The Winter 2018–2019 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview [5]

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Here’s a preview of the titles on the Winter 2018–2019 Kids’ Indie Next List flier, arriving at stores in the upcoming Kids’ White Box.

The four-page, full-color flier features the top 10 children’s titles for the winter publishing season and an additional 42 titles organized by age group. All Indie Next List picks are based on recommendations from booksellers at independent bookstores across the country and include a bookseller quote and full bibliographic information.

The top 10 Kids’ Indie Next List titles are also available on downloadable shelf-talkers [6].

The nomination deadline for the Spring 2019 Kids’ Indie Next List is January 10, 2019. The list will focus on titles published between February 1 and April 30, 2019. Nominations may be submitted via e-mail [7], the online nomination form [8], or through Edelweiss [9] or NetGalley [10].

The Winter 2018–2019 Kids’ Indie Next Great Reads

The Top Ten

1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
(jimmy Patterson, 9780316561365, $18.99)
Girls of Paper and Fire, like its dauntless heroine, is destined for greatness. YA fantasy has waited too long for a book like this. In a lush fantasy world where opulence hides cruelty, low-caste human girls are stolen from their homes to become concubines of the powerful Demon King. These Paper Girls are told they have no future outside of the hidden palace, but one girl, Lei, is determined to escape. Lei is a humble but fierce heroine whose friendship with another girl in the palace soon turns to something more. Ngan brings every facet of this world and its characters to life with her evocative, emotional prose and a love story that defies the odds.” —Kiersten Acker, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
(Bloomsbury YA, 9781681195087, $18.99, available January)
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but it is so much more than that. Yes, there is a cursed kingdom, a prince that turns into a monster, and a girl he hopes will love him and break the curse. But the girl is from modern D.C. and has cerebral palsy, which is part of her but does not define her, and she becomes a badass who completely changes the game. This book is nonstop action from the opening sentence to the last paragraph. I fell in love with all of the characters and the world they inhabit. I really, really hope there is a sequel, as I will be first in line to read it!” —Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, NY

3. The Wicked King by Holly Black
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316310352, $19.99, available January)
“This sequel to The Cruel Prince is tense, atmospheric, twisty, and everything I wanted it to be. Jude survived the events of the first book, but not without sacrifices — and now she has to fight to keep her power, fend off the fae of the Undersea, and untangle her complicated relationship with High King Cardan. This book will take you for a wild ride, and you won’t be able to put it down. The moral gray areas, difficult decisions, and suspense will captivate you and ensure you’re still thinking about it when you finish. It’s a smart, beautifully written book that brings the world of Faerie to life with vivid detail.” —April Poole, Brewster Book Store, Brewster, MA

4. Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt (Indies Introduce)
(Candlewick, 9781536200928, $16.99)
“Taking place over a 24-hour period, Speechless starts fast and never slows down. When Jimmy arrives at his cousin’s wake, he learns he has to speak at the funeral the next day. You know, about the cousin who always made things harder, who was hard to get along with, who was downright mean at times. It’s unusual to have a book about grief, especially conflicted grief, for this age group. Adam P. Schmitt has pulled it off — he’s an author to watch. ” —Buffy Cummins, Second Star to the Right Children’s Books, Denver, CO

5. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
(Wednesday Books, 9781250144546, $18.99, available January)
The Gilded Wolves is Roshani Chokshi’s best book yet. Chokshi’s beautifully crafted prose; her vivid, seamless, and organically diverse characterizations; and her clever, magical settings — in this case a Paris that I want to linger in forever — combine with an intricate plot that’s a little bit Ocean’s Eleven, a bit little treasure hunt, and a whole lot of magical. This is the book that Chokshi has been building toward. It is gorgeous, lush, and rich in its world-building, deliciously readable, and left me aching for the rest of the series. Bravo! I’m swooning!” —Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

6. Pulp by Robin Talley
(Harlequin Teen, 9781335012906, $18.99)
“Following two queer teen girls through defining moments in their lives, Pulp navigates parallel stories connected by the characters’ encounters with lesbian pulp novels of the 1950s. Robin Talley deftly shifts between the two stories, showing the challenges both girls face, from breakups and fighting parents to fear of being outed and facing the consequences of the Lavender Scare. Pulp is many things: a coming-of-age novel, a story of fighting for social change, and a reminder that finding yourself in the pages of a book can make you feel like you’re not alone in the world.” —Lelia Nebeker, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

7. The Disasters by M.K. England
(HarperTeen, 9780062657671, $17.99, available December)
“In this exhilarating space adventure story, Star Trek meets The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy. Five ragtag teens, known throughout the intergalactic colonies of Earth as treasonous thieves and murderers, face charges for a crime they didn’t commit. Four of them were rejects from the elite space academy that patrols the galaxy, and the other, the daughter of a crime lord, is trying to break free from her surroundings. To save the people of the space colonies from a genocide beyond imagination, they must fight against all odds while being hunted down themselves. Great page-turner! This story will keep you on your toes!” —Anna Rose Carleton, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d’Alene, ID

8. Inkling by Kenneth Oppel, Sydney Smith (Illus.)
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781524772819, $17.99)
“I never knew I could care about a little ink blot so deeply. This story is full of exciting moments, references plenty of superheroes and graphic novel culture, and reminds us all that we become what we consume — for better or for worse! But if we consume enough variety, we find our own voice in the process. This book is a must-read for any creative, young or old, and will certainly tug on your heartstrings!” —Jordan Arias, Anderson’s Bookshops, Naperville, IL

9. When Sadness Is at Your Door by Eva Eland
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780525707189, $17.99, available January)
“An important book that should be shared with children and adults of all ages. Reminding us to be mindful of our feelings, When Sadness Is at Your Door helps children understand the place that sadness has in our lives. The illustrations are beautiful and fit the story perfectly, and they don’t make sadness seem scary or like something bad that needs to be driven away. I can see myself sharing this book with adult friends and family members going through difficult times as well.” —Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

10. My Heart by Corinna Luyken
(Dial Books, 9780735227934, $17.99, available January)
“Perfect for anyone who loved Matt de la Peña’s Love or Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Dear Girl, Corinna Luyken’s My Heart is a gorgeous exploration of what we hold dear. With sweet, simple lines and messy brushstrokes, Luyken illustrates in a profound and heartfelt way the variety of emotions we have and how we can choose to use them.” —Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Ages 4 to 8

Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson, Sharon King-Chai (Illus.)
(Dial Books, 9780525554158, $20.99)
“Practice maneuvering these flaps and showing off all the aspects of the gorgeous illustrations because Animalphabet would make a TREMENDOUS story time read!” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

Chicken Talk by Patricia MacLachlan, Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Illus.)
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062398642, $17.99, available January)
“The term ‘chicken scratch’ gets a whole new meaning in this delightful barnyard tale from award-winning author-illustrator team Patricia MacLachlan and Jarrett J. Krosoczka.” —Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Dragon Night by J.R. Krause
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780525514244. $16.99, available January)
“Such a sweet story with gorgeous illustrations. I’m in love with the dragon and the little boy’s quest to save each other from the ‘night’/’knight.’ This book is perfect for anyone who needs to conquer their fears or at least look at them from another point of view. You’ll want to read it at bedtime so you can snuggle it close as you fall asleep.” —Brandi Stewart, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

The Goose Egg by Liz Wong
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780553511574, $17.99, available January)
“When Henrietta the Elephant ‘adopts’ baby Goose, she does her best to raise her as a proper goose despite how noisy baby Goose makes Henrietta’s once-quiet home. Henrietta misses the quietness and is anxious for Goose to head off on her own, but when the time comes and Goose is gone, Henrietta misses Goose terribly. Her quiet home is too quiet and she feels so lonely. One day Henrietta hears a goose honk but thinks it’s her imagination until she looks outside to find baby Goose is now a Mother Goose and has brought all her goslings! Once again, Henrietta’s home is full of noise, happiness, and love. A story that will warm your heart. Absolutely beautiful illustrations!” —Amanda Zirn Hudson, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, DE

Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, Shane W. Evans (Illus.)
(Dial Books, 9780525552314, $17.99, available January)
“I am so, so impressed with this book. Breanna J. McDaniel’s writing brings to the forefront a societal issue that will make this an important picture book now and for years to come. I am 100 percent here for books that portray black and brown children in everyday occurrences, to help show the diversity that is truly America today. As a fan of Shane Evans’ work, I think his illustrations pair wonderfully with McDaniel’s words. This is a book that needs to be on everyone’s shelves.” —Clarissa Hadge, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA

Harold Loves His Woolly Hat by Vern Kousky
(Schwartz & Wade, 9781524764678, $17.99, available December)
“This is a sweet story with even sweeter illustrations. Harold’s beloved woolly hat is stolen by a crow who just won’t give it back. But when Harold learns that his hat is being put to good use, as well as all the trinkets he’s offered in trade, he’s happy to have helped and realizes he doesn’t need his hat to know that he’s special. A great book that teaches that it’s not what we have but what we do that matters.” —Tildy Banker-Johnson, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA

How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams, Christopher Silas Neal (Illus.)
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062394446, $17.99, available December)
“I love this unapologetically romantic picture book! A fresh take on a classic poem.” —Hilary Barrineau, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, Kristyna Litten (Illus.)
(HarperCollins, 9780062574206, $17.99, available December)
“‘I will love you till the ants march in/wearing tiny ant hats/and tiny ant grins/and birthday cake crumbs on their tiny ant chins./I will love you till the ants march in.’ This silly but deeply heartfelt riff on Guess How Much I Love You is a joyful depiction of steadfast love. It will quickly become your go-to gift for new parents and those you love most, no matter their age.” —Sara Grochowski, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Lola Dutch: When I Grow Up by Kenneth Wright, Sarah Jane Wright (Illus.)
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781681195544, $17.99, available January)
“Lola Dutch is back, and her ideas have gotten no smaller since the last time we saw her! Thinking about what she might want to be when she grows up, Lola and her friends spare no effort in exploring the various options that strike her fancy. As Lola works and grows, she decides what she really wants is to be a kid and to learn about everything — and there’s always tomorrow, when she may decide to try something else entirely. Filled with as much curiosity and charm as the first book!” —Kelly O’Sullivan, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT

Love, Z  by Jessie Sima
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481496773, $17.99, available December)
“Z the robot goes on a quest to find the meaning of love, but none of the answers he finds compute — until he meets the reason for his quest and the answer to his question. This perfect read-aloud warmed my heart, recharged my batteries, and made me smile.” —Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Loving Hands by Tony Johnston, Amy June Bates (Illus.)
(Candlewick, 9780763679934, $16.99, available December)
Loving Hands is a delightful book that shows how loving hands that caress, heal, soothe, and support can create strong mother-son relationships. Great for new mothers and grandmothers wanting to bond with their sons and grandsons. The soothing lyrical verse is enhanced by warm watercolor illustrations. Upon reading this, many will want to find small hands to hold and lead through life.” —Candace Moreno, San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe, San Marino, CA

P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Haldar, Chris Carpenter, Maria Beddia (Illus.)
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 9781492674313, $17.99)
“This is not your mother’s alphabet book! This is not for a young child just learning their alphabet. It could be used in classes as young as second grade but all the way to junior high due to the items mentioned, like bdellium (pronounced DEL-ee-yum). It would make a great gift for someone who collects alphabet books. There is a glossary at the end to help with the words (looking at you, Qatar) and fantastic illustrations. Next time I get a pet zebra I am calling it Zhivago, and I hope the next pterodactyl I see is called Ptolemy, but that it does not have psoriasis.” —Jeanette Sessions, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar (Illus.)
(HarperCollins, 9780062748683, $17.99, available January)
“Pura Belpré led a rich life filled with travel, music, and countless stories. Her own inspiring story is beautifully presented in this perfect picture book. Readers will be inspired by this gentle, determined woman who knew it was vital to share the folklore that had been such a big part of her childhood in Puerto Rico. For years, she read enthusiastically to countless children, spoke passionately to crowds of librarians, and retold treasured cultural tales in books. The influence of her work is still felt today, and Planting Stories is a worthy tribute.” —Christopher Rose, The Spirit of ’76 Bookstore, Marblehead, MA

There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780399556654, $17.99, available January)
“Muffin the cat will capture the hearts of readers young and old! The story is sweet and the illustrations are charming. This will definitely be a book I recommend for story time!” —Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri
(First Second, 9781626725355, $17.99)
“This is super adorable and sweet. Tiger’s best friend is the monster under her bed (named Monster), who protects her sleep from nightmares. One night, though, a nightmare/monster shows up that is too strong for Monster to take on alone. Can these two friends work together toward a solution? I loved this so much. I wish I’d had this when my nephew went through his monster phase.” —Krystal Gotz, Paperbacks and Pieces, Winona, MN

Ages 9 to 12

Angel and Bavar by Amy Wilson
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062671516, $16.99)
“What a great fantasy book for middle-grade readers! Bavar is full of magic, and he must keep the evil Raksasa from getting through the barrier. Angel is his catalyst, the person who is going to help him close the rift and make the Raksasa go back to where they belong. So very exciting and full of wonder. I enjoyed every minute of it.” —Julie Poling, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr
(Candlewick, 9781536200171, $16.99)
“Astrid may not have other children to play with in her small Norwegian village of Glimmerdal, but her life is full nonetheless. There’s her 74-year-old best friend, her pet seagull Snorri, and the most beautiful mountains and valleys and waterfalls just perfect for grand adventures. As long as she stays away from Mr. Hagen’s Wellness Retreat and dogs, her life is very nearly perfect. But perfection isn’t what life is about. It’s about singing really loudly while careening through town on a sled, heading off to make new friends, reuniting with old friends, and solving a decades-old mystery. A darling addition to the list of feel-good stories featuring headstrong young girls being true to themselves and having fun while doing it.” —BrocheAroe Fabian, River Dog Book Co., Beaver Dam, WI

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780525578611, $16.99)
“While the only cover I will love is the beloved copy I still own 40 years after my grandmother gave it to me, this timeless novel — the best of Noel Streatfeild’s famed ‘shoe’ stories — deserves a new hardcover edition. Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil, along with Gum, Sylvia, and Nana, are wonderful old friends I revisit every year. A jewel of a story that every child should have.” —Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Blended by Sharon M. Draper
(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781442495005, $16.99)
“Sharon Draper has an incredible gift for perfectly capturing the experience of growing up, and Blended is the best middle-grade perspective novel I’ve read in a long time. I laughed and cried with Izzy as she mastered the piano, faced down sets of squabbling parents, and learned about her racial identity. She’s the kind of expressive and incredible heroine readers dream about, and I can’t wait for young readers to love her as much as I do. I want to give this novel a huge hug and an even bigger scoop of ice cream.” —Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
(Aladdin, 9781534426580, $17.99)
“First and foremost, this is a really fun read. We follow Charlie Hernández during what is probably the worst part of his life: It has been two months since his parents disappeared and his house burned down. Needless to say, things are looking grim, but school has started and provided some sense of normalcy. But that is shattered when he begins growing feathers! And then, all of a sudden, figures and creatures from the stories his abuela always told him start showing up. This sincere and funny story has a lot of heart and deals with myths that are not often given the spotlight. With a personable protagonist and deft writing, Charlie Hernández is perfect for fans of Percy Jackson or the Spiderwick Chronicles, as well as those just wanting to hear a new and different voice in fiction.” —Will Bason, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LaFleur
(Wendy Lamb Books, 9781524771799, $16.99)
Counting to Perfect is a beautiful story of sisters, one that takes a gentle look at teenage pregnancy without much drama and in what seems like a very real way.” —Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore & Toystore, Millbrook, NY

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9781524770457, $16.99)
“Did you know there’s a portal to other dimensions right at the entrance to Prospect Park? And that time travel exists? A marvelous boy is dropped off with a strange woman for the day while his mother goes off to navigate real-world problems (a single mother fighting eviction from their apartment). The woman he is dropped off with turns out to be a witch, and together they set out to deliver three small dragons back to their realm because there’s no magic left in our world and they won’t survive here. I love the magical escape from the complexity of life as a city kid, that real city-kid issues are addressed in the backstory, and that this is subtle enough to not feel pedantic.” —Rebecca Fitting, Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene), Brooklyn, NY

Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff by Andrea Portes
(HarperCollins, 9780062560025, $16.99)
“An intelligently written story that will tickle your imagination, stretch your vocabulary, and exercise your mystery-solving muscles. A quirky sister and her analytical brother employ the help of ghostly ancestors to solve the mystery of their parents’ untimely and tragic deaths. A delightfully Californian escape.” —Kathy Blattman, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d’Alene, ID

It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 9781524766436, $16.99)
“Written in a highly accessible, chatty style that will help young readers situate themselves in a shifting narrative, It Wasn’t Me tells the story of a horrifying act of bullying and one teacher’s quest to find out the truth and bring healing to the victim and the school. Held in a Breakfast Club-style detention-not-detention (a sort of restorative justice process), the five kids found at the scene of the crime are forced to grapple with each other, looking past the stereotypes and seeing the character of the individual for the first time. Tremendously readable, packed full of slang (Theo’s voice is highly distinctive), and infused with authentic emotional exploration, It Wasn’t Me is a fantastic middle-grade novel, perfect for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.” —Paul Murufas, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts by Leah Tinari
(Aladdin, 9781534418554, $19.99)
“WOW. This intriguing group of American women peer out at the reader through beautiful portraits that give an impression of concentrated, unique strength and character. So empowering! So cool!” —Rebecca Waesch, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood
(Disney-Hyperion, 9781368016506, $16.99)
Love Like Sky tackles the complexity of a blended family, from a new home to a new stepdad and stepsister. G-Baby has difficult situations to deal with as an 11-year-old, but she succeeds with the help of her extended family and friends. Learning to open up and trust within a newly blended family helps G-Baby to emotionally tackle the sudden illness of her baby sister, Peaches.” —Kathi Rauscher, Hockessin Bookshelf, Hockessin, DE

Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce
(Crown Books for Young Readers, 9781101931080, $13.99, available January)
“Great fun! Not exactly Big Nate in the Middle Ages, but the same sense of humor is evident here. Max wants to be a knight, but is apprenticed to a troubadour (and not a very good one at that). But, when the need arises, Max gathers her (yes, her!) band of Midknights to save her uncle, rescue the captive king, and overthrow the evil tyrant who usurped the throne.” —Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar, Waterville, ME

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534406469, $17.99)
“A whimsical, magical tale full of humor, adventure, and some of the oddest dangers in children’s literature (flesh-eating cabbages? Frostbite fairies that will literally bite you?). Readers will fall in love with the main character and her fellow explorers right away and will no doubt be chomping at the bit for the next book in the series by the end.” —Chris Abouzeid, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
(Square Fish, 9781250294470, trade paper, $12.99, available January)
Undefeated is another gem from award-winning author Steve Sheinkin. It is the compelling biography of Jim Thorpe, a famous Native American football player in the early 1900s and the 1912 Olympic track star who was said to be ‘the best athlete on the planet.’ In a conversational style, master storyteller Sheinkin presents an extremely readable and well-researched look at Thorpe’s complicated and stranger-than-fiction life. It highlights his time at the Carlisle Indian School and tells the story of his head coach, Pop Warner. How the game of football evolved during Thorpe’s active years is fascinating. This book is a must-read for lovers of exceptional biographies.” —Barbara Katz, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062563880, $16.99, available January)
“Before a cheating scandal (in which he played no part) shattered his career and reputation, Zachary Kermit had been the teacher every kid should have. Years have passed and Mr. Kermit is merely counting the days until he can retire. Assigned to teach the SCS-8 class — the infamous ‘unteachables’ — Mr. Kermit (aka ‘Ribbit’) is committed to remaining as disengaged as possible. It is a terrific premise, and Gordon Korman tells his outrageous story with skill and humor. Best of all, he reaffirms the worth of all students (and good teachers, too). This is a winner!” —Christopher Rose, The Spirit of ’76 Bookstore, Marblehead, MA

For Teens

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Ibi Zoboi (Ed.)
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062698728, $17.99, available January)
“Jam-packed with stories by rock star authors like Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, and Rita Williams-Garcia, this anthology explores multiple ways of being black in the United States. The entries vary in themes and identities held, showcasing everything from gay and lesbian romance to police brutality to class divisions to issues of faith. The book made me laugh, cry, and think.” —Christine Stamper, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781481488440, $18.99, available January)
“Peternelle van Arsdale writes old-fashioned fairy tales for modern girls. With The Cold Is in Her Bones, she takes inspiration from Greek mythology and Eastern European folklore to craft the tale of Milla, a girl who has always tried to be good, even though on the inside she’s angry and frustrated. Milla’s quest is not to win the hand of her true love, but to rescue her brother and the sister-of-her-heart and, in so doing, rescue all the other cast-off girls and lift the curse that plagues her village. Milla is every girl who chafes against society’s expectations, every girl who has ever been told or made to feel that she is not enough, every girl who has been outcast or ridiculed for being different — in short, Milla is Every Girl and her story reminds us that just because others say we can’t doesn’t oblige us to believe them.”  —Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville, OR

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544530942, $17.99)
“What a fantastic fantasy read! Author Emiko Jean makes full use of Japanese words and mystical elements of the yokai to craft a feudal-like world of historical emperor-led Japan featuring a kick-ass young woman with powers beyond mortal humans. Her Hunger Games-like quest of survival of the fittest in the bewitched Season Rooms brings together themes of love, trust, and loyalty. A real page-turner, this young adult fantasy is sure to be hit.” —Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

Four Three Two One by Courtney Stevens
(HarperTeen, 9780062398543, $17.99)
“Stevens has written an incredibly insightful story about how tragedy divides and connects. Each survivor harbors an internal conflict, including guilt, that they must face head-on. Each character is compelling in their own way as they struggle to come to terms with what happened the fateful day a teenager set off a bomb on their bus. A stunningly smart, terrifyingly realistic novel.” —Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana, Frederick, MD

How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316523813, $17.99)
“One of my absolute favorite books of 2018! The unnamed main character is one of five girls that were texted by a local boy with murder on his mind — only one girl replied, and only one girl was brutally murdered. A year later, our heroine is dealing with survivor’s guilt, the upcoming sentencing for the murderer, and a crush on the dead girl’s boyfriend. A life forever changed by the what-ifs of one fateful day — the violence that can so easily end the life of any woman — makes for an unforgettable and unputdownable read.” —Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
(Philomel Books, 9781524738327, $18.99)
“I LOVED the way folk tales were interwoven with the narrative in this worthy companion to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. So much of this book is beautifully relevant to our world today. Lovely.” —Rebecca Wells, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780399547614, $18.99, available January)
“This is a book you won’t want to put down and you’ll never forget. Seeing the world through Abdi’s eyes might change the way you see refugees, child soldiers, the U.S. government, and so much more. Ethical dilemmas, heart-wrenching situations, and moments of unbelievable courage abound. Although the topics are difficult, it reads easily — a page-turner with heart and a stunning back-and-forth structure. Make sure you make time for this.” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
(Freeform, 9781368014137, $17.99)
“A great, fun read that contains a dash of love and lots of humor. Sawyer is a mechanic; working keeps her busy and it helps her mom pay the bills. She never expected her estranged grandmother to show up and offer her a way out of the paycheck-to-paycheck life she leads. But there’s a catch: Sawyer must become a debutante and live the ‘good’ life her grandmother has laid out for her. And as a bonus, maybe she’ll find out who her dad is. All of it sounds like an old soap opera to her, but Sawyer’s going to milk it for everything it’s worth.” —Alexis Sky, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
(Scholastic Press, 9781338227017, $17.99, available January)
“This honest and real book really delivered and is already one of my favorites! Khan shows us the realities of a Muslim lesbian teen and the difficulties she has within her family and a group of friends. We see the extremes of the situation, but we also see the importance of family and the Bengali traditions. I loved Rukhsana’s firmness in her own beliefs even while struggling with the traditions of her family. This really takes LGBTQ fiction to another level and will help open readers’ eyes to the realities that many face in these changing times.” —Candace Robinson, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
(Simon Pulse, 9781481497763, $18.99, available January)
“Peter has spent years on the transplant list, studying piano while he waits for a donor kidney. His neighbor, Sophie, is consumed by dance and her secret crush on Peter. They’ve wrapped themselves so tightly into an exclusive friendship that there’s never room for anyone else... until Sophie turns 18 and proves to be a perfect match. When her gift of a kidney frees Peter to follow dreams that don’t include his best friend, Sophie is devastated and forced to rethink everything she’s expected and planned for. Solomon has a talent for making me fall in love with her complex and somewhat difficult characters and then writing them into heartbreaking situations bound to tear their already challenging lives to pieces. Told through lovely and expressive prose, you’ll be thinking about the choices Sophie and Peter make long after you’ve turned the last page.” —Jenny Chou, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow
(HarperTeen, 9780062494238, $17.99)
“This is a story of three young women who used to be inseparable. Dia, a young mother; Jules, a punk lesbian; and Hanna, a recovering alcoholic. Fate (and a $15,000 prize) bring them back together, reigniting their all-girl rock band in a whole new chapter of their lives. Barrow invents incredible, real lives that anyone can connect with immediately. How beautiful she makes every seemingly ordinary life. I implore any fan of contemporary fiction to give it a read, because it has everything you could ever want.” —Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
(Delacorte Press, 9781524714727, $19.99, available January)
“When Ellery shows up to Echo Ridge, she doesn’t want to be there; her mother is in rehab, her grandmother isn’t exactly warm and welcoming, and her twin brother, Ezra, is determined to make sure they don’t wallow. When their first night in the little town introduces them to death, both Ellery and Ezra realize there are lots of secrets in this little town and everyone has them. When the past begins to repeat itself, Ellery realizes that her life is in danger and that she must solve the mystery that has plagued the town for decades. A gripping read that kept me captive until the very last page. McManus is a wonderful writer, and I look forward to seeing what else she has up her sleeve.” —Teresa Steele, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO