Drawn from the pages of PW’s Spring Children’s Announcements issue, here are our editors’ picks for the most notable and hotly awaited titles for children and teens out this spring. Click here for our list of most anticipated spring adult books.
Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat (Little, Brown, Apr.) - Though Santat’s impressive output means that his name often appears on several books in a given season, this is his first solo project since his Caldecott Medal win for The Adventures of Beekle. Here, he takes a question that has frustrated generations of parents and turns it into a wild time-travel adventure, one that also has something to say about patience and appreciating the present moment.
The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Christian Robinson (Harper, Mar.) - Less Goodnight Moon than “Goodbye, bird,” this story debuted as a poem in Brown’s 1938 book, The Fish with the Deep Blue Smile, and later reappeared as a 1958 picture book illustrated by Remy Charlip. Robinson’s artwork brings new life to a story of a group of children and their reverent encounter with evidence of life’s ephemerality.
Let’s Play by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle/Handprint, Mar.) - Tullet is actively engaged in blurring the lines between reading and play, and he has won devoted fans with this book’s predecessors, Press Here and Mix It Up! (It’s almost tempting to think of them as print apps rather than picture books.) This book feels akin to Press Here as readers are invited to trace the path of a yellow dot from page to page, never knowing quite what will happen with each tap, twist, or shake of the book.
Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter, Mar.) - Authors are perennially asked where they get their ideas, and Stead puts a solid answer in the title of this book. But that shouldn’t stop readers from diving in to witness the conversations, images, and questions that arise as Stead takes a walk through the neighborhood with his dog—it’s a valuable and enlightening glimpse into the creative process.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illus. by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown, May) - Alexie has been a much-missed presence in the children’s book world since his last (and first) book for young readers, 2007’s National Book Award–winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He aims younger with this picture book about family and identity in which a boy attempts to find a name that truly suits him, which is vibrantly illustrated by Morales, no stranger to awards herself.
Booked by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr.) - Alexander trades basketball for soccer in this follow-up to his Newbery Medal–winning novel-in-verse, The Crossover. Like that book, this story balances in-the-game action with struggles at home and at school as it follows the ups and downs of a 12-year-old boy named Nick, all captured in Alexander’s vivid, zigzagging rhymes.
Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, Feb.) - Timely, sensitive, and thought-provoking, this novel from Clementine creator Pennypacker traces 12-year-old Peter’s efforts to reunite with his pet fox, Pax, shifting between the perspectives of boy and animal. Pennypacker’s fans will also want to keep an eye out for her book Waylon! One Awesome Thing, also out this spring and illustrated by her Clementine collaborator, Marla Frazee.
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, Apr.) - DiCamillo, the outgoing National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has racked up devoted fans (and major awards) for one novel after the next, from Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux to her more recent Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses. In this story, set in 1975 Florida, three girls learn that they can count on each other when the adults in their lives prove less reliable.
Summerlost by Ally Condie (Dutton, Mar.) - Best known for her dystopian Matched trilogy for teens, Condie switches gears (and audiences) with this tender summer story set against the backdrop of a town’s Shakespeare festival, as 12-year-old Cedar, her mother, and her brother regroup after recent deaths in their family.
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (Little, Brown, Apr.) - Picture book creator Brown moves into longer-form fiction for the first time with the story of Roz, a robot who washes up on an island and attempts to reach out to the local animals and make it her home. Robots like Roz may not have much in the way of emotions, but readers’ feelings will be put to the test as Roz adopts a baby gosling and contends with forces seeking to retrieve her.
The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (HarperTeen, Feb.) - Aveyard’s Red Queen series, set in a dystopian world divided by class with supernatural powers thrown into the mix, only continues to grow. As this second novel arrives, Aveyard has already signed up a fourth book in what was originally planned as a trilogy, two novellas have further expanded the series, and a film based on The Red Queen is in development with Universal, with Elizabeth Banks potentially attached to direct.
Half Lost by Sally Green (Viking, Mar.) - Green’s gritty trilogy, which began in 2014 with Half Bad, wraps up this spring as the battle between Black and White witches comes to a head in her magic-laden version of England. Readers who have been following protagonist Nathan’s heartbreaking losses and struggles through the previous two books should be relieved and satisfied as the young witch’s journey comes to an end.
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (S&S/McElderry, Mar.) - Fans of Clare’s paranormal Mortal Instruments series already have plenty to be excited about this season with the recent TV premiere of Shadowhunters, based on her bestselling novels. But readers who have devoured the previous books set in the world of her Shadowhunter Chronicles may be even more excited for this first book in the Dark Artifices series, about a family of Shadowhunters living in Los Angeles.
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press, Apr.) - The series that began in 2012 with The Raven Boys comes to a close this spring, answering questions that have dogged readers over the previous books. Will Gansey finally find the Welsh king Glendower? Will he die if he kisses Blue? Will anyone survive the dark forces gathering around Henrietta, Virginia? Come April, we’ll find out.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, Feb.) - Much as she did in her breakout debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, Sepetys illuminates another tragic chapter of wartime history in her third book for teens. Here, she examines a horrific naval disaster, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, from the perspectives of multiple characters, including refugees, soldiers, and a nurse, in 1945 East Prussia.