Author: Carol McGarrahan

Banish Boredom with Books by Best-Selling Authors

Reading is an easy way to overcome summer boredom and prepare for a new school year. Pick up one of these selections to pique children's interest in everything from going to school to coping with "mean girls." Also listed are some young adult books by award-winning authors that will keep teens reading.

The 3 Little Dassies (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $17.99) is a remake of the classic story of The Three Little Pigs. Set in Namibia, this version by author Jan Brett has the dassies Mimbi, Pimbi and Timbi searching for a cool, safe place to build their homes. Ages 4-8.

In Clifford Goes to Dog School (Scholastic, $3.99), by Norman Bridwell, Emily Elizabeth is taking Clifford to dog school, but poor Clifford just can't get anything right! But when Emily Elizabeth forgets to look both ways before crossing the street, Clifford comes to her rescue. She realizes that although he's not the most well-trained dog, he's perfect just the way he is. Ages 4 to 8.

In This School Year Will Be the Best (Dutton, $16.99), author and former teacher Kay Winters strikes a positive and funny note about what children might wish for in the coming school year. Would you wish for a chocolate fountain, first place in the science fair or a perfect report card? This book can dispel school jitters with its upbeat tone. Illustrated by Renee Andriani. Ages 6 to 8.

Mean Chicks, Cliques, and Dirty Tricks: A Real Girl's Guide to Getting Through It All (Adams Media, $9.95) is the ultimate survival guide to backstabbers and bullies both in school and online. Author Erika Erika V. Shearin Karres talked to more than 1,000 teen girls to understand what makes mean chicks tick. In this second edition of the book, she features smart strategies and tools for handling mean-chick behavior, quizzes so you can see where you stand and quick pick-me-ups for any bad day. Ages 9 to 12.

In Mike Lupica's most recent book, The Batboy (Philomel, $17.99), the main character is a 14-year-old boy with a kid's dream summer job as the batboy for his hometown Major League Baseball team. Brian's parents are divorced and he sees the job as a way to win back his father, a former pitcher. A friendship develops between Brian and a player ousted for steroid use who is trying to make a comeback. A great read for anyone who enjoys baseball. Ages 9 to 12.

A Place for Delta (Whale Tale Press, $16.95) is the 2010 International Book Award Winner in children's fiction. This adventure set in Alaska is about an 11-year-old boy who travels from his home in Georgia to help his aunt, a marine biologist, care for a recently rescued polar bear cub. Written by Melissa Walker and illustrated by Richard Walker. Ages 9 to 12.

Best-selling author Mark Haddon, who wrote the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, has released a new novel, Boom! (Knopf, $15.99), a middle-grade adventure that contains everything from motorcycle chases to a trip into space. The main character, Charlie, and his friend, Jim, decide to bug the teacher's lounge and learn a little more than they bargained for. Ages 10 and up.

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Nocturnal bed-wetting, called enuresis (en-yur-ee-sis), is a normal and very common occurrence that affects more than seven million children in the United States.

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As infants become toddlers, parents of avid finger (or pacifier) suckers sometimes wonder whether they should put an end to the habit, and, if so, when and how they should stop it.

The Gift of Life

In times of sorrow and great pain, heroic parents choose organ donation to ease the suffering of families they don't even know. In this article, two local families share their stories of love and loss.