The Spring 2017 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview

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    Here is a preview of the Spring 2017 Kids’ Indie Next List flier, arriving at stores in the upcoming Children’s White Box.

    The four-page, full-color flier features the top 10 children’s titles for the spring publishing season and an additional 42 titles organized by age group. All indie Next List picks are based on recommendations from booksellers at independent bookstores across the country and include a bookseller quote and full bibliographic information.

    The top 10 Kids’ Indie Next List titles are also available on downloadable shelf-talkers.

    The nomination deadline for the next Summer Kids’ Indie Next List is April 14. The list will focus on titles published between May 1 and July 31, 2017. Nominations may be submitted via e-mail, the online nomination form, or through Edelweiss or NetGalley.

    The Top 10

    1. Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
    (Flatiron Books, 9781250095251, $18.99)
    “In Caraval, Stephanie Garber creates a complex and intriguing world that will draw you in with the perfect mixture of magic and madness. Just like the main character, Scarlett, who journeys into the titular Caraval to find her sister, every time you think you know what’s going on, it’s completely flipped around to the point where you don’t know who to trust, who to fall for, and what’s even real. The best advice? Just remember: it’s all a game.” —Miranda McGowan, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

    2. The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli
    (Balzer + Bray, 9780062348708, $17.99, available April)
    “Molly Peskin-Suso has two moms and a twin sister/best friend, Cassie, who are all out and proud. Molly is straight, a chubby homebody with anxiety who has never had a boyfriend — just 26 unrequited crushes. She would rather hang out with her nerdy co-worker Reid or stay at home crafting or making cookie dough than go to parties. But when Cassie gets a serious girlfriend, Molly finally agrees to be matched up with a cute boy named Will, who seems to like her. Problem is: does Molly like him? A really funny book about finding the confidence to ‘come out’ and be yourself, whatever that might mean to you.” —Jill Zimmerman, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

    3. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    (Balzer + Bray, 9780062498533, $17.99)
    “Angie Thomas’ novel gives readers a complex narrative of life in a black community that is dealing with the intersectional traumas of mass incarceration, the war on drugs, police violence, and death. We follow 16-year-old Starr through her community of Garden Heights and as she tries to navigate black existence in the predominantly white, affluent high school where she spends most of her time. It is a powerfully written tale of coming to terms with the things outside of our control and all that which we can change.” —Sarah Zarantonello, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY

    4. Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz, Brian Floca (Illus.)
    (Candlewick, 9780763648220, $16.99, available March)
    “What a felicitous combination of talents that produced this early chapter book about a perky princess and an unusual pet! Devoted royal parents want their daughter to be clean, wise, and strong in order to become a good queen, so they set about managing her every moment with a schedule of bathing, studying, and exercise. Princess Cora soon yearns for some diversion and asks her fairy godmother to intervene with a pet. Imagine her dismay when a crocodile is delivered! This is not, however, your average reptile, and surprising solutions lay ahead. Highly entertaining and engaging, this clever, charming story is enhanced with watercolor illustrations that portray the personalities of each character, adding details that delight.” —Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

    5. We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour
    (Dutton Books for Young Readers, 9780525425892, $17.99)
    “It’s winter break in upstate New York and Marin is alone at her college. In a few hours, her best friend from San Francisco will come to visit and she will finally have to answer questions about the way she left her home. Will she be able to face the betrayal she endured and build a new life? To no one’s surprise, this new book from Nina LaCour will tug on your heart and then slowly, completely unravel it. Highly recommended.” —Cecilia Cackley, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

    6. Not Quite Narwhal, by Jessie Sima
    (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481469098, $17.99)
    “Kelp, a unicorn raised in the ocean, thinks he is a narwhal, but, of course, he is an awful narwhal. When he meets his first unicorn, his world opens up. Everyone I give this book to thinks it’s about something different. It’s that amazing kind of book that speaks to so many of us — anyone who has felt like they couldn’t possibly belong. It’s a reminder that when we fail, it’s often because we are being tested on the skills we were never meant to have. It’s the idea that when we have those conflicting pieces of ourselves, we can celebrate them all.” —Katherine Fergason, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

    7. Piper Perish, by Kayla Cagan
    (Chronicle Books, 9781452155838, $17.99, available March)
    “In a diary-plus-art format, Piper takes us from an awful New Year’s Eve her senior year of high school until it’s time to embark on a new adventure in August. This book is full of the ups and downs of friendships and relationships, the creative struggles of a young artist, and the unfortunate realities families face when trying to afford college. It’s also inspiring at times, and each character’s flaws are refreshingly clear as they all muddle their way through their own hangups. The best part is watching Piper evolve from a dramatic girl who wants to be Andy Warhol into someone who works toward a future that is entirely her own.” —Danielle Borsch, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

    8. Little Fox in the Forest, by Stephanie Graegin
    (Schwartz & Wade, 9780553537895, $17.99)
    “A nearly wordless picture book laid out like a graphic novel, Little Fox in the Forest is a beautifully illustrated story of friendship, exploration, and discovering the unexpected. The wordless format allows even the littlest littles to enjoy it on their own and tell the story in their own words. And, oh my gracious, the little animals in their people clothes and their little village in the forest are just too danged adorable for words.” —Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville, OR

    9. Escargot, by Dashka Slater, Sydney Hanson (Illus.)
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 9780374302818, $16.99, available April)
    “Escargot is an adorable French snail trying to reach the salad at the end of the book. He admires himself and his shiny trail as he moves across the table to the salad. He hopes it has no carrots, because he really does not like carrots. Fun illustrations and a charming story make this a picture book for everyone to enjoy!” —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

    10. See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng
    (Dial Books for Young Readers, 9780399186370, $16.99)
    “If ever a more galactically inquisitive, earnest, honest, and loving narrator exists, I have yet to meet them. Alex is the 11-year-old every reader will want to spend time with, and his creator has done precisely what Alex himself does with his (Carl Sagan Golden Record-inspired) iPod recordings and rocket science obsession: launched a beautiful account of what it is to be a mere human on earth into the vast, unknown universe. You’ll be so glad when it falls with extraordinary grace from the cosmos and into your hands.” —Joanna Parzakonis, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

    For Ages 4 to 8

    BE QUIET!, by Ryan T. Higgins
    (Disney-Hyperion, 9781484731628, $17.99, available April)
    “I’ve been looking forward to a third book about Bruce, the bear who begrudgingly became the parent to a gaggle of goslings in Mother Bruce. But Bruce makes only a cameo in BE QUIET! Instead, the enterprising mice from Hotel Bruce are the stars. Rupert is going to write a wordless book, and his friends Nibbs and Thistle insist upon helping. Chaos and frustration ensue, resulting in a wordless book with lots of words — and tons of humor and hysterical pictures! Love, love, love!” —Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar, Waterville, ME

    Bunny’s Book Club, by Annie Silvestro, Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Illus.)
    (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 9780553537581, $17.99)
    Bunny’s Book Club is an absolutely adorable book about a bunny who loves books. He sneaks into the library and borrows some books, but soon his friends wonder what he is up to. The book is full of fun illustrations and encourages a love of reading.” —Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

    A Cat Named Swan, by Holly Hobbie
    (Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780553537444, $17.99)
    “Holly Hobbie captures kitty cat Swan and his world perfectly. Even better, she shows us what home looks like! A Cat Named Swan is the perfect book for cat lovers.” —Margaret Neville, The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT

    The Catawampus Cat, by Jason Carter Eaton, Gus Gordon (Illus.)
    (Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780553509717, $16.99, available March)
    “The inspired combination of Jason Carter Eaton’s humorous text with Gus Gordon’s delightful art creates a picture book that is tons of fun and so much more than the sum of its parts. The Catawampus Cat delivers a unique perspective on perspective.” —Peter Glassman, Books of Wonder, New York, NY

    The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, Ana Aranda (Illus.)
    (Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399174438, $17.99, available March)
    “Oh boy, is this going to be a hoot and a half to read aloud! While children are giggling during story time, they’ll be soaking up wonderful new words like candelabra, cucaracha, and chupacabra. This is a delicious read-aloud that will keep kids on the edge of their seats, but in a most benign and silly way.” —Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

    The Giant Jumperee, by Julia Donaldson, Helen Oxenbury (Illus.)
    (Dial Books for Young Readers, 9780735227972, $17.99, available April)
    “My oh my, what a pairing we get! Two children’s lit creators at the top of their games deftly weave an instant story time classic filled with rhyme, repetition, and downright glorious animals. After a cascade of animals ponder the meaning of the Giant Jumperee, it turns out Mama knows best and delights all of the story’s characters — as well as the reader. What a treat!” —Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

    I Just Want to Say Good Night, by Rachel Isadora
    (Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399173844, $17.99, available March)
    “The day is done, and Lala’s village prepares to go to bed. As her mother and father call her in, Lala stops again and again (to her parents’ annoyance) to say goodnight to the fish, the cat, the ants, and the rocks. Finally, she’s ready. She crawls into bed and says goodnight to her book, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Rachel Isadora’s beautiful pastel illustrations bring to life the African savannah and her characters. I Just Want to Say Good Night is sure to tug on your heartstrings.” —Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

    If I Had a Little Dream, by Nina Laden, Melissa Castrillon (Illus.)
    (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 9781481439244, $17.99)
    “As soon as I read this gorgeous picture book, I knew I had to have a copy — and maybe one for my niece, and another for my nephew. Basically, I want all the children I know to drift into the beautiful dream world author Laden and illustrator Castrillon have created. My copy will stay on a shelf next to favorites from my childhood, like Madeline and Strega Nona, until I have my own little one to delight over the fantastic images and sweet tale of imagination and wonder.” —Camilla Orr, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

    The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt, Adam Rex (Illus.)
    (Balzer + Bray, 9780062438898, $17.99, available April)
    “Drew Daywalt’s epic origin story is perfectly matched by Adam Rex’s vivid and lush illustrations as we learn how Rock, Paper, and Scissors met and fought for the very first time. The traditional fable format is accented with humorous asides (kids will be sure to ask if opponents are wearing their battle pants for weeks), and the visual landscape adds a whole new dimension to the character development. This should be a fun read-aloud, allowing a truly impressive opportunity to ham it up.” —Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO

    Life on Mars, by Jon Agee
    (Dial Books for Young Readers, 9780399538520, $17.99)
    “Suspense? Check! Great illustrations? Check! Life on Mars? Check! Jon Agee lets the audience in on the joke as we watch a child astronaut explore Mars while he is followed through the landscape by a giant but friendly looking alien. The audience sees the alien, but the astronaut doesn’t, making the suspense almost more than the reader can bear! Kids will giggle, point, and call out to the astronaut to see the alien right behind him. Flat out fun!” —Jessilynn Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

    Pass It On, by Sophy Henn
    (Philomel Books, 9780399547751, $16.99, available April)
    Pass It On’s bright illustrations, which feature little faces from all sorts of backgrounds, pair with simple text to make it the perfect read-aloud for smaller children. The story’s message reminds me of the lovely Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein.” —Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

    A Perfect Day, by Lane Smith
    (Roaring Brook Press, 9781626725362, $17.99)
    “With evocative, textured artwork and playful scenes, Lane Smith has created a fantastic picture book that kids and adults will both love. A Perfect Day combines the sensibilities of Smith’s previous work, placing the artistic mastery of Grandpa Green alongside the humor from It’s a Book. I can’t wait to share this as a read-aloud in groups or one-on-one so little listeners can point out beautiful details in the artwork and talk about the animals in action!” —Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

    Priscilla Gorilla, by Barbara Bottner, Michael Emberley (Illus.)
    (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781481458979, $17.99, available March)
    “From the team behind Miss Brooks’ Story Nook comes another tale of classroom drama. Priscilla loves gorillas, but her love for them may be a bit much in the classroom. When the entire class starts behaving like the wild animals they love, it’ll take a good teacher and some facts about animals to calm things down. A dynamic plot and energetic illustrations make this book a certain classroom favorite!” —Marika McCoola, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

    This House, Once, by Deborah Freedman
    (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781481442848, $17.99)
    “As usual, Freedman’s rendering of color, form, and light are just right for her loving, conscientious evaluation of the natural elements that collaboratively become the structure of a house. Emerging from a rich blueprint blue, the clouds become a window into the time before the house, before us. Brick by brick, we begin to understand that we not only coexist with nature, but that home is composed of both ourselves and the adventure of a life observed.” —Jilleen Moore, Square Books, Oxford, MS

    Tidy, by Emily Gravett
    (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481480192, $17.99, available March)
    “Perfect for Earth Day, this fun picture book shows just what can happen when Badger takes tidying up just a bit too far. Between the ungroomed foxes, untidy birds, messy leaves, and dirty, dirty mud, Badger just isn’t happy until the forest is perfect and desolate and barren. But when his belly begins to rumble from the lack of nuts and berries, he sets his priorities straight and learns to care for the forest just as it is.” —Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

    Ages 9 to 12

    Chester and Gus, by Cammie McGovern
    (HarperCollins, 9780062330680, $16.99, available April)
    “This is a book that everyone can appreciate. Chester, an aspiring service dog, takes us through his journey of living with Gus, an 11-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder. The typical ‘man’s best friend’ bond is frequently tested and takes more time to build, helping Chester and the reader better understand the challenges and wonders of living with autism.” —Colleen Regan, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

    Fish Girl, by David Wiesner, Donna Jo Napoli
    (Clarion Books, 9780547483931, $17.99, available March)
    “This is a lovely story about a young mermaid who is held captive in an aquarium by a man looking to make money off of her. Although she loves her fish friends that live in the aquarium with her, she senses that something isn’t quite right about her situation. When a human girl comes to the aquarium and befriends the nameless mermaid, everything changes. Life becomes much happier and more interesting, and both girls learn the meaning of friendship. This graphic novel has a sweet story and illustrations that are absolutely stunning!” —Meg Hughey, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

    Grand Canyon, by Jason Chin
    (Roaring Brook Press, 9781596439504, $19.99)
    “Jason Chin is amazing, both as an artist and author. Who doesn’t want to journey to the Grand Canyon in the pages of a book? I’m so excited about sharing this book with kids. I love the way the technical illustrations play off the larger picture book illustrations in the story. It’s gorgeous and educational, as are all of Chin’s books.” —Jenny Lyons, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

    How to Stage a Catastrophe, by Rebecca Donnelly
    (Capstone Young Readers, 9781623708078, $12.95, available April)
    “A heartwarming ode to the power of community, theater, and, most especially, community theater! Aspiring director Sidney makes for a unique narrator who surrounds himself with a cast of quirky and inspiring characters. How to Stage a Catastrophe is a delightfully old-fashioned, let’s-put-on-a-show story that still feels firmly grounded in the realities of today and will leave you smiling from ear to ear.” —Bill Grace, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, MA

    Last Day on Mars: Chronicle of the Dark Star, by Kevin Emerson
    (Walden Pond Press, 9780062306715, $16.99)
    “Liam and Phoebe must leave the only home they have ever known, but enemy forces turn their final day on Mars into an adventure that may lead to the end of human civilization. Avid and reluctant readers will flock to this ambitious new saga, which will have them turning pages at breakneck speed and gasping with awe. If you like your science fiction to be based on facts, crafted around well-developed characters, and dished out with stunning excitement, get your hands on a copy of Last Day on Mars. Kevin Emerson’s new middle-grade series is an action-packed tour de force that might just overload your brain circuits.” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

    Me and Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King
    (Arthur A. Levine Books, 9780545870740, $16.99)
    Me and Marvin Gardens marks the first middle reader written by acclaimed author A.S. King, and it does not disappoint! Obe spends his days at the creek behind his house, the last speck of nature left on his family’s land, picking up litter. On one of these days, he spots an animal. This creature is completely off the books, a weird cross between a big dog and a boar of some kind, and it eats only plastic. This is a secret, a major secret, and Obe and the strange creature he dubs Marvin Gardens possess all the heart and charming weirdness that King brings to her brilliant young adult books.” —Hana Boxberger, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

    Nightlights, by Lorena Alvarez
    (Nobrow, 9781910620137, $18.95, available March)
    Nightlights is a stunning, richly detailed ode to the power of creativity to triumph over loneliness and self-doubt. With gorgeous illustrations that evoke the fantastic imagination of Miyazaki, Alvarez builds an enchanting story full of sylphs, school troubles, and one adorable pigtailed heroine. LOVE!” —Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

    Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere, by Elise Gravel
    (HarperCollins, 9780062351265, $12.99, available March)
    Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere is funny and weird, with some scatological humor to appeal to kids without being excessive. Gravel’s art is amusing and expressive, and I like the fact that this is a book about a young girl who’s obsessed with science!” —Anna Kaufman, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, CA

    The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, by Kwame Alexander
    (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 9780544570979, $14.99)
    “Kwame Alexander has worked his magic on basketball and soccer poetry, so the next logical thing would be... to write an inspirational/motivational book rooted in sports? Maybe not, but it works so well. It’s rooted in Alexander’s personal experience but draws on experiences of athletes like LeBron James, Venus and Serena Williams, and Olympic track champion Wilma Rudolph. With 52 short poems coupled with a quote by an athlete, it’s inspirational without being maudlin. Perfect for the 10- to 12-year-old crowd, but also something that could be given for any graduation.” —Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

    Prisoner of Ice and Snow, by Ruth Lauren
    (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books, 9781681191317, $16.99, available April)
    “Valor has a plan. She will almost shoot the prince, get herself sent to prison, find her sister, and break her out of prison. What could go wrong? The first part of her plan goes perfectly, but Valor soon realizes that there is more to this prison, and to her sister’s imprisonment, than meets the eye. Full of satisfying twists and turns, not to mention a unique matriarchal society, Valor’s tale will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.” —Molly Olivo, Barstons Child’s Play, Washington, DC

    The Star Thief, by Lindsey Becker
    (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316348560, $16.99, available April)
    “There is so much beautiful astronomy and astrology and adventure packed into this book! Pirates, stars that come alive, ships made from floating forests, sea monsters, talking wolves, and a heroine who can hold her own in this crazy world — The Star Thief has it all, and more. Never a dull moment!” —Beth Albrecht, The Magic Tree Bookstore, Oak Park, IL

    Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz, by Michael Bornstein, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 9780374305710, $16.99, available March)
    Survivors Club is one family’s true story of the horrific happenings during Germany’s invasion of Poland and the ensuing years of WWII. The people in this book came alive and I felt their joys, their sorrows, their horrors, and, especially, their will to live and an enduring hope for a better tomorrow. This book is a must read for all ages.” —Jane Simons, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, NY

    The Thickety: The Last Spell, by J.A. White, Andrea Offerman (Illus.)
    (Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062381392, $16.99, available April)
    “Kara, Taff, and friends search for their story’s end, with new and old foes meeting their fates in this conclusion to The Thickety series. The strength of the books relies on never knowing who is truly on the ‘right’ side of things — and that theme continues from start to finish in the fourth volume, namely with Kara never being sure about the motivations of Grace and Princess Evangeline. Satisfyingly, answers to story lore arise: Why could only girls and women, not boys and men, use grimoires? Why has the one-eyed bird been so helpful? Is the Well of Witches truly a place of forever torture?” —Todd Wellman, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale
    (Marvel Press, 9781484781548, $13.99)
    “I really enjoyed this book. It is a great middle reader for all kids but it’s especially empowering for girls. There are many funny scenes portrayed in this story: a posse of squirrels that adore babies, an urban legend, LARPers, and many, many conversations between the reader and Squirrel Girl herself. This newfangled superhero is all heart — well, heart and bushy tail — and her adventures are fantastic.” —Dwi Grandison, Hockessin Bookshelf, Hockessin, DE

    The Wingsnatchers: Carmer and Grit, Book One by Sarah Jean Horwitz
    (Algonquin Young Readers, 9781616206635, $17.95, available April)
    “The world needs more middle-grade steampunk, and The Wingsnatchers: Carmer and Grit fits that bill perfectly. It blends fantasy and technology in an intriguing mesh of automatons, faeries, and magic shows. Human boy Carmer and faerie girl Grit are quite the pair, and their friendship blossoms beautifully as the story unfolds. This is an excellent debut you can really sink your teeth into.” —Emily Hall, Main Street Books, St. Charles, MO

    For Teens

    The Beast Is an Animal, by Peternelle van Arsdale
    (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781481488419, $17.99, available March)
    “In a world ruled by superstition, Alys is taught to fear the forest around her village, the mysterious beast who lives within, and the ‘soul eaters’ who kill by taking the souls of anyone who crosses their paths. One night, Alys is the sole witness to the destruction of her village by the soul eaters, with no adults left alive. Alys and the other children are sent to a neighboring village with strict religious laws against the Beast, the forest, and anything unusual. As she grows older, Alys begins to fear she has more in common with the Beast and the soul eaters than the other villagers. The Beast Is an Animal is creepy, unsettling, and suspenseful in the best way.” —Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS

    Blood Rose Rebellion, by Rosalyn Eves
    (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781101935996, $17.99, available March)
    “Anna lives in a world filled with magic, but only those who can pay the circle’s price have access to it. Anna’s family is well off, yet Anna is deemed barren — any spell cast in Anna’s presence goes awry! Without magic, Anna is not accepted in the world of pomp and circumstance. All that begins to change when the circle takes a special interest in Anna. What is so different about her? What trouble may she cause? In the beginning, this book seems like a cross between The Dark Days Club and A Shadow Bright and Burning, but hold tight because it holds its own.” —Kelsey Morrison, Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, PA

    The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco
    (Sourcebooks Fire, 9781492635826, $17.99, available March)
    “Think: geisha + magic + kaiju. I loved Chupeco’s writing, as always, plus the magic and creature aspects of the world-building, the characters, and the past and present back-and-forth narrative. Tea, who’s arguably an evil mess, is a capable and fast learner, as she has to be, considering her rare powers, but she is also deeply flawed in many ways (and terrible at singing). The Bone Witch is a very solid opening to a fantasy series that I hope to see blossom in the sequels.” —Allison Senecal, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

    A Crown of Wishes, by Roshani Chokshi
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250085498, $18.99, available March)
    “A battle-ready princess and clever prince are offered the opportunity to compete for wishes they desperately need. With the tricky god of fortune in charge, though, the only guarantee is a story full of twists and turns. Full of challenges, riddles, and magic, A Crown of Wishes delivers the same lush world-building and beautiful storytelling as Chokshi’s debut novel, A Star-Touched Queen. Readers will be transported to a world of myth and legend, where no one is who they seem and nothing matters but the story.” —Shelby Daniel-Wayman, Fair Isle Books, Lombard, IL

    Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale, by Ashley Poston
    (Quirk Books, 9781594749476, $18.99, available April)
    “Meet devoted Starfield fangirl Elle: part-time worker at the Magic Pumpkin food truck, full-time slave to her stepmother and stepsisters. Then there’s popular, airbrushed celebrity Darien: first choice to play Starfield Federation prince in the new remake, closet geek whom fame forced into the role of teen heartthrob. And finally, one beloved sci-fi TV series that is the focus of ExcelsiCon, the brainchild of Elle’s late father. Nerd sparks fly when ExcelsiCon announces a cosplay contest and masked ball. The rest is a delight to discover as Elle and Darien realize what they want and go after it in true fandom fashion.” —Maggie Hills, La Playa Books, San Diego, CA

    Goodbye Days: A Novel, by Jeff Zentner
    (Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780553524062, $17.99, available March)
    “I read this book too quickly the first time, so I immediately picked it up and read it again. Nothing beats the lives of Zentner’s Southern teens. My heart ached for Carver Briggs, who is saddled with the unwieldy responsibility of maybe, possibly accidentally murdering his three best friends. The beautiful, difficult expressions of grief from all the people whose lives were touched by the three boys are significant and nuanced. As ever, Zentner taps into the minds of teens with aplomb. Goodbye Days is an incredible follow-up to The Serpent King — it does not disappoint in the slightest.” —Demi Marshall, BookPeople, Austin, TX

    Grendel’s Guide to Love and War, by A.E. Kaplan
    (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780399555541, $17.99, available April)
    “How A.E. Kaplan manages to pay homage to the centuries-old tale of Beowulf whilst writing beautiful and hilarious young adult fiction is anyone’s guess. Whatever the explanation, Grendel’s Guide to Love and War is one of the most touching contemporary novels I have had the pleasure of reading. Protagonist Tom Grendel loves next-door neighbor Willow, but she has a ridiculously wild brother, Rex, whose behavior is ruining Tom’s love life and his neighborhood. So, along with his best friend Ed, Tom retaliates. And then things get worse. Tom’s story is sincere and wonderful, so beautifully akin to what it feels like to love and grieve and grow up. This is contemporary young adult fiction at its best.” —Romy Griepp, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

    Just Fly Away, by Andrew McCarthy
    (Algonquin Young Readers, 9781616206291, $17.95, available March)
    “When 15-year-old Lucy discovers she has a brother — the result of her father’s brief affair eight years prior — she begins to question everything in her life: her mother’s forgiveness, her sister’s complacency, her own choices, and, most of all, her father’s betrayal. Lucy’s confusion and anger lead her first into a possibly unwise romance and then to run away to the house of her grandfather, who has been estranged from her father for years. McCarthy’s deft portrayal of Lucy’s search for truth and a place in a world suddenly unfamiliar will ring true for teens struggling to figure out where they belong.” —Melissa Posten, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

    The Last of August, by Brittany Cavallaro
    (Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062398949, $17.99)
    “Dark, devious, and delightful! Teenage angst has never led to such fun as Jamie Watson follows Charlotte Holmes down the rabbit hole once more in this exciting sequel to A Study in Charlotte. Between international travel, art forgery, minions, and the most awkward family gathering imaginable, this book is full of adventure, mystery, and great Sherlockian deductions. Readers also get a peek into the Moriarty family, plus there’s romance, false identities, and poison. What more could a Sherlock Holmes fan ask for?” —Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

    Radio Silence, by Alice Oseman
    (HarperTeen, 9780062335715, $17.99, available March)
    “In a sea of over-achieving high schoolers, you’re forced to play the game, but it’s just not you. You’re a different person when you’re not at school, but you feel you need to hide it. You’re scared to rock the boat, until you meet your first true friend, which, to me, is what this novel is all about. Radio Silence has so many facets to it: it’s contemporary YA, but each chapter begins with a sci-fi-esque podcast, which miraculously weaves itself into the story; it lightly explores sexual identity and diversity, but doesn’t disrupt the story; and it has an element of mystery and a thriller-like pace, but it digs deep. One of my favorite books of 2017.” —Kristen Gilligan, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

    Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor
    (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316341684, $18.99, available March)
    “Lazlo Strange is an orphan, a librarian, and a dreamer. Obsessed with stories of the lost city of Weep, all Lazlo wants is to be part of a story — even if it’s someone else’s story. When a vanguard arrives from Weep led by the hero known as the Godslayer, Lazlo will do anything to join their cause. But their cause is something only Strange the Dreamer himself could have imagined, and he’s swept up in a story of humans versus gods, alchemy versus magic — a story that may belong more to him than anyone. With an intricately built world, deft plotting, and endearing characters, this is a book that could only have come from the inimitable storytelling mind of Laini Taylor. I would boldly venture that this is her best novel yet.” —Paige Mushaw, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

    You’re Welcome, Universe, by Whitney Gardner
    (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780399551413, $17.99, available March)
    “When Julia covers up derogatory graffiti about her best friend with her own art — and then her best friend outs Julia to save herself — Julia is expelled from her deaf school and mainstreamed. With her biggest meaningful relationship destroyed by betrayal and her mothers both watching her more closely due to her act of ‘vandalism,’ Julia just wants to keep her head down in public school and get out so she can recapture the rush of putting her art out in the world. But someone keeps challenging her by adding on to her art, calling her out. You’re Welcome, Universe really emphasizes the power and complexity of female friendships; the window that it opens into deaf culture is an added bonus!” —Ann Childs, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA