Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke (First Second, $10.99 pbk, ages 9-12, 192 pages, 2011) In this zany fun graphic novel, a brave girl named Zita launches herself into another dimension to save her pal Joseph after she unwittingly lets a tentacled creature from another world enter Earth and snatch him away. Unless Zita and her band of cohorts (a giant mouse, battle orb, robot and earthling named Piper) can get to Joseph in time, he'll be sacrificed by Scriptorians, a doomsday cult, to save their planet. Great fun and a sure way to keep your child glued to a book all the way to the last page. Hatke is the author-illustrator of the graphic gems the Flight series and Flight Explorer.
The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book (revised and expanded edition), by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, $12.95, ages 9-12, 224 pages, 2011) Zoo-Wee-Mama! For fans of The Wimpy Kid who have everything (i.e. all six titles of the phenomenally popular series), this is the book to have: a journal about their own amazing childhood. Inside fans are invited to write down how incredibly smart and witty they are, they get a chance to finish their own Zoo-We-Mama comic strips and make up their own, and they get to pour through more of Rowley's classics in full-color. But just so parents understand, this is NOT a diary. No feelings allowed. Just lots of silly stuff: like the survey of all the nutty things they've ever done, answers to questions only Greg could think of -- like "How many steps does it take you to jump into bed after you turn off the lights?" and our youngest boys' (age 7 and 9) favorite page: an outline of a brain with lobes of varying sizes to write down what's inside. Stuff like soccer, food, sleep and purple?
Star Wars Battles for the Galaxy: Fight for Victory, Become a Hero, written by Daniel Wallace (DK Publishing, $12.99, ages 9-12, 96 pages, 201l) AND Star Wars Character Encyclopedia (DK Publishing, $16.99, ages 9-12, 208 pages, 2011) Is your child deliriously happy reading Star Wars trivia? Does he have imaginary duels with his fingers against droids and clones in bed at night? My Tate does, and these two books had him staying up later than late. Both feed the love of the Force with colorful pictures, graphics and lots of action shots. Star Wars Battles for the Galaxy invites recruits of all ages to save the galaxy one page at a time. Readers receive their mission briefing, then are guided through tactics to stop a droid army and eventually shut down Endor. Star Wars Encyclopedia profiles 200+ heroes, villains and more, and fills readers on all that a fan wants to know -- including who planned the Rebel assault on the first Death Star. Both books are scaled down in size for easy reading.