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New Books: CHILDREN'S SELECTIONS

Happy Birthday, Jamela! Story and pictures by Niki Daly (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $16). A young girl is unhappy with the sensible shoes her mother gets her for her birthday and decides to jazz them up with a creative flair that catches the eye of an artist-neighbor. This South African author-illustrator's Jamela books feature appealing kid-friendly story lines and exuberant illustrations of South African settings. A glossary at the end translates the Xhosa phrases.

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Flotsam by David Wiesner (Clarion Books, $17). The celebrated illustrator and creator of wordless picture books offers a mysterious tale of an underwater camera washed up on a beach and containing photos that reveal worlds within worlds stretching back through time. The illustrations are spectacular and the subject will get children thinking.

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Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni (Alfred A. Knopf, $16.96). Re-released as a hardcover for the first time since 1970, this charming fable about a real mouse and a wind-up toy mouse is one of collage artist Lionni's most celebrated stories.

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The Pull of the Ocean by Jeane-Claude Mourlevat, translated by Y. Maudet (Delacorte Press, 190 pages, $13.95). Ages 12 and up. Mourlevat won the Prix Sorciers, France's equivalent of the Newbery Medal, for this haunting modern fable, based on Charles Perrault's "Tom Thumb," of a tiny mute boy who leads his six older brothers on a strange odyssey away from home and their violent father. It's told by 21 different voices, including the six brothers, as the boys travel, starving and dirty, away from their loveless home toward the ocean. Mourlevat's modern equivalent of a fairy tale ogre is a more sinister blood-sucker in his 21st century way than Perrault's was. This is a stirring, unforgettable story.

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Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $16). A gifted artist offers gorgeous pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings of early 20th century Paris, an ode to the city in the guise of a children's book about a long-suffering little girl whose little brother drops belongings all over the city during the walk home from school.

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The Adventures of Michael MacInnes by Jeff Carney (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $17, 244 pages, ages 14 and up). Michael MacInnes is an orphan and a poet and decidedly out of his element at a prestigious boys boarding school during Prohibition in 1924. He drinks, he smokes, he raises hell even before he arrives at school, where he gathers a small circle of other misfits to battle the rich boys. This debut novel offers memorable characters and a colorful and bizarre series of unbelievable stunts. Carney is an English professor at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

-- Jean Westmoore

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