Big titles that are hitting shelves this month include a spinoff of Dav Pilkey’s popular Dog Man series, a guidebook on anti-racism for young readers, a new YA thriller from One of Us Is Lying author Karen M. McManus, and more.
Rich Lo. Muddy Boots, Dec. 15 $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-63076-390-9. Ages 4–9.
Intricate illustrations of wildlife, made fanciful by multihued washes of color against a black sky, distinguish this observational nature picture book. Spare prose follows a red fox peering from a den, perceiving other animals of the forest and making note of their actions while journeying to the stream for a drink. The book received a starred review from PW.
Cheryl B. Klein, illus. by Qin Leng. Abrams, Dec. 8 $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4208-8. Ages 4–8.
Klein records a year in the life of a child in “firsts”: quiet, unassuming anniversaries that will be instantly recognizable to readers young and old. Klein’s touch is light and Leng’s movement-filled vignettes are harmonious as they capture the year in an album whose joys and disappointments become a cyclical, cumulative string of memories. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Klein here.
Melissa de la Cruz. Roaring Brook, Dec. 1 $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-31121-4. Ages 10–14.
In the first book in Cruz’s The Chronicles of Never After fantasy series, Filomena Jefferson-Cho, 12, is a huge fan of epic fairy tale mash-up series Never After, and she’s anticipating the release of the 13th and final volume—until she learns that the long-deceased author apparently never wrote it. When the saga’s hero, Jack the Giant Stalker, appears in her hometown pursued by an ogre, she discovers that everything described in the books is true.
Karah Sutton, illus. by Pauliina Hannuniemi. Knopf, Dec. 1 $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-12165-8. Ages 8–12.
To save her wounded packmate, young wolf Zima makes a deal to temporarily swap bodies with the infamous Baba Yaga. While Baba Yaga pursues her own mysterious agenda, Zima must pretend to be the terrifying witch of the deep woods. Drawing on the Russian folklore of her heritage, Sutton conjures up a charming debut filled with magic and friendship.
Julie Buxbaum. Delacorte, Dec. 1 $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9848-9362-8. Ages 12 and up.
Based on the 2019 college admissions scandal, Buxbaum’s ripped-from-the-headlines story gives readers a fictionalized peek into the families who saw no harm in helping their already advantaged children through bribery, cheating, and fraud. When high school senior Chloe Berringer’s privileged family is implicated at the center of an admissions scandal, Chloe finds her world tumbling down.
Frederick Joseph. Candlewick, Dec. 1 $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1701-8. Ages 12 and up.
Gearing this volume toward white people “who want to be better,” Joseph offers anecdotes about his experiences with racism and white supremacy, interlacing them with clear explanations of “the historic and current iniquities and disparities plaguing Black people and people of color as a whole.” Joseph invites and encourages readers to reflect on their own behavior, move toward anti-racism, and implement change. The book received a starred review from PW.
Karen M. McManus. Delacorte, Dec. 1 $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-70800-1. Ages 14 and up.
McManus, author of the wildly successful YA debut One of Us Is Lying, once again crafts a taut, multilayered mystery, this time focusing on the fallout of family estrangement on the next generation. Narrating her thriller through multiple perspectives, McManus weaves past and present to take readers on a well-paced, twisty ride that will hold readers rapt till the last page.
Ed. by Dhonielle Clayton. Crown, Dec. 8 $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-984896-20-9. Ages 14 and up.
This fourth We Need Diverse Books anthology, edited by author and WNDB COO Clayton, offers 15 speculative fiction short stories that are inclusive across gender identity, sexuality, race, ability, and religion. This collection resonates in its thorough enrichment of the canon, from fairy tale reconstructions to space operas. The book received a starred review from PW.
Dav Pilkey. Graphix, Dec. 1 $12.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-338-71276-6. Ages 7 and up.
Dog Man sidekick Li’l Petey and tadpole Molly are running a weeklong comics workshop for 21 quarrelsome froggies while the frogs’ father, bionic fish Flippy, tries to enforce decorum. As the froggies wrestle and eventually conquer their stymied or fearful imaginations, readers are treated to the wonderful variety of their work through brief mini-comics. The book, which launches a spinoff series, received a starred review from PW. See our recent profile on Pilkey here.