Choices for children

Iva Dunnit says her six ``young'uns . . . knows how to stay put.'' But their obedience is put to the test one summer day when the Big Wind blows, and they must disobey their mother in order to save her from the wind. Pioneer spirit and raucous humor abound in Iva Dunnit and the Big Wind, by Carol Purdy. Steven Kellogg's delightfully funny illustrations show the reader that Iva's children aren't quite as obedient as she believes. A terrific tale for reading aloud. (Dial, ages 4 t o 8, $12.95.) Children often dream of performing heroic deeds. In Sybil Rides for Independence, a story about the Revolutionary War written by Drollene P. Brown, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington learns that patriotic acts can be dangerous, frightening, and exhausting. Margot Apple's dramatic pencil drawings are brisk and action-packed. Based on a true story. (Albert Whitman, ages 7 to 10, $9.95.)

Pirates, buried treasure, and captured ships abound in Laffite the Pirate, a Louisiana tall tale written and illustrated by Ariane Dewey. Jean Laffite captured ship after ship, left a bounty of sunken treasures, and then vanished. His booty has never been found. Dewey's simple, cartoonlike pictures offset Laffite's blustery, brash character. (Greenwillow, ages 6 to 9, $11.75.)

In The Happiest Ending, by Yoshiko Uchida, 12-year-old Rinko is determined to stop the marriage of a young Japanese girl to a man twice her age. But things don't work out as Rinko plans, and she learns that there are many kinds of love. Uchida's latest book radiates warmth, love, and a strong sense of family. (Atheneum, ages 8 to 12, $10.95.)

Frederick Nutsell -- Nutty to his friends -- solves another mystery in Nutty and the Case of the Ski-slope Spy, by Dean Hughes. Nutty and his friends are on a student ski trip, but soon after the group arrives in Utah, it is caught up in the mysterious disappearance of a man using the code name ``Russian Roulette.'' The action moves quickly, the characters are realistic, and Hughes wraps up the story in a convincing manner. (Atheneum, ages 8 to 12, $10.95.)

Nightpool, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, is an intriguing, complex, yet believable fantasy about Teb, the son of a murdered king who has been raised by sea otters, and Dawncloud, the singing dragon who searches for Teb in hopes that he will save their country. The openness of the ending suggests there will be a sequel. (Harper & Row, 12 and up, $11.95.)

Martha, the granddaughter of Blue Isle's midwife, is expected to take her proper place within the community -- following in her grandmother's footsteps, offering herself for marriage at age 15, and stopping her schooling. Trouble's Child, by Mildred Pitts Walter, brings to life an isolated community governed by superstition and ritual, and examines the daunting task of breaking through such a community's tight boundaries. (Lothrop, ages 12 and up, $10.25.)

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