The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program which helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors, and illustrators. The winners and honour books were announced this week and we’d like to congratulate our authors and illustrators!
2022 Silver Birch Express Award® Fiction Winner
Mellybean and the Giant Monster
By Mike White
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202548 | Razorbill
Melly loves to play games. All her feline friends want to do, though, is take a nap. So when she doesn’t leave them alone, the cats trick her into burying a shoe in the backyard. But the small prank turns into a big problem when Melly falls down the hole . . . and is magically transports her to another world! Melly lands smack-dab in the middle of a scuffle between a group of knights and a huge monster. But Melly soon befriends the grumpy giant, learning he isn’t as scary as he seems. He’s being hunted by a greedy king. One who has also been stealing from his people and locking them up in the dungeons. So although Melly is desperate to find a way back home to Mama and Papa (her human owners), she makes it her mission to help her new friend and the kingdom. But how could someone so tiny defeat such a powerful king? It may just take a game that only Melly can win.
2022 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Winner
By Iain Lawrence
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823446551 | Margaret Ferguson Books
When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime – and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder–what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind? Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life – making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them – is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?
2022 Silver Birch Award® Fiction Honour Book
Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster
By Rachelle Delaney
256 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269279 | Puffin Canada
Alice Fleck’s father is a culinary historian, and for as long as she can remember, she’s been helping him recreate meals from the past – a hobby she prefers to keep secret from kids her age. But when her father’s new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her hobby thrust into the spotlight. And that’s just the first of many surprises awaiting her. On arriving at the festival, Alice learns that she and her father are actually contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! And to make matters worse, she begins to suspect that someone is at work behind the scenes, sabotaging the competition. It’s up to Alice, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life . . . for the whole world to see.
2022 Red Maple Award™ Fiction Honour Book
By Susin Nielsen
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271203 | Penguin Teen Canada
We all have moments that define us. For the comically clueless Wilbur, his moment happened on the first day of middle school, when someone shared his private letter with the entire student body. It revealed some of Wilbur’s innermost embarrassing thoughts that no one else should ever know. Now it’s the start of ninth grade and Wilbur hasn’t been able to escape that major humiliation. His good friend Alex stuck by him, but Alex doesn’t have as much time since he started dating Fabrizio. Luckily, Wil can confide in his best friend: his elderly neighbor Sal. Also, Wil’s in the school band, where he plays the triangle. They’re doing an exchange program with students from Paris, and Wilbur’s billet, Charlie, a tall, chic young woman who plays the ukulele and burps with abandon, captures his heart. Charlie likes him, but only as a friend. So Alex, Fabrizio, and Sal host a Queer Eye-style intervention to get Wil in shape and to build his confidence so he can impress Charlie when their band visits Paris, and just maybe replace humiliation with true romance in the City of Love.
2022 White Pine Award™ Honour Books
The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page
Illustrated by Drew Shannon
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525646761 | Knopf BFYR
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of. At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever. An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.
Thanks to CBC Books for hosting and presenting the virtual awards! If you missed the ceremonies, you can catch up with them online here.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate the moms (and mom-like figures!) in your life than with a book?
Always with You, Always with Me
By Kelly Rowland and Jessica McKay
Illustrated by Fanny Liem
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593465516 | Viking BFYR
Grammy Award–winning artist Kelly Rowland and educator Jessica McKay have crafted a lyrical celebration of working moms everywhere and a soothing story for their children. As a mother gets ready to go to work, first she works on building the world for her child. Because it can sometimes be hard to be separated during the day, Mom collects some simple words that she and her child can repeat whenever they are missing each other or feeling overwhelmed.
Great Job, Mom!
By Holman Wang
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9781774880364 | Tundra Books
Being a mom is eleven jobs in one! This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses: A general who rallies the troops (or unruly kids), a curator of modern art (or finger paintings), an archeologist looking for buried treasures (or socks) . . . when Mom gets home from her day job as a carpenter, she never knows which job will be waiting for her, but she knows it’ll be fun!
Hello, Mommy!: A Touch-and-Feel Playbook
Illustrated by Lemon Ribbon Studio
10 Pages | Ages 0-2 | Board Book
ISBN 9780241530382 | Ladybird
Celebrate mothers in this adorable installment of the Baby Touch series! Meow along with mommy cat and her kitten, and quack along with mommy duck and her duckling in this charming addition to the Baby Touch series. This delightful board book is filled with bold illustrations and exciting, interactive moments on every page for young readers
How You Came to Be
By Carole Gerber
Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
32 Pages | Ages 2-4 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593225738 | Rise x Penguin Workshop
A mother lovingly describes the sizes and stages of her baby’s month-by-month development inside the womb, and the amazement of experiencing it from the outside. Simple, age-appropriate facts are woven into a tender and lyrical text that celebrates the miracle of a baby. It demystifies and informs readers, while simultaneously appreciating the wonder of it all. A perfect read-aloud for mother and child, or for children whose mothers are pregnant with a younger sibling.
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle
By Nina LaCour
Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536211511 | Candlewick
For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.
Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps
By Charlotte Watson Sherman
Illustrated by Geneva Bowers
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635923100 | Astra Young Readers
When Kenzie slips on her mermaid tail, she becomes Mermaid Kenzie, protector of the deeps. One day as Kenzie snorkels around a shipwreck, she discovers more plastic bags than fish. Grabbing her spear and mermaid net, she begins to clean up the water and the shore – inspiring other kids to help. Beautifully written in African American Vernacular English, this poetic picture book includes back matter with information about how plastic winds up in our oceans and examples of people – some of them kids, like Kenzie – who have worked to protect the sea. Mermaid Kenzie celebrates the ways that all of us, no matter how small, can make a difference.
By Hope Lim
Illustrated by Jaime Kim
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213324 | Candlewick
This gentle, contemplative picture book about family origins invites us to ponder the meaning of home. A young boy loves listening to his mother describe the place where she grew up, a world of tall mountains and friends splashing together in the river. Mommy’s stories have let the boy visit her homeland in his thoughts and dreams, and now he’s old enough to travel with her to see it for himself. But when mother and son arrive, the town is not as he imagined. Skyscrapers block the mountains, and crowds hurry past. The boy feels like an outsider – until they visit the river where his mother used to play, and he sees that the spirit and happiness of those days remain. Sensitively pitched to a child’s-eye view, this vivid story honors the immigrant experience and the timeless bond between parent and child, past and present.
My Love for You is Always
By Gillian Sze
Illustrated by Michelle Lee
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203071 | Philomel Books What is love? a child wonders. What does it feel like, smell like, taste like? How does it move? How long does it last? And as she prepares a traditional Chinese meal for her family, the child’s mother replies: her love for him is rosy as wolfberries, warm like tea, sweeter than the red dates she puts in his soup. It shines through the water like its own brilliant sun. It goes round and round with no beginning and no end. Because a mother’s love for a child is always there, warm and soft, broad and tender. In this tender story that pairs beautifully poetic words with brilliantly stunning art, a mother’s love comes alive on the page and wraps readers in its warm embrace.
Oceans of Love
By Janet Lawler
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326756 | Viking BFYR
From whales and dolphins, to hermit crabs and jellyfish, the ocean is filled with many different creatures. Join them on this imaginary undersea journey as ocean mamas care for their babies, each in their own special way! Because one thing is universal: there’s no other love like that between mamas and their little ones. With bright and beautiful watercolor illustrations comes this tender and heartwarming celebration of all the different mamas and babies you can find, especially those that live under the sea.
Somewhere, Right Now
By Kerry Docherty
Illustrated by Suzie Mason
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593350492 | Flamingo Books
When Alma is experiencing the lows of unexpected disappointment, her mom offers her the wise advice that she just might feel better if she closes her eyes and pictures something beautiful that’s happening in nature. Inspired by the current pandemic, this book is a relevant but timeless reminder that somewhere in the world something beautiful is happening. Maybe it’s a baby whale being born, or perhaps it’s the sun coming out on a cloudy day; right now our resilient world is making something incredible happen.
Tough Like Mum
By Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265981 | Tundra Books
Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough. But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect. In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough – and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.
Waiting for Mama
By Gianna Marino
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Paperback
ISBN 9780425290705 | Viking BFYR
It’s deep winter in the Antarctic and a little penguin baby waits in the cold and snow for its mama to return from her long journey to find food. But all the while, the baby is protected and kept warm by its papa, until Mama returns with food . . . and love. With stunning illustrations and a spare but powerful story, Gianna Marino captures the icy beauty of Antarctica and the wonders of a penguin family that thrives there.
Since 2006, the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) has put together an honor list of international books for young people. The list is published each year in February and highlights international books that are deemed to be outstanding in their field. We would like to congratulate Angela Ahn, Julie Morstad, and Wab Kinew whose books were included on this year’s Outstanding International Books list!
Peter Lee’s Notes From the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268241 | Tundra Books
Eleven year-old Peter Lee has one goal in life: to become a paleontologist. Okay, maybe two: to get his genius kid-sister, L.B., to leave him alone. But his summer falls apart when his real-life dinosaur expedition turns out to be a bust, and he watches his dreams go up in a cloud of asthma-inducing dust. Even worse, his grandmother, Hammy, is sick, and no one will talk to Peter or L.B. about it. Perhaps his days as a scientist aren’t quite behind him yet. Armed with notebooks and pens, Peter puts his observation and experimental skills to the test to see what he can do for Hammy. If only he can get his sister to be quiet for once – he needs time to sketch out a plan.
Time Is a Flower
By Julie Morstad
56 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267541 | Tundra Books
What is time? Is it the tick tick tock of a clock, numbers and words on a calendar? It’s that, but so much more. Time is a seed waiting to grow, a flower blooming, a sunbeam moving across a room. Time is slow like a spider spinning her web or fast like a wave at the beach. Time is a wiggly tooth, or waiting for the school bell to ring, or reading a story . . . or three! But time is also morning for some and night for others, a fading sunset and a memory captured in a photo taken long ago. In this magical meditation on the nature of time, Julie Morstad shines a joyful light on a difficult-to-grasp concept for young readers and reminds older readers to see the wonders of our world, including children themselves, through the lens of time.
Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she’s a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma. But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.
Thank you to the Outstanding International Books (OIB) committee for all their work!
This January is all about YOU and what YOU want to read! Not only did we ask 12 readers to share what 2021 books they hope to read on Instagram (you can catch up with their choices here and here), we asked 12 more to send us videos with their choices! We’ll be posting the videos on Instagram over the next few weeks but you can catch up on the full event below and here are the books they mentioned:
Curses By Lish McBride 448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781984815590 | Putnam BFYR Merit Cravan refused to fulfill her obligation to marry a prince, leading to a fairy godling’s curse. She will be forced to live as a beast forever, unless she agrees to marry a man of her mother’s choosing before her eighteenth birthday. Tevin Dumonthas always been a pawn in his family’s cons. The prettiest boy in a big family, his job is to tempt naïve rich girls to abandon their engagements, unless their parents agree to pay him off. But after his mother runs afoul of the beast, she decides to trade Tevin for her own freedom. Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother’s debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself?
All Our Hidden Gifts By Caroline O’Donoghue 384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781536213942 | Walker Books US After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace. Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily’s gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find – even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.
The Serpent’s Fury By Kelley Armstrong 352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover ISBN 9780735270152 | Puffin Canada Rowan is Tamarel’s Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, will be its king. After the events of The Gryphon’s Lair, Rowan, along with her friends, her brother and an entourage of monstrous companions, makes her way back to the Dunnian Woods to deal with the pack of dropbears the group trapped in an abandoned cabin after a vicious attack. The dropbears are just one of a number of rare monster species acting erratically in Tamarel. After a swarm of colocolos nearly tramples the group, Rowan becomes convinced that someone (or something) is driving these monsters out of their natural habitats. But nothing can prepare the Royal Monster Hunter for the truth of the matter: monsters even bigger and deadlier than gryphons have returned to the world, and their nest-building, as well as the actions of the humans trying to drive them out, has upset the balance of nature in Tamarel. Do Rowan’s “monster magnet” skills work against the most fearsome monsters imaginable? Find out in this exciting third book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series!
The Girls I’ve Been By Tess Sharpe 368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593353806 | Putnam BFYR Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when her mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape. For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems: #1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris. #2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because: #3: Right after they enter the bank, two guys start robbing it. The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage . . .
Iron Widow By Xiran Jay Zhao 400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead. To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.
The Silver Blonde By Elizabeth Ross 400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780385741484 | Delacorte BFYR Hollywood, 1946. The war is over, and eighteen-year-old Clara Berg spends her days shelving reels as a vault girl at Silver Pacific Studios, with all her dreams pinned on getting a break in film editing. That and a real date with handsome yet unpredictable screenwriter Gil. But when she returns a reel of film to storage one night, Clara stumbles across the authosumlifeless body of a woman in Vault 5. The costume, the makeup, the ash-blond hair are unmistakable – it has to be Babe Bannon, A-list star. And it looks like murder. Suddenly Clara’s world is in free-fall, her future in movies upended – not to mention that her refugee parents are planning to return to Germany and don’t want her to set foot on the studio lot again. As the Silver Blonde murder ignites Tinseltown, rumors and accusations swirl. The studio wants a quick solve, but the facts of the case keep shifting. Nothing is what it seems – not even the victim. Clara finds herself drawn, inevitably, to the murder investigation, and the dark side of Hollywood. But how far is she willing to go to find the truth?
Luck of the Titanic By Stacey Lee 384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781524740986 | Putnam BFYR Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America. But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it. As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America. Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.
Hunting by Stars By Cherie Dimaline 400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780735269651 | Penguin Teen Canada Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up – or are re-opened – across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams. Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is – and what it will take to escape. Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers – school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go – and how many loved ones is he willing to betray – in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club By Malinda Lo 416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780525555254 | Dutton BFYR Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father – despite his hard-won citizenship – Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
Poison for Breakfast By Lemony Snicket 168 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780735271463 | Penguin Teen Canada For more than twenty years, Lemony Snicket has led millions of young readers through a mysterious world of bewildering questions and unfortunate events. With this latest book – a love letter to readers young and old about the vagaries of real life – longtime fans and new readers alike will experience Snicket’s distinctive voice in a new way. This true story – as true as Lemony Snicket himself – begins with a puzzling note under his door: You had poison for breakfast. Following a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his own demise, Snicket takes us on a thought-provoking tour of his predilections: the proper way to prepare an egg, a perplexing idea called “tzimtzum,” the sublime pleasure of swimming in open water, and much else.
Cast in Firelight By Dana Swift 448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9780593124215 | Delacorte BFYR Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people. Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child. Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet. Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross . . . and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead. Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals . . ? Fiancées . . ? Partners . . ? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.
The Taking of Jake Livingston By Ryan Douglass 256 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover ISBN 9781984812537 | Putnam BFYR Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student – the handsome Allister – and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake. Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game – one Jake is not sure he can win.
This January is all about YOU and what YOU want to read! We asked 12 readers what 2021 books they hope to pick up soon and we’re sharing them for the #12DaysOfJanYouAry. Here are the final six – make sure to follow along on Instagram as well!
Some Girls Do
By Jennifer Dugan
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593112533 | Putnam BFYR
Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan – out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start – doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?
“My 2021 vibe has been all YA all the time, and I’m always intrigued by anything sapphic! The cover is stunning AND blurbed by Casey McQuiston?! Sign me up!”
Spells Like Teen Spirit
By Kate M. Williams
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593304822 | Delacorte Press
Ever since Esme met Cassandra Heaven and discovered the truth about their shared legacy – that they’re Sitters, supernaturally gifted teens tasked with protecting the innocent from evil – her life has been moving at 90 mph. During the day, she chases wild toddlers, and at night, she employs a different skill set for a different kind of demon. Like, literal ones. And sometimes it’s almost fun. Her spells are getting better, her telekinesis is on point, and now that Esme’s dad and her best friend Janis know the truth, she’s no longer lying to the people she loves. She’s also learned that there’s a way to undo her mother’s curse, and with the Synod out of the picture, she might even have a chance to do it. If she could just figure out how. But she can’t, and even with her mom living at home again, Esme can’t shake the feeling that she’s failing. Throw in the fact that Pig is still gone, Esme’s crush is MIA, and it’s cold, slushy February, and she’s in bummer city. Esme needs a serious pick-me-up, and Janis has a plan: a Galentine’s stay-cation, with the Sitter friends Esme and Cassandra made at the Summit. Except things are getting weird in Spring River again. Esme and Cassandra just discovered a new band, and not in a good way: these guys reek of Red Magic, and their music sucks. Trouble is brewing, and if Esme’s not careful, this show might be her last – and no one likes a one-hit wonder.
“The title of the book alone had me immediately adding it to my TBR but the fact that I had two books before this one to read had me all over it. Sign me up for anything packed with magic and girl power.”
By Nic Stone
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984893017 | Crown BFYR
Shenice Lockwood, captain of the Fulton Firebirds, is hyper-focused when she steps up to the plate. Nothing can stop her from leading her team to the U12 fast-pitch softball regional championship. But life has thrown some curveballs her way.
Strike one: As the sole team of all-brown faces, Shenice and the Firebirds have to work twice as hard to prove that Black girls belong at bat.
Strike two: Shenice’s focus gets shaken when her great-uncle Jack reveals that a career-ending – and family-name-ruining – crime may have been a setup.
Strike three: Broken focus means mistakes on the field. Shenice’s teammates are beginning to wonder if she’s captain-qualified.
It’s up to Shenice to discover the truth about her family’s past – and fast – before secrets take the Firebirds out of the game forever.
“Written by the magnificent Nic Stone ✔️
Girls playing softball ✔️
Uncovering the past ✔️
Should be fun, let’s play ball! ”
By Renée Ahdieh
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812612 | Putnam BFYR
Following the explosive events of The Damned, Odette faces a vampire’s final death. The Court of the Lions have done everything they can to save her but have failed. A healer from the Sylvan Vale could help her, but only Arjun Desai, as a half fey, can cross the boundary between realms. The Sylvan Vale is a world Arjun despises, and in return, it despises him. But knowing it could save Odette, he returns to the Vale with all haste, leaving the mirrored tare between two worlds open and unwittingly setting the stage for both love and war. It’s mere days until Pippa Montrose is to wed Phoebus Devereux and become a member of his well-heeled family, offering salvation to her own. But Celine is missing. Pippa has no idea where her best friend has gone, but she’s certain it’s in the company of vampire Sébastien Saint Germain and that Arjun can lead her to them. Pippa enjoins the help of Eloise, the daughter of a powerful sorceress, to discover the gateway Arjun uses to travel between worlds. Pippa, tired of hesitating in life, marches right through in search of her friend. But what she discovers on the other side is a dangerous, duplicitous world full of mischief and magic she doesn’t understand, and most unexpectedly, she finds love.
“First, this series has gorgeous covers (instant cover buy)! Second, there are vampires and romance (take all my money)! Third, Ahdieh’s writing style and characters will draw readers into this mythical version of New Orleans. ”
By Erin A. Craig
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593306741 | Delacorte Press
Ellerie Downing is waiting for something to happen. Life in isolated Amity Falls, surrounded by an impenetrable forest, has a predictable sameness. Her days are filled with tending to her family’s beehives, chasing after her sisters, and dreaming of bigger things while her twin, Samuel, is free to roam as he wishes. Early town settlers fought off monstrous creatures in the woods, and whispers that the creatures still exist keep the Downings and their neighbors from venturing too far. When some townsfolk go missing on a trip to fetch supplies, a heavy unease settles over the Falls. Strange activities begin to plague the town, and as the seasons change, it’s clear that something is terribly wrong. The creatures are real, and they’re offering to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand, for just a small favor. These seemingly trifling demands, however, hide sinister intentions. Soon Ellerie finds herself in a race against time to stop Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves from going up in flames.
“The cover immediately drew me in, the art is just gorgeous. Also the summary sounds amazing. Beekeeping? It’s so interesting and rarely any books feature it. I can’t wait to learn more about beekeeping. This haunting tale seems like the perfect read for 2022.”
Beasts of Prey
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR
There’s no such thing as magic in the broken city of Lkossa, especially for sixteen-year-old Koffi, who holds a power within her that could only be described as magic – a power that if discovered could cost her life. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, Koffi knows the fearsome creatures in her care and paying off her family’s debts to secure their eventual freedom can be her only focus. But the night those she loves are gravely threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi finally unleashes the power she doesn’t fully understand, upending her life completely. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six – an elite warrior – and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, Ekon encounters not only the Shetani – a vicious monster that has plagued the city for nearly a century and stalks his nightmares, but Koffi who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani could also be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon form a tentative alliance and together enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild, frightening magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.
“Can we just take a minute to appreciate this stunning cover?! Magical creatures, hunt or be hunted? I’m so ready for this wild (pun intended) adventure.”