The Other Side of Dawn, by John Marsden (Houghton Mifflin, $16; ages 12-up). This is the seventh and supposedly last book in the bestselling Australian series that kicked off in 1994 with Tomorrow, When the War Began. The premise of the series is that a country that is clearly, though not explicitly, Australia is invaded and colonized by a savage but unidentified enemy. (One giveaway is the Aussie idiom, which is laid on thick enough to require a glossary -- e.g., "I bolted into the treeline like a rosella in a wheat crop.") A band of teenagers, led by clever, gutsy Ellie, "goes bush" and sets about harassing and distracting the enemy by means of guerrilla operations. The kids become famous. But now, thanks to New Zealand's intervention, the end of the war looms. After a couple more white-knuckle engagements, the gang is taken prisoner, but only briefly: "D-Day" precipitates the longed-for armistice. Yet it is clear that "the other side of dawn" -- life after the peace -- will pose challenges of its own, especially since the settlement leaves "two new countries . . . where for over two hundred years there had been only one." It doesn't take a psychic to spot the seed of a second series here.

Albert Einstein's Letters to and from Children, edited by Alice Calaprice (Prometheus, $24; ages 10-up). Like C.S. Lewis -- but more surprisingly, since Lewis, after all, wrote children's books -- Einstein corresponded with children from all over the world. This collection features letters from about 1920 to 1955, the year of Einstein's death in Princeton. Some lucky children got answers from the puckish physicist, all uncondescending, many humorous. To "six little scientists" from Louisiana who had asked him to confirm their view that life on Earth would survive the death of the sun, he replied, "The minority is sometimes right -- but not in your case." When 12-year-old Barbara of Washington, D.C., confessed to difficulties with math, he consoled her: "Do not worry . . . . I can assure you mine are still greater." Unfortunately, there is no record of his response to young Peter of Chelsea, Mass., who got straight to the point in a 1947 letter: "Dear Sir, I would appreciate it very much if you could tell me what Time is, what the soul is, and what the heavens are."

Picture Books Things Will NEVER Be the Same, by Tomie dePaola (Putnam, $13.95; ages 6-9). In 2000, Tomie dePaola published 26 Fairmount Avenue, the first installment of a popular multi-part memoir: maple-sugar-sweet recollections of his Meriden, Conn., childhood, told simply enough for novice readers and enlivened by the author's whimsical pencil sketches. The first book zeroed in on 1938 -- the year of the big hurricane, Disney's "Snow White" and Tomie's arrival in kindergarten. Now we're up to book five and 1941, which starts out with the best Christmas present ever, a Junior Flexible Flyer, and ends with Pearl Harbor. ("Dear Diary. A lot happened today. I'm not sure I understand it, but I will never forget it.") The titles of this book and the three earlier sequels -- Here We All Are, On My Way and What a Year -- give an idea of the series's underlying assumption: There's nothing cozier than a good cliche{acute}.

Tippy Lemmey, by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Susan Keeter (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin; paperback, $3.99; ages 4-8). Another book for beginning readers offers a more idiosyncratic trip back to the mid-20th century, this time to small-town Tennessee. McKissack doesn't go for the overview, though. After a context-setting first sentence ("In 1951 there was a war going on in a place called Korea"), she cuts right to the chase: "My friends Paul and Jeannie and I were fighting our own war. In Templeton, Tennessee, where we lived, the enemy was a new dog in town. His name was Tippy Lemmey. He was the only dog I ever knew who had a first and a last name." Peace doesn't seem possible. But when Tippy, a purebred chow, is stolen by dog thieves, the three children suddenly see things differently.

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning, by Rosalyn Schanzer (Harper-Collins, $16.99; ages 6-10). "Benjamin Franklin," the author says in her afterword, "did more great things than you can shake a stick at." For the purposes of this exceptionally engaging picture book, however, she decided to focus on his accomplishments as a scientist and inventor -- although she did keep that colloquial, upbeat tone. No mystery there: Brilliant "Ben" was responsible for so many scientific innovations, from the odometer and bifocals to daylight savings time and the lightning rod, that it takes all Schanzer's verbal exuberance to keep even this much of the story from sounding like a resume{acute}. That, and her crackling-with-energy, full-color illustrations.

-- Elizabeth Ward