An Innocent Soldier; written by Josef Holub, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (Levine/Scholastic)
Inexcusable; by Chris Lynch (Seo/Atheneum)
Skybreaker; by Kenneth Oppel (Eos/HarperCollins)
The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow; by Kaye Umansky (Candlewick)
Re my ambivalence and semi-despondency: I can't speak for Janis Ian, but it bugs me that we've all gotten so hooked on stars. Authors and illustrators love 'em (and think that they're the only reviews worth getting); publishers often make their advertising decisions based upon them; librarians confess that, pressed for time, they are the only reviews they read. And review editors like them because sticking a star on something is both a shortcut to popularity and an easy out from the responsibility of actually being articulate about why and how a given title is so terrific. We're all in the business of words, so why don't we trust them?