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Book Scavenger

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, illus. by Sarah Watts (Holt/Ottaviano)

Book lovers will be right at home in this engaging mystery that tips its hat to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Westing Game, Kit Williams's Masquerade, and other classics while spinning a magic all its own. As bibliophilic heroine Emily Crane tries to outwit menacing forces that are after a rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold-Bug, Bertman threads her story with puzzles for readers to decode right alongside Emily.

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Circus Mirandus

Cassie Beasley (Dial)

The magic of the circus and the power of belief are front and center in Beasley's debut novel, which follows fifth-grader Micah Tuttle's efforts to help his ailing grandfather. Readers will delight in Beasley's descriptions of the strange and wondrous circus—which Micah learns is actually quite real, not just something Grandpa Ephraim made up—even as they are held in the grip of the boy's pursuit of a miracle on his grandfather's behalf.

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From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

Meg Cabot (Feiwel and Friends)

While middle-grade readers may already know Cabot from her Allie Finkle series, they'll leap at the chance to get to spend time in the world of her Princess Diaries books for teens (and adults with the June publication of Royal Wedding). Here, Cabot introduces 12-year-old Olivia Harrison, whose ordinary life in New Jersey becomes anything but when she learns her absent father is actually the prince of Genovia, making Olivia half-sister to Princess Mia. A sweet, fun romp made even more so by Cabot's illustrations, which appear throughout.

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Return to Augie Hobble

Lane Smith (Roaring Brook)

The acclaimed creator of picture books like Grandpa Green, It's a Book, and numerous other titles has written his first novel and—no surprise—it's plenty entertaining, as Augie suffers through a summer at a not-so-great local amusement park, tries to stretch his creative wings, and starts to wonder if there's something supernaturally sinister going on. But Smith also explores some tough topics, especially guilt and grief, in a story that's laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreaking, and thoroughly satisfying.

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The Worst Class Trip Ever

Dave Barry (Disney-Hyperion)

Anything can happen on an out-of-town field trip, and that's never truer than when Dave Barry is in the driver's seat. When Wyatt Palmer's civics class heads to Washington, D.C., it isn't long before he and his friends become wrapped up in a terrorist plot—a potentially frightening premise that ends up being anything but as Barry loads the story with the sorts of comic moments that readers young and old have come to expect from him.

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