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Mud Flat Mystery, by James Stevenson; Greenwillow, $15 -- A large box delivered to a house in Mud Flats has all the nosy neighbors wondering what could be inside in this very funny, short chapter book with Stevenson's distinctive cartoon illustrations.

Harry's Pony, by Barbara Ann Porte, pictures by Yossi Abolafia; Greenwillow, $15 -- Harry wins a pony in a "Jam Pops" contest and resists his parents' suggestion that he accept the prize bicycle instead, until his aunt proposes a happy solution in this latest installment of Porte's simple but appealing easy-reader "Harry" series. -- Jean Westmoore

Conspiracy Theory, by J.H. Marks (Signet, $5.99); Air Force One, by Max Allan Collins (Ballantine, $5.99); and Speed 2: Cruise Control, by George Ryan (Harper, $6.50) -- Novelizations of three of the biggest blockbuster movies of the summer. They offer, respectively, intrigue in the Big Apple, the hijacking of the U.S president and his plane, and a runaway cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Hellman and Hammett, by Joan Mellen; Harper Perennial, $16 -- The legendary passion of playwright Lillian Hellman and detective novelist Dashiell Hammett was one of American literature's longest and most secret affairs. Impressively researched, with the couple's relationships getting intense treatment. -- Ed Kelly