Five books you can’t miss

 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LAST STRAW, by Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books, $12.95; ages 9-12.

Greg is always going to be a wimp. He knows it. His friends know it. His brother certainly knows it. But his dad still hasn’t figured it out. Dad thinks Greg needs to toughen up and join a sport. Not for our wimpy kid. But when dad threatens military school, Greg realizes he has to change. I know you have been waiting for this book.

 11 BIRTHDAYS, by Wendy Mass, Scholastic Press, $16.99; ages 9-12.

Amanda and Leo are neighbors who share the same birthday. Every year they throw a party together. But this year, set to turn 11, they are on the outs. Leo has a party; Amanda goes to bed. The next morning, she wakes with a sigh of relief that her birthday is over, only to find it is still her birthday. Leo must be part of this, but that would require talking to him to figure it out.

I love every one of Wendy Mass’ books and this one is no exception.

 MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD, by Francisco X. Stork, Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99; ages 12 and up.

Marcelo is a boy diagnosed with autism who hears music in his head. No one understands Marcelo’s music, especially his father. The summer before Marcelo’s senior year, his father makes him take a job in his law firm because he thinks it will help Marcelo learn about the “real world.” Marcelo ends up learning much more about himself-and we learn much more about autism.

 TUNNELS, by Brian Williams and Roderick Gordon, Scholastic Paperbacks, $7.99; ages 9-12.

Will and his father have only one thing in common-they like to dig. Will’s father is the caretaker of the local museum and the two of them dig for things to display in the museum. Right now they are

working on a secret project. But when Will’s dad disappears, it is up to Will to dig up the truth. What Will discovers is scary, strange, evil and amazing.

The sequel, “Deeper,” is on my list to read ASAP.

 WAKE, by Lisa McMann, Simon Pulse, $8.99; ages 13 and up.

Janie has a secret she knows no one would believe. She can see other people’s dreams. School is the worst because kids are always falling asleep in class and then Janie is dreaming right along with them. One day, instead of the usual “oh no I’m naked in front of the class” dream, Janie gets sucked into an ultra-scary dream-and this one is real. Its sequel, Fade, hits the bookstores this month.

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

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