Here we round up new and forthcoming children’s titles, including stories about a porcupine who craves affection, the hands of our loved ones, a besotted robot, and an influential librarian.

Week of December 24, 2018

I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey. Scholastic Press, $14.99; ISBN 978-1-338-29710-2. In this picture book rendered in his signature cartoon style, Blabey (Thelma the Unicorn) introduces a porcupine with an intimidating set of fanlike quills.

Loving Hands by Tony Johnston, illus. by Amy June Bates. Candlewick, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-7636-7993-4. The title of this picture book sets up the literary conceit: hands signify the years and love that pass between a child’s birth and a parent’s old age—hands that play pat-a-cake and bake bread, hands that wash away painful stumbles and hold tight during scary moments, hands that know when to let go.

Robot in Love by T.L. McBeth. Holt/Godwin, $17.99; ISBN 978-1-250-18593-8. In this picture book, a besotted robot courts a figure within a department store display.

Week of December 31, 2018

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illus. by Paola Escobar. HarperCollins, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-06-274868-3. Readers may know Pura Belpré as the name of an award given to books about the Latin-American cultural experience. But who was Belpré herself? This picture book biography tells her story.

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin. Viking, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-670-01496-5. With pathos and a fine eye for historical detail, DeWoskin (Blind) relates the story of Shanghai’s Jewish refugees during WWII, when Shanghai was under Japanese occupation.

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan, illus. by Xia Gordon. Sterling, $16.95; ISBN 978-1-4549-3088-4. In this free verse picture book biography, Duncan (Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop) celebrates the life of Gwendolyn Brooks, an African-American poet whose gifts emerged while she was very young.

The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History: The Story of the Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. Scholastic Focus, $18.99; ISBN 978-1-338-25119-7. This middle grade nonfiction book follows the story of the men who rescued precious cultural artifacts from the Nazis.

No One Here Is Lonely by Sarah Everett. Knopf, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-553-53868-7. Everett (Everyone We’ve Been) makes the improbable seem plausible in this YA novel, which is part unrequited love story, part cautionary tale about grief turning to obsession and fantasy.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea (Young Readers’ Edition): One Teen Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming. Flatiron, $16.99; ISBN 978-1-250-31142-9. This poignant tale gives immediacy to the plight of Syrian refugees.

10 Little Chicks by Taylor Garland. Little, Brown, $7.99; ISBN 978-0-316-45209-0. A popular nursery rhyme is reimagined with an Easter theme in this board book.

The Similars by Rebecca Hanover. Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99; ISBN 978-1-4926-6510-6. Television writer Hanover authors a fast-paced thriller about identity and love in this YA novel about high school clones.

The Whispers by Greg Howard. Putnam, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-525-51749-8. Eleven-year-old Riley resorts to extreme measures to find his mother after she disappears, believing he is “suspect number one” in a case that hasn’t moved forward in months, the details of which he can’t fully recall.

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-06-256388-0. Mr. Kermit was once among the best teachers at Greenwich Middle School, but a cheating scandal 25 years ago dampened his passion for the job, and now he is biding time until his early retirement.

Chicken Talk by Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-06-239864-2. MacLachlan (My Father’s Words) offers droll dialogue, a bucolic setting, and a spirited defense of animals as distinct beings with unacknowledged powers of observation.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $18.99; ISBN 978-0-06-282411-0. In Philippe’s debut, 16-year-old black French-Canadian Norris Kaplan must navigate life and love in Austin, Tex., after he and his mother move there for her new teaching job.

For more children’s and YA titles on sale throughout the month of December, check out PW’s full On-Sale Calendar.