Summer continues to bring on the heat in the form of new books dropping this month. Readers can embrace the beach weather along with a picture book about a sea creature’s contributions to an ecosystem, a middle grade novel following a foodie tween’s road trip, a contemporary YA novel examining bullying, complicity, and social media, and more.

Picture Books and Early Readers

Bibsy Cross and the Bad Apple

Liz Garton Scanlon, illus. by Dung Ho. Knopf, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-5936-4441-6; $6.99 paper ISBN 978-0-593-64440-9. Ages 7–10. Ebullient eight-year-old Bibsy Cross lands in Mrs. Stumper’s class and struggles when the teacher doesn’t appreciate Bibsy’s enthusiasm. The book received a starred review from PW.

The Case of the Golden Bone (Detective Sweet Pea #1)

Sara Varon. First Second, $22.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-23637-1. Ages 6–10. Blue-hued pooch Sweet Pea and her new friends sniff out the perpetrator who’s stolen the legendary Golden Chew Bone on display at the Parkville Art Museum.

City of Leafcutter Ants: A Sustainable Society of Millions

Amy Hevron. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5318-4. Ages 4–8. Via vivid prose, Hevron introduces the leafcutter ants of Central America’s tropical forests, beings whose highly organized social structure supports millions of inhabitants. The book received a starred review from PW.

Desert Song

Laekan Zea Kemp, illus. by Beatriz Gutiérrez Hernández. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5392-4. Ages 4–8. A desert sunset cues a large family to make music alongside “the coyotes, the cicadas,/ and the giant barn owls....// a chorus in need of a band,” in this lyrical picture book. The book received a starred review from PW.

The First Week of School

Drew Beckmeyer. Atheneum, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-6659-4042-9. Ages 4–8. A classroom full of different kinds of students come together when they discover an extraterrestrial peer. The book received a starred review from PW.

Home in a Lunchbox

Cherry Mo. Penguin Workshop, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-5936-6134-5. Ages 4–8. Jun, who has recently moved from Hong Kong to an American suburb, finds comfort in the food prepared for her in a lunchbox. See Mo’s essay on the real-life inspiration behind her story. The book received a starred review from PW.

Life After Whale: The Amazing Ecosystem of a Whale Fall

Lynn Brunelle, illus. by Jason Chin. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5228-6. Ages 4–8. Magnificent watercolor and gouache spreads by Caldecott Medalist Chin capture the grace of a blue whale in life alongside the bustling ecosystem that surrounds it in death, as its body provides nourishment for countless creatures that “will feed, grow, have babies, and thrive on the body of this whale.” The book received a starred review from PW.

Little Shrew

Akiko Miyakoshi. Kids Can, $19.99 (72p) ISBN 978-1-5253-1303-5. Ages 5–8. Miyakoshi examines the everyday life of a small shrew who lives modestly among humans. The book received a starred review from PW.

Soul Step

Jewell Parker Rhodes and Kelly McWilliams, illus. by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu. Little, Brown, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-56271-3. Ages 4–8. A young narrator seeks knowledge from Mama and her close circle about the history of step—an act that underlines the book’s high-level exploration of sisterhood and Black culture. See our In Conversation with the mother-daughter collaborators.

The Yellow Bus

Loren Long. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-250-90313-6. Ages 3–6. This thought-provoking story by Long models how a cast-aside object, such as the titular yellow bus, might endure. See our q&a with Long.

Middle Grade

The Cookie Crumbles

Tracy Badua and Alechia Dow. Quill Tree, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-063254-58-9. Ages 8–12. After the attempted murder of a judge derails a cooking competition for tween bakers, “soon-to-be eighth graders” Lucy and Laila resolve to find the would-be killer. See our In Conversation with Badua and Dow.

Dinner at the Brake Fast

Renee Beauregard Lute. Quill Tree, $18.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-063324-90-9. Ages 8–12. Tacoma Jones and her parents run the Brake Fast Truck Stop, but long to try new foods. After her father’s treasured photograph goes missing, Tacoma resolves to track it down, believing that its retrieval will help her dad navigate his latest depressive episode. The book received a starred review from PW.

The New Girl

Cassandra Calin. Graphix, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-338-76246-4; $12.99 paper ISBN 978-1-338-76245-7. Ages 8–12. Having just moved from Romania to Montreal with her family, Lia struggles to acclimate to their new home: the language barrier makes befriending her new classmates a challenge and, worst of all, she’s been experiencing extremely painful menstrual cramps. See our Flying Starts interview with Calin. The book received a starred review from PW.

A Place to Shine

Marie Arnold. Versify, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-325175-5. Ages 8–12. As their grandmother’s health worsens due to dementia, Sunny Williams and her eight-year-old brother Miles are determined to avoid the foster care system. Believing that the cure for her grandmother’s failing memory rests in the pages of her favorite book, Sunny searches Chicago for the magical components. The book received a starred review from PW.

Red Bird Danced

Dawn Quigley. Heartdrum, $18.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-0632-2362-2. Ages 8–12. Ojibwe author Quigley crafts the story of Ariel and Tomah, two Ojibwe kids learning to cope with sorrowful life events. The book received a starred review from PW.

The Spindle of Fate

Aimee Lim. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-2508-8619-4. Ages 8–12. Twelve-year-old Chinese American Evie Mei Huang traverses the netherworld searching for her mother.

The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman

Gennifer Choldenko. Knopf, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1892-3. Ages 10 and up. Eleven-year-old Hank Hooperman’s mother has disappeared, forcing him and his little sister to stay with a family friend. There, Hank continues his search for his mother, unaware that it could carry disastrous consequences.

Young Adult


Samuel Teer, illus. by Mar Julia. Versify, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-358-39475-4; $18.99 paper ISBN 978-0-3583-9474-7. Ages 14 and up. Almost-15-year-old Almudena meets her father for the first time in this affecting 1995-set graphic novel exploration of identity and family. The book received a starred review from PW.

The Color of a Lie

Kim Johnson. Random House, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-11880-1. Ages 12 and up. In 1955, Black 17-year-old Calvin is told by his family to present himself as white by disassociating from anything rooted in Black culture. When he witnesses Black new student Lily being mistreated by his white peers, he uses his passing privilege to defend her, setting him on a path toward liberating other Black youth. The book received a starred review from PW.

The Deep Dark

Molly Knox Ostertag. Graphix, $27.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-338-84000-1; $16.99 paper ISBN 978-1-338-83999-9. Ages 14 and up. High school senior Mags and childhood friend Nessa rekindle their easy friendship and unearth memories from their past of a boy’s decade-old accidental death and its cause, which is caged in Mags’s basement to protect everyone—except Mags herself. See our q&a here. The book received a starred review from PW.

If You Can’t Take the Heat

Michael Ruhlman. Penguin Workshop, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-52344-5. Ages 12 and up. A talented jock discovers a passion for cooking after a grievous injury sidelines him for the summer in this savory 1980s read set in Cleveland. The book received a starred review from PW. See our q&a with Ruhlman on bringing his culinary expertise to his first YA novel.


Matteo L. Cerilli. Tundra, $17.99 (328p) ISBN 978-1-77488-230-6. Ages 14 and up. Cerilli delivers a stunning debut in this gripping paranormal horror novel about queer teens growing up in a community that doesn’t accept them, and the insidious danger of apathy. The book received a starred review from PW.

Looking for Smoke

K.A. Cobell. Heartdrum, $19.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06331-867-0. Ages 13 and up. Blackfeet teens have been going missing for month, and the latest case lands friends of the victim Rayanne, Loren, Eli, Brody, and Mara as suspects. See our Flying Starts interview with Cobell. The book received a starred review from PW.

Louder Than Words

Ashley Woodfolk and Lexi Underwood. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-338-87557-7. Ages 12 and up. When new student Jordyn Jones is targeted by an anonymous podcast revealing students’ secrets, Jordyn sets out to unmask the podcaster and take a stand against bullying—even as she endures escalating threats demanding that she publicize her own deep, dark secret. See our In Conversation with Woodfolk and Underwood.

Of Jade and Dragons

Amber Chen. Viking, $20.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-593-62275-9. Ages 12 and up. Following the murder of her father, Ying makes her way to the renowned, male-dominated Engineers Guild, the place where her father achieved great success—and where he stored his secrets. Ying gains a spot in the guild’s apprenticeship trial and throughout the ordeal, she contends with guild masters who held contempt for her father, mechanical beasts on the prowl, and the killer, still at large. See our Flying Starts interview with Chen.

Spilled Ink

Nadia Hashimi. Quill Tree, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-306049-4. Ages 13 and up. Following a racist incident at an open mic, Afghan American 17-year-old Yalda Jamali and her family face discrimination and violence from their town. The book received a starred review from PW.

Take All of Us

Natalie Leif. Holiday House, $19.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5661-1. Ages 14 and up. As his body and mind decay after dying and coming back to life, Ian and his new allies investigate what triggered their town’s sudden evacuation as well as what’s reanimating the dead. The book received a starred review from PW.

There Is a Door in This Darkness

Kristin Cashore. Dutton, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-803739-99-4. Ages 12 and up. Cashore examines themes of grief informed by the 2020 presidential election and the Covid-19 pandemic via a speculative narrative in this intimate read. See our q&a with Cashore.