New Kids’ and YA Books: Week of May 17, 2021

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Here we round up new and forthcoming children’s titles including a yeti’s tale, a queer love story, a metafictional middle grade novel, a YA novel about a budding journalist, and more.

Not Yeti by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Claire Keane. Viking, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-593-11407-0. Following a history of “downright abominable” behavior, hulking, furry, teal Yeti realizes that he “liked making things… more than he liked breaking things,” in this picture book.

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan. Putnam, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-593-11253-3. Morgan, “marginally disgraced track star of the female persuasion,” is starting at a new school because queerness is “against the code of conduct” at her old one. On her first day, Ruby—a beauty pageant contestant whom her classmates see as “trashy” because she lives in a trailer—almost runs Morgan down in the school parking lot, and their attraction is instantaneous in this romantic YA novel.

Lily’s Promise by Kathryn Erskine. Quill Tree, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-06-305815-6. In alternating chapters, Erskine (The Incredible Magic of Being) follows the third-person telling of a sixth grade new kid and the meta first-person commentary of Libro—the book itself.

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett. Knopf, $17.99; ISBN 978-1-984829-99-3. Garrett (Full Disclosure) interrogates body image, familial tension, power dynamics, and sexual assault in this contemporary feminist novel about aspiring journalist Josie, a Black 17-year-old from Atlanta. The YA novel earned a starred review from PW.

Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-06-291589-4. In her middle grade debut, Ireland (Dread Nation) deftly balances historical detail and atmosphere, capturing the essence of the centuries-enduring racism that oppresses through actions large and small. Ophie makes a brave, dynamic main character: scared, grieving, and compassionate, while also deeply aware that she deserves more than a racist society permits her.

Branches of Hope: A Story About the 9/11 Survivor Tree by Ann Magee, illus. by Nicole Wong. Charlesbridge, $16.99; ISBN 978-1-62354-132-3. Commemorating 9/11 two decades after its occurrence, debut author Magee’s picture book written in free verse focuses on a city’s endurance as symbolized by New York City’s Survivor Tree, a Callery pear in the World Trade Center Plaza that survived the buildings’ collapse.

It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $18.99; ISBN 978-1-250-76748-6. Debut author Moreland switches between the bandmates of a broken-up musical group of four former best friends; she also uses interview transcripts, social media posts, and fan reports to create a funny, romantic, and moving picture of four young musicians trying to figure out their complicated personal and professional desires amid media scrutiny.

Jelly by Clare Rees. Amulet, $18.99; ISBN 978-1-4197-4556-0. Debut author Rees marries a darkly funny survival account with a climate change creature feature. After much of humankind is eaten or killed, teen narrator Martha, along with peers Kate, Lana, and James, is marooned on top of a gargantuan jellyfish alongside a group of adults, including a soldier, a scientist, and a mythology-interested crone.

Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey. HarperTeen, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-06-299446-2. The You’ve Got Mail–style romance is well executed in this debut, only improved by Rodkey’s cognizant depiction of the financial struggles of bricks-and-mortar bookstores.

Nerdycorn by Andrew Root, illus. by Erin Kraan. Beach Lane, $17.99; ISBN 978-1-5344-6005-8. Like all the other unicorns, the mythical protagonist at the center of this story by Root (Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires!) and Kraan (Something’s Wrong! A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear) has a lavishly curly mane and tail.

When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, illus. by Aaron Asis. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-06-297285-9. Debut author Sterling blends Filipino traditions with popular U.S. summer activities, creating a tender story celebrating culture shared between generations.

On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic Press, $17.99; ISBN 978-1-338-69215-0. Throughout Stork’s (Illegal) unflinching novel centering a 16-year-old chess aficionado turned reformatory school student, his introspective Mexican American protagonist wrestles with an unimaginable question: “how could he live with himself knowing that he let his brother die?” The YA novel earned a starred review from PW.

Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor. HarperTeen, $17.99; ISBN 978-0-06-303888-2. This YA novel with alternating timelines and a boarding school setting offers a persuasive argument for the virtues of questioning groupthink and looking beyond glittering surfaces.

Long Lost by Jacqueline West. Greenwillow, $16.99; ISBN 978-0-06-269175-0. In a spooky middle grade love letter to libraries and the mystery genre, West (Last Things) crafts a spellbinding exploration of sisterhood in a fictional Massachusetts town.

For more children’s and YA titles on sale throughout the month of May, check out PW’s full On-Sale Calendar.

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