Join our mailing list and get exclusive giveaways, tips, family friendly events and more.
Subscribe to our
and get exclusive giveaways!


August 2011

Book Reviews

Books Make the World Go 'Round

By Mary Quattlebaum

Expore different countries, cultures and times.


American Babies
by Global Fund for Children Editors
Charlesbridge, 2010, $6.95

Babies love to look at other babies—and this sturdy board book gives little ones ample opportunity to gaze long upon happy tots from around the United States. Children of different ethnicities peer out from color photos that include landscapes as diverse as beach, meadow and leaf pile. The photos also subtly introduce the idea of seasons, with kids garbed in snowsuits, sundresses, beach togs and baseball caps. A simple text highlights commonalities such as laughing, playing and sharing love, reinforcing the idea that people are more alike than they are different. Take these babies with you to amuse your baby, be she traveling by plane, car or stroller.

ages 3 – 7

Jemma’s Got the Travel Bug
by Susan Glick
illustrated by Kelli Nash
Schiffer, 2010, $14.99

The diamondback terrapin is the state reptile of Maryland, the mascot of the University of Maryland—and now the star of a charming picture book by Maryland author Susan Glick. Glick adroitly weaves facts into her fictional tale of Jemma, a terrapin who wanders far from her Chesapeake Bay cove to “explore deeper waters.” Jemma’s adventures include many of the dangers that now face real terrapins—crab traps, boat propellers, loss of habitat. Jemma’s happy return home allows Glick to educate young readers about the tidal creeks, marsh grass and mud flats of the reptile’s unique environment—all captured in glowing artwork by Maryland illustrator Kelli Nash. Additional information and a glossary in the back make this book a shoo-in for classroom units on reptiles and the Chesapeake Bay.

Me … Jane
by Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown, 2011, $15.99

The animal-loving creator of the hugely popular newspaper comic strip MUTTS turns pen and paintbrush to a biography of Dr. Jane Goodall. McDonnell begins the life story of this acclaimed primatologist by highlighting Jane’s childhood love of the outdoors and a toy chimpanzee. By focusing on details of Goodall’s life to which young children can relate—climbing a favorite tree, reading the Tarzan books, dreaming of life in Africa—McDonnell succeeds in creating a believable portrait of the young Jane. And his charming watercolors convey the busy wonders of the natural world—squirrels, butterflies, elephants, giraffes—and Jane’s joy at being a part of things.

ages 8 - 12

Buried Treasures
by Stephane Compoint
Abrams, 2011, $19.95

The lost city of Alexandria, the blue bear of Alaska, a 22-ton mammal from Pakistan—myth or reality? The latter, says author/photographer Stephane Compoint. Through this handsome, carefully researched volume, he explores the way scientists and archaeologists have delved into 14 “history mysteries.” Quotes from these experts and photos of them at work give youngsters a chance to learn more about science and archaeology as possible careers, even as they cheer the discovery of a 40-foot-tall Alexandrian statue (submerged undersea for 15 centuries) and gasp at a striking image of the rare blue or glacier bear. Captions, headings and photos make for a visually arresting presentation of fascinating information.

Dogtag Summer
by Elizabeth Partridge
Bloomsbury, 2011, $16.99

Tracy can’t remember her birth country of Vietnam, but the summer before junior high triggers her memories of American jeeps, Vietcong soldiers and her missing grandmother. Acclaimed author Elizabeth Partridge skillfully threads extended flashbacks (signs of Tracy’s post-traumatic stress disorder) through the girl’s summer of 1980, when she finds her adopted American father’s hidden mementoes: an ammo box and an Army dogtag with an unfamiliar name. This heartfelt historic novel proves especially timely today with our country again engaged in a lengthy war. It emerges as a sensitive portrayal of a child piecing together her identity and a war veteran trying to make peace with his past.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
by Uma Krishnaswami
Atheneum, 2011, $16.99

This exuberant novel ends as any good Bollywood movie should, with an extravagant dance number—plus a huge chocolate cake and monkeys. Author Uma Krishnaswami was born in India and lived for some years in the D.C. area, which is where the book is first set. Movie-fan Dini, 11, loves the Maryland suburbs but must move to a teeny-tiny town in India when her doctor mom takes a job there. The town’s name “Swapnagiri” or “dream mountain” hints at the dreams wildly spun, realized and lost in this place. Complicating the lively plot are a beautiful Indian movie star named Dolly Singh, her spurned suitor (Dini’s uncle), a plump studio executive, a postal carrier, a sausage dog, a whistling girl and mischievous monkeys. Lots of fun!

Mary Quattlebaum is a mother and the author, most recently, of Pirate vs. Pirate (Disney Hyperion), a picture book. You can contact Mary at, which has information about her 16 award-winning children’s books, school presentations and writing workshops.