Here we round up new and forthcoming children’s titles, including circus stories, a novel about a WWII refugee, a picture book chock full of chickens, the story of a secret pen pal, and many more.
Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird, illus. by David Small. Knopf, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-593-30393-1. In this historical adventure set in 1920, tenacious 12-year-old narrator Suzy Bowles longs for a life beyond her farm in small-town Burr Oak, Mich., and finds purpose under the tutelage of a former circus queen.
Bluebird by Sharon Cameron. Scholastic Press, $18.99; ISBN 978-1-33835-596-3. This complex, intrigue-filled YA novel follows Eva Gerst, a teenage German refugee, during the final months of WWII.
Mr. Watson’s Chickens by Jarrett Dapier, illus. by Andrea Tsurumi. Chronicle, $17.99; ISBN 978-1-4521-7714-4. Animals creating mayhem deliver rousing readalouds, and Dapier (Jazz for Lunch!) and Tsurumi (I’m on It!) drive this story element to its riotous extreme. The picture book earned a starred review from PW.
The Mailbox in the Forest by Kyoko Hara, trans. from the Japanese by Alexandrea Mallia, illus. by Kazue Takahashi. Museyon, $14.99; ISBN 978-1-940842-53-0. This story about a schoolchild and her mysterious pen pal unfolds in an atmosphere of safety and security as the child learns that a letter “holds happy memories.”
Audrey L and Audrey W: Best Friends-Ish by Carter Higgins, illus. by Jennifer K. Mann. Chronicle, $14.99; ISBN 978-1-4521-8394-7. A rapport develops between two second graders in search of belonging in this crisply written chapter book debut, a series starter by Higgins (Circle Under Berry).
There’s a Ghost in This House by Oliver Jeffers. Philomel, $27.99; ISBN 978-0-593-46618-6. Decidedly unscary ghosts—the kind that look like sheets with holes for eyes—lurk in a house being searched by a green-skinned, pigtailed child in this novelty-leaning picture book.
Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson. Scholastic Press, $16.99; ISBN 978-1-338-34853-8. Johnson (Twins) addresses themes of toxic masculinity, family, and legacy in this vividly told novel centering 10-year-old card shark Anthony “Ant” Joplin, who is starting the fifth grade in South Carolina. The book earned a starred review from PW.
The Christmas Owl: Based on the True Story of a Little Owl Named Rockefeller by Ellen Kalish and Gideon Sterer, illus. by Ramona Kaulitzki. Little, Brown, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-316-29912-1. The 2020 discovery and rescue of a saw-whet owl in Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree inspires this anthropomorphic exploration of Christmas by the owl’s wildlife rehabilitator, Kalish, and author Sterer, illustrated by Kaulitzki in playful digital spreads.
Briarheart by Mercedes Lackey. Little, Brown, $18.99; ISBN 978-0-7595-5745-1. In this “Sleeping Beauty” reimagining, when one of the Dark Fae crashes her baby half-sister Aurora’s christening, 15-year-old Princess Miriam of Tirendell instinctively moves to block the curse, in the process discovering her own innate magical talents.
The Bear House by Meaghan McIsaac. Holiday House, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-8234-4660-5. McIsaac’s (Movers) dark fantasy middle grade series starter ambitiously weaves intrigue and adventure against a backdrop of constellation-inspired myth.
How to Train Your Dad by Gary Paulsen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-374-31417-0. In a comically wry middle grade novel, Carl Hemesvedt explains that he desperately wants to be “lookatable” to impress classmate Peggy.
Franz-Ferdinand the Dancing Walrus by Marcus Pfister, trans. from the German by David Henry Wilson. NorthSouth, $17.95; ISBN 978-0-7358-4469-8. In this picture book, Walrus Franz-Ferdinand possesses three-foot-long tusks, dislikes moving, and has spent much of his 42 years fighting other walruses. When “one of the most famous flamingo ballet schools in the world” relocates to his neighborhood on the east coast of Greenland, though, he finds that he also has a dream: to dance with them.
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson. S&S/McElderry, $18.99; ISBN 978-1-5344-7711-7. Rogerson (Sorcery of Thorns) deftly blends a coming-of-age tale and mythic quest in this dark fantasy in which a girl raised in a convent works between the realms of the living and the dead.
Children of the Fox by Kevin Sands. Viking, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-593-32751-7. Fourteen-year-old Callan is a talented con artist with a knack for reading body language. Desperate to earn the money he needs to leave his life of crime, he responds to a mysterious job offer, and he and several other young thieves are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: in exchange for a payout beyond their wildest dreams, they must steal a priceless magical artifact.
All Eyes on Ozzy! by K-Fai Steele. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-06-274858-4. Ozzy adores getting attention, so she’s elated when she ends up with the drum part for a school recital. Watching Steele’s protagonist learn how to become part of a team is a pleasure straight through. The picture book earned a starred review from PW.
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illus. by Lisa Sterle. Greenwillow, $21.99; ISBN 978-0-06-294314-9. If the popular girls at a Bay Area high school in this YA graphic novel seem overly eager to befriend smart, queer, Asian-cued Becca, they have a specific reason in mind: they’re werewolves in need of another packmate.
The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud. Knopf, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-593-43036-1. Stroud (the Lockwood & Co. series) builds flawed characters, cahoots close and tender, and a fully realized setting in this rollicking series opener, set in a world intent on controlling outlaws of every type.
For more children’s and YA titles on sale throughout the month of October, check out PW’s full On-Sale Calendar.