Smart, brave adventures

THE KINGDOM KEEPERS: DISNEY AFTER DARK, by Ridley Pearson, Disney Editions, paperback $8.99; ages 10-13.

Finn has been having trouble sleeping because he keeps having dreams about going to the Magic Kingdom at night. In his dream he meets a man who calls himself Wayne and claims to be one of the original Disney Imagineers. Wayne tells him that he and the other four kids who were chosen to be hologram guides in the park must come at night and fight the Overtakers.

Wayne says the only way to save the park is to solve the riddle in the story of the Stonecutter’s Quill. Finn and his friends have to fight off the Pirates of the Caribbean, Maleficent and all of the other Disney villains, find the clues, solve the riddle-and they have to do all this if they ever expect to get a good night’s sleep again.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis, Little, Brown Young Readers, $16.99; ages 9-12.

Orphan Reynie Muldoon reads a mysterious advertisement, “Are you a gifted child looking for Special Opportunities?” Reynie, with the help of his favorite teacher in the orphanage, answers the ad. He finds himself answering questions that test both his intelligence and his bravery.

Soon, Reynie finds himself and three other kids working for Mr. Benedict. They are to go to school at The Institute for the Very Enlightened. Their mission is to discover what exactly is going on at this school, where the children all seem to be brainwashed and the adults, who take care of the school, act like zombies.

My 12-year-old friend Stefan and I share many books. He told me he thinks this is the best book he has ever read.

 LEEPIKE RIDGE by N.D. Wilson, Random House Books for Young Readers, $15.99; ages 9-12.

Thomas is 11 and lives with his mother in a house on the top of a hill. One day his mother orders a new refrigerator and the moving men leave the huge box in the yard. At first, Thomas scoffs at the box because he thinks he’s too old to play with a box. But then, he finds himself on the adventure of his life as he rides the Styrofoam from the box down the river.

The next thing he knows, he is in a cave on the shore next to a dead man. With the help of the dead man’s flashlight he begins to explore. He finds a dog, a cave-dwelling hermit, a grave yard and treasure.

Now, if only he can find his way out.

 ARK ANGEL (ALEX RIDER) by Anthony Horowitz, Puffin Books, paperback $7.99; ages 10-13.

This adventure of Alex Rider begins in a hospital with our hero recovering from a gunshot wound and the desire to give up his secret agent life. He wants to go home and be a normal kid again. But then, mystery and intrigue find him when he overhears four men in the hall discussing kidnapping his new friend, Paul, a patient in the room next to his. Alex changes the room numbers and finds himself kidnapped, locked in a small room in an abandoned building that is on fire.

When he escapes, Alex takes Paul up on his invitation to go on vacation with him and his multi-billionaire father. The father is not who he claims to be. Alex was hoping for a relaxing time in tropical island paradise, but instead finds terrorists, rockets and plots to take over the world.

When evil strikes, Alex strikes back. Will he ever be able to live a normal life again? I hope not. I want these adventures to continue.

 QUANTUM PROPHECY: THE AWAKENING, by Michael Carroll, Philomel Books, $16.99; ages 10-13.

Ten years ago, superheroes like Quantum, Titan and Energy all disappeared after a battle with the evil Ragnarok. No one knew if they were all dead or just decided to fade into normal society.

Danny and his best friend, Colin, are both 13 and have heard all the stories about the old superheroes. Every year on the anniversary of the battle, their parents throw a superhero party. Danny discovers he can move at the speed of light and Colin realizes he can hear voices miles away. The boys are scared and surprised, but their parents aren’t. Their parents have been waiting for this day to come. And so has Ragnarok.

Danny and Colin find themselves in the middle of a new war. Ragnarok is alive and still plotting to take over the world.

While the boys discover the truth about their parents, most importantly, they discover that friendship and love can truly overcome evil.

P.S. What do you have planned for the weekend of July 21? I will be sitting in my comfy chair reading the last of the Harry Potter series. I can’t wait.

How about you?

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

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