If you look carefully, you’ll notice something a little bit different about the books I’ve bought over the course of these past couple weeks: not one of them has been published yet! All of them are pre-orders — books I’m so excited to read I just couldn’t wait until they’re actually out to purchase them. I suggest you get excited for them, too, and while you’re waiting for them to arrive, read (or reread!) these wonderful authors’ other excellent books: Elly Swartz’s Finding Perfect, Lauren Magaziner’s The Only Thing Worse Than Witches and Pilfer Academy, Susan Tan’s Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire, Jill Diamond’s Lou Lou & Pea and the Mural Mystery, Julie Falatko’s Snappsy the Alligator picture books, and Laura Shovan’s The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.
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TRAINS DON’T SLEEP, by Andria Rosenbaum, illustrated by Deirdre Gill
An ode to trains, delivered in clever, evocative rhyme, that takes you on a riveting visual journey through all kinds of lands and locations.
GRANDMOTHER THORN, by Katey Howes, art by Rebecca Hahn
A picture book with the feel of a fable about the limits and loveliness of our relationship with nature, full of gorgeous, utterly absorbing multimedia artwork that’ll have you lingering over each and every page.
DADDY DEPOT, by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Andy Snair
A humorous and heartfelt celebration of dads, DESPITE all their foibles and flaws.
THE WILD BUNCH, by Jan Gangsei
A romp through the wilderness with a delightful cast of characters and as many moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity as edge-of-your-seat excitement.
THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY, by Jodi Kendall
Jodi’s book begins with a ridiculously exciting premise — a boy saves a pig from slaughter and brings her home to his urban Ohio home. That home just so happens to be jam-packed with four other kids, two parents, and a dog. One of those kids is Josie, who is our narrator. Josie, “unnoticed” in her busy home/family, immediately feels a connection with the pig, a runt who was shoved aside by her bigger siblings. Josie’s relationship with the pig only grows stronger as the days pass, complicating her mission to find her a forever home.
But this book is about so much more than that. It’s about the importance and power of having a strong, loving, healthy community. It’s about how hardship can, perhaps paradoxically, bring a family closer together, bridging distances that have formed between its members. It’s about how a kid’s interests can shift and change as much as their bodies, and how that can be both sad and happy, confusing and thrilling. It’s about how other people’s lives and stories are always bigger and more complicated than we think they are from the outside. It’s about how strong the bond between human and animal can be, and how meaningful that bond can become.
On top of all this, the book is beautifully written, and full of some of the most heartwarming family scenes I can ever remember reading. If you haven’t read THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY, do yourself a favor and read it. I promise you won’t regret that you did.
SMART COOKIE, by Elly Swartz — January 30, 2018
Sometimes you need to keep a few secrets.
Frankie knows she’ll be in big trouble if Dad discovers she secretly posted a dating profile for him online. But she’s determined to find him a wife, even if she ends up grounded for life. Frankie wants what she had before Mom died. A family of three. Two is a pair of socks or the wheels on a bicycle or a busy weekend at the B&B where Frankie and Dad live. Three is a family. And Frankie’s is missing a piece.
But Operation Mom is harder to pull off than Frankie expects. None of the Possibles are very momish, the B&B’s guests keep canceling, Frankie’s getting the silent treatment from her once best friend, and there’s a maybe-ghost hanging around. Worst of all, Gram and Dad are definitely hiding secrets of their own.
If a smart cookie like Frankie wants to save the B&B and find her missing piece, she’s going to have to figure out what secrets are worth keeping and when it’s time to let go.
THE 11:11 WISH, by Kim Tomsic — February 13, 2018
Megan Meyers has a foolproof plan to reinvent herself at her new school. Good-bye, dorky math nerd; hello, friend magnet! But her first day at Saguaro Prep starts off weird to the tenth power.
When she’s dared to “make something exciting happen,” Megan is thrown into the middle of an epic power struggle between the two seventh-grade Spirit Captains. So with nothing to lose, Megan wishes for “some magic” as her classroom’s cat clock chimes 11:11—and is granted an enchanted teen magazine promising miracle makeovers and sure-fire secrets for winning friends and crushes.
But magic can have dangerous side effects, and as her social life grows exponentially worse, Megan begins to wonder if wishing was ever a purrfect idea.
WIZARDMATCH, by Lauren Magaziner — March 6, 2018
Twelve-year-old Lennie Mercado loves magic. She practices her invisibility powers all the time (she can now stay invisible for fifteen seconds!), and she dreams of the day that she can visit her grandfather, the Prime Wizard de Pomporromp, at his magical estate.
Now Lennie has her chance. Poppop has decided to retire, and his grandchildren are coming from all over to compete in Wizardmatch. The winner inherits his title, his castle, and every single one of his unlimited magical powers. The losers get nothing. Lennie is desperate to win, but when Poppop creates a new rule to quelch any sibling rivalry, her thoughts turn from winning Wizardmatch to sabotaging it…even if it means betraying her family.
CILLA LEE-JENKINS: THIS BOOK IS A CLASSIC, by Susan Tan — March 27, 2018
Priscilla “Cilla” Lee-Jenkins has just finished her (future) bestselling memoir, and now she’s ready to write a Classic. This one promises to have everything: Romance, Adventure, and plenty of Drama―like Cilla’s struggles to “be more Chinese,” be the perfect flower girl at Aunt Eva’s wedding, and learn how to share her best friend.
In Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic, author Susan Tan seamlessly weaves experiences as a Chinese American with universal stories about being a big sister, making friends, and overcoming fears. Cilla Lee-Jenkins will bulldoze her way into your heart in this winning middle grade novel about family, friendship, and finding your voice.
LOU LOU & PEA AND THE BICENTENNIAL BONANZA, by Jill Diamond, pictures by Lesley Vamos — April 24, 2018
BFFs Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl are busy preparing for the Bicentennial Bonanza, their city’s two-hundredth birthday bash! And this year, the party will take place in their beloved neighborhood of El Corazón. With a baking contest, talent show, and a new gazebo planned, the community can’t wait to celebrate the founders (and historical BFFs), Diego Soto and Giles Wonderwood. But when Vice-Mayor Andy Argyle claims the festivities belong to Verde Valley, using a mysterious diary as evidence, Lou Lou and Pea smell trouble. Will the friends be able to uncover the secrets of their city’s founding, and bring the Bonanza back to El Corazón?
TWO DOGS IN A TRENCH COAT GO TO SCHOOL, by Julia Falatko, illustrated by Colin Jack — May 29, 2018
Sassy and Waldo are good dogs. They spend the day keeping their house safe. Has a squirrel ever gotten inside? No! But every day their boy, Stewart, comes home from this terrible place called school smelling like anxiety and looseleaf paper.
Sassy and Waldo decide to save Stewart. But they don’t let dogs into school. So Sassy and Waldo decide to get creative. They put on an old trench coat, and now everyone at Bea Arthur Elementary thinks they are a new student named Salty from Liver, Ohio. Well, everyone except Stewart.
Sassy and Waldo love school! Everything smells like meat and dirty socks. And they discover a whole other way to help out Stewart!
TAKEDOWN, by Laura Shovan — June 19, 2018
Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a house full of brothers who wrestle, it’s inevitable. It’s also a way to stay connected to her oldest brother, Evan, who moved in with their dad. Some people are objecting to having to having a girl on the team. But that’s not stopping Mikayla. She’s determined to work harder than ever, and win.
Lev is determined to make it to the state championships this year. He’s used to training with his two buddies as the Fearsome Threesome; they know how to work together. At the beginning of sixth grade, he’s paired with a new partner–a girl. This better not get in the way of his goal.
Mikayla and Lev work hard together and become friends. But when they face each other, only one of them can win.