Series and Sequels

Familiar characters and continuing story lines carry on in a number of books this season. In Dork on the Run by Carol Gorman, unconventionally cool Dork in Disguise star Jerry Flack risks his newfound, un-dorklike reputation by running for class president. (HarperCollins, $15.95 192p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-06-029409-4; June)

Fed up with Nick Thorpe's teasing, his victim punches Nick into the next galaxy, where a prophetic unicorn reveals aliens' sinister plot to take over the planet in From the Horse's Mouth by Kathy Mackel, the sequel to Can of Worms and Eggs in One Basket. (HarperCollins, $15.95 224p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-06-029414-0; June)

Claire and Luna try to restore order after their grandmother's special marigold powder—meant to help the miserable Luna enjoy her stay at summer camp—goes missing in Witch Twins at Camp Bliss by Adele Griffin, the sequel to Witch Twins. (Hyperion, $15.99 128p ages 7-11 ISBN 0-7868-0763-6; June)

The Strength of Saints by A. LaFaye (The Year of the Sawdust Man and Nissa's Place) continues the story of Nissa Bergen. As a growing population challenges the resources and long-held beliefs of her racially divided town, the young heroine, creator of "separate but equal" libraries, must confront the difficulties head on. (S&S, $16.95 192p ages 10-14 ISBN 0-689-83200-1; June)

In Bad Girls in Love, the latest entry in her Bad Girls series, Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt revisits the world of junior high, here exploring the experience of falling in love for the first time. Mikey has a major crush on Shawn, and Margalo has the hots for her teacher—and with the school dance fast approaching, they are running out of time to figure out what to do about their situations. (Atheneum/Schwartz, $15.95 240p ages 9-13 ISBN 0-689-82471-8; July)

Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna and illustrator Stephanie Roth—the team behind Third Grade Stinks! and Third Grade Ghouls—weigh in with Doggone... Third Grade! Gordie Barr has a week to get his dog, Scratch, ready for the classroom talent show. (Holiday, $15.95 80p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-8234-1696-8; June)

Feeling like she doesn't measure up to her "drop-dead gorgeous" friends, Ellie tries to take control of her weight, and ends up battling bulimia, in Girls Under Pressure by Jacqueline Wilson, the second book in her Girls trilogy. (Delacorte, $9.95 paper 160p ages 12-up ISBN 0-385-72975-8; June)

Red, White and True

American history comes alive in an array of patriotic offerings. Billed as "a young reader's guide to the history, geography and culture of all 50 states," The New Big Book of America by Todd Davis and Marc Frey delivers the goods on a state-by-state basis; colorful maps and photos are included, and sidebars profile important people and events. (Running Press/Courage, $9.98 56p ages 10-12 ISBN 0-7624-1263-1; June)

With 850 questions and answers about people, places, popular literature and more, Brain Quest America makes history fun. The two-deck set is packaged in a resealable plastic storage case and a bottom fastener keeps cards together, making this ideal for summer road trips. (Workman, $10.95 ages 9-up ISBN 0-7611-2783-6; June)

Rudolph W. Giuliani: America's Mayor by Eleanor Fremont provides an account of the former New York City mayor's Brooklyn roots, his stint in Washington as the number three man in the Department of Justice and his tenure as U.S. Attorney in New York. Special attention is paid to Giuliani's role in the recovery efforts following September 11. (S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 paper 96p ages 10-14 ISBN 0-689-85423-4; June)

The narratives of Frederick Douglass, Nat Love, Sojourner Truth and others form the basis of Slaves Who Dared: The Stories of Ten African-American Heroes by Mary Garrison, a collection of single-chapter biographies of former captives. Informative photographs and historical illustrations and reproductions round out the volume. (White Mane Kids, $19.95 142p ages 9-12 ISBN 1-57249-272-4; June)

In another song-lyrics-turned picture book-text, God Bless America by Irving Berlin, illus. by Lynn Munsinger, comes packaged with a CD, with the tune sung by none other than Barbra Streisand. Munsinger keeps the focus on Manhattan in an opening scene as well as with a parade of police officers and fire fighters, but she also adds cherry blossoms to a scene of the Lincoln Memorial at the capital, and of course the mountains, prairies and oceans (white with foam). (HarperCollins, $15.99 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-06-009788-4; June)

More Babar

Abrams is reissuing a quartet of Babar titles by Laurent de Brunhoff, son of Babar creator Jean de Brunhoff. First published in 1970, Babar's Birthday Surprise chronicles the attempts of Babar's friends to keep his gift a secret. In Babar's Battle (1992), the king finds a nonviolent way to fight his rhino nemesis, Rataxes. Meet Babar and His Family (1973) and Babar's Little Girl Makes a Friend (1990) are paper-over-board books in a smaller trim size. The first introduces King Babar, Queen Celeste and their children, Pom, Flora and Alexander; in the second, Flora challenges prejudice when she befriends a little rhino, who happens to be Rataxes's son. (Abrams, $16.95 each 40p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8109-5713-2; -5714-0; Family and Friend, $9.95 each 32p -0555-8; -0556-6; June)

New for Nature Lovers

Founded in 1899, home to 4,000 animals and host to over two million human visitors each year, the Bronx Zoo is one of the oldest, largest and most popular zoos in the country. Former New York Zoological Society curator and current Wildlife Conservation magazine children's editor Edward Ricciuti gives readers a behind-the-scenes tour of the institution in A Pelican Swallowed My Head and Other Zoo Stories from the Wildlife Conservation Society (the Wildlife Conservation Society operates the Bronx Zoo). Notable story subjects include Samantha, the giant python who went from Borneo to the Bronx after being captured by leather traders; Bad Attitude (otherwise known as B.A.), the great horned owl who likes to claw her keepers; and the handler who accidentally got his head stuck in a pelican's pouch. (S&S, $16 224p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-82532-3; Aug.)

At birth she weighed 235 pounds; a year later she tipped the scales at more than 1,000. Hansa: The True Story of an Asian Elephant Baby by Clare Hodgson Meeker, illus. by Linda Feltner, photos from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, tells the story of the elephant's amazing birth (the first in the zoo's 100-year history) and educates readers on the animals' habits, habitats and care. Full-color photographs by Hansa's handlers provide an up-close perspective; backmatter contains additional resources. (Sasquatch, $16.95 48p ages 6-10 ISBN 1-57061-344-3; May)

A day at the beach turns troublesome when a limpet latches onto a girl's finger and no one can remove it, in Sally and the Limpet by Simon James. First published in 1991, the book carries, in PW's words, a "subtly conveyed message about the importance of respecting the natural world." (Candlewick, $10.99 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7636-1715-6; May)

"Somewhere in the salty sea/ beneath the blue-green waves,/ a turtle flies in a water sky./ She is swimming to the shore./ It is time for her to dig a hole in the sand/ and bury her soft white turtle eggs." Rhythmic text is paired with pastel-hued watercolors in Turtle in the Sea by Jim Arnosky, the author/illustrator's latest look at the wonders of nature. (Putnam, $15.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-399-22757-1; July)

Let's Find It! My First Nature Guide by Katya Arnold uses a seek-and-find formula to help youngsters identify objects in the natural world. In each spread, various plants and animals appear labeled on the left, and the right-hand page features a full-bleed illustration in which all the elements are included. Final pages categorize the flora and fauna (plants, fungi, animals) and list where each can be found within the book. (Holiday, $16.95 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-8234-1539-2; Aug.)

Aimed at preschoolers, Barron's I Am series continues with two titles by Lidia Di Blasi and Núria Roca: I am a big tyrannosaurus rex and I am a big snake. Tall and narrow, the oversize board books are written from the perspective of each animal ("I was born from an egg,/ like all dinosaurs," says T. Rex, "but my egg was bigger and/ more wrinkly than a bird's egg"); illustrations are realistic and detailed. The books are also available in Spanish: Soy un gran tiranosauro and Soy una gran serpiente. (Barron's, $9.95 each 24p ages 1-5 ISBN 0-7641-5442-7; -5443-5; Spanish eds. -5504-0; -5505-9; June)

Culture Club

Several offerings give kids a glimpse of different cultures. Young readers learn about a child's life in India as they explore an ancient art form in the nonfiction picture book Snake Charmer by Ann Whitehead Nagda. The book, illustrated with color photographs, follows Vishnu, a boy who dreams of following in his father's footsteps. (Holt, $16.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-8050-6499-0; May)

Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture by Carol Stepanchuk, illus. by Leland Wong, uses San Francisco's Chinatown as a backdrop in this informative volume covering varied aspects of Chinese-American life. Sections on food, health, religion, art and more are included. (Pacific View, $22.95 64p ages 10-up ISBN 1-881896-25-0; July)

"A dog is a best friend/ for playing,/ and rolling,/ and running like the wind." A collaboration between the Global Fund for Children, Planet Dog Philanthropy and photographers around the world, A Kid's Best Friend by Maya Ajmera and Alex Fischer documents the bond between children and their dogs. Throughout, labels indicate where each photograph was taken (settings as varied as Bhutan, Russia, the U.S. and Indonesia are represented on a single spread). (Charlesbridge, $15.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 1-57091-513-X; $6.95 paper -514-8; July)

On the fiction front, one monkey stars in 18 traditional tales in The Magical Monkey King, retold by Ji-li Jiang, illus. by Hui Hui Su-Kennedy. The short stories (each about five pages in length) are set in a large font with b&w illustrations reminiscent of Chinese prints. (HarperCollins, $4.25 paper 96p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-06-442149-X; May)

Kidnapped by an ogre, a child offers a precious amulet in exchange for his life in The Silver Charm: A Folktale from Japan by Robert D. San Souci, illus. by Yoriko Ito. Satsu's faithful friends—a puppy and a fox cub—rescue him in this traditional Ainu tale from Japan's Hokkaido island. Dark watercolors add an authentic feel. (Doubleday, $15.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-385-32159-7; May)

In an Inuit interpretation of a popular Yiddish folktales, a family complains of cramped accommodations—then learns a lesson about being happy with what they have—in Kumak's House: A Tale of the Far North by Michael Bania. An author's note explains Inuit customs. (Alaska Northwest, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-88240-540-3; $8.95 paper -541-1; May)

It's Party Time

A Chinese Dragon Fete, Springtime Fairy Frolic and an Egyptian Summer Solstice Party are just a few of the activities in The Book of Wizard Parties: In Which the Wizard Shares the Secrets of Creating Enchanted Gatherings by Janice Eaton Kilby and Terry Taylor, illus. by Marla Baggetta. A cushioned cover and a purple satin placeholder add to the fancy package of this sequel to Book of Wizard Crafts. (Sterling/ Lark, $19.95 144p all ages ISBN 1-57990-292-8; June)

For a take on tradition, readers may want to consult The Totally Tea-rific Tea Party Book: Teas to Taste, Treats to Bake, and Crafts to Make from Around the World and Beyond by Tanya Napier, illus. by Annie Galvin, photos by Julie Brown. Children can enjoy chai at "The Indian Tea Party," get a food facial at the "Beau-Tea Party" and, at "The Russian Tea Party," dance the Kazatsky. (Barron's, $13.95 80p ages 7-11 ISBN 0-7641-5493-1; Apr.)