Festive Reads

Kids of all ages love holidays, and they’ll love these celebratory books.

Goodnight Bubbala

Sheryl Haft, illus. by Jill Weber (Dial)

ISBN 978-0-525-55477-6, $17.99

In the small blue room there was a bubbala, and a little shmatta, and then—oy vey!—came the whole mishpacha! This affectionate parody of one of America’s favorite picture books offers a Hanukkah celebration that is full of family exuberance and love. Instead of whispers of “hush,” this festive bedtime story includes dancing and kvelling, and of course, noshing. Filled with Yiddish words, the book includes a phonetic glossary and even an easy latke recipe by cookbook author Ina Garten. Ages 2–5.

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Mitali Perkins, illus. by Sara Palacios (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

ISBN 978-0-374-30373-0, $17.99

Perkins, a YA author making a powerful picture book debut, and Palacios have created a story based around La Posada Sin Fronteras (“The Inn Without Borders”), a San Diego–Tijuana border wall tradition that occurs during the nine-day festival of Las Posadas (an afterword provides more background). Maria; her little brother, Juan; and their mother take a bus to the U.S. side to hear the Christmas story, sing carols, worship with other separated families, and have a fleeting face-to-face moment through the fencing with beloved Abuela, who has traveled from her Mexican village to see them for the first time in five years. But when Border Patrol won’t let Juan give Abuela his drawing of Mary and Joseph, Maria takes matters into her own hands and cleverly flies it over the wall as a kite. Ages 3–6.

The Crayons’ Christmas

Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers (Penguin Workshop)

ISBN 978-0-525-51574-6, $19.99

This addition to the wildly popular Crayons books is an interactive volume that features a box of anthropomorphized crayons. Everyone knows—even the Crayons—that the best presents are the ones that you give. Here readers join in as Duncan, the Crayons, and their families celebrate the festive season. This very gifty book has real, folded letters to pull from their envelopes and read, games, press-out ornaments, a poster, and a pop-up tree. Ages 3–up.

A Big Bed for Little Snow

Grace Lin (Little, Brown)

ISBN 978-0-316-47836-6, $18.99

This companion to A Big Mooncake for Little Star, for which Lin won a Caldecott Honor, stars a boy, Little Snow. As his mother fills his puffy, gray-blue bed with feathers at winter’s start, she reminds him that “this bed is for sleeping, not jumping.” Naturally, the minute she leaves and anytime she is absent, the child leaps onto his cloudlike bunk. When he does, “Tiny feathers squeezed out of his bed and fluttered down.” After a season’s worth of jumping, Little Snow springs so high and lands so hard on the bed that it tears, spilling the feathers. The next spread shows where all those feathers end up; though it’s not too hard to guess where that might be, the revelation charms. Classically drafted paintings convey the joy of release and weightlessness. A beguiling contemporary origin story. Ages 4–8.

The Shortest Day

Susan Cooper, illus. by Carson Ellis (Candlewick)

ISBN 978-0-7636-8698-7, $17.99

Newbery Medalist Cooper and Caldecott Honoree Ellis observe winter solstice, which Northern Europeans once celebrated. In Ellis’s subtle, mythical paintings, the sun—a large gray figure with a radiant head—slips away over a landscape first bright and brown, then deep with snow. As time speeds forward, three figures skip toward a modern house. Inside, children dance and sing—both Christmas tree and menorah are present—then tumble outside, a diverse, bundled-up crowd. “Welcome Yule!” they cry. Based on Cooper’s poem by the same name, originally written for a theatrical performance, this cyclical volume offers an alluringly haunting alternative to more familiar seasonal fare—one that is sure to serve as “lights of hope” on a dark season’s stage. Ages 4–8.


Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow)

ISBN 978-0-06-289487-8, $17.99

When chirpy bird Lucy visits bearlike Thomas, the earnest fellow is distressed (“bereft... forlorn”) that he has lost the basket of dried fruit he intended to use to bake a traditional confection (“A Winter’s Eve without wintercake. I ask you, what kind of holiday is that?”). Flying home in a blizzard, Lucy takes refuge in a bustling tearoom full of chatty animals—and she overhears one “tall, sleek” customer remark that he has found a basket of dried fruit, “perfect for wintercake.” Outraged, Lucy follows the “vile beast,” only to discover that he is returning the fruit to Thomas, who, relieved, suggests that he and the bird bake a wintercake, launching a heartwarming annual tradition. Perkins’s charmingly detailed, fanciful art and spontaneous narrative deliver an irrefutable message about the dangers of making snap judgments and the value of making amends—and friends. Ages 6–10.

For the Littlest Readers

These picture-packed books offer a multitude of delights.


Tatsuhide Matsuoka, trans. from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano (Gecko)

ISBN 978-1-776572-31-1, $12.99

This exuberant board book by Matsuoka still feels fresh and unique 19 years after its Japanese debut. Animals defy gravity by leaping vertically from recto to verso (or, when the book is held sideways, as intended, simply up). The animals are each introduced simply (“A frog jumps,” reads the initial spread), then the page turns and the action begins. Realistically detailed animals with stoic expressions and flamboyant moves lend a delightfully absurd mood. As a book to inspire movement, this one bounds. Ages 2–4.

Thunder Trucks

Cheryl Klein and Katy Beebe, illus. by Mike Boldt


ISBN 978-1-368-02460-0, $17.99

In the capable, imaginative hands of Klein and Beebe, an ordinary evening thunderstorm is transformed into a boisterous collaboration of construction vehicles—“Thunder Trucks.” As a child with a truck blanket settles in for bed, a group of charming trucks get to work on a storm just outside. Bulldozer pushes clouds into thunderheads and Crane stacks them up; Tanker creates the rain, and Dump Truck, “filled to the brink,” brings plentiful hail. But it’s Fire Truck that really steals the show, with hoses that “bubble and spray” and beacons that shoot lightning. In a grand finale, Big Rig arrives hauling thunder, which the vehicles cheerily divvy up and release with riotous, booming glee. Ages 3–5.


Barbara McClintock

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

ISBN 978-1-62672-217-0, $17.99

One evening, in this high-octane adventure, Annie fits her helmet over her mass of red curls with a big smile on her face, gets into her race car—a sleek, torpedo-shaped unit that sits low to the ground—and rockets right out of her open bedroom window. “It was a fine evening for a drive,” the narrator continues, with delicious understatement, as Annie and her car blast across an impossibly expansive vista of magnificent stretches of geography—before overtaking a surprised field of competitors on a race course and heading home. McClintock’s crisp, clean landscape spreads have the precision of architectural drawings, and her economically told story offers all the greatest charms of adventure: being on one’s own, seeing new places, and going really, really fast. It’s a richly gratifying fantasy. Ages 4–7.

Good Boy

Sergio Ruzzier (Atheneum)

ISBN 978-1-4814-9906-4, $15.99

This gem of a story by Ruzzier stars a boy in a green T-shirt that doesn’t quite meet his shorts who has an exceedingly well-trained dog. The comedy comes from the boy’s increasingly improbable commands, starting with the ordinary “sit,” stay,” and “roll over,” but progressing to the dog being commanded to juggle, cook meals, and repair a boat in which the two sail to an island, then blast into outer space. Ink-and-watercolor spot illustrations offer views of land and sea bathed in warm, golden light. The sparse text, the tidiness with which Ruzzier works out his concept, and the endearing qualities of his two heroes make the book a small classic. Ages 4–8.

Jon Klassen’s Hat Box

Jon Klassen (Candlewick)

ISBN 978-0-7636-6697-2, $49.99

In this very giftable boxed set, all three volumes in Klassen’s celebrated hat trilogy—I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat—are now available together. The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. A fish has stolen a hat; will he get away with it? Two turtles have found one hat, but the hat looks good on both of them. Klassen’s deliciously deadpan hat tales continue to surprise and delight young readers. Ages 4–8.

Picture Books

These beautifully illustrated books will please children of all ages.

Spencer’s New Pet

Jessie Sima (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN 978-1-5344-1877-6, $17.99

With many nods to silent film—including a black-and-white palette, elegant title cards dividing the story into three parts, and highly dramatic close-ups—Sima tells the nearly wordless story of a bespectacled boy and the dog he loves very much. Only the dog is no ordinary pooch: it’s a magical, bright red balloon critter (one of few uses of color in the book). Like a real dog, the balloon cuddles, does tricks, romps (or at least floats) through the park, and stops at fire hydrants. But the dog also has an uncanny sense for getting too close to anything that could spell doom for a balloon, whether it’s a hedgehog’s spines, an eagle’s talons, or a piñata stick. Finally, a classic party game hastens the inevitable, and that’s when Sima offers a spectacular visual surprise. Ages 4–8.


Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

ISBN 978-1-5344-2167-7, $17.99

Caldecott Honor artist Robinson’s wordless solo debut opens in the middle of the night, when a brown-skinned girl with beaded braids is woken by a disturbance: a black cat that looks just like hers slinks through a glowing hole in her bedroom wall, takes her cat’s mouse toy, and exits. She and her cat follow, eventually arriving at a place where children play and each child has “another”—

a double. Soon, the girl and her cat meet their own doubles, who enter upside down on the opposite page. Simple geometric shapes and expanses of empty space make the spreads easy to consider, and Robinson nails the pacing. Almost all children wonder whether there are others exactly like them somewhere out in the universe, doing the same thing at exactly the same time. By playing with that idea while juxtaposing similarity and difference, Robinson creates a speculative world and an adventure that will both puzzle and amuse. Ages 4–8.

How Do You Dance?

Thyra Heder (Abrams)

ISBN 978-1-4197-3418-2, $16.99

Heder imagines what happens when ordinary human beings dance everywhere, for any reason. On the title page, six children groove to a beat. One boy sits way over on the verso, reading a book. “Like this!” says one of the dancers. Heder explores dance with pages of graceful, rhythmic watercolors that show people of myriad ages, ethnicities, shapes, and abilities stretching, bopping, spinning, and swaying. Moves executed in exuberance climax in a gigantic, inclusive dance party complete with glittery disco ball. Heder’s stream of dancers encourages everyone to find a way to dance—even, perhaps, the most stubborn nondancers. Ages 3–7.

Pokko and the Drum

Matthew Forsythe (S&S/Wiseman)

ISBN 978-1-4814-8039-0, $17.99

“The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum,” begins this dark, hilarious tale. As Pokko marches across the colorful bed the frog family shares, her sticks poised for big blows, her father expresses deep misgivings. The next day, he prevails upon her to head outside—and she does, venturing into the surrounding woods alone. After Pokko resists the forest’s silence, “tapping on her drum,” a banjo-playing raccoon falls in behind her; then a rabbit with a trumpet appears, and the parade grows. Soon, it’s a throng, joined even by her noise-averse dad. Forsythe’s tapestry-like spreads give the tense, funny sequences a lush elegance marked by amusing visual asides, painterly interiors, and a triumphant parade. Ages 4–8.

Roar Like a Dandelion

Ruth Krauss, illus. by Sergio Ruzzier (HarperCollins)

ISBN 978-0-06-268007-5, $17.99

This mischievous abecedarian by the late, celebrated Krauss sat unpublished for decades, until Krauss’s longtime publisher and her estate’s executor agreed that Ruzzier was just the artist to illustrate it. In single-line poems, Krauss impishly works through the alphabet, writing unexpected commands that poke fun at the tedium of traditional, noun-based ABC fare. Ruzzier extends the surreal mood expertly with subtly hilarious results—his endearing creatures, with their too-big ears and wrinkly snouts, are by turns dignified and joyful as they engage in playful vignettes reminiscent of early Sendak. The spreads create an irresistible, deliciously subversive invitation to turn one’s back on the tiresome. Ages 4–8.


Oge Mora (Little, Brown)

ISBN 978-0-316-43127-9, $18.99

Ava’s mother works six days a week, so Saturday, their only day together, “was the day they cherished.” Despite a practiced plan and tickets to a “one-night-only puppet show,” though, this one isn’t going particularly well. The library’s story time is canceled, a car’s splash ruins their salon ’dos, and the park is too noisy and crowded to be peaceful. But Ava’s mother reassures her: “Today will be special. Today will be splendid. Today is SATURDAY!” Carefully paced repetition structures the family’s experiences, and Mora’s brilliantly colored collages convey their trip through the city with elegant energy; their figures dance across the pages, and sometimes the words do, too. Ages 4–8.

For Adventure Seekers

For kids who like thrills and chills, these books will be read—and reread.

Mission One: The Plant Planet (AstroNuts #1)

Jon Scieszka, illus. by Steven Weinberg (Chronicle)

ISBN 978-1-4521-7119-7, $14.99

Scieszka and Weinberg begin a new middle grade series with this tale of ecological stewardship and teamwork centered on the search for a Goldilocks planet: neither too hot nor too cold, and able to sustain human life. The mission’s engineered, untested animal astronauts include four hybrids: AstroWolf, ultra-organized SmartHawk, nurturing (and electromagnetic) LaserShark, and odiferous StinkBug, all members of NNASA (Not the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Ages 8–12.

The Strangers: Greystone Secrets #1

Margaret Peterson Haddix


ISBN 978-0-06-283837-7, $17.99

In Ohio, the Greystone kids—responsible Chess, math-savvy Emma, and excitable Finn—have established a pleasant life with their mother years after their father’s death. Until, that is, the day they find their mother weeping and wan over a news story about three kidnapped Arizona kids. After their mom disappears on a “work trip” the very next day, the Greystones receive a cryptic farewell and a coded letter that makes them wonder if they’re connected to the kidnapped children. It’s up to all three to crack the code and search out answers. A secret-stacked, thrilling series opener. Ages 8–12.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

Kwame Mbalia (Disney-Hyperion/Riordan)

ISBN 978-1-368-03993-2, $17.99

In this triumphant middle grade debut inspired by West African mythology and African-American folk tales, black seventh grader Tristan Strong is sent from Chicago to spend the summer on his grandparents’ Alabama farm. When a talking doll named Gum Baby steals his prized book of stories, Tristan pursues, accidentally tearing a hole between the farm and the myriad lands of Alke. There, he encounters such legendary folk heroes as hammer-swinging John Henry and wily Brer Fox. Mbalia expertly weaves a meaningful portrayal of family and community with folklore, myth, and history—including the legacy of the slave trade—creating a fast-paced, heroic series starter. Ages 8–12.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Christian McKay Heidicker, illus. by Junyi Wu (Holt)

ISBN 978-1-250-18142-8, $16.99

An ancient fox storyteller presents eight interwoven tales to seven intrepid fox kits in this inventive middle grade debut by Heidicker. As each tale grows progressively darker, Mia and Uly must question their fearlessness and consider returning to the safety of their mother’s side. Beguiling, intricate, black-and-white illustrations enrich the text. An entertaining read for those who enjoy spooky animal thrills. Ages 9–12.

His Hideous Heart

Edited by Dahlia Adler (Flatiron)

ISBN 978-1-250-30277-9, $18.99

Presenting 13 reinterpretations of Poe’s works alongside the originals, this enticing anthology offers an accessible, multifaceted reading experience for fans old and new. A refreshing assortment of diverse voices and contemporary themes ensures there’s something for everyone in this delightful compilation. Ages 12–up.


Rosaria Munda (Putnam)

ISBN 978-0-525-51821-1, $18.99

Lee and Annie have been close friends since the bloody revolution nine years earlier that freed Callipolis from the reign of the despotic dragon-born aristocracy. Now, both teens are top competitors for the position of Firstrider, leader of a new fleet of dragon riders, and their privileged position allows them to see shortcomings in the new meritocracy seeking to elevate the downtrodden and redistribute power in their new society. Munda generates a plot that moves quickly, tempering fate-driven elements of classical tragedy with hope. Ages 12–up.


Brittney Morris (Simon Pulse)

ISBN 978-1-534-44542-0, $18.99

Morris’s not-to-be-missed YA debut explores gaming culture and the diversity of the African diaspora. When black teen Kiera Johnson creates a virtual reality game called Slay, she must keep her identity as its developer secret, for a variety of reasons. Her boyfriend insists that video games are “a distraction promoted by white society,” her parents will disapprove, and the students at her predominantly white school just won’t understand. But when the massively popular game’s existence is threatened after a dispute results in a player’s murder, and the media stirs controversy, a new player emerges, forcing Kiera to wager the game’s control in a duel to maintain her secret identity and avoid a discrimination lawsuit. This tightly written novel will offer an eye-opening take for many readers and speak to teens of color who are familiar with the exhaustion of struggling to feel at home in a largely white society. Ages 12–up.

Angel Mage

Garth Nix (HarperCollins/Tegen)

ISBN 978-0-06-268322-9, $19.99

Nix builds a Dumas-inspired world filled with angelic legions in this tremendous fantasy that follows Angel Mage Liliath, newly risen from more than a century of magical sleep and ready to reunite with the archangel of Ystara, whom she both loves and compels. Readers familiar with The Three Musketeers will see echoes of it here: a chance meeting among four friends, an intrigue with some jewelry, and Liliath in the role of the mysterious female foe. A unique magical system based on angel-summoning and icons, deft characterization—including male and female protagonists and LGBTQ representation—and an affectionate rendering of Dumas’s style will delight teen and adult fans of swashbuckling romance. Ages 14–up.


Sarah Deming (Make Me a World)

ISBN 978-0-525-58103-1, $17.99

This gritty, uplifting story follows Gravity Delgado, “half Dominican and half Jewish,” who begins boxing at age 12 and is preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics by age 16 while navigating familial and social matters. Deming takes readers into the riveting heart of amateur boxing, and she does so through the eyes of a tough, vulnerable protagonist. The well-paced plot gives readers a thrilling firsthand look inside a boxing ring, including psychological elements of the sport, while offering the layered tale of a dedicated, dazzling young woman. Ages 14–up.

Memorable & Moving

Middle graders and teens looking for stirring fare should enjoy this mix of stories that address various human dilemmas.

All the Greys on Greene Street

Laura Tucker, illus. by Kelly Murphy (Viking)

ISBN 978-0-451-47953-2, $16.99

It’s spring 1981, and Ollie, 12, is trying her best to keep her sculptor mother’s latest depressive episode a secret. Her mom hasn’t gotten out of bed since a week after Ollie’s art restorer father fled mysteriously to France in the middle of the night, leaving behind a cryptic note for Ollie alone. The cautious girl declines to share either piece of information with the sympathetic grown-ups in her life. Tucker skillfully balances themes of mental illness, friendship, and creativity under tough circumstances in her memorable debut. Ages 8–12.

I Can Make This Promise

Christine Day (HarperCollins)

ISBN 978-0-06-287199-2, $16.99

Debut author Day drew from her own experience as the daughter of a Native American adoptee to create the character of Edie Green, a 12-year-old budding artist who lives in Seattle with her parents. Edie has always known that her Native American mother was adopted and raised by a white family. Then Edie stumbles upon a box of photos and letters written by Edith Graham, a Suquamish and Duwamish aspiring actor from the 1970s. When her friends notice the striking similarity between Edie and Edith and her parents don’t answer Edie’s broad questions about her, Edie becomes convinced that the stranger is her namesake. Beyond the mystery, important themes resonate throughout, including cultural identity and what makes a friendship worth keeping. Ages 8–12.

More to the Story

Hena Khan (Salaam Reads)

ISBN 978-1-4814-9209-6, $17.99

This contemporary update of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women follows the Muslim, Pakistani-American Mizra family of Atlanta. Narrator Jameela, 13, is thrilled to be named features editor of her school newspaper and endeavors to write a spectacular article for her father. But when she focuses her story on examples of microaggressions told to her in confidence from a family friend, a crisis looms. Khan nimbly incorporates details of modern life and allusions to Alcott’s classic into a tale that is, fittingly, strongest in the moments when family dynamics are on display. Ages 8–12.

The Good Thieves

Katherine Rundell (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN 978-1-4814-1948-2, $17.99

After a swindling Prohibition-era robber baron cheats Vita’s grandfather out of his crumbling family castle on the Hudson River, she and her mother sail from England to assist him. Vita greets New York City “as a boxer greets an opponent before a fight.” Left to her own devices, she meets three talented children and, to help her grandfather, persuades them to join her in a heist: break into the castle and find an emerald necklace that belonged to her beloved late grandmother. Rundell’s subtle telling and her protagonists’ grit culminate in a dazzling tale of wild hope, lingering grief, admirable self-sufficiency, and intergenerational adoration. Ages 8–12.

The Next Great Paulie Fink

Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown)

ISBN 978-0-316-38088-1, $16.99

A wildly imaginative but never mean-spirited prankster, Paulie Fink was the life of Mitchell School. When he doesn’t appear on the first day of seventh grade, his classmates are bereft and largely ignore new-girl Caitlyn. To “pull Paulie back to us,” his classmates stage a reality TV–style competition to “find someone to play the role of Paulie. Someone whose official job it is to make school... memorable,” and they recruit Caitlyn to concoct challenges that reflect Paulie’s spirit. Genuinely original, the novel offers thoughtful perspectives on friendship, accepting change, and the many rewarding guises of storytelling, as well as a fully gratifying ending that the characters don’t see coming. Ages 8–12.

The Raymie Nightingale Three Book Collection

Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)

ISBN 978-1-5362-1038-5, $54.99

With the September publication of Beverly, Right Here, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo has completed her sequence of novels about the Three Rancheros. And now all three are available in a boxed set that includes Beverly and the first two, Raymie Nightingale (a National Book Award Finalist), and Louisiana’s Way Home. Ages 10–up.

The Downstairs Girl

Stacey Lee (Putnam)

ISBN 978-1-5247-4095-5, $17.99

In 1890 Atlanta, Chinese-American Jo Kuan, 17, and her guardian, Old Gin, live secretly in abolitionists’ quarters underneath the family home of Mr. Bell, publisher of a failing newspaper. When Jo loses her job as a milliner’s assistant, she reluctantly takes a job with her former employer, wealthy Mrs. Payne. Jo endures Mrs. Payne’s daughter’s cruelty each day, but after overhearing the Bells’ wish for an “agony aunt,” she anonymously offers her services as a columnist. As “Miss Sweetie,” she voices her true feelings about society’s ills in a cleverly written column that addresses many forms of prejudice, sparking controversy while increasing the newspaper’s subscriptions. This captivating novel celebrates the strengths and talents of marginalized people struggling to break society’s barriers in any age. Ages 12–up.

Ordinary Girls

Blair Thornburgh (HarperTeen)

ISBN 978-0-06-244781-4, $17.99

In this contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, 15-year-old Plum Blatchley is the quiet, introspective foil to her dramatic, excitable sister, 18-year-old Ginny. Their illustrator mother’s small income unexpectedly lost, Plum worries that they’ll be unable to keep their beloved old home, and Ginny’s anxiety about paying for college reaches a fever pitch. As the family scrambles to make ends meet, Plum develops a secret relationship with “Loud Sophomore Boy” Tate and begins to question her identity independent of her family and her late father’s authorial legacy. Thornburgh’s exploration of the power of social comedies and books by and about young women shines. A funny, beguiling story of sisterhood, burgeoning self-awareness, and first love. Ages 13–up.


Nic Stone (Crown)

ISBN 978-1-984829-62-7, $17.99

Gas ’n’ Go employee Rico Danger, 17, sells two lottery tickets to a woman with memory troubles. After Rico realizes that one of them may be worth $106 million, she begins obsessing about the winning ticket. Rico’s mother works too much and mismanages her meager earnings; Rico handles the family’s finances and works double shifts to make rent. When nobody claims the jackpot after several days, Rico enlists classmate Zan Macklin, a wealthy computer whiz, to help her track down the customer. Stone authentically portrays the precarious, terrifying act of living with far less than is needed to survive, and its financial and emotional fallout. Ages 14–up.

The Last True Poets of the Sea

Julia Drake. (Disney-Hyperion)

ISBN 978-1-368-04808-8, $17.99

In a strong debut loosely based on Twelfth Night, 16-year-old Violet’s family splinters after her brother Sam’s suicide attempt. Their parents enter counseling at home in New York City, Sam heads to Vermont for treatment, and party girl Violet is exiled to Lyric, Maine, where she lives quietly with her uncle, volunteers at the local aquarium, and reflects on her childhood with her brother. Drake’s suspenseful novel offers three strands of high drama: the impact of Sam’s mental illness on Violet, Violet’s family history, and a complicated love triangle with Violet in the middle. Violet emerges as a genuine, sympathetic protagonist struggling to create something new from the wreckage of her life. Ages 14–up.

Splashy Sequels

More is better when it comes to new books from favorite authors.

The Fowl Twins

Eoin Colfer (Disney-Hyperion)

ISBN 978-1-368-04375-5, $18.99

Colfer’s clever spin-off of the Artemis Fowl series focuses on Artemis’s twin younger brothers—hyperintelligent Myles and near-feral Beckett, both 11. With their older sibling on Mars, the fraternal twins are dragged into a madcap adventure when they’re kidnapped by Lord Teddy Bleedham-Drye, a 150-year-old duke seeking the secret to immortality. This fast-paced series opener is filled with unexpected betrayals, death-defying feats, and secret train cars. Ages 10–14.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha #2)

Tomi Adeyemi (Holt)

ISBN 978-1-250-17099-6, $19.99

Fans of Adeyemi’s bestselling breakout debut, Children of Blood and Bone, will welcome the second entry in her fantasy series inspired by West African mythology and #BlackLivesMatter. Not only did the inaugural title win her legions of fans but it also won great critical acclaim, including five starred reviews (one of them PW’s). In the high-stakes sequel, Zélie must save Orïsha from a civil war of magical proportions. Ages 14–up.

The Missing of Clairdelune (The Mirror Visitor Quartet #2)

Christelle Dabos, trans. from the French by Hildegarde Serle (Europa)

ISBN 978-1-60945-507-1, $20.95

Dabos’s follow-up to A Winter’s Promise finds protagonist Ophelia—a mirror-hopper who can divine objects’ histories via touch—still on an interplanetary shard called the Pole, awaiting her arranged marriage to Thorn, after which the couple will inherit each other’s abilities. Meanwhile, guests of the Pole’s impenetrable embassy, Clairdelune, start vanishing. Escalating stakes ratchet tension while a somewhat leisurely pace allows readers to savor Dabos’s spectacular settings, exquisitely rendered characters, and the ever-evolving relationships that bind them. Ages 14–up.

The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust #2)

Philip Pullman (Knopf)

ISBN 978-0-553-51067-6, $25.99

Twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage, and eight years after those of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra Silvertongue returns. Now a student searching for a refuge for separated daemons, the grown-up Lyra faces the difficult world as an adult. Pullman’s legions of fans—and the critics who adore him—will be thrilled with this long-awaited second entry in the Book of Dust trilogy. Ages 14–up.

Wayward Son (Simon Snow Series #2)

Rainbow Rowell (Wednesday)

ISBN 978-1-250-14607-6, $19.99

This sequel to Rowell’s #1 bestseller, Carry On, follows Chosen One Simon Snow and his friends, fresh from saving the world, into happily-ever-after—in the American West. Simon, Penny, and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the country, where they get hopelessly lost and run into dragons, vampires, and skunk-headed things with shotguns. Ages 14–18.

Children’s Visual Stories

These complex stories are perfect for visual learners and comics fans.

New Kid

Jerry Craft (HarperCollins)

ISBN 978-0-06-269119-4, $12.99

Riverdale Academy Day School is every parent’s dream for their child: It has a beautiful sprawling campus, a rigorous academic curriculum, and ample extracurricular activities. It’s also distinctly lacking in diversity. African-American new kid Jordan Banks would rather go to art school, but his parents have enrolled him, so he dutifully commutes to the Bronx from his home in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Artwork by Craft interweaves the story with Jordan’s sketchbook drawings, which convey the tension of existing in two markedly different places. This engaging story offers an authentic secondary cast and captures the hijinks of middle schoolers and the tensions that come with being a person of color in a traditionally white space. Ages 8–12.

The Seventh Voyage

Stanislaw Lem, illus. by Jon J Muth, trans. from the Polish by Michael Kandel (Graphix)

ISBN 978-0-545-00462-6, $19.99

Delicately washed panel artwork by Caldecott Honoree Muth (Zen Shorts) underscores the hilarity of late Polish author Lem’s short story, originally published in 1957. Unable to repair his spaceship’s rudder alone, astronaut Ijon Tichy enjoys a “modest supper,” works some calculations, and heads to bed. He’s awakened by another astronaut, but as there is no other astronaut—Tichy is the only one aboard—he dismisses the second as a phantom. Slowly the situation becomes clear: Tichy has entered a time loop, and the other astronaut is Tichy himself, as he exists 24 hours in the future. Lem follows the idea into absurdity as the Tichys multiply (“I saw my Monday self staring at me... while Tuesday me fried an omelet”), then descend into slapstick chaos. Ages 8–12.


Kyo Maclear, illus. by Byron

Eggenschwiler (Groundwood)

ISBN 978-1-55498-972-0, $19.95

Taking on friendships, crushes, cliques, and music culture, Maclear offers an honest, deeply respectful look at what is at the core of belonging and isolation for teenagers. Charlie Noguchi narrates her middle-school existence through the lens of her music teacher’s assignment to “choose a song for this moment in your life and write about it.” Lush illustrations by Eggenschwiler are color coded for the characters—with red for Maria Callas, the singer Charlie claims for her own and whose biography is threaded through the present-day story. With poetic words and pictures, Maclear and Eggenschwiler create a synesthetic experience that captures all the high and low notes of youth. Ages 10–14.

Queen of the Sea

Dylan Meconis (Walker Books US)

ISBN 978-1-5362-0498-8, $24.99

Meconis offers an atmospheric alternate history inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I in this quietly ambitious graphic novel. Margaret is the only child in a remote island convent, lonely until Lady Cameron and her son, William, exiles from the island of Albion, arrive and William and Margaret become constant companions. William’s departure years later leads Margaret to discover difficult truths about her island home and the sisters who inhabit it. Meconis constructs the plot with carefully paced revelations and story elements that echo, build, and amplify each other. Art in soft, earthy colors brings this singular story to life in styles ranging from simple line drawings to elaborately styled text illuminations. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community, and Margaret proves herself an endearing heroine, with a strong voice full of humor and wonder. Ages 10–14.

This Was Our Pact

Ryan Andrews (First Second)

ISBN 978-1-62672-053-4, $21.99

Creepy yet benign, this leisurely graphic novel opens on the autumn equinox, when a community sends paper lanterns down a river. Five boys and a bullied tagalong science fanatic named Nathaniel make a pact to find out where the lanterns go. But the vow proves daunting, and Nathaniel and the narrator, Ben, are soon alone on a bridge at the edge of town. They pledge to soldier on, unaware of a hulking shadow creature that rises from the river below. Andrews crafts a phantasmagoria of events that recall animation from Studio Ghibli and Cartoon Saloon. Scenes unfold beneath the Milky Way in twilit dark-blue and charcoal-gray panels, while flashbacks and industrial interiors in glowing ember hues amplify a simmering sense of threat. Picaresque episodes and a dreamlike resolution conjure a giddy sensation, like staying up all night. Ages 10–14.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second)

ISBN 978-1-250-31284-6, $24.99

Laura Dean is a terrible girlfriend. Self-absorbed and careless, she breaks up with Frederica, 16, for the fourth time, via text message after being caught cheating at a school dance. But Freddy loves Laura Dean, and they’re soon back together—sort of. Bold, clean lines and pink highlights characterize rich art by Valero-O’Connell as panels breathily dense with the personal details of the characters’ lives morph to suit each meaningful scene. A largely queer and physically and ethnically diverse cast inhabit this vision of teenage Berkeley. This exploration of toxic relationships and social dynamics at the cusp of adulthood is, like its characters, sharp and dazzling. Ages 14–up.

Nonfiction For Curious Minds

Books in this list will appeal to budding scientists, historians, poets, and fact-seekers alike.

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys

Mike Unwin, illus. by Jenni Desmond (Bloomsbury)

ISBN 978-1-5476-0097-7, $18.99

A bat-speckled sky over Kasanka Forest, a colorful blizzard of monarchs in a Mexican wood, penguins ribboning across an Antarctic plateau, a sea of scuttling scarlet crabs—these are some of the dazzling images that make turning every page of this book a delight. Unwin presents the epic journeys of 21 diverse species, from dragonflies to whales, one per spread, adroitly relating the marvels of each creature’s migration. Desmond’s expert illustrations shimmer on the page, capturing the fragility and abundance of the natural world. Ages 5–8.

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality

David Roberts

(Walker Books US)

ISBN 978-1-5362-0841-2, $25

Roberts’s handsomely illustrated history of the battle for women’s suffrage in the U.K. and the U.S. makes its American debut in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Though heavily tilted toward events and key figures in the U.K., the detailed chronological account covers the multipronged fight for the vote on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of the diverse activists, such as journalist Ida B. Wells, are featured on pages of yearbook-style captioned portraits. Others receive longer treatment, as do pivotal protests. A conversational narrative, aesthetically pleasing page design, and stunning visuals keep the complex topic accessible. Ages 7–10.

Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island

Jennifer Thermes (Abrams)

ISBN 978-1-4197-3655-1, $19.99

The latest cartographic picture book from Thermes maps Manhattan Island’s evolution from a glacially carved, flora- and fauna-rich wilderness into a bustling New York City borough. Full-page pictorial maps—befitting the book’s large trim size—document Manhattan’s south-to-north transformation. Ink-and-watercolor illustrations in soft hues depict the progression from villages of the Native Lenape people to colonial Dutch and British settlements and, finally, to a dense, diverse, skyscraper-filled city. Like Manhattan itself, much is packed into this handsomely illustrated history. Back matter includes an extensive timeline and selected source list, while endpapers show a complete map of the modern city. Ages 8–12.

I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage

Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illus. by Simone Shin et al. (Lee & Low)

ISBN 978-1-620143-11-7, $19.99

Compiled by Hopkins, the book treats readers to an intimate look into the childhoods of poets such as Naomi Shihab Nye and Kwame Alexander. Every writer’s section opens with a personal dictum from both poet and artist, and the following poems evoke an immediacy that connects readers with another’s memory—of travel, food, ritual, story—while drawing out readers’ own fond remembering. The corresponding artwork demonstrates a wonderful range of visual language and technique; there is truly something for everyone in these pages. A rich celebration of the cultures and moments that shape people. Ages 8–up.

Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America

Steve Sheinkin, illus. by Bijou Karman (Roaring Brook)

ISBN 978-1-62672-130-2, $19.99

In this riveting account, Newbery Honor author Sheinkin, for Bomb, introduces 20 American pilots who flew in the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, from Santa Monica, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio. How the women deftly handled weather, accidents, fires, and exhaustion are among the accounts. Even threats of sabotage, scorn from the media, and sexual discrimination failed to dissuade the determined flyers from crossing the finish line. Historical photos and Karman’s realistic drawings bring to life famous women, such as Amelia Earheart, along with lesser-known flyers. With immediacy and vivid detail, Sheinken’s thoroughly researched account of these daring women will capture the imagination of contemporary readers. Ages 10–14.