These books are out of this world


There is no age requirement for becoming a hero. Read these books and find out how kids are able to save the world.

There really is another whole world out there. All you have to do to find it is open your mind, find the right crack in the sidewalk, know the password, be a member of a special family or just don’t follow the rules.

 LEVEN THUMPS AND THE GATEWAY TO FOO, by Obert Skye, Simon& Schuster, $17.95; ages 10-13.

Leven Thumps is an orphan, growing up with his step-aunt and her husband. He feels unwanted and unloved. He assumes his life will always be dull, boring and without meaning. Then one day he meets Clover, a small cat-like creature who walks on two legs, has the ability to disappear and acts and speaks like a human.

Clover tells Leven it is his destiny to defeat the evil Sabine and save the world. But first they must find the entrance to Foo. With the help of Clover, a girl named Winter who can freeze things and Geth, a toothpick who talks and claims to be the King of Foo, Leven finds real friends and learns the truth about the meaning of his life.

There were a few moments where the author forgot his voice and started talking directly to the reader, Lemony Snicket style. I found this to be distracting and annoying, but it does not spoil the adventure. This book is fast paced and entertaining. Winter’s ability to freeze things is fascinating. And the part where Leven is able to get back at the school bullies is very satisfying. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF TOM TRUEHEART, by Ian Beck, HarperCollins Children’s Books, $16.99; ages 8-11.

Tom Trueheart is the youngest of the famous Trueheart adventurers. The Truehearts work for the Story Bureau where it is their job to take the lead in the story and become the hero. Tom is waiting for the day when he is old enough to join his brothers in an adventure.

Tom is home alone; all his brothers have been sent out to their stories. But something is wrong. The red hooded girl has not been saved, the sleeping girl has not been kissed, no one has climbed up the beanstalk, the girl in the tower is about to cut her very long hair and the brothers have been gone far too long.

Tom sets out on the journey of his life. Not only must he save his brothers, but he must also find a way to save the stories.

 WUTHERING HIGH: A BARD ACADEMY NOVEL, by Cara Lockwood, MTV, (paperback) $9.95; ages 12 and up.

Mia is 15 and in big trouble. She maxed out her stepmother’s credit card and totaled her dad’s car. Her parents decide the only way to handle her is to ship her off to boarding school-a boarding school designed to fix troubled teens.

Mia arrives to find that uniforms are in and cell phones and iPods are out. Punishment is kitchen duty. And to make the matters worse, her roommate has decorated her side of the room with Marilyn Manson posters and skull candles.

I picked up this book more than once and put it back down. I thought it was going to be another book about teenagers and bad behavior. I was happy to realize I was wrong. At this school, English class is so interesting authors like Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and Charlotte Bronte come to life. The plot kept me in suspense and the twist at the end caught me by surprise.

 TERRIER (BEKA COOPER), by Tamora Pierce, Random House Books for Young Readers, $18.95; ages 11-14.

Beka is a puppy (rookie) in the Provost’s Guard (police department). She wants desperately to prove herself to her Dogs (superiors), but she is having a hard time getting past her shyness. Her beat is the toughest part of town, but she isn’t scared because this is where she was born. She proves her usefulness to her Dogs when she is able to stop some misbehaving kids by talking to them in their own Lower City slang.

Beka’s greatest weapon is her ability to hear messages from the pigeons, which carry the souls of the dead.

When Beka hears the voices of children and the voices of men trapped in unmarked graves, she knows she must solve these mysteries and save the lost souls.

EREC REX, THE DRAGON EYE, by Kaza Kinsgley, Firelight Press, $17.99; ages 9-12.

Erec, his mother and siblings are poor-they are always moving to smaller apartments. But how odd it is that some household items are magical. His alarm clock, for example, will even resort to throwing things at him until he gets out of bed. One morning Erec gets up to find his mother gone and a strange babysitter in the living room. A very odd feeling comes over him and a voice in his head tells him to find his mother.

His journey takes him to a strange world below the city-a world full of magical creatures ruled by kings. He discovers his mother is in a dungeon and it is up to him to rescue her. But first, he must enter a contest, fulfill his destiny, become king and save the world.

I wanted to dislike this book because it feels like a copy of Harry Potter. But then I couldn’t put it down. I found myself really enjoying the story. Many questions were left unanswered, so I look forward to the next book in the series.

Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four and the Web mistress for Chicago Parent.

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