RED GLASS, by Laura Resau, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.99; ages 11-13.
One night, Sophie and her parents are called to the hospital. A 5-year-old boy named Pablo is the only survivor of a group of seven people who tried to cross the border from Mexico into Arizona. The boy has Sophie's father's business card in his pocket.
Sophie's family has no idea why the boy has the card, but they do know they can't leave him in fate's hands. They bring him home and fall in love with him. After a year, the boy's extended family in Mexico makes contact. Sophie hopes Pablo will choose her over his family in Mexico.
What Sophie finds in Pablo's very poor community is much more than his family. She finds a warm, caring family who welcomes her and her aunt and Pablo with generosity and open arms. This story is so wonderfully written, the scenery and the people are absolutely beautiful.
GRIFFIN'S CASTLE, by Jenny Nimmo, Orchard Books, $16.99; ages 9-12.
Eleven-year-old Dinah and her mother have moved so many times, Dinah can't remember staying anywhere long enough to call it home. Because she moved so often, fantasy is her only friend.
Near her new school in Wales is an old castle surrounded by stone animals. One day on her way home from school she wishes the animals would come alive and be her friends. To her surprise, three of them follow her home. At first she enjoys their companionship, but soon realizes they want to imprison her.
Dinah is forced to come out of her fantasy world, make some friends and with their help, save herself.
BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, by Laurie Faria Stolarz, Llewellyn Publications, $9.95; ages 12 and up.
Stacey is a witch and her nightmares come true. The latest nightmare is about her best friend and roommate, Drea, dying.
Stacey, a junior at a boarding school, must find a way to keep Drea alive. Stacey tries everything her grandmother, also a witch, taught her but the candles, the spells, the potions and the cards are not working. Are Stacey and her magic strong enough to save her friend?
This book is a re-release from 2003. If you enjoy this one, there are three more in the series waiting to cast a spell on you.
MADDIGAN'S FANTASIA, by Margaret Mahy, Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17.99; ages 10-13.
Twelve-year-old Maddigan and her family are part of a traveling circus. They live in a post-apocalyptic time period of life on earth.
Each year the circus leaves their hometown of Solis and travels around the country in search of goods and money. This year they are also on a mission to find a new solar converter, the only source of power in Solis. Along the journey, Maddigan meets Timon and Eden. The boys try to explain that they are from the future and are there to help the circus find the converter. They even have a very old, ratty looking copy of Maddigan's diary in which she wrote about failure.
Maddigan takes it upon herself to help the circus complete the journey, save her family from bad guys, convince circus members to trust Timon and Eden and get her circus family back home safely.
MIRACLE ON 49TH STREET, by Mike Lupica, Puffin, $7.99; ages 9-12.
Molly is 12 and has just moved from England to the United States to live with her mother's friend after her mother dies from cancer. She arrives with a sad heart and a very big secret.
Before her death, Molly's mother wrote her letters filled with advice about life and a big secret about her father, who just happens to be the big basketball star, Josh Cameron. Molly, with the help of her new friend Sam, finds a way to confront Josh. Josh does not believe Molly until she shows him the letter. Josh and Molly's mom were college sweethearts. Josh is concerned what an unexpected kid will do to his image and his career.
Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four
and the Web
mistress for Chicago Parent.
See more of Sandi's stories here.