The Winter '09/'10 Children's Indie Next List

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1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780385737944)
"James Dashner's The Maze Runner is a fast-paced, disorienting, and frighteningly adventurous story, one that any fan of The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies is sure to love." --Kyla Paterno, Garfield Book Company at PLU, Tacoma, WA

2. Fire by Kristin Cashore
(Dial Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780803734616)
"If Kristin Cashore's Graceling was a jewel, Fire is a treasure trove. In this fast-paced fantasy, we remain in the same mythical kingdom but, this time, with a host of new characters, who are marvelous in their complexity and variety. There is plenty of action, a mystery or two, and intrigue galore." --Jennie Turner-Collins, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

3. Fallen by Lauren Kate
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780385738934)
"Angels, both good and bad, are among us! Fallen is romantic, dark, thrilling and, at the same time, puts a new twist on immortality. So take wing with exciting romance and adventure and take a break from immortals who want your blood!" --Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

4. Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16, 9780547194899)
"When he takes a picture of a street person who has passed out for his photography class, class clown Blake expects an 'A.' He doesn't expect that he'll soon be ditching his girlfriend to prowl skid row, or conducting midnight corpse-checks at the morgue to track down his best friend's long-lost mom. This authentic (and surprisingly funny) debut novel is the story of a crash course in what it means to be a boyfriend, and a friend, and a man." --Jennifer Laughran, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

5. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
(Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, $16.99, 9781599903057)
"Ever since Micah began high school, she has layered falsehood upon falsehood. And even though the entire school knows she isn't trustworthy, Micah somehow continues to dupe them. But when her boyfriend is brutally murdered, Micah must come to terms with the truth in all its horror. In this intriguing novel, readers must decide if Micah is what she says, or if she is simply spinning herself deeper into a web of lies." --Megan Graves, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

6. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
(Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17.99, 9781416989417)
"Nora doesn't know much about Patch but he seems to know who she is and what she needs. He is mysterious and dangerous, yet when events in her life spin out of control it's Patch she turns to again and again. A beautiful, sophisticated teen novel sure to appeal to a large audience." --Holly Frakes, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

7. The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson, Jon J Muth (illus.)
(Scholastic Press, $16.99, 9780439774970)
"A gentle, sweet story of Santa as he waits for the Christmas magic. The pictures match the text perfectly, in a way that only Jon J Muth could manage. This one belongs on the shelf next to your copy of The Night Before Christmas." --Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

8. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
(HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780061490002)
"Rampant is the perfect book for teen readers who are sick of vampires. Meet Astrid, a descendent of some butt-kicking unicorn hunters. Who knew unicorns could be bloodthirsty human killers? Diana Peterfreund takes you on a wild ride filled with action, history, and even a little romance! Check it out." --Summer Moser, Summer's Stories, Kendallville, IN

9. Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies by Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton, and James McMullan (illus.)
(Little, Brown & Company, $24.99, 9780316040495)
"The poems and songs in this collection will make everyone smile. Add to this the delightful watercolors of James McMullan, each one carefully painted to compliment the mood of the verse, and you have a book that parents and children (and grandparents!) will treasure for years. (And the collection includes a CD of Andrews and her daughter reading many of the selections.)" --Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

10. I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
(Razorbill, $15.99, 9781595142405)
"Twelve-year-old Oliver Watson is set not only to take over the world, but to win the upcoming middle school election. He may not be able to convince all of his fellow classmates to vote for him, but he will make every reader laugh (out loud, no less) until they plead 'uncle' and pledge to pass the book to the guy at the next locker." --Lisa Baudoin, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

For Ages 4 to 8

Acorns Everywhere! by Kevin Sherry
(Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780803732568)
"Excitement begins the moment orange squirrel gets bonked on the head by an acorn and then compulsively gathers, digs, and buries all the acorns in sight. But will he remember where they're buried? We'll find out at lunchtime!" --Ellen Klein, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson
(Drawn & Quarterly, $16.95, 9781897299951)
"We would all like to be someone who can do no wrong, but I'm afraid we'll have to leave that to people like Tove Jansson, the beloved creator of the Moomins. This marvelously fun cut-out book is appearing for the first time in English. As Moomintroll heads home, he has a series of adventures, in which children are asked to guess what happens next. Just delightful!" --Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

The Busiest Street in Town by Mara Rockliff, Sarah McMenemy (illus.)
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780375840203)
"Eulalie and Agatha May have been friends forever and over the years have watched Rushmore Avenue become the busiest street in town, with zooming buses and trucks. When these two friends decide to take back the streets and teach everyone how to take time to taste the gingersnaps, the neighborhood will never be the same! Retro-inspired illustrations lend a vibrant and whimsical feel to this tale of grassroots activism." --Jennifer Laughran, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

Bye-Bye Baby! by Richard Morris, Larry Day (illus.)
(Walker Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780802797728)
"Felix is not happy about the arrival of his little sister and is always trying to find ways to send her back. Larry Day's beautiful illustrations not only support Richard Morris' text but add another layer of emotion to the story." --Kathleen March, Anderson's Bookshop, Downers Grove, IL

Carl's Snowy Afternoon by Alexandra Day
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $12.99, 9780374310868)
"Carl is back! A childhood favorite returns in this winter wonderland adventure. From sledding to snowmen, tag along with Carl and his friends as they enjoy a mischievous afternoon in the snow. We want this babysitter's job!" --Elizabeth Ellis and Lizz Mook, The Bookstore, Glen Ellyn, IL

Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories by Audrey Penn, Barbara L. Gibson (illus.)
(Tanglewood Press, $16.95, 9781933718293)
"Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories is a wonderful resource to help children deal with the death of a loved one. The story models good interactions between Chester and his mother as she helps him take tangible steps to remember and honor his friend." --Susan Richmond, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen
(Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763630904)
"Oh, no! The circus ship has hit the rocks and the animals have to swim to shore. Chris Van Dusen has created a feast for the eyes and a tickle for the funny bone that will keep you looking for more." --Laura DeLaney, The Rediscovered Bookshop, Boise, ID

Dodsworth in London by Tim Egan
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15, 9780547138169)
"Fresh from their adventures in Paris, world travelers Dodsworth and the duck arrive in the Queen's City by way of hot air balloon. Once again, trouble finds the traveling companions, and Scotland Yard is called to help. This third installment will delight young readers with its twists and turns." --Tish Gayle, The Blue Marble, Fort Thomas, KY

First Ballet by Deanna Caswell, Elizabeth Matthews (illus.)
(Hyperion Books for Children, $16.99, 9781423113539)
"If ever a book proved the idea that less is more when it comes to picture book rhyme schemes it is First Ballet. This delightful book not only captures the magic of loving the ballet, but it conveys the charm of truly being captivated by anything magical." --Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

Fu Finds the Way by John Rocco
(Hyperion Books for Children, $16.99, 9781423109655)
"Young Fu is out in the rice fields quite distracted by his fantastic daydream when he accidentally flings a clod of mud onto the face of a fearsome warrior named Chang. But when a duel takes a surprising turn, Fu forgets his sword and finds beauty in focus and ceremony. This is an awe-inspiringly beautiful book that will beckon you to hold it tenderly in your hands and give it your full attention." --Vivian Leal, Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, CA

Guess Again! by Mac Barnett, Adam Rex (illus.)
(Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16.99, 9781416955665)
"This hilarious read-aloud is a series of riddles that lead the reader to a very obvious answer but then give a completely unexpected, ridiculous answer instead, accompanied by silly illustrations. Older kids will think it's a book for babies, until the surprise ending of the first riddle, after which, they won't stop laughing." --Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

The Jungle Grapevine by Alex Beard
(Abrams Books for Young Readers, $16.95, 9780810980013)
"In a deceptively simple story, The Jungle Grapevine shows us how hyperbole and gossip harm relationships between individuals, groups, and countries. A great springboard for conversation." --Claire Teel, Hicklebee's, San Jose, CA

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
(Little, Brown & Company, $16.99, 9780316013567)
"From one majestic end page to the other, in an almost wordless, stunning presentation, this much-loved Aesop's Fable comes to life with clarity of the heart and emotion for both animals' trials and entwined kindnesses. Amazing!" --Ellen Mager, Booktenders Children's, Doylestown, PA

The Listeners by Gloria Whelan, Mike Benny (illus.)
(Sleeping Bear Press, $17.95, 9781585364190)
"Exquisite illustrations accompany the story of Ella May, a slave girl, who, along with her two friends, has been given the important job of 'listening.' Each night, after their work is done, they hide beneath the plantation's windows, gathering bits of news from their owner's conversations. Through Ella May's eyes, ears, and words, we get a glimpse into the precarious life of slave families. This is a graceful and thoughtful introduction to the issue of slavery." --Bev Denor, LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, WI

Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter
(Beach Lane Books, $16.99, 9781416994374)
"Nasreen's Secret School is a powerful, thought-provoking true story of a young Afghan girl who literally lost her voice when her parents disappeared, and who regained it by daring to attend a school for girls that was forbidden by the Taliban. Reading about Nasreen and her fellow students will make you appreciate the value of education and freedom." --Barb Bassett, The Red Balloon Bookshop, Saint Paul, MN

Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16, 9780618966202)
"Do you know what you should never do to wild animals? Once again, Steve Jenkins teaches nonfiction in an energetic, exciting, and wonderfully illustrated format. His bold, layered, cut-paper collage illustrations make the animals come alive and the text even more engaging." --Ellen Mager, Booktenders Children's, Doylestown, PA

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth! by Sarah Weeks, Robert Neubecker (illus.)
(Beach Lane Books, $16.99, 9781416986867)
"Big brothers and sisters will relate to this cautionary tale about the hazards of babies (they leak, plus they grow up to be monsters). A fun picture book that makes you sigh one minute and laugh the next." --Barb Bassett, The Red Balloon Bookshop, Saint Paul, MN

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (illus.)
(Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, $16.99, 9780545157612)
"Early one spring morning Stick Man is carried away from his family tree by a passing dog, and he has one narrow escape after another trying to find his way home, until, one winter day, he ends up in a fireplace. All seems lost until he meets a Stuck Man in the chimney and his luck finally changes." --Ellen Davis, Dragonwings Bookstore, Waupaca, WI

The Strange Case of the Missing Sheep by Mircea Catusanu
(Viking Children's Books, $16.99, 9780670011315)
"A sheepdog investigator goes deep into the Dark Forest to uncover the truth about a missing flock of sheep and the scheming wolf that has abducted them. Younger children will enjoy the comical, somewhat dim sheep and their overbearing protector, while older children will enjoy picking up the subtle jokes hidden amongst the broad action of each page of this clever tale." --Emily Fear, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Pittsburgh, PA

Supersister by Beth Cadena, Frank W. Dormer (illus.)
(Clarion Books, $16, 9780547010069)
"This is one of the best big sibling books I've seen in ages, as we follow Supersister throughout her day (as she is a great help to her mom and more). Perfect for kids expecting a new baby in the family." --Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

Wag! by Patrick McDonnell
(Little, Brown & Company, $15.99, 9780316045483)
"Earl the dog's tail wags all the time, when he's catching snowflakes, even when he is sitting still. Patrick McDonnell's classic characters from Mutts are back in a delightful story about the simple joys of life. McDonnell's trademark simplicity lends itself beautifully to a straightforward tale that will enchant readers young and old alike." --Megan Graves, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

For Ages 9 to 12

Bystander by James Preller
(Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 9780312379063)
"Eric, the new kid in school, is befriended by the impossibly perfect and charming Griffin, who conceals a mean streak. When other kids are victimized, Eric must choose whether or not to intervene. Many kids will recognize this situation, and Bystander makes a great launching pad for discussions of bullying and its consequences." --Kelley Drahushuk, The Spotty Dog, Hudson, NY

The Doom Machine by Mark Teague
(The Blue Sky Press, $17.99, 9780545151429)
"The Doom Machine is an incredible story of alien invasion and intergalactic adventure. The fate of Earth lies in the hands of a juvenile delinquent boy and his inventor uncle and a brilliant girl and her scientist mother. Mark Teague is a master!" --Cinda Meister, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA

January's Sparrow by Patricia Polacco
(Philomel, $22.99, 9780399250774)
"January's Sparrow is an intimate and engrossing true story of the horrors and occasional happiness of slave families just before emancipation. While this is a children's book, it is not for the fainthearted." --Judy Mathys, Family Book Shop, Deland, FL

Life in the Boreal Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson, Gennady Spirin (illus.)
(Henry Holt & Co., $16.99, 9780805077186)
"Although covering an area as large as tropical rain forests, the boreal forest may not be familiar to readers. Breathtaking paintings capture the daily routines and struggles of a wide variety of resident and migratory animals. Through Guiberson and Spirin's ecological treasure-trove, we are all encouraged to take part in the preservation of this unique and endangered paradise." --Tish Gayle, The Blue Marble, Fort Thomas, KY

Malice by Chris Wooding
(Scholastic Press, $14.99, 9780545160438)
"Disenchanted kids are reading a mysterious and elusive comic called Malice -- and sending themselves to this scary, dangerous place, where their adventures take place on the pages of the comic. Malice is the last great frontier and a chance to battle a great evil." --Cinda Meister, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA

Million-Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica
(Philomel, $17.99, 9780399246265)
"Million-Dollar Throw is much more than a sports book. Mike Lupica tells a story about overcoming hardships in life and making decisions that may be hard. I wish this book had come out when I was younger!" --David Cincotta, Back To Books, Hudson, WI

Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks
(Egmont Books, $16.99, 9781606840085)
"Who knew that art could be so dangerous? A young artist discovers that talent and imagination can be a deadly combination. Welcome to a world where the bad guys control all Pleasures -- like flavor, music, and color -- and where paintings are doorways into even scarier worlds. Mirrorscape is a strange and wild ride!" --Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY

109 Forgotten American Heroes by Chris Ying and Brian McMullen
(DK Publishing, $19.99, 9780756654054)
"The editors of McSweeney's literary magazine and DK Publishing bring us 109 Forgotten American Heroes. This is a fun, zany presentation of history targeted for kids 11 and older, but I think you'll find your whole family reading bits aloud to each other." --Jennifer Wills Geraedts, Beagle Books, Park Rapids, MN

Raiders' Ransom by Emily Diamand
(The Chicken House, $17.99, 9780545142977)
"In a futuristic England that is almost entirely underwater, people have long forgotten the power of technology, except for a dangerous few to whom it is worth any ransom -- even the prime minister's daughter. Raiders' Ransom has a swiftly moving plot that will surprise readers over and over again." --Ellen Davis, Dragonwings Bookstore, Waupaca, WI

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, John Lawrence (illus.)
(Candlewick, $24.99, 9780763644451)
"John Lawrence's hand-colored, vinyl-cut, and wood-textured illustrations richly evoke the atmosphere and drama of one of the best adventure stories ever written. An unusually beautiful piece of bookmaking, and a special gift for any time of the year." -- Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech
(HarperCollins, $15.99, 9780061430954)
"When her space is invaded by an independent little American girl, things start to get shook up in Angel's small mountain town. The characters in The Unfinished Angel will make you laugh, warm your heart, and show you the power of selfless understanding." --Sarah Dinwiddie, River Reader LLC, Lexington, MO

William S. and the Great Escape by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
(Atheneum, $16.99, 9781416967637)
"William, age 12, decides he must escape his abusive family and plans his escape. Accompanied by his three younger siblings, William's runaway journey soon faces an unexpected twist. This search for a stable home and life is a heartwarming story." --Carol Hicks, Bookshelf At Hooligan Rocks, Truckee, CA

Family Reading

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Children's Book by Anita Silvey
(Roaring Brook Press, $29.99, 9781596433953)
"For many, the books that stay with us for life are those we read as kids. This extraordinary collection of short essays comes from more than 100 respected contributors, including teachers, artists, writers, and athletes. An inspiring collection that shows how stories can inspire, teach, entertain, and change the way we see the world." --Hallie Wilkins, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Teen Readers

Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison
(HarperTeen, $16.99, 9780061459351)
"The final installment in Louise Rennison's delightfully hilarious Georgia Nicolson series is every bit as entertaining as her earlier books. Whether she's being mystified and embarrassed by the adults in her life, getting into trouble at school with the Ace Gang, or trying to decide between hunky Italian singer Massimo and local boy Dave the Laugh, Georgia is an absolute joy!" --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
(Little, Brown Young Readers, $17.99, 9780316042673)
"Ethan Wate has fallen into an impossible relationship with the beautiful outcast Lena Duchannes. But Lena has a secret that may prove more challenging than not fitting in at school. Combining the atmosphere of a Tennessee Williams drama and the bigotry of To Kill a Mockingbird, this gorgeously composed debut novel is a rare treat." --Krys Tourtois, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, MI

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780375858642)
"A Brief History of Montmaray is an engrossing historical novel set on a fictional island between England and Spain on the brink of WWII -- a sovereign island with a mad king, a group of delightful cousins, and a tiny handful of locals. The book starts off as a fun romp, but, with each contact from the outside world, we learn more about the Spanish Civil War and the Nazi's rise, until global politics change life on Montmaray forever. Filled with interesting thoughts about politics, responsibility, history and legacy, love, and jealousy." --Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
(Frances Foster Books/FSG, $16.99, 9780374316532)
"Helen Frost once again tells a compelling story in poetic form. Two families separated by a creek suffer the pain of sons fighting in World War I. The poems are designed to look like stepping stones and the flow of water, but every poem also stands on its own as a literary piece." --Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
(Egmont Books, $17.99, 9781606840573)
"Bree Despain captures the quintessential teen problems -- romance, family issues, faith -- all the while weaving an exciting fantasy story. The secrets surrounding Grace Divine's childhood friend Daniel kept me guessing throughout the story, and the ending left me waiting for a sequel." --Mandy King, The Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

The Demon King: A Seven Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima
(Hyperion Books for Children, $17.99, 9781423118237)
"Cinda Williams Chima's latest is a phenomenal story of wizards and street rats, stolen artifacts, and secret passages, and, best of all, Han and Raisa, heroes for whom you'll root immediately. If you're looking for fantastic world building, snappy dialogue, and a plot that makes the pages fly, look no further." --Sarah Todd, Children's Book World, Haverford, PA

Front and Center by Catherine Murdock
(Houghton Mifflin, $16, 9780618959822)
"This is the third and final book in the trilogy started with Dairy Queen and continued in The Off Season. This time, D.J. Schwenk spends her junior year in high school dealing with basketball, boys, and the Big Ten, not necessarily in that order! It's fun to watch D.J. and to see how she perseveres over her various challenges and develops the courage to make difficult decisions." --Carl Wichman, NDSU Bookstore, Fargo, ND

Hold Still by Nina LaCour
(Dutton Children's Books, $17.99, 9780525421559)
"Hold Still is a great read, full of honesty and self-reflection in the wake of a suicide. Despite the serious subject, themes of hope and resilience anchor the story, creating an introspective platform from which to travel through devastating loss and grief." --Josie Kelley, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
(Scholastic, $17.99, 9780545107082)
"New girl Bea and loner Jonah (aka Ghost Boy) strike up an unexpected friendship that is cemented by their mutual love for a strange late-night radio show, and they find a sense of community that they never get in the daytime hours. This is a wonderful, peculiar, and touching novel for everyone who, at some point, has not quite fit in." --Jennifer Laughran, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
(Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 9780312382520)
"You will absolutely adore Jessie, a high school mathlete who makes themed skirts for every day of the year! When her two best friends suddenly turn punk, Jessie has to find new friends and stumbles into friendships with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd. A delightful novel with a strong, funny, smart lead character I would love to have known in high school." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (illus.)
(Simon Pulse, $19.99, 9781416971733)
"Leviathan is a fantastic and beautifully illustrated steampunk version of the World War I. In this alternate universe, the Clankers put their faith in elaborate steam-powered machines and the Darwinists manage huge living airships that are whole ecosystems. But this is mostly the story of two 15-year-olds who are both hiding secrets. Prepare yourself for an adventurous ride." --Joanne R. Fritz, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor, Jim Di Bartolo (illus.)
(Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $17.99, 9780545055857)
"In Lips Touch, temptation, lust, and love seep into each story, and it's easy to imagine yourself as one of the ordinary girls who are faced with extraordinary circumstances. This is a dark fantasy, one where the lines between truth and fiction blur and magic taints every breath." --Mandy King, The Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

Lockdown: Escape From Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $14.99, 9780374324919)
"I couldn't stop reading Alexander Gordon Smith's Lockdown. It was scary, with a side of twisted. This is one I will definitely read again and again." --Allison Skaggs, Lowry's Books, Three Rivers, MI

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
(Clarion Books, $16, 9780547223995)
"Once a Witch is the start of a promising new series for teens. In a family where everyone else has a magical talent, Tamsin Greene is eager to prove herself. But impersonating her ultra-talented older sister lands Tamsin in a dangerous game as she uncovers family secrets and learns that things are not always what they seem." --Miki Wigley, Lee Booksellers, Lincoln, NE

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
(David Fickling Books, $17.99, 9780375849718)
"In Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd uses a shifting chronology to tell the story of Holly, a 14-year-old runaway girl who is angry at everyone. Using a blond wig she has stolen from her foster mother, she creates a new persona -- Solace, an older, braver, wilder version of herself -- as she searches for the mother who abandoned her. The novel deals with Holly's search in an unsentimental, authentic manner -- a solid story told in Dowd's seemingly effortless, fresh language." --Kat Goddard, The Bookloft, Great Barrington, MA

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron
(Amulet Books, $16.99, 9780810941748)
"Music is Sammy's life, and it is what drives this funny and fine-tuned novel. From the peeks into famous bands to figuring out life's woes and joys through music, Struts & Frets will ring true for everyone who knows the power and groove of a good song." --Lisa Baudoin, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI