Children's Bestsellers

The Book SenseTM Bestseller List is based on sales from independent bookstores (May 22, 2000). For the Book Sense store nearest you, call 1-888- BOOKSENSE

1. Harry Potter (vols. 1, 2, & 3)

By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, paper and hardback

J.K. Rowling's books continue to defeat other bestsellers as handily as young Harry triumphs over his enemies at Hogwarts, the school for wizards. The books are full of inventive details about the magical dormitory, a rugby-like game played on broomsticks, and the villains out to get our hero, destined to be the most powerful wizard of all - if he can graduate! Each book covers a year in Harry's adventurous life. The 4th installment, expected in July, is already an advance bestseller. Ages 8 and up. (Full reviews Jan. 14, June 17, & Sept. 23, 1999)

By Yvonne Zipp (Available on tape)

2. Captain Underpants (series)

By Dav Pilkey, Scholastic, $3.99

Captain Underpants, a.k.a. elementary school principal Mr. Krupp, keeps returning, as do his student enablers, Harold and George. In the fourth round of this "epic novel," Underpants must combat a scientific genius named Professor Pippy P. Poopypants, who goes mad when students laugh at his name. Poopypants gets even by creating a chart to convert all names into silly names. (A moral follows.) Add in the comic book-style artwork - some pages even make a "cheesy" flip-book to animate the action - and you get more gross-out fun for Underpants's legion of fans. Ages 8-12. (153 pp.) By Sara Steindorf

3. Holes

By Louis Sachar, Yearling Books, $5.99

Stanley arrives at the lakeless Camp Green Lake, a barren corrections facility, where the young inmates must dig deep holes "to build character." But something more nefarious is going on. This charming story jumps into Green Lake's Wild West past until, in the end, past and present are linked in ways Stanley (and we) could never have imagined. Teens will dig this National Book Award winner. Ages 12 and up. (233 pp.) (Full review Dec. 10, 1998.) By Ron Charles (Available on tape)

4. 50 States Quarters Folder

Scholastic, $5.99

Last year, the United States Treasury minted the first in a series of quarters to commemorate all 50 states of the Union. This folder - hardly a book -has plastic indentations for all 50 coins. The problem is that collectors will have to wait till 2008 for the final quarters to be released, by which time the kids will have become teenagers and this flimsy plastic-and-cardboard set will be worse for wear. A small booklet provides a 100-word history and fact sheet about each state, though nothing one wouldn't find in the most rudimentary encyclopedia. Ages 6-11. (31 pp.) By Stephen Humphries

5. Oh, The Places You'll Go

By Dr. Seuss, Random House, $17

Sales of Dr. Seuss's 10-year-old classic soar every spring as seniors approach the world beyond where success is "98 and 3/4% guaranteed!" Through some of his richest drawings, we follow a little character through a parable of life's adventures, anxieties, and triumphs. Remember: Don't be afraid to take risks! The text lacks the striking cleverness of his best work, but this a book everyone enjoys. (48 pages) By Ron Charles

6. Love You Forever

By Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw, Firefly Books, $4.95

First published in 1986, Munsch tells the sentimental story of a mother's love for her son. Her lullaby of enduring affection is sweet when she holds her baby, but the story turns unintentionally creepy when she drives across town and crawls into her adult son's bedroom at night. By the end, the roles are reversed, and the son holds his helpless old mother. McGraw's pastel drawings help the book romanticize decrepitude with its syrupy theme. Chosen by the National Education Association as one of the Top 10 favorite children's books.

Ages 4-8. By Ron Charles

7. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

By Simms Taback, Viking Children's Books, $15

This Caldecott-winning children's story is full of holes - and clever charm. Based on a folk song, it follows Joseph's old, patched overcoat through many incarnations from jacket to vest to scarf, etc., illustrating the moral that nothing should be wasted. The repetitive structure makes it easy for young children to "read" along. They can have fun guessing what the coat is going to turn into next by the die-cut holes in the pages.

Ages 4-8 (40 pp.) By Yvonne Zipp

8. Goodnight Moon (Board Book)

By Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd, Harper, $7.95

There's no saying goodbye to "Goodnight Moon." Since 1947, generations of children have studied Hurd's drawings as they hear a little rabbit acknowledge the favorite items in his moonlit room. Kids enjoy finding the slippers, the persistent mouse, and "the quiet old lady whispering hush" as they're mentioned one by one. Simplicity at its best, Brown's lulling text is somehow witty and soporific. This board book edition will hold up well through hundreds of rereadings. Infant to preschool. By Ron Charles (Available on tape)

9. Bud, Not Buddy

By Christopher Paul Curtis, Delacorte Press, $15.95

Set in the Depression, this Newbery-winning novel unfolds around a 10-year-old runaway with a suitcase of mementos searching for his dad. In addition to propelling him onward, the mementos carry Bud back to his late mother's tender words and loving care. This book is a gem, of value to all ages. Bud reminds us what a difference family makes. Ages 8-12 (245 pp.) (Full review Sept. 23) By Trudy Palmer (Available on tape)

10. How Dinosaurs Say Good Night

By Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague, Scholastic, $15.95

Dinosaurs may be extinct, but as a topic for children's books they just won't die. Yolen and illustrator Mark Teague capitalize on this enduring interest in their new bedtime story. Children will love the fact that the dinos tower over tiny parents, and that some of the prehistoric characters thrash, fuss, and misbehave as much as any I'm-not-ready-for-bed-yet kid. Real dinosaur aficionados will be pleased that the illustrations focus on the actual features of each beast, and that somewhere in each picture is the correct name of the gigantic sleepyhead. Ages 2 and up. (Reviewed in this issue.) By Karen Carden

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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