FOR THE ELEMENTARY SET
The Boy on Cinnamon Street
By Phoebe Stone
(Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99; ages 8-12)
In this coming-of-age story, a diminutive seventh-grader tries to cope with a move into her grandparents' condo, a new school, a crush on an older boy and — hanging over everything — a dark family secret. The pain in Louise's past is balanced by her newfound friendships and by the author's confident, delicate handling of the material.
Earwig and the Witch
By Diana Wynne Jones, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
(HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99; ages 8-12)
The late author's final book is a short and sweet fairy tale packed to the gills with subversive humor. When orphaned Earwig is adopted by a cruel witch named Bella Yaga, she takes matters into her own hands: Earwig uses magic, determination and quick wits to engineer a well-deserved victory.
The One and Only Ivan
By Katherine Applegate, illus. by Patricia Castelao
(Harper, $16.99; ages 8-12)
A silverback gorilla, held in captivity in the decrepit Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, narrates this poignant story written in short chapters that recall free verse. Ivan's friendship with — and sense of responsibility for — a baby elephant that joins his makeshift family spurs him to find a better life for them all.
Same Sun Here
By Silas House and Neela Vaswani
(Candlewick, $15.99; ages 9 and up)
Two contemporary 12-year-olds — one an immigrant Indian girl in New York, the other a boy who has grown up in Kentucky coal country — become pen pals in this honest and authentic exploration of the similarities and differences in their lives. Despite some bumps along the way involving housing, family and ecological issues, both children pull through with help from the other.
The Mighty Miss Malone
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99; ages 10-14)
Set in 1936, this companion to Curtis's Newbery Medal–winning novel Bud, Not Buddy stands confidently on its own. Curtis adeptly weaves important pieces of African American history throughout the story of 12-year-old Deza Malone, whose family moves from Gary, Ind., to Flint, Mich., in a bid to survive the Great Depression.