Dinos, Sea and Sky

For kids interested in prehistoric creatures, New Dinos: The Latest Finds! The Coolest Dinosaur Discoveries! by Shelley Tanaka, illus. by Alan Barnard, presents up-to-date info on an ever-expanding scientific field. Readers will learn which was the biggest carnivore (Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus are running neck-and-neck for this honor) and what the latest CT scans and computer models can tell scientists about dino vocalization. Barnard's carefully detailed illustrations and some photos of fossils complete the picture. (Atheneum/Madison, $16.95 48p ages 5-9 ISBN 0-689-85183-9; June)

A comprehensive, alphabetically organized compendium of dinosaur factoids unfolds in the paper-over-board Dinosaurs A to Z: The Definitive Dictionary for All Dino Enthusiasts by Jim Pipe. Beginning with Afrovenator, a 30-foot-long theropo, and ending with Zephyrosaurus, a plant-eating ornithopod, this volume and its dizzying display of dinos in between will thrill enthusiasts. A bounty of detailed illustrations (many showing predator and prey) enliven the presentation. (Millbrook/Copper Beech, $15.95 96p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7613-2339-2; June)

For oceanside summer trips, Safely to Shore: America's Lighthouses by Iris Van Rynbach describes the history of these beacons, how they work and who once kept them. Van Rynbach looks back to the days before automation at many famous lights, from Portland, Maine, to Kilauea, Hawaii, with tales of the lonely lives of the keepers and their families, and, of course, many heroic rescues. Her pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations depict not only the lighthouses themselves but the important role they provided to seaside communities. (Charlesbridge, $16.95 32p ages 6-11 ISBN 1-57091-434-6; July)

On another popular nonfiction topic, Patrick O'Brien's Fantastic Flights: One Hundred Years of Flying on the Edge, follows the stories of 17 historic 20th-century flights. Beginning with the Wright brothers' 12 airborne seconds at Kitty Hawk ("First Flight"), he chronicles such feats as Lindbergh's solo cross-Atlantic flight, Amelia Earhart's disappearance while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, the lunar landing of the Apollo's Eagle module and Pathfinder's trip to Mars. O'Brien's watercolor and gouache paintings celebrate the ships and their navigators. (Walker, $17.95 40p ages 6-10 ISBN 0-8027-8880-7; July)

And Then What Happened?

Companion novels take up where favorite characters left off. The plucky protagonist from Polly's Really Secret Diary returns for Polly's Absolutely Worst Birthday Ever by Frances Thomas, illus. by Sally Gardner. With "the only ninth birthday I will ever have" just a few days away, Polly contracts chicken pox and has to stay "in quorinteen" for a week and cancel her party. Her hilariously deadpan stream-of-consciousness diary entries track not only her spreading itchiness but also the death of her pet hamster; things finally start looking up when she goes to the animal shelter to look for a new kitten and the long-delayed birthday party rolls around. Gardner creates a droll backdrop with sprightly b&w collages, making this just the ticket for emerging readers ready for slightly more sophisticated fare. (Delacorte, $14.95 96p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-385-73025-X; June)

In a sequel to Cockroach Cooties by Laurence Yep, Teddy's uncle gives him a weekend camping trip as a birthday present, transforming him into a Skunk Scout when he gets sprayed by the offender in the woods. "Why would anyone leave Chinatown? It had everything a kid could want: comic books, cheap snacks, and kung fu movies," says Teddy, who is hardly grateful to leave his corner of San Francisco. The trip unfolds in a series of scrapes and minor disasters, but Teddy also discovers a kindred spirit in his "fussy, boring uncle" and learns to expand his own horizons in this breezy summer read. (Hyperion, $15.99 160p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-7868-0670-2; June)

Now appearing in their third adventure, Witch Twins and Melody Malady by Adele Griffin, illus. by Jacqueline Rogers, identical twins Claire and Luna may look the same on the outside, but inside they are very different. Their five-star witch grandmother transforms them into their animal selves (Luna becomes a puppy and Claire a salamander) and they'll each earn another half-star if they can use their animal guises to help someone—but they get sidetracked when they go on a real movie set with glamorous girl-star Melody Malady. (Hyperion, $14.99 128p ages 7-11 ISBN 0-7868-1940-5; July)

Samantha Russell, who lost her best friend, Juliana, to cancer in A Time for Dancing, still suffers from that loss in the sequel, The Farther You Run by Davida Wills Hurwin. Samantha is trying her hardest to forget Jules, and she finds an able ally when she meets feisty Mona in summer school, and the two quickly bond. In chapters alternating between Mona's and Samantha's points of view, Hurwin describes Samantha's emotional journey to face her painful memories. (Viking, $16.99 240p ages 12-up ISBN 0-670-03627-7; Aug.)

The intrepid troll Rollo returns in The Troll Queen, John Vornholt's sequel to The Troll King. This time, Rollo sets off on a dangerous journey to the Forbidden Forest to return the dead fairy, Clipper, to her people. Meanwhile, Ludicra becomes convinced Rollo is in great danger and mounts an expedition to cross the Great Chasm and save him. Vornholt maintains his over-the-top humor and fast pace in this fantasy containing hints of yet another adventure. (S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 paper 208p ages 10-14 ISBN 0-689-85833-7

A Moveable Feast for Preschoolers

A basketful of books offer young listeners a chance to play along with the story. In Jonathan Allen's lift-the-flap version of The Little Red Hen: A Deliciously Funny Flap Book, the assiduous fowl works to make a loaf of bread solo. The usual barnyard suspects, hiding behind the flaps, are "too busy" to help—though of course they all want a piece of the tasty treat when it's done. Allen includes two hardworking mice for added visual entertainment. (Corgi [Trafalgar Square, dist.], $8.95 paper 24p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-552-54812-X; Aug.)

Super Sue by Cressida Crowell, illus by Russell Ayto, invites youngsters to pull tabs and lift flaps to see all the super things Sue can do, like slurp her spaghetti and wash her toes. The final spread hides a message to toddlers under flaps ("Surely you are super too!") and provides a removable "Certificate of Superness" on which Mom or Dad can list accomplishments. The funky artwork is sprinkled with sly touches; for example, as Sue climbs the stairs, a goldfish levitates out of its bowl and pictures on the wall show the cow jumping over the moon. (Candlewick, $7.99 14p ages 3-5 ISBN 0-7636-2063-7; Aug.)

In Minnie and Her Baby Brother by Melanie Walsh, a three-year-old compares herself with the new baby in the family. Lift-the-flaps illustrate their differences ("I sleep in a new big-girl bed. My baby brother sleeps in my old crib") as well as the bonds they share ("He loves when I read to him—if he's awake"). The illustrations of the round-headed children and their surroundings exude a soothing sense of simplicity. (Candlewick, $7.99 16p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7636-2060-2; Aug.)

Children can count down from 10 to one with Pop! Went Another Balloon! A Magical Counting Storybook by Keith Faulkner, illus. by Rory Tyger. A tortoise named Toby buys 10 colorful balloons for his friend Tina's birthday, but a flock of 10 pesky birds pops them one by one. Die-cut holes over the balloons gradually decrease on each page so that the number of balloons—and birds—descends accordingly. In the end, Toby delivers one red balloon—luckily Tina's favorite color. (Dutton, $10.99 24p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-525-47122-7; June)

Hey Diddle Diddle and Other Nursery Rhyme Favorites Giant Playboard and Book, illus. by Sara Anderson, features a board book with 14 nursery rhymes, including such ever-popular entries as Old MacDonald and Humpty Dumpty. The board book sits within a larger fold-out case that reveals a felt board; children can use this as a backdrop for play with the 35 felt pieces that represent the characters in the rhymes. (Handprint, $16.95 18p ages 3-7 ISBN 1-929766-21-1; July)

Mary Morgan's soft, sweet artwork suffuses My Good Night Book, as it follows a toddler getting ready for bed in a rhyming text that begins "The big orange sun goes down,/ past the little quiet town." Children can pull tabs to make the sun set, then feel the fuzzy towel used for a bath and the soft blanket covering the boy at bedtime. (Dutton, $12.99 12p ages 1-6 ISBN 0-525-46987-7; June)

Two lift-the-flap board books, Where's My Hat? and Too Much Noise! by Shaheen Bilgrami, illus. by Daniel Howarth, present searches that preschoolers will easily grasp. In the first title, Giraffe looks for her polka-dot hat, blown off by the wind. She thinks she spots it in all of her friends' windows, but none turns out to be the beloved headpiece—until she discovers Lion using her hat for an unusual purpose. In the second title, Elephant looks for a quiet room in which to read his brand new book, but noisy animals hide behind every door. Bright colors and big flaps give these simple stories toddler appeal. (Sterling/Pinwheel, $4.95 each 12p ages 2-4 ISBN 1-4027-0448-8; -0449-6; July)