May/June Kids' Indie Next List Preview

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

The tri-fold, four-color flier features the top 10 children’s titles for May and June 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 print flier is expected to arrive in stores by mid-May.

The deadline for nominating titles for the July/August 2021 Kids' Indie Next List is May 10. Find more information about nominating tiles here.

#1 Pick: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
(Flatiron Books, 9781250766601, $18.99, May 18, Ages 12–18)
“It’s easy to compare this book to The Princess Diaries, but it has more than that: beautiful, vivid writing; a fiercely charming lead; and the city of Tokyo coming to life on the page. While offering hope, fun, and wonder, it will speak to those who feel out of place or torn between two worlds.”
—Lindsay Howard, Lark and Owl Booksellers, Georgetown, TX

Picture Books

Are You a Cheeseburger? by Monica Arnaldo
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780063003941, $17.99, June 1, Ages 4–8)
“I love how characters Grub and Seed wonder and use their imagination for things they don’t quite understand. Arnaldo’s whimsical banter and illustrations will make this a regularly requested household read–aloud.”
—Lauren Brown, The Story Shop, Monroe, GA

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley–Newton
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780525582120, $17.99, June 15, Ages 3–6)
“Vanessa is delightful! Filled with irresistible illustrations, this book will have young readers adoring vivacious Vanessa and her message of confidence!”
—Jessica Walsh, The Brain Lair Bookstore, South Bend, IN

Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder
(Dial Books, 9780593112625, $17.99, June 1, Ages 3–5)

“This is a picture book I’ve been waiting to see for a long time. Bouncy, poetic text accompanies diverse, detailed illustrations that celebrate all body sizes, shapes, transitions, disabilities, and skin tones. I keep looking at this picture book again and again.”
—Nikki Silvestrini, Zenith Bookstore, Duluth, MN

Brave as a Mouse by Nicolo Carozzi
(Random House Studio, 9780593181836, $17.99, May 25, Ages 3–7)
“This book is downright wonderful! The illustrations are crisp and timeless, the story clever and fun. Brave as a Mouse feels like an instant classic.”
—Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL

Dino–Gro by Matt Myers
Random House Studio, 9780593179871, $17.99, June 15, Ages 3–7)
“Everybody knows sometimes new friends have to grow on you, but in Cole’s case his new friend grows and grows and grows. Move over, Clifford — author/illustrator Matt Myers has created a lovable, oversized friend with Dino–Gro. This one is sure to be a hit with little dinosaur lovers.”
—Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Dogs at Work: Good Dogs. Real Jobs. by Margaret Cardillo, Zachariah Ohora (Illus.)
Balzer + Bray, 9780062906311, $17.99, June 22, Ages 4–8)
Dogs at Work has great illustrations, and dog lovers will appreciate it!”
—Kristine Jelstrom–Hamill, Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, MA

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used–to–Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley, Tara Audibert (Illus.)
(Heartdrum, 9780063015371, $15.99, hardcover; 9780063015388, $4.99, paperback, May 11, Ages 6–10)
“Jo Jo is the most precocious and hilarious seven–year–old I’ve ever read about. This story had me laughing out loud as Jo Jo tries to make backup friends in case it turns out her best school friend, Fern, doesn’t want to be best friends with her anymore.”
—Katherine Nazzaro, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

What If, Pig? by Linzie Hunter
(HarperCollins, 9780062986092, $17.99, June 8, Ages 4–8)
“What a sweet, charming, and relatable little pig. Readers will fall in love with this anxious porcine friend.”
—Betsy Covert, The Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH

What Will You Be? by Yamile Saied Méndez, Kate Alizadeh (Illus.)
(HarperCollins, 9780062839954, $17.99, May 4, Ages 4–8)
“Glorious illustrations and a simply wonderful story of a young girl asking her abuela what she will be when she grows up. A gentle yet powerful story, and a perfect graduation gift!”
—Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Wishes by Muon Thi Van, Victo Ngai (Illus.)
(Orchard Books, 9781338305890, $18.99, May 4, Ages 4–8)
Wishes turns a heart–wrenching tale into a beautiful story of hope and perseverance. In his signature lyrical style, Muon Thi Van narrates a Vietnamese family’s immigration story as they search for a new home. Add Victo Ngai’s gorgeous artwork and this tale becomes a treasure for the home and library.”
—Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX


Middle Grade

Both Can Be True by Jules Machias
(Quill Tree Books, 9780063053892, $16.99, June 8, Ages 8–12)
“Middle school is hard, but trying to figure out identity — who you are — is probably the hardest part. Ash and Daniel face all of those genuinely awkward, confusing, and wonderful questions in big–hearted ways in Both Can Be True.”
—Cat Chapman, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

Da Vinci’s Cat by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
(Greenwillow Books, 9780063015258, $17.99, May 25, Ages 8–12)
“I can’t wait to recommend this book to middle schoolers and as a great family read–aloud. It truly has something for everyone — historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, great artists, time travel, adventure, and, of course, a cat! This is my favorite book by Catherine Murdock yet.”
—Cathy Fiebach, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young
(Heartdrum, 9780062990402, $16.99, May 11, Ages 8–12)
Healer of the Water Monster is such beautiful story, partly because the character is so sweet and complex, and partly because the issues he has to deal with cross so many borders, from alcoholism and family dysfunction to trying to navigate the spirit world to save a water monster.”
—Chris Abouzeid, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA

Little Kid, Big City!: London by Beth Beckman, Holley Maher (Illus.)
(Quirk Books, 9781683692485, $19.99, June 15, Ages 8––12)
“Until I can go to London in real life, I’ll enjoy choosing my own adventure with this kiddo and family. It has fun facts about places and culture, plus super–cute illustrations. I want a book like this for every city I miss.”
—Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534455658, $14.99, June 29, Ages 10+)
“Whitney Gardner has such an incredible talent when it comes to graphic novels. This is no exception. I love this cast of misfits at camp just trying to be themselves and finding friendship along the way. I love the goofs and the heart behind it all.”
—Cass Moskowitz, Books of Wonder, New York, NY

Long Lost by Jacqueline West
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062691750, $16.99, May 4, Ages 8–12)
Long Lost is a wonderfully atmospheric and spooky story, complete with a fabulous library, a mysterious book within the book, sibling rivalry, old maps, and more!”
—Angela Whited, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062970428, $16.99, May 4, Ages 8–12)
“Marisol really wants to climb her backyard tree but she is terrified! Really, what kid hasn’t needed to overcome a fear? Thank goodness Marisol has a best friend who loves and cheers for her unconditionally. Short chapters and manageable sentences make this a perfect first chapter book!”
—Stephanie Jalowiec, The Book Cabin, Lake George, NY

Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062915894, $16.99, May 18, Ages 8–12)
“Ophie is a smart girl with a scary talent. Growing up in racist, post–WWI America, Ophie is dealing with darkness in her life — her father’s grisly death, her mom’s struggle to make ends meet, and ghosts! This rip roaring, slightly scary adventure will earn Ophie a lot of love from readers!”
—Margaret Neville, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062956675, $16.99, May 11, Ages 8–12)
“Jasmine Warga delicately explores many versions of grief in this novel. She has created something special with Cora and Quinn’s friendship, and even though so much sadness is found within these pages, there is ultimately hope as well. The Shape of Thunder should be required reading.”
—Brad Sells, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi
(HarperCollins, 9780063044708, $16.99, May 11, Ages 8–12)
“A must–read. Nurah is an immediately captivating, inspiring, and courageous protagonist. I only wish I could have read a book like this when I growing up. At once an enlightening and relatable read with a message that cannot be ignored.”
—Stephanie Skees, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

Young Adult

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké–Íyímídé
(Feiwel & Friends, 9781250800817, $18.99, June 1, Ages 14–18)
“Such a wonderful and thrilling read — the perfect mix of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl turned deadly. Ace of Spades goes into the politics of systemic racism at an educational level, social eugenics, and economic barriers for Black students. This is the YA thriller of the year, hands down.”
—Christian Vega, The Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, NY

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
(Wednesday Books, 9781250765826, $18.99, May 11, Ages 14–18)
Cool for the Summer is fun, fresh, messy, and utterly real. With a setting that’ll make you want to drive to the Outer Banks and characters you’ll want to be friends with in real life, this one will have you craving those high school summer nights. I felt like I already knew all of these characters.”
—Amanda Quain, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag
(Graphix, 9781338540574, $14.99, June 1, Ages 12–18)
“Ostertag has swirled together an amazing story of first love, changing friends, and environmental justice with a hint of magic and mystery. Fans of The Magic Fish and Heartstopper will find this a perfect new graphic novel for the teen reader.”
—Jessica Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
(Delacorte Press, 9781524718961, $19.99, June 1, Ages 12+)
“Evie is dealing with her parents’ divorce when she gains the ability to see visions of a couple’s romantic future, from the meet–cute all the way to the end. Bitter about both developments, she questions falling for her handsome ballroom dancing partner, assuming there’s inevitable heartache.”
—Stefani Kelley, The Book Nook, Brenham, TX

Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey
(HarperTeen, 9780062994462, $17.99, May 18, Ages 13+)
“Featuring feuding booksellers from rival bookstores, this novel is the perfect combination of humor and romance. Full of witty comebacks, prank wars, and enemies–to–lovers (to enemies, then back to lovers again) energy, this story is perfect for book lovers and romance fans alike!”
—Ashley Musick, Linden Tree Children’s Books, Los Altos, CA

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062880451, $17.99, May 25, Ages 13+)
“A wonderful return to Clover City, Pumpkin has all the elements we loved from Dumplin’ and Puddin’ with cameos of favorite characters. Waylon is nearing high school graduation and planning his next move without knowing what he wants to do or how to get there. Heartwarming and encouraging!”
—Rebecca Waesch, Joseph–Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
(HarperTeen, 9780062872623, $19.99, May 4, Ages 13+)
“A high–stakes tale filled with everything you could want in a book: pirates, assassins, knights, magic, and the fate of the realm in the hands of unwilling heroes. Set in an enticing and dangerous land, an unlikely group takes on a task so thrilling, I was unable to put this book down.”
—Katie Harveson, Front Street Books, Alpine, TX

A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams–Garcia
(Quill Tree Books, 9780062367297, $19.99, May 25, Ages 16+)
“Rita Williams–Garcia immerses the reader in pre–Civil War life in Louisiana, making it impossible to ignore the ways white people of all social classes exerted their power over enslaved people and justified their atrocities. A book that will stay with you long after you finish the final page.”
—Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

This Poison Heart by Kaylynn Bayron
(Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603909, $18.99, June 29, Ages 13+)
“Kaylynn Bayron is back with another beautiful book centered on a strong, young Black woman. If you are a fan of supernatural elements in contemporary life, read This Poison Heart. This book is also just so darn smart, and I love the no–fuss inclusion of LGBTQ and nonbinary characters.”
­—Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon
(Inkyard Press, 9781335212795, $18.99, June 1, Ages 13+)

The Witch King is a smart, bold, queer contemporary fantasy that balances romance and adventure with sharp commentary on social justice and the politics of power. This is a must for readers of Holly Black, Seanan McGuire, and Anna–Marie McLemore.”
—Kiersten Frost, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA