Children's Bestsellers

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $6.99

The Harry Potter book that started it all as a hardback bestseller is now taking its bend-friendly counterpart, the paperback, up the charts faster than a Quiddich World Cup tournament. Back in July, 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 bestselling children's list may someday be all Harry, all the time. Ages 9-12. (309 pp.) (Full review Jan. 14, 1999) By Yvonne Zipp

Audio available Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $19.95

The third in the series finds Sirius Black, an escaped prisoner, in search of Harry. But Harry can't help thinking the Dementors sent to capture Black are scarier than the archcriminal. (Younger children are likely to agree.) This book delves deeper into Harry's father's past and adds a layer of symbolism to the nonstop adventure. Ages 9-12. (435 pp.) (Full review Sept. 23, 1999) By Yvonne Zipp

Audio available 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 foot. Ages 9-12. (734 pp.) (Full review July 13) By Yvonne Zipp

Audio available Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, $6.99

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. As if dealing with monsters wasn't enough, Harry is suspected of the crimes. Though a weaker tale than the other Potter books, Rowling'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. Ages 9-12. (342 pp.) (Full review June 17, 1999) By Yvonne Zipp

Audio available A Year Down Yonder

By Richard Peck, Dial, $16.99

Fans of "A Long Way from Chicago" will rejoice in its sequel. This time, Mary Alice must stay with her grandma alone, for a year. Being the new girl in a "hick town" and having no indoor plumbing are just two of Mary's problems. Against the backdrop of her grandmother's brash work ethic, Mary Alice comes of age. This story is laugh-aloud funny and full of appreciation for the way things used to be. Ages 12 and up. (130 pp.) (Full review Jan. 25) By Courtney Williamson

Audio available Olivia

By Ian Falconer, Atheneum, $16

Not only is this one terrific picture book, but it's Falconer's first. In it, he captures the antics of a very self-assured, preschool piggy named Olivia. She is full of spunk, has very firm opinions, and is especially good at wearing people out. "She even wears herself out," proclaims the economical text. The Illustrations are stunning, done in stark black and white with splashes of true red. Together, the words and pictures evoke smiles, giggles, and a rare but thrilling sense that this book may be absolutely perfect. Ages 3-7. (Unpaged) (Full review Aug. 24, 2000.) By Karen Carden

The Ersatz Elevator A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6

By Lemony Snicket, HarperCollins, $8.95

I'm sorry to report that this latest installment of Lemony Snicket's series of unfortunate events is extremely unfortunate, indeed. Our three orphaned heroes have been adopted by a wealthy financier, which is promising, but they have no elevator to their 66th-floor penthouse, which is exhausting. The way things are going, evil Count Olaf is bound to make a thinly disguised appearance soon. There's no better source of dark, ironic comedy for young readers. Ages 9-12. (240 pp.) By Ron Charles

Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book O' Fun

By Dav Pilkey, Scholastic $3.99

Yes, it's true: Captain Underpants is back to provide our youth with even more potty jokes. In fact, Pilkey has taken his bathroom comic to new levels of creativity by encouraging kids intrigued by characters like the "Turbo Toilet" to be creative themselves. This activity book is full of things like how to make a flip book, how to draw Captain Underpants himself, and how to find your way out of "The Diaper of Doom" maze. It's bound to spark creativity in the silliest of kids. Ages 7-11. (80 pp.) By Christy Ellington


By Louis Sachar, Yearling Books, $5.99

"Holes" 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

Audio available Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd, Harper, $7.99

There's no saying goodbye to "Goodnight Moon." Since 1947, 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." 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. (34 pp.) By Ron Charles.

Audio available The Book SenseTM Bestseller List is based on sales from independent bookstores (MAR. 19, 2001). For the Book Sense store nearest you, call 1-888-BOOKSENSE

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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