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Bestsellers

Culture | The five best-selling children's novels as measured by placement on three leading lists. The lists combine hardback and paperback books.

Issue: "Don't have a cow," Aug. 11, 2001
Scoring system:10 points for first place down to 1 for 10th on The New York Times list (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), the American Booksellers Association list (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), and Publisher's Weekly (general bookstores).
1
Holes (paper)
Louis Sacher 23 points (ABA: 4th; NYT: 5th; PW: 1st)
PLOT
Stanley Yelnats is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and is sent to a juvenile detention facility at Camp Green Lake in west Texas.

GIST
Stanley is a loser from a long line of losers. It's all the fault of his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" for initiating a curse that has been bringing bad luck to the family for generations. At Camp Green Lake, which isn't a camp and has no lake, Stanley reaches the end of the Yelnats' bad luck.

2
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (paper)
J.K. Rowling 20 points (ABA: 6th; NYT: 3rd; PW: 4th)
PLOT
An almanac of magical beasts, some from mythology and the rest from the author's prodigious imagination.

GIST
This slim volume purports to be a facsimile of one of Harry's textbooks, complete with handwritten marginal notes. It is a digest of strange creatures that includes their scientific names, habits, and a danger ranking system, ranging from "known wizard killer, impossible to domesticate" to "boring."

3
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J.K. Rowling 19 points (ABA: 2nd; NYT: 1st; PW: not listed)
PLOT
The second adventure of Harry Potter at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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GIST
Harry lives in a topsy-turvy moral universe, a place where your friend may be your enemy, the person you are talking to might be someone else, and even your pet cannot be trusted.

4
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
J.K. Rowling 17 points (ABA: 3rd; NYT: 2nd; PW: not listed)
PLOT
Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard, and the adventure begins.

GIST
The orphan Harry lives with his Muggle relations, where he struggles to get along despite his difference. The discovery that he is a wizard opens up new opportunities at Hogwarts School, where Harry learns that he is no ordinary wizard.

5
Quidditch Through the Ages
J.K. Rowling 16 points (ABA: 8th; NYT: 4th; PW: 5th)
PLOT
Another of Harry Potter's school texts-this one on the subject of Quidditch, the popular wizard sport.

GIST
Another slim paperback written to amuse those Harry Potter fans who can't get enough information about Harry's world. It's a facsimile of a well-circulated library book containing everything a young wizard might want to know about Quidditch, the broomstick sport: its history, its rules, and its current practice throughout the wizard world.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Harry Potter continues to dominate the bestseller lists, a feat that receives much less notice than it did last year, when week after week the books dominated The New York Times fiction bestseller list. To remedy the situation, the Times created a separate children's list and banished Harry Potter to it. In addition to the four books in the series, bookstores are full of Harry Potter stuffed animals, journals, and ersatz textbooks. With the Fall release of the Harry Potter movie, families who have been avoiding the book series will find their resolve put to the test. One alternative is to acquaint your children with Tolkien's classic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. With release of a movie based on the first book in the trilogy (The Fellowship of the Rings) scheduled for the end of this year, bookstores are promoting the Tolkien books as never before. Just in time for the movie's release, a new children's biography of Tolkien, written by Canadian Christian Michael Coren, should be available in the United States. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created the Lord of the Rings (Stoddart), already published in Canada, is a delightfully written and well-illustrated account of Tolkien's life from his parents' courtship to his death at home near Oxford.

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