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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 33, Number 1 January 2023 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Health/Medicine Shelf Environmental Shelf
International Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Dinosaur Shelf
Cookbook Shelf ABC Shelf Board Book helf
Picturebook Shelf LGBT Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf
Middle Grade Fiction Shelf Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Buddhism Shelf Fishing Shelf Mythology Shelf
Biography Shelf Math Shelf Readers' Favorite(R) Shelf
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice

The Hope Raisers
Nihar Suthar
Rowman & Littlefield
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
www.rowman.com
9781538168738, $28.00, HC, 194pp

https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Raisers-Kenyans-Transform-Community/dp/1538168731

Synopsis: "The Hope Raisers: How a Group of Young Kenyans Fought to Transform Their Slum and Inspire a Community" by Nihar Suthar is the poignant and inspiring true story of three young Kenyans who fought to transform their slum and improve the lives of those around them.

Korogocho is one of Kenya's darkest slums, plagued by gang violence, food and water shortages, and rampant pollution. Most children have no future except for scavenging through trash piles or resorting to lives of crime. One day, a boy named Daniel Onyango decided to do more, creating a band called the Hope Raisers to inspire the kids of Korogocho. His friend, Mutura Kuria, quickly joined in.

In "The Hope Raisers: How a Group of Young Kenyans Fought to Transform Their Slum and Inspire a Community", Suthar tells the amazing and true story of how Daniel and Mutura turned the band into a platform for change. They started teaching children on the streets how to express themselves through art and established a skating team after finding a pair of rollerblades in the dump. Suthar also closely follows the story of one rebellious girl, Lucy Achieng, who refused to get married off at a young age and instead used competitive rollerblading to reach for her dreams. Lucy continues to inspire girls to stand up for themselves and challenge the longstanding practices in Korogocho of early marriage and prostitution.

"The Hope Raisers: How a Group of Young Kenyans Fought to Transform Their Slum and Inspire a Community" offers an important perspective and window on a world of poverty and violence where children receive only a basic education and are left with little to no means to get out. Yet it also reveals the remarkable impact that a few determined individuals can have on their community, even in the most challenging of conditions.

Critique: Informative and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in commentary, organization and presentation, "The Hope Raisers: How a Group of Young Kenyans Fought to Transform Their Slum and Inspire a Community" is an especially appropriate pick for middle school, highschool, and community library Cultural Heritage, Homelessness/Poverty, and International Community Action collections for young readers ages 13 to 18. Available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.50), it also should be noted that part of the proceeds from all book sales will be donated to the Hope Raisers and toward improving the slum of Korogocho.

Editorial Note: Nihar Suthar (https://www.niharsuthar.com/) is an author who covers inspirational stories around the world. He is also the author of Win No Matter What: A Guide to Hyping Up Your Life and The Corridor of Uncertainty: How Cricket Mended a Torn Nation. During the day, he works as a product manager in the tech industry. Suthar has traveled to Kenya several times to visit Daniel, Mutura, and Lucy. He currently calls Tampa, Florida his home.

Angry Me
Sandra V. Feder, author
Rahele Jomepour Bell, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
www.groundwoodbooks.com
9781773063386, $20.99, HC, 32pp

https://www.amazon.com/Angry-Me-Sandra-V-Feder/dp/1773063383

Synopsis: "I get angry," says a little girl, looking fiercely in the mirror. Sometimes she gets angry when someone is mean and tries to take her toy away, when it feels unfair that there's not enough time to go swimming, when she's tired and just wants to go home, or when the kids at school leave her out, hurting her feelings.

When she's angry, she tries to remember to use her words -- even though that doesn't always work. Sometimes she can't find the right words, or the words don't come out the way she intends. But sometimes words do help, and when her anger melts away a new feeling can blossom.

Critique: 'Angry Me' author and storyteller Sandra Feder's cleverly constructed text presents different situations in which a child might feel angry, creating a nuanced look at anger and its many underlying emotions. Artist Rahele Jomepour Bell's illustrations show a loveable, angry little girl, brimming with personality, who learns how to express herself as she moves through her feelings. The result is a welcome and recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills, Values, and Self-Esteem picture book collections for children ages 3-6.

Editorial Note #1: Sandra V. Feder (https://www.kidscanpress.com/Creators/sandra-v-feder) is also the author of "Bitter and Sweet", illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, and "The Moon Inside", illustrated by Aimee Sicuro. She has also written the Daisy series of early chapter books, illustrated by Susan Mitchell.

Editorial Note #2: Rahele Jomepour Bell (http://www.rahelestudio.com) charming illustrations have appeared in Angry Me by Sandra V. Feder, The Treasure Box by Dave J. Keane and Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali (Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year), among others. She has also published seven picture books in Iran and has received a number of awards and honors for her work.

Brave Like Mom
Monica Acker, author
Paran Kim, illustrator
Beaming Books
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440
https://www.beamingbooks.com
9781506483207, $17.99, HC, 32pp

https://www.amazon.com/Brave-Like-Mom-Monica-Acker/dp/1506483208

Synopsis: As one girl watches her mom battle illness, she sees Mom being strong, brave, and fierce on both good days and bad ones. Mom is fierce as she catches and wrestles a fish and brave as she endures needles from the doctor. The girl wants to be brave like Mom! As she worries about her mom's health, the girl realizes that bravery comes in many forms and that she can be brave too.

Critique: Thoroughly appropriate for children ages 4-8, "Brave Like Mom" is a poignant and sensitive story about a child living with a parent who has a chronic illness. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation and with an important lesson for young children about how being brave doesn't mean you aren't scared, "Brave Like Mom" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted that "Brave Like Mom" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Monica Acker (https://www.monicaacker.com) is a writer and educator who holds a BA in creative arts and a MAT degree in childhood education. Monica is a member of SCBWI, 12x12, and Children's Book Insider.

Editorial Note #2: Paran Kim (https://parankim.com) grew up in Seoul, South Korea, but moved to Tokyo when she was twenty to study fine art. She realized her true passion lay in making picture books and became a full-time illustrator. Paran now lives in Dresden, Germany, with her husband.


The Health/Medicine Shelf

How Covid-19 Changed the World
Scientific American, editor
Scientific American Educational Publishers
c/o The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
www.rosenpublishing.com
9781684169979, $43.95, Library Binding, 160pp

https://www.amazon.com/Covid-19-Changed-Scientific-American-Explores/dp/1684169976

Synopsis: COVID-19 in all its various mutations has affected nearly every aspect of life -- ranging from short- and long-term health problems, to how students attend school, to the availability of milk in the grocery store.

With the publication of "How Covid-19 Changed the World", the editorial staff of Scientific American explores how COVID has changed the world over the past two years: how it has disrupted society, accelerated research, and amplified the need for science and humanity.

"How Covid-19 Changed the World" looks at the many endeavors that have been directly and dramatically transformed, such as disease testing and vaccine development, as well as some of the more unexpected impacts, such as on climate conferences and rocket launches.

Critique: Impressively informative and exceptionally well organized and presented, "How Covid-19 Changed the World" is an extraordinary, timely, and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Covid-19 supplemental studies lists for young readers ages 14-17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Covid-19 Changed the World" is also available in a paperback edition (9781684169962, $30.17, Amazon).


The Environmental Shelf

City Streets Are for People
Andrea Curtis, author
Emma FitzGerald, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
www.groundwoodbooks.com
9781773064659, $19.99, HC, 40pp

https://www.amazon.com/City-Streets-Are-People-ThinkCities/dp/1773064657

Synopsis: Congested city streets are noisy and thick with cars and trucks, while pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed to the dangerous edges -- but does it have to be this way?  Imagine a city where we aren't stuck in cars, where clean air makes it easier to breathe, and where transit is easy to access --and on time. Imagine a city where streets are for people!

"City Streets Are for People" by author/storyteller Andrea Curtis and artist/illustrator Emma FitzGerald is fun, accessible and ultimately hopeful picture book that explores sustainable transportation around the globe, including electric vehicles, public transit, bicycles, walking and more. It invites us to conjure up a city of the future, where these modes are all used together to create a place that is sustainable, healthy, accessible and safe.

Included are a list of ideas for children to promote green transportation in their communities, along with a glossary and sources for further reading.

Critique: Fun, informative, and highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Environmental, Recycling, and Green Transportation collections for children ages 8-12, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "City Streets Are for People" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note The ThinkCities series from Groundwood Books is inspired by the urgency for new approaches to city life as a result of climate change, population growth and increased density. It highlights the challenges and risks cities face, but also offers hope for building resilience, sustainability and quality of life as young people advocate for themselves and their communities.


The International Shelf

Japan: Cultures of the World
Debbie Nevins
Cavendish Square
29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010
https://cavendishsq.com
9781502666208, $43.32, (Amazon), Library Binding, 144pp

https://www.amazon.com/Japan-Cultures-World-Fourth-R/dp/1502666200

Synopsis: Japanese culture is fascinating to many people in the West, and "Japan: Cultures of the World" is exciting guide by Debbie Nevins to life in Japan giving young readers fresh insights into this popular part of the planet.

Young readers will explore the history, environment, and diverse lifestyles of Japan through thoroughly updated text that provides a comprehensive look at current events. In addition, readers are able to gain a stronger understanding of global citizenship through sidebars that highlight examples of this curriculum concept. Fact boxes inspire readers to plan a trip to Japan someday, as do full-color photographs of the natural beauty and cultural wonders of Japan -- including its food!

Critique: An ideal, informative, and fun introduction to Japanese popular culture, customs, and cuisine, "Japan: Cultures of the World" will prove to be a welcome and popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library travel and nations of the world collections. Also highly recommended are the five other titles in the Cavendish Square 'Cultures of the World' series: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore.


The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

At Home with the Prairie Dog
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, author
William Munoz, photographer
Web of Life Children's Books
https://weboflifebooks.com
9781970039061, $17.95, HC, 34pp

https://www.amazon.com/At-Home-Prairie-Dog-Keystone/dp/197003906X

Synopsis: Prairie dogs are dubbed a keystone species for good reason because the burrows they dig are used by dozens of other animals, from insects and spiders to rattlesnakes, salamanders, owls and more.

The highly endangered black-footed ferret depends almost completely on prairie dogs for food, and may also live in their abandoned burrows. In addition, prairie dog activity makes the grass areas around their burrows especially nourishing for grazing animals like bison and pronghorn.

With up to 150 species associated with prairie dogs, this keystone species plays a pivotal role in keeping the prairie healthy and thriving.

Critique: Enhanced throughout with the spectacular full color photography of William Munoz, "At Home with the Prairie Dog" by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent is an ideal introduction to this marvelous and essential animal and is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Prairie Wildlife collections for children ages 5-9.

Editorial Note: Two other highly recommended books in this informative series for young readers include: "At Home with the Gopher Tortoise: The Story of a Keystone Species" and "At Home with the Beaver: The Story of a Keystone Species".


The Dinosaur Shelf

The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs
Diego Mattarelli, et al.
Union Square Kids
c/o Union Square & Company
https://www.unionsquareandco.com/imprints
9781454946076, $24.99, HC, 240pp

https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Book-Dinosaurs-Diego-Mattarelli/dp/1454946075

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs" by the team of Diego Mattarelli, Emanuela Pagliari, and Cristina Banti, have made available a comprehensive dinosaur encyclopedia for young readers that introduces the four main categories of dinosaurs (carnivores, herbivores, pterosaurs, and aquatic) and provides detailed descriptions of the key species from each group.

Beautiful illustrations are accompanied by a detailed overview, statistics, fascinating facts, and infographics for each dinosaur. "The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs" also features the extinction of dinosaurs as well as the causes and a clear timeline showing when each dinosaur lived on our planet.
 
Critique: With a very special appeal to young dinosaur fans ages 7-10, "The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs" must be considered as the ultimate guide for any and all budding paleontologist! A superbly illustrated coffee-table style volume (8.66 x 1.1 x 10.79 inches, 2.85 pounds), "The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Dinosaur/Paleontology collections.

Editorial Note #1: Diego Mattarelli has a degree in geological sciences and technologies from the University of Milano-Bicocca. He became part of an international excavation team that carried out excavation campaigns in North Africa, sponsored by the National Geographic Society. He participated in the recovery of the most complete dinosaur skeleton on the African continent, a Spinosaurus, which changed the current understanding of dinosaurs. The discovery was published in the April 2020 issue of Nature, one of the most important scientific journals in the world. He has also published various works: he co-authored a series of science textbooks for lower secondary schools and has authored and co-authored numerous scientific publications in various fields.
 
Editorial Note #2: Emanuela Pagliari graduated in natural sciences from the University of Milan. She held a course of science for children at school and worked as a guide for several natural museums.
 
Editorial Note #3: Cristina Banfi graduated in natural sciences from the University of Milan and has taught at various schools. For over twenty years, she has been working in scientific communication and teaching through play for children.


The Cookbook Shelf

Tiana's Cookbook
Joy Howard
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
www.disney.com
9781368074964, $17.99, HC, 144pp

https://www.amazon.com/Tianas-Cookbook-Disney/dp/1368074960

Synopsis: You're never too young to start cooking! Tiana learned the basics from her daddy when she was just a little girl -- and with this cookbook for kids, aspiring young chefs can follow in her footsteps.

Featuring simple step-by-step instructions and mouth-watering photos of each dish, this cookbook for children makes it easy to whip up everything from twists on New Orleans favorites like Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, to delicious desserts like Tiana-Style Beignets, and much more.

With "Tiana's Cookbook" young kitchen chefs will find: Fifty simple and tasty recipes; A thorough introduction to kitchen basics; A difficulty rating for each recipe, so brand new chefs know where to start; Beautiful food photography on every spread; Charming Disney quality illustrations of Tiana and her family and friends; Plus bonus menus to inspire young chefs to combine recipes and create their own magical feasts

Critique: A beautifully crafted and presented DIY cookbook for children ages 5-8, "Tiana's Cookbook" is unreservedly recommended for family and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that there are two other wonderfully 'kid friendly' cookbooks in the Disney series: "The Disney Princess Cookbook" and "A Merry Christmas Cookbook".

Editorial Note: Joy Howard (https://www.joyfoodstyle.com/about) is the author of Disney Eats, as well as a freelance writer, recipe developer, and food stylist. She writes a regular column about kids and cooking for Eating Well magazine, and her work has appeared in projects for Parents, Burger King, Yankee Candle, Friendly's, and Rizzoli publishing, to name a few. For six years, she was the food editor of Family Fun magazine, where she developed recipes and managed the publication's on-site test kitchen.


The ABC Shelf

The ABCs of the Grateful Dead
Howie Abrams, author
Michael McLeer, illustrator
Permuted Press
https://permutedpress.com
9781637586617, $19.99, HC, 48pp

https://www.amazon.com/ABCs-Grateful-Dead-Howie-Abrams/dp/1637586612

Synopsis: Featuring playful rhymes by Howie Abrams combined with glorious illustrations by Michael McLeer, "The ABCs of the Grateful Dead" celebrates the rock band's rich and dynamic history. Each letter of the alphabet highlights a significant moment, cultural contribution, or innovation along the band's journey, from their groundbreaking release of American Beauty to their pioneering Wall of Sound, from the beloved dancing bears to their singular community of tape traders.

Critique: Unique, original, fun, "The ABCs of the Grateful Dead" offers a fascinating and entertainingly kaleidoscopic look back on the Grateful Dead that will have a very special appeal to young first-time readers -- as well as diehard fans of all ages! "The ABCs of the Grateful Dead" is especially recommended for family, elementary school, and community library ABC collections in general, and dedicated Grateful Dead fans of any age in particular.

Editorial Note: The Grateful Dead is a social and musical phenomenon that grew into a genuine American treasure. In 1965, an entire generation was linked together by common ideals, gathering by the hundreds and thousands. This movement created a seamless connection between the band and its fans. As the band toured, Dead Heads would follow. Not because it was a part of popular culture, but because it is a true counterculture that exists to this very day-one that earnestly believes in the value of its beliefs. By 1995, the Grateful Dead had attracted the most concert goers in the history of the music business, and today remain one of the all-time leaders in concert ticket sales. Eventually, the caravan evolved into a community with various artists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs supplying a growing demand for merchandise that connected them to the music. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Their final tally of 2,318 total concerts remains a world record. The Grateful Dead recently celebrated their 53rd top 40 album on the Billboard chart -- a feat no other rock band has achieved.


The Board Book Shelf

Good Morning, World -- I Love You So: A Little Book of Gratitude
Olivia Herrick
Familius
www.familius.com
9781641707275, $9.99, Board Book, 20pp

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Morning-World_I-Love-You/dp/1641707275

Synopsis: From sunshine to an extra big spoon, there are so many things in the world to be thankful for! Luckily, showing gratitude can be as simple as waving and saying, "I love you!" With an adorable rhyme, stylish illustrations, and a positive mindset, "Good Morning, World -- I Love You So: A Little Book of Gratitude" by Olivia Herrick builds a lifelong habit of gratitude and self-care for kids. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to take a moment with this very special board book to soak in the world and teach children to live a glass-half-full kind of life.

Critique: While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Good Morning, World -- I Love You So: A Little Book of Gratitude" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children age 1-3.

Editorial Note: Olivia Herrick (https://www.oliviaherrickdesign.com) is an accomplished graphic designer based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, best known for her playful, vibrant, and positive artwork.

Thanks to the Animals
Allen Sockabasin, author
Rebekah Raye, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
www.tilburyhouse.com
9780884489801, $9.95, Board Book, 30pp

https://www.amazon.com/Thanks-Animals-Allen-Sockabasin/dp/0884489809

Synopsis: Little Zoo Sap and his family are moving from their summer home on the coast to their winter home in the deep woods. Unnoticed, the youngster tumbles off the end of the sled. Alone, cold, and frightened, Zoo Sap cries, and his cries attract the forest animals. Beginning with beaver and ending with the great bald eagle, the animals rush to protect the baby and shelter him from the cold until his father returns for him.  

Critique: In a new and expanded 10th-anniversary edition of this Native American story that now features an author's note explaining the seasonal movement of the Passamaquoddy people; a pronunciation guide to the Passamaquoddy names of the animals in the story; and a QR code that will let readers link to the audio recording of Allen Sockabasin telling the story in the Passamaquoddy language, "Thanks to the Animals" is a beguiling bedtime (or anytime) story and a profound expression of reverence for the natural world that is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library Board Book and Native American collections for children ages infancy to 2 years.

Editorial Note #1: Allen Sockabasin (November 14, 1944 - April 29, 2018) was a Passamaquoddy who devotes much of his time to teaching and preserving the Passamaquoddy language. A master musician, he has written, performed, and recorded Passamaquoddy stories and songs. He has been a tribal governor, a member of the tribal council, director of child welfare for his tribe, and a health educator. In 2010, he received the Sampson Center Catalyst for Change Award, which recognizes those who work for human and civil rights in Maine. (https://obituaries.bangordailynews.com/obituary/allen-sockabasin-1057799416)

Editorial Note #2: Rebekah Raye (https://rebekahraye.com) is an artist beloved for her bird and animal paintings and sculpture, derived from her affinity with the natural world around her studio in East Blue Hill, Maine. Rebekah's award-winning children's books include The Very Best Bed, Bear-ly There, The Secret Pool, and Swimming Home, all published by Tilbury House.

Together: A First Conversation About Love
Megan Madison, author
Jessica Ralli, author
Anne/Andy Passchier, illustrator
Rise x Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
https://www.penguin.com
9780593520963, $8.99, Board Book, 36pp

https://www.amazon.com/Together-First-Conversation-About-Conversations/dp/0593520963

Synopsis: Developed by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli (experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice) "Together: A First Conversation About Love" is topic-driven board book that is charmingly illustrated by Netherlands artist Anne/Andy Passchier and offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children ages 2-5 can grasp and that parents and caregivers can leverage for further discussion.

While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it's hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like love, relationships, and families from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.
 
Critique: "Together: A First Conversation About Love" is fourth book in the series begins the conversation on love with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion. With particular appeal for those interested in children's books on marriage, divorce, and LGBTQ+ families, "Together: A First Conversation About Love" is thoroughly 'child friendly' in commentary, organization and presentation -- and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections for the very young.

Editorial Note: Jessica Ralli (https://www.jessicaralli.com) is the Coordinator of Early Literacy Programs at Brooklyn Public Library, where she develops and manages programming for BPL's award-winning First Five Years initiative. She received her MA in Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and previously taught in schools, childcare centers, and museums. She has written about early literacy and library services for young children in School Library Journal (where she co-authors the "First Steps" column with Rachel G. Payne) and has presented on play-based learning at the American Library Association Conference, Young Child Expo, and the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature.
 
Editorial Note #2: Megan Pamela Ruth Madison (https://go.authorsguild.org/members/5673) is a lifelong student of radical Black feminism and an early childhood educator. She holds an MS in early childhood education from Dominican University and a BA in studies in religion from the University of Michigan. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy. When she's not working on finishing up her dissertation, she works as a trainer for the Center for Racial Justice in Education, the Human Root, and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, facilitating workshops for teachers on race, gender, and sexuality.
 
Editorial Note #3: Anne/Andy Passchier (http://andypasschier.gay/about) is a non-binary illustrator from The Netherlands, currently based in the USA. They have illustrated several children's books focusing on identity and the LGBTQIA community, including Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart; Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Karen Rayne, PhD and Katherine Gonzales, MBA; Benny's True Colors by Norene Paulson; and What Are Your Words? by Katherine Locke. They also create online comics about their experiences as a non-binary person under the pseudonym Andyrogyny.


The Picturebook Shelf

That Fat Cat Who Changed His Ways
Daniel Walten, author
Jo-Anne Button, illustrator
Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail, Suite 205, Dallas, Texas 75248
https://www.brownbooks.com
9781612545677, $14.99, HC, 32pp

https://www.amazon.com/That-Fat-Cat-Changed-Ways/dp/161254567X

Synopsis: That Fat Cat is, well, fat. He can't even see his toes anymore. He loves food and sleeping too much! He eats biscuits and pies, sausage and peas. He simply gorges on milk and cheese. All that eating makes him sleepy, so much so that he can't even do his only job, to chase away the mice. The other household pets know something must be done! While That Fat Cat naps, the mice take away all the food in the house. Butch the Dog, a retired champion racing greyhound, takes it upon himself to train That Fat Cat to live a healthier lifestyle. That Fat Cat must change his ways!

Critique: An original and fun picture book for children ages 4-8, "That Fat Cat Who Changed His Ways" by the team of author/storyteller Daniel Walten and artist/illustrator Jo-Anne Button is all the more impressive with its underlying message about good health. "That Fat Cat Who Changed His Ways" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool school, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Daniel Walten (https://tadmgmt.com/talent/danny-walten) is a British author, actor, and singer. His extensive world travels have covered every continent and scores of countries. This experience was how he acquired his appetite and great skill for writing meaningful stories with important life lessons for the greatest audience of all, our children.

Editorial Note #2: Jo-Anne Button graduated with a bachelor's degree in graphic design from the Norwich School of Art and Design. For the past twenty years she has worked in the advertising and publishing industry and has illustrated for magazines.

Ten Little Squirrels
Bill Martin Jr., adaptor
Michael Sampson, adaptor
Nathalie Beauvois, illustrator
Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail, Suite 205, Dallas, Texas 75248
https://www.brownbooks.com
9781612546001, $18.99, HC, 32pp

https://www.amazon.com/Ten-Little-Squirrels-Bill-Martin/dp/1612546005

Synopsis: Ten little squirrels must try brainstorming a way to evade their natural foe -- until one of them sneezes!

With the publication of "Ten Little Squirrels", practicing classic rhythm and rhyme while teaching children to count has never been more fun! This charming picture book for children ages 4-8 by authors Bill Martin Jr and Michael Samson follows the "tail" of these furry friends as they determine what to do when a dog approaches their tree. Readers can enjoy the charming illustrations by Nathalie Beauvois, count each of the colorful squirrels, and 'go nuts' rereading to their hearts' content.

Critique: "Ten Little Squirrels" is a charming, original, fun, and especially recommended addition to family, daycare center preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers with an appreciation of stories told in a simple rhyming verse format.

Editorial Note #1: Michael Sampson taught kindergarten through fourth grade before meeting fellow literacy expert Bill Martin Jr at a conference in Tucson, Arizona in 1978. They established a lifelong friendship and collaborated on many bestselling and award-winning books for children, including Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, and Armadillo Antics. Sampson often speaks at schools, book festivals, and literacy conferences, where he is known for his high-energy, entertaining performances. Dr. Sampson is a Fulbright Scholar and a professor of literacy at St. John's University in New York City.

Editorial Note #2: Nathalie Beauvois has a graphic design background in advertising and has also studied industrial design. Nathalie started her career in the art departments of ad agencies and eventually transitioned into freelance illustrating. Since then, she has illustrated dozens of books and hundreds of magazines in countries all over the world, including Armadillo Antics by Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson. Her creations always start the traditional way with paper and pencil. Depending on the visual task at hand, she mixes in techniques such as watercolor, collage, vector drawing, and Photoshop coloring and texturizing.

The Liebrary
Amanda & Howard Pearlstein, authors
Maren Amini, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
https://yeehoopress.com
9781953458605, $17.99, HC, 36pp

https://www.amazon.com/Liebrary-Amanda-Pearlstein/dp/1953458602

Synopsis: Mikayla and Drew loved to read and learn new things -- but when a new stack of books gives way to facts unlike anything they had ever heard of before, chaos ensues! Soon the children are swimming with alligators, eating candies like vitamins, and getting blasted by their neighbor. Which leads them to wonder . . .If it's in a book, is it actually true?

Critique: From the storytelling talents of Amanda & Howard Pearlstein, charmingly supported by the illustrations of Maren Amini, "The Liebrary" is an original and entertaining rhyming tale about what happens when a family decides to take every word in a book to heart -- and the hilarious consequences that follow. A fun read for children ages 5-8, "The Liebrary" is an unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Amanda Pearlstein is a civil rights lawyer who wishes all of her writing could rhyme and come with cute illustrations. Since the legal system isn't ready for that, Amanda decided to branch out into writing children's books, where she never has to use words like "whereupon" and "forthwith," and making her readers laugh is a good thing. Amanda's next children's book, Tribeca is also a collaboration with her dad Howard and will be published in 2023.

Editorial Note #2: Throughout his career as an award-winning advertising creative director and copywriter, Howard Pearlstein has worked with some of the world's most popular brands, including Toyota, Verizon and Mitsubishi.

Editorial Note #3: Maren Amini (https://www.agoodson.com/portfolios/maren-amini) was born in 1983 in Hamburg, Germany. In 2009 she completed her studies in illustration (a department of the communication design degree programme) with a diploma.

Sun Wishes
Patricia Storms, author
Milan Pavlovic, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
www.groundwoodbooks.com
9781773064505, $18.99, HC, 32pp

https://www.amazon.com/Sun-Wishes-Patricia-Storms/dp/1773064509

Synopsis: "If I were the sun, I would sing a gentle morning song to wake my slumbering friends." So begins this fresh and colorful picture book collaboration between author/storyteller Patricia Storms and artist/illustrator Milan Pavlovic.

Children will enjoy joining the sun in this gentle imagining of its travels across the sky, lighting up our gloomiest days, celebrating a bountiful harvest, and delighting in the diversity of life around the world.

Milan Pavlovic's vibrant watercolor illustrations complement Patricia Storm's jubilant text. Young readers will be warmed by the sun's wishes as they spread through the story, inspiring curiosity, gratitude, and the irresistible urge to step outside!

Critique: Beautiful, imaginative, and just pure fun, "Sun Wishes" is 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 "Sun Wishes" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note #1: Patricia Storms (https://www.facebook.com/PStormsy) is a children's author and illustrator of over 30 trade and educational books, including The Pirate and the Penguin, and Never Let You Go. Her most recent books are The Dog's Gardener, illustrated by Nathalie Dion, and the upcoming Sun Wishes, (May 2022) illustrated by Milan Pavlovic, both published by Groundwood Books.

Editorial Note #2: Milan Pavlovic (https://www.kidscanpress.com/Creators/milan-pavlovic) was born in Serbia where, after studies in Applied Arts and Book Design he obtained a master's degree in illustration. Milan started his career as children's book illustrator and comic artist, publishing his work in many European countries before he moved to Toronto In 2010. He is the illustrator of several children's books in Canada, including Kids Can Press's The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle.

Zoey the Pig
Louie Lawent, author
Phoebe Cho, illustrator
Histria Books
www.histriabooks.com
9781592111848, $19.99, HC, 48pp

https://www.amazon.com/Zoey-Pig-Louie-Lawent/dp/159211184X

Synopsis: Zoey the Pig (who is also known as Old Grandma Zoey) is Bouchie Gouchie Town's cantankerous but lovable 800 pound pig who likes to do things the easy way. Though everything Zoey suggests leads to near disaster, the town's residents for some unfathomable reason get pulled into the schemes of the outrageous pig.

Zoey's latest debacle is setting up a 900 telephone advice line for children so Zoey can rake in the easy money so she can have the luxury mudhole of her fondest dreams. Unfortunately, the town's children follow Zoey's advice and misbehave, much to their parents' dismay.

One little girl "Sally" mishears Zoey's advice and runs away into the biggest storm in Bouchie Gouchie Town's history. To save the girl, Zoey and her pals square off against Zoey's archrival Old Grandma Skunk and her skunk friends in a hot air balloon battle in the skies filled with mud pies and stink bombs.

Zoey just wants to redeem herself while the nasty skunk seeks a big money reward for the rescue. Will Sally be saved?

Critique: Fun, original, charming, "Zoey the Pig" by the team of author/storyteller Louie Lawent and artist/illustrator Phoebe Cho is an impressive and delightful picture book for children ages 5-7. While unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections, it should also be noted for personal reading lists that "Zoey the Pig" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Louie Lawent (https://histriabooks.com/project/louie-lawent) is a children's picture book author and a lyricist. Louie's co-written songs have been featured in television shows besides being released commercially.

Editorial Note #2: Phoebe Cho (https://www.phoebefairytale.com) is a talented young Korean artist. Her other works include The Waters of Hercules and The Forest of the Hanged.

From the Pocket of an Overcoat
Robert Sheley Vincent Jr.
https://www.maxbuckles.com
Archway Publishing
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781665709828, $17.99, HC, 36pp

https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Overcoat-R-Vincent/dp/1665709820

Synopsis: Inspired by the real-life Max the cat, "From the Pocket of an Overcoat" by storyteller and illustrator R. Vincent tells the story of an affable cat as he finds his way to a new home -- moving from the cozy overcoat pocket of Sally in the city, to the country with Farmer Buckles and his other animals. Along the way, he discovers a true sense of belonging within his new family.

Critique: Effectively supported by charming and simple illustrations, "From the Pocket of an Overcoat" is a delightful and appealing picture book story that will have a very special appeal to children ages 4-8 and is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Robert Sheley Vincent Jr. is the author of various screenplays and novels. This is his first children's book, based on a true story of a homeless woman who adopts an equally homeless cat named Max. The real life Max, as in the book, eventually finds a new owner and a good home.

Let Your Inner Golden Sparkle Shine
Sarah Vie
Muse Literary
https://museliterary.com
9781958714201, $21.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Inner-Golden-Sparkle-Shine/dp/1958714208

Let Your Inner Golden Sparkle Shine: The Little Girl Who Never Stopped Believing in Herself is a warm picture book story that gives youngsters advice and insights on overcoming life obstacles. Narrated through the eyes of Little Vie, the author's Inner Child, it shares a sense of magic and discovery over the notion of an Inner Sparkle that is unique to every individual. The book gently embraces the notion of recognizing, tapping into, and supporting this Inner Sparkle through actions and choices that solidify its presence and ability to guide youngsters through life.

Juliana Brykova's lovely large drawings are an added bonus, creating appealing images and scenarios that support the notion of inner beauty and unique outward appearances. Typical child dilemmas, such as feeling excluded by others or feeling different, are addressed through repeated admonitions to take a breath and "notice the magic beating of your heart."

The same meditative approach can be used to address fears, worries, and life challenges. Adults who choose Let Your Inner Golden Sparkle Shine will find its messages of positivity and self-acceptance offer uplifting and early lessons on acknowledging and tapping inner strength.

Kids who receive this lesson early in life will find within themselves a form of resilience that allows them to face the world with more confidence and connection between who they are and their unique place in the scheme of things.

While elementary-level libraries will find Let Your Inner Golden Sparkle Shine appealing, it's the parent or adult read-aloud participant who will find it especially relevant to discussions about independent thinking and self-assurance.

Where's Speedy?
Nici Gregory
Berbay Publishing
www.berbaybooks.com
9780648953395, $17.99, HC, 40pp

https://www.amazon.com/Wheres-Speedy-Nici-Gregory/dp/0648953394

Where's Speedy? is a picture book that follows an ordinary boy, George, who looks for tiny creatures in his garden. Aided by his younger sister Lotta, George discoveries a slug, places him in a bottle to assure his safety, and then becomes interested in food while Speedy makes his getaway. Where has Speedy gone? And, how did he vanish so quickly? Read-aloud adults will appreciate the opportunity to interact with the very young in solving this puzzle of a missing slug.

Candlewick Press
www.candlewickpress.com

These new arrivals from Candlewick are recommended picks offering special, different stories that young picture book readers will relish.

https://www.amazon.com/Woman-Turned-Children-into-Birds/dp/1536219967

David Almond's The Woman Who Turned Children Into Birds (9781536219968, $18.99) tells of a strange old woman who moves to town with an unusual claim: she can turn children into birds. Though the adults scoff, Dorothy can't resist the promise of flight. When she decides to test Nanty Solo's powers, a surprise evolves that considers and challenges the boundaries between adults and children. Laura Carlin provides simple, yet inviting illustrations that bring this magical tale to life.

https://www.amazon.com/Sun-Shines-Jungle-Michael-Slack/dp/1536214728

Michael Slack's The Sun Shines on the Jungle (9781536214727, $9.99) will especially appeal to parents seeking life-the-flap board books for the very young. Beautiful illustrations of plants, insects, birds, and animals illustrate the food chain with delightful color that lends to read-aloud and attraction by young listeners.

https://www.amazon.com/Puffin-Martin-Jenkins/dp/1536228508

Puffin by Martin Jenkins (9781536228502, $17.99) receives engaging illustrations by Jenni Desmond as it introduces kids to the natural history of the puffin. The blend of nonfiction facts and fictional drama lends Puffin a special allure as kids enjoy a host of engaging illustrations that explore the puffin's life. All are inviting reads that will engage the young.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513
www.simonandschuster.com/kids

Simon & Schuster publishes a host of children's books each season, and these are especially recommended picks for their exceptional presentations and subjects.

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Whys-Gone-Bye-Bye-Trubble-Town/dp/1534496149

Stephen Pastis, the well-known cartoonist of Pearls Before Swine, provides an intriguing graphic novel of a different ilk in Trubble Town: The Why-Why's Gone Bye-Bye (9781534496149, $22.99). The story is replete with the unexpected as orphan boy Milo, who resides in the Trubble Orphanage for Troubled Tots, finds his world challenged and changed by an alien invasion. Ages 8-12 will relish the zany adventures that take over the town and the tots.

https://www.amazon.com/Bravo-Bucket-Head-Helen-Lester/dp/1534493492

Helen Lester's Bravo, Bucket Head! (9781534493490, $18.99) is illustrated by Lynn Munsinger and tells of shy Mousetta, who is even more reclusive than the usual mouse. She runs from everything, but longs to be someone different; so when opportunity comes knocking, she puts a bucket over her head and enters the world. There, she discovers a surprising fact about its opportunities and others who reflect her reluctance to engage.

https://www.amazon.com/Tomie-dePaolas-Christmas-Carols-Treasuries/dp/1534494855

Tomie dePaola's Book of Christmas Carols (9781534494855, $19.99) will reach ages 4-8 with a delightful collection of the author's favorite Christmas carols. First published in 1987, this highlights holiday traditions, pairing paintings with sheet music and foldout pages to bring the carols to life. Adults looking for a musical carol book will find Book of Christmas Carols attractive and perfect for family sharing.

https://www.amazon.com/Friends-Daniela-Sosa/dp/1665911476

Daniela Sosa's Friends (9781665911474, $18.99) will also reach ages 4-8 with its fine picture book consideration of different kinds of friendships. Its focus on how different friends elicit different feelings will allow adults who interact with kids to discuss matters of diversity, emotional connection, and different forms of friendship.

https://www.amazon.com/Wellingtons-Big-Day-Steve-Small/dp/1665922559

Steve Small's Wellington's Big Day Out (9781665922555, $18.99) also gives readers ages 4-8 an engaging story - this one about an elephant who longs to grow bigger quickly, to enter the world of grown-ups. When he's given a new jacket that proves too big for him, Wellington wonders if he will ever grow into it. As Wellington longs for change, young readers will absorb a fine story about being happy with life as it as, as well as what it will become.

All are recommended picks for libraries and adults looking for exceptional read-alouds.


The LGBT Fiction Shelf

Why Can't Dating Be Like Pizza?
Andy V. Roamer
NineStar Press
www.ninestarpress.com
9781648904905, $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Cant-Dating-Like-Pizza/dp/1648904904

Why Can't Dating Be Like Pizza? presents the fifth book in the Pizza Chronicles series for teens and young adults, profiling the next series of conundrums in young LGBTQ RV's life as he navigates his sexuality, coming-of-age dilemmas, and the looming challenges of college and the future.

RV's wise high school counselor pushes him to assure his future success. In order to achieve his goals, however, RV will have to do something he's never wanted to do before: stand out. But, does this effort mean compromising who he is, or augmenting it to make himself more attractive to others?

Why Can't Dating Be Like Pizza? examines a high school junior's expanding trajectory in not only his college aspirations, but his personal life and his identity as a gay young man. The story opens with the pressure this period of time introduces into his life, carrying that theme through the experiences that shape his desires and future course. But RV isn't the only one experiencing pressure in this story. His friends, too, feel the impact of changes that portend drastically altered futures.

Andy V. Roamer provides a powerful series of insights as RV struggles with his choices and the forces affecting his loves, friendships, and future. The first-person experiences are compellingly realistic, while the influence of mentors, friends, and family coalesce to create a story that evolves different insights from daily events:

"Did you want the movie to turn out differently?"
"I never thought about it."
"Yeah, that's what makes it good. When we don't know how it will turn out."

Like its predecessors, Why Can't Dating Be Like Pizza? Focuses on a series of conundrums facing a young man who is on the cusp of adulthood and discovering what his future will bring. RV's ability to come full circle to see what is good about life's changes and the pressures surrounding decisions makes for a thoroughly engrossing read that is recommended for libraries strong in both coming-of-age and LGBTQ+ romance stories of love and change.


The Literary Fiction Shelf

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513
www.simonandschuster.com/kids

Simon and Schuster's reprint of two classic stories by Frances Hodgson Burnett in hardcover assures that new generations will appreciate these stories.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/A-Little-Princess/Frances-Hodgson-Burnett/Aladdin-Classics/9781665916882
A Little Princess (9781665916882, $17.99) is a classic rags-to-riches tale that shines with the character of young Sara, orphaned and under the control of a cruel school headmistress who has fawned over her when she was rich and works her hard when she is impoverished. Its contemporary cover will appeal to new, modern audiences.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Secret-Garden/Frances-Hodgson-Burnett/Aladdin-Classics/9781665916868

The Secret Garden (9781665916868, $17.99) also sports a revamped cover and a back cover quote which, like its companion, are designed to pique the interests of modern readers. Ages 8 and older will appreciate both books: one with its compelling tale of a mysterious garden and a spoiled orphan girl who is changed because of it, and the other about a little girl who strives to maintain her equilibrium and generosity against all odds.

Having these classics in new editions assures interest and longevity as modern readers and libraries take note of their ongoing relevance to life issues.


The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Elvia and the Gift of Passion
Ruthy Ballard
WhipSmart Books
www.WhipSmartBooks.com
9780997853216, $12.95

Elvia and the Gift of Passion gives middle grade fiction readers a science-based STEAM story of adventurous Elvia Hill, who is all about taking risks, in contrast with her more cautious parents. Caution is thrown to the wind when her mother wins a lottery for a wildlife safari and Elvia finally gets to join in on a real adventure. It's a mother's nightmare come true when Elvia vanishes and a lion is suspected as the reason for her disappearance. But, in true Elvia fashion, she hasn't been eaten. She's just on another adventure, sailing on a stately submarine in another world and taking the safari expedition a step further.

Black and white drawings pepper a high-octane adventure that will attract middle graders looking for a blend of fantasy and science-based fact. Ruthy Ballard creates a spunky, proactive character in Elvia that comes to life through her determination to succeed even in realms that are alien to her. From submarine sailor lingo and explanations of the water environment to an adopted boy who joins her in the adventure, only to face death at the age of twelve, the tale grows to embrace others who are also committed to a voyage of discovery.

Ballard deftly cultivates a voice that involves middle graders in a delightful, quirky story that is part of the 'Tales by Moons-light Series.' It takes swashbuckling to a new level, but grounds these fantastic journeys with a sense of science-based reality that educate readers in a subtle, informative, compelling manner.

Another unusual facet is that Elvia doesn't remain a child throughout, but matures to enter a different life, herself. The result is a compelling saga replete in action, adventure, and discovery that offers leisure readers an opportunity to absorb emotional and scientific details. Teachers seeking STEAM-based stories to recommend as leisure choices that lend to further discussion and insights will find Elvia and the Gift of Passion takes an unusual leap, linking emotional and educational growth in proactive young people who don't just explore new environments, but enter and change them with gusto.

The Adventures of Bobby and Jimmy
Bob Lister, author
Gordon Carlisle, illustrator
Peter E. Randall Publisher
www.perpublisher.com
9781942155515, $14.95, PB, 104pp

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Bobby-Jimmy-Bob-Lister/dp/B0BJQVKGJZ

Synopsis: Has anyone ever dared you to eat an ant sandwich? Have you ever built a raft or looked out the window of your treehouse to see for miles? Have you ever seen a snake in the school cafeteria? Remember when time was endless and the days were filled with imagination and outdoor adventures with your friends?

Bobby and Jimmy, and their dog Puggy, are all about endless adventure and mischief. And what happens next is revealed in "The Adventures of Bobby and Jimmy" by author/storyteller Bob Lister. Of special note are the b/w drawings of artist and illustrator Gordon Carlisle.

Critique: These stories(drawn from the experience of the author and his own children) of real boys getting into genuine trouble a.k.a. "good clean fun" is particularly appropriate reading for 8 to 10 year olds and wonderful read aloud stories that can takes parents back to their own long ago fun times outside. Fun and original, "The Adventures of Bobby and Jimmy" is highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library general fiction collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Bob Lister (Bobby) is a former teacher, special-education director, and superintendent of schools, having spent most of his career in the Portsmouth schools. He has experience working with students at all levels. His invitations from classroom teachers provided opportunities to read and share stories to students, and this has always been important to him. His childhood experiences with his cousin Jimmy were the inspiration for this chapter book, He hopes this chapter book will be used by teachers, parents, and grandparents to encourage creativity, exploration, and adventure in young children and inspire them to experience the outdoors with adventures from which memories are made.

Jiu-Jitsu Girl
Jennifer Dutton
Jolly Fish Press
https://jollyfishpress.com
9781631636929, $14.99, PB, 256pp

https://www.amazon.com/Jiu-Jitsu-Girl-Jennifer-Dutton/dp/1631636928

Synopsis: Angie Larson hates Jiu-Jitsu. Like many twelve-year-old girls, she fails to find the glamour in a martial art that embraces zero personal space and choking as an end goal. Seriously, people choke her, drip sweat on her face, and even wrap their legs around her neck. It's the worst.

Instead, Angie idolizes the seemingly perfect kids at her school who do "normal" activities like dance or soccer. But just when it seems like Angie is about to be accepted by them, her mom enrolls her in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament and begins a relationship with the sweatiest coach on the planet. And to make things more complicated, Angie develops a close friendship with a boy who is definitely not part of the "cool" crowd.

Angie must decide who she is while making some painful decisions both on and off the mat. Is she a dance girl, a soccer girl, a nothing girl -- or a Jiu-Jitsu girl?

Critique: A fun read from cover to cover, "Jiu-Jitsu Girl" by novelist Jennifer Dutton will have a particular appeal to young readers ages 8-12. The subject of a girl's experience with the martial arts is always of interest -- especially to girls in grades 4-6. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jiu-Jitsu Girl" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Dutton (https://jenniferdutton.net/biography) worked for years as a writer in the finance industry before becoming a teacher in a variety of elementary and middle grade classrooms. There, she's had the privilege of being a keen observer of the life experience. Her writing reflects the diversity and resilience she witnesses firsthand.


The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

The Davenports
Krystal Marquis
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
https://www.penguin.com
9780593463338, $19.99, HC, 384pp

https://www.amazon.com/Davenports-Krystal-Marquis/dp/0593463331

Synopsis: The Davenports are one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in a changing United States, their fortune made through the entrepreneurship of William Davenport, a formerly enslaved man who founded the Davenport Carriage Company years ago. Now it's 1910, and the Davenports live surrounded by servants, crystal chandeliers, and endless parties, finding their way and finding love -- even where they're not supposed to.

There is Olivia, the beautiful elder Davenport daughter, ready to do her duty by getting married... until she meets the charismatic civil rights leader Washington DeWight and sparks fly. The younger daughter, Helen, is more interested in fixing cars than falling in love -- unless it's with her sister's suitor. Amy-Rose, the childhood friend turned maid to the Davenport sisters, dreams of opening her own business -- and marrying the one man she could never be with, Olivia and Helen's brother, John. But Olivia's best friend, Ruby, also has her sights set on John Davenport, though she can't seem to keep his interest -- until family pressure has her scheming to win his heart, just as someone else wins hers.

Inspired by the real-life story of the Patterson family, "The Davenports" by novelist Krystal Marquis is the memorable story of four determined and passionate young Black women discovering the courage to steer their own path in life and in love.

Critique: An deftly crafted and inherently absorbing read which was specifically written for teens and young adults ages 12- 17, "The Davenports" by Krystal Marquis is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Davenports" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Krystal Marquis (https://www.penguinteen.com/author/krystal-marquis) happily spends most of her time in libraries and used bookstores. A lifelong reader, Krystal began researching and writing on a dare to complete the NaNoWriMo Challenge, resulting in the first partial draft of what would become her debut novel, "The Davenports".


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Nine Liars
Maureen Johnson
Katherine Tegan Books
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
www.harpercollinschildrens.com
Blackstone Audiobooks
www.BlackstoneAudio.com
9780063032651, $19.99, HC, 464pp

https://www.amazon.com/Liars-Truly-Devious-Maureen-Johnson/dp/0063032651

Synopsis: Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn't going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain -- questions about college, love, and life in general.

Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.

The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can't explain. This was no break-in. Someone's lying about what happened in the woodshed. Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.

Critique: Another deftly crafted mystery for young readers ages 14-18, "Nine Liars" by Maureen Johnson will prove to be an immediate and enduringly welcome addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Mystery Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of teens and young adults that "Nine Liars" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212161848, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Maureen Johnson (https://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com) is the author of a number of novels for young adults, including the Truly Devious series and the Shades of London series, among others.


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Ember
Sara Gibson
DartFrog Plus
https://dartfrogbooks.com
9781951490706, $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Ember-Sara-Gibson-ebook/dp/B0B643K3Y6

Young adult readers who choose Ember for its promise of fantasy adventure will find the story replete in action-packed pages that juxtapose intrigue with atmospheric descriptions.

The story opens with a solid sense of place: "Ra's rapiers emerged from the sea and set the undulating water on fire. In an instant, the sun banished the dark emperor's minions to remote corners where they shifted and scattered throughout the day, eschewing the light and waiting for their master to summon them once again at dusk. The sun's rays reached a perfectly manicured golf course, awakening the sleepy earth and transforming the dark landscape into a canvas of chlorophyll green, sparkling dewdrops, and warmth."

It then unfolds with a decidedly quirky set of encounters with appealingly strange individuals that lead young adults into an engrossing dilemma when college student Ember literally falls into a book, trapping her within its world. Has she slipped into another dimension? Has her body split into atoms like Cinder's did?

The quirky fun of books that both present new worlds and answer dilemmas makes for a fantasy flavored by whimsy and driven by powerful encounters. As Cinder's story in the book closely follows Ember's experiences, leading her further into a strange realm, readers will enjoy the delightful humor that overlays an atmospheric tale that literally reaches out to grab Ember from her life.

Teens and young adults who look for lively fantasy sagas (especially bookworms whose noses are always ferreting out new situations and experiences) will find Ember an attractive choice that poses intriguing, unexpected dilemmas and a special form of compelling action. When is a book not a book?

When it captures other worlds and injects the reader into them as a protagonist against all odds and efforts to challenge this transformation: "The author began writing this stupid story over twenty years ago. I infiltrated her Hotmail account and deleted the file. Like an idiot, she started the story again," Eris replied. "I allowed her to find a hard copy of the old story, hoping that she would be so confused she would stop. Then she merged the stories, creating parallel universes! I'm going to keep throwing writer's block at her until she goes crazy, so this stupid story will never be published!"

The result is a vibrant, refreshingly original, fun tale that embraces a love for books, other worlds, and situations that challenge reality itself. Ember's character and the whimsical forces she encounters in these other worlds create literary and social conundrums that are unexpectedly fun. Libraries and adults seeking unique and strong recommendations for young adult fantasy-reading bookworms will find Ember the perfect choice.

Angry Octopus
Lori Lite, author
Max Stasuyk, illustrator
Stress Free Kids
https://stressfreekids.com
9780983625681, $21.98 Hardcover/$13.95 Paper/$4.95 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Angry-Octopus-Management-introducing-progressive/dp/0983625689

Angry Octopus: A Relaxation Story blends a nautical fantasy adventure with real-world tips to picture book readers on techniques for calming down and relaxation. It's the perfect item of choice for adults seeking to introduce the concept of relaxation techniques which enhance calming results.

A sea merchild confronts an angry octopus who receives lessons from her on how "to be the boss of his own feelings, body, and anger." This key message, accompanied by lovely, colorful illustrations by Max Stasuyk, is firmly rooted in ocean ecology as the octopus faces an invasion of his home "garden" by careless lobsters that have bumped into his carefully-arranged seashells and rocks.

Lori Lite offers compelling scenes that capture emotional responses to adversity: "The more he looked at the mess, the worse he felt. He got madder and madder, and he felt his body get tighter and tighter. His muscles were tense and his stomach was rumbling like a volcano. He looked around at his ruined garden, and his face started to turn red with anger. He knew what was happening to him, but he did not know how to stop it. He was so angry that he thought he might explode. And he did."

Adults who choose Angry Octopus as a read-aloud will find it holds plenty of opportunities for exploring anger and its management. Familiar feelings come to light as the octopus loses his temper and control, and a passing sea child tries to help him identify the results of his choices. Angry Octopus goes above and beyond most psychological stories for the very young in not just exploring feelings, but introducing basic calming techniques that kids can employ to regain control over their emotions.

When accompanied by parental or adult interactive experiences, kids receive specific guidelines for exercises that encourage them to better understand not just their feelings, but the routines they may employ to manage them.

Libraries and adults seeking picture books that take the extra step beyond understanding and into introducing proactive behaviors and emotional management strategies will welcome Angry Octopus for its appealing, practical insights on handling anxiety, stress, and anger.

Seasparrow
Kristin Cashore
Dutton Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
https://www.penguin.com
9781984816672, $29.99, HC, 624pp

https://www.amazon.com/Seasparrow-Graceling-Realm-Kristin-Cashore/dp/1984816675

Synopsis: Hava sails across the sea toward Monsea with her sister, the royal entourage, and the world's only copies of the formulas for the zilfium weapon she saved at the end of Winterkeep. During the crossing, Hava makes an unexpected discovery about one of the ship's crew, but before she can unravel the mystery, storms drive their ship off course, wrecking them in the ice far north of the Royal Continent. The survivors must endure a harrowing trek across the ice to make it back to Monsea. And while Queen Bitterblue grapples with how to carry the responsibility of a weapon that will change the world, Hava has a few more mysteries to solve -- and a decision to make about who she wants to be in the new world Bitterblue will build.

Critique: "Seasparrow" is the fifth title in author Krintin Cashore's outstanding fantasy action/adventure 'Graceling Realm" series. A master of the narrative driven storytelling style with an impressive literary ability at creating memorable characters and unexpected plot twists, "Seasparrow" will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in epic fantasy sagas. While highly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for readers ages 14-17, it should be noted that "Seasparrow" is also available in a paperback edition (9780593616031, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Kristin Cashore (https://kristincashore.com) is an exceptional new voice in the fantasy genre whose characterization, beautifully realized world and compelling narratives set her apart and confirms her as a master storyteller. She received a bachelor's degree from Williams College and a master's from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College.

Star Wars: The High Republic Quest for the Hidden City
George Mann, author
Nilah Magruder, illustrator
Disney Lucasfilm Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
www.disney.com
9781368080101, $14.99, HC, 304pp

https://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Republic-Quest-Hidden/dp/1368080103

Synopsis: Centuries before the Clone Wars or the Empire, in the early days of the High Republic, it was an age of exploration in a galaxy far, far away. Daring pilots chart new routes through hyperspace, while Pathfinder teams make contact with frontier worlds to invite them to join the Republic.

When a Pathfinder team's communications droid is found drifting in space, damaged and bearing a cryptic message, Jedi Knight Silandra Sho and her Padawan, Rooper Nitani, are sent to find the missing team members. Their investigation leads them to the planet Gloam, a ravaged world said to be haunted by mythical monsters.

Can the Jedi find the missing Pathfinders and unravel the mystery of the monsters? The answers lie in a hidden city beneath the planet's surface...

Critique: Continuing to expand the Star Wars universe, "Star Wars: The High Republic Quest for the Hidden City" by George Mann has everything that Star Wars fandom has come to expect -- a thrilling action/adventure populated with memorable characters and a riveting storyling from first page to last. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Star Wars: The High Republic Quest for the Hidden City" is unreservedly recommended for personal, elementary school, middle school, and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections for young readers ages 8-12.

Editorial Note: George Mann (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mann_(writer)) is a Sunday Times bestselling novelist and scriptwriter. He's the creator of the Wychwood supernatural mystery series as well as the popular Newbury & Hobbes and Tales of the Ghost series, two of which are in development as television shows. He's written comics, novels, and audio dramas for properties such as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Judge Dredd, and Dark Souls. He's currently part of the writer's room on a forthcoming genre television show.

Curse Undone
Brandie June
CamCat Books
www.camcatpublishing.com
9780744306224, $19.99, HC, 336pp

https://www.amazon.com/Curse-Undone-Gold-Spun-Duology/dp/0744306221

Synopsis: Two crowns. Two kingdoms. One chance to rule. Nor and King Casper are captured by the fay army and forced to face the indomitable Faerie Queen, Marasina. At her command, Casper is thrown into a mysterious prison while an even sinister fate is in store for Nor - a deadly fay poison that reveals Nor's true nature. She's not only half-fay. She is Queen Marasina's heir.

Revealed to be like the very creatures she despises, Nor must not only find a way to free Casper but also navigate a court that is as deadly as it is beautiful. Her allies are few, and though Pel claims to want friendship, Nor finds she cannot forgive his betrayal. As tensions mount and war looms between the kingdoms, Nor must choose a side, before it's too late.

Nor discovers that a glamour and a curse may be two sides of the same coin.

Critique: A unique action/adventure fantasy,"Curse Undone" is the epic and compulsive page turner of a conclusion to fantasy novelist Brandie June's 'Gold Spun' duology for young readers ages 13-18. While also available for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), librarians should note that there is a large print paperback edition of "Curse Undone" (9780744309034, $19.99, 510pp).

Editorial Note: Brandie June (https://www.brandiejune.com) spent most of her childhood on-stage or reading. She moved to Los Angeles to study acting at UCLA, and eventually branched out into costume design, playwriting, and marketing. When not writing or marketing, she can often be found doing aerial arts, playing board games, drinking too much espresso, and coming up with new art projects. Her debut novel, "Gold Spun", is a fresh retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin tale through the miller daughter's POV. She can be followed on Twitter @brandiejune


The Graphic Novel Shelf

Twelfth Grade Night
Molly Booth, author
Stephanie Kate Strohm, author
Jamie Green, illustrator
Disney Hyperion
www.disneyhyperionbooks.com
PR: Bekka.Mills@disney.com
9781368062398, $24.99, HC, 160pp

https://www.amazon.com/Twelfth-Grade-Night-Arden-High/dp/1368062393

Synopsis: Vi came to Arden High for a fresh start and a chance to wear beanies and button-ups instead of uniform skirts. And though doing it without her twin feels like being split in half, Vi finds her stride when she stumbles (literally!) into broody and beautiful poet-slash-influencer, Orsino.

Soon Vi gets roped into helping plan the school's Twelfth Grade Night dance, and she can't stop dreaming about slow dancing with Orsino under the fairy lights in the gym.

The problem? All Vi's new friends assume she's not even into guys. And before Vi can ask Orsino to the dance, he recruits Vi to help woo his crush, Olivia. Who has a crush of her own on Vi!

Critique: A fun and original story from first page to last, "Twelfth Grade Night", a highschool romance graphic novel for young readers ages 12-18 by the team of authors Molly Booth and Stephanie Strohm, and artist/illustrator Jamie Green, will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Graphic Novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Twelfth Grade Night" is also available in a paperback edition (9781368064651, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Molly Horton Booth (www.MollyHortonBooth.com) is the author of Saving Hamlet and Nothing Happened, and a total Shakespeare nerd. Molly grew up homeschooled and earned their BA in English from Marlboro College and their MA in English from UMass Boston (studying - twist! - Shakespeare). Twelfth Night was the first play she ever directed as a drama teacher, and the production featured a wonderful cast of teen actors, including her sister as Feste the Fool, as well as a soundtrack featuring Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift. She can be followed on Instagram @MollyHortonBooth

Editorial Note #2: Stephanie Kate Strohm (https://stephaniekatestrohm.com) is also the author of Prince in Disguise; Love … la Mode; The Date to Save; It's Not Me, It's You; That's Not What I Heard; and Restless Hearts (Katy Keene #1). In high school, she was voted Class Star, played Olivia in Twelfth Night, and once won a drama prize (it was not a prize for starting drama, although she could have won that, too). After graduating from Middlebury College with a degree in theater and history, she performed at several of America's least-attended outdoor summer Shakespeare theaters. She still knows all of Juliet's lines, just in case. Stephanie can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @StephKateStrohm

Editorial Note #: Jamie Green (https://jamiegreenillustration.com) is a book illustrator, content creator, and alum of Ringling College of Art and Design '20. In high school, Jamie was all about fandom culture, LGBTQIA topics, and anime/manga, which was perfect training to illustrate a romcom love triangle graphic novel (art school probably helped, too). Jamie can be followed on Instagram and Twitter @JamieMGreenArt -- or just Jamie Green on YouTube.

Pearl of the Sea
Anthony Silverston, author
Raffaella Delle Donne, author
Willem Samuel, illustrator
Catalyst Press
https://www.catalystpress.org
9781946395740, $19.95, PB, 168pp

https://www.amazon.com/Pearl-Sea-Anthony-Silverston/dp/1946395749

Synopsis: Since her mother left, Pearl has spent more and more time in the ocean, fishing to help her father pay the bills. But when she gets mixed up with a group of illegal abalone poachers and starts diving near a restricted wreck, Pearl meets an ancient sea monster named Otto -- who isn't quite as monstrous as she thought. And when Otto's enemies come back to finish what they started, Pearl is the only one who can save him, but only if she has the courage to let go of her past and open up to others -- including the girl from class she's got a crush on.

With her one-eyed pup sidekick and a whole lot of nerve, Pearl may just be able to save Otto and finally tell the truth to her father -- and, more importantly, to herself.

Critique: With vibrant full-color illustrations by Willem Samuel, "Pearl of the Sea" is a fun and engaging South African adventure story by collaborative authors Raffaella Delle Donne and Anthony Silverston in a graphic novel format for young readers ages 10-13 exploring how we are both bound to and freed by nature, seen through the eyes of a tough teen-aged heroine determined to live life by her own rules. Original, entertaining, and memorable, "Pearl of the Sea" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as elementary school, middle school, and community library Graphic Novel collections for teens and young adults.

Editorial Note #1: Anthony Silverston (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqADRx9PaoI) is partner and Head of Development at Triggerfish Animation Studios in South Africa where he is currently overseeing a slate of projects in development and production. These include Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, an anthology of 10 short films in production with Disney+, Mama K's Team 4 with Netflix, and Kiya with Disney, eOne and Frogbox, as well as a number of feature films and TV series in development with various partners. In 2015, he oversaw the Story Lab, an initiative where 4 feature films and 4 TV series were chosen to be developed after a continent-wide search that drew almost 1400 entries. Silverston was also producer of the short film Belly Flop which screened at over 135 festivals and won 14 awards, and the Blender short film, Troll Girl.

Editorial Note #2: Raffaella Delle Donne (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3567652) has over fifteen years of experience in the animation industry developing and creating content for Disney, eOne, Wekids, Snipple Animation, Netflix, Baobab Studios and Triggerfish Animation Studios. She was the TV Development Executive for the Triggerfish Studios/Disney Storylab that incubated Mama K's Team 4 and co-wrote the award-winning features Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba. Raffaella is currently a writer and Executive Creative Consultant on Kiya and the Kimoja Heroes, a new preschool show slated for release on Disney.

Editorial Note #3: Willem Samuel (https://www.artstation.com/willemsamuel) is a visual artist working in animation and comic books. His autobiographical novel, Mengelmoes, was published in the UK by Soaring Penguin Press in 2016 to critical acclaim. His comic work has featured in zines internationally, including the cult series Bitterkomix and in cyberspace via the award-winning online anthology Aces Weekly, brainchild of David Lloyd (V for Vendetta). Previously, Willem Art Directed the pan-African comic Supa Strikas, which was adapted into an animated series. More recently he served as Head of Story on the animated feature Seal Team as well as creating concept art for the Warhammer+ streaming series, Hammer & Bolter.

Wanted: Lucky Luke
Matthieu Bonhomme
Cinebook Ltd.
www.cinebook.com
c/o NBN Books (distribution)
www.nbnbooks.com
9781800440449, $16.95, PB, 68pp

https://www.amazon.com/Wanted-Lucky-Luke/dp/1800440448

Synopsis: Riding peacefully along a western trail, Lucky Luke is suddenly ambushed by an unknown assailant. After a quick gunfight, the cowboy loses his mysterious attacker, but happens upon a lone wagon beset by Apache raiders. Another quick fight later, Luke is surprised to find that the occupants of the wagon are three lovely young women! Three sisters on their way to start a new life, and who all find the lonesome cowboy -- quite interesting!

Critique: Another great western story by Matthieu Bonhomme for the legions of Lucky Luke fans, "Wanted: Lucky Luke" will prove a popular addition to personal, school, and community library Graphic Novel collections for young readers ages 12-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wanted: Lucky Luke" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle/Comixology, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Matthieu Bonhomme has been an artist for Spirou magazine and several children books. He's worked with some big names such as Lewis Trondheim and Fabien Vehlmann, with whom he created the super Marquis of Anaon, published by Cinebook, but also solo: his first book L'age de la Raison received the 2003 Alph'Art award in Angouleme, and his series Le Voyage d'Esteban has been met with great success. He is now the author of two different Lucky Luke volumes. (https://www.europecomics.com/author/matthieu-bonhomme)


The Multimedia Shelf

The Four Seasons of the Pipa
Patrick Lacoursiere, author
Liu Fang, musician
Josee Bisaillon, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
www.thesecretmountain.com
9782898360152, $16.95, HC, 36pp

https://www.amazon.com/Four-Seasons-Pipa-Patrick-Lacoursi%C3%A8re/dp/2898360155

Synopsis: On a cold winter night, a young girl dreams of visiting her faraway grandfather in Kunming, a magical place in China known as the eternal city of spring. As gusts of snow blow outside her window, the gentle sound of her mother plucking the pipa in the family room wraps around her like a warm blanket.

"The Four Seasons of the Pipa" is an intricately illustrated story by the team of author/storyteller Patrick Lacoursiere and artist/illustrator that is accompanied by Josee Bisalillon, and featuring 11 stirring instrumental performances by world-renowned pipa master, Liu Fang. With roots that reach back to the Qin Dynasty, the pipa's repertoire draws from a wellspring of ancient poetry and folklore, summoning themes of natural splendor that resonate across generations. Notes on the origin of the pipa and each composition appear at the end of the book along with a CD and digital download code.

Critique: Eloquent, beautiful, memorable, unique, "The Four Seasons of the Pipa" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library musical picture book collections for children ages 5-7. It should be noted that "The Four Seasons of the Pipa" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note #1: Josee Bisaillon (https://joseebisaillon.com) has illustrated more than 35 picture books, and received several awards and distinctions, including the 2017 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her work has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award as well.

Editorial Note #2: Liu Fang (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Fang) is regarded as one of the leading pipa players in the world. Born in Kunming (China) in 1974, she started learning the pipa at the age of 6 and soon began to perform in public as a child prodigy, including a performance for the Queen of England in 1985. She graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory in 1993 and has since appeared throughout the world in several prestigious venues. She performed at the World AIDS Day presented by the BBC World Service, UNESCO's 60th Anniversary Concert in Paris, and the WOMAD festival in the United Kingdom and Spain.

Editorial Note #3: Patrick Lacoursiere is a producer and journalist originally from Saskatchewan. He is the author of three stories that make up the award-winning collection Dream Songs Night Songs, published by The Secret Mountain.


The Buddhism Shelf

Zen for Kids
Laura Burges, author
Melissa Iwai, illustrator
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
www.shambhala.com
9781611809923, $18.95, PB, 92pp

https://www.amazon.com/Zen-Kids-Mindful-Activities-Loving-Kindness/dp/1611809924

Synopsis: "Zen for Kids: 50+ Mindful Activities and Stories to Shine Loving-Kindness in the World" is comprised of eleven engaging Zen-inspired stories and fifty activities to help kids ages 4-8 to learn about patience, kindness, honesty, sharing and forgiveness.

These 11 engaging short stories are drawn from different cultures, each concluding with short reflections, questions, and fun, thought-provoking activities that teach children how to integrate the theme of the story into their lives.

Of special note are the 53 activities, including: Writing haiku; Sitting zazen; Observing, making, and appreciating food; Growing plants; Spreading kindness and performing secret good deeds; Learning and writing about family history -- and so much more!

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentations, "Zen for Kids: 50+ Mindful Activities and Stories to Shine Loving-Kindness in the World" by author Laura Burges and illustrator Melissa Iwai will prove a welcome and prized addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Buddhism, Zen Philosophy, and Inspirational collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Zen for Kids: 50+ Mindful Activities and Stories to Shine Loving-Kindness in the World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note #1: Laura Burges (https://www.shambhala.com/authors/a-f/laura-burges.html) is a lay entrusted Buddhist teacher in the Soto Zen tradition. She lectures, offers classes, and leads retreats at the San Francisco Zen Center and at other practice places in Northern California. She is the abiding teacher at Lenox House Meditation Group in Oakland. Laura taught children for 35 years and now mentors other teachers.
 
Editorial Note #2: Melissa Iwai (https://www.melissaiwai.com) has illustrated over 30 books. From the time she was a little kid, she wanted to write and illustrate children's books. She used to staple paper together and make tiny books for her dolls..


The Fishing Shelf

Fly Fishing: Let's Go Fish
Kerri Mazzarella
Crabtree Publishing Company
347 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1402-145, New York, NY 10016
http://www.crabtreebooks.com
9781039660410, $30.60, Library Binding, 32pp

https://www.amazon.com/Fly-Fishing-Kerri-Mazzarella/dp/103966041X

Synopsis: With a special appeal for children who have seen a person standing out in the water, slinging a fishing line like a whip, "Fly Fishing: Let's Go Fish" by Kerri Mazzarella is the perfect introduction to the type of fishing called Fly Fishing -- a form of angling that requires both practice and skill. "Fly Fishing: Let's Go Fish" everything an aspiring young angler needs to know about begin their own fly fishing journey.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, illustrated, organized and presented, "Fly Fishing: Let's Go Fish" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Sports & Fishing collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fly Fishing: Let's Go Fish" is also available in a paperback edition (9781039662360, $9.95).

Editorial Note Kerri Mazzarella (https://bookshop.org/contributors/kerri-mazzarella) is the author of several books dedicated to the art and craft of fishing and freshwater biome.


The Mythology Shelf

An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms
Emily Hawkins, author
Lauren Mark Baldo, illustrator
Wide Eyed Editions
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
www.quartoknows.com
9780711262829, $30.00, HC, 96pp

https://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Lost-Kingdoms-Discover-Mythical/dp/0711262829

Synopsis: For centuries, people have dreamed of finding the lost worlds of Atlantis, El Dorado, and the Seven Cities of Gold. As well as shedding light on these famously elusive places. "An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms: Discover Mythical Lands, Lost Cities and Vanished Islands: is an atlas comprised of maps and captivating illustrations to illuminate lesser-known destinations ranging from the lost island of Hy-Brasil to the desert city of Zerzura. Young readers will will learn about rich mythologies from different cultures, from the Aztecs to the ancient Britons, from the Greek legends to Japanese folklore.
 
Most of the places cited and described in "An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms: Discover Mythical Lands, Lost Cities and Vanished Islands" have never been found, but within these pages young readers will succeed where the adventurers of the past were thwarted as they learn about ancient maps, age-old manuscripts, and cryptic carvings that reveal clues to the whereabouts of these lost kingdoms. "An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms: Discover Mythical Lands, Lost Cities and Vanished Islands" is an armchair journey will transport young readers to thoroughly other-worldly places.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated by the artistry of Lauren Mark Baldo in full and effective support of author/storyteller Emily Hawks commentaries, "An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms: Discover Mythical Lands, Lost Cities and Vanished Islands" is a truly extraordinary, fascinating, entertaining and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Mythology/Folklore and Antiquity History collections for young readers ages 7-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms: Discover Mythical Lands, Lost Cities and Vanished Islands" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note #1: Emily Hawkins, a former children's book editor and now a full-time author. Her work has been featured on the New York Times bestseller list (Oceanology, 2009) as well as winning the Children's Travel Book of the Year Award (Atlas of Animal Adventures, 2016). Along with her background in children's non-fiction Emily has a strong interest in myth, folklore and storytelling. In 2020 she wrote A Natural History of Fairies, which has been translated into twelve languages, selling more than 100,000 copies worldwide.

Editorial Note #2: Lauren Baldo is an illustrator based in the Philippines. He has worked as a storyboard artist, comic artist, graphic designer, and children's book illustrator. is now a full-time author. Her work has been featured on the New York Times bestseller list (Oceanology, 2009) as well as winning the Children's Travel Book of the Year Award (Atlas of Animal Adventures, 2016). Along with her background in children's non-fiction Emily has a strong interest in myth, folklore and storytelling. In 2020 she wrote A Natural History of Fairies, which has been translated into twelve languages, selling more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Emily holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and lives in Winchester, UK.


The Biography Shelf

More Awesome Asian Americans
Phil Amara, author
Oliver Chin, author
Juan Calle, illustrator
Immedium
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
www.immedium.com
9781597021586, $17.95, PB, 132pp

https://www.amazon.com/More-Awesome-Asian-Americans-Energized/dp/159702158X

Synopsis: "More Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Citizens Who Energized America" by the team of co-authors Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, and artist/illustrator Juan Calle, is a sequel that continues the critically-acclaimed graphic novel "Awesome Asian Americans!" Young readers will learn about 20 more Asian American trailblazers who have enriched the USA. 

This diverse cast includes historic trailblazers (actor George Takei, author Amy Tan) to current celebrities (singer Bruno Mars, athlete Chloe Kim), and drawn from a spectrum of vocations and cultures (violinist Midori, inventor Amar Bose).

There are key chapters of U.S. history not covered in school, and the amazing deeds of these pioneers. Challenged by discrimination and bias, these stars pushed forward to impact society and motivated others to do likewise.

Kids and parents will enjoy discovering a rainbow of role models. Teachers and librarians will appreciate this useful, groundbreaking anthology. Each profile will inspire the next generation to pursue their passions and make a difference.

Critique: Informatively inspiring, and often bringing out of an undeserved obscurity men and women of Asian descent who have help to shape American culture, governance, science, "More Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Citizens Who Energized America" is a critically important addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library American Biography & History collections.

Editorial Note #1: An elementary school teacher in Boston, MA, Phil Amara co-wrote The Discovery of Ramen, The Discovery of Fireworks & Gunpowder, and The Discovery of Anime & Manga from The Asian Hall of Fame series. He wrote the children's picture book The Treehouse Heroes. He was an editor at Dark Horse Comics, and wrote The Nevermen comic book series and So, You Wanna Be A Comic Book Artist?

Editorial Note #2: Oliver Chin co-wrote The Discovery of Ramen, The Discovery of Fireworks & Gunpowder, and The Discovery of Anime & Manga from The Asian Hall of Fame series. He is the author of many children's book such as Julie Black Belt, Welcome to Monster Isle, and the popular annual series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac.

Editorial Note #3: Juan Calle (https://www.saatchiart.com/juancalle) founded Liberum Donum Studios (Bogota, Colombia) which works on TV, film, and video games. Juan created the children's book Good Dream, Bad Dream and illustrated The Year of the Rooster and The Asian Hall of Fame series: The Discovery of Ramen, The Discovery of Fireworks & Gunpowder and The Discovery of Anime & Manga.


The Math Shelf

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls
Tom Durwood
Empire Studies Press
9781952520273, $13.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Ruby-Geometry-Girls-Mathematics/dp/1952520274

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls provides teen and young adult short story readers with a math-centric collection of five adventure stories; each centered on linking geometry to problem-solving applications. This represents the missing link between math entertainment and education that young learners have long needed, in more than one way.

Couching these applications with fictional adventure components, Tom Durwood adds compelling leisure read interest to the educational process. Ruby Pi and a host of characters tackle problems that are outlined both in chapter headings and through the conundrums that test their knowledge.

Examples of numerators and other math concepts juxtapose with history, science, and challenges embedded into even the vocabulary Durwood chooses to prompt young learners to expand their knowledge in different mathematical and problem-solving areas.

As for the stories themselves: they excel in a special type of troubleshooting intrigue that reaches out to involve young readers in a mystery that isn't just served up, but requires reader thought to thoroughly understand. These stories are challenging, and don't 'dumb down' a young reader's abilities.

The introductory 'Case of the Old Carthusians', for example, presents rising mathematician Ruby P's involvement in repairing the cathedral at Charterhouse School, when sabotage leads her to uncover a long-buried secret. The blend of intrigue and mystery opens in 1877 Surrey, moves to South Africa, then leaps ahead to Ruby's participation in 1897, as she becomes involved in an engineering firm's repair bid in an unusual way that tests her math capabilities and problem-solving skills alike.

Each short story moves through different layers of mystery and math insights with an attention to educating and entertaining. Each provides lessons that readers can use to apply their blossoming math knowledge to real-world situations. The result is an invaluable addition to any library appealing to teens and young adults. Especially for those that feature writings that draw through leisure interest, but ultimately support mathematical knowledge.

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls
Tom Durwood
Empire Studies Press
9781952520266, $13.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Ruby-Math-Girls-Mathematics/dp/1952520266

The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls provides five in-depth mystery short stories for teens and young adults which reinforce basic math concepts by applying them to mysterious situations. From predictions to code-breaking endeavors and mastering rates of change ratios, Ruby Pi and her team face a range of situations that rely on important math-based problem-solving skills.

This book and its companion, The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls, are the prefect examples of what happens when real-world math is applied to problems to challenge all ages of reader. The books both entertain young mystery fans and educate them about the possibilities of applying math to many different kinds of real-world situations, whether they be puzzles or life circumstances. The stories are as diverse as their characters; from a life-saving effort by Jayani which requires a big gamble and an understanding of the odds involved, to a Mayan tablet that requires extraordinary code-breaking skills from siblings who struggle with one another.

The blend of action and adventure, psychological insight, and strong characters pairs nicely with the embedded math concepts, while the story also introduces new language and explorations designed to challenge and educate young readers in different areas, as well. Both books should be considered "must have" acquisitions for middle-grade collections seeking fiction that also rests firmly on educational opportunities. The strong characters, diverse and compelling mysteries, and history and math-based focus make these books top recommendations and winnings acquisitions.


Readers' Favorite(R) Shelf

https://readersfavorite.com

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What Loretta's Katydid Did
Lois Wickstrom, author
Francie Moin, contributor
Ada Konewki, illustrator
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519701, $21.99 HC, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 30pp

https://www.amazon.com/What-Lorettas-Katydid-Lois-Wickstrom/dp/1954519702

Amy Louise Hill, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite(R)

What Loretta's Katydid Did by Lois Wickstrom is an entertaining and educational picture book for young children. One day, a young girl named Loretta is visited by her grandmother. Loretta's "Grammie Stella" brings her a little tree, but not just any tree - an orange tree. Loretta is overjoyed with the gift and can't wait to learn how to take care of it. As she gets a closer look, Loretta notices some bugs that pose a threat to the life of the tree, and her school science project. Loretta loves insects and refuses to rid the tree of them. After a few days, Loretta checks up on her tree and sees that most of the bugs are gone, but where? She takes a closer look and sees another type of bug, one that is camouflaged among the leaves. Loretta gives the bug a name and watches as nature takes its course. What bug do you think is hiding in the leaves and will Loretta's tree make it long enough for her science project?

What Loretta's Katydid Did was a fun and unusual book to read. Children are going to learn a lot from this detailed story of a Katydid. Before reading this book, I didn't even know what one was. It shows how talented children's author Lois Wickstrom is, as she can incorporate lessons into her entertaining stories so effortlessly. As well as a nice storyline, the book also has beautiful illustrations hand-drawn by Francie Mion, who has done an outstanding job in creating them. The writing has been kept simple, allowing it to be read smoothly. Congrats on the book, Lois, I'm confident it will be a success.

Super Enemies
Lois Wickstrom, author
Janet King, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519497, $21.99 HC, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 34pp

https://www.amazon.com/Super-Enemies-Lois-Wickstrom/dp/1954519494

Ana-Maria Leasa, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite(R)

Super Enemies by Lois Wickstrom and Janet King is a children's book in which the authors deal with topics like misunderstandings between siblings and bonding. The main characters of this story are Mira and Carl, who fight each other on every occasion; so much so that their father doesn't know what to do to stop them and calm them down. When they are in the car, Carl and Mira fight for the seat behind their father. When they play games, they always choose different games. Their preferences in comic books also differ. Carl likes superhero comics, while Mira likes the ones with villains. Therefore, one by one, their arguments continued until a fight broke out. One day, their father brought them to the beach, and while Carl was building castles, Mira would destroy each one of them every time. Is it all just fighting or something more?

One of the aspects that I liked about Super Enemies by Lois Wickstrom and Janet King is the attention to detail, body language, and facial mimicry of the characters. When Mira and Carl were at the beach, I could see the pleasure and enjoyment of building castles on the face of Carl and the mischievousness and naughtiness on Mira's face. I also liked the illustrations, which did a good job of portraying the events in the book. Although by the end, I felt a little annoyed by Mira's characters, the author did a good job of delivering the desired message.

The Dwarves' Dilemma: A Science Folktale
Lois Wickstrom, author
Ada Konewki, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519473, $19.99 HC, $11.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 34pp

https://www.amazon.com/Dwarves-Dilemma-Science-Folktale-Folktales/dp/1954519486

Savannah Aldridge, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite(R)

In The Dwarves' Dilemma: A Science Folktale, Lois Wickstrom and Ada Konewki show the world of Snow White as it has never been seen before. The Queen of Aleta is known for her fairness in matters of justice; she works hard to listen to her subjects and judge between right and wrong, with the aid of her magic mirror and her beloved Snow White, her apprentice. One day, a disagreement arises between two dwarves, who each insist the other is in the wrong. The Queen is confused when her mirror shows her that she is the one lacking fairness, not the subjects. When Snow White investigates, she discovers that the cause of the problems is one of the Queen's practices. The Queen works to fix the injustice and the kingdom returns to a place of kindness and order. A concluding section of the book shows a brief scientific explanation of how mirrors work: a gift for young scientists to enjoy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this creative retelling of the fairy tale, which delves into a conflict and helps kids understand a complex problem, whilst showing how a respectful Queen who loves those around her dealt with the situation. Lois Wickstrom presents the challenging topics in the book - a situation where several characters are facing difficulties because they have limited access to food and an explanation of the planes visible in a mirror - in a way that children can comprehend. As an adult, I learned something new about how a mirror works. The illustrations are spectacular; Ada Konewki's art style is unique and expressive, and she paints characters of diverse ethnicities and body shapes. If you want to help your young readers learn to think deeper while still having fun, The Dwarves' Dilemma is the book for you.

Dinosaur Friends
Lois Wickstrom, author
Lois Wickstron, publisher
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519435, $24.99 HC, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 38pp

https://www.amazon.com/Dinosaur-Friends-Present-Volcano-Conifers/dp/1954519435

Amy Louise Hill, Reviewr
Readers' Favorite(R)

Dinosaur Friends by Lois Wickstrom is an imaginative picture book for young children. In the first story, friends Conifer and Spike notice a volcano that is about to erupt. Conifer wants to run away to safety, but Spike has other ideas. Spike suggests that the volcano is just sad and feels a gift would maybe make it feel better. Conifer isn't convinced and tries to talk his friend down before it's too late. But Spike insists on making the volcano a necklace made out of boulders. Knowing there was no way of talking Spike out of his idea, Conifer helps place the boulders around the volcano. Was Spike right about the volcano being sad and will this stop it from erupting? In the second story, the two friends come across a fire and, once again, need to get to safety. They decide they must cross a river, but there's just one tiny problem - Conifer can't swim. How will they resolve the situation they are in and will Conifer's eggs make it out safely?

Dinosaur Friends by Lois Wickstrom was fun to read. The book comprises two simple stories of two friends having different opinions on how to fix problems. This will teach children that everyone's opinions matter, and if used together, can prove useful in solving the problem. The illustrations by the talented Nicolas Milano are adorable and he has done a great job. I recommend this book to any young reader wishing to be both educated and entertained. Keep up the good work, Lois and Nicolas; you work well together!

What Loretta's Katydid Did
Lois Wickstrom, author
Francie Mion, contributor
Ada Konewki, illustrator
Gripper Products / Look Under Rocks
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519701, $21.99 HC, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 30pp

https://www.amazon.com/What-Lorettas-Katydid-Lois-Wickstrom/dp/1954519702

Amy Louise Hill, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite(R)

What Loretta's Katydid Did by Lois Wickstrom is an entertaining and educational picture book for young children. One day, a young girl named Loretta is visited by her grandmother. Loretta's "Grammie Stella" brings her a little tree, but not just any tree - an orange tree. Loretta is overjoyed with the gift and can't wait to learn how to take care of it. As she gets a closer look, Loretta notices some bugs that pose a threat to the life of the tree, and her school science project. Loretta loves insects and refuses to rid the tree of them. After a few days, Loretta checks up on her tree and sees that most of the bugs are gone, but where? She takes a closer look and sees another type of bug, one that is camouflaged among the leaves. Loretta gives the bug a name and watches as nature takes its course. What bug do you think is hiding in the leaves and will Loretta's tree make it long enough for her science project?

What Loretta's Katydid Did was a fun and unusual book to read. Children are going to learn a lot from this detailed story of a Katydid. Before reading this book, I didn't even know what one was. It shows how talented children's author Lois Wickstrom is, as she can incorporate lessons into her entertaining stories so effortlessly. As well as a nice storyline, the book also has beautiful illustrations hand-drawn by Francie Mion, who has done an outstanding job in creating them. The writing has been kept simple, allowing it to be read smoothly. Congrats on the book, Lois, I'm confident it will be a success.

Just One More Egg
Lois Wickstrom, author
Francie Mion, illustrator
Look Under Rocks
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519459, $19.99 HC, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 26pp

https://www.amazon.com/Just-One-More-Egg-Folktales/dp/195451946X

Courtnee Turner Hoyle, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite(R)

Just One More Egg: A Science Folktale is a beautiful children's story by Lois Wickstrom about the love of a mother warbler for an egg that was not her own. Francie Mion's pictures depict a mother warbler sitting on her nest with five eggs until a cuckoo aggressively drops off its own egg. The mother warbler decides to care for the egg and, on its hatching, feeds the young cuckoo. Even though a neighboring warbler, who has eggs in a nest of her own, tells her to get rid of the cuckoo, the mother warbler refuses, and when a cat tries to invade her nest and steal her eggs, the natural defenses of the cuckoo may prove to keep the nest safe.

I can see Just One More Egg as a good conversation starter for children who have witnessed cats and snakes eat eggs out of nests, so they realize it is part of the biological cycle. There are several ways librarians and teachers could use the book to begin a lesson about the food chain or the symbiotic relationship between certain types of birds, namely brood parasitism. The idea that cuckoos leave their eggs with other birds is fascinating, and readers can investigate the idea more after they read the story. Francie Mion's illustrations appear classic, with colors that will grab the attention of young readers. The pages aren't overburdened by text, and Lois Wickstrom's story is concisely told with a clear lesson. I recommend the book for children up to eight years old, as my children are within that age group, and they all enjoyed the story.

A Monster for Meg
Lois Wickstrom, author
Nicolas Milano, contributor
Gripper Products / Look Under Rocks
www.LookUnderRocks.com
9781954519664, $21.99 HC, $4.99 Kindle, 34pp

https://www.amazon.com/Monster-Meg-Lois-Wickstrom/dp/1954519664

Erin Nicole Cochran, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite(R)

A Monster for Meg by Lois Wickstrom is a children's picture book about an older sister named Sue who is trying to describe what a monster is and how it looks to her younger sister Meg, who is blind. At every turn of the page, Meg finds a way to take what Sue says and turn it into something that isn't so frightening. The particular monster that Sue is describing is standing between them on most of the pages throughout the book, which is a unique sight.

Lois Wickstrom's A Monster for Meg is a touching story about the bond that two sisters can have with one another by the end of it. Even though the monster that Sue is describing is meant to playfully frighten her little sister Meg, you can sense the camaraderie that they have in their normal day-to-day lives. Illustrator Nicolas Milano captures the monster quite well. The purple creature with sharp teeth, big eyes, and long claws is a character you wouldn't want to stumble across. Despite that, it has a certain charm to it that shouldn't terrify too many children. Milano has a way with colors that makes the story seamless and pop all at the same time. What I enjoyed most about the book was that the main character is unique in the way that she experiences the world around her. Many people could not imagine what it might be like for someone who can't see, and Wickstrom gives us a glimpse into the daily life of a child who perceives the world differently.


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I Am a Baby
Bob Shea
Candlewick Press
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536218329, $17.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

A tiny bundle of joy narrates this humorous look at being a new parent. "Because I am a baby" is the little one's explanation for squishy diapers, spilled milk, overfed pups, and exhausted, grumpy, stubbly, clumsy, and thirsty parents. Adults and kids will be amused as the story comically illustrates the challenges and changes that a newborn brings. (Ages 2-5)

Octopus Shocktopus!
Peter Bently, author
Steven Lenton, illustrator
Nosy Crow
https://nosycrow.com
c/o Candlewick Press
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536223965, $17.99

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

What would you do if an octopus fell on your house? When an octopus inexplicably lands on someone's house, the children of the village are delighted but the adults aren't so sure. The children show their parents how fun and useful it can be to have an octopus on your house. But, what happens when the octopus just inexplicably disappears one day? The story ends with a delightful twist. The storyline (which is written in rhyme) and the illustrations mesh perfectly to create a delightful book that will be a favorite for generations to come. (Ages 2-5)

My Tiny Pet Elephant
Jessica Dailey, author
Gabby Correia, illustrator
https://www.jessdailey.com
Party Press Publishing
9798985208504, $19.95

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

If you could have any pet that you wanted, what would it be? According to the author, you could have lots of fun if you chose a tiny pet elephant. Delightful illustrations, as well as a whimsical storyline, make this a fun book. The addition of activities at the end of the book makes this both a fun and an educational one. It's a great book, and I highly recommend it. (Ages 2-12)

Mouse's Wood
Alice Melvin
Thames & Hudson
https://thamesandhudson.com
9780500652701, $19.95

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

Witness the changing seasons through mouse's eyes as he meanders through the woods. From finches and hedgehogs to cherry trees and strawberries, each month offers a glimpse of the wonderful outdoors. From picking fruit for jams and jellies to kicking up fall leaves, mouse leads little readers through each season and eventually indoors in December to eat, play, and sing. Follow the map of the woods, lift the flaps throughout the pages, and learn about some of the animals you can see while experiencing nature. (Ages 3-5)

Thundermaestro
Anne Marie Riley Guertin, author
Maria Brzozowska, illustrator
Familius
https://www.familius.com
9781641706568, $16.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

Rumble, grumble, creak, squeak, tip-tap, pitter-patter along with a little girl as she picks out the right stick and conducts a symphony with the sounds of a summer rainstorm. The colorful artwork wonderfully depicts the music in her imagination as she entertains readers with her performance. A rainy day (or any day) book to snuggle up and read with your little one. (Ages 3-6)

I Am Not an Octopus
Eoin McLaughlin, author
Marc Boutavant, illustrator
Candlewick
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536225051, $18.99

Diana Perry
Reviewer

Terry is definitely not an octopus. He's just a regular guy who happens to have a few extra limbs and a love of canned tuna. But again, he is NOT an octopus. If he were an octopus, he'd be living in the ocean, right? Not to mention going to Super Octopus Fantasea Adventure World. He definitely wouldn't be on land, unless he was afraid of the water. Which he absolutely isn't! OK, maybe, just maybe, it's time he learned how to swim? Kids will smile at this very silly story about being brave, facing your fears, and accepting who you really are. Early readers will find this picture book full of surprises as it encourages beginning readers to turn the next page. (Ages 3-7)

The Black Hole Debacle
Keri Claiborne Boyle, author
Deborah Melmon, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
https://sleepingbearpress.com
9781534111523, $17.99

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

Jodie is a science buff, particularly when it comes to outer space. During a geography lesson, Jodie discovers a black hole in her desk. She can't believe her good fortune, and is determined to keep the black hole, but it causes problems she had never thought of. This book is filled with bright, colorful, expressive illustrations, great layouts, and a fun storyline. The author has included some facts about black holes at the end of the book, making this an educational book as well. (Ages 4-7)

Something About Grandma
Tania de Regil
Candlewick
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536201949, $18.99

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

Julia has never stayed at Grandma's house by herself, but Grandma does her best to make Julia less homesick during her stay. Grandma tells her stories, makes wonderful hot chocolate, and spends time with her granddaughter until her parents pick her up. When they do, they have a surprise for Julia. The illustrations include snippets of poems by the author's grandmother, bringing multiple generations together in one book. (Ages 4-8)

The Family Tree
Sean Dixon, author
Lily Snowden-Fine, illustrator
Tundra Books
https://tundrabooks.com
9780735267664, $18.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

Open your eyes to all the ways that families are made when an adopted girl receives a family tree assignment at school. Ada can't figure out where on the tree to put her birth mom, and what about her sister who has different adoptive parents? Read along as she creates more than her family tree, while learning that the modern family is more diverse than ever before. (Ages 4-8)

Bibi's Got Game
Mary Beth Leatherdale, author
Chelsea O'Byrne, illustrator
Tundra Books
https://tundrabooks.com
9780735270558, $18.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

After trying many activities, little Bibi is a natural at tennis. But when an ankle injury disrupts her rise to tennis stardom, she's ready to toss out her racket... until her mom (and Coco) teach her ways to dispel her self-doubt and get her mind in shape for when her ankle is ready for the court. Written by and about Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, this story teaches about dealing with pressure, unkindness, and setbacks, while also sending a message about working hard and following your dreams. (Ages 4-8)

Bruno: Short Stories for Long Nights
Serena Romanelli, author
Hans de Beer, illustrator
NorthSouth Books
https://northsouth.com
9780735844773, $17.95

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

In a story-telling twist, author Serena Romanelli begins the tale of Bruno the bear who is having trouble going to sleep for his long winter's nap. To get him ready, his mother tells him a series of stories. Each one is quite short, features a different forest creature, and is written in verse. It's a clever way to include nine stories in one book. (Ages 4-8)

A Taste of Honey: Kamala Outsmarts the Seven Thieves
Rebecca Sheir, author
Chaaya Prabhat, illustrator
Storey Publishing
https://www.storey.com
9781635864922, $14.95

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

This is an original adaptation of a traditional Indian folktale. In the story, Kamala lives in a small countryside village. She raises bees and collects the honey to sell at the local market. But business is slow and she needs to find a way to sell more of her special honey. She at first asks the king for help. But, when that backfires, she has to come up with another plan. Her new plan involves trickery. Will she succeed? The story teaches a good lesson and the book's illustrations are quite colorful and expressive. The book is also one in a series of tales the author has adapted and shares on the Circle Round storytelling podcast, which she hosts, writes, and produces. (Ages 5+)

The Tale of the Unwelcome Guest: Nasruddin Teaches the Town a Lesson
Rebecca Sheir, author
Mert Tugen, illustrator
Storey Publishing
https://www.storey.com
9781635863147, $14.95

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

This is another book from the author's Circle Round storytelling podcast. Like the others in the series, this is an original adaptation of a folktale. This one features Nasruddin, who has been invited to the governor's grand banquet. He is excited for the invitation and is looking forward to the event, but when the big day arrives he spends so much time stomping grapes from his vineyard that he doesn't have time to change his clothes before heading out to the big event. When he arrives at the banquet, the other guests are dressed in their finest. With his dirty, smelly clothes, he is treated like an outcast. Rather than get angry, Nasruddin decides to teach all the revelers a lesson.... (Ages 5+)

Giant Island
Jane Yolen, author
Doug Keith, illustrator
Flashlight Press
http://flashlightpress.com
9781947277182, $18.95

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

When Grandpa takes his grandkids for their first trip to Giant Island, he goes off to fish and they go off to explore. They soon discover the secret of why the island got its name but they don't tell Grandpa. But... perhaps Grandpa already knows the secret. Minimal text and great illustrations make this a picture-perfect picture book. (Ages 5-7)

The Peach Pit Parade: A World War I Story
Shana Keller, author
Margeaux Lucas, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
https://sleepingbearpress.com
9781534111387, $17.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

In this educational introduction to World War I, little Polly struggles to understand the war. With food, fuel, and other supply shortages making impossible the simple things she used to enjoy, she wonders what she can do to contribute to the war effort. Read about Polly's intuitive idea with peach pits and learn interesting facts along the way. The back of the book includes more information and an author's note about segregation. (Ages 5-8)

Emperor of the Ice
Nicola Davies, author
Catherine Rayner, illustrator
Candlewick
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536228397, $18.99

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

Learn about the harsh realities of the emperor penguin's existence as it tries to survive in Antarctica while dealing with climate change by following the sage of a pair of these penguins. Colorful, expressive illustrations pair perfectly with the text, creating an attractive presentation filled with useful information. The author includes additional pages in the back of the book about climate change and how humans can help these penguins. (Ages 5-9)

Big Problems, Little Problems
Ben Feller, author
Merce Lopez, illustrator
Tilbury House Publishers
https://www.tilburyhouse.com
9780884488903, $18.95

Diana Perry
Reviewer

Written with lessons that apply to any family with young children, the book is distinctively told from a father's perspective, and built on how a son and dad listen to and learn from each other. This is a tale of how to conquer frustration no matter what the problem. What a perfect picture book for every child.

Early readers will not only learn how to stay calm and think how to fix problems, but hopefully parents who might read this book to their kids will also learn a valuable lesson in problem-solving. This book should be in every home with little ones. It's a wonderful learning tool. (Ages 6-8)

The Further Adventures of Miss Petitfour
Anne Michaels, author
Emma Block, illustrator
Tundra Books
https://tundrabooks.com
9780735268210, $17.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

Soar over Miss Petitfour's charming village and experience magical adventures with her in this endearing collection of whimsical tales. With her 16 feline friends (Minky, Captain Captain, and Sizzles, to name a few) and a tablecloth as a makeshift balloon, Miss Petitfour flies with the wind to a series of imaginative outings. Warm and cozy illustrations capture the storytelling of simple pleasures, big and small. Perfect for young readers and Mary Poppins' fans. (Ages 6-9)

Always, Clementine
Carlie Sorosiak
Walker Books
https://www.walker.co.uk
c/o Candlewick Press
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536228847, $17.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

Clementine is a genius lab mouse that calculates the speed of light and dreams in Latin... but she's also very lonely. Her only friend is a chimpanzee named Rosie. After a lab tech sets her free, this adventure-seeker experiences an outside world filled with brussels sprouts, speed chess, and TV fame. But her freedom means nothing if her fellow labmates and Rosie remain in captivity. Narrated in letters from a mouse to a chimp, this is a wonderful tale about wisdom and generosity. (Ages 8-12)

Dragonfly Eyes
Cao Wenxuan, author
Helen Wang, translator
Candlewick Press
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536200188, $19.99

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

This three-generation family saga, set mostly in Shanghai, tells the detailed story of Ah-Mei and her French grandmother, Nainai, who share a special bond. During a time of political upheaval, the family silk business falters and they are left with almost nothing. Nainai and her favorite grandchild are resourceful, but will the tender connection between the two be enough to carry them through the Cultural Revolution? Captivating and informative, this YA historical novel will enlighten and entertain young readers. (Ages 9-12)

Elvia and the Gift of Passion
Ruthy Ballard
WhipSmart Books
https://www.whipsmartbooks.com
9780997853216, $12.95

Deb Greenberg
Reviewer

Ten-year-old Elvia Hill is convinced there was a mix-up when she was born, and devises a scheme to run away while vacationing in Tanzania with her parents... until she's snatched away and taken to a distant world called Urth in this fantasy adventure. Ballard's fascinating science facts and the imaginative characters she's created are bound to keep readers enthralled. (Ages 9-12)

The Hanmoji Handbook
Jason Li, An Xiao Mina, and Jennifer 8. Lee
MITeen Press
https://www.miteenpress.com
c/o Candlewick Press
https://www.candlewick.com
9781536219135, $24.99

Christine Irvin
Reviewer

Do you like emojis? Would you like to learn some Chinese? This innovative book takes a different look at the Chinese language by showing how ancient Chinese characters have evolved into modern-day emojis. This is an interactive book that encourages kids to not only learn some Chinese, but also to create their own emojis. Have some fun and learn at the same time! (Ages 14-17)


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