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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.  

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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
  • I Color Myself Different written by Colin Kaepernick and illustrated by Eric Wilkerson is a nicely told picture book about difference for readers 4-8 years of age. One day Colin’s teacher asks the entire class to each draw a picture of their family and then show the picture to the class. Colin takes the assignment very seriously. When a classmate asks Colin why he is the only person in his picture that has brown skin he remembers what his mother said to him about being adopted when he asked her that very same question. The illustrations are beautiful, and the back materials are very useful (Scholastic Inc./ Kaepernick, 2022).
  • The Lantern House written by Erin Napier and illustrated by Adam Trest is a beautiful story in both word and picture about the actions and thoughts that can turn a house into a real home. The fascinating approach here is the fact that the storyteller is the house itself! Young readers 4-8 years of age will enjoy the many special details that go into the making of a home (Little, Brown and Company, 2022).
  • Chester Van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme written by Avery Monsen and illustrated by Abby Hanlon is a lively picture book in both words and pictures about a boy named Chester who wakes up one morning to find that he has lost his ability to rhyme words! He tries everything, his teacher tries everything and his school friends try everything. When FUN comes to the rescue all is well. The story, read out loud, will delight children 4-8 years of age and younger siblings within ear-reach (Little, Brown and Company, 2022).
  • Treasury of Magical Tales from Around the World written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Christina Balit is an outstanding collection of 29 stories from such places as Italy, Angola, Korea, Mexico, Japan, England and the Artic to name but a few. All the stories are magical tales which have been handed down through oral tradition and are not based on myth. This is the latest effort by the successful team of Napoli and Balit-----and it is gorgeous in both words and pictures. It will appeal to the imaginations of serious middle grade readers 9-12 years of age and up (National Geographic, 2021).
  • MINA written and beautifully illustrated by Matthew Forsythe is a well told story about a darling little girl mouse, Mina, who loves books and lives in the hollow of a tree with her father. However, her father has the habit of bringing “surprises” home from the outside world such as cats that he thinks are squirrels! A cat and mouse romp takes place that children 4-8 years of age will enjoy. (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022).
  • Some Questions About Trees is perfectly written and illustrated by Toni Yuly. It is a charming picture book about a little girl’s thirteen questions about trees including if they are sometimes lonely and how they know it is Spring. The illustrations are rendered in chalk pastel, torn tissue paper, paper, pen and ink and digital collage with an abundance of beautiful white spaces. This lovely book will speak to readers 4-8 years of age, (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ an imprint of Simon and Schuster, 2022).
  • Girls Solve Everything: Stories of Women Entrepreneurs Building a Better World written by Catherine Thimmesh and illustrated by Melissa Sweet puts forth a fascinating group of women who have made a difference world wide. The sixteen mini biographies are very well told and stress long term business solutions.
  • April is both national Earth Day and National Poetry month. Dr. Sue Ann Martin suggests "Hello Earth," a collection of poems about our planet.
  • Little Messy Marcy Su written in rhyme by Cherie Fu and illustrated with energetic colors and facial expressions by Julie Kwon is a fun-filled story about a little girl who doesn’t seem able to keep her room in good order----- and what happens when she gives it her very best try!
  • This beautiful book is perfect for Earth Day!