Exploding socks, flying horses and the really tall

BORN TO ROCK, by Gordon Korman, Hyperion, ages 12 and up; paperback $8.99.

Leo is a high school senior, president of the Young Republicans Club and headed to Harvard.

By accident, he learns his biological father is King Maggot, leader of the punk rock band Purge. Leo fears King Maggot is like a time bomb waiting to go off inside him. Leo is accused of helping another student cheat on a test and loses his scholarship to Harvard. He decides he must meet and confront King Maggot. In the short time Leo spends with the band and its leader, he learns about friendship, love and life. Punk rock doesn’t always equal bad.

SMILES TO GO, by Jerry Spinelli, HarperCollins Publishers, ages 10 and up; $16.99.

For Will, it all began the day he heard the proton was dead. Some people remember where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy died, for Will it was the proton. Everything is made up of protons, which are smaller than atoms, and now the news is out-protons can decay. Where does that leave Will? He thought he had his life all planned out. Should he make new plans? Perhaps he should just let life and love take over and let whatever happens happen?

EVER, by Gail Carson Levine, HarperCollins Publishers, ages 9-12; $16.99.

Kezi lives among the mortals of earth. Olus lives among the gods. Kezi is a terrific weaver. Olus is the god of the winds.

Kezi’s fate is death. Olus’s fate is loneliness. In order to chance fate, Kezi and Olus embark on a dangerous quest. If they pass, the possibility of forever is theirs. If they fail, death is the only answer.

If you are looking for a sweet, heartwarming love story, you can’t go wrong with a book by Gail Carson Levine.

THE SQUAD: PERFECT COVER and THE SQUAD: KILLER SPIRIT, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Knopf Delacorte Dell, ages 12 and up, paperback $6.99.

At Bayport High, the cheerleaders rule the school. No surprise there. But these cheerleaders are really CIA agents working for the government. Cheerleaders are assumed to be ditzy, blonde, beautiful, boy crazy fashionistas so no one would expect them to be brainy, athletically fit espionage experts. It’s the perfect cover.

While their holograms are in the gym practicing, our girls are in the secret room planning their next mission. One is a computer hacker, one has two Ph.D.s and one is the weapons expert. Their bobby pins can pick locks, their cheer pins are razor sharp weapons, their bras are bullet proof and you would never believe what they can do with their bobby socks.

THE 13TH REALITY: BOOK ONE, THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS, by James Dashner, Shadow Mountain, ages 9-12; $17.95.

It was already late when I started reading. I promised myself only a couple of chapters. But then I read another and another and I didn’t want to stop. The next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book. I couldn’t wait to get home and read.

When you get your hands on this book, make sure you have a flashlight ready, and make sure you have extra batteries just in case. Then when your mom tells you to turn off the light and go to sleep, you won’t have to make any noise when you turn on your flashlight and keep reading. Yes, this book is really that good.

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