February may be the shortest month of the year, but our list of new and notable releases for young readers is as packed as ever. Take a leap of faith with a brave kingfisher, join the voices of Native Americans celebrating their resilience and pride in their community, revel in a twist on Romeo and Juliet featuring two Vietnamese American teens, and much more.
Mem Fox, illus. by Christine Davenier. Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-0139-5. Ages 4–8.
Early one morning, a boy sets out to find something for his breakfast, searching the farm for it until finally having a delicious meal with his grandmother. The book received a starred review from PW.
Philip C. Stead, illus. by Matthew Cordell. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4426-7. Ages 4–8.
Eccentric Aunt Josephine tells her niece Sadie the story of her time in the jungles of Peru, cataloguing amphibians for the scientific team of Admiral Rodriguez. When the admiral’s son was suddenly swallowed by a giant frog, Aunt Josephine gave chase in a journey that took her around the world.
Anna Walker. Clarion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-358-19358-6. Ages 4–7.
Jack and his father have worked out a quiet, if melancholy, routine during Jack’s visits: “They made tacos. And milkshakes, too. Sometimes they talked. And sometimes they didn’t.” But when Dad unexpectedly adopts Jimmy, a loud, flamboyantly feathered parrot, Jack’s world is turned upside down—and not, readers will suspect, for the first time. The book received a starred review from PW.
Mitali Perkins, illus. by Lavanya Naidu. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30367-9. Ages 3–6.
Shanti and her parents say goodbye to their Indian village and move to the other side of the world. At first, it isn't easy for Shanti; back and forth she trudges between her family's Bengali traditions and her new country's culture. Is she still Indian or becoming American? How should she define home? The book received a starred review from PW.
Elise Parsley. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-53428-4. Ages 4–8.
All Roy the wild boar wants is to enjoy his delicious clover, but every time he turns around, his tasty treasure seems to be shrinking. To make the job of standing guard by the clover more bearable, Roy’s neighbor helps by lending his stash of books that absorb Roy's attention—as the patch disappears bit by bit. The book received a starred review from PW.
Corey R. Tabor. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-287801-4. Ages 4–8.
Geisel Award–winning author-illustrator Corey Tabor spins a tale about self-confidence and taking a leap of faith, starring a brave kingfisher. The book received a starred review from PW.
Gideon Sterer, illus. by Mariachiara Di Giorgio. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1115-3. Ages 3–7.
When night comes and the fair is empty, something unexpected happens. In this wordless picture book, Sterer and Di Giorgio offer an exuberant take on what animals are up to when humans are asleep. The book received a starred review from PW.
Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson. Putnam, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-54908-3. Ages 4–8.
On a long subway ride through New York City, a Black boy named Milo looks around at the other passengers. In this rich, multilayered journey, the award-winning creators of Last Stop on Market Street celebrate a city’s kaleidoscope of scenes, offer a glimpse at a child’s experience with parental incarceration, and convey that child’s keen observations about his circumstances and surroundings. The book received a starred review from PW.
Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huy'nh Kim Liên. Make Me a World, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-30626-0. Ages 4–8.
The rainy season has come to the Mekong Delta, and An, a Vietnamese boy, sets out alone in a wooden boat wearing a little backpack and armed only with a single oar. Although daunted by the unknown, An realizes that his efforts will be worth it when he reaches his destination. The book received a starred review from PW.
Pamela Paul, illus. by Becky Cameron. Philomel, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-11511-4. Ages 4–8.
In addition to serving as editor of the New York Times Book Review (and before that, as its children’s books editor), Pamela Paul has authored six books for adults, three of which focus on books and reading, including How to Raise a Reader, co-written with Maria Russo. In her first picture book, a supremely confident cat reveals the crucial role it plays when a father and his child read “rectangles” together, and its confusion when the boy starts to be able to read on his own. See our interview with Paul.
Yuki Ainoya, trans. from the Japanese by Michael Blaskowsky. Enchanted Lion, $16.95 (68p). Ages 6–9.
In this surreal collection of short vignettes, readers are transported to the world of Sato the Rabbit, in which ordinary objects and everyday routines become magical encounters. The book received a starred review from PW.
The Snail with the Right Heart
Maria Popova, illus. by Ping Zhu. Enchanted Lion, $18.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-59270-3494. Ages 7–12.
In a paean to the value of individual differences that is presented on a cosmic scale, Brain Pickings founder Popova (Figuring, for adults) relates the real-life story of Jeremy, a rare garden snail found in 2015 by a retired London scientist, whose shell spiraled to the left, signifying reversed internal anatomy—including a heart positioned on the right.
Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World
Jacqueline Davies, illus. by Deborah Hocking. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-358-10631-9. Ages 6–9.
This genial series opener by Davies (Panda Pants) introduces two friends who inhabit a cozy burrow under a potting shed: Taylor, a hedgehog with big ideas, and Sydney, a contented skunk. When Taylor gets a notion to see the Whole Wide World, contrary to the animals’ homebody natures, the friends set off, encountering challenges en route. See our interview with Davies about her new chapter book series.
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Floyd Cooper. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5415-8120-3. Ages 9–10.
Weatherford and Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community. The book received a starred review from PW.
Ariel Bernstein, illus. by Marc Rosenthal. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3864-4. Ages 4–8.
It’s a beautiful day, and a group of friends are excited to spend it together. The woodland creatures can’t wait to pile into their boat and go fishing. Or, at least, Bear, Porcupine, and Otter can’t wait; they love fishing. Unfortunately, Squirrel does not. The book received a starred review from PW.
Andy Harkness. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0442-5. Ages 3–6.
In this book created entirely from images of dimensionally modeled clay, the title character is a blue monster with spindly arms and legs, a triangular head and wild orange eyes, and a mouth that seems made for chomping rabbits. See our interview with the author-illustrator and animator here.
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Heartdrum, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-286994-4. Ages 8–12.
Featuring the voices of new and veteran Native writers, and edited by author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories set at the same powwow invokes hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. The book received a starred review from PW.
Alan Gratz. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-338-24575-2. Ages 9–12.
Publishing in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, this tautly paced novel by Gratz (Resist) explores the events of that tragedy and the subsequent American response through two parallel story lines.
Shelley Moore Thomas, illus. by Julie Mellan. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-17353-4. Ages 8-up.
Thomas blends life lessons and magical elements in an imaginative journey of mourning and maturation. After the deaths of their magician mother and pilot father in WWII London, narrator Albie and her three sisters, all Irish, are sent not back to Cork, but to Hybrasil, an enchanted sinking island, to live with an old man known as the Magician—their maternal grandfather, whom they’ve never met. Soon after, Albie’s magical attempt to bring her mother back turns the girls into rabbits. The book received a starred review from PW.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother)
David Levithan. Knopf, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-9848-4859-8. Ages 8–12.
Returning from a magical place called Aveinieu with a royal blue leaf in his hair, 12-year-old Aidan finds out he’s been missing for six days, his inexplicable disappearance resulting in a massive, town-wide search as well as endless police questioning of his family and best friend. But joy over his safe return quickly turns to unease about his inability to account for the time. The book received a starred review from PW.
Corey Ann Haydu. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-268985-6. Ages 8–12.
Haydu weaves a powerful middle-grade tale about a girl in a magical town who believes she is destined to catch more jars of magic than anyone else on New Year’s Day—only to catch just one tiny jar of magic. The book received a starred review from PW.
Kate Albus. Holiday House/Ferguson, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4705-3. Ages 9–12.
In this heartwarming debut that contains nods to British children’s classics, three orphans—heirs to a fortune—join the WWII London evacuation after the death of their forbidding grandmother leaves them guardianless. Seeking safety from the Blitz and the possibility of finding a permanent, loving home, the siblings’ plight becomes even more precarious.
The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas
María García Esperón, trans. from the Spanish by David Bowles, illus. by Amanda Mijangos. Levine Querido, $21.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-64614-015-2. Ages 8 and up.
“Fifteen thousand years before Europeans stepped foot in the Americas, people had already spread from tip to tip and coast to coast.” In the preface to this reverently gathered collection of sacred stories from the Americas, García Esperón and Bowles convey their aim to “bring out the faint ancestral voices echoing at the heart of each” presented tale. The book received a starred review from PW.
Abby Howard. Iron Circus, $18 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9458-2068-7. Ages 13 and up.
In this collection of evocative, unnerving slice-of-life horror, five stories explore what happens when one is desperate enough to seek solace in the unnatural. The book received a starred review from PW.
Neal Shusterman. Quill Tree, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-199867-6. Ages 14 and up.
A straight, white, cisgender teen is confronted with his own privilege via iterative realities in Printz Honoree Shusterman’s (Scythe) ambitious speculative novel. After a hit in the head on the football field, impossible as it seems, Ash ends up in another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds not his own.
Julie Kagawa. Inkyard, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-335-09176-5. Ages 12 and up.
Told from the first-person perspective of Robin Goodfellow, also known as the fast-talking chaos causer Puck, this series starter set in the world of Kagawa’s Iron Fey saga follows Robin and Keirran, King of the Forgotten—exiled son of Iron Queen Meghan Chase, and sole wielder of “all three glamours, Summer, Winter, and Iron”—as they investigate a malevolent darkness in the Between.
Maria E. Andreu. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-062-99651-0. Ages 14 and up.
The teen love triangle at the center of this warm and humorous novel by Andreu (The Secret Side of Empty) is threaded with experiences that accompany acclimation to a new school and country. When 16-year-old narrator Ana moves with her family from Argentina to a New Jersey suburb, English feels like a “troll that won’t let me do anything until I pay him a price I can’t cover,” despite the fact that she studied the language growing up.
Renée Watson. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0060-1. Ages 13 and up.
Through the misadventures of Black 17-year-old Nala Robertson, Watson pens a love letter to community, family, and self-love. Tired of being compared to her overachieving “cousin-sister-friend” Imani, Nala, who is plus-size, just wants to be loved. But when Nala meets Tye at a function for Inspire Harlem—a community service organization where Tye and Imani are members—Nala fears Tye won’t like her if she acts like herself. So she lies.
Brittany Cavallaro. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-284025-7. Ages 14 and up.
In this fresh duology starter from Cavallaro (the Charlotte Holmes series), the novel’s heroine shares center stage with a glittering alternate version of the U.S. in the 19th-century. Ruled by a monarchial line of kings descended from George Washington, the First American Kingdom comprises a handful of sometimes warring provinces, each ruled by its own hereditary governor. In Monticello-by-the-Lake, quietly rebellious Claire Emerson, 17, is getting ready to flee her violent inventor father by running away to an arranged marriage.
Tami Charles. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-338-67352-4. Ages 12 and up.
Inspired by her former students and the #MeToo movement, Charles’s new novel confronts how easily Black and Brown girls are taken advantage of in the entertainment industry. Read our q&a with the author.
Loan Le. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4193-4. Ages 12 and up.
In this romantic comedy, two Vietnamese American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants. See our q&a with Le about the influence of food and family on her writing.
Courtney Summers. Wednesday, $18.99 (352) ISBN 978-1-250-10573-8. Ages 13 and up.
After her parents died in a car accident that scarred Lo and left her near death, her adored older sister Bea joined the Unity Project, an insular religious group that’s constantly fighting accusations of culthood. Lo longs to be a writer, but though she’s landed a job at a magazine, she’s stuck as its editor’s assistant. When she witnesses a suicide that turns out to have links to the Unity Project, she embarks on an investigation of the group and her sister’s whereabouts. Summers (Sadie) creates a twisty plot that’s full of hooks.
We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire
Joy McCullough, illus. by Maia Kobabe. Dutton, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-5255-5605-3. Ages 14 and up.
McCullough (Blood Water Paint) uses the legend of Marguerite de Bressieux, a medieval French noblewoman who avenged her sexual assault by going into battle against her attackers, to view the story of Em Morales, a biracial (Guatemalan and presumed white) Seattle high schooler reeling after her sister Nor’s brutal rape at a fraternity house. The book received a starred review from PW.