Drawn from PW's Spring Children's Announcements Issue, here are our editors’ selections for 15 children’s and young adult books that can’t arrive soon enough. Be sure to check out our picks for the most anticipated adult books for spring, as well.
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, Feb.) - Like its vehicular heroes, Rinker and Lichtenheld’s picture book, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is a powerhouse, having carved out spots on bestseller lists and bedtime to-read piles since 2011. Now, the construction crew brings their can-do attitude to a daytime sequel—and they have reinforcements on the job.
Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer (Atheneum/Dlouhy, Apr.) - It’s been five years since Olivia’s last picture book appearance, in Olivia and the Fairy Princesses; this installment finds her perfecting the art of domestic subterfuge, eavesdropping on conversations while cannily disguised as lamps and picture frames. Falconer’s fans will be eager to see how this one-of-a-kind pig copes when it looks like her behavior could earn her a one-way ticket to lockup.
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Brian Floca (Candlewick, Mar.) - What do you get when a Newbery Medalist (Schlitz, for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) and a Caldecott Medalist (Floca, for Locomotive) collaborate on an early reader–esque story? An uproarious account of a princess who is being stifled by royal duties and expectations, and the mischievous crocodile who helps her gain some much-needed time and space to herself.
Triangle by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Candlewick, Mar.) - Two of Barnett and Klassen’s previous books—Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole—took home Caldecott Honors. While it’s way too soon to be thinking about next year’s ALA awards, it’s not at all too soon to look forward to this first book in a planned series, in which a shifty-eyed triangle sets out to play a “sneaky trick” on his friend, Square.
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio (Knopf, Mar.) - Palacio’s 2012 middle grade novel Wonder has sold more than a million copies and spawned a whole lot of conversation, as well as the “Choose Kind” antibullying movement and a feature film, out in April, starring Julie Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay as Auggie Pullman. Before the film arrives, though, Palacio takes Wonder’s message to a younger audience in this picture book spinoff.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (Salaam Reads, Mar.) - Khan’s graceful novel, about a contemporary Muslim sixth grader confronting questions of identity and difference, is the launch title for Salaam Reads, a new children’s imprint from Simon & Schuster focusing on Muslim characters and stories. (For readers whose tastes run more toward fantasy, the second Salaam Reads title, The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, arrives later in March.)
Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli and David Wiesner, illus. by Wiesner (Clarion, Mar.) - A captive mermaid who lives and performs in a boardwalk aquarium makes her first friend and begins to question the benevolence of the man who keeps her there in this unsettling and memorable graphic novel from two acclaimed talents.
Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh (Crown, Jan.) - This collection of 10 short stories is the first anthology from We Need Diverse Books, which advocates for better and more diverse representation in books. Edited by WNDB cofounder Oh, the book includes entries from Kwame Alexander, Matt de la Peña, Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, and others.
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, illus. by Caroline Hadilaksono (Scholastic/Levine, Mar.) - Room author Donoghue makes her children’s book debut with the “wonderfully offbeat” story (per PW’s starred review) of a very blended Canadian family that includes four coparents (consisting of a lesbian couple and a gay one) and their many homeschooled children, both adopted and biological.
The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli (Knopf, Jan.) - Spinelli takes readers back to Two Mills, Pa. (the setting of Maniac Magee) in a story set during the 1950s that revolves around Cammie, the 12-year-old daughter of the town’s prison, who is desperately eager for a mother figure in her life; hers died in a traffic accident years earlier, protecting an infant Cammie.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire, Mar.) - Thanks to her previous books, The Girl from the Well and The Suffering, Chupeco has made a name for herself among devotees of YA horror. Her third novel tilts more toward fantasy, but it’s still plenty eerie, featuring a young woman trying to make sense of her unseemly gift of raising the dead.
Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, Apr.) - In her first solo novel since 2013’s The Lucy Variations, acclaimed author Zarr returns with the story of two Seattle sisters whose home life has long been unstable: there’s never any food around, and their mother is far from reliable. Now their long-absent father has suddenly reentered the picture, a turn of events that results in an unexpected trip for the sisters.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, Feb.) - Acquired in a 13-house auction, Thomas’s debut novel is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and centers around Starr Carter, who finds herself at the center of an explosive news story when she’s a witness to the killing of a childhood friend by a police officer.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown, Mar.) - Now that her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series has concluded, Taylor returns with a new, richly written tale of humans battling powerful creatures. First in a two-book series, this new story shifts attention between Lazlo Strange, a librarian obsessed with a mythical city known only as Weep, and Sarai, a powerful blue-skinned “godspawn” in hiding following a devastating war.
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares (Delacorte, Apr.) - Best known for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Brashares is back with her first YA title in three years. While The Here and Now delved into science fiction, this book is strictly contemporary as it explores the complicated lives of two teenagers whose families share a tangled history—as well as a house in the Hamptons.