Ficton: ``Maniac Magee'' (ages 8-12) by Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown & Co., $13.95). A runaway boy breaks through small-town racial tensions in this funny, spirited story. Non-fiction: ``The Great Little Madison'' (age 9 and up), by Jean Fritz (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $15.95). James Madison, fourth president of the United States (and ``no bigger than half a piece of soap,'' according to a contemporary), leaps from obscurity to center stage in this vigorous biography with a stellar supporting cast: lively Dolley (``shop 'til you drop'') Madison, loyal friend Thomas Jefferson, arch-rival Patrick Henry. This is history as it should be told.

Picture book: ``Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China'' (ages 4-9), translated and illustrated by Ed Young (Philomel Books, $14.95). Winner of this year's Caldecott medal as well, Young's dramatic, impressionistic artwork graces this re-telling of an ancient Chinese fairy tale in which three girls outwit a wily wolf (who may be a bit too scary for the very youngest audience).

Special citation for creative excellence: ``Valentine and Orson'' (all ages), by Nancy Ekholm Burkert (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.95). Unusual, beautiful rendition of a medieval ``folk play,'' written in couplets, about twin brothers separated at birth.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.