within her a small but persistent flame. Someday, she decides, she too will build an astounding structure.

Growing up in horse-and-buggy Oakland, Julia enjoys daring fence walks, climbing the tallest trees, and constantly testing her mother's patience with her lack of interest in domestic duties and social events. At a time when "brainy" girls are the object of ridicule, Julia excels in school and consistently outsmarts her ornery brothers -- but she has an even greater battle ahead.

When she enrolls at university to study engineering, the male students taunt her, and the professors belittle her. Through it all, however, Julia holds on to her dream of becoming an architect. She faces each challenge head-on, firmly standing up to those who believe a woman's place is in the home.

Fortunately, the world has yet to meet anyone like the indomitable Miss Morgan.

Critique: With the publication of "Drawing Outside the Lines" by novelist Susan J. Austin, young readers will enjoy meeting Julia Morgan, a brilliant, fearless, and ambitious young girl. Of special appeal to children ages 10-14 with an interest in historical fiction and the subject of overcoming gender prejudice, "Drawing Outside the Lines" is a fun, thought- provoking, and inspiring novel that will prove to be a popular addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Historical Fiction collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Drawing Outside the Lines" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: As an educator, Susan J. Austin ( knows the minds of young readers. Her first novel, The Bamboo Garden, is set in Berkeley, California, 1923, and describes an unlikely friendship between two girls that is tested by a fierce fire that threatens to destroy their town. Currently, she is writing about twelve-year-old Goldie, a whiz kid in the kitchen who hopes that her culinary magic can help her family's delicatessen out of a pickle in 1928 Hollywood. Her characters are always brave, strong willed risk-takers. Writing historical fiction offers her a way to educate and excite her readers about the past.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

A Perfect Mistake
Melanie Conklin
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316668583, $16.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Max wishes he could go back in time to before he was diagnosed with ADHD, before he grew to be the tallest kid in his class, and before he and his best friends went into the woods in the middle of the night. Max doesn't remember what happened after he left his friends Will and Joey and the older kids who took them there. He's not sure if he wants to remember. Knowing isn't going to make Joey talk to him again, or bring Will out of his coma.

When the local authorities run out of leads, Max realizes that without his help, they may never know what really happened to Will. Charged by the idea that he may be the key to uncovering the truth, Max pairs up with classmate and aspiring journalist Sam to investigate what really happened that night. But not everyone in the community wants that night to be remembered!

Critique: Of special appeal to young readers ages 8-12 with an interest in mysteries and learning disorders, "A Perfect Mistake" by author Melanie Conklin is a deftly crafted and memorably entertaining read from cover to cover. While unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Contemporary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Perfect Mistake" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Melanie Conklin ( is also the author of Counting Thyme and Every Missing Piece.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Brielle D. Porter
CamCat Books
9780744305586, $19.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Lisette's father killed the King. His execution leaves Lisette alone, disgraced, and without the magic he intended to pass on to her. In Oasis, that's a problem. Glutted with enchanted performers, Oasis is a sin city where courtiers pay in gold to drink, gamble, and above all, be entertained. To survive on its competitive streets, Lisette peddles paltry illusions in place of magic.

Desperate to prove herself, Lisette enters into a deadly competition to be chosen as the highest-ranked magician in the world, the Queen's Jester. But her rival, the irritatingly handsome Luc, possesses the one thing Lisette does not -- real magic. Lisette will do anything to win, but when evidence implicating the Queen in her husband's murder surfaces, Lisette must choose between redeeming her family name, or seizing the fame she's hungered for her entire life.

Critique: A deftly crafted, impressively original, and truly memorable read from cover to cover, "Jester" by author Brielle D. Porter ( is all the more extraordinary when considering that it is her debut as a novelist -- and will have a special appeal to fantasy fans ages 13-18. While especially recommended for middle school, high school, and community library YA Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jester" is also available in a large print paperback edition (9780744308853, $19.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

The Woolgatherer
Tamra Andrews
Independently Published
9798985671506, $7.99, PB, 230pp

Synopsis: A child born in a mirage is bound to be extraordinary, and Faye Mirabelle is certainly that. Delivered to a miner and his wife, she grows up in the western canyons where she tries to live an ordinary life. But Faye is a mirror child, half mortal and half fairy, created by the Fairy King and endowed with magic powers. The gold that exists in the Earth belongs to the fairies; it shines light into their realm. However, ever since mortals have been mining metals, the fairy realm has grown darker and darker. So the Fairy King sends mirror children to return the light.

Faye absorbs the light from the gold in her eyes; she holds its reflection like a mirror, and with its reflection, its life-giving power. Her destiny is to journey through the Canyon the Sun to the Land of Faerie and surrender the light. Faye knows nothing of her power nor that the reason for her journey is to save Faerie from darkness.

A flighty and frivolous sand fairy ... a mysterious couple in a cliff house ... a castle hovering in air ... a flock of magic sheep... Faye's time in the Canyon opens her eyes to a world of enchantment, but also to bone-chilling secrets that put her in danger of disappearing forever.

The debut of the new fantasy series for young readers, "The Mirror Child", author Tamra Andrews' "The Woolgather" defly explores the concept of pareidolia, the perception of patterns where no patterns exist -- seeing a face on the surface of the moon, for example, or in the clouds, or on the surface of rocks, or in the lines and color contrasts on weathered pieces of tree bark. Are these faces simply quirks of human perception? Or are they glimpses into hidden realms?

Critique: In "The Woolgatherer", Tamra Andrews combines mystery and magic in a unique and original fantasy novel and is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-15.

Editorial Note: Tamra Andrews is a children's author and education writer enchanted with myths and legends of the natural world. She has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in library and information science, both from the University of Texas at Austin. For many years, Ms. Andrews wrote radio scripts on historical astronomy and sky legends for NPR's Star Date, an astronomy radio show produced by the McDonald Observatory. She wrote for Star Date and children's magazines on a freelance basis, in addition to writing educational materials and working as a part-time reference librarian in college libraries. She has a dedicated website at

His Dark Materials: The Collectors
Philip Pullman, author
Tom Duxbury, illustrator
Knopf Books for Young Readers
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593378342, $14.99, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: On a cold winter's night, two art collectors are settled before a fire in the senior common room of a college in Oxford, discussing two new unusual pieces -- a portrait of a striking young woman and a bronze sculpture of a fearsome monkey. How could they imagine that they are about to be caught in the cross-fire of a story that has traveled across time and worlds!

Critique: A chilling Gothic tale with a revealing glimpse of the iconic Mrs. Coulter (one of novelist Philip Pullman's most enigmatic characters). "His Dark Materials: The Collectors" is the source for an HBO adaptation of Pullman's 'His Dark Materials', an original series starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dafne Keen, Andrew Scott, and Ruth Wilson. While especially recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy & Magic short story collections for children ages 5-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "His Dark Materials: The Collectors" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle,$8.99).

Editorial Note: Philip Pullman ( is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. He has also won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass; the Whitbread (now Costa) Award for The Amber Spyglass; a Booker Prize long-list nomination; Parents' Choice Gold Awards; and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He has a dedicated website at and can be followed on Twitter at @PhilipPullman

Sam Thompson, author
Anna Tromop, illustrator
Little Island
9781915071002, $16.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Silas is a young boy who is bullied at school because his words will not come. He wishes he could live in silence as animals do. Deep in the Forest, the foxes live in an underground city built by their wolf slaves. The foxes' leader Reynard controls everything with his clever talk. One day, Silas helps an injured wolf. Then he enters the secret world of the Forest, where the last remaining wolves fight to survive. But even there, language is power. Can Silas find his voice in time to help his wolf friends -- can he become the Wolfstongue?

Critique: Inspired by his own experience of having a son with speech difficulties, "Wolfstongue" is Sam Thompson's first novel for children ages 8-12. An impressive debut that is nicely illustrated with the black-and-white artwork of Anna Tromop, Sam Thompson's new action/adventure fantasy novel is an engrossing, thoughtful, beautifully written story about humans and animals, "Wolfstongue" is an inherently entertaining, original, and fully engaging read from cover to cover. With its thoroughly 'kid friendly' message about voice and power, neurodiversity and acceptance, "Wolfstongue" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wolfstongue" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781912417759, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sam Thompson ( lives in Belfast, Ireland, where he teaches English and creative writing at Queens University. His first novel, Communion Town, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. His fiction and criticism have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, on BBC Radio 4 and in Best British Short Stories 2019 (Salt Publishing).

Editorial Note #2: Anna Tromop ( is a Norwegian illustrator who lives in Hanoi, Vietnam. She completed her MA in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art in 2019.

A Venom Dark and Sweet
Judy I. Lin
Feiwel & Friends
c/o Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
9781250767103, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: A great evil has come to the kingdom of Daxi. The Banished Prince has returned to seize power, his rise to the dragon throne was aided by the mass poisonings that resulted in keeping the people bound in fear and distrust.

Ning, a young but powerful shennong-shi (and a wielder of magic using the ancient and delicate art of tea-making) has escorted Princess Zhen into exile. Joining them is the princess' loyal bodyguard, Ruyi, and Ning's newly healed sister, Shu. Together the four young women travel throughout the kingdom in search of allies to help oust the invaders and take back Zhen's rightful throne.

But the golden serpent still haunts Ning's nightmares with visions of war and bloodshed. An evil far more ancient than the petty conflicts of men has awoken, and all the magic in the land may not be enough to stop it from consuming the world!

Critique: The sequel to author Judy I. Lin's "A Magic Steeped in Poison", with the publication of "A Venom Dark and Sweet" we are once again following the exploits of Ning and the Princess Zhen is an original action/adventure fantasy series. An inherently fun read from cover to cover that will have special appeal for fans of Epic Fantasy, "A Venom Dark and Sweet" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 13-18. It should be noted for dedicated heroic fantasy fans that "A Venom Dark and Sweet" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family at a young age. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved to escape to imaginary worlds. She now works as an occupational therapist and still spends her nights dreaming up imaginary worlds of her own. She has a dedicated website at

The Activity Shelf

Merriam-Webster's Word Puzzle Adventures
Merriam-Webster, editor
Merriam-Webster Kids
9780877791447, $12.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Merriam-Webster's Word Puzzle Adventures", children ages 6 and older will enjoy mind-expanding adventures with Merriam-Webster's compendium of 100 word searches, crosswords, word games, and quizzes. They will pit their wits against puzzles about animals, machines, space objects, crystals, dinosaurs, and learn all about our amazing language along the way!

The will spy the animals hiding in the rainforest word search, uncover the gems in the crystal crossword, become a word magician and transform one word into another, crack the code to find the hidden treasure, discover how to spot a palindrome and seek out synonyms -- and so much more!

Critique: A consumable in which children ages 6 and older will write on the pages, the "Merriam-Webster's Word Puzzle Adventures" an original and inspiring activity book from the experts at Merriam-Webster that will not only provide hours of fun, but will also foster a love of language and word play - and build vocabulary to describe our astonishing world. Simply stated, "Merriam-Webster's Word Puzzle Adventures" is an extraordinary and especially fun choice for a child's rainy-day, car trip, or leisure time activity.

Editorial Note: Merriam-Webster ( has been America's leading and most-trusted provider of language information for nearly 200 years. And all Merriam-Webster products and services are backed by the largest team of professional dictionary editors and writers in America.

Adventures In Foreverland: Quest to the Forbidden Mountains
Blake Hoena, author
Lou J. Basilone, creator
Matthew J. Mew, contributor
Sal G. Basilone, contributor
Wazlab Books
9781737537502, $19.99, PB, 96pp

Synopsis: It's Celebration Day! Thomas and his best friend Beamer are headed to the castle to join in on the fun. But just as the festivities are getting underway - BOOM! - an explosion rocks the courtyard. A cloud of Palendrex Gas fills the air, and Thomas and Beamer watch as all around the villagers fall into a deep, endless slumber.

That's when Thomas hears the alarms within the castle. Someone has stolen the Orb Staff, the powerful talisman that King Droz wields to rule over Foreverland. And worse, Princess Zorda has been kidnapped!

What caused the explosion? Who stole the Orb Staff? Why was Princess Zorda taken? Thomas will need your help to undercover these mysteries.

Critique: A fun and original story that includes more than 30 interactive adventure activities, kids will enjoy: Winding their way through mazes; Decoding word puzzles; Finding hidden objects; Playing games to defeat monsters -- and more in their quest with Thomas to recover the Orb Staff and save the princess.

Critique: "Adventures In Foreverland: Quest to the Forbidden Mountains is a combination of an interactivity book and DIY adventure that is unreservedly recommended for children ages 8-15. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, those interested can obtain additional information on the Adventures In Foreverland website at

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex Romp
Carole Marsh
Gallopade International
611 Hwy 74 S #2000, Peachtree City, GA 30269
9780635135926, $22.99 Hardcover/$5.99 Paper

Full-color graphic novel stories offer eye-catching attractions that will especially appeal to young comic book readers; but few offer educational opportunities paired with adventure.

Young dinosaur investigator James Bone provides both flavors for ages 7-10, in another paleo-adventure packed with action and intrigue. Two prior books followed his adventures and built the foundations of his paleo interests (his mother is a paleontologist, and from his two scientist parents, he's inherited the gene for research. And trouble.), but a recap is provided to get newcomers up and running with Jame's history.

The Roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex Romp focuses on the T-Rex and how James works with friends Shovel, Pick, and Diggy to unearth new facts about the T-Rex's history. Lee Barrow's fun art captures the spirit and whimsy of a dino adventure gone awry as the team once again goes back in time, confronting Bonefinger and T-Rex Scotty in what is possibly the Audacious Era. Humor abounds, as do references to literary and scientific information that will keep kids on their toes and thinking in order to recognize all the jokes and educational opportunities embedded in the story.

Time waits for nobody. It certainly goes fast as the kids, charged with returning home in a timely manner from their adventuring, confront so many forces that it seems they may not get back home at all.

Even the most reluctant reader and learner will find much to like in the James Bone stories. From action words that supercharge the events to threats that come from not just fellow time travelers, but an asteroid and a volcano, the action and unexpected encounters are intense. These elements, along with the tongue-in-cheek spoofs and humor, will invite adults to participate in the James Bone adventure along with their kids, who will find it an especially lively and inviting opportunity to absorb not just dinosaur facts, but references to time, grammar, and more.

The Sticky Stegosaurus Saga
Carole Marsh
Gallopade International
611 Hwy 74 S #2000, Peachtree City, GA 30269
9780635136060, $22.99 Hardcover/$5.99 Paper

Readers ages 7-10, whether they are newcomers to young paleontologists James Bone or prior fans, will welcome another set of zany prehistoric adventures in The Sticky Stegosaurus Saga. Newcomers to the graphic novel hero receive a recap of setting, characters, and contentions before the story opens with a lively bang.

The kids on James' team of friends jump, make sound effects, and exhibit energy and enthusiasm as they tackle the dual goals of being paleo-cowboys and cowgirls, leaping into trouble with a swoosh and a whoosh that carry them on a shopping expedition laden with dinosaurs.

Perhaps even zanier than James Bone's other paleo-adventures, The Sticky Stegosaurus Saga crafts a whimsical setting in a premise that blends stegosaurus facts with a bone-searching treasure hunt that James and his friends find challenging and captivating.

The graphic novel format comes alive as each page of action-packed adventure leads young readers on yet another dinosaur discovery. The result is a story filled with humor, fun, and scientific insights that engage young readers in nonfiction dinosaur facts while adding the drama and flavor of a romp through an unusual Wild West.

Adults seeking to engage reluctant readers with the graphic novel format, but who look for the added value of education paired with action, will find The Sticky Stegosaurus Saga a perfect combination of humor, facts, and ribald fun.

The Vicious Velociraptor Venture
Carole Marsh
Gallopade International
611 Hwy 74 S #2000, Peachtree City, GA 30269
9780635135988, $5.95 Paper

James Bone is back with another paleontological time-traveling adventure: this one centered on velociraptors. Kids ages 7-10 who enjoy graphic novels packed with action and color will find Lee Barrow's lively and quirky drawings just the ticket to draw them into the science and humor that permeates James Bone's life.

Here, the team again moves into the past, powered by a supportive single mother's ability to let the young kids explore. Carole Marsh includes many educational opportunities in the course of this adventure, from an opening note about the differences between "dessert" and "desert" to humor embedded in dialogue ("Here we GOBI!"). As facts about the Gobi Desert's denizens, past, and information come to light ("The Gobi sand dunes are said to 'sing' when the wind blows."), readers learn about not just dinosaurs, but the desert environment that holds special pleasures as well as dangers.

As kids absorb the action and learn about this desert world of the past, lured by dinosaurs and time travel, they also will delight in unexpected encounters James Bone and his team face as they confront a shocking turn of events in what they proclaim is the "worst dino dig they've ever been on."

Halfway through the book, dinos have yet to appear. But, oh yes, they are there. Young readers who love dinosaurs will relish their appearance and yet more unexpected encounters that challenge James and his team on different levels.

There are many educational opportunities here; from explorations of the desert world and how animals (and humans) survive its fierce conditions to facts about fossil hunters in the Gobi Desert.

Adults looking for the pairing of nonstop action and adventure with (sometimes sophisticated) humorous references and many different types of educational opportunities will find The Vicious Velociraptor Venture an exceptionally well-rounded story. It holds many opportunities for engaging young readers on different levels, powered by the action, intrigue, and humor of James Bone, a 007-year-old investigator.

The Music CD Shelf

Paper Rainbows
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $5.94 MP3

Imaginations is a delightful children's music album featuring six songs that capture the joy of childhood discovery. Cheerful and joyous, the upbeat tunes of Imaginations will lift the hearts of children and adults alike. Highly recommended! The tracks are Big Balloon, Imaginations, New Yellow Bike, All I Need, Make Some Memories, and Anything at All.

Mil Colores
Nathalia Palis
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.99 download

Ideal for young listeners in preschool through elementary school, Mil Colores is a beautiful album featuring family-friendly songs. Most songs are in Spanish; a couple have English versions. The music draws upon jazz, reggae, bolero, and other Latin American rhythms. Fostering a sense of discovery and adventure, Mil Colores is a beautiful cross-cultural work, highly recommended. The tracks are Arcoiris en mi Corazon, Frida PInta, Los Mas Pequenos, Nina Poeta, Unplug and Play, Cinco Sentidos, Tu y Yo, Let's Go to the Beach!, Frida Pinta (English Version), Los Mas Pequnos (English Version), Suenos y Deseas, and Suenos y Deseas (Instrumental Version). 47 min. 21 sec.

Traveling Together / Feel It All
Brighter Light Brigade
Privately Published
$10.00 CD / $8.99 download each

Traveling Together and Feel It All are two separate, summer fun EP albums created especially for young listeners ages 4-10. Both albums feature songs with welcoming, positive messages promoting kindness and tolerance. Traveling Together and Feel It All are joyful, warmhearted treasures, ideal for family listening for public library children's music collections. Highly recommended.

The Christian Shelf

God Made Babies
Justin & Lindsey Holcomb, authors
Trish Mahoney, illustrator
New Growth Press
1301 Carolina Street, #L101, Greensboro, NC 27401
9781645072232, $15.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Where do babies come from?" This common question all too often leaves parents perplexed about what to say and when to say it. When children ask "where do babies come from?" they are asking because they are curious about where THEY came from. The question is not about sex.

With the publication of "God Made Babies: Helping Parents Answer the Baby Question", co-authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, along with artist/illustrator Trish Mahoney, help parents start the conversation with their children about reproduction by giving them the basic tools to guide them -- including specific biblical content and age-appropriate ways of talking to children at different stages. Instead of leaving this conversation to "experts" or to the culture, they equip parents to answer questions about sex in the right way at the right time.

Drawing from the story of creation and how God made the living world to reproduce, God Made Babies helps children to understand the gift of reproduction in the light of God's goodness and care. Of special note is a section for parents and caregivers that provides biblical guidance and offers additional information and resources for conversation.

Critique: Presented from a Christian perspective and for working with children ages 4-8, "God Made Babies: Helping Parents Answer the Baby Question" is a welcome and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library Parenting collections. It should be noted that "God Made Babies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Justin S. Holcomb, PhD, is an Episcopal priest and professor of theology and apologetics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. Justin is a City Network Leader for Made to Flourish. He serves on the boards of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments), Heart Support, and Leaders Collective. He has authored, coauthored, or edited more than twenty books on numerous topics, including sexual assault, domestic abuse, biblical studies, and historical theology. He and his wife, Lindsey, coauthored the award-winning children's books "God Made All of Me" and "God Made Me in His Image".

Editorial Note #2: Lindsey A. Holcomb, MPH, works at Samaritan Village, a safe home and therapeutic program for adult survivors of sex trafficking. She is a former case manager at a sexual assault crisis center and a domestic violence shelter and is the cofounder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). Together, Lindsey and her husband, Justin, conduct a variety of training seminars on how to prevent, recognize, and respond to child, sexual, and domestic abuse. She is also the award-winning coauthor of Is It My Fault?, Rid of My Disgrace, God Made All of Me, God Made Me in His Image, and God Made Babies. The Holcombs live in Orlando and are parents of two daughters.

Editorial Note #3: Trish Mahoney is a graphic designer and illustrator in Salem, OR, where she runs The Mahoney Studio with her husband, Patrick, also a designer and illustrator. They have two children, both budding artists too. Trish is the illustrator for the God Made Me series and The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible.

Who God Wants Me to Be
Crystal Bowman, author
Michelle S. Lazurek, author
Sandra Eide, illustrator
WaterBrook Press
c/o WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
10807 New Allegiance Drive Suite 500, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780593235751, $12.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: An artist, a teacher, a doctor, a stay-at-home mom -- there are so many things a young girl might want to be when she grows up. And even if she changes her mind as she cultivates new passions and skills, that's okay! The important thing to remember is that she will discover the talents and desires given to her by God as she grows and learns. Whether she becomes a protector, healer, builder, or creator, she can use her gifts to share God's love with others!

Critique: With the publication of "Who God Wants Me to Be" by the picture book team of authors Crystal Bowman and Michelle S. Lazurek, and featuring the charming illustrations of Sandra Eide, young girls ages 3-7 will enjoy joining Haley, Isabela, Lexi, and Ashley as they explore different careers. Encouraging all girls to trust God and who he created them to be, "Who God Wants Me to Be" is highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Crystal Bowman ( is the author of over 100 books for children, women, and families. Her books have received four Selah Awards, a Logos Bookstore Award, and five Golden Scroll Awards; and twice been named an ECPA finalist.

Editorial Note #2: Michelle S. Lazurek ( is a multi-genre award-winning author, literary agent, certified writing coach, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother living in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. She has won two Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year awards, Article of the Year, and the Enduring Light silver medal, among many other honors. She is also a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Editorial Note #3: Sandra Eide ( is an illustrator living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and border collie. She is endlessly inspired by animals, nature, and friendships. Her artwork is created with a mixed media approach of watercolors, gouache, pastels, pencils, Photoshop, and Procreate.

Mama, Sing My Song
Amanda Seibert, author
Sally Garland, illustrator
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781400235544, $12.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When we look at our children, we see those one-in-a-million grins, their crinkled noses, and sweet eyes looking back at us, which soften our hearts. God designed those babies uniquely, and "Mama, Sing My Song" is a celebration by the team of author/storyteller Amanda Seibert and artist/illustrator Sally Garland of all that is lovely and true about your child. Let your little ones know they are safe, loved, and cherished in your family.

This affirming Christian themed picture book for 4- to 8-year-olds that: Celebrates the love between parent and child; Encourages kids to embrace God's love for them; Provides kids the security and love they're seeking; and Highlights all that is good in our little ones.

With snuggly illustrations of animal families, "Mama, Sing My Song": Features unique presentation pages to write your little one's name, plus space to journal special messages and a prayer for your child; Includes a free downloadable song; Is a great gift for baby showers, Mother's Day, Christmas, and birthdays; and Has a beautifully designed cover, perfect for displaying in a nursery or in a gift basket.

Critique: With its charming illustrations and sweetly presented story, "Mama, Sing My Song is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Amanda Seibert ( is the founder and "original mama" of Mama Sing My Song, a company that has created personalized songs and lullabies for thousands of kids all over the world. She believes that every child is uniquely created and loved by God, that words hold great power, and that song is one of the most beautiful, memorable ways to touch a life. She attended Moody Bible Institute, spent three years serving at a children's home in India, and now lives in Indianapolis with her husband and three children, where they try to fill their home with songs, dance, and laughter each day.

Editorial Note #2: Sally Garland ( grew up in a small town in the Highlands of Scotland and studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art before moving to Glasgow. Sally has loved drawing since she was young and grew up with an assortment of pets, including goldfish, budgies, hamsters, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, a pony, and, of course, rabbits. Each of these little personalities still influences her illustrations today.

Saints Like Me
Lisa M. Hendey, author
Katie Broussard, illustrator
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781640607606, $9.99, Board Book, 16pp

Synopsis: Even ordinary people can live amazing lives. That's the message of "Saints Like Me", a board book to help the youngest children understand that God has a plan and a purpose for their lives! We don't have to be grownups, and we don't have to do big things. Whenever we do a little thing with great love, we are just like Jesus and the saints!

"Saints Like Me": Reassures children that God knows, loves, and hears them; Instills values of self-respect, care for others, and care for the earth; Helps children understand that God loves them unconditionally, no matter what.

Critique: With its inspiring and uplifted message, "Saints Like Me" by author/storyteller Lisa M. Hendey and artist/illustrator Katie Broussard is an ideal board book gift for birthdays, First Communion, and All Saints Day -- and is an unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community library board book collections for children ages 2-5.

Editorial Note #1: Lisa M. Hendey ( is the founder of and the bestselling author of I'm A Saint in the Making, among other books. She has journeyed around the globe to hear and share messages of hope and encouragement. Her Chime Travelers series for kids is read and studied worldwide in homes, schools, and churches. A frequent TV and radio guest, Lisa also hosts two podcasts and speaks internationally on faith, family, evangelization and technology topics.

Editorial Note #2: Katie Broussard ( is the illustrator of the award-winning children's book Audacious Ignatius.

The Buddhism Shelf

Zen and the Ten Oxherding Pictures
Wisdom Tales
c/o World Wisdom
1501 East Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786953, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Zen and the Ten Oxherding Pictures" by author and artist Demi presents a beloved Zen Buddhist allegory about a boy who is searching for his missing ox -- his true self. And once he finds it, he struggles to tame and train it. For the journey of the young ox herder is also the story of our journey toward enlightenment.

A multiple award winning author, Demi, presents the story of the herd boy and his ox with all the simplicity and beauty of the traditional Zen Buddhist representations. Of special note is an appendix that provides further details on the history and meaning of the ox herding pictures and on the special branch of Buddhism called Zen, which flourished in China, Korea, and Japan, and was later introduced to the West in the early 20th century.

Critique: Meditatively beautiful full page artwork is couples with a Zen style text. The result is a unique, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking picture book for young readers. While "Zen and the Ten Oxherding Pictures" is strongly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Buddhism, Asian, and Multicultural picture book collections for children ages 4-8, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Demi is the award-winning author of over 300 bestselling children's books, including Buddha, Amitabha: The Buddha of Light and Life, The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna, Shiva, and Talking to God. She also represented the U.S. at the First International Children's Book Conference in Beijing, China, in 1992 and has a dedicated website at has a page on Wikipedia at

The Art Shelf

Cultured Donuts: Take a Bite Out of Art History
Chloe Tyler
Flowerpot Press
9781486718719, $19.95, HC, 52pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Cultured Donuts: Take a Bite Out of Art History", by artist and author Chloe Tyler explores the art styles of master artists from da Vinci to Basquiat in this tasty book for art lovers of all ages. Each pink frosted donut was created to show the techniques used by the artist and explore how artists have influenced each other over time. Every donut is paired with information about the artist, their art style, and what makes them unique. "Cultured Donuts" includes tips on how to try recreating the art styles of each artist and a glossary with defined terms.

"Cultured Donuts" is a reflection of the wide range of art techniques and styles that Chloe has explored over the years, including acrylic and oil painting, charcoal drawing, mixed media, realism, abstract realism, portraiture, figure drawing, mural painting, character illustration, pattern making, printmaking, graphic design, animation, band art, event posters, and creative branding.

Critique: Feature a range of artists styles that ranges from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Monet, to Vincent van Gogh, Klimt, Matisse, Picasso, O'Keeffe, and others, "Cultured Donuts: Take a Bite Out of Art History" is very highly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections as a unique and effective introduction to art history and biography for children ages 8-12.

Editorial Note: Chloe Tyler grew up in Cumming, Georgia, and hails from a lineage of artists. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in fine arts and graphic design, Chloe wanted to take on a project that would encourage her to spread her wings within a wide range of art techniques and styles that she has explored over the years, including acrylic and oil painting, charcoal drawing, mixed media, realism, abstract realism, portraiture, figure drawing, mural painting, character illustration, pattern making, printmaking, graphic design, animation, band art, event posters, and creative branding. She has a web page on the StyleBlueprint website at

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Snow White and Other Grimms' Fairy Tales
Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, authors
Harper Design
c/o HarperCollins
9780063208247, $32.50, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: The ninth book in Harper Design's deluxe classic illustrated series -- offering a beautiful and inventive fresh take on the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales with stunning full-color artwork and interactive features (created by MinaLima, the award-winning design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise), "Snow White and Other Grimms' Fairy Tales" is comprised of twenty-three of the most popular tales penned by German brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, taken from their original collection Children's and Household Tales, originally published in 1812.

Featured are beloved characters the include Snowdrop (Snow White), Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Ashputtel (Cinderella), Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Elves and The Shoemaker. This deluxe edition is illustrated with specially commissioned artwork and includes nine extraordinary interactive features ranging from a pop-up forest and pull-tab mirror for Snow White and a wall of thorns encasing Sleeping Beauty to a three-dimensional ball gown for Cinderella and a pop-up tower for Rapunzel.

Critique: An impressive compendium filled with storytelling marvels, the MinaLima Edition of "Snow White and Other Grimms' Fairy Tales: Illustrated with Interactive Elements" will enchant readers of every age. This truly exceptional and artistically enhanced edition of "Snow White and Other Grimms' Fairy Tales: Illustrated with Interactive Elements" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, school, and community library Fairytale and Folklore collections.

Editorial Note: House of MinaLima is a gallery and store situated in the heart of Soho - it showcases the graphic art of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films as well as other works, all exclusively designed by MinaLima. Their website is at

The Fairy Atlas: Fairy Folk of the World
Anna Claybourne, author
Miren Asiain Lora, illustrator
Laurence King Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
9781913947286, $19.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Magical, mysterious and sometimes mischievous, the fairy folk of the world are notoriously elusive, but "The Fairy Atlas: Fairy Folk of the World" by author/storyteller Anna Claybourne and artist/illustrator Miren Asiain Lora is a charming and informative compendium that will reveal their secrets to young readers.

From Cornish pixies and Spanish goblins to the forest gnomes of the Congo, and other denizens making up the world of the fairy folk, "The Fairy Atlas: Fairy Folk of the World" is a beautifully illustrated compendium that features an impressively entertaining mix of fairy 'facts' and short retellings drawn from some of the most magical and beloved fairy tales.

Critique: A coffee-table style volume (9.15 x 0.55 x 11.7 inches, 1.18 pounds), "The Fairy Atlas: Fairy Folk of the World" is an extraordinary, unique, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Fairytale/Folklore/Mythology collections for young readers ages 6-10.

Editorial Note #1: Anna Claybourne has written over 150 children's books on all kinds of subjects, from sharks, black holes and splitting the atom to how to draw, Shakespeare's life, and Greek myths and legends. She has a dedicated website at

Editorial Note #2: Currently residing in currently living in Buenos Aires, Miren Asiain Lora is an award-winning illustrator who has created beautiful illustrations for picture books, posters and more. She has a Spanish language website at

The Native American Shelf

Finding My Dance
Ria Thundercloud, author
Kalila J. Fuller, illustrator
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593093894, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: At four years old, Ria Thundercloud was brought into the powwow circle, ready to dance in the special jingle dress her mother made for her. As she grew up, she danced with her brothers all over Indian country. Then Ria learned more styles (tap, jazz, ballet) but still loved the expressiveness of Indigenous dance. And despite feeling different as one of the only Native American kids in her school, she always knew she could turn to dance to cheer herself up.

Critique: Children ages 4-8 will fully enjoy follow along as Ria shares in her picture book biography "Finding My Dance" her dance journey from dreaming of her future to performing as a professional. Impressively supported by the striking illustrations of Kalila J. Fuller that depict Ria's personal story and bring her graceful movements to life. All the more impressive when considering that "Finding My Dance" is Ria Thundercloud's debut as a picture book author, "Finding My Dance" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Native American picture book biography collections.

Editorial Note #1: Ria Thundercloud is from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo. She holds strong ties to her kinship in the Southwest and North, practicing both styles of traditional dance. She started training in classical dance at the age of thirteen, went professional at sixteen, and has traveled internationally as a cultural ambassador and professional dancer. Ria is a 2019 graduate from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Indigenous Liberal Studies and is a holistic yoga teacher from the Healing Lotus Center. Her art is influenced by the women who came before her, reclaiming stories of matriarchs that highlight the resilience and knowledge of Indigenous women. She is featured on the PowWows website at

Kalila J. Fuller was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to draw inspiration from her childhood amongst the fir trees. She graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art with a degree in illustration. She loves dogs, watching cartoons, and drinking chai lattes.

Books in Series

Starlet Rivals
Puneet Bhandal
Lantana Publishing
9781913747909, $17.99, 264pp

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Bela has always dreamed about becoming a famous Bollywood star, and now the opportunity might finally be within her grasp when a reality TV show gives her the chance to dance in front of the nation. She knows that she is performing for a place at the most prestigious stage school in Mumbai.

Can Bela win the Dance Starz competition to score a place at the Bollywood Academy and move one step closer to her dreams of stardom? And will child star Monica, the most "in" girl at school, see her as a friend or a rival?

Critique: An original and fun novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that will keep young readers fully involved from first page to last, "Starlet Rivals" by Puneet Bhandal will introduce them to the world of film making in India that is known as Bollywood. Launcing a new Bollywood Academy series, "Starlet Rivals" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections for ages 9-13. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Starlet Rivals" is also available in a paperback edition (9781915244000, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Puneet Bhandal ( is a former Bollywood film journalist and current owner of an Indian occasion wear boutique where her dresses are modeled by real-life stars including 'Miss England 2021'. "Melody Queen" is the second book in her debut 'Bollywood Academy' series, and is inspired by her love of Bollywood.

Black Hole Radio: Ka'azula
Ann Birdgenaw
DartFrog Plus
9781953910523, $9.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle

Black Hole Radio: Ka'azula blends a children's sci-fi scenario with themes of friendship, problem-solving, and group efforts. It provides another story of fifth graders Matt, Hawk, and Celeste, who have been given extraordinary powers in their prior encounters with aliens.

This journey takes them to the alien planet Ka'Azula, where a strange form of racism is being practiced. Only the blue-skinned folk on this planet are accepted, but when the kids befriend the red-skinned denizen ironically named Teal, the kids receive a lesson in perception, tolerance, and problem-solving that carries back home into their own world.

From riddle-driven games and strange encounters with beings who try to prevent them from gaining access to the final game level (Ka, the most challenging of them all) to ray guns and shootings, the fast pace of the story and some of its exuberant descriptive first-person insights ("Yippee Ki-Yay!" I scream like the 'Star Trekkers' when they're about to conquer the enemy aliens. Pew, pew! I pull the trigger and just miss the mark as the other space cart quickly drops below us, out of sight."), to the real impact of winning a game that spills into real life in a deadly manner, Ann Birdgenaw's story holds all the trappings of a compelling read. It features aliens, proactive video-game expert kids, and beings whose intentions support racist outlooks and portend dangerous outcomes for all.

The space and science terminology sprinkled throughout are explained in a glossary of terms, while insights on mixed-race individuals, bullying, unusual friendships, and revised perceptions neatly juxtapose bigger-picture thinking with action and adventure.

It's unusual to see such a smooth synthesis of thought-provoking issues paired with sci-fi drama, but Black Hole Radio: Ka'azula more than achieves its goal of exploring both. It is highly recommended, both for advanced elementary to early middle graders who enjoy otherworldly adventures, and for adults who would point out the deeper lessons embedded in these adventures.

Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna
Ann Birdgenaw
DartFrog Plus
9781953910509, $8.05 Paper/$3.99 Kindle

Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna is the second book in the Black Hole Radio series for advanced elementary to middle grade fiction readers. It presents another space adventure experienced by friends who find themselves facing an active wormhole in their garage along with a new member, Celeste, who joins Matt and Hawk in their world-hopping adventures.

This time, the Black Hole Radio has called them to planet Pooponic's moon, Bilaluna, where they face giant cyborg mutant insects. The question is: where did these come from? And how can the children help them stop the climate change which forced these insects to Bilaluna, where they face the possibility of history repeating itself and destroying their beautiful new home?

The background premise fueling the action in the first book is neatly summarized for newcomers: "It can't be!" he says, with eyes big as saucers. "We didn't really travel through your haunted garage to another planet, did we?" E.M. Roberts accents the story with black and white drawings that are fun and compelling as the tale unfolds, peppering the tale with evocative imagery that enhances the plot.

Science, too, is embedded into the events as Einstein's theory of space-time and other considerations are built into the story line. Ann Birdgenaw creates a thought-provoking journey that also examines evolving friendships as unusual experiences buffet them. The science and environmental issues built into the plot create an educational experience within a sci-fi adventure. Jokes and camaraderie are expressed as the insect encounters unfold, keeping readers entertained as well as perched on the edge of the unexpected.

Another twist to the story lies in newcomer Celeste's Asperger's Syndrome and how it affects her interactions, thinking, and choices. Adults may not expect all of these elements to appear in the course of a children's sci-fi action story, but Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna crafts the opportunity for kids to achieve greater understanding amidst a surprisingly wide range of events and developments.

A concluding glossary of space and science terms completes the educational attraction, while the insights on developing friendships with those on the spectrum are imparted against the backdrop of trials which test each of the young characters. The result is not just compelling for sci-fi readers, but filled with insights as well as adventure. The combination will serve to attract youngsters and adults who work with them to achieve greater understanding both in scientific and social realms.

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.

So Many Feelings
Larissa Honsek
9781641706490, $9.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This is the cutest board book discussing feelings that I've seen in a long time. The little blobs that are used to express feelings are simple but expressive. (Ages baby-3)

Summer Stroll in the City
Cathy Goldberg Fishman, author
Melanie Hall, illustrator
9781641706506, $8.99

Christine Irvin

Young readers will enjoy counting their way through the city with rhyming text and papercraft illustrations. The board book is fashioned for little hands and lots of sharing. (Ages baby-3)

Sally Sutton, author
Brian Lovelock, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536225044, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Introduce your kids to the noisy excitement of a farm and all the equipment needed to grow the crops that eventually wind up in their kitchen. The harrow, the sprayer, the dump cart, the strong and hard-working tractor ... many machines are needed to keep things moving on the farm. From the author and illustrator of the Roadworks series, Tractor is bound to plant seeds of farming interest in your little ones. (Ages 2-5)

Goodnight Little Bookstore
Amy Cherrix, author
E. B. Goodale, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536212518, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Tag along with these booksellers as they complete their busy day, in this sweet tribute to your friendly neighborhood bookstore. From picture books, poetry, and dictionaries to cookbooks, mysteries, and comics to the door chime, store clock, and register ... all are tucked in for the evening. Soothing, rhyming text and detailed, inclusive artwork lead in to a gallery of bookstores from around the world with the message that "books are gifts that keep giving ... so dream big, dear readers, wherever you are." (Ages 2-5)

Ruffles and the Teeny Tiny Kittens
David Melling
Nosy Crow
9781536227468, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Poor Ruffles. No matter where he goes or what he wants to do, he's surrounded by five teeny, tiny kittens, all of them wanting to do whatever he's doing. But Ruffles doesn't want to share his bed or his toys or his treats with the pesky little kittens. He wants some time to himself. Kid-friendly illustrations, repetition, and a cute story line make this a sure-to-please tale for all the little ones. (Ages 3-5)

Whose Bones Are Those?
Chihiro Takeuchi
Candlewick Studio
9781536221459, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Cut-paper artist Chihiro Takeuchi has created an informative and fun introduction to vertebrate animals. Young readers are invited to use the visual clues to guess the animal from the colorful and vibrant pictures of each skeleton. Kids will be fascinated by the form of a snake, lion, elephant, giraffe, and many others. This clever picture book is a playful yet educational addition to your child's collection. (Ages 3-5)

Princess Charming
Zibby Owens, author
Holly Hatam, illustrator
Flamingo Books
9780593326787, $17.99

Diana Perry

Princess Charming can't quite seem to find her "thing." She's tried everything from cooking to hip-hop, and hasn't been able to perfect anything. Even her cartwheels are subpar. But when the castle hosts a superstar for a special event, Princess Charming finally finds her time to shine. I loved how this book teaches little ones to try, try again until you succeed. This is a fun story with a good plot for any beginning reader. (Ages 3-6)

Nervous Nigel
Bethany Christou
c/o Penguin Random House
9781536223866, $18.99

Christine Irvin

What happens when you're a crocodile and are part of a family of champion swimmers, but you don't want to compete? Nigel's family keeps pushing him to swim competitively like many of his family members before him. But just the thought of doing so makes Nigel nervous. How can he be himself without letting his family down? This is a great story that kids will relate to, complete with minimal text and colorful, kid-friendly illustrations. (Ages 3-7)

The Best Bed for Me
Gaia Cornwall
9781536207156, $17.99

Christine Irvin

What child hasn't tried to keep from going to sleep? It's time for Sweet Pea to settle down for the night. But she has other ideas. She wants to sleep like an otter, and then a pig, and then a puffin, and then other animals as she tries to find the best bed for herself. Expressive illustrations, repetition, and a kid-friendly story line make this a great bedtime book. (Ages 3-7)

Charlie and the Tire Swing
Diann Floyd Boehm, author
Judy Gaudet, illustrator
OC Publishing
9781989833223, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Grab a cup of cocoa and listen to the story within a story told by little Charlie's grandpa about him planting an acorn with his own grandpa, then witnessing it grow from each season after repeatedly telling it: "Acorn, don't forget to grow." The story gently captures the ways that each generation enjoyed this mighty oak tree that started from an acorn. Strong family ties, sharing stories from generation to generation, and enjoying nature are all part of this endearing tale about the simple things, like swinging on a tire swing. (Ages 3-7)

The Best Gift for Bear
Jennifer A. Bell
Two Lions
9781542029223, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

I love this gift-giving book. It brings in the joy of making a home-made gift for your friends ... a gift made of love. Little Hedgehog works so hard on Bear's special gift. How do the two friends handle the mishap of the broken gift? Sharing and spending time together as a special gift is a wonderful tool to teach our children. This beautifully illustrated book does just that. (Ages 3-7)

We Adopted a Baby Chick
Lori Joy Smith
Tundra Books
9780735266551, $17.99

Christine Irvin

There's a new baby in the family and it's no longer Albert. He used to be a cute, cuddly lamb; now he's a full-grown sheep. He's playing second fiddle to Tina, a tiny, cute, fluffy chick who's now getting all the attention. Any child who's ever had to deal with a new baby in the house will be able to relate to poor Albert in this book with minimal text and simple but expressive illustrations. (Ages 3-7)

The Boy with Flowers in his Hair
9781536225228, 18.99

Diana Perry

Everyone likes David, the boy with flowers in his hair. He's sweet and gentle, just like his colorful petals. But one day David comes to school wearing a hat, and he is quiet. When he takes off the hat, his bright petals flutter down like butterflies. But David's best friend has an idea - a way to help David get his color back, wielding paintbrushes and plenty of love. This is a cute story that will encourage kids to find ways to make their friends feel better when they are sad. (Ages 3-7)

Big Truck Little Island
Chris Van Dusen
9781536203936, $17.99

Diana Perry

When a big truck and its big load get stuck on a narrow road, traffic on the little island comes to a halt. Some cars need to go south and some have to travel north. How will Meg get to her swim meet? What about Barry's ballet class? Luckily, the kids come up with an ingenious solution: Why not just swap cars? This book is a teaching tool encouraging little ones to use their noggins to figure a way out of a bad situation. I loved how the kids get together and solved their problem. Girls and boys alike will enjoy this book. (Ages 3-8)

Please Get Your Shoe off My Brother!
Larry Gotterer, author
Coraline Tran, illustrator
9781736500620, $12.81

Dr. Dawn Menge

The illustrations help bring the little ant world to life for the young reader. The whole book is a plea to protect the ants from being harmed. It discusses death and family love. Before reading the book, parents should be aware that this book discusses death and prepare the younger listeners. I love how the ants are given lives and feelings. (Ages 3-9)

Monsters in the Briny
Lynn Becker, author
Scott Brundage, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111493, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Have a rollicking, frolicking good time with the ship's crew as they encounter mythical sea creatures - a kraken, a sea serpent, and a gigantic tortoise, to name a few. Sing along as they serenade the creatures before tossing them back into the ocean ("in the briny"). The author has included some extra information about these mythical creatures, as well as the music for the song, in the back of the book. (Ages 4-7)

Too Many Pigs in the Pool
Wendy Hinote Lanier, author
Iris Amaya, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110601, $17.99

Diana Perry

On Sunday, Mr. Jenkins welcomes one pig into his pool. Really, how much trouble could one little pig be? But one pig becomes two and two become four ... and by Saturday, there are just too many pigs in the pool! This funny math-based story will have readers laughing along with pigs Percy and Wanda while learning about multiplication and the doubling sequence. Early readers will laugh out loud at this adorable picture book and the delightful illustrations. (Ages 4-7)

Saving the Butterfly
Helen Cooper, author
Gill Smith, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536220551, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

In this emotional story about child refugees, we see their world from the point of view of a brother and sister rescued from sea. Recalling the trip across the dark ocean causes the big sister to hide indoors, while her little brother ventures out and makes new friends. Can bringing in the outdoors in the form of a butterfly bring his sister and the winged creature back out into the world? Compelling illustrations and simple yet thought-provoking text offer a tale about the universal need for home and safety. (Ages 4-8)

The Poem Forest
Carrie Fountain, author
Chris Turnham, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536211269, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

As a little boy, it bothered William Stanley to see the straightened-out roads of towns and cities. He delighted in going to the woods, watching the straight lines turn into a wilderness with trees and birds. The Poem Forest tells the amazing story of this Poet Laureate and ecologist who spent four decades planting the most comprehensive palm tree forest in Maui and then gave it all to the Merwin Conservancy so it wouldn't ever be straightened out. This super interesting and informative tale with expressive artwork is one you'll want to share with your children. (Ages 4-8)

Poppy's House
Karla Courtney, author
Madeline Kloepper, illustrator
Walker Books
9781536211528, $17.99

Deb Greenberg

Witness the bond shared between a little girl and her poppy, as she takes a ferry across the foggy sea to his little yellow house at the top of a hill. After starting their day with fresh-baked bread, the two tidy the kitchen and water the garden, then set out to explore the island, counting everything from animal tracks to silvery waves, and then snuggle in the evening and read by lantern light. Based on the author's childhood visits to Newfoundland, this is a warm and cozy tale you'll both adore. (Ages 4-8)

I Want to Be A Vase
Julio Torres, author
Julian Glander, illustrator
Atheneum Books
9781534493902, $18.99

Deb Greenberg

You want to be a what? This silly picture book written by comedian and former SNL writer will bring out the giggles with a subtle yet simple message for kids (and adults too) to be yourself and follow your desires, no matter the shape or size. Eye-catching, 3-D illustrations complement the dry humor and brighten every page as we watch common objects and appliances yearn to take on a new role. (Ages 4-8)

This Is a Birthday Cake!
Andrew Cangelose, author
Josh Shipley, illustrator
Oni Press
9781637150450, $15.99

Deb Greenberg

In This Is a Birthday Cake!, you'll recognize lessons from the classic Tortoise and the Hare, as Shelly the baker attempts to teach Bucky the young bunny the steps to making a birthday cake. Speedy Bucky races through the process, using dirt with worms instead of flour, overmixing, and baking it under a duck. Join in the silliness to see if their friends approve. Delightful and amusing illustrations will have your kids giggling along as they learn a lesson about accomplishing more by being slow and thorough. (Ages 4-8)

It's Not The Three Little Pigs
Josh Funk, author
Edwardian Taylor, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542032438, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This is a very colorful version of the three little pigs story. It incorporates Cinderella's castle and some logical discourse on creating rhymes when the wolf is going to blow the house down. An entertaining picture book for the older reader. (Ages 4-8)

A Bear Far from Home
Susan Fletcher, author
Rebecca Green, illustrator
Anne Schwartz Books
c/o Penguin Random House
9780593181898, $18.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

History comes to life in this enchanted tale of a bear given to Henry the King of England from Haakan the King of Norway. One day, the bear's world changed forever. This tale follows the life of the gifted bear and how she was treated. This is an excellent book to begin to speak to your child about animals that are forced to live in captivity and the differences between past and present practices. (Ages 4-8)

A Parliament of Owls
Devin Scillian, author
Sam Caldwell, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111448, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This entertaining book teaches what groups of animals are called. I even looked up several to see if they were indeed correct. We all know a pod of whales, but did you know a murder of crows or a convocation of eagles? The illustrations are colorful and will surely catch the attention of the young reader. Stump your grandparents and ask them if they know what a group of pandas is called. (Ages 4-8)

Some Bodies
Sophie Kennen, author
Airin O'Callaghan, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111417, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This is a wonderful book teaching about how different our bodies are. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and incorporate the different aspects of people and their choices on changing their bodies. It's playful and educational at the same time. There are scripts to help engage your child into meaningful conversations that entail some hard questions about why people are different. (Ages 5-8)

The Song of the Nightingale
Tanya Landman
Candlewick Studio
9781536217681, $17.99

Diana Perry

The earth was young and full of color. But the animals were dull and drab. The painter decided: Something must be done! With dabs and sweeps, the painter's brush creates the stripes on the zebra, the sharp suit of the penguin, and the bright splashes on parrots. But what can he give the nightingale when his paintbox has run dry? Early readers will love how this story turns out when they see what happens to the little nightingale. This is a great book for libraries and school and home bookshelves. (Ages 6-9)

Light the Sky, Firefly!
Sheri M. Bestor, author
Jonny Lambert, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111158, $17.99

Diana Perry

With a simple story, perfect for read-alouds, and colorful illustrations, this scientific look at a firefly's life-cycle will captivate little entomologists. Informative sidebars are included that let children learn even more about these amazing insects. This is the perfect book for parents to read to their little ones at bedtime and for little ones to use to learn to read. (Ages 6-9)

The Patron Thief of Bread
Lindsay Eagar
9781536204681, $19.99

Diana Perry

Fished from the river as an infant and raised by a roving band of street urchins who call themselves the Crowns, eight-year-old Duck keeps her head down and her mouth shut. It's a rollicking life, always thieving, always on the run - until the ragtag Crowns infiltrate an abandoned cathedral in the city of Odierne and decide to set down roots. Middle graders will relate to Duck throughout her struggles and will realize that when faced with a tough decision, there's only one right answer, no matter who gets angry about it. (Ages 10-14)

The Final Trial: Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
Kelley Armstrong
Puffin Canada
9780735270206, $16.99

Diana Perry

Rowan embarks on an expedition to prove once and for all that she's the rightful royal monster hunter, in the fourth and final book in this fantastical series by New York Times-bestselling author, Kelley Armstrong. Middle graders will find this exciting tale a fast-paced adventure. Such a fun book to read. (Ages 10-14)

Undercover Latina
Aya de Leon
9781536223743, $18.99

Diana Perry

Fourteen-year-old Andrea Hernandez-Baldoquin hails from a family of spies working for the Factory, an international organization dedicated to protecting people of color. For her first solo mission, Andrea straightens her hair and goes undercover as Andrea Burke, a white girl, to befriend the estranged son of a dangerous white supremacist. But it's hard to hide who you really are, especially when you develop a crush on your target's Latino best friend. Young readers will not only learn a great moral lesson in this book, but will also witness action, danger, and romance. (Ages 10-14)

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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