The July/August Kids' Indie Next List Preview

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Here is a preview of the titles on the July/August 2021 Kids’ Indie Next List flier, arriving at stores in the upcoming Kids’ Box mailing. The July/Augus title list is also viewable as a collection in Edelweiss.

The tri-fold, four-color flier features the top 10 children’s titles for July/August and additional 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 deadline for nominating titles for the September/October 2021 Kids' Indie Next List is July 14. Find more information about nominating tiles here.

#1 Pick: Cat Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Illus.)
(Random House Studio, 9780593302132, $17.99, August 3, Ages 3-7)
“I am so psyched that there’s a new Jory John and Lane Smith book! And it’s about cats and a day in their real lives! And a squirrel!”
—René Kirkpatrick, University Book Store, Seattle WA

Picture Books

Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781534469013, $17.99, July 20, Ages 4-8)
“This is a baterrific story about Amara’s fascination with bats that began with a bat being trapped in her attic. Amara and the Bats proves that even a child with one small idea can begin to change our world.”
—Marilyn Robbins, BookBar, Denver, CO

Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534441705, $17.99, July 20, Ages 4-8)
“An old house is lonely, and thinks if she holds very still and keeps very quiet, she won’t seem so spooky and a family will move in. She wouldn’t want anyone to think she’s haunted! Sima’s illustrations are enchanting, and in her usual fashion, the story is pitch perfect.”
—Tildy Lutts, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781534410367, $17.99, August 24, Ages 4-8)
“The biography of Scott Joplin is interesting and well told. I can hear the ragtime rhythm in the text, but the art? The art is beautiful! Just fantastic.”
—Heather Weirich-Roy, Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH

Lala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness by Gracey Zhang
(Scholastic, 9781338648232, $18.99, July 6, Ages 4-8)
“Little Lala helps the weeds in the vacant lot blossom into full, gorgeous plants just by talking to them and showing them a little love. This picture book is breathtaking, and Zhang’s use of color really helps the story come alive. It’s like a modern inverse of The Giving Tree.”
—Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, MA

Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn
(Random House Graphic, 9781984896827, $12.99, Ages 5-8)
“This is literally the cutest stinking graphic novel I’ve read since Bug Boys. It’s like Studio Ghibli mixed with My Little Pony and I LOVE IT ALL! Such cute little creatures and a great story about friendship, being honest with yourself and others, and facing your fears.”
—Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana, Frederick, MD

Never, Not Ever! by Beatrice Alemagna
(HarperCollins, 9780063076495, $17.99, July 13, Ages 4-8)
“Pascaline doesn’t want to go to school, but she goes, with her tiny parents tucked under her wing. School turns out to be pretty great. But it’d be better if she didn’t have to take care of her tiny parents! Alemagna captures all of Pascaline’s emotions in this delightful book.”
—Marika McCoola, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster by Manka Kasha
(Feiwel & Friends, 9781250618795, $18.99, August 10, Ages 3-6)
“What a marvelous picture book! Small Knight learns to face their anxiety and tackle stereotypes about gender roles in their own way.”
—Kate Reynolds, Colgate Bookstore, Hamilton, NY

Ten Spooky Pumpkins by Gris Grimly
(Orchard Books, 9781338112443, $17.99, August 3, Ages 4-8)
“I love Gris Grimly and I adore how he makes creepy cute. I cannot wait to share this Halloween story with my daughter!”
—Rebecca Crosswhite, Rediscovered Books, Boise, ID

Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott by Joyce Scott, Brie Spangler, Melissa Sweet (Illus.)
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780525648116, $17.99, Ages 4-8)
“Judith Scott was a fiber artist with Down Syndrome living in an institution for 35 years before learning to create mixed media art. I loved this beautiful book by Judith’s sister Joyce; and the reminder that too often we keep people who are different from us at a distance.”
—Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781534466982, $17.99, July 20, Ages 4-8)
“A normal day at the zoo for the Dracula family quickly goes awry when Baby Dracula switches places with a penguin! Definitely one of my new favorite Halloween-adjacent books.”
—Abby Rice, The Briar Patch, Bangor, ME

Middle Grade

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062972781, $12.99, Ages 8-12)
“Laugh-out-loud from beginning to end. Kids will sympathize with Hudi as he seeks a sport to suit him, finally deciding to stick to comedy. Great pace, engaging visuals, and non-stop jokes make this the next favorite for fans of Shannon Hale, Mac Barnett, and Raina Telgemeier.”
—Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

A Discovery of Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
(Chicken House, 9781338714449, $18.99, July 6, Ages 8-12)
“This book is an epic adventure. Pulling history from the voyage of Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle, Galvin brings to life the story of Darwin’s cabin boy and assistant. Simon is brave and selfless even when it’s difficult to be either, and you’ll cheer for him at every turn.”
—Marielle Orff, Towne Book Center and Wine Bar, Collegeville, PA

The Ghoul Next Door by Cullen Bunn, Cat Farris
(HarperAlley, 9780062896094, $12.99, July 13, Ages 8-12)
“Wonderfully creepy and macabre in the best Tim Burton-esque way. When Grey’s school project is stolen in the most unsettling way, he begins to feel like he’s being watched and followed. For fans of Gaiman’s, The Graveyard Book, and the graphic novel, Beetle & the Hollowbones!”
—Rebecca Waesch, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Ham Helsing #1: Vampire Hunter by Rich Moyer
(Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780593308912, $12.99, Ages 8-12)
Ham Helsing is a surprising delight and a fresh take on the vampire-hunting legend. This graphic novel is chock-full of hammy humor, perfect puns, and swashbuckling adventure.”
—Cat Chapman, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593206973, $17.99, July 6, Ages 8-12)
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom is not only a fantastic fantasy full of imagination, daring, and mythology, it’s also an incredible story about finding exactly what you need inside yourself, even — and especially — in the face of anxiety and self-doubt.”
—Kinsey Foreman, High Five Books, Florence, MA

The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron
(HarperCollins, 9780062943132, $16.99, July 6, Ages 8-12)
“This book is the classic combination of underdog competitive story and child looking for a lost parent, that makes your heart warm. Absolutely adored all of the fun this book had and loved that it didn’t shy away from teaching you things about cooking!”
—Thomas Wilkerson, BookPeople, Austin, TX

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner
(Aladdin, 9781534431492, $20.99, hardcover; 9781534431485, $12.99, paperback, July 6, Ages 8-12)
“This spellbinding graphic novel has all the things I love: magic, a girl who comes to know her own worth, and a sassy talking cat! This series is a must for any middle grader, but especially ones who have been bullied or alienated.”
—Leah Grover, Bards Alley, Vienna, VA

ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse by Stephanie Cooke, Mari Costa (Illus.)
(Etch/HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780358168997, $24.99, hardcover; 9780358169000, $12.99, paperback, July 13, Ages 8-12)
“Absolutely sweet graphic novel about a girl with fledgling magic powers that seem stronger than they should be. With evil bunnies, a wolf girl, a forgetful ghost, and a pumpkinhead looking for some basic rights for pumpkins! Charming and fun and I was smiling the whole time.”
—Cass Moskowitz, Books of Wonder, New York, NY

Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, Avery Fischer Udagawa (Tranl.), Miho Satake (Illus.)
(Yonder, 9781632063038, $18, July 6, Ages 8-13)
Temple Alley Summer is like a three-in-one book — a manga-like feel, a modern Japanese story, and fable, all in one. I loved the ghost girl, Akari, and the genuine Kazu. This could be a read aloud or a stand-alone book. One of my summer picks!”
—Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook, NY

Weird Kid by Greg van Eekhout
(HarperCollins, 9780062970602, $16.99, July 20, Ages 8-12)
“Ever feel like you don’t belong? Maybe you’re actually an alien made of goo that shifts into being a seal or screech owl when you hear a certain frequency. This adventurous and funny novel plays this straight, with fantastic results. Plus, butt jokes, so everyone wins!”
—Robin Stern, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

Young Adult

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, et al.
(Quill Tree Books, 9780063088092, $19.99, Ages 13+)
“It’s HOT in the summer in NYC when there’s a blackout. A group of friends are two by two making their way across the city to a block party. And there’s love all around. Six award-winning authors worked together to create these loosely related stories. I highly recommend!”
—Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780063032606, $18.99, Ages 14+)
“Maureen Johnson knows how to write a mystery novel like no other. She makes the characters feel funny, and nuanced, with real problems and whose actions have real consequences. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this book! I’d read any book with Stevie Bell in it!”
—Emily Gilbow, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

Don’t Hate the Player (Indies Introduce) by Alexis Nedd
(Bloomsbury YA, 9781547605026, $17.99, Ages 13+)
“This nerdy romcom from a debut author will have you competing with friends for who can read it first. Have you ever been on the edge of your seat yelling at a book that is writing about a live streaming video game competition? I have now and highly recommend you do too!”
—Nichole Cousins, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT

Me (Moth) (Indies Introduce) by Amber McBride
(Feiwel & Friends, 9781250780362, $18.99, August 17, Ages 12-17)
“This book is simply beautiful! Told in verse, it’s a story of love, tragedy, and forgiveness. It’s about finding yourself again in the midst of grieving. Each poem could stand on its own but, together, they tell a story that gets you all in the feels. I just want to hug Moth.”
—Kim Brock, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

The Passing Playbook (Indies Introduce) by Isaac Fitzsimons
(Dial Books, 9781984815408, $17.99, Ages 12+)
“This book is so delightful and had me smiling the whole time. THIS is the trans boy joy we all need to read and have in our lives.”
—Kelsy April, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
(Scholastic Press, 9781338662238, $17.99, July 6, Ages 14+)
“Leah Johnson is back with another stunning, emotion-filled story of love, self-discovery, and meaning. Set over a three-day music festival, the narrative splits between two compelling and relatable young girls who are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.”
—Miranda McGowan, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters
(HarperTeen, 9780062894250, $17.99, July 20, Ages 13+)
“Eerie and chilling to the bone, The River Has Teeth holds back no punches. Unique magic and two girls set on their own quests for vengeance will keep readers turning these pages — and looking over their shoulder for any monsters in the night.”
—Brad Sells, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt
(Roaring Brook Press, 9781250619242, $18.99, Ages 14-18)
“Readers will be swept away by the lyrical writing in this fiercely moving tale of three teens facing the storms battering their coastal town and their hearts. Full of passion, grief, and resilience, it’s perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Julia Drake, and Jennifer Niven.”
—Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780593300916, $18.99, July 6, Ages 12+)
“This book lives WELL up to the high expectations created after the gorgeousness that was/is Spin the Dawn. With a diverse cast and unique world building, Lim is an author I love recommending to teens who enjoy Laini Taylor and Tomi Adeyemi.”
—Hannah Oxley, Mystery to Me, Madison, WI

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534440272, $19.99, Ages 12+)
“I really enjoyed this book. The romance is cute, but I felt like the main character’s journey to figure herself out and how she fits in with her family was even more important than the romance, and was very well done. I enjoyed going on Quinn’s journey with her.”
—Alissa Hugel, Folio Books, San Francisco, CA