We’ve compiled a cornucopia of upcoming books for young readers to look out for this month. Join in the celebration of culture and family; follow in the footsteps of a prominent Black ballerina; participate in a deadly game of control; and much more.
Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illus. by Nikkolas Smith. Kokila, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-593-30735-9. Ages 7–10.
When a Black child, this story’s narrator, feels shame surrounding a family tree assignment (“I can only count back three generations, here, in this country”), their parents and grandparents offer what an author’s note calls “a proud origin story.” In forthright poems by Newbery Honoree Watson and 1619 Project founder Hannah-Jones, the family reaches back to the Kingdom of Ndongo, where their ancestors “had a home, a place, a land,/ a beginning.” See our [In Conversation between Watson and her fellow author Brendan Kiely] https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/87700-in-conversation-ren-e-watson-and-brendan-kiely.html on addressing topics surrounding race for young readers. The book received a starred review from PW.
Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-250-21322-8. Ages 2–6.
In the follow-up to the Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Amos, a friendly zookeeper, is very considerate and always on time. But after a late night planning a surprise for all his friends, he falls asleep during breakfast and misses his bus to the zoo. Now he won’t have time for the surprise he planned for his friends, unless can step in and help him out.
Kyo Maclear, illus. by Gracey Zhang. Random House Studio, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-18195-9. Ages 4–8.
Maclear remembers with affection the local bathhouse her Baachan took her to during childhood visits to Japan. In bold black ink and wash drawings, Zhang captures the girl’s arrival and the slow walk through the neighborhood as the child, her grandmother, and her aunties stroll along in yukata, enter the bathhouse, and wash. The book received a starred review from PW.
Carla Hall with Kristen Hartke, illus. by Cherise Harris. S&S/Millner, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9469-5. Ages 4–8.
Top Chef contestant and culinary personality Hall relays a nostalgic tale following young Carla, who, with her sister Kim and their mother, visits her grandparents on Christmas Eve. In warm, vintage-toned acrylic inks and digital art, Harris renders the nuances of Christmas in a close-knit Black family. Back matter includes a recipe for Carla’s Christmas Cornbread and Cinnamon Butter. The book received a starred review from PW.
Tricia Elam Walker, illus. by Ekua Holmes. Random/Schwartz, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-58110-9. Ages 4–8.
On Dream Street, love between generations rules, everyone is special, and the warmth of the neighborhood shines. This story features a vivid cast of characters in a neighborhood—based on the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston where the author and illustrator grew up together as cousins—that truly sings. The book received a starred review from PW. See our story on collaborators Elam Walker and Holmes.
Daniel Miyares. Random/Schwartz, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-984892-83-6. Ages 4–8.
Hope doesn’t only want to listen to her father’s stories about his voyages at sea, she wants to be part of those stories. And so, unbeknownst to her parents, she stows away on her father’s 19th-century merchant vessel. See our q&a with Miyares.
Max Greenfield, illus. by Mike Lowery. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-32606-0. Ages 4–8.
This humorous picture book by actor Greenfield follows a familiar premise: the narrator, a reluctant reader, does not want to read the book in their hands. What follows is a meta text filled with curious asides and snarky ruminations on words, sentences, paragraphs, and more, both on an individual level and structurally.
Barbara Lehman. Clarion, $18.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-358-31510-0. Ages 6–9.
In this retelling of the classic tale, Little Red has baked a cake with their father and is on the way to Grandma’s house to make a delivery. But someone has been trailing them ever since they left home—someone who really loves cake. The book received a starred review from PW.
Winsome Bingham, illus. by C.G. Esperanza. Abrams, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4771-7. Ages 4–8.
At Granny’s, Sunday isn’t Sunday without a big family gathering over a lovingly prepared meal. Old enough now, the narrator is finally invited to help cook the dishes for the first time. But just when Granny says they’re finished, her grandson makes his own contribution. The book received a starred review from PW.
Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Hadley Hooper. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4491-5. Ages 4–8.
A spare lyricism pervades this poetic picture book about writing by Hopkinson, which follows a light brown–skinned child attempting to pen a story on a snowy day. A gentle, luminous exploration for aspiring writers. The book received a starred review from PW.
Misty Copeland, illus. by Salena Barnes. Aladdin, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7424-6. Ages 10 and up.
Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theatre, reveals her own path to greatness and spotlights inspiring Black dancers—who often served as her mentors—in this mesmeric combination of memoir and biography. See our q&a with Copeland.
Kathryn Ormsbee. HarperCollins, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-305999-3. Ages 8–12.
When 13-year-old Cline Alden, an aspiring singer named after Patsy Cline and obsessed with women country vocalists, learns about a singer-songwriter workshop only 40 minutes away from her small Kentucky town, she’s determined to attend, despite the prohibitive $300 fee, her single diner-waitress mother’s firm no, and worry over her grandmother’s advancing Alzheimer’s. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Ormsbee.
Kelly Fernández. Graphix, $24.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-338-26419-7. Ages 8–12.
Manu and her best friend, Josefina, live at a magical school for girls, and Manu is always getting into trouble. One day, a prank goes seriously wrong, and Josefina gets angry and wishes for Manu’s magic to disappear... and it does. The book received a starred review from PW.
Diane Stanley. Quill Tree, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-265803-6. Ages 8–12.
To get Max and Rosie’s minds off their mother’s mysterious disappearance, their grandmother suggests that they visit the old log cabin where their mom spent her summers as a child. That first night in the cabin, Max and Rosie share an identical dream of new friends, sunshine, and play. But it may be more than a dream. The book received a starred review from PW.
Jennifer Swender. Crown, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-101932-94-0. Ages 9–12.
Austin doesn’t like standing out. He’s always the new kid, and there’s no hiding his size. Plus, Austin has a secret: he struggles to read. Then Austin meets effervescent classmate Bertie, who encourages him to join the school’s the Safety Squad. For the first time, Austine wants to leave a mark. And the more he speaks up, the more he finds he may not be that different after all. The book received a starred review from PW.
Jason Reynolds, illus. by Raúl the Third. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $13.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1816-5. Ages 7–12.
Portico Reeves’s superpower is making sure all the other superheroes—like his parents and two best friends—stay super. And safe. And he does this all in secret. No one in his civilian life knows he’s actually Stuntboy! The book received a starred review from PW. Read more about it in our cover reveal.
Ariel Henley. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-31407-1. Ages 12 and up.
At only eight months old, identical twin sisters Ariel and Zan were diagnosed with Crouzon syndrome—a rare condition where the bones in the head fuse prematurely. They were the first twins known to survive it. While the physical aspect of their condition was painful, it was nothing compared to the emotional toll of navigating life with a facial disfigurement. See our q&a with Henley.
Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman. Tor Teen, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-78925-9. Ages 13 and up.
Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a secret tournament to the death. The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world—one thought to be long depleted.
Marissa Meyer. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $19.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-250-61884-9. Ages 12 and up.
Meyer explores the power of fiction in this inventive reimagining of “Rumpelstiltskin.” Intricate worldbuilding and star-crossed romance help temper the Erlking’s brutality, and well-drawn characters will leave readers craving a sequel. See our feature on more YA classic retellings.
Huda Fahmy. Dial, $22.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-32431-8. Ages 12 and up.
In Fahmy’s YA graphic novel inspired by her own life, Huda and her family have just moved to Dearborn, Mich., a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: she was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl. See our q&a with Fahmy.
Martha Brockenbrough. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-338-67387-6. Ages 14 and up.
In a faraway land, populated by were beasts and surrounded by a powerful forest, lies a kingdom about to be sent into chaos. On his deathbed, King Tyran divides his land, leaving half to each of his two children, so they’ll rule together. However, his son, Albrecht, has other ideas.
Kekla Magoon. Candlewick, $24.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1418-5. Ages 12 and up.
Magoon introduces readers to the history of the Black Panthers’ community activism, which is grounded in the concept of self-defense, which taught Black Americans how to protect and support themselves in a country that treated them like second-class citizens. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Magoon.
Neal and Jarrod Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5125-4. Ages 14 and up.
Through a high-concept thriller that looks into the opioid crisis, the previous father-son collaborators follow two siblings at the center of a deadly wager between two drugs characterized as gods.
Natasha Bowen. Random House, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-12094-1. Ages 14 and up.
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata—a mermaid—collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods. The book received a starred review from PW.
Darcie Little Badger. Levine Querido, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64614-092-3. Ages 12 and up.
Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. He’s found a new home on the banks of the bottomless lake. Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries. The book received a starred review from PW.
Syed M. Masood. Little, Brown, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-49241-6. 14 and up.
Living in Sacramento, Calif., with his nearly 100-year-old great-grandfather, kind, dutiful Arsalan Nizami, 17, is eager to find a fiancée. Since he doesn’t believe that the most eminent matchmaker in Northern California would take him on as a client, he approaches her stepdaughter Beenish “Beans” Siraj, who is Muslim and Pakistani American like him. The book received a starred review from PW.
Garth Nix. HarperCollins/Tegen, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-304932-1. Ages 14 and up.
Nix makes a satisfying return to his Old Kingdom series with this prequel about Sabriel’s parents, Terciel and Elinor. Sympathetic characters, a unique magical system, and frightening foes guarantee broad appeal to teen and adult fantasy readers, whether established Nix fans or new to the series.
Asphyxia. Annick, $19.95 (388p) ISBN 978-1-77321-528-0. Ages 13–16.
Piper is struggling to conform to what her mother wants—for her to be “normal,” to pass as hearing, and get a good job. But in a time of food scarcity, environmental collapse, and political corruption, Piper has other things on her mind—like survival. The book received a starred review from PW.
Karen M. McManus. Delacorte, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-17586-6. Ages 14 and up.
Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day. When the three unexpectedly run into each other, they decide to ditch, just like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they spot another Carlton High student skipping school—and follow him to the scene of his own murder. See our feature on the continuing rise of YA thrillers.