Top 10 for Children

By Elizabeth Ward
Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Book of Everything, by Guus Kuijer, translated from the Dutch by John Nieuwenhuizen (Scholastic, $16.99; ages 10-up). In postwar Amsterdam, a timid 9-year-old boy with a colossal magical-realist imagination becomes a recording angel of sorts.

Here Lies the Librarian, by Richard Peck (Dial, $16.99; ages 10-16). Peck coolly kills off a swag of stereotypes, including that of the mean, dried-up lady librarian, in a romp set in 1914 rural Indiana at the dawn of the automobile age.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller (Bloomsbury, $16.95; ages 10-14). A team of 12-year-old female MacGyvers, inspired by the diminutive, mysterious Kiki Strike, battles who knows what in a spectral city deep under Manhattan.

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq, by Kathy Henderson (Candlewick, $16.99; ages 8-12). This vigorous retelling of one of the oldest stories in the world dusts the cobwebs off the whole notion of antiquity. Jane Ray's jewel-toned illustrations help, too.

Peter Pan in Scarlet, by Geraldine McCaughrean (Margaret K. McElderry, $17.99; ages 9-12). Against the odds, the flamingly exuberant authorized sequel to J.M. Barrie's Edwardian classic proves it is possible to go back to Neverland.

Samurai Shortstop, by Alan Gratz (Dial, $15.99; ages 12-up). In an elite Tokyo boarding school at the turn of the 20th century, a samurai's son tries to square his father's warrior code with the brash new game of "beseboru." Sad, bloody, but funny, too.

The Unresolved, by T.K. Welsh (Dutton, $16.99; ages 14-up). A historical novel with a supernatural twist, narrated with poetic delicacy by the ghost of a 15-year-old girl who drowned when a steamship burned and sank in New York's East River in 1904.

Victory, by Susan Cooper (Margaret K. McElderry, $16.95; ages 9-12). Chronicling the psychic tie between a girl in modern Connecticut and a boy aboard Nelson's ship Victory at the 1805 battle of Trafalgar, a mistress of fantasy salutes the one-armed admiral, her native England, her adopted New England, the sea, ships and books.

The White Elephant, by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow, $15.99; ages 7-12). A young Thai mahout is punished by a capricious prince with the gift of a splendid, non-working elephant. But he gets the last laugh in this wickedly amusing tale of old Siam.

Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, $16.99; ages 12-up). The star of this sparkling satire on ice, a 13-year-old apprentice witch, must fend off the amorous attentions of winter.

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