The Fall 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview

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Fall Kids' Indie Next List logoHere is a preview of the titles on the Fall 2018 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 fall 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 Winter Kids’ Indie Next List is October 15, 2018. The list will focus on titles published between November 30 and January 31, 2019. Nominations may be submitted via e-mail, the online nomination form, or through Edelweiss or NetGalley.

The Fall 2018 Kids’ Indie Next Great Reads

The Top Ten

1. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
(Candlewick Press, 9780763694630, $16.99, available October)
“What a treat to have the chance to get to know a secondary character from a book I didn’t want to see end! In her follow-up of sorts to Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo tells the story of Louisiana, Raymie’s friend who has spent her life on the run. Leaving the world she has known in Florida, Louisiana ends up in a small town in Georgia where she meets a cast of richly drawn characters intent on either making her life difficult or offering her connection in an uncertain time. In her inimitable way, DiCamillo shares another tender and thoughtful story of hope and resilience in a young girl trying to find her place in the world. I loved Louisiana’s Way Home!” —Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

2. The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth (Indies Introduce)
(HarperTeen, 9780062696878, $17.99, available October)
“Laura Weymouth’s debut novel, The Light Between Worlds, is a captivating tale of two sisters struggling to find home and to find themselves. The younger, Evelyn, longs for the days when she and her sister and brother lived in the Woodlands, a mystical Narnia-like land Weymouth paints with beautiful lyricism. Evelyn has carried the weight of her longing since she and her siblings returned to post-WWII England. When Evelyn goes missing, Phillipa carries the loss of her sister, as well as the pain of her own choices. They embark on their own journeys of healing and belonging, each searching for what they’ve lost and where they belong. Written with meaning, feeling, and depth, The Light Between Worlds is a stunning debut.” —Hannah Wilson, Out West Books, Grand Junction, CO

3. Sadie by Courtney Summers
(Wednesday Books, 9781250105714, $17.99, available September)
“This electrifying novel is too real to be forgettable. Sadie introduces a world where girls are hurt and forced to grow up much too soon, featuring a violent, solo road trip across the country and sleuthing methods that would appall Nancy Drew. Through a podcast like Serial, the whole world witnesses the unfurling drama of a missing girl’s family left behind, and wonders what might have been done to keep this from happening in the first place. Sadie will steal your heart from the first page and stay in your mind for the rest of your life.” —Kaitie Radel, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

4. Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Indies Introduce)
(Dial Books, 9780525552963, $17.99)
“A beautiful, thoughtful book that is all the more impressive for being a debut! Darius is visiting Iran with his family and meeting his grandparents in person for the first time. He struggles with fitting into an unfamiliar culture and feeling like a disappointment to his father, but a new friendship helps him learn some truths about himself and see the world in a new way. An achingly relatable story in a wry, honest voice. Stunning.” —Cecelia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

5. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062795328, $18.99, available October)
“I adored The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and I wasn’t sure if the sequel could hold an equal place in my heart, but The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy blew my expectations out of the water (pun intended, of course)! Felicity is a phenomenal character, bristly and brilliant and fiercely loyal. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love this book, filled with adventure, feminism and fire, loving but challenging friendships, fierce ambition, scientific exploration, and, of course, pirates. The minute I finished the book, I thrust it into a fellow bookseller’s hands, and I can’t wait to do the same with the general public.” —Elissa Sweet, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

6. A Winter’s Promise: Book One of the Mirror Visitor Quartet by Christelle Dabos, Hildegarde Serle (Trans.)
(Europa Editions, 9781609454838, $19.95, available September)
“I had high hopes since I’ve been coveting this book since I saw it in a Metro station in Paris a year ago. It definitely did not disappoint. A Winter’s Promise is a stellar addition to the fantasy genre booksellers can recommend to adults and teens alike. The worldbuilding is incredible and Ophelia is a heroine you can immediately relate to: clever, resourceful, and constantly underestimated. Dabos delights and thrills readers as Ophelia finds herself caught in the middle of political intrigue and deadly secrets with nothing but her wits to keep her alive. As the tension builds and mysteries are revealed, it’s impossible to put the book down.” —Katerina Argyres, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

7. Mascot by Antony John
(HarperCollins, 9780062835628, $16.99, available September)
Mascot is a hometown adventure story filled with new beginnings. When Noah returns to school after the accident that left him paralyzed and killed his father, his old Little League teammates are anything but kind. Luckily, Noah befriends new kid and fellow outcast Dee-Dub, and, with childhood pal Alyssa in tow, shenanigans unfold. Meanwhile, Noah’s mother needs someone to talk to, but when a familiar face shows up, will he strike out with Noah? Secret plans, after-school rivalries, and awkward moments abound, with a bit of romance, too. A fun and heartwarming read for all.” —Mary Wahlmeier, Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS

8. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
(Razorbill, 9780451478801, $18.99)
“Don’t let all the swashbuckling make you underestimate this book — in addition to a seafaring page-turner, this is a powerful testament to female friendship and good leadership. I loved the suspense and action, and I got incredibly attached to the characters. You’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next installment. Stay steely — I think it will be worth the wait!” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

9. Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, Corinna Luyken (Illus.)
(Dial Books, 9780735230378, $17.99)
“There is always that one kid that tells tall tales at school. Well, Adrian Simcox is ‘that’ kid, and not everyone will tolerate his lies. A little girl calls him out at school and tells her mom about it. When her mother finally walks her down to Adrian’s tiny house, the little girl realizes that while Adrian Simcox may not have a horse, he does have a rich imagination that transforms the laurels in his yard into horses. A wonderfully illustrated story embracing how perception shapes our view of our own lives and others.” —Kidron Mariotti, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA

10. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López (Illus.)
(Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399246531, $18.99)
“A completely lovely book about not fitting in, feeling out of place, and finding a community of your own. Gorgeous illustration, poetic text (of course — it’s Jacqueline Woodson!), and a perfect message for all of us who have ever felt like the world is ‘a place that you’re standing all the way outside of.’” —Lillian Tschudi-Campbell, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN

Ages 4 to 8

Crafty Llama by Mike Kerr, Renata Liwska (Illus.)
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781681191218, $16.99, available October)
“What a sweet, sweet picture book! This husband-and-wife writing and illustration team reminds us that everyone has creativity inside them, something they can share with the world. Now I’ve decided to organize some crafting circles and dust off my needlework project!” —Buffy Cummins, Second Star to the Right Books, Denver, CO

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
(Neal Porter Books, 9780823440559, $18.99, available September)
“This beacon of a picture book, which illustrates the story of the author’s own journey to the United States with her two-month-old son, emphatically asserts that immigrants belong in this country, no matter the political rhetoric that claims the opposite. Morales verbally encapsulates the range of emotions that arise on such a journey in text that is concise and intelligible to young readers. Visually, the intricately handcrafted mixed media elements overlaid on atmospheric backgrounds lend a sense of beauty to even the most trying and disconsolate moments of the story. Another award-worthy tour-de-force from a storyteller in her prime.” —Niki Marion, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Giraffe Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Illus.)
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9781524772031, $17.99, available September)
“Another hilarious story of personal insecurities from Jory John. Edward the Giraffe dislikes his neck. After pointing out all the great necks on other animals, he gets a little perspective from a turtle named Cyrus, who also feels bad about his neck. A collaborative, bowtie-wearing friendship is born. Definitely a laugh-out-loud read with a nice lesson about appreciating what you have, with fabulous illustrations from Lane Smith.” —Tildy Banker-Johnson, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA

A Home in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, Jerry Pinkney (Illus.)
(HarperCollins, 9780066237879, $17.99, available September)
“Jerry Pinkney’s lush and lovely illustrations perfectly bring to life Margaret Wise Brown’s gentle, rhythmic words about the chill of winter and warmth of the barn filled with a lively community of animals of all sorts — cows, pigs, goats, cats, horses, and many more — in this glorious new picture book.” —Vicky Titcomb, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein
(Candlewick Press, 9780763688424, $16.99, available September)
“Every story time fan’s favorite over-excited chicken is back. This time, as instructed by her teacher, Interrupting Chicken is on a mission to find the ‘Elephant of Surprise’ in every story. And if it’s not there she’s going to put it there. I just sat at my desk and laughed. It’s everything a real and proper kids’ picture book should be. I can’t wait to put Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise into people’s hands.” —Amy Brabenec, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

King Alice by Matthew Cordell
(Feiwel & Friends, 9781250047496, $17.99, available September)
“Idea: get this book for every child in your life who rightly, knightly deserves their own kingdom and the freedom to create their own perfect day and fantastic story.” —Joanna Parzakonis, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, Heidi Smith (Illus.)
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062741615, $17.99, available September)
“With simple text and gorgeous illustrations, Lovely Beasts tackles stereotypes about animals (spiders=creepy, octopi=slimy) and turns them on their head (spiders are actually amazing crafters and octopi are quite intelligent) for the youngest readers. Not only good for classrooms, but also for everyday reading.” —Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian by Jacob Sager Weinstein, Vera Brosgol (Illus.)
(Clarion Books, 9780544801226, $17.99, available September)
“Lyric McKerrigan is the gal we all wish we could call in a pinch. This whimsical tale — which never leaves us in doubt about who has the upper hand — leaves the reader wanting to see more of this pink-haired librarian in action. Slapstick humor and bold illustrations make this a slam dunk. Perfect for kids who want to read graphic novels but aren’t quite ready.” —Jane Knight, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, VT

Mission Defrostable (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) by Josh Funk, Brendan Kearney (Illus.)
(Sterling Children’s Books, 9781454928119, $16.95, available September)
“Josh Funk is back with our favorite duo, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, who get caught up in a madcap mystery involving sinister produce and an arctic freeze in their fridge. Braving the elements and calling on their nemesis Baron von Waffle, they trek into the unknown to confront the culprit(s). Told in the same catchy rhymes that we’ve come to love from Funk, pick up this book to see if enemy relationships are thawed and if our heroes return to their refrigerator home.” —Holland Saltsman, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062668271, $18.99, available September)
“In my opinion, everything that Kevin Henkes creates is fantastic, and A Parade of Elephants is no exception. With soothing pastels and text that has the reader following along with the elephants as they follow each other, this story is perfect for reading aloud.” —Clarissa Hadge, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros, Dana Wulfekotte (Illus.)
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481489157, $17.99)
“This is the book to help children understand a grandparent’s changing landscape. This is the book for the superhero caregivers of those on an Alzheimer’s journey. This is the book I wish I could have had for the past three years. This book will break your heart but buoy your spirit. Beautiful.” —Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062671271, $17.99)
“Evan has lost his faithful companion and nothing can help ease his pain, not even the garden where Evan and his dog enjoyed most of their time together. But something extraordinary is happening in that neglected garden — something that will help ease Evan’s pain. The Rough Patch is a thoughtful and impressive picture book about friendship and loss. Brian Lies gives us a picture book that will pull at the heartstrings.” —Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor by Wade Bradford, Kevin Hawkes (Illus.)
(Candlewick Press, 9780763686659, $16.99, available October)
“Mr. Snore is tired and just wants a comfortable bed at the Sharemore Hotel. Encountering sleeping companions, including a mouse, a pig, spiders, giraffes, and even burrowing hamsters, poor Mr. Snore finally tries the 13th floor, where a twist of gigantic proportions awaits! Hawkes’ playful illustrations match perfectly with the absurdity of Bradford’s delightful romp. Instant story time classic!” —Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers, Shawn Harris (Illus.)
(Chronicle Books, 9781452173139, $17.99, available September)
“Dave Eggers explores the meaning of citizenship in his newest picture book. Set against Shawn Harris’s stunning cut-paper illustrations, each page suggests something that a citizen can do or be, and each page could be used as a launch pad for a class or family discussion. The book encourages participation in difficult conversations as well as practicing kindness to others. When it comes down to it, isn’t that what citizenship is?” —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

Winter Is Here by Kevin Henkes, Laura Dronzek (Illus.)
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062747181, $17.99, available October)
“Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek have done it again! Winter Is Here makes you want to snuggle up to its cozy pages with a cup of hot chocolate and savor all of your favorite aspects of the season. Dronzek’s illustrations are beautiful and warm, despite the winter scenery, and Henkes’ prose is playful and perfect. Simplistic and full of depth, Winter Is Here also comes with a bit of springtime at the end to keep you hopeful.” —Juliette Munda, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

Ages 9 to 12

Backyard Bears: Conservation, Habitat Changes, and the Rise of Urban Wildlife by Amy Cherrix
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9781328858689, $18.99, available October)
“Amy Cherrix’s insatiable curiosity jumps through the pages of Backyard Bears to entice, engage, and delight young readers. Beautiful and, yes, often cute photographs complete this wonderful combination of nature writing and citizen science.” —Stephanie Jones-Byrne, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
(Scholastic Press, 9781338111002, $17.99)
“This book has three of my favorite things going for it: Edinburgh, unlikely friendship, and the fact that it was written by Victoria Schwab. City of Ghosts takes you on a whirlwind adventure through the streets of Edinburgh and into the Veil. Toss in Jacob’s sarcastic humor, Lara’s prim and proper Englishness, and a classic Schwab villain and you have a story that is sure to delight readers of any age.” —Renee Becher, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 9781338268812, $16.99, available September)
“This book walks the awesome tightrope of acknowledging that fantasy could not possibly create villains more horrifying than the true figures of history, while allowing kids to engage with the fantastic that makes those realities bearable. This book lets kids who rarely see themselves as the heroes of historical fiction to see themselves there, and shows them pieces of history that may have been left out of their history lessons. At the same time, it’s a great adventure with a dynamic team at its core, who are a joy to meet and adventure with. And also? DINOSAURS!” —Katherine Ferguson, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

The Darkdeep by Ally Condie, Brendan Reichs
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547600465, $16.99, available October)
“This middle grade novel has everything: four good friends and a lurking bully; a mysterious, seemingly forgotten lake; and a houseboat that holds more than one secret. When Nico, Opal, Tyler, and Emma discover the Darkdeep they must make a decision: keep it to themselves? Or tell someone, their parents, the police, anyone? This is a very satisfying read about friendship and bravery with just the right amount of scary fantastic creatures. I can’t wait to see what happens next!” —Anne Holman, The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT

The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Ryan Andrews (Illus.)
(Candlewick Press, 9780763694746, $17.99)
“I recognized myself in this book. Like Lowen, I’ve been an 11-year-old grappling with guilt and grief. I’ve moved from a city to a small town and found a home. I know it’s cheesy, but this book made me laugh, cry, and hug my child. I completely fell in love with Millville and The Dollar Kids, and I know everyone who reads this book will, too.” —Sarah Krammen, Dragonfly Books, Decorah, IA

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
(Holiday House, 9780823439607, $16.99)
“In this story of the Great Migration of 1946, 11-year-old Langston misses his mother, who has passed away; his grandmother, who was left behind; and his father, who has to work long hours. As Langston faces poverty and bullying in Chicago, he takes refuge in the library and discovers books and companionship, something that is life-affirming for both him and his father. Finding Langston is exactly the profound book of renewal we need right now.” —Alice Hutchinson, Byrd’s Books, Bethel, CT

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
(Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399252525, $17.99)
“Six students with diverse backgrounds end up together in a special-needs 5th/6th grade class in Brooklyn. Their perceptive teacher gives them one hour every Friday afternoon to simply talk with each other unsupervised. The results are deep conversations about their individual experiences and a bond formed from mutual respect and empathy. Through her compelling and big-hearted characters, Woodson makes the conversations around immigration, incarceration, police brutality, and class divide age-appropriate and approachable for young people.” —Naomi Chamblin, Napa Bookmine, Napa, CA

The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (Indies Introduce)
(Scholastic Press, 9781338209969, $16.99, available September)
“Twelve-year-old Marinka is not like most girls. She has a pet jackdaw, a foundling lamb, a yaga for a grandmother, and a house that routinely walks, runs, or canters to an entirely new location without consulting its occupants. What Marinka THINKS she wants most is to just be a normal girl with normal friends and the chance to determine her own future. What Marinka REALLY wants is indeed something very, very different. A bit of folk tale, a dose of adventure, and a lot of quirky humor tossed in, The House With Chicken Legs takes readers on a ride they will not soon forget.” —Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062686237, $16.99, available October)
“In Knights vs. Dinosaurs, Matt Phelan has created a roaring romp of a good time, bringing together the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table and DINOSAURS! Though it may at first glance seem a book for boys, a plot twist will have girls loving it, too! With knights, dinosaurs, a wizard, and some great battles wonderfully illustrated by Phelan, this exciting tale demonstrates the value of being true to yourself while being part of a team.” —Jim Hess, Let’s Play Books!, Emmaus, PA

The Law of Finders Keepers (Mo & Dale Mysteries) by Sheila Turnage
(Kathy Dawson Books, 9780803739628, $16.99, available September)
“Oh, what pure joy to head back to Tupelo Landing, to hear Mo LoBeau’s voice again, and to delve into the Desperado Detective Agency’s final case. Thrills and intrigue abound as a hunt for pirates’ treasure leads to information about the identity of Mo’s oft-mentioned ‘Upstream Mother.’ I’ve loved this series from the very beginning and love sharing it with other readers, young and old!” —Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
(Candlewick Press, 9780763690496, $16.99, available September)
“I LOVED Merci Suárez Changes Gears! I literally read it in one sitting and was late for everything because I couldn’t walk away from it. Meg Medina has created the kind of heroine that every girl can cheer on, embrace, and see herself in. That Merci still fights for her independence while fiercely loving her familia y cultura is what gives this coming-of-age story such an enduring quality. When we think about the great stories we read as adolescents—like Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret—I can see Merci Suárez right next to them. I wish with all my heart that I had a book like this when I was a niña entering the sixth grade, and it will be such a joy to put this book in my customers’ hands.” —Angela Maria Spring, Duende District, Washington, DC

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
(HarperCollins, 9780062570703, $16.99, available September)
“Louie loves animals, but just doesn’t seem to have the knack for taking care of them — too many carnival animals have not survived his loving care. So when his father brings home a newborn miniature donkey, Louie’s parents tell him not to get his hopes up that the little guy will survive the night, let alone thrive. Louie’s determination that Winslow will be okay, the new friendships he makes, and his belief that one person can make a difference make for a wonderful story.” —Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780525515029, $16.99, available September)
Small Spaces has just the right amount of Bradburyesque spookiness garnished with characters that will keep readers turning the pages — though beware of reading this one after dark! Perfect for those who like their horror with a little heart.” —Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

Squirm by Carl Hiaasen
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780385752978, $18.99, available September)
“Classic Hiaasen. Squirm introduces Billy Dickens, a Florida native who prefers roaming the wilderness to school and who can’t stand to see anyone (human or animal) be bullied. Billy’s father left his family when he was very young, but Billy decides it’s time to meet and get some answers. What starts as a personal quest becomes a cross-country adventure involving illegal poaching, poisonous snakes, and a lot of surprises. If you only take away one thing from this book, it should be: don’t take selfies with wild animals.” —Rebecca Waesch, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
(Amulet Books, 9781419731402, $18.99, available September)
“Nan Sparrow is the sort of heroine the word ‘plucky’ was invented for. From her unconventional life traveling with her beloved Sweep — with whom all difficulties turned into treasured memories — she has fallen into indentured servitude as a ‘climbing boy.’ Even though she’s one of the best around, when she gets lodged in a chimney during a fire, she’s sure she’s a goner...until she awakens in the rubble of that chimney with a sentient bit of char rolling at her feet. Thus begins her new life on the lam with Charlie. Anyone who loved the strange but sweet relationship at the center of Anna and the Swallow Man will owe their whole heart to this heartfelt and satisfying story of found family that shows how even devastating loss can be transformed into beautiful remembrance.” —Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO

For Teens

And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, Rovina Cai (Illus.)
(HarperTeen, 9780062860729, $19.99, available September)
“I love Patrick Ness’s writing. He generates great tension and his words resound with authority and weight. This story—a Moby Dick tale told from the viewpoint of the whales—follows the apprentice hunter Bathsheba and her pod as they swim down (that’s right, down) to the ocean surface to hunt the very men who hunt them. In the process, they find something even more terrible than men. This novel reads like mythology and the theme is a marvelous one, delivered masterfully.” —Brandon Breen, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781984830159, $26, available October)
“There’s a reason we’ve been waiting for this book for over 10 years, and that’s because Zusak has taken his time and made it perfect. Bridge of Clay is weird and heartbreaking and beautifully and poetically written — in short, everything that Zusak does so well in the books we’ve come to love. He writes in stunning, complex metaphors that never fail to feel real. Clay and his brothers are alive in this story, and the love that they share between themselves and for others is palpable. I loved being with Clay as he built his bridge, and I was genuinely devastated as the pages came to an end. This one is going to take me a long time to get over. Bridge of Clay was worth every second of the wait.” —Jess Harwick, Book Culture, New York, NY

Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
(First Second, 9781250177964, $16.99, available September)
“Set against a backdrop of hockey and pies with a soundtrack that’s all Beyoncé, Check, Please follows Eric Bitty Bittle as he navigates coming to college, coming out, and coming to terms with his feelings for his team captain, Jack. Funny, charming, and honest, Ngozi Ukazu’s heartfelt coming-of-age comic is one of a kind: a genuine gift to the reader and an absolute joy to experience.” —Madeline Shier, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062742322, $17.99, available October)
“Timely, dark, and compelling, Damsel is an intense feminist read, an anti-fairy tale, and definitely a crossover adult title. Arnold’s writing is impeccable, her voice powerful, her style sly and captivating. She turns the damsel-in-distress trope inside out here with a tale that deals creatively and unflinchingly with violence and sexual assault and more, reminiscent of such other powerful titles as Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. One of my favorite titles of the season.” —Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
(Delacorte Press, 9780525577942, $18.99, available September)
“Pulling both from the text of Frankenstein and the life of Mary Shelley, White delivers a splendid imagining of what it might have been like to be a woman in the life of Victor Frankenstein. Elizabeth, a penniless young girl striving to find safety no matter the cost, finds herself tied to the mad young scientist. White’s well-written exploration of what one would do to be safe in a world where there are few sureties keeps the subtle climbing horror of the original work while exploring the causes and motivations that might go into the creation of a monster.” —Jessica Cox, Plot Twist Bookstore, Ankeny, IA

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
(Graphix, 9780545902489, $14.99, available October)
“In his first novel for teen readers, Jarrett Krosoczka tells his own story with staggering honesty and insight. Raised by his grandparents, Krosoczka recounts the love he felt growing up, even as he learned how to order his grandparents’ favorite mixed drinks and observed his grandmother shouting obscenities at the television. Addressing two facets of his identity — as the child of a heroin addict and as an artist — Krosoczka offers a window into his experience and a mirror for readers who have experienced the same. Be warned: the depth of emotion and incredible heart within these pages is guaranteed to cause tears.” —Sara Grochowski, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Mirage by Somaiya Daud
(Flatiron Books, 9781250126429, $18.99)
“Amani is stolen from her home on the moon of Cadiz and forced to serve as the princess’s double for the heartless Vathek, usurpers of her people. With her life at stake, Amani must now learn how to think and act like her enemies while trying to keep true to her own people’s outlawed customs and beliefs — and to herself. Whereas some young women might become depressed and lose hope in the face of such a loss of control, Amani boldly embraces her new circumstances with a rare surety; she waits, and she plans. The narration is poetic, the worldbuilding beautifully crafted. This Moroccan-influenced fusion of fantasy and science fiction is a positively stunning debut novel.” —Leah Atlee, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

Rule by Ellen Goodlett (Indies Introduce)
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316515283, $17.99, available September)
“Three young women, each with her own deadly secret, discover that one of them will ascend to the throne of their dying father. Each soon discovers that her secret will be used against her, and together they urgently work to discover their blackmailer before they can be executed as traitors to the kingdom. Treachery and black magic intermix with sisterly loyalty and ill-fated romance. Your heart will race as quickly as your fingers turning the pages of this smart and captivating debut.” —Nancy Baenen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
(HarperCollins, 9780062866561, $18.99, available October)
“This beautiful and eye-opening novel takes place one year after 9/11 amid the deeply rooted racism that became more aggressive after the attack. Intentional or not, Shirin’s peers treat her differently than everyone else. She tries to get by under the radar, but it’s hard to do that when Ocean, a popular white boy, takes an interest in her—and not just because of her culture. Although it’s based 16 years in the past, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is still an important and relevant novel in today’s world and an essential addition to every literary collection.” —Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

The War Outside by Monica Hesse
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316316699, $17.99, available September)
“These teens couldn’t be more different: Haruko, Japanese American, outgoing, popular, compliant; and Margot, German American, reclusive, mistrustful, analytical. But what they have in common is more important: they’re very bright, observant members of families in turmoil, and in 1944 they’re living in an internment camp for enemy aliens. A secret and unlikely friendship becomes a lifeline for both of them. Like Hesse’s Girl in the Blue Coat, this riveting novel takes readers where we’ve never imagined going, with twists, turns, and startling intensity. The book is mesmerizing, empathetic, and incredibly timely in its treatment of injustice and fear of the other.” —Banna Rubinow, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
(HarperTeen, 9780062795250, $18.99, available October)
“When Arthur goes to New York for the summer, he expects it to be a lot like the Broadway plays he adores. But it’s not. Ben, on the other hand, is much more pragmatic, in that native New Yorker way. When they meet, Arthur falls head over heels almost immediately, and his enthusiasm may rub off a bit on Ben...but things don’t exactly work out in real life the way they do on stage. With alternating chapters from Arthur’s and Ben’s point of view, this is another wonderful read from Albertalli and Silvera, and fans of both authors won’t be disappointed (fans of musical theater will love it even more).” —Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

Wildcard by Marie Lu
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780399547997, $18.99, available September)
Wildcard picks up exactly where Warcross left off. Emika has uncovered Hideo’s evil plan and now she’s determined to stop him. But while she can trust her Phoenix Rider friends, she isn’t sure what to make of Zero. Wildcard is a non-stop action, adventure, science fiction thrill ride! In both the real world and the virtual there’s barely a moment to pause and catch your breath.” —Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA