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August 1, 2011

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AINSWORTH, Kimberly. Hootenanny!: A Festive Counting Book. illus. by Jo Brown. unpaged. S & S/Little Simon. Aug. 2011. RTE $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2273-5. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–Five owls help youngsters learn to count from one to five as they get ready for a party at the top of an old oak tree. The first little owl showers, brushes his teeth, and is ready to go. He wakes a sleepy friend, who dons a comical spotted bow tie and accompanies him on his journey. “Now 2 owls are ready to play.” The friends then stop by to collect a third owl, who plays the saxophone. “A party’s not a party without a happy tune.” Before long, the fourth and the fifth owl join the parade of revelers, and they march, dance, and prance on their way to the gathering, which is in full swing. After each owl joins the procession, a toe-tapping refrain is repeated: “Hootenanny, hootenanny–it’s time for fun. Hootenanny, hootenanny–the party has begun.” The text is printed in a large, easy-to-read font with each numeral highlighted in a different color. The bright spreads feature a rainbow of colors, smiling characters, and some humorous details. With its jazzy vocabulary and cheerful illustrations, the book lives up to its title. This festive title may be paired with a longer counting book like Eric Carle’s adventurous 10 Little Rubber Ducks (HarperCollins, 2005).–Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA

ALRAWI, Karim. The Mouse Who Saved Egypt. illus. by Bee Willey. unpaged. Crocodile. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-56656-856-2. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2–A prince in ancient Egypt makes friends in high and low places, unearthing a statue of the sun god and rescuing a mouse caught in a thorn bush. His kindness is rewarded when Amon-Ra ensures that he be made pharaoh, and mice neutralize his enemies by nibbling through their clothing and gear. The young pharaoh erects a temple to the sun god with a golden mouse statue inside, to remind everyone that acts of kindness are rewarded “though sometimes in unexpected ways.” Overtones of Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse” are combined with ancient Egyptian lore, giving the narrative a folktale atmosphere. It is almost too spare, seeming to leave much unsaid. A few awkward rhymes and stiff illustrations (with the action often seen in the distance) keep readers at arm’s length. That said, the quality of the light in the detailed and richly colored art helps make up for other flaws, and the exotic setting will likely engage children, who are often so passionate about ancient Egypt. This odd little book does not seem quite sure of itself, but it has its moments.–Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

ALTER, Anna. A Photo for Greta. illus. by author. unpaged. Knopf/Borzoi. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85618-1; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95618-8. LC number unavailable.
PreS–A bunny misses her photographer father when he’s gone on assignments. Sometimes she wishes she were the subject of his photo shoots. When he covers the circus, Greta imagines she is a circus performer. Then he photographs a country singer, and she plays the part in cowboy boots. When she aspires to have an important job like his, her father assures her that she already has the most important job–being his Greta. The short, sweet text offers young children reassurance as it follows the rabbit’s thoughts while she dreams of ways to be close to her dad. The acrylic paintings of an anthropomorphic rabbit family are reminiscent of those in Margaret Wise Brown’s Good Night Moon (HarperCollins, 1947) and verify the warmth of the narrative. Suggested activities in the back matter include making a photo album, conducting an interview, keeping a daily journal, and studying a famous photographer and are, oddly, more appropriate for school-age children.–Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

ASHBURN, Boni. I Had a Favorite Dress. illus. by Julia Denos. unpaged. Abrams. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0016-3. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–When the unnamed narrator’s favorite dress is suddenly a size too small, she is not a happy camper; she wears that dress every Tuesday, which is her favorite day of the week. Then her mother transforms the too-small dress into the perfect shirt. As the child’s favorite day of the week changes so does her garment as she grows out of it. It becomes a tank top (no tank tops allowed in school), a skirt (skirts are out), a scarf (gets stuck in a door), socks (one lost), a hair bow (chewed up by puppy), and, finally, a picture of the original dress by the narrator herself. Through all these transformations, the youngster learns that change doesn’t mean the end–just something new. As her mother likes to say, “Make molehills out of mountains.” Some of Ashburn’s text is playfully placed in and around the art to good effect. A variety of font styles is used, including cursive, bold, and italics, and the word “sew” is actually depicted with stitches. Denos’s multimedia illustrations, a combination of collages, watercolors, and graphite and colored pencil artwork, reinforce the narrator’s vibrant personality and the amazing transformations of the dress while capturing the action and emotion of the story. This book is sure to capture the imaginations of would-be seamstresses; children who can’t bear to part with a favorite item; and those who want to reduce, reuse, recycle.–Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

ATINUKE. Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus! ISBN 978-1-61067-007-4. LC 2010934455.
–––– . Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus! ISBN 978-1-61067-008-1. LC 2010934456.
ea vol: illus. by Lauren Tobia. 112p. Kane/Miller. 2011. pap. $5.99.
Gr 1-3Fans of the series will not be disappointed in these latest books about Anna Hibiscus. In the first, the African child and her family help her prepare for her first trip to Canada to visit her grandmother; the second book continues with her actual trip and the fun experiences in the snowy north for the Christmas holiday. Once again, Atinuke handles the complexity of life in Africa (and the differences between life there and in North America) with deftness and grace. Serious concepts like racism, poverty, and social activism are covered as simply and expertly as dealing with taking the blame for a sibling’s misbehavior without becoming heavy-handed or unsuitable for early chapter-book audiences. Although elements of Anna’s life may be foreign to some readers, her sweet nature and youthful troubles are common to children everywhere. The expressive black-and-white images that weave seamlessly through the texts enhance the stories beautifully. “Anna Hibiscus” is a lovely, rare bird of a series, providing a modern view of another culture in warm, approachable language. –Nicole Waskie-Laura, Chenango Forks Elementary, Binghamton, NY

BADESCU, Ramona. Pomelo Begins to Grow. tr. from French by Claudia Bedrick. illus. by Benjamin Chaud. unpaged. Enchanted Lion. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59270-111-7. LC number unavailable.
Gr 1-3–Pomelo is a small pink elephant with a tape-measure-like nose. Curious about the size of his favorite dandelion, he begins to measure things and notices that he himself has grown. “All at once, Pomelo feels the super-hyper-extra force of the cosmos spreading through him.” But this feeling comes with all sorts of existential questions: Will he grow equally all over? Will he still have to do the things he doesn’t want to do when he gets big? Badescu’s endearingly anxious pachyderm mirrors the familiar impatience to grow up, the determination never to act like adults do, and the many other concerns “medium”-sized people face. The author and illustrator demonstrate a brilliant marriage of text and illustration. Chaud’s charming paintings of Pomelo in his landscape of dandelions, strawberries, and smiling potatoes–set simply against oversize white pages–breathe life and humor into Badescu’s big-picture questions, while playing with scale. Youngsters will laugh at the silly depictions of Pomelo as he grows unevenly, while adults will smile at his joyful exploration of a countryside dotted with asparagus trees, broccoli bushes, and sushi flowers as he learns to love foods that aren’t sweet. The imagery may remind some readers of the modern Japanese ultra-cute cartoon style, but the masterful execution–and Badescu’s universal subject matter–makes this a picture book that children will return to again and again.–Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

BARDHAN-QUALLEN, Sudipta. Hampire! illus. by Howard Fine. unpaged. CIP. HarperCollins. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-114239-0. LC 2009011750.
K-Gr 3–While pandering a bit to our culture’s obsession with vampires, this offering really hams it up. The farm animals sleep fitfully in the barn each night, petrified of the marauding Hampire. In the light of day, their fears are confirmed by gooey red droplets of evidence on the grass. The dramatic highlights and shadows of the painted illustrations increase the feeling of suspense when Duck decides one evening that he must have a midnight doughnut snack. His contorted facial expressions as he flees from the caped porker add a sense of urgency and believability. Readers will feel relief when they discover that the pig is not, in fact, trying to make a Duck-size snack, but desperate for a jelly doughnut. The menacing red evidence on the lawn isn’t blood, but jelly filling. The creepy cadence of the rhyme scheme will take a few practice runs before sharing it in storytime. Fine is a master of painted porcine grins, assuring that fans of Margi Palatini’s Piggie Pie! (Clarion, 1995) and Kelly DiPucchio’s Bed Hogs (Hyperion, 2004) will not be disappointed. A deliciously macabre choice for a not-too-spooky classroom read-aloud.–Jenna Boles, Washington-Centerville Public Library, OH

BARRETT, Mary Brigid. Shoebox Sam. illus. by Frank Morrison. unpaged. CIP. Zonderkidz. Aug. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-310-71549-8. LC 2009037509.
K-Gr 3–Jesse and Delia spend Saturdays helping out at Shoebox Sam’s shoe repair shop. The owner, an affable grandfatherly African American, cuts a dapper figure in his gray suit, bow tie, and hat tilted at an angle. The children are waiting for him when he arrives at the shop holding a bag of cinnamon crullers and fresh bread. As customers arrive, they are treated to a cup of coffee and some small talk. When a disheveled man enters the store, Shoebox Sam says, “Come in, sir. Sit right down. Children, get this gentleman a cup of coffee while he waits.” Delia’s expression is decidedly worried when the man devours two doughnuts. He takes one more and drinks all the cream, and then eats yet another doughnut. When Delia tells Sam, he replies, “When you’re hungry, you eat.” By the time he leaves, he has a new pair of shoes and a complimentary pair of socks. Customers come and go throughout the day, including a woman wearing several layers of clothes. When Delia mentions, “She is wearin’ at least five different dresses and four sweaters,” Sam tells her, “When you’re cold, you cover up.” The woman is treated to hot coffee, sandwiches, and a new pair of shoes. Morrison’s distinctive illustrations and use of warm colors to depict elongated figures with wonderfully expressive faces spill across the spreads. Shoebox Sam is subtle yet effective in demonstrating compassion and the importance of treating all people with dignity and respect.–Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

BARRON, T. A. Ghost Hands: A Story Inspired by Patagonia’s Cave of the Hands. illus. by William Low. 40p. CIP. Philomel. 2011. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25083-5. LC 2010010648.
Gr 2-5–In the mountains of South America is a cave called Cueva de las Manos, or, Cave of the Hands, made by the Tehuelche tribe who lived in the Patagonian region for thousands of years. Nearly 900 separate hands are depicted on the surface of the rock, as well as the image of one foot. The author, spellbound by the mystery and wonder of the hands, but especially of the single foot, created this fictional account of how and why they might have been created. It is the story of Auki, whose name means “little hunter,” but who is deemed too young and inexperienced to accompany his father. Determined to prove his worth, he sets off early one morning to hunt a puma, but in a chance encounter with one, injures his foot in a fall. While crawling to safety, he discovers the Cave of the Hands, as well as the artist, who brusquely sends him away. Auki hobbles off, only to be pulled back by the painter’s shouts of alarm because the seemingly life-size puma has cornered him. Now is Auki’s real chance to prove his bravery by kicking the animal. The stunning digitally enhanced illustrations, rich in color and texture, perfectly capture the terrain, action, and emotions in a realistic manner that helps readers imagine the time and place. Teachers can use this as a good example of how a story can be developed by imagining why or how something came to be and can mine the story for Barron’s abundant use of descriptive similes.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID

BASHER, Simon. Colors. ISBN 978-0-7534-6493-9.
–––– . Shapes. ISBN 978-0-7534-6494-6.
ea vol: illus. by author. unpaged. (Go! Go! BoBo Series). Kingfisher. 2011. BD $6.99. LC number unavailable.
PreS–BoBo is a small, cartoonlike character with a big, round head and no feet or hands; his chalk-white body is outlined in black. Band-Aid on forehead, energetic BoBo bounces on the bed at the beginning and end of both books. Each title identifies six concepts with one word in the upper-left-hand corner of the verso and an illustration under it. Lines conveying action trail BoBo plunging into a cluster of objects on the recto. For example, in Colors, the word “Pink” is printed over a large pink splatter opposite pink piglets and cupcakes with pink icing. In Shapes, a large heart is teamed with a group of colorful heart-shaped balloons and strawberries. These sturdy board books with rounded corners are solid choices.–Laura Butler, Mount Laurel Library, NJ

BATTERSBY, Katherine. Squish Rabbit. illus. by author. unpaged. Viking. Aug. 2011. RTE $12.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01267-1. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–A little rabbit who got his name because he lives in fear of being squished has other problems, too. No one notices him, wonderful things pass him by, and he is lonely. He creates a pretend friend in the form of a toy rabbit, but that doesn’t satisfy his longing. Then Squish tries to play with trees, which is equally unfulfilling. In the midst of a tantrum, he is befriended by a squirrel. This new object of his attention happens to be just the right size–his size–and makes him feel both bigger and happier. Children will sympathize with Squish, relate to his struggles, and celebrate the joy he takes in his newfound friend. Minimal, effective text and spare, mixed-media illustrations blend wonderfully to tell this appealing tale. Children will fall in love with this little rabbit.–Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT

BATTUT, Éric. Little Mouse’s Big Secret. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Sterling. 2011. Tr $12.95. ISBN 978-1-4027-7462-1. LC 2010019689.
PreS-Gr 1–Mouse finds a delicious treat and buries it to keep it for himself. Over time, Squirrel, Bird, Turtle, Hedgehog, Rabbit, and Frog ask him, “What are you hiding?” and to each inquiry he replies: “It’s my secret, and I’ll never tell.” What readers see and Mouse does not is that the buried treasure sprouts, grows taller with each page turn, and eventually matures into a fruit-laden tree. It is only when the apples fall to the ground, providing enough treats for everyone, that unsuspecting Mouse realizes that “sometimes…secrets are even better when you share them.” Brief repetitive text on the bottom of the left page appears opposite the small oil paintings of Mouse and his friends on the bottom right. Behind both text and illustrations is a large expanse of soft, pale yellow ground that allows viewers to focus on the growing tree without distraction. One-on-one sharing of this charming story will afford young children the opportunity to chime in on the refrain and to revel in the realization that they know more than its tiny protagonist.–Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

BECKER, Bonny. The Sniffles for Bear. illus. by Kady MacDonald Denton. unpaged. Candlewick. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-4756-8. LC 2010047129.
PreS-Gr 1–High-drama king Bear and endlessly cheerful Mouse return in this gently humorous tale. Convinced that no one has ever been so sick, Bear grumpily welcomes his friend but warns that he is near death’s door. Mouse listens sympathetically and then tries everything he can think of to cheer his pal–singing, reading aloud, banjo playing, soup, humor–all to no avail. After a nap the formerly cranky Bear wakes up refreshed and feeling much better, only to discover that Mouse has developed the sniffles. With the tables turned, he nurses his little friend. The expressive, lightly colored watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations sweep across the pages, using the spreads and white space to great advantage. The body language of the characters conveys a huge emotional range. Whether readers are fans of this homey pair or new to the dynamic duo’s doings, they will delight in the childlike repartee and comfortable friendship.–Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI

BOWE, Julie. My Forever Friends. Bk. 4. 215p. (Friends for Keeps Series). CIP. Dial. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3513-2. LC 2010038151.
Gr 3-4–Ida May learns the complex, and often harsh, realities of fourth-grade class dynamics firsthand. Her former friends are at war, with leaders Brooke and Jenna constantly hurling vicious insults at one another. When Jenna and her little sister spend time with Ida after school due to Jenna’s mother’s high-risk pregnancy, Jenna’s complicated home life reveals the reasons she desperately seeks control through bossing others. The girls’ backstabbing and bullying pulls no punches, and the catalyst for peace, the premature birth of Jenna’s brother, conveys an honest vulnerability as Brooke recalls the former best-friendship vows she swore with Jenna and works to revive them. Even readers unfamiliar with the series will find nuanced characterization in Jenna, though an abundance of secondary characters occasionally distracts from the otherwise solid child-centered dynamics. Ida’s first-person narration sometimes falters in its earnest delivery (“I think about Brooke. And Jenna. And how their talents fit together”) though her concern for her friends’ relationship remains spot-on. Overall, this engaging presentation portrays the crossroads friends face as they navigate school popularity, classroom crushes, and the various problems on the path to maturity.–Meg Smith, Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, NC

BROAD, Michael. Ghost Diamond! Bk. 1. ISBN 978-0-7613-8056-6; ISBN 978-0-7613-8060-3; ISBN 978-0-7613-8061-0. LC 2011002269.
–––– . Zombie Cows! Bk. 2. ISBN 978-0-7613-8057-3; ISBN 978-0-7613-8066-5; ISBN 978-0-7613-8067-2. LC 2011001089.
ea vol: illus. by author. 143p. (Agent Amelia Series). CIP. Darby Creek, dist. by Lerner. Oct. 2011. Tr $22.60; pap. $5.95; ebook $16.95.
Gr 2-4–Amelia may look like a mild-mannered grade schooler with hipster sunglasses and a heavy backpack, but in reality she is a secret agent with enough gadgets to rival McGuyver and an imagination that puts Harriet the Spy to shame. Her plan is to save the world from evil geniuses and criminal masterminds, and she always succeeds. In each easy chapter book, she solves three cases that center on some bizarre doings. If there’s a guy at the garden store raising mutant weeds, then a little herbicide will remedy the situation. If a couple is getting ready to rob a bank using an army of cats, then the yarn from an unraveled sweater will solve that problem. The child even manages to get the better of her nemesis, popular girl Trudy Hart. And the only one who gets even close to thwarting Amelia is her mom, who is just a little too curious about what her daughter lugs around in such a large backpack and why she appears rather friendless. These imaginative books will appeal to readers with a quirky sense of humor and might also find fans with readers of Dave Keane’s “Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective” (HarperCollins).–Kathleen Meulen Ellison, Sakai Intermediate School, Bainbridge Island, WA

BURKERT, Rand, retel. Mouse & Lion. illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. unpaged. Scholastic/Michael di Capua Bks. Oct. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-545-10147-9. LC 2010916970.
Gr 2-6–It has been far too long since Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s work last graced a children’s book–Valentine and Orson (Farrar, 1989)–and it is a pleasure to welcome her back with a book rich with her signature meticulous brush lines, compelling display of color, and carefully delineated detail. Each page offers dramatic delight that extends the story. In an unusual but fascinating variation on the Aesop tale, Rand Burkert places Mouse at center stage–after all, as he explains, “Mouse clearly performs the lion’s share of the work.” With that hypothesis in place, the tale plays out against the well-known plot of Lion trapped in net/Mouse gnawing him free–with the interplay between the two caught in word and image, both subtle and powerful. At the conclusion, the animals part–each to its own special world but each the wiser and kinder for the experience. The illustrations for this spirited tale are nothing less than spectacular: soft colors (predominately in multiple shades of blue) flow across the page, capturing each eventful moment. Choosing the Aha Hills (between Botswana and Namibia) for her setting, the artist imbues the scenes with the fauna and flora of this region. At times, she incorporates the whole page, using white space to great effect as Mouse cavorts among trailing vines; in another mesmerizing spread a blue/black baobab tree, set against a blazing cinnamon-orange setting sun, captures the moment before Lion’s undoing. For storyhours, one-on-one sharing, family read-alouds, or African studies, this book will be appreciated by a wide audiences.–Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA

BYRNE, Richard. Millicent and Meer. illus. by author. unpaged. Barron’s. 2011. Tr $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7641-4685-5. LC 2010935863.
PreS-K–While playing in the sandbox in her backyard, Millicent is almost hit by a crate that drops out of the sky. Sounding out the letters on the label, M-e-e-r-k-a-t, she immediately believes that it contains a cat named Meer and proceeds to treat him as the pet she’s always wanted. When he behaves in a very uncatlike manner, digging holes in the backyard and bringing the dirt inside, Milllicent’s dad evicts him. A stray cat named Marvin befriends him and while running from a vicious dog one day, they come across a poster for the nearby Safari Park announcing the arrival of meerkats. Marvin, Millicent, Meer, and Dad finally figure out what Meer is and where he belongs. Millicent adopts Marvin and they visit Meer at the park every week thereafter. The computer-rendered illustrations are clear and humorous; after all, meerkats are pretty darned cute, but the story is flat and predictable. And, why wouldn’t Dad notice that Meer is not a cat? The simple story line might appeal to very young children, but the illustrations are stronger than the plot.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID

CALKHOVEN, Laurie. A Winning Goal. illus. by Arcana Studios. 119p. (Innerstar University Series). American Girl. 2011. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-59369-836-2. LC number unavailable.
Gr 2-6–A “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” type of story, set at Innerstar University. Students who play on the school’s soccer team are introduced at the start with a one-line profile, e.g., “Isabel–a confident girl with a funky sense of style” or “Amber–an animal lover and loyal friend.” Readers become the main character and make choices, such as taking the final attempt at a winning goal or passing to a teammate, or supporting a classmate’s idea for developing a former attic space in the dorm. These lead to other options and a total of 20 different endings–plus more available online. Most choices deal with being a good friend and teammate–nothing earth-shattering or adventurous. One negative is the use of dark green pages at the beginning, which makes reading the text difficult. Another flaw is illustrations that make all eight girls look inanimate–like American Girl dolls–and all the same, except for hair and eye color. Stick with Patricia Hermes’s Emma Dilemma and the Soccer Nanny (Marshall Cavendish, 2008), Jake Maddox’s Soccer Spirit (Stone Arch, 2008), or Rich Wallace’s “Kickers” series (Knopf), all of which are more exciting and have more game action.–Kate Kohlbeck, Randall School, Waukesha, WI

CASWELL, Deanna. Train Trip. illus. by Dan Andreasen. unpaged. Hyperion/Disney. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-1837-4. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 1–A young boy sets off on a solo train trip. As he climbs aboard, he takes in the new sights and sounds: “Capped conductor. Dark suit./Polished buttons. Crisp salute./Steel steps. People squeeze./Cloth seats. ‘Tickets, please!’” The staccato stop and start iambic verse mimics the rhythm of the train. The child looks out the window at the passing fields, eats a snack, and asks, “Are we there yet?” To pass the time he “Chuff[s] up and down the aisles” and is even treated to a tour of the engine car and allowed to “Sound the whistle.” At the final station, he finds his grandmother waiting. Andreasen’s cartoon illustrations have a sentimental, homespun appeal. The anthropomorphized train has a wide, smiling face and even the whistle has goggle eyes and gives a friendly toot. While this offering may be too sweet for some train enthusiasts, the excitement of the journey rings true.–Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

CHABON, Michael. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. illus. by Jake Parker. unpaged. CIP. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Sept. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191462-1. LC 2010041192.
K-Gr 2–Awesome Man can smash through the time barrier, shoot positronic rays out of his eyeballs, and combat mutant Jell-O from Beyond the Stars. “But don’t think it’s nonstop fun and photons being Awesome Man. Sometimes it can be pretty hard….” When a superhero feels tired and angry, he can always head for the Fortress of Awesome, where Mom is waiting with cheese and crackers and chocolate milk. Chabon’s first picture book discharges delectable language like “several billion kilojoules per nanosecond,” “Professor Von Evil in his Antimatter Slimebot,” and “thermo vulcanized protein-delivery orb.” Things are more likely to skloosh and skarunch than not. Verbiage like this nudges the story into read-aloud territory, and children will be swooping around the room as they listen. But if they stop long enough to peek at the pages, they’ll enjoy the way Parker kicks it up another notch with hyperkinetic, hypercolored comic-book action scenes. The depiction of a showdown between Awesome Man and his nemesis–the Flaming Eyeball–is priceless. Readers may notice that there’s a moral peeking out from Awesome Man’s cape, but they’ll still grab this story in their “ginormous Awesome Power Grip” and not let go.–Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

CREWS, Nina, retel. Jack and the Beanstalk. illus. by reteller. unpaged. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-8765-9. LC number unavailable.
Gr 2-4–Young Jack, a modern boy, is given colored beans as payment for doing some chores for his neighbor, Mrs. M. He plants them right away, and by noon the next day, there is a beanstalk outside his window that disappears into the clouds. Jack climbs high above the city, finds a castle, a giant, his wife, and a hen that lays golden eggs. The giant orders his wife to set Jack to doing chores. When she finally leaves him alone, he grabs the hen, climbs down the beanstalk, finds his father’s saw, and cuts the huge stem until it snaps. On the ground, the giant and his wife turn into Mrs. M’s brother and sister-in-law, who tell the boy that his wishes for wealth “got me and my wife stuck up in the clouds.” Crews’s contemporization of this familiar tale, featuring a multicultural cast, is accompanied by clear, full-page digital Adobe Photoshop-enhanced color photos. Elements of the original story–a golden harp; a pile of gold coins–are visible in the playful pictures. Images of a huge beanstalk superimposed on a brick apartment building; stylized blackbirds flying around the giant’s castle; small Jack on hands and knees with large brush in hand amidst a pile of huge dirty dishes are more memorable than the retelling itself or its message.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

CRIMI, Carolyn. Rock ’n’ Roll Mole. illus. by Lynn Munsinger. unpaged. CIP. Dial. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3166-0. LC 2010028796.
K-Gr 2–With his leather jacket, cool shades, and confident strut, Mole oozes style. He plays guitar “like a legend,” but paralyzing stage fright prevents him from sharing his talents with an audience. His friend Pig tries to encourage him to perform at a school assembly, but Mole resolutely refuses. At the mere mention of getting up on stage, his “paws shook” and his “legs wobbled.” On the day of the talent show, Mole triumphs over his fears to help a friend. Munsinger’s charming band of characters includes a break-dancing pig, a skateboarding raccoon, and a trio of swooning chicks. The watercolor illustrations are full of witty details like a guitar-shaped lamp and punny posters of superstars “Goose Springsteen,” “Mick Badger,” and “Moo 2.” Children will identify with Mole’s anxiety and will cheer for his rockin’ success.–Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

DE LAS CASAS, Dianne. The House That Witchy Built. illus. by Holly Stone-Barker. unpaged. CIP. Pelican. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58980-965-9. LC 2011004640.
K-Gr 2–“Creak, Creak.” Here lies the haunted house version of “The House That Jack Built.” Cumulative verses and onomatopoeia build on a lighthearted Halloween theme (the sound of each object or character is represented in text next to its image) while a collection of cut- and torn-paper collages and variation of colorful fonts create textured and detailed cartoons. Readers may simply search for the smiling spider on each page or follow the tombstones for a bit of graveside humor, e.g., “RIP–Imma Star, who lived life with a sparkle.” Repetition of each verse–a creaking house, black spider, booing ghost, flapping bat, rolling pumpkin, rattling skeleton, and a genial green witch (warts included)–completes the usual list of spooky images accompanying an adventure shared by a boy (with finger in nose), a scolding mom, and an affectionate dad. An additional purchase with a solid language-arts connection for libraries in need of seasonal fare.–Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

DEMAS, Corinne. Halloween Surprise. illus. by R. W. Alley. unpaged. Walker. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-8612-8. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2With Halloween approaching, Lily needs a costume for trick-or-treating, but she can’t decide what she wants to be. With her two white kitties looking on, she makes several outfits: ghost, pirate, pumpkin, ballerina, gypsy, princess, and robot. But they are too scary, mean, clumsy, flouncy, jangly, glittery, or bulky. Finally, with inspiration from her pets, Lily comes up with the perfect costume and surprises her dad in a foldout illustration. The soft, orange-hued drawings done in pencil, watercolor, and gouache are appropriate for the season and full of activity as the industrious little girl goes to work. Children will enjoy the Lily’s imagination and the reactions of her kittens as she creates several costumes from materials she finds around her house. The just-right size of the book; plentiful white space; and large, clean font make this a good choice for beginning readers. A cheerful addition to Halloween collections. –Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT

DEPALMA, Mary Newell. Uh-Oh! illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Eerdmans. 2011. Tr $14. ISBN 978-0-8028-5372-1. LC 2010048403.
PreS-Gr 1–A young dinosaur gets himself into all kinds of trouble in this clever, nearly wordless book. The little terror is jumping on the couch, which leads to knocking over his siblings’ blocks and a plant. This begins a chain of events that culminates in an overflowing dishwasher washing the youngster out the window. He reenters, wet and muddy, and ends up in a time-out chair. But it isn’t over yet, for there is a stash of bubble gum under the corner of the rug. The only text is a series of “Uh-oh’s” punctuating each disaster, one “Ahhhh!” and a close-up on the dishwasher detergent box reading “warning: do not overfill soapdish.” The story takes place in the pictures, where the beguiling creature moves through the pages, interspersed with almost comic-book-style panels, showing the stages of each of the mishaps as they unfold. The dinosaurs are green, with blue spikes on their backs and beige bellies, and walk upright on two feet. Their round, half-lidded eyes have a tendency to pop during trouble. The setting is a brightly colored human-style house, complete with all the trappings. The plot is humorously appealing, if deceptively sophisticated. Despite the lack of text, it is likely to appeal most to older preschoolers and early elementary children who will understand the humor.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

DIPUCCHIO, Kelly. Zombie in Love. illus. by Scott Campbell. unpaged. CIP. S & S/Atheneum. Aug. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0270-6. LC 2009025640.
Gr 1-3–Mortimer the zombie is lonely and desperately wants a sweetheart, but every time he reaches out to a human girl, disaster strikes. The wormy chocolates disgust, the real heart terrifies, and the ring on a severed finger scares. He just doesn’t seem to have that devil-may-care romantic dash. He places a personal ad, and, on the night of the Cupid’s Ball, he waits and waits for the right girl to arrive. Finally, she does and makes a disastrous entrance, knocking over the punch bowl. She smiles at him with the same Frankensteinlike teeth he has and his heart melts. This silly story features loads of sight gags that sharp-eyed children will enjoy. When the zombie is working out and his arm falls off, chuckles are guaranteed. The color cartoon illustrations are over-the-top, which makes the comic effects even more obvious. This giggler will grab those children who like their zombies funny.–Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

DOCKRAY, Tracy. The Lost and Found Pony. illus. by author. unpaged. Feiwel & Friends. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-312-59259-2. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–The little pony at the heart of this surprisingly affecting story is thrilled when he becomes a little girl’s perfect birthday present. He loves jumping and running with her on his back–until the day he encounters a jump too high. The little girl falls, and he is declared too small for her. Her parents sell him to the circus, where he brings joy to thousands of children, but he never forgets his first owner. When the circus closes down and he is sold at auction, who should buy him but the little girl, now an adult and running a stable of her own. In lesser hands, the story would be pure schmaltz, but the simple, straightforward narrative in the pony’s voice, combined with Dockray’s soft, expressive watercolor and ink illustrations, makes it truly heartwarming.–Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

ELLIOTT, Rebecca. Just Because. illus. by author. unpaged. Lion. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7459-6267-2. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2–A perceptive observer of the cover of this picture book will notice that the rocket bearing Clemmie and her little brother on an imaginative space journey is actually a wheelchair. Refreshingly, the story is about the bond between the siblings and all that they can do. The boy doesn’t worry that Clemmie “can’t walk, talk, move around much….” He admits honestly that he doesn’t know why some people can do things and others can’t. His answer to these big questions is a simple if not always satisfying refrain: “Just because.” Those two words provide a format for the boy to explain that Clemmie’s enormously curly hair, love for their pet ladybug, and ability to cuddle him to sleep are some of her best qualities. He also explains that his special talents include being good at drawing and pointing to things in books. Eating crayons and being scared during a thunderstorm top his list of his own shortcomings. The warm cartoon illustrations on canvas depict children with cheerful round faces and rosy cheeks. Although the story lacks examples of typical sibling friction that may have made it more believable for young readers, it serves as an excellent reminder that children in wheelchairs are not defined by their disabilities.–Jenna Boles, Washington-Centerville Public Library, OH

FAGAN, Cary. Ella May and the Wishing Stone. illus. by Geneviève Côté. unpaged. Tundra. Aug. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-77049-225-7. LC 2010938591.
PreS-Gr 1–Imaginative Ella May returns home from the beach with a rock encircled in a thin white line and dubs it her “wishing stone.” After explaining to her friends Manuel, Maya, and Amir that the stone makes her wishes come true, they all set out to find one of their own. Ella May rejects their rocks as not being “special” like hers and is soon sitting alone on her porch, realizing that she hasn’t been very kind. She remedies this with creativity and thoughtfulness as she helps to make her friends’ wishes come true. Each figure and object is outlined in sketchy black and casually filled in with soft, summery, pastel watercolors. The story includes several understated lessons for youngsters, such as getting along, being considerate, and using your imagination.–Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI

FALWELL, Cathryn. Pond Babies. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Down East. 2011. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-0-89272-920-3. LC 2010043117.
PreS–This offering focuses on creatures that live in or near ponds, with a human child included at the end. A simple question-and-answer format presents a single physical characteristic of each one and then inquires, “Whose baby is this?” Children will quickly catch on to the pattern and the idea that a page turn is necessary to learn the answer. Whether it is white spots that indicate a fawn or a wiggly tail to represent a tadpole, Falwell’s colorful collages incorporate the given features. The story concludes with some movement exercises that will help kids mimic the animals’ actions. A page at the end is devoted to outdoor activities suitable for enhancing a child’s sensory experiences and awareness of nature. The soft hues of the illustrations evoke the wonder of springtime. Combine this title with Denise Fleming’s In the Small, Small Pond (Holt, 1993) for a unit on streams and ponds.–Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT

FERGUSON, Sarah. Get Well Soon, Adam. ISBN 978-1-4027-7401-0.
–––– . Healthy Food for Dylan. ISBN 978-1-4027-7400-3.
–––– . Lauren’s Moving Day. ISBN 978-1-4027-7398-3.
–––– . Zach Gets Some Exercise. ISBN 978-1-4027-7399-0.
ea vol: illus. by Ian Cunliffe. unpaged. (Helping Hand Books Series). Sterling. Aug. 2011. Tr $7.95. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 3Although these books are a bit text heavy for picture books, they provide a good foundation for discussion and tips for parents appear in the back matter. Get Well introduces strategies for coping with the fears and disappointments that can arise when an illness keeps a child confined to a bedroom. The story has ideas for connecting with friends under these circumstances, and the message is that eventually life will return to normal. Healthy Food provides ways to encourage better eating habits. When Dylan’s cousin comes to visit, she teaches the finicky eater how to prepare good food in a fun way. For example, they make a clock face on a plate using sliced bananas as the hands and orange pieces at intervals around the rim. Moving Day addresses feelings of uncertainty and excitement as Lauren’s belongings are packed into boxes, the movers arrive, everything fits perfectly in her new room, and she meets and plays with new neighbors. In Exercise , Zach spends his time playing video games and watching TV until Michael moves into the neighborhood and invites him to walk the dog, play in the park, etc. The warm, color cartoon illustrations in these titles depict realistic characters. Good where parenting material or picture books on human behavior are needed. –Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI

FRANCESCHELLI, Christopher. (oliver). illus. by Gaby Kooijman, et al. unpaged. Lemniscaat. 2011. BD $12.95. ISBN 978-1-9359-5401-9. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K“Oliver was an egg. There was really nothing he could do about it.” For the balance of this ultra-simple, paper-over-board book, Oliver remains an egg. He can roll to one side or the other, and even stand on his head. But not until the seventh of the eight spreads do things start happening. The graphic on a wide, pull-through ribbon turns from an egg…into a chick. The text continues onto the back cover, with this explanation, “(…Because miracles happen).” (oliver) contains crisp, attractive text and drawings, using space, light, and dark elegantly. Small children will delight in pulling open the sturdy pages and experiencing Oliver’s transformation over and over. –Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

FRIEDMAN, Laurie. Back-to-School Rules. illus. by Teresa Murfin. unpaged. CIP. Carolrhoda. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6070-4. LC 2010003637.
K-Gr 2–Percy Isaac Gifford is headed back to school and wishes to offer fellow students advice on how to earn an A+. What follows is a seemingly endless string of “don’ts” written in labored verse: “An important rule to follow:/Don’t forget to use your brain./That means leave your plans at home/That qualify as insane!” While some of the advice is practical, such as not being late and not teasing, some is just silly: “No hanging from the ceiling./No flying through the air./No swimming in the fish tank./No glitter in your hair.” This intense barrage of negativity (one page uses the word “don’t” a dozen times) is unlikely to allay or mitigate any concerns children dealing with back-to-school anxiety may have; it’s more likely to leave them feeling there are so many pitfalls that they can’t possibly avoid them all. The teacher has an expression of annoyance more often than not and seems to do nothing but give orders. The final piece of advice, “Don’t forget to have lots of fun,” strikes an odd note as no fun is ever described. Better books on this topic abound, including Dr. Seuss’s Hooray for Diffendoofer Day (Knopf, 1998) and Kathryn Lasky’s Lunch Bunnies (Little, Brown, 1996).–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

FURSTINGER, Nancy. Maggie’s Second Chance. illus. by Joe Hyatt. unpaged. (Sit! Stay! Read! Series). Web sites. Gryphon. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-940719-11-8. LC 2010928919.
K-Gr 3–This is a heartwarming story of a sweet black lab mix named Maggie who is left behind when her owners move away. Found inside the house and about to give birth, she is taken to the pound. Her nine puppies are adopted, but she is not. A boy learns that she is slated to be euthanized and rallies his teacher and classmates to do something about it. They petition the town council and present a plan for building a no-kill animal shelter, which is passed. With an outpouring of volunteer help, supplies, land, and donations, the students succeed in creating a shelter where dogs can be cared for until they are adopted. Based on a true story of a group of fourth graders, this is an inspiring story of social justice, action, and agency. The text is accessible, and the illustrations of the animals are done in photorealistic detail. Occasionally the style of the artwork changes dramatically. For example, at the town council meeting, the people are stiff looking and have unappealing dots on their bodies to show texture. This doesn’t detract from the story itself; it’s just a curious and puzzling shift. Resources for adopting a dog are appended.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID

GIFFORD, Kathie Lee. The Legend of Messy M’Cheany. music by David Friedman. illus. by Peter Bay Alexandersen. unpaged. w/CD. Running Pr. Kids. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-7624-4137-2. LC 2010943498.
K-Gr 2–In a singsong rhyme, Gifford tells the story of the messiest kid in town, who is legendlike in his ability to create chaos. Messy M’Cheany spills food everywhere, overturns the fishbowl, farts and then picks his nose, and has a limitless talent for attracting dirt. His parents think he’s cursed, but things start to change for the cleaner when baby sister Missy arrives. She is saintlike in her desire to be clean, neat, and speak politely. “Messy burped and wouldn’t say sorry./Missy said, ‘S’cuse me, see you tomorry.’” In a final showdown, Missy shows mercy toward Messy and curtsies. It is her use of the word “please,” though, that “brought Messy to his knees” and leads to his redemption. The accompanying CD contains two songs, including “The Legend of Messy M’Cheany.” Unfortunately, this story works better as a song. In book form, the rhymes are often forced and awkward. The acrylic-and-ink cartoon illustrations are humorous, but overall this picture book is a marginal purchase.–Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA

GODWIN, Laura. One Moon, Two Cats. illus. by Yoko Tanaka. unpaged. CIP. S & S/Atheneum. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1202-6. LC 2009053697.
PreS-Gr 1–Under the light of one moon, two cats are wide awake, one in a city apartment and another in a farmhouse. While the people in their lives are going to sleep, it’s clear that the felines have no such intentions. With a “yawn and a stretch,” they begin their respective nocturnal journeys. As the urban cat “watches vans and trucks,” its rural counterpart “slinks by pigs and ducks.” When they “walk the rails,” one does so on train tracks while the other tightropes across a rail fence. But whether they roam city streets or country fields, both animals have one passion in common–the pursuit of delectable mice. They “race” and “chase,” “creep” and “climb” in a series of small vignettes across a spread in search of their quarry. Only a thunderstorm saves their prey as it forces both felines indoors where they curl up to sleep just as their owners awake to a new day. The brief, rhymed text changes size to match the rhythms of the cats’ adventures, and the rich acrylic paintings create an air of nighttime mystery. An ably told and atmospheric romp.–Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

GREENE, Stephanie. Princess Posey and the Perfect Present. illus. by Stephanie Roth Sisson. 96p. CIP. Putnam. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25462-8. LC 2010001476.
Gr 1-2–Posey thinks she has found the perfect birthday present for her first-grade teacher, one that will show her just how special she is. Then her best friend arrives with a gift that outshines hers, and Posey is hurt and angry. Her mother helps her cope with her feelings and resolve her problem. Greene’s simple writing style and straightforward plot is ideal for advanced first graders or beginning second-grade readers. Charming illustrations and short chapters add to the ease of reading for children wanting more text than Jane O’Connor’s “Fancy Nancy” books (HarperCollins) and the like have to offer. Though this book’s appeal may be narrow, it fills a need for short, simple chapter books.–Lindsay Persohn, Crystal Lake Elementary, Lakeland, FL

GUDEON, Adam. Me and Meow. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. HarperCollins. Sept. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-199821-8. LC 2010003095.
PreS-K–Simple, childlike pictures and a minimal, childlike narrative describe a day in the life of Me and her constant companion, Meow, her red cat. Beneath a stick figure sun, a smiling child extends her arms above the greeting, “Good morning, Me!” On the facing page, Meow is stretching above the words, “Good morning, Meow!” The two eat breakfast together, and then Me pulls Meow in a red wagon outdoors. They engage in “Stump jumping. Leaf leaping. Slip sliding. Hide hiding.” Meow hides from Me, who rides her tricycle, determined to find her pet. When the child falls and weeps, the cat comes to comfort her. As the day continues, they sing, play hide-and-seek, and dress up, ending with “Dream Dreaming.” The primitive figures are expertly posed and arranged with simple props on color-saturated spreads to reflect the joy and devotion the companions share. Children as young as two years will appreciate the brevity, rhythm, onomatopoeia, and repetition in the text. Gudeon’s work brings to mind the simple composition of Mo Willems’s I Am Going! (Hyperion, 2010) and the bold colors of Todd Parr’s The Grandma Book (Little, Brown, 2006). Me and Meow may inspire children to talk about a special friend and events in their day.–Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI

HALLOWELL, George & Joan Holub. Wagons Ho! illus. by Lynne Avril. unpaged. CIP. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-8612-9. LC 2010050422.
K-Gr 3–Excitement is high and challenges abound when a family relocates halfway across the country. This was true for early settlers following the Oregon Trail, and it is still true today. Pictures and text follow two such westward moves: the Johnsons in 1846 and the Millers in 2011. Colorful spreads provide side-by-side and top-to-bottom comparisons of travel in the difference centuries. Carefully chosen facts make contrasts and similarities easy to comprehend. Cartoon panels and brief text highlight the preparations, the goodbyes, and daily activities on the way. Some things are very different (speed of travel), yet others are quite similar (missing friends). Introductory paragraphs provide more facts and information. Readers will relate to the travel activities and smile at the humor in the pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings. Together, the art and text make a good introduction to the Westward Movement. The format is best suited for individual or small-group reading. Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series (HarperCollins) will appreciate this fictional/factual picture book.–Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

HARPER, Charise Mericle. If Waffles Were Like Boys. illus. by Scott Magoon. unpaged. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Sept. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-177998-5. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2A short, lightly humorous bedtime story. The text follows an unnamed youngster throughout his day, comparing boys’ personalities to, well, waffles, among other things. “If waffles were like boys, breakfast would be a battlefield!”; “If hot dogs were like boys, picnics would be rodeos!”; “If toothbrushes were like boys, bathrooms would be jungles….Good night, boys.” The cartoon illustrations carry the story; they are colorful and whimsical. Moms of rambunctious boys will probably relate to the protagonist’s energy level. However, this book still qualifies as a secondary purchase. –Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA

HARPER, Charise Mericle. Just Grace and the Double Surprise. illus. by author. 176p. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-37026-2. LC number unavailable.
Gr 2-4–In this installment, eight-year-old Grace is dealt a “double surprise”: her friend Mimi’s family adopts a boy instead of a girl as they had expected, and Grace’s parents finally say yes to her longtime dream of getting a dog. Readers unfamiliar with adoption will appreciate Grace’s humorous, informative primer (“Adopting a new sister is not like shopping in a grocery store”). Harper expertly conveys the emotional ups and downs of welcoming a new family member: Mimi’s disappointment at not having a sister mirrors Grace’s frustration that her female dog answers only to the name Mr. Scruffers. Harper’s humorous black-and-white cartoons suggest Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (Abrams) and help break up the text into manageable chunks ideal for new chapter-book readers. These simple but charming drawings evoke a typical young girl’s notebook or journal doodles, and the accompanying speech bubbles and captions express the spirited heroine’s unique perspective. Though Harper has crafted an engaging story, the book’s strength lies in its protagonist’s strong, distinctive voice. Chapter titles such as “What Happened Next” that are often followed by one-liners like “Craziness!!!” should build readers’ confidence. Fans of the series and new readers alike will enjoy Double Surprise. This latest episode is a lighthearted alternative to more serious, instructional books on adoption. A fun, appealing chapter book.–Mahnaz Dar, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

HARRIS, Teresa E. Summer Jackson: Grown Up. illus. by AG Ford. unpaged. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-185757-7. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 3–Summer Jackson’s parents have always told her that she can be anything she wants when she grows up. The problem is, the seven-year-old does not want to have to wait until then. “From now on, I will wear very high heels with very pointy toes. And maybe a blazer. I’ll get a cell phone. It will ring all the time.” Summer imagines all of the important things she will begin doing, such as making a to-do list, reading the newspaper over breakfast, and becoming a consultant. But when she meets with several of her clients (fellow schoolmates), and begins to charge them for her services, she runs into a bit of trouble with Principal Cutter, who calls her parents. When they talk things over, her parents agree to let Summer take over the adult responsibilities, which frees them to have some fun. All too soon, the child realizes that being a grown-up is not all its cracked up to be. Ford’s charming and humorous cartoon illustrations are liberally sprinkled throughout the book, ranging from three pictures on a page to full-page images. Although predictable, this story should have wide appeal.–Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

HARRISON, David L. A Monster Is Coming! illus. by Hans Wilhelm. 32p. (Step into Reading Series). CIP. Random. 2011. PLB $12.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96677-4; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86677-7. LC 2010014513.
PreS-Gr 1–Beginning readers who crave suspense will be drawn to this gentle spin on the “Chicken Little” motif. As a smiling Mama watches Baby Bug chomp on a leaf she says, “You eat like a monster,” prompting a nearby inchworm to cry, “Monster! Inch for your lives!” He hides in leaves, although his bottom sticks out. Inchworm tells Toad, who unsuccessfully hides under a tree root and then spreads the news to Mouse. Mouse sends the alarm to Rabbit: “A hairy, horrible monster is coming!” Then Fox comes along and asks, “What is going on around here?” Hearing the answer, he dives into a hole. From her high chair on a branch, Baby Bug looks down at the animals, puzzled: “Why is everyone hiding?” When they advise her to “Fly for your life!” and say why, the little bug states, “I’m so hungry I could eat a monster.” “Have you heard? Baby Bug ate the monster!” Inchworm shouts. The animals rejoice and Baby Bug happily eats another leaf. Wilhelm’s expressive, cheerfully colored cartoon illustrations reflect the fact that there is nothing to fear and provide a lot of picture clues to help decode the clever, descriptive text. Offer this with Rebecca Emberley’s Chicken Little (Roaring Brook, 2009) and Rafe Martin’s Foolish Rabbit’s Big Mistake (Putnum, 1985) for different ways to tell a similar story.–Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI

HASSETT, Ann & John Hassett. Too Many Frogs! illus. by John Hassett. unpaged. CIP. Houghton Harcourt. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-36299-1. LC 2010006783.
PreS-K–Nana Quimby’s cellar is filled with water. The paperboy suggests calling a plumber, who gets rid of the water, but that’s just the beginning of the woman’s problems. As she tries to make a cake, she is interrupted again and again by growing numbers of frogs coming up from the basement in search of water. The neighborhood children offer ideas for places to put them, and soon her cups, pots and pans, washing machine, sink, and bathtub are filled with the little critters. In the end, Nana Quimby realizes that a cellar filled with water is a perfect place for a million frogs, and not a bad place to soak one’s feet and enjoy a nice piece of cake on a warm summer day. This is the third nonsensical tale featuring the nonplussed, sneakered white-haired lady with nose-pinching round eyeglasses, and it’s the most fun. Children can count the frogs in the colorful acrylic cartoon illustrations–first 10, then 20, 30, 40, 50,…100! They will also enjoy the zany antics of the youngsters outside Nana’s window and the woman’s growing comfort with the frogs that have invaded her tall skinny brick house. Quirky fun–especially suited for one-on-one sharing.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

HELMORE, Jim. Oh No, Monster Tomato! illus. by Karen Wall. unpaged. Egmont UK, dist. by IGP. 2011. pap. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-4052-4741-2. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–Marvin is the smallest child in his family, but when the Great Grislygust Grow-off comes around, he is determined to produce the tastiest tomatoes and win. His brother and sister bait and tease him, calling him a “titchy weed,” but he has a potion and a few songs up his sleeve. He grows a plant so large that it shoots its tomatoes–they are the size of beach balls–at his mean siblings: “Whoomph!” And when he wins the contest, the prize only serves to set his sights on next year’s competition. Helmore uses alliteration to make the story sing–“Prunella’s pumpkins were plumping up”–and the rollicking words dance across the pages. Wall’s vibrant, cartoon-style, collage illustrations can seem as fast-growing as Marvin’s plant. Two foldouts are used effectively to enhance the story, and musical notations are incorporated into the pictures. A fun read-aloud at storytimes, where listeners will cheer for Marvin.–Susan E. Murray, formerly at Glendale Public Library, AZ

HIMMELMAN, John. Cows to the Rescue. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Holt. Sept. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9249-3. LC 2010036880.
PreS-Gr 1–If it’s not chickens and pigs, then it’s cows to the rescue. In this third farmyard outing, Farmer Greenstalk and his family are “saved” by their wildly rampaging dairy cows as they make their way to the county fair. From the three-legged race to riding the Ferris wheel and prepping for the Smartest Pig Contest, the divine bovines keep disaster at bay. The events happen in two-hour increments beginning at 7:00 a. m. with a wild ride to the fair and ending 12 hours later with Greenstalks, cows, pigs, and chicken asleep in a heap. The pencil and watercolor illustrations are packed with plenty of personality and have enough detail to keep kids turning the pages to learn the outcome. Children will, of course, pipe up with the refrain “Cows to the Rescue!” in group readings and during lapsits, and the mad antics of these friendly and very game rescuers will delight them.–Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI

HINES, Anna Grossnickle. I Am a Tyrannosaurus. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Tricycle. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-1-58246-413-8; PLB $15.99. ISBN 978-1-58246-414-5. LC 2010024181.
PreS-KIn this reboot of I Am a Backhoe (Tricycle, 2010), a boy describes and acts out different dinosaur behaviors. Two bright spreads of digital illustrations show him moving his whole body as he describes the reptile he has become on the first with the words “I am...” signaling a page turn and the revelation of the creature that matches his imaginings–a tyrannosaurus, followed in turn by a velociraptor, brachiosaurus, triceratops, pteranodon, and “a brand new baby dinosaur.” The next spread shows the boy and his mother pretending to be dinosaurs together and describes her actions before revealing that she is a maiasaura“good mother lizard.” While Backhoe was a perfect blend of action words and physical movement, this text spends more time describing the reptiles: “I have a big collar,/and three horns/on my face./I look mean,/but I eat only plants.” The boy is full of motion and children can see that he believes he is the dinosaur described, but his movements don’t always relate to the text and the dinosaurs sometimes seem like separate objects rather than the projection of the child’s imagination. This is a solid offering, but it lacks the originality and imagination of Backhoe . –Anna Haase Krueger, Antigo Public Library, WI

HOGAN, Jamie. Seven Days of Daisy. illus. by author. unpaged. Down East. 2011. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-0-89272-919-7. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–Counting down the days before Nana comes to visit her island home, young Daisy describes how she fills her time. Sailing, tea parties at the shore, rocking in the hammock, and playing tag all make the wait a bit less tedious. When Nana arrives, Daisy is ready to tell her about her various activities: firefly hunts, a ferry ride to get groceries, etc. One page shows Daisy and her pals stripped down to their undies, dancing in a tidal pool. Hogan’s sampler of island life will get vacation juices flowing. The simple sentences and childlike focus stay true to the narrator, and children will appreciate the recurring appearance of the calendar and the red “X” for each passing day. The realistic charcoals and pastels offer texture, and colors vary to reflect moods and times of day.–Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA

INTRIAGO, Patricia. Dot. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Farrar/Margaret Ferguson Bks. Aug. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-374-31835-2. LC 2010019816.
PreS-Gr 1–In this whimsical book about opposites, each dot acts as a visual analogy. Simplicity equals accessibility, but it also denotes depth of thought. Even two- and three-year-olds will make astute observations. Visually announcing the morning, the story begins with a large, shining, cadmium yellow dot on a cyan blue background with the simple text, “Dot.” Humor prevails on one spread that contrasts a chewed dot: “This dot is yummy,” with a chewed dot and spit-out piece, “This dot tastes bad.” Another unique spread is tactile in its rendition of “Hard dot,” which does not yield under the pressure of a small photographed finger pressing down, opposite “Soft dot,” which does yield like a soft rubber ball. Most of the book is in black and white unless there is a reason for color, as on the “Stop dot” and “Go dot” or on the “Hurt dot” and “Heal dot” pages. Band-Aid and boo-boo stories, and countless others, will pour forth from young audiences. Children will encounter ample ways to interact with this incredibly elegant, clever, and delightful concept book.–Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City

ISOP, Laurie. How Do You Hug a Porcupine? illus. by Gwen Millward. unpaged. CIP. S & S. 2011. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1291-0. LC 2010006941.
PreS-Gr 2–Most of the time, the mechanics of how to hug an animal are fairly straightforward. Horses, cats, and dogs do not provide much of a challenge, but a porcupine is another matter. With rhyming text, Isop works through a catalog of animals, both common and unusual, always circling back to the central question: “Hugging bunnies is just divine. But how do you hug a porcupine?” The question befuddles the young boy intent on giving the hug, and the animal looks equally uneasy. The boy tries armoring himself in a catcher’s outfit and then a cardboard box, but the porcupine has no interest in being hugged. Finally, the boy hits on the idea of sticking a marshmallow on every quill. This does the trick, though it turns out that the marshmallows were less critical than the resulting trust and friendship. The slightly absurd concept will resonate with the audience, who find the idea of hugging giraffes and kangaroos inherently funny. Minimalist cartoon illustrations in watercolor and pencil convey expression and add humorous details. Small vignettes surrounded by ample white space keep the look clean and direct. The small size of the pictures makes them better for sharing in small groups or one-on-one.–Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR

JOHNSON, Angela. Lottie Paris Lives Here. illus. by Scott M. Fischer. unpaged. CIP. S & S. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87377-5. LC 2009043662.
PreS-Gr 2–Lottie Paris is an exuberant, imaginative, and mischievous girl. On an outing to the park, Papa Pete, shown from the waist down, is in his socks, holding Lottie’s shoes in one hand and clasping her hand in the other while she walks alongside him wearing his too-big boots and what looks like a man??s necktie cinched around her waist as a belt. As the girl entertains herself, “going this way and that way and under the trees, around the fountain,” Papa Pete, again only visible from the waist down, is seen seated on a park bench lacing up one of his shoes. Back home after a day of adventure, Lottie is in her bedroom that “is also a castle where the fish are her guards,” and where her imagination is free to run wild. The day continues on to dinnertime and afterward when Lottie does something that lands her “in the quiet chair by the door.” Fischer’s large gouache images created with brayer, linocut, stamping, airbrush, sandpaper and brush line are endearing. Although the pictures appear to be simple, they contain a lot of visual cues pointing to the bond between Papa Pete and Lottie. A universal story told through the eyes of a vivacious youngster.–Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

JOHNSTON, Tony. Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants. illus. by Stacy Innerst. unpaged. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206145-6. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 3–An outlandish whopper of a tall tale, this story just begs to be read aloud with an old-timey Western accent. Johnston weaves together fact and fiction, resulting in a hilarious narrative about how Strauss became the denim king. Students will delight in chiming in on the repeated exclamation “Dang!” As with all tall tales, outlandish explanations abound, and, in this particular yarn, readers learn about the creation of the beautiful city of San Francisco. An author’s note gives the concrete facts about the true Levi Strauss. The illustrations are as unique as the tale, and children will be fascinated by the side-splitting facial expressions and zany action found on each page. Even more delightful is the fact that Innerst painted the scenes on old pairs of Levis. A first choice for any collection, this book is worth its weight in denim–or gold.–Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh, PA

JUDGE, Chris. The Lonely Beast. illus. by author. unpaged. Andersen, dist. by Lerner. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-8097-9; ebook $12.71. ISBN 978-0-7613-8098-6. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–Beast is a quiet creature who tends his own garden and likes to drink tea, read a good book, walk in the snow, stand in the rain, or bake cakes. He is very lonely. A series of images, dominated by the shaggy, yellow-eyed Beast, follows his quest through forest, mountains, rivers, cliffs, waterfalls, caves, and ocean depths to find others of his kind. Page layouts highlight the action with a variety of cell groups in a small series of adventures: four squares to a page, four columns to a page, two rows to a page, two columns, two rows, eight snapshots, or even telescoped speech bubbles. Doubling of the number of images creates a sense of urgency as he finally returns home to find other Beast friends. Color contrasts with the black silhouette of the Beast–bold colors backlight rural scenes and bright pastels in city images. A nonthreatening character despite his penetrating eyes, Beast is humanlike in his needs and emotions as he quickly makes friends. This is a story of longing and perseverance with a touch of humor as Beast even interviews (wearing a tie) on TV. A general purchase for most libraries.–Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

KEMPTER, Christa. When Mama Can’t Sleep. tr. from German. illus. by Natascha Rosenberg. unpaged. (Tuff Books Series). NorthSouth. 2011. Tr $6.95. ISBN 978-0-7358-4015-7. LC number unavailable.
Pre-S–This sweet bedtime story begins when Mama, wearing pink bunny slippers, can’t sleep because she is “worried about Grandma’s birthday present, which she should have mailed yesterday.” Then Papa gets up, too, because the broken washing machine is on his mind. The teddy bear falls out of bed when Max rolls onto him, and Max can’t sleep because “the ghost behind the curtain is sighing.” Creaking beds and padding feet disrupt Sam the dog’s sleep as well. Now that the entire household is up, all that is left to do is to crawl into bed “all together–Mama and Papa and Teddy and Sam and Max.” The vibrant spreads are filled with color, and the heavy, glossy paper will withstand toddler destruction. Comforting, soothing, and sure to be a hit.–Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH

KING, Dedie. I See the Sun in Afghanistan. tr. by Mohd Vahidi. illus. by Judith Inglese. 40p. glossary. Satya House. 2011. pap. $12.95. ISBN 978-0-9818720-8-7. LC 2010940674.
K-Gr 2–This simple story follows a young Afghani girl from sunrise to sunset. Living in Bamiyan, a relatively safe city, Habiba fetches water, attends school, and anticipates the arrival of her cousins, who have lost their home because of the war. The story captures the flavor of the culture, and the love and support of this close family is evident. The story is written in both English and Dari (Afghan Farsi), and an author’s note provides supplemental information. Inglese’s watercolor and collage illustrations are well composed, and color and pattern add richness and texture. This interesting glimpse into the day-to-day life in this turbulent country will allow children to appreciate the similarities and differences that exist between the two cultures.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

KLASSEN, Jon. I Want My Hat Back. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Candlewick. Sept. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5598-3. LC 2010042793.
Gr 1-3–Readers may be too young to know Nixon’s famous line, “I am not a crook,” but they’ll surely figure out that someone here is not telling the truth. Bear has lost his hat and asks various creatures if they have seen it, with pronounced civility. Snake goes offtrack (and will also throw inattentive listeners offtrack) by announcing he’s seen a blue and round hat. Rabbit vigorously denies having seen anything like it, despite evidence to the contrary. Armadillo asks, “What is a hat?” Bear is flung into despair until a young deer asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear starts to describe it and immediately realizes he has seen it. The following page is painted red with anger. Readers realize they have seen it, too! Bear confronts the culprit and what happens next is a matter of interpretation. Violence is implied, but only indirectly. The Chinese ink illustrations are understated and stylized, and the pages are a natural sandy hue throughout. The dialogue is not in quotations but in contrasting colors. Wisps of grass, rocks, small branches, and specks of dirt compose the setting. Read aloud, this story will offer many sublime insights into how young readers comprehend an illustrated text that leaves out vital information, and will leave young sleuths reeling with theories about what just happened.–Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City

KOSTECKI-SHAW, Jenny Sue. Same, Same but Different. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Sept. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-8946-2. LC 2010030121.
Gr 1-2–While traveling in Southeast Asia, the author learned the popular saying that inspired this charming story of friendship and universal connections. In an American city, Elliott paints a picture of his world as part of a school project. His teacher mails it “across the oceans” to Kailash, who soon replies with his own drawing. Elliott lives in a city where tall buildings hide the sun, and cars and taxis crowd the roads. Kailash is growing up near a river in a village where “peacocks dance under trees shaped like umbrellas.” Although their worlds seem different, the boys are not. They discover that they both like animals, enjoy climbing trees, and ride the bus to school. The correspondents compare their cultures and eventually they decide that their worlds aren’t so different after all. The imaginative multimedia illustrations, drawn in an animated, childlike style, add vibrant color and rich details to the story. Kostecki-Shaw presents a meaningful message of inclusivity in this engaging title. Like Elliott and Kailash, young readers will conclude that children from other cultures are “different, different but the SAME!”–Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA

KOZLOWSKI, Michal. Louis the Tiger Who Came from the Sea. illus. by Sholto Walker. unpaged. Annick, dist. by Firefly. 2011. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-55451-257-7; pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-55451-256-0. LC C2010-906878-5.
PreS-Gr 2–The success of this book depends on readers’ willingness to get past the unusual premise: an aquatic tiger. The family’s reaction to the slumbering, soaking-wet beast that shows up on its lawn one morning is both humorous and imaginative. Ali and Ollie don swim gear to attempt feeding Louis a bucketful of milk and cereal. When their parents appear to see what all the fuss is about, a roaring yawn from the creature sends them all running for cover behind the couch. But when the tiger commandeers Ollie’s freshly drawn bath, it’s time for action. The children conclude that the only way to be rid of this frightful and odiferous houseguest is to dress up as sea creatures and lead it to the beach. The father’s homemade octopus outfit (with enough fabric for only six tentacles instead of eight) is particularly comical. As the tiger paddles out to sea and the family, holding flippers, stands watch, readers feel a sense of relief, but also a nagging bit of confusion. Where on earth is that tiger going? Walker’s wacky, softly colored line drawings are filled with fluid movement befitting the seaside setting and are reminiscent of Nancy Carpenter’s signature scribbles. An amusing but additional purchase.–Jenna Boles, Washington-Centerville Public Library, OH

LAREAU, Kara. Otto: The Boy Who Loved Cars. illus. by Scott Magoon. unpaged. CIP. Roaring Brook/A Neal Porter Bk. Aug. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-484-4. LC 2010027186.
K-Gr 3–A dapper, redheaded boy loves cars so much that he wakes up one morning to find that he has become one. But not just any car–he’s a flashy, red sports car. During the day he learns that his new form definitely isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. He can’t eat his wheelie cereal for breakfast. Auto/Otto can’t fit on the bus and has to drive himself to school. He becomes frustrated while stuck in miserable traffic and is late. At recess, no playground for him. His only option is to drive laps around it. Bedtime finally arrives and a doleful Otto listens to his mom: “Everyone has to switch gears sometime.” Otto wakes up a changed boy and is open to new experiences. An unexpected ending wraps up this story beautifully, providing opportunity for discussion of this multithemed gem. Magoon sets the mood on the end pages with Otto driving a sports car. The digital illustrations are saturated with bold colors and pop off the page. Body language and facial expressions are priceless, and there are many delightful details for readers to pore over. LaReau cleverly sprinkles car speak throughout the story. Otto’s mother calls him “my little speedster.” His friends are named Chevy, Mini, and Kia, and his teacher Mrs. Dodge. A winner, whether sharing with a group or in a one-on-one setting.–Anne Beier, Clifton Public Library, NJ

LAROCHELLE, David. The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories. illus. by Paul Meisel. unpaged. Dutton. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42272-3. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–It’s bedtime, and Franny and Frankie Ghost are not tired. Crossing their fingers, they blithely lie and say they will go to bed after Father Ghost tells them a story. In fact, he winds up telling them three family tales. He starts with one about Uncle Ned, whose failed attempts to scare an old man, a teenager, and a baby end in personal disaster when he becomes a diaper. While his fate is appalling to the young ghosts, the illustration of Uncle Ned covering the bottom of a toddler will strike human children as hilarious. In the title story, boastful Cousin Nell encounters a motionless, scary-looking hamburger with two round green eyes, bloody-looking cheeks, and a curvy yellow mouth. “Mommmmmmy!” she screams. Each story is slightly sillier than the previous one, culminating in Father’s tale about his terrifying grandmother, who wore bright red lipstick and covered him with kisses. Still those naughty ghosts will not fall asleep, until they hear “Thump! Thump! Thump! on the stairs and laughing in the hall: Is it the Big Bad Granny come to kiss them? Too scared to find out, they jump into bed and close their eyes. Meisel’s charming watercolor and ink cartoon illustrations keep the tone light and augment the tongue-in-cheek humor. Smartly written with plenty of unexpected twists, this book is sure to become a year-round bedtime favorite.–Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR

LESTER, Helen. Wodney Wat’s Wobot. illus. by Lynn Munsinger. unpaged. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-36756-9. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–Adorable Wodney Wat has found a solution to his speech issue. He receives a “Wobot” for his birthday: “a tewiffic pwesent!” especially since this robot can repeat anything that is said to it. Now instead of ordering “wibs and wice” at lunch, Wodney directs his robot to order “ribs and rice.” Unfortunately, the fun ends when Camilla Capybara, the World’s Meanest Rodent, returns with a vengeance. Camilla zeros in on Rodney’s stutter, mocking him at a crucial moment when his robot breaks. Luckily, the robot’s malfunction ends up scaring Camilla, resulting in her ego being knocked down a peg or two. In the end, she is defeated, the robot is fixed, and everyone is happy. Wodney is a wonderfully quirky character with whom many children will connect. Munsinger’s illustrations are joyful and humorous. A lively addition for most libraries.–Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh, PA

LITWIN, Eric. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes. illus. by James Dean. unpaged. CIP. HarperCollins. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191024-1; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-191025-8. LC 2009053455.
PreS-K–In this sequel to Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (HarperCollins, 2010), Pete is enjoying a day at school. He explores the library, the lunchroom, and the playground, singing happily with each new discovery. As with the first book, this feline is unflappable. He doesn’t worry about noise, confusion, or the unfamiliar and takes everything in stride. The problem with this book seems to be the target audience. The repetition and the simple concepts in the first book appeal largely to the preschool set. That same structure is present here, but a school setting that features a library, a lunchroom, riding a school bus, etc., would seem to indicate a child in kindergarten, who has probably moved beyond Pete. Dean’s cartoon illustrations are bright and cheerful, although Pete alternates between walking erect with two sneakers and walking on all fours wearing four. Purchase if you service a large preschool population where the first title is popular, but elementary schools can probably pass in favor of something with a little more substance.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

LLOYD-JONES, Sally. How to Get a Jobby Me, the Boss. illus. by Sue Heap. unpaged. CIP. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86664-7; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96664-4. LC 2009050696.
PreS-Gr 2–The bossy narrator from How to Be a Babyby Me the Big Sister (2007) and How to Get Marriedby Me the Bride (2009, both Random) explains to her friends and baby brother how to get a job. Wearing big round glasses and striped pink and gray tights with her gray skirt and too-big heels, the Boss sits on her desk and explains that “A Job is so you can have something to do and get money for your family. And sometimes a Job is so you can get all dressed up and wear your new shoes to work.” Her playroom is full of boxes containing all of the goodies needed to explore all sorts of vocations–from Cowboy to Explorer and Super-Ballerina-Soccer-Mermaid-Fairy Princess (our Boss’s position of choice) to Magician. She offers sound advice as she counsels that “a good job to get is something you love” and tells her baby brother that you shouldn’t be a “World-Famous Chef if you can’t even cook cereal.” She and her friends continue trying on trades that all kids play at as she explains what the work involves. Then the Boss goes through the steps of writing a résumé and interviewing. The illustrations are perfectly rendered in childlike acrylic paint and crayons and show the fun details of imaginative play on a rainy day. Fans of the previous titles will not be disappointed.–Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY

LOVE, Donna. The Glaciers Are Melting! illus. by Shennen Bersani. unpaged. map. CIP. Sylvan Dell. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-6071-8126-2; pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-6071-8136-1; ebook $7.95. ISBN 978-1-60718-146-0. LC 2010049638.
PreS-Gr 1–A crew of mountain-dwelling critters are all aflutter about glacial melt. Peter Pika panics when he’s hit by a drop of water and goes to seek the wisdom of Mountain Monarch, taking with him Harry Hare, Mandy Marmot, Sally Squirrel, and Tammy Ptarmigan. Along the way, they encounter Wiley Wolverine, who attempts to lure them into his lair. A neat idea for broaching the subject of environmental protection with the younger crowd, the book hints about the consequences of glacial melting for each animal in a light, chatty tone rather than hammering kids over the head with gloom-and-doom facts. The story concludes with Mountain Monarch lamenting the fact that the animals number too few to make a difference, and Peter Pika asks, “Then who?” Turn the page, and the answer to that question awaits readers via several spreads of useful information about glacial melting and environmental protection. The book does suffer a bit from an inconsistent quality in Bersani’s illustrations. The detailing of the animals’ fur and feathers is respectable, but the creatures themselves are static figures that sometimes appear to have just been dropped into the scenery. That said, the book serves a great purpose in a largely successful way.–Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR

MCCUE, Lisa. Quiet Bunny’s Many Colors. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Sterling. 2011. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-4027-7209-2. LC 2009053323.
PreS-K–This treacly, message-driven picture book will likely please undemanding fans of cuteness but leave more-discerning readers disappointed. It is spring and Quiet Bunny decides that his brown-and-white fur is the color of winter. He wants to be the color of spring, so he turns yellow by covering himself with honey and then dandelions but falls into a stream that washes him clean. He then becomes green, blue, and red in turn, using lily pads, blueberries, and red mud. The mud hardens and he sadly washes it off in a stream, where the proverbially wise old owl (in a gatefold) tells him, “That is why the spring forest is beautiful….We are all different colors, and we are all beautiful!” The pedestrian text is overly long for the audience, and the didactic message lacks subtlety. The art, with a very fluffy bunny and bright, candy-colored flowers, has the look and feel of a greeting card. The pacing, with the use of spot art and full-bleed spreads, moves the story along nicely, although the gatefold is unnecessary and unlikely to hold up. On the whole, this is an unexceptional addition to the glut of books about colors.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

MACKINTOSH, David. Marshall Armstrong Is New to Our School. illus. by author. unpaged. Abrams. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0036-1. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–The new boy is very different from the other kids in class. Their teacher gives him a desk at the front of the room, next to the narrator, a boy who compares Marshall’s ear to a shell, his lips to a tropical fish, and his freckles to birdseed. His white arms are dotted with red mosquito bites, and he sits on the medicine balls and reads during recess. Marshall eats “space food” in silver wrappers at lunch. When he invites everyone to his birthday party at his large, unusual house, his classmates get to know the real Marshall, who plays the piano, studies the sky, and slides down the fireman’s pole. The narrator has a great time at the party, accepts Marshall, and is genuinely ready to welcome the next new student. The cartoon-style line art uses bold colors offset with plenty of white detail. Marshall and his classmates have large heads on small bodies, and their faces are quietly expressive. Whether Marshall is physically fragile (restricted activities and special diet) or simply marching to a different drummer (odd clothes and space science) remains unclear. This ambiguity, highlighted by quirky details in the illustrations, will speak to the many youngsters who feel out of place among their classmates. Pair this story with Mary E. Whitcomb’s Odd Velvet (Chronicle, 1998) for a beginning-of-school storytime in which everyone is appreciated.–Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

MACLACHLAN, Patricia. Your Moon, My Moon: A Grandmother’s Words to a Faraway Child. illus. by Brian Collier. unpaged. CIP. S & S. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7950-0; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8261-6. LC 2008050451.
K-Gr 2–A grandmother who lives in the U.S. prepares to visit her grandson, who lives in Africa. While the moon is common to them both, she points out the many differences in their lives as she reminisces about past times together. When it is cold in one place, it is hot and dry in the other. There is ice-skating where she lives and lake swimming where he lives. Always, though, there is the moon, and as the story comes to a close, grandparent and grandchild are reunited under it. Collier’s vibrant illustrations are a blend of watercolor and his trademark collage. This is a wonderful book to contrast different lifestyles. Pair it with Nigel Gray’s A Country Far Away (Scholastic, 1989) to further illustrate cultural differences and human commonalities.–Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

MAXWELL, Shannon. Our Daddy Is Invincible. illus. by Liza Biggers. 36p. photos. 4th Division. 2011. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-1-61751-003-8. LC 2010915414.
Gr 1-4–Alexis and Eric’s dad is wounded while in service on active duty. Alexis compares him to Superman, invincible and protecting the world. When their mother explains that he has been hurt, they cannot believe that is could happen to their strong father, but they realize that even superheroes can be brought down by the bad guys. The child describes what her dad is doing to get better; the team of people such as speech, physical, and occupational therapists and doctors and nurses to assist in his recovery and rehabilitation; and that family life may be a little different now but things can still be fun. Bright acrylic paintings of military families express love, concern, worry, and hope. Butterflies, a symbol of hope, are hidden on many of the pages. This realistic story ends with a page of photographs and messages from other children of wounded moms, dads, or extended family. This is an important subject about which not much has been written, and the text is informative and reassuring. However, the illustrations are a bit amateurish and stiff. A book to help children understand and appreciate the sacrifice and service our military families make while keeping us safe.–Nancy Baumann, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO

MAYHEW, James. Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake. illus. by author. unpaged. Barron’s. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7641-6407-1. LC 2010936559.
K-Gr 3–Under Madame Rosa’s tutelage, Ella Bella and her classmates pretend to be baby swans as they dance to Tchaikovsky’s ballet. Ella’s imagination draws her into the story and she comes to the aid of Odette, the Swan Princess, under the spell of a wicked sorcerer. Mayhew’s watercolor illustrations have elegant lines and are by turns romantic and dramatic as the child helps to reunite the princess and her beloved prince. The simple text is equally graceful. An endnote also provides background on the classic ballet. This addition to the charming series will appeal to fans of ballerinas and princesses.–Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

MUIR, Leslie. Barry B. Wary. illus. by Carrie Gifford. unpaged. Hyperion/Disney. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-2756-7. LC number unavailable.
Gr 2-3–In rhyming quatrains, Muir tells the story of a furry pop-eyed spider whose greatest pleasure is eating bugs and slugs, until he realizes that he has no friends to eat with. In his search for a companion, he falls in love with a beautiful butterfly that flutters away in fear when he speaks to her (“My dear, you look sweeter than cricket ice cream”). Alas (“how can you love/what you’re dying to chew?”), Barry gives up eating bugs, plants two butterfly bushes, and waits by candlelight for his beloved to reappear. She does not, but a moth that flies into the candle’s flame provides the spider with an unexpected, “flame-grilled” dinner. Gifford’s cartoon illustrations in pink, brown, pale and dark orange, apple green, and light blue show the fluffy, long-legged spider cavorting across white pages under a garden of rose bushes; catching bugs in webs, jars, and butterfly nets; eating at a tablecloth-covered tree stump; and waiting for his love under a gray sky. The sophisticated humor in this odd little tale will be understood by elementary students, but may well be lost on younger children, despite the picture-book format.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

MURRAY, Laura. The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School. illus. by Mike Lowery. unpaged. CIP. Putnam. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25052-1. LC 2009006642.
PreS-Gr 2–This comic-style story is told from the gingerbread man’s point of view. Just as the timer dings and the cookie that the kids made is pulled out of the oven, the teacher calls “RECESS!” and they all run off. Readers follow the gingerbread man’s journey to look for the children, told in rhyming couplets, as he encounters the gym teacher, the nurse (who mends his broken toe), the art teacher, and the principal. Eventually, he rejoins the students and is declared an official member of the class, complete with his own desk, chair, and cottage. With a little practice to get the beats just right, the text can be easily read aloud, and youngsters can be invited to chime in on the refrain: “I’m the Gingerbread Man/and I’m trying to find,/the children who made me,/but left me behind.” A variety of fonts is used to indicate differences between speakers and the narration. The cartoon illustrations are primitive in style, but suit the story to a tee.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID

NELSON, Jessie & Karen Leigh Hopkins. Labracadabra. illus. by Deborah Melmon. 36p. Viking. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01251-0. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–Zach has always wanted a dog, but when his parents fulfill his wish, he is not completely happy with his new pet, who is a mixed breed with “a little bit of everything.” Then Larry wins Zach’s affection by exhibiting some seemingly magical qualities. When he wags his tail wildly, a bully leaves Zach alone, an angry bee is sent flying out of a car window, the boy is awakened just in time to attend a birthday party, and rainbows sprout in swimming-pool spray. Although readers might question that Larry’s tail has actual magical properties, by book’s end there is no doubt about the pair’s devotion to one another. This short, humorous chapter book is ideal for newly independent readers. Melmon’s black-and-white illustrations deliver an additional comical tone.–Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI

O’MALLEY, Kevin. Desk Stories. illus. by author. 32p. CIP. Albert Whitman. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-1562-4. LC 2010050423.
Gr 3-6–In this follow-up to Backpack Stories (Albert Whitman, 2009), the desk–its past, future, and the horror it sometimes holds–is the subject of six punchy tales told in distinct sequential art. One selection is done in loose freehand with soft pencils; one is cross-hatched, inked, and colored; a couple are digital; one sports retro dot-matrix coloring; while the first combines nearly all those techniques. “History Man” is back with a survey of desk lore, including the spiked medieval desk to ensure that no one ever falls asleep in class, and the “lose the desk” beanbag movement of the 1960s. “Trapped” relates the nightmare of a young boy shackled to and chased by the desk. “It Came from Within” delivers a furry surprise (and a good punch line) to Sara, the perfect kid who is always prepared. “Desktec” is a daydream vision of what a desk could be (flat-screen TV, all-terrain four-wheel drive) if the right people were designing it. Then there are “Desktime Jokes” and the saga of “Sue Smallton: The Incredible Shrinking Supergirl,” who dares to rescue and return a borrowed barrette from the depths of her stuffed-to-the-brim desk. Told with countless one-liners from the superhero and horror genres, this book is an extremely satisfying read for young people who are dealing with bragging, nagging kids and less-than-engaging lessons, and seeking some old-school comic relief.–Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City

PATERSON, Katherine & John Paterson. The Flint Heart. illus. by John Rocco. 304p. CIP. Candlewick. Sept. 2011. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-4712-4. LC 2010048225.
Gr 3-6–The Patersons have teamed up to bring a long-out-of-print story (originally written by Eden Phillpotts and published in 1910) to a modern audience. During the Stone Age, an ambitious warrior asks the wise man of his tribe to make him an artifact that will harden his heart so he can become a powerful chief. The wise man obliges and, with some mischievous intervention from the Thunder Spirit, an artifact–the flint heart of the title–is made and a series of tyrants is created. Flash forward to 1910 and a farmer discovers the item, much to the dismay of his children. Book-learned 12-year-old Charles and his younger sister, Unity, take matters into their own hands by consulting with the local fairies on how to proceed. Told in the voice of a storyteller in the style of A. A. Milne or J. M. Barrie, the tale will make an excellent read-aloud. There is little real suspense, but this is an intentional part of the book’s charm. The Patersons have done a lovely job updating and abridging this tale for today’s readers. It’s curious that Phillpotts’s name isn’t also listed on the cover, as large portions of the text are identical to the original. Rocco’s fantastic illustrations alone make this edition worth purchasing.–Alana Joli Abbott, formerly at James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

PATRICELLI, Leslie. Be Quiet, Mike! illus. by author. unpaged. Candlewick. Aug. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-4477-2. LC 2010044814.
PreS-Gr 1–From the time monkey Mike is a tyke, he drums, bangs, and rattles on anything handy, much to the consternation of family, neighbors, and teachers. Their constant refrain, “BE QUIET, MIKE!” has no effect on the monkey in motion. One day he sees the answer–a drum set in a music store window that would provide an outlet for his percussive energy. Without the means to afford it, Mike hatches a plan. After much drawing, gathering, hammering, and taping, he creates a homemade set of pots, pans, and cans and gets down to business. To his surprise, his new musical outlet elicits cheers from his family and in the satisfying ending they urge, “PLAY LOUDER, MIKE!” This rhythmic, rhyming romp about a youngster who must drum is illustrated with bold lines and colors in acrylic that suggest a jazzy ease. The bright, ever-changing background hues keep the focus on Mike and the onomatopoeic words scattered throughout the story. Children who can’t sit still will love meeting Mike, and frustrated parents will see a solution to their own be-bopping child in this effervescent drummer.–Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI

PENNYPACKER, Sara. Clementine and the Family Meeting. illus. by Marla Frazee. 160p. Hyperion/Disney. Sept. 2011. RTE $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-2356-9. LC number unavailable.
Gr 2-4–Clementine’s fifth adventure for early chapter-book readers addresses a topic many children can relate to. The third-grader’s parents call a family meeting to announce that a new baby is on the way. Clementine’s reaction to the news is realistic–she says “No thanks!” She argues that four is the perfect number for a family, for reasons as varied as there are four sides to a puzzle to the fact that hot dogs come in packages of eight, so a family of four can have two each. Her parents are a little surprised by her reaction but take the time to try to understand how she is feeling and demonstrate how special she is to them. Through some humorous conversations with her friends, grandparents, and teacher, Clementine changes her perspective on the situation. This is a solid entry in the series, and it will surely keep readers wanting more.–Amy Commers, South St. Paul Public Library, MN

PROTOPOPESCU, Orel. Thelonious Mouse. illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. unpaged. CIP. Farrar. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37447-1. LC 2009047599.
K-Gr 3–Thelonious Mouse is full of energy, enthusiasm, and daring, attributes that manifest themselves in razzy, jazzy, snazzy onomatopoeic and rhyming phrases that he sings everywhere he goes. He loves to swish his tail as he taunts the resident cat: “Swish-cheese…Swish-cheese,” “Swish-a-whisker…Swish-a-whisker.” Thelonious drives his family nuts with all the near misses he has with Fat Cat, but the mouse persists and eventually figures out a way to get the feline to bop to the beat as well. Wilsdorf’s playful, colorful, and detailed illustrations express the energy Thelonious exudes from one page to the next. This picture book will be a challenge for anyone who tries to read it aloud cold. Getting the beat and the tongue-twisting phrases just right takes some practice, but the outcome is well worth the effort. A “bouncy mousy whip-whopping nonstop bebop!”–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID

RASCHKA, Chris. A Ball for Daisy. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85861-1; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95861-8. LC 2010024132.
PreS-Gr 2–Ever the minimalist, Raschka continues to experiment with what is essential to express the daily joys and tribulations of humans and animals. This wordless story features Daisy, a dog. The motion lines framing her tail on the first page indicate that a big red ball is her chief source of delight. Ever-changing, curvy gray brushstrokes, assisted by washes of watercolor, define her body and mood. Blue and yellow surround her ecstatic prance to the park with toy and owner. The story’s climax involves another dog joining the game, but chomping too hard, deflating the beloved ball. A purple cloud moves in, and eight squares fill a spread, each surrounding the protagonist with an atmosphere progressing from yellow to lavender to brown as the canine processes what has occurred; a Rothko retrospective could not be more moving. Until that point, the action has occurred within varying page designs, many showing Daisy’s shifting sentiments in four vertical or horizontal panels. Her attentive human’s legs are glimpsed frequently, a sunny child whose warmth is transferred in comforting full view at bedtime. When another day dawns, the frisky dog’s person proffers a blue surprise; the exuberance at having a ball and a friend is barely containable across two pages. Raschka’s genius lies in capturing the essence of situations that are deeply felt by children. They know how easy it is to cause an accident and will feel great relief at absorbing a way to repair damage.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

REID, Barbara. Perfect Snow. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-6492-9. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 3–Scott is trying to build the world’s greatest team of snowmen at recess, but the bell rings before he can finish. Jim would like to build his Snow Fortress of Doom before recess is over, but before he can complete it, his fort is raided. The boys don’t give up, though. They try again at lunch, but this time they are successful because they decide to work together to build something that everyone will want to contribute to and no one will want to destroy. Reid’s colorful Plasticine illustrations are almost photographic in detail. The walls of the school are covered with sprinkles of tiny snowflakes, and many of the children who appear outside have a flush of pink on their cheeks. The panels of black-and-white drawings that appear alongside the colored illustrations allow readers to see sequences of action and the passage of time. By the end of this book, the perfect snow is washed away by the rain, but these two boys don’t mind. They retain their playful outlook on life and think of ways to have fun in the slush.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

RICHMOND, Marianne. I Believe in You. illus. by author. unpaged. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Aug. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4022-6344-6. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 1–A simple, feel-good concept book. Told in rhyme, the message–to be the best you can be–is emphasized in a predictable manner. Each rhyme demonstrates ways readers may achieve that goal. Challenges such as developing skills, finding loyal friends, admitting mistakes, and generally growing up can be met with support and love. “When learning something new/makes you want to stop and quit,/I believe in your great attitude,/to go and conquer it!” The large font highlights in color the words that emphasize the message, and the whimsical, cartoonlike illustrations in watercolor and ink have humorous details. While not distinctive, this book may prove useful in a character-development curriculum.–Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA

RIES, Lori. Aggie Gets Lost. illus. by Frank W. Dormer. 48p. CIP. Charlesbridge. 2011. RTE $12.95. ISBN 978-1-57091-633-5. LC 2010007533.
K-Gr 2–Aggie and Ben are playing catch in the park when Ben throws the ball too far and his pup doesn’t come back. He looks everywhere, but can’t find her. He and his parents make phone calls and posters, retrace their steps, and ask people if they’ve seen Aggie. When these efforts fail, Ben consults his blind friend, Mr. Thomas, who suggests a different approach. The book is split into three chapters for early readers, appropriately named “The Bad Day,” “The Awful Night,” and “Found!” Dormer’s humorous pen, ink, and watercolor cartoons add to the charm of this story. Perfect for newly independent readers, the short sentences and limited vocabulary will help children build confidence.–Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH

ROSEN, Michael J. Night of the Pumpkinheads. illus. by Hugh McMahon. unpaged. Dial. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3452-4. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 1Halloween looms, and several pumpkins scheme to scare the children who will soon be trick-or-treating. Jackpot, head of the Union of Pumpkinheads, proposes a contest for the scariest carved jack o’lantern. Whoever spooks the children the most will be crowned head of the holiday. Each one thinks of a costume to complement its appearance: a white pumpkin zombie mime, dinosaurs from colossal pumpkins, a swarm of killer bees and eyeballs from the minis. Contemptuous pumpkins deny other vegetables the opportunity to participate, but the joke is on them. It turns out that small children are far more scared of leeks, turnips, and parsnips than of carved pumpkins. The illustrations combine photographs with pencil drawings. Black backgrounds provide drama and allow the glowing contestants to shine. Details in pencil fill out the spreads, adding fences, vines, and partial views of the costumed children the pumpkins hope to scare. The story line is thin and choppy; the book is more of a vehicle to showcase McMahon’s carving skills. For some readers, the plot deficiencies will not matter much, as the artwork is astoundingly detailed and creative. An illustrated two-page guide gives a basic overview on how to carve a scaredy-cat pumpkin. Libraries with substantial holiday collections may wish to supplement with this title. –Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR

RYLANT, Cynthia. Brownie & Pearl Grab a Bite. illus. by Brian Biggs. unpaged. CIP. S & S/Beach Lane Bks. Aug. 2011. Tr $13.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8634-8. LC 2009047206.
PreS-Gr 1–Brownie and her cat, Pearl, are ready for lunch. They peer into the refrigerator, and Brownie selects some “stringy cheese.” On the following page, Pearl is busy eating and playing with it. Next they find apples in a bowl on the counter, and Pearl rolls one on the floor. From the pantry Brownie chooses saltines and bites them into shapes: “P is for Pearl!” She pours milk into a glass for herself and into a dish for her pet. The book concludes, “Eat, eat. Drink, drink. Lick, lick. Yum.” Biggs’s vibrant illustrations fill out the spare text with details: Brownie’s dress has an apple, pear, and orange pattern; the blue wallpaper has a citrus-slice pattern; and so on. While there is not much of a story, preschoolers will enjoy the friendship and older children may memorize the short, simple text to build pre-reading skills. A solid addition to the series.–Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI

RYLANT, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Ring the Bell. illus. by Arthur Howard. unpaged. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2011. RTE $14.99. ISBN 978-0-15-205071-9. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–In this episode, Mr. Putter is telling his cat, Tabby, how much he loves fall, and that leads him to realize how much he misses school. He goes to see Mrs. Teaberry, and they cook up an idea to take her dog, Zeke, and Tabby for show-and-tell to the local school. All does not go as planned. Children will love this easy-to-read, hilarious story. Every character has a distinct personality, including Zeke. This is a great school story, and it would fit well in any unit about fall, too. The text is simple enough for children who are reading fluently on their own, and the book is set up in mini-chapters, making it seem much more advanced than it is. The pencil and watercolor illustrations add to the fun. A first purchase.–Lora Van Marel, Orland Park Public Library, IL

SALISBURY, Graham. Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey. illus. by Jacqueline Rogers. 144p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Sept. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73963-4; PLB $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90797-2; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-0-375-89796-2. LC number unavailable.
Gr 3-5–In this installment, a new classmate, Benny Obi, eats dried bug snacks and claims to know kung fu. While Calvin tries to figure out what to make of him, he’s challenged by the school bully, Tito, and has a prickly relationship with live-in babysitter Stella. Supported by his friends and reassuring adults, Calvin finds satisfying solutions to his problems, even if they do not always come in time to save the day. The Hawaiian island setting is a subtle but appealing presence, bringing uniqueness and diversity to the narrative. Salisbury offers gentle wisdom and understanding, helping Calvin–and readers–realize the importance of respect, tolerance, and standing up for oneself and one’s friends. Expressive black-and-white illustrations add humor and are generously sprinkled throughout. The straightforward writing style, distinct characters, and now-requisite “Hawaii” and “Calvin” facts are sure to please readers. This is another strong entry in a winning series that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read.–M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

SCHOENBERG, Jane. The One and Only Stuey Lewis: Stories from the Second Grade. illus. by Cambria Evans. 128p. Farrar. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37292-7. LC number unavailable.
Gr 2-3–In four short stories, Stuey conquers second grade. With a sweet supporting cast of family, friends, and a teacher, Ms. Curtis, whom everyone wishes they had, he goes through the ups and downs of early elementary school. He overcomes his fears of reading, hatches a brilliant Halloween trick-or-treating scheme, learns to love soccer despite not being the star of the team, and finds a surprise friend in the most obnoxious girl in class. Each story neatly encapsulates a dilemma to which most young readers will be able to relate. There are enough laughs to keep them engaged, and pen-and-ink illustrations bring the colorful characters to life.–Sarah Townsend, Norfolk Public Library, VA

SCHWARTZ, Roslyn. The Vole Brothers. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. OwlKids. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-926818-83-2. LC 2010943317.
PreS-Gr 2–As she did in The Mole Sistersseries (Annick), Schwartz has created a new sibling duo. The mischievous vole brothers are impishly drawn in a layout that resembles a graphic novel with word balloons and sequential panels on the first two pages. The siblings smell something delicious and follow a curious cat to its source, a slice of pepperoni pizza, only to find that they are not the only animals that are hungry. While the cat stalks the voles, the voles stalk the pizza, but their inability to get along distracts them long enough for some resourceful poachers to take their meal, piece by piece. The colored-pencil artwork is expressive and full of humor. A fun introduction to graphic storytelling.–Lia Carruthers, Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ

SCOTTON, Rob. Splish, Splash, Splat! illus. by author. unpaged. HarperCollins. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-197868-5; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-197869-2. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 1–Splat and Spike are back in a new adventure. Splat is having his worst day ever. Spike, who calls him names, eats his candy fish, and breaks his toys, is coming for a mother-arranged playdate. But first it’s learn-to-swim day at Cat School. Splat hates water, “Water is horrible. It’s scary and wet and makes me soggy.” It turns out that he isn’t alone in his feelings. When he realizes that Spike is also afraid of water, he helps him overcome his fear by luring him into the pool with a candy fish. In the end, the felines discover that water tickles and really is fun. At their playdate, Spike breaks only one toy and gives Splat the perfect gift–swim trunks. The characters’ wonderful facial expressions carry the story while the integration of the text and illustrations is seamless.–Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

SENDAK, Maurice. Bumble-Ardy. illus. by author. unpaged. HarperCollins/Michael di Capua Bks. Sept. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-06-205198-1. LC 2011920392.
PreS-Gr 2–In 1970, Sendak collaborated with Jim Henson on an animated short for Sesame Street that celebrated the number nine and a birthday boy who partied with swine. The author has re-imagined the rhymed narrative with a cast composed completely of pigs. The plot is still driven by an unfortunately/fortunately engine, but accommodations have been made for today’s sensitive parents, e.g., instead of wine, the pigs guzzle brine. In the opening sequence that spans the years and starts before the title page, readers learn that Bumble-Ardy has never had a birthday party. “His immediate family frowned on fun.” When Bumble turns eight, his parents “got ate.” On birthday nine, divine Aunt Adeline provides a “hotsy tottsy cowboy costume” and leaves for work, whereupon surreptitious invitations lead to a masquerade. Initially framed in ovals (a nod to the film), the revelers burst out of the borders and parade across a white background. Then the raucous rumpus begins. Costumed pigs carouse with wild abandon against a star-dotted sky in three full-bleed spreads. Nine appears as a numeral and in various languages. Savvy readers will notice references to Sendak’s previous books and an ebullient cameo; scholars will undoubtedly discover personal iconography in the densely populated watercolors. Familiar themes abound: the quest for home, the capacity children have for navigating their circumstances, the pleasure of cake, the presence of death. A skeletal grim reaper dances next to the banner reading: “May Bumble live 900 years.” Oh that Mr. Sendak could. Nobody does naughty quite like he does.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

SHARRATT, Nick. What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen? illus. by author. unpaged. Candlewick. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5224-1. LC number unavailable.
Gr 1-3–Sharratt’s book comes with choices. The flaps covering the seven items in the witch’s kitchen can be opened either from the left or right, or up or down. Questions prompt readers to guess what’s inside each appliance or container. The rhymes that appear beside each illustration hint at the contents under the flaps. “What’s in the toaster in the witch’s kitchen?/Open it left or open it right. Will it make your mouth water or turn your hair white?” One side of the flap reveals “a grumpy burnt ghost”; the other side shows “some crunchy hot toast.” Sharratt’s digital illustrations are colorful and large. Symbols associated with witches are incorporated into the different views of the kitchen. The dishes in the cabinet have a snake pattern on them. The green walls are painted with stars and moons, and the refrigerator is covered with magnets in the shape of a witch’s favorite things. Children don’t meet the purple-haired witch until she pops out of the back door on the last page, but her pet cat makes a couple of appearances throughout. Humorous contrasts, cheery colors, and smiling bats and ghosts make this book a perfect fit for storytimes about homes, rhymes, or surprises.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

SHAW, Hannah. School for Bandits. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Knopf/Borzoi. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86768-2; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96768-9. LC 2010039516.
K-Gr 2–Ralph’s parents are worried about him. A good raccoon is not supposed to be clean, tidy, and polite, but their son is all of those things. They are so concerned about his behavior that they enroll him in a school for bandits to learn the bad manners that every raccoon must possess. His teacher, Mrs. Mischief, is disappointed in his progress, and his classmates make fun of him. Given the assignment to return after a vacation with a bag of loot acquired by dishonest means, Ralph surprises them with a heavy sack of goodies and wins the Best Bandit Competition. When the other students learn that he received the treats in return for doing good deeds, he teaches them to change their ways and their perceptions of what a good raccoon should be. He becomes a role model and the pride of his parents. This clever story is packed with childlike humor. The pen-and-ink drawings are in bold colors and are full of action and creative details. There is so much to explore that children will want to read this picture book again and again.–Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT

SHAW, Natalie, adapt. Olivia Plans a Tea Party. illus. by Patrick Spaziante. unpaged. S & S/Simon Spotlight. 2011. Tr $6.99. ISBN 978-1-4423-3962-0. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–When her mom, a party planner, catches a cold and takes to her bed, Olivia offers to help out by acting as her “official assistant.” Her mother instructs her to answer the phone and take messages. The first caller asks for an emergency tea party for her ladies’ garden club that afternoon. The piglet attempts to relay the message, but her mother is fast asleep. Olivia, Francine, and Ian quickly make sandwiches and find decorations for the event. They accidentally get their signals crossed when another caller asks for pirates at a party. The illustrations, on glossy paper, are very colorful, and the book features a durable padded cover. Fans will enjoy this tale that is based on an episode of the TV series Olivia as seen on Nickelodeon.–Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH

SHEA, Bob. Dinosaur vs. the Library. illus. by author. unpaged. Hyperion/Disney. Sept. 2011. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-3338-4. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2–This third adventure of the roaring red reptile finds the scrappy contender setting out to roar his way to the library. Along the way, Dinosaur makes stealthy advances on a variety of unwary animals and succeeds in recruiting them as roarers, too. However, when he arrives at the library, he is told, “Use your inside roar!” Will Dinosaur be able to restrain himself during storytime? This episode is a bit disjointed compared to the previous ones, and it lacks the appeal of Dinosaur’s triumphs over the more-routine childhood nemeses, like bedtime, bath time, and the potty. However children will still enjoy the spunky hero. Young readers will be captivated by the visual feast of bold, black strokes set off by bright primary colors and text that practically jumps off the page. The repetitive roaring makes this book well-suited as an interactive read-aloud.–Debbie Lewis, Alachua County Library District, FL

SHIELDS, Gillian. Library Lily. illus. by Francesca Chessa. unpaged. CIP. Eerdmans. Aug. 2011. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-8028-5401-8. LC 2010053737.
K-Gr 2–When Lily learns to read, her mother takes her to the library. From this point on, all the child wants to do is read. She reads in the morning, during the day, and at night; she reads throughout the seasons until one day her mother takes her to the park and urges her to play. There she meets Milly, who hates to read, but shares with Lily the thrill of exploring. Lily introduces her to the adventures in books, and the girls have a grand time doing things together. The simple text includes some dialogue and quotes from the books that Lily is reading and is placed attractively around the illustrations. Bright, vibrant, cartoon artwork enhances the text and evokes a cheerful feeling. The captivating images depict the girls’ developing friendship and their exuberance as they discover new interests. The message demonstrates that one can enjoy both reading and exploring, especially when shared with a friend.–Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA

SIEGEL, Mark. Moving House. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-635-0. LC 2010036602.
K-Gr 1“The fog in Foggytown was so thick that people bumped into parking meters. And streetlamps. And each other.” Siegel uses richly textured charcoals to evoke a town overshadowed by the tall smokestacks of a factory. But the overpowering pollution isn’t the focus of the plot; instead, it’s the fact that Joey and Chloe have never seen the stars, and that their parents are so fed up with the fog that they decide–against their youngsters’ objections–to move. The artwork becomes more colorful and kinetic as the artist portrays the children’s special rooms, spaces, and memories, as well as the house itself, which tilts, wiggles, jiggles, and trots up the hillside, until it “popped out of the fog.” Finally, the youngsters have their first views of the deep blue, gold-flecked night sky. While the text at this point gets muddled with conversations among the town’s buildings and lampposts, what’s happening–accompanied by delightful illustrations–is that all the structures are migrating uphill. In the morning, Joey, Chloe, and their parents peek outside and find themselves above the clouds where they can see for miles. It’s disappointing that the town’s pollution, which jump-starts the action, is only important here insofar as it affects the view. The issue of having to leave behind a familiar home is likewise avoided in favor of a more whimsical plot. The pictures are varied and evocative, and the affectionate relationship between the children and their house forms the tender core of this wobbly story. –Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

SMITH, Danna. Pirate Nap: A Book of Colors. illus. by Valeria Petrone. 40p. Clarion. Sept. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-574-57531-5. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–Clever rhyming text in “pirate speak” and colorful, digital gouache illustrations in muted tones create a standout concept book. Two young brothers, sometimes with a little sister in tow, explore the house, finding treasures in everyday objects. Mom tries to corral them to settle down: “Time for a nap, rowdy crew./Mighty pirates need sleep too/Captain sneers. ‘’Tis a trap!/Pirates never, ever nap!’” Providing a strong story arc that children will relate to, the boys continue their adventure until the inevitable happens. The eight basic colors are introduced in the humorous text and in the imaginative pictures. For example, the youngsters discover coins underneath the cushions of the couch. “YELLOW treasures buried deep/Lucky pirates./Loot to keep!” In the basement, imagination takes them through expansive land to a mountain–a large stack of folded laundry with a red blanket for the summit. The facial expressions and body language of this duo are spot-on as they hop, jump, or dance, and the featured colors pop off the page. Children will pore over the small and large details in the artwork. This title inspires creative play, and is likely to be a treasure for years to come.–Anne Beier, Clifton Public Library, NJ

SMITH, Lane. Grandpa Green. illus. by author. unpaged. Roaring Brook. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-607-7. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 3–A clever premise, brilliant pacing, and whimsical illustrations offer a distinctive look at the life and artistic vision of one great-grandfather. A boy recounts the essential facts of the man’s life: “He was born a really long time ago.” “After high school his wish was to study horticulture.” The imaginative art fills in what the words leave out by ingeniously chronicling Grandpa’s story through the fanciful topiaries he creates. The sinewy tree limbs in black line have a sculptural quality, while airy line art drawn in a subtle palette depicting the boy, his great-grandfather, and the general landscape of the garden allow the fantastic creations to stand out. From the formal design of boxwood mazes to fantasy-inspired hedges, Smith uses a broad range of green hues and textures to create ornamental foliage that is inventive and charming. There is harmony in the overall design yet each page surprises and delights. Discerning viewers will identify a playful homage to The Wizard of Oz. Other more quirky creations may be open to interpretation. As he narrates his great-grandfather’s story, the boy strolls through the garden picking up the pieces of Grandpa’s trade, a garden glove here, a watering can there–Grandpa is getting forgetful. With a powerfully charged and perfectly placed line–“But the important stuff, the garden remembers for him”–readers are treated to a dramatic double gatefold revealing the panorama of Grandpa’s life depicted in the living sculptures. Visually intriguing and emotionally resonant, this is a book to pore over and talk about. With each subsequent reading, it offers new layers of meaning and visual connections.–Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

STINE, R. L. It’s the First Day of School...Forever! 192p. Feiwel & Friends. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-312-64954-8. LC number unavailable.
Gr 3-5–Artie Howard experiences the worst first day of school ever as a new fifth grader at Ardmore Middle School. He hits his head when he falls out of bed in the morning, gets electrocuted, has syrup splashed all over his shirt and hair, his dog bites the pocket of his principal’s blazer, he kills his class’s pet scorpion, he makes enemies with the most popular guy at school, and he discovers weird happenings in the basement book room. And that’s only half of it! To make matters worse, when Artie wakes up the next morning, he is doomed to repeat his first day of school all over again, and each iteration is more bizarre than the last. As usual, Stine delivers the hilarity and horror that readers love, and his mastery of sustaining mood will not disappoint. The humor and descriptive first, first day of school allow for faster pacing in the subsequent days, and kids will love the twist at the end.–Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ

VAN DUSEN, Chris. King Hugo’s Huge Ego. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Candlewick. Aug. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5004-9. LC 2010040458.
Gr 1-3King Hugo is a mini monarch (he’s three foot three) who thinks very highly of himself. He makes his subjects bow to him as he extols his magnificence throughout the kingdom. One day his royal coach careens by a woman working along the road and sends her into a ditch. She just happens to be a sorceress and casts a spell on him. Each time he begins to brag, his head grows a tad bigger. When he topples from the top of the castle and rolls like a boulder into the valley, he once again meets the sorceress, who reveals her curse. To prove she is the creator of his misfortune, she allows all the haughty things he has said to explode from his head. Returning to his original appearance, he realizes what a fool he had been and humbly apologizes. “What happened next was kismet/yet truly unforeseen:/he became a better man,/and she became a queen!” This enchanting story in verse will appeal to readers who can laugh at the foolhardy king while enjoying his bizarre transformation. Children will revel at the fanciful illustrations and celebrate when the braggart receives his comeuppance. The gouache illustrations demand attention and are rich in comedic detail with a fairy-tale quality. This is a great group read-aloud that offers opportunity for reflection and discussion. –Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT

VAN GENECHTEN, Guido. Kai-Mook. tr. from Dutch. illus. by author. unpaged. Clavis. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-60537-096-5. LC number unavailable.
PreS-K–When a baby elephant is born, all the animals are smitten. Pig thinks that its pink patches look just like the baby’s pink skin and declares, “She is so cute, oink-oink!” Rabbit thinks that her floppy ears are just like its own and says, “She is so cute, sniff-sniff!” Gorilla thinks that the baby’s nose looks like a banana. “She is so cute, screechscreech!” Each creature takes a turn to point out similarities with the new baby and all declare her “cute.” At last the new baby says, “I AM NOT CUTE,”...“I AM KAI-MOOK!” The friendly collage and pastel cartoon-style animals are just right for toddlers and preschoolers. Children seated at the back of the room at storytimes will have no trouble following along with the oversize pages and large, easily recognizable creatures. Bright-eyed, smiling faces and interesting texturing provide visual appeal that earns this book a spot among the pack of baby-in-the-jungle tales. Further, Kai-Mook’s many points of similarity with her fellow animals may help spark conversations with older siblings who are having trouble finding anything in common with their newest family members.–Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

VAN MOL, Sine. Meena. illus. by Carianne Wijffels. unpaged. CIP. Eerdmans. Aug. 2011. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-8028-5394-3. LC 2010049547.
Gr 1-4–Christa, Klaas, and Thomas believe that their neighbor Meena is an old witch who eats little children, makes frog-blood pies, and has put the little girl they see visiting her under a spell. When they try to warn Anna about Meena, she protests, “She’s not a witch! She’s my grandma.” The children write a letter (“GO AWAY OR ELSE!!!!”), which Thomas tosses over the wall and Meena catches. With great compassion, the woman asks, “Are you so afraid, child?” She offers him some homemade cherry pie, and so begins the friendship between Meena and the children. Simple sentences and a lot of dialogue will appeal to emerging readers. Wijffels uses childlike line drawings to show the youngsters’ fevered imaginings. A fat witch with a wart on her nose eating frogs contrasts with the puzzled old woman in glasses looking out her door as the children run away. Collage elements, children’s art, and blue line drawings on uncluttered white space give the story unexpected depth. James Howe’s Pinky and Rex and the Mean Old Witch (S & S/Atheneum, 1991) explores a similar relationship. Use the two together to spark a discussion of old age and prejudice.–Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

VASILOVICH, Guy. The 13 Nights of Halloween. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. HarperCollins. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-180445-8. LC 2009029469.
PreS-Gr 2Using the formula for “The 12 Days of Christmas,” Vasilovich has created a mildly spooky rhyme for Halloween. On the first night of the holiday, a small girl with an oversize head, huge eyes, and antennaelike pigtails receives a bright, shiny skeleton key from her mummy. Each successive night, a spread describes the next eerie gift and recaps the previous presents. Some of these alliterative offerings are clever: icky eyeballs, baseball bats, singing skulls, corpses caroling, and marching mutants. But others are merely redundant: witches witching and ghosts a-ghosting. The illustrations are delightfully macabre. The smiling little ghoul and the bright, angular creatures she is given are set against swirling backgrounds that should elicit squeals from youngsters who are looking for slightly scary stories. –Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT

WALSH, Barbara. Sammy in the Sky. illus. by Jamie Wyeth. unpaged. Candlewick. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-4927-2. LC 2010040744.
K-Gr 3–This tale of a young girl and her beloved dog whose life comes to its inevitable natural end will have broad appeal. Peering out from the opening page with soulful, winning eyes, Sammy is the “best hound dog in the whole world.” He loves to play and keeps his young owner safe at night. But Sammy develops a sickness that medicine won’t cure, and as he displays increasing physical infirmities, the girl’s parents gently prepare her for his death. The girl comes to terms with her grief several months later when her family holds a “special celebration” on a nearby ocean beach. Seeing Sammy’s shape in a passing cloud, the child begins to understand how he’ll always be with her in spirit. This timeless story, told in straightforward prose, is brought to life in textured, soft-edged watercolor paintings in a predominant palette of blue, green, and gold. The feelings of the protagonist and the playful personality of the dog are palpably rendered in their facial expressions and body language. A generous trim size, universal subject appeal, and striking artwork add up to a picture book that can be enjoyed one-on-one or read independently.–Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT

WARNER, Sally. EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken! Bk. 1. illus. by Jamie Harper. 108p. CIP. Viking. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06243-0. LC 2010025106.
Gr 2-4–EllRay Jakes is the smallest kid in his third-grade class and one of the few African Americans in his school. His most recent progress report says his behavior is in need of improvement, but, according to EllRay, it is only because he likes to make everyone laugh. His parents decide that if he can last a whole week without getting into trouble, they will take him to Disneyland. Should be easy, right? Unfortunately, EllRay is being picked on by two of his classmates, Jared and Stanley, and he does not know why. He is torn between standing up for himself and not attracting attention, which might jeopardize his trip. At the end of the long week, the child has had enough and decides to confront Jared. When the boys come to blows, EllRay discovers why Jared has been picking on him, and it turns out that he is not as innocent as he thought. His realization and a surprise playdate for the boys help to settle the feud. This easy chapter book is a spin-off of Warner’s “Emma” series (Viking), told with similar tone, humor, and style. The author has a way of capturing moments with a perfect description. Harper’s illustrations bring even more life to the already spunky characters. Reluctant readers will find the language engaging, and most children will find the story line amusing.–Kari Allen, National Writing Project, Plymouth State University, NH

WEBSTER, Avril. Off We Go for a Haircut. ISBN 978-1-60613-019-3. LC 2010045381.
–––– . Off We Go to the Dentist. ISBN 978-1-60613-017-9. LC 2010045255.
–––– . Off We Go to the Grocery Store. ISBN 978-1-60613-018-6. LC 2010045382.
ea vol: illus. by David Ryley. 14p. (Off We Go! Series). CIP. Woodbine House. 2011. pap. $9.95.
PreS-Gr 1These simple stories are intended to help children with learning disorders cope with new experiences and changes in routine. They include 12 uncluttered cartoon pictures depicting smiling multiethnic characters, one or two lines of text under each illustration, and information for adults on how to use the books. Repetition of reading and exposure to common social settings will help children know what to expect when encountering these situations. The texts explain what is going to happen, such as when going to get a haircut, “I sit and wait for my turn. I look at a magazine.” “The scissors don’t hurt.” “The clippers make a funny sound but they don’t hurt either.” Grocery Store explains, “We go through the big automatic doors. It is very bright and noisy and busy! It’s okay.” Adults looking for simple explanations to help special-needs children will find these titles useful.–Sandra Welzenbach, Villarreal Elementary School, San Antonio, TX

WEITZMAN, Jacqueline Preiss. Superhero Joe. illus. by Ron Barrett. unpaged. CIP. S & S/Paula Wiseman Bks. Sept. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9157-1. LC 2009034390.
K-Gr 2–When Joe’s parents call for help, he is ready. The boy confides that he used to be scared of everything but not any more. Inspired by his comic-book heroes, he has devised superhero gear (Cape of Confidence, Helmet of Invisibility, Power Gloves, and Super Gravity-Defying Boots) to cope with the frightening situations in his life. Wearing his protective gear, he uses the Torch of Radiance to light the way into the basement, locate the sponge mop for his mom, and save the day. On a more realistic level, Joe tackles his fears by knowing the location of the light switch to the basement, where the caring grown-ups are when he needs them, and that his closet is relatively monster-free. Barrett’s line drawings are rendered in ink and colored digitally. The crisp text is hand lettered. The graphic-novel format and retro atmosphere mimic the comic books whose heroes Joe emulates. Weitzman acknowledges the boy’s feelings and provides imaginative solutions followed by more practical ones. An upbeat, humorous selection.–Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

WILSON, Karma. Bear’s Loose Tooth. illus. by Jane Chapman. unpaged. CIP. S & S/Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-5855-0. LC 2009045690.
PreS-Gr 1–Inimitable Bear once again deals with a classic childhood milestone: a loose tooth. His friends assure him that it will fall out and a new one will grow in its place. Several of them try to pull it out, but it is Bear’s wiggling tongue that does the trick. He dances with happiness and sleeps with the tooth by his head. In the night, a fairy comes and leaves blueberries. He and his friends are delighted, and guess what? Another tooth is loose! Wilson’s typical style is evident here, with a rhythmic text and a refrain, “Bear’s loose tooth.” The rhyme flows fairly smoothly, and the story, while predictable, will be reassuring to youngsters sharing Bear’s experience. Chapman’s art is as charming as ever, with saturated full-bleed backgrounds and her trademark realistic, if slightly anthropomorphized animals. The appearance of the fairy pulls readers a bit further into fantasy than in some of the other titles, but it fits in nicely with the typical mythos that children are likely to be familiar with, and works effectively. Although somewhat more forced than the best of the earlier titles as the refrain and story itself don’t follow as organic a flow, the familiar characters and apropos story line compensate nicely.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

WOLFE, Myra. Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime. illus. by Maria Monescillo. unpaged. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206150-0. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 3–Charlotte Jane the Hearty was endowed with “formidable oomph” from the day she was born. Her days are filled with swashbuckling adventures, treasure hunts, and Fantastic Feats of Daring, but despite her pirate parents’ exhortations, she has no interest in sleep. When at last Charlotte is victorious in her pursuit to stay awake all night, she finds that in the morning she is feeling less than hearty, and her oomph has “weighed anchor.” A hunt for it ensues, with Charlotte’s parents searching everywhere imaginable, but it is the child who ultimately finds the missing oomph in the comfort of her own featherbed. “Charlotte Jane’s hearty dreams…were rip-roarers!” This charming, clever tale about the merits of a good night’s sleep features a youngster brandishing a bounty of pluck. The use of dialogue and strong vocabulary results in a well-paced story that flows elegantly from beginning to end. The whimsical watercolor illustrations–accompanied by digitally created textures to add depth–are captivating, and perfectly complement the text. A generous helping of humorously entertaining pirate speak makes this an enjoyable choice for readers and listeners alike.–Debbie Lewis, Alachua County Library District, FL

WRIGHT, Johanna. Bandits. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Roaring Brook/A Neal Porter Bk. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-583-4. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2–Bandits are rarely presented in as endearing a manner as in Wright’s delightful book about six troublesome raccoons that prowl the neighborhood digging through trash, stealing, and leaving a mess. The text reads like free verse, and it’s clear that the words have been carefully chosen. “But those bandits are careless/Leaving clue after clue/And when they are caught/They will never confess!/Back on the run.” The true star of this book is the amazing artwork. The textural, expressive paintings are full of life, movement, and humor. While the artistic process is evident through visible canvas texture and messy lines, each illustration is fully realized. The spread showing the raccoons as “They sneak and they creep” exaggeratedly toward the village at dusk perfectly introduces the rascally animals. Children who have experienced these nighttime visitors will enjoy seeing their version of events and the fanciful depiction of their activities. This quirky little story is best suited for one-on-one or individual reading. Given the chance, these bandits will easily steal readers’ hearts with their charming mischief.–Anna Haase Krueger, Antigo Public Library, WI

YOLEN, Jane. The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye. illus. by Jim LaMarche. unpaged. CIP. Random. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86663-0; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96663-7. LC 2010013548.
K-Gr 2–A poetic picture book about a cat that knows she is at the end of her life. Tiger Rose is old and hurting, and she senses that the time has come for her to leave. No catastrophic event harkens her death, just a natural instinct to go off by herself. It’s this sense of nature taking its course that is very soothing and makes the death acceptable to readers. Mirroring the soft tone of Yolen’s text are LaMarche’s light-filled pastel illustrations. Both elements have an ethereal quality to them, which suggests that this is a celebration of the cat’s life as she exits peacefully and with dignity. “She never once looked back as she climbed away from life, leaving her old and tired body behind….now part of the earth, the air, the sky, the sun–And all.” Children who are experiencing loss will find this book a comfort. Pair it with Judith Viorst’s The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (Atheneum, 1971) and Bill Cochran’s The Forever Dog (HarperCollins, 2007) for reassurance that death is a natural part of life.–Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

YUM, Hyewon. The Twins’ Blanket. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Aug. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37972-8. LC 20090460922.
PreS-Gr 2Five-year-old twins are used to sharing everything: toys, clothes, and a room. They have even shared the same blanket since they were born. But now, it is too small for both of them. When the arguments begin about who it belongs to, they think that maybe it is time they each have some things of their own. But for children who have always shared everything, this proves to be a bit more difficult than they thought. Succinctly told from the perspective of the girls, this tale of sibling rivalry and separation shines. In the simple language of youngsters, it conveys what it is like to share everything while at the same time realizing how comforting it is to have someone to share things with. The simple, almost impressionistic art graces the pages with bright splashes of color and pattern. The expressions on the girls’ faces are delightful and telling, and youngsters will relate to their attempts at one-upmanship. A lovely addition to any collection. –C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY


AMENTA , Charles A., III. Russell’s World: A Story for Kids About Autism. photos by author. illus. by Monika Pollak. unpaged. CIP. Magination. 2011. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-4338-0975-0; pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-4338-0976-7. LC 2010048837.
K-Gr 4–Originally published in 1992 as Russell Is Extra Special (Magination Pr.), this book tells the story of Russell’s autism and uses photographs of the boy and his two brothers cleverly overlaid with new artwork. Written by his dad using simple language and engaging photos, the narrative presents Russell’s behavior and differences as acceptable and nonthreatening. While basic facts are shared, Amenta is careful to point out that not all children will act in this way as autism has no “typical” behavior. He does indicate that some of these behaviors can be expected from those on the autism spectrum. Notes to parents include tips for finding services and hints for ensuring that siblings of children with autism are not left out. While this book could be used in classrooms, it will prove most useful in families who have neurotypical children as well as youngsters with autism.–Wendy Smith-D’Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD

BARRY, Frances. Let’s Look at Dinosaurs: A Flip-the-Flap Book. illus. by author. unpaged. Candlewick. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5354-5. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 1–In this interactive title, readers discover interesting facts about a dozen dinosaurs. Each page sets up an “I wonder” statement, the answer to which is often revealed by lifting a flap: “I wonder what stegosaurus is doing in the undergrowth. She is eating ferns and other plants growing close to the ground.” Extra facts can be found on each page, which help to deepen the readers’ understanding. Children will enjoy the bright collage art, subject matter, and interactive nature of this book. Simple facts make it ideal for a younger audience. An excellent choice for lap reading.–Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh, PA

BEERY, Barbara. Barbara Beery’s Pink Princess Party Cookbook. photos by Zac Williams. 56p. index. CIP. S & S. 2011. ebook $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1231-6. LC 2010017691.
Gr 1-5Beery offers ideas for six themed celebrations, such as a mermaid princess party, a garden fairy princess party, and a spa princess party. They all include delicate but easy-to-follow recipes for punch, cookies, cakes, sushi, and decorations, as well as themed crafts such as body lotion and floral headbands. These are well-planned ideas, with plenty of full-color photographs to support the text. The author includes a note to parents about safety and age-appropriate tasks. An introduction to the “Pink Princess Kitchen” includes tips, tricks, and prep ideas as well as manners. This delightfully inventive book will be a cherished addition to every princess’s cookbook collection. –Cynde Suite, Bartow County Library System, Adairsville, GA

CANTRELL, Charlie & Rachel Wagner. A Friend for Einstein: The Smallest Stallion. 40p. photos. Hyperion/Disney. 2011. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-4563-9. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 2–Einstein, the smallest horse ever born, has a dilemma. He is too tiny to be with the other horses except for his mother. Various creatures find their way to his pasture, but none of them fills his need for a real playmate. The kittens hiss at him, the ducks ignore him, and the tortoise is boring. Then he meets Lilly, a boxer that likes to do the same things that he does, from running around in the field to enjoying a roll in the grass. This simple story is effectively told through a brief, lively text and captivating full-color photographs. The images of Einstein are irresistible. Whether in the stall with his mother or cavorting with Lilly, this mini miniature horse with hooves the size of quarters is a charmer. Einstein’s owners are authors of this whimsical friendship story. Young animal lovers will enjoy the stallion’s thoughts as they peruse the pictures again and again.–Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA

COHN, Scotti. Big Cat, Little Kitty. illus. by Susan Detwiler. unpaged. map. CIP. Sylvan Dell. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-60718-124-8; pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-60718-134-7; ebook $7.95. ISBN 978-1-60718-144-6. LC 2010049573.
PreS-Gr 3–Going through the days of the week in habitats around the world, Cohn introduces a variety of large, wild cats and parallels the behaviors with those of domestic felines. For example, a cheetah rests on a bed of grass on the savannah as “Warthog decides he would feel safer in the big hole he made in the ground.” The next page features a spotted house cat stretched out in front of a window as “Mouse decides he would feel safer in his hole in the baseboard.” Each dramatic spread highlights a cat taking charge of its own domain. The book has been written with discussion prompts and extension activities in mind. Several are included and more are accessible on the publisher’s website. A free 49-page teaching guide will be attractive to teachers. However, the story can be simply enjoyed on its own. –Laura Stanfield, Campbell County Public Library, Ft. Thomas, KY

DAKOS, Kalli. A Funeral in the Bathroom: And Other School Bathroom Poems. illus. by Mark Beech. 48p. CIP. Albert Whitman. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-2675-0. LC 2010045591.
Gr 3-5–As in The Goof Who Invented Homework (Dial, 1996) and other collections, Dakos once again documents the ups and downs of school life. Here her focus is on the bathroom, home to a surprising variety of activities ranging from poignant to lighthearted. Kids come to read, talk, and hold a funeral for the class pet, a goldfish. The bathroom is where those who need to be alone can go: “When life is a poem/that’s lost its rhyme,/kids head to the bathroom/all the time.” A savvy teacher posts poetry all over the walls, inspiring readers to attempt poems of their own. Children will giggle even as they relate to the bathroom dance: “the wiggle jiggle do-si-doh,/bounce up and down when we have to go,/cross our legs, hold our pants–we all know the Bathroom Dance!” The poems are accompanied by humorous color cartoons. This accessible collection of light verse will be a welcome addition.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

GRAVES, Sue. But Why Can’t I? ISBN 978-1-57542-376-0. LC 2011001563.
–––– . I’m Not Happy. ISBN 978-1-57542-373-9. LC 2011001565.
. Not Fair, Won’t Share. ISBN 978-1-57542-375-3. LC 2011001566.
. Who Feels Scared? ISBN 978-1-57542-374-6. LC 2011001626.
ea vol: illus. by Desideria Guicciardini. 25p. (Our Emotions and Behavior Series). CIP. Free Spirit. 2011. Tr $12.99.
PreS-Gr 1–These books facilitate discussions between adults and children about behaviors in everyday situations like playing at school (Not Fair), listening to a babysitter (Why Can’t I?), spending the night away from home (Scared?), and looking for a lost dog (Not Happy). Short sentences and simple plotlines create excellent lead-ins to talking about making good decisions when faced with new and difficult emotions. “Jenny said there were rules for crossing roads. They had to stop, look, and listen.” The color cartoon illustrations help make the concepts easy to grasp. In addition to the main story, a wordless, four-frame graphic at the end reemphasizes the emotion being explored. Discussion questions are included in the back matter. These are excellent titles for children who need help expressing their feelings and they will be a bonus in any guidance counselor’s arsenal.–Rachel Artley, Watertown Elementary School, TN

HAMILTON, S. L. Hip-Hop. ISBN 978-1-61714-731-9. LC 2010037639.
–––– . Latin. ISBN 978-1-61714-732-6. LC 2010037641.
–––– . Rock. ISBN 978-1-61714-733-3. LC 2010037648.
ea vol: 32p. (Xtreme Dance Series). photos. glossary. index. CIP. ABDO. 2011. PLB $27.07.
Gr 2-4–Each title in this somewhat problematic series covers the history, specific moves and styles, and fashion associated with a particular type of dance. While the texts are not detailed, the books are well organized and easy to follow, and the coverage of history and specific styles, in particular, works well to convey what is special about each dance. Unfortunately, the “Learn It” sections tend toward the obvious, advising children to take a class or watch videos online. The otherwise-impressive visual content is also marred by minor problems. There is a clear and admirable attempt to use pictures that kids will find exciting and relevant, so the dancers are often photographed in action, dressed in contemporary clothing. However, each new topic or chapter is introduced with an oversize yellow banner across the top of the page, and there is an annoying use of comic-style word bubbles to provide text, literally putting words into the mouths of the dancers. Although captions providing “X-treme” facts and quotes can be informative, not every quote is attributed. Despite these issues, Hip-Hop and Latin should satisfy dance fans in libraries where materials on these topics are not abundant. Rock, which seems to function as a catch-all for dance not covered by other titles, can be skipped entirely, unless there is a high demand for images of pop stars.–Heather Talty, formerly at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

HINMAN, Bonnie. We Visit Peru. ISBN 978-1-58415-886-8. LC 2010026966.
TRACY, Kathleen. We Visit Brazil. reprods. ISBN 978-1-58415-887-5. LC 2010026961.
ea vol: 64p. (Your Land and My Land Series). maps. photos. chron. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Mitchell Lane. 2010. PLB $33.95.
Gr 3-5–Colorfully illustrated with photographs on almost every page, these attractive introductions have maps that place each country in a global context and one that shows cities and regions. “Facts at a Glance” pages provide quick reference sources. Brief chapters discuss history, government, geography, and natural history. In Peru, one photo is identified as two different locations, one as Tambomachay and another as Baños del Inca near Cajamarca. Brazil briefly mentions the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rain forest but not its impact on global climate changes. Both books will be useful for reports as they also provide brief biographies of famous people, a recipe, and a craft (both require adult assistance).–Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA

HODGKINS, Fran. Amazing Eggs. illus. by Wendy Smith. 41p. (We Both Read Series). photos. Treasure Bay. 2011. Tr $9.95. ISBN 978-1-60115-251-0; pap. $4.99. ISBN 978-1-60115-252-7. LC number unavailable.
K-Gr 2–A colorful and scientific explanation of eggs and the development of insects, reptiles, birds, and fish. The well-written, easy-to-understand text and the inviting format will encourage emerging readers to pick up the book on their own. Intended as a shared reading experience for adult and child, the dual differentiated text appears on each page, accompanied by clear, informative, full-color photos. An attractive addition that covers an important science-curriculum subject.–Elaine Charnow, Deasy/Landing Elementary Schools, Glen Cove, NY

MACDONALD, Margaret Read, retel. The Boy from the Dragon Palace: A Folktale from Japan. illus. by Sachiko Yoshikawa. unpaged. CIP. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-7513-0. LC 2010045965.
PreS-Gr 3–When a poor flower-seller throws his flowers into the sea where the Dragon King lives, he is given the opportunity to have wealth and happiness. The Dragon King hands him a snot-nosed boy and tells him that his luck will change if feeds the child the same dish every day. But as is human nature, especially in folktales, the flower-seller soon becomes greedy, ungrateful, and disgusted with the child, and just as quickly as his riches have appeared, they’re gone. The author’s choice of words, her syntax, and timing give the story an easy, natural flow. Repetitive phrasing, “Slurrrp! Snuffle, snuffle! Hnnnk! Hnnnk! Hnnnk!” provides outstanding sound effects and invites listeners to assist with the telling. MacDonald cites the source of this traditional tale and gives more details in an author’s note. Digitally enhanced collage and watercolor artwork gives the story cultural identity. Emotions and actions are easily read in the pictures. The snot-nosed boy is at the same time cute and disgusting with his dirty round face. Color changes from dark to bright mark the flower-seller’s transition from rags to riches and back again. The simplicity of both the text and the illustrations makes this an excellent choice for storytimes and sharing one-on-one.–Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

MARTIN, Bill, Jr. Ten Little Caterpillars. illus. by Lois Ehlert. unpaged. S & S/Beach Lane Bks. Aug. 2011. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3385-4; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3386-1. LC number unavailable.
PreS-Gr 1–A selection in Bill Martin’s Big Book of Poetry (S & S, 2008) is now available as a single title. In this attractive counting book with a scientific flair, 10 little caterpillars creep and crawl through gardens, vegetable patches, and apple orchards. Beginning with the first little caterpillar, who crawls into a bower, the colorful insects proceed by climbing up flower stems, sailing on fallen leaves, and avoiding predators like a hungry wren. The 10th little caterpillar hangs patiently in an apple tree until he emerges from the chrysalis as a magnificent tiger swallowtail. Each fuzzy little character represents a particular type of caterpillar. A supplementary guide to the different species, providing the name and diet of each one, along with an image of the resulting butterfly or moth, appears at the end of the book. The rhyming couplets are printed in a bold, oversize font. Ehlert’s watercolor collages, presented in the style of botanical illustrations complete with identifying labels, eloquently re-create the natural habitat of each creature. Although reminiscent of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Philomel, 1969), this title is written for a slightly older audience. An imaginative introduction to ordinal numbers and the process of metamorphosis.–Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA

MASIELLO, Ralph. Ralph Masiello’s Robot Drawing Book. illus. by author. unpaged. further reading. Web sites. CIP. Charlesbridge. 2011. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-57091-535-2; pap. $7.95. ISBN 978-1-57091-536-9; ebook $6.99. ISBN 978-1-60734-313-4. LC 2010033634.
Gr 2-5–Masiello begins with a discussion of how to use circles, squares, and other basic forms to draw robot parts like switches, plugs, and antennae. He includes a brief discussion of drawing and coloring tools and shows young artists how to draw eight different robots, such as the “Bakerbot,” “Ovalbot,” and “Bellybot.” The robots are shown in progressive steps of completion opposite a full-page illustration of the finished product, fully colored, and with a short, lighthearted caption. Sidebars with suggestions for more advanced embellishments appear on some pages. The instructions are simple enough for primary-grade students to have success without adult assistance. Masiello’s creations are humorous, old-fashioned, and two dimensional. Artists who are looking for the more sophisticated, warrior-type robots will need to look elsewhere; there are no swords or laser guns here. Children interested in the friendly, playmate kind of robot will enjoy Masiello’s offering.–Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

MORGAN, Sally. Animal Rescue. ISBN 978-1-84234-606-8. LC 2010000035.
–––– . Pollution. ISBN 978-1-84234-607-5. LC 2010000036.
–––– . Waste and Recycling. ISBN 978-1-84234-608-2. LC 2010000037.
ea vol: Cherrytree Bks. 32p. (Helping Our Planet Series). photos. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. 2011. PLB $28.50.
Gr 1-3Animal Rescue addresses how and why animals become endangered and what can be done. Pollution discusses activities that are harming the planet and how individuals can prevent or minimize their effects. Waste suggests how discarded items can be reduced, reused, and recycled. All of the books feature large, full-color photos with one or two paragraphs of large-print text per page. “Find Out More” boxes scattered throughout give additional facts with related websites and “You Choose” boxes ask students questions regarding important choices they can make to alleviate these situations. These well-designed books will be useful for reports and general interest.–Caroline Geck, Newark Public Schools, NJ

RASMUSSEN, Halfdan. A Little Bitty Man: And Other Poems for the Very Young. tr. from Danish by Marilyn Nelson & Pamela Espeland. illus. by Kevin Hawkes. 32p. CIP. Candlewick. Aug. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-2379-1. LC 2009007515.
PreS-Gr 2–Rasmussen (1915-2002) was a well-known Danish author who wrote 16 volumes of poetry for children. The translators of the 13 poems in this collection have done such an artful job that it is hard to believe the selections were not originally written in English. They sound very much like old English nursery rhymes, with almost flawless rhyme and meter. The quaint poems have liberal helpings of both wit and whimsy and an occasional sprinkling of mild potty humor. “A ball bounced high into the air/A curious frog sat up to stare./He thought, ‘A miracle! How neat!/It hops, but it ain’t got feet!’” Many of them, like “What Things Are For,” deal with children’s antics, while others, like “Little Cloud,” have a nature theme. The shorter poems appear one to a page, while the longer ones take up a spread. All are printed in a large, easy-to-read font. To match their old-fashioned tone, Hawkes uses a pastel palette with subtle shading and texture. Some illustrations take up a full page, while others fill the white space around the text. The whole has an uncluttered and inviting effect. Likely to become a classic, this is a great addition to any picture-book collection.–Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

REINHART, Matthew & Robert Sabuda. Dragons & Monsters. illus. by authors. unpaged. (Encyclopedia Mythologica Series). Candlewick. 2011. Tr $29.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3173-4. LC 2010015485.
Gr 3 Up–In this pop-up stunner, Reinhart and Sabuda take on “ultimate villains” famed for “hungrily prowling the landscapes of yore, hoarding treasure and frightening the helpless.” Six spectacular paper-engineered spreads introduce petrifying denizens of the classical Greco-Roman world (the Minotaur and Cerberus among others), “Terrible Serpents of the West” (famed wyverns and worms), majestic dragons of the Far East, dangerous deep-sea dwellers, vampires and their night-stalking compatriots, and ever-elusive “Modern-Age Monsters” that continue to “evade the prying scopes and sensors of scientific analysis” (the chupacabra, Sasquatch, etc.). Each chapter features a dramatic 3-D centerpéiece (Medusa brandishing sharp fangs and snarling viper locks; an elegant dragon with a spiraling, ruby-red, crepe-paper body; or a clasped-by-kraken sailing ship) surrounded by several foldout booklets presenting more information and pop-up effects. From the “fire-belching Chimera” to the “Himalayan Hulk” (the yeti), fearsome fiends from many different countries and cultures are highlighted, along with enticing tidbits from myths and legends that will encourage youngsters to explore further. In addition to showing readers that fear-invokers are as old as civilization itself, the well-written text makes interesting connections between monsters and aspects of modern-day life and culture, such as the ancient role of the dragon and tiger in kung fu, or the French water-spitting dragon that inspired architectural gargoyles. Another winner in a delightful series that combines solid content, handsome artwork, and a wow-inspiring presentation.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

RICHARDSON, Nan. The Pearl. illus. by Alexandra Young. unpaged. Umbrage Edns. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-884167-24-9. LC number unavailable.
Gr 3-5A retelling of the tale of Praskovia, a Russian opera singer, and her relationship with Count Nicolas Cheremeteff. While out hunting, the count, who loved music, heard the lovely singing of a beautiful peasant girl and decided to take her to one of his palaces and educate her as a lady. He nurtured her voice and, after her successful debut at the Kuskovo palace, he called her “The Pearl” because of her “talent and pure heart.” Nicolas and Praskovia grew closer and lived together in a cottage on the estate. Although it was unthinkable for nobility and a serf to marry, his love transcended tradition and they were wed. Praskovia gave birth to their baby, Dmitri, but she died soon after. Nicolas devoted the rest of his life to her memory, building a hospital in her honor and awarding orphaned girls dowries so they could marry. Richly illustrated in bold pen-and-ink and watercolor, the story is brought to life in sumptuous detail and precisely placed splashes of color. Readers will relish this unique, Russian Cinderella tale. –C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY

SINGH, Rina. Nearly Nonsense: Hoja Tales from Turkey. illus. by Farida Zaman. 48p. CIP. Tundra. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-88776-974-0. LC 2010928809.
Gr 2 Up–Turkey has a particularly vibrant oral tradition, and the stories of Nasrudin Hoja–a foolish/wise man–are legion and deservedly popular. Many of Hoja’s adventures are similar to those found in other Middle Eastern cultures, but they never grow old. When he and his son take their donkey to market, they are ridiculed whether they ride, walk, or carry the animal on their backs, proving that you can’t please everyone. When Hoja wears fancy clothing, he is treated more deferentially than when he wears patched clothing, so he “feeds” his coat to show the error of his host’s behavior. Lesser-known stories are also included. Though some Turkish tales have been recently published in individual picture-book editions, this is the first collection suitable for young readers since Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Turkish Folk Tales for Children, (Linnett, 1988). Singh’s book is much less inclusive than Walker’s, but it has the advantage of a more open format and full-color, cartoon illustrations, which may appeal more to young children than the earlier, more scholarly-looking books. These retellings are unembellished, but their humor and intention are clear. Every school and public library collection should include some Turkish folktales, and this title is a decent way to fill a gap.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY

STERLING, Kristin. Exploring Flowers. ISBN 978-0-7613-5779-7; ISBN 978-0-7613-7989-8. LC 2010042986.
–––– . Exploring Leaves. ISBN 978-0-7613-5780-3; ISBN 978-0-7613-7990-4. LC 2010042987.
–––– . Exploring Roots. ISBN 978-0-7613-5781-0; ISBN 978-0-7613-7991-1. LC 2010042988.
–––– . Exploring Seeds. ISBN 978-0-7613-5782-7; ISBN 978-0-7613-7992-8. LC 2010042990.
–––– . Exploring Stems. ISBN 978-0-7613-5783-4; ISBN 978-0-7613-7993-5. LC 2010042991.
ea vol: 24p. (First Step Nonfiction: Let’s Look at Plants Series). illus. photos. glossary. index. CIP. Lerner. 2011. PLB $21.27; ebook $15.95.
K-Gr 2–Designed for beginning readers and learners, these are small-format books with a full-color photograph filling two-thirds of each page and a short sentence in a large font on the remaining portion. The same cross-section diagram of a plant with clearly labeled parts is included in each book. Each title uses similar language, e.g., “I see [flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, stems],” “[ ] are parts of plants,” and “Do you see [ ]?” The texts in Seeds, Roots, and Stems progress logically and sequentially to describe their functions and purposes, but the narratives in Flowers and Leaves are not as well organized and seem to skip around. A two-page “Facts about [ ]” adds random information. Many books on plant anatomy are less formulaic. For example, Adam Fowler’s From Seed to Plant (Children’s, 2001) combines botanical topics and significant facts in the chronology of plant growth that gives meaning and relevance to the facts. Brenda Isaevoli’s Plants! (HarperCollins, 2006) introduces a larger variety of types, although with less detail. With so many books on these topics available, these books are not essential purchases.–Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA

STEVENSON, Robert Louis. A Child’s Garden of Verses. illus. by Barbara McClintock. 80p. CIP. HarperCollins. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-028228-8. LC 2010007031.
PreS-Gr 5–This beautifully illustrated edition of a collection first published in 1885 is a reminder of how well many of these poems hold up. Topics range from everyday mysteries like the strong but invisible wind (“I saw the different things you did/But always you yourself you hid”) to the timeless fascination of watching the world go by from a train window (“And here is a mill, and there is a river:/Each a glimpse and gone forever!”). A few of the poems show their age in interesting ways, like “Travel” (“I should like to rise and go/…Where are forests, hot as fire,/…Full of apes and coconuts/And the Negro hunters’ huts–” and “Foreign Children” (“…Little Turk or Japanee/Oh! Don’t you wish that you were me?”). Since there is no explanatory note in the front or end matter, here’s hoping that the adults sharing these selections will provide the necessary historical context. But that’s a minor quibble, especially given McClintock’s charming pictures that show her beautiful line and color work, her feeling for landscape and personality, and her subtle sense of humor. As for the poems themselves, Stevenson’s interest in cultivating the world of the imagination is a great message for today’s busy, media-saturated culture.–Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

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