National Geographic Our World, Updated Edition: A Child’s First Picture Atlas by National Geographic Kids

5 stars! This introduction to continents and countries begins with an orientation session to the concept of a globe, a map, and land characteristics, which is a transition for how to recognize boundaries and landforms on a map.

Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Craig & Isabella Hatkoff

5 stars! Owen is a baby hippo, Mzee is a ancient tortoise; they strike up a surprising bond when they become acquainted at an animal sanctuary after Owen is rescued following a tsunami.

Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids And Dragons by Jean E. Pendziwol, illus. by Martine Gourbault

2 stars! sing elements from familiar fairy tales, a boy’s dragon friend is transformed into the protagonist of several major fairy tales after they magically become lost in the woods after leaping from a playground swing.

Sing, Nightingale, Sing! by Francoise de Guilbert, illustrated by Chiaki Miyamoto, music by Daniel Goyone

4 stars! Perhaps better suited to European purchasers, the book does hold value to American audiences for the artwork, clever facts and companion CD, all for a bargain price of less that the cost of the average picture book.

John, Paul, George, & Ben by Lane Smith

4 stars! A passel of historical facts and a smattering of tall tales yield some laugh-out-loud results for readers who discover how Paul developed his booming voice (bells, bells, bells) and the reason (cherry trees + axe) George went on to become the only President not ALLOWED to live in Washington D.C.

Honey: A Gift from Nature by Yumiko Fujiwara, illus. by Hideko Ise

3 stars! The images in the book are luminous: a breakfast table on a bright sunny morning; fat, butter-colored honeybees; a shimmering veil of rain; richly hued autumn leaves; and honey in tones of yellow, amber, gold and brown.