Yanomami: People of the Amazon by David M. Schwartz, photographs by Victor Englebert (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, $16) Into the reaches of the rain forest, the writer-photographer team journeyed to create a masterpiece: a spellbinding chronicle of a day in the life of a village, among a handful of the 20,000 remaining Yanomami. With an appendix featuring things kids can do to help indigenous peoples maintain their precarious hold on survival. Future anthropologists will be sleeping with this book under their pillows.
Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery by William Miller, illustrated by Cedric Lucas (Lee & Low, $14.95) This powerful account of the legendary activist's years in the Maryland fields, based on Douglass' monumental autobiography, shines with a bravery beyond imagining. The author and the illustrator have created an essential introduction to one of this country's greatest heroes.
Some Fine Grampa! by Alan Arkin, illustrated by Dirk Zimmer (HarperCollins, $14.95) Skywriting bees and polar bears who can knit one swell muffler: Grampa takes it all in stride and so should you. At once droll and discerning, an irresistible romp from the actor-author, who is some funny guy.
If You Should Hear A Honey Guide by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95) A mesmerizing armchair journey to East Africa and the bush country habitat of the honey guide, a small brown bird, its numbers diminishing, that feeds on wild honeycomb. Riveting ornithology with breathtaking images, the outstanding natural history title for 1995.
Off to School by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert, illustrated by Gershom Griffith (Holiday House, $15.95) Yearning to cross into that "room full of learning" up the hill, a sharecropper's daughter waits for the harvest to come in and her chores to end, so that her year in the classroom might begin. An affecting portrait of a child pursuing her dreams.
Helen and the Hudson Hornet by Nancy Hope Wilson, illustrated by Mary O'Keefe Young (Macmillan, $15) Resplendent as a "huge, soaring ship," a vintage roadster is restored to glory, transporting a 6-year-old girl to the joy ride of her dreams. The text penetrates with acumen to the heart of a child.
When I Go Camping with Grandma by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Allen Garns (BridgeWater, $14.95) Deep into the woods, with a grandmother who "sings to scare away the bears." Marshmallows to moonlight, the next best thing to a real overnight in the wild. They let the fish off the hook, too.
Calling the Doves / El canto de las palomas by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Elly Simmons (Children's Book Press, $14.95) An evocation of the accomplished poet's migrant-worker childhood on the California backroads, where he slept in a tent under the stars, his father summoned doves and his mother recited verse at dinner.
No Dear, Not Here by Jean Davies Okimoto, illustrated by Celeste Henriquez (Sasquatch Books, $14.95) In search of the perfect refuge, a pair of marbled murrelets (endangered Pacific Northwest seabirds) scout sites from Vancouver to Portland. At last they settle in an old-growth fir, the only site where murrelets will raise their young.
In a Circle Long Ago: A Treasury of Native Lore from North America by Nancy Van Laan, illustrated by Lisa Desimini (Knopf, $20) From how the beaver stole fire to the tale of two mice: legends, songs, poems, encompassing more than 20 tribal traditions, from Inuit and Lenape to Nez Perce and Pueblo.