May is bursting with plenty of books worth reading. Join a group of problem-solving kids as they rescue their island from traffic; follow an AI robot traveling through space to reunite friends; discover if three dates is all it takes to fall in love; and more in our roundup of some of the big new books for young readers.
Anne Hunter. Tundra, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6909-5. Ages 3–7.
The gift of gab proves deeply funny in Hunter’s earnest portrait of early language acquisition. The book received a starred review from PW.
Claude Ponti, trans. from the French by Alyson Waters and Margot Kerlidou. Elsewhere, $20 (48p) ISBN 978-1-953861-18-4. Ages 5–9.
Blaze’s quest to make the most extravagant birthday cake ever for his best friend’s birthday is filled with comedic antics. The book received a starred review from PW.
Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-536203-93-6. Ages 3–7
When a truck blocks off the island’s single road, it’s the island’s children who work together to resolve the problem. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Van Dusen.
Minh Lê, illus. by Dan Santat. Knopf, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593377-46-8. Ages 3–7.
Following a unique child's maturation from babyhood to adult, this picture book captures the quick pace of growing up.
JonArno Lawson, illus. by Qin Leng. Candlewick, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0842-9. Ages 4–8.
While their parents lounge, three children work together to build a sandcastle designed to last all day. The book received a starred review from PW.
Derick Wilder, illus. by K-Fai Steele. Chronicle, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-8212-4. Ages 3–5.
On a walk to school, a father and child answer the question “Which things do and don’t have butts?” in this comedic picture book. The book received a starred review from PW.
Doug Salati. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-30843-1. Ages 4–8.
A city-dwelling dachshund finds respite from the scorching summer heat with its human for the day, in this portrait of escape and renewal. The book received a starred review from PW.
Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey, with Mo Willems. Hyperion, $10.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-368-07584-8. Ages 5–8.
Four critters of varying size and color use their unique skills and work together to create a sign for their new club. The book received a starred review from PW.
Tiffany Haddish and Jerdine Nolen, illus. by Jessica Gibson. HarperCollins, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-311387-9. Ages 4–8.
In this picture book by comedian and actor Haddish, Layla, the only jet-black unicorn in a sea of pastels, struggles to connect with her new peers until a school field trip gives her the chance to showcase her unique talents and become a class hero.
The Fan Brothers. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-5344-8317-0. Ages 4–8.
Lizzy purchases a cloud on a string and, despite her diligent care, learns to set things she loves free.
Bernette G. Ford, illus. by Frank Morrison. Holiday House, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4786-2. Ages 4–8.
Three Black siblings assist their Uncle John in a city housing development’s garden and spend the summer watching it grow until a season’s-end barbecue.
Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Leo Espinosa. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 ISBN 978-0-399-54549-8. Ages 5–8.
A group of children explore the possibilities of adventure once the final school bell has rung. The book received a starred review from PW.
David Levithan. Knopf, $17.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-593-48468-5. Ages 8–12.
Set in a Virginia township, through the alternating perspectives of two fifth graders, and excerpts from a fictional novel, Levithan’s novel spotlights book banning and friendship. The book received a starred review from PW.
Coe Booth. Scholastic, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-93334-6. Ages 9–12.
Returning home from summer camp, Caprice discovers her estranged maternal grandmother’s health is failing, and she and her parents face the cause for the long-standing rift in their family. The book received a starred review from PW.
Sophie Anderson. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-74621-1. Ages 8–12.
Olia and her formerly royal family still live inside a magical castle, but when an oncoming storm reveals a rivalry between an old wizard and Olia’s family, she must go to great lengths to save her home and prevent a catastrophe. The book received a starred review from PW.
Elise Broach, illus. by Ziyue Chen. Little, Brown/Ottaviano, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-31135-9. Ages 8–12.
Singer Mirabelle, her once-famous pianist neighbor Mr. Starek, and new piano student Michael Jin, are drawn together through their love of music in this tale of friendship. The book received a starred review from PW.
Mac Barnett, illus. by Shawn Harris. HarperCollins/Tegen, $15.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-308408-7. Ages 8–12.
In this adaptation of the “Live Cartoon” Instagram series of the same name, when rats from another galaxy begin devouring the moon, Earth’s smartest scientists dispatch a cybernetically enhanced cat—the First Cat in Space—to deal with the threat. The book received a starred review from PW.
Tracy Badua. Clarion, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-358-61289-6. Ages 8–12.
Freddie Ruiz believes he’s found the cure to the “Ruiz Family Curse” of bad luck with an amulet granting the owner good fortune. But when the amulet releases vengeful spirits, Freddie only has 13 days to save their family and break the Ruiz Cruse for good, or else he will stay trapped in the amulet forever. The book received a starred review from PW.
Dhonielle Clayton, illus. by Khadijah Khatib. Holt, $16.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-17494-9. Ages 8–12.
The first Conjuror to enroll at the elite Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors, Ella Durand isn’t warmly welcomed by her Marveller peers. But when a Marveller from the Conjuror-watched prison escapes, Ella seeks to clear her reputation—and the reputations of Conjure folk everywhere. The book received a starred review from PW.
Lauren Wolk. Dutton, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-55559-9. Ages 10 and up.
In this sequel to Wolf Hollow, after being struck by lightning, Annabelle now has the ability to sense the feelings of animals, and is brought face-to-face with an old adversary. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Wolk.
Lindsay Eagar. Candlewick Press, $19.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-536204-68-1. Ages 10–14.
Eight-year-old Duck has only known the life of petty larceny learned from the gang that rescued her as a baby. Duck is crucial in their upcoming scheme, which requires her to apprentice to a baker and slip the crew coins and bread, but when Duck discovers an affinity for baking and settles into her new home, she fears discovery and betraying both sides. The book received a starred review from PW.
Rachel Elliott. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $21.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-0629-9574-2. Ages 8–12.
Riley Rayes struggles to find her footing in fifth grade, and her focus on her art and her favorite female comic leads to a revelation about her sexuality. The book received a starred review from PW.
Margarita Engle. Viking, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-20669-0. Ages 8–12.
Following her family’s move from Cuba to Santa Barbara, Calif., and being bullied at school for her accent, Oriol finds solace in the many animals at her family’s veterinary clinic. When a baby elephant gets separated from his family, Oriol finds her voice to help reunite them. The book received a starred review from PW.
A.F. Steadman. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-6659-1273-0. Ages 8–12.
Skandar dreams of participating in the prestigious Chaos Cup, and when he connects with a unicorn with banned magical capabilities, Skandar must keep these powers a secret while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the forbidden element. See our First Look at the highly anticipated series debut.
Johnnie Christmas. HarperAlley, $21.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-305676-3. Ages 8–12.
Bree does everything she can to steer clear of water activities, but swimming seems to be a way of life in Florida, and a full-up elective math course lands her in the only course still open: Swim 101. The book received a starred review from PW.
Ali Standish. HarperCollins, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-298568-2. Ages 8–12.
In small-town Appalachia during WWII, 13-year-old Danny Timmons feels safe with new friend Jack. When Jack suddenly goes missing, Danny is determined to find him, no matter the cost. The book received a starred review from PW.
Michael C. Rex. Viking, $22.99 (272p) ISBN 978-05932-0633-1. Ages 7–10.
In a post-apocalyptic future, brothers Plug and Pug inadvertently activate an outdated toy, AI robot Your Pal Fred, who is programmed to “spread kindness, friendship, and good vibes.” When the two brothers are separated, Fred travels the dog-eat-dog universe to unite them. The book received a starred review from PW.
Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson. Delacorte, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-43111-5. Ages 14 and up.
Agatha Christie fan Alice Ogilvie disappears after being dumped by her boyfriend for her best friend Brooke, but when her return isn’t met with the concern she’s expecting, she becomes a school pariah. Then Brooke goes missing, and Alice puts her sleuthing knowledge to use to find her. [See our In Conversation with Glasgow and Lawson]. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/89146-in-conversation-kathleen-glasgow-and-liz-lawson.html
Daniel José Older. Disney/Riordan, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-368-07082-9. Ages 12 and up.
A new resident to Little Madrigal, Brooklyn, Mateo Matisse learns that he is a descendent of a god, though he has no plans to use his powers until his neighborhood is rocked by violence and political infighting. With the help of another descendent ally, Mateo discovers San Madrigal’s buried history, and the two challenge their understanding of their lost home. The book received a starred review from PW.
Joya Goffney. HarperTeen, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-302484-7. Ages 13 and up.
“Good girl” Monique is left reeling after her boyfriend breaks up with her because intercourse is too painful, and when it’s suggested that she may have vaginismus, Monique attempts to come to terms with her condition and interrogates the varying sources of shame that have cultivated her fear about her sexual desires. The book received a starred review from PW.
E. Lockhart. Delacorte, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-48585-9. Ages 12 and up.
In this highly anticipated prequel to 2014’s We Were Liars, Carrie, bereft over the loss of her youngest sister, stays on the family’s private island, and plays host when her uncle, cousin, and three surprise visitors arrive, unleashing several ugly family secrets as events stress-test the sisters’ bonds. The book received a starred review from PW.
Brigid Kemmerer. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (560p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0912-3. Ages 13 and up.
In this story set in Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker universe, Syhl Shallow and Emberfell are at peace and magic reigns in Syhl, to the disapproval of some of its residents. Friends Jax and Callyn are offered money in exchange for sneaking messages to an anti-magic cohort and accept, but face the consequences when the King’s Courier comes to town, searching for traitors. The book received a starred review from PW.
Jadzia Axelrod, illus. by Jess Taylor. DC Comics, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4012-9853-1. Ages 13–17
Basketball star Taylor Barzelay, a seemingly white and cisgender 16-year-old boy, is really alien princess Taelyr, living undercover in a body she doesn’t want, until a new friend inspires her to shed her disguise, placing her at odds with her family and their small town. The book received a starred review from PW.
R.M. Romero. Peachtree Teen, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-68263-338-0. Ages 14 and up.
When violinist Ilana is sent to Prague for the summer, she finds a deserted Jewish cemetery on the hill where she meets—and falls in love with— Benjamin, a ghost. After she discovers the rest of the hidden ghost universe around her, Ilana’s love of violin and blossoming relationship with Benjamin are used to lure her into remaining in Prague. The book received a starred review from PW.
Samira Ahmed. Little, Brown, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-3162-8264-2. Ages 12 and up.
High school freshman Jawad Ali is murdered after bringing a jet pack to school that is mistaken for a suicide bomber vest. Spurred on by Jawad’s ghost, aspiring journalist Safiya Mirza works to solve the murder, a journey that forces her to face dark truths about their community. The book received a starred review from PW.
Casey McQuiston. Wednesday, $19.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-24445-1. Ages 13 and up.
Chloe Green is surprised when popular Shara Wheeler kisses her on prom night, then disappears. Enlisting the help of two others who were kissed-and-ditched by Shara, Chloe and these unexpected new allies go on a scavenger hunt to find the missing girl. The book received a starred review from PW.
Kate Scelsa. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-246503-0. Ages 13 and up.
Following a disastrous breakup, Eleanor Anderson meets Pixie, who invites Eleanor to join a coven to “save their town’s soul,” but soon begins falling for her instead. The book received a starred review from PW.
Elizabeth Acevedo, illus. by Andrea Pippins. Quill Tree, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-293194-8. Ages 13 and up.
In this visual poem, Acevedo confronts the cultural specter of hair-related prejudice through the lens of colonial history and Afro-Dominican identity. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Acevedo.
R. Eric Thomas. Kokila, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-32618-3. Ages 12 and up.
When Harrison’s best friend Linus reveals that he’s moving away from their Baltimore hometown to South Carolina, Harrison, inspired by a viewing of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, surprises Linus with a day full of memorable experiences across Baltimore, all while avoiding their protective parents’ watchful eyes. The book received a starred review from PW.
Ebony LaDelle. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-66590-815-3. Ages 12 and up.
Danielle Ford avoids dating until she encounters classmate Prince—also known as Detroit radio relationship expert DJ LoveJones—who wagers that he can get her to fall in love with him in three dates. The book received a starred review from PW.
Cory McCarthy. Dutton, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-5933-5370-7. Ages 14 and up.
Trans nonbinary swimmer River’s chance encounter with agender former classmate Indigo leads to a friendship over a course of years, as Rover navigates dysphoria, internalized queerphobia, and self-discovery. The book received a starred review from PW.
Kendall Kulper. Holiday House, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4972-9. Ages 14 and up.
Ruby Newhouse may seem like a flighty flapper, but she’s actually a mind-reading vigilante, poisoning her town’s criminals. When her father’s life is threatened, she works with a shapeshifting ally to get to the bottom of it.
Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-6659-0192-5. Ages 14 and up.
Aspiring journalist Barrett Bloom is stuck reliving an embarrassing first day of school with classmate Miles, and the two wonder if maybe there’s something she—or they—need to learn together. The book received a starred review from PW.
Jen Ferguson. Heartdrum, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-308616-6. Ages 13 and up.
Spending her summer working at her uncle’s ice cream shop, Lou navigates her newly discovered demisexual identity, her uncles’ business being at risk, and her father’s insistence on making contact after time in prison. The book received a starred review from PW.
Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Favreau. Little, Brown, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5701-7. Ages 12 and up.
This nonfiction volume blends stories of historic Black activists with those of today’s prominent movers and shakers, to shed light on the changemakers of America’s history and explore how inequality affects every aspect of society, from housing laws to healthcare. The book received a starred review from PW.