Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

Imprint/Macmillan, 2021 Hardcover Picture book, 40pp


Stella wakes to hair that “twisted and zoomed, zigged and zagged, made loopity-loops and lots of curly q’s.” On the day of the Big Star Little Gala, she wanted something different, a style that maybe not even Momma could manage. Stella sets off around the Solar System visiting various Aunties to get her hair styled.

interior pages from Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

The variety of expressions captured by the aunties and how they style Stella’s hair is a delight. Moises gives us aunties with different bodies, skin tones, and age. Even more stellar is how Moises considered each location when developing each Auntie and their style: see closing solar system fact-related pages. Moises offers a marvelous experience with her picture book. Stella’s Stellar Hair celebrates Black hair, magic, and joy; it’s STEM-friendly; and it’s an adventure.

interior pages from Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

Moises illustrations are effervescent. The colors are radiant, which fits Stella’s personality. The compositions are playful and as dynamic as the subject and her hair. A favorite is the double-page spread (5-6) where Stella is off on her hoverboard—look at it’s jet stream. Moises is clever with the use of that panel zig-zagging from the earth illustrating the “Momma said” text below it. She always makes sure to include a landscape with each location and Auntie that all deserve a closer look (e.g. Venus). But each place, personality, style builds up to that double-page spread where Moises uses Stella’s hair as the backdrop this time. This is the moment where Stella is reminded of which world, personality, style her hair is responding to: “you hair just wants to be a little more fun today. And that’s okay. You don’t have to change a thing. Just be yourself.”

interior pages from Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

While Stella has moved on from each Stylist hoping to find one that suits her, she does, in the end, draw from their techniques and vision.

interior pages from Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

The styles are fun: “poofy-smooth,” “royal lion’s mane,” “elegant crown,” “space buns”… And it should also be noted that each Auntie is supportive of her exploration. They aren’t offended or insistent that theirs is the best expression. Too, notice how Stella (Moises) acknowledges what the hair could positively express about its wearer: “deep and graceful,” “strong and classy,” “proud and fierce”… This book is full of love and the celebration of self-expression—expressions that are as vast as the solar system Stella traverses.

Stella’s Stellar Hair is playful, affirming, educational, inspiring. A delightful addition to the shelves—both the shelves about outer space and those about finding one’s-self with the care and support of community.


Yesenia Moises is an Afro-Latina illustrator and designer with a specialty in product design. Her work proudly portrays people of diverse backgrounds playing leading roles in fantasy adventures that are brimming with color. Yesenia is the author-illustrator of Stella’s Stellar Hair and the illustrator of Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color.

February 23rd New Releases

> Stay This Way Forever by Linsey Davis (Zonderkidz) Celebrate the joy, wonder, and innocence of being a child with this love letter to the loved ones in your life that encourages them to celebrate their own special qualities now and into the future.

> Sleep Like Me by Tatia Nadareishvili (Eerdmans) 3-6 This whimsically illustrated book features the real sleeping habits of ten different animals. Whether you snooze like a whale or nod off like a giraffe, Sleep Like Me is the perfect bedtime story for restless nights.

> Home Is in Between by Mitali Perkins & Lavanya Naidu (FSG) 5-8  the experience of navigating multiple cultures and embracing the complex but beautiful home in between.

> Sharing a Smile by Nicki Kramar & Ashley Evans (S&S) 3-9 In the spirit of Come With Me, this timely and charming tale about mask-wearing follows a little girl and her generous plan to find her own courage by helping those in her neighborhood find theirs.

It’s So Quietby Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tony Fucile (Chronicle) 3-6 A silly, noisy bedtime book that will have readers squealing, croaking, and laughing along before settling down for a quiet night’s sleep!

> Sato the Rabbitby Yuki Ainoya, [t] Michael Blaskowsky (Enchanted Lion) 4-7 In Sato’s world, ordinary objects and everyday routines can lead to magical encounters.

> Stand Like a Cedar by Nicola I. Campbell & Carrielynn Victory (HighWater) a beautiful journey of discovery through the wilderness. Learn the names of animals in the Nłe7kepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us.

There Goes Patti McGee! by Tootie Ninow & Erika Medina (FSG) 5-8 an uplifting picture book biography of the first-ever professional female skateboarder and winner of the 1964 National Skateboard Championship for Women.

> One Dayby Lee Jeok & Kim Seung-yeon, [t] Asuka Minamoto (Enchanted Lion) the story of a boy who has lost his grandpa, who was a tailor. 

> J.D. and the Great Barber Battle by J. Dillard & Akeem S. Roberts (Kokila) 6-10 Eight-year-old J.D. turns a tragic home haircut into a thriving barber business in this hilarious new illustrated chapter book series

> Power Up by Sam Nisson & Darnell Johnson (HMH) GN 8-12 This inventive graphic novel that unfolds online and IRL takes readers from the halls of middle school, to epic robot video game battles, and back again.

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book (Greenglass House 5) by Kate Milford (Clarion) MYS 9-14 Nothing is what it seems and there’s always more than one side to the story as a group of strangers trapped in an inn slowly reveal their secrets…

> The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas by María García Esperón & Amanda Mijangos [t] David Bowles (Levine Querido) 8-18 Their talents have woven this collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents—the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called it—from the edge of Argentina all the way up to Alaska.

> Treasure of the World by Tara Sullivan (Putnam) 10-14 A young girl must find a way to help her family survive in a desolate and impoverished Bolivian silver mining community in this eye-opening tale of resilience.

> Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame by Supriya Kelkar (Tu) HF Will Meera do her part to take down the British colonists and alert the rebellion of the stockpile? Or will she stay safe and let others make decisions for her? It really comes down to this: how much fire must a girl face to finally write her own destiny?

> Some Other Now by Sarah Everett (HMH) 14-18 This Is Us for teens, this luminous and heartbreaking contemporary novel follows a girl caught between two brothers as the three of them navigate family, loss, and love over the course of two summers.

Like Home by Louisa Onome (Delacorte) DEBUT 14-18 about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.

The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney (Razorbill) SFF 14-18 With help from new friends, Rose sets out to stop the flood, but her connection to it, and to this strange little town, runs deeper than she could’ve imagined.

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashely Shuttleworth (Simon Pulse) SFF 14-18 If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. 

> Quest to Be the Best (Quncredible series 1) by Rodney Barnes, Selina Espiritu & Kelly Fitzpatrick (Oni) GN 12-18.  “The Event” gifted him the power of invulnerability but no other powers to compliment it.

The Initial insult by Mindy McGinnis (KatherineTegen) Thriller 14-18 Welcome to Amontillado, Ohio, where your last name is worth more than money, and secrets can be kept… for a price.

Prepped by Bethany Mangle (McElderry) DEBUT 14-18 a thrilling and funny debut about a teen raised in a doomsday community who plots her escape with the boy from the bunker next door.

Mazie by Melanie Crowder (Philomel) HF LGBTQIA 12-18 An eighteen-year-old aspiring actress trades in starry Nebraska skies for the bright lights of 1950s Broadway 

The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith (Philomel)  HF/F WWII 12-18 Inglourious Basterds meets Stranger Things in this dark and thrilling tale of power, shadow, and revenge set during World War II.

The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard (Iron Circus) GN HORROR 13+ A masterful collection of tales from the faded border between our day-to-day world and the horrifying unknown on the other side of midnight.

The Blizzard Party by Jack Livings (FSG) HF A panoramic novel set in New York City during the catastrophic blizzard of February 1978

Love at First by Kate Clayborn (Kensington) ROM A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.

> Symbiosis (Escaping Exodus 2) by Nicky Drayden (HarperVoyager) continues the imaginative saga begun in Escaping Exodus, in which a society lives in the belly of a beast—and an entire civilization’s survival depends on a pair of uneasy allies who must come together for one epic battle.

> Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (Park Row) A refreshingly timely and relatable debut novel about a young woman whose life plans fall apart when she meets her wife.

The Slaughterman’s Daughter by Yaniv Iczkovits (Pantheon) HF/F An irresistible, picaresque tale of two Jewish sisters in late-nineteenth-century Russia.

February 16th New Releases

Early One Morningby Mem Fox & Christine Davenier (Beach Lane) Little ones will delight in seeing barnyard animals and guessing what it is the little boy is searching for until he finally finds it and settles in for a delicious breakfast with his grandmother.

> Shy Willow by Cat Min (Levine Querido) 3-7 A story about shyness, the power of empathy, and what it means to make a friend.

> A House for Every Bird by Megan Maynor & Kaylani Juanita (Knopf) 5-10 A young artist’s drawings rebel against her when she tries to put her sketched birds in houses that match how they look, but not how they feel in this hilarious picture book perfect for readers of Julian is a Mermaid and The Big Orange Splot.

> My First Dayby Phûng Nguyên Quang and Huynh Thi Kim Liên (Make Me a World) 5-7 A visually stunning story of resilience and determination by an award-winning new author-illustrator team.

I See You See by Richard Jackson & Patrice Barton (Atheneum ) 4-6 When a brother and sister go for a walk, their imaginations turn the ordinary into the extraordinary in this sweet and whimsical picture book.

> Project Startup (Eat Bugs series 1) by Heather Alexander w/ Laura D’Asaro & Rose Wang, Illus. Vanessa Flores (PenguinWorkshop) 8-12 Sixth-grade students-turned-entrepreneurs are on a mission to save the world, one bug at a time!

> Jo & Rus by Audra Wilson (BOOM!) GN 9-12 It’s only by becoming friends they discover who they are, who they want to be and what it takes for every one of us to find our own happiness!

Escaping Ordinary (Talespinners 2) by Scott Reintgen (Crown) SFF 8-12 In this action-packed sequel to Saving Fable perfect for readers of The Land of Stories and The Phantom Tollbooth, Indira finds herself thrown into a quest full of dragons, unlikely allies, and high stakes.

Cathedral of Bones by AJ Steiger (HarperCollins) SFF 9-13 A stunningly imagined world, page-turning thrills, and a pair of unlikely heroes on an epic quest make this unique and immersive dark fantasy perfect for fans of Holly Black and Kelly Barnhill.

> Spin with Me by Ami Polonsky (FSG) 10-14 ROM LGBTQIA  Can the two unwind their merry-go-round of feelings before it’s too late?

The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance (Razorbill) SFF 12-18 The Hazel Wood meets The Astonishing Color of After in this dreamy, atmospheric novel that follows sixteen-year-old Eli as she tries to remember what truly happened the night her mother disappeared off a glacier in Norway under the Northern Lights.

We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor (Swoon) SFF DEBUT. As electrifying as it is heartbreaking is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and the legend of Spartacus.

> The Jade Bones (series 2) by Lani Forbes (Blackstone) SFF 13-18 Cast into the underworld after an act of shattering betrayal, Mayana and Ahkin must overcome unimaginable odds if they are to return home and reclaim the throne of the Chicome. 

> Reaper of Souls (Kingdom of Souls 2) by Rena Barron (HarperTeen) SFF 13-18 Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people.

The Mask Falling (The Bone Season 4) by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury) SFF Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

> Khalil by Yasmina Khadra (Talese) THR/SUS a gripping first-person narrative about one young man’s involvement in France’s worst terrorist attack.

> The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey (Tor) SFF a non-stop thrill ride, perfect for readers of Big Little Lies and enthusiasts of “Killing Eve” and “Westworld­”

The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck (Pantheon) HF/F takes the reader to a wondrous place where destiny has yet to be written, life is a performance, and magic can erupt at any moment.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (Bantam) Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . . 

> Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli (Berkley) As Serena reconnects with her family and friends–including her ex-boyfriend–she learns letting people in can make her happier than standing all on her own.

> First Comes Like (Modern Love 3) by Alisha Rai (Avon) ROM as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

> How to Order the Universe by María José Ferrada [t] Elizabeth Bryer (Tin House) DEBUT expertly captures a vanishing way of life and a father-daughter relationship on the brink of irreversible change. At once nostalgic, dangerous, sharply funny, and full of delight and wonder, How to Order the Universe is a richly imaginative debut and a rare work of magic and originality.

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead) is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.

The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson) HF WWII Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

> American Delirium by Betina González [t] Heather Cleary (Holt) a dizzying, luminous English-language debut about an American town overrun by a mysterious hallucinogen and the collision of three unexpected characters through the mayhem.

The Mission House by Carys Davies (Scribner) a captivating and propulsive novel following an Englishman seeking refuge in a remote hill town in India who finds himself caught in the crossfire of local tensions and violence.

> A Dance for the Gods (The Last Warrior King #2) by E.O. Odiase & K.N. Pump  SFF Across all five kingdoms below the Moon Sea, new alliances are being forged to replace old ones as Kings and Queens vie for power.

> Cowboy Graves: Three Novellas by Roberto Balaño [t] Natasha Wimmer (Penguin) These three fiercely original tales bear the signatures of Bolaño’s extraordinary body of work, echoing the strange characters and uncanny scenes of his great triumphs, while deepening our understanding of his profound gifts. 

Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic (Gallery) DEBUT A darkly gripping debut novel about a teenage girl’s fierce struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father.

Black Coral (series 2) by Andrew Mayne (Thomas&Mercer) MYS/THR For a police diver in Florida, solving a cold-case mystery brings a serial killer out of hiding…

visiting the past in the present

“Luminescence” by Peter Walters via LiteraryArtCoUK

In finishing Nic Stone’s Clean Getaway: a couple of industry-related thoughts.

One of my frustrations with Black representation in children’s literature has been how if a Black character is not the goofy side-kick in contemporary fiction, they are most certainly historical figures. And while I am not opposed to Historical Fiction, there is a danger in leaving people in the past. We erase living, breathing communities this way and/or leave them to only contexts of violence and suffering, and subjugation. See also Indigenous and Jewish representation in Lit.

We are observing a slow, but increasing change to our bookshelves. Black protagonists and all-BIPOC casts are being published in more genres and more present-day settings; many written by Black authors. These differing genres and modern day settings do not leave the past behind. And In some ways that makes it more powerful.

Zetta Elliott

I love Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag series for multiple reasons, but she finds a way within her Urban Fantasy stories to educate the reader on Black History. She can do it, because Black history matters, it influences her character(s) and the world they (we) live in. I’m thinking about The Dragon Thief and the elderly Aunty from South Asia. She’s empathizing with the stolen dragon, “It will look around and wonder where all the other dragons are. It will yearn for a place where it can truly feel at home—it will wonder what it feels like to belong.” She will go on to tell the young Kavita how “we are Gujarati and Hindu, but I am also Siddi.” Aunty’s ancestors came from Africa to India as enslaved people, “Some call us Habshi, but we were much more than slaves.” Aunty’s heritage lends her ancestral powers and knowledge relevant to a book with dragons, but her ancestry also makes her look different, demonstrated in her hair and skin, thus feelings of alienation in different communities.

Varian Johnson

Elliott, like Stone in Clean Getaway, snags our attention, then gives us a place to start to broaden our imagination and research to learn more. Books like Varian Johnson’s The Parker Inheritance write recent history into the mystery, and the exploration is done within its pages. Johnson could have written a different kind of Westing Game-meets-summer-friendship novel for young readers, but no, his characters are not going to ignore a puzzle created within their very own community. He leans into the meanings of “inheritance.” They have to learn about the past in order to solve the problem facing them in the present. Johnson writes trips back in time, but through letters and memories—always anchored to the living, to the now. The book never actually leaves the present behind.

Nic Stone

It’s important to this exploration to exclude actual time travel, because what has been impactful in many contemporary reads is seeing how recent much of our history is. In Clean Getaway, 50-odd years will sound like a lot of years to young people, but G’ma is still around to tell survival stories of a Jim Crow South, of voter suppression, of children murdered, of wrongful imprisonment, of anti-miscegenation laws enforced and overruled. She shares artifacts from her personal belongings as she’s collected and saved them (not inherited from her parent). Scoob can see how White G’ma’s marriage to a Black man and having a Black son in the South had an effect on G’ma and his father. What’s more, while we see how some things have changed (buildings and folks gone, memorials installed), we can also see how it hasn’t changed (racial profiling; years until convictions for the murdering of Black people, if at all). These novels make it harder to say: “that was back then;” “we are post-racial;” “we had our Civil Rights Era.”

“Ruby Bridges, escorted by U.S. Marshals to attend an all-white school, 1960.” via Historian & Digital Colorist Marina Amaral (on Twitter)

In time travel narratives, it’s fun to play a dramatic compare-contrast game, but it risks demarcating time, so while it may talk about consequences, we can compartmentalize in a way that allows us to leave something or someone there; we had to go there, to then, to see it, experience it. With some Black history, some pretty powerful Black history, we aren’t limited to time travel or historical fiction. This is the history that was experienced by our Elders and can be explored through intergenerational narratives, via returning dragons, solving puzzles, or unexpected road trips…

I’m loving how our library shelves are expanding—improving. I want more.

learning from Nana Akua

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker Illustrated by April Harrison

Schwartz & Wade 2020. Hardcover Picture book, 40pp

Includes glossary, sources, Adinkra symbols and their meanings.

From ‘A Note About This Story’: “Nana Akua Goes to School pays homage to several Ashanti traditions. While the Adinkra symbols and their meanings have been preserved in modern-day Ghana, grandparents and great-grandparents of today’s children are the last generations to bear evidence of the tribal marking tradition.”


interior pages from Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker & April Harrison

As her classroom’s Grandparents Day looms, Zura grows anxious. Her Ghanaian grandmother has facial tattoos, traditional gifts from her parents from when she was a child. Zura has noticed people stare, has heard the whispers of a playground child that thought Nana Akua looked scary. It should be noted that her primary concern is Nana Akua’s feelings: “What if someone at school laughs at you or acts mean?”

Nana Akua has an idea. And it’s a good one. You will have to read this treasure of a book to find out, but Nana Akua isn’t worried, and Zura needn’t have.

interior pages from Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker & April Harrison

Walker is an exceptional storyteller, and she gives us Zuri and Nana Akua’s story rich with African words and traditions. She sees and knows those for whom she is providing a mirror while educating the ignorant (like me). The multicultural classroom normalizes the multicultural reality of Abuelos, Mimis, Black business owners. The suggestion that there are so many more stories to tell is enticing. Zura is a fortunate girl. And the book encourages the young to seek out their elders for stories.

Walker offers images of her own, that needn’t compete with the illustrator: “she seems as tall as the giant playground slide;” “crayon-colored outdoor markets;” “big hugs, the kind that wrap around you like a sweater.” And the skill of the writer is matched by the riveting work of the visual artist. Harrison’s work with mixed-media collage is stunning—and well, too rare in children’s picture books. The light-work on the complexions; the lips and hair and noses—I mean, Nana Akua’s hair and brows alone are gorgeous!! The variation in the capture and perspective of faces and postures: energetic, attentive, affectionate. The print-work and colors on the clothes and footwear. I found myself studying the Zura’s room and the close-up of Nana Akua in purple. Entrancing.

interior pages from Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker & April Harrison

Nana Akua Goes to School is one of those gifts we don’t deserve, but of which we really could use more. I would love more of Zura’s courage and awareness, her family’s warmth, and Nana Akua’s wisdom and soothing presence. I could delight in more of Walker and Harrison’s experience and skill.

Nana Akua Goes to School is a must have. Listen and learn…and just truly delight in the warmth of a story well-told and gorgeously realized.


Tricia Elam Walker is the author of the novel Breathing Room, among other publications. She is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer, cultural and fashion commentator, and blogger who has written for National Public Radio, the Washington Post, Essence magazine, HuffPost, and more. She practiced law for sixteen years prior to teaching writing in Washington, DC, and Boston. Tricia is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Howard University and is working on several projects, including children’s books, plays, and a second novel.

April Harrison, a renowned folk artist, is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning illustrator of Patricia C. McKissack’s final picture book, What Is Given from the Heart, which received four starred reviews and which the New York Times Book Review called an “exquisite story of generosity.” Her work appears in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum and in many private collections.

February 9th New Releases

No Buddy Like a Book by Allan Wolf & Brianne Farley (Candlewick) an ode to the wonders of language—written, spoken, and everything in between.

Sunny-Side Up by Jacky Davis & Fiona Woodcock (Greenwillow) 3-7 Father-daughter time shines in this irresistible story about creativity, solving problems, and looking on the bright side when faced with obstacles. 

Hello, Jimmy! by Anna Walker (Clarion) 4-8 A funny, noisy parrot comes into Jack’s life and brings him closer to his dad in an unexpected and moving way in this gorgeous, emotionally resonant picture book 

> We Wait for the Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree, Katie McCabe & Raissa Figueroa (Roaring Brook) A beautiful and uplifting non-fiction picture book from trailblazing civil rights lawyer and activist Dovey Johnson Roundtree

Finding Beauty by Talitha Shipman (Beaming) 5-8 Illustrations and easy-to-read text reveal that if one looks, one can find beauty in objects big and small, alone or with a friend, and that beauty will find those who look for it.

> Book’s Big Adventure by Adam Lehrhaupt & Rahele Jomepour Bell (Wiseman) 6-10 Find out what happens to a beloved book sent to a new home in this sweet and hopeful picture book

Super Detectives (Simon & Chester Book #1) by Cale Atkinson (Tundra) GN MYS 6-9 A ghost and a kid team up to solve mysteries and kick butt! A hilarious new graphic novel series for fans of Bad Guys and Dog Man.

One Jar of Magic by Corey Ann Haydu (KatherineTegen) 9-13 a hopeful and empowering tale set in an enchanting world of magic and mysterious family secrets—perfect for fans of Anne Ursu, Rebecca Stead, and Wendy Mass.

Of a Feather by Dayna Lorentz (HMH) 8-11 a moving, poignant story told in alternating perspectives about a down-on-her-luck girl who rescues a baby owl, and how the two set each other free.

The Last Rabbit by Shelley Moore Thomas (Wendy Lamb) HF/F 8-12 WWII/Celtic lore. a modern fairytale about sisterhood, forgiveness, and redemption.

> Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Heartdrum) 10-14 A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold (Viking) SFF 13+ When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. 

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire by Joy McCullough (Dutton) 14-18. a new contemporary YA novel in prose and verse about a girl struggling with guilt and a desire for revenge after her sister’s rapist escapes with no prison time.

> A Pho Love Story by Loan Le (SimonPulse) ROM 12-18 When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.

The Girl from Shadow Springs by Ellie Cypher (S&S) SFF DEBUT 12-18 The Revenant meets True Grit with a magical twist in this thrilling and atmospheric debut fantasy about two teens who must brave a frozen wasteland and the foes within it to save their loved ones and uncover a deadly secret.

> The Iron Raven (Iron Fey: Evenfall 1) by Julie Kagawa (Inkyard) SFF 13-17 With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.

> Never Have I Ever: stories by Isabel Yap (Small Beer) SFF Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales: the magic in Isabel Yap’s debut collection jumps right off the page

City of the Uncommon Thief by Lynne Bertrand (Dutton) 14-18 SFF  the story of a quarantined city gripped by fear and of the war that can free it.

> The Gilded Ones (Book 1) by Namina Forna (Delacorte) SFF 13-18 Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village.

The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck (Berkley) HF WWII In the depths of war, she would defy the odds to help liberate a nation…a gripping historical novel based on the remarkable true story of World War II heroine Virginia Hall, from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl

> Wild Rain (Women Who Dare 2) by Beverly Jenkins (Avon) ROM HF—blk Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love?

> Fireheart Tiger by Aliette De Bodard (Tor) HF/F a powerful romantic fantasy that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s) HF an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.

The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott (FSG) Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading—and forgetting.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gronichec (Ace Books) SFF When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Zorrie by Laird Hunt (Bloomsbury) HF Set against a harsh, gorgeous, quintessentially American landscape, this is a deeply empathetic and poetic novel that belongs on a shelf with the classics of Willa Cather, Marilynne Robinson, and Elizabeth Strout.

The (Other) You : stories by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco) an arresting and incisive vision into these alternative realities, a collection that ponders the constraints we all face given the circumstances of our birth and our temperaments, and that examines the competing pressures and expectations on women in particular.

{Illustrator} Ebony Glenn

artwork by Ebony Glenn

You may have noticed that the previous two book reviews have a familiar element to them. Well, yes, both are authored by Black women; both feature Black girl protagonists… They are also both illustrated by Ebony Glenn. She is an illustrator I’ve come to really enjoy and I wanted to spotlight her work.

Ebony Glenn is an Atlanta based illustrator who enjoys bringing stories to life with whimsical imagery. A passion for the arts, great storytelling, and advocating for more diverse narratives in children’s books, she aims to create illustrations that will foster a love of reading in young readers. –bio

I think her aim to “create illustrations that will foster a love of reading” lands true. Her style is enchanting and accessible with incredibly broad appeal. She’s found great partner-storytellers in Karen English (Red Shoes), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White) and Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar) to only name three—the three of her works with which I’m most familiar.

Ebony Glenn’s illustration from Mommy”s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

I first encountered Glenn’s work in Mommy’s Khimar. I note in my review: “Ebony Glenn uses such warm and vibrant hues and patterns. She translates a gentleness and joy. And she does a great job visually translating Thompkins-Bigelow’s message.” These are observations I continue to make when encountering Glenn-involved projects:

Glenn’s art lends even further accessibility, adding a great deal of weight to the tone of the story and our attachment to Tameika. Tameika is effervescent and it’s Glenn who draws that energy and unapologetic attitude off the page. […] Kudos to Glenn having the skill to meet Franklin’s dance moves and acting roles. […] Franklin’s is a wise and well-told story. Glenn animates it with striking appeal and resonance.

Not Quite Snow White review

After I go on about Glenn’s skill with color and composition, for Red Shoes I write: “English and Glenn bring us a story radiating with affection and childhood joy. English carries us across the water in a lovely twist of sharing such a delightful thing as red shoes. Glenn compliments the heart-warming with the vivacious. Her charming, animated style as engaging as English’s sensory-rich text.” (review)

interior pages from Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Glenn’s digital illustrations lift the work of writer and story and character, and everything rises with her. Already wonderful material takes on deeper resonance—which is a project’s goal, but not a given. She’s proving to consistently make already exceptional work better; and the material in turn offers Glenn’s work a place to shine.

Ebony Glenn illustration from Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows

In a 2017 interview with Dionna L Mann at Color Me a Kidlit Writer, Glenn talks about her decision to pursue Illustration in children’s literature after graduating with an Arts degree in Drawing and Painting from UNG:

“Afterwards, I devoted my time and energy to learning about the children’s book industry and how to show my work to the right audience. I also got involved with organizations like SCBWI, and I began posting my artwork on social media. Eventually, I found myself in a niche with other kidlit enthusiasts who shared my passion for literature and art.”

A scan of the client list she’s attracted, tells me she’s not only since found a niche, but a groove. And apparently, her increasing visibility isn’t based upon the skill of her eyes and hands alone. Publishing isn’t effortless, nor is her evident artistic ability, and this is where I mention Ebony Glenn does school visits, speaking events, and also maintains an Etsy shop. Yes, I know those visits and events and social media accounts can fall under the Industry heading…

The short way of getting where I’m going is: the joy her work elicits feels effortless. The images that entertain, that move us—they take time, practice, experimentation, and the people and tools to garner notice. This is me appreciating the passion and effort—and our good fortune in having the pleasure of Ebony Glenn’s art.


Black Panther-inspired comic style digital art by Ebony Glenn

Ebony Glenn’s Website | Shop | Instagram | Twitter | Agency


Ebony Glenn illustration from Speak Up by Miranda Paul

A couple other Interviews:

The process: “I always begin my illustration process by brainstorming ideas and and getting them on paper.  Depending on the project, I may visit the library or scour the internet for research material, and if feasible, I may even travel to ensure that my illustrations are as authentic as possible.” The Brown Bookshelf, interviewed by Jerry Craft, February 2018.

Advice for aspiring illustrators: “When I was staring out, I met a lot of resistance and discouragement from others about my dream to illustrate children’s books. It’s not easy to fight your own feelings of self-doubt when you’re also combatting the harsh opinions of others. Therefore, I highly recommend tuning out negative thoughts, surrounding yourself with supportive people, and most importantly, believing in yourself.” 2019 interview with Kidlit411.

the life in a pair of shoes…

Red Shoes: A Dazzling Journey by Karen English. Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Scholastic 2020. Hardcover Picture book 32pp

Imagine…Everything has a story!–jacket copy.

A lot of life happens in these red shoes. And not just one life, but two, and the promise of a third. Each story of the red shoes opens with a glance through the display window of a shop. And both girls receive the shoes as a gift. What follows are the stories of the life of the shoes.

The first wearer, Tameika, swishes, dances, stomps, and jumps rope in her shoes. They attend parties, survive friendship problems, and deal with food-thieves. We only get sense of what occasions the shoes may participate in with their next wearer. She is a little girl on another continent. But she is a little girl with a life-full of special occasions, familial bonds, friendships and play. I love the invitation to imagine, and the sense of connection and continuity the final image conveys.

interior pages from Red Shoes by Karen English & Ebony Glenn

Red Shoes is a fairly straightforward and playful story of childhood joy; and while the language and illustrations are easy on the ears and eyes, this is a well-crafted work engaging us on multiple levels.

That expression on Malika’s face as she kicks Cousin Jamal under the table—perfect. I love this double-page spread overall. The transition is smooth, the yellow-tone backdrop linking one family gathering to another: wedding (background left), Christmas dinner (foreground center and right). Glenn uses the same color-linked backdrops and fore- & backgrounding (this time reversed) on the following spread to tie relationships together. The earliest vignettes set against the white page, scenes suspended in individualized moments of Malika by herself, are soon exchanged for these more relational connections. The color coordination between the set and the characters is fun to follow—on the second read. The first, it does the subtle work of tone. When Malika stomps away from a fight with her friend, she sees red (we all do), where the other side of a tree floods the rest of the composition with a gentle verdant green.

interior pages from Red Shoes by Karen English & Ebony Glenn

I love the double-page spread where Malika says goodbye to her shoes, walking behind her grandmother while looking back toward the resale shop. They’ve just passed a woman in amber who is passing said shop. The left side of the page, including the resale shop, are reds, greens, yellow tones; the right hosts *buildings that are blues and purples. The colors, including Grandmother’s blue outfit, are cooler, and especially cool and withdrawing next to the resale shop and the woman in yellow. And this is where the book transitions to a new set of characters for a time. Glenn creates a subtle kind of foregrounding without shifting planer perspectives—because while these characters will soon be connected, and the woman in amber will soon take the stage, we are still walking with Malika. She needs to say goodbye.

English and Glenn bring us a story radiating with affection and childhood joy. English carries us across the water in a lovely twist of sharing such a delightful thing as red shoes. Glenn compliments the heart-warming with the vivacious. Her charming, animated style as engaging as English’s sensory-rich text.

Like the women in the story who are givers of good gifts, English and Glenn have given us a good gift in our very own pair of stories in Red Shoes.

interior pages from Red Shoes by Karen English & Ebony Glenn


*Fans of Karen English and/or Ebony Glenn with recognize book covers in the “Books Galore” display window: The Carver Chronicles and Mommy’s Khimar. I wonder if it was intentional to have an American setting/red skateboard book and a book featuring Muslim characters, which the second story also features.

These titles came to mind (linked to my reviews): Sadie and the Silver Shoes by Jane Godwin & Anna Walker; The Dress and the Girl by Camille Andros & Julie Morstad; A Story About Afiya by James Berry & Anna Cuhna


Karen English is the author of the Coretta Scott King honor novel, Francie, and It All Comes Down to This, a Kirkus Prize finalist. She is also the author of the Nikki and Deja and The Carver Chronicles series, and the picture book Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her family.

Ebony Glenn is an Atlanta-based illustrator who enjoys bringing stories to life with whimsical illustrations. With a passion for the arts and great storytelling, she aims to create art that brings more joy and magic into people’s lives. Ebony is the illustrator of Mommy’s Khimar, selected as a best book of the year by NPR, Not Quite Snow White, by Ashley Franklin, Beacon to Freedom: The Story of a Conductor on the Underground Railroad, by Jenna Glatzer, and the upcoming picture book biography Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows. 

a perfect princess indeed.

Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin. Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

HarperCollins 2019. Hardcover Picture book, 32 pp

Before we are even introduced to the idea of Tameika playing the role of a princess, and Snow White in particular, we’ve already come to believe her perfect for the role. A scene with her singing and dancing with birds, squirrel and bunny Is two page-turns in. The book opens with Tameika starting her day with song and dance—and she’s not even out of bed yet. She is a lover of music and movement and performing before “audiences (stuffed or unstuffed)”.

interior pages from Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin & Ebony Glenn

Just as lovely, Tameika uses her joy and confidence to bolster her peers at the school musical auditions. “She helped friends with their lines, kept count for the dancers, and shooed butterflies from nervous tummies so songs could be sung.”—which makes the scene on the following page that much more heartbreaking. Tameika overhears other *students whispering, saying she can’t be Snow White—she’s too tall, too chubby, and too brown.

Franklin and Glenn allow the effect it has on Tameika to completely shift the mood of the book; that delightful energy of before curls into a devastated posture…for pages. The bright color palette doesn’t change, you just realize how vibrant she and the words were before. I appreciate that the change in Tameika doesn’t go unnoticed: on the bus or at home.

interior pages from Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin & Ebony Glenn

“You are tall enough, chubby enough, and brown enough to be a perfect princess,” her mother affirms. Her father makes a helpful distinction between what is real and isn’t. Tameika chooses to believe the people who know and love her over the kids at school.

Tameika’s return to confidence isn’t a snap of the fingers. She’s nervous on the second day of auditions. I love the things she remembers, where she draws strength from: her parent’s words, her past experiences performing, and what she knows about herself/who she is.

“She shone like the star she was.” And she wins the starring role.

For a picture book that inspires good things, it isn’t message-y. It’s a story of Tameika—just one that will be relatable to many, many children (and grown-ups). There is so much wisdom written into the parent’s response; and goodness written into Tameika; and awareness written into the story. The page where she looks at herself in response to the three reasons it was said she couldn’t be Snow White is culturally damning:

“A princess shouldn’t be taller than her prince. Should she?”

“She could not remember any chubby princesses.”

“How could a girl with brown skin play a princess like Snow White?” The most coveted role’s name is her skin color.

interior page from Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin & Ebony Glenn

On the facing page, Tameika wonders who is wrong: the kids, or her for “wanting to be a princess”? Tameika is seen as no longer comfortable in her body, no longer interested in using her voice—and if only for this short time, it’s no less horrifying.

Not Quite Snow White will no doubt resonate with some more than others, but it will resonate with everyone. Glenn’s art lends even further accessibility, adding a great deal of weight to the tone of the story and our attachment to Tameika.

interior pages from Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin & Ebony Glenn

Tameika is effervescent and it’s Glenn who draws that energy and unapologetic attitude off the page. And with no apologies for all the pink and purple  and frills. Kudos to Glenn having the skill to meet Franklin’s dance moves and acting roles: “a space cowgirl;” “a hair-flicking just-because-she-felt-fabulous dance.” This book has to be a joy to read aloud before a group with at least one performer to demonstrate their own interpretations.

Not Quite Snow White is a must—and resist any urge to limit the audience on this one. Franklin’s is a wise and well-told story. Glenn animates it with striking appeal and resonance. Buy this one for the classroom.


* Note: not all the students are White in this scene. Also, note: not all the judges for the audition are white.


Ashley Franklin is a professional chaser—of ideas, dreams, and, most often, her kids. She is the author of Not Quite Snow White and a contributor to Once Upon an Eid, a collection of brilliant Muslim voices and stories. Ashley lives in Arkansas with her husband, Michael, and her children, Bilal and Mikhail.

Ebony Glenn is an Atlanta-based illustrator who enjoys bringing stories to life with whimsical illustrations. Ebony is the illustrator of Mommy’s Khimar, written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; Speak Up, written by Miranda Paul; Flying High and Brave Ballerina, written by Michelle Meadows; and Red Shoes written by Karen English.

February 2nd New Releases!

Blankie (A Narwhal and Jelly BB) by Ben Clanton (Tundra) This charming board book celebrates the power of imagination and reusability.

Bubbles (A Narwhal and Jelly BB) by Ben Clanton (Tundra) When Narwhal accidentally bursts Jelly’s bubble with their tusk-tooth, Jelly is a little sad . . . until Narwhal shows him that there are lots of bubbles in the ocean! 

> Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña & Christian Robinson (Putnam) 4-10 a poignant and timely picture book that’s sure to become an instant classic.

My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs (Candlewick) 4-8 In a touching reflection on love between generations, a grandfather passes down a hat that has seen a world of moments—and carries a big piece of his heart.

> I Am a Bird by Hope Lim & Hyewon Yum (Candlewick) 4-8 On her daily bike ride with her dad, a bird-loving little girl passes a woman who frightens her—until she discovers what they have in common.

Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket by Sue Fliess & Annabel Tempest (Two Lions) 4-6 STEM With cheery rhyming text and quirky artwork, this is a story about dreaming big and reaching for the stars. 

> Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World’s First Female Rabbi by Sigal Samuel & Vali Mintzi (Levine Querido) 9-12 Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read.

> Matzah Craze by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh & Lauren Gallegos (Kar-Ben) 5-7 When Noa refuses to swap food from her lunch one day, her friends wonder why. She explains it’s because it’s Passover. 

The Secret Fawn by Kallie George & Elly MacKay (Tundra) 3-5 Gorgeous cut-paper art illuminates this sweet, heartfelt picture book about how special being little can be. 

Can You Whistle, Johanna? by Ulf Stark & Anna Höglund (Gecko) 7-10. There are plenty of old men who would do as a grandfather at the retirement home, Ulf suggests, when Berra wonders why he doesn’t have one. 

Maya’s Big Scene by Isabelle Arsenault (Tundra) 4-8 Maya’s imagination sets the stage for her friends to act out her feminist play. Can she make room in her queendom for the will of the people? A funny picture book about leadership and fair play.

The Music Tree by Julia Valtanen (Starfish Bay) 3-8 A story about the rewards of effort and patience 

> Happy Dreams, Little Bunny by Leah Hong (Little, Brown) 2-6 The Runaway Bunny for a new generation—a captivating flight of fancy that also helps children lull themselves into dreamland.

The Snail with the Right Heart: a true story by Maria Popova & Ping Zhu (Enchanted Lion) 6-10 Based on a real scientific event and inspired by a beloved real human in the author’s life.

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor (B+B) 4-10 a tale about self-confidence and taking a leap of faith, starring an adorable, brave kingfisher.

Robert and the World’s Best Cake by Anne-Kathrin Behl (NorthSouth) 2-6 a delightful story about the big and little wonders of everyday life.

A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty & Wendy Leach (Running Press) 3-8 a solid pay-it-forward message to encourage kindness in young children

> Hello, Mandarin Duck! by Bao Phi & Dion MBD (Capstone) 5-8 A celebration of a vibrant, multicultural neighborhood that warmly welcomes newcomers from near and far.

Where Is the Dragon? by Leo Timmers (Gecko) 3-7 In this delightful story, three knights go looking for a dragon in the dark.

Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury) 3-8 Meesha can make lots of things, but she hasn’t yet learned to make friends.

The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer & Mariachiara Di Giorgio (Candlewick) 3-8 As darkness falls on the fairgrounds, the animals venture out of the woods for one magical, memorable night! An exhilarating wordless picture book.

Jack Gets Zapped! (A Jack Book) by Mac Barnett (Viking) 5-8 Jack finds himself trapped inside his favorite game, will he find a way out before it’s game over?

The First Case (Pup Detectives) by Felix Gumpaw (Little Simon) MYS/COM 5-9 the pup detectives of Pawston Elementary join forces to solve the crimes happening all around them. Can they nab the lunchtime bandit who’s been stealing all the best snacks from the cafeteria?

King & Kayla and the Case of the Gold Ring (series 7) by Dori Hillestad Butler & Nancy Meyers (Peachtree) MYS 5-8 another mystery starring lovable golden retriever King and his human girl, Kayla. Just right for newly independent readers.

Eva at the Beach (Owl Diaries #14) by Rebecca Elliott (Scholastic) Will Eva face her fears and maybe find some magic at the beach, too?

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold & Levi Pinfold (HarperCollins) DEBUT 9-12 about friendship, forging your own path, and doing what’s right, debut author Gold inspires fans of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander to make a difference in any way they can.

> Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca (Quill Tree) HF VERSE NOVEL 11-15 An #ownvoices novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

> The Magical Reality of Nadia by Bassem Youssef & Catherine R. Daly (Scholastic) 8-12 this rollicking, charming novel follows sixth grade Egyptian immigrant Nadia as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships, racism, and some magic, too!

> The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold (HMH) 9-12 HF/F In this magical middle-grade novel, ten-year-old Gabrielle finds out that America isn’t the perfect place she imagined when she moves from Haiti to Brooklyn.

Beyond Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson & Sibéal Pounder (Viking) SFF 8-12 Return to the magical world of Platform 13 in Sibéal Pounder’s new novel inspired by Eva Ibbotson’s classic, The Secret of Platform 13!

Claudia and the New Girl (Babysitters Club Graphic Novels 9) adapted by Gabriela Epstein (Graphix) Claudia has always been the most creative kid in her class… until Ashley Wyeth comes along.

The Ash House by Angharad Walker (Chicken House) HORROR/MYS DEBUT 11-14 An unsettling, gripping middle grade debut about searching for a sense of belonging in the wrong places, and the bravery it takes to defy those who seek to control us.

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz (Scholastic) HF 9-12 a breathtaking, multifaceted, and resonant look at this singular event in US history — and how it still impacts us today.

My Ex-Imaginary Friend by Jimmy Matejek-Morris (CarolRhoda) 9-12  Eleven-year-old Jack thought he had outgrown his imaginary friend, George–until his dad also disappears from his life. 

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (As Told to His Brother) by David Levithan (Knopf) MYS/F 10-13 takes young readers on a twisting journey through truth, reality, and fantasy and belief.

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant (Norton) SFF DEBUT 9-12 Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat.

The Barf of the Bedazzler (Fart Quest 2) by Aaron Reynolds & Cam Kendell (Roaring Brook) SFF 8-11 Fart and his friends take on a new belly-quaking quest

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (Holiday House) HF 12-16 Set against the backdrop of World War II, Anna, Edmund, and William are evacuated from London to live in the countryside, bouncing from home to home in search of a permanent family.

> The Poetry of Secrets by Cambria Gordon (Scholastic) HF Perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein, this lyrical portrait of hidden identities and forbidden love is set against the harrowing backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition.

> Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado (Holiday) 14-18 DEBUT Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.

The Project by Courtney Summers (Wednesday) MYS/THRILLER 14+ Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to. 

Muse (#1) by Brittany Cavallaro (KatherineTegen) HF/F set in an alternate history American monarchy where a girl grapples for control of her own life in the middle of a looming war.

> Love in English by Maria Andreu (B+B) 14-18  With playful and poetic breakouts exploring the idiosyncrasies of the English language, Love in English tells a story that is simultaneously charming and romantic, while articulating a deeper story about what it means to become “American.” 

> A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen (Razorbill) ROM 13-18 a delicious rom com about first love, familial expectations, and making the perfect bao.

> Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury) 13-18 a love story about not only a romantic relationship but how a girl finds herself and falls in love with who she really is.

> Muted by Tami Charles (Scholastic) VERSE NOVEL 12-18 A ripped-from-the-headlines novel of ambition, music, and innocence lost, perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Jason Reynolds!

City of Villains (bk 1) by Estelle Laure (Disney) SFF 12-16. Disney’s Villains meet Gotham in this gritty fairy tale-inspired crime series.

All the Tides of Fate (All the Stars & Teeth 2) by Adalyn Grace (Imprint) SFF 14+ To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. 

> Renegade Flight (Rebelwing 2)by Andrea Tang (Razorbill) SFF 14-18 Aurora Rising meets Top Gun, with the addition of cybernetic dragons, in this is the witty, romantic, and electrifying sci-fi novel

> Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson (Sourcebooks) SF/ROM LGBTQIA 13-18 A romantic, heart-felt, and whimsical novel about letting go of the past, figuring out what you want in your future, and staying in the moment before it passes you by.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo (FSG) HORROR 14-18 a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria (Inkyard) SFF LGBTQIA 13-17 Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away.

> Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen (Mariner) A debut collection from an extraordinary new talent that vividly gives voice to the men and women of modern China and its diaspora

The Low Desert: Gangster Stories by Tod Goldberg (Counterpoint) With gimlet-eyed cool and razor-sharp wit, these spare, stylish stories from a master of modern crime fiction assemble a world of gangsters and con men, of do-gooders breaking bad and those caught in the crossfire. 

> Prayer for the Living: stories by Ben Okri (Akashic) collection blurs parallel realities and walk the line between darkness and magic.

Wild Swims by Dorthe Nors [t] Misha Hoekstra (Graywolf) a series of intimate, psychologically acute portraits of individuals in states of emotional crisis.

> Milk Blood Heat: Stories by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove) Set among the cities and suburbs of Florida, each story in Milk Blood Heat delves into the ordinary worlds of young girls, women, and men who find themselves confronted by extraordinary moments of violent personal reckoning. 

A History of What Comes Next (BK 1) by Sylvain Neuvel (Tor) SF/H weaves a scfi thriller reminiscent of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, blending a fast moving, darkly satirical look at 1940s rocketry with an exploration of the amorality of progress and the nature of violence 

> Daughter of the Salt King (BK 1) by A.S. Thornton (CamCat) SFF As she finds herself drawn to the jinni for more than his magic, captivated by both him and the world he shows her outside her desert village, she has to decide if freedom is worth the loss of her family, her home and Saalim, the only man she’s ever loved.

> Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (Tor) SFF LGBTQIA when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

The Survivors by Jane Harper (Flatiron) MYS Coming home dredges up deeply buried secrets…

Best Laid Plans (BK 1) by Gwen Florio (Severn House) MYS In the first of a new mystery series, we meet Nora Best as she flees her old life, cheating husband and all, and takes to the road with an Airstream trailer.

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan (Atria) MYS Celeste Ng’s enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson’s creeping dread in this propulsive literary noir, when a sudden tragedy exposes the depths of deception and damage in a Long Island suburb—pitting neighbor against neighbor and putting one family in terrible danger.

> How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (Little, Brown) A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.”

> This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith (Grand Central) a cathartic novel about the life-changing weekend shared between two strangers: a therapist and the man she prevents from ending his life.

> The Removed by Brandon Gibson (Ecco) Steeped in Cherokee myths and history, a novel about a fractured family reckoning with the tragic death of their son long ago

> My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead) An exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure – and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection.

> The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood (Doubleday) HF Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, Bad Muslim Discount is a hilarious, timely, and provocative comic novel about being Muslim immigrants in modern America.

> Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon (St. Martin’s) ROM Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (Atria) HF Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

> Send for Me by Lauren Fox (Knopf) HF An achingly beautiful work of historical fiction that moves between Germany on the eve of World War II and present day Wisconsin, unspooling a thread of love, longing, and the ceaseless push and pull of family

> The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai [t] Lara Vergnaud (AmazonCrossing) a stirring allegory about a country in the aftermath of revolution and the power of a single quest.

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner (Berkley) HF The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

Cormorant Lake by Faith Merino (Blackstone) DEBUT explores the shape of family, the enduring bonds of friendship, and the imperfections of motherhood—messy and beautiful, instinctive and learned, temporal but permanently life-altering.

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