Books

17 zoo babies introduced in words, pictures

"ZooBorns" by Andrew Bleiman with photographs by Chris Eastland (Simon & Schuster, ages 2 and up, $12.99), introduces children to "zoo babies from around the world."

Seventeen zoo babies from favorites like Bengal tigers and an aardvark to the unusual crowned sifaka are photographed in adorable settings and described in 30 to 40 words each.

Bleiman and Eastland founded Zooborns LLC in 2008. The group announces the births of new animals from accredited zoos and aquariums.

The two-page spreads include a silhouette of the full-grown creatures in relation to others in the book. End pages share more information including Home Zoo and Conservation Status.

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Some books are charming; others are flat-out fun. " How to Raise a Dinosaur," by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi (Running Press, ages 4-8, $16.95), is hilarious!

When looking for a pet, you can consider "mice and horses and cats and dogs," but the author encourages you to seriously consider getting a dinosaur. Of course, there are some important things to consider: like the size of your yard and whether you want a meat-eater or a plant-eater.

Wing writes a zany story. She suggests going to a dinosaur shop to find a good pet, but stresses the need for play toys and proper vet care. Bernasconi's illustrations brightly fill each page and feature flaps and cutouts of what's going on behind the scenes.

Her closing advice: "Above all, give your dinosaur lots of love . . . or it will . . . EAT YOU!"

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Two-time Newbery Honor winning author Patricia Reilly Giff's newest novel is " Storyteller" (Random House, ages 8-14, $15.99).

Elizabeth feels isolated and alone. Her mother recently died, and now her father is going to Australia on extended business. Elizabeth has to move in with her eccentric aunt. Father is an artist, Aunt Libby is a scientist, but Elizabeth feels like nothing. Yet, stranger in strange land that she is, Elizabeth feels a connection to a young girl shown in an old portrait on Aunt Libby's wall.

Giff once more delves into a troubled teen character with insight and grace. Her masterful story is written in alternating chapters from the 21st century Elizabeth and her 18th century relative in the picture, Zee.

Aunt Libby only knows so much about Zee. Crazy cousin Harry, though, taught history for over 35 years, and may have insights on their family story. Together the three of them journey to local revolutionary war sites and antique stores. Along the way, Elizabeth discovers her gift: storytelling. And it is up to her to keep the story of Zee alive for future generations.

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