Spring 2021 Children’s Flying Starts

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We spotlight the authors of six of the season’s most promising children’s and YA debuts.

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, whose YA thriller, Ace of Spades, landed on the bestseller list after its first week of publication, did not grow up believing she could be a professional writer.



Gracey Zhang

Debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang spoke with us about Lala’s Words, a picture book fantasy starring a girl who sees beauty in the vacant lots of her city neighborhood and whispers plants into life.


Laekan Zea Kemp

Food and community form the heart of Laekan Zea Kemp’s debut novel, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, a contemporary YA romance set in Austin, Tex. 



Angeline Boulley

Angeline Boulley’s first YA novel, Firekeepers Daughter, the story of an Anishinaabe teen who uses her traditional knowledge and science smarts to solve a crime on her reservation, was sparked from true events.


Michelle Sterling

Michelle Sterling pulls from her family heritage and memories in her debut picture book, When Lola Visits, the tale of a girl’s grandmother visiting the U.S. from the Philippines, along with the summer food they share. 


B.B. Alston

B.B. Alston’s gamble paid off when he shared the concept for his debut middle-grade adventure, Amari and the Night Brothers, via a Twitter pitch event.


A version of this article appeared in the 06/28/2021 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Children’s Flying Starts

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