Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Mail: Anthologies, graphic novels, nonfiction, and more!

It’s only in the past few weeks that all three people in my household have been vaccinated. I took a year leave from school, my son did distance learning from March of 2020 thorough this entire past school year, and my husband has been working from home this whole time too. If there is an illness to get, my body will get it. So we really have been hunkered down at home forever, with little other human interaction. I’ve always been a huge fan of mail, but in the past year-plus, it’s pretty much been the highlight of my day. If I’m lucky, the neighbor’s dog will be out and will run over to nuzzle me while I get the mail. So to say that I am thrilled to be getting so much book mail again is an understatement. I’m glad for it for the sake of books going out again, ARCs arriving again, AND for delivering something fun to me most days.

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything! But I really do try!

All descriptions from the publishers.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (ISBN-13: 9781984812537 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-17)

Get Out meets Holly Jackson in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

Now You Say Yes by Bill Harley (ISBN-13: 9781682632475 Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company Publication date: 08/01/2021, Ages 10-14)

When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Mari and is desperate to avoid being caught up in the foster system. Again. And to complicate matters, she is now the only one who can take care of her super-smart and on-the-spectrum nine-year-old stepbrother, Conor.

Is there anyone Mari can trust to help them? Certainly not her mother’s current boyfriend, Dennis. Not the doctors or her teachers, who would be obliged to call in social services. So in a desperate move, Mari takes Conor and sets out to find their estranged grandmother, hoping to throw themselves at the mercy of the only person who might take them in.

On their way to New England, the duo experiences the snarls of LA traffic, the backroads of the Midwest, and a monumental stop in Missouri where they witness the solar eclipse, an event with which Conor is obsessed. Mari also learns about the inner workings of her stepbrother’s mind and about her connections to him and to the world…and maybe even a little about her own place in it.

A beautiful exploration of identity and family, this heartwarming and engaging middle grade novel comes from renowned storyteller and two-time Grammy Award winner Bill Harley.

Accused: My Story of Injustice by Adama Bah, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016632 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #1, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young woman shares her harrowing experience of being wrongly accused of terrorism.

Adama Bah grew up in East Harlem after immigrating from Conakry, Guinea, and was deeply connected to her community and the people who lived there. But as a thirteen-year-old after the events of September 11, 2001, she began experiencing discrimination and dehumanization as prejudice toward Muslim people grew. Then, on March 24, 2005, FBI agents arrested Adama and her father. Falsely accused of being a potential suicide bomber, Adama spent weeks in a detention center being questioned under suspicion of terrorism.

With sharp and engaging writing, Adama recounts the events surrounding her arrest and its impact on her life—the harassment, humiliation, and persecution she faced for crimes she didn’t commit. Accused brings forward a crucial and unparalleled first-person perspective of American culture post-9/11 and the country’s discrimination against Muslim Americans, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

Hurricane: My Story of Resilience by Salvador Gomez-Colon, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016656 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #2, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young man shares how he combated Puerto Rico’s public health emergency after Hurricane Maria.

Suffering heavy damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rican communities lacked access to clean water and electricity. Salvador Gómez-Colón couldn’t ignore the basic needs of his homeland, and knew that nongovernmental organizations and larger foreign philanthropies could only do so much. With unstoppable energy and a deep knowledge of local culture, Salvador founded Light and Hope for Puerto Rico and raised more than $100,000 to purchase and distribute solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to households in need.

With a voice that is both accessible and engaging, Salvador recalls living through the catastrophic storm and grappling with the destruction it left behind. Hurricane brings forward a captivating first-person account of strength, resilience, and determination, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn (ISBN-13: 9780525515609 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 12-17)

From Los Angeles Times Book Prize Award winner and Edgar Award nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and a powerful story of how friendship saves and heals.

When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday, she knows it’s going to be one of her mother’s difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. This one involves Amandla wearing a bedsheet loosely stitched as a dress. An outfit, her mother says, is certain to bring Amandla’s father back home, as if he were the prince and this was the fairytale ending their family was destined for. But in truth, Amandla’s father has long been gone—since before Amandla was born—and even her mother’s memory of him is hazy. In fact, many of her mother’s memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It’s just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks—that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is Black.

When Amandla finds a mysterious address in the bottom of her mother’s handbag along with a large amount of cash, she decides it’s finally time to get answers about her mother’s life. What she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever. But with her best friends at her side, Amandla is ready to take on family secrets and the devil himself. These Sugar Town queens are ready to take over the world to expose the hard truths of their lives.

Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury (Illustrator), Nate Powell (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419730696 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 13-18)

First you march, then you run. From the #1 bestselling, award–winning team behind March comes the first book in their new, groundbreaking graphic novel series, Run: Book One

To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory. But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.

A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert (ISBN-13: 9781635830651 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 14-18)

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2) by Jordan Ifueko (ISBN-13: 9781419739842 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 08/17/2021 Series: Raybearer Series, Ages 12-18)

The hotly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling YA fantasy about Tarisai’s quest to change her fate

For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.

Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer (ISBN-13: 9781250822956 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 13-18)

Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman—after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’—and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know—she’d feel—if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover—or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely—and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help—from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young (ISBN-13: 9781250823724 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12-18)

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.

When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora by Saraciea J. Fennell (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781250763426 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-18)

Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latinx contributors, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is a ground-breaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope.

In Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth. Full of both sorrow and joy, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed is an essential celebration of this rich and diverse community. 

The bestselling and award-winning contributors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Cristina Arreola, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Naima Coster, Natasha Diaz, Saraciea J. Fennell, Kahlil Haywood, Zakiya Jamal, Janel Martinez, Jasminne Mendez, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Julian Randall, Lilliam Rivera, and Ibi Zoboi.

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab by Priya Huq (ISBN-13: 9781419740190 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 10-18)

In this middle-grade graphic novel, Nisrin will have to rely on faith, friends, and family to help her recover after she is the target of a hate crime

Nisrin is a 13-year-old Bangladeshi-American girl living in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2002. As she nears the end of eighth grade, she gives a presentation for World Culture Day about Bangladesh while wearing a traditional cultural dress. On her way home, she is the victim of a hate crime when a man violently attacks her for wearing a headscarf.

Deeply traumatized by the experience, Nisrin spends the summer depressed and isolated. Other than weekly therapy, Nisrin doesn’t leave the house until fall arrives and it’s time for her to start freshman year at a new school. The night before class starts, Nisrin makes a decision. She tells her family she’s going to start wearing hijab, much to their dismay. Her mother and grandparent’s shocked and angry reactions confuse her—but they only strengthen her resolve.

This choice puts Nisrin on a path to not only discover more about Islam, but also her family’s complicated relationship with the religion, and the reasons they left Bangladesh in the first place. On top of everything else, she’s struggling to fit in at school—her hijab makes her a target for students and faculty alike. But with the help from old friends and new, Nisrin is starting to figure out what really makes her happy. Piece by Piece is an original graphic novel about growing up and choosing your own path, even if it leads you to a different place than you expected.

The Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story by Sonia Hartl (ISBN-13: 9781645673149 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 14-17)

Getting over Your Vampire Ex is as Easy as Killing Him and Stealing His Girlfriend

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.

To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman (ISBN-13: 9781984816702 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 12-17)

In this dark and twisty feminist historical mystery, a teenage girl starts a new life as a grave robber but quickly becomes entangled in a murderer’s plans.

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her “aunt.” With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as a maid for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage’s coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share—for a price.

Molly’s estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt’s trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt’s property. Enigmatic Doctor LaValle’s lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance.

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (ISBN-13: 9781547604661 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 13-17)

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down. 

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand. 

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion—it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited. 

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most—but it’s still not enough. 

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first. 

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis (ISBN-13: 9781547606375 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-11)

Perfect for fans of Robert Beatty and Shannon Hale comes a magical new middle grade fantasy series about a young shapeshifter trying to save her family.

Deep within an enchanted forest lies a castle where a set of triplets and their sorceress mother have lived for years—safe from the decades-long war for the Raven Throne that rages in the kingdom. Cordelia, one of the triplets, has the power to become any animal with just a thought, and she yearns to discover more about the world outside her castle.

But one day, the world comes to her, when the eldest of the triplets becomes the newest heir to the throne. Knowing that being named heir means certain death, Cordelia’s mother hid the truth about which child is the eldest when she hid them in the forest. When her family is captured, it’s up to Cordelia to use her powers to keep her siblings hidden and discover the truth about the Raven Heir—before it’s too late.

From the author of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes a thrilling new fantasy full of magic, adventure, and the power of family.

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames (ISBN-13: 9781645672067 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 14-17)

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider (ISBN-13: 9780593351024 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/21/2021 Series: Emry Merlin #1, Ages 14-17)

Channeling the modern humor of A Knight’s Tale, bestselling author Robyn Schneider creates a Camelot that becomes the ultimate teen rom-com hotspot in this ultra-fresh take on the Arthurian legend. 

Welcome to the great kingdom of Camelot! Prince Arthur’s a depressed botanist who would rather marry a library than a princess, Lancelot’s been demoted to castle guard after a terrible lie, and Emry Merlin has arrived at the castle disguised as her twin brother since girls can’t practice magic.

Life at court is full of scandals, lies, and backstabbing courtiers, so what’s a casually bisexual teen wizard masquerading as a boy to do? Other than fall for the handsome prince, stir up trouble with the foppish Lord Gawain, and offend the prissy Princess Guinevere.

When the truth comes out with disastrous consequences, Emry has to decide whether she’ll risk everything for the boy she loves, or give up her potential to become the greatest wizard Camelot has ever known.

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (ISBN-13: 9780063008106 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 8-12)

Three kids who don’t belong. A room that shouldn’t exist. A year that will change everything.

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Meg Medina, this debut middle grade novel from award-winning author Mark Oshiro is a hopeful and heartfelt coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in.

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

As If on Cue by Marisa Kanter (ISBN-13: 9781534445802 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 12-18)

A pair of fierce foes are forced to work together to save the arts at their school in this swoony YA enemies-to-lovers romance that fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson are sure to adore.

Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on.

But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.

Except Natalie and Reid.

Because after spending their entire lives in competition, they have absolutely no idea how to be co-anything. And they certainly don’t know how to deal with the feelings that are inexplicably, weirdly, definitely developing between them…

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (ISBN-13: 9781250268396 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 09/28/2021 Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #1, Ages 13-18)

Once Upon a Broken Heart marks the launch of a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after from Stephanie Garber, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another. 

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game — and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman, Arielle Jovellanos (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781534492974 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 12-18)

Moxie meets the world of animation in this fresh, unputdownable novel about a teen girl determined to prove herself in the boys’ club of her dream industry no matter what it takes.

Hayley Saffitz is confident, ambitious, and intent on following in the footsteps of her hero, renowned animation director, Bryan Beckett. When she’s given a spot in his once-in-a-lifetime summer program, Hayley devises a plan: snag one of the internship’s coveted directing opportunities. Dazzle Bryan with her talent. Secure a job post-graduation. Live her dream.

Except she doesn’t land one of the director positions. All of those go to boys. And one of them is Bryan’s son, Bear.

Despite Bear’s obvious apathy for the internship, Hayley soon realizes that there’s more to him than she expected. As they work together, the animosity between them thaws into undeniable chemistry and maybe something… more.

But Hayley can’t stop thinking about the chance she was refused.

Determined to make a name for herself, Hayley recruits the five other young women in the program to develop their own short to sneak into the film festival at the end of the summer. As the internship winds down, however, one question remains: Will Hayley conform to the expectations of her idol, or will she risk her blossoming relationship with Bear—and her future—to prove that she’s exactly as talented as she thinks she is?

Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley (ISBN-13: 9781645673323 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the critically acclaimed author of Deposing Nathan comes an explosive examination of identity, voice, and the indelible ways our stories are rewritten by others.

In the beginning, Owen’s story was blank . . . then he was befriended by Lily, the aspiring author who helped him find his voice. Together, the two have spent years navigating first love and amassing an inseparable friend group. But all of it is upended one day when his school’s administration learns Owen’s secret: that he was sexually assaulted by a classmate.

In the ensuing investigation, everyone scrambles to hold their worlds together. 

Owen, still wrestling with his self-destructive thoughts and choices. 

His father, a mission-driven military vet ready to start a war to find his son’s attacker. 

The school bureaucrats, who seem most concerned with kowtowing to the local media attention. 

And Lily, who can’t learn that Owen is the mystery victim everyone is talking about . . . because once she does, it will set off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

Heartbreaking and hopeful, this is a coming-of-age story that explores how we rebuild after the world comes crumbling down.

Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman (ISBN-13: 9781534482531 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 10/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

In the debut middle grade novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Gayle Forman comes a poignant and powerful coming-of-age story that follows a young girl and her new friend as they learn about family, friendship, allyship, and finding your way in a complicated world.

It’s the summer of 1987, and all ten-year-old Bug wants to do is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out with the locals on the boardwalk. But Danny wants to be with his own friends, and Bug’s mom is too busy, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor Philip’s nephew, Frankie.

Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And as the summer unfolds, they find themselves learning some important lessons about each other, and the world.

Like what it means to be your true self and how to be a good ally for others. That family can be the people you’re related to, but also the people you choose to have around you. And that even though life isn’t always fair, we can all do our part to make it more just.

Hunting by Stars: (A Marrow Thieves Novel) by Cherie Dimaline (ISBN-13: 978-1-64700-247-3 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 12-17)

From the acclaimed author of The Marrow Thieves comes a thrilling new story about hope and survival that New York Times bestselling author Angeline Boulley called “a revelatory must-read”

Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams.

Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.

Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers—school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go—and how many loved ones is he willing to betray—in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales, Cale Dietrich (ISBN-13: 9781250805805 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 12/07/2021, Ages 13-18)

Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s “If This Gets Out is an absolute showstopper! Equal parts edgy and adorable, this bright, joyful book has everything I look for in a queer YA romance.” —Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long (ISBN-13: 9781250785060 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 12-18)

Meg Long’s Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a captivating debut about survival, found family, and the bond between a girl and a wolf that delivers a fresh twist on classic survival stories and frontier myths. 

On a frozen wasteland of a planet, a girl is on the run with a wolf who is born to be a killer but bound to be her guide. As they fight to escape ice goblins, giant bears, and a ruthless leader intent on trapping them both, one question drives them relentlessly forward: where do you turn when there is nowhere to hide?

Post-It Note Reviews: Friendship, ghosts, true stories, late-night adventures, and more!

Post-it Note Reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.

Frequent blog readers may have noticed I’m doing a lot more post-it-style reviews and less longer, individual review posts. Partially this is because my way of coping with the many upsetting pieces of the past year has been to drown myself in reading, so I’m burning through so many more books and want to share them, in some form, here. It’s been so hard for authors to be able to promote their books, through things like release parties or festivals or other events, and I want to share as many books as I can particularly these days to help them get the exposure they deserve.

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description.

Pawcasso by Remy Lai (ISBN-13: 9781250774491 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 8-12)

Remy Lai, the award-winning creator of Pie in the Sky makes her middle-grade graphic novel debut, Pawcasso, about the unexpected friendship between the loneliest girl in class and the coolest canine in town.

Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list, and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes eleven-year-old Jo, peering out the window of her house, bored and lonely. Astonished by the sight of an adorable basket-toting dog on his own, Jo follows Pawcasso, and when she’s seen alongside him by a group of kids from her school, they mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner. 

Excited to make new friends, Jo reluctantly hides the truth and agrees to let “her” dog model for an art class the kids attend. What could go wrong? But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows Great Dane-sized when animal control receives complaints about a dog roaming the streets off-leash. With Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships?

(POST-IT SAYS: A great dog book AND a great friendship book. Jo, who is also angry and sad about how often her dad is gone for work, learns so much about friendship and community with the help of good dog Pawcasso.)

Metropolis Grove by Drew Brockington (ISBN-13: 9781779500533 Publisher: DC Comics Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 8-12)

Look, up in the sky!

The big city is full of Superman sightings, but here in Metropolis Grove? Every kid in this suburb knows that he’s not real…except newcomer Sonia Patel. She’d hoped that having a full summer in her new house would let her make some friends before school started, and it’s working! 

But if new pals Duncan and Alex don’t believe in a superhero she’s seen with her very own two eyes, will the school year be everything Sonia’s hoping for? Or will all her lonely fears be realized instead? Maybe she just needs to introduce her new friends to the super-strong, super-powered man who lives in the cave with all the super-memorabilia. 

Drew Brockington sends this trio into a school year full of drama and adventure…and more than a few opportunities for a newfound friendship to test its limits.

(POST-IT SAYS: Really fun fast-paced story with bright, appealing art. The 3 friends have lots of fun working on their fort and exploring the woods. Sonia’s efforts to “train” Bizarro are hilarious.)

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (ISBN-13: 9780593111154 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 10-12)

A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity

It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light—Bug is transgender.

(POST-IT SAYS: What a lovely, heartfelt, affirming story. As much about grief and friendship as it is about coming out as trans. An essential read—the acceptance, hope, and love highlight the joy in being your true self.)

Trillium Sisters 1: The Triplets Get Charmed by Laura Brown, Elly Kramer, Sarah Mensinga (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781645950158 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Trillium Sisters, Ages 7-9)

Three sisters discover that they and their pets have superpowers they can use to protect the world around them in the first book in a fantastical new chapter book series about family, friendship, and environmental responsibility perfect for fans of Mia Mayhem and The Wish Fairy.

Nothing can stop this triple team!

Eight-year-old triplets Emmy, Clare, and Giselle are excited to celebrate Founding Day, the day their dad found them and they became a family. The girls want this year’s celebration to be extra special. And Dad has a big sur¬prise—trillium petal charms that he found with the girls. 

But when the girls’ little brother, Zee, slips into the river while helping them plan a special surprise, something magical happens: The charms are drawn together, forming a glowing flower, and the girls suddenly have super¬powers! Channeling their new abilities, they work together to try to save Zee, but will they be able to figure out how to help in time?

(POST-IT SAYS: Young readers who like the outdoors, cute animals, and magic will enjoy this cheerful, undemanding series. Large print and lots of art make for a fast read.)

Accused: My Story of Injustice by Adama Bah, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016632 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #1, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young woman shares her harrowing experience of being wrongly accused of terrorism.

Adama Bah grew up in East Harlem after immigrating from Conakry, Guinea, and was deeply connected to her community and the people who lived there. But as a thirteen-year-old after the events of September 11, 2001, she began experiencing discrimination and dehumanization as prejudice toward Muslim people grew. Then, on March 24, 2005, FBI agents arrested Adama and her father. Falsely accused of being a potential suicide bomber, Adama spent weeks in a detention center being questioned under suspicion of terrorism.

With sharp and engaging writing, Adama recounts the events surrounding her arrest and its impact on her life—the harassment, humiliation, and persecution she faced for crimes she didn’t commit. Accusedbrings forward a crucial and unparalleled first-person perspective of American culture post-9/11 and the country’s discrimination against Muslim Americans, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

(POST-IT SAYS: Unsurprisingly, a very upsetting look at Islamophobia, detainment, bravery, and perseverance. Told in a simple, straight-forward, effective way. Publisher suggests 9-12 for audience, but I’d say 11-14.)

Hurricane: My Story of Resilience by Salvador Gomez-Colon, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016656 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #2, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young man shares how he combated Puerto Rico’s public health emergency after Hurricane Maria.

Suffering heavy damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rican communities lacked access to clean water and electricity. Salvador Gómez-Colón couldn’t ignore the basic needs of his homeland, and knew that nongovernmental organizations and larger foreign philanthropies could only do so much. With unstoppable energy and a deep knowledge of local culture, Salvador founded Light and Hope for Puerto Rico and raised more than $100,000 to purchase and distribute solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to households in need.

With a voice that is both accessible and engaging, Salvador recalls living through the catastrophic storm and grappling with the destruction it left behind. Hurricane brings forward a captivating first-person account of strength, resilience, and determination, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

(POST-IT SAYS: A harrowing look at living through a hurricane and the aftermath. The author’s activism to raise money to help people around him is inspirational. This compelling read would be made even more so if photos had been included.)

Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset and Sunrise by Laura Silverman (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781643750415 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-18)

When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.

It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours.

Full contributor list: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia.

(POST-IT SAYS: Fun anthology! Mix of genres, identities, and late night hijinks. Games, storms, bonfires, homes, dance, rooftops, and more are settings for these stories of what teens get up to at night.)

The History of Western Art in Comics Part One: From Prehistory to the Renaissance by Marion Augustin, Bruno Heitz (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823446469 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 07/20/2021, Ages 10+)

Learning about art through the ages has never been as interesting or fun as in this humorous and very informative graphic novel.

As two kids give their grandpa a tour of Paris, he starts an interesting conversation with them—about where all the art they see in their lives—from the movie house to the stadiums to museums and even the subway— started. Dad’s impromptu history lesson goes back to the first Cavemen drawings to the pyramids of Giza, and by the end of the book includes Greco-Roman feats of ingenuity and the frescoes of the Renaissance. Recounted as a narrative about why different civilizations created different kinds of art, centuries of art history are explored entertainingly for young readers. Iconic works, such as Donatello’s David and The Book of Kells, are included as well as architectural feats like the Colosseum. 

Written by a tour guide for museums and historic landmarks, the text is designed to entertain (with many funny asides and jokes) as it informs. The illustrations accurately portray the art and the artists described, with flavor and humor added to keep readers turning the page. Reproductions of the featured artworks and information about each piece are included in the back, along with a glossary of terms.

(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely crammed with art and information. A deep exploration of history, technique, meaning, significance, style, and influences. Educational and entertaining. A great, if slightly overwhelming, look at art in context.)

Book Mail: 33 New and Forthcoming Books to Add to Your TBR List!

Wow, has their been a major uptick in physical book mail arriving at my house. So glad so many physical galleys are still being printed, because for me, that’s still my preferred way to read. Check out the haul from the past few weeks here in this post!

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything! But I really do try!

All descriptions from the publishers.

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (ISBN-13: 9781524740986 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 12-17)

From the critically-acclaimed author of The Downstairs Girl comes the richly imagined story of Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British-Chinese acrobats traveling aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America. 

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

Paper Heart by Cat Patrick (ISBN-13: 9781984815347 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 10-12)

In this companion to Tornado Brain, a moving tale of loss and healing comes full circle.

Tess has always understood her role in her family. She is supposed to be the “okay” one. The one no one has to worry about. But all Tess does is worry, constantly picking at her fingers every time a new worry arises. Still grieving her best friend’s death, she is consumed by the fear that everything was her fault and her sadness that Colette is never coming back. Worse still, it seems like everyone else has found a way to move on, even her twin sister Frankie. When her mom decides a change of location might do her good, Tess finds herself on an airplane bound for her aunt’s house in small town Wyoming and a summer vacation attending art camp.

Tess thinks she might never be able to move on from losing Colette but her quirky but determined cousin Kennedy and new friend Izzy are determined to help. When Tess becomes convinced that Colette’s ghost might be haunting her, Kennedy and Izzy find new ways for Tess to make peace with the past and finally let go of the grief that has been haunting her heart.

Switch by A. S. King (ISBN-13: 9780525555513 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 14-17)

A surreal and timely novel about the effects of isolation and what it means to be connected to the world from the Printz Award-winning author of Dig.

Time has stopped. It’s been June 23, 2020 for nearly a year as far as anyone can tell. Frantic adults demand teenagers focus on finding practical solutions to the worldwide crisis. Not everyone is on board though. Javelin-throwing prodigy Truda Becker is pretty sure her “Solution Time” class won’t solve the world’s problems, but she does have a few ideas what might. Truda lives in a house with a switch that no one ever touches, a switch her father protects every day by nailing it into hundreds of progressively larger boxes. But Truda’s got a crow bar, and one way or another, she’s going to see what happens when she flips the switch.

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi (ISBN-13: 9780593109427 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-17)

Fourteen-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi sets out to win the ultimate date to homecoming in this heartfelt and outright hilarious debut.

Parvin Mohammadi has just been dumped—only days after receiving official girlfriend status. Not only is she heartbroken, she’s humiliated. Enter high school heartthrob Matty Fumero, who just might be the smoking-hot cure to all her boy problems. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to Homecoming, she’s positive it will prove to herself and her ex that she’s girlfriend material after all. There’s just one problem: Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself hasn’t worked for her in the past (see aforementioned dumping), she decides to start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those women aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk.

But Parvin discovers that being a rom-com dream girl is much harder than it looks. Also hard? The parent-mandated Farsi lessons. A confusing friendship with a boy who’s definitely not supposed to like her. And hardest of all, the ramifications of the Muslim ban on her family in Iran. Suddenly, being herself has never been more important.

Olivia Abtahi’s debut is as hilarious as it is heartfelt—a delightful tale where, amid the turmoil of high school friendships and crushes, being yourself is always the perfect way to be.

Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder (ISBN-13: 9780593112625 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 3-5)

This cheerful love-your-body picture book for preschoolers is an exuberant read-aloud with bright and friendly illustrations to pore over.
 
From the acclaimed creator of Dancing at the Pity Party and Roaring Softly, this picture book is a pure celebration of all the different human bodies that exist in the world. Highlighting the various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types is just the beginning in this truly inclusive book. With its joyful illustrations and encouraging refrain, it will instill body acceptance and confidence in the youngest of readers. “My body, your body, every different kind of body! All of them are good bodies! BODIES ARE COOL!”

Continuum by Chella Man, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223482 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

In Continuum, fine artist, activist, and Titans actor Chella Man uses his own experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color to talk about cultivating self-acceptance and acting as one’s own representation.

 Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.

“What constructs in your life must you unlearn to support inclusivity and respect for all?” This is a question that artist, actor, and activist Chella Man wrestles with in this powerful and honest essay. A story of coping and resilience, Chella journeys through his experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color, and shows us that identity lies on a continuum — a beautiful, messy, and ever-evolving road of exploration.

Skate for Your Life by Leo Baker, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223475 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

In this moving, personal story, professional skateboarder Leo Baker shares their journey within the sport and the importance of authenticity and allyship as a non-binary athlete.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. 

“Your authenticity is your superpower.” That’s the motto that professional skateboarder Leo Baker lives by and champions. But like any hero’s journey, learning about their power didn’t come easy. In this installment of the Pocket Change Collective, Baker takes the reader on a complicated, powerful journey through the world of skate and competitive sport as a non-binary athlete.

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag (ISBN-13: 9781338540574 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 12+)

From the author of The Witch Boy trilogy comes a graphic novel about family, romance, and first love.Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman (ISBN-13: 9780425290804 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-17)

A poignant and uplifting novel about the power of community, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay.

Aaron Stein used to think books were miracles. But not anymore. Even though he spends his days working in his family’s secondhand bookstore, the only book Aaron can bear to read is one about the demise of the dinosaurs. It’s a predicament he understands all too well, now that his brother and mom are gone and his friends have deserted him, leaving Aaron and his shambolic father alone in a moldering bookstore in a crusty mountain town where no one seems to read anymore.

So when Aaron sees the opportunity to sell the store, he jumps at it, thinking this is the only way out. But he doesn’t account for Chad, a “best life” bro with a wheelchair and way too much optimism, or the town’s out-of-work lumberjacks taking on the failing shop as their pet project. And he certainly doesn’t anticipate meeting Hannah, a beautiful, brave musician who might possibly be the kind of inevitable he’s been waiting for.

All of them will help Aaron to come to terms with what he’s lost, what he’s found, who he is, and who he wants to be, and show him that destruction doesn’t inevitably lead to extinction; sometimes it leads to the creation of something entirely new.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (ISBN-13: 9781984815408 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 12-17)

Love, Simon meets Bend It Like Beckham in this feel-good contemporary romance about a trans athlete who must decide between fighting for his right to play and staying stealth.

“A sharply observant and vividly drawn debut. I loved every minute I spent in this story, and I’ve never rooted harder for a jock in my life.” – New York Timesbestselling author Becky Albertalli 

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio. 

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing. 

But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he’s falling for.

Trillium Sisters 1: The Triplets Get Charmed by Laura Brown, Elly Kramer, Sarah Mensinga (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781645950158 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 7-9)

Three sisters discover that they and their pets have superpowers they can use to protect the world around them in the first book in a fantastical new chapter book series about family, friendship, and environmental responsibility perfect for fans of Mia Mayhem and The Wish Fairy.

Nothing can stop this triple team!

Eight-year-old triplets Emmy, Clare, and Giselle are excited to celebrate Founding Day, the day their dad found them and they became a family. The girls want this year’s celebration to be extra special. And Dad has a big sur¬prise—trillium petal charms that he found with the girls. 

But when the girls’ little brother, Zee, slips into the river while helping them plan a special surprise, something magical happens: The charms are drawn together, forming a glowing flower, and the girls suddenly have super¬powers! Channeling their new abilities, they work together to try to save Zee, but will they be able to figure out how to help in time?

Trillium Sisters 2: Bestie Day by Laura Brown, Elly Kramer, Sarah Mensinga (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781645950233 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 7-9)

When the ecosystem of their mountain home is threatened, the triplets join forces and channel their super powers into saving the day in the second book in the Trillium Sisters chapter book series, perfect for fans of Mia Mayhem and The Wish Fairy.

The Trillium Triplets are flying into action!

Wondering if their powers will return, Clare, Emmy, and Giselle throw themselves into preparations for Bestie Day, when everyone in Trillsville celebrates the special people in their lives. The girls are planning to make presents for one another from fallen flower petals. That way, they can enjoy the beauty around them without causing harm. 

But at the flower field, instead of finding beautiful blooms, the Trills find a big problem. Two girls from town are cutting so many flowers for their Bestie Day bouquets that the bees can’t get enough nectar. And without the bees, the entire mountain ecosystem could fall apart! When their Trillium powers activate, will the sisters be able to buzz to the rescue?

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac (ISBN-13: 9780593326213 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 8-12)

From the U.S.’s foremost indigenous children’s author comes a middle grade verse novel set during the COVID-19 pandemic, about a Wabanaki girl’s quarantine on her grandparents’ reservation and the local dog that becomes her best friend

Malian loves spending time with her grandparents at their home on a Wabanaki reservation. She’s there for a visit when, suddenly, all travel shuts down. There’s a new virus making people sick, and Malian will have to stay with her grandparents for the duration.

Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but Malian knows how to keep her family and community safe: She protects her grandparents, and they protect her. She doesn’t go outside to play with friends, she helps her grandparents use video chat, and she listens to and learns from their stories. And when Malsum, one of the dogs living on the rez, shows up at their door, Malian’s family knows that he’ll protect them too.

Told in verse inspired by oral storytelling, this novel about the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the ways Malian’s community has cared for one another through plagues of the past, and how they keep caring for one another today.

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (ISBN-13: 9780593112939 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 10-14)

In this unabashedly queer middle grade debut, a week-long amusement park road trip becomes a true roller coaster of emotion when Dalia realizes she has more-than-friend feelings for her new bestie.

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding—meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Athena: Goddess of Wisdom and War by Imogen Greenberg, Isabel Greenberg (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419748592 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/22/2021 Series: Tales of Great Goddesses, Ages 8-12)

A spunky, feminist take on the myth of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and courage

From the moment she sprung from Zeus’s head, Athena was extraordinary. Even though some doubted her as a young goddess, Athena never backed down from a fight. Poseidon wants to be the patron god of a nearby city? Well, so does Athena! And she’s going to outwit him and found Athens. Perseus doesn’t know how to defeat Medusa? No problem! Athena can give him the knowledge (and shield) he needs to take off her head. Odysseus is lost at sea, seemingly doomed? Not anymore! Athena can get him home. Follow the goddess of wisdom through her adventures with gods and mortals, discover the perils of crossing her, and see how she eventually learned to better understand and aid the human race.

Dozens of Dachshunds: A Counting, Woofing, Wagging Book by Stephanie Calmenson, Zoe Persico (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547602223 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 3-6)

An exuberant counting story featuring delightful dachshunds in creative costumes, inspired by the real, and hilarious, dachshund parades, for fans of Can I Be Your Dog?.

Dozens of dachshunds in clever costumes are the stars of a woofing, wagging costume parade! How many dogs can you count? Dressed up as birds, bees, books, dinosaurs, and other delightful surprises, each new pair, 
trio, and group adds to the excitement. When the parade is through, there’s a joyous jamboree, complete with a sing-along, bark-along dachshund song.

Additional back matter highlights all the different sizes, coats, colors, and patterns of this beloved breed.

Rachel Takes the Lead by Marilyn Kaye (ISBN-13: 9780823446100 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 07/13/2021 Series: The Spyglass Sisterhood #2, Ages 8-12)

There’s nothing four best friends with a magical spyglass can’t handle…well, except maybe a lost dog, a school election, and overprotective parents.

Book Two of the Spyglass Sisterhood finds Ellie, Rachel, Kiara, and Alyssa back for another adventure. When the spyglass reveals an image of Rachel walking a dog, she knows it’s pure fantasy. Her overprotective moms would never let her walk a dog alone, much less own one! To the dismay of her Spyglass Sisters, Rachel would rather avoid the whole thing all together. However, she can’t avoid it for long when a lost dog follows her home.

Meanwhile, Kiara has secretly nominated Rachel to run for class president. In order to win, Rachel must find her voice to advocate for the change her classmates deserve—and maybe even the changes at home she deserves.

The New York Times best-selling author behind the Gifted series and the Replica books, Marilyn Kaye delivers a story filled with light magic and heart in this first book in the Spyglass Sisterhood series. Each girl will take a turn at the spyglass, confronting fears and sticking up for her peers.

The History of Western Art in Comics Part One: From Prehistory to the Renaissance by Marion Augustin, Bruno Heitz (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823446469 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 10-12)

Learning about art through the ages has never been as interesting or fun as in this humorous and very informative graphic novel.

As two kids give their grandpa a tour of Paris, he starts an interesting conversation with them—about where all the art they see in their lives—from the movie house to the stadiums to museums and even the subway— started. Dad’s impromptu history lesson goes back to the first Cavemen drawings to the pyramids of Giza, and by the end of the book includes Greco-Roman feats of ingenuity and the frescoes of the Renaissance. Recounted as a narrative about why different civilizations created different kinds of art, centuries of art history are explored entertainingly for young readers. Iconic works, such as Donatello’s David and The Book of Kells, are included as well as architectural feats like the Colosseum. 

Written by a tour guide for museums and historic landmarks, the text is designed to entertain (with many funny asides and jokes) as it informs. The illustrations accurately portray the art and the artists described, with flavor and humor added to keep readers turning the page. Reproductions of the featured artworks and information about each piece are included in the back, along with a glossary of terms.

Mercury Boys by Chandra Prasad (ISBN-13: 9781641292658 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 14-17)

History and the speculative collide with the modern world when a group of high school girls form a secret society after discovering they can communicate with boys from the past, in this powerful look at female desire, jealousy, and the shifting lines between friendship and rivalry.

After her life is upended by divorce and a cross-country move, 16-year-old Saskia Brown feels like an outsider at her new school—not only is she a transplant, but she’s also biracial in a population of mostly white students. One day while visiting her only friend at her part-time library job, Saskia encounters a vial of liquid mercury, then touches an old daguerreotype—the precursor of the modern-day photograph—and makes a startling discovery. She is somehow able to visit the man in the portrait: Robert Cornelius, a brilliant young inventor from the nineteenth century. The hitch: she can see him only in her dreams.

Saskia shares her revelation with some classmates, hoping to find connection and friendship among strangers. Under her guidance, the other girls steal portraits of young men from a local college’s daguerreotype collection and try the dangerous experiment for themselves. Soon, they each form a bond with their own “Mercury Boy,” from an injured Union soldier to a charming pickpocket in New York City.

At night, the girls visit the boys in their dreams. During the day, they hold clandestine meetings of their new secret society. At first, the Mercury Boys Club is a thrilling diversion from their troubled everyday lives, but it’s not long before jealousy, violence and secrets threaten everything the girls hold dear.

Being Clem by Lesa Cline-Ransome (ISBN-13: 9780823446049 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: The Finding Langston Trilogy #3, Ages 8-12)

The final novel in the award-winning Finding Langston trilogy from Coretta Scott King Author Honoree and Scott O’Dell Award medalist Lesa Cline-Ransome.

Clem can make anybody, even his grumpy older sisters, smile with his jokes. But when his family receives news that his father has died in the infamous Port Chicago disaster, everything begins to fall apart. Clem’s mother is forced to work long, tough hours as a maid for a wealthy white family. Soon Clem can barely recognize his home—and himself. Can he live up to his father’s legacy?

In her award-winning trilogy, Lesa Cline-Ransome masterfully recreates mid-twentieth century America through the eyes of three boys: Langston, Lymon, and, now, Clem. Exploring the impact of the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, Jim Crow laws, and much more, Lesa’s work manages at once to be both an intimate portrait of each boy and his family as well as a landscape of American history.

21 Questions: A Novel by Alexandria Rose Rizik (ISBN-13: 9781684630875 Publisher: SparkPress Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 13-17)

In Laguna Beach, California, sixteen-year-old Kendra Dimes is preparing for the 2010 USA Surfing Prime West. She’ll be competing this year in honor of her brother, who was a surfer too, but who died from a drug overdose. Kendra has suffered anxiety attacks ever since her brother’s death, and surfing is what’s been helping her heal.

Brock Parker is the new bad boy at school; he deals drugs to the high school clientele for his parents, who work for a Mexican drug lord. Though Brock and Kendra come from two different worlds, sparks fly when they meet at the homecoming dance—their attraction is magnetic. When they start a game of 21 Questions one night, they begin to learn more about each other—and, surprisingly, about themselves too. But some questions aren’t answered with the whole truth; after all, Brock can’t tell Kendra what his parents do for a living.

As Kendra and Brock experience all of life’s most exciting firsts, they prove that even when life throws you the perfect storm, you can make it through and come out stronger than before. 21 Questions is a coming-of-age journey packed with passion and heartbreak, risk and romance.

The Infamous Frankie Lorde 2: Going Wild by Brittany Geragotelis (ISBN-13: 9781645950578 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: The Infamous Frankie Lorde #2, Ages 10-14)

Tiger King meets Ocean’s 8 in this slick second book in the Infamous Frankie Lorde series as potentially reformed international thief Frankie dives into the dangerous and political world of trafficking exotic animals. Perfect for fans of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society.

For Frankie, using her less-than-legal set of skills to pull a heist against a crooked real estate mogul with the help of her new friend Ollie was super gratifying, but she’s getting restless now. And with her no end in sight for her dad’s prison sentence, she’s finally coming to terms with the fact that she may be in Connecticut for a lot longer than she expected. 

Volunteering at a local animal shelter over school break, Frankie and Ollie hear that there’s a dangerous exotic animal farm supplying Greenwich’s elite with lions and tigers and bears. (Oh my!) Feeling an instant kinship with the endangered creatures locked away in their cages, Frankie makes it her mission to find the perpetrators, free the beautiful beasts, and ensnare the bad guys in a trap of her own.

Fresh by Margot Wood (ISBN-13: 9781419748134 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 14-18)

A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experience—and missteps—of a girl’s freshman year of college

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

Only If You Dare: 13 Stories of Darkness and Doom by Josh Allen, Sarah J. Coleman (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823449064 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 9-12)

Thirteen chilling short stories to keep you up at night—but only if you dare.

You never know what’s out to get you. Though you might think you’re safe from monsters and menaces, everyday objects can turn against you, too. A mysterious microwave. A threatening board game. A snowman that refuses to melt. Even your own heartbeat has its secrets. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. When you stop to listen, each beat sounds more menacing than the last. 

Master storyteller Josh Allen brings thirteen nightmare scenarios to life in this page-turning collection that’s perfect for budding horror junkies. In his wondrous world, danger waits behind every doorway . . . even in the most ordinary places. 

Eerie illustrations by award-winning artist Sarah Coleman accompany the stories, packaged in a stunning hardcover edition complete with glow-in-the-dark jacket. Readers will sleep with one eye open!

Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket (ISBN-13: 9781324090625 Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation Publication date: 08/31/2021)

A new stand-alone adventure—appropriate for all ages—by Lemony Snicket, one of the twenty-first century’s most beloved authors.

For more than twenty years, Lemony Snicket has led millions of young readers through a mysterious world of bewildering questions and unfortunate events. With this latest book—a love letter to readers young and old about the vagaries of real life—longtime fans and new readers alike will experience Snicket’s distinctive voice in a new way.

This true story—as true as Lemony Snicket himself—begins with a puzzling note under his door: You had poison for breakfast. Following a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his own demise, Snicket takes us on a thought-provoking tour of his predilections: the proper way to prepare an egg, a perplexing idea called “tzimtzum,” the sublime pleasure of swimming in open water, and much else.

Poison for Breakfast is a classic-in-the-making that—in the great tradition of modern fables like The Little Prince and The Phantom Tollbooth—will delight readers of all ages.

Middle School Bites: Out for Blood by Steven Banks, Mark Fearing (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823446162 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 8-12)

Tom the Vam-Wolf-Zom is back—and so is the werewolf that bit him—in this monstrously funny series about a boy who’s dying to fit in.

Eleven-year-old Tom was bit by a vampire, a werewolf, and a zombie right before the first day of middle school. It was a weird and crazy day. And he didn’t even get excused from sixth grade!

Now he’s being hunted down by the werewolf that bit him. Should Tom join a wolf pack? On the one hand, he could give up school and homework forever. (He really doesn’t want to do his history report.) On the other hand, he’d miss his band, his friends, and Annie, his maybe-possibly-someday girlfriend. He might even miss his big sister, Emma.

Then the vampire that bit him returns with a warning: the werewolf is dangerous. Perhaps Tom should stick with sixth grade—even if it’s mostly talent show disappointments, detention, and chicken-turkey-salami-roast beef sandwiches. 

Created by an Emmy-nominated writer for SpongeBob, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, and CatDog, this hilarious series is illustrated with clever, cartoon-style art on every spread. Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Last Kids on Earth.

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (ISBN-13: 9780593403969 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 14-17)

A teen girl disappears from her small town deep in the bayou, where magic festers beneath the surface of the swamp like water rot, in this chilling debut supernatural thriller for fans of Natasha Preston, Karen McManus, and Rory Power.

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World—and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something—her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou—a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history—Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent—and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

The Splendor by Breeana Shields (ISBN-13: 9781645673224 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 14-17)

The Splendorisn’t just a glamorous hotel, it’s a magical experience that gives its guests the fantasy fulfillment of their dreams. But The Splendor didn’t make Juliette’s dreams come true. It ruined her life.

After a weeklong stay, Juliette’s sister, Clare, returns from the hotel changed. Her connection to Juliette—the special bond they once shared—has vanished. In a moment of hurt and frustration, Juliette steals their meager savings and visits The Splendor herself. 

When she arrives, she’s taken in by the lush and sumptuous hotel. But as she delves more deeply into the mystery of the place, and how they make their illusions work, she grows more and more uneasy. The Splendor has a seedy underbelly, but every time she gets close to discovering something real, she seems to hit a wall.

Meanwhile, Juliette meets Henri, an illusionist who lives and works at the hotel. Henri’s job is to provide Juliette with the same Signature Experience he gives all the guests—one tailored fantasy that will make her stay unforgettable. As he gets to know her, he realizes that not only is he ill-equipped to make her dreams come true, he’s the cause of her heartache.

The Problem with the Other Side by Kwame Ivery (ISBN-13: 9781641292054 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 13-17)

A searing YA debut that follows the joys, complexities, and heartbreaks of an interracial romance between high school sophomores that blossoms during a volatile school election

Uly would rather watch old Westerns with his new girlfriend, Sallie, than get involved in his school’s politics—why focus on the “bad” and “ugly” when his days with Sallie are so good? His older sister Regina feels differently. She is fed up with the way white school-body presidential candidate Leona Walls talks about Black students. Regina decides to run against Leona . . . and convinces Uly to be her campaign manager.

Sallie has no interest in managing her sister’s campaign, but how could she say no? After their parents’ death, Leona is practically her only family. Even after Leona is accused of running a racist campaign that targets the school’s students of color—including Sallie’s boyfriend, Uly—Sallie wants to give her sister the benefit of the doubt. But how long can she ignore the ugly truth behind Leona’s actions? 

Together and apart, Uly and Sallie must navigate sibling loyalty and romantic love as the campaign spirals toward a devastating conclusion. 

CW: Acts of racism and bigotry, racist language, and gun violence are portrayed in this novel.

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach (ISBN-13: 9780063038363 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 13-17)

Emergency Contact meets Moxie in this cheeky and searing novel that unpacks just how complicated new love can get…when you fall for your enemy.

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

Big Boned by Jo Watson (ISBN-13: 9781989365298 Publisher: Wattpad Books Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 12-17)

Can she be herself in a one-size-fits-all world?

Lori Palmer is the new girl at Bay Water High, where students prize glossy hair, beach bodies, and school spirit above all else. She misses her old school—where her talent as an artist carried more weight than she does—and longs for her old family life, before her parents got divorced and her mom reinvented herself. 

So Lori decides that the only way to survive the rest of the year is to blend into the background, but her plans go awry when she discovers that the most popular (and hottest) guy at Bay Water High, Jake, is a volunteer at her brother’s school. When her brother befriends Jake’s sister, Lori is suddenly thrust into his unfamiliar and exhilarating world of water polo, parties, and stargazing. 

But with her relationship with her mother deteriorating, old anxieties resurface and Lori finds a new artistic release that unknowingly ignites a powerful movement. When the authorities start asking questions, Lori realizes that finding her voice might have gotten her into a world of trouble…but sometimes standing up for what you believe in is as important as standing up for yourself.

Pencilvania by Stephanie Watson, Sofia Moore (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728215907 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 8-12)

In this illustrated, modern take on The Phantom Tollbooth meets Harold and the Purple Crayon, author Stephanie Watson beautifully explores grief and creativity through an unforgettable fantasy world.

Ever since she first learned to hold a crayon, Zora Webb has been unstoppable. Zora draws hamsters wearing pajamas and balloons and Lake Superior and pancakes and hundreds of horses. Her drawings fill sketchbooks and cover the walls of the happy home she shares with Frankie and their mother.

But when Zora’s mom is diagnosed with leukemia, everything changes. After months of illness, she dies, and with her goes Zora’s love of creation. Desperate to escape the pain, Zora scribbles out her artwork. Her dark, furious scribbles lift off the page and yank Zora and Frankie into Pencilvania, a magical world that’s home to everything Zora has ever drawn. And one drawing—a scribbled-out horse named Viscardi—is determined to finish the destruction Zora started.

Viscardi kidnaps Frankie, promising to scribble her and all of Pencilvania out at sunrise. Zora sets out to rescue her sister, venturing deep into Pencilvania—a place crawling with memories, dangers, and new friends. If she is to save Frankie, Zora will have to face the darkness that both surrounds her and is inside of her.

Crossbones by Kimberly Vale (ISBN-13: 9781989365793 Publisher: Wattpad Books Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 14+)

Never trust a pirate.

The Blood Bell tolls, marking the death of the pirate king and the start of the Trials—a heart-stopping competition where the reward is the Bone Crown. Only one contender can claim the coveted island throne; each will gamble life and limb to win.

Captain. Sister. Maiden.
Csilla Abado yearns to prove her strength to the seasoned pirates who balk at her youth and to her elder sister who has always craved Csilla’s captainship. She will risk everything to become the first pirate queen, no matter the cost. 

Dealer. Son. Legacy.
Kane Blackwater wants to leave behind the dirty gold and shady trades he’s made to keep his father’s ship, the Iron Jewel, alive. The Trials represent a new beginning—yet rumors of a secret heir are swirling, threatening his hopes of becoming the pirate king.

Stowaway. Daughter. Storm.
Lorelei Penny longs for nothing more than to avenge her mother’s death. Stowing away on the Iron Jewel was supposed to get her closer to the killer, but instead she finds herself caught up in the deadly battle where loyalty and desire collide. 

Csilla. Kane. Lorelei. Each on a mission. The sea, however, has other plans. Dark tides are rising, and if they aren’t careful, they’ll surely drown.

2021 Middle Grade Books to Have on Your Radar (part two)

Have you looked at what’s coming up in the rest of 2021? So many excellent books!

This list is heavy on the contemporary fiction. It’s what I like best. I’m not saying there are no good fantasy or sci-fi or whatever books—this is just my personal list of anticipated reads. I scrolled through various lists for a looong time and eventually decided I had to stop adding things to my list and seeking out more information. I’m sure I missed plenty of things that I, personally, would be very excited about. Thank goodness the internet and publishers will make sure I don’t overlook great books as release dates get closer! Hop on over here to see the list from the first half of the year.

Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in the rest of 2021!

All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries.

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner (ISBN-13: 9781534455658 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 10+)

From the creator of Fake Blood comes another exceptionally charming middle grade graphic novel about friendships both near and far, far away.

Vega’s summer vacation is not going well.

When her parents decide it’s time to pack up and leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, behind for boring Seattle, Washington, Vega is more than upset—she’s downright miserable. Forced to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind, Vega is convinced she’ll never make another friend again.

To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what’s going on!

Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code by Bridget Farr (ISBN-13: 9780316461573 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 8-12)

A timely and thought-provoking novel about one girl’s fight against gender inequality at her middle school and the lessons about her own privilege she learns along the way.

Margie Kelly’s perfect skirt was dress coded on her very first day of middle school. Upset and embarrassed, Margie spends the whole day wearing oversized gym shorts. So much for starting sixth grade with confidence!

But when Margie realizes that the dress code is only applied to the female students and not the boys, Margie gets mad. Really mad.

The dress code is keeping girls stuck in detention all day and away from learning. The boys act like they own the school. And the teachers turn a blind eye to the hypocrisies taking place in the halls, classrooms, and clubs. Something has to change! And Margie knows just how to do it. She’ll plan a school-wide protest with her best friend, Daniela, and fellow classmates Jamiya and Gloria.

But as Margie moves forward with her plans, she comes to realize some hard truths about herself. Will Margie recognize her own privilege and make meaningful change for all students?

Erik vs. Everything by Christina Uss (ISBN-13: 9780358126713 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 8-12)

Nine-year-old Erik Sheepflattener’s life motto is Avoid Stuff, despite his family’s attempts to bring out his inner Viking. Can a worrier really become a warrior? In this silly, heartfelt, outrageously quirky novel for fans of Restartand Pay Attention, Carter Jones . . . why not be both?

Meet Erik Sheepflattener. Each member of his modern-day Viking-heritage family has a motto to live by. His parents have Family and Pride. His sisters have Conquer and Win. His grandfather has Turnip. But Erik is developing a motto he can truly believe in: Avoid Stuff.
Mostly, Erik’s fierce family ignores or discounts him, especially when he tries to say no. But while spending the summer with his rough-and-tumble cousins and older sister Brunhilde in Minnesota, axe-wielding Bru gets the idea to name and Conquer all of Erik’s fears. Will anyone hear him say no before it’s too late? And will Erik end up defined by his fears, or by his fearless family? 

Erik vs. Everything is an adventurous, humorous, and heartfelt romp about finding your place, speaking up for yourself, and pursuing what you love . . . even when it scares you.

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi (ISBN-13: 9780062943255 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 8-12)

At a time when we are all asking questions about identity, grief, and how to stand up for what is right, this book by the author of A Thousand Questions will hit home with young readers who love Hena Khan and Varian Johnson—or anyone struggling to understand recent U.S. history and how it still affects us today.  

Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas—and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just knows he can win.

Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge.

With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice?

Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis (ISBN-13: 9780062937001 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 9-12)

From award-winning author Tanita S. Davis comes a nuanced exploration of the microaggressions of middle school and a young Black girl named Madalyn who learns that being a good friend means dealing with the blue skies and the rain—and having the tough conversations on days that are partly cloudy. Perfect for fans of A Good Kind of Trouble and From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

Award-winning author Tanita S. Davis shows us that life isn’t always clear, and that partly cloudy days still contain a bit of blue worth celebrating.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs (ISBN-13: 9781728234656 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

Based on a true story, the tale of one girl’s perilous journey to cross the U.S. border and lead her family to safety during the Mexican Revolution

It is 1913, and twelve-year-old Petra Luna’s mama has died while the Revolution rages in Mexico. Before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to him that she will care for the family she has left—her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito—until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.

Each night when Petra closes her eyes, she holds her dreams close, especially her long-held desire to learn to read. Abuelita calls these barefoot dreams: “They’re like us barefoot peasants and indios—they’re not meant to go far.” But Petra refuses to listen. Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border—a life where her barefoot dreams could finally become reality.

The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (ISBN-13: 9780063008106 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 8-12)

Three kids who don’t belong. A room that shouldn’t exist. A year that will change everything.

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Meg Medina, this debut middle grade novel from award-winning author Mark Oshiro is a hopeful and heartfelt coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in.

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Graphic Retelling of The Secret Garden by Ivy Noelle Weir, Amber Padilla (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780316459709 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 09/28/2021 Series: Classic Graphic Remix Series #2, Ages 8-12)

The Secret Garden with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, this full-color graphic novel moves Mary Lennox to a New York City brownstone, where she and her very first group of friends restore an abandoned rooftop garden…and her uncle’s heart.

Mary Lennox is a loner living in Silicon Valley. With her parents always working, video game and tech become her main source of entertainment and “friends.” When her parents pass away in a tragic accident, she moves to New York City to live with her uncle who she barely knows, and to her surprise, keeps a gadget free home. Looking for comfort in this strange, new reality, Mary discovers an abandoned rooftop garden and an even bigger secret…her cousin who suffers from anxiety. With the help of her new friends, Colin and Dickon, Mary works to restore the garden to its former glory while also learning to grieve, build real friendships, and grow.

Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee (ISBN-13: 9781534469181 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 9-13)

From the author of the acclaimed My Life in the Fish Tank and Maybe He Just Likes You comes a moving and relatable middle grade novel about secrets, family, and the power of forgiveness.

Twelve-year-old Wren loves makeup—special effect makeup, to be exact. When she is experimenting with new looks, Wren can create a different version of herself. A girl who isn’t in a sort-of-best friendship with someone who seems like she hates her. A girl whose parents aren’t divorced and doesn’t have to learn to like her new stepmom.

So, when Wren and her mom move to a new town for a fresh start, she is cautiously optimistic. And things seem to fall into place when Wren meets potential friends and gets selected as the makeup artist for her school’s upcoming production of Wicked.

Only, Wren’s mom isn’t doing so well. She’s taking a lot of naps, starts snapping at Wren for no reason, and always seems to be sick. And what’s worse, Wren keeps getting hints that things aren’t going well at her new job at the hospital, where her mom is a nurse. And after an opening night disaster leads to a heartbreaking discovery, Wren realizes that her mother has a serious problem—a problem that can’t be wiped away or covered up. 

After all the progress she’s made, can Wren start over again with her devastating new normal? And will she ever be able to heal the broken trust with her mom?

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson (ISBN-13: 9781338348538 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 8-12)

Literary powerhouse and Coretta Scott King Honor- and Boston Globe / Horn Book Honor-winning author of The Parker Inheritence Varian Johnson explores themes of toxic masculinity and family legacy in this heartfelt, hopeful story of one boy discovering what it really means to be a man.

SECRETS ARE ALWAYS A GAMBLE

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.

Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly what he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…

Barakah Beats by Maleeha Siddiqui (ISBN-13: 9781338702064 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 8-12)

For fans of The First Rule of Punk and Save Me a SeatBarakah Beats is a sweet, powerful, and joyous novel about a Muslim girl who finds her voice on her own terms… by joining her school’s most popular boy band.

Twelve-year-old Nimra Sharif has spent her whole life in Islamic school, but now it’s time to go to “real school.”

Nimra’s nervous, but as long as she has Jenna, her best friend who already goes to the public school, she figures she can take on just about anything.

Unfortunately, middle school is hard. The teachers are mean, the schedule is confusing, and Jenna starts giving hijab-wearing Nimra the cold shoulder around the other kids.

Desperate to fit in and get back in Jenna’s good graces, Nimra accepts an unlikely invitation to join the school’s popular 8th grade boy band, Barakah Beats. The only problem is, Nimra was taught that music isn’t allowed in Islam, and she knows her parents would be disappointed if they found out. So she devises a simple plan: join the band, win Jenna back, then quietly drop out before her parents find out.

But dropping out of the band proves harder than expected. Not only is her plan to get Jenna back working, but Nimra really likes hanging out with the band — they value her contributions and respect how important her faith is to her. Then Barakah Beats signs up for a talent show to benefit refugees, and Nimra’s lies start to unravel. With the show only a few weeks away and Jenna’s friendship hanging in the balance, Nimra has to decide whether to betray her bandmates — or herself.

A-Okay by Jarad Greene (ISBN-13: 9780063032842 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 10-13)

A-Okay by Jarad Greene is a vulnerable and heartfelt semi-autobiographical middle grade graphic novel about acne, identity, and finding your place.  

When Jay starts eighth grade with a few pimples he doesn’t think much of it at first…except to wonder if the embarrassing acne will disappear as quickly as it arrived. But when his acne goes from bad to worse, Jay’s prescribed a powerful medication that comes with some serious side effects. Regardless, he’s convinced it’ll all be worth it if clear skin is on the horizon!

Meanwhile, school isn’t going exactly as planned. All of Jay’s friends are in different classes; he has no one to sit with at lunch; his best friend, Brace, is avoiding him; and—to top it off—Jay doesn’t understand why he doesn’t share the same feelings two of his fellow classmates, a boy named Mark and a girl named Amy, have for him. 

Eighth grade can be tough, but Jay has to believe everything’s going to be a-okay…right?

2021 YA Books To Have On Your Radar (part two)

Have you looked at what’s coming up in the rest of 2021? So many excellent books!

This list is heavy on the contemporary fiction. It’s what I like best. I’m not saying there are no good fantasy or sci-fi or whatever books—this is just my personal list of anticipated reads. I scrolled through various lists for a looong time and eventually decided I had to stop adding things to my list and seeking out more information. I’m sure I missed plenty of things that I, personally, would be very excited about. Thank goodness the internet and publishers will make sure I don’t overlook great books as release dates get closer! Hop on over here to see the list from the first half of the year.

Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in the rest of 2021!

All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon (ISBN-13: 9780063088092 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/22/2021, Ages 13-17)

Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.

A summer heatwave blankets New York City in darkness. But as the city is thrown into confusion, a different kind of electricity sparks…

A first meeting. 

Long-time friends. 

Bitter exes. 

And maybe the beginning of something new.

When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths. Love blossoms, friendship transforms, and new possibilities take flight.

Beloved authors—Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon—celebrate the beauty of six couples and the unforgettable magic that can be found on a sweltering starry night in the city.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (ISBN-13: 9781547603909 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 13-17)

Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron’s new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power.

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined—it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.

Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (ISBN-13: 9781641291712 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 14-17)

Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale “Brother and Sister,” Michelle Ruiz Keil’s second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early ’90s Portland.

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr. 

Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism—and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever. 

Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma (ISBN-13: 9780553523294 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 14-17)

To All the Boys I Loved Before meets World of Dance in this delectable love story that combines food, dance, and a hint of drama to cook up the perfect romance.

Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch.

Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year.

With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston (ISBN-13: 9781534474574 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 12-18)

In this heart-wrenching debut YA novel that’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtownmeets They Both Die at the End, a teen girl takes a trip to New Orleans with her estranged best friend to find a vampire to save her dying father.

Victoria and her dad have shared a love of the undead since the first vampire revealed his existence on live TV. Public fear soon drove the vampires back into hiding, yet Victoria and her father still dream about finding a vampire together. But when her dad is diagnosed with terminal cancer, it’s clear that’s not going to happen. Instead, Victoria vows to find a vampire herself—so that she can become one and then save her father.

Armed with research, speculations, and desperation—and helped by her estranged best friend, Henry—Victoria travels to New Orleans in search of a miracle. There she meets Nicholas, a mysterious young man who might give her what she desires. But first, he needs Victoria to prove she loves life enough to live forever. 

She agrees to complete a series of challenges, from scarfing sugar-drenched beignets to singing with a jazz band, all to show she has what it takes to be immortal. But truly living while her father is dying feels like a betrayal. Victoria must figure out how to experience joy and grief at once, trusting all the while that Nicholas will hold up his end of the bargain…because the alternative is too impossible to imagine.

Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason (ISBN-13: 9781547604081 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 12-17)

Past and present collide in a captivating YA debut about a girl who takes off on a flight and lands . . . twenty-five years later.

When Jenny boards her flight back from New York, the biggest things on her mind are applying to Columbia and reuniting with her brand-new boyfriend. But when she and the other passengers disembark in St. Louis, they’re told that their plane disappeared-twenty-five years ago. Everyone thought they were dead.

The world has fast-forwarded. Three of her grandparents are gone, her parents are old, and her “little” brother is now an adult. There’s so much she’s missed out on, not the least iPhones, social media, and pop culture. When some surprising information comes to light, Jenny feels betrayed by her family and once-best friend. She’s also fighting her attraction to Dylan, a cute and kind classmate who has an unusual connection to her past. And then there’s the growing contingent of conspiracy theorists determined to prove that Flight 237 hides a sinister truth. Will Jenny figure out how to move forward, or will she always be stuck in the past?

Debut author Michelle I. Mason offers a smart and funny high-concept debut about the most unbelievable of life changes-and the parts of yourself that can always stay the same.

We Are Not Broken by George M Johnson (ISBN-13: 9780759554603 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 14-18)

George M. Johnson, activist and bestselling author of All Boys Aren’t Blue, returns with a striking memoir that celebrates Black boyhood and brotherhood in all its glory.

This is the vibrant story of George, Garrett, Rall, and Rasul — four children raised by Nanny, their fiercely devoted grandmother. The boys hold one another close through early brushes with racism, memorable experiences at the family barbershop, and first loves and losses. And with Nanny at their center, they are never broken.

George M. Johnson capture the unique experience of growing up as a Black boy in America, and their rich family stories — exploring themes of vulnerability, sacrifice, and culture — are interspersed with touching letters from the grandchildren to their beloved matriarch. By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this personal account is destined to become a modern classic of emerging adulthood.

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland (ISBN-13: 9781534477025 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12-18)

Jenny Han meets The Bachelorette in this effervescent romantic comedy about a teen Korean American adoptee who unwittingly finds herself at the center of a competition for her heart, as orchestrated by her overbearing, loving family.

Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.

But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.

The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.

But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.

The Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story by Sonia Hartl (ISBN-13: 9781645673149 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 14-17)

Getting over Your Vampire Ex is as Easy as Killing Him and Stealing His Girlfriend

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.

To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles (ISBN-13: 9781338734188 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 12+)

From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow (ISBN-13: 9780525708049 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces comes a breathtaking story about a town, its tragedies, and the quiet beauty of everyday life.

For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one—the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was. 

Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all? 

Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be “cured,” the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many “ghostie” addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is—it might be time to decide for herself.

Inspired by the American classic Our Town, You’d Be Home Now is Kathleen Glasgow’s glorious modern story of a town and the secret lives people live there. And the story of a girl, figuring out life in all its pain and beauty and struggle and joy.

Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones, Gilly Segal (ISBN-13: 9781492678922 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the New York Times bestselling authors of I’m Not Dying with You Tonightcomes a story about friendship, privilege, sports, and protest.

With a rocky start to senior year, cheerleaders and lifelong best friends Eleanor and Chanel have a lot on their minds. Eleanor is still in physical therapy months after a serious concussion from a failed cheer stunt. Chanel starts making questionable decisions to deal with the mounting pressure of college applications. But they have each other’s backs—just as always, until Eleanor’s new relationship with star quarterback Three starts a rift between them.

Then, the cheer squad decides to take a knee at the season’s first football game, and what seemed like a positive show of solidarity suddenly shines a national spotlight on the team—and becomes the reason for a larger fallout between the girls. As Eleanor and Chanel grapple with the weight of the consequences as well as their own problems, can the girls rely on the friendship they’ve always shared?

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith (ISBN-13: 9781335405685 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 12+)

No one ever said love would be easy…but did they mention it would be freezing?

Adam Stillwater is in over his head. At least, that’s what his best friend would say. And his mom. And the guy who runs the hardware store down the street. But this pinball arcade is the only piece of his dad that Adam has left, and he’s determined to protect it from Philadelphia’s newest tech mogul, who wants to turn it into another one of his cold, lifeless gaming cafés.

Whitney Mitchell doesn’t know how she got here. Her parents split up. Her boyfriend dumped her. Her friends seem to have changed overnight. And now she’s spending her senior year running social media for her dad’s chain of super successful gaming cafés—which mostly consists of trading insults with that decrepit old pinball arcade across town.

But when a huge snowstorm hits, Adam and Whitney suddenly find themselves trapped inside the arcade. Cut off from their families, their worlds, and their responsibilities, the tension between them seems to melt away, leaving something else in its place. But what happens when the storm stops?

You’ve Reached Sam: A Novel by Dustin Thao (ISBN-13: 9781250762030 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 12-18)

If I Stay meets Your Name in Dustin Thao’s You’ve Reached Sam, a heartfelt novel about love and loss and what it means to say goodbye.

How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.

What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

Filled with a diverse cast of characters, the heartache of first love and loss, and the kind of friends that can get you through anything, plus a touch of magic, You’ve Reached Sam will make an instant connection with anyone looking for a big emotional romance of a read.

A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781984896209 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/08/2020, Ages 14-17)

From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes a young adult fantasy short story collection featuring some of the best own-voices children’s authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Libba Bray (The Diviners), V. E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic),Natalie C. Parker (Seafire), and many more. Edited by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles).

In the fourth collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors deliver stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world.

AUTHORS INCLUDE: Samira Ahmed, Jenni Balch, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, V. E. Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone

Book Mail: New and forthcoming books for tweens and teens

YAY! Book mail is starting to be a near-daily thing at my house again. So much of the pandemic shut that down and I’d go weeks sometimes with only a book or two arriving. If I go back to work, one thing I will miss the most (other than my dogs) is being able to grab book mail the second it lands on my doorstep.

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything!

Recent round of books I gave away via Twitter!

Thanks, as always, to all the great publishers, publicists, and authors who keep me in good books.

All summaries from the publishers.

The Startup Squad (The Startup Squad Series #1) by Brian Weisfeld, Nicole C. Kear (ISBN-13: 9781250180414 Publisher: Imprint Publication date: 05/07/2019 Series: Startup Squad Series #1, Ages 8-12)

Girls mean business in a brand-new series about friendship and entrepreneurship that Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan, calls “A great read!”

All the great leaders had to start somewhere. And Teresa (“Resa” for short) is starting with the lemonade stand competition her teacher assigned to the class—but making it a success is going to be a lot harder than Resa thinks.

The prize: line-skipping tickets to Adventure Central. The competition: Val, Resa’s middle school nemesis. And the biggest obstacle to success: Resa’s own teammates. Harriet is the class clown, Amelia is the new girl who thinks she knows best, and Didi is Resa’s steadfast friend—who doesn’t know the first thing about making or selling lemonade. The four of them quickly realize that the recipe for success is tough to perfect—but listening to each other is the first step. And making new friends might be the most important one…

The back of each book in this middle-grade series features tips from the Startup Squad and an inspirational profile of a girl entrepreneur!

Face the Music (The Startup Squad Series #2) by Brian Weisfeld, Nicole C. Kear (ISBN-13: 9781250180469 Publisher: Imprint Publication date: 05/05/2020 Series: Startup Squad Series #2, Ages 8-12)

Girls mean business in The Startup Squad: Face the Music, the second novel in the series, which Kirkus Reviews calls “an enjoyable and diverse story highlighting friendship, entrepreneurship, and perseverance.”

Harriet’s brothers are hoping to enter a local battle of the bands. Winning could get them on a reality TV show! But low funds have left them without even a working guitar. The Startup Squad jumps into action—and quickly pulls together a plan to sell T-shirts to raise money. 

The girls have a lot of great ideas—until everything starts to go wrong. When all the problems start turning disappointed fans into an angry mob, the girls realize they have to get back into the groove before the band members—and the Startup Squad—break up for good!

Each book in this middle-grade series by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear also features tips for kids starting or running their first businesses, plus a profile of a real-life tween girl CEO.

The Startup Squad: Party Problems by Brian Weisfeld, Nicole C. Kear (ISBN-13: 9781250180513 Publisher: Imprint Publication date: 05/04/2021 Series: Startup Squad Series #3, Ages 8-12)

Girls mean business in the third novel of this series about friendship and entrepreneurship that Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan, calls “A great read!”

All four friends in the Startup Squad want to raise money—but when they can’t agree on what business to start next, they strike off on their own. Didi’s idea seems perfect: making place cards for a wedding. 

But after the wedding planner gets sick, Didi finds herself in charge of everything—and then the caterer cancels and the band goes missing! Didi’s business is turning from a dream to a disaster. Will the Startup Squad come together in time to save the wedding?

Each book in this middle-grade series by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear also features tips for kids starting or running their first businesses, plus a profile of a real-life tween girl CEO.

Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden (ISBN-13: 9781984816061 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 10-14)

One small act of kindness ripples out to connect four kids in this stirring novel by the author of the beloved The Benefits of Being an Octopus.

Libby comes from a long line of bullies. She wants to be different, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. To bolster herself, she makes a card with the message You are amazing. That card sets off a chain reaction that ends up making a difference in the lives of some kids who could also use a boost—be it from dealing with bullies, unaccepting families, or the hole that grief leaves. Receiving an encouraging message helps each kid summon up the thing they need most, whether it’s bravery, empathy, or understanding. Because it helps them realize they matter—and that they’re not flying solo anymore.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He (ISBN-13: 9781250258564 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 12-17)

Perfect for fans of Marie Lu and E. Lockhart, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a gripping and heartfelt YA sci-fi with mind-blowing twists. Set in a climate-ravaged future, Joan He’s beautifully written novel follows the story of two sisters, separated by an ocean, desperately trying to find each other. 

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years and seventeen days without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister. 

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet—and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee (ISBN-13: 9781649370310 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 15-18)

I am a weed.

Unloved by my abusive, alcoholic dad. Unwanted by my classmates. Unnoticed by everyone else.

But I’d suffer anything to give my kid sister a better life—the minute I turn eighteen, I’m getting us the hell out of here. And some hot stranger telling me I am the key to stopping a war between Heaven and Hell isn’t going to change that.

Let the world crumble and burn, for all I care.

Draven is relentless, though. And very much a liar. Every time his sexy lips are moving, I can see it—in the dip of his head, the grit of his jaw—even if my heart begs me to ignore the signs.

So what does he want?

I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…

We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation.

Hand-Me-Down Magic #3: Perfect Patchwork Purse by Corey Ann Haydu, Luisa Uribe (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780062978271 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 6-10)

Family magic saves the day for best-friend-cousins Del and Alma in the third Hand-Me-Down Magic book! With adorable illustrations and short, easy-to-read chapters, this series is perfect for fans of Ivy & Bean and Dory Fantasmagory.

Alma knew it the first time she saw it: The patchwork purse in the window of the Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe was magical. Special. Perfect. But when her friend Cassie spots the purse and buys it, what could Alma do but agree that the purse really did look just right on Cassie?

Del decides it’s up to her to bring some homespun magic back into Alma’s life, and she’s got just the plan to do it. After all, she is the EXPERT on magic!

All she needs is some glitter and lots and lots of glue . . . because she knows magic can always come from the most unexpected places, but most importantly, that best-friend-cousins never let each other down.

The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga (ISBN-13: 9780062956675 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 8-12)

An extraordinary new novel from Jasmine Warga, Newbery Honor–winning author of Other Words for Home, about loss and healing—and how friendship can be magical.

Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year.

Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did.

On the day of Cora’s twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment before her brother changed all their lives forever—and stop him.

In spite of herself, Cora wants to believe. And so the two former friends begin working together to open a wormhole in the fabric of the universe. But as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of time travel to save their siblings, they learn that the magic of their friendship may actually be the key to saving themselves.

The Shape of Thunder is a deeply moving story, told with exceptional grace, about friendship and loss—and how believing in impossible things can help us heal.

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley, Tara Audibert (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780063015388 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/11/2021 Series: Jo Jo #1, Ages 6-10)

Hello/Boozhoo—meet Jo Jo Makoons! Full of pride, joy, and plenty of humor, this first book in an all-new chapter book series by Dawn Quigley celebrates a spunky young Ojibwe girl who loves who she is.

Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn—about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly.

Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Boy from Buchenwald by Robbie Waisman, Susan McClelland (ISBN-13: 9781547606009 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 9-11)

It was 1945 and Romek Wajsman had just been liberated from Buchenwald, a brutal concentration camp where more than 60,000 people were killed. He was starving, tortured, and had no idea where his family was-let alone if they were alive. Along with 472 other boys, including Elie Wiesel, these teens were dubbed “The Buchenwald Boys.” They were angry at the world for their abuse, and turned to violence: stealing, fighting, and struggling for power. Everything changed for Romek and the other boys when Albert Einstein and Rabbi Herschel Schacter brought them to a home for rehabilitation.


Romek Wajsman, now Robbie Waisman, humanitarian and Canadian governor general award recipient, shares his remarkable story of transforming pain into resiliency and overcoming incredible loss to find incredible joy.

Black Star by Eric A. Glover, Arielle Jovellanos (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419742286 Publisher: Abrams ComicArts – Megascope Publication date: 05/11/2021)

Stranded on an alien planet, two astronauts must battle deadly elements and each other to recover a reserve shuttle built for one

Black Star is a debut graphic novel by Eric Anthony Glover, based on his original unproduced screenplay, and illustrated by Arielle Jovellanos. In the future, interstellar travel is past its prime and sending shuttles beyond our solar system—even for vital scientific research—is a life-threatening gamble. However, in order to retrieve samples of an alien flower that may hold the key to saving countless lives, Harper North and her crew of scientists must journey to Eleos, a dangerous planet in deep space.
But as they approach Eleos, their ship is caught in an asteroid storm and as it hurtles towards the surface, its reserve shuttle detaches, landing over 100 kilometers away. When the rest of the crew perishes in the burning wreckage of the ship, North races towards the rescue shuttle built for one, hoping to fulfill their mission and survive. 


But North isn’t alone: The team’s wilderness expert is still alive and hell-bent on hunting North down and claiming the shuttle for herself.
Now, North has no choice but to reach the shuttle first—and fast. The fuel is leaking. Her GPS battery is dying. And the planet’s deadly seasonal change is coming. As she battles the flora and fauna and tries to elude her ruthless former crew mate, North will find the cost of survival is dear . . . Will she be willing to pay that price?

Mission Multiverse by Rebecca Caprara (ISBN-13: 9781419748233 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 05/11/2021 Series: Mission Multiverse, Ages 8-12)

Middle school misfits are tasked with saving the multiverse in this sweeping space adventure perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson series.

When five members of a middle school marching band are accidentally projected into an alternative universe during a field trip to the NASA headquarters, their fates land in the hands of the Multiverse Allied Council: a group of extraterrestrial delegates responsible for preserving harmony across the multiverse. Then Dev, Isaiah, Tessa, Maeve, and Lewis discover that Earth’s destruction is imminent due to an environmental collapse caused by humans. What can they do, when their most formidable skill is marching in formation? Against all odds, the space cadets fight to navigate the multiverse, save themselves from power-hungry forces eager to destroy them, rescue their families, and fight for the preservation of humankind. But forces far bigger than they ever imagined have insidious plans for the multiverse and its inhabitants . . .

Shipped by Meredith Tate (ISBN-13: 9781984813527 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-17)

Can two IRL enemies find their happily ever after online?

Stella Greene and Wesley Clarke are Gene Connolly Memorial High School’s biggest rivals. While the two have been battling it out for top student, it’s a race to the bottom when it comes to snide comments and pulling the dirtiest prank. For years, Stella and Wes have been the villain in each other’s story, and now it’s all-out war.

And there is no bigger battle than the one for valedictorian, and more specifically, the coveted valedictorian scholarship.

But Stella and Wes have more in common than they think. Both are huge fans of Warship Seven, a popular sci-fi TV drama with a dedicated online following, and the two start chatting under aliases—without a clue that their rival is just beyond the screen. They realize that they’re both attending SciCon this year, so they plan to dress in their best cosplay and finally meet IRL.

While tensions at school are rising and SciCon inches closer and closer, the enemy lines between Stella and Wes blur when a class project shows them they might understand one another better than anyone else—and not just in cosplay.

From the author of The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly comes a heartfelt story about rivalry, friendships, and defying preconceived notions—even the ones about yourself.

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth (ISBN-13: 9780062957146 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 13-17)

Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Nina LaCour, this queer coming-of-age story from the author of The Falling in Love Montage is wry, multilayered, and unflinchingly honest.

Aideen has plenty of problems she can’t solve. But when she stumbles upon overachiever Meabh Kowalska having a full-blown meltdown, she sees one that she can actually fix. Meabh is desperate to escape her crushing pile of extracurriculars. Aideen volunteers to help—by pushing her down the stairs.

Problem? Solved. Meabh’s sprained ankle is the perfect excuse to ditch her overwhelming schedule. But when one of their classmates learns about their little scheme, more “clients” start asking for Aideen’s “help”—kicking off a semester of traded favors, ill-advised hijinks, and even an unexpected chance at love.

Fixing other people’s problems won’t fix her own. But it might be the push Aideen needs to start.

Strange Creatures by Phoebe North (ISBN-13: 9780062841155 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-17)

From acclaimed author Phoebe North comes a riveting, unexpected, and beautiful contemporary novel about a girl whose brother mysteriously disappears, the family and friends he leaves behind, and the stories—real and imagined—that they tell themselves to fill the empty space.

From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world, called Gumlea, where no one else could find them.

And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school, when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and Gumlea. Soon it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half.

And then, one day, he disappears.

Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered Gumlea, and who believes that she’s the only one who can bring him back.

But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother’s disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive.

Pizazz by Sophy Henn (ISBN-13: 9781534492424 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Pizazz #1, Ages 8-10)

Discover the annoying side of being a superhero from snarky, reluctant hero Pizazz in this hilarious and highly illustrated new series for young middle graders—perfect for fans of Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Most people think superhero work is awesome and fulfilling. Pizazz knows better. Whenever she’s in the middle of a movie or having fun with her friends, she has to dash off the save the world. And she’s always in the same outfit, including an embarrassing glittery cape, and the wedgies are unreal. Plus, being the good guy all the time is so not easy. Superheroes have bad days like everybody else, but Pizazz always has to be cheerful and noble and brave. More than anything, she just wants to be normal.

The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez (ISBN-13: 9780063025769 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-17)

Red, White, & Royal Blue meets The West Wing in Jasper Sanchez’s electric and insightful #ownvoices YA debut, chronicling a transmasculine student’s foray into a no-holds-barred student body president election against the wishes of his politician father.

Optics can make or break an election. Everything Mark knows about politics, he learned from his father, the Congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son.

Mark has promised to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark risks his low profile to become a political challenger.

The problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and his few friends are all nerds. Still, thanks to Scandal and The West Wing, they know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover.

Soon Mark feels emboldened to engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and the bully frontrunner standing in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver (ISBN-13: 9781338593341 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-18)

Everything happens for a reason.

At least that’s what everyone keeps telling Liam Cooper after his older brother Ethan is killed suddenly in a hit-and-run.

Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationships of his two best friends in the process.

Soon, Liam finds themself spending time with Ethan’s best friend, Marcus, who might just be the only person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through-for better and for worse.

The Ghosts We Keep is an achingly honest portrayal of grief. But it is also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.

Sisters of the Snake by Sasha Nanua, Sarena Nanua (ISBN-13: 9780062985590 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/15/2021, Ages 13-17)

A lost princess. A mysterious puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Wrath & the Dawn and The Tiger at Midnight.

Luna Howls at the Moon by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (ISBN-13: 9780063018624 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/15/2021, Ages 8-12)

The award-winning author of A Dog Like Daisy returns with a moving middle grade novel from the point of view of Luna, a Labrador therapy dog who accompanies her group therapy kids when they set off on an adventure across Austin, Texas.

Luna has always wanted to be a therapy dog at Therapy Dogs Worldwide. Now she’s a whisker away from reaching her fifty-visit pin that will make it official. But when her “clients”—the children who visit her—are put into a therapy group, Luna’s routine is upended.

Like the moon, Luna shows different faces at different times. And her clients each have different needs—Beatrice is tangled in knots of anger, Caleb rushes like a waterfall, Amelia carries fear heavy like a shadow, and Hector is quiet as a rock. To comfort the kids, Luna can be what they need her to be, but can she be everything to them all at once?

When Hector doesn’t show up to a session one day, the kids set off on an unexpected quest to find him. Luna joins to keep them safe, and they must work together to almost learn the truth.

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza (ISBN-13: 9780063024892 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/22/2021, Ages 8-12)

This hilarious and poignant #ownvoices tween debut about dealing with bullies, making friends, and the power of good books is a great next read for fans of Merci Suárez Changes Gears and John David Anderson.

Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year—epically bad.

After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad’s treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can’t imagine a worse place to live. He’s one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn’t want to deal with expectations from his new teachers.

Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: HolesBridge to Terabithia,and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn’t hate them. Ahmed also starts learning about his uncle, who died before Ahmed was born. Getting bits and pieces of his family’s history might be the one upside of the move, as his dad’s health hangs in the balance and the school bully refuses to leave him alone. Will Ahmed ever warm to Minnesota?

Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (ISBN-13: 9781641291712 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 14-17)

Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale “Brother and Sister,” Michelle Ruiz Keil’s second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early ’90s Portland.

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr. 

Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism—and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever. 

Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.

The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron (ISBN-13: 9780062943132 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 8-12)

Family and food take center stage in this heartfelt middle grade story perfect for fans of John David Anderson and Antony John.

For as long as he can remember, Curtis Pith has been obsessed with becoming a chef like Lucas Taylor, host of Super Chef. And Curtis has a secret: Taylor is actually his long-absent father.

So when Taylor announces a kids-only season of Super Chef, Curtis finally sees his chance to meet his dad. But after Curtis wins a spot in the competition and arrives in New York to film the show, nothing goes as smoothly as he expected.

It’s all riding on the last challenge. If Curtis cooks his heart out like he knows he can, he just might go home with the top prize—and the truth.

When We Were Strangers by Alex Richards (ISBN-13: 9781547603640 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the author of Accidental comes a gripping story about a teen grieving her father’s sudden death—and grappling with the shocking secrets he left behind.

Seventeen-year-old Evie Parker is devastated in the wake of her father’s sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn’t: the day of his heart attack, her dad was planning to move out. After finding his packed bags, an impulsive Evie puts everything away to spare her mom more heartache.

To make matters worse, Evie soon learns the reason her father was going to leave: he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Desperate to distract herself, Evie signs up for a summer photography class, where she meets a motley crew of students, including quirky and adorable Declan. Still, Evie can’t stop thinking about her father’s mistress. Armed with a telephoto lens, she caves in to her curiosity, and what starts as a little bit of spying on Bree quickly becomes full-blown stalking. And when an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there’s more to the story than she ever knew . . .

Alex Richards crafts a riveting new story about betrayal, complicated family secrets, and getting to the heart of what matters—ultimately asking readers how far they’d be willing to go to unravel the truth.

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas (ISBN-13: 9780593322819 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 14-17)

A witty and warm-hearted novel about a trans teen finding his place in the world perfect for fans of Red, White and Royal Blue

There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls.

And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality.

Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity.

People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things—like who you are and who you love—are not up for debate.

Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason (ISBN-13: 9781547604081 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 12-17)

Past and present collide in a captivating YA debut about a girl who takes off on a flight and lands . . . twenty-five years later.

When Jenny boards her flight back from New York, the biggest things on her mind are applying to Columbia and reuniting with her brand-new boyfriend. But when she and the other passengers disembark in St. Louis, they’re told that their plane disappeared-twenty-five years ago. Everyone thought they were dead.

The world has fast-forwarded. Three of her grandparents are gone, her parents are old, and her “little” brother is now an adult. There’s so much she’s missed out on, not the least iPhones, social media, and pop culture. When some surprising information comes to light, Jenny feels betrayed by her family and once-best friend. She’s also fighting her attraction to Dylan, a cute and kind classmate who has an unusual connection to her past. And then there’s the growing contingent of conspiracy theorists determined to prove that Flight 237 hides a sinister truth. Will Jenny figure out how to move forward, or will she always be stuck in the past?

Debut author Michelle I. Mason offers a smart and funny high-concept debut about the most unbelievable of life changes-and the parts of yourself that can always stay the same.

Stolen Science by Ella Schwartz, Gaby D’Alessandro (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547602285 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 9-11)

Over the centuries, women, people from underrepresented communities, and immigrants overcame prejudices and social obstacles to make remarkable discoveries in science-but they weren’t the ones to receive credit in history books. People with more power, money, and prestige were remembered as the inventor of the telephone, the scientists who decoded the structure of DNA, and the doctor who discovered the cause of yellow fever. This book aims to set the record straight and celebrate the nearly forgotten inventors and scientists who shaped our world today.

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi (ISBN-13: 9780062943255 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 8-12)

At a time when we are all asking questions about identity, grief, and how to stand up for what is right, this book by the author of A Thousand Questions will hit home with young readers who love Hena Khan and Varian Johnson—or anyone struggling to understand recent U.S. history and how it still affects us today.  

Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas—and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just knows he can win.

Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge.

With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice?

Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones, Gilly Segal (ISBN-13: 9781492678922 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the New York Times bestselling authors of I’m Not Dying with You Tonightcomes a story about friendship, privilege, sports, and protest.

With a rocky start to senior year, cheerleaders and lifelong best friends Eleanor and Chanel have a lot on their minds. Eleanor is still in physical therapy months after a serious concussion from a failed cheer stunt. Chanel starts making questionable decisions to deal with the mounting pressure of college applications. But they have each other’s backs—just as always, until Eleanor’s new relationship with star quarterback Three starts a rift between them.

Then, the cheer squad decides to take a knee at the season’s first football game, and what seemed like a positive show of solidarity suddenly shines a national spotlight on the team—and becomes the reason for a larger fallout between the girls. As Eleanor and Chanel grapple with the weight of the consequences as well as their own problems, can the girls rely on the friendship they’ve always shared?

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman (ISBN-13: 9780358468332 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 01/04/2022 Series: Ivory Key Duology Series, Ages 12-18)

In this epic YA fantasy debut, magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology that’s perfect for fans of There Will Come a DarknessThe Gilded Wolves, and We Hunt the Flame.

Vira, Ronak, Kaleb, and Riya may be siblings, but they’ve never been close or even liked each other that much. Torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken, only one thing can bring them back together: the search for the Ivory Key, a thing of legend that will lead the way to a new source of magic. Magic is Ashoka’s biggest export and the only thing standing between them and war with the neighboring kingdoms—as long as their enemies don’t find out that the magic mines are nearly depleted.

The siblings all have something to gain from finding the Ivory Key, and even more to lose if they don’t. For Vira, the Ivory Key is the only way to live up to the legacy of her mother, the beloved former maharani. Ronak plans to get out of his impending political marriage by selling the Ivory Key to the highest bidder. Kaleb has been falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani, and this is the only way to clear his name. And Riya needs to prove her loyalty to the Ravens, the group of rebels that wants to take control away from the maharani and give it to the people. With each sibling harboring secrets and conflicting agendas, figuring out a way to work together may be the most difficult task of all. And in a quest this dangerous, working together is the only way to survive.

The Monarchs by Kass Morgan, Danielle Paige (ISBN-13: 9780358098225 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 01/11/2022 Series: Ravens Series, Ages 14-18)

In this thrilling conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige’s The Ravens duology, loyalty, love, and friendships are tested as sorority sisters Scarlett and Vivi must face the forces of hell itself when a rival sorority threatens to wreak havoc on campus.

The ultra-exclusive Kappa Rho Nu—the Ravens—are determined to restore balance to the world. After destroying an ancient talisman and barely saving their sorority in the process, they’ll go to any lengths to keep their secret as Westerly’s most powerful coven of witches.

Scarlett Winter, a legacy Raven, has finally gotten what she’s always wanted: Scarlett is Kappa Rho Nu’s newest president. Unlike her mother or older sister before her, Scarlett has a vision for a more unified Kappa, one where no sister falls to the forces of wicked magic. But the powers of the presidency have their own pitfalls. And with the pressures of alumni bureaucracy and past failures weighing on her, Scarlett finds herself at risk of losing the very thing that defined her: her magic.

As a new member of Kappa Rho Nu, Vivi Devereaux finally knows what it’s like to belong. She has her Kappa Rho Nu sisters behind her and, with Scarlett’s blessing, Vivi’s happily dating her first college crush (who also just happens to be Scarlett’s ex). When Scarlett assigns Vivi the coveted role of social chair, Vivi is determined to live up to her Big’s expectations. But Vivi’s studies in witchcraft take a deadly turn when she uncovers a new form of magic, one that has mysterious ties to Kappa Rho Nu’s past and the vengeful demon oncetied to their talisman.

With the weight of their newfound roles and the terrible price of destroying the talisman haunting them, Scarlett and Vivi must save their sisterhood when the forces of hell itself and a rival sorority threaten to unleash havoc on the Ravens.

Loyalty by Avi (ISBN-13: 9780358248071 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 10-12)

Newbery Medalist Avi explores the American Revolution from a fresh perspective in the story of a young Loyalist turned British spy navigating patriotism and personal responsibility during the lead-up to the War of Independence.

When his father is killed by rebel vigilantes, Noah flees with his family to Boston. Intent on avenging his father, Noah becomes a spy for the British and firsthand witness to the power of partisan rumor to distort facts, the hypocrisy of men who demand freedom while enslaving others, and the human connections that bind people together regardless of stated allegiances. Awash in contradictory information and participating in key events leading to the American Revolution, Noah must forge his own understanding of right and wrong and determine for himself where his loyalty truly lies.

Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier (ISBN-13: 9780358434610 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 8-12)

In this heartfelt middle-grade novel from debut author Nicole D. Collier, fifth-grader Jillian must learn to speak and break free of her shell to enter her school’s academic competition and keep her promise to her grandmother. 

Fifth-grader Jillian will do just about anything to blend in, including staying quiet even when she has the right answer. After she loses a classroom competition because she won’t speak up, she sets her mind on winning her school’s biggest competition. But breaking out of her shell is easier said than done, and Jillian has only a month to keep her promise to her grandmother and prove to herself that she can speak up and show everyone her true self. 

A warm and relatable middle-grade debut novel about family, friendship, and finding the confidence to break free from the crowd and be who you truly are. 

Book Mail: New and upcoming titles for all ages

YAY! Book mail is starting to be a near-daily thing at my house again. So much of the pandemic shut that down and I’d go weeks sometimes with only a book or two arriving. I’m sure the UPS guy is happy to have his daily stop at my house back on his route.

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything!

Thanks, as always, to all the great publishers, publicists, and authors who keep me in good books.

All summaries from the publishers.

Poison Priestess by Lana Popovic (ISBN-13: 9781419745928 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/06/2021 Series: Lady Slayers, Ages 14-18)

Book 2 in the Lady Slayers series, about French murderess and fortune teller Catherine Monvoisin

In 17th-century Paris, 19-year-old Catherine Monvoisin is a well-heeled jeweler’s wife with a peculiar taste for the arcane. She lives a comfortable life, far removed from a childhood of abject destitution—until her kind spendthrift of a husband lands them both in debt. Hell-bent on avoiding a return to poverty, Catherine must rely on her prophetic visions and the grimoire gifted to her by a talented diviner to reinvent herself as a sorceress. With the help of the grifter Marie Bosse, Catherine divines fortunes in the IIle de la Citee—home to sorcerers and scoundrels.
There she encounters the Marquise de Montespan, a stunning noblewoman. When the Marquise becomes Louis XIV’s royal mistress with Catherine’s help, her ascension catapults Catherine to notoriety. Catherine takes easily to her glittering new life as the Sorceress La Voisin, pitting the depraved noblesse against one other to her advantage. The stakes soar ever higher when her path crosses with that of a young magician. A charged rivalry between sorceress and magician leads to Black Masses, tangled deceptions, and grisly murder—and sets Catherine on a collision course that threatens her own life.

13 Things Strong Kids Do: Think Big, Feel Good, Act Brave by Amy Morin, Jennifer Naalchigar (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780063008489 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/06/2021, Ages 8-12)

The internationally bestselling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin, empowers tweens, teaching them how to think, feel, and act stronger than ever! Perfect for fans of The Confidence Code for Girls, this book tackles mental strength in a relatable way. Filled with fun graphics and illustrations throughout.

“This book is a powerful gift to kids—it shows them how to help themselves!” —Claire Shipman, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Confidence Code for Girls

Do you worry that you don’t fit in? Do you feel insecure sometimes? Do you wish your life looked as perfect as everyone else on social media? Do you have anxiety about things you can’t control? Being a tween can be really hard, especially in today’s world.

You balance it all—homework, extracurricular activities, chores, friendship drama, and family, all while trying to give the impression that you know exactly what you’re doing. Sometimes when we try to look perfect on the outside, we can feel rotten in the inside.  Do you want to become a stronger person, inside and out? By picking up this book, you’re already taking the first step toward becoming a better person where it counts—by training your brain.

Prominent psychotherapist and social worker Amy Morin offers relatable scenarios, then shows tweens the ways they can develop healthy habits, build mental strength, and take action toward becoming their best selves. 13 Things Strong Kids Do gives tweens the tools needed to overcome life’s toughest challenges.

This nonfiction middle grade book is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 8, including those living through the stresses of homeschooling, returning to the classroom, and navigating a changed and stressful world.

A Shot in the Arm!: Big Ideas that Changed the World #3 by Don Brown (ISBN-13: 9781419750014 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 8-12)

Award-winning author Don Brown explores the history of vaccines from smallpox to COVID-19 in this installment of the Big Ideas That Changed the World series

A Shot in the Arm! explores the history of vaccinations and the struggle to protect people from infectious diseases, from smallpox—perhaps humankind’s greatest affliction to date—to the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting deadly diseases such as measles, polio, rabies, cholera, and influenza, Brown tackles the science behind how our immune systems work, the discovery of bacteria, the anti-vaccination movement, and major achievements from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who popularized inoculation in England, and from scientists like Louis Pasteur, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, and Edward Jenner, the “father of immunology.” Timely and fascinating, A Shot in the Arm! is a reminder of vaccines’ contributions to public health so far, as well as the millions of lives they can still save.

Big Ideas That Changed the World is a graphic novel series that celebrates the hard-won succession of ideas that ultimately changed the world. Humor, drama, and art unite to tell the story of events, discoveries, and ingenuity over time that led humans to come up with a big idea and then make it come true.

Ways to Grow Love by Renée Watson, Nina Mata (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547600588 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 04/27/2021 Series: A Ryan Hart Story, Ages 7-10)

Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.

Ryan Hart and her family are back in another installment of stories about a Black girl finding her way and her voice as she grows through change and challenges. In this book, Ryan finds herself waiting on lots of things — like for her new sister to be born healthy, for her new recipes to turn out right, for that summer camp trip to go better than she fears! And of course Ryan is facing these new challenges and new experiences in her classic style — with a bright outlook and plenty of spirit!

Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre by Alverne Ball, Stacey Robinson (Illustrator), Reynaldo Anderson (Contribution by), Colette Yellow Robe (Contribution by) (ISBN-13: 9781419755170 Publisher: Abrams ComicArts – Megascope Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 12-18)

One hundred years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, Across the Tracks is a celebration and memorial of Greenwood, Oklahoma

In Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre, author Alverne Ball and illustrator Stacey Robinson have crafted a love letter to Greenwood, Oklahoma. Also known as Black Wall Street, Greenwood was a community whose importance is often overshadowed by the atrocious massacre that took place there in 1921.

Across the Tracks introduces the reader to the businesses and townsfolk who flourished in this unprecedented time of prosperity for Black Americans. We learn about Greenwood and why it is essential to remember the great achievements of the community as well as the tragedy which nearly erased it. However, Ball is careful to recount the eventual recovery of Greenwood. With additional supplementary materials including a detailed preface, timeline, and historical essay, Across the Tracks offers a thorough examination of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Black Wall Street.

Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee (ISBN-13: 9781649370310 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 15-18)

I am a weed.

Unloved by my abusive, alcoholic dad. Unwanted by my classmates. Unnoticed by everyone else.

But I’d suffer anything to give my kid sister a better life—the minute I turn eighteen, I’m getting us the hell out of here. And some hot stranger telling me I am the key to stopping a war between Heaven and Hell isn’t going to change that.

Let the world crumble and burn, for all I care.

Draven is relentless, though. And very much a liar. Every time his sexy lips are moving, I can see it—in the dip of his head, the grit of his jaw—even if my heart begs me to ignore the signs.

So what does he want?

I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…

We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation.

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly (ISBN-13: 9780062970428 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021 Series: Maybe Marisol #1, Ages 8-12)

Introducing eight-year-old Marisol Rainey—an irresistible new character from Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling Erin Entrada Kelly!

Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is an illustrated novel about summer, friendship, and overcoming fears, told with warm humor and undeniable appeal. Fans of Clementine, The Year of Billy Miller, and Ramona the Pest will be thrilled to meet Marisol.

Marisol Rainey’s mother was born in the Philippines. Marisol’s father works and lives part-time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard she calls Peppina . . . but she’s way too scared to climb it. This all makes Marisol the only girl in her small Louisiana town with a mother who was born elsewhere and a father who lives elsewhere (most of the time)—the only girl who’s fearful of adventure and fun.

Will Marisol be able to salvage her summer and have fun with Jada, her best friend? Maybe. Will Marisol figure out how to get annoying Evie Smythe to leave her alone? Maybe. Will Marisol ever get to spend enough real time with her father? Maybe. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe.  

Told in short chapters with illustrations by the author on nearly every page, Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is a must-have for early elementary grade readers. Erin Entrada Kelly celebrates the small but mighty Marisol, the joys of friendship, and the triumph of overcoming your fears in this stunning new novel for readers of Kevin Henkes, Meg Medina, Andrew Clements, Sara Pennypacker,  and Kate DiCamillo. 

Features black-and-white artwork throughout by Erin Entrada Kelly.

Summer Lifeguards by Elizabeth Doyle Carey, Judit Mallol (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728221229 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/04/2021 Series: Summer Lifeguards #1, Ages 8-12)

Perfect summer reading for every middle schooler—pick up the first in the Summer Lifeguards series featuring four best friends and wholesome beach fun.

It’s been a busy summer on Cape Cod for four best friends, Jenna, Selena, Piper, and Ziggy. They can’t wait to become summer lifeguards like the teens they see patrolling the beaches. But will the girls be able to provide the lifeguards the help they need when a hurricane threatens to strike?

As the storm approaches Cape Cod, the friends face several challenges. Jenna was going to compete in the regional swim meet, but will it still take place? Selena tries a self-beauty treatment with unflattering results. Ziggy’s mom will not take the hurricane seriously and refuses to evacuate. And Pippa finds herself with an unexpected visitor.

Summer Lifeguards: Jenna Tests the Waters by Elizabeth Doyle Carey, Judit Mallol (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728221250 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/04/2021 Series: Summer Lifeguards Series #2, Ages 8-12)

The Babysitter’s Club meets Sunny Side Up—the girls are back to take on the challenge of summer lifeguard tryouts in the perfect summer read featuring female friendship and overcoming the odds!

Jenna’s been a star on her swim team, but lately she feels a lot of pressure to be even better. She’s convinced it’s time to look for something new, so Jenna convinces her friends Piper, Selena, and Ziggy to try out for spots as summer lifeguards.

There’s no guarantee they’ll get picked for the team. The competition includes the rich and gorgeous Samantha Frankel, handsome but mysterious Hayden, and the coach’s daredevil son Luke. Will the girls all make the cut? Or will some be left behind?

Long Lost by Jacqueline West (ISBN-13: 9780062691750 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 8-12)

Once there were two sisters who did everything together. But only one of them disappeared.

New York Times–bestselling author Jacqueline West’s Long Lost is an atmospheric, eerie mystery brimming with suspense. Fans of Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces and Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts series will lose themselves in this mesmerizing and century-spanning tale.

Eleven-year-old Fiona has just read a book that doesn’t exist.

When Fiona’s family moves to a new town to be closer to her older sister’s figure skating club—and far from Fiona’s close-knit group of friends—nobody seems to notice Fiona’s unhappiness. Alone and out of place, Fiona ventures to the town’s library, a rambling mansion donated by a long-dead heiress. And there she finds a gripping mystery novel about a small town, family secrets, and a tragic disappearance.

Soon Fiona begins to notice strange similarities that blur the lines between the novel and her new town. With a little help from a few odd Lost Lake locals, Fiona uncovers the book’s strange history. Lost Lake is a town of restless spirits, and Fiona will learn that both help and danger come from unexpected places—maybe even from the sister she thinks doesn’t care about her anymore.

New York Times–bestselling and acclaimed author Jacqueline West weaves a heart-pounding, intense, and imaginative mystery that builds anticipation on every page, while centering on the strong and often tumultuous bond between sisters. Laced with suspense, Long Lost will fascinate readers of Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Secret Keepers and fans of ghost stories. 

Hardears by Matthew Clarke (Created by), Nigel Lynch (Created by), Cathy Thomas (Afterword) (ISBN-13: 9781419751929 Publisher: Abrams ComicArts – Megascope Publication date: 05/11/2021)

Barbadian folklore meets superheroes in this Afro-Caribbean fantasy adventure story

Hardears is an Afro-Caribbean fantasy-adventure graphic novel by Matthew Clarke and Nigel Lynch. The story takes place in an alternative world on Jouvert Island; a magical analog of the island of Barbados and begins when a superstorm of unprecedented strength obliterates the island, leaving it totally defenseless.


As the island reels from the devastation, Mr. Harding, the head of the Merchant Guild, charges in and promises to rebuild the economy of the island by creating jobs in his giant corporation. However, it’s soon discovered that Harding is a parasite and is capturing people from the island and using their life essence or vibes to feed his factories.


Bolo, a local hero, saves his love Zahrah from Hardin and cronies but the lovers are then framed as rebels against the state. The state has been compromised by the factories and the workers who know the truth about Harding must go into hiding. If Bolo, Zahrah, and their allies don’t take down Harding and the corrupt government, all will be lost. Together, they must find the strength of their island and ancestors to fight the evil forces that have taken over their homeland.

Jelly by Clare Rees (ISBN-13: 9781419745560 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-18)

A survival story unlike anything you’ve ever read—perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and Rory Power

The biggest problem with being trapped on a jellyfish isn’t what you’d expect. You get over the fear of death (because you start looking forward to it) and the smell of fish (because it quickly becomes your breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Boredom is an issue, sure, but it’s not the main one; the biggest problem is not being able to get away from everyone.


Martha is stuck on the back of the jellyfish and has been for a long time. She and everyone else living there don’t know how exactly they got there or how long they’ve been there or where they’re going—they just remember that something traumatic happened. And they can’t escape.
But now, the crew has finally had enough. They’re going to escape the jellyfish—or die trying. (Which probably means dying.) Funny, strange, and completely original, Jelly is an unforgettable young adult debut.

Made in Korea by Sarah Suk (ISBN-13: 9781534474376 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-18)

Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs by Laurie Morrison (ISBN-13: 9781419741258 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 10-14)

A thoughtful middle-grade novel about caring for others and for yourself––and what it truly means to be kind and vulnerable

Thirteen-year-old Ivy Campbell has always been a good kid: She supports her soccer-star brother, bakes with her nana, and puts her friends’ needs before her own. So of course, Ivy is 100 percent supportive when her mom decides to be a gestational surrogate, carrying and giving birth to her friends’ baby. But when Ivy finds out the surrogacy treatment worked and her mom is pregnant—and has been for weeks—she’s shocked that she’s jealous and worried about what others will think. And most of all, she’s ashamed that she isn’t reacting to this news in the right way. The Ivy way. Ivy is determined to prove to herself that she’s just as unselfish as she’s always believed, and she gets the chance to do that when she receives an anonymous email from someone who needs her help. But the more Ivy dives into helping this anonymous person, the further she gets from the people she loves—and from the person who she wants to be.

On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork (ISBN-13: 9781338692150 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-18)

“You know I’m coming. You’re dead already.”

Hector has always minded his own business, working hard to make his way to a better life someday. He’s the chess team champion, helps the family with his job at the grocery, and teaches his little sister to shoot hoops overhand.

Until Joey singles him out. Joey, whose older brother, Chavo, is head of the Discípulos gang, tells Hector that he’s going to kill him: maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday. And Hector, frozen with fear, does nothing. From that day forward, Hector’s death is hanging over his head every time he leaves the house. He tries to fade into the shadows — to drop off Joey’s radar — to become no one.

But when a fight between Chavo and Hector’s brother Fili escalates, Hector is left with no choice but to take a stand.

The violent confrontation will take Hector places he never expected, including a reform school where he has to live side-by-side with his enemy, Joey. It’s up to Hector to choose whether he’s going to lose himself to revenge or get back to the hard work of living.

The Ship of Stolen Words by Fran Wilde (ISBN-13: 9781419749506 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 8-12)

A group of goblins steal a boy’s ability to apologize in this lively middle-grade fantasy from Nebula Award-winning author Fran Wilde

No matter how much trouble Sam gets in, he knows that he can always rely on his magic word, “sorry,” to get him out of a pinch. Teasing his little sister too much? Sorry! Hurt someone’s feelings in class? Sorry! Forgot to do his chores? So sorry! But when goblins come and steal his “sorry,” he can’t apologize for anything anymore. To get his “sorry” back and stop the goblins from stealing anyone else’s words, Sam will have to enter the goblins’ world and try and find the depository of stolen words.
There, he meets Tolver, a young goblin who’s always dreamed of adventure. Tolver longs to use the goblin technology—which can turn words into fuel to power ships—to set off and explore, but his grandma warns him that the goblin prospectors will only bring trouble.
Together, Tolver and Sam will have to outsmart the cruel prospectors and save the day before Sam’s parents ground him forever!

Violet Ghosts by Leah Thomas (ISBN-13: 9781547604630 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 14-17)

From William C. Morris and Edgar Award finalist Leah Thomas comes an ethereal, thought-provoking YA tale about a teen who can see ghosts . . . and helps them avenge their deaths.

Dani’s best friend, Sarah, is a ghost. But maybe that’s normal when you’ve spent your childhood running from an abusive parent.

Dani and Sarah might be more than friends, though Dani dares not say so. Dani is afraid that if he tells Sarah he’s trans, she won’t bother haunting him anymore. Sarah’s got good reason to distrust boys, having been strangled by one.

After Sarah and Dani come across another ghost haunted by her own brutal murder, they set out to bring peace and safety to spirits like her. But when an old rival reenters Dani’s life, their unexpected friendship gives Dani a strange new feeling of belonging. As Dani starts to find his place in the living world, he’ll need to let go of his ghosts.

Equal parts chilling, raw, and emotionally resonant, acclaimed author Leah Thomas’s ghost story for the #MeToo era is about reclaiming trauma and finding peace among true friends.

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ISBN-13: 9781534440272 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 12-18)

A wedding harpist disillusioned with love and a hopeless romantic cater-waiter flirt and fight their way through a summer of weddings in this effervescent romantic comedy from the acclaimed author of Today Tonight Tomorrow.

Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response.

Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman.

Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher.

Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson (ISBN-13: 9780063032606 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/15/2021 Series: Truly Devious Series #4, Ages 14-17)

After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado (ISBN-13: 9780062972798 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/22/2021, Ages 8-12)

In this full-color middle grade graphic memoir for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft, Yehudi Mercado draws inspiration from his childhood struggle with his weight while finding friendship with his imaginary mascot, Chunky, as he navigates growing up in a working class Mexican-Jewish family.

Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors. Concerned about the serious medical issue Hudi had when he was younger, his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot. 

As the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had. Baseball doesn’t go well (unless getting hit by the ball counts), but the two friends have a great time drawing and making jokes. While Hudi’s parents keep trying to find the right sport for Hudi, Chunky encourages him to pursue his true love—comedy.

But when Hudi’s dad loses his job, it gets harder for Hudi to chart his own course, even with Chunky’s guidance. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself or will this friendship strike out?

Breeder by Honni van Rijswijk (ISBN-13: 9781094099804 Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-17)

Will Meadows is a seemingly average fifteen-year-old Westie, who lives and works in Zone F, the run-down outermost ring of the Corporation. In the future state of the Corp, a person’s value comes down to productivity: the right actions win units, the wrong ones lose them. If Will is unlucky and goes into Unit debt, there’s only one place to go: the Rator. But for Zone F Breeders, things are much worse—they’re born into debt and can only accrue units through reproduction.

Every day in Zone F is a struggle, especially for Will who is fighting against time for access to an illegal medical drug, Crystal 8. Under the cover of night, Will travels to the Gray Zone, where life is less regulated and drugs—and people—are exchanged for gold. There, Will meets Rob, a corrupt member of the Corporation running a Breeder smuggling operation. Will also meets Alex, another teen whom he quickly recognizes as a Breeder in disguise.

Suddenly, Will has an illicit job and money, access to Crystal, and a real friend. As the pair grows closer, Alex shares her secret: she is part of the Response, an uprising to overthrow the Corporation. Caught up in the new friendship, Will and Alex become careless as the two covertly travel into Zone B for a day of adventure. Nothing goes as planned and Will’s greatest fear is realized. Will his true identity be revealed?

Creatures of the Night by Grace Collins (ISBN-13: 9781989365496 Publisher: Wattpad Books Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 14-17)

Night is coming, and so are they. 

Milena’s twentieth birthday, the day she would join the ranks of her village’s hunters, should have been the most exciting day of her life. Being a hunter meant she would be able to help protect her village from the murderous wolves who take human form—the creatures of the night. But a chance encounter with Elias, the enigmatic leader of the creatures, leaves her questioning everything she has ever believed to be true. 

Up until now, Elias has managed to protect the creatures of the night and keep the secrets of his past well hidden. Now, as tensions between the groups grow, Elias is forced to make hard decisions: ones that will cost lives. Nobody is safe, especially Milena, the person he is inexplicably drawn to even though it could destroy them both.

Equal parts suspense, mystery, and romance, Creatures of the Night captures the struggle between learning to trust your instincts and each other.

Swallow by Sam Schill (ISBN-13: 9781989365342 Publisher: Wattpad Books Publication date: 07/27/2021, Ages 14-17)

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

The students at Roanoke High School have created a soundtrack that runs constantly in Mildred Waco’s mind . . .

Change your hair, Mildred. 
Change your face, Mildred. 
Change your body, Mildred. 
Everyone hates you, Mildred.
Are you really going to wear that, Mildred?

The stares, the snickers, the constant teasing—combined with Mildred’s own self-doubt and absentee parents—takes its toll. Stumbling upon the Crossroads Magicks shop, Mildred decides she will no longer simply endure the bullying and skeptically buys a revenge curse.

But when she begins to lose her memory and Roanoke students are found brutally murdered, Mildred realizes that she may have bought more than she bargained for. With time running out, Mildred will have to stop the terrible forces she’s unleashed or lose her soul forever.

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao (ISBN-13: 9781547603978 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 14-18)

In a YA thriller that is Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us is Lying, students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top-ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends—Krystal, Akil, and Alexander—are the prime suspects, thanks to “the Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow the Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too.

Katie Zhao’s YA debut is an edge-of-your-seat drama set in the pressure-cooker world of academics and image at Sinclair Prep, where the past threatens the future these teens have carefully crafted for themselves. How We Fall Apart is the irresistible, addicting, Asian-American recast of Gossip Girl that we’ve all been waiting for.

Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith (ISBN-13: 9781524865450 Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Publication date: 08/17/2021, Ages 14-18)

This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit.

Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots.

Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.”

Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.

What Lives in the Woods by Lindsay Currie (ISBN-13: 9781728245720 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 10-14)

For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny’s father—a respected restoration expert in Chicago—surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren’t staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they’re staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.

As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can’t shake the feeling that there’s something darker . . . another story she hasn’t been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There’s more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren’t after campers.

It’s after her.

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs (ISBN-13: 9781728234656 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

It is 1913, and twelve-year-old Petra Luna’s mama has died while the Revolution rages in Mexico. Before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to him that she will care for the family she has left—her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito—until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.

Each night when Petra closes her eyes, she holds her dreams close, especially her long-held desire to learn to read. Abuelita calls these barefoot dreams: “They’re like us barefoot peasants and indios—they’re not meant to go far.” But Petra refuses to listen. Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border—a life where her barefoot dreams will become reality.

Recent and Forthcoming Books: Workman and Algonquin Young Readers Showcase

Look at all those books up there! They came in ONE haul. I was minding my own business in my house, eating some ramen and scrolling Twitter, when I heard a THUD from my front steps. Waiting at the door for me was this giant box of books from Workman. TRULY giant. Nearly 20 pounds.

The box contained both galleys of recent titles (that I’m guessing maybe weren’t shipped out prior due to COVID shutdowns—and many of these titles are now coming out soon in paperback) and galleys for titles coming out this month and beyond. I recently bought a little book cart to organize all my TLT review books. I may need another!

All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to young readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, my kid’s school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader.

I’m giving away a bunch of these books through my Twitter, in a giveaway for teachers and librarians only (ends April 4, 2021), so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me.

Pull out your TBR lists or get ready to add to the orders for books that stock your library or classroom shelves. Today I’m sharing with you recent forthcoming titles from Workman Publishing and Algonquin. All annotations are from the publisher.

Books that are already out

The Oddmire, Book 2: The Unready Queen by William Ritter (ISBN-13: 9781616208400 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 06/23/2020 Series: Oddmire Series, Ages 8-12)

Human-raised brothers Tinn and Cole join forces with Fable, daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, to stop the fighting between the people of Endsborough and the creatures of the Wild Wood before violence turns into all-out war.  

Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

In this second book in the Oddmire series, the New York Times bestselling author of Jackaby takes readers on an adventure full of monsters, mayhem, and magic.

In the Role of Brie Hutchens… by Nicole Melleby (ISBN-13: 9781616209070 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 06/30/2020, Ages 10+)

An own-voices LGBTQ novel from the acclaimed author of Hurricane Season, about eighth grader Brie, who learns how to be true to herself and to her relationships with family, friends, and faith.

Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride—but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has, yet. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.

Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to—finally—make her mother really see her as she is.

Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen (ISBN-13: 9781616209674 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 08/18/2020, Ages 14-18)

It’s time to bare it all about bodies!
 
We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story.
 
In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular, unique bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world.
 
Come on in, turn the pages, and join the celebration of our unique, diverse, miraculous, beautiful bodies!

The Constitution Decoded: A Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation by Katie Kennedy, Ben Kirchner (Illustrator), Kermit Roosevelt Contribution by) (ISBN-13: 9781523510443 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 10-14)

The ultimate guide to the US Constitution—and the history of the US through the law of the land—for middle grade readers ages 10+. The book decodes the original document with a direct translation of the text, dissecting every word, phrase and idea. Then it connects the document to major historical figures and events using full-color illustrations and examples of how the document works in practice.

Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) by Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781643750057 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 09/15/2020 Series: Skunk and Badger #1, Ages 8-12)

Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
 
No one wants a skunk.
 
They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.
 
When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?
 
Nooooooooooooooooooooo!”
 
Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake spins the first tale in a series about two opposites who need to be friends.
 
New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen completes the book with his signature lushly textured art. This beautifully bound edition contains both full-color plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations.
 
Skunk and Badger is a book you’ll want to read, reread, and read out loud . . . again and again.

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez (ISBN-13: 9781616209919 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-18)

A powerful contemporary YA for fans of The Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. 

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. 

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (ISBN-13: 9781645660002 Publisher: Erewhon Books Publication date: 09/15/2020 Series: The Scapegracers #1, Ages 14-18)

An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 1) by Elizabeth C. Bunce (ISBN-13: 9781616209186 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 10/06/2020 Series: Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery, Ages 10+)

Introducing Myrtle Hardcastle, your favorite new amateur detective: a wickedly smart twelve-year-old with a keen interest in criminology and a nose for murder.

Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and a Highly Unconventional obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and Observes her neighbors in the quiet village of Swinburne, England.

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes he —not even her father, the town prosecutor.

With sparkling wit and a tight, twisty plot, Premeditated Myrtle, the first in a series from an award-winning author, introduces a brilliant young investigator ready to take on hard cases and maddening Victorian rules for Young Ladies of Quality in order to earn her place among the most daring and acclaimed amateur detectives of her time or any other.

How to Get Away with Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 2) by Elizabeth C. Bunce (ISBN-13: 9781616209193 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 10/06/2020 Series: Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery, Ages 10+)

Before the train has left the station, England’s most accomplished new detective already is on a suspect’s trail, and readers will be delighted to travel along. 
 
Myrtle Hardcastle has no desire to go on a relaxing travel excursion with her aunt Helena when there are More Important things to be done at home, like keeping close tabs on criminals and murder trials. Unfortunately, she has no say in the matter. So off Myrtle goes—with her governess, Miss Judson, and cat, Peony, in tow—on a fabulous private railway coach headed for the English seaside.
 
Myrtle is thrilled to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, both the tiara and Mrs. Bloom vanish. When Myrtle arrives, she and Peony discover a dead body in the baggage car. Someone has been murdered—with Aunt Helena’s sewing shears.
 
The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to arrive. What’s a smart, bored Young Lady of Quality stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to find out which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?

Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA by Nova Ren Suma, Emily X.R. Pan (ISBN-13: 9781643750798 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 10/20/2020, Ages 14-18)

13 Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X.R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults. A supplemental section of craft essays offers advice on subjects from technique to revision to publication.

So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them by Charise Mericle Harper (ISBN-13: 9781523510177 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 11/10/2020, Ages 8-12)

This lively nonfiction graphic novel for ages 8-12, from bestselling middle grade author-illustrator Charise Mericle Harper, dives deep into that everyday source of stress and humor for kids—embarrassment. With science facts, jokes, and compassion (and some slapstick) this book lets kids know they aren’t alone and puts them at ease.

Girlhood: Teens around the World in Their Own Voices by Masuma Ahuja (ISBN-13: 9781643750118 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 12-18)

What does a teenage girl dream about in Nigeria or New York? How does she spend her days in Mongolia, the Midwest, and the Middle East? 

All around the world, girls are going to school, working, dreaming up big futures—they are soccer players and surfers, ballerinas and chess champions. Yet we know so little about their daily lives. We often hear about challenges and catastrophes in the news, and about exceptional girls who make headlines. But even though the health, education, and success of girls so often determines the future of a community, we don’t know more about what life is like for the ordinary girls, the ones living outside the headlines.

From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia to the South Pacific, the thirty teens from twenty-seven countries in Girlhood share their own stories of growing up through diary entries and photographs, and the girls’ stories are put in context with reporting and research that helps us understand the circumstances and communities they live in. This full-color, exuberantly designed volume is a portrait of ordinary girlhood around the world, and of the world, as seen through girls’ eyes.

Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice by Michael Long (ISBN-13: 9781643751009 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 03/23/2021, Ages 10-14)

From the March on Washington to March for Our Lives to Black Lives Matter, the powerful stories of kid-led protest in America. 
  
Kids have always been activists. They have even launched movements. Long before they could vote, kids have spoken up, walked out, gone on strike, and marched for racial justice, climate protection, gun control, world peace, and more.  
 
Kids on the March tells the stories of these protests, from the March of the Mill Children, who walked out of factories in 1903 for a shorter work week, to 1951’s Strike for a Better School, which helped build the case for Brown v. Board of Education, to the twenty-first century’s most iconic movements, including March for Our Lives, the Climate Strike, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests reshaping our nation. 
  
Powerfully told and inspiring, Kids on the March shows how standing up, speaking out, and marching for what you believe in can advance the causes of justice, and that no one is too small or too young to make a difference. 

Forthcoming books

How to Go Anywhere (and Not Get Lost): A Guide to Navigation for Young Adventurers by Hans Aschim, Nainoa Thompson (Foreword by) (ISBN-13: 9781523506347 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 03/30/2021, Ages 9-12)

Born To Explore 

Get outside with this interactive boom that shows how explorers have found their way around the planet for thousands of years. Read about the ancient Polynesians who tracked the stars and waves  to sail precise paths through the ocean. Or the Age of European Exploration navigators who use compasses and dead reckoning to reach the New World. And learn the science behind radar and modern-day GPS satellites. Then discover how to do it yourself! With illustrated activities as well as handy tips throughout, you’ll learn the fascinating history and seriously useful skills to become a true navigator.
Up your adventure game and learn to:
—Find north and south by reading the trees
—Make a simple compass
—Use the stars to tell time
—Build a basic sextant
—Get your bearings using the sun
—Go treasure hunting with GPS

Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States by Warren Binford (Compiler), Michael Garcia Bochenek (Foreword by) (ISBN-13: 9781523513482 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 8+)

The Testimony of Children 

A moving picture book for older children and families that introduces a difficult topic, amplifying the voices and experiences of immigrant children detained at the border between Mexico and the US. The children’s actual words (from publicly available court documents) are assembled to tell one heartbreaking story, in both English and Spanish (back to back). Each spread is illustrated in striking full-color by a different Latinx artist. A portion of sales will be donated to human rights organizations that work with children on the border.

Enduring Freedom by Trent Reedy, Jawad Arash (ISBN-13: 9781643750408 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 05/18/2021, Ages 12-18)

On September 11, 2001, the lives of two boys on opposite sides of the world are changed in an instant.
 
Baheer, a studious Afghan teen, sees his family’s life turned upside down when they lose their livelihood as war rocks the country.
 
A world away, Joe, a young American army private, has to put aside his dreams of becoming a journalist when he’s shipped out to Afghanistan.
 
When Joe’s unit arrives in Baheer’s town, Baheer is wary of the Americans, but sees an opportunity: Not only can he practice his English with the soldiers, his family can make money delivering their supplies. At first, Joe doesn’t trust Baheer, or any of the locals, but Baheer keeps showing up. As Joe and Baheer get to know each other, to see each other as individuals, they realize they have a lot more in common than they ever could have realized. But can they get past the deep differences in their lives and beliefs to become true friends and allies?
 
Enduring Freedom is a moving and enlightening novel about how ignorance can tear us apart and how education and understanding can bring us back together.

How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby (ISBN-13: 9781643750361 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 9-12)

For Pluto, summer has always started with a trip to the planetarium. It’s the launch to her favorite season, which also includes visits to the boardwalk arcade, working in her mom’s pizzeria, and her best friend Meredith’s birthday party. But this summer, none of that feels possible.
 
A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything.
 
Pluto can’t explain to her mom why she can’t do the things she used to love. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city—where he believes his money, in particular, could help—that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again.
 
She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino, Bruno Navasky (Translator), Neil Gaiman (Foreword by) (ISBN-13: 9781616209773 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 06/15/2021, Ages 10-14)

Anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite childhood book, in English for the first time.
 
First published in 1937, Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has long been acknowledged in Japan as a crossover classic for young readers. Academy Award–winning animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro,Howl’s Moving Castle) has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to emerge from retirement to make it the basis of a final film. 
 
How Do You Live? is narrated in two voices. The first belongs to Copper, fifteen, who after the death of his father must confront inevitable and enormous change, including his own betrayal of his best friend. In between episodes of Copper’s emerging story, his uncle writes to him in a journal, sharing knowledge and offering advice on life’s big questions as Copper begins to encounter them. Over the course of the story, Copper, like his namesake Copernicus, looks to the stars, and uses his discoveries about the heavens, earth, and human nature to answer the question of how he will live.
 
This first-ever English-language translation of a Japanese classic about finding one’s place in a world both infinitely large and unimaginably small is perfect for readers of philosophical fiction like The Alchemist and The Little Prince, as well as Miyazaki fans eager to understand one of his most important influences.

The Oddmire, Book 3: Deepest, Darkest by William Ritter (ISBN-13: 9781643750927 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 06/22/2021 Series: Oddmire Series, Ages 8-12)

The third adventure in the beloved fantasy series full of folklore and mayhem, from the creator of Jackaby.
 
Brothers Cole and Tinn—one human, one a goblin changeling—are determined to solve a mystery almost as old as they are: What happened to their long-missing father?
 
Joseph Burton vanished without a trace, leaving the baby boys’ mother to raise them alone. Some say he abandoned his family, others that he met foul play looking for a way to get rid of the changeling imposter. Cole is determined to finally push through the rumors and learn his father’s fate.
 
With the help of their friends—Evie, expert on the creatures of the Wild Wood, and Fable, the indomitable half human, half fairy—Tinn and Cole set out on a dangerous quest to the deepest, most deadly limits of the Wild Wood. Meanwhile a shudder runs through the forest. Increasingly powerful earthquakes shake the land, sinkholes form, and the spriggans, trolls, and other creatures along their path speak of an ancient evil on the rise . . .
 

Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset and Sunrise by Laura Silverman (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781643750415 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-18)

When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.

It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours.

Full contributor list: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia

Walls by L.M. Elliott (ISBN-13: 9781643750248 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 07/27/2021, Ages 12-18)

Drew is an army brat, a hotshot athlete poised to be his high school’s star pitcher, when he has to move for the sixth time in fifteen years—this time to West Berlin, where American soldiers like his dad hold an outpost of democracy against communist Russia in Hitler’s former capital. Meanwhile, in East Berlin, his cousin Matthias has grown up in the wreckage left by Allied bombing during World War II, on streets ruled by the Communist Party’s secret police.
 
From the opposing sides of the Cold War, Drew and Matthias begin to overcome the many ideological walls between them to become wary friends. They argue over the space race, capitalism, socialism, and even the American civil rights movement, and bond over rock ’n’ roll—music outlawed in Matthias’s part of the city. If Matthias is caught by the Stasi’s neighborhood spies with the records or books Drew has given him, he will be sent to a work camp for “re-education.” At the same time, Drew’s friendship with the East Berlin Jugend—who ardently spout communist dogma—raises suspicions about his family’s loyalty to America. As the political situation around them gets all the more dire, Drew and Matthias’s loyalty—to their sector, their countries, their families, and each other—will be tested in ways that will change their lives forever.
 
Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and punctuated with real-life photographs, headlines, and personalities of the time, Walls brings to vivid life the heroic and tragic choices of the Cold War. 

Cold-Blooded Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 3) by Elizabeth C. Bunce (ISBN-13: 9781616209209 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 10/05/2021 Series: Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery, Ages 10+)

Twelve-year-old Young Lady of Quality and Victorian amateur detective Myrtle Hardcastle returns, and now she’s on the trail of a serial killer in her hometown of Swinburne.
 
When Mr. Leighton, proprietor of Leighton’s Mercantile, is found dead on the evening his annual Christmas shop display is to be unveiled, it’s clear a killer had revenge in mind. But who would want to kill the local dry-goods merchant? Perhaps someone who remembers the unresolved, long-ago scandal that occurred when he was a professor and archaeologist. When the killer continues to strike, ­­­each time manipulating the figures in the display to foretell the crime, Myrtle finds herself racing to uncover the long-buried facts of a historical scandal—and the motivations of a modern murderer. 

Book mail: New and forthcoming books for middle grade and YA readers

YAY! Book mail is starting to be a near-daily thing at my house again. So much of the pandemic shut that down and I’d go weeks sometimes with only a book or two arriving. I’m sure the UPS guy is happy to have his daily stop at my house back on his route.

I share all of the book mail that comes in on my Twitter when it arrives, so if you’re not already doing so, hop on over there and follow me. I also give away 100% of the books I get, with giveaways every few weeks on Twitter, often only for teachers and librarians. Everything that comes into my house goes back out in some fashion to find a new reader. Many of the books I get are reviewed here at TLT as either longer, in-depth reviews or quick Post-It Note reviews. Try as I may, I cannot read everything!

Thanks, as always, to all the great publishers, publicists, and authors who keep me in good books.

All descriptions are from the publishers.

This was one day’s haul! Yay for book mail!

After the Rain by Nnedi Okorafor, David Brame (Illustrator), John Jennings (Adapted by) (ISBN-13: 9781419743559 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 14-18)

During a furious storm a young woman’s destiny is revealed . . . and her life is changed forever

After the Rain is a graphic novel adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s short story “On the Road.” The drama takes place in a small Nigerian town during a violent and unexpected storm. A Nigerian-American woman named Chioma answers a knock at her door and is horrified to see a boy with a severe head wound standing at her doorstep. He reaches for her, and his touch burns like fire. Something is very wrong. Haunted and hunted, Chioma must embrace her heritage in order to survive. John Jennings and David Brame’s graphic novel collaboration uses bold art and colors to powerfully tell this tale of identity and destiny.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle (ISBN-13: 9781534470675
Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 14-18)

In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry and must save both the human and god worlds. Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games!

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

Phoenix Flame by Sara Holland (ISBN-13: 9781547603824 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 03/02/2021 Series: Havenfall #2, Ages 14-18)

New York Times bestselling author Sara Holland continues her blockbuster contemporary fantasy series with this unforgettable sequel to Havenfall.

Maddie Morrow thought her problems were over. She saved the Inn at Havenfall—a sanctuary between magical worlds hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado—from the evil Silver Prince. Her uncle the Innkeeper is slowly recovering from a mysterious spell that has left him not quite human. And there are still a few weeks of summer left to spend with her handsome, more-than-just-a-friend Brekken, even though she can’t stop thinking about Taya.

But Maddie soon realizes there’s more work to be done to protect the place her family has run for centuries. She must embark on a dangerous mission to put an end to the black-market trading of magical objects and open the Inn’s doors to Solaria, the once feared land of shapeshifters. 

As she tries to accomplish both seemingly impossible tasks, Maddie uncovers family secrets that could change everything. What if saving everyone means destroying the only home she’s known?

This next breathtaking fantasy from New York Times bestselling Everless author Sara Holland is perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.

Covet by Tracy Wolff (ISBN-13: 9781682815816 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 03/02/2021 Series: Crave #3, Ages 14-18)

I may have reached my breaking point. As if trying to graduate from a school for supernaturals isn’t stressful enough, my relationship status has gone from complicated to a straight-up dumpster fire. 

Oh, and the Bloodletter has decided to drop a bomb of epic proportions on us all… 

Then again, when has anything at Katmere Academy not been intense?

And the hits just keep coming. Jaxon’s turned colder than an Alaskan winter. The Circle is splintered over my upcoming coronation. As if things couldn’t get worse, now there’s an arrest warrant for Hudson’s and my supposed crimes—which apparently means a lifetime prison sentence with a deadly unbreakable curse.

Choices will have to be made…and I fear not everyone will survive.

Upstaged by Diana Harmon Asher (ISBN-13: 9781419740817 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 03/16/2021, Ages 8-12)

A shy seventh grader learns to step into the spotlight in this heartwarming middle-grade novel by acclaimed author, Diana Harmon Asher

Shira Gordon is painfully shy. She rarely speaks and blushes at everything. And yet, when she’s alone in her room, she’ll sing and dance, dreaming she were different. So when her best friend forces her to audition for their school’s production of The Music Man, she’s mostly hoping the play will get canceled . . . but a tiny part of her hopes she’ll get in.


And she does. As a member of the barbershop quartet. Playing a dude with a mustache is not exactly her dream role, but Shira is surprised by how much she loves rehearsing with her quirky new friends. When her teacher asks her to understudy the lead role, Marian the Librarian, she reluctantly accepts.


It’s not easy to understudy Monica Manley, an eighth-grade diva who will not be upstaged. And things get even more complicated when a mysterious prankster starts playing tricks on Monica and Shira’s crush joins the cast. But something keeps Shira going, and it might just be Marian herself. Sure, Marian is a leading lady, but she’s also misunderstood, lonely . . . and shy. And if a star can be shy, then maybe, just maybe, a shy person can be a star.

Rivals by Tommy Greenwald (ISBN-13: 9781419748271 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 03/23/2021, Ages 10-14)

From the author of the award-winning Game Changer comes a gripping novel about two student-athletes searching for stardom, a young reporter searching for the truth, and a crosstown basketball rivalry that goes too far

The people of Walthorne love their basketball—and one of the things they love most is the special rivalry between the Walthorne North Middle School Cougars and the Walthorne South Middle School Panthers. As the season begins, two star players are feeling the heat: Austin Chambers, captain of Walthorne North, worries that he’s not good enough to live up to his father’s legacy, while across town, the brilliantly talented Carter Haswell, captain of Walthorne South, is already under pressure to get a scholarship that might ease his family’s financial stress.

While both boys do whatever they can to make sure their team wins, Alfie Jenks, a school sports reporter, discovers that behind-the-scenes scandals are just as much a part of youth sports as on-the-court action. When she blows the story wide open, the whole season is jeopardized.

Told through a series of flashbacks, newspaper reports, social media posts, and interviews, Rivals will have readers tearing through the pages to see what happens next—and asking themselves if winning has become more important than doing the right thing.

The Follower by Kate Doughty (ISBN-13: 9781419748011 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 03/23/2021, Ages 13-18)

A spine-tingling YA thriller based on a true story

Instagram-famous triplets Cecily, Amber, and Rudy—the children of home renovation superstars—are ready for a perfect summer. They’ve just moved onto the site of their parents’ latest renovation project when they begin to receive spine-tingling messages from someone called The Follower. It soon becomes clear that this anonymous threat is more than a simple Internet troll, and they can’t wait to shatter the Cole family’s perfect veneer and take back what’s theirs.


The Follower examines the implications of what it is to be watched in the era of social-media fame—as well as the lies we tell and the lengths we’ll go to uphold a perfect image, when our lives depend on it.

Where the Road Leads Us by Robin Reul (ISBN-13: 9781492635253 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 04/06/2021, Ages 14-18)

Sometimes the best path is the unexpected one.

Jack is on the verge for leaving for college, but before he does, he wants to track down his estranged brother, Alex and find some closure in the wake of their father’s death. Meanwhile, Hallie has just found out some upsetting news about a friend in Oregon, and she has a small window to go see him before it’s too late.

Jack and Hallie are practically strangers. They shared a class together years ago and haven’t seen each other since, though they have more in common than they’d ever imagine. And when fate puts them into the same rideshare to the bus terminal, it kicks off an unconventional and hysterical adventure that may lead them to their own true selves…and maybe to each other.

The Light of Days Young Readers’ Edition: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion (ISBN-13: 9780063037694 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/06/2021, Ages 8-12)

This young readers’ edition is the remarkable untold story of the young Jewish women who became resistance fighters against the Nazis during World War II. It has already been optioned by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture.

As their communities were being destroyed, groups of Jewish women and teenage girls across Poland began transforming Jewish youth groups into resistance factions. These “ghetto girls” helped build systems of underground bunkers, paid off the Gestapo, and bombed German train lines.

At the center of the book is eighteen-year-old Renia Kukielka, who traveled across her war-torn country as a weapons smuggler and messenger. Other women who joined the cause served as armed fighters, spies, and saboteurs, all risking their lives for their missions.

Never before chronicled in full, this is the incredible account of the strong Jewish women who fought back against the seemingly unstoppable Nazi regime. It follows the women through arrests, internment, and for a lucky few, into the late 20th century and beyond.

It also includes an eight-page insert of black-and-white photos, so that readers can see firsthand the extraordinary women who bravely fought for their freedom in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker, Stacy Davidowitz (ISBN-13: 9781419743931 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 8-12)

A heartfelt middle-grade novel about a theater-loving girl who uses a wheelchair for mobility and her quest to defy expectations—and gravity—from Tony award–winning actress Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast?


But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)— especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve (ISBN-13: 9781419746017 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 12-18)

A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice—and himself

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?

The Key to You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown (ISBN-13: 9780062824585 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 14-17)

A sweet and funny ownvoices LGBTQ+ romance perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Julie Murphy, from the critically acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit!

Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving by taking lessons from a girl in town.

Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.

Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?

“Piper and Kat are imperfect, but always trying their best—aren’t we all?—and Brown had me rooting for them all the way through this sweet, slow burn romance. Their triumphs, their blunders, and the way they swing between confidence and self-doubt are utterly relatable.”—Misa Sigura, award-winning author of It’s Not Like It’s a Secret

The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller (ISBN-13: 9781419736759 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 10-14)

A young witch must save her sister from evil birds in this masterful middle-grade fantasy

In the land of Tsaretsvo, civil war has divided the human kingdom from the Republic of Birds. Magic is outlawed, and young witches are sent to a mysterious boarding school, from which no one has returned. Olga and her family live a life of dull privilege in the capital until her father displeases the tyrannical tsarina. The family is sent off into exile at the Imperial Center for Avian Observation, an isolated shack near the Republic of Birds. Unlike the rest of her family, Olga doesn’t particularly mind their strange new life. She never fit into aristocratic society as well as her perfect younger sister, Mira. What does worry Olga is her blossoming magical abilities. If anyone found out, they’d send her away. But then Mira is kidnapped by the birds, and Olga has no choice but to enter the forbidden Republic, a dangerous world full of iagas, talking birds, and living dreams. To navigate the Republic and save her sister, she’ll need her wits, her cunning—and even her magic.

Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion by Gregory Mone (ISBN-13: 9781419738531 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 8-12)

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson and Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion launches an exciting, action-packed new series about the underwater lost city

Kaya, raised in the undersea, high-tech world of Atlantis, has always been fascinated by the legends about life above the water. Despite the government’s insistence that they’re only stories, she can’t help but dream about the Sun People—and when a group of officials known as Erasers move to bury those legends for good, Kaya sets out to the surface to uncover the truth once and for all.
In the world above, where climate change has led to giant tsunamis that threaten Earth’s coasts, all Lewis wants is to spend more time with his scientist father. When he stows away on his dad’s top-secret research trip, he finds himself thrown headfirst into an adventure much bigger than he bargained for.
Fast-paced and action-packed, The Accidental Invasion brings readers into a world unlike anything they’ve seen before. Bonus content includes real scientific information about genetic modification, earthquakes, nuclear power, and plate tectonics.

Ways to Grow Love by Renée Watson, Nina Mata (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547600588 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 04/27/2021 Series: A Ryan Hart Novel, Ages 7-10)

Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.

Ryan Hart and her family are back in another installment of stories about a Black girl finding her way and her voice as she grows through change and challenges. In this book, Ryan finds herself waiting on lots of things — like for her new sister to be born healthy, for her new recipes to turn out right, for that summer camp trip to go better than she fears! And of course Ryan is facing these new challenges and new experiences in her classic style — with a bright outlook and plenty of spirit!

River Magic by Ellen Booraem (ISBN-13: 9780525428046 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/27/2021, Ages 10-12)

Magic moves in next door in this hilarious and heartfelt middle grade fantasy about a resourceful girl battling a temperamental thunder wizard.

Donna’s always liked her life by the river–that is, until her beloved aunt Annabelle died in a tragic kayaking accident. Now money’s tight, her mom works all the time, and her best friend, Rachel, would rather hang out with her basketball teammates than with Donna. When a strange old woman moves in next door and hires Donna to clean part-time, she figures this is the perfect chance to get over her friendship troubles and help her family out–especially since the woman pays in gold. Turns out, Donna’s new neighbor is an ancient, ornery thunder mage, and it doesn’t take much to make her angry. Before Donna knows it, Rachel is in danger and Donna’s family is about to lose their home. To save the day, Donna will need the help of a quirky new friend and the basketball team . . . plus the mysterious, powerful creature lurking in the river.

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter (ISBN-13: 9781534467620 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 12-18)

In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh (ISBN-13: 9780062987983 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 8-12)

For fans of Inside Out and Back Again and Amina’s Voice, We Need Diverse Books cofounder Ellen Oh creates a breathtaking story of family, hope, and survival, inspired by her mother’s real-life experiences during the Korean War. Faced with middle school racism, Junie Kim learns of her grandparents’ extraordinary strength and finds her voice.

“Filled with unforgettable characters, this profoundly moving story about a girl’s search for self is at once both unique and universal, timely and timeless. A book that should be on every shelf.” —Padma Venkatraman, Walter Award-winning author of The Bridge Home

Junie Kim just wants to fit in. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out.

Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, learning about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. And as racism becomes more pervasive at school, Junie taps into the strength of her ancestors and finds the courage to do what is right.

Finding Junie Kim is a reminder that within all of us lies the power to overcome hardship and emerge triumphant.

The Best Worst Summer by Elizabeth Eulberg (ISBN-13: 9781547601509 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 8-12)

From the acclaimed author of The Great Shelby Holmes comes a new middle grade story about two summers-three decades apart-and the box of secrets linking them together.

This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.

Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.

In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.

All Kinds of Other by James Sie (ISBN-13: 9780062962492 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 14-17)

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis, and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting over at a new high school.

Jules is still figuring out what it means to be gay…and just how out he wants to be.

Jack is reeling from a fall-out with his best friend…and isn’t ready to let anyone else in just yet.

When Jules and Jack meet, the sparks are undeniable. But when a video linking Jack to a pair of popular trans vloggers is leaked to the school, the revelations thrust both boys into the spotlight they’d tried to avoid.

Suddenly Jack and Jules must face a choice: to play it safe and stay under the radar, or claim their own space in the world—together.

The Summer of Broken Rules by K. L. Walther (ISBN-13: 9781728210292 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 14-18)

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Katie Cotugno, this is a story of loss, romance, and the time it takes to become who you really want to be.

It’s all just fun and games…until someone loses their heart.

When Meredith Fox lost her sister, Claire, eighteen months ago, she shut everyone out. But this summer she’s determined to join the world again.

The annual family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard seems like the perfect place to reconnect. Her entire extended family is gathering for a big summer wedding, and although Meredith is dateless after being unexpectedly dumped, she’s excited to participate in the traditional Fox family game of assassin that will take place during the week of wedding festivities. Claire always loved the game, and Meredith is determined to honor her legacy.

But when Meredith forms an assassin alliance with a cute groomsman, she finds herself getting distracted. Meredith tries to focus on the game and win it for her sister, but she can’t help falling for him. And as the week progresses, she realizes she’s not only at risk of losing the game, but also her heart.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney (ISBN-13: 9780063024793 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 13-17)

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is an own voices story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets and leap-off-the-page sexual tension.

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud” and all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .

Then an anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

A Wilder Magic by Juliana Brandt (ISBN-13: 9781728245737 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 7-12)

From the author of The Wolf of Cape Fen comes a beautiful and lyrical story about one family with magic in their bones, and what happens when we have to give up what we love most.

For generations, Sybaline Shaw’s family has lived in an enchanted valley in the Appalachian Mountains, using their magic to help grow the land. But now the government has built a dam that will force the Shaws to relocate, and they’re running out of time before their home will be flooded.

Syabline and her cousin Nettle can’t imagine life without the valley and its magic, so they decide to stay. Using magic, they build an invisible wall around their home. As the water rises, they learn a terrible truth: the water will continue to rise, leaving them to live beneath the lake itself.

There is also a consequence to using magic selfishly, one that might transform both her and Nettle forever. If she can’t find a way to escape, Syballine and the ones she loves could be trapped in the valley forever.

Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (ISBN-13: 9781492677062 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 14-17)

An emotional story about complicated friendships, new family, unexpected romance, and finding the place you belong.

That’s what Jess was to me. I was the ground; she was the rain. I wasn’t anything until she woke me up.

Seventeen-year-old June can’t imagine life without her best friend Jess. June wasn’t anything, really, until Jess chose her. And June’s not sure who she is without Jess.

But after June is expelled, she’s forced to move to Virginia, to live with her grandmother and attend an all-girls boarding school. She’ll be miles away from her home, from her family, and from Jess.

June counts down the days until she can come back home for the summer. But when she befriends two new girls and meets Sam, who she is instantly drawn to, life in Virginia starts to feel more real. And as she begins to question if she has more than just a friendship with Jess, Jess pulls away, leaving June with more questions than answers.

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield (ISBN-13: 9781250622235 Publisher: Wednesday Books Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 13-18)

In this sweeping debut, Asha Bromfield takes readers to the heart of Jamaica, and into the soul of a girl coming to terms with her family, and herself, set against the backdrop of a hurricane.

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica. 

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise—all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard (ISBN-13: 9780062872623 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 13-17)

Irresistibly action-packed and full of lethal surprises, this stunning new fantasy series from Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Red Queen series, begins where hope is lost and asks: When the heroes have fallen, who will take up the sword?

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

  • A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
  • An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
  • An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
  • An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
  • A forger with a secret past.
  • A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (ISBN-13: 9780063038837 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 14-17)

Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (ISBN-13: 9781419751028 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 10-14)

A moving middle-grade debut for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t belong

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler (ISBN-13: 9781250765826 Publisher: Wednesday Books Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 14-18)

Dahlia Adler’s Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories About Living Fabulously Fat by Cassandra Newbould (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781547606078 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/11/2021, Ages 14-17)

An intersectional, feminist YA anthology from some of today’s most exciting voices across a span of genres, all celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance through short stories.

Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful. They express themselves through fashion, sports and other physical pursuits, through food, and music, and art. They are flirting and falling in love. They are loving to themselves and one another. With stories that feature fat main characters starring in a multitude of stories and genres, and written by authors who live these lives too, this is truly a unique collection that shows fat young people the representation they deserve. 

With a foreword by Aubry Gordon, creator of Your Fat Friend, and with stories by:
Nafiza Azad, Chris Baron, Sheena Boekweg, Linda Camacho, Kelly deVos, Alex Gino, Claire Kann, amanda lovelace, Hillary Monahan, Cassandra Newbould, Francina Simone, Rebecca Sky, Monique Gray Smith, Renée Watson, Catherine Adel West, Jennifer Yen

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy (ISBN-13: 9780062880451 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 13-17)

Return to the beloved world of Julie Murphy’s #1 New York Times bestselling Dumplin’—now a popular Netflix feature film starring Jennifer Anistonin this fabulously joyful, final companion novel about drag, prom, and embracing your inner Queen.

Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.

So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape getting accidentally shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.

Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.

Waylon will need to learn that the best plan for tomorrow is living for today . . . especially with the help of some fellow queens. . . .

The Hollow Inside by Brooke Lauren Davis (ISBN-13: 9781547606115 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 12-17)

Sadie meets The Glass Castle in a smart, gripping, and twisty YA debut about a girl seeking to reveal the truth about her mother-and herself.

Seventeen-year-old Phoenix has spent much of her life drifting from town to town with her mom Nina, using their charms to swindle and steal to get by. Now they’ve made it to their ultimate destination, Mom’s hometown of Jasper Hollow. The plan: bring down Ellis Bowman, the man who ruined Nina’s life.

When Phoenix gets caught spying on Ellis, she spins a convincing story that inadvertently gives her full access to the Bowman family. As she digs deeper into their secrets (and begins to fall for daughter Melody), she finds herself entrenched in the tale of a death and a disappearance that doesn’t entirely line up with what Mom has told her.

But there’s even more to this story Phoenix doesn’t know. Who, if anyone, is telling the whole truth about what happened? Debut author Brooke Lauren Davis explores the murkiness of right and wrong, of choices and consequences, of heroes and villains, in an eerily compelling and thought-provoking small-town saga.

A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia (ISBN-13: 9780062367297 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 16+)

A tour-de-force from three-time National Book Award finalist Rita Williams-Garcia, this story of an antebellum plantation—and the enduring legacies of slavery upon every person who lives there—is essential reading for both teens and adults grappling with the long history of American racism.

1860, Louisiana. After serving as mistress of Le Petit Cottage for more than six decades, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided, in spite of her family’s objections, to sit for a portrait.

While Madame plots her last hurrah, stories that span generations—from the big house to out in the fields—of routine horrors, secrets buried as deep as the family fortune, and the tangled bonds of descendants and enslaved.

This astonishing novel from award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia about the interwoven lives of those bound to a plantation in antebellum America is an epic masterwork—empathetic, brutal, and entirely human.

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi (ISBN-13: 9780062972415 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 13-17)

From bestselling and National Book Award–nominated author Tahereh Mafi comes a stunning novel about love and loneliness, navigating the hyphen of dual identity, and reclaiming your right to joy—even when you’re trapped in the amber of sorrow.

It’s 2003, several months since the US officially declared war on Iraq, and the American political world has evolved. Tensions are high, hate crimes are on the rise, FBI agents are infiltrating local mosques, and the Muslim community is harassed and targeted more than ever. Shadi, who wears hijab, keeps her head down.

She’s too busy drowning in her own troubles to find the time to deal with bigots.

Shadi is named for joy, but she’s haunted by sorrow. Her brother is dead, her father is dying, her mother is falling apart, and her best friend has mysteriously dropped out of her life. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of her hear—

It’s broken.

Shadi tries to navigate her crumbling world by soldiering through, saying nothing. She devours her own pain, each day retreating farther and farther inside herself until finally, one day, everything changes.

She explodes.

An Emotion of Great Delight is a searing look into the world of a single Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. It’s about a child of immigrants forging a blurry identity, falling in love, and finding hope—in the midst of a modern war.

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin (ISBN-13: 9781250757241 Publisher: Wednesday Books Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-18)

A queer YA reimagining of Thelma & Louise with the aesthetic of Riverdale, for fans of Mindy McGinnis, Courtney Summers, and Rory Power.

Love on the dark side of freedom

When Trixie picks up her best friend Lux for their weekend getaway, they’re looking to forget the despair of being trapped in their dead-end rustbelt town. The girls are packing light: a supply of Diet Coke and an ‘89 Canon to help Lux frame the world in a sunnier light; half a pack of cigarettes that Trixie doesn’t really smoke, and a knife she’s hanging on to for a friend that she’s never used before.

But a single night of violence derails their trip, and the girls go from ordinary high schoolers to wanted fugitives. Trying to stay ahead of the cops and a hellscape of media attention, Trixie and Lux grapple with an unforgiving landscape, rapidly diminishing supplies, and disastrous decisions at every turn. As they are transformed by the media into the face of a #MeToo movement they didn’t ask to lead, Trixie and Lux realize that they can only rely on each other, and that the love they find together is the one thing that truly makes them free.

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park (ISBN-13: 9781728209425 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-18)

A social media influencer is shipped off to a digital detox summer camp in this funny coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Love and Gelato.

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever

Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.

Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd (ISBN-13: 9781547605026 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 13-17)

From an exciting new voice comes a funny and heartfelt YA romance set in the world of competitive gaming, perfect for fans of Opposite of Always and Slay.

Emilia Romero is living a double life. By day, she’s a field hockey star with a flawless report card. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate. That’s in part to keep her real-life persona, but also for her own safety, since girl gamers are often threatened and harassed. 

When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to her team and the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team recognizes her . . . 

Jake Hooper has had a crush on Emilia since he was ten years old. When his underdog eSports team makes it into the tournament, he’s floored to discover she’s been leading a double life. The fates bring Jake and Emilia together as they work to keep her secret, even as the pressures of the tournament and their non-gaming world threaten to pull everything apart.

Debut author Alexis Nedd has crafted a YA combo-punch of charming romance and virtual adventure that will win the hearts of gamers and non-gamers alike.

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June (ISBN-13: 9780063015159 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-17)

From debut novelist Jason June comes a moving and hilarious sex-positive teen rom-com about the complexities of first loves, first hookups, and first heartbreaks—and how to stay true to yourself while embracing what you never saw coming, that’s perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon and Becky Albertalli. 

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all his friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones . . . because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan. 

On the Way to Birdland by Frank Morelli (ISBN-13: 9781947886056 Publisher: Fish Out of Water Books Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 14-17)

Self-proclaimed teenage philosopher Cordell Wheaton lives in a sleepy, southern town where nothing ever happens; not since his hero, jazz musician John Coltrane, left some seventy years earlier to “follow the sound.” Cordy’s life has been unraveling since the night his father and his brother, Travis, exploded on each other. The night Travis’s addiction transformed him from budding musician into something entirely different. The night Travis took his saxophone and disappeared. When Cordy’s father falls ill, the sixteen-year-old vows to reunite the Wheaton family. He embarks on a modern-day odyssey with forty bucks in his pocket and a dream to find his brother and convince him to be Travis again—by taking him to a show at Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, and reminding him of the common bonds they share with their legendary hero. Cordy’s journey is soon haunted by ghostly visions, traumatic dreams, and disembodied voices that echo through his mind. He starts to wonder if the voices are those of the fates, guiding him toward his destiny—or if he’s losing his grip on reality.

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac (ISBN-13: 9780593326213 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 8-12)

From the U.S.’s foremost indigenous children’s author comes a middle grade verse novel set during the COVID-19 pandemic, about a Wabanaki girl’s quarantine on her grandparents’ reservation and the local dog that becomes her best friend

Malian was visiting her grandparents on the reservation when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Now she’s staying there, away from her parents and her school in Boston. Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but on the reservation, everyone protects each other, from Malian caring for her grandparents to the local dog, Malsum, guarding their house. They always survive together. Malian hears stories from her grandparents about how it has always been this way in their community: Stories about their ancestors, who survived epidemics of European diseases; about her grandfather, who survived a terrible government boarding school; and about Malian’s own mother, who survived and returned to her Native community after social services took her away to live in foster care as a child. With their community and caring for one another, Malian and her family will survive this pandemic, too.

Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura (ISBN-13: 9780062991232 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 13-17)

This delightfully disastrous queer YA rom-com is a perfect read for fans of Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Sandhya Menon.

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (ISBN-13: 9781547603909 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 13-17)

Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron’s new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power.

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined—it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her.

The Way She Feels by Courtney Cook (ISBN-13: 9781951142599 Publisher: Tin House Books Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 16+)

A witty and one-of-a-kind debut graphic memoir detailing and drawing the life of a girl with borderline personality disorder finding her way—and herself—one day at a time.

What does it feel like to fall in love too hard and too fast, to hate yourself in equal and opposite measure? To live in such fear of rejection that you drive friends and lovers away? Welcome to my world. I’m Courtney, and I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), along with over four million other people in the United States. Though I’ve shown every classic symptom of the disorder since childhood, I wasn’t properly diagnosed until nearly a decade later, because the prevailing theory is that most people simply “grow out of it.” Not me.

In my illustrated memoir The Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces, I share what it’s been like to live and love with this disorder. Not just the hospitalizations, treatments, and residential therapy, but the moments I found comfort in cereal, the color pink, or mini corn dogs; the days I couldn’t style my hair because I thought the blow-dryer was going to hurt me; the peace I found when someone I love held me. This is a book about vulnerability, honesty, acceptance, and how to speak openly—not only with doctors, co-patients, friends, family, or partners, but also with ourselves.

Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler (ISBN-13: 9781250750044 Publisher: Wednesday Books Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 12-18)

Sliding Doors-esque novel that reveals how our choices define us and how no matter the road, love can find its way.

Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.

Twice.

Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane’s dad. The bitter separation of Drew’s parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they’ve always been there for each other.

When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal.

But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.

Told in dual timelines, debut author Jennie Wexler’s Where It All Lands delivers a heartbreaking and hopeful novel about missed opportunities, second chances, and all the paths that lead us to where we are.

Time Villains by Victor Piñeiro (ISBN-13: 9781728230498 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 07/06/2021 Series: Time Villains #1, Ages 8-12)

Story Thieves meets Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library in this wacky, hilarious, and fast-paced middle-grade series starter, with the perfect combination of magic, imagination, and adventure.

Javi Santiago is trying his best not to fail sixth grade. So, when the annual “invite any three people to dinner” homework assignment rolls around, Javi enlists his best friend, Wiki, and his sister, Brady, to help him knock it out of the park.

But the dinner party is a lot more than they bargained for. The family’s mysterious antique table actually brings the historical guests to the meal…and Blackbeard the Pirate is turning out to be the worst guest of all time.

Before they can say “avast, ye maties,” Blackbeard escapes, determined to summon his bloodthirsty pirate crew. And as Javi, Wiki, and Brady try to figure out how to get Blackbeard back into his own time, they might have to invite some even zanier figures to set things right again…

The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore (ISBN-13: 978-1728229119 Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 13-17)

Stalking Jack the Ripper meets Devil in the White City. In order to save her sister, Zuretta takes a job at a notorious house of horrors-but she might never escape.

Seventeen-year-old Zuretta had resigned herself to a quiet life in Utah. But when her younger sister, Ruby, travels to Chicago during the World’s Fair, and disappears, Zuretta leaves home to find her.

But Chicago is more dangerous and chaotic than she imagined. She doesn’t know where to start until she learns of her sister’s last place of employment…a mysterious hotel known as The Castle.

Zuretta takes a job there hoping to learn more. And before long she realizes the hotel isn’t what it seems. Women disappear at an alarming rate, she hears crying from the walls, and terrifying whispers follow her at night. In the end, she finds herself up against one of the most infamous mass murderers in American history―and his custom-built death trap.

Journey to the Heart of the Abyss by London Shah (ISBN-13: 9780759555075 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 10/26/2021 Series: Light the Abyss Series #2, Ages 12-18)

The sequel to London Shah’s thrilling futuristic mystery The Light at the Bottom of the World, perfect for fans of Illuminae and These Broken Stars

Leyla McQueen has finally reunited with her father after breaking him out of the illegal government prison, Broadmoor—but freedom comes at a terrible cost. As Leyla celebrates being with her father, she must grapple with the pain of losing Ari. Now separated from the boy who has her heart and labeled the nation’s number one enemy, Leyla must risk illegal travel with her father through unchartered waters in their quest for the truth behind Mr. McQueen’s arrest.

Across Britain, the fallout from Mr. McQueen’s escape has escalated tensions between Anthropoid and non-Anthropoid communities, bringing them to an all-time high. And, as Leyla and her friends fight to uncover the startling truths about their world, she discovers her own shocking past—and the horrifying secrets behind her father’s abduction and arrest. But as these long-buried truths finally begin to surface, so, too, do the authorities’ terrible future plans. And if the ever-pervasive fear prevents the people from taking a stand now, the abyss could stay in the dark forever.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao (ISBN-13: 9781250762030 Publisher: Wednesday Books Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 12-18)

If I Stay meets Your Name in Dustin Thao’s You’ve Reached Sam, a heartfelt novel about love and loss and what it means to say goodbye.

How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend asummer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.

What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

Filled with a diverse cast of characters, the heartache of first love and loss, and the kind of friends that can get you through anything, plus a touch of magic, You’ve Reached Sam will make an instant connection with anyone looking for a big emotional romance of a read.

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood (ISBN-13: 9781250787101 Publisher: Wednesday Books Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 14-18)

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. She would be hired, that is, if her mentor hadn’t thrown her out before she could earn her license. Now her only hope of steady work is to find a Patron—a rich, well-connected individual who will vouch for her abilities.

When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, she takes the job without question. Never mind that he’s rude and demanding and eccentric, that the contract comes with a number of outlandish rules… and that almost a dozen debtera had quit before her. If Andromeda wants to earn a living, she has no choice. 

But she quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, the reason every debtera before her quit. But leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option because—heaven help her—she’s fallen for him.

Stunningly romantic, Lauren Blackwood’s heartstopping debut, Within These Wicked Walls, ushers in an exciting new fantasy voice.

Post-It Note Reviews: Evacuated siblings, allergies, Houdini, a dead body in a freezer, and more!

Post-it Note Reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers. Doing these short reviews would also be a great way to share more books during distance learning!

Frequent blog readers may have noticed I’m doing a lot more post-it-style reviews and less longer, individual review posts. Partially this is because my way of coping with the many upsetting pieces of the past year has been to drown myself in reading, so I’m burning through so many more books and want to share them, in some form, here. It’s been so hard for authors to be able to promote their books, through things like release parties or festivals or other events, and I want to share as many books as I can particularly these days to help them get the exposure they deserve.

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description.

The Best Worst Summer by Elizabeth Eulberg (ISBN-13: 9781547601509 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 8-12)

From the acclaimed author of The Great Shelby Holmes comes a new middle grade story about two summers-three decades apart-and the box of secrets linking them together.

This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.

Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.

In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.

(POST-IT SAYS: Set in the now and also in summer 1989 (when I too lived in small town MN and was heading into 6th grade). Satisfying read about friendship, change, families, and enough intrigue with the 1989 time capsule plot to keep the story moving.)

Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones (ISBN-13: 9780823446223 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 8-12)

A dead body. A missing will. An evil relative. The good news is, Great Grammy has a plan. The bad news is, she’s the dead body.

Rosie and Baker are hiding something. Something big. Their great grandmother made them promise to pretend she’s alive until they find her missing will and get it in the right hands. The will protects the family house from their grandmother, Grim Hesper, who would sell it and ship Rosie and Baker off to separate boarding schools. They’ve already lost their parents and Great Grammy—they can’t lose each other, too.

The siblings kick it into high gear to locate the will, keep their neighbors from prying, and safeguard the house. Rosie has no time to cope with her grief as disasters pop up around every carefully planned corner. She can’t even bring herself to read her last-ever letter from Great Grammy. But the lies get bigger and bigger as Rosie and Baker try to convince everyone that their great grandmother is still around, and they’ll need more than a six-month supply of frozen noodle casserole and mountains of toilet paper once their wicked grandmother shows up!

This unexpectedly touching read reminds us that families are weird and wonderful, even when they’re missing their best parts. With humor, suspense, and a testament to loyalty, Ena Jones takes two brave kids on an unforgettable journey. Includes four recipes for Great Grammy’s survival treats.

(POST-IT SAYS: Great fun. Give this to readers who like hijinks, family-member-as-villain, racing against time, and can handle a plot that revolves around kids putting their dead great-grandma in a freezer! Fast-paced with great characters.)

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (ISBN-13: 9780823447053 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 9-12)

For fans of The War That Saved My Life and other World War II fiction, A Place to Hang the Moon is the tale of three orphaned siblings who are evacuated from London to live in the countryside with the secret hope of finding a permanent family.

It is 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren’t terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died. But the children do need a guardian, and in the dark days of World War II London, those are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass wartime evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer? 

It’s a preposterous plan, but off they go— keeping their predicament a secret, and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends up lasting forever. Moving from one billet to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets and the hollowness of empty stomachs. They find comfort in the village lending library, whose kind librarian, Nora Müller, seems an excellent choice of billet, except that her German husband’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and some of the villagers consider her unsuitable. 


A Place to Hang the Moon is a story about the dire importance of family: the one you’re given, and the one you choose. 

(POST-IT SAYS: A delight, especially for bookworms. Vivid characters and strong writing will immediately rope in readers. The orphaned evacuees go through some rough times but always have each other—and books. A wonderful read.)

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker, Stacy Davidowitz (ISBN-13: 9781419743931 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 8-12)

A heartfelt middle-grade novel about a theater-loving girl who uses a wheelchair for mobility and her quest to defy expectations—and gravity—from Tony award–winning actress Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast?
But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)— especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

(POST-IT SAYS: Another great book for theater kids—and everyone else! Nat and her new friends are great and both Nat’s desire for more independence and her adjustment to the move are relatable. Great to see a main character who uses a wheelchair, too!)

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd, Michelle Mee Nutter (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338568912 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 8-12)

A semiautobiographical coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet!

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with the new baby they’re expecting, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie thinks a new puppy is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!

Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet? With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd draws on her own childhood to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.

(POST-IT SAYS: An easy hit with wide appeal. Deals with changing families and friendships as much as it does with allergies. At Maggie’s age, I too lived at the allergist and would’ve loved being able to relate to this book.)

Violet and the Pie of Life by Debra Green (ISBN-13: 9780823447558 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 03/09/2021, Ages 8-12)

There’s no golden ratio for a family, despite what number-crunching Violet might think.

Twelve-year-old Violet has two great loves in her life: math and pie. And she loves her parents, even though her mom never stops nagging and her dad can be unreliable. Mom plus Dad doesn’t equal perfection. Still, Violet knows her parents could solve their problems if they just applied simple math. 

#1: Adjust the ratio of Mom’s nagging to her compliments. 
#2: Multiply Dad’s funny stories by a factor of three. 
#3: Add in romantic stuff wherever possible. 

But when her dad walks out, Violet realizes that the odds do not look good. Why can’t her parents get along like popular, perfect Ally’s parents? Would it be better to have no dad at all, like her best friend, McKenzie? Violet is considering the data when she and Ally get cast in the school play, and McKenzie doesn’t—a probability that Violet never calculated. Maybe friendship and family have more variables than she thought.

Filled with warmth, math-y humor, and delicious pie, this heartfelt middle grade read is perfect for fans of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. Includes illustrated charts, graphs, and diagrams throughout.

(POST-IT SAYS: Lots to relate to here—new friendships, divorcing parents, characters raised by grandparents, and typical middle school drama and change. Violet’s many charts and diagrams give the story added appeal. Vi really grows as a character over the story. A solid read.)

Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman (ISBN-13: 9780823445158 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 8-12)

Harry has always admired the famous escape artist Houdini. And when Houdini asks for help in coming back to life, it seems like an amazing chance…or could it be Houdini’s greatest trick of all?

Eleven-year-old Harry Mancini is NOT Harry Houdini—the famous escape artist who died in 1926. But Harry DOES live in Houdini’s old New York City home, and he definitely knows everything there is to know about Houdini’s life. What is he supposed to do, then, when someone starts texting him claiming that they’re Houdini, communicating from beyond the grave? Respond, of course.

It’s hard for Harry to believe that Houdini is really contacting him, but this Houdini texts the secrets to all of the escape tricks the dead Houdini used to do. What’s more, Houdini’s offering Harry a chance to go back in time and experience it for himself. Should Harry ignore what must be a hoax? Or should he give it a try and take Houdini up on this death-defying offer? 

Dan Gutman is the award-winning author of series including My Weird SchoolThe Genius Files, and the baseball card series, including Honus & Me. He uses his writing powers for good once again in this exciting new middle grade novel.

(POST-IT SAYS: Can’t go wrong with Dan Gutman! Readers will learn a ton about Houdini and the secrets of his tricks. Photos add to the story. Lots of dialogue, action, and humor. A hit!)

Deadman’s Castle by Iain Lawrence (ISBN-13: 9780823446551 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 9-12)

For most of his life, Igor and his family have been on the run. Danger lurks around every corner—or so he’s always been told. . . . 

When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime—and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. 

But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder—what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind?

Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life—making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them—is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all? 

Iain Lawrence is a winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Children’s Literature Prize and the California Young Reader Medal. In Deadman’s Castle, he brings readers a mystery filled with intrigue and moments of heart-stopping danger. 

(POST-IT SAYS: Satisfyingly creepy and suspenseful mystery about a family on the run. Lots of action, claustrophobic rules, and a main character determined to learn the truth.)