Tracy Deonn


S&S/McElderry, Sept.; $18.99; ages 14–up

Why the buzz: “With her debut novel, Tracy Deonn blends rich worldbuilding with thrilling action and romance, centering a Black girl in traditionally white male mythology (and spaces) to shine a light on where historical and intergenerational trauma meets modern social structures—all while using fantasy as a metaphor for the way the loss of a loved one opens up its own alternate reality. This is truly a masterpiece.”—Liesa Abrams, v-p, executive editor at large, S&S Children’s Publishing

Opening: “The police officer’s body goes blurry, then sharpens again.”

Caroline Brooks DuBois

The Places We Sleep

Holiday House, Aug.; $16.99; ages 8–12

Why the buzz: “I had never read a book about 9/11 from a child’s perspective that felt ‘right,’ but Abbey’s voice rang true. She is honest about her 12-year-old concerns and how they fit into the national tragedy. This struck a chord with me, as I was 12 on 9/11, too. The attacks ended up profoundly shaping my adolescence, but all I knew at that point was my own existence. I hope Abbey’s story offers strength, understanding, and honesty to readers.”—Sally Morgridge, editor, Holiday House

Opening: “It arrives like a punch to the gut/ like a shove in the girls’ room/ like a name I won’t repeat.”

Sophie Escabasse

Witches of Brooklyn

Random House Graphic, Sept.; $20.90 ($12.99 trade paper); ages 8–12

Why the buzz:Witches of Brooklyn is Sophie Escabasse’s debut graphic novel, and it is a wonder. The story is so fun, the hijinks are hilarious, but what really makes Sophie’s series so touching is beneath the whimsical humor and magic, readers of all ages will find a fantastic group of characters so relatable, they’ll want to join Effie and her new family. We are just so excited for readers to meet them.”

—Whitney Leopard, senior editor, Random House Graphic

Opening: “Once upon a time in Ditmas Park, a calm neighborhood in Brooklyn...”

Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown

Scholastic Press, June; $17.99; ages 12–up

Why the buzz: “Leah Johnson’s debut prom-com, You Should See Me in a Crown, is a laugh-out-loud funny celebration of Black joy, resilience, and triumph. Take all the hilarity of a classic teen film and add a heart-meltingly sweet Sapphic romance and a resounding message about the importance of letting your light shine, and you’ve got a winner. I couldn’t be more excited for this book, which I know will leave readers feeling like royalty.”—Maya Marlette, assistant editor, Scholastic Press

Opening: “I’m clutching my tray with both hands, hoping that Beyoncé grants me the strength to make it to my usual lunch table without any incidents.”

Lora Beth Johnson

Goddess in the Machine

Razorbill, June; $18.99; ages 12–up

Why the buzz: “In this masterful debut, Andra wakes up from a cryogenic sleep on an unknown planet 1,000 years later than she was supposed to. As if that’s not enough, Lora Beth Johnson’s immersive worldbuilding includes a new dialect to represent how the English language could evolve over 1,000 years. And the twists along the way are breathtaking—readers will be throwing this book at everyone they know so they can have people to talk about it with!”—Julie Rosenberg, senior editor, Razorbill

Opening: “When Andromeda woke, she was drowning.”

Dante Medema

The Truth Project

Quill Tree, Oct.; $17.99; ages 13–up

Why the buzz: “Dante’s writing is lyrical, chock-full of brilliantly restrained lines that pack a gut-punch of feeling. It’s very accessible, too. Whether readers are going through the same thing as the protagonist or not, Dante’s exploration of identity by way of origin stories is intriguing, especially when what you thought was true is not. I hope this novel starts many conversations about what things like family, identity, and love mean for us and the lives we lead.”—Alyssa Miele, editor, Quill Tree

Opening: “My parents created everything in the image of a perfect Alaskan family.”

Chris Negron

Dan Unmasked

HarperCollins, July; $16.99; ages 8–12

Why the buzz: “Chris has a knack for creating characters that feel deeply, and aren’t afraid to explore their more complicated emotions. Dan Unmasked is a rare example of a story that packs as much heart on each page as it does action—and as a reader, you’re equally compelled by the heroic world of the boys’ favorite comic as you are by Dan’s journey to understand his own grief. I’m so glad that this book exists for young readers to find.”—Elizabeth Lynch, associate editor, HarperTeen

Opening: “I almost miss it. I can’t stop staring at the base runner in front of me, with his bright white cleats and his too-big batting gloves.”

Karah Sutton

A Wolf for a Spell

Knopf Books for Young Readers, Sept.; $17.99; ages 8–12

Why the buzz: “There are books from childhood we love so dearly that they come to define our taste as adults; whenever a manuscript gives me that ‘Ella Enchanted feeling,’ I know it’s special. Like Ella, A Wolf for a Spell is funny and fresh, with all the warmth of a classic fairy tale and a timely reminder that our similarities are greater than our differences. I feel certain kids will gobble it up with the gusto of a hungry wolf at the dining room table.”—Katherine Harrison, senior editor, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Opening: “Fear sank its jaws into Zima as she recognized the smell of magic.”

Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys

Swoon Reads, Sept.; $17.99; ages 13–18

Why the buzz: “I remember the first moment Aiden pitched Cemetery Boys to me, and how excited I was by the concept. Not only was it a great #OwnVoices novel, it’s just so much fun—great atmospheric setting, wonderful family dynamics, and, of course, the romantic drama of falling in love with a ghost! Once I read those first few snippets of dialogue, I fell head over heels in love with Yadriel, Julian, and Maritza. Team #Yadrien forever!”—Holly West, senior editor, Feiwel and Friends and Swoon Reads

Opening: “Yadriel wasn’t technically trespassing because he’d lived in the cemetery his whole life.”

Ash Van Otterloo


Scholastic Press, Aug.; $17.99; ages 8–12

Why the buzz: “Ash Van Otterloo’s magical debut captivated me from the first page. With funny, evocative prose that’s full of folksy Appalachian charm, rival witching clans, haywire hexes, zombie ancestors, and even a runaway outhouse, it’s classic fantasy gone cattywampus, crooked, and completely sideways. But what makes this book truly stand out is its characters, especially Katybird Hearn, who grapples with what it means to be intersex in a family where magic passes from mother to daughter, and finds an inner power she never knew existed.”—Jenne Abramowitz, executive editor, Scholastic Press

Opening: “There was a sweet spot in Delpha McGill’s week, between the hustle of school and the hard work during the weekend, that had no floors to sweep, no leaky faucets to tighten, no homework to riddle, and no lawn to mow. It was her time, and she fully intended to spend it in a blissful expanse of quiet, working on a secret whittling project in her bedroom.”

“Indies Introduce the Best Middle Grade and YA Debuts” will take place 12:15–1:15 p.m., July 15.