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by The Editors of Publishers Weekly and AARP The Magazine, AARP The Magazine, March 4, 2010
We've teamed up with the editors of Publishers Weekly to scour the latest titles, from books for babies to cutting-edge fiction for teens, to help you find that perfect book for your grandchild.
My Heart Is Like a Zoo
By Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books, $16.95; up to age 5)
Graphic designer Hall uses a heart shape to create a menagerie of creatures—among them a lion, a heron, and a walrus—which are paired with similes ("My heart is like a zoo/ eager as a beaver,/ steady as a yak") that exemplify the different qualities of love.
All Things Bright and Beautiful
By Cecil F. Alexander, illus. by Ashley Bryan (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16.99; ages 2-5)
In this jubilant interpretation of Alexander's 19th-century hymn, Bryan's swirling cut-paper artwork indeed depicts "All things bright and beautiful" (rushing waterfalls, towering mountains) and "All creatures great and small," from a giant gray whale to a global cast of humans.
By Charise Mericle Harper (Disney-Hyperion, $14.99; ages 2-6)
Kids with a sweet tooth—and those who like to laugh—will savor this story of a plain vanilla cupcake that longs to be more special, like its sprinkled and colorful friends. A good-natured candle tries to help, with slapstick results.
By Tao Nyeu (Dial Books, $16.99; ages 3-5)
In three gently irreverent stories, six hapless bunnies get into various forms of trouble—such as getting sucked into a vacuum cleaner (becoming literal "dust bunnies"). It's up to Bear to help out, but his solutions are just as bad (that is, funny).
Henry in Love
By Peter McCarty (HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, $16.99; ages 3-6)
McCarty captures both the innocence and the intensity of a schoolyard crush as Henry, a small cat, pines for "the loveliest girl in his class," a rabbit named Chloe. Wildflowers race across the page whenever he looks her way.
FOR THE ELEMENTARY SET
A Whole Nother Story
By Dr. Cuthbert Soup (Bloomsbury, $16.99; ages 8-12)
Soup's deadpan narration propels this offbeat story of inventor Ethan Cheeseman and his three children (who are rechristened with new names throughout the book) as they flee spies, corporate villains, and secret government agencies.
By Frank Cottrell Boyce (HarperCollins/Walden Pond Press, $16.99; ages 8-12)
With his premature facial hair and impressive height, 12-year-old Liam successfully passes himself off as his own father and wins a ride on a rocket ship. This is a funny and heartfelt story about what it really means to be an adult.
By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99; ages 10-14)
In a story that realistically tackles themes of social justice and religion, Reggie throws his hat into the ring for class president and becomes more involved in his Brooklyn neighborhood by volunteering at a homeless shelter.
A Million Shades of Gray
By Cynthia Kadohata (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16.99; ages 10 and up)
Set in 1973 Vietnam, Newbery Medalist Kadohata's story follows Y'Tin, who escapes into the jungle after North Vietnamese soldiers destroy his village. He reunites with his pet elephant, Lady, but wonders "if he would ever feel safe again."
The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
By Geraldine McCaughrean (HarperCollins, $16.99; ages 10 and up)
Having been told all his life that he will die on his 14th birthday, Pepper flees home and embarks on a series of adventures and professions—from ship captain to deli worker—meeting some unforgettable characters and confronting the true nature of family and destiny.
By Ally Carter (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99; ages 11-17)
In this fast-paced adventure, Kat Bishop can't help getting drawn back into the family business—art thievery—when she finds out that her father is suspected of stealing five paintings from a dangerous mobster.
By Catherine Fisher (Dial Books, $17.99; ages 12 and up)
This powerful dystopian novel is set in two worlds. One is a society that has returned to medieval levels of life and technology. The other is a vast, sentient prison, physically aware of (and capable of communicating with) its inmates. Trapped inside the latter, Finn communicates with Claudia on the outside, and the two plot his escape.
By Gary Paulsen (Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99; ages 12 and up)
Hatchet author Paulsen tells a gripping story set during the American Revolution, as 13-year-old Sam tries to rescue his colonist parents, who have been taken captive.
By Rachel Ward (Scholastic/Chicken House, $17.99; ages 14-18)
In this riveting story, 15-year-old Jem has the terrifying ability to see the date a person will die by looking them in the eye. Her already rocky life really goes off the rails following a terrorist attack at the London Eye.
Finnikin of the Rock
By Melina Marchetta (Candlewick Press, $18.99; ages 14 and up)
In this sprawling fantasy novel, Finnikin and a band of refugees fight to reclaim their cursed homeland. Marchetta's flawed yet sympathetic heroes are as memorable as the island setting she creates.
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