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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 33, Number 9 September 2023 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
World History Shelf Psychology Shelf Board Book Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Elementary Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
LGBTQ Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf Young Adult Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Biography Shelf
Activity Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
Christian Shelf Military Shelf Art Shelf
Books in Series Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Enough is...
Jessica Whipple, author
Nicole Wong, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
9780884484615, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: How many friends, turns, clothes, toys, fashion accessories, books? How much of anything? The pictures follow one child as she learns the difference between wanting and needing and, in the end, feels the contentment that flows from being satisfied with what she has. The text, meanwhile, frames a difficult idea in simple, spare language: "Somewhere between a little and a lot, there is Enough. It might be hard to spot, but it's always there."

Critique: Kids encountering the pressure to fit in with peers is the ideal readership for "Enough is...", an original and entertaining picture book story by author/storyteller Jessica Whipple who deftly explores a concept that is key to happiness: how much is enough? Charmingly illustrated by the colorful artwork of Nicole Wong, "Enough is..." is a very highly recommended addition to elementary school and community library Life Skills & Values picture book collections for young readers ages 5-8.

Editorial Note #1: Jessica Whipple ( has a background in marketing and communications. She has worked as a copywriter and in communications for a Pennsylvania nonprofit. Now an SCBWI member, she has sold articles to Highlights and is a long-term contributor to Wildflowers: A Creative Magazine for Girls. She also writes poetry for children. "Enough is..." is Jessica's first children's book.

Editorial Note #2: Nicole Wong ( was raised by a designer/painter dad and a fashion illustrator mom and never thought of becoming anything except an illustrator. She has illustrated twenty-five children's books with collage, egg tempera, oils, watercolor, ink, and other media, including Three Lost Seeds (Tilbury House, 2019) and I'll Be the Water (Tilbury House, 2020). Her illustrations for Kiyoshi's Walk (Lee and Low, 2021) earned starred reviews from Kirkus ("captivating") and SLJ ("wonderful").

The Time Machine
Pauline David-Sax, author
Melquea Smith, illustrator
Cardinal Rule Press
9798985805154, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Bailey is building a time machine. Not to visit ancient Egypt or King Arthur's court, but to take her to last Thursday. That's the day she said the Thing that made her best friend so mad. But when it's complete, Bailey discovers the only thing harder than building a time machine is having the courage to revisit a moment you regret.

Critique: Original, entertaining, charming, and with an important life skill message about the value and importance of an apology, "The Time Machine: Because it's never too late to apologize" by the team of author/storyteller Pauline David-Sax and artist/illustrator Melquea Smith is a high value and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Life Skill picture book collections for young readers ages 5-7.

Editorial Note: Pauline David-Sax ( is an ward-winning author and a longtime educator who likes to think of writing as a time machine that allows her to revisit the past, examine the present and explore the future. She is also the author of the picture book Everything In Its Place as well as several plays.

Editorial Note #2: Melquea Smith ( is the illustrator of Two Homes in Omar's Heart (2021) published by Room to Read and is illustrating another picture book with Includas Publishing (2023). She is a SCBWI member and an administrator of #BlackCreatorsHeadquarters, an organization that supports and amplifies Black stories in the Publishing industry.

See Me in the Wonder: A Love Poem
Laurel Fraher, poet/illustrator
Robert Fraher, designer
Happylove Studios
9798987405192, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With simple, heartfelt text and rich watercolor illustrations that celebrate the wonder of nature, this new edition of "See Me in the Wonder" by the wife and husband team of Laurel and Robert Fraher brings a gentle message that the loved ones we've lost are always with us.

"See me in the autumn leaves, falling from the trees. See me in a butterfly, free upon the breeze..."

"See Me in the Wonder" invites readers of all ages to marvel at life's precious moments, notice the countless ways that endings become beginnings, and find their loved ones in the beauty that is all around. Its simple message of love and connection makes

"See Me in the Wonder" an uplifting and comforting sympathy gift for any child dealing with grief and loss, as well as a valuable resource to help children understand the idea that death is a natural part of life.

Critique: Gentle, inspiring, memorable, a balm to a troubled spirit, and an effective presentation, this wonderfully illustrated with full page watercolor artwork, this new edition of "See Me in the Wonder: A Love Poem" (originally published in January 2017) by the gifted author/poet Laurel Fraher and effectively designed by Robert Fraher is a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to family, professional, elementary school, middle school, and community library children's book collections on death, dying, bereavement and loss.

Editorial Note #1: Laurel Fraher is an author, illustrator, wife, and mother of three. Laurel's first child, Julia, passed away at age three after a months-long battle with cancer. Inspired by the desire to teach her two living children about finding connection with a loved one who has died, Laurel wrote and illustrated the book "See Me in the Wonder: A Love Poem". She is passionate about doing what she can to help bring comfort and hope to other bereaved families, and to bring conversations around child loss, death and grief more into the foreground.

Editorial Note #2: Robert Fraher is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He has a Master of Fine Art degree in graphic design with an emphasis on interactivity from the University of Minnesota. His research explores how interactive design and digital media can facilitate individual expression and community involvement. He has exhibited, published, and presented research in the fields of graphic design, art, instructional design, interaction design, and creativity.

The Science Shelf

Discovering Life's Story: Biology's Beginnings
Joy Hakim
MIT Kids
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536222937, $22.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: When did we start learning the scientific secrets of life?

With the publication of "Discovering Life's Story: Biology's Beginnings" by Joy Hakim, children ages 14-18 will step back to the Islamic Golden Age, when scholars began to ask questions about life science and medicine that will eventual establish those fields.

The young readers will chart a path through the Renaissance, as Leonardo da Vinci dissects cadavers by candlelight to learn human anatomy firsthand. In this first of four volumes spanning hundreds of years of scientific innovation and discovery, follow the evolution of life science up to the late 1800s, when a baffled Dutch biologist finds a tiny infectious particle destroying tobacco crops and gives this particle a new name: virus.

Critique: With "Biology's Beginnings: Discovering Life's Story", author Joy Hakim is the first of a quartet of volumes that will be mapping the path of human discovery, unlocking the biological secrets of our own existence. Richly illustrated with archival source materials and fine art, "Discovering Life's Story: Biology's Beginnings" is STEM treasure trove that features a wealth of back matter certain to kindle the appetite of young science lovers. Exceptionally well written, impressively organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Discovering Life's Story: Biology's Beginnings" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library History of Biology collections and supplemental Biology/Science curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Joy Hakim ( is the author of A History of US, a ten-volume history of the United States, which has sold over three million copies, as well as of the much lauded The Story of Science series. Joy Hakim has worked as a teacher, newspaper writer, and editor.

Olga Fadeeva, author/illustrator
Lena Traer, translator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802855992, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: If your hair has ever blown back on a breezy day, you've noticed the wind at work. But what causes the wind? Are there different types of wind? How do we measure and name them? How does the wind shape our ecosystems, plants, and animals? What about people: how have human beings used the wind in the past and the present? Can you really sail into the wind, and would a tailwind help or hurt your plane's takeoff? Up, up beyond the clouds, does the wind affect other planets, too?

Critique: Created with help from a professional meteorologist, and then ably translated into English by Lena Traer, "Wind" by author/illustrator Olga Fadeeva is beautiful children's picture book that offers a fascinating, entertaining, and informative exploration of the wind's role in world history and earth science. Playful prose and colorful illustrations invite children to bring their questions along as they learn more about this powerful (but sometimes overlooked) natural element. Especially and unreservedly recommended, "Wind" is a high value and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Weather Science collections for young readers ages 7-11.

Editorial Note #1: Olga Fadeeva is the author and illustrator of Wind: Discovering Air in Motion (Eerdmans) and many other books for children. Olga's art has been honored in Italy, China, and her home country of Russia. She can be followed on Instagram @olgafadeeva_illustrations

Editorial Note #2: Lena Traer is a Russian- and English- language translator with a focus on books for children and young adults. She has translated Wind: Discovering Air in Motion and On the Edge of the World (both Eerdmans) into English and has also translated a variety of picture books and scientific materials into Russian. (

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Shall We Dance?
Robin Page
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781665916059, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Cranes pirouette, scorpions tango, and seahorses twine in this ode to the amazing dance moves in the animal kingdom. Whether it's to find a mate, repel a predator, or just for fun, young readers will learn the purpose behind each creature's graceful, exuberant, or playful moves. And they might even want to get up and join in the dancing fun!

Critique: Charming and distinctive animal artwork throughout, "Shall We Dance?" by author/illustrator Robin Page will prove a delight to children ages 6 months to 8 years. While especially and unreservedly recommended as a choice pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library wildlife themed picture book collections, it should be noted that "Shall We Dance?" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Robin Page ( has written and illustrated several picture books, including the 2003 Caldecott Honor recipient What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?, which she created with her husband Steve Jenkins, and her own A Chicken Followed Me Home!, and Seeds Move!

Lights On!: Glow-in-the-Dark Deep Ocean Creatures
Donna B. McKinney, author
Daniella Ferretti, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
9781953458476, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Lights On!: Glow-in-the-Dark Deep Ocean Creatures" by author/storyteller Donna McKinney and artist/illustrator Daniella Ferretti, young children ages 4-8 will enjoy encountering the viperfish, that hunts with a blinking beacon to lead unsuspecting prey into its mouth; learning about the glowing fireworm, rising from the depths in a glowing cluster to search for a mate; discovering how the bioluminescent vampire squid evades predators with its twinkling lights.

Critique: "Lights On!: Glow-in-the-Dark Deep Ocean Creatures" is a thrilling visual 'life the flap' picture book journey to the mysterious, dark world of the deep sea, where fascinating creatures make their own light. A welcome and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Marine Wildlife collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lights On!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, 5.99).

Editorial Note #1: Donna B. McKinney ( has authored 17 nonfiction books for kids on topics ranging from science and technology to history to sports. Before she wrote for children, she wrote about topics like oceanography, chemistry, space science, and robotics at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. She has a B.A. from Campbell University and an M.A. in English (Professional Writing and Editing) from George Mason University.

Editorial Note #2: Daniella Ferretti ( is a Chilean illustrator. She studied graphic design in Valparaiso and completed a Creative Illustration Degree in Barcelona. She was selected as part of the Ibero-American Illustration Catalog in 2016. She finds inspiration in nature, sea, walking, travels and daily life.

The World History Shelf

Astonishing and Extinct Professions
Markus Rottmann, author
Michael Meister, illustrator
Ashley Curtis, translator
9783856307929, $24.99, HC, 88pp

Synopsis: The once common but now obsolete jobs are each windows into the past. Gladiators fought for glory. Ice harvesters chopped up lakes. In the USA, human computers, called rocket women, calculated the paths of the spaceships with pen and paper.

All these jobs once really existed. But now they are gone.

Ably translated into English by Ashley Curtis, "Astonishing and Extinct Professions: 89 Jobs You Will Never Do " is a book of extraordinary periods in history on six continents. Author Markus Rottmann and illustrator Michael Meister collaboratively work to span the centuries of extinct jobs ranging from the professional fartists and the walking toilets, to the brave riders of the Pony Express, and the lazy ornamental hermits. Kids will marvel at Germany's feared coffee detectives and London's dreaded executioners.

Featured are stories behind: Mandarins, Wailing women, Body snatchers, Executioners, Whipping boys, Explorers, Walking toilets, Object swallowers, Fartists, Powder monkeys, Armpit-hair pluckers and so many more!

Critique: Published by Helvetiq in a large format hardcover volume ( 9.75 x 0.5 x 13.25 inches, 1.95 pounds), "Astonishing and Extinct Professions: 89 Jobs You Will Never Do" is unique, informative, and a fun delight for children ages 10-12 and an extraordinary, unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Ancient/Modern history collections.

Editorial Note #1: Markus Rottmann lives with his wife and young daughter and writes for books, magazines, the stage and museums. He collaborates with photographers, directors, illustrators, artists and, recently, with a magician. He writes a regular column on mountain literature and has even produced and audio guide to the Zurich cemetery.

Editorial Note #2: Michael Meister an award-winning Swiss illustrator. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and many other publications around the world. He has illustrated five books, including Swisstory (Bergli Books, 2019), which won The Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. He lives with his family.

Editorial Note #3: Ashley Curtis has have lived in Switzerland for the last 25 years. He holds B.A. and M.A.R. degrees from Yale University and is the author of Alles ist beseelt (Kommode Press, 2021), Hexeneinmaleins (Kommode Press, 2019), Error and Loss: A License to Enchantment (Kommode Press, 2018), "O Switzerland!" (Bergli Books, 2018), and Why Do the Swiss Have Such Great Sex? Extraordinary Answers to 66 Improbable Questions about Switzerland (Bergli Books, 2018).

The Psychology Shelf

What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?
Trevor Romain, author
Gabby Grant, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
9798765922569, $12.99, PB, 84pp

Synopsis: Written by Trevor Romain and illustrated by Gabby Grant, "What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?" from Free Spirit Publishing speaks directly to kids ages 5-10 about what death means and how to cope.

"What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?" explores the questions kids have about death (Why? How? What next? Is it my fault? What's a funeral?) in basic, straightforward terms. Also described and discussed are the overwhelming emotions involved in grieving: sadness, fear, anger, and guilt. Also offered are practical strategies for coping with those emotions and suggests meaningful ways to remember and honor the person who has died.

When author Trevor Romain's father died, Trevor didn't know what to feel, say, or do. Shocked, saddened, and confused, all he could say was . . .wow. As he started understanding what had happened, he began writing about his experiences and feelings. "What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?" is simple, insightful, and straight from the heart and ideal for any child who has lost a loved one or other special person.

Filled with concrete advice and expressive illustrations, "What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?" offers the comfort and reassurance that children need during these difficult times.

Critique: Although written to and for kids, "What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?" is also unreservedly recommended for parents and other relatives, educators, counselors, and youth workers who must explain to a child about death and help them through their grief and grieving. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.34), "What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?" is a high value addition to family, elementary school, and community library Life Skills collections for young children.

Editorial Note #1: Trevor Romain ( describes himself as a story farmer. He is an award-winning author and illustrator as well as a sought-after public speaker. His books have sold more than a million copies and been published in twenty-two languages. For more than thirty years, Trevor has traveled the world, speaking to thousands of school-age children. Trevor is well known for his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the United Nations, UNICEF, the USO, and the Comfort Crew for Military Kids, which he co-founded. Trevor is a past board-president of the American Childhood Cancer Organization. You can follow Trevor Romain on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Editorial Note #2: Gabby Grant ( had a slightly wobbly path to illustration. She studied art history, then worked in administration and marketing until returning to the University of Westminster and getting another degree in illustration. That led to a fun spin through the world of prop making for television and film. Since then, she's worked mainly in picture books and educational publishing. While she particularly likes drawing children, grumpy cats, crocodiles, dragons, guinea pigs, and octopi, she's happy as long as she's creating something.

Grief is an Elephant
Tamara Ellis Smith, author
Nancy Whitesides, illustrator
Chronicle Books
9781797212258, $17.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: When Grief first arrives for a child, it is like an elephant -- so big that there is hardly room for anything else. But over time, Grief can become smaller and smaller -- first a deer, then a fox, a mouse, and finally a flickering firefly in the darkness leading us down a path of loving remembrance.

Critique: "Grief is an Elephant" by author/storyteller Tamara Ellis Smith and artist/illustrator Nancy Whitesides is a lyrical picture book providing an empathetic and comforting balm for children ages 3-5 who are experiencing grief -- be it grieving the loss of a loved one or losses in the world around us. Age appropriate and compassionate, "Grief is an Elephant" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills, Death/Dying, Feelings/Emotions picture book collections for very young children. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Grief is an Elephant" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: "Grief is an Elephant" is an ideal pick for parents and grandparents seeking grief books for kids; teachers and librarians seeking children's books about emotions to recommend or read aloud; a grief resource for social workers and other caregivers, anyone looking for books about grief, and a thoughtful gift for a grieving child, loved one, or friend.

Editorial Note #2: Tamara Ellis Smith ( earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Editorial Note #3: Nancy Whitesides ( is an author and self-taught illustrator.

What Does Grief Feel Like?
Korie Leigh, author
Mike Malbrough, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
9781631987069, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Gentle and reassuring, "What Does Grief Feel Like?" shares the many ways people can grieve when a loved one dies and validates children's unique grief experiences.

Open-ended questions throughout this picture book invite children to share what they are thinking, feeling, and going through: What did you feel after your special person died? What happens when your grief gets too big? What do you do in your family and community to help your grief?

Critique: An experienced grief counselor, Dr. Korie Leigh has spent over sixteen years specializing in working with children and families experiencing grief and loss, and she wrote "What Does Grief Feel Like?" from a child development perspective, with developmentally appropriate vocabulary. This is an ideal caregiver's guide provides helpful information on developmental stages, expressions, and behaviors of grief in children.

Thoroughly 'child friendly' in tone, style, organization and presentation, "What Does Grief Feel Like" is deftly illustrated by Mike Malbrough and is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community Life Skills & Values picture book collections for children ages 3-8. It should be noted for working with children having to deal with death, dying, loss and the grieving process that "What Does Grief Feel Like" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09).

Editorial Note #1: With training as a child life specialist and grief counselor, Dr. Korie Leigh ( has spent over 16 years specializing in working with children and families experiencing grief and loss. As an associate professor and program director, she teaches graduate courses on child development, death, dying, and bereavement. Dr. Leigh obtained her Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, where she wrote her dissertation on the lived experiences of bereaved parents. She also holds an M.A. in public health and grief counseling and a B.A. in child development. She speaks and presents at national and regional conferences on issues of grief, loss, and coping.

Editorial Note #2: Mike Malbrough is the illustrator of You Made Me a Dad and the Warren & Dragon chapter book series, as well as being the author-illustrator of Marigold Bakes a Cake, Marigold Finds the Magic Words, and Love Is Here. During Mike's more than 20-year career, he has illustrated, designed, or built puppets, whales, robots, monsters, video games, hip-hop clothing, logos, retiring coworkers, and cute animals, but this winding road of doodling and artistry has, at last, landed him back home where his journey began, telling stories for kids and families.

The Board Book Shelf

Where's Randolph?
Marianna Coppo, creator
c/o Chronicle Books
9782408046194, $12.99, Board Book, 42pp

Synopsis: Randolph the teddy bear isn't very good at hide-and-seek, and where he thinks are the best hiding places will have young readers squeal with delight as they lift the flaps to find him.

Critique: An original and wonderfully fun life-the-flap board book for children ages 6 months to 3 years, "Where's Randolph?" is pure fun and an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note: Marianna Coppo ( is an author and illustrator from Rome. She studied illustration at MiMaster in Milan and children's literature at the Accademia Drosselmeier in Bologna.

Stroller Ecology
Jill Esbaum, author
Wonderlab Group, author
MIT Kids
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536230956, $8.99, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: Ready to roll with your little ecologist? Head to the park to engage all the senses and discover new things -- living things! Shh. If we're really quiet, what can we hear?

Did you know your nearby park is its own ecosystem? There, your baby can smell some flowers that use sunshine to grow, watch a bird reuse twigs for a nest, listen to ducklings peep, and touch the rough bark of a squirrel's habitat. Babies and toddlers are naturally curious explorers -- now with the "Stroller Ecology" board book by author Jill Esbaum and the Wonderlab Group you can help them discover that science is fun!

Critique: "Stroller Ecology" is bright, graphic, informative and fun board book for ages 1-3 and features photos of wide-eyed little ones which offset a lively running dialogue sprinkled with factual asides that define basic ecology terms. "Stroller Ecology" is a unique and highly recommended addition for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for very young children.

Editorial Note #1: Jill Esbaum ( is a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include titles in Scholastic's Nature Numbers series as well as in the Little Kids First Big Book, Explore My World, and other series with National Geographic. She is also the author of Jack Knight's Brave Flight.

Editorial Note #2: WonderLab Group ( helps media companies stand out by creating extraordinary custom nonfiction content that excites and informs curious kids and their families. Specializing in publishing, audio, and digital content, they focus on developing dynamic 360 degree content to build nonfiction brands and franchises.

The Picturebook Shelf

How to Hatch a Reader
Kari Ann Gonzalez, author
Rachel Suzanne, illustrator
Gnome Road Publishing
9781957655055, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Learning to read can be tricky, but a good teacher can make all the difference!

When your feathered friends start begging for books, you want to be ready with all the right tools. First, find a cozy place to rest their chicken cheeks and help them peck the right story. Make sure to avoid the scary ones (and any books with fowl language). Help your chickens practice letter sounds, point out common words, and encourage every chicken scratch. Don't forget to celebrate with a dance party! Before long, words will be flying off the pages... unless that fox gets in the way.

Critique: An original and fun picture book for children ages 4-8, "How to Hatch a Reader" features warm colors, adorable characters, humor and hints of forthcoming mischief. This delightful picture book by the team of author/storyteller Kari Ann Gonzalez and artist/illustrator Rachel Suzanne is a welcome and certain to be enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library 'Joy of Reading' collections of picture book titles designed to build a child's confidence in their own reading skills, acquire a love for books, as well as reading with others.

Editorial Note #1: Kari Ann Gonzalez ( is a writer of children's fiction and informational fiction with a heaping helping of humor and STEAM concepts. When she is not regaling her family with tall tales or creating colorful characters for her stories, you will find her reading voraciously.

Editorial Note #2: Rachel Suzanne ( graduated from Birmingham City University, England with First class honours in Visual Communication, specialising in illustration. She enjoys creating work through the process of crossing traditional printmaking, digital art, and experimental mark making.

Wonder: A Song of the Seasons
Julia Key, author
Helen Cann, illustrator
World Wisdom
9781937786069, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Wonder" by the team of author Julia Key and artist Helen Cann is a beautifully illustrated rhyming picture book for children ages 4-8 that aims to heighten awareness of, and interest in, the natural world.

Children are invited to follow and share in the adventure of two young girls who cycle together from dawn to dusk, passing through an unfolding series of landscapes representing the cycle of the seasons. It is a glimpse of the world through the eyes of a child, and an encouragement to stop and look -- indeed to use all of our senses to appreciate and fully engage with nature. It also seeks to capture something of the mystery and magic of creation.

Critique: "Wonder" is a true visual feast, thanks to its captivating and intricate illustrations by award-winning artist Helen Cann. A book in which author Julia Key has specifically designed to be read aloud, with a musical quality and soothing repetitive rhythms that are sure to appeal to young ears, "Wonder" will prove to a welcome and enduringly valued addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Children's environmental picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Julia Key is a first-time children's author, poet, and lifelong lover of words whose work is inspired by the beauty and intricacy of nature. She has worked as a translator, editor, and teacher to young and old alike. Julia is passionate about helping children to discover, respect, and protect the natural world around them. She loves to use words (and poetry especially) to capture something of the mystery and miracle of creation.

Editorial Note #2: Helen Cann ( is an illustrator, painter, mapmaker, and hand letterer. She has illustrated more than thirty books, including the award-winning For Every Little Thing, Hand-Drawn Maps, and Feathers for Peacock. Her work has appeared in exhibitions around the world, has featured as props for film and television, and is commissioned for business logos and branding. Helen's book illustrations are mainly hand produced using watercolor, collage, and graphite.

I Have Seven Dogs
Molly Horan, author
Dana Wulfekotte, illustrator
Nancy Paulsen Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593324356, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: It's an age-old problem. Zoe wants a dog but can't have one. But that doesn't stop her from befriending all the dogs in her neighborhood -- and appreciating each one's charms and quirks.

She knows which pups give high-fives, enjoy being read to, and love music. And she also knows she's good at solving problems, so when a visit to the community garden inspires a brilliant doggy idea, it's time to celebrate!

Critique: Young animal lovers ages 3-7 will appreciate Zoe's predicament and love her paws-itively pup-filled solution in the "I Have Seven Dogs" original and fun picture book by author/storyteller Molly Horan and artist/illustrator Dana Wulfekotte. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "I Have Seven Dogs" will prove to be an enduringly popular and prized pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets themed picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Molly Horan also wrote the young adult novel Epically Earnest, and is a graduate of the New School's MFA program in writing for children and young adults. She has worked as a web writer and editor focusing on entertainment writing at sites like KnowYourMeme and Refinery29, and is currently an English professor teaching writing for young adults and writing for the web at NYU and SVA.

Editorial Note #2: Dana Wulfekotte ( is a freelance animator and children's book author and illustrator who has illustrated numerous picture books, including the Schneider Family Honor book The Remember Balloons (by Jessie Oliveros), Squish Squash Squished (by Rebecca Kraft Rector), Awe-some Days (by Marilyn Singer), One Snowy Morning (by Kevin Tseng), and Tea Time (by Beth Ferry). She also wrote and illustrated Rabbit & Possum. As an animator/designer, she has worked on various animation projects for HBO, PBS, Google, and many others.

Let's Build a Dam!
Daniel Fehr, author
Mariachiara Di Giogio, illustrator
NorthSouth Books
9780735290174, $19.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Siblings May, Lily, and Noah build a dam. Stone by stone, their dam grows higher and higher, until their creation attracts the attention of fishermen, pirates, and even the King and his fleet. The sky's the limit, until Noah wants his stone back...

Critique: Each page of this original picture book by the team of author/storyteller Daniel Fehr and artist/illustrator Mariachiara Di Giogio builds upon the previous scene as the children's imaginations also grow. Children ages 4-8 will take a very special delight in pointing out the changing details on each page as they laugh along to this picture book about the boundlessness of imagination and sibling friendship. A fun read from start to finish, "Let's Build a Dam! is a highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Daniel Fehr was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. He writes picture books for children all over the world. He also invents board games for children, families, and adults. Daniel Fehr works for the Swiss Institute for Children's and Youth Media. (

Editorial Note #2: Mariachiara Di Giorgio was born (and continues to live) in Rome, Italy. She studied illustration in Rome and Paris. She then worked as a storyboard artist and concept designer for film and commercials. In 2022, she won the Andersen award for Best Illustrator. (

Harold the Iceberg Melts Down
Lisa Wyzlic, author
Rebecca Syracuse, illustrator
Feiwel & Friends
c/o Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
9781250830623, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Harold is an iceberg... lettuce. (But he doesn't realize the "lettuce" part because part of his sticker has ripped off.) So one day when he sees a documentary about how the icebergs are melting, Harold starts to worry, thinking that he's melting too. As his anxiety grows and grows, and he tries to find a way to stop melting, his fellow food friends try to help him cool down in a different way.

Critique: An original and quite novel picture book for children ages 3-6, "Harold the Iceberg Melts Down" by author/storyteller Lisa Wyzlic and artist/illustrator Rebecca Syracuse is entertaining, charming, funny, and a highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library environmentally themed picture book collections. It should be noted that "Harold the Iceberg Melts Down" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Lisa Wyzlic ( enjoys imagining creatures and objects with Strong Feelings and telling their stories. Like her characters, Lisa often has her own Strong Feelings, though normally not about melting. She lives with her husband, two kids, and two rescue cats. Harold the Iceberg Melts Down is her debut picture book.

Editorial Note #2: Rebecca Syracuse ( is an illustrator and children's book designer based in Jersey City. She received a BFA in illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. After graduating, Rebecca got her start designing children's products, but quickly discovered her real love: BOOKS! When she isn't drawing faces on vegetables, you might find her scoping the shelves of her local bookstore, or trying to pet a stray cat. Harold the Iceberg Melts Down is her picture book illustration debut.

The Biggest Mistake
Camilla Pintonato, author/illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802856111, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: "It's time to catch your own gazelle," Papa Lion tells his little lion one morning. The cub thinks the task will be easy - which is his first mistake. He leaps on a gazelle, but it gets away from him. So the little lion laces up his sneakers, thinking he just has to outrun the gazelle - and makes his second mistake. Once again, his prey escapes! So the little lion tries to lure the gazelle into a trap. He tries to snag its horns in a net. He even tries asking nicely. But every idea fails. Maybe the little lion needs the gazelle to make a mistake of her own...

This tongue-in-cheek tale offers a new delight on each page, then ends with the biggest surprise of all. With madcap action and colorful artwork, The Biggest Mistake is sure to spark giggles from readers of all ages.

Critique: With its underlying message about success, failure, and the danger of assumptions., and laced with humor, "The Biggest Mistake" by author and illustrator Camilla Pintonato will have a very special appeal to young children with an interest in lions. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09), "The Biggest Mistake" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note: Camilla Pintonato ( is an author, illustrator, and designer whose books include Detective Mole (HarperCollins), Full Moon, and Wally the World's Greatest Piano-Playing Wombat (both Princeton Architectural). Camilla can be followed on Instagram @camilla_pintonato

The Pie That Molly Grew
Sue Heavenrich, author
Chamisa Kellogg, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111844, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Using "The House That Jack Built" rhyme scheme and beginning with the planting of a single seed, the journey of bringing a pumpkin to harvest comes to life for young readers in "The Pie That Molly Grew" by author/storyteller Sue Heavenrich and artist/illustrator Chamisa Kellogg.

Under Molly's watchful eye and care, each stage of growth (from the seed to the sprout to the leaves to the final fruit on the vine) is showcased. And at the end, Molly's lovely pumpkin is turned into a delicious pie for one and all to share in a celebration of gratitude. All from the seed that Molly sowed.

Critique: Back matter includes fun facts about pumpkins, the important pollinators who help them grow, as well as a pumpkin pie recipe -- making "The Pie That Molly Grew" to be an especially recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library gardening themed picture book collections. It should be noted for children ages 5-8 that "The Pie That Molly Grew" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04).

Editorial Note #1: Sue Heavenrich ( used to teach science. Now she writes articles and books for children and bakes a lot of pumpkin pie.

Editorial Note #2: Chamisa Kellogg ( is a RISD-trained artist whose work is inspired by nature, myths and fairy tales, and the nebulous line between reality and imagination. She has drawn and designed for magazines, books, apps, social innovators, and educational materials.

Nana Loves You, Sleepyhead
Helen Foster James, author
Petra Brown, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111394, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Nana and her little bunny finish up a day of fun and get snuggled in for bedtime. With a book, a cuddle, and a sprinkle of sleepy dust, Nana's sleepyhead is off to dreamland.

Critique: A tender celebration of the loving bond between nanas and their snoozy little bunnies "Nana Loves You, Sleepyhead" by the team of author/storyteller Helen Foster James and artist/illustrator Petra Brown is a wonderfully charming and impressive charming bunny rabbit themed picture book that is a strongly recommended and memorable pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 1 to 7 years. It should be noted that "Nana Loves You, Sleepyhead" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04).

Editorial Note #1: Helen Foster James ( has been an educator for more than twenty years, and is now a lecturer at San Diego State University. She received her doctorate from Northern Arizona University. One of her goals is to travel to all 50 states, and she has already visited more than half.

Editorial Note #2: Petra Brown's work ( includes the popular Loves You! series and the soon-to-be-released Bevan.

Fix and Stitch
Barbara Nass, author
Liza Woodruff, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534111707, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Squirrel is busy running his tailoring shop, Fix and Stitch: Tailor for all Needs. He can thread a needle and mend a tear in the wink of an eye. But now that the leaves have fallen and the birds have flown south, it's time for Squirrel to close the shop. He must prepare his winter home before the snow comes. But just as Squirrel goes to collect materials for his winter home, neighbors arrive, needing his special talents and attention. And Squirrel just can't say no to someone asking for help, whether it's fixing a rip in a favorite coat to problem-solving a stinky situation.

He is always there for his friends. But what happens if Squirrel doesn't take time to care of himself and what he needs to do? Who will be there to help him?

Critique: Reminiscent of the books by Beatrix Potter, "Fix and Stitch" by author/storyteller Barbara Nass and artist/illustrator Liza Woodruff is a charming, pleasant, gentle, entertaining, and original picture story that offers the underlying message that while taking care of others is important, we still needs to make time for ourselves. Wonderfully entertaining and beautifully illustrated, "Fix and Stitch" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8.

Editorial Note #1: Barbara Nass ( is a former tech executive, but her career roots began in early childhood education, in which she holds a master's degree, and where she will forever treasure those moments when her students first learned to read.

Editorial Note #2: Liza Woodruff ( is the illustrator of over twenty books for young readers, including If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws by Kim Norman and The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Elizabeth Bennett.

In a Cave
Heather Ferranti Kinser, author
Bonnie Kelso, illustrator
Gnome Road Publishing
9781957655185, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "In A Cave" by author/storyteller Heather Ferranti Kinser and artist/illustrator Bonnie Kelso, young readers will have fun joining two young explorers and their trusted guide as they head off on a wonder-filled underground adventure as they slip through crevices, creep through passageways, and stop to admire the beauty of a fascinating ecosystem.

From stalactites and stalagmites, to dripstone, shelfstone, and pearls - there is something to discover at every turn. Troglobites, glow worms, spiders, and bats make your acquaintance before your return to the light and familiarity of places above.

Critique: With a lyrical, rhyming text, and illustrations that illuminate and bring warmth to an otherwise dark and damp environment, "In A Cave" is a kid friendly, fun and fascinating journey into a subterranean world filled with dazzling cave formations and cave-dwelling creatures! Of special interest to children ages 4-8 who enjoy environmentally themed picture books, "In A Cave" is a highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Heather Ferranti Kinser ( writes at the intersection of story, poetry, and nature from her home on the San Francisco Peninsula. She's a former technical editor who now spends her days writing small stories -- to make a big difference for kids! She is also the author of "Small Matters" and "Nature is a Sculptor" -- both from Millbrook Press.

Editorial Note #2: Bonnie Kelso ( is an author, illustrator and teaching artist. She has explored many backcountry caves and canyons. One time, she rappelled 328 feet just to see a glow worm! Bonnie loves everything about caving: the fabulous formations, the fascinating wildlife, and those neat drippy sounds. She studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as an exhibit designer for the Smithsonian.

How Did the Hippopotamus Get There?
Sohrab Rezvan, author
Kyana Mitchell, illustrator
Flat Mountain Publishing
9798985205862, $11.99, PB, 40pp

Synopsis: Sophia has always wanted her own hippopotamus. Imagine her joy and her parents' shock when a hippopotamus shows up at her house just before her birthday. In the pages of "How Did the Hippopotamus Get There?" by author/storyteller Sohrab Rezvan and artist/illustrator Kyana Mitchell, children ages 4-8 will fully enjoy finding out what happens when Sophia adopts the baby hippopotamus and welcomes him into her home!

Critique: An original, beautifully illustrated, and thoroughly charming picture book for very young readers, "How Did the Hippopotamus Get There?" will prove a welcome, appreciated, and enjoyed pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Sohrab Rezvan ( started in 2019 to write children's stories in his free time to entertain his two young children. He wrote off and on for about a year and a half before getting serious about writing in mid-2021 with the founding of his company, Flat Mountain Publishing. Sohrab has self-published the following books: The Adventures of Princess and Goose Book 1: Chase Away the Dragons; The Adventures of Princess and Goose Book 2: Sir Logan and the Witches; The Toot Vortex.

Editorial Note #2: Kyana Mitchell ( studied Media Arts and Animation at the Art Institute of Phoenix and finished in 2015. She has worked as a graphic and Toy designer with Joyin for 3+ years, and is currently working as a Freelance Character Designer for Nickelodeon.

These Olive Trees
Aya Ghanameh, author/illustrator
Viking Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593525180, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: It's 1967 in Nablus, Palestine. Oraib loves the olive trees that grow outside the refugee camp where she lives. Each harvest, she and her mama pick the small fruits and she eagerly stomp stomp stomps on them to release their golden oil. Olives have always tied her family to the land, as Oraib learns from the stories Mama tells of a home before war.

But war has come to their door once more, forcing them to flee. Even as her family is uprooted, Oraib makes a solemn promise to her beloved olive trees. She will see to it that their legacy lives on for generations to come.

Critique: The story of a Palestinian family's ties to their land, and how one young girl finds a way to care for her home, even as she says goodbye, "These Olive Trees" is author/illustrator Aya Ghanameh's debut as a children's author in an age appropriate (3-5) illustrated story of a Palestinian family and the positive power of believing in a free and thriving future. Original and highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "These Olive Trees" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Aya Ghanameh ( is a Palestinian illustrator, writer, and designer from Amman, Jordan. Her work moves away from state-centric ways of thinking to center the voices of ordinary people in historical and political narratives. Her debut picture book, "These Olive Trees", is inspired by the experiences of her family who cultivated her love of the land throughout her upbringing in exile. Having graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, she is currently based in New York City. She can be followed on Twitter @ayaghanameh

Melania Longo, author
Alessandro Sanna, illustrator
Brenda Porster, translator
Red Comet Press
9781636550848, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: "Hideaway" is a charming picture book excursion to the world of imaginative play features the poetic text of Melania Longo which is deftly accompanied by the exquisite illustrations by Alessandro Sanna who is a recent Italian Children's Laureate.

"Our hideaway is a house made of slender branches and singing leaves. No one can enter, except my little brother and I. Even though there's not much room, for us it has no limits. We can travel to the savanna or to snow capped lands, enjoy a five o'clock tea or sleep beneath the stars. Until we hear a far-off voice growing nearer as it calls to us... has someone found us in our hideaway?"

"Hideaway" is timeless ode to creative play and provides a welcome reminder to unplug from the distractions of the modern world, to be present in the moment, and ready to travel wherever our imaginations might take us.

Critique: Beautifully designed, elegantly illustrated, and deftly translated into English by Brenda Porster, "Hideaway" is an original, thoughtful, and entertaining picture book about feelings, emotion, and two loving siblings. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hideaway" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Melania Longo is an art historian with a specialization in Museum Education Services, with a focus on Children's Literature. She uses art as a tool in training courses, for children and adults, cultivating it as a deposit of knowledge, narratives and experiences, to learn to see and know. She develops study activities around illustrated books, with particular reference to the reading of images and their role in the formation of the imagination of each of us. Hideaway is her first book to be translated into English.

Editorial Note #1: Alessandro Sanna is considered one of Italy's leading contemporary illustrators. He has earned wide recognition across Europe as an illustrator and author, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker. He is a prolific and popular creator of illustrated books for children and readers of all ages and has received many awards and had many exhibitions. Alessandro Sanna recently served as the Italian Children's Laureate.

Editorial Note #3: Brenda Porster ( watch?v=VpYNZ0KhhKE) is a poet and translator. She translates both from Italian to English and vice-a-versa.

Jayden's Secret Ingredient
Melina Mangol, author
Ken Daley, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
9781631986024, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Jayden loves the outdoors and the garden he created with his friend Mr. Curtis. But he's not so sure about sampling some of the garden's produce. When Mr. Curtis invites neighbors to share the harvest of scarlet runner beans, Jayden faces a dilemma. Will he find the courage to try something new?

Critique: "Jayden's Secret Ingredient" by author/storyteller Melina Mangol and artist/illustrator Ken Daley is an utterly charming picture book story, that can be read as a standalone or as a sequel to "Jayden's Impossible Garden". It emphasizes the importance of friendship, community, and the courage and openness to try new things. Young readers will learn the value of outdoor play and contact with nature, from planting a seed to sharing and eating what it produces. At the back of the book is a section for adults which has additional activities and other information to expand on the story and its ideas. "Jayde's Secret Ingredient" is a natural starting point for the exploration of nature, ecology, and gardening -- as well as for a cooking club for kids! While highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-10, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jayden's Secret Ingredient" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04).

Editorial Note #1: Working at the intersection of nature, literature, and culture, Melina Mangal's writing highlights youth whose voices are rarely heard, and the people and places that inspire them to explore their world. She is the author of short stories and biographies for youth, including The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just, winner of the Carter G. Woodson Book Award and named an NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. (

Editorial Note #2: Ken Daley ( is an artist and an award-winning illustrator of two picture books, Joseph's Big Ride and Auntie Luce's Talking Paintings (Kirkus Review and Americas Award Honorable Mention). Ken draws inspiration for his work from his African-Caribbean roots, his life experiences, and the people and cultures he encounters along the way.

Candace Fleming, author
Eric Rohmann, illustrator
Anne Schwartz Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593181669, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: In a tall, tall tree, at the tip-tippy top, hangs a single red apple. Along skirts Mouse. "An apple!" she squeaks, "How divine! When it tumbles to the ground, it'll all be mine!"

And so it goes, for Hare, Fox, Deer, and Bear, who each can't wait to get their hands on the apple.

Soon the wind huffs and puffs, the branch snips and snaps, and down the apple falls. Only one shiny red apple for five furry creatures? What are they to do?!

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by Eric Rohmann, "Mine!" is a delightful rhythmic read-aloud picture book by author Candace Fleming that is an ideal pick for family, daycare center, and preschool storytime. Highly recommended for elementary school collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mine!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Candace Fleming ( is the prolific and versatile award-winning author of many acclaimed books for children and young adults. Her most recent picture book, Honeybee received starred reviews as well as the Robert F. Sibert Medal, and appeared on many Best of the Year lists. Candace's other picture books include Oh, No! which received three starred reviews, as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!.

Editorial Note #2: Eric Rohmann ( is the author/illustrator of the Caldecott Medal-winning My Friend Rabbit and the Caldecott Honor Book Time Flies. He also illustrated Candace Fleming's Giant Squid as well as Honeybee.

Little Mole Gives Thanks
Glenys Nellist, author
Sally Garland, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506482521, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Pinecone pie, acorn stew, mushroom soup! Little Mole's big table is all set for his fancy fall feast, and he can't wait to welcome three very important guests. But when each of these guests delivers the news that they won't be able to attend, Little Mole doesn't know what to do. Who will fill his table? Disappointment turns into gratitude as his community shows Little Mole what true friendship looks like, just in time for the big feast he and Mama worked so hard to prepare.

Critique: With the publication of "Little Mole Gives Thanks", the fourth installment in the Little Mole series by author/storyteller Glenys Nellist and artist/illustrator Sally Garland who once again to bring a welcoming, inclusive, and fun tale. Children ages 3-8 will relate to Little Mole's feelings of disappointment and be inspired to turn to their friends for comfort when things don't go the way they planned. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99), "Little Mole Gives Thanks" will prove a welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Glenys Nellist ( is the author of multiple children's books, including the Little Mole series. She is also the author of 'Twas the Evening of Christmas and the popular series Love Letters from God and Snuggle Time. Her writing reflects a deep passion for helping children discover joy in the world.

Editorial Note #2: Sally Garland ( was brought up in the small town of Alness in the Highlands of Scotland and studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She currently lives with her partner and young son. Sally has loved drawing and has had a passion for children's literature and illustration since she was young. She now has many years of experience working as a children's illustrator. Her current influences include vintage picture book illustrations from the 1950s and 1960s.

Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin
Abby Pete, author
Leslie Pontz, illustrator
Loving Healing Press
9781615997466, $29.95, HC, 24pp

Synopsis: "Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin: A Story of Non-Binary Friends" by author/storyteller Abby Pete and artist/illustrator Leslie Pontz is a picture book story of gender binary and non-binary new friends making introductions, learning a little background about each other and finding that although they may identify differently, they all still like to play and have fun the same way. The animals are proud to say how they like to be addressed, such as he/him, she/her or they/them.

Critique: Fully age appropriate for children 4 to 7 years old, "Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin: A Story of Non- Binary Friends" is an ideal introduction to LGBTQ relevant story of friendship and gender identification. Fun and informative, "Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin: A Story of Non-Binary Friends" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library LGBTQ collections for very young children. It should be noted for persona reading lists that "Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin: A Story of Non- Binary Friends" is also available in a paperback edition (9781615997459, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).

Editorial Note #1: Abby Pete ( retired from teaching English and started a family and a catering/takeout food business in central Pennsylvania. Years passed and she moved to Philadelphia, bringing her family, but not her business, with her. There she decided to pursue another of her interests, animals, and became a docent at the Philadelphia Zoo, where she can happily talk about all of the animals in the collection. Abby lives with her husband, Ron.

Editorial Note: Leslie Pontz ( is a fiber sculptor with a master's degree in Fine Arts from Syracuse University where she did her thesis on children's art, and was the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts as an Artist-in-residence. Leslie has shown internationally in invitational and juried exhibits in France, Brazil, Ireland, and Venezuela as well as throughout the U.S. She is the recipient of several awards for her work, which is featured in many private and public collections including but not limited to the Kamm, Best Western, Chestnut Hill Hotel and Philadelphia Museum of Art collections.

Memo and the Unexpected Gift
Funda Ozlem Seran, author
Ezgi Keles, author/illustrator
Amy Marie Spangler, translator
Amazon Crossing Kids
9781662512926, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: There's something unusual about the kitten Memo finds in his yard. Memo lives in a small cottage with his grandmother. But his grandma can't see very well anymore, and she falls asleep all the time.

Memo starts to feel a bit lonely... until the night he discovers a stray kitten. The boy and cat become fast friends. But as the cat grows and grows (and grows), Memo realizes that this kitten may not be a cat at all. And it most definitely doesn't belong in a cottage!

Memo needs to make a plan so that his friend can get home safely. What will become of his big, furry friend?

Critique: Original and fun, "Memo and the Unexpected Gift" is the collaborative work of author/storyteller Funda Ozlem Seran and author/illustrator Ezgi Keles. Ably translated into English by Amy Maire Spangler, "Memo and the Unexpected Gift" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7. It should be further noted that "Memo and the Unexpected Gift" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note #1: Funda Ozlem Seran is a Turkish author. Born in Istanbul in 1984, Funda received both her BA and MA degrees in political science and international relations from Marmara University. Her published works include horror anthologies, adult urban-fantasy novels, sci-fi novellas, and various children's books. Her short stories have won several national awards. (

Editorial Note #2: Ezgi Keles is a Turkish author and illustrator. She was born in Istanbul in 1984. Ezgi graduated from the Department of Graphic Design at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and has worked as an art director at several advertising agencies. Now she writes and illustrates children's books and magazines. See more of her art on Instagram @ezgikeles. (

Editorial Note #3: Amy Marie Spangler is cofounder of the AnatoliaLit Agency in Turkey and the commercial and literary translator of numerous books and short stories. From 2007 until 2015, she headed the fiction-translation group of the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature, and she has taught in the translation-studies departments at Bogazici University and Istanbul Okan University. (

Rubber Ducky Press

Rubber Ducky Press specializes in ABC books and picture books for young children ages 3-6. Here are two of their simply outstanding new titles:

Synopsis: "ABC Kentucky" (9781947141568, $12.99, HC, 28pp) by author/storyteller Adriane Doherty and artist/illustrator Anna Bachmann introduces children to the shapes and sounds of the letters of the alphabet in a fun jaunt through America's Blue Grass State. In "ABC Kentucky", kids will enjoy building their vocabulary and learning about Kentucky's state bird, animals, foods, attractions, and landmarks. A friendly ducky guides children through the book, hiding somewhere on each page.

Synopsis: "Chicken and Moodles" (9781947141636, $12.99, HC, 32pp) by author/illustrator Nikki Esarey is about how life on the farm is a great place to make friends. In "Chicken and Moodles", a cow and chicken make the unlikeliest of friends as they stick together through it all. No matter what, you can always find them together. In the end, they prove that when you nourish a friendship it will stay strong. Children ages 4-6 will enjoy see them live together on the farm and meet their other friends who fit right in!

Critique: "ABC Kentucky" and "Chicken and Moodles" are fun, original, and unreservedly recommended additions to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers. Both are hardcover titles with sturdy pages, ideal for being handled by children.

Editorial Note #1: Adriane Doherty ( read to her young children daily, and her love of books and helping young minds grow and understand the places around them inspired her to write.

Editorial Note #2: Nikki Esarey ( began working in 1999 at the Crawford County Public Library in English, Indiana coordinating children's programming. She soon transferred to the Breeden Memorial Library. In 2010, she went to work for the Harrison County Public Library in Corydon where she still works and continues to do story-time and other children's programs.

Guilherme Karsten
Tapioca Stories
9781734783926, $19.95

Aaahhh! gives young picture book readers a lesson in time, change, and transformation as it contrasts events, discoveries, and fun, ironic situations with what happens when everything changes, from perceptions to creatures. As the whimsical stories evolve to survey transitional "aaahhh" moments of change in human lives, too, young readers are given the rare opportunity to understand the nature of big and small events that change the world. Adults who choose Aaahhh! as a read-aloud will find its lessons thought-provoking and different.

Beneath the Trees: A Fine Summer
Magnetic Press
9781951719548, $16.99

Beneath the Trees: A Fine Summer explores noises and animal reactions to them. A sleepy owl finds himself constantly disturbed by the ball-playing daytime activities around him, only to find himself on the other side of the complaint fence when night falls and he becomes more active himself. The cartoon-like panels are delightfully whimsical as the story builds a fun tale of an owl who just wants to get some peace and quiet, but finds these desires elusive. A delightful story evolves which read-aloud parents can use to discuss differences with kids.

Something Beautiful
Lita Judge
Simon & Schuster
9781534485136, $18.99

Kids ages 4-8 receive the picture book story of an unlikely friendship between Mouse, Elephant, and Giraffe. In fact, these three have so much in common that it seems they really don't need any more friends in their lives. As Lita Judge points out, however - there is something attractive in adding more to the friendship mix, as the three learn when their circles of connection expand. Adults can use this story as a read-aloud example of different opportunities among friends who may not be alike, but are still fun and surprising.

Candlewick Press

Candlewick's latest picture book publications provide young readers and adult read-aloud audiences with a diverse set of attractive, highly recommended picks.

Carlie Sorosiak's Everywhere With You (9781536214970, $18.99) tells of two houses next to one another which each house an isolated life: a dog, and a girl. Each spends time on solo endeavors until one day the girl sits next to the fence to read aloud. The two loners find solace and connection in the fantasy story that evolves to introduce wisdom into the mix. Devon Holzwarth's illustrations enhance this gentle story of evolving realizations, making for an engaging and thought-provoking tale.

Karla Courtney's Poppy's House (9781536211528, $17.99) tells of another kind of house, where Poppy lives in a land of painted houses, fishing boats, and wild cloudberries. Newfoundland comes to life under Courtney's descriptions while illustrator Madeline Kloepper's engaging drawings add action and imagery to reinforce a tale of a young girl's participation in Poppy's life.

Katelyn Aronson's Poo-Dunit? A Forest Floor Mystery (9781536216370, $17.99) features especially colorful, attractive illustrations by Stephanie Laberis as it reviews the engaging dilemma of a mouse who steps outside her house only to discover a giant pile of poo. What animal could have done this? Poo facts come to life in a blend of science and comedy as suspect animals are interrogated and have to prove that their poo is not the culprit. Read-aloud parents will appreciate both the whimsical fun and the problem-solving mystery of identifying a scat culprit.

Helen Frost and Rick Lieder's Wait - And See (9781536216318, $17.99) is a story of nature observation and discovery that encourages kids to take a closer look at the world around them. Lyrical descriptions and lovely, close-up photos of preying mantises entice the very young with a blend of simple language and colorful exploration.

David Elliott's At the Pond (9781536205985, $18.99) is a nature appreciation book that centers on the animals and ecosystem of a pond. It serves as a companion to other Elliott books about various environments by celebrating the pond, pairing his poems with Amy Schimler-Safford's colorful drawings of pond scenes.

I'm A Neutrino by Dr. Eve M. Vavagiakis (9781536222074, $18.99) receives eye-catching illustrations by Ilze Lemesis as it explores the importance and science of a neutrino. Lovely cosmic backdrops and whimsical neutrino art accompany a lively inspection suitable for readers attracted to physics and science, but who are usually too young for such discussions. The lively format makes for an accessible introduction to the topic that is both fact-filled and enlightening.

Moira Butterfield's Look What I Found at the Beach (9781536223972, $15.99) is illustrated by Jesus Verona and also blends scientific facts with colorful, lively explorations which invite kids to explore the ocean world. From the makeup and sizes of sea shells to rocks and pebbles, fish and animals, and other features unique to the beach environment, kids receive a scientific tour of the wonders to be found on the shore.

Kids and read-aloud parents will find much to like in these colorful, compelling books. All should be considered for elementary-level libraries interested in high-quality, lasting lends.

Random House

Two new picture books from Random House provide winning illustrations and stories that make them standouts for school and community libraries looking for top-notch picture books.

Stephanie Graegin's The Long Ride Home (9780593426029, $17.99) is a picture book story of best friends and distance that celebrates happy memories and connections. The story is written as Koala's letter to her distant best friend. It explores the special nature of connections, retaining friendships that are separated by distance, and appreciating the shared memories of experience that power it.

Christina Geist's Buddy's New Buddy (9780593307090, $18.99) is also a story of friendship, and comes with colorful illustrations by Tim Bowers as it explores Buddy's dilemma when his best friend moves across town. Buddy needs to make a new buddy. But, he's not had to do this in a long time. How can he get a new best friend? The story of change and growth accompanies others in Gist's 'Buddy' series to provide young picture book readers with a formula for friendship success.

Both are excellent selections for adults seeking to explore the nature and incarnation of friendships with youngsters.

Sleeping Bear Press

Two new picture books provide winning illustrations and stories that make them standouts for libraries looking for top-notch picture books.

Shana Keller's The Peach Pit Parade: A World War I Story (9781534111387, $17.99) reaches kids ages 6-10 with a fine addition to Sleeping Bear Press's 'Tales of Young Americans' series. The history lesson comes with the added value of illustrating how kids can participate in community efforts for improvement. The story follows young Polly, who decides to contribute to the World War I effort when her father goes overseas to fight, reviewing victory gardens and a girl's effective contributions to the war effort at home. Margeaux Lucas creates especially vivid, colorful illustrations to bring Shana Keller's story to life.

Kenda Henthorn's Baa, Baa, Tap Sheep (9781534111561, $17.99) will reach an even younger crowd (up to age 4) with a story that lends to read-aloud pleasure. This bedtime twist on a sheep-counting effort is perfect for parents and kids seeking something different. Three tired kids face a host of dancing sheep at bedtime, who refuse to settle down for the count. Parents can use this story for introductory counting lessons as the lively tale teaches how to wind down and convert excess energy into sleep.

Both of these new titles from Sleeping Bear Press are fun, lively, attractive picture books for young readers and a promise lasting lending value.

The Elementary Fiction Shelf

Ballet Bruce
Ryan T. Higgins
9781368059602, $14.99

Ballet Bruce is a Level 1 reader adding to the World of Reading series. It incorporates whimsy and entertainment into the story of how a grumpy bear is tapped to help a group of geese do ballet. Bruce finds himself drawn by "sad goose eyes," but a host of goose needs keep him away from his beloved home and involved in a ballet effort he never wanted to become a part of in the first place. Kids will relish this delightful tale of a grumpy bear friend whose efforts to help only lead him to become more and more involved in the world of dance. Ballet Bruce comes with lessons on friendship and flexibility that early readers will find whimsical and thought-provoking, all in one.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Marta Palazzesi, author
Christopher Turner, translator
Red Comet Press
9781636550695, $16.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: London, 1880, 13-year-old Clay is a mud lark, scavenging on the banks of the Thames for anything he might sell for money to buy food. One day Clay goes to the camp of the circus that has newly arrived in town and meets Ollie, a girl about his age, who lives with the circus. Ollie brings him to the cage of "the last wolf in England". Mist, as he calls it, is fierce, angry, and indomitable, perhaps due to the cruel treatment of its tamers, which Clay secretly witnesses.

From that moment on, Clay is resolved to give the wolf its freedom and return it to the wild. But first he must build trust with the wolf and, with Ollie's help, find a way to release Mist back into the wild. This suspenseful novel will have readers rooting for Clay and Mist as they navigate their way through the obstacles that lay in their path.

Critique: A carefully crafted and original novel by author Marta Palazzesi for children ages 9-12, "Mist" is impressively translated from Italian into English by Christopher Turner and tells the thrilling story of a young boy's adventure as he seeks to give the ultimate gift to a caged wild animal -- its freedom. An especially commended acquisition choice for elementary school, middle school, and community library historical fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mist" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Marta Palazzesi ( is an award-winning children's books writer, translator and consultant for film production companies. She is part of the Superhero Formation Center, a non-profit association that holds creative writing workshops for kids.

Editorial Note #2: Christopher Turner ( is an Italian to English translator, editor, and professional writer. He has translated many children's books into English in his 30-year career including the popular Geronimo Stilton books.

On the Rails: The Adventures of Boxcar Bertie
Rosemary & Larry Mild
Magic Island Literary Works
9780990547242, $14.95, PB, 242pp

Synopsis: What's a woman to do? Bertie Patchet has just graduated from"normal" school to become a grammar school teacher, but the year is 1936, and the country is in the middle of the Great Depression. Employment is near impossible for everyone, let alone for a single inexperienced female, and going home is an ugly option to be avoided.

Bertie must get away, but travel without income presents her with a major problem. Bertie dresses like a man and turns to hopping railway boxcars to make her escape to better opportunities. A female "hobo"? Unheard of! It's a man's world, so how can she maneuver about in this male atmosphere fraught with risk, danger, and loss.

With the publication of "On the Rails: The Adventures of Boxcar Bertie", once again co-authors, Rosemary and Larry Mild bring children ages 12 years and older an exciting adventure in the form of a fictional story of a young and frisky woman wrestling to survive life's obstacles. "On the Rails, a Boxcar Bertie Adventure" takes young readers to a trying earlier time and a rich milieu that no longer in exists.

Critique: A fun and informative read from start to finish, although "On the Rails: The Adventures of Boxcar Bertie" is a work of action, co-authors Rosemary and Larry Mild have paid meticulous attention to the historical elements of this Great Depression era novel. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "On the Rails" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library General Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Co-authors Rosemary and Larry Mild ( write cozy mysteries, adventure/thrillers, science fiction, short stories, articles, and essays. Their marriage has withstood the daily test of writing back to back in the same room. Rosemary is a career writer and editor. Larry is an electrical engineer turned writer. Both are members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime, and Hawaii Fiction Writers. They also managed the author panels for Left Coast Crime, "Honolulu Havoc," in 2017. have an informative website at

The LGBTQ Fiction Shelf

Cold Girls
Maxine Rae
c/o North Star Editions, Inc.
9781635830897, $14.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Rory Quinn-Morelli doesn't want to die; she wants refuge from reality for even a minute: the reality where she survived the car crash eight months ago, and her best friend, Liv, didn't. Yet her exasperating mother won't believe the Xanax incident was an accident, and her therapist is making it increasingly hard to maintain the detached, impenetrable "cold girl" facade she adopted from Liv. After she unintentionally reconnects with Liv's parents, Rory must decide: will she keep Liv's and her secrets inside, or will she finally allow herself to break? And if she breaks, what will she unearth amid the pieces?

Critique: Deftly crafted and age appropriate, "Cold Girls" by novelist Maxine Rae will have a very special appeal to young readers ages 14-18 with an interest in contemporary romance stories, coming of age stories, and novels with an LGBTQ perspective. While available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (9798212247252, $31.95, CD), "Cold Girls" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction & LGBTQ collections for ages 12-18.

Editorial Note: Maxine Rae attended Tulane University where she was taught and singled out for commendation by two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. While working on Cold Girls, Maxine received feedback and mentorship from National Book Award Finalist Charles Baxter. She later revised and workshopped the manuscript in the selective Novel-In-a-Year program at StoryStudio Chicago, whose artistic director is Pulitzer Prize in Fiction Finalist and Andrew Carnegie Medal winner Rebecca Makkai. As a young, queer woman from the Chicago area, Maxine has written a debut molded by personal experience and emotional truth.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Barely Floating
Lilliam Rivera
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593323120, $17.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Natalia De La Cruz Rivera y Santiago (also known as Nat), was swimming neighborhood kids out of their money at the local Inglewood pool when her life changed. The LA Mermaids performed, emerging out of the water with matching sequined swimsuits, and it was then that synchronized swimming stole her heart.

The problem? Her activist mom and professor dad think it's a sport with too much emphasis on looks -- on being thin and white. Nat grew up the youngest in a house full of boys, so she knows how to fight for what she wants, often using her anger to fuel her. People often underestimate her swimming skills when they see her stomach rolls, but she knows better than to worry about what people think. Still, she feels more like a submarine than a mermaid, but she wonders if she might be both.

As a work of fiction, "Barely Floating" deftly explores what it means to sparkle in your skin, build community with those who lift you up, and keep floating when waters get rough.

Critique: An original, deftly written and thoroughly fun read from start to finish, "Barely Floating", with its underlying themes of overcoming discrimination based on their body soma or skin color, will prove a prized pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library Water Sports themed fiction collections for ages 9-12. It should be noted for young readers with an interest in children's friendship and self-esteem building stories that "Barely Floating" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Lilliam Rivera ( is an award-winning writer and author of the young adult novels Dealing in Dreams, The Education of Margot Sanchez, the middle grade novel Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit, and the forthcoming Never Look Back by Bloomsbury. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Elle, to name a few.

When Dad's Hair Took Off
Jorg Muhle, author
Melody Shaw, translator
Gecko Press
9781776575206, $18.99, HC, 72pp

Synopsis: One day, Dad's hair decided it was tired of being brushed and combed. It wanted a life of its own, to see the world. It took off. Out of the bathroom, into the kitchen, and before you could say, "Hairsta la vista, baby!" it was gone.

Dad gives chase around the town. He spots his hair hiding in the lawn, on the road, at the zoo -- it's amazing how many things look like hair. He gives up and tries to accept life without hair. Then the postcards arrive. The hair is on a round-the-world trip, and Dad is still bald. Until one day the unbelievable happens and the hair comes back.

Critique: A fast-paced, wonderfully absurd story by author and illustrator Jorg Muhle, "When Dad's Hair Took Off" is packed from cover to cover with wordplay and hilarious illustrations. A comical chapter book for early readers or for any child to enjoy reading aloud with a grownup who relates, "When Dad's Hair Took Off" is an especially fun book to celebrate and share with Dad on Father's Day -- or any other day! Translated from the German edition by Melody Shaw, "When Dad's Hair Took Off" is a welcome and recommended addition to elementary school and community library Humor Books collections for young readers ages 6-9. "When Dad's Hair Took Off" is also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781776575213, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Jorg Muhle ( was born in 1973 in Frankfurt, Germany, where he works as a freelance illustrator for book publishers and media. He created the widely acclaimed Little Rabbit series of board books.

The Remarkable Rescue at Milkweed Meadow
Elaine Dimopoulos, author
Doug Salati, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
9781623543334, $17.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: Butternut lives in the burrows of Milkweed Meadow with her nine rabbit brothers and sisters. Together they practice strategies for survival and tell stories. With disastrous scenarios blooming in her mind, Butternut embraces the lesson of her families' stories: stick to your own rabbit-kind. But after befriending an incorrigible robin and a wounded deer, Butternut begins to question what she has been taught.

When the three friends discover other animals in crisis, Butternut must decide whether she can help, rally her friends and family, and be as brave as the heroes in the stories she tells.

Critique: Beautiful and arresting black-and-white illustrations by Doug Salati bring the animals to life in this heartwarming and original story by Elaine Dimopoulos about friendship, community, and doing what is right. Especially recommended for the fans of such literary treasures as "Watership Down", young readers ages 8-11 will thoroughly enjoy "The Remarkable Rescue of Milkweed Meadows". While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "The Remarkable Rescue of Milkweed Meadows" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library general fiction collections.

Editorial Note #1: Elaine Dimopoulos ( is the author of Turn the Tide, a middle-grade novel-in-verse inspired by real-world environmental activism, and Material Girls, a young adult dystopian novel. She served as the Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence and has taught writing at Simmons University.

Editorial Note #2: Doug Salati ( is a Caldecott medalist and the author/illustrator of Hot Dog. He is also the illustrator of several books for children, including Pip and Zip and Lawrence in the Fall.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

The Osprey Man
Christopher Tuthill
DX Varos Publishing
9781955065528, $18.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook

Young adults who choose The Osprey Man for its coming-of-age story about growth and grief will find much to relish in Jacob's story.

Jacob is on his way to becoming an adult, but is not yet fully operating in the world of adults when tragedy strikes (his best friend Jon's death) to challenge his perceptions of self and the world. His excitement about the last day of school before summer disappears in a flash with this news, forcing Jacob to come to terms with the unimaginable loss of his friend from an accident.

There's more to the story than a test of friendship's end, however, which is evident from the start as The Osprey Man reveals its surprises, unwrapping them through the course of the story like birthday gifts. As Jacob's world changes daily from that point onward, middle grade readers receive a powerful story of a boy struggling to come to terms with life, death, friendships, and his role in all of them.

Author Christopher Tuthill takes the time necessary to bring every facet of Jacob's experience to life, from the delivery of the initial news to the ceremonies surrounding letting go. Tuthill also injects the story with evocative images which give pause for thought, adding strength to the overall progression of the tale. His attention to building a strong, believable character whose life goes on after loss despite it all makes for a revealing account of grief and living which carries pre-teens into an examination of the ongoing power of loss.

The result is a story replete in growth which carries Jacob and his audience into realms of recovery and contemplation that embrace new possibilities without setting aside old connections. Libraries looking for strong stories of death and life beyond loss will find The Osprey Man an especially poignant, thought-provoking read. It is highly recommended for its in-depth revelations of the emotional twists and turns experienced during the passage of time after a loss.

See You on Venus
Victoria Vinuesa
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593705131, $12.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Mia has had a heart condition her whole life. She's not afraid of dying but something has always stopped her from her biggest fear: tracking down her biological mother in Spain...until now. Before her next surgery, Mia wants to meet the woman who gave her away once and for all.

Kyle has always been the life of the party...that was until the car accident that killed his best friend. Since then he's been reeling with guilt and willing to do just about anything to escape his reality.

After a twist of fate, Mia and Kyle meet and make the decision to travel to Spain together in search of answers they both desperately need to mend their broken hearts...but did the universe bind them together to change how they feel about death and love forever?

Critique: "See You On Venus" is deftly crafted YA romance novel by novelist Victoria Vinuesa that is soon to be a major motion picture starring Virginia Gardner and Alex Aiono! The story of two star-crossed teens embark on a journey to Spain to discover the meaning of love, death and everything in between is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA romance fiction collections for ages 12-17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "See You On Venus" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Victoria Vinuesa ( is a screenwriter, novelist and globetrotter with one passion: to write stories that touch people's hearts. Three of her scripts are currently under development. "See You on Venus" is her debut novel.

Just Do This One Thing for Me
Laura Zimmermann
Dutton Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593530337, $19.90, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: "Just do this one thing for me." Drew's mother says it more often than good morning. Heidi Hill has been juggling shady side hustles for all of Drew's seventeen years, and Drew knows that "one thing" really means all the necessary things her mother thinks are boring, including taking care of her fifteen-year-old sister and eight-year-old brother. In fact, Drew is the closest thing to a responsible adult they've ever known.

When their mother disappears on the way to a New Year's Eve concert in Mexico and her schemes start unraveling, Drew is faced with a choice: Follow the rules, do the responsible thing, and walk away--alone--from her mother's mess. Or hope the weather stays cold, keep the cons going, and just maybe hold her family together.

Critique: With a special appeal to young readers with an interest in stories about siblings, romantic mysteries, "Just Do This One Thing for Me" by Laura Zimmermann is a deftly crafted novel about a an honest daughter trying her best against considerable odds to keep her family together after their con-artist mother vanishes. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Just Do This One Thing for Me" is very strongly recommended pick for highschool, and community library Contemporary YA Fiction collections for ages 14-18.

Editorial Note: Laura Zimmermann ( writes books for young people. Her debut YA novel "My Eyes Are Up Here" (Dutton, 2020) won a Minnesota Book Award.

A Little Like Waking
Adam Rex
Roaring Brook Press
c/o Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
9781250621917, $20.99, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: Zelda is stuck in a dream. A very strange dream, where people can fly, bears sneeze money, and her childhood cat, Patches, is somehow alive -- despite being run over years ago. Then things only get stranger when Zelda meets Langston, a sweet if overly timid guy who feels more real to her than anyone she's ever met.

As Zelda and Langston explore the far reaches of the dreamscape together, they find themselves growing closer and closer. But what they uncover along the way pushes them towards a truth neither of them wants to face. Will it turn out that he's the guy of her dreams, or is she the girl of his?

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of surreal b/w artwork, "A Little Like Waking" by novelist Adam Rex is original, impressive, entertaining, thought provoking, and memorable read from start to finish. Of special interest to fans of contemporary fantasy and romance, "A Little Like Walking is certain to be a positive and appreciated pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Little Like Waking" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666641776, $38.36, CD)

Editorial Note: Editorial Note: Adam Rex ( is the award-winning author and illustrator of more than forty books including the New York Times bestsellers Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, School's First Day of School, and Chu's Day, as well as The True Meaning of Smekday, which was adapted for film by DreamWorks.

The Seven Stones
Kimberly Ashley
Anamcara Press
9781960462091, $19.99, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: When their world is shattered by loss, Kadya and her brother, Ruark, embark on a quest to find their missing family. Guided by the brilliance of a mysterious gem stone, they navigate treacherous landscapes, encounter unexpected allies, and face their deepest fears. As they draw closer to the truth, they must unravel the ancient secrets hidden within the stones, for their destiny and the fate of their loved ones depend on it.

In this pre-historic adventure, teenagers Kadya and Ruark search for their family after their village is attacked. On their journey they discover brilliant gems-stones with many secrets that may help them find their loved ones and change their world. They face obstacles and doubts, but the significance of the stones guides them forward. As they cross rivers, climb mountainsides, and uncover abandoned hideouts, the teenagers encounter challenges that test their determination and strength.

As Kadya and Ruark unravel the mysterious messages of the gem stones, they begin to unravel each stone's special meaning-such as the blue stone representing hope and the yellow stone, prosperity. Each stone carries a lesson and a message only Kadya and Ruark can discover.

Will they be able to unravel the mystery of the stones and reunite with their family in time?

Critique: An original and deftly crafted novella by gifted author/storyteller Kimberly Ashley, "The Seven Stones" will have a very special appeal to teens, young adults -- and fantasy fans of any age! Original, deftly crafted, and fun read from start to finish, "The Seven Stones" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as highschool and community library YA Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: A writer and educator with a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and over twenty years of classroom teaching experience Kim Ashley enjoys writing stories for her students that engage them in literacy and a love for reading. A reader of biographies and non-fiction, she weaves new understanding into the characters of her stories, to entertain and enlighten her readers about the plight of the human experience.

Jaime Winn
Bleau Press
9781951796112, $15.11 Paper/$2.99 Kindle

Pull is a young adult novel about lupus and growth and tells of seventeen-year-old Mischa Kenning-Elliott, who is college-bound and on track for success until a plot envelopes and changes her world. Classmate Casey Everfled is also on the road to success, but in a different way. Asking Mischa to the prom seems perfectly appropriate until a shared experience places them both in the crosshairs of a killer's attention.

The story opens from Mischa's perspective and tells of an escape that threatens both of their worlds. It's narrated in a manner that invites young adults with mystery and descriptions that create a "you are there" feel from the start: "I can hear the buzzing of the cicadas, can feel the moisture in the air squeezing my lungs and sticking my dress to me. 'The woods,' I tell him, and this is when it hits me that I won't be able to come back to these woods again, to the downed tree where I used to sit on warm afternoons to study with the sun shaking down through the leaves. That's gone for me now. Everything I know will be gone soon."

As Pull contrasts Mischa's dreams and realities and Casey's evolving, revised vision of their connection to each other and the threats suddenly facing their different trajectories, it also develops a powerful pull on reader attention. This highlights the engagement between the characters through contrasting first-person perspectives clearly identified by chapter headings.

As surprises emerge about love, death, and stranger things in between, Pull crafts an evocative tale that contains many revelations and thought-provoking moments apart from the tension and discoveries it builds. As the truth comes out, readers receive an engrossing story that is hard to put down and difficult to predict, filled with two strong characters and satisfying tension surrounding the odd course their lives take.

From the pull of numbers and strange visions to their choices in creating the kind of future they want, Pull exerts a draw that young adults will find compelling. At once a suspense tale and a story of love, it's an evolution of and contrast in experiences and reactions that gives readers a ride for their money through opportunities, choices, and understanding what is really important in life. Young adult library collections strong in multifaceted reads about control and love will find Pull a powerful addition.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Murder Mystery Race
Andrew S. Cohen
Permuted Press
c/o Post Hill Press
9781637588260, $19.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Andrew Mikaelson lives in Wayveryln, New Jersey with his caring mother, annoying kiss-up stepfather, and lazy, but fun step-uncle. But when a brutal serial killer, known as "The Knife Thrower," begins killing residents, the town of Wayveryln is rocked. The Knife Thrower is cunning, quick, and can stab someone by throwing his knife -- from any distance.

Andrew and fifteen other teenagers have been selected to participate in the annual Murder Mystery Race that can occur anywhere around the world. The competitors must go on a cruise that the Knife Thrower is on. The first person to capture the Knife Thrower receives the coveted award of one million dollars. Andrew makes friends and enemies, and alongside the other contestants, goes through many obstacles. For Andrew to identify the Knife Thrower, he must show ambition, resilience, and bravery.

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish, "The Murder Mystery Race" is all the more impressive when considering that it is author Andrew S. Cohen's debut as a novelist. Featuring memorable characters and a wealth of reader engaging and unexpected plot twists, "The Murder Mystery Race" will prove a welcome and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Mystery/Suspense collections for young readers ages 11-15. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Murder Mystery Race" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Andrew Cohen began his journey as a writer in second grade when he started writing comics and short stories. When Andrew was in fourth grade, he began writing chapter books. In sixth grade, Andrew chose to submit his latest manuscript to publishers for their review. With the publication of "The Murder Mystery Race" his journey from writer to published author has officially begun.

The Peculiar Case of the Petersburg Professor
Sharon Kay
Hale & Thornton Press LLC
9781960581037, $12.99, PB, 246pp

Synopsis: It's 1974, and for University of Petersburg journalism student Michelle Kilpatrick, her already complicated life takes an unexpected turn when she finds her professor's dead body. With the help of her friends from the Commuter Lounge, Michelle, a person of interest in the murder, sets out to clear her name and soon discovers that Craig Miller, the published mystery author turned grad student, is hiding secrets that could help find the killer. As Michelle uncovers the truth, she faces the grim reality that being an investigative reporter can have deadly consequences.

Critique: An original, skillfully written and memorably fun read for all dedicated teen and young adult 'whodunnit' mystery buffs, "The Peculiar Case of the Petersburg Professor" by novelist Sharon Kay is a especially and unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Mystery/Suspense Fiction collections for young readers ages 14-18+. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Peculiar Case of the Petersburg Professor" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Sharon Kay ( grew up in Ohio and has a degree in photojournalism from Bowling Green State University. Her life as a commuting college student in the 70s loosely inspired the Michelle Kilpatrick Mystery series. Her experiences in the Commuter Lounge, dating one of her professors, and working for her parents laid the foundation for Michelle's adventures.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Andrea Cox Christen
Chicken Scratch Books
9781953743244, $11.99, PB, 250pp

Synopsis: "To Pea, Love Mom" reads the necklace that twelve-year-old Pea finds stuck high in the willow tree Mom had planted long ago on their ranch. Pea doesn't know how it got there. If Mom were alive, she would ask her. But when Pea takes the necklace, the tree reveals a secret tunnel to Willowmere - the magical world built by her mom's stories.

Pea crawls through the tunnel and realizes that Willowmere is crumbling. Frightening dangers lurk behind each tree, and magic is deteriorating into chaos. All she learns seems to contradict everything she knows.

But could Mom still be alive in Willowmere? If Pea can learn to trust her new friends, and harness the power of stories, she might just save the world.

But she'll have to save herself first!

Critique: Original, charming, heartfelt, imaginative, memorable, "Willowmere" by Andrea Cox Christen will simply delight and fully entertain young readers ages 6-8. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Willowmere" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Andrea Cox Christen Andrea ( was born and raised in Billings, Montana. She attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, where she studied writing, philosophy and religion. After graduation, she got her masters in education. She has taught middle school and high school English for years in three different countries. Her favorite days are the ones when students ask questions that stump her. Writing and reading are her passions. She is a member of SCBWI and works with a critique group.

Our Vengeful Souls
Kristi McManus
CamCat Books
9780744308914, $19.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: When magical mermaid Sereia saves her little sister and overshadows her brother and the sea's rightful heir, Triton, the position of next ruler of the sea is in question. Determined to keep his throne, Triton curses Sereia, transforming her into a human and stripping her of magic. Banishing her from their underwater kingdom, he gives her a final warning: if you should ever return, you will become a monster.

Left for dead, Sereia washes up on the shores of Atlantis, where she is discovered by a kind merchant with a tragic past. Patient and charming, he helps her build a life on land; she realizes everything she was taught about humans may have been wrong. But legends are powerful forces, and mermaids are burned alive for their magic by humans who fear their power. Sereia is forced to keep her true identity a secret, even as her feelings for her savior deepen.

Channeling her skill with a blade, she finds a place within the ranks of the Atlantean army, finally giving her the chance to become the respected warrior she always desired. During her training, however, she discovers the legend that a trident of equal power to her father's exists and is within her grasp in Atlantis. With a way back to the sea in her grasp, she wavers between the pull of revenge and the possibility of love on land, all under the hateful eye of a vengeful enemy within the army's ranks. But when the fate of a friend is in the balance, she must make the hardest decision of all: be burned at the stake as a witch, or turn into a monster should she return to the sea.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a fun read from start to finish, "Our Vengeful Souls" is action/adventure fantasy at its very best. Showcasing author Kristi McManus' genuine flair as an imaginative and talented novelist, "Our Vengeful Souls" will have a very special appeal to fans of Fairytale/Folklore adaptations. While an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy YA collections for ages 13-18, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Our Vengeful Souls" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780744308952, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Kristi McManus is a Registered Nurse by trade, but has been an avid reader and enthusiastic book lover all her life. Her writing experience began in the online and social media realms, penning various popular stories on Wattpad. Apart from writing she enjoys photography and art, and considers napping to be a form of cardio.

The Magic Willow
Leslie Brooks
Love Incarnate Books
9780996652339, $13.99, PB, 236pp

Synopsis: "The Magic Willow" by novelist Leslie Brooks is the story of a young village girl who stammers, enters a magical kingdom, and meets a prince who is lame. Together they go on a quest to restore the power of good to the kingdom and, in the process, they each find the courage and true inside themselves to come to a place of confidence, self-acceptance, and healing.

Meanwhile, high in a castle tower floating over clouds (hidden by a layer of magic so deep and impenetrable that only these few are aware of it) four powerful beings gather in secret around a great stone scrying pool set in the center of the room.

"We cannot allow humanity to continue as it is. They have forgotten about magic, and the world of dreams and possibilities."

They turn, as one, to a shimmer of light that appears in the room, and they watch as it gradually shifts to become a beautiful copper-haired young woman, lithe, regal, and elegant, called from a realm of Other.

"I must go to that plane," she vows, "and be that girl, unconscious and forgetting all, and learn again". -- And so it begins.

Critique: Impressively original, deftly crafted, exceptionally entertaining, truly memorable, and of particular appeal to young readers with an interest in fantasy novels laced with romance, mythical creatures, and sword & sorcery style action adventure, "The Magic Willow" by Leslie Brooks is an ideal, unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, high school, and community library High Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Magic Willow" is also readily available for any and all dedicated high fantasy fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Leslie Brooks ( is a gifted novelist whose books portray the ongoing story of a real woman on a healing path. Beautifully written, starkly honest and revealing, she shares her strengths and vulnerabilities in a deeply loving attempt to further her own evolution, as well as that of humanity.

Artichoke Stars and Chicken Fried Shark
Craig F. Higgins
Mystic Publishers, Inc.
9781948266840, $20.95, PB, 414pp

Synopsis: A nerdy outcast who hears voices, Mickey discovers a shiny purple artichoke sticking out of the sand along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Digging it free only opens him up to the insane events that follow. For an ageless menace is prowling the waters of the Gulf, ready to claim the Earth as its own. And Mickey, a kid with a party in his head, has no choice but to confront the creature who holds him captive in the cross hairs of its double fins.

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish for dedicated science fiction fans ages 11-14, "Artichoke Stars and Chicken Fried Shark" will have a very special appeal to young readers with an interest in stories of alien invasion, first contact, and post-apocalyptic SciFi. While especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Artichoke Stars and Chicken Fried Shark" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).

Editorial Note: Craig E. Higgins ( grew up a repressed Catholic school boy in New Orleans, soaking in its multiculturalism, eclectic charm, and swamp-haunted mystery. Seeking to expand his horizons, Craig left the Deep South and traveled across the American Southwest. He helped keep Austin weird and experienced the majesty of the Texas plains.

Blood Divided
Katie Keridan
c/o Spark Point Studio
9781684632206, $17.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Kyra Valorian and Sebastian Sayre have finally remembered their pasts as the former Felserpent Queen and King, and now it's time for them to change the future by reuniting the realms and bringing peace to Astrals and Daevals. But tensions between Aeles and Nocens have never been higher, and those of silver and gold blood are more divided than ever.

In addition to improving her recovrancy abilities and completing internship, Kyra is determined to uncover her father's role in the evil Astral experimentation program, no matter the danger. As Sebastian learns to be in a relationship, he finds himself facing the traumas of two very different pasts, forcing him to make tough decisions about his chosen profession and who he wants to be. Meanwhile, Tallus, arch-enemy to the Felserpent monarchy, has also returned - and it will take help from Cyphers, as well as friends both old and new, to find and stop him.

As Kyra and Sebastian struggle to navigate the differences between their past and current relationship, one thing's clear: part of fulfilling their destiny means accepting their fate. The choices they make will reach all the way into Death!

Critique: "Blood Divided" is the second book in author Katie Keridan's 'The Felserpent Chronicles' fantasy series and the sequel to "Reign Returned". Original, deftly crafted, and a fun read from start to finish, "Blood Divided" showcases Keridan's genuine flair for memorable characters as well as a compelling, distinctive, and narrative driven form of storytelling. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Blood Divided" is unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for readers ages 12-18.

Editorial Note: Katie Keridan ( made her literary debut at ten years of age when she won a writing contest by crafting a tale about her favorite childhood hero, Hank the Cowdog. After that, Katie continued to write, through college and graduate school and during her career as a pediatric neuropsychologist. But while Katie enjoyed being a doctor, scientific research didn't bring her nearly as much joy as creating her own characters and worlds, so she slowly left the medical world behind to focus exclusively on writing. Her debut YA fantasy novel, Reign Returned, was published by SparkPress in 2022, and her work has been featured in Highlights Hello Magazine, The Blue Nib, Youth Imagination Magazine, Red Fez, The Red Penguin Review, Sand Canyon Review, and Every Day Fiction. She loves sharing her writing with others who feel different, misunderstood, or alone.

Follow the Shadows
Rosemary Drisdelle
c/o Spark Point Studio
9781684632183, $17.95, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: When Marise Leeson gets her hands on a crystal ball, she believes her knowledge of Wicca is about to expand. The magic, however, goes horribly wrong. In short order, she's thrown into an alternate world, attacked by a dragon, and rescued by Javeer, a young male dragon in search of a friend.

Marise is desperate to get home alive. Instead of dabbling in scrying and spells, she must now use her Wicca skills to survive in Moerden -- navigating rival dragon factions, riding Javeer without falling, and dodging unknown perils of an alien landscape. Through a series of adventures and mishaps, she learns that the dragons face slow extinction from a mysterious disease. Some see Marise as part of the cause. Some hope she's a key to a cure.

Marise grows up fast as her focus switches from escape from Moerden to saving the dragons. She draws upon her powers, intuition, and some help from home as she and Javeer begin a quest to solve the puzzle of the stagger. If they survive, and if their trust and courage are strong, they may succeed. If they do not, the dragons of Moerden will cease to exist.

Critique: "Follow The Shadows" is the debut novel in author Rosemary Drisdelle's new 'Tales of Moerden' fantasy series for teens and young adult. A fun and deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "Follow The Shadows" will have a very special attraction and appeal to young readers with an interest in dragon stories and action/adventure fantasy novels. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Follow The Shadow" will prove an immediate and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for ages 12-18.

Editorial Note: Rosemary Drisdelle ( has written on various nonfiction science and professional topics. A fascination with parasites (where fiery serpents are not unknown) inspired her science book Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests.

The Fox's Tower
Sam Tromop. author
Anna Tromop, illustrator
Little Island
9781915071354, $18.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: When Willow witnesses her animal-loving father, Silas, get kidnapped by a group of foxes and a huge wolf-like creature, she pursues them into the woods. There she meets wolves who tell her they know her father. Together they boldly enter the enormous tower the foxes have built deep in the forest.

In the tower Willow discovers the dark project of the chief fox, Reynard, to create new life forms from magical clay buried in the Deep Forest where few can enter. To rescue her dad, Willow must brave the Deep Forest and dig deep in herself to foil Reynard's evil scheme to remake the world -- but she also finds herself siding with the foxes against their new oppressor, the charismatic but wicked lion Noble.

Critique: An original and fun fantasy novel for children ages 8-12, "The Fox's Tower" by Sam Thompson (with illustrations by Anna Tromop) is an exceptionally well written and unreservedly recommended addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library action/adventure fantasy collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fox's Tower" is also available in a paperback edition (9781912417926, $18.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sam Thompson ( is an award-winning fiction writer. His new novel, "The Fox's Tower", is available now from Little Island and is longlisted for a 2022 British Science Fiction Association Award.

Editorial Note #2: Anna Tromop ( is a Norwegian illustrator currently based in Oslo, with a particular love for detail, storytelling and texture. She works mainly with traditional medium such as pencil, ink, watercolor and print, and is inspired by natural history, myth and other fantastical stories.

Hunt for Eden's Star
D. J. Williams
Tyndale House Publishers
9781496462657, $29.99, HC, 480pp

Synopsis: "Hunt for Eden's Star" by novelist D. J. Williams is the story of a coming-of-age teen who is thrown into a world of ancient secrets when he discovers a supernatural artifact that protects a weapon of mass destruction. With the help of a diverse group of friends, he embarks on a global adventure, seeking the truth about his sister's death, and uncovers two clandestine, supernatural societies waging an epic, hidden war that threatens the future of civilization.

D. J. Williams's suspenseful, page-turning style whisks readers into a wildly exciting, supernatural adventure that grabs hold of the imagination and never lets go. As Jack races to collect ancient artifacts critical to the survival of the world, readers are transported to incredible locales across Asia, including the lush jungles of the Philippines and the high-energy streets of Hong Kong. Themes of addiction, revenge, faith, and friendship emerge as Jack battles literal and psychological demons, and even his own friends and family members, on his quest to thwart the forces of evil.

Critique: An original and riveting great read from start to finish, "Hunt for Eden's Star" is a prime action/adventure fantasy from an author with a complete mastery of the genre. While especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections for readers ages 13-18, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "Hunt for Eden's Star" is also available in a paperback edition (9781496462664, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: D.J. Williams ( is a fresh voice in mystery, suspense, and YA fantasy whose novels have climbed the charts. Williams has also been featured in Publishers Weekly and Writer's Digest. Currently living in Los Angeles, D.J. is always on the hunt for the next story whether it be YA fantasy or espionage thrillers. (

The Rise of Runes and Shields
J.M. Stephen
DX Varos Publishing
9781955065504, $19.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook

The Rise of Runes and Shields presents young adult fantasy readers with the first book in the Seidr Sagas series and follows twins Freyja and Bjorn, who live in a world that eschews the forbidden Viking magic known as Seidr.

Drawn into circumstances beyond their control by a murder and by an ongoing battle between the Fire and Frost Giants, each must learn a skill that introduces its own problems and possibilities, in order to survive and protect their family. Freyja's sword and shield are gifts from an aunt who bequeathed her an unusual legacy along with the physical tools of strength. The inherited attitudes and mission that each twin receives ultimately directs them to new forms of response and action in their lives as J.M. Stephen depicts a rising struggle that immerses them in a changing world.

As their father faces grave dangers from many sides, the twins find that physical and psychic confrontations rely not just on the lessons they've been taught, but how they employ them in the world, forming decisions which hold wide-ranging consequences for their future.

Stephen creates a story propelled by battles and political and social savvy alike as each twin comes into his and her own powers, yet remains firmly connected to family. From those in minor positions of power who demonstrate more leadership than the actual leaders, to power plays that involve shape shifters and heroes in challenges heightened by the twins' presence and absence, Stephen captures the rise of powers and magic in this world.

The result is an original story fueled by passion and energy that will attract and delight young adult fantasy readers with its special brand of coming-of-age and magical transformations. Libraries looking for strong beginnings to series presentations will find The Rise of Runes and Shields a powerful introduction to a broken world that requires fixing on many new levels.

The Biography Shelf

Rita Moreno: A Little Golden Book Biography
Maria Correa, author
Maine Diaz, illustrator
Golden Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593645147, $5.99, HC, 24pp

Synopsis: Rita Moreno (born Rosa Dolores Alverio Marcano) is a Puerto Rican actress, dancer, and singer. She is noted for her work on stage and screen in a career spanning over seven decades. She is one of a few performers to have been awarded an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Additional accolades include the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, the National Medal of Arts in 2009, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2013, the Kennedy Center Honor in 2015, and a Peabody Award in 2019.

This Little Golden Book about Rita Moreno (the Puerto Rican-born star of West Side Story and the first Latina to win an Oscar) is an inspiring read-aloud for young children, -- as well as their parents and grandparents who are fans!

Critique: A classic Little Golden Book biography for children ages 4-8, "Rita Moreno" by author Maria Correa and illustrator Maine Diaz is an ideal introduction to a talented actor, dancer, and humanitarian. While a very highly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Biography collections for young children, it should be noted for personal reading lists that this Little Golden Book edition of "Rita Moreno" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Also highly recommended are other recent Little Golden Book entertainer biographies including: Betty White; Carol Burnett; Lucille Ball; Harry Belafonte; Julie Andrews; Dwayne Johnson.

The Activity Shelf

Dusty and Friends Coloring and Activity Book about Friendship
Tammy Fortune
Tammy's Toolbox, LLC
9781734694970, $6.99 Paper

Dusty and Friends Coloring and Activity Book about Friendship cultivates an interactive environment, encouraging young readers to "grab a friend" and work together on the projects in this book.

It advises young readers that there are no 'mistakes' in these endeavors, and prompts them to use the projects as a starting point for learning more about each other as they share and explore the activities. The focus is on identifying friendship's qualities and learning what makes friends laugh and have fun together.

Various animals can be colored together, and each panel holds opportunities for learning because Dusty the dog cultivates different kinds of friends, from rabbits and cats to hamsters and goldfish.

Kids (and the adults who guide them) can use this activity book to get in touch with positive feelings about themselves and each other, because there are more than coloring projects involved. Each panel offers the opportunity for important insights about building the interpersonal connections that strengthen friendships, and each celebrates differences and shared experiences alike.

The result is an engrossing book that encourages positivity and discussions about accepting and celebrating self and differences in others. Adults will find it the perfect starting place for reinforcing the give-and-take of friendship.

Hearts Are Everywhere
Wednesday Kirwan, illustrator
Chronicle Books
9781797210681, $10.99, Board Book, 10pp

Synopsis: Charmingly illustrated throughout by Wednesday Kirwan and published by Chronicle Books, "Hearts Are Everywhere" is an interactive novelty lift-the-flap board book in which children can hide and findhearts for Valentine's Day -- as well as any other day or occasion! All they have to do is just turn the wheel, lift the flaps, and play!

First, turn the wheel to hide the heart, then lift the flaps to find it in this delightful activity book for curious kids.

An interactive wheel hides brightly colored hearts across a variety of sweet scenes. After the heart is hidden, it's time to guess where it is. Lift the flap for the reveal in this game-in-a-book, then play again (and again) for hours of heartfelt fun!

Critique: As original as it is fun, "Hearts Are Everywhere" is a playful game in the form of an interactive novelty book will keep young children ages 2-4 fully engaged as they turn a wheel to hide and seek bright hearts under colorful flaps. A compendium of sweet scenes, surprises, and heaps of hearts, "Hearts Are Everywhere" will delight kids and their parents and is an ideal and highly recommended choice for: Gift-givers seeking a sweet Valentine's Day book for kids; A unique, interactive gift for baby or toddler; an effective acquisition for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking for a fun way to keep young children engaged, as well as any child who would enjoy a lift-the-flap board book.

Editorial Note: Wednesday Kirwan ( is an award-winning artist who has been illustrating and writing books for children for more than a decade. She is the illustrator of Farm Lullaby, by Karen Jameson, and Eggs Are Everywhere.

The Perfect Gift: Color My World Perfect
Lauren Persons, author
Noah Hrbek, illustrator
Loving Healing Press
9781615997589, $29.95 hc / $16.69 pbk / $4.95 Kindle 38pp

Synopsis: While doing a recycling workshop with a group of three and four-year-olds, Lauren Persons asked what they thought would make a perfect world. Their answers (ice cream, pizza and chocolate) made sense to Lauren. Then they tackled harder problems by coming up with great ideas to re-purpose containers often tossed away with little thought. Their ideas were bold and creative. illustrated throughout by Noah Hrbek, "The Perfect Gift: Color My World Perfect" is an interactive story and was written by Lauren to remind children (and their parents!) just how special they are and the important role they play in creating a beautiful world.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "The Perfect Gift: Color My World Perfect" is fun, engaging, 'kid friendly', and highly recommended consumable activities book for children ages 4-7, featuring a delightful and interactive story. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Perfect Gift: Color My World Perfect" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95)

Editorial Note #1: Laura Persons ( has had rich and varied roles as actor, director, playwright, teacher, poet, wife, mother, grandmother have all contributed to the role of writer and now author of "Lost But Found," "What Happened to Chester," and "The Perfect Gift".

Editorial Note #2: Noah Hrbek ( has dabbled in many areas of the arts: from painting, music, theater, and video, to his most recent venture into the digital realm of web and graphic design, having just started StrikeForce Creative with his brother Seth.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Alchemyst
Michael Scott, author
Chris Chalik, illustrator
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593304679, $23.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: The truth: Nicholas Flamel's tomb is empty. The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives.

Nicholas Flamel is the greatest Alchemyst to ever live. The records show that he died in 1418, but what if he's actually been making the elixir of life for centuries?

The secrets to eternal life are hidden within the book he protects -- the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed, and in the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it.

There is one hope. If the prophecy is true, Sophie and Josh Newman have the power to save everyone. Now they just have to learn to use it.

Critique: Of special interest to fans of fantasy themed action/adventure graphic novels, "The Alchemyst" is part of novelist Michael Scott's 'The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel' series. A fun, original, deftly crafted, and riveting read from start to finish that is effectively illustrated in full color by Chris Chalik, "The Alchemyst" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Graphic Novel collections for young readers ages 12- 17. It should be noted for teens and young adults that "The Alchemyst" is also available in a paperback edition (9780593304686, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Michael Scott ( is one of Ireland's most successful authors and authority on Irish mythology and folklore.. A master of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and folklore, he was hailed by the Irish Times as "the King of Fantasy in these isles." He is the author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series: The Alchemyst; The Magician; The Sorceress; The Necromancer; The Warlock; and The Enchantress. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Editorial Note: Chris Chalik ( is a London based illustrator and comics artist who originally came from Poland where he was born into a family with German and Russian roots.

Night of the Ninjas
Mary Pope Osborne, author
Jenny Laird, adapter
Kelly & Nichole Matthews, illustrators
Random House Children's Books
9780593488799, $16.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: There's a whisper in the shadows, a silent warrior. It's a ninja! The magic tree house has whisked Jack and Annie to ancient Japan. They need to learn the secrets of the ninja in order to help their friend Morgan! But how do you find a warrior that hides in the shadows? You don't find a ninja -- the ninja finds YOU!

Critique: The work of author/storyteller Mary Pope Osborne, adapted into a graphic novel format by Jenny Laird and co- illustrators Kelly and Nicole Matthews, "Night of the Ninjas" is the fifth and final titles in the Magic Tree House series. Holding a special interest for young fans of action/adventure fantasy and magic, "Night of the Ninjas" is unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library graphic novel collections for ages 6-9. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Night of the Ninjas" is also available in a paperback edition (9780593488782, $9.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Mary Pope Osborne is the author of the New York Times #1 bestselling Magic Tree House series as well as co-author of the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series, along with her husband, Will, and her sister, Natalie Pope Boyce.

Editorial Note #2: Jenny Laird is an award-winning playwright and has been named as one of the Top 10 Playwrights in Chicago. She collaborates with Will Osborne and Randy Courts on a collection of theater adaptations of Mary Pope Osborne's the Magic Tree House series. Together they have created nearly a dozen musicals and plays, many of which are part of Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior and Kids Collections. The team is currently working on a Magic Tree House animated television series.

Editorial Note #3: Kelly and Nichole Matthews are twin sisters and a comic-art team, living just north of the Emerald City under the watchful eyes of their cats and dog. They get to do their dream job every day, drawing comics for a living (when they're not playing video games). They've worked for Boom Studios!, Archaia, the Jim Henson Company, Hiveworks, and now Random House! Follow them on Instagram at @kickingsh0es and Twitter at @kickingshoes

The Music CD Shelf

Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing & Play New Folk Songs for Children
Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
B0C7GNFLBM, $16.98, Audio CD

Synopsis: Comprised of 20 tender and curious songs by songwriter and pre-school teacher Mr. Greg and acclaimed indie chameleon Cass McCombs, "Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing & Play New Folk Songs for Children" celebrates the joys of learning and discovery.

The pair of longtime friends make connections for young children just beginning to find their own way in the world and for parents regaining their own childlike sensibilities.

Set to tunes straight from the mold of Ella Jenkins and Woody Guthrie, the duo sings about the importance of friendship, understanding those different from yourself, and taking care of your body. They also pay musical tribute to heroic figures of bravery and justice like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Harvey Milk.

These new songs are bridges to many adventures in the making and include suggested activities for children (and their parents!) to supplement their listening and exploration.

Critique: Original folk song that are flawlessly produced by Smithsonian Folkways, "Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing & Play New Folk Songs for Children" is an extraordinary, fun, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Folk Music collections for young listeners. It should be noted that "Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing & Play New Folk Songs for Children" is also available in an MP3-CD format, in a Vinyl edition, and Streaming.

Editorial Note: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings ( is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. They are fully dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound.

Story of the Sky
The Bruces & Friends
Privately Published
$20.00 CD / $18.00 digital

Story of the Sky is a family-friendly album of nineteen original songs celebrating multiculturalism and the natural world. Husband and wife team Morley and Chris Bruce present a wonderful medley with contributions from an assortment of music artist friends, in this delightful album featuring songs in many languages including English, Tibetan, Tamil, Spanish, and Lingala. Story of the Sky is highly recommended not only for children and families, but also for multicultural music connoisseurs of all ages! The tracks are Story of the Sky, Feelings, All of Creation, L-O-V-E, Just Like Me, This is the Sun, Teeth Song, Together, I Listen, Berceuse, I Love You River!, Nine Milagro, I Fly To You, Where Do We Come From?, Song for Wild One, 21 Blessings, Everybody Needs Care, Sun is Shining in my Heart, and Orbital Motion by Maria Popova.

Calming a Panic
You and Us
Emerald Sketch
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Calming a Panic is an upbeat music CD for children and families about dealing with difficult emotions, caring, and belonging. The songs apply art therapy techniques to lively, original rock and pop music. Calming a Panic is a heartwarming aid to encourage childhood wellness, and worthy of the highest recommendation for personal, public library, and school music collections. The tracks are Rhythm, Snake Shake, Earth Candy, Abacabama, Let Your Soul Shine, Find My Way, Do the Vowel Howl, Tiger in a Hammock, and Stay Wild Moon Child.

Marsha and the Positrons
Shoeless Sheep Records
$15.00 CD / $14.49 MP3

Marsha and the Positrons present Energetic, a family-friendly album especially intended for elementary school children. The songs of Energetic focus on science and positive social messages; engaging lyrics cover scientific topics ranging from bee communication to parts of the brain, ghost forests, kinetic and potential energy, and cicadas. Other songs are connected to everyday life, and are about learning to tie shoelaces, anxiety over getting shots at the doctor, visiting the library, dressing to suit the weather, and the wonder of dreaming. Delightfully catchy music performed by eighteen contributors bring this wonderful collection to life! Highly recommended, especially for personal and public library children's music collections.

The Christian Shelf

Wherever You Are
Glenys Nellist, author
Sian James, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506473772, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Wherever you are, God is there. God is in the gently falling snow, the river, and the honeybee. God is in the people you meet. God is in city streets and country lanes. God is in laughter and tears. No matter where you go, how you are feeling, or what you do, God is with you.

Critique: "Wherever You Are" is gentle and reassuring picture book for children ages 4-8 by the team author/storyteller Glenys Nellist and artist/illustrator Sian James. "Wherever You Are" will encourage children to notice that God all around them and to be found in the ordinary people and places of everyday life. "Wherever You Are" is a highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, elementary school, and community library Christian themed children's picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Glenys Nellist ( is the author of multiple children's books, including the Little Mole series. She is also the author of the bestselling 'Twas the Evening of Christmas and the popular series Love Letters from God and Snuggle Time. Her writing reflects a deep passion for helping children discover joy in the world.

Editorial Note #2: Sian James ( is a self-taught illustrator from Hong Kong, currently living in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two cats. A former archaeologist and a huge animal-lover, she loves to draw inspiration from history, folklore, and nature to tell stories with pictures.

The Military Shelf

Johnny Vet, America's Original Superhero
Alan B. Salisbury, author
Carla Millar, illustrator
Opus One Studios
9798362208042, $6.99, PB, 36pp

Synopsis: "Johnny Vet, America's Original Superhero" by the team of author Alan Salisbury and illustrator Carla Millar was created specifically for young readers, but can also and easily serve as a resource for the entire family as an introduction to America's military.

While aimed primarily at middle school children, the initial pages are appropriate for younger elementary students and the later pages will be informative for high school students and adults. With fewer than 1% of Americans serving in uniform today, it is important for the other 99% to understand the realities of their service and sacrifice.

Johnny Vet is the "everyman" of America's veterans throughout our history, and Jane is the "everywoman." They represent the millions of American men and women who, from 1775 to the present, have kept America strong and free. They are, indeed, America's original superheroes, and this is their story.

Critique: Unique, informative, and timely, "Johnny Vet, America's Original Superhero: The Story of America's Veterans" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, middle school, and community library American Military collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Johnny Vet, America's Original Superhero" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Art Shelf

Draw This!
Marian Deuchars
Laurence King Publishing
9781510230200, $12.99, PB, 64pp

Synopsis: With over 20 activities, prompts and step-by-step drawing activities built in throughout, with "Draw This!: Art Activities to Unlock the Imagination" children will learn how to draw a whole host of animals, from foxes and rabbits to owls and elephants, and then create visual stories for their creatures to come to life in. Perhaps the rabbit wants to be a superhero, or fox has a party to attend.

Created by award-winning illustrator Marion Deuchars, each spread features easy-to-follow steps and plenty of space for children to experiment and practise in.

Critique: The message of "Draw This!: Art Activities to Unlock the Imagination" for children ages 6-8 is that -- You're in charge! Let your mind run free and draw, paint and scribble your way through this fun and imaginative activity book. A fun but consumable DIY art activities book for aspiring young artists, "Draw This!" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and family collections.

Editorial Note: Author of the best-selling Let's Make Some Great Art series, Marion Deuchars ( has a globally recognisable illustration style. Her hand-lettering and illustrations have been used on advertising campaigns from Samsung to HP, and her books have won six awards for design and illustration. She is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale.

Books in Series

Michael J. Bowler
Independently Published
9798986224107, $18.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paperback/$2.99 ebook

Book 3 of the Healers Chronicle continues the journey of Alex, set adrift after facing his twin Andy, who tried to kill him. Spoiler continues his foray into danger as Alex faces the fallout from his brother's involvement with a cult and tries to navigate a much-changed world because of it.

Only two weeks have passed since he was reunited with his missing twin, only to face the fallout from Andy's stealing his healing power. As if this wasn't enough, he faces imprisonment, an assault on humanity that only he can thwart, and the rise of dangerous forces that shake his depression and challenges the emptiness he feels in his soul. Can a young man who faces betrayal, imprisonment, and the loss of his own abilities and direction become the saving force for the world?

Because Michael J. Bowler's story rests so heavily on past events, it's recommended that those who choose Spoiler be prior fans of the series. This audience will harbor the background suitable for easily following Alex's conundrums and special challenges in this latest saga. Charged with helping his brother "shift the good" out of humanity, Alex faces his own moral and ethical conundrums as he faces the treacherous Mrs. G. and a standoff that threatens his friends, as well.

Bowler crafts a fast pace and strong characterization that builds on the prior books, expanding the story's moral and ethical dilemmas. Teen and young adults who enjoyed Alex and Andy's previous struggles will find the fast pace, the presence of a mysterious gate to another dimension, and the choices Alex faces not only in himself but in his relationship with his twin and the world to be thoroughly engrossing.

Alex and Andy's special ability to 'shift' forces between friends and enemies alike creates an especially intriguing series of situations in which their choices and consequences intersect in unexpected ways. The result is a coming of age fantasy that closely examines the evolution of sibling relationships as well as their connection to the greater world at large. It's a vivid story highly recommended for YA fantasy collections seeing interest in the prior two books in a mesmerizing series.

Sockboy in Space
Karl Cottle
Precocity Press
9798985149432, $29.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle

Readers might expect that the third book in the children's series about Sockboy would require familiarity with its predecessors; but the powerful message imparted here needs no special introduction in order to reach newcomers and prior Karl Cottle (a.k.a. artist "Ultrakarl") fans alike.

Sockboy is tired of grappling with worries and insecurities in his life on Earth, so he designs a spacesuit and sets out to escape them by exploring outer space. There are simply too many rules and worries, on Earth. Ultrakarl's rollicking rhyme embraces insights that teach picture book readers about taking risks and feeling connected to their worlds as Sockboy forms a plan to foster his self-discovery: "I'll run away beyond the sky,/What I'll find I do not know./I must leave my comfort zone/If I really want to grow." Space science is also embedded in this story as Sockboy reviews the nature of each planet in the solar system and how they attract humanity for different reasons.

As Sockboy builds a sense of his place in this wider universe, read-aloud parents receive the rare opportunity to introduce subjects ranging from identity and perseverance to new discoveries, taking risks, and building connections with the universe. It's rare to find a picture book that connects the hard science of astronomy with the personal perspective of a child who is navigating his own new territories and challenges.

Sockboy in Space represents the perfect intersection of space science and analysis of life that places personal problems in a larger perspective. Ultrakarl's engaging paintings add another dimension of attraction to this story, which will best be used by adults who want to introduce discussions to the very young about their relationships and connections to life.

Picture book readers interested in a story that moves full circle to bring with it a renewed appreciation for home and its connections will welcome Sockboy's latest explorations of the inner and outer universe.

Abella series
Zane Carson Carruth
Carson Marketing LLC

Carson Marketing is the publisher for two utterly charming and magic/fantasy themed picture books by author/illustrator Zane Carson Carruth for children 3-12.

"Abella Goes to the Rodeo" (9780578987248, $19.99 HC, $14.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 34pp) showcases the excitement and thrills of experiencing a rodeo up close and personal. Children will enjoy following along as the little fairy, Abella, and her best friend, Darcie, ride in the Grand Entry Parade and befriend a momma cow and her calf. Excitement ensues after they follow them to the arena and watch a cowboy ride a wild, bucking bull. They learn what it means to be brave when the bullfighters and barrel man risk their lives to get the cowboy to safety after he is bucked off the wild bull. Abella Goes to the Rodeo is full of fun and surprises and demonstrates the meaning of courage and bravery, all through the innocent eyes of two little fairies.

"Abella Gets a New Hairdo!" (9798987434208, $19.99 HC, $14.99, $4.99 Kindle, 30pp). Abella is tired of wearing her hair the same way and needs curls. She needs big, bold curls - the kind of curls you can only get from a hair perm. So, she buys a home perm kit and has it applied to her hair. Children will eagerly follow along as Abella deals with the results of her perm and learns to laugh at herself and accept that a home perm may not have been the best decision she has ever made. All is not lost as her best friend, Darcie, is right there with her as she finds a solution to her new hairdo. "Abella Gets a New Hairdo!" is a delightful book about change, learning to laugh at yourself, and making decisions.

Critique: Each of these two thoroughly 'kid friendly' and fun picture books have important underlying life skill messages and are especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Zane Carson Carruth ( is an award-winning international writer of stories for young readers. She is also a certified business etiquette and protocol professional, and sits on numerous non-profit boards. She is the vice president of Carruth Foundation. (,760439576

Flowerpot Press

Flowerpot Press is a premier publisher of books for very young children. Two of their new board books by author/storyteller Zach Matheson and artist/illustrator Mark Kummer are a part of there 'A Joke Book for Funny Little Kids - Flip & Funny" series and are very special treats for children ages 2-6.

"Jokes That Go" (9781486727896, $8.99, 20pp) is comprised of funny jokes about things that go for funny little kids who love to make everyone laugh!

"Animal Jokes" (9781486727889, $8.99, 20pp) offers a selection of funny jokes about animals for funny little kids who love to make everyone laugh!

Critique: With both "Jokes That Go" and "Animal Jokes", the child reads the joke and then flips the book upside down for the rib-tickling punch line! Each of these two 'laugh out loud' board books are welcome and recommended picks for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book humor collections.

Editorial Note #1: Telling a good joke not only creates a moment of mirth, it also gives Zach Matheson's young audience something they can take away to share with others, passing on a little laughter. He is thrilled to share this collection of his favorite jokes for young audiences in the hope they will be told and retold because every time he tells them they are Flip & Funny!

Editorial Note #2: Mark Kummer ( is a professional illustrator living in New Jersey. He has worked in many areas of illustration and art, but always finds himself drawn back to children's books. Mark also makes appearances at schools and libraries, sharing his books and drawings with children.

The Child's World, Inc.

The Child's World is a premier publisher of non-fiction preschool and elementary school children's books in themed series, 'Everyday Mindfulness" is one of their newest books-in-series is by author Priscilla An for ages 5-8.

"Mindfulness and Technology" (9781503869646, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while using technology.

"Mindfulness and Pets" (9781503869677, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while interacting with pets.

"Mindfulness and Nature" (9781503869653, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while experiencing nature.

"Mindfulness on the Playground" (9781503869585, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while playing on the playground.

"Mindfulness in the Classroom" (9781503869578, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while learning in the classroom.

"Mindfulness for Falling Asleep" (9781503869660, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while trying to fall asleep.

"Mindfulness with Family" (9781503869615, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while interacting with family members.

"Mindfulness with Friends" (9781503869608, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while interacting with friends.

"Mindfulness with Playing Music" (9781503869639, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while playing music.

"Mindfulness while Eating" (9781503869592, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while eating.

"Mindfulness while Playing Sports" (9781503869622, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while playing sports.

"Mindfulness white Running Errands" (9781503869684, $32.79, Library Binding, 24pp) explores ways that mindfulness can be useful while running errands.

Critique: Additional features for each book in the 'Everyday Mindfulness' series includes full color photographic illustrations, a table of contents, sidebars, a mindfulness activity, a phonetic glossary, an index, and sources for further research.

Although available individually, elementary school and community librarians would be well advised to acquire the entire 12 volume set (9781503887398, $275.40) from the publisher at It should be noted that the entire 'Everyday Mindfulness' series is also available in a digital ebook format (9781503887602, $443.40).

Editorial Note: Priscilla An is a children's book editor and author. She likes to practice mindfulness through yoga.

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.

Let's Go Puddling!
Emma Perry, author
Claire Alexander, illustrator
9781536228496, $17.99

Christine Irvin

What kid doesn't like splishing and splashing in a mud puddle? In this book, three young kids grab their rain gear and meet their friends in front of their apartment building, where they all join in the fun of jumping and playing in puddles left by the recent rains. Filled with great illustrations, lots of descriptive action words, and short sentences, the book is perfect for young readers. (Ages 2-5)

Maya Moves to a New Country
Pearl Gifty Alimo, author
Sayani Mukherjee, illustrator
Greight Company
9798987274927, $16.49

Christine Irvin

Maya's father is in the military. As such, her family moves around a lot to be where he is stationed. After living in the United States for many years, she and her family will be moving to a new country: Japan. Before moving, Maya does some research to find out what her new home will be like. Although this story is fiction, it is packed with real information about a real place. The text is informative and is printed in different fonts throughout. The illustrations are lively, detailed, and very kid-friendly. (Ages 3-6)

Turkey's Valentine Surprise
Wendi Silvano, author
Lee Harper, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542023665, $17.99

Christine Irvin

It's Valentine's Day and Turkey wants to give each of his friends a valentine, but he doesn't want them to see him deliver them. So, he comes up with some clever ideas to fool his friends. Unfortunately, his secret valentines aren't so secret after all. But, Turkey has fun making and delivering them, and all his friends enjoy their valentines, and that's really what counts. Delightfully expressive illustrations, combined with a cute story line and some repetition, all come together to create a book that everyone will enjoy. (Ages 3-7)

On Your Way!
Mike Purewal
Bumblebee Books
9781839344176, $10.99

Deb Greenberg

Follow a young girl on an amazing adventure from outer space to the middle of the universe. Rhythmic text and vibrant artwork combine for meaningful messages (for kids and adults) about being creative, overcoming obstacles, and protecting the environment. Go outside and play, be adventurous and imaginative, realize your dreams and potential. (Ages 3-8)

Aqua Paws
Patricia Allieri, author
Stella Maris, illustrator
Aqua Kids Books
9798986847023, $11.99

Deb Greenberg

For a simple, informative lesson about preserving our oceans, swim along with Aqua Paws, as he looks for treasures with Purple Beak while cleaning up litter in the ocean, despite his fear of crabs. But when he gets stuck in plastic, who is going to rescue him? Adorable artwork, a suggestion page for ways to preserve the oceans, and a build your own crab instruction sheet are all part of this useful package. (Ages 3-8)

Paul Steven Stone, author
Don Carter, illustrator
AM Ink Publishing
9781943201877, $22.99

Deb Greenberg

Join the crew of barnyard animals as they try to quiet the rooster and his noisy cock-a-doodle-do. After calling a meeting, they decide to mock the rooster's doodle-do, which makes the rooster take off in a huff. Read on to see if he returns to the farm. With rhyming text and adorable illustrations, kids are bound to be entertained by this creative story. (Ages 3-8)

Grandma's Stories: Twins in Trouble
Nancy Dearborn
Pen It! Publications
9781639842568, $16.99

Deb Greenberg

Siblings Hazel and Cory really like listening to the stories their grandma tells about when their mom and her twin sister were kids. It seems like the twins were always getting into some sort of mischief... like in the case of the broken dish, the case of the dry toothbrushes... what else did they get into when they were little? A fun read for parents and their playful kids. (Ages 3-9)

Isabel and the Invisible World
Alan Lightman, author
Ramona Kaulitzki, illustrator
MIT Kids Press
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536223330, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Physicist Alan Lightman uses a fictional book to illustrate the nonfictional concept of light waves. Isabel is almost six and is planning her birthday party. She is excited about the upcoming festivities, but she wants something special for her birthday: She wants to be able to see invisible things. Her mother gives her a prism for her birthday, showing Isabel how to see light waves that are normally invisible. This is a simple but informative physics lesson about light waves. The author also includes information about wavelengths, radio waves and X-rays in the back matter for those interested in learning more. (Ages 4-6)

Elena Rides
Juana Medina
Candlewick Press
9781536216356, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

Elena the purple elephant and a little red bird are the stars of the story, as Elena tries to learn to ride a bike. She falls and falls again, as the little bird friend cheers her on. The story offers a wonderful message of perseverance and learning something new, with the most adorable illustrations to accompany text that is perfect for beginning readers. (Ages 4-6)

The Silent Sunset
Mike Dorsey, author
Carlos Velez, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781957723372, $12.99

Deb Greenberg

An adorable friendship develops when Emma the elephant meets Anthony the ant. Emma is the largest and only deaf student at her school, while Anthony is the smallest student at his school, is hard of hearing, and has cerebral palsy. Their mutual love of sunsets provides a bond and teaches us all that what makes us different is what makes us special. Warm and colorful illustrations accompany this sweet tale. (Ages 4-7)

Bella & Blue: Bella Meets Blue
Berrie Torgan-Randall
Blue Bronco Books, Jr.
9781956378078, $9.99

Deb Greenberg

The first book in the graphic early reader series, Bella & Blue, contains three short stories about 8-year-old Bella who experiences anxiety in new situations. With the help of her lovable dog Blue and her perky grandma Gigi, Bella gains confidence in dealing with each new day's opportunities. Warm and cozy illustrations provide the perfect complement to the characters and the storyline. Includes a page in the back with instructions for drawing Blue. (Ages 4-8)

Sofia's First Ballet Class: Ballet Is Fun!
Sara DeGennaro
Archway Publishing
9781665727877, $16.95

Deb Greenberg

Tag along with Sofia as she experiences her first ballet class with Miss Mary. Correct posture, stretching, poses, first steps... Sofia, in her pink tutu and ballet slippers, is so excited to complete her first day. The rhyming text and sweet illustrations make this picture book ideal for any youngsters interested in dance. (Ages 4-8)

An American Story
Kwame Alexander, author
Dare Coulter, illustrator
Little, Brown
9780316473125, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Artist Dare Coulter takes author Kwame Alexander's words and illustrates them powerfully, leaving readers moved by the story of slavery. Together, they bring the story of slavery to life in a way I had not yet experienced. This is a must-read for everyone, young or old and from every ethnicity. (Ages 4-8)

Jessie: Queen of the Road
Lindsay Ward
Two Lions
9781542034227, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Author Lindsay Ward uses a motorcycle named Jessie to represent seven different women, women who made their mark in history by riding motorcycles and breaking gender barriers. Although their names are not used in the text, they are mentioned in the Author's Note at the end. Delightful illustrations and a bit of repetitious text turn a nonfiction topic into an entertaining and educational picture book. (Ages 4-8)

My Mommy Is an Author: So What Will I Be When I Grow Up?
Kelle Lima
Writerverse Journey LLC
9781960656001, $11.99

Deb Greenberg

Kids of all ages can learn about the job of being an author in this creative story told from the point of view of little Dona, as she tries to copy some of the things her writer/illustrator mom does. The perfect tale for little ones for thinking what they want to be when they grow up. Complete with artwork that jumps off the page and useful information in the back about being a writer. (Ages 4-8)

The Adventures of the Magical Whisk in France!
Robin Lang, author
Leanne Rachel Allen, illustrator
Warren Publishing
9781957723440, $12.95

Deb Greenberg

The first in a series of educational books that introduces readers to foods and languages from different countries, Mama Grace and her kids, Bella and Luca, whisk away to France to take in the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of a real French boulangerie. Learn about patisseries, petit fours, and other tasty foods. Delightful artwork, a recipe for croissants, and a pronunciation menu complete this magical story. (Ages 4-9)

Desert Jungle
Jeannie Baker
9781536225778, $18.99

Christine Irvin

A young boy lives in a tiny village in a desert valley. He never wanders far from home, partly because he thinks the desert is rather boring (he'd rather be looking at his tablet than being outside), and partly because of his fears of being attacked by wild animals, particularly coyotes. But, when he visits his grandpa's ranch, he accidentally leaves his traveling bag outside. When he goes to retrieve it, he finds it missing. In an effort to locate it, he wanders farther and farther away from his grandpa's house, and in the process, discovers a beautiful, fascinating "desert jungle." Beautiful, intricate, detailed mixed media art is used for the illustration. The text is informative and the author includes extra information about the Sonoran Desert in the back of the book. (Ages 5-8)

So You Want to Be a Frog
Jane Porter, author
Neil Clark, illustrator
9781536225136, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Can you drink through your skin? Do you catch your food with your tongue? If your answer is "No," then maybe you would have trouble being a frog. This book is - naturally - narrated by a frog. He entertains readers as well as educates them by providing fun and interesting facts about what it's like to be a frog. Colorful, kid-friendly illustrations complement the text and add to the fun. (Ages 5-9)

Curtain Up! Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House, author
Lauren O'Hara, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652510, $18.95

Christine Irvin

Get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at the Royal Opera House. The book highlights the production of The Nutcracker, but the book is packed full of information that relates to most opera productions, from the Costume Department to the Ballet Studio to the Orchestra Pit, among others. Colorful, detailed illustrations add to the experience. (Ages 7-10)

Cleopatra Tells All!
Chris Naunton, author
Guilherme Karsten, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652565, $16.95

Christine Irvin

Author Chris Naunton gives readers a view into the life of the famous Cleopatra, who was once the Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. He tells the tale from Cleopatra's point of view, making her the narrator of her life. Naunton uses as much factual information as possible to tell her story, filling in some of the blanks with conjecture based on what is known. The book is divided into dozens of chapters, each set out somewhat like a comic book. The illustrations are vivid and are perfect for the text. This book would make an excellent addition to a middle school library. (Ages 7-10)

A History of Words for Children
Mary Richards, author
Rose Blake, illustrator
Thames & Hudson
9780500652824, $19.95

Christine Irvin

In her unique style, Mary Richards gives kids a brief history of language, starting with nonverbal gestures, followed by sounds, then by pictures (hieroglyphics and Chinese characters), and then to a written language. The book is divided into eight chapters and includes a timeline of the history of words and a glossary of terms used throughout the text. Filled with detailed illustrations and packed full of useful information, this would make a great addition to any young person's library. (Ages 7-10)

One & Everything
Sam Winston
9781536215663, $19.99

Christine Irvin

One is a story, and he wanted to be the one and only story in the world. One gobbled up all the other stories around him until he was the only story left. And then... something unexpected happened. Author/artist Sam Winston uses few words and stark illustrations to tell the story of One. He also includes some interesting information at the back of the book that explains his motivation for writing the book, which deals with the constant evolution of language - where it came from and how it keeps changing. (Ages 7-10)

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