Although its location remains a bit of a mystery, the funny bone is certainly an important part of a child's structure. The following new books are guaranteed to tickle it -- whether the child is an older, solitary reader or a young, companionable listener. The first two books, both sequels, are particularly appropriate for family read-aloud sessions. Their considerable humor arises naturally from the conflicts, resentments, and generally disguised affection found in all families with more than one child.
The Steele family has three children -- 13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Tina, and a 5-year-old regularly addressed as ``Oh Honestly, Angela!''
Oh Honestly, Angela!, by Nancy K. Robinson , describes how, with a likable naivet'e, both girls get themselves into trouble while trying to impress pseudo-sophisticated classmates.
On a shopping trip to the grocery store with Tina, Angela sees her kindergarten nemesis riding in the little seat of a shopping cart. Wanting Cheryl to think that she is shopping alone, Angela cons her sister into believing that she can read their mother's shopping list. Leaving Tina talking with a friend, Angela independently pushes a shopping cart right into a classic misadventure.
Misadventures run in the family. With a different rival but exactly the same motive, Tina finds herself eating eels in a restaurant. The entertaining incidents happen only on the surface level of the story, however. On a deeper level all three children are grappling with feelings of helplessness and compassion over the suffering evident in the world. Through their own efforts, they learn to alleviate suffering the only way possible -- one person at a time. (Scholastic, $9.95, ages 8-11.)
In Switcharound, by Lois Lowry , J. P. and his sister, Caroline, are both subjected to and the instigators of onerous switches. When their divorced father legally forces them to come to Des Moines for the summer, these young, happy New Yorkers are subjected to a series of unpleasant culture shocks.