The Winter 2015–2016 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview

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Here are the titles, along with bookseller quotes, featured on the Winter 2015–2016 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 and an additional 32 titles organized by age group, all publishing between November 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016. Indie Next List titles are based on recommendations from booksellers at independent bookstores across the country.

For the first time, the Kids’ Indie Next List also features nine Revisit & Rediscover titles — three each in the categories of picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Revisit & Rediscover 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.

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

The deadline for nominations for the Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List is January 16. The spring list will focus on titles publishing between February 1 and April 30, 2016. 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 Winter 2015–2016 Kids’ Indie Next Great Reads

The Top 10

1. The Only Child, by Guojing
(Schwartz & Wade, 9780553497045, $19.99)
“Both a study in magical realism and a pure celebration of imagination, Guojing’s wordless book captivates through its pacing and artistic prowess. In the tradition of Mary Pope Osborne’s Moonhorse, a child finds both meaning and celebration in the natural world, and Guojing’s art brilliantly blends the fears of being lost with the resiliency found in pressing forward.” —Todd Wellman, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

2. Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel Savit
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780553513349, $17.99, available January)
“Seven-year-old Anna finds herself alone when her father is taken by Nazi soldiers. When a mysterious stranger called the Swallow Man abruptly enters her life, Anna eagerly embraces him and his peculiar ways. The two unlikely traveling companions journey across Poland in an effort to stay safe as war ravages the countryside around them. Both heartbreaking and uplifting, Anna and the Swallow Man is an exploration of innocence, beauty, loss, friendship, and the importance of language. I cannot recommend this beautiful book highly enough.” —Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

3. Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins
(Disney-Hyperion, 9781484730881, $17.99)
“Bruce, a grumpy bear who lives alone, is about to boil free-range, organic eggs for a special recipe he found on the Internet when he discovers that the eggs have hatched and are crying, ‘Mama!’ When he tries to return them to Mrs. Goose, he finds that she has flown south. What does a curmudgeon bear do with four baby goslings? Not what you would imagine! The vision and cleverness of Higgins and his delightful illustrations have produced an outrageously funny picture book that will make even the grumpiest readers laugh.”  —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

4. Not If I See You First, by Eric Lindstrom
(Poppy, 9780316259859, $18)
“Parker is blind and has been for years. She copes by not caring what anyone thinks of her as long as they follow The Rules — a set of what she considers common-sense guidelines for dealing with someone who is blind. Parker enforces The Rules even more strongly since her best friend Scott broke her heart years ago. But when Scott returns, Parker starts to realize that maybe she doesn’t know everything she thought she did. Maybe some Rules are meant to be broken. A thoroughly enjoyable debut!” —Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

5. Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye: A Novel, by Tania del Rio, Will Staehle (Illus.)
(Quirk Books, 9781594748035, $16.99)
“Warren the 13th’s family has been running the Warren Hotel for generations — 13, in fact. The latest caretaker has some added challenges as the hotel has fallen on hard times, and Warren’s guardian has married the sinister Annaconda, who is bent on discovering the magic All-Seeing Eye that is rumored to be hidden somewhere in the hotel. The somber setting is captured perfectly by Staehle’s illustrations, which are reminiscent of Tim Burton, and del Rio creates subtle subversions of stock characters that will appeal to older readers, while the twists, puzzles, and action will keep young readers turning pages until the book’s splashy ending.” —Paul Boers, Salem Book Bin East, Salem, OR

6. Underwater, by Marisa Reichardt
(FSG Books for Young Readers, 9780374368869, $17.99, available January)
“Debut author Reichardt offers a novel about the psychological aftermath of a school shooting that will change your perspective on the issue forever. Morgan has become agoraphobic after surviving a shooting at her school the year before, but a new neighbor helps her to slowly re-enter the world. Thoughtfully handled and thought-provoking, Underwater is a reminder that violence touches us all, but that there is always room for hope.” —Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

7. Da Vinci’s Tiger, by Laura Malone Elliott
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780060744243, $17.99)
“Ginevra de’ Benci: This mysterious figure is the subject of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest, groundbreaking masterpieces. In Da Vinci’s Tiger, Elliott imagines Ginevra’s story, based on known fragments from history and the only surviving scrap of her poetry: ‘I ask your forgiveness and I am a mountain tiger.’ Ginevra’s story is captivating, empowering, and beautifully told, as she navigates Florence during the Renaissance, a time when women were to be seen and not heard.” —Hana Boxberger, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

8. I Love You Already!, by Jory John and Benji Davies
(HarperCollins, 9780062370952, $17.99)
“Bear only wants to spend a pleasant day by himself, but Duck is not about to let that happen. Duck is determined that he and Bear will spend quality time together, NO MATTER WHAT! Finally, when Bear has had enough, Duck thinks that Bear must not like him and becomes dejected. Bear must convince Duck that he loves him already! A fun read-aloud about friends who might be different from each other, but are still friends.” —Lisa Nehs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

9. Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard
(Tor Teen, 9780765379283, $17.99, available January)
“Sometimes, a book simply speaks to your soul. For me, Truthwitch is one of those books. Dennard offers an incredible, new high fantasy that features a friendship between two powerful teen girls — Safi, a Truthwitch who can tell truth from lies, and Iseult, a Threadwitch who can see the threads that connect people to one another. Gorgeously written, elegantly built, and perfect for any reader, Truthwitch is a book you do not want to miss!” —Rachel Strolle, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

10. When Mischief Came to Town, by Katrina Nannestad
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544534322, $16.99, available January)
“In this charming story, an orphan from Copenhagen goes to the tiny island of Bornholm to live with the grandmother she has never met. Although she is cheerful and loving, Inge Maria fears that she will never be able to make her grandmother love her because she is always falling into misadventures. To her surprise, Inge Maria’s mischief reminds her grandmother of her own childhood, and the two forge a loving bond.” —Nancy Banks, City Stacks Books and Coffee, Chicago, IL

For Ages 4–8

ABC Dream, by Kim Krans
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780553539295, $16.99, available January)
“This is a beautifully illustrated and intricate alphabet book that is sure to spark even the most stubborn of imaginations. The examples for each letter feature images kids will recognize as well as ones that will teach them something new. ABC Dream is whimsical and stunning.” —Amy Brabanec, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781619639515, $17.99, available January)
“Dennis is a mime whose imagination shapes his world, but even mimes get lonely. Dennis comes up with a creative solution to make a new friend and discovers someone else who shares his world view. Yoon’s simple drawings allow readers to see the world Dennis shapes; the message is sweet without being saccharine; and the pantomimes encourage interactive reading.”
—Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Bear Is Not Tired, by Ciara Gavin
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780385754767, $16.99, available January)
“Bear lives with ducks and they have become his family. Winter is coming and Bear is getting sleepy, ready to hibernate. But Bear wants to stay awake so that he doesn’t miss any fun activities with his family. Can Bear really stay awake all winter long? A very cute story with delightful illustrations!” —Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Cockatoo, Too, by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
(little bee books, 9781499801026, $17.99, available January)
“Murguia uses only 12 words in this hilarious, alliterative story that plays with words and sounds. One cockatoo becomes two, and then two become four dressed in tutus. Toucans follow doing the can-can, and eventually all the jungle birds join in on the wordplay. This fun, simple story is paired with bright, colorful watercolor illustrations in a book that is both smart and silly — a great combination!” —Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

Ella and Penguin Stick Together, by Megan Maynor, Rosalinde Bonnet (Illus.)
(HarperCollins Children’s Books, 9780062330888, $17.99, available January)
“Ella has a surprise for her friend Penguin — glow-in-the-dark stickers! But to see the stickers glow they have to be in the dark, and Penguin is afraid of the dark. Can Ella help Penguin face his fear? Through a blend of sincerity and humor, Maynor effectively conveys how friends can help each other in the struggle to overcome whatever it is that makes them afraid. Bonnet’s soft and colorful illustrations complete this sweet tale of friendship and bravery.” —Page Seck, Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore, Cincinnati, OH

Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, by Doreen Rappaport, London Ladd (Illus.)
(Jump at the Sun, 9781423114383, $17.99)
Frederick’s Journey is full of important stories and heart-wrenching illustrations. Following the life and adventures of Frederick Douglass, outspoken advocate for freedom and equality, readers will feel that this is more than just another history lesson, but rather a stirring reminder of what life was like for slaves in the United States. This book, weaving Douglass’ own words with those of Rappaport, will inspire and provide hope to all readers.” —Janice Tripp, Whistle-Stop Mercantile, Douglas, WY

Hedgehugs, by Steve Wilson, Lucy Tapper (Illus.)
(Holt Books for Young Readers, 9781627794046, $16.99)
“Kids will love the story of best friends Horace and Hattie, the hedgehogs who just want to hug. They try every way they can think of, in every season, to make it so their quills don’t ruin the hug. Then, when they have all but given up on the perfect hug, they finally find a way when they happen upon some fuzzy, soft socks. The story is cleverly crafted and sweet, and even offers an explanation about where socks go when they disappear!” —Phoebe Dyer, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Is Mommy?, by Victoria Chang, Marla Frazee (Illus.)
(Beach Lane Books, 9781481402927, $15.99)
“Text and illustrations come together perfectly in this romp of a picture book! A toddler loves his or her mommy above all others and this darling exploration of that love will make everyone smile. Plan on reading this out loud over and over again!” —Margaret Brennan Neville, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

The Plan, by Alison Paul, Barbara Lehman (Illus.)
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544283336, $17.99)
“It’s hard to believe so much action can happen in a book only written with words that begin with the letter ‘p,’ but author Paul makes it so. There is a plan with a plane that involves planets. And don’t forget your pants! This one is perfectly playful and ‘peautiful’ in every possible way!” —Jessilynn Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Violet and Victor Write the Most Fabulous Fairy Tale, by Alice Kulpers, Bethanie Murguia (Illus.)
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316212021, $17, available January)
“Violet is quite imaginative, while Victor is rather realistic. Violet is on a quest to write the best fairy tale ever, while Victor doesn’t see the point. But when they collaborate on a story, something special happens! Twins Violet and Victor have a relationship not unlike most siblings, with enough rivalry to make the tale realistic, but also demonstrating how much good and fun can come from cooperation.” —Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

W Is for Webster: Noah Webster and His American Dictionary, by Tracey Fern, Boris Kulikov (Illus.)
(FSG Books for Young Readers, 9780374382407, $17.99)
“In 1825, Noah Webster completed a dictionary of American English. Nearly 25 years in the making, with over 70,000 entries, Webster’s work remains — even today — the most used dictionary in the U.S. In Fern’s delightful biography, readers meet the quirky man who changed the face of language for generations of Americans, and Kulikov’s distinctive illustrations reflect the humor of Fern’s appealing, informative text.” —Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

Waddle! Waddle!, by James Proimos
(Scholastic Press, 9780545418461, $17.99)
“Waddle ... waddle ... bellyslide! Journey along with this hopeful penguin as his search for his new friend takes him on some zany adventures — and, ultimately, to an unexpected and heartwarming conclusion. Delightfully silly!” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

Willy’s Stories, by Anthony Browne
(Candlewick, 9780763677619, $16.99)
“Beloved author and illustrator Browne offers a glimpse of 10 classic tales with the help of a library-loving chimp. Kids will have fun identifying the original stories in this delightful tribute to the wonders of children’s literature.” —Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC

For Ages 912

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour, by Anne Michaels, Emma Block (Illus.)
(Tundra Books, 9781770495005, $17.99)
“I love these whimsical stories from Michaels and the lovely full-color illustrations from Block! Sweet and endearing with just the right touch of fanciful adventure, this is perfect for cat-lovers of all ages and especially those young readers with an interest in writing down their own adventures.” —Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum, by Gregory Funaro
(Disney-Hyperion, 9781484700075, $16.99, available January)
“Alistair Grim and company are on the run. After their last encounter with Prince Nightshade, they have come out the villains. But Alistair has a trick up his sleeve. He knows that if he can just get his hands on the legendary sword Excalibur, he might be able to defeat Prince Nightshade once and for all. The problem is finding the lost realm of Avalon. For that he needs a submarine, and what better submarine than the Odditorium? This is a wonderful addition to the Alistair Grim stories!” —Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, IN

Fortune Falls, by Jenny Goebel
(Scholastic Press, 9780545811903, $16.99, available January)
“This is a charming middle-grade read about a girl who lives in a town where you are born either ‘Lucky’ or ‘Luckless.’ On your 12th birthday, you must take a test to determine your fate. Despite all the signs pointing to being a Luckless, Sadie attempts to buck fate and superstitions and change her luck around.” —Jenny Siegel, Anderson’s Book Shop, Larchmont, NY

My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson
(Aladdin, 9781442483873, $16.99)
“What if your grandmother were a witch? What if you could hire a guardian angel to protect you? What if dragons migrated south for the winter? What if you could tame a sasquatch by singing ‘Hotel California?’ These are all part of Gracie’s reality, but so is the dark cloud that follows her family in a quest to take one of their spirits. Can the family escape their fate by taking off on an epic road trip to the end of the Earth?” —Summer Laurie, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

The Night Parade, by Kathryn Tanquary
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 9781492623243, $16.99, available January)
“A death curse looms over Saki’s grandmother’s house because Saki used the wrong branch in a fire to honor the dead. She now has only three nights to undo the curse or say goodbye to the world of the living forever. The Night Parade is the biggest celebration of the year, when spirits travel from far and wide to pay homage at the shrine on the mountaintop overlooking Saki’s grandmother’s house. The Night Parade is full of adventures and unusual creatures that will grab the attention of middle-grade readers and also introduce them to Japanese culture. Not to be missed!” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Paper Wishes, by Lois Sepahban
(FSG Books for Young Readers, 9780374302160, $16.99, available January)
“In Sepahban’s debut novel, Manami literally loses her voice when her family is forcibly relocated from Bainbridge Island, Washington, to the Manzanar internment camp in California. Now relying on her family members, Manami attempts to make sense of the new circumstances of her life. Despite the systematic containment of her new experiences, Manami must decide what is worth speaking up about. Based on the strong first-person narration, readers know Manami’s voice is worth hearing, but will she realize it in time to make a difference?” —Toffer Lehnherr, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN

President of the Whole Sixth Grade, by Sherri Winston
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316377232, $17)
“In this sequel to President of the Whole Fifth Grade, Brianna deals with middle school and evolving friendships and learns the difference between being bossy and being a leader as she heads up fundraising for the sixth-grade class trip to Washington. Gradually, Brianna discovers that there are some things she cares about more than raising money.” —Sarah Rettger, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

The Terrible Two Get Worse, by Mac Barnett and Jory John, Kevin Cornell (Illus.)
(Amulet Books, 9781419716805, $13.95, available January)
“Everyone’s favorite middle-school pranksters are back in The Terrible Two Get Worse. This time the fate of Principal Barkin is at stake when a picture day prank grows out of control. Have Miles and Niles achieved supreme prank power, or will their prank backfire? Cornell’s fun illustrations add even more humor to this absolutely hysterical series.” —Caitlin Luce Baker, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

To Catch a Cheat: A Jackson Greene Novel, by Varian Johnson
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 9780545722391, $16.99, available January)
“Jackson Greene is back, reluctantly coming out of retirement again, because he and his crew have been framed for pulling a prank. The objective of this long con? To figure out who is framing them and then get them to turn themselves in. The result? Another winner of a book from Johnson, this one filled with revenge, action, and just a little bit of romance.” —Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius, by Stacey Matson
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 9781492620747, $15.99)
“Arthur Bean is sure that he can write a brilliant, award-winning novel — just as soon as he gets an idea. With lots of warmth, humor, and sly wit, Canadian author Matson introduces readers to one of the funniest characters to ever cross the pages of middle-grade literature. With his story told through a series of e-mails, journal entries, and memos, Arthur Bean is a unique new voice not soon to be forgotten. My fingers are crossed for a sequel!” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

For Teens

The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780670785476, $18.99, available January)
“A Regency-set, supernatural adventure with a reluctant heroine, a broody dark ‘hero,’ an unwanted destiny, family drama, the world’s best lady’s maid, court presentation gowns, and one really fabulous fan all had me tearing through this book like it was a box of bon-bons. Much as she did in Eon and Eona, Goodman has created a richly detailed, immersive world for her oh-so-human characters — with all their flaws and insecurities on brilliant display. Fans of Libba Bray and Gail Carriger — or Buffy the Vampire Slayer — will find much to love here.” —Billie Bloebaum, A Children’s Place, Portland, OR

Front Lines, by Michael Grant
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062342157, $18.99, available January)
“Social norms were at both their most elastic and most reactionary during World War II, and Grant leverages this paradox to great effect by juxtaposing the modern inclusion of women in combat roles with the Second World War in this alternate history. This paradox allows Grant to convincingly combine the visceral excitement surrounding the advent of America’s engagement in the war with dynamic contemporary social issues of race, religion, gender, and class.” —Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

Inherit the Stars, by Tessa Elwood
(Running Press Kids, 9780762458400, trade paper, $9.95)
“With characters who are believable and a female lead who is compelling, Elwood has penned a captivating debut. The House of Fane is in trouble, but Asa, the youngest daughter of the House, thinks she knows how to save it. She just has to marry Eagle, the heir apparent to the throne. There’s only one problem — he is her sister’s fiancé. I can’t wait for the next book in this new series!” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Need, by Joelle Charbonneau
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544416697, $17.99)
“What do you need? The students at Nottawa High School are asked this question when they join an exciting new social networking site created just for them. Some ask for phones. One asks for better grades. One asks for more winter break. Kaylee asks for a kidney for her brother. Little does she know that her request sets in motion a chain reaction that will have catastrophic consequences for her and her friends. Need will redefine how you look at social networking and have you asking, What do I really need? You need to read this book!” —Carolyn Roys, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Soundless, by Richelle Mead
(Razorbill, 9781595147639, $19.99)
“This fantasy informed by Chinese folklore is full of new ideas and breathtaking moments. Fei lives in a world where no one can hear, and people are starting to go blind. High atop a mountain with no way down and no link to the outside world except a zipline that delivers scant rations in exchange for the metals that they mine, Fei and her people are trapped by injustices. That is until, suddenly, Fei can hear. She is ready to climb down the mountain to ask for some changes, but what she finds there is not at all what she expected.” —Alison Nolen, Linden Tree Children’s Books, Los Altos, CA

Ten Thousand Skies Above You, by Claudia Gray
(HarperTeen, 9780062278999, $17.99)
“In this sequel to A Thousand Pieces of You, Marguerite’s life has been turned upside down since her parents’ invention of the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes. Marguerite is wanted by Triad, an evil corporation headed by Wyatt Conly, who wants to use Marguerite’s innate ability to cross alternate dimensions for his own purposes. To that end, Conly has splintered the soul of Paul, Marguerite’s boyfriend, and scattered the pieces throughout the multi-verse. Can Marguerite rescue Paul in time? These are excellent books, thrilling and full of original, thought-provoking twists and turns. I look forward to the concluding volume in the trilogy.” —Krys Toutois, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp
(Sourcebooks Fire, 9781492622468, $17.99, available January)
“Fifty-four minutes. That’s all it takes to devastate a small town in Alabama. That’s all it takes for innocent lives to be lost and some twisted idea of revenge to be enacted. That’s all it takes to forever change everyone who is left alive. Told through the eyes and ears of four different characters, with a few social media posts interspersed, this is an unforgettable book. Nijkamp masterfully brings to life the terror and disbelief that a school shooting elicits and makes the reader go through that same turmoil. A thought-provoking must-read!”  —Phoebe Dyer, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

This Raging Light, by Estelle Laure
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544534292, $17.99)
“Abandoned by her mother and with her father out of the picture, Lucy finds herself with an empty pantry, bills piling up, and a hungry little sister to take care of. This Raging Light is Lucy’s survival story as she finds what she needs within herself to keep going in the face of overwhelming obstacles and, in the midst of those circumstances, fall in messy, complicated love. Laure’s debut is luminous, and Lucy will stay in readers’ hearts long after they turn the last page.” —Stephanie Appell, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Up to This Pointe, by Jennifer Longo
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780553537673, $17.99, available January)
“All her life, Harper has single-mindedly pursued her goal of becoming a professional ballerina in the San Francisco Ballet, to the exclusion of much outside distraction — including a rather interesting new boy named Owen. When, through no fault of her own, Harper is denied her dream, she takes on her ancestor’s legacy as an Antarctic explorer and embarks on a journey to a research station at the bottom of the world. A hypnotic and engaging journey flashing between Antarctica and San Francisco, Longo’s book brings the reader intimately into Harper’s heartbreak and healing in a way that will speak to readers of all ages.” —Anna Eklund, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

The Winter 2015–2016 Kids’ Revisit & Rediscover

For Ages 4–8

Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer
(HarperCollins, 9780062051851, $17.99)
“Who cannot delight in the hilarious words and artwork of Jules Feiffer? George does not bark. His mother is distraught. He quacks, he meows, he moos. After a trip to the intrepid vet, everyone is sure that he is well. The last page is the perfect ending, and this much-beloved picture book should be a storytime staple for any store.” —Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

A Story for Bear, by Dennis Haseley, Jim LaMarche (Illus.)
(Harcourt Brace, 9780152002398, $17.99)
“This story of a bear who finds himself captivated by the sound of a woman reading to him outside her cabin in the woods perfectly captures the pleasures of shared reading. Evocative illustrations and a gentle, lilting tone further accentuate this moving tribute to the power of giving voice to books.” —Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson, E.B. Lewis (Illus.)
(Putnam Books for Young Readers/Penguin, 9780399231162, $16.99)
“Jacqueline Woodson’s gem of a picture book tells of the fence that runs through town, dividing the white side from the black side. Two young girls, Annie and Clover, whose yards are back-to-back, watch each other through the fence. Both were told by their mamas not to cross over to the other side, but no one told them not to sit on top of the fence. One day they dare to climb up and sit together, with the hope that ‘someday somebody’s going to come along and knock this old fence down.’” —Sharon Hearn, Children’s Book World, Los Angeles, CA

For Ages 9–12

London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd
(Yearling, 9780385751841, $7.99)
“Salim boards the London Eye observational wheel but is nowhere to be found when the ride ends. His cousins, Ted and Kat, strive to solve his disappearance while the adults around them fear the worst. The sleuths’ best asset turns out to be Ted’s atypical mind. An empathic look at autism and lots of ring-true family dynamics combine in this happily perplexing mystery by beloved British author Dowd.” —Carol Muller, Hicklebee’s Children’s Books, San Jose, CA

Ida B … and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World, by Katherine Hannigan
(Greenwillow, 9780060730269, $6.99)
“At first blush, Ida B Applewood seems to have the world by the tail. Home-schooled by two down-to-earth parents who operate an apple orchard, Ida B thinks like a storyteller and wields words like a poet in her relentless pursuit of Fun. When her idyllic lifestyle takes a turn and she’s forced to go to public school, Ida B feels her heart begin to harden into a cold, dark stone. The emotional revenge that she wreaks on everyone around her is painful to observe and your heart will break for her as she gradually comes to terms with the changes in her life.”  —Collette Morgan, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN

The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson
(Puffin Books, 9780141302867, $6.99)
“Eva Ibbotson’s The Secret of Platform 13 is so much fun! Parallel worlds of the real and the magical are reached via Platform 13 — years before Harry Potter’s rail adventures. Readers will fall in love with the young, terribly brave heroine, and there is plenty of action well-seasoned with sly humor.” —Christy McDanold, Secret Garden Books, Seattle, WA

For Teens

My Most Excellent Year : A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park, by Steve Kluger
(Speak, 9780142413432, $8.99)
“Three high school seniors are given an assignment to reflect on their favorite times in high school and My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger is the funny, thoughtful, and oh-so-sweet product. Alejandra, T.C., and Augie tell their stories in alternating chapters, remembering school musicals, baseball games, Mary Poppins, social activism, and the year they made a little boy’s dream come true.”  —Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

The Wee Free Men: A Tiffany Aching Adventure, by Terry Pratchett
(HarperCollins, 9780062435262, $9.99)
“Tiffany Aching is a witch in the making, but when the Evil Queen of Fairies kidnaps her younger brother, Tiffany becomes a heroine. Using common sense, a frying pan, and a piece of string, this courageous girl takes on monsters in many forms. Humor, adventure, and colorful dialogue make this book unforgettable. Lucky for all of us that this is just the first volume in the five-book Tiffany Aching Adventures series!”  —Becky Anderson, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780152053109, $9.99)
“Set in the 1900s against the backdrop of a real-life murder mystery, A Northern Light is the coming-of-age story of Mattie Gokey. This feisty and passionate 16-year-old narrator has excruciatingly difficult choices to make, choices that will forever change her life and the lives of those around her. Exquisite writing, memorable characters, a riveting mystery, and a fascinating historical backdrop all make Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light a masterpiece.”  —Heather Hebert, Children’s Book World, Haverford, PA