12099565_0Every year is a good year for books, and 2014 was no exception.

This week’s reviews include books that may lead to laughter, suspense or tears, as the stories lead readers on big and small adventures.

“Rain Reign” by Ann M. Martin, 2014, Feiwel & Friends, 226 pages, ages 9 and older.

Words have an important meaning to Rose Howard, especially homonyms, or words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Rose keeps a running list of homonyms, both mentally and on paper, which is one way she strives for order and control over her life. But order is difficult to find amidst life with her father. When a hurricane hits the town, the chaos impacts property, people and pets, including Rose’s dog Rain. Rose and her father try to come to terms with loss in many forms, but each needs order of a different sort.

“Skink No Surrender” by Carl Hiaasen, 2014, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 281 pages, ages 10 and older.

Adventure, a bit of mystery and a hungry alligator are at the center of this novel for middle-grade readers. Richard feels a sense of urgency to find his cousin Malley after she runs off with a strange guy she met online. Bypassing the police’s efforts, Skink, a one-eyed derelict ex-governor of Florida and Richard’s new friend, offers to aid in the search. Their quest takes the two into a swamp, along a river and through various towns of the Florida gulf coast, as Skink become an unlikely hero. Readers may recognize Hiassen’s other titles for younger readers, “Hoot,” “Chomp,” and “Scat.”

“The Map Trap” by Andrew Clements, 2014, Atheneum, 130 pages, ages 8-11.

Alton is a sixth grader who loves to make maps. Sometimes he gets creative with his maps, but he keeps these a secret … until one day his map folder goes missing. His reputation around the school could be at risk if the maps are found by certain people. Can Alton find the map thief before it’s too late? Andrew Clements, best known for the book “Frindle,” has sold over 10 million copies of his books. His school stories are funny, intriguing and usually have a surprise ending — a combination sure to please.

“A Snicker of Magic” by Natalie Lloyd, 2014, Scholastic Press, 311 pages, ages 9-12.

A snicker of magic is just a small amount of left over magic, and for Felicity Pickle and her family, this may be just enough magic to break the curse on their family that dates back many years. Felicity will have to use her special talent to find just the right words to convince her mother that life will be “spindiddly” (better than awesome) if only they stay put for a while and work things out.

This enchanting tale will be a word-lover’s dream, extending the vocabulary of a wide range of readers.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” by Jeff Kinney, 2014, Amulet Books, 217 pages, ages 8-11.

In the zany style of the Wimpy Kid series, Greg Heffley’s family sets off on a family vacation that becomes unequal parts adventure and disaster. It’s safe to say that Greg, and his brothers Rodrick and Manny, won’t soon forget the biting pig, the pestering seagull and the crazy Beardsleys. Readers will be glued to their seat to find out how the family survives all of the fun of a family vacation.

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