Melonhead by Michael de Guzman (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $17). Ages 10 and up. Sidney Mellon, a 12-year-old boy with a freakishly large head, flees his timid mother, abusive stepfather and irresponsible father for a cross-country journey that becomes a voyage of discovery in this absorbing, off-beat novel. Guzman, a scriptwriter for television movies, draws a compelling portrait of a lonely boy, isolated by his oddness from his peers and most of the adults in his small circle. The characters Sidney encounters along the way include an elderly Native American man, a one-legged waitress, a band of young muggers and a creepy couple who seek to adopt him. The disconnect Sidney feels with most other humans -- including his emotionally distant grandmother -- robs the book of some of its intensity.
Togo by Robert J. Blake (Philomel, $16.99). Ages 3 to 8. This exciting picture book, illustrated with dramatic oil paintings, tells the story of Togo, the sled dog who was the unsung hero of the dog team that delivered life-saving diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska, in 1925. (The run was the inspiration for the Iditarod sled race.) With vivid language and equal parts imagination and research, Blake recreates the punishing journey through ice and snow and brings to life the scrappy, independent canine who led his team more than 350 miles on his leg of the serum run -- and was never able to race again. (Another dog, Balto, finished the last 53 miles to Nome and has always gotten the credit.)
Little Rabbit Lost by Harry Horse (Peachtree, $15.95). Ages 2 to 5. Very young children will appreciate the gentle humor and whimsical illustrations, of a giant Rabbit World amusement park, in this simple story of Little Rabbit celebrating his birthday and wishing to be grown up enough to go on all the rides.