100 CUPBOARDS, by N.D. Wilson, Random House Children’s Books, ages 9-12; $16.99.
When Henry’s parents are kidnapped, the 12-year-old must leave his life in Boston to live with his aunt and uncle and their three girls in Kansas. For Henry, this is a big adventure. He plans to make friends, explore freedom and learn baseball. Then, one night he hears a bump in the ceiling of his attic bedroom. He discovers there are small doors on the ceiling and wall of his room-99 doors. The doors had been covered over, but now Henry has all the adventure a boy can handle, right here in his own room. This is the first book in a series.
BRENDAN BUCKLEY’S UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING IN IT, by Sundee T. Frazier, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, ages 9-12; $14.99.
Brendan is 10 and wants to be a scientist. He records all his questions in a notebook so that he can solve everything he wonders about. But ever since his Grandpa Clem died, he has questions that can’t be answered with the Internet or his telescope. Lately, his questions have more to do with his other grandpa, his mother’s father. His mother does not want to talk about him.
By accident, Brendan meets his other grandpa. The more time they spend together, the more questions Brendan has. Am I black, am I white, what does biracial mean? What happened to make my mother and my grandfather so mad at each other? And most importantly, what can I do to bring them back together?
THE BLACK TOWER (Herculeah Jones), by Betsy Byars, Puffin, ages 9-12; paperback $6.99.
Herculeah is a detective. In this new adventure of the series, Herculeah finds herself volunteering to read one hour a day to Mr. Hunt, a bedridden neighbor. He just happens to live in the house the neighborhood kids call Haunt House, with an old tower and an old murder mystery attached to it.
One day, Herculeah’s friend Meat waits for her outside the house (he is too afraid to go in). While Herculeah is reading The Black Tower, Meat sees someone in the tower window. Herculeah is sure Mr. Hunt is trying to tell her something, but that mean caretaker nurse keeps getting in the way. Who is in the tower? What is Mr. Hunt trying to say? What’s up with the scary nurse? Herculeah is on the case.
AIRMAN, by Eoin Colfer, Hyperion, ages 12 and up; $17.99.
Conor, born while his parents were on a balloon ride, led an idyllic life. He and his parents were friends with the king, his playmate was the princess, his tutor was a scientist and together they were going to fly. Then the bad guy enters the picture. The king is dead and Conor is blamed. He is thrown in prison and is left with nothing but his dreams of flying.
Years later, he escapes from prison. But when he learns of a plot to kill the princess on her coronation day, will he leave and start a new life or fly in, avenge himself and save the queen?
THE TIME THIEF (The Gideon Trilogy), by Linda Buckley-Archer, Simon& Schuster Children’s Publishing, ages 11 and up; $17.99.
Book 2 begins with Peter still in 1763 and Kate back in the 21st century with the villain The Tar Man, who seems to be able to vanish into thin air. Consumed with wanting to rescue Peter from the 18th century, Kate convinces Peter’s father to go back in time with her. But their calculations are off. The Peter they find is a grown man, not the 12-year-old boy they hoped to rescue. The young Peter and Kate need to be returned to the right time and The Tar Man needs to be sent home. P.S. When your teacher assigns you historical fiction for a book report, this is a perfect choice.
Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four and the Web mistress for Chicago Parent.