2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up

Does your collection include this year’s critically acclaimed books? See what Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and more, say about the top reviewed books of 2020 for kids and teens!


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water 1

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruptiona bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.


★ “In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice. An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Goade’s watercolor illustrations fill the spreads with streaming ribbons of water, cosmic backdrops, and lush natural landscapes…. Lindstrom’s spare, poetic text flows with the ‘river’s rhythm.’ Written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe—and others—these pages carry grief, but it is overshadowed by hope in what is an unapologetic call to action.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “Observation is not enough, the book communicates: action is necessary… A passionate call for environmental stewardship.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “This book will both educate and inspire youth.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “A gorgeous and empowering picture book with an urgent environmental plea.” —BookPage, starred review

black is arainbow color

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.


★ “Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “A treasure trove of positivity, strength, and pride for anyone seeking to uplift and educate young people.” —Horn Book, starred review

★ “A beautifully told and illustrated celebration of African American people and ethnology, Black Is a Rainbow Color thoughtfully explores what the Black experience means to a child . . . A must-have for children’s collections.” —Booklist, starred review

two many birds

Two Many Birds by Cindy Derby

Filled with heart, humor, and relevance, this side-splitting picture book, Two Many Birds, by author/illustrator Cindy Derby, opens minds and entertains all at once.


“Funny, socially relevant, and visually engrossing, this one is worth perching prominently on the shelf.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “Surprisingly topical and overall egg-cellent.”—Kirkus, starred review

*”The mood, colors, and message of thinking outside the perch for the sake of harmony will resonate.” School Library Journal, starred review

where lily isnt

Where Lily Isn’t by Julie Paschkis, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Where Lily Isn’t is Julie Paschkis and Margaret Chodos-Irvine’s beautiful bereavement picture book celebrating the love of a lost pet.


★ “Understated but powerful… with a sweet, unforgettable ending.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Poignant . . it’s the authentic specifics about the experience of loss, unfolding in Paschkis’ quietly rhythmic prose, that make it so real as well as so sad. Chodos-Irvine’s light-filled stencil and gouache artwork is key to controlling the mood.” —The Bulletin, starred review


Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III; foreword by Jason Reynolds

Woke: A Young Poet’s Guide to Justice is a collection of poems to inspire kids to stay woke and become a new generation of activists.


★ “Read it; gift it; use it to challenge, protect, and grow.” —Kirkus, starred review

★ “An important book that demands to be seen. It adds to the conversation of #OwnVoices and speaks to a young person’s need for expression and social justice.” —School Library Journal, starred review


Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747 by Chris Gall

For the 50th anniversary of the Boeing 747’s first commercial flight, a picture book about the development of the iconic passenger plane and how it changed the history of air travel.


★ “In a properly lap- and eye-filling format (it has a 2-foot wingspan), a soaring tribute to the ‘Queen of the Skies.’ …A blast from the past, sure to transport fans of all things big and loud.” —Kirkus, starred review

★ “From the striking jacket art to the appended fast facts, this handsome volume delivers a good deal of information about the world’s first jumbo jet, the Boeing 747… An intriguing book for any kid who is passionate (or even a little curious) about planes.” —Booklist, starred review

Alige Across America

Alice Across America: The Story of the First Female Road Trip by Sarah Glenn Marsh; illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Writer Sarah Glenn Marsh and illustrator Gilbert Ford’s Alice Across America is a nonfiction picture book account of maverick Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive a car across America in 1909.

★ “A fun and fascinating story that includes many favorites: cars, strong women, and little-known historical facts. A must-have for a school or public library collection.” —School Library Journal, starred review

Brown Baby

Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown; illustrated by AG Ford

With Spanish words sprinkled throughout and featuring warm art by New York Times-bestselling and NAACP-Award-winning illustrator AG Ford, Tameka Fryer Brown’s Brown Baby Lullaby is the perfect new baby or baby shower gift.

★ “A perfect read-aloud for bedtime.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Hello World

Hello, World! (Happy County, Book 1) by Ethan Long

Hello, World! is a vibrant, graphic picture book compendium for preschoolers set in a Richard Scarry-inspired environment by Geisel Award-winning creator Ethan Long.

★ “Brimful of fun and sure to inspire many repeat readings.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The bear garden

The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen; illustrated by Alison Oliver

Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, this picture book, The Bear’s Garden, by writer Marcie Colleen and illustrator Alison Oliver, is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.

★ “A well-illustrated, beautifully written tale of encouragement.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Emily Writes

Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings by Jane Yolen; illustrations by Christine Davenier

Jane Yolen’s Emily Writes is an imagined and evocative picture book account of Emily Dickinson’s childhood poetic beginnings, featuring illustrations by Christine Davenier.

★ “Davenier’s ink and watercolor illustrations capture a sunny, spirited moppet whose outdoor world is rife with inspiration . . . Winningly portrays a young writer who appreciates approbation but takes genuine, confident delight in her own accomplishment.” —The Bulletin, starred review

The Bird

Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey by Robert Burleigh; illustrated by Wendell Minor

Robert Burleigh’s narrative nonfiction picture book follows a hummingbird’s migration south for the winter, with stunning art by Wendell Minor.

★ “Kids will be mesmerized by this dynamic portrait of one of nature’s winged wonders.”—Booklist, starred review


The Truth About Butterflies by Maxwell Eaton III

Maxwell Eaton III’s The Truth About Butterflies is another hilarious addition to this fan favorite series. This guide to the majestic butterfly walks you through its unique lifecycle and offers anything you ever wanted to know about the colorful insect.

★ “[Eaton’s] cartoon-style illustrations…deserve careful attention: They reinforce the solid information and add sly humor… ‘Seriously funny facts’ that will fly off the shelves.”—Kirkus, starred review

Three squeezers

Three Squeezes by Jason Pratt; illustrated by Chris Sheban

A tender, rhyming picture book that is an ode to the love between parent and child, no matter how old the child (or) parent is.

★ “Requires [many] tissues. Belongs among the gifts given at every baby shower; three squeezes should be part of every caregiver’s toolkit.”—Kirkus, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up

Papa Brings Me the World by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw’s Papa Brings Me the World is a poignant picture book that celebrates the bond between parent and child, and follows their long-distance trip around the world.

★ “With its inviting story and imaginative illustrations, this picture book could spark curiosity about faraway places and encourage global awareness in young children.”—Booklist, starred review

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The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie

A picture book about making new friends in new places–with gentle themes of immigration and English-as-a-second-language.

★ “Kindness is a universal language…Delightful and heartwarming, this read-aloud performs like a welcoming embrace.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

I am not a girl

I’m Not A Girl: A Transgender Story by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi; illustrated by Dana Simpson

Based on a true transgender identity journey, the picture book I’m Not a Girl is an empowering story from writers Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi about a boy who is determined to be himself, illustrated by Dana Simpson.

★ “An important book that can serve as a conversation starter with gender-expansive children and as a tool for cis children to build empathy.” —Booklist, starred review


Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse by T. L. McBeth

T. L. McBeth’s Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse is the hilarious picture book tale of a child’s illustrated creation who (never having seen himself) thinks he’s extraordinarily beautiful.

★ “[Randy] will make readers laugh…Give this book a prime spot on the metafiction shelf.” —School Library Journal, starred review


Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani; illustrated by Maris Wicks

In the graphic novel Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier, Jim Ottaviani and illustrator Maris Wicks capture the great humor and incredible drive of Mary Cleave, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first women in space.


★ “A well-researched and lively text and tidily composed yet expressive illustrations capture the women’s passion, ambition, and know-how—and their indignation and fury at the sexism they faced. Inspirational and funny and full of nitty-gritty scientific details about astronaut training and life and work abroad a space shuttle, the book illuminates the women’s tough journey to prove that ‘space is for everyone.'”—Horn Book, starred review

★ “Readers will be intrigued and inspired to dive into further research to understand some of the jargon and learn more about the women profiled here. Fans of Ottaviani’s T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, as well as those interested in science or space travel, will eagerly gravitate to this title. A stellar addition to all collections.”—School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader. “—Kirkus, starred review

★ “Wicks and Ottaviani skillfully capture Cleave’s infectious enthusiasm up to the last page.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “Gobs of humor, lively artwork, and tidy explanations of the science make this a standout among the vast field of books about the U.S. space program.” —Booklist, starred review

chance 2

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

From a beloved voice in children’s literature comes this landmark memoir of hope amid harrowing times and an engaging and unusual Holocaust story.


★ “The many illustrations—scary, imaginative, and humorous—are a brilliant accompaniment to the text, bringing into sharp focus stark images of civilians caught up in war. Despite the horrors, however, there is a strong sense of intimacy between the author and his readers…A memorable journey of survival and artistry.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “The spare, keenly observed narrative offers a harrowing look at a Jewish family’s plight during WWII while documenting the birth of an artist with a great capacity for creativity…This affecting memoir of Shulevitz’s childhood as a war refugee provides a deeply personal testament to the power of art.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “Distinguished Caldecott Medal-winning author-illustrator Shulevitz creates an arresting and affecting memoir of terrible privation… Together, the images brilliantly capture the often-somber story of Shulevitz’s early life, which he ultimately survived, as he says, by chance.”—Booklist, starred review

★ “Though touching on many dark and serious topics, this story is totally focused on the fears, triumphs, and sensibilities of a child. It is truly a portrait of an artist as a young man thrust into a maelstrom of a world gone mad and relying on chance to decide his fate. This thoroughly engaging memoir will sit comfortably on a shelf with Peter Sís’s The Wall and Allen Say’s Drawing from Memory.”—Horn Book, starred review

“Middle school readers will find Shulevitz’s darkly captivating memoir hauntingly impressive and extraordinary. He admirably recollects how art became his guiding light in the darkness.”—School Library Journal, starred review


Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

A magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.


★ “This endearingly offbeat story emphasizes found community, the importance of love and friendship, and a fierce commitment to individuality—all powerful themes for middle-grade readers.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “Sweet and fierce, this is a must-have.” —Kirkus, starred review

★ “Full of magic and humor, this intersectional, layered tale offers joyful and affirming depictions of social outsiders and comfortably complicated families.” —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

fly on the wall

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

In Fly on the Wall, a moving and hilarious diary-style illustrated novel from the award-winning author of Pie in the Sky, a twelve-year-old boy goes on a (forbidden) solo adventure to prove his independence to his overprotective family.


★ “Near-misses and laugh-out-loud moments abound, which will endear it to readers who like ‘Big Nate’ and ‘Wimpy Kid,’ but Henry’s character development in this illustrated novel leaves Greg Heffley in the dust.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Lai has a talent of not preaching to her readers, instead offering the reassurance that no one is alone in experiencing the painful awkwardness and occasionally harsh realities of growing up. . . This thrilling coming-of-age adventure is both quirky and sincere.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Comics-style artwork gives the book Wimpy Kid flair…readers will fall in love with Henry. A smile-inducing crowd-pleaser.” —Booklist, starred review

a dog

A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron

A delightful middle-grade cozy caper sure to excite dog-lovers and gentle mystery readers alike!


★ “Cameron orchestrates the two storylines expertly, positively packing the first with suggestive clues and multiple red herrings as well as winningly diverse arrays of dogs and people…Mystery fans will enjoy the multiple twists here; dog lovers will wolf it down.”—Booklist, starred review

★ “Overflowing with eccentric characters, adorable dogs, and canine-centered wordplay, this middle-grade mystery offers a smart, playful romp reminiscent of Raskin’s classic The Westing Game.”—Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, starred review

★ “Short chapters and a breathless pace make this a clever, engrossing plot-driven tale with plenty of unusual, well-developed characters—even the dogs…Thoroughly entertaining—mystery fans and dog lovers will lap this one up.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

dungeon critters 1

Dungeon Critters by Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter

A middle-grade graphic novel about a gang of adorable animal friends on a D&D style dungeon crawl.


★ “The cheeky world building, fastpaced plot, and lively, quip-heavy dialogue are plenty of fun on their own, but the dense visuals, rich jewel-toned palette, and dynamite page layouts steal the show. For all of its bubbly fantasy fun, there are some grounding moments of friendship insecurity, which should resonate with middle-grade readers, and a refreshing array of gender and queer representation. A pure joy to read on a variety of levels, this is destined to be a hit with fantasy-adventure fans and beyond.”—Booklist, starred review

★ “Riess and Goetter create a lighthearted slapstick escapade that prioritizes jokes per page while playing with the conventions of fantasy and RPG adventures…Jaunty, funny, and fun.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “The worldbuilding is accessible and instantly engaging, consisting of not only an approachable setting, but also emphasizing the importance of friendship and communication. Though primarily a fantasy, the fast-paced adventure, romance, and humor make for easy crowd appeal that traverses genre boundaries. Aftermatter offers a fascinating glimpse into the creators’ collaborative process of writing, drawing, and coloring the work. A delightful middle-grade tale that is inclusive, imaginative, and complex..”—Kirkus, starred review

girl giant

Girl Giant and the Monkey King by Van Hoang

From debut author Van Hoang comes Girl Giant and the Monkey King, a tale packed with magic, adventure, and middle-school woes—perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Roshani Chokshi.


★ “Debut author Hoang’s fast-paced fantasy is sure to resonate with middle-grade readers as Thom navigates the difficulties of making friends, facing bullying, and handling the insecurities that sometimes come along with being from a culture that’s unfamiliar to others.”—Booklist, starred review

★ “A fantastic tale of adventure, humor, and mischief.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This entertaining blend of the mundane and fantastical is packed with emotion and sure to strike a chord with readers.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

a game of fox

A Game of Fox and Squirrels by Jenn Reese

Andre Norton Award finalist Jenn Reese explores the often thin line between magic and reality, light and darkness in her enchanting middle grade standalone.


★ “Beautifully written…Reese’s pairing of a realistic depiction of lived trauma with its allegorical-fantasy reflection proves stunningly effective.”—Kirkus, starred review

★ “A poignant fantastical allegory… that presents generational trauma and its echoes unflinchingly.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

prettiest 1

The Prettiest by Brigit Young

A must-read for young feminists, The Prettiest is an incisive, empowering novel by Brigit Young about fighting back against sexism and objectification.


★ “A compelling and topical narrative that leaves its characters—and readers—stronger and wiser.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “A novel that addresses issues of bullying, sexism, objectification, and harassment while equally centering empowerment, the bonds of friendship, and self-acceptance. Highly recommended.” —School Library Journal, starred review

monster 2

Monster and Boy (Volume 1) by Hannah Barnaby; illustrations by Anoosha Syed

Fall in love with the friendship between Monster and Boy in this exciting new chapter book series from writer Hannah Barnaby and illustrator Anoosha Syed.


★ “A boy discovers that monsters are real—and that one lives under his bed . . . Humor ensues . . . No need to be afraid of monsters after reading this sweet and unusual friendship story.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “A beautiful friendship gets off to a rocky start when a boy is accidentally swallowed by the mild- mannered monster beneath his bed.” —Booklist, starred review

all he knew

All He Knew by Helen Frost

A novel in verse about a young deaf boy during World War II, the sister who loves him, and the conscientious objector who helps him. Inspired by true events.


★ “This must-have is an instant classic of historical fiction…Written in eloquent free verse and sonnets, it’s an excellent poetry-teaching tool as well.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Frost’s smooth, burnished verse, ranging from free verse to sonnets, unfolds the story nimbly. While the historically based picture of the institution and its view of disability is appropriately horrifying, the book carefully avoids turning this into a stereotypical rescue drama…The result is an absorbing story of a boy and his family oppressed by circumstances but, rewardingly, finding a way to rise above them. Extensive notes explore the history of conscientious objectors and the relative on whom the story is based.” —The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, starred review


Braver: A Wombat’s Tale by Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson

For fans of the Warrior series and RedwallBraver: A Wombat’s Tale is an exciting new fantasy adventure novel for young readers from Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson.


★ “Richly imagined, tightly woven, and deliciously nuanced…Engrossing and engaging—a fabulous hero’s quest.”—Kirkus, starred review

★ “A terrifically engaging tale filled with suspense and silliness….A page-turner that still manages to impart lessons in the joy of unexpected friendships, the strength of familial bonds, and the satisfaction that can come from embracing your truest self.”—Booklist, starred review

the brave

The Brave by James Bird

Perfect for fans of Rain Reign, this middle-grade novel The Brave is about a boy with an OCD issue and his move to a reservation to live with his biological mother.


★ “An amazing debut full of heart, authenticity, and courage.”—School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Endearingly earnest and with a refusal to shy away from the tough parts of life…This fresh and imaginative story has touches of Bridge to Terabithia and is perfect for fans of Wendy Mass’ A Mango-Shaped Space and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Bird, himself of Ojibwe descent, has written an exceptional #OwnVoices novel not to be overlooked.”—Booklist,starred review

a high fiver

A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner

A heartfelt and relatable novel from Phil Bildner, weaving the real history of Los Angeles Dodger and Oakland Athletic Glenn Burke—the first professional baseball player to come out as gay—into the story of a middle-school kid learning to be himself.

★ “[The story] speaks to the importance of creating a welcoming community—whether on a baseball field or in a classroom—that embraces differences with not only tolerance but also complete and unrelenting support. An essential book for all readers, not just baseball fans, about friendship, acceptance, and self-confidence.”—Booklist, starred review

go with the flow 1

Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann; illustrated by Lily Williams

High school students embark on a crash course of friendship, female empowerment, and women’s health issues in Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann’s graphic novel Go With the Flow.

★ “With its alluring red-hued duotone art, this graphic novel successfully empowers readers and guides them to speak up and reclaim agency when they feel something is not right with not only their own bodies, but with the world around them. The girls’ group is inclusive, encompassing different heights, skin colors, races, and body types…Just bloody perfect.”—Kirkus, starred review

how to make friends

How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero

Tanya Guerrero’s How to Make Friends with the Sea is a middle grade debut novel set in the Philippines about a young boy’s challenges with anxiety while his mother fosters an orphaned child with a facial anomaly.

★ “Guerrero touches on many topics—anxiety, fostering, friendship, family, selective mutism, and more—seamlessly weaving them all together to create a strong, moving narrative…A heartbreaking, heartwarming, powerful debut novel.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

the first conspiracy

The First Conspiracy (Young Reader’s Edition): The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch

#1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer unravels the truth behind the secret assassination attempt on George Washington and how the plot helped create the CIA and the FBI in this young reader’s adaptation for younger audiences.

★ “This title, amply researched, well documented, and as engagingly written as a spy thriller, is highly recommended for middle grade ­libraries.”—School Library Journal, starred review


Twist by Sarah Cannon

A group of gifted kids must band together to save their town and a fantasy world from horror-story monsters come to life in Sarah Cannon’s imaginative middle-grade novel, Twist.

★ “Cannon (Oddity) weaves a sense of 1980s Spielbergian wonder and danger into the cinematic narrative: while handling an array of bizarre creatures produced from the imagination, the kids forge an easy friendship based on creativity over logic. A playful, wry humor tempers the more frightening moments, while Cannon maintains a feeling of urgency and high stakes well suited to middle grade readers.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

all together now

All Together Now (Eagle Rock Series Volume 2) by Hope Larson

All Together Now is New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Hope Larson’s pitch-perfect graphic novel standalone follow-up for fans of All Summer Long, music lovers, and anyone navigating the ups and downs of friendship.

★ “Bina’s smart, likable, and familiar, and her coming-of-age fears are palpably engaging as she learns that romance need not be romantic.Larson has a wonderfully sharp eye for her characters, including a range of skin tones, sexual orientations, and body types. Aftermatter includes Larson’s explanation of her artistic process and is sure to inspire budding artists. Altogether perfect.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

cat ears

Cat Ears on Elizabeth by Rachel Vail; illustrated by Paige Keiser

Cat Ears on Elizabeth is the third in Rachel Vail’s A Is for Elizabeth chapter book series–featuring illustrations by Paige Keiser.

★ “Vail brings her usual keen powers of observation about kid dynamics to this entry in the A Is for Elizabeth early reader series, with Elizabeth’s yearning for prominence and inclusion wittily and sympathetically depicted. One to two-page chapters are easily accessible to readers just moving beyond restricted vocabulary, and there’s a Matthew Cordell flavor to the lively monochromatic illustrations. It’s an engaging outing that may also lead readers to Sternberg’s similarly sympathetic Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up 222

Thieves of Weirdwood (Volume 1) by Christian McKay Heidicker; illustrations by Anna Earley

Thieves of Weirdwood is the first in William Shivering and Newbery Honor winner Christian McKay Heidicker’s brand-new fantasy series—illustrated by Anna Earley—about two kid thieves who are plunged into a battle between the Real and Imaginary worlds! Action, laughs, and monsters beyond imagining abound!

★ “Wally’s friend Breeth, an intrepid, pun-loving child ghost who can occupy any organic item, is just one scene-stealer in the unusually colorful supporting cast.” —Booklist, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up-2

Rebel in the Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

Rebel in the Library of Ever continues Zeno Alexander’s acclaimed middle-grade fantasy series with a dangerous takeover of the magical Library as our heroine fights to make knowledge free for everyone.

★ “All the magic and awe of the first volume (The Library of Ever, 2019) continues here…Indeed, libraries are magic, and just as so many imagine receiving their acceptance letters from Hogwarts, this clever, whimsical tale will have anyone looking for the portal to the Library of Ever.” —Booklist, starred review


Con Quest by Sam Maggs

The debut novel from bestselling author Sam Maggs, Con Quest! is a comics convention adventure for young readers about fandom, family, and finding your place in the world!

★ “An absolute love letter to con culture… The next best thing to actually attending a con.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Forest and stars

The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner

In this mysterious and mesmerizing fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Splendor and Glooms and Circus Mirandus, a windswept girl who can float among the stars searches for her long-lost father at a shadow-filled carnival.

★ “Cast in lush, sensory language…and populated by wildly imaginative characters, Louisa’s tale of loss and discovery proves irresistible…Set in an unusual carnival, this original fantasy is a darkly engaging one.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Rock and minerals

Science Comics: Rocks and Minerals by Andy Hirsch

Leave no stone unturned with Andy Hirsch’s Science Comics: Rocks and Minerals, the latest volume in First Second’s action-packed nonfiction graphic novel series for middle-grade readers!

★ “Ingenious….A rock-solid review for serious students of our planet’s story, infused with humor and wonder.”—School Library Journal, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up 333

They Threw Us Away by Daniel Kraus

Welcome to The Teddies Saga, a gripping new middle grade trilogy from New York Times-bestselling author Daniel Kraus and illustrator Rovina Cai.

★ “Reminiscent of Watership Down…reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world.” —Kirkus, starred review

twenty Starred Reviews Round Up

Fart Quest (Volume 1) by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Cam Kendell

Jam-packed with potty humor, feats of bravery, and a metric buttload of monsters, Fart Quest by author Aaron Reynolds and illustrator Cam Kendell is perfect for every young hero looking for a wild adventure.

★ “Stay tuned for further gassy exploits.” —Booklist, starred review

Starred Review Round Ups

Alice’s Farm: A Rabbit’s Tale by Maryrose Wood

In Maryrose Wood’s stunning middle-grade novel, Alice’s Farm, a brave young rabbit must work with her natural predators to save her farmland home and secretly help the farm’s earnest but incompetent new owners.

★ “Venturing, as the author readily acknowledges in her afterword, into Charlotte’s Web territory, Wood crafts a tale of interspecies cooperation in a rural setting that is lit up with exhibitions of uncommon courage, loyalty, humor, and tolerance—not to mention extreme cuteness… Terrific.”—Booklist, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up-4

History Comics: The Challenger Disaster by Pranas T. Naujokaitis

In Pranas T. Naujokaitis’s imaginative tale, set in a far-off future, a group of curious kids investigate the hard questions surrounding the Challenger explosion. Inspired by the legacy and sacrifice of the Challenger seven, they continue in their footsteps, setting out toward the stars and into the great unknown!

★ “A catastrophe that occurred in 1986 is ancient history to young people today, but Naujokaitis finds a way to make the Challenger explosion seem immediate by framing the story as a report delivered by a quartet of fifth graders…Definitely a “go” for middle grade readers, artfully incorporating a solid payload of information within a well-developed frame story.”—School Library Journal, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-U5

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After, Volume 1) by Melissa de la Cruz

Real life and fairy tales collide in Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy, book one in the new middle-grade Never After series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.

★ “This series debut has something for most readers—a complex female heroine, middle school angst, plenty of action, and magic—which will leave them eagerly turning the pages.” – School Library Journal, starred review

Starred Reviews Round Up

Mighty Justice (Young Readers’ Edition): The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe; adapted by Jabari Asim

A young reader’s adaptation of Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights, the memoir of activist and trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree, by Katie McCabe. Developed with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust and adapted from her memoir, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.

★ “A moving memoir of a true American ­heroine. Highly recommended for junior high and high school nonfiction collections, and will especially appeal to those with a passion for social justice.”—School Library Journal, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up-6

Cleo Porter and the Body Electric by Jake Burt

In a future forever changed by a pandemic, a girl survives in total isolation. A woman is dying. Cleo Porter has her medicine. And no way to deliver it…

★ “Cleo is exactly the hero today’s readers need. She is plucky, tenacious, loyal, and funny. Readers of all backgrounds will relate to the virtual learning and isolation…A fun and entertaining adventure, highly recommended for fans of Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember.”—School Library Journal, starred review

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Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

In his latest graphic novel, Dragon HoopsNew York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches.


★ “While the action on the court is absolutely transfixing (with page layouts often using trapezoid-shaped panels whose diagonal lines amp up the dynamism), the story shines just as brightly off the court when Yang’s focus shifts to his own dilemmas and profound insights regarding art and storytelling… [Dragon Hoops] is a perfect entryway into this form [single-season reportage] for teen readers.”—Horn Book, starred review

★ “Yang is an extraordinary cartoonist…through recurring visual motifs that connect a champion basketball player to a self-questioning artist to a Russian immigrant with a new idea, he illuminates the risks that every one of us must take and has, once again, produced a work of resounding humanity.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “As Yang taps into subjects as varied as assimilation and discrimination in America…readers learn how this low-cost, indoor game leveled racial, gender, and international boundaries to attain global prominence. Another standout showing from Yang, this title will have even sports haters on their feet cheering.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Using a candid narrative and signature illustrations that effectively and dynamically bring the fast-paced games to life, Yang has crafted a triumphant, telescopic graphic memoir that explores the effects of legacy and the power of taking a single first step, no matter the outcome.” —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

★ “On-court action is impeccably paced in swift cuts…expect a warm reception from both the sports fiction crowd and open-minded nerds willing to explore what all the seasonal fuss is all about.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

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Flamer by Mike Curato

Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.


★ “This is a story that will be read and reread, and for some, it will be the defining book of their adolescence.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Masterfully nuanced and stunningly told, this is visual storytelling at its finest.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “Curato’s incredible art conveys Aiden’s point of view, his thoughts, and his reimaginings of his physical form with compelling beauty and empathy…Curato has created a beautiful story of a teen who must decide if he will force himself into the mold of what he thinks a ‘normal’ boy is, or if he can allow himself to live life on his own terms. An essential book that shows readers that they are never alone in their struggles.”—School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Both heartbreaking and joyous, Flamer acknowledges the brutal weight of hatred, yet inspires the courage to live.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review

★ “Grownup LGBTs will know exactly what Aiden is going through, but this book speaks so well to those kids currently undergoing the ordeal….If you will forgive the editorial intrusion, I wish I had had this book fifty years ago.”—Horn Book, starred review

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Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

With Anna-Marie McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.


★ “McLemore weaves another magic spell…The author spins a tale of first love, misfits forging their own places in the world, and the inherent prejudices of people who fear what they don’t understand. This novel will leave an indelible mark on readers’ hearts.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “McLemore fashions another gorgeous novel that reminds readers of the ways fairy-tale evils and, more importantly, love have their roots in the real world…McLemore’s well-choreographed story will dance on in readers’ minds.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “McLemore skillfully weaves together these parallel medieval and modern tales in alternating chapters…Dark and Deepest Red’s provocative, insightful collision of fairy tale and history is a powerful demonstration of McLemore’s immense talent.” —Bookpage, starred review

★ “McLemore’s vision and skill inspire awe in this gorgeously rendered novel…McLemore’s settings charm and their plotting captivates, but it is their devoted and deep character development that makes the work so enthralling.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

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The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown

A young woman is haunted by the ghost of her conjoined twin, in Lisa Brown’s The Phantom Twin, a sweetly spooky graphic novel set in a turn-of-the-century sideshow.


★ “Brown’s expressive line illustrations effectively serve the story, conveying the early twentieth century setting and particulars of the sideshow, delineating the various characters and their nuanced relationships (particularly between Isabel and the phantom Jane), and driving the plot toward its satisfying conclusion.” —Horn Book, starred review

★ “Brown delivers a sensitive, nuanced meditation on ability, agency, belonging, family, and otherness.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “[Brown]…incorporates commentary on the mixed experiences of freak performers, always treating this subject with respect. What emerges is a marvelous story marked by tragedy, courage, personal growth, and first love that is as singular as Isabel herself.” —Booklist, starred review

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Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy by Kenneth C. Davis

From the bestselling author of the Don’t Know Much About® books comes a dramatic account of the origins of democracy, the history of authoritarianism, and the reigns of five of history’s deadliest dictators.


★ “History’s warnings reverberate in this gripping read about five dictatorial strongmen. A pitch-perfect balance of nuanced reflection and dire warning.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “A fascinating, highly readable portrayal of infamous men that provides urgent lessons for democracy now.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “Kenneth C. Davis (Don’t Know Much About series) conveys his plentiful knowledge of dictators in this powerful, spine-tingling biographic work.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

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Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

From New York Times-bestselling author Daniel Kraus comes a breakneck, genre-defying YA thriller perfect for fans of Kiersten White, Neal Shusterman, and M. T. Anderson.


★ “With a gripping, twisty story line and assured writing, this book will be a powerful and confrontational read for mature teens.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “Beautiful prose does little to mask the anger of this powerful narrative. Readers will have a hard time putting this down.” —School Library Journal, starred review

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Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal

From award-winning author Karen Blumenthal, Jane Against the World is deep and passionate look at the riveting history of the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.


★ “An account of the tumultuous struggle for abortion rights in the United States…Gripping reading; necessary for every library serving teens.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “This essential guide, which gives voices to vulnerable populations, demands to be heard.”—Booklist, starred review

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Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.


★ “Mills truly excels at creating vivid characters that will tear at readers’ heartstrings… A stunning read filled with wit and wisdom.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “A well-crafted, bittersweet comedy of errors filled with realistically flawed characters and taut, witty dialogue.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

In Seven Endless Forests, the gorgeous standalone companion to the critically acclaimed fantasy The Boneless Mercies, April Genevieve Tucholke spins a bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend that is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, and Laini Taylor.


★ “Readers won’t want this one to end. Simply stunning.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “In this loose standalone follow-up to The Boneless Mercies, Tucholke conjures a mythic, richly described landscape . . . the strong focus on found family and feminine strengths further enhance this tale’s emotional impact.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

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True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis

A former CIA analyst unveils the true history of fake news and gives readers tips on how to avoid falling victim to it in this highly designed informative YA nonfiction title.


★ “A necessary and engaging resource that should be required reading for all high school students. …The book’s droll tone and quick pace will thoroughly engage even those who dislike nonfiction; all readers will be empowered with a more critical eye when browsing their news feeds.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Written in an easy, conversational style matched by a user-friendly design with pullouts, exercises, and photographs, it’s a book that teachers and civic leaders will want to make required reading.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Starred Reviews Round-Up two

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”


★ “Thomas’ debut novel can’t help but charm and captivate readers of all ages, though teen readers will invariably identify with and appreciate the high jinks and emotional vulnerability that make each character and scenario deliciously enchanting.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “Thomas marries concept and execution in a romantic mystery as poignant as it is spellbinding, weaved in a mosaic of culture, acceptance, and identity, where intricately crafted characters are the pieces and love—platonic, romantic, familial, and communal—is the glue.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round-Up-3

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood and adolescence growing up as a gay black man.

★ “This title opens new doors, as the author insists that we don’t have to anchor stories such as his to tragic ends: ‘Many of us are still here. Still living and waiting for our stories to be told—to tell them ourselves.’ A critical, captivating, merciful mirror for growing up black and queer today.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard by Echo Brown

Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism—all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age story for fans of Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together and Ibi Zoboi’s American Street.

★ “[An] empowering autobiographical novel fused with magical realism and allegory…with the nods to Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Alice Walker. This revelatory YA book deserves space on bookstore and library shelves for its healing power for all readers to break the chains of intergenerational pain and trauma.”—School Library Journal, starred review

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Miss You Love You Hate You Bye by Abby Sher

A darkly comic and heartbreakingly honest YA novel about finding the courage to help a friend who can’t stop hurting herself.

★ “Articulate, insightful, and pretty funny…Here’s how to speak up even if it hurts.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Oasis by Katya de Becerra

In this young adult thriller for fans of Lost and The Twilight Zone, a group of teens are saved when they come across a mysterious oasis. But who will save them from the oasis?

★ “De Becerra’s haunting supernatural thriller will stick to readers’ skin long after the final page is turned… Suspense, gore, spooky imagery, and creepy plot developments come through via bloodcurdling nightmares, group hallucinations, and uncontrollable desires and obsessions.” —Booklist, starred review


Check Please! Book 2: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu

A collection of the second half of the mega-popular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the last in Ngozi Ukazu’s hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

★ “Ukazu excels at drawing action…ultimately, though, this is a love story, one with a romance characterized by sweetness and support. Fans new and old won’t be ready for it to end.” —Booklist, starred review

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28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto by David Safier

Inspired by true events, David Safier’s 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto is a harrowing historical YA that chronicles the brutality of the Holocaust.

★ “Throughout this complex novel, rich in evocative detail, Mira’s view evolves from a narrow focus on herself and her family to consideration of the larger community around her, reflected in her first-person narrative.” —Booklist, starred review

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Little Universes by Heather Demetrios

Heather Demetrios’s Little Universes is a book about the powerful bond between sisters, the kinds of love that never die, and the journey we all must make through the baffling cruelty and unexpected beauty of human life in an incomprehensible universe.

★ “Exploring love and rejection, rape and abortion, death and grief, and addiction and sobriety in a world that disappoints, perplexes, and astonishes, this is a gripping story for more mature readers. Demetrios utilizes an introspective narrative with sparse dialogue to offer thoughtful reflections on questionable relationships, raw emotions, and internal stresses, all while illustrating that blood ties aren’t necessary for deep, enduring sisterhood.”—Booklist, starred review

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All Eyes on Her by L.E. Flynn

Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and We Were LiarsAll Eyes on Her by L.E. Flynn is a gripping young adult thriller told from the perspective of everyone except the alleged killer—a seventeen-year-old girl.

★ “Will keep readers guessing at the truth—and second-guessing their own biases—until the very end. A frenzied psychological thriller, superbly paced.” —Booklist, starred review


Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Tanaz Bhathena’s Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.

★ “A breath of fresh air in the fantasy adventure genre. . . Readers will be mesmerized by Bhathena’s vivid storytelling and the deeply felt connection between the two main characters. This fantasy adventure featuring protagonists of color will be enjoyed by fans of the Legacy of Orisha and Ember in the Ashes series.” —School Library Journal, starred review


Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life by Winifred Conkling

Documenting everything from her boundary-pushing journalistic career to the foundation of Ms. magazine to being awarded the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Winifred Conkling’s Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life is a meticulously researched YA biography that is sure to satisfy even the most voracious of aspiring glass-ceiling smashers.

★ “An enlightening, high-quality narrative history of a woman and her work as a leader of American feminism.” —School Library Journal, on Ms. Gloria Steinem, starred review

2020 Starred Reviews Round- Up 2

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen

Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in The Faithless Hawk, the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.

★ “A richly textured story of rage, romance, and rebellion.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead, Volume 1) by Jeff VanderMeer

A Peculiar Peril is a head-spinning epic about three friends on a quest to protect the world from a threat as unknowable as it is terrifying, from the Nebula Award–winning and New York Times bestselling author of Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer.

★ “Taking the peculiar darkness of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine series and the absurd humor and wit of Terry Pratchett, VanderMeer dreams up a wholly original tale, filled with complexity, imagination, and talking marmots…A wild ride that requires a few leaps of faith from readers, but they’re in good hands with VanderMeer, who has a sequel in the works for those who emerge victorious from Aurora.” —Booklist, starred review

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As the Shadow Rises (The Age of Darkness, Volume 2) by Katy Rose Pool

Six of Crows meets Graceling with a dash of Winter is Coming in Katy Rose Pool’s second installment of the action-packed and swoon-worthy Age of Darkness series–As the Shadow Rises.

★ “Adventurous relic-hunting, mind-blowing twists, budding love, and terrible betrayals feature in this multiple-narrator, character-driven study of power, agency, and identity and the ways these are affected by the interwoven threads of both history and legend.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner

Set in the 1960s, Barbara Bottner’s I Am Here Now is a beautiful novel in verse about one artist’s coming of age. It’s a heartbreaking, powerful and inspiring depiction of what it’s like to shatter your life—and piece it all back together.

★ “Rife with teen-appealing domestic and relationship drama…Heartbreakingly rendered.” —Horn Book, starred review

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Displacement by Kiku Hughes

A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother’s experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from Kiku Hughes.

★ “Hughes has crafted a compelling look at this moment in history, relying on a blend of research and family memory…Reluctant readers will be pulled in by the book’s exceptional design; the judiciously varied panel sizes and layouts coupled with gutter-breaking illustrations cinematically move the story along….A potent look at history and the lasting intergenerational impact of community trauma.” —School Library Journal, starred review

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Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community by Born This Way Foundation Reporters with Lady Gaga

Within these pages, you’ll meet young changemakers who found their inner strength, who prevailed in the face of bullies, who started their own social movements, who decided to break through the mental health stigma and share how they felt, who created safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, and who have embraced kindness with every fiber of their being by helping others without the expectation of anything in return.

★ “Each piece is truly inspiring, whether because of the identified need (climate change awareness, suicide prevention, grief mitigation, menstrual acceptance), the innovator (high school and college students, friends, neighbors, siblings, roommates), or the ability to recreate these initiatives in other communities. Lady Gaga’s online persona is huge, and her fans—Little Monsters—are ubiquitous, so expect lots of interest.”—Booklist, starred review

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I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch, with illustrations by Victoria Ying

For fans of Leah on the Offbeat and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Anna Birch’s I Kissed Alice is a romantic comedy about enemies, lovers, and everything in between.

★ “Told with rich detail, this revels in fandom culture while capably drawing teen-girl relationships…Ying’s illustrations add a special touch and let readers immerse themselves in Rhodes and Iliana’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland fan comic. With their distinct personalities, the characters create a dynamic and compelling chemical reaction…Told in a relatively fast pace, this is bound to be a hit with fans of Cherie Priest’s I Am Princess X and Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You.”—Booklist, starred review

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Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner

Adrienne Kisner’s Six Angry Girls is a story of mock trial, feminism, and the inherent power found in a pair of knitting needles.

★ “Told in legal documents, this is a fast-paced read full of humor (sometimes about knitted genitalia), passion, and realistic life problems, with a diverse cast of well-developed characters…Kisner’s diverse, impassioned, and witty novel about smashing the patriarchy will leave readers feeling empowered. A must-have for any library collection.”—School Library Journal, starred review


Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

★ “This boundary-pushing collection seeks to upend the default with 11 toothsome stories that stake a new claim on old tropes, centering an intersectionally diverse range of protagonists.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Last Pick: Rise Up (Volume 3) by Jason Walz

Earth’s last hope are also the last picked, in this thrilling conclusion of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic trilogy, Last Pick: Rise Up.

★ “An affecting and unforgettable SF series with heart.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


The Daughters of Ys by M. T. Anderson; illustrated by Jo Rioux

An Atlantis-like city from Celtic legend is the setting of The Daughters of Ys, a mythical graphic novel fantasy from National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and artist Jo Rioux.


★ “Anderson and Rioux have woven a lush folktale filled with magic, lust, and feminine power. Rioux’s pencil illustrations are melancholic, with dramatic shadows, glowing moonlight, and swirling seas. …A haunting rendering of an ancient folktale, packed with magic.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Anderson adds compelling depth to the story with just a few details beyond the original tale, and Rioux’s lush, dense artwork, full of dynamic figures, swirling lines, dramatic angles, and colors that seem to glow, cultivates a fantastic, magical folk-tale atmosphere. This is an old story, but Anderson and Rioux give it vivid new life, and fans of fairy tales will be utterly bewitched. Though this is not directly marketed to teens (likely thanks to some largely obscured nudity and sex), they’re the ideal audience here.” —Booklist, starred review

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Child Star by Brian “Box” Brown

Child Star is a fictional documentary-style graphic novel about how growing up in the spotlight robs young actors of a true childhood.

★ “Brown (André the Giant) made a reputation for offbeat and accessible graphic nonfiction, but in this savvy graphic satire, he shows an equally sure hand at fiction. …[Brown’s] blocky art moves the narrative along at an enjoyable clip, and it’s appropriate that Eugene, irresistible to TV-land fans, often looks lumpy and off-putting. This in-the-know skewering of celebrity and pop culture will entertain children of the ’80s as well as their own children.” —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review