Drawn from PW’s Spring Children’s Announcements Issue, here are our editors’ selections for 18 children’s and young adult books that can’t arrive soon enough. And check out our picks for this season’s most anticipated adult books as well.
Child of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana, illus. by Raul Colón (Make Me a World, Mar.) – In a luminous journey through the cosmos, astrophysicist Jayawardhana and illustrator Colón imagine a child as the actual embodiment of elemental science: a figure who is at home in—and made up of—the farthest reaches of the universe.
Everyone's Awake by Colin Meloy, illus. by Shawn Harris (Chronicle, Mar.) – Things start quietly but soon escalate into chaos in Meloy and Harris’s comic bedtime romp. Far from heading off to sleep, “The dog’s into the eggnog:/ Mom’s tap dancing to Prince/ while Dad is on the laptop/ buying ten-yard bolts of chintz.”
Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell (Holiday House/Porter, May) – Caldecott Medalist Cordell offers the first authorized picture book biography of Mister Rogers and his beloved television neighborhood, exploring the complexity of life with Rogers’s warmth and empathy.
My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano, illus. by Jillian Tamaki (Atheneum, Mar.) – In confiding language and energetic, elegantly controlled vignettes, Fogliano and Tamaki capture the feeling of giddy infatuation when a child first meets another and feels an instant bond—an event, and a book, worth celebrating.
The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner, illus. by Adam Rex (Chronicle, Mar.) – “At the time of Washington’s inauguration... Presidents 8, 9, and 12 were all kids.” Ingeniously structuring their historical picture book around inaugural years, Messner and Rex give a sense of events unfolding in many places and lives at once.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Michaela Goade (Roaring Brook, Mar.) – Through natural spreads that communicate the necessity of action, Metis/Ojibwe author Lindstrom and Tlingit and Haida artist Goade honor those who fight to protect the Earth’s fresh water.
The List of Things That Will Not Change, by Rebecca Stead (Random/Lamb, April) – Via a layered first-person narration and nuanced interpersonal dynamics, Stead tells the story of Bea, whose divorcing parents give her a green notebook containing “The List of Things That Will Not Change” to help her navigate her shifting familial landscape.
Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press, Mar.) – Setting her richly layered tale in the fictional Latin country of Santa Maria with allusions to life under repressive regimes, Newbery Honoree Ryan intertwines a soccer-loving boy’s story with a mystery based in his family’s closely guarded secrets and legacy.
Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm #1) by Lucy Knisley (Random House Graphic, May) – Graphic novelist Knisley makes her middle grade debut with this contemporary trilogy opener about a city girl navigating her new country home and new place in her changing family.
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury, April) – In this series opener, a loose reimagining of Ramona Quimby’s exploits, Watson adroitly captures the uncertainty of growing up amid change through the eyes of an irrepressible black girl named Ryan.
Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom (Wayside School #4) by Louis Sachar, illus. by Tim Heitz (HarperCollins, Mar.) – Wayside gets even wonkier in this first series installment since 1995, wherein an ominous cloud settles over the building and the curiosities of Mrs. Jewls’s 30th-floor classroom multiply.
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Dial, April) – In graphic novel form, Newbery Honoree Jamieson shares the true journey of Somali refugee Omar Mohamed. After the death of his father and separation from his mother while fleeing to Kenya, 11-year-old Omar must fend for himself and his younger brother, Hassan, who has a learning disability.
Again Again by E. Lockhart (Delacorte, June) – The author of We Were Liars spins an intricate tale of family chaos, starring a heroine who faces monumental questions about life, love, and humanity.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press, May) – Collins returns to the world of Panem 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games in this highly anticipated prequel, focusing on the teenage years of future dictator Coriolanus Snow.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Quill Tree, May) – National Book Award recipient Acevedo crafts her latest novel-in-verse follows two sisters—one in the Dominican Republic and one in New York City—who are brought together for the first time after their father’s unexpected death.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, Mar.) – Printz Medalist Yang crafts a triumphant, telescopic graphic memoir about a high school basketball team. Alternating player backstories with interstitials about the sport’s early tensions, historical and present-day discrimination, and his own work-life balance, he explores the effects of legacy and the power of taking a single first step.
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu (Putnam, Mar.) – Lu deftly layers fantastical elements and historical fiction to craft an expansive tale of rivalry based on two Mozart siblings, both talented pianists and composers, and the Faustian pact one makes to achieve musical immortality.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning ‘Stamped from the Beginning’ by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (Little, Brown, Mar.) – Reynolds lends his signature flair to remixing Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning into a powerful “not a history book” primer on the historical roots and present-day manifestations of antiblack racism in America. Essential, meaningfully accessible reading.