The Summer 2008 Book Sense Children's Pick

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1. SAVVY, by Ingrid Law (Dial, $16.99, 9780803733060/ 0803733062) "Mississippi Beaumont (Mibs, for short) is about to turn 13, and in her unusual family that's when a 'savvy' arrives. One brother can produce electricity. Another causes hurricanes. The special talent that arrives, for her, however, is not at all what she expects. This rollicking novel is full of charm and energy." --Joanne R. Fritz, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA

2. THE PENDERWICKS ON GARDAM STREET, by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99, 9780375840906 / 0375840907) "If there could be only one sequel this year, the Penderwicks would have to be it. The Penderwick sisters are brave, imaginative, quick-thinking girls on an important mission: save their father from blind dates -- and themselves from the threat of a stepmother! This book actually surpasses its award-winning precursor as Birdsall spins another utterly charming story of four admirable, imperturbable girls in love with books, soccer, math, and secret projects." --Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

3. THE MAGIC THIEF, by Sarah Prineas (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780061375873 / 006137587X) "The story of a ragtag, street-smart street urchin destined to save the magical life of his city when he becomes apprenticed to a most powerful wizard, The Magic Thief is the perfect summer read for young Harry Potter fans. Conn, the young protagonist, is plucky, feisty, and clever, and it's hard not to root for him as he realizes his power within the magical world." --Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

4. HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE, by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99, 9780375844539 / 0375844538) "Harper's lost when her dad and beloved stepmother get a divorce. To escape from the pain and awkwardness, she leaves L.A. to spend her summer building a house for a family in Tennessee -- and, in the process, she begins to rebuild her own life." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

5. THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, by Mary E. Pearson(Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, $16.95, 9780805076684/ 0805076689) "What is it that makes you unique? How far would you go to save your child? These are only two of the complex ethical and moral questions posed by this positively unforgettable new novel for teen readers, which will also be the perfect choice for book clubs. Undoubtedly the best book I've read this year!" --Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

6. TROUBLE, by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion, $16, 9780618927661 / 0618927662) "When Henry's brother Franklin is critically injured, the accident sparks racial tensions in the school and the community. Schmidt is a great writer and storyteller, and his well-crafted, many-layered story is emotionally gripping and extremely thought-provoking." --Linda Schmidt, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Brookfield, WI

7. THE UNDERNEATH, by Kathi Appelt, with drawings by David Small (Atheneum, $16.99, 9781416950585 / 1416950583) "In her first novel for young readers, well-known picture book author Kathi Appelt has created a timeless story in the tradition of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Carson McCullers. This is the story of an old hound dog chained up near the banks of a bayou and an abandoned calico cat whose kittens arrive full of the kind of curiosity that can get everyone into trouble. These life-tossed animals become a family, and their dramatic story is a mesmerizing book to read aloud." --Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

8. BIRD LAKE MOON, by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, $15.99, 9780061470769 / 0061470767) "Bird Lake Moon is a great title to add to my list of non-fantasy books for boys. Mitch's father has a girlfriend and has filed for divorce, and Mitch and his mom are staying with her parents at Bird Lake. When Spencer and his family return to the lake for the first time following a tragedy, Kevin Henkes' story sets up conflict -- and resolution -- wonderfully." --Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

9. FOUND: The Missing, Book 1, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15.99, 9781416954170 / 1416954171) "Jonah and his neighbor were both adopted, and each is receiving scary letters. Through persistence and some good detective work, the boys discover they came off of a plane that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere with 36 babies on board. An intriguing mystery that will leave readers expectant for the next title in the series." --Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

10.THE JOYS OF LOVE, by Madeleine L'Engle (FSG, $16.95, 9780374338701 / 0374338701) "Written for her grandchildren, and published posthumously, Madeleine L'Engle has given us a young adult novel set in the 1940s. Twenty-year-old Elizabeth is working in a summer theater, where she faces the complexities of a first intense crush. Elizabeth is an absolutely endearing character and you just want everything to be the best for her." --Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA

For Ages 4 to 8

THE ADVENTURES OF ISABEL, by Ogden Nash, Bridget Starr Taylor (Illus.) (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.95, 9781402210273 / 1402210272) "OK, this is by Ogden Nash so it automatically comes with a disclaimer that it is exceptionally funny and a little subversive (and, maybe, a little scary in parts). Isabelle is a heroine of almost mythic proportions who calmly faces bears, witches, and all manner of adversaries without ever worrying, screaming, or scurrying. For all young ones who may have trouble facing up to their fears, Isabelle is a true inspiration. This wonderful edition also comes with a CD of the poet himself reading." --Antonia Squire, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

BEAR'S PICTURE, by Daniel Pinkwater, D.B. Johnson (Illus.) (Houghton, $16, 9780618759231 / 0618759239) "This is the story of a young bear who loves the painting he's working on, knows exactly how it should look, and doesn't care at all what anyone else thinks of it. Pinkwater has written another great children's book and Johnson's illustrations are perfect!" --Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR

A COUPLE OF BOYS HAVE THE BEST WEEK EVER, by Marla Frazee (Harcourt, $16, 9780152060206 / 0152060200) "This sly, witty, and charming book captures kids so spot-on, it's crazy, telling the story of two boys going to nature camp but having the time of their lives away from camp. The middle gatefold, with the boys spread out on their sleeping bags with stuffed animals surrounding them, is a wonderful example of Frazee's magnificent, detailed style." --Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

CREATURES YESTERDAY AND TODAY, by Karen Patkau (Tundra, $18.95, 9780887768330 / 0887768334) "Karen Patkau presents living animals and their prehistoric ancestors in beautiful color, with a time line and glossary." --Rondi Brouwer, Blackwood & Brouwer, Kinderhook, NY

ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGET, by Anushka Ravishankar, Christiane Pieper (Illus.) (Houghton, $16, 9780618997848 / 0618997849) "A sweet young elephant becomes separated from his herd and is taken in by the water buffalo. He must eventually choose to rejoin his herd or stay with those who have loved him and have become his family. The illustrations are absolutely wonderful." --Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR

FANCY NANCY: Bonjour, Butterfly, by Jane O'Connor, Robin Preiss Glasser (Illus.) (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780061235887 / 0061235881) "Nancy thinks butterflies are simply exquisite, so she can't wait for her friend Bree's Butterfly Birthday -- the fanciest birthday party ever! But when she learns that she can't go, she's furious. Will Nancy be able to overcome her disappointment? In this magical new story, everybody's favorite fancy girl gets a surprise lesson." --Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

HOW I LEARNED GEOGRAPHY, by Uri Shulevitz (FSG, $16.95, 9780374334994 / 0374334994) "Author and illustrator Uri Shulevitz tells of his family's long journey and difficult new life. Even though they are hungry, his father brings home a map instead of food. But Uri dreams many dreams looking at the large colorful map tacked up on the wall, as we learn that surprising things may sustain us during hard times in our lives. This is a wonderful tale and a timely message of hope." --Ellen Scott, The Bookworm, Omaha, NE

I WISH I WAS TALL LIKE WILLIE / QUISIERA SER TAN ALTO COMO WILLIE, by Kathryn Heling and Debroah Hembrook, Bonnie Adamson (Illus.) (Raven Tree Press, $16.95, 9780979446207 / 0979446201) "This is a fun story about differences -- and the trouble that comes when we try to be something we're not -- told in a light-hearted way. The pencil and watercolor illustrations add charm and humor, and, as a bonus, the story is bilingual, the complete text in Spanish and English on each page." --Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

LARUE FOR MAYOR: Letters From the Campaign Trail, by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, $16.99, 9780439783156 / 0439783151) "Ike LaRue is back and in more trouble than ever! The former Pumpkinville police chief, Hugo Bugwort, is running for Mayor of Snort City, and his anti-dog platform is bad news for the dogs of Snort City. How can the dogs stop his disastrous campaign? Perhaps Ike LaRue has the answer!" --Sarah Durkin, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

LITTLE HOOT, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jen Corace (illus.) (Chronicle Books, $12.99, 9780811860239 / 081186023X) "Little Hoot is frustrated that he can't go to bed at the same time his friends do. But his Papa says that he has to stay up late if he wants to grow up to be a wise owl, so awake he remains. With airy, winsome illustrations and a clever twist on bedtime desires, Little Hoot is an ideal nighttime read." --Genevieve Woods, Spellbinder Books & Coffee Bar, Bishop, CA

THE LONESOME PUPPY, by Yoshimoto Nara (Chronicle Books, $17.99, 9780811856409/ 0811856402) "The amazingly talented Japanese artist Yoshimoto Nara now has a gorgeous children's book about a little girl and a big puppy that will inspire you to explore the beyond. You might find a friend!" --Dawn Tyler, The Secret Garden, Seattle, WA

NATURE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, by Gordon Morrison (Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton, $6.95 paper, 9780547015484 / 0547015488) "Nature in the Neighborhood chronicles the seasons in a city neighborhood, which is teeming with sometimes overlooked life. The gently flowing narrative; the delicate, vibrant, and accurate pictures; and the notes and explanations at the bottom of each page work together seamlessly to illuminate the natural world in the middle of the city. Young readers will be inspired to slow down and take a closer look at the plants and animals in their own neighborhoods." --Angie McCauley, Banquet of Books, Fredericksburg, TX

ON THE FARM, by David Elliott, Holly Meade (Illus.) (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763633226 / 0763633224) "This book took my breath away. Just look at the gorgeous woodcut illustrations with watercolor washes. There is a looseness about them that perfectly suits the happy messiness of a farmyard. Add the witty rhymes addressing the personality of each animal, and you have a winner." --Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

THE PERFECT BEAR, by Gillian Shields, Gary Blythe (Illus.) (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16.99, 9781416953630 / 1416953639) "Everyone at the store has fallen in love with The Perfect Bear. If the illustrations aren't enough to break your heart, the story of how a teddy bear learns to love is sure to do the trick." --Sally Brewster, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

PLANTING THE TREES OF KENYA: The Story of Wangari Maathai, by Claire A. Nivola (FSG, $16.95, 9780374399184 / 0374399182) "Claire Nivola gives us a wonderful story about Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and the founder of the Green Belt movement." --Rondi Brouwer, Blackwood & Brouwer, Kinderhook, NY

TIMOTHY AND THE STRONG PAJAMAS, by Viviane Schwarz (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, $16.99, 9780545033299 / 0545033292) "Timothy goes on a grand adventure in his strong pajamas, made extra-tough by his mother's mending and love. Such an adorable and fun story! Imaginative and clever, you will laugh out loud right along with your little one." --Maggie Boyce, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, WA

'TWAS THE DAY BEFORE ZOO DAY, by Catherine Ipcizade, Ben Hodson (Illus.) (Sylvan Dell, $16.95, 9781934359082 / 1934359084) "Much like the holiday classic, 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day is wonderfully written, with rhythmic verse and silly lines that will make kids giggle. Best when read out loud, this is a great, subtle teaching tool about zoo animals." --Lori Peters, Wild About Books, Clearlake, CA

UNCLE PIRATE, by Douglas Rees, Tony Auth (Illus.) (Margaret K. McElderry, $15.99, 9781416947622 / 1416947620) "Wilson is unhappy and bullied at school -- until his pirate uncle, Desperate Evil Wicked Bob, shows up and the fun begins! Young readers will love this whimsical tale." --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

VARMINTS, by Helen Ward, Marc Craste (Illus.) (Candlewick, $12.99 paper, 9780763637965 / 0763637963) "Wow! Now here's a picture book with haunting spirit from the moment it opens. The Varmints inhabit a peaceful, natural world abuzz with bees, cheered by birds, and everywhere filled with sweet grasses and plants to sniff and savor. Then, all is threatened by 'Others,' callous beings who overwhelm the Varmints' world in all dimensions, filling it with great, tall buildings and all manner of constructions and soul-grating sound until almost all is cold and heartless. Almost, for the Varmints set about to tenderly nurture and regain what was so dear to them." --Barnaby Porter, Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, ME

WHEN THE WOLVES RETURNED: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Dan Hartman and Cassie Hartman (Illus.) (Walker Books for Young Readers, $17.95, 9780802796868 / 0802796869) "The text and photos in this book describe the restoration of nature's balance in Yellowstone with the successful re-introduction of wolves into the park. But, more than the wolves, the entire park is celebrated, the many species of mammals, birds, and fish that can be found there. A treasure for all who want to celebrate the natural world." --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

For Ages 9 to 12

ATHERTON: Rivers of Fire (#2), by Patrick Carman (Little, Brown Young Readers, $16.99, 9780316166720 / 0316166723) "This second book continues the mighty adventure of Atherton, a clockwork island world that's quickly falling to pieces even as three young people work to discover the secret of its past and search out its mad scientist creator. This is a smart, gripping fantasy that offers a clever parallel to our very real world of unequal wealth and opportunity." --Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

A BEGINNING, A MUDDLE, AND AN END: The Right Way to Write Writing, by Avi (Harcourt, $14.95, 9780152055554 / 015205555X) "Avon the Snail and Edward the Ant are back for another adventure, as before, charmingly depicted by illustrator Tricia Tusa. This time Avon decides he wants to be a writer, but it's not quite as easy as he thought. Good thing Avi the author doesn't get writer's block like that, otherwise we'd have to wait forever for another ant and snail journey. Here's to fun with paper and pencil and good old-fashioned wordplay!" --Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

DAISY DAWSON IS ON HER WAY! by Steve Voake, Jessica Meserve (Illus.) (Candlewick, $14.99, 9780763637408 / 0763637408) "There are so many great things to be found here -- fabulous illustrations, a girl who can talk to animals, a dog named Boom who was born on the Fourth of July, and a talking ant whose speech is depicted with a teeny-tiny font. This beginning chapter book is the start of a new series that is sure to have its own fan club clamoring for the next installment." --Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

DEEP DOWN POPULAR, by Phoebe Stone (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $16.99, 9780439802451 / 0439802458) "Conrad used to be the most popular person in his class, until, in 6th grade, a leg brace hinders his athletic abilities, and his popularity disappears. But new friendships grow, and, with them, the understanding that knowing who you are, where you're going, and what you want to do might be more important than the perceived idea of popularity (with all its fickleness). I think this is Stone's best novel." -- Sue Carita, The Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, NH

DIAMOND WILLOW, by Helen Frost (FSG, $16, 9780374317768 / 0374317763) "Twelve-year-old Willow longs to take the family's beloved sled dogs on her first solo run to her grandparents' cabin. Inspired by gifts created from diamond willow, Helen Frost has composed unique diamond-shaped poems that reveal the touching story of Willow, her immediate family, and her ancestors, whose spirits reside in many of the animals of the Alaskan wilderness she encounters." --Tish Gayle, The Blue Marble Bookstore, Fort Thomas, KY

DODGER AND ME, by Jordan Sonnenblick (Feiwel & Friends, $16.95, 9780312377939 / 0312377932) "Dodger is an 'imaginary' blue chimp who has been freed from a fast food bag. Of course, 11-year-old Willie Ryan is expecting three wishes, not Dodger's Three-Part Plan to improve his life. As laid-back Dodger might say, 'Dude, this book is funny!' It really is!" --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

GODS OF MANHATTAN, by Scott Mebus (Dutton Books, $17.99, 9780525479550 / 0525479554) "Gods of Manhattan mixes elements of fantasy with a dash of historical fiction into an enticing tale of a city created of memories and the only mortal left who can see it. Scott Mebus creates a new, believable world that intimately relates to the city of Manhattan, establishing real linkage between his world and the New York of today. From the very beginning this one will grab you, though the themes may be a bit mature for the targeted age group." --Ryann Eastman, Bay Books, San Ramon, CA

KEEPING SCORE, by Linda Sue Park (Clarion, $16, 9780618927999 / 0618927999) "It's 1951, and baseball is a consuming passion for everyone in Brooklyn. When Maggie's friend Jim teaches her to score the games, she feels like she is really doing something to help the beleaguered Dodgers. Then, Jim leaves for Korea and Maggie writes to him faithfully, but, after a while, her letters go unanswered, and it looks like the Dodgers will fail to win the World Series again. A captivating coming-of-age story." --Angie McCauley, Banquet of Books, Fredericksburg, TX

LAMPLIGHTER: Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 2, by D.M. Cornish (Putnam, $19.99, 9780399246395 / 0399246398) "Diminutive foundling Rossamunde Bookchild has begun his career in the Emperor's service as a Lamplighter, and he is assigned the most dangerous duty, with little chance of survival. This is a magnificent epic, pitting true friendship against evil conspiracies, with monsters at the beck and call of both sides." --Jack Blanchard, Fairy Godmother, Washington, DC

LOVE ME TENDER, by Audrey Couloumbis (Random House Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780375838392 / 0375838392) "Elvira, age 13, probably would have been named Elvis had she been born a boy. Her father was an Elvis impersonator, and has just revived that interest, taking off for a contest in Vegas, leaving Elvira with her pregnant mother and perpetually annoying little sister, Kerrie. When a deathbed plea leads to an extended visit with disapproving relatives, Couloumbis presents the family's conflicts and fears with warmth and humor." --Carol B. Chittenden, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA

MOON & SUN: The Ruby Key, by Holly Lisle (Orchard, $16.99, 9780545000123 / 0545000122) "A young girl and her brother have made a deal with an evil dark lord to save their family and village. This is a great story of the twisted dark and the pitfalls we all must face to achieve what is good." --Ellen Perry, Browsing Bison Books, Deer Lodge, MT

THE MOZART QUESTION, by Michael Morpurgo (Candlewick, $15.99, 9780763635527 / 0763635529) "While interviewing an Italian violinist, a young journalist learns the story of his parents, wonderful Jewish violinists of the European community who were spared from death because of their talents. This is a different type of Holocaust story, beautifully told (with simple, yet poignant illustrations), focusing on how music was used by the Nazis for their own purposes." --Kathy Taber, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN

THE MYSTERY OF THE THIRD LUCRETIA, by Susan Runholt (Viking Children's Books, $16.99, 9780670062522 / 0670062529) "First-time author Susan Runholt delivers a crackingly good mystery, complete with smart and savvy heroines (Kari and Lucas -- yes, Lucas), a long-lost Rembrandt painting (or is it?), and enough wonderful background info on great art and art-museum cities to fill a guidebook. I couldn't put it down!" --Barb Bassett, The Red Balloon Bookshop, Saint Paul, MN

OTTOLINE AND THE YELLOW CAT, by Chris Riddell (HarperCollins, $10.99, 9780061448799 / 0061448796) "Easily the happiest discovery to drop into my lap in some time, Riddell's new book is a lovely blend of flavors adding up to an entertainment that feels both fresh and familiar. The story of Ottoline Brown and her best friend, Mr. Munroe, and their skill at solving puzzles is a funny book that can be enjoyed by anyone with a taste for gentle, refined fun." --Doug Thornsjo, Colby College Bookstore, Waterville, ME

PIZZA, PIGS, AND POETRY: How to Write a Poem, by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow Books, $5.99 paper, 9780061434488 / 0061434485) "A funny, charming, and helpful book for introducing children to writing poetry. Prelutsky, the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate, offers 20 different writing tips, each introduced by a brief story and the poem it inspired him to write." --Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

THUMBELINA: Tiny Runaway Bride, by Barbara Ensor (Schwartz & Wade, $12.99, 9780375839603 / 0375839607) "You've read the story of Thumbelina, haven't you? But did you know that she wrote a diary of all her adventures (with fabulous pictures) that explained why she didn't want to marry all those animals. You'll want to hear her side of the story -- anyone would! But remember not to skip the epilogue -- it's the best bit." --Angela Mann, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, by Kenneth Grahame, Robert Ingpen (Illus.) (Palazzo Editions, $19.95, 9780955304637 / 0955304636) "This reissue of the beloved classic The Wind in the Willows takes one's breath away. Robert Ingpen's full-color illustrations of the tale of Ratty, Mole, Toad, and Badger are simply stunning. Nothing short of a treasure." --Antonia Squire, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

Teen Readers

THE DIAMOND OF DRURY LANE, by Julia Golding (Roaring Brook, $16.95, 9781596433519 / 1596433515) "Cat Royal, a spirited young orphan who lives at the Theater Royal in Drury Lane, tells her story in her own voice. She gives us a rollicking, action-filled mystery that roars to a satisfying conclusion, set in 18th-century London, with Cat and the theater at its heart." --Ellen Richmond, Children's Book Cellar, Waterville, ME

INK EXCHANGE, by Melissa Marr (Harper Teen, $16.99, 9780061214684 / 006121468X) "We head back to the world of faeries and humans in this wonderful companion to Wicked Lovely. One of Aislin's closest friends, Leslie, suffering from the aftereffects of her brother's betrayal, surrenders to Irial, king of the Dark Court. It's a battle for her soul and future that will resonate with teen readers. A very worthy -- and important -- second novel." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

LITTLE BROTHER, by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen, $17.95, 9780765319852 / 0765319853) "Cory Doctorow's Little Brother updates Orwell's 1984 with current computer technology and post-9 / 11 fear-based politics to create a nail-biting read that shows the true dangers of unquestioningly giving up our freedoms in exchange for a vague sense of security. Curious, free-thinking teens and their parents will love this book, both for the adventure within and the debate it will doubtlessly engender." --Rich Rennicks, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC

LOCK AND KEY, by Sarah Dessen (Viking, $18.99, 9780670010882 / 067001088X) "Lock and Key is the story of Ruby, a teenager alone in a rented house after her mother has abandoned her. When her estranged sister, Cora, and her entrepreneur husband, Jamie, take her in, she finds herself living in a gorgeous new home and enrolled in a private school. But will she be open to new possibilities, or afraid of them? Sarah Dessen always manages to get the teen girl voice spot-on, and readers will love this story for many reasons -- it's one of Dessen's best." --Sue Carita, The Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, NH

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH, by Philip Pullman (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $12.99, 9780375845109 / 0375845100) "This is a great prequel to The Golden Compass. The gutsy Texas balloonist, Lee Scoresby, with his daemon rabbit, Hester, meets the powerful polar bear, Iorek Byrnison, and they make a team to reckon with. With a far different flavor from The Golden Compass, but with lots of wit, great Wild West lingo, and plenty of heart-stopping action, this book will totally satisfy Pullman's fans and certainly bring in a few more." --Sue Carita, The Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, NH

THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES, by Cecilia Galante (Bloomsbury, $16.99, 9781599902494 / 1599902494) "This book will challenge teen readers with its premise of life at a commune. Best friends Agnes and Honey see life at their religious commune differently, and, in a story full of fast-moving (and well-told) events, both of their ideals are shattered. This novel is all the more realistic given the recent media coverage about Texas communes." --Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

PIRATES OF THE RETAIL WASTELAND, by Adam Selzer (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.99, 9780385734820 / 0385734824) "Pirates of the Retail Wasteland follows the exploits of a group of cynical, disaffected, and talented high school students who rouse themselves from their torpor to try and save the last non-chain business on their town's strip -- a grungy, congenial coffee shop called Sip. Selzer's character are dead-on, and his readers will thoroughly enjoy this one." --Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

PRINCESS BEN, by Catherine Murdock (Houghton, $16, 9780618959716 / 0618959718) "Princess Ben is a fairy tale any girl can dream about. When tragedy hits Montague, Princess Benevolence rises to the challenge to rescue her kingdom and her prince. A great role model for girls, Princess Ben isn't the perfect image of a princess. But what she lacks in beauty, she more than makes up for with brains and strength." -- Shelly Plumb, Harleysville Books, Harleysville, PA

SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT, by Shana Norris (Amulet Books, $15.99, 9780810994744 / 0810994747) "Libby Fawcett copes by venting her feelings to a secret blog. But when it gets plastered all over her high school by archenemy Angel, will she be able to face her classmates again -- including her now not-so-secret crush, Seth? Libby (and Something to Blog About) are funny, sweet, and very real, and there's a pleasant twist to the 'tormenting bully' subplot. For ages 12 and up." --Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

TRISKELLION, by Will Peterson (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763639716 / 0763639710) "What a wonderfully imaginative, spooky, and adventurous combination Will Peterson has given middle readers in Triskellion. When twins Rachel and Adam find themselves sent to an English village for the summer, they have no intention of stumbling upon a centuries-old Bronze Age burial site. What will they find below the earth? What does the ancient Triskellion rune mean? Who is the eerily familiar local boy they befriend? More questions will arise before the truth is revealed in this riveting debut." --Katie Capaldi, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

TWELVE LONG MONTHS, by Brian Malloy (Scholastic, $17.99, 9780439877619 / 043987761X) "This heartfelt, funny, and surprising teen novel follows small-town Molly as she heads for college in New York City and learns that her permanent crush, a handsome, artistic boy, is interested in finding a boyfriend of his own. Molly's story is all about bouncing back, stretching her wings away from home, and finding that even cloudy heartbreak can hold the silver lining of new friendship." --Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS