The Spring 2020 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Indie Next List logo

Here is a preview of the titles on the Spring 2020 Kids’ Indie Next List flier, arriving at stores in the upcoming Kids’ Box mailing.

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

All Spring 2020 Kids’ Indie Next List titles are currently featured on downloadable shelf-talkers on and The Spring Kids’ 2020 Indie Next List flier also features ads encouraging customers to pre-order Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell (Neal Porter Books, 9780823446186, Hardcover, $18.99, on sale May 5) and Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster (Sourcebooks Young Readers, 9781492697206, Hardcover, $16.99, on sale June 9) from their indie bookstore. Learn more about the pre-order flier ads here.

The nomination deadline for the Summer Kids’ Indie Next List is April 13, 2020. Nominations may be submitted via e-mail, the online nomination form, or through Edelweiss or NetGalley.


Top Ten Picks

1. The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
(Wendy Lamb Books, 9781101938096, $16.99, available April)
“Rebecca Stead masterfully captures the voice of middle-schooler Bea, who struggles with anxiety and doesn’t always handle her emotions without some kind drama. Things kick into high gear when her parents announce they are divorcing, and her dad tries to incorporate his partner, Jesse, and his daughter into the family. Stead’s latest sensitively deals with issues of gay marriage and blended families, as well as anxiety and coping with one’s emotions. Highly recommend.” —Lisa Nagel, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA

2. Chirp by Kate Messner
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547602810, $16.99)
“Mia is not too happy about moving to Vermont after seventh grade, especially with a broken arm, but she makes friends, finds her spirit, and helps to solve mysteries regarding her grandmother’s cricket farm. Mia has her own secrets, too, and it isn’t until she finds courage in other people’s stories that she can confront her fears. Messner is unparalleled in understanding young people’s minds, and her skillful and sensitive handling of difficult topics and situations makes this story one both young people and adults will be glad they read.” —Gail Meyer, The Bookstore Plus Music & Art, Lake Placid, NY

3. Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
(Algonquin Young Readers, 9781616208967, $17.95, available March)
“Haunting and magical, Tigers, Not Daughters follows the lives of three young women one year after the death of their eldest sister, Ana — and it seems her presence still lingers. There’s Iridian, the writer; Rosa, the quiet observer; and Jessica, who strives to become the embodiment of who Ana once was. Now Ana leaves ominous signs and messages for her sisters, but whether she’s warning them or antagonizing them, none can say. Mabry’s writing is so lyrical and enrapturing, I would have been happy to follow the Torres girls wherever their intuitive hearts took them long after the last page.” —Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

4. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062937049, $19.99)
“A canvassing rom-com for our time! When Jamie meets Maya at a local political event and they get roped into going door-to-door together, a friendship blooms into romance. But navigating cross-cultural relationships amid the turbulent politics of 2019 is no easy feat. This book is funny, romantic, and sweet, and it will inspire both empathy and activism in readers of all ages.” —Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

5. Coo by Kaela Noel
(Greenwillow Books, 9780062955975, $16.99, available March)
Coo is a brilliant, fresh take on animal fantasy. Among the many things that make this book marvelous, the pigeons have their own set grammar, which greatly appealed to me as a linguistics nerd. The book also takes a stab at answering some pretty big questions, such as what it’s like to experience your own humanity for the first time. With echoes of Julie of the Wolves and Silverwing, this book has moments of human (and pigeon) connection that will sweep you off your feet.” —Laura Speake, Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH

6. Havenfall by Sara Holland
(Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603794, $18.99, available March)
“Once again, Holland weaves a heady blend of magic and mayhem into words. Havenfall, an inn hidden in the mountains of our mortal world, acts as a gateway and protector to magical realms. When a door that was closed long ago suddenly cracks open, monsters begin roaming the tunnels and grounds of the inn, threatening the hard-won peace of Havenfall. Monsters aren’t the only thing on the loose, as secrets and hidden agendas slowly permeate the one place Maddie always thought was the safest in the world. A wonderfully diverse and exciting start to a new series!” —Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

7. They Went Left by Monica Hesse
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316490573, $17.99, available April)
“In riveting, compelling prose, Hesse addresses the fragile state of lives in 1945 after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps’ prisoners. They Went Left is ultimately a mystery to untangle. It explores the lasting damage of the camps and what drives an individual seeking reunification with a family member. This is a vital addition to the literature of the Holocaust as it examines the courage and resolve of the human spirit to find hope.” —Mary Alice Garber, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC

8. Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316493802, $16.99, available March)
“In Black Brother, Black Brother, Rhodes looks at colorism, prejudice in schooling systems against people of color, and whitewashing in history all in a brilliant sports narrative. After being falsely accused of disrupting class at his private school and then arrested for being angry that no one would listen to him, Donte is encouraged to get back at his bully in their own game: fencing. What follows is a book filled with brilliance, familial love, and friendship. I love this book and look forward to recommending it to everyone!” —Nathaniel Hattrick, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, WA

9. The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
(Bloomsbury YA, 9781547600144, $17.99)
“A triumphant debut that absolutely soars, The Gravity of Us is a grounded love story set on Earth but inspired by the stars. Budding journalist Cal and shy former athlete Leon meet when their parents are chosen to go on a mission to Mars for NASA, but it’s much more than a meet-cute as Stamper explores the complexity of social media, journalism, science, and more. It’s earnest, dazzling, and everything you want in a debut novel. Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and John Green.” —Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS

10. Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim (Indies Introduce)
(Kokila, 9780525554974, $16.99, available March)
“Yumi Chung has a dream of being a stand-up comedian, but her parents aren’t on board. Suddenly, Yumi finds herself with a chance to attend a summer camp with her all-time favorite comedian, except everyone thinks Yumi is someone else. This book is hilarious, heartbreaking, and heartwarming all at once. And in the end, you will absolutely be standing up and cheering for Yumi Chung!” —Sarah True, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH


For Ages 4 to 8

The Bear Must Go On by Dev Petty, Brandon Todd (Illus.)
(Philomel Books, 9781984837479, $17.99)
The Bear Must Go On took me straight back to lazy summer days planning performances with my friends. Just like the squirrels in this book, we loved planning all the details — including hand-drawn tickets — but what we lacked was a big-spirited bear to create a stellar show for us! This story is great for children entering the age of schools plays and choir concerts, and will make for a very fun, creative story time!” —Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

A Book for Escargot by Dashka Slater, Sydney Hanson (Illus.)
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 9780374312862, $16.99, available April)
“Aside from the fact that Escargot is simply adorable, this book weaves in enough interaction points to keep a wiggly toddler’s attention and enough humor to keep the adults laughing, making it really engaging in all the ways a great book should be. If you can read it in a French accent, then it’s even better.” —Lisa Francisco, Second Star to the Right Children’s Books, Denver, CO

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder
(Dial Books, 9780735230507, $17.99)
“Terrance, a little box turtle, is too cute for words. This is a great story about being more than what you look like, and what it means to be a good friend, too. Kids will identify with learning to be okay with being themselves — even if it means being a little weird.” —Tildy Banker-Johnson, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family by Nelly Buchet, Andrea Zuill (Illus.)
(Schwartz & Wade, 9781984848994, $17.99, available April)
“This is a refreshing and innovative take on a subject that kids don’t get to have agency over in real life. Buchet and Zuill use humor and accessibility as tools to allow young children to command the narrative on their own terms. Zuill’s zany and unconventional perspective is a perfect match for the simplicity of Buchet’s narrative. Bravo!!” —Jane Knight, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, VT

Child of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana, Raul Colón (Illus.)
(Make Me a World, 9781524717544, $17.99, available March)
“This book is too gorgeous for words! I absolutely loved it. The illustrations are works of art and perfectly balance the text. A stunning book for bedtime with a special nod to Carl Sagan fans. We’re all made of star stuff.” —Brandi Stewart, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

How to Be a Pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald, Brigette Barrager (Illus.)
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781681197784, $17.99, available March)
“CeCe wants to play pirates with the boys in the neighborhood, but they tell her that girls can’t be pirates. CeCe is certain that her Grandpa knows about pirates because he has so many tattoos. As Grandpa reveals each arm tattoo to CeCe, he describes a characteristic that a pirate must have, helping CeCe realize she can be a pirate because she’s brave, quick, independent, and fun. Full of love and girl power, this picture book reminds readers that they can be anything they want to be!” —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

I Found a Kitty! by Troy Cummings
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9781984831866, $17.99, available March)
“With humor and charm, this book wonderfully illustrates the importance — and joy! — of finding just the right home for an animal in need. A helpful guide in the back on how to help animals in need has great advice for youngsters who may finish this book inspired to do good.” —Brittany Baker, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA

Little Monster Trucks GO! by Doug Cenko
(blue manatee press, 9781936669837, $17.99, available April)
Little Monster Trucks GO! teaches even the youngest of readers the importance of teamwork. Little people can do big things, especially if they work together, and each of the book’s little trucks has special skills. This book is a bright, colorful, fun race where everyone is a winner.” —Sally Sue Lavigne, The Storybook Shoppe, Bluffton, SC

Nesting by Henry Cole
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062885920, $17.99, available March)
“Perfect for spring, this is a simply beautiful book about robins. I loved the illustrations and the contrasted bright blue robin eggs. The quick facts about robins in the back makes this book great for school or continuing education with your little reader.” —Amanda Zirn Hudson, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, DE

A New Kind of Wild by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
(Dial Books, 9780525553892, $17.99, available April)
A New Kind of Wild is the best kind of picture book, a tale told with heart and illustrated in lush, whimsical technicolor. The story in these pages is about leaving everything you know behind and struggling to find joy away from the place you call home. I love that I recognized Puerto Rico from page one, a place so many of our local readers call home, and I can’t wait to proudly have this on our shelves. Zara Gonzalez Hoang is a dazzling new talent and I can’t wait to see what she does next.” —Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL

No More Naps!: A Story for When You’re Wide-Awake and Definitely NOT Tired by Chris Grabenstein, Leo Espinosa (Illus.)
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9781524771287, $17.99)
“Being the mother of a toddler who often protests naptime, I laughed out loud when I saw No More Naps! A delightful premise (others taking the naps that Annalise won’t take) and a satisfying ending (spoiler alert: there are zzzzzz’s) make this a great read-aloud for story time or as a preamble to a good, long snooze (fingers crossed).” —Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee, Pascal Campion (Illus.)
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780525644613, $17.99)
The Paper Kingdom is a clever and sweet story of a boy who goes to work with his parents at their night-janitor job in a fancy office. He doesn’t understand why his parents have to clean up all the messes, but he enjoys the stories they come up with about those who run the kingdom. Maybe one day he can be king and teach his dragons to pick up after themselves! This book is imaginative and adorable, with an underlying message to be respectful of other people’s time and effort.” —Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062878007, $17.99)
“For fans of gentle, sweetly humorous picture books such as Truman and Escargot, Corey Tabor’s Snail Crossing is a charming, clever adventure perfect for reading aloud, lap time, or any time! Snail wants his cabbage, but the journey won’t be direct and it won’t be quick…but then, most things deeply desired are rarely either of those! Delightfully illustrated and wonderfully told, Snail’s story will make you laugh, cheer, and come away assured that kindness does, indeed, win the day.” —Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis, Charles Santoso (Illus.)
(Abrams Books for Young Readers, 9781419742064, $17.99, available April)
“A beautifully illustrated story inspired by a real animal friendship! Jack the goat needs his own space, until he meets up with Charlie the horse at an animal rescue ranch, where they discover that together they can overcome their fears and challenges. Readers will identify with the themes of friendship and cooperation.” —Janice Penner, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

Vote for Our Future! by Margaret McNamara, Micah Player (Illus.)
(Schwartz & Wade, 9781984892805, $17.99)
“Your vote counts — just ask the students at Stanton Elementary School, who are making their voices heard and working hard to get out the vote. Vote for Our Future! explains the voting process in vivid illustrations and language that children — and adults! — can easily understand. An important and timely book that would work well in an elementary classroom and with parents who want to discuss this topic with their children.” —Judy Hayes, Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore, Indianapolis, IN


For Ages 9 to 12

Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico, Karensac (Illus.)
(Random House Graphic, 9780593118849, $12.99, paperback; 9780593124178, $20.99, hardcover, available March)
“This book is perfect for fans of Hilda, with the simple design of Adventure Time and the guileless charm of Steven Universe. Aster is NOT happy to be moving into the boring old woods, but she quickly learns that there is more in this valley than meets the eye when she stumbles into the truth at the core of every local legend.” —Stephanie Heinz, Print: A Bookstore, Portland, ME

Bloom (The Overthrow, Book 1) by Kenneth Oppel
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781524773007, $16.99, available March)
“A destructive plant begins to invade the entire planet. Blooms follow and throw off deadly toxic pollen. Enormous sinkholes emerge, endangering lives and swallowing buildings. Strangely, three teenagers appear to be immune to the effects of the deadly plant. Why? What do they have in common? Can they figure out how to destroy the plant? Just as their efforts are gaining ground and success is assumed, the book ends and leaves the reader breathlessly waiting for the sequel. A book not to be missed!” —Jean Fennacy, Petunia’s Place, Fresno, CA

Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger
(Random House Graphic, 9781984896766, $13.99)
Bug Boys is one of the best graphic novels I have read in a long time! Laura Knetzger gives us a set of quirky and delightful stories set around the best friend duo Stag-B and Rhino-B. Their friendship is strong and so is their sense of adventure. With complex, relatable themes and adorably illustrated pages, you cannot go wrong with Bug Boys!” —Alexa Ochocki, Content Bookstore, Northfield, MN

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros (Indies Introduce)
(Quill Tree Books, 9780062881687, $16.99, available March)
“This book is, unfortunately, very relevant to our current political climate and to too many young readers. That’s what makes it so important. When Efrén’s mother is suddenly deported, he has to figure out how to balance his relationships at school with his new responsibilities at home. As if middle school wasn’t hard enough! Reading about those most affected by the immigration crisis will make anyone want to take action to change this story to fiction.” —Riley Jay Davis, Next Chapter Booksellers, St. Paul, MN

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062698957, $17.99)
“I love how this book centers on a kid who detests Meaningful Social Interaction. Ware skips rec camp and with Jolene creates a secret castle and papaya garden. What at first is a secret world turns into a fight in the real world: a fight for birds and to save the sanctuary. The details of building the secret world parallel the building of trust between Jolene and Ware. A lyrical, well-constructed story destined to become a classic.” —Jennifer Kraar, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062796783, $16.99)
“This sweet and heartwarming book is the perfect gift for anyone who’s ever lost something — or someone — precious. While the plot is simple, the characters and the timeless message of healing more than make up for it. There’s also a positive representation of a same-sex couple and elements of the famous story Marley & Me sprinkled throughout. But don’t worry, the ending isn’t nearly as devastating.” —Jason Mills, The Book Bungalow, St. George, UT

The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories by Emily Winfield Martin
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780553511031, $18.99)
“Beautiful, whimsical, and ethereal are the thoughts and illustrations that make up The Imaginaries. At once a book of story starters and idea encouragers, The Imaginaries could also serve as a most intriguing coffee table art book. Emily Winfield Martin just never disappoints!” —Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon (Indies Introduce)
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534449671, $17.99, available April)
“Yolanda’s beloved grandmother is dying and social services is knocking on her door. Yolanda is determined to help her dying grandmother fulfill her last wish: a trip to the mysterious pecan tree on their property. Along the way, she discovers family stories and secrets she never knew and the importance of dealing with both life and death. Into the Tall, Tall Grass is a magical story with a charming cast of characters and emotional life lessons.” —Jackie Jou, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, CA

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781984893833, $16.99, available March)
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy is a sweet, tender story for those of us who have not yet found our voice and those of us who have lost it. Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane is looking for her perfect happy ending, but oftentimes the one you are looking for and the one you find are completely different, and that’s okay.” —Jenny Siegel, Anderson’s Book Shop, Larchmont, NY

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan
(Scholastic Press, 9781338157864, $18.99, available March)
“A young boy seeking answers about his missing mother finds himself on a perilous journey to help someone in danger, a trek that will test his strength, courage, and determination. Pam Muñoz Ryan spins a beautiful tale, lightly brushed with magic, that speaks to the heart and reverberates with issues faced by contemporary society.” —Betsy Covert, The Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH

Rick by Alex Gino
(Scholastic Press, 9781338048100, $17.99, available April)
“A fantastic book about identity and acceptance! This is a great introduction to LGBTQ+ topics for middle-grade readers, whether you’re finding your own identity or if you just want to be a good friend. Rick isn’t sure if he’s gay or asexual or queer or something else entirely, but that’s okay! Identities take time to figure out, and sometimes your identity can change.” —Genevieve Taylor, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
(First Second, 9781250171115, $12.99, paperback; 9781250171122, $21.99, hardcover)
“I could not have enjoyed this book more. It’s a rare graphic novel that can capture the imagination of my 10-year-old daughter as well as myself. It’s not just that the art is great or that the story is so unique. It’s how many topics are addressed in such a small space: gender, death, rebirth, abuse, witchcraft, acceptance, love…most of all love. I can’t wait until it’s on our shelves.” —Luke Henderson, The Bookies Bookstore, Denver, CO

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar, Tim Heitz (Illus.)
(HarperCollins, 9780062965387, $17.99, available March)
“In a return to the surreal Wayside School, this book stays perfectly in touch with the earlier works in the series. The characters remain wonderfully quirky, and the everyday oddities of the school are just as riveting as before. Sure to appeal to school-aged children who can recognize the weird in their schools.” —Gwendolyn Baltera, Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, MA

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed
(Dial Books, 9780525553908, $12.99, available April)
“A timely, powerful, and important book for our time. This memoir of a childhood largely spent in a Kenyan refugee camp is skillfully adapted into a graphic novel. The combined talents of Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson result in a harrowing yet triumphant portrait of life as a refugee. Readers feel Omar’s gnawing, constant worry; we revel in his unflagging hope for a better future. When Stars Are Scattered, a story of great hardship, affirms the power of resilience and goodness to remake lives.” —Christopher Rose, The Spirit of ’76 Bookstore, Marblehead, MA

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
(Candlewick, 9781536204940, $17.99, available March)
“In a world where light is a commodity, Pong has grown up seeking a way out of the darkness. A desperate escape from the prison where he was born leads him to a life on the run, and he will need the help of old friends, new enemies, a generous monk, and all the inner strength he can muster to find his way home. This incandescent novel will fulfill the wishes of many a middle-grade reader seeking something new and wonderful.” —Melissa Posten, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO


For Teens

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062561626, $18.99, available March)
“While on a camping trip, Ashley, upon startling her boyfriend having sex with his ex, rushes away into the woods. Luckily for her, she has experience in the woods and training in survival. Unluckily, she has run off without her pack or even her shoes. The rest of the book is the narrative of her survival. The terse and tense prose lends itself well to the story. An amazing addition to YA survival novels.” —Rosie Lee-Parks, Readers’ Books, Sonoma, CA

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
(Dial Books, 9780525553021, $18.99, available April)
Dancing at the Pity Party is touching and humorous, poignant and endearing. I found this so relatable and true; I laughed, cried, and felt less alone. Tyler’s mom is diagnosed with cancer and after she passes away, she is left trying to sort out her life. There are a multitude of self-help books, but nothing that seems helpful when you are young and in this situation. This memoir will break your heart and put it back together again. It’s so well done and comforting to know someone really gets it.” —Katrina Bright-Yerges, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
(First Second, 9781626720794, $24.99, available March)
“In this immensely fun book, Yang lays out what could be a rote story in an entertaining fashion, splicing in the history of basketball, the backstories of several team members, and his own personal life to keep readers on their toes. While the book is nonfiction, it reads like a novel.” —Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, MA

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
(Wednesday Books, 9781250239549, $18.99)
“Featuring a razor-sharp take on Lady Macbeth, this book is gripping. In the rise of antihero narratives in pop culture, this deserves to be up there with some of our favorites. It’s cathartic to see karma come around in the form of our protagonist, Jade. For Shakespeare fans, all of the nods to the original play are clever. Hannah Capin gets the balance just right between the source material and her own unique vision. As a tale of revenge, Foul Is Fair soars. No matter what happens in the book, we are always rooting for the girls.” —Sofia Silva Wright, Phoenix Books, Burlington, VT

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
(Delacorte Press, 9781984896360, $17.99)
“Brave and smart Pippa loves to search, pry, and dig into information. At the moment, she is looking into the murder/disappearance of Andie Bell while also trying to prove that Sal Singh, who confessed before completing suicide, is innocent. From the log entries and diagrams of Pippa’s capstone project to terrific characterization and a fulfilling ending, this book features great storytelling. Highly recommended for people who liked One of Us Is Lying!” —Megan Fortas, Novel., Memphis, TN

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
(Soho Teen, 9781616959890, $18.99, available April)
“For 17-year-old Khayyam, her family’s annual summer in Paris should be a delight. But she’s reeling from a disastrous scholarship application and completely unprepared to meet a handsome stranger. Their shared adventure intersects with the life of a 19th-century Muslim woman, the artist Delacroix, and the author Dumas. What could be just a meet-cute romance gets added depth with well-integrated reflections on immigrants, mixed-race heritage, and the silencing of women’s voices.” —Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books, Davidson, NC

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
(Wednesday Books, 9781250315892, $17.99, available March)
“A super-sweet queer reimagining of Grease! Ollie and Will had a perfect just-for-the-summer fling at the lake. When Ollie’s family unexpectedly decides to stay in North Carolina to help take care of his ill aunt, Ollie thinks maybe, just maybe, their summer fling can last. Now, Ollie is facing a senior year in a new city with a secret sort-of-boyfriend, a beloved aunt whose health is deteriorating, and an unsure future. A smart, charming rom-com.” —Lillian Tschudi-Campbell, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Indies Introduce)
(Amulet Books, 9781419739828, $18.99, On-sale date switched to August 18, 2020)
“In Raybearer, Tarisai’s longing for family and connection make her empathetic and relatable, while her strength and fortitude in standing up to corrupt power make her admirable. I loved diving into this fully realized fantasy world and rooting for Tarisai’s success every step of the way. The story also touches on colonialism and the value of culture — very timely and important subjects — and includes an ace supporting character. A great read for fans of fantasy, stories with strong female leads, and anyone looking for a good book!” —Stephanie Seales, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
(Wednesday Books, 9781250195692, $18.99, available April)
Wicked Saints was a tour de force, and Ruthless Gods takes up its mantle with no trace of second book syndrome or lagging energy. Emily Duncan’s carefully crafted sequel takes both familiar favorite characters and new faces from the Tranavian court to thrilling new locales — to mines and monasteries, into Kalyazi forests, and far away to the holy seat of the gods. This brilliant, brutal fever dream peopled with gods and eldritch things, limned with magic and horror, will leave readers breathless for the trilogy’s third installment.” —Anna Bright, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

The Silence of Bones by June Hur (Indies Introduce)
(Feiwel & Friends, 9781250229557, $17.99, available April)
“I was struck by the depth of this gripping story. Seol’s quest for answers about her past is a fascinating counterpoint to her investigation into a grisly murder. The meditative quality of the narration of this historical mystery felt perfectly suited to the Korean setting and the backdrop of political and religious struggles. Seol’s courage, curiosity, and dedication make her a character I can’t get enough of. Let’s hope this is the start of a series.” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped From the Beginning by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316453691, $18.99, available March)
“This is a book about big ideas. Ideas that, in the past, have only been laid out and talked about by adults. Now, Jason Reynolds has taken those ideas and traced them clearly through history so they can be presented and understood by a younger audience. Today, everyone grows up in a world affected by racism, so everyone should be able to understand its origins and the ways it creeps into the world. In Stamped, Reynolds speaks directly to young readers to give them the tools to understand the many forms racism can take, how they came to be, and how to deal with them.” —Bryce Lucas, 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL

Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky
(Random House Graphic, 9780593119990, $16.99, available April)
“A heartwarming graphic novel that will appeal to fans of the adventure in Nimona and the characters in The Tea Dragon Society. Seeing strong, diverse characters at the forefront of a story is such a breath of fresh air in young adult fantasy graphic novels!” —Ashlee Null, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA