Ring in the new year and drive out the winter doldrums with our selection of buzzy new stories for young readers. Find out how a prolific activist got their start on their journey to becoming a prominent part of history; join a young ballerina as she learns what it means to be part of a family of dancers; discover the story of a young Medusa; and much more.

Picture Books and Early Readers

Because Claudette

Tracey Baptiste, illus. by Tonya Engel. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-32640-4. Ages 6–8.

When 15-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a segregated bus on March 2, 1955, she had no idea she was about to make history. This picture book biography pays tribute to her pivotal role in the civil rights movement. The book received a starred review from PW.

Cornbread & Poppy

Matthew Cordell. Little, Brown, $15.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5486-3. Ages 4–8.

Cornbread loves planning. Poppy does not. Cornbread is ready for winter. Poppy is not. But Cornbread and Poppy are the best of friends, so when Poppy is left without any food for the long winter, Cornbread volunteers to help her out. The book received a starred review from PW.

The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Laura Freeman. Random House Studio, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-30650-5. Ages 6–9.

Best known as a voice for people of color and an advocate for equal opportunity, Elijah Cummings was a warrior for equality and change. Weatherford and Freeman introduce this politician and civil rights champion, detailing his inspiring story. The book received a starred review from PW.

Just Help! How to Build a Better World

Sonia Sotomayor, illus. by Angela Dominguez. Philomel, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-20626-3. Ages 4–8.

In a story inspired by her own family’s desire to help others, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes young readers on a journey through a neighborhood where kids and adults, activists and bus drivers, friends and strangers all help one another to build a better world for themselves and their community.

Kick Push

Frank Morrison. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0592-7. Ages 3–6.

Epic loves skateboarding, but after moving to a new neighborhood and struggling to find his new skating crew, he ditches his board to try out other sports, to disastrous results. Dejected and defeated, Epic heads home, where his father encourages him to stay true to himself. The book received a starred review from PW.

Love in the Library

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illus. by Yas Imamura. Candlewick, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0430-8. Ages 6–9.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast now live in prison camps like Minidoka. Trying not to think of the life she once had, Tama works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in stories bursting with love and fairness. The book received a starred review from PW.


Matthew Forsythe. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (68p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8041-3. Ages 4–8.

Mina and her father live in a hollowed-out tree stump on the edge of a pond on the edge of a forest. Nothing ever bothers Mina, until her father brings home a suspicious surprise from the woods.

Olu and Greta

Diana Ejaita. Rise x Penguin Workshop, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-38490-9. Ages 3–5.

Olu lives in Lagos, Nigeria; his cousin, Greta, lives in Milan, Italy. Though their lives may be different, their ways of living and playing are quite similar. They both roller skate; they both skip down the street; they both play with toy trains, trucks, and they both dream of meeting and being together. The book received a starred review from PW.

On Baba’s Back

Marianne Dubuc. Princeton Architectural Press, $9.95 (24p) ISBN 978-1-61689-912-7. Ages 1–4.

Koko and Baba are a very close koala family, so close that Koko does everything on Baba's back. Then one day, when Koko wants to do something different, he takes his first step off Baba's back to go explore. The book received a starred review from PW.

When the Schools Shut Down: A Young Girl’s Story of Virginia’s “Lost Generation” and the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Decision

Yolanda Gladden, as told to Tamara Pizzoli, illus. by Keisha Morris. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-301116-8. Ages 4–8.

This autobiographical picture book presents the untold story of an African American girl who lived during the shutdown of public schools in Farmville, Va., following the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The book received a starred review from PW.

Where Is Bina Bear?

Mike Curato. Holt/Godwin, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-76220-7. Ages 4–8.

Tiny is having a party, but Bina Bear is nowhere to be found. Is that Bina hiding under a lampshade? Searching for Bina, Tiny realizes something is wrong—and sets out to make it right. The book received a starred review from PW.

The Year We Learned to Fly

Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Rafael López. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-54553-5. Ages 5–8.

On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice to get creative. And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. The book received a starred review from PW.

Middle Grade

Code Name: Serendipity

Amber Smith. Razorbill, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-20491-7. Ages 8–12.

It’s been an awful start to the school year for Sadie. Her best friend moved away, her older brother is a jerk, and her grandfather is having more and more trouble keeping his memories straight. But when she comes across a stray dog, she discovers something wonderful and magical—she and the dog can communicate telepathically.

Dream, Annie, Dream

Waka T. Brown. Quill Tree, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-301716-0. Ages 8–12.

As the daughter of immigrants, Annie Inoue was raised to dream big. At the start of seventh grade, she’s channeling that hope into becoming the lead in her school play. But when Annie succeeds in landing an impressive role, she starts to hear grumbles from her white classmates.. Annie decides to show everyone what she’s made of.


Gary Paulsen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-31420-0. Ages 10–14.

When a deadly plague decimates his fishing village, an orphan named Leif is forced to take to the water in a canoe. He flees northward, following a wild, fjord-riven shore, navigating from one danger to the next, unsure of his destination. Yet the deeper into his journey he paddles, the closer he comes to his truest self. The book received a starred review from PW. Read our tribute to the late Paulsen.

The Odds

Matt Stanton. HarperAlley, $19.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-306894-0. Ages 8–12.

Kip is a quiet kid in a loud city. She’s easy to miss and that’s the way she likes it, until one day, Kip’s quiet life is suddenly interrupted. Ten of her favorite characters have stepped out of their worlds and into hers.

Operation Sisterhood

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. Crown, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-37989-9. Ages 8–12.

Bo and her mother always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend, his daughter, twins, the twins’ parents, along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t sure there is room for her.

Snow Struck

Nick Courage. Delacorte, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-30349-8. Ages 8–12.

Neither Elizabeth nor her little brother, Matty, have ever been north of Georgia. When they fly to New York City to spend the holidays with their cousin Ashley, they want to experience one thing: snow. Ashley can’t wait to show her cousins how magical Manhattan is. But instead of a week of fun, what they get is an arctic blast that knocks out the power and plunges the skyscrapers into darkness.

Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene

Emma Otheguy. Knopf, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-37263-0. Ages 8–12.

It’s a good thing Sofía Acosta loves dreaming up costumes, because otherwise she’s a ballet disaster, unlike her parents, who danced under prima ballerina Alicia Alonso. When the Acostas host their dancer friends from Cuba for a special performance with the American Ballet Theatre, Sofía learns there’s more than dance holding her family together.

Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Ibi Zoboi. Dutton, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-399-18738-4. Ages 10 and up.

Zoboi illuminates the life of visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poems and prose. Born into the Space Race, the Red Scare, and the dawning civil rights movement, Butler experienced an American childhood that shaped her into a groundbreaking science-fiction storyteller.

Young Adult

Ain’t Burned All the Bright

Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3946-7. Ages 12 and up.

Author Reynolds and artist Griffin, friends and previous collaborators, explore race and recent events in America through a poetic multimedia partnership told in three “breaths.” See our In Conversation with Reynolds and Griffin. The book received a starred review from PW.


Dana Schwartz. Wednesday, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-77415-6. Ages 13 and up.

With an elegantly macabre touch, Schwartz stitches a haunting romance with the gritty realities of corpse-related medical practices in 19th-century Edinburgh. See our q&a with the author here.

Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life

Marilyn Nelson. Little, Brown/Ottaviano, $18.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-316-29802-5. Ages 14 and up.

Augusta Savage was arguably the most influential American artist of the 1930s. A gifted sculptor, she was commissioned to create a portrait bust of W.E.B. Du Bois for the New York Public Library. After being denied an artists’ fellowship abroad on the basis of race, Savage worked to advance equal rights in the arts. The biography in verse received a starred review from PW.

Coming Back

Jessi Zabarsky. Random House Graphic, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-12002-6. Ages 12 and up.

Zabarsky’s sophomore graphic novel is set on an island where individuals can shift form and shape elements, and where children are born through seeds left behind by the dead. When a strange, harmful mist emerges from the library that houses their people’s history, nonmagical Valissa volunteers to descend into the island’s depths. The book received a starred review from PW.


Sophie Burrows. Algonquin, $22.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-64375-239-6. Ages 16 and up.

Destiny drives this lonely hearts tale, a graphic novel debut about yearning and missed connections between two Londoners. Nearly wordless, Burrows’s pencil panels picture two singletons who pass like clumsy ships in the night. See our q&a with author-illustrator Burrows.

Lawless Spaces

Corey Ann Haydu. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3706-7. Ages 14 and up.

Mimi’s relationship with her mother has always been difficult. But lately, her mother has been acting more withdrawn than usual, leaving Mimi to navigate the tricky world of turning 16 alone. What she doesn’t expect is her mother’s advice to start journaling—just like all the woman in her family before her. The book received a starred review from PW.


Jessie Burton, illus. by Olivia Lomenech Gill. Bloomsbury, $19.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0759-4. Ages 14 and up.

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted by desire, love, betrayal, and destiny itself. The book received a starred review from PW.

My Fine Fellow

Jennieke Cohen. HarperTeen, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-304753-2. Ages 13 and up.

In this gender-bent retelling of My Fair Lady, when Penelope and Helena meet Elijah, a golden opportunity arises: to pull off a project never seen before, and turn Elijah from a street vendor to a gentleman chef. The book received a starred review from PW.

Vinyl Moon

Mahogany L. Browne. Crown, $18.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-593-17643-6. Ages 14 and up.

When Darius told Angel he loved her, she believed him. But five weeks after a violent incident, Angel finds herself in Brooklyn, far from her family, from him, and from the California life she has known. The book received a starred review from PW.

Waking Romeo

Kathryn Barker. Flatiron, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-25017-410-9. Ages 12 and up.

It’s the end of the world and time travel is possible, but only going forward. Only a handful of families choose to remain in the now, living off the scraps left behind. Among them are 18-year-old Juliet and the love of her life, Romeo. But Romeo lies in a coma and Juliet is estranged from her friends and family due to the fallout of their romance. Then a mysterious time traveler arrives from the future with a mission that makes Juliet question everything she knows. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Barker.

When You Get the Chance

Emma Lord. Wednesday, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-78334-9. Ages 12 and up.

In this Mamma Mia! re-imagining, nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. But Millie needs an ally. When Millie discovers her father’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, she decides she is going to find her mother, based on three possible candidates. The book received a starred review from PW.