THE HOPE CHEST, by Karen Schwabach, Random House Young Readers Group, $16.99; ages 9-12.
Violet's big sister Chloe is gone and their parents refuse to even speak her name. The problem is that instead of being a good girl, getting married and raising babies, Chloe used her hope chest money to buy a car and takes off for New York.
Violet decides the only way to see her sister is to go to New York herself. The 11-year-old puts on her best dress, takes all the money she has and buys a train ticket to New York. She soon discovers her sister went to Tennessee to help women win the right to vote. Along the way, Violet makes friends and meets all kinds of interesting people. She not only finds her sister, but finds she has a voice in the political future of all women.
FOOTBALL HERO, by Tim Green, HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99; ages 9-12.
Ty Lewis runs home to his aunt and uncle's house excited that the football coach asked him to join the team. But his uncle has other plans and hands Ty a work permit. Uncle Gus owns a cleaning business, but while Ty cleans, Uncle Gus is gambling. Ty's older brother, Thane, is going make it big in the NFL and Uncle Gus is using Ty to get inside info on the teams.
His coach, his friends, his brother, his uncle, the mob boss and even the FBI are involved and all Ty wants to do is play football.
HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR, by Jennifer Ziegler, Knopf Delacorte Dell, $15.99; ages 12 and up.
Maggie is about to become a junior in her third high school in three years. She is tired of moving and leaving friends. This time she decides she will not make friends, will not be popular and will make sure no one notices her.
Only things don't go exactly as planned.
THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE PERILOUS JOURNEY, by Trenton Lee Stewart, Little Brown and Company, $16.99; ages 9-12.
The Mysterious Benedict Society is back in action and I don't know who is more excited, the four friends or me.
Mr. Benedict is planning a vacation for himself and the kids. Of course, the destination is a secret, only to be learned after all the clues are solved. Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance reunite at Mr. Benedict's home only to discover that he has been kidnapped. The children decide to find him. The only clues are the ones they should have been using for their vacation.
Travel to unknown locations, find Mr. Benedict and capture the bad guys with these very brave, very clever friends.
HATTIE BIG SKY, by Kirby Larson, Knopf Delacorte Dell, paperback $8.99; ages 12 and up.
Hattie is 16, orphaned and living with an uncaring aunt when a letter arrives telling her she has inherited land from an uncle she didn't know she had. Hattie decides that trying to make it on her own in Montana has to be better than the life she has in Iowa. She arrives in Montana to find out the house is really a shack and the land is not yet officially hers. She has to build a fence around the 320 acres and make a profit with her crops in one year. The year is 1918; Hattie has to overcome prejudice, harsh winter snow, disease and loneliness.
This is a historical fiction novel that will keep you interested and rooting for Hattie from beginning to end.
Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four and the Web mistress for Chicago Parent.
See more of Sandi's stories here.