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Children's LiteratureA mix of historic and contemporary science fiction, this anthology, filled with humor, suspense, and poignancy, is as uneven as it is diverse. One of the highlights is "Loser," by Peter Lerangis. The "loser" is Norman, an 8th grader whose "IQ and weight run neck in neck." When his family relocates (a theme throughout these stories), Norman begins to lose everything from homework to his tuba. In the end he learns that losing things and being a loser are very different. Another outstanding entry is Margaret Peterson Haddix's thought-provoking "Infinity Jinx." Fans of her "Shadow Children" series, and/or Running out of Time will be equally intrigued by this tale of a "paused" child, inoculated against growing up. Two strong fantasy contributions are "The Troddler," by Bruce Coville, and Norma Fox Mazer's "Baby from Outer Space." Coville's piece features a loveable toddler troll, a surprise ending, and a universal moral. Mazer's begins as a sweet, funny story about a very unusual baby, then expectedly shifts into a sad, beautiful story of loss. Unfortunately some of the other tales are disappointing: the usually excellent Jane Yolen offers a predictable yarn with a narrator so ill-defined even his gender is a surprise; Will Weaver's "Marked for Death," about a loner who dies by his own hand in a hunting accident, lacks both mystery and emotion; and Gail Carson Levine's "Little Time," though boasting an inviting premise, ultimately suffers an unsatisfying conclusion. Overall, however, there's enough variety and appeal to stimulate most upper middle readers' imaginations. 2005, Apple Paperbacks/Scholastic, Ages 12 to 15.