The Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Here is a preview of the Spring 2016 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 30 titles organized by age group. All 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 Kids’ Indie Next List also features nine Revisit & Rediscover titles organized by age group. These titles have been identified by panels of children’s booksellers as enduring works that are critical for bookstores to have on their shelves at all times.

The top 10 Kids’ Indie Next List titles and the Revisit & Rediscover titles are featured on downloadable shelf-talkers on BookWeb.

The nomination deadline for the Summer Kids’ Indie Next List is April 15, 2016. The summer list will focus on titles published between May 1 and July 31. Nominations may be submitted via e-mail, the online nomination form, or through Edelweiss or NetGalley. (On Edelweiss, navigate to the book page of your choice, click “Your Review” and select “Submit to Indie Next.” On NetGalley, click the green “Title Feedback” button for any title in your account.)

The Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List

The Top 10

1. Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys
(Philomel, 9780399160301, $18.99)
“In 1945, as Germany fell, refugees and Germans alike streamed towards the Polish coast to evacuate across the Baltic Sea ahead of the invading Russians. The evacuation was called Operation Hannibal. One ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, carried almost 10,000 passengers — more than half of them children — and was torpedoed by a Russian submarine, becoming the largest maritime disaster in history. Sepetys has created a masterful story, including historical detail that grounds readers in those terrible moments. Told in four voices, this stunning novel allows readers to not only bear witness to the loss of so many, but also celebrate the humanity that may be found even in wartime.” —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

2. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illus.)
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062377012, $16.99)
“An impending war, a lost mother, an angry father, and the relationship between a 12-year-old boy and his pet, separated by circumstances beyond their control — the themes are familiar, but Pennypacker twines them together in a beautifully written middle-grade novel that never descends into cliché. Particularly delightful are the scenes in which the domesticated fox, Pax, encounters fellow foxes in the wild and those in which the young boy converses with a new friend on the nature of violence and community. Perfect for fans of The Giver, Watership Down, and Hatchet.” —Kathleen Jewell, Pomegranate Books, Wilmington, NC

3. Summerlost, by Ally Condie
(Dutton Books for Young Readers, 9780399187193, $17.99, available March)
“Condie’s Summerlost is a delicate story of grief and finding exactly the right people when you need them most. It will break readers’ hearts in all the right ways, and then stitch them back together with friendship, family, and Shakespeare. Cedar Lee is a fresh, new character in middle-grade fiction and I hope that Summerlost is just the beginning of her story.” —Sara Hines, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA

4. When We Collided, by Emery Lord
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781619638457, $17.99, available April)
When We Collided is a beautiful novel detailing the relationship between two young adults as they struggle with loss, love, and mental illness. Vivi is wild and free, while Jonah is struggling to take care of his family following the death of his father. Full of vivid language and with a wonderful plot, this book is definitely a must-read!” —Ashley Musick, Linden Tree Children’s Books, Los Altos, CA

5. The Night Gardener, by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481439787, $17.99)
The Night Gardener is one of the most beautiful picture books I have ever seen. The illustrations are exquisite, drawing readers into the story. The tale follows a young boy who discovers a new creation each morning along with the rest of his town, forever changing them. This book will inspire kids to create their own beauty in the world. The Night Gardener is destined to be a classic!” —Lisa Nehs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

6. The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner
(Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780553524024, $17.99, available March)
“Three friends growing up in a small Southern town realize how little they really know about one another until tragedy touches each of them. Dill is the son of the recently jailed Serpent King, a Pentecostal minister known for handling deadly snakes. Lydia is a fashion blogger determined to flee their small town for New York. Travis is a misfit who prefers to dwell in the fantasy worlds he reads about. Readers will ache for them as they battle their demons and fight to shed the dark histories they’ve inherited. The Serpent King is a contemporary Southern novel about loyalty, betrayal, and becoming your most honest self.” —Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

7. The Hour of the Bees, by Lindsay Eager
(Candlewick Press, 9780763679224, $16.99, available March)
“Carolina is not happy about spending the summer before junior high with a grandfather she has never met, helping her parents move him into a home for people with dementia. But as the summer drags on, Grandpa Serge’s fanciful stories of the past grab hold of Carolina and she finds herself questioning what is real and what is true, and how those two things are not always the same. A beautifully written, magical book.” —Drew Sieplinga, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN

8. Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780451477538, $18.99, available March)
“Amani has to escape her dead-end town, where she can look forward to nothing more than an arranged marriage and a life of drudgery. However, she definitely didn’t expect to be running away with a handsome fugitive on a mythical horse while being shot at by the Sultan’s army. Little does Amani realize that her adventure — full of legendary monsters, vengeful djinni, and roguish, rebel princes — has only just begun. In this thrilling and magical debut, Hamilton has created a spellbinding world that offers more questions than answers, rich and compelling characters and cultures, and a fresh, exciting gunslinger heroine who doesn’t take any nonsense. I can’t wait for the sequel!” —Rebecca Speas, One More Page, Arlington, VA

9. The Girl in the Well Is Me, by Karen Rivers
(Algonquin Young Readers, 9781616205690, $16.95, available March)
“Kammie is trying to navigate the social hierarchy of her new school after her old life fell apart. When she finds herself stuck in a well after an outing gone wrong, she has to reexamine the circumstances and choices that landed her there. River’s novel weaves together a number of important issues in an original story with some surprisingly quirky twists. It’s a story that starts out simple, but grows in complexity and emotional depth, until readers find themselves falling down the well of Kammie’s emotions. The only way out is to keep reading!” —Marika McCoola, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

10. Let’s Play, by Hervé Tullet
(Chronicle Books, 9781452154770, $15.99, available March)
“Tullet’s follow-up to Press Here and Mix It Up! is another perfect interactive adventure for young children learning colors, shapes, emotions and the limitless possibilities of their own imagination. Readers follow the surprisingly expressive dot on a journey through humor, fear, and joy that encourages them to do the same. Tullet’s design background shines here, creating a children’s book that genuinely pleases both the eye and the mind.” —Julie Oliver, Odyssey Books, South Hadley, MA

For Ages 4 – 8

Bloom, by Doreen Cronin, David Small (Illus.)
(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781442406209, $17.99)
“This is an amazing retelling of the adage, ‘If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.’ Of course, it takes a female commoner to seek out the fairy to learn how to make bricks and mortar to fix her crumbling castle. Hurrah for the girl who is not against getting her hands dirty and learning something new!” —Judith Lafitte, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA

Daniel Finds a Poem, by Micha Archer
(Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399169137, $16.99)
“Stunning collage art and evocative, sensory writing will make Daniel Finds a Poem a favorite for teachers and families alike. Each full page spread has intricate visual interest perfectly paired with each animal’s or insect’s thoughts on life and poetry. Archer has created a true work of art that will be cherished by many new readers.” —Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Dylan the Villain, by K.G. Campbell
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780451476425, $17.99)
“In his parent’s eyes, Dylan is the greatest villain ever. But when he starts attending a villain academy, he meets his match in Addison Van Malice and must step up his game, especially if he wants to win the diabolical robot contest. Campbell’s playful, rich storytelling and humorous illustrations combine to make an original story that is ‘crazy-bananas’ wonderful!” —Mark Adam, Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company, Pomona, CA

Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About the Greek Myths, by Marilyn Singer, Josee Masse (Illus.)
(Dial Books for Young Readers, 9780803739925, $16.99)
“What a wonderful and unique way of presenting Greek myths! I read each mirrored poem with delight and amazement. Singer does a fantastic job of telling two sides of the same story while keeping true to the myths. The great art also mirrors the spirit of the poems.” —Liesl Freudenstein, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

Hector and Hummingbird, by Nicholas John Frith
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 9780545857017, $17.99, available March)
“This is gorgeous and clever! The relationship between Hector the bear and his friend Hummingbird reminds me of that between siblings. The fact that readers can spot Hummingbird and the other creatures throughout the book will lead to multiple readings, each with new discoveries.” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

Ida, Always, by Caron Levis, Charles Santoso (Illus.)
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781481426404, $17.99)
“Polar bears Gus and Ida live in the zoo and are best friends. Every day they play together, eat lunch together, and listen to the sounds of the city together. But, one day, Ida gets sick and the zookeeper says that she is not going to get better. Gus starts to wonder — what will he do without Ida? Inspired by the real-life friendship of two polar bears in New York’s Central Park Zoo, Gus and Ida struggle to face Ida’s illness, but they find comfort in facing it together. Ida, Always is a gentle reminder that even if we can’t see the people we love every day, they’re with us — always.” —Sarah Nimmo, Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore, Cincinnati, OH

My New Mom & Me, by Renata Galindo
(Schwartz & Wade, 9780553521344, $16.99, available March)
“A puppy goes to live with a cat in this sensitive tale about building a new family. Galindo’s simple, muted illustrations beautifully convey a vast range of feelings — from worry about looking different to relief at being accepted for oneself, and from frustration and loneliness to excitement and trust. First-person narration and a lack of overt gender-marking add to the story’s accessibility, along with the fact that the puppy is entering this family older, rather than as an infant. Brilliant and heartwarming!” —Jennifer Sheffield, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philadelphia, PA

The Secret Subway, by Shana Corey, Red Nose Studio (Illus.)
(Schwartz & Wade, 9780375870712, $17.99, available March)
“Alfred Ely Beach was a thinker, but he also knew how to get things done. The Secret Subway tells the story of the first underground railroad system in New York City, from idea to demise. The story is a fascinating one and the artwork is truly remarkable. Not only do readers get a great true story, but also a remarkable recreation of New York City in the 1860s.” —Lisa Nehs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), by Julie Falatko, Tim Miller (Illus.)
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780451469458, $16.99)
“This is a tremendously funny tale for readers of all ages. Partway through the story, Snappsy interrupts to chastise the narrator for trying to ‘spice up’ his story. Their give-and-take allows for lots of humor, while exposing children to the idea of narrator, character, illustrations, and storyline.” —Valerie Welbourn, The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, NC

There’s a Giraffe in My Soup, by Ross Burach
(HarperCollins, 9780062360144, $17.99)
“‘Excuse me, waiter? There’s a giraffe in my soup!’ Ridiculously fun from the very first page, this tale wastes no time pulling readers right into the story of a boy who sends back bowl after bowl of soup in a restaurant after finding a different zoo animal hiding in each one. Readers will be endlessly entertained as the animals in the soup get sillier and sillier and the bumbling waiter grows increasingly flustered while he tries to keep his restaurant in order. Kids and adults alike will laugh out loud at the absurdity of every situation in Burach’s debut picture book.” —Page Seck, Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore, Cincinnati, OH

Too Many Carrots, by Katy Hudson
(Capstone Young Readers, 9781623706388, $14.95)
“If you’re a rabbit, is there really such a thing as too many carrots? Rabbit is hard-pressed to admit that too many carrots are his problem. There is no longer enough room for him in his burrow, so he tries moving in with his friends. The results are predictable, but Rabbit learns a valuable lesson. This is a lovely story about sharing that is sure to be enjoyed by all.” —Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, IN

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, by Julie Fogliano, Julie Morstad (Illus.)
(Roaring Brook Press, 9781596438521, $18.99, available March)
“These poems are filled with thoughtfulness, sprinkled with touches of humor and accompanied by images that gently resonate. The double-page spreads are masterful and I love how they extend with bands of color and invite the eye to follow. The seasons unfold with surprising detail and awaken the senses. A true gem!” —Mary Alice Garber, Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, DC

For Ages 9 – 12

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, by Leslie Connor
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062333469, $16.99, available March)
“Being raised in a minimum security prison is pretty unusual — his mother is an inmate — but Perry is happy. He learns so much from his inmate mentors and has a better understanding of the meaning of family than most adults. When he is taken from the only home he has ever known to be fostered by a ‘proper’ family, Perry is determined to show the world that he was really quite all right just where he was. Connor’s message is that your family is made up of the people who care about you, look after you, and put you before themselves. The word ‘family’ encompasses all those people, whether they are blood-related or not. I love this book!” —Clarissa Murphy, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

Baker’s Magic, by Diane Zahler, Mina Price (Illus.)
(Capstone Young Readers, 9781623706425, $12.95)
“An orphan turned baker’s apprentice, an evil mage, a captive princess, a hedge wizard and a hedgehog, and a band of pirates led by their female captain, all magically involved in an ecological adventure. Middle-grade reading doesn’t get better than this!” —Amy Lacy, Petunia’s Place, Fresno, CA

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, by Janet Fox
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780451476333, $16.99, available March)
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle has just the right combination of atmosphere, creepiness, and darkness, with a bit of historical fiction thrown in. It is wartime 1940, and a group of children from London are sent to a castle in Scotland for their safety. Purportedly, this castle now houses an academy. The chatelaine-wearing headmistress, referred to as ‘The Lady,’ is a mystery. What is her real purpose? And why do people keep mysteriously appearing and disappearing? I’m so excited to handsell this book!” —Valerie Welbourn, The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, NC

Demon Dentist, by David Walliams, Tony Ross (Illus.)
(HarperCollins, 9780062417046, $16.99, available March)
“Having grown up with Roald Dahl, enjoying everything he wrote and wishing he were still writing, what a delight and joy it is to have discovered David Walliams! He writes in the style of Dahl, but adds his own wit, humor, and a touch of scary story to Demon Dentist. With a hero who gives his all and a feel-good ending, this was one of those ‘I can’t put it down’ books that I read through in one sitting and wished for more. Demon Dentist is destined to be a classic for years to come!” —Pat Trotter, Bookends on Main, Menomonie, WI

Just My Luck, by Cammie McGovern
(HarperCollins, 9780062330659, $16.99)
“Nearly everyone knows a family with an autistic child, and the other kids in those families face their own challenges. Benny is a sweet and tender young soul who only wants to help the people around him. His experience with his autistic brother has taught him patience and compassion beyond his years. McGovern will reach a new audience with her first book for younger readers as Just My Luck is very poignant and will strike a familiar chord with readers of all ages.” —Jennifer Armstrong, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers, by Avi
(Candlewick, 9780763681111, $16.99, available April)
“Seven boys, each in different circumstances and with different perspectives, deal with their fathers, present or absent, in this collection of short stories — some humorous, some heartbreaking, and all so honestly told that you will wish you could meet these kids after each story has ended. What is the most important thing a dad can do for his son? These boys will tell you!” —Susan Posch, The Book Shoppe, Boone, IA

Red’s Planet, by Eddie Pittman
(Amulet Books, 9781419719080, trade paperback, $9.95, available April)
“Red is an orphan, running away from foster care in search of someplace that feels like a real home. Plucked off Earth by an alien spaceship, the plucky Red finds herself on a planet on the other side of the galaxy, surrounded by a hodgepodge of creatures gathered from other planets. With Red as their leader, can this motley crew make a new home for themselves? This is a really funny, adventurous story that will pull kids right in.” —Sandy Scott, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT

Saving Wonder, by Mary Knight
(Scholastic Press, 9780545828932, $16.99)
“Curley Hines loves living in Wonder Gap, his Appalachian Mountain town, despite his parents being dead and his grandfather wanting nothing more than to get him out of the holler. When their precious mountain is threatened with destruction and the rest of his world starts to fall apart, Curley knows he has to fight for his home. I loved every minute of this story, from Curley’s relationship with his best friend, Jules, and the words his Papaw gives him on a weekly basis — convinced that a large vocabulary will get Curley out of Wonder Gap. Curley is a determined protagonist who will absolutely inspire his readers to stand up for what they believe in.” —Amanda Snow, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den, by Aimée Carter
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781619637047, $16.99)
“Simon Thorn’s life has always been shrouded in mystery, but he never expected the truth to be as outrageous as it is. Simon knew he could talk to animals and understand them, but what he didn’t know about was the existence of another world where five animal kingdoms fight for power to rule the others and he plays a key role in who gets that power. This book is filled with adventure, suspense, friendship, and betrayal. I can’t wait for the next installment!” —Lisa Nehs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

For Teens

A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry
(Algonquin Young Readers, 9781616205218, $17.95, available March)
A Fierce and Subtle Poison is the Young Adult read I have been waiting for! This lush, gorgeous tribute to Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter is an awe-inspiring delight for YA readers. In the tropics of Puerto Rico, 17-year-old Lucas meets the mysterious inhabitants of a cursed mansion. His encounter will endanger his life, but possibly save the disappearing girls of San Juan. Prepare to read this novel at breakneck speed!” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062380753, $17.99)
“Finally, a time-travel novel for the non-sci-fi reader. Nix is the daughter of a Navigator — a person who, with a map, has the ability to sail through time to anywhere on Earth, real or fabled. Her father is determined to return to 19th century Hawaii to save Nix’s mother’s life — a journey that might erase not only Nix’s past, but her birth as well. Well-defined characters, a race against time, a charming love interest, mystical maps, a boy next door who actually came for a fabled map, and a girl without a time on a race to save her life and find her place in the universe combine in this perfect YA read.” —Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316260602, $17.99, available April)
Girl in the Blue Coat packs the power of Schindler’s List with the personal tragedy of The Diary of Anne Frank. In occupied Amsterdam, teenage Hanneke delivers black market goods to those people able to pay. She flirts with Nazi soldiers to get around their blockades. One day a customer asks her to help find a missing Jewish girl. The ensuing search is dangerous, dramatic, and gripping. Hanneke faces her own emotional baggage as she uncovers the path of the missing Mirjam. Excellent for teen readers, Girl in the Blue Coat will also resonate with adult audiences.” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

The Great American Whatever, by Tim Federle
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481404099, $17.99, available March)
“Sixteen-year-old Quinn has been nudged out of hiding by his best friend, Geoff, after his sister’s tragic death. A lover of film, Quinn spends a week writing the screenplay of his life in his head while he confronts coming out, learning a secret, and grieving his loss. Federle captures the Young Adult voice in a funny, real, and vulnerable way. Readers will wish Quinn Roberts was their brother, best friend, or boyfriend!” —Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544602007, $17.99, available March)
“You don’t want to miss this time-traveling adventure, thrilling romance, and rich, historical tale. After her mom disappears and is presumed dead, Hope Walton travels to Scotland to stay with her mom’s family, whom she’s never met. When she discovers their secret — they are time travelers — she journeys to 12th century England, where she encounters Eleanor of Aquitaine, Thomas Becket, and her mom, very much alive. Now she has three days to bring her mom back to the present, or they’ll be trapped in the 12th century forever!” —Alyssa Raymond, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

Kill the Boy Band, by Goldy Moldavsky
(Point, 9780545867474, $17.99)
“Reading Moldavsky’s debut is like reliving my first viewing of the movie Heathers, wanting to delve deeper and deeper into the craziness that those girls were getting themselves into. The world of fandom is a fascinating and terrifying place when watched from the outside, and watching someone wake up from living in that dream — or nightmare — is told here with an obvious love for the drama and flair of an ’80s cult film. I loved this book and cannot wait for more from Moldavsky.” —Kari Meutsch, Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, VT

The Smell of Other People’s Houses, by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
(Wendy Lamb Books, 9780553497786, $17.99)
“Ruth, Alyce, Dora, and Hank are all teenagers coming of age in Alaska in 1970. Ruth misses her mother, especially when she needs her most; Alyce feels obligated to help her father, even when it costs her her dreams; Hank is trying to protect his two younger brothers, causing him to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders; and Dora just wants to feel the love of a good family and the warmth of a home. Hitchcock has woven their lives into an unforgettable debut.” —Teresa Steel, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062398901, $17.99)
“This thoroughly entertaining addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon introduces readers to the great-great-great grandson of John Watson and the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, who meet at a Connecticut boarding school and are almost immediately drawn into a murder investigation — one in which they become the chief suspects. This is a clever, satisfying novel that holds its own with the best works of the great Conan Doyle.” —Nancy Banks, City Stacks Books and Coffee, Denver, CO

Wink Poppy Midnight, by April Genevieve Tucholke
(Dial Books for Young Readers, 9780803740488, $17.99, available March)
“Wink is a mysterious oddball who thinks in fairytales. Poppy is a manipulative queen bee obsessed with someone she can’t have. Midnight is a quiet, conflicted boy in thrall to both of them. Told through a rotating swirl of unreliable narration, Wink Poppy Midnight follows all three characters as their lives spin together, sending them on their way towards the book’s heart-pounding climax. I’m not sure if ‘Rocky Mountain Gothic’ is a real genre, but after inhaling Wink Poppy Midnight, I am prepared to be its biggest advocate!” —Rebecca Speas, One More Page, Arlington, VA

The Spring 2016 Kids’ Revisit & Rediscover

For Ages 4 – 8

Ant and Bee, by Angela Banner
(Trafalgar Square/Independent Publishers Group, 9781405266710, $7.99) Originally published in 1950
Ant and Bee is an Amazing picture Book that Comes to mind whenever I Decant my Everlasting memories of Favorite childhood books. Gazing at the pages in my Hand, I Journey back through this beloved source of Knowledge and Laugh Merrily at their charmingly Nuanced and Original world. Perfidious is anyone who Questions the Richness and Sublimity of These alphabet story books. Underneath the stories is a Veritable fountain of Wonder, each page a magical Xylophone chord of Youth and what the Greeks call Zoi — life.” — Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

Hazel’s Amazing Mother, by Rosemary Wells
(Puffin Books, 9780140549119, $5.99) Originally published in 1985
“A mother’s love comes to the rescue when Hazel gets bullied on her way home from purchasing something nice for a picnic. Hazel’s mother senses that her child needs her help, and with a freak gust of wind she flies with all of the picnic makings to her daughter’s rescue. All is put right, and the bullies are tasked to set things right. With illustrations that only Wells can create, we see the power of a mother’s love for her child — a love that is always there, especially when needed most.” —Becky Anderson, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

How to Heal a Broken Wing, by Bob Graham
(Candlewick Press, 9780763639037, $16.99) Originally published in 2008
How to Heal a Broken Wing is a gem of a picture book, geared to children ages 3 — 7, but one that can enrich readers of all ages with its message of the power of an act of kindness. With minimal text and exquisite illustrations that propel the simple story, a young boy brings home a bird with a broken wing and, with support from his parents, helps it recover from its injury. Graham says it best: ‘With rest ... and time ... and a little hope ... a bird may fly again.’” —Sharon Hearn, Children’s Book World, Los Angeles, CA

For Ages 9 – 12

Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull
(Aladdin Paperbacks, 9781416947202, $7.99) Originally published in 2006
“Siblings Kendra and Seth barely know their grandparents and are dismayed at the idea of staying with them while their parents are on vacation. That is, until they learn that their grandparents are caretakers of Fablehaven, a sanctuary set up to protect magical creatures from extinction. There are many rules that surround Fablehaven, for not all magical creatures are warm and fuzzy and disobeying the rules can have disastrous consequences. Engaging characters, both human and nonhuman, surprising plot twists, and many hold-your-breath moments will keep readers turning pages and clamoring for the next book in the five book series.” —Heather Hebert, Children’s Book World, Haverford, PA

A Dog’s Life: Autobiography of a Stray, by Ann M. Martin
(Scholastic Paperbacks, 9780439717007, $7.99) Originally published 2007
“An old dog reflects back on her life as a stray, beginning as an orphaned puppy and continuing through her twilight years. A thoughtful and hopeful survival story, A Dog’s Life: Autobiography of a Stray will have you rooting for a persistent pup named Squirrel.” —Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

Skellig, by David Almond
(Yearling, 9780440416029, $6.99) Originally published 2000
“Michael, 10 years old and unmoored by his family’s move into a fixer-upper, is reeling from the premature birth of his sister. Then he finds a creature in the crumbling garage. Is the barely-alive Skellig someone he’s imagined? A bird tumbled out of evolutionary history? An angel? Skellig, imbued with the wonder and eeriness of William Blake, is a mystery like no other.” —Carol Doup Muller, Hicklebee’s, San Jose, CA

For Teens

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, by Dana Reinhardt
(Ember, 9780375846915, $8.99) Originally published in 2006
“Sixteen-year-old Simone narrates a heartwarming story of family, faith, and, of course, boys. Simone has always known she was adopted. Now Rivka, her birth mother, wants to meet her. She has a reason, and it changes Simone’s life in many ways. There are no easy answers, and there are always two sides to any issue. This book will change your life, too!” —Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780547258300, $9.99) Originally published 2008
Graceling is an exquisite novel of adventure, intrigue, and romance. Katsa, the heroine, is ‘graced’ with extraordinary ability. As Katsa questions her service to her power-hungry uncle, her life changes when she meets Prince Po and they begin to change their worlds together.” —Christy McDanold, Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, WA

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9780689852237, $10.99) Originally published 2002
“Told from the point of view of a boy whose sole purpose is to extend the life of a powerful drug lord, Farmer’s story brings us a bleak and horrifying look at cloning, unethical medical intervention, class differences, immigration, and slavery. A dystopian tale that is more timely today than ever.” —Collette Morgan, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN