U.S. Book Show: PW Editors’ Picks Panels for Children’s and YA

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The first U.S. Book Show, a three-day virtual conference produced and hosted by Publishers Weekly to serve the bookselling, library, and publishing industry, will be held virtually from May 25–27. PW’s editors have selected some of the biggest forthcoming fall titles for young readers, which will be presented during the U.S. Book Show’s Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Editors’ Picks Panels. We’ve listed the featured titles below, along with comments from the books’ editors about what makes each story special. Click here for the adult Editors’ Picks Panels; and see the complete programming lineup for the U.S. Book Show here. Be sure to tune in!


Picture Books

Moderated by PW’s senior children’s reviews editor Amanda Bruns, Thursday, May 27, 10:45–11:45 a.m. ET.

Bright Star

Yuyi Morales (Holiday House/Porter, $18.99, Sept. 7)

“Yuyi Morales’s new book, her first since the bestselling Dreamers, is a lullaby—a soft, warm blanket that offers comfort to young children everywhere. But as it’s a work by Yuyi, it’s also a complex, carefully crafted book that touches on immigration, wildlife, and the importance of finding your voice and standing strong. I think that blanket is also a cloak of empowerment, and I can’t wait for readers to try it on.” —Neal Porter, v-p and publisher, Neal Porter Books


Carla and the Christmas Cornbread

Carla Hall, illus. by Cherise Harris (S&S/Millner, $17.99, Nov. 2)

“How could I resist a gorgeous Christmas tale about family, tradition, and food, as told by one of America’s favorite chefs? Carla Hall’s picture book is everything good—full of memories I just know will resonate with readers of any age, race, culture, and background, as its base story is rooted in what we all need and want: love. Plus, Carla included a cornbread recipe and debut illustrator Cherise Harris tucked in a surprise and rare sighting: a Black Santa enjoying his Christmas cornbread!” —Denene Millner, v-p and publisher, Denene Millner Books


Dad Bakes

Katie Yamasaki (Norton Young Readers, $17.95, Sept. 14)

“One of the things I admire about Katie is that she carries a strong sense of justice into her books—but does so lightly; you never feel message overpowers storytelling. Dad Bakes is a story about spending time together that will be familiar to any family. But as the author’s note explains, the bakery is a hint that the dad in the book is recently out of prison, and this is also an illuminating and powerful story about reclaiming family and rebuilding a life.” —Simon Boughton, publishing director, Norton Young Readers


Dream Street

Tricia Elam Walker, illus. by Ekua Holmes (Random/Schwartz, $17.99, Sept. 7)

“The story-behind-the-story of Dream Street is surprising and unique, which makes it a real joy to share with you all. Here’s a sneak peek: Tricia Elam Walker and Ekua Holmes are cousins who grew up together in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood, and dreamed of becoming a writer and an illustrator one day. This is their semi-autobiographical portrait of the nurturing community they remember, where everyone is special and dreams can come true.” —Anne Schwartz, v-p and publisher, Anne Schwartz Books


My Two Border Towns

David Bowles, illus. by Erika Meza (Kokila, $17.99, Aug. 24)

My Two Border Towns is the kind of picture book that’s firing on all cylinders. It’s a tender father-son story; it celebrates the dynamic, fluid, and distinct culture of border town life; and it shows us how borders can’t truly separate people and cultures. What I love most is that it’s a call to action for community care, reminding us of our responsibility to our neighbors on both sides of the border, especially for those with the privilege to cross back and forth without trauma. David Bowles and Erika Meza are exciting creative partners, and their work leads with love.” —Joanna Cárdenas, senior editor, Kokila


Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

Traci N. Todd, illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam, $18.99, Sept. 14)

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone was a dream project. I’ve been a disciple of Nina Simone’s since childhood when I first heard her sultry, soulful voice call out from a record player. I similarly became an instant fan of Traci N. Todd’s lyrical narration of Nina’s life the very first time I read it. The text isn’t just musical, it is music. Perfectly complemented by Caldecott Honoree Christian Robinson’s syncopated illustrations, this book is a worthy homage to one of the most distinguished figures of our time.” —Stacey Barney, executive editor, G.P. Putnam’s Books for Young Readers


The People Remember

Ibi Zoboi, illus. by Loveis Wise (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99, Sept. 28)

“As the editor of Ibi Zoboi’s acclaimed teen novels, I was already familiar with her prodigious talents. But I was blown away by her ambitious first picture book, The People Remember, which uses rhythmic verse to connect the principles of Kwanzaa to the history of African Americans. Loveis Wise is the dream artist for this project—their bold and sophisticated artwork makes the book feel timeless. The result is a tour de force, a moving tribute to Black perseverance, joy, and innovation.” —Alessandra Balzer, v-p and co-publisher, Balzer + Bray


What Is Love?

Mac Barnett, illus. by Carson Ellis (Chronicle, $17.99, Oct. 19)

“There are people you dream about publishing, and if you’re very lucky, you do. And this is definitely a dream project! A wonderfully tender text from Mac Barnett, who’s known for being funny, but who is also a writer of extraordinary depth and subtlety. And astonishing pictures from Carson Ellis, who makes every page-turn beautiful and unexpected. Together they’ve made a love story that gloriously defies clichés while making the most stonyhearted reader cry.” —Ginee Seo, executive publishing director, children’s, Chronicle Books


Middle Grade

Moderated by PW reviewer Gnesis Villar, Thursday, May 27, 1:30–2:30 p.m. ET.

Amira and Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds

Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown, $16.99, Sept. 21)

“After we published Samira Ahmed’s bestselling Internment, I was excited to see what was next, and thrilled when I heard she was writing middle grade. Amira and Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds is a masterfully written, fun, and funny fantasy adventure featuring two brown Indian Muslim kids who get to be the heroes of their own book. For me, it was a real bright spot editing this book during the uncertain first months of the pandemic—I love this book so much!” —Alvina Ling, v-p and editor-in-chief, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


The Beatryce Prophecy

Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Sophie Blackall (Candlewick, $19.99, Sept. 28)

“From the very first page of this luminous novel, readers will be drawn into a world of monks and soldiers, prophecies and adventure. They will fall in love with Beatryce, the abandoned child who takes her destiny into her own hands, along with the ferocious goat Answelica. Together, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall have created a fiercely beautiful story about the power of love, community, and the written word.” —Andrea Tompa, executive editor, Candlewick Press


Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter

Veronica Chambers and the New York Times (Versify, $21.99, Aug. 17)

Call and Response is an exploration of living history and an invaluable resource for readers everywhere, both young and old, who need concrete, factual information about the Black Lives Matter movement. I wish this book wasn’t still so timely. These striking photographs, visual timelines, in-depth reporting, and first-person accounts provide a solid starting point to understand current events. Everyone will get something out of this book.” —Weslie Turner, senior editor, Versify


Fast Pitch

Nic Stone (Crown, $17.99, Aug. 31)

“Shenice ‘Lightning’ Lockwood, captain of the Fulton Firebirds, the first all-Black girls’ softball team chooses between going for the win or exonerating her ancestor, who had been falsely accused of theft. This entertaining, thoughtful, textured novel is about intersectionality, rediscovering family history, and what it means to be a hero. [The book was] inspired by a favorite movie, Sandlot, and Stone’s softball playing days. It’s about time we had a novel about an African American girl brainiac athlete. Thank you, Nic Stone.” —Phoebe Yeh, v-p and publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers


How to Find What You’re Not Looking For

Veera Hiranandani (Kokila, $17.99, Sept. 14)

“Veera Hiranandani has an extraordinary capacity to take big, historical moments and render them so immediate and so intimate through her storytelling. I love How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, not just because it gives us a peek into a story from the 1960s that has great resonance for Veera, but for how it gives readers a tool for today—about how to find our voices when confronting the people we love most on the prejudices they may hold.” —Namrata Tripathi, v-p and publisher, Kokila


Kaleidoscope

Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press, $19.99, Sept. 21)

“With Kaleidoscope, Brian somehow manages to tap into the feelings so many of us are having these days—confusion, grief, and loss, as well as love, attachment, and gratitude to be alive—and transforms them into a stunning story that will mean something different to every kid or adult who reads it. I have read it dozens of times now, and it astonishes and moves me every time.” —David Levithan, v-p, publisher, and editorial director, Scholastic


Stuntboy, In the Meantime

Jason Reynolds, illus. by Raúl the Third (Atheneum/Dlouhy, $13.99, Nov. 9)

“Who is Stuntboy? Basically the greatest superhero you’ve never heard of. The reason you’ve never heard of him? Because Stuntboy’s superpower is ensuring all the other superheroes (i.e., folks he loves) stay super. Which he does all in secret. But our modest superhero might need a superhero of his own to battle ‘the frets’ he develops as his parents endlessly bicker. The uncanny capturing of a pre-tween’s angst and silliness, melds with hundreds of exquisitely madcap illustrations to create a new superhero I’m utterly besotted with.” —Caitlyn Dlouhy, v-p and editorial director, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books


Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero

Saadia Faruqi (HarperCollins/Quill Tree, $16.99, Sept. 7)

“In Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero, Saadia Faruqi brilliantly explores what life is like for a Muslim boy living in small-town Texas 20 years after the attacks of 9/11, as his neighbors plan a 20th-anniversary commemorative parade, and old resentments are stirred up. By reading his uncle’s journal from 20 years earlier, Yusuf learns what his uncle endured at that time. This is a strong and thought-provoking portrait of bravery, family, and community.” —Rosemary Brosnan, v-p and editorial director, Quill Tree and Heartdrum


Young Adult

Moderated by PW reviewer Sanina Clark, Thursday, May 27, 3:15–4:15 p.m. ET.

All of Us Villains

Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman (Tor Teen, $18.99, Nov. 9)

“I’m obsessed. All of Us Villains is full of everything a dark death-tournament fantasy should be—impossible odds, meddling spellmakers, boys in dark eyeliner, enemies to lovers, magic used for bad things, spilled blood, and sweet, sweet revenge. Not to mention it’s also an exploration of generational wealth, power, and privilege in the long shadow of a cruel legacy. It’s basically ‘the Hunger Games with magic’ and it lives up to the hype.” —Ali Fisher, senior editor, Tor Teen


Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

Benjamin Alire Sáenz (S&S, $19.99, Oct. 12)

“It’s been an honor to carry forward the editorial legacy of David Gale, who first brought Ari and Dante to Simon & Schuster, and to get to work with Benjamin Alire Sáenz, a poet and an icon. These beloved characters, Aristotle and Dante, have so much to teach us about life and love, and watching Ari and Dante continue their journey in this book is like reconnecting with dear friends after a long time apart.” —Kendra Levin, editorial director, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


Huda F Are You?

Huda Fahmy (Dial, $22.95, Nov. 2)

“I’ve been a huge fan of Huda Fahmy’s webcomic, Yes I’m Hot in This, for years, and immediately fell in love with her new YA graphic novel, Huda F Are You? Through Huda’s eyes, being a Muslim kid and child of immigrants in America is a weird, funny, confusing experience, with lots of big identity questions in the mix. Huda’s signature tongue-in-cheek sense of humor captures all of that and truly makes me laugh out loud every time I read the book.” —Dana Chidiac, editor, Dial Books for Young Readers


Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People

Kekla Magoon (Candlewick, $24.99, Sept. 28)

“Margaret A. Edwards Award–winning author Kekla Magoon has produced a true masterpiece: a fascinating, brilliantly researched and written history of the Black Panther Party, placed in the context of the African American experience from slavery to Black Lives Matter. Learning about the heartbreakingly young, brave, and passionate members of the party and the lengths the U.S. government went to destroy them was a revelation for me, and young readers deserve to read their story.” —Andrea Tompa, executive editor, Candlewick


A Snake Falls to Earth

Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido, $18.99, Oct. 12)

“Reading Darcie Little Badger’s writing is a pure joy. I’ll admit a little voice in my head said, how is she going to top Elatsoe? But now that little voice is pretty damn quiet because Darcie has written a masterpiece. It’s a bold, surprising, imaginative tale, influenced by traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure, and one that makes me whip through the pages and think—and feel—deeply about the families we’re given, and the ones we find.” —Nick Thomas, senior editor, Levine Querido


Terciel and Elinor

Garth Nix (HarperCollins/Tegen, $19.99, Nov. 2)

“There are few greater pleasures than reading a new book in the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. The series began 25 years ago with Sabriel, a genre creator in feminist YA fantasy. Terciel and Elinor is the spellbinding story of two young people discovering their magical powers and falling in love, and it lays the groundwork for the mythology of the Old Kingdom. It is a stunning standalone as well as a delicious prequel to a beloved series.” —Katherine Tegen, v-p and publisher, Katherine Tegen Books


We Light Up the Sky

Lilliam Rivera (Bloomsbury, $17.99, Oct. 5)

We Light Up the Sky is a taut, impactful story that truly defies genre. I fell so hard for Luna, Pedro, and Rafa, and would have eagerly read a realistic contemporary novel about their lives. But then Lilliam introduced an extraterrestrial Visitor and took the stakes to a whole new level. The result is exciting and chilling and fresh, with a searing social commentary that really gets readers thinking.” —Mary Kate Castellani, publishing director, Bloomsbury Children’s Books


We Are Not Broken

George M. Johnson (Little, Brown, $17.99, Sept. 7)

“Reading We Are Not Broken feels like falling into a story told by the closest of friends. From the very first chapter, George speaks with both warmth and authority and digs into the topics of family, boyhood, matriarchal love, and joy like no one else. I’m honored to work with them and bring this honest, hopeful title to readers everywhere.” —Alexandra Hightower, editor, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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