The Monitor Guide to The Bestsellers


1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $25.95

In the latest installment, 14-year-old Harry is mysteriously volunteered for a dangerous tournament to compete against an international group of student wizards. Meanwhile, Hermione takes on the cause of repressed house-elves, and You-Know-Who lurks in the shadows. As Harry gets older, his world gets bigger and his challenges grow darker - as they must if he is to become a true hero. But what makes good literary sense also puts this book squarely in the young-adult realm. Parents should read the last 100 pages with anyone under five feet. (734 pp.) (Full review July 13) By Yvonne Zipp

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $6.99 (paper)

The Harry Potter book that started it all not only remains on the hardback bestseller list, but now its bend-friendly counterpart, the paperback, is also moving faster than a Quiddich World Cup tournament. Last month, The New York Times finally did what evil Lord Voldemort couldn't: They banished Harry Potter from their bestselling fiction list to make room for adult novels that had been cowering in the shadows for more than 80 weeks. As Rowling continues to write, the Times's new bestselling children's list may someday be all Harry all the time. Ages 8-12. (309 pp.) (Full review Jan. 14, 1999)

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $19.95

The third in the series finds Sirius Black, a murderous prisoner who escaped, in search of Harry. But Harry can't help thinking the Dementors sent to capture Black are far scarier than any archcriminal could be. (Younger children are likely to agree.) This book, which delves deeper into Harry's father's past, improves on its predecessors - adding a layer of symbolism to the nonstop adventure. (435 pp.) (Full review Sept. 23, 1999) By Yvonne Zipp

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $19.95

In Book 2 of the Potter saga, something is stalking the students at Hogwarts, turning the ones from human families to stone. Harry's best friend, Hermione, finds herself in mortal peril. (Her parents are Muggles.) As if dealing with monsters wasn't enough, Harry finds himself suspected of the crimes. Though a weaker tale than the other Potter books, Rowlings's humor keeps things from getting too scary for small readers, and the end result is charming. You've got to love a battle where the hero literally pulls victory out of a hat. Released this month in paperback. (342 pp.) (Full review June 17, 1999) By Yvonne Zipp

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $19.95

Uncle Dursley hid Harry under the stairs, but that didn't stop everyone (everyone!) from learning about the world's most famous wizard. In the first book, crammed with inventive details, Harry learns his true lineage and goes to Hogwarts to study wizardry. Will he lead his Quidditch team to victory? And will evil Voldemort stir up trouble? (Does the Wicked Witch of the West hate water?) Ages 8-12. (309 pp.) (Full review Jan. 14, 1999) By Yvonne Zipp

6. Holes By Louis Sachar, Yearling Books, $5.99

'Holes' fills a worrisome gap on the bookshelf for middle-school readers. Like a gawky teenager, this novel is full of adolescent anxiety and shy wit. Sachar descends into terrors we wish young people didn't have to face, but ultimately he floods this muted story with the kind of buoyant hope that's salvation at any age. The story opens when overweight, friendless Stanley Yelnats arrives with an armed guard at Camp Green Lake, a corrections facility where boys must dig enormous holes in the barren desert to build character. Winner of the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal. Ages 12 and up. (233 pp.) (Full review Dec. 10, 1998.) By Ron Charles

7. Wemberly Worried By Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, $15.95

If your child hasn't thought much about shrinking in the bathtub or falling off the jungle gym, Wemberly's paranoia may prompt them. In a book where the word 'worry' is used on every page, Wemberly's crying and wide-eyed stares rouse concern. In the end, she learns to shrug off her fears, offering a lesson that kids need not be hypochondriacs. But isn't the advice 'don't worry, be happy' more effective when the emphasis falls on happiness? Ages 4-8. (32 pp.) By Stephanie Cook

8. The Secret of Platform 13 By Eva Ibbotson, Puffin Books, $4.99

A portal to another world, a hag, an ogre, a boy, a queen, and a whole slew of fantastical creatures set the tone for this imaginative journey. As we join these courageous, odd characters in their voyage to rescue the prince from the realm of the real world, we are often hit by vivid images. Unfortunately, not all of these images are so fantastic. Strong references to sickness, death, and medical prognosis play a large part in this story that some parents may find inappropriate and disturbing for young readers. Ages 9-12. (231 pp.) By Christy Ellington

9. Captain Underpants #4 (series) By Dav Pilkey, Scholastic, $3.99

Captain Underpants returns! In the fourth round of this 'epic novel,' Underpants combats scientific genius Professor Pippy P. Poopypants, who goes mad when students laugh at his name. Poopypants gets even, though, by creating a chart to convert all names into silly names. Add in the comic-book style artwork - a 'cheesy' flip-book - and you get more gross-out fun for Underpants's fans. (153 pp.) By Sara Steindorf

10. J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter By Marc Shapiro, St. Martin's Griffin, $4.99

The cliches fly faster than a Firebolt in this effort to siphon off the fans and profits of Harry Potter. With breathtaking audacity, the publisher copies the series's font and mimics the chapter drawings to make this book appear legitimate. But the author never spoke to Rowling - or anyone who knows her. Instead, he relies on published interviews and writes with the cloying tone that has made generations of children hate reading. There's no reason to resort to opportunistic drivel like this to fill the void until Book 5. Ages 8 and up. (107 pp.) By Yvonne Zipp


(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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