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The Children's Bookshelf

The Children’s Bookshelf from WCMU Public Radio showcases new children’s book titles meant to engage young readers in the joy of story found in both the written word and illustrations. The target audience includes teachers, librarians, parents and grandparents as part of their role to foster the love of reading.  Each of the two minute reviews have accompanying study questions and activities and are available as podcasts.  

Children's Bookshelf Host, Dr. Sue Ann Martin

The series host and reviewer is Dr. Sue Ann Martin, Professor Emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts in the College of Communication and Fine Arts, at Central Michigan University.

Our theme music for The Children’s Bookshelf is the polka from Denes Agay’s “Five Easy Dances”, performed by the Powers Woodwind Quintet, in residence at Central Michigan University’s School of Music. It is taken from the album GEMS, on the White Pine label.

The Children's Bookshelf only accepts for possible review titles that are sent from the children's book divisions of national publishers. 

Latest Episodes
  • The First Notes: The Story of DO, RE, MI is a beautifully told story about the discovery of the musical scale by Guido d’ Arezzo. It is written by musical star Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton with rich illustrations by Chiara Fedele. Guido was sent to a monastery to learn Latin, math, and music. It was there where he discovered that he was using only 6 tones when he sang---no matter what the hymn! This led to the ability to write music down and impact musical training. The picture book offers history and fun for children 4-8 years of age as well as the entire family. (Little, Brown and Company) 2022.
  • Boo! Hiss! written and designed by Cyndi Marko is an engaging chapter book for readers 6-9 years of age told in a delightful graphic novel style. Boo, a little ghost, and Hiss, a little snake, have lived together very pleasantly in a vacant house for some time. When a family of humans moves in and begins to take over, the two friends devise a scare plan to drive them away. This is not as easy as Boo and Hiss first think. Fun reigns on each of the 80 pages as the ghost and the snake come to realize that together they all make a lovely family (Aladdin/ Simon and Schuster) 2022.
  • The Little Book of JOY is written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams and Rachel Neumann and with outstanding illustrations by Rafael López. This beautiful picture book for readers 3-7 years of age tells the story of two boys who live on opposite sides of the world----they are lonely and long for a friend.When they stop feeling lonely and start listening to the quiet around them, they discover joy. Colorful ribbons connect everyone to this glorious feeling as they all share their joy (Crown Books for Young Readers/ Random House Children’s Books) 2022.
  • What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking written by Tina Ozcewicz, illustrated by Aleksandra Zajac and translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft is a special book about more than seventy feelings! Everything about this book is thoroughly captivating. Readers 4-8 years of age will enjoy the thoughts captured in both the words and the pictures. From kindness and curiosity to more complex feelings such as courage and envy kids and family members will find much to feel and talk about (Elsewhere Editions) 2022.
  • Let’s Build a Little Train written by Julia Richardson and illustrated by Ryan 0’Rourke is a bright, colorful, and happy story about the designing, building, and running of a steam engine. The story is told in catchy rhymes that welcome the child to join in on the fun. Children 4-8 years of age will learn all about smokestacks, cattle catchers, pistons, and the role of the caboose. (Sleeping Bear Press, 2022).
  • Witch Hazel gorgeously written and illustrated by Molly Idle, a Caldicott Medal Honoree, is a beautiful story about a grandmother named Hazel and a granddaughter named Hilda. Hilda wants to hear family stories. In this case, stories are told by grandma’s magical broom as it puts forth curling white lines and twinkling stars. This is an intergenerational picture book and a triumph of storytelling for children 5-8 years of age and up (Little, Brown and Company) 2022.
  • The Worst Teddy EVER written and illustrated by Marcelo Verdad follows a little boy by the name of Noa who is disgusted with his Teddy because he is always sleeping rather than playing with him. Noa does not know that Teddy stays up all night protecting him from all who try to disturb his sleep including a little ghost, the Boogeyman, the tooth fairy, and the Tickle Monster! This delightful picture book is beautifully designed for children 4-8 years of age and is available in both English and Spanish editions (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022).
  • Magnolia Flower adapted by Ibram X. Kendi and illustrated by Loveis Wise is a picture book for readers 5-8 years of age based on a short story written by Zora Neale Hurston. The wise River tells the story of “Long Ago” when people of dark skin were held in bondage by people with pale skin. Bentley, one of those with dark skin, fled in the night to freedom. He married Swift Deer, and they had a daughter named Magnolia Flower. The illustration of the flowering of the Magnolia Flower tree celebrates the end of bondage. Magnolia Flower and her love, however, must flee when her father refuses to accept him. (Amistad Books/ an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books) 2022.
  • Friends written and beautifully illustrated by Daniela Sosa is a timely book for youngsters 4-8 years of age who are now back in the classroom and are looking for friends for the new school year. As the cover suggests, friends come in all colors and have all sorts of interests. This happy book shows children making friends as they skate, draw, climb trees, learn how to whistle, laugh, and enjoy each other----except when there is an argument that needs to be untangled. ( A Paula Wiseman Book/ Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers).
  • Farmhouse is a charming book about the history of an abandoned 19th Century farmhouse that writer-illustrator Sophie Blackall came upon in New York State. It is also the story of the family of 12 children who grew up in this farmhouse. Blackall allows the “found objects” and “old things” to act as visual storytellers. The illustrations are fascinating and will charm all including children 4-8 years of age (Little Brown and Company).