Fiction Books

1. HARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER'S STONE By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $16.95

There's something strange about Harry Potter. His aunt, uncle, and their son would cringe if anyone knew he was a relative. So they keep him hidden away. But then Harry goes away to school to learn about becoming a wizard, and that's when the fun begins. It's up to him and his friends to uncover the evil stalking their school. Rowling crams the book full of inventive details, and her rollicking style keeps the reader careening along. The only flaw is a too- abrupt ending. Ages 8-12. (309 pp.) (Full review 1/14/99) By Yvonne Zipp

2. HOLES By Louis Sachar, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16

Stanley Yelnats arrives at the lakeless Camp Green Lake, a barren corrections facility, for a crime he didn't commit. Inmates must dig deep holes "to build character," but something more nefarious is going on. The story jumps into Green Lake's mysterious wild-West past until, in the end, past and present are linked in ways Stanley could never have imagined. Adults and teens will dig this National Book Award winner. Ages 12 and up. (233 pp.) (Full review 12/10/98) By Ron Charles

3. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE ATTACK OF THE TALKING TOILETS By Dav Pilkey, Scholastic, $3.99

In the goofy sequel to the bathroom-comedy "Adventures of Captain Underpants," naughty George and Harold are back, and they've really goofed up this time. When a science project goes awry, they accidentally create a militia of teacher-eating toilets. Captain Underpants rushes in to save the day, armed with "Wedgie Power" and the "Incredible Robo-Plunger." Look for two chapters of the popular (if low-tech) Flip-o-Rama animation. Ages 7-10. (144 pp.) By Elisabetta Coletti

4. THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS By Dav Pilkey, Scholastic, $3.50

What do you do if you and your best friend are mischievous fourth-graders who get caught in your puerile shenanigans by the meanie school principal? If you're anything like George and Harold, you'll morph the killjoy into Captain Underpants. This very silly book tracks the Captain (think Humpty-Dumpty in tidy-whities and red action cape) as he battles the forces of evil (read: Dr. Diaper). Ages 7-12. (128 pp.) By Elisabetta Coletti

5. OUT OF THE DUST By Karen Hesse, Scholastic, $4.99 RANKINGS FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, May 1999

This narrative poem tells a painful story against the bleak backdrop of Oklahoma during the Great Depression. It's narrated by 14-year-old Billie Jo, who describes failing crops and unrelenting dust storms. Her daddy's a farmer, Ma's expecting, and Billie Jo loves to play piano. A horrible accident rips them apart, leaving death, disfigurement, and emotional scarring. The ending is uplifting, but graphic tragedy is the price of getting there. This Newbery winner is not for kids under 11. Ages 11-13. (227 pp.) By Karen Carden

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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