By Lyda Whiting



By Amanda Lumry and Laura Hurwitz

9-year-old Riley travels to Borneo with his Uncle Max, a field biologist, to see the home of the orangutan. But why is Uncle Max studying fig wasps, not the red apes? Riley and his friends explore the rainforest and meet sun bears, gibbons, naked bats, and even flying snakes. Riley soon learns how important figs are to the diet of the animals, and that figs cannot survive without the fig wasp to pollinate the plants.

Riley meets the orangutans, and even witnesses a huge gathering of wildlife as some other trees, which only produce fruit every two to nine years, bring forth ripe fruit for the animals to enjoy. Riley travels home with a deep appreciation for the delicate ecological balance of the rainforest.

This is the latest adventure in the award-winning series of books about Riley’s travels. The story is fast-paced and fun, with sidebars on each page full of science facts and featuring real scientists who are studying the rainforest. The illustrations are a unique mix of beautiful photographs and elaborate detailed paintings. The end pages of this book are covered with a gorgeous painting of a mother orangutan and her baby.

Children will read this book over and over. They will eagerly await each addition to this series, while wishing they had their own Uncle Max. Warning: your child may decide to become a scientist after reading this book.

Highly recommended for children ages 4-8.
Published by Eaglemont Press, this book is available at your local bookstore.

Written by Steve Charney and David Goldbeck,
Illustrated by Maria Burgaleta Larson

This A to Z book is packed with silly poems about fruits, vegetables, and the people who eat them. Children will enjoy the zaniness while learning about everything from apples to zucchini, with some unusual stops at jicama, quince and xemenia on the way. The left hand pages of the book have photographs of the featured food, plus more fruits and vegetables that start with the letter. The right hand pages have fun poems printed in large easy-to-read print, and wonderfully colorful, cartoon-like illustrations. Because the poems are short and memorable, even early readers will soon be reading their favorite pages out loud.

But when the reader passes Z, the book has a surprise. The second section is almost another book, which goes “beyond the ABCs” with fun food facts, recipes, and jokes. There are reading suggestions for other books related to fruits and vegetables. There is a great mix of lore, and history, geography and Spanish lessons.

This is a book that will grow with children. It appeals to very young children just learning their alphabet. The poems and illustrations make it entertaining and fun for early readers. Older children will enjoy the back section and will want to try the recipes. Even adults may learn some unusual things about these healthy foods.

This would be a great book for the classroom as well as the home. Recommended for children ages 2 through elementary school.
Published by Ceres Press, this book is available at your local bookstore.

Written by Dawn Van Zant,
Illustrated by Kim McElroy

Eclipse the wild black stallion fights to protect his band of mares and keep them safe from predators, especially the strange two-legged ones who are moving into his territory. Eclipse remembers being caught by men as a colt, and treasures his freedom above all. One dark night, Eclipse and his three favorite mares must make the ultimate sacrifice to save the rest of the herd. The horses are cornered, and the sky spirits look down on them to help, using the magic of the night mist to carry the mares safely up into the sky, where they can run free forever as the Night Mares.

Comet, faster than light, now gallops across the sky racing the moonlight, bringing speed and power to those who believe in her. Moonbeam, with a white crescent moon blazing on her forehead, is a source of courageous light for those who call to her. Lucky Stars, always full of playful mischief, now brings a twinkle of fun to those who look for her in the sky.

This original story is a magical journey into a world of legend and freedom. The writing is evocative and poetic, bringing the wild horses to life. The beautiful illustrations are at times realistic and at times ethereal, blending the real horse with the horses of mist and moonlight. This is a lovely book for a child who loves horses, and a charming legend for those who reach for magic in the night.
For children ages 4-8.
Published by Wild Heart Ranch Books, this book is available at your local bookstore.

Written by Dawn Van Zant,
Illustrated by Callan Van Zant

Where did starfish come from?   Long ago, the stars looked down at the boundless ocean and recognized it as a sister to the sky. Marina, a young adventurous star, watched her own light pour deep into the sea each night. One night, she followed her reflection deep into the water to light up the ocean with a magical glow. Marina found beauty and joy in her new watery home. Soon others from the sky followed, filling the sea with starfish, comet fish and moon jellyfish.

Pegasus, a brave wild stallion with a far-seeing imagination, knew he had to find a new home for his herd. He told them his dream of leading them all away from the crowded plains to a new life in the sea. But the mares are scared of the dark and strange new world, until Marina comes to light their way.

This unusual and original legend about the origin and friendship of seahorses and starfish is written as a lively rhythmic poem. The illustrations and text are fitted into circles on a bluish green background, as if bubbles are rising up the pages. The illustrations have an appealing innocence, looking almost as if they were crayoned directly onto the pages. This should encourage children to draw their own pictures of life under the sea.

For children ages 2-5.
Published by Wild Heart Ranch Books, this book is available at your local bookstore.

By John Chavez

The Quest is the first in a series of adventures of Drew Droplet, an endearing drop of water, who awakens after many years of being trapped in the earth, to discover exciting new adventures. Drew is initially set free by a drill and is transported by a stream of water from a newly-formed well. From there, he meets many interesting characters and is always very enthusiastic about learning new things.

This is a first edition, written for children eight to twelve years of age and is a wonderful story for parents to read to children as young as four. Geographical locations and adventures are based in real places and on facts, mixed with delightful fiction. Author John Chavez has blended his imagination with data and definitions so your child will come away with more than a story. They will learn about molecules, elements and properties of water, from its liquid, solid and gaseous states.

The real benefit of this book is that Drew makes scientific learning fun. As this drop of water turns into vapor, steam and ice, the science behind each process is explained in simple, yet precise terms. Drew likes people, animals and things, makes friends easily, likes to learn, and is eager for adventure. You can’t help but like him and share in his curiosity.
Published by Thinker Shop, LLC, this book is available at

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

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