Stay Tuned...

A host of titles continue the adventures of favorite characters. Conspiracy by Patricia Finney ("writing as Grace Cavendish") continues the paper-over-board Lady Grace Mysteries. PW called the debut title, Assassin, a "snappily paced caper written as journal entries in the 'daybooke' of a young Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth I." Here Grace attempts to find out the culprit behind a series of near mishaps involving the queen. (Delacorte, $6.95 176p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-385-73153-1; Feb.)

In a starred review, PW said of Agnes Parker... Girl in Progress by Kathleen O'Dell, "The author probes the sixth-grade mindset pithily and perceptively." The follow-up, Agnes Parker... Happy Camper?, picks up the summer after sixth grade, when the heroine and her pal Prejean discover they've been assigned to different cabins. And that's just the beginning. (Dial, $16.99 160p ages 9-up ISBN 0-8037-2962-6; Mar.)

"Middle-graders in search of fantasy to tide them over between Harry Potter installments will likely find a happy substitute in this often exciting debut," wrote PW of Otto and the Flying Twins by Charlotte Haptie. In the sequel, Otto and the Bird Charmers, the hero discovers a diabolical plan by the Normals to poison the Karmidee with the Cure, causing the Karmidee to lose their magic powers. Can he save them? (Holiday, $17.95 418p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-8234-1883-9; Apr.)

The quirky heroine is back! "At once exuberant and poignant, this is a cunningly crafted first novel," said PW of Olivia Kidney. Now Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy by Ellen Potter, illus., by Peter H. Reynolds, finds the girl and her father moving into a new Manhattan brownstone (George, once again, having lost his job as superintendent of their previous dwelling); but their new home has some challenges of its own, including mysterious visitors in the middle of the night. (Philomel, $15.99 256p ages 8-up ISBN 0-399-24162-0; Apr.)

PW wrote of Fearless Fernie by Gary Soto, "From sports tryouts to teacher trouble to memories of long ago, the more than 40 poems deliver a thoughtful perspective on universal themes." Soto returns to the duo of the previous title in Worlds Apart: Traveling with Fernie and Me, illus. by Greg Clarke, in which the friends take an imaginary trip through a series of poems tied to an array of varied locales, from San Francisco Bay to the "Backwoods" Down Under. (Putnam, $14.99 64p ages 9-up ISBN 0-399-24218-X; Mar.)

LBD: It's a Girl Thing introduced three British 14-year-old best friends (Les Bambinos Dangereuses) in what PW called "a satisfyingly entertaining, fun, breezy novel." In LBD: Live & Fabulous! by Grace Dent, it's summer and the trio is bored to tears—until they land free tickets to the Astlebury Music Festival. (Putnam, $15.99 288p ages 10-up ISBN 0-399-24188-4; Mar.)

Reuven Bloom, who aided Sashie and her family in their flight from Russia in The Night Journey, tells his own story of leaving Russia for Poland in 1897, in Broken Song by Kathryn Lasky, set during a time when the tsar's soldiers led pogroms against the Jews. (Viking, $15.99 160p ages 11-up ISBN 0-670-05931-5; Mar.)

A follow-up to The Secret Hour, the launch of Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series (which PW called "an inventive contemporary fantasy"), Touching Darkness continues the tale of Dess, Rex, Melissa and Jessica, who were born at nearly the exact stroke of midnight, giving them the ability to experience the 25th hour of each day, which is "rolled up too tight" for the rest of humanity even to notice. (HarperEos, $15.99 336p ages 12-up ISBN 0-06-051954-1; Mar.)

PW said that the debut novel in the series, The Clique, "takes cliquish, snobbish behavior to Hollywood extremes." In the third novel, Revenge of the Wannabes by Lisi Harrison, Octavian Country Day School suffers a mild earthquake when seventh-grader Alicia decides to break away from her best friend's clique to begin one herself. (Little, Brown, $9.99 paper 304p ages 12-up ISBN 0-316-70133-5; Mar.)

You Gotta Have Art

From board books to biographies, titles for art lovers of all ages reproduce masterpieces and encourage closer inspection. Sunday with Seurat and Sharing with Renoir, both by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, join their board book series featuring works by masters such as Monet, Degas and Van Gogh. A line or two of text accompanies a well-known work by the artist, and a final spread details each painting's title, year of completion and its museum home. (Chronicle, $6.95 each 16p ages 6 mos.-4 yrs. ISBN 0-8118-4758-6; 0-8118-4757-8; May)

Lickle Publishing adds two titles to its Come Look with Me series: Discovering African American Art for Children by James Haywood Rolling Jr., and Discovering Women Artists for Children by Jennifer Tarr Coyne. After a brief suggestion of "How to use this book," each of the dozen works appears with several questions as discussion starters, a brief biography of the artist and some background on the painting's theme. In the first title, accessible subjects such as Henry Ossawa Tanner's The Banjo Lesson (1893), Jacob Lawrence's Brownstones (1958) and Sarah Albritton's more recent The Swimming Hole (1993) allow readers to easily recognize art's timeless appeal. In the second book, paintings by Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe and Mary Cassatt similarly demonstrate the range of human experience. (Lickle [561-835-8451], $15.95 each 32p ages 8-14 ISBN 1-890674-07-9; 1-890674-08-7; Mar.)

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light by Robert Burleigh tells the life of the artist who, at age 13, was stricken with a disease that left his bones weakened, resulting in the dwarf-like appearance that made him identify so with the performers of Montmartre. Reproductions of his drawings, paintings and famous lithographs plus period photographs bring the artist's story vividly to life. (Abrams, $17.95 32p ages 5-9 ISBN 0-8109-5867-8; Mar.)