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"The Search for WondLa" by Tony DiTerlizzi; Simon & Schuster, 466 pages ($17.99)

The creator of the Spiderwick Chronicles offers the marvelous first book of what promises to be an amazing fantasy trilogy complete with maps, invented language and more delights including an interactive map that can be activated by holding certain illustrations in the book up to a Webcam at

Eva Nine has never seen the sun, felt the rain or met another human being in all 12 years of her life. The robot Muthr has been preparing her for survival, but when an intruder destroys their underground sanctuary with a sonic rifle, Eva finds herself aboveground in a strange and frightening place, where trees can walk and where her Omnipod is unable to identify anything.

Captured by Besteel, the creature who destroyed her home, she finds herself hanging upside down, with her ankle in a noose. She manages to escape with another captive, an odd creature named Rovender Kitt. Collecting friends as they go, they run into one hazard after another in a fascinating, danger-filled journey reminiscent of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

The author also did the illustrations and he has introduced us to a fascinating world full of surprises, terrors and wonders and left us breathless, waiting to find out what happens in the next book.

-- Jean Westmoore



Have you had a "Wimpy Kid" experience? NeXt is asking readers 18 and younger to create their own "Wimpy Kid" diary entry modeled after Jeff Kinney's popular series about middle school misfit Greg Heffley. Feel free to include your own stick figure cartoons. Please make sure we can read your diary entry by including a typed version of it. We'll reprint some of our favorites in NeXt, and all who send entries will be eligible for a prize drawing for books. Send to: NeXt, Buffalo News, One News Plaza, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. Include your name, age, grade, school, home mailing address and home phone number. The deadline has been extended to Jan. 28.



Sound travels three times faster in helium than in air, which is why inhaling helium makes your voice sound like a cartoon duck.

-- Washington Post

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