Staff Picks: Anticipated 2021 Kids Books

New year, new books! There are so many exciting titles coming out in 2021 – here are the ones we’re most looking forward to during the first half of the year.

Vikki, Marketing & Publicity Director

“I love a buddy comedy, and Simon & Chester made me laugh out loud. I can’t wait to introduce kids to this new graphic novel chapter book series featuring the adventures of a kid and his BFF, who happens to be a novel-writing ghost in a deerstalker.”

Super Detectives: Simon and Chester #1
By Cale Atkinson
64 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267428 | Tundra Books
Release Date:  February 9, 2021
Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They like to kick butt and take names.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to solve the MYSTERY OF A LIFETIME.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)
Join Simon and Chester in their first adventure, and fall in love with this hilarious odd couple by fan favorite author and illustrator Cale Atkinson.

Sylvia, Marketing and Publicity Manager

“It’s the type of book I would have loved as a kid – I adore the notebook/journal/diary format, you could also say I like reading other people’s secret thoughts!”

Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field
By Angela Ahn
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
312 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268241 | Tundra Books
Release Date: March 2, 2021
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.

Evan, Publicity Manager

“David Robertson can do no wrong in my book, so when you have him writing a very personal picture book story about his family’s trapline, re-team him with incredible When We Were Alone illustrator Julie Flett, you have a book I can’t wait to get into my hands and eyeballs.”

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681  | Tundra Books
Release Date: May 4, 2021
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.

Sam, Associate Publicist

“My niece and I have been reading the series together and we’re both so excited for more Megabat!”

Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday
By Anna Humphrey
Illustrated by Kass Reich
176 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266049 | Tundra Books
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Daniel isn’t in the birthday party mood. He hates his new glasses – they’re dorky, and he feels silly in them. Megabat LOVES Daniel’s new face windows! They make him dizzy and his tummy feel funny. And he loves parties even more! Daniel starts planning his party, and things are looking up – all of his friends are excited, and he has some fun games planned. Plus: presents! Megabat’s party excitement is losing steam. He has to hide the whole time. He can’t eat any of the delicious buttermelon. And he can’t participate in any games, even though it’s the thing he wants most in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. When Megabat loses his temper and breaks Daniel’s best birthday gift, he realizes he’s been a bad friend and gives Daniel what he thinks is the best possible gift: he runs away. But being alone in the big, wide, world is harder than he thought.

Staff Picks: Anticipated 2021 Teen Titles

New year, new books! There are so many exciting titles coming out in 2021 – here are the ones we’re most looking forward to during the first half of the year.

Vikki, Marketing & Publicity Director

“I cannot wait for Last Night at the Telegraph Club, a searing lesbian love story set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s.”

Last Night at the Telegraph Club
By Malinda Lo
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555254 | Dutton BFYR
Release Date: January 19, 2021
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.

Sylvia, Marketing and Publicity Manager

“You had me with ‘there’s a serpent in this paradise’.”

The Great Godden
By Meg Rosoff
256 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735268319 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release Date: April 13, 2021
This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer. . . . In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers: irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.

Evan, Publicity Manager

“This looks like a throwback to the golden days of Christopher Pike and friends: ten friends at a house on the Jersey Shore, who begin to die one-by-one? I’d definitely watch this movie, so you know I’m going to read this book.”

Prom House
By Chelsea Mueller
256 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593180051 | Underlined
Release Date: May 4, 2021
What happens when the best night of your life turns into the worst? Full of menace and suspense, this is an unputdownable thriller – and a trade paperback original! Ten people share a prom house at the Jersey Shore for the weekend. Every one of them has a secret . . . and when they begin to die one by one, panic ensues. Could somebody’s prom date also be . . . a killer?

Sam, Associate Publicist

“Coming-of-age stories are one of my weaknesses and this one – narrated by a self-proclaimed fat Latina – is probably going to break my heart…I can’t wait!”

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
By Crystal Maldonado
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447176 | Holiday House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing – he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it’s time people did.

Cover Reveal: Rising Like a Storm

Happy Friday! We have a very special treat for you today – we’re revealing the stunning cover for Rising Like a Storm, the epic sequel to Tanaz Bhathena’s Hunted by the Sky! It comes out on June 22, 2021 and we’re already dying for it. Scroll down to see Gul in all her glory, plus a Q&A with Tanaz and BookRiot contributor (and librarian!) Lucas Maxwell!

Q&A with Tanaz Bhathena and Lucas Maxwell

Lucas: Did designing this book cover during the pandemic present any challenges?

Tanaz: There were definite challenges as the cover for HUNTED BY THE SKY was based off a photoshoot with a model (Tara Gupta) and we couldn’t safely do that during a pandemic. Thankfully my cover designer at Macmillan, Beth Clark, is a genius! She used a photo from the old shoot and designed it to perfectly capture the themes of RISING LIKE A STORM.

Lucas: The Wrath of Ambar duology is inspired by stories from medieval India, what attracted you to them and what impact do these stories have on you as a writer?

Tanaz: I was always drawn to medieval India as a kid, whether it came to TV shows or even history class. I was fascinated by stories about the Mughals, Rajputs, and the Marathas, the opulent medieval courts, the wars for succession, the many kingdoms rising and falling. My research also led me to powerful women (warriors and politicians) during this time period and I felt a deep sense of pride and joy in discovering these historical figures. India has such a rich pre-colonial history and I really wanted to showcase some of that by writing this historical fantasy.

Lucas: What do you enjoy most about creating a world like Svapnalok?

Tanaz: Just getting immersed into this world which is so closely intertwined with my culture and who I am as a person.

Lucas: Did writing this duology help you reconnect with your past?

Tanaz: It did! I’m a Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) and I discovered several interesting anecdotes about Parsis across Indian history during my research.

Lucas: What do you hope readers take away from the Wrath of Ambar duology?

Tanaz: I hope they find a world they can escape to – especially during this pandemic – and enjoy spending time with these characters as much as I did!

Thanks Tanaz and Lucas for joining us today!

P.S. Head to this form to sign up for a chance to get an e-ARC of Rising Like a Storm as soon as it’s available!

Tanaz Bhathena: website | instagram
Lucas Maxwell: website | twitter | podcast


If you haven’t read Hunted by the Sky yet, you have until June to catch up before Rising Like a Storm comes out!

By Tanaz Bhathena
384 Pages | Ages 12+| Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267022 | Penguin Teen Canada
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl – Gul – in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance – and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.