6th October 1995 at 01:00
The Alpha Box By Anne Dalton

Who are the Hoarsemen? Are they the latest pop craze or something more sinister - like, for example, extra-terrestrials bent on taking over earth through vitiating the will of its young people? Adolescent dramas about identity and belonging are mixed up with magic and mystery in this thrilling tale. Age 12 plus.

(Mammoth Pounds 3.50) The Baby and Fly Pie By Melvin Burgess

In some dystopian future, where the wealthy live surrounded by guards and street children with the privilege of scavenging over rubbish dumps are thankful not to be worse off, Fly Pie and his sister Jane get possession of a rich kidnapped baby. Grim realism mingles with lyrical sensitivity in Burgess's nail-biting drama which deserves to be a classic. Age 11 plus.

(Puffin Pounds 3.99) Nani's Holiday By Lisa Bruce

Heart-warming tale about an Indian grandmother's visit to her family in England. Old and young share experiences and wisdom amid a home life vividly evoked in pleasant prose. Age 8-11.

(Mammoth Pounds 2.99) Hollywell Stables: The Mission and Trapped By Samantha Alexander

Dick Francis meets the Famous Five in a series which will walk off school library shelves. Down-to-earth whodunnits set in a stables with competent early-teen female narrators - move over Black Beauty. Age 9-15.

(Macmillan Pounds 2.99 each) The Fantora Family Photographs By Adle Geras

Ozymandias is a cat. He lives with the Fantora Family. While they are away for the summer, he passes the time by remembering many of their adventures, as immortalised in their family photo album. Involving much slapstick humour and farcical plotting, these have junior schoolchildren in stitches. Age 8-11. (Puffin Pounds 3.50) Beetle and Bug Go To Town (illustratred above) Beetle and Bug and Their Magic Rug By Hiawyn Oram

Daft insects have a fine old time cavorting about the Heath Robinsonesque scenery created for them by illustrator Sonia Holleyman. Infant-school children find the tumbling rhymes hilarious and enjoy the word puzzles on the backpage. Age 5-8. (Orchard Pounds 3.50 each) Chillers: Clive and the Missing Finger by Sarah Garland; The Real Porky Philips by Mark Haddon; The Day Mat Sold Great-Grandma by Eleanor Allen; and Jimmy Woods and the Big Bad Wolf by Nick Gowar Children have always had overheated imaginations - look at the Grimms' fairy stories. So these readers for young children, part ghost story, part mystery, are in a fine tradition of dealing with problems (bullies, shyness) and dilemmas (stealing, strangers) through a mixture of fantasy and moral fable. Good illustrations. Age 5-9.

(Penguin Pounds 2.99 each) Theo's Time By Norma Clarke

When Theo starts having maths lessons, little does he expect that he will get involved with the ghosts of his maths teacher's family. She is rather surprised, too. As Theo's family suffers the agonies of choosing a secondary school, so does the youngest Victorian ghost struggle to avoid a school that he hates. Fortunately, life is easier nowadays. Age 10-11.

(FaberPounds 3.99) Dragon Days By Willis Hall

Cod romance mixed with broad humour, Arthurian legend and friendly family atmosphere for junior-school children who have cynical view of sword-and-sorcery capers. Age 8-11 (Red Fox Pounds 2.99) Software Superslug Software Superslug and the Great Computer Stupor Software Super slug and the Nutty Novelty Knitting By Joyce Dunbar

Pleasantly subversive look at twin passions of junior-school children - minibeasts and computer games. If a slug with the brain of a computer is a bit much for adults to swallow (ugh!), this is just the kind of humour mischievous children adore. Age 6-11.

(Macmillan Pounds 3.50 each) Read Alone series. Messy Murray Brown; Vanessa - the Pig with the wiggly waggly ears By Colin West

Far better than most reading schemes, Colin West's silly animals get up to more silly tricks, and each hare-brained adventure comes with a comforting moral: children will be naughty, untidy and irresponsible - and that's how it's meant to be. Phew. Age 5-8.

(Hodder Pounds 2.99 each)

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