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For Grade School Readers

<em>To Dance</em>, from a husband-wife team, tells the autobiographical tale of a young dancer.
To Dance, from a husband-wife team, tells the autobiographical tale of a young dancer.
A stopwatch turns out to be more than just an heirloom in Rebecca Rupp's <em>Journey to the Blue Moon</em>.
A stopwatch turns out to be more than just an heirloom in Rebecca Rupp's Journey to the Blue Moon.

Mysterious and Wacky Wins the Day

Journey to the Blue Moon: In Which Time Is Lost and Then Found Again by Rebecca Rupp (Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 10 and up)

Absent-minded Alex really does lose time, and not just metaphorically in this captivating time and space warp adventure. His grandfather's heirloom stopwatch -- which the frazzled Alex has managed to misplace -- turns out to be both personal talisman and magical solution to time's mysteries. The crisply written, deadpan funny charmer packs a suspenseful plot and a little wisdom, too, about how to seek and find one's way through time -- and life.

Epic Tales from Long Ago and Far Away

The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea by Ann Sibley O'Brien (Charlesbridge Publishing, $14.95, ages 9 to 12).

"A nice blend of folklore, history and adventure," says Stevenson. Ann Sibley O'Brien transports readers to 15th-century Korea, where young Hong Kil Dong is denied his upper-class birthright because his mother is a commoner. Not one to accept injustice, he soon becomes a Robin Hood-like leader of an army of commoners who steal from the rich and give to the poor. Sibley's luminous graphic novel deploys brightly-colored watercolors to dramatize Korean court pageantry, rural poverty and luscious natural landscapes.

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War by Kathy Henderson; illustrated by Jane Ray (Candlewick, $16.99, ages 8 and up)

Lugalbanda's setting in ancient Iraq lends an eerily contemporary flavor to this 5,000-year-old folk tale about a young soldier prince who survives the war with the aid of magical creatures. The illustrations, filled with ancient Sumerian decorative motifs, give it the feel of a myth. The tale itself is filled with such archetypes as a prince and his seven brothers, a fierce flying creature, a heroic journey through the mountains -- and a happy ending, too.

Pop Goes the Sea Monster

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart (Candlewick Press, $27.99, ages 5 and up)

With stunning craft, arresting-looking creatures from the prehistoric deep pop up and out at the turn of every page -- and lurk behind numerous mini-booklets that magically fold out. Extensive texts explain the marine biology and history of prehistoric mollusks, amphibians, sea lizards and reptiles whose names even a spelling-bee champ might muff – like the Liopleurodon, a reptile that "used its keen sense of smell rather than sight for locating its prey." The book has the same "paper engineer" as Mommy, Maurice Sendak's pop-up book. In both sales figures and guest stars, it's a monster.

Dancing Is in Your Stars

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel; art work by Mark Siegel (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, $9.99, ages 8 to 14)

What's more joyful than doing what you love? Siegel was born with a passion for movement and rhythm, an enthusiasm that vibrantly moves through her husband's illustrations of her autobiographical tale of a young dancer, from practicing at the barre to facing her disappointments.

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