Book Reviews for 2003

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long; illustrated by David Shannon

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 7

When Jeremy Jacob meets a shipful of pirates at the beach, he is more than happy to sail away in their ship. He is very excited to discover that he can do anything he wants on the ship because nobody tells pirates to go to bed, take a bath, or to brush their teeth. But as night falls and a storm begins to brew, he does get a little homesick. Full of wonderfully disgusting pirates (from their green teeth to their atrocious table manners), this is a sure bet for lovers of gross humor. And pirates.

Reviewer:  PC

After seeing his sandcastle at the beach, a ship of pirates decides to take Jeremy Jacobs aboard their ship. At first Jeremy loves the life of a pirate (No one tells you to eat your spinach), but after there is no one to tuck him or comfort him during a storm, Jeremy decides to return home. Accompanied by detailed illustrations this book is recommended for anyone who likes pirates.

Reviewer:  LY

Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming; pictures by Stacey Dressen-McQueen

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 8

Even after the war is over, life in Katjes Dutch village is still very hard. Food and clothing are scarce, and luxuries are unheard of. One day a box of surprises arrives for Katje all the way from the U.S.A., and suddenly things seem brighter. Little does Katje know, this is just the beginning of the boxes! Based on a true story, this tale of generosity and friendship will warm the reader's heart.

Reviewer:  PC

Martin MacGregors Snowman by Lisa Broadie Cook; illustrations by Adam McCauley

Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8

All Martin MacGregor wants to do is build a snowman. But, as luck would have it, his dream is thwarted by the lack of snow! While waiting months for flakes to fall, Martin tries non-traditional ways of making a snowman, most of which end in his getting in trouble. Finally, in April he gets his wish and builds a whole snow family! But now its spring, and Martin has some new plans.

Reviewer:  NB

The Skeleton in the Closet by Alice Schertle; illustrated by Curtis Jobling

Reading Level: Ages 4 8

A young boy is awoken in the middle of the night by a skeleton demanding to be let into his house.

Reviewer:  SH

Awakened by a knock on the door in the middle of the night, a little boy comes face to face with a skeleton that wants something, but what? The book title provides a clue. A delightful rhyming story cleverly told with ample suspense, anticipation, and humor.

Reviewer:  NB

Pipiolo and the Roof Dogs by Brian Meunier;  paintings by Perky Edgerton

Reading Level: Ages 3 7

All the dogs of a small Mexican town are doomed to live isolated lives on top of their owners' flat roofed homes, except for Pipiolo who has lived his life free on the ground. With the help of his girl he makes the other dogs' lives a little more interesting, and then one day inspiration strikes and Pipiolo becomes a hero to roof dogs everywhere.

Reviewer:  SH

The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Reading Level: Ages 5 - 10

This lyrical story about following ones dreams is beautifully enhanced by large folk-art illustrations. A farmer and his young sons live happily on a farm. The father has a special love for raising animals, however his familys contented life comes to an end during a terrible drought when he must sell his animals and move his sons to a small cottage. His only solace is to carefully trim the hedge surrounding the cottage into different animal shapes. As the sons grow up and the time comes for them to follow a path apart from their father, the hedge aids them in their quest. In time, they come to realize that the hedge--and their father--have given them the gift of finding their own hearts desires. The watercolor and gouache illustrations add immensely to the power of the story: they have the flattened perspective and tonality of old, primitive folk-art paintings, however the placement of figures and their expressions contribute to the emotional impact of each episode. An excellent read-aloud as well as a wonderful gift choice.

Reviewer:  LW

Big Brown Bears Up and Down Day by David McPhail

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 7

Big Brown Bear has to deal with a precocious rat who is determined to take one of the bruins slippers for a bed. In a sympathetic moment, the soft-hearted bear invites the pesky rodent to share some oatmeal, and an unexpected friendship begins.

Reviewer:  NB

Do You Still Love Me? by Charlotte Middleton

Reading Level: Preschool Grade 2

Dudley is a happy dog until his young owner brings home a chameleon named Pequito, who gets all the familys attention. Feeling very neglected, kind-hearted Dudley soon discovers there is plenty of love to go around. Great illustrations!

Reviewer:  NB

Busy, Busy Mouse by Virginia Kroll; illustrated by Fumi Kosaka

Reading Level: Preschool Kindergarten

Mouses daily activities are the same as those of the family he secretly lives with, but the time he is active is as different from the familys as night and day! Cleverly done.

Reviewer:  NB

Two Eggs, Please by Sarah Weeks; illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 7

Can something be the same and different at the same time? Customers in a diner discover the answer as, one by one, they place their egg orders. Cool and collected Fox waitress and Bear cook handle all the requests from their likable patrons with aplomb. A brilliant interpretation, in text and illustration, of an important lesson.

Reviewer:  NB

In this simple story, nine different animals enter a diner and order nine different meals, but each meal is the same in one way.

Reviewer:  SH

Serious Farm by Tim Egan

Reading Level: Ages 3 5

Farmer Fred is very serious about farming, too serious if you ask his animals, so they all band together to try to make Farmer Fred laugh, but breaking his serious demeanor ends up being harder than expected.

Reviewer:  SH

Farmer Fred is way too serious, and the barnyard animals try their best to get him to lighten up. However, they discover hes a tough nut to crack. A unique book with illustrations so serious theyre guaranteed to make you smile!

Reviewer:  NB

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin; pictures by Harry Bliss

Reading Level: Ages 3 8

What is it like being a worm? Well, for one thing, hopscotch is a dangerous game and, even though it is true, it still isn't nice to tell your sister that her head looks like her rear end. Even older vertebrates will enjoy this worm's view of the world by the author of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.

Reviewer:  SH

Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis; pictures by Daniel Kirk

Reading Level: Ages 2 4

A toy train makes one final trip before bedtime in this delightful book which is meant to be read aloud with enthusiasm. Whoooooooo! Whoooooooo!

Reviewer:  SH

Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga by Christopher Wormell

Reading Level: Ages 3-7

Three very large animals on a shopping trip board a little train with hardly enough room for them let alone their purchases. Although the conductor has doubts, the personable passengers assure him their bags will fit, and they do! All goes well on the way home until a tiny bee causes a disaster which the ever-optimistic shoppers turn into a fun event!

Reviewer:  NB

Night Train by Caroline Stutson; illustrations by Katherine Tillotson

Reading Level: Ages 2 5

Simple rhyming text describes a boy's train journey to his grandmothers house in the city.

Reviewer:  SH

Clickety Clack by Rob and Amy Spence; illustrated by Margaret Spengler

Reading Level: Ages 2 5

Yaks, acrobats, ducks, elephants, and mice enjoy a rowdy train trip until Driver Zach steps in in this cumulative story.

Reviewer:  SH

Fireman Small: Fire Down Below! by Wong Herbert Yee

Reading Level: Ages 3 6

When Fireman Smalls fire station roof leaks, he moves to the Pink Hotel.  That night, when a fire breaks out, he rescues the other guests and teaches them some important lessons about exiting a large public building in an emergency.

Reviewer:  SH

America the Beautiful by Wendell Minor, Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

Reading Level: Grades K-3

Historic and contemporary scenes from across America appear in this beautifully illustrated version of the famous poem set to music in one of our nations most popular patriotic songs. Includes notations about the illustrations and short biographies of the poet and the composer.

Reviewer:  NB

The Banshee Train by Odds Bodkin; illustrated by Ted Rose

Reading Level: Ages 5 8

On a foggy spring day an engineer finds his train approaching a dangerous trestle at full speed while being pursued by another train which seems determined to run him down. With danger ahead and behind only a miracle can save him and his passengers from disaster in this eerie ghost story.

Reviewer:  SH

Get Red! An Adventure in Color by Tony Porto and 3CD

Reading Level: Ages 4 8

The narrator is in trouble. He has to write a report about Mars, but what remains of his red crayon is in hiding for fear of being used up in this slightly odd book full of facts about the color red.

Reviewer:  SH

Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeney by Leslie Kimmelman; illustrated by Nancy Cote

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 6

Jenny and her dog, Rags, along with a diverse assortment of town residents, make preparations to celebrate Independence Day in this bright and colorful presentation of Americas birthday. Interesting facts about this holiday are in a one-page appendix.

Reviewer:  NB

Little Bears Little Boat by Eve Bunting; illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Reading Level: Preschool Grade 2

Even though he has outgrown it, Little Bear does not want to give up the little boat that he has had so much fun with on Huckleberry Lake. The now Big Bear comes up with a thoughtful solution so his little boat can fulfill its destiny and he can still enjoy being on the water. A simple and touching story about sharing and growing up.

Reviewer:  NB

Ellsworths Extraordinary Electric Ears and Other Amazing Alphabet Anecdotes by Valorie Fisher

Reading Level: Ages 3 6

From the alligator with an appetite for acrobats to the zigzag zebra you will have fun with this slightly goofy alphabet book illustrated with clever photographs of small toys and other objects.

Reviewer:  SH

The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake; pictures by Adam Rex

Reading Level: Ages 3 7

Chaos ensues when a cowboy takes a bath and his dog no longer recognizes him.

Reviewer:  SH

A cowboy decides to take his yearly bath and embarks on a daylong trip to the river with his horse and his dog. Everything goes well until after his dip when he tries to retrieve his clothes from Dawg, who is guarding them. Youll delight in the efforts of this hapless cowboy to win back his duds. Fantastic and funny illustrations chock full of detail!

Reviewer:  NB

Mary Smith by A. URen

Reading Level: Ages 3 8

Based on the life of a real woman, this book tells the story a "knocker-up," a person hired to wake people in the era before alarm clocks.

Reviewer:  SH

The Little Blue Rabbit by Angela McAllister; illustrated by Jason Cockcroft

Reading Level: Preschool Grade 1

A wonderful twist on the well-known story theme in which a child loses his favorite security toy. Here, Little Blue Rabbit loses his child! Not even his stuffed friends can cheer him up. When the two are finally reunited, Little Blue Rabbit thinks his child, Boy, looks a little ragged, but no matterhes back! Beautiful soft illustrations enhance this touching story.

Reviewer:  NB

Clarabellas Teeth by An Vrombaut

Reading Level: Preschool Grade 1

After she gets up in the morning, Clarabella Crocodile spends practically the whole day brushing her innumerable teeth. When shes finished, her playmates are brushing their teeth again at bedtime!  Will Clarabella ever be able to have fun with her friends?  Happy, yummy-colored illustrations are perfect for this toothsome problem.

Reviewer:  NB

Talk to Me About the Alphabet by Chris Raschka

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 6

A most unconventional look at the alphabet, this book will grab your attention right away with its unusual presentation, unique choice of words and  phrases, and whimsical artwork.

Reviewer:  NB

Little Brown Bear Wont Go to School! by Jane Dyer

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 6

Instead of going to school, Little Brown Bear decides to get a job just like Papa and Mama and tries his paw at many opportunities with disastrous results. Later, a secret peek into his classroom window convinces this adorable and enthusiastic bear that maybe school is exactly where he wants to be!

Reviewer:  NB

A Day in the Life of Murphy by Alice Provensen

Reading Level: Ages 3-7

Murphy, an adorable terrier who lives on a farm, tells about his daily routine from a canine perspective. His owners constantly remind him to mind his manners; in fact, this spunky pooch thinks his real name is Murphy-Stop-That! Even though his humans dont always understand him, Murphy is thankful for his good home and his comfortable bed in the barn.

Reviewer:  NB

The Loudest Roar by Thomas Taylor

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

Clovis the tiger may be small, but he has a very loud roar. He is so proud of it that he uses it a little too often. When the other animals tire of this, they give him a taste of his own medicine. With bright illustrations and a short text, this is sure to be a hit with preschoolers.

Reviewer:  PC

Clovis the little tiger wants all his jungle neighbors to know he is the most ferocious tiger anywhere, so he ROARS to prove his might. But his jungle companions, unhappy that their peaceful abode is not peaceful any more, soon tire of his roaring and join forces to devise a plan to change his behavior. Great illustrations and a fun read-aloud!

Reviewer:  NB

Lilys Garden by Deborah Kogan Ray

Reading Level: Preschool - grade 1

A wonderful story about growing and seasons, with some attention to people and places, too. When her grandparents move to California, Lily keeps them up to date on what is happening on the farm in Maine. She works on her garden all through the year and is able to share her harvest with her grandparents when they return for a visit. Perfect for sharing with your favorite gardener or grandparent.

Reviewer:  PC

Old Granny and the Bean Thief by Cynthia DeFelice; pictures by Cat Bowman Smith

Reading Level: Ages 3 7

Someone is stealing Old Grannys beans in the middle of the night and it is up to five very unlikely assistants to help her catch the thief.

Reviewer:  SH

Hannah Mae OHannigans Wild West Show by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Reading Level: Ages 3 6

Hannah Mae was born to be a cowgirl. Unfortunately she was also born in the city.  However,  with some creative thinking, her parents help her to follow her dream.

Reviewer:  SH

One is a Snail Ten is a Crab:  A Counting by Feet Book by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre; illustrated by Randy Cecil

Reading Level: Ages 3 5

This wonderful counting, and basic math, book uses various animal feet as its base.

Reviewer:  SH

Ginger Finds a Home by Charlotte Voake

Reading Level: Ages 2 6

Ginger, a feral cat, overcomes his fears and becomes a house cat.

Reviewer:  SH

Cat & Mouse: A Delicious Tale by Jiwon Oh

Reading Level: Ages 3-7

Cat and Mouse are best friends until Cat reads a cookbook that gives her some very tasty ideas about her best buddy. Will their bond of friendship last, or will Cat resort to her tempting thoughts? Colorful illustrations perfectly portray Cats mental anguish as she tries to decide.

Reviewer:  NB

Mother to Tigers by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto

Reading Level: Ages 5-8

The unique opening pages of this book lead you to the touching true story of a kind and caring woman, Helen Martini, who dedicated herself to raising orphaned tigers and other animals from the Bronx Zoo, where her husband was employed. She began caring for her charges in her apartment and then, in order to take care of more animals, moved the nursery into an unused room at the Zoo. Eventually Mrs. Martini became the first woman animal keeper there. The creative illustrations will definitely melt your heart.

Reviewer:  NB

Dont Grown-Ups Ever Have FUN? written and illustrated by Jamie Harper

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 6

Narrated by a young girl, this book asks why parents are so boring.  Brightly colored illustrations accompany the narration which is from a childs perspective.  The two parents have more than enough to deal with from their three, energetic, fun-loving children.  Readers will delight in the satisfying conclusion to this book as the parents learn to have a little more fun.

Reviewer:  LY

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 10

When Tamekas Uncle Ray cannot come to visit her he sends a life-sized wooden doll on a cross country hitchhiking journey in his place.

Reviewer:  SH

One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova, pictures by Ard Hoyt

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 6

A relaxing canoe trip becomes a wacky adventure for a little girl and her dog when several woodland creatures invite themselves along in spite of the girls protests.
Rhyming text and marvelous illustrations portray each passenger to perfection; this is a trip you wont want to miss!

Reviewer:  NB

Raise the Roof! by Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Elwood H. Smith

Reading Level: Ages 3-8

Colorful and bold cartoon illustrations show a couple building a new house, and the easy, rhyming text describes all the complicated construction steps in a simple way. The family is fortunate to have a special assistanta dog who helps with almost every step. This personality-plus pooch adds a good dose of humor to the event and will give you more than a few chuckles.

Reviewer:  NB

My Hippie Grandmother by Reeve Lindbergh; illustrated by Abby Carter

Reading Level: Preschool and up

A fun story about a fun grandmother. This one is into flower power, protests and organic gardening. She wears her hair long and likes to go barefoot. Told in verse, this is sure to be a hit with hip grandmas and grandkids.

Reviewer:  PC

Trudi & Pia by Ursula Hegi; illustrated by Giselle Potter

Reading Level: Grade K and up

Adapted from Hegis best-selling novel Stones from the River, and wonderfully illustrated by Giselle Potter, this is the story of Trudi who is a little little person not just a kid, but also a dwarf. When she goes to the circus and sees another little person for the first time, she also starts to see herself differently for the first time. If you like this one, check out Potters autobiographical picture book, The Year I Didnt Go To School.

Reviewer:  PC

Swan Harbor: A Nature Counting Book by Laura Rankin

Reading Level: Preschool and up

Rankins lovely illustrations bring nature to life. Kids will like the many animals featured and will have fun trying to find hidden clues about the next number.

Reviewer:  PC

In English, Of Course by Josephine Nobisso; illustrated by Dasha Ziborova

Reading Level: Grade K and up

A delightful immigrant story with equally punchy pictures, this picture book brims with words and meaning. The result is fun and funky.

Reviewer:  PC

A New Room for William by Sally Grindley; illustrated by Carol Thompson
and Missing Rabbit by Roni Schotter; illustrated by Cyd Moore

Reading Level: Preschool and up

These two titles touch on the same theme and will be comforting to children whose parents have divorced or who have parents that live apart. In A New Room for William, Williams room at his Moms new house is transformed into a place where he can feel at home. In Missing Rabbit, Kara leaves her rabbit behind with first her dad and then her mom, until she discovers that rabbit belongs with her.

Reviewer:  PC

Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver; illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed

Reading Level: Grade K and up

When Mr. Wrights classroom takes a vacation from punctuation, they are not quite prepared for the result. Pulver makes punctuation easy and entertaining, while Reeds illustrations are a nice match.

Reviewer:  PC

Grodys Not So Golden Rules by Nicole Rubel

Reading Level: Preschool and up

Grodys name is no accident his ideas are pretty gross! Nevertheless, kids will love his Golden Rules, and theyll giggle at the illustrations that go with them. Rubel is also a co-creator of the Rotten Ralph series.

Reviewer:  PC

What James Likes Best by Amy Schwartz

Reading Level: Preschool and up

A preschooler's chapter book, this follows James through four equally exciting outings. At the end of each chapter, the author asks what James liked best a question preschoolers will be eager to answer for themselves.

Reviewer:  PC

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; illustrated by Mary Engelbreit

Reading Level: Preschool and up

This old poem has been done many times, but kids will delight in Engelbreits bright, friendly (yes, friendly) illustrations. The perfect choice for a little bit of Christmas in July!

Reviewer:  PC

Kissing Coyotes by Marcia Vaughan; illustrated by Kenneth J. Spengler

Reading Level: Ages 3 through 10

When Jack Rabbit boasts that he can dance with rattlesnakes without getting bitten, run by skunks without being sprayed and kiss all the coyotes in the area, the other animals demand that he prove it.

Reviewer:  SH

Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story by Lisa Wheeler;  illustrated by Janie Bynum

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Cushion, a lonesome banjo-strumming porcupine who lives in a petting zoo where no one is allowed to pet him, is looking for love and wont give up until he finds it. A little grasshopper accompanies Cushion on his search. Be sure to look for it! Fabulous illustrations and clever puns add to the appeal of this story, which is perfect for reading out loud. Grown-ups will also enjoy meeting this spunky and talented porcupine.

Reviewer:  NB

While We Were Out by Ho Baek Lee

Reading Level: Ages 3- 8

A curious rabbit takes advantage of an unlocked patio door when her humans are away for the day and helps herself to all the comforts of home. She has a snack, tries on lipstick, plays with toys, and comes up with an ingenious way to use in-line skates that are way too big for her. After a nap she leaves, confident that no one will ever know she was there but unaware that she has left some clues. Can you find them? Beautifully soft and gentle illustrations accent this clever rabbit and her secret escapade.

Reviewer:  NB

Opera Cat by Tess Weaver;  illustrated by Andrea Wesson

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Madame SoSo is a talented opera singer in Italy who is unaware that her cat, Alma, is equally talented until the day she develops laryngitis while practicing for an evening performance. Alma, an opera singer wanna-be, demonstrates her singing ability, and the astonished Madame SoSo comes up with a plan. Laugh-out-loud illustrations complement this wacky story.

Reviewer:  NB

Mole and the Baby Bird by Marjorie Newman, illustrated by Patrick Benson

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Mole rescues a baby bird and successfully raises it, but he becomes so attached to the orphan he decides to keep it as a pet despite his parents cautions.  When Grandad comes to visit, he comes up with an idea that just might make Mole change his mind.  Simple text and illustrations emphasize the emotion in this heartwarming and appealing story.

Reviewer:  NB

How to Speak Moo! by Deborah Fajerman

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 8

Absolutely adorable cows will teach you all the nuances of their language, which consists of just one wordMoo! Fantastic illustrations guarantee a laugh on every page.

Reviewer:  NB

Stanley's Party by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Bill Slavin

Reading Level: Ages 3 6

Stanley the dog realizes he can be bad when his people are away and they will never know it! Soon he comes to enjoy the times when his people are out, but then he decides he wants company and invites a friend over, and another, and they invite friends until, eventually, Stanley is hosting a party destined to become legendary among dogs.

Reviewer:  SH

The Mole Sisters and the Question by Roslyn Schwartz

Reading Level: Ages 3 6

The adorable Mole Sisters are back for a new adventure. They start thinking about their identity and, after sparking their imaginations with several possibilities, come to a conclusion and then decide that one probing question is a days work! Colored pencil illustrations accent the inquisitive and fun-loving sisters.

Reviewer:  NB

The First Bear in Africa! by Satomi Ichikawa

Reading Level: Ages 4 8

Youll be delighted by this charming story of a little boy living in the African savanna who, in a race against time, tries to return a teddy bear accidentally left behind by a young girl touring his village.  Meto, who has never seen anything like this strange furry creature, enlists the help of his animal friends.  Will they find the girl before she leaves?  Bright watercolor illustrations enhance the appeal of the story.

Reviewer:  NB

Hello World! Greetings in 42 Languages Around the Globe! by Manya Stojic

Reading Level: Ages 3 8

This simple book teaches you how to say hello to just about anyone whether they speak Amharic or Zulu.

Reviewer:  SH

Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley; illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Reading Level: Ages 3 5

Its Saturday, and Miles is going with his father to get his first haircut at the barbershop. He is a little nervous and has trouble deciding what kind of haircut he would like. But with some help from his Dad, he is able to overcome both of these problems. The beauty of this book lies in the warmth between father and son, family and community. The pictures are pretty gorgeous too!

Reviewer:  PC

Especially Heroes by Virginia Kroll; illustrated by Tim Ladwig

Reading Level: Grades 1 5

After learning about heroes and martyrs in school and church, young Ginny witnesses the heroism of her own family and neighbors as they fight racism. Based on a true story from the authors childhood.

Reviewer:  PC

Calicos Curious Kittens by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

Calicos kittens curiosity leads them to all kinds of adventures, from the kitchen to the great outdoors.

Reviewer:  PC

City Chicken by Arthur Dorros; illustrated by Henry Cole

Reading Level: Ages 4 and older

Henrietta (Henry for short) is a city chicken who lays blue eggs. When Lucy the cat tells Henry about the country, Henry decides to go and see it for herself. When she finally arrives, she finds she does not like it and she hightails it back to the city.

Reviewer:  PC

Tiger, Tiger by Dee Lillegard; illustrated by Susan Guevara

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 6

While everyone else in his village rests, Pocu wants to play. With the swish of a feather, he makes a tiger, but when the tiger gets hungry, he must think fast. A fun story with a perfect ending.

Reviewer:  PC

Country Kid, City Kid by Julie Cummins, illustrated by Ted Rand

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 8

Ben, the country kid, and Jody, the city kid, lead very different lives, but do they have something in common? This charming story of comparative life styles has an ending you might not expect!

Reviewer:  NB

Catilda by John Stadler

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

A kitten goes on an exciting adventure to recover her lost teddy bear, Ollie, while her parents, wondering if she is able to sleep, discuss whether or not they should check on her. In an interesting twist, the parents carry the dialog, but are never seen, and the bright and bold illustrations follow Catildas fascinating journey.

Reviewer:  NB

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner; pictures by Mark Buehner

Reading Level: Ages 3 9

Did you ever wonder what the snowman you made did while you were asleep? If you think he just stood outside waiting for you to wake up, think again! Here is a whimsical peek into the secret, fun-filled nocturnal life of snowmen. No wonder they look a bit bedraggled in the morning! As you join the snowmen on their midnight romp, look for several images hidden in the illustrations.

Reviewer:  NB

This rhyming book explains why snowmen never look quite the same the day after you make them.

Reviewer:  SH

You, Me and the Big Blue Sea by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Reading Level: Preschool - K

This charming picture book recalls the long sea journey of a baby, his mother and his aunt. The words seem to rise and fall like the sea and the pictures show another side to the story.

Reviewer:  PC


The Nine Lives of Aristotle by Dick King-Smith; illustrated by Bob Graham

Reading Level: Grades 2 4

Aristotle, a curious white kitten, has misadventure after misadventure rapidly using up most of his lives.

Reviewer:  SH

Cold Tom by Sally Prue

Reading Level: Grades 4 8

Tom is becoming slow, blind, deaf and clumsy as he matures. When his clumsiness almost allows the demons to discover The Tribe, Tom's sire plans to kill him. Tom's only hope is to hide in the terrible demon city, but once again, his safety is compromised when he injures himself and is discovered by a demon calf. How can he escape before he is caught in the horrible invisible vines that bind the demons to each other? After reading this book you may want to read the Scottish folktale, Tam Lin.

Reviewer:  SH

Sidekicks by Dan Danko

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 7

Guy Martin, aka Speedy, is the fastest kid in the world and has joined League of Big Justice. Guy is bored of life as a superhero until Pinoh Keyoh and the Brotherhood of Rottenness strikes. Full of humor, this is a great book for readers of Captain Underpants who are ready for something a little more challenging.

Reviewer:  LY

The Wish List by Eoin Colfer

Reading Level: Grades 5 8

The author of the Artemis Fowl trilogy has created another interesting anti-hero. In this book, Meg Finn is killed after botching a robbery attempt and is on her way to Hell, but due to a rare technicality her spirit is sent back to earth to prove whether she is good or evil. Meg would like to show that she deserves to go to Heaven, but with the monstrous spirit of her partner in crime hot on her heels, making reparations for her sins before time runs out is going to be harder than she expects.

Reviewer:  SH
 

Swan Sister:  Fairy Tales Retold edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Reading Level: Grades 4 8

This collection of short stories by Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville, Tanith Lee and other writers give new twists to classic fairytales; Tom Thumb is a genetic experiment, Little Red Ridinghood lives in the inner city, and a girl tries to knit a perfect sweater to keep her critically ill, baby sister alive.

Reviewer:  SH
 

Wild Robert by Diana Wynne Jones

Reading Level: Grades 3 4

Heather's parents, as the caretakers of an old English castle, spend their days herding tourists around the property. Heather spends her time fighting boredom and avoiding the sheep-like tourists, until one day she accidentally awakens the mischievous spirit of a young medieval witch.

Reviewer:  SH
 

Dare to Be Scared by Robert D. San Souci

Reading Level: Grades 4 8

Ranging from eerie to down-right scary these thirteen stories have one thing in common, there are no happy endings. Don't read these stories before bed, unless you want to have nightmares.

Reviewer:  SH
 

The Story of A Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Seplveda

Reading Level: Grades 3 - 4

Zorba is a big, black cat who promises a dying seagull that he will watch over her egg, not eat the chick when it hatches, and he will teach the little baby gull to fly. With the help of some colorful cat friends and one extraordinary human, Zorba keeps his promise. You might also enjoy Babe, the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith and Charlottes Web by E. B. White.

Reviewer:  HG
 

Hill Hawk Hattie by Clara Gillow Clark

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

After the death of her mother 11-year-old Hatties father dresses her as a boy and insists she accompany him on a dangerous raft trip down the Delaware River.

Reviewer:  SJS

Lily's Ghosts by Laura Ruby

Reading Level: Grades 4 6

After Lily's eccentric mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend she moves them to her uncle's old home in New Jersey. It doesn't take long for Lily to realize that the house is haunted, especially since one ghost keeps playing nasty pranks such as filling Lily's shoes with strawberry jam. Told from Lily's and the ghosts' points of view, this supernatural tale will keep you guessing until the end.

Reviewer:  SH
 

Buster & Phoebe: The Great Bone Game by Lisze Bechtold

Reading Level: Grades K 2

When Phoebe was an only dog bones were for chewing on, but after Buster joins the household Phoebe decides that bones are something to hoard, and she devises a cleaver plan to make all of Busters bones her own.

Reviewer:  SH

Niagara Falls, or Does It? by Henry Winkler

Reading Level: Grades 3 - 5

Hank Zipzer is already in trouble and its only the first day of fourth grade. So when his teacher assigns an essay, What I Did on my Summer Vacation, Hank is determined to dazzle her. Essays and schoolwork are incredibly hard for Hank, so he decides to bring in a working model of Niagara Falls that winds up flooding the classroom. During detention Hank meets a teacher who explains that brains can be wired differently. Can Mr. Rock convince Hanks parents to end his grounding and allow him to perform with his friends in a magic show? You might also enjoy the Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos.

Reviewer:  HG

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Reading Level: Grades 4 8

Twelve-year-olds Lina and Doon believe that their world is dying. The lights go out for longer periods leaving them in total blackness, canned foods are running low and other supplies are getting short. Then Lina's baby sister is caught eating a piece of paper with the title "Instructions for Egres" and she realizes she and Doon must use the fragmented instructions to save their people.

Reviewer:  SH

Hatching Magic by Ann Downer

Reading Level: Grades 4 8

A thirteenth century wizard travels to modern Boston in order to find his pet dragon before his enemy can use the dragon's magic against him.

Reviewer:  SH

Dreadful Acts by Philip Ardagh with illustrations by David Roberts

Reading Level: Grades 4 6

The bizarre adventures continue in this second book in the Eddie Dickens trilogy. Eddie and his family have settled in at Mad Uncle Jacks house and life returns to normal (or as normal as you get when your aunt lives in a giant cow) until a fire, an escapeologist, a crashed hot air balloon and escaped convicts create chaos for Eddie once again.

Reviewer:  SH

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8

Artemis Fowl is up to his old tricks. Using stolen fairy technology he has invented the C-cube. When his plan goes terribly awry, Artemis and the LEPrecon fairy police must once again team up to save the world!!
If this is your first encounter with the wily Artemis be sure to read the first two books in the series: Artemis Fowl and Artemis Fowl: the Arctic Incident.

Reviewer:  SJS

Goosed! by Bill Wallace; drawings by Jacqueline Rogers

Reading Level: Grades 3 4

T.P., a bird dog, lives a quiet, contented life with his Daddy, Mama and Jeff, until Jeff agrees to babysit for a chocolate Lab puppy who is full of spunk and questions. If you liked Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith or Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery by Deborah Howe you will enjoy this story told from the dog's point of view.

Reviewer:  SH

CON-fidence by Todd Strasser

Reading Level: Grade 4 - 6

A long time ago (back in elementary school), Lauren Walsh and Krista Rice were best friends. They lived across the street from each other and went to school together. But then Krista moved to another neighborhood and then they started middle school and things changed. A lot. Krista is now the ultimate Dont-You-Wish-You-Were-Me girl and Lauren is left behind in the popularity game. Things get mixed up, however, when a new girl tries to change the way the game is played.

Reviewer:  PC

The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker

Reading Level: Grades 4 7

Imagine Princess Emeralda's surprise when she kisses an enchanted frog and, rather than the frog returning to his princely form, Emeralda becomes a frog instead. Frog Prince Eadric and Frog Princess Emeralda must then go in search of the witch who cast the spell on Eadric in order to ask her to return them to their human forms.

If you liked The Prince of the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin by Donna Jo Napoli you will enjoy this fractured fairytale.
 

Reviewer:  SH

Titus Rules! by Dick King-Smith; illustrated by John Eastwood

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5

Titus is a corgi pup owned by Queen Elizabeth herself. He soon becomes top dog at the castle (and in the Queens heart) after saving the day more than once. As much as he loves the Queen, though, hell never understand people! If you like this one, you might also want to read King-Smiths Lady Lollipop.

Reviewer:  PC

A House Called Awful End by Philip Ardagh; illustrated by David Roberts

Reading Level: Grades 3 5

When Eddies parents contract a disease that turns them yellow and crinkly around the edges his Mad Uncle Jack and Mad Aunt Maud come to take him to their home, Awful End. Before he goes, his mother warns him not to be mistaken for an runaway orphan or he might get sent to St. Horrids Home for Grateful Orphans where he will suffer cruelty, hardship and misery.
If you like Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events books, you will enjoy this first book in the Eddie Dickens Trilogy.

Reviewer:  SH

Over the River by Sharelle Byars Moranville

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 7

Twelve-year-old Willa Mae has been doing just fine living with her maternal grandparents and her Aunt Rose since her mothers death. But this year, when they go to visit her mothers grave, she sees her other grandmother who tells her that her father might be coming home from the war soon. Willa can hardly remember her father and she feels questions stirring up inside her. How come her mothers family does not get along with her fathers family?  Why has her father stayed away so long?  Will he really come back, and if he does, will he answer her questions?  This novel, set in the late 1940s in rural Southern Illinois, evokes a time and place undergoing many changes just like Willa.

Reviewer:  PC

Taking Liberty The Story of Oney Judge, George Washingtons Runaway Slave by Ann Rinaldi

Reading Level: Grades 5 and up

Fans of Ann Rinaldi will be happy with her newest historical novel. Oney Judge is the favorite house slave and confidante of Lady Washington. Shes called a servant and leads a life of privilege. Oney regards herself as a member of the family and believes that the Washingtons feel the same way. Why should she want to run away? But Oney comes to realize that no matter what they call it, that its still slavery and shes still a slave.

Reviewer:  HG

Because of Anya by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Reading Level: Grades 3 - 6

The story is told by both Anya and Keely, two fourth-grade girls who havent been friends since kindergarten. Keely, who is on the fringe of the popular crowd, is passed a note that says, Look at Anya! I think shes wearing a wig!!!!! Anya has lost all of her hair due to a disease called alopecia areata. Her worst nightmare happens when her wig comes off in gym class. Another book that deals with a disease and classmates attitudes is Bluish by Virginia Hamilton.

Reviewer:  HG


In the Land of the Lawn Weenies and Other Misadventures by David Lubar

Reading Level: Grades 5 and older

This compellation of David Lubar's short story collections, Kidzilla and The Witch's Monkey, is full of very short, funny, surprising, twisted and macabre tales.  Don't skip the last chapter which explains how the author thought up each tale.  If you enjoy the classic short stories of Saki and Roald Dahl, you will enjoy this collection as well.

Reviewer:  SH

Tricksters Choice by Tamora Pierce

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 9

When 16-year-old Aly, the daughter of a spymaster and a famous knight, is captured and sold as a slave she coolly begins plotting her escape only to find herself thwarted by a god.

Reviewer:  SJS

Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Grades: 6-8

The first in a trilogy, this book is told through the perspectives of apprentice wizard Nathaniel and the djinni he conjures, Bartimaeus. Through Bartimaeus comical narration (complete with footnotes) this book offers a fresh twist on the fantasy genre.

Reviewer:  LY

East by Edith Pattou

Reading Level: Grades 6 - 10

This is a beautiful retelling of the Norse fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Told in alternating voices of Rose, the spirited young girl destined to wander, her loving brother, her worried father, the enchanted white bear, and the troll queen, this book is a wonderful fantasy with a mythic journey undertaken by Rose to rescue her love. Also try Beauty:  A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast and Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley.

Reviewer:  HG

The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John H. Ritter

Reading Level: Grades 5-8

When old Doc decides to let the outcome of a childrens baseball game decide the fate of a large parcel of land, 12-year-old Tom Gallagher and his inept teammates pin their hopes on a mysterious newcomer and a disgraced major league ball player. Fans of Spinellis Maniac Magee and Chabons Summerland will delight in this heroic tall tale.

Reviewer:  SJS

Warchild by Karin Lowachee

Reading Level: Grades 8-adult

Lowachee has written a gripping first novel, which will captivate Enders Game fans. 8-year-old Joss world is searingly changed when his home ship is attacked by Falcone who slaughters the adults and captures the children. After one horrifying year in Falcones hands, Jos is rescued by Earths deadliest alien enemy. Trained as a master spy Jos must decide who is friend and who is foe in a deadly game that may cost him his life.

Reviewer:  SJS

High Heat by Carl Deuker

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

Sophomore Shane Hunters perfect life of privilege suddenly changes. His father commits suicide, his family is forced to move into public housing, and he transfers from private school to public high school. Shane, who is a talented relief pitcher, finds himself on the mound facing the new boy who has moved into his old house and is playing on the team of his old school. Shane delivers some high heat that puts the batter in the hospital. Both boys need to come back after that life altering pitch. Deuker provides his trademark action packed sports novel with well-written characters.

Reviewer:  HG

Inside Out by Terry Trueman

Reading Level: Grade 7-12

Trueman follows up on his acclaimed Stuck in Neutral with another psychological thriller. When two desperate teenage brothers attempt to hold up a coffee shop is thwarted by the arrival of the police, the boys threaten to shoot the eleven people in the shop. One of those hostages, a 16-year-old schizophrenic, knows if he doesnt get his medication soon the voices in his head will be much more dangerous than the two young robbers.

Reviewer:  SJS

Vampire High by Douglas Rees

Reading Level: Grades 5 8

After purposely failing all his high school classes to protest his family's move from California Cody is told he will be attending a private school. He is happy to get into the most exclusive one, just by agreeing to be on the water polo team. After all, his only other choice was Our Lady of Perpetual Homework, but there is something very odd going on at the Vlad Dracul Magnet School where almost all the other students are tall and pale and always wearing sunglasses.

Reviewer:  SH

The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

Jericho is asked to pledge an exclusive club, the Warriors of Distinction, that will make him part of the social elite at school.  Membership promises to give Jericho everything he has always wanted, but the initiation activities become increasingly humiliating and a bit scary.  Its particularly bad for the first girl pledge.  Choices must be made, but isnt it worth anything to belong?   For a different point of view read Slot Machine by Chris Lynch.

Reviewer:  HG

Period Pieces: Stories for Girls

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 8

Everyone remembers her first period and waiting for it to come. In these thirteen short stories, these authors share the pride, the embarrassment, the sisterhood, and in some cases, the disbelief. For girls only.

Reviewer:  HG

Snow by Tracy Lynn

Reading Level: Grades 6 and older

The story of Snow White is set in Victorian era Wales in this gothic horror adaptation of the classic fairytale.

Reviewer:  SH

Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Reading Level: Grades 6 and up

13-year-old Mia Winchell realized in third grade that she was different from the other children and that she had to keep that difference a secret. But shes going to fail in school if she doesnt get help. Mia sees colors and shapes that are triggered by sounds. Numbers and letters and words all have their own colors. She learns that she has a rare medical condition called synesthesia. Her secret is out and it affects every relationship in her life. Mass allows readers to experience this colorful, fascinating world of swirling, exploding colors.

Reviewer:  HG

Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz

Reading Level: Grades 6 - 9

Reluctant 14-year-old British secret agent Alex Rider returns in another rip-roaring adventure. On loan to the CIA Alexs safe mission turns deadly when his CIA parents disappear and Alex must face a madman on his own.
If this is your first encounter with Alex Rider youll enjoy his first two adventures, Stormbreaker and Point Blank.

Reviewer:  SJS

The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones

Reading Level: Grades 6 and older

When Roddy and Grundo realize that their world, Blest, and possibly the entire Multiverse, is in danger of being destroyed because evil wizards are disrupting Blest's magic, they cannot get any of the adults in their world to believe them. Taking matters into her own hands, Roddy calls for help from a powerful wizard, but makes contact with Nick, a boy who grew up on Earth, who has never learned how to use his magical powers.

Reviewer:  SH

The Canning Season by Polly Horvath

Reading Level: Grades 6 and older

When thirteen-year-old Ratchet is suddenly sent to stay with elderly and eccentric cousins in rural Maine for the summer she is stunned because her mother had never even told her that she HAD relatives in Maine, but eventually, four daughters of very dysfunctional mothers create an odd, but working, family of their own.

Reviewer:  SH

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge

Reading Level: Grades 6 - 8

Bored when he is forced to miss most of the baseball season because of mono, Kevin actually reads a book of poetry and discovers an untapped talent.

Reviewer:  SJS

Wizards of the Game by David Lubar

Reading Level: Grades 5 and older

When Mercer convinces his eighth grade class to hold a fantasy game convention to raise money for a local soup kitchen he has no way of knowing that his plan will attract both religious fundamentalist protesters and a group of lost wizards from another dimension.

Reviewer:  SH

Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan

Reading Level: Grades 6 - 8

Troubled by the breakup of his parents marriage, Henry finds peace working for old Mr. Fogarty.  His peace is shattered when he rescues a defiant fairy prince from the old mans cat and is thrown into the middle of a faerie war.
If you enjoy this novel try: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

Reviewer:  SJS

Pool Boy by Michael Simmons

Reading Level: Grades 7 - 10

15-year-old Brett is a child of indulgence and affluence. He never wants for anything until the day his father is arrested for stock manipulation. With father in prison and the familys home and assets sold to pay fines and lawyers fees, Brett is forced to take a job and spends his summer cleaning pools in his old neighborhood.

Reviewer:  SJS

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Reading Level: Grade 8 - Adult

When 15-year-old Christopher Boone is accused of killing his neighbors pet poodle he decides to investigate the crime. But Christopher is hampered by family secrets and his own autism.
If you enjoy this uniquely narrated work you would also enjoy, Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman.

Reviewer:  SJS

Claws:  A Novel by Will Weaver

Reading Level: Grades 7 - 10

Jed and Laura form an uneasy alliance when Laura discovers that her mother is having a secret affair with Jeds father.

Reviewer:  SJS

Alia Waking by Laura McCaffrey

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 7

More than anything Alia longs to be one of the girls chosen by the Keenten, a society of women warriors. When she and her best friend capture two young spies from the enemy Beechian tribe their selection to the Keenten is almost guaranteed until Alia learns a shocking secret.

Reviewer:  SJS

Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman

Reading Level: Grades 7 and older

Troublemaker Joss has been kicked out of 12 schools, so she is thrilled when she gets a spot coveted time travel program of the Centre for Neo-Historical Studies. But will she be able to handle the high security that goes along with her being teamed with Mavkel, the first alien student ever accepted into the program, and why has an assassin been seen around campus?

Reviewer:  SH

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Grades 7 and up

Russell Middlebrook has a secret. He thinks he is the only gay student at his small town high school. Then he discovers that Kevin, a popular athlete, and his best friend, Min, are also gay. Together with two other closeted students they form the Geography Club, a club thats so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever join it. Russell and Kevin find romance until things begin to fall apart. Hartingers realistic, funny book explores love, cruelty, friendship, betrayal, and the perils of being different.


Flight to Freedom by Ana Veciana-Suarez

Reading Level:  Grade 6 and up

When thirteen-year-old Yara Garca receives a diary from her father, she uses it to chronicle the changes in her family as they leave Cuba and go to Miami to live as exiles. No one is happy about this move, but some are adjusting better than others. Very similar to Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, this novel is a fast read of a very interesting time in history the late 1960s.

Reviewer:  PC

Hex by Rhiannon Lassiter

Reading Level: Grades 6 8

Hexes can enter computer systems using only the power of their minds, and therefore can become the perfect hackers. Because of this anyone discovered to have the Hex gene is killed immediately, or so everyone believes, until Wraith, and his super-Hex sister, Raven, discover a dark government secret.

Reviewer:  SH

The Music Thief by Peni R. Griffin

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8

Alma misses her dead abuela, the way her brother Eddie was when he was still nice to her, and the freedom she had before she had to watch her baby niece, Silvita.  With the news of a drive-by shooting, she loses Jovita, the singer she idolized.  Then Alma discovers a cat flap on her neighbors house that allows her to enter into a world filled with music and to find a refuge from her life.

Reviewer:  HG

Never After by Rebecca Lickiss

Reading Level: Grades 5 8

The legends were wrong. It wasn't a castle with a sleeping princess, it was a castle with three sleeping princes. Therefore, Prince Athestan must convince his princess cousin, Vevila, to return with him and kiss the princes so that he can wed the beautiful young woman sleeping by the king and his retinue.  However, when three wizards, a witch, a strange little man, and many other fairytale denizens get involved in their quest it appears that things may not end happily ever after after all.

Reviewer:  SH


Down a Sunny Dirt Road: An Autobiography by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Reading Level: Ages 9 and up

This is a fascinating chronicle of the personal and professional lives of the Berenstains, creators of the Berenstain Bears. Sprinkled with lots of humorous anecdotes and perfectly illustrated with both photographs and cartoons, the witty narration traces the early lives of Stan and Jan, how they met, their career together, the creation of the famous bears, and more.

Reviewer:  NB

Authors/illustrators Jan and Stan Berenstain tell about their childhoods, how they met and the creation of the Berenstain Bears in this dual-autobiography illustrated with family photos as well as charming illustrations by the authors.

Reviewer:  SH

Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake

Reading Level: Ages 3 and older

Author/illustrator Quentin Blake presents twenty six of his favorite paintings, identified only by artist, on blank pages encouraging the reader to interpret each painting himself. The title, history, and critical description of each painting is included at the end of the book.

Reviewer:  SH

Everything Cat: What Kids Really Want to Know About Cats by Marty Crisp

Reading Level: Grades 3-6

Presents interesting and detailed answers to kids questions about cats. With its great color photographs, this book is a must for cat lovers and anyone else who just wants to know more about these fascinating creatures. Dog lovers will be interested in the companion book, Everything Dog.

Reviewer:  NB

Gretchen the Bicycle Dog by Anita Heyman

Reading Level: Grades 2 4

Gretchen the dachshund tells her story about how she came to be paralyzed and how her life changed once she was given a dog wheelchair.

Reviewer:  SH

Theres a Frog in My Throat! 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me by Loreen Leedy & Pat Street

Reading Level: Ages 8-11

Youll have a whale of a time with this amusing and informative collection of animal sayings you hear every day. Each saying is accompanied by an explanation of its meaning. An entertaining and very clever presentationits the bees knees!

Reviewer:  NB

My Tour of Europe by Teddy Roosevelt, Age 10 edited by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Catherine Brighton

Reading Level: Grades 1-4

Featuring selected entries from a journal that young Theodore Roosevelt kept on a year-long trip to Europe with his family, this book gives you an opportunity to learn what one of our most popular presidents was like as a boy as well as a glimpse into the lifestyle of a well-to-do-family in the late 1800s. Readers will enjoy the list of Teddys spelling mistakes (which the editors corrected for this book) and be inspired by the tips for starting a journal.

Reviewer:  NB

Rhyolite: The True Story of a Ghost Town by Diane Siebert, woodcuts by David Frampton

Reading Level: Grades 1-5

In this haunting narrative poem, an account of the birth and death of an actual Nevada town, coyotes keep watch over the settlement from its beginning in 1904 through its boom period and finally to its demise in 1919. Bold woodcuts echo the descriptive text.

Reviewer:  NB

Critters of Illinois Pocket Guide by Ann E. McCarthy

Reading Level: Grade 3 and up

An attractive and informative guide to Illinois wildlife with clear color photos and interesting facts about each creature. Well organized and easy-to-use, this is a great source for identifying some of these Illinois inhabitants you might spot in your own backyard.

Reviewer:  NB

King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher

Reading Level: Grades 8 - 12

The popular young adult author recounts his adventures during his childhood and teenaged years in this hilarious, bawdy autobiography.

Reviewer:  SJS

River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain by William Anderson; illustrated by Dan Andreasen

Reading Level: Grade K and up

This biography is a wonderful introduction to the life of the famous writer and humorist. There is just enough information for young readers and the illustrations complement the text very nicely.

Reviewer:  PC

Chewing the Cud by Dick King-Smith

Reading Level: Grades 4 6

The author of Babe: The Gallant Pig tells about his life, his family, his farms and the animals he knew and loved.

Reviewer:  SH

My Pet Hamster by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Bernice Lum

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

A little girl tells all about her pet hamsterhow she got it, how she takes care of it, and how the hamster grooms and amuses itself. She also sprinkles in some information about other pets and some wild animals. This book is a great introduction to pets. The colorful illustrations are absolutely adorable, and Silkys perky personality really comes to life.

Reviewer:  NB

Chickens May Not Cross the Road and Other Crazy (But True) Laws by Kathi Linz,
illustrated by Tony Griego

Reading Level: Ages 6 - 10

Did you know that in Connecticut a pickle is not to be sold unless it bounces? This book presents a riotous assortment of many other seemingly silly laws that are still on record in our cities and states. The colorful cartoon-like pictures illustrate each law to perfection! Includes straightforward text explaining why we have laws and how our government works.

Reviewer:  NB

Five Pages a Day: A Writers Journey by Peg Kehret

Reading Level: Grade 4 - 6

A follow-up to Kehrets earlier autobiography, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. In this book, she explains how she started writing as a girl and kept at it until she was winning prizes (a trip to Hawaii and a new car) for her writing. She also writes about her love of animals and the animals in her life. A warm, winning story about perseverance and hard work! Includes a section of black and white photos.

Reviewer:  PC

How Angel Peterson Got His Name: And Other Outrageous Tales About Extreme Sports by Gary Paulsen

Reading Level: Grades 4 8

Gary Paulsen describes some the stupid things he and his friends did when they were thirteen-years-old (amazingly enough they all managed to live to see fourteen).  Id say dont try any of these stunts yourself, but, if you are a thirteen-year-old boy, you probably already have.

Reviewer:  SH

George Washingtons Teeth by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora, pictures by Brock Cole

Reading Level: Ages 6 and up

Did George Washington ever have wooden teeth? The mystery is unraveled in this light-hearted rhyming presentation of our first presidents dental problems, which plagued him for most of his life. Incorporating some material from Washingtons writings, the timeline at the end of the book chronicles his teeth along with historical events.

Reviewer:  NB

Loose Threads by Lorie Ann Grover

Reading Level: Grades 5-9

In seventh-grader Kay Garbers family there are four generations living in one home: Kay, her mother Katherine, Grandma Margie, and Great Gran Eula. Then one day Grandma Margie tells them theres a lump in her breast. Kay must deal with family relationships and Grandma Margies cancer while still coping with school, friends, and growing up. Much of this work is taken from the authors childhood and the voice in these free verse poems is honest and true. Other excellent books written in verse are Make Lemonade and True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff.

Reviewer:  HG

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine King Farris; illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

Reading Level: Grades 1 - 3

Concentrating on a rather ordinary childhood (for the time and place), this is truly a unique look at the famous civil rights leader. The illustrations complement the text perfectly.

Reviewer:  PC

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson: The Voice of a Century by Pam Muoz Ryan; illustrations by Brian Selznick

Reading Level: Grades 1 and older

This wonderful picture book biography tells the story of the African-American singer who opened doors with her voice. Named a 2003 honor book for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, this is sure to be a favorite childrens biography for many years to come. If you like Ryan and Selznicks work you should also check out their other collaborations Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride and Riding Freedom.

Reviewer:  PC

Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems by Kristine OConnell George;  illustrated by Debbie Tilley

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 7

Written in poetry form this book tells about one girls first year in middle school. New friends, crushes, forgotten homework are all topics for honest, humorous poems. Snobs, insecurity, and the tough boy in school delve into more serious aspects of growing up. Another good book written in verse is Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

Reviewer:  HG

Hairdo!  What We Do and Did to Our Hair by Ruth Freeman Swain; illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith

Reading Level: Grades 1 5

How would you like to wear a lump of beeswax on the top of your head, or a two-foot tall wig covered in rancid lard? Discover these and other historical hairstyles in this humorously illustrated book.

Reviewer:  SH

Imagine a hairdo so tall and so smelly that it made a perfect home for insects and small critters! Thats what European women wore in the eighteenth century, and it was the fashion rage. This humorously illustrated book provides a fascinating historical and cultural look into hair styles over the years from the mundane to the bizarre and includes interesting hair trivia.

Reviewer:  NB

New Spanish and Bilingual Books

S, Se Puede!/Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A. por/by Diana Cohn; ilustrado por/illustrated by Francisco Delgado

Reading Level:  K - nivel 3

Este cuento se trata de la huelga de los trabajadores de limpieza en Los Angeles en abril 2000. Contado del punto de vista de un nio, el cuento es a la vez instructivo y conmovedor.

This story is about the janitors' strike that took place in Los Angeles in April 2000. Told from a young boys point of view, it is both moving and enlightening.

Reviewer:  PC

Po Peep!  Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes seleccionado por Alma Flor Ada y F. Isabel Campoy; ilustrado por Viv Escriv

Reading Level:  beb - nivel K

Estas rimas tradicionales son bien presentadas e ilustradas. Se incluyen De Colores, La Hormiguita, Los Pollitos Dicen, y muchas ms, en espaol e ingls.

These traditional rhymes are well presented and illustrated. Includes: De Colores, La Hormiguita, Los Pollitos Dicen, and many more, in both English and Spanish.

Reviewer:  PC

Una biblioteca para Juana:  el mundo de Sor Juana Ins por Pat Mora; ilustrado por Beatriz Vidal

Reading Level:  nivel 1 - 8

Esta biografa corta de Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz da informacin sobre la vida de esta mujer importante. Las ilustraciones son muy bonitas, por ser de colorido y muy delicadas.

This short biography of Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz reveals the fascinating life of this important woman. The pretty illustrations are both colorful and delicate.

Reviewer:  PC

Mi Mam es fantstica por Nick Butterworth

Reading Level: pre-escolar - nivel K

La mam en este libro es muy fantstica tal como son las otras mams del mundo. Lalo con tu mam - este libro corto le va a dejar sonriente.

The mother in this book is very fantastic, just like all the other mothers in the world. Read it with your mother;  this short book will leave her smiling.

Reviewer:  PC

Dodo lo sabe todo:  mi primer vocabulario por Yves Got

Reading Level:  beb - nivel K

Este primer vocabulario se trata de todo y tiene las ilustraciones ms preciosas. Muy divertido para compartir, es til para jugar con el beb o para mejorar el vocabulario de los ms chiquitos lectores. Si te gusta este, busque Las vacaciones de Dodo en la biblioteca tambin.

This first vocabulary covers a wide variety of themes and has wonderful illustrations.  Fun to share, it's also useful for playing with baby or improving the vocabulary of early readers.  If you like this, look for Las vacaciones de Dodo also in the library.

Reviewer:  PC


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; read by Lynn Redgrave

Grades 4 8

What if you had the magical ability to, just by reading aloud, make things come out of a book? What would you do? Read the gold out of Treasure Island, read the pushmi-pullyu out of Dr. Doolittle? Now imagine that you accidentally read the bad guys out of a book. That is exactly what Meggie's father did in this creative novel, expertly, but thankfully not magically, read by Lynn Redgrave.

Reviewer:  SH

The Steps by Rachel Cohn, read by Caitlin Greer

Grades 4 and older

Annabel agrees to spend her Christmas vacation in Australia with her father's new family because she figures she will be able to use the time to convince him to dump the "steps" and move back to New York where he belongs.

Reviewer:  SH

Going Solo by Roald Dahl; read by Derek Jacobi

Grades 4 and older

Roald Dahls personal narrative, about his experiences as an RAF pilot in World War II, is brought to life by actor Derek Jacobis fantastic reading.  If you enjoy listening to this book you may want to read Dahls autobiography, Boy:  Tales of Childhood.

Reviewer:  SH

Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman; read by Max Casella

Grades 7 and older

Vince Lucas senior year, and first romance, is complicated by his familys vending machine business, of which he has no interest in being a part.

Reviewer:  SH

Smallville (The Talon Mix)

Grades 5 and up

This awesome anthology from the hit TV show satisfies from beginning to end. Highlights include the theme song Save Me by Remy Zero, Nuclear by Ryan Adams, and Island in the Sun by Weezer. If you like Sixpence None The Richers cover of Dont Dream Its Over, check out Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House. Theyre the ones who first made it a hit when this reviewer was in high school. Sigh.

Reviewer:  PC