(I’ve been lucky enough to read galleys of these picture books and they are all excellent!)
- The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Eric and Terry Fan: All of the animals know to avoid the old scarecrow. But when a baby crow lands near scarecrow in a storm, he doesn’t scare the baby bird. Instead he takes care of it. A lushly illustrated, heartwarming story about found family.
- Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin, illustrated by Ebony Glenn: Tameika loves to sing and dance. She can’t wait to audition for her school’s new play. When other students start to wonder if Tameika is too tall, too chubby, or too brown to be this princess, she proves them wrong in this dynamo picture book about chasing your dreams.
- The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins: When Hedgehog finds a love letter it makes him feel cheerful. When Bunny finds the same letter she feels helpful. And when the same letter makes its way to squirrel, he feels carefree. When these three friends try to find out who really sent the letter, they learn that a little confusion can lead to a wonderful mix-up.
- Mulan: The Legend of the Woman Warrior by Faye-Lynn Wu, illustrated by Joy Ang: A gorgeously illustrated retelling of the classic legend of Mulan–the woman who went to war disguised as a man to protect her loved ones and save China.
- A Friend for Bently by Paige Keiser: Bently is lonely as the only pig on the farm. No one else wants to roll in the mud or eat slop with him. And no one will do crossword puzzles. Then Bently hears an oink and when he follows it he finds Daisy, a chick who would much rather be a pig.
- Heroism Begins With Her by Winifred Conkling, illustrated by Julie Kuo: Features profiles of 70 women in different branches of the US military.
- Heroes and Hall Passes by Tom O’Donnell: In a mythical realm characters unwind with their favorite role playing game: Homerooms and Hall Passes! When they get transported into their fave game they’ll have to face the biggest challenge yet: middle school.
- Ember and Ice Dragons by Heather Fawcett: In an alternate Victorian England a human girl (who was born a dragon!) is swept up in an adventure to save her new home. This is Fawcett’s middle grade debut, you may recognize her name from Even the Darkest Stars.
- The Twelve by Cindy Lin: When her sister is captured for her illegal zodiac powers, Usagi must team go with others with zodiac powers to save her.
- The Changeling King by Ethan M. Aldridge: This is a sequel so you should read Estranged first, but this follow up story continues the adventure of a human boy and the fae changeling who took his place in the human world.
- I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi: After discovering that Earth is a colony of another planet, three teens have a week to get their affairs in order while the planet decides if it’s time to end the Earth experiment. This sounds a lot like Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente with less singing and more teen angst and I, for one, am here for it.
- Our Year in Love and Parties by Karen Hattrup: High concept YA about two characters trying to reconnect and earn their happy ending over one long year. I wish you could have heard the book’s editor, Andrew Eliopulos, talk about this one–I can’t even tell you exactly what it was, but as soon as I heard his presentation I was 100% on board.
- Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh: The Road meets The Amazing Race in this story where a girl enters a race to win her freedom. The catch? She has to have her memory erased to compete.
- Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin: Hi. Hello. Historical witch fantasy. Witch and witch hunter forced into marriage. Please take my money. I have been obsessed with this book since the moment I first heard the synopsis. You should be too.
- A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth: Weymouth pitched this to her editor saying “It’s like Downton Abbey. But the houses come to life.” And I think that’s really all you need to know.
- Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai: I am never going to summarize this as well as Lai did at the preview. Six years ago Hằng lost her younger brother when he was evacuated in the last days of the Việt Nam War. Now, in 1981, after years of planning Hằng is finally in Texas and ready to find Linh. LeeRoy is on his way to becoming a rodeo star when he’s recruited to help Hằng find her brother. It’s an annoying detour, but he’s knows he can’t abandon her. When she realizes Linh doesn’t remember her, Hằng is unmoored and forced to figure out what happens next. Especially when the only person who seems to understand her when she talks is LeeRoy–the gangly would-be cowboy who never stops talking. This book is gorgeous. It’s already my favorite book of the year–and that’s while knowing there’s a new Garth Nix coming out.
Let me know if any of these were already on your radar or if this post helped you find some new titles for your to read list!