#Penguin10 2021

Earlier this week, we hosted our annual #PenguinTeenSocial where we played a bit of trivia, talked about summer reading, and, of course, revealed our #Penguin10 of 2021 – the top ten books you need to read this fall. Here are all ten titles . . . sorry in advance for how long your TBR is about to get.

Both Sides Now
By Peyton Thomas
300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release Date: August 24, 2021
There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls. And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality. Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity. People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things – like who you are and who you love – are not up for debate.

Dark and Shallow Lies
By Ginny Myers Sain
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593403969 | Razorbill
Release Date: August 31, 2021
La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide. This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World – and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier. Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave. When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent – and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Idol Gossip
By Alexandra Leigh Young
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213645 | Walker Books US
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans – and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way . . . . This debut novel is about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true. It will speak to fans of K-pop and to anyone who is trying to take their talents to the next level.

Walking in Two Worlds
By Wab Kinew
296 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269002 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release Date: September 14, 2021
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.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
Release Date: September 21, 2021
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.

When We Make It
By Elisabet Velasquez
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593324486 | Dial BFYR
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to girls who were taught to believe they would not make it at all. The verse is evocative and insightful, and readers are sure to be swept into Sarai’s world and rooting for her long after they close the book.

Beasts of Prey
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR
Release Date: September 28, 2021
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.

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.

The Heartbreak Bakery
By A.R. Capetta
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536216530 | Candlewick
Release Date: October 12, 2021
Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too – one recipe at a time.

Skin of the Sea
By Natasha Bowen
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593120941 | Random House BFYR
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata – a mermaid – collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable – she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

Once you’re done adding all these titles to your TBR, make sure to check out our K-pop playlist inspired by this list too! 


If you missed the social, have no fear: we recorded it! Check it out on YouTube now and keep scrolling for our two playlists: the official #PenguinTeenSocial playlist and our “read these books if you like these Taylor Swift songs” list.

And if you attended and really enjoyed the synth-y vibes of our intro/outro music, here’s the link: 

Hoppy Reading: Books for Easter

Easter is coming up soon and we have some egg-cellent reading suggestions – even if you don’t celebrate! We have books featuring cuddly and fluffy spring animals to flowers and friendship.

A Lamb Called Lucky
By Helen Peters
Illustrated by Ellie Snowdon
144 Pages | Ages 7-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536210286 | Walker Books
It’s lambing season at Oak Tree Farm! When a little lamb loses his mother, Jasmine names him Lucky and steps in to bottle-feed him and patiently help him learn to walk. With a sheepdog to train and two helpless baby birds to raise, it’s hard work for Jasmine to juggle all of her animals, even with the help of her best friend, Tom. But when sheep rustlers strike her family’s flock, taking Lucky with them, Jasmine will have to summon the courage for her most daring rescue yet. From author Helen Peters and illustrator Ellie Snowdon comes an especially thrilling story about Jasmine Green, a girl with a talent for taking care of animals.

Bunny Roo and Duckling Too
By Melissa Marr
Illustrated by Teagan White
32 Pages | Ages 1-3 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525516040 | Nancy Paulsen Books
It’s hard to keep up with an energetic toddler, and as an adoring mom tries to, she describes all the frisky young animals her little one reminds her of – from a hopping frog and a squirming snake, to her adorable cuddly bunny. A loving mama has fun sharing the various animals her growing child resembles, in this delightful companion to Bunny Roo, I Love You.

Easter, Here I Come
By D. J. Steinberg
Illustrated by Emanuel Wiemans
32 Pages | Ages 4-6 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593224014 | Grosset & Dunlap
D. J. Steinberg is back with more playful poems, and this time, they are all odes to Easter and springtime. From making an Easter bonnet to enjoying an egg-squisite Easter brunch, this book – with its sheet of stickers – is a perfect gift to put in any child’s Easter basket!

Five Little Ducks
Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
10 Pages | Ages 0-2 | Board Book
ISBN 9780763699338 | Nosy Crow
Join a mother duck as she counts her five ducklings in this interactive board book based on the beloved children’s song. A QR code inside links to both instrumental and vocal versions of the song. Simply scan the code to listen and sing along – Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!

How Big Is Love
By Emma Dodd
24 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536215441 | Templar
Does love have a size? A family of ducks celebrates the boundless affection between them in Emma Dodd’s gentle rhyming ode to unconditional love.

How Do Bunnies Take Baths?
By Diane Muldrow
Illustrated by David Walker
24 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593127773 | Golden Books
This delightful rhyming Little Golden Book shares fun facts about how bunnies, zebras, cats, elephants, and many other animals keep themselves clean. Young boys and girls will love comparing their bath time to those of the adorable animals in this new book from New York Times bestselling author Diane Muldrow and beloved illustrator David Walker.

Meet the Matzah
By Alan Silberberg
36 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593118115 | Viking BFYR
Meet Alfie Koman. He’s a matzah who really likes to hide. But Alfie also has a great story to tell his class of how the Hebrews fled Egypt to freedom. Too bad Loaf, the school sourdough bully, turns Alfie’s Passover story upside-down. A pharaoh who is a giant cockroach? Moses as a mighty superhero? And Ten Plagues that include “No Wi-fi” and “Chocolate-turned-to-broccoli”? Looks like it’s up to Alfie and his best friend Challa Looyah to get the Passover story right. Alfie just has to come out of hiding first. . . .

More Than Fluff
By Madeline Valentine
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593179055 | Knopf BFYR
Daisy happens to be fluffy – she’s a young chick after all. Her friends can’t help but want to pet her, squeeze her, and tell her how cute she is. But Daisy doesn’t want to be hugged or kissed. She’s not just fluff; Daisy has substance! But how can she tell everyone to give her some space without hurting their feelings? A timely and funny book that encourages kids to establish and respect boundaries – perfect for reading aloud and shared story time!

Mustache Duckstache
By Amy Young
Illustrated by AJ Young
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593205587 | Viking BFYR
When a mustachioed rabbit spots a mustache contest, he’s sure he has the competition beat. That is, until a pesky frog hops up with his own fine mustache. And a duck waddles up with a. . . duckstache? Soon, the competition is full of moosestaches and mousestaches, whalestaches and tailstaches – and every kind of ‘stache in between. Readers will love following this simple tale of hirsute havoc with a laugh-out-loud twist ending. Plus, there’s a fun guide at the end to every kind of mustache imaginable!

Peep and Ducky Sleepover
By David Martin
Illustrated by David Walker
32 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536204544 | Candlewick
When Poppa leaves Ducky at Peep’s house for a sleepover, the little visitor is a bit teary at first. But Peep and his momma give Ducky a hug, making him feel better. Then comes playtime (and getting momentarily stuck in a truck), brushing teeth, and snuggling with Momma for bedtime stories. But will her wish for “sweet dreams” coax the two excited friends straight to sleep? With sing-song rhythms, winsome illustrations, and the most infectious sort of good-natured charm, Peep and Ducky’s latest adventure will be the bedtime read-aloud choice for mischievous toddlers everywhere.

Raindrops to Rainbows
By John Micklos, Jr.
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
32 Pages | Ages 3-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593224090 | Penguin Workshop
Raindrops are falling outside, but there’s still a world of color to experience! Delightful rhymes and brilliant illustrations detail how a gloomy, rainy day might not actually be so gloomy after all when you get to spend time with Mom, Brown Bear, and the colors around you. And when a “beaming rainbow, bold and bright” cuts through the sky, everyone gets to experience the joy of all the colors that can only come after the rain.

Spring Cakes
By Miranda Harmon
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447534 | Holiday House
It’s springtime! Mama Cat is ready to bake her famous spring cakes, enchanted cupcakes heaped with sparkling frosting. Can kittens Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Ginger find all the magical ingredients she needs? The quest begins! This imaginative and adventurous graphic reader comes from rising comics star Miranda Harmon, co-creator of Mayor Good Boy.

The Passover Guest
By Susan Kusel
Illustrated by Sean Rubin
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823445622 | Neal Porter Books
It’s the Spring of 1933 in Washington D.C., and the Great Depression is hitting young Muriel’s family hard. Her father has lost his job, and her family barely has enough food most days, let alone for a Passover Seder. They don’t even have any wine to leave out for the prophet Elijah’s ceremonial cup. With no feast to rush home to, Muriel wanders by the Lincoln Memorial, where she encounters a mysterious magician in whose hands juggled eggs become lit candles. After she makes a kind gesture, he encourages her to run home for her Seder, and when she does, she encounters a holiday miracle, a bountiful feast of brisket, soup, and matzah. But who was this mysterious benefactor? When Muriel sees Elijah’s ceremonial cup is empty, she has a good idea.

The Secret Fawn
By Kallie George
Illustrated by Elly MacKay
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265165 | Tundra Books
A little girl is always missing out on the wonderful things her family gets to see and do, just because she is the youngest and smallest. She misses seeing shooting stars because she goes to bed too early; she can’t pick the first apple of autumn because she’s too short; and, this morning, everyone else got to see a deer . . . except her. She goes into her backyard in search of the deer, a sugar cube tucked in her pocket. She sees a flick of brown in the orchard – is that the deer? No, it’s just the neighbor’s friendly dog (shhhhh, Nala!). Is that it by the pond? No, that’s just a bird, playing in the water. Just when she’s about to give up, she spots a fawn, beautiful, quiet and small . . . just like her. The Secret Fawn beautifully captures the power of nature to inspire children and shows how connecting with animals can help kids who feel left out or overlooked.

The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable
By Bette Midler
Illustrated by Michiko Kakutani
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593176764 | Random House BFYR
How do you get people to appreciate what is right in front of them? In The Tale of the Mandarin Duck, it takes a mysterious, beautiful duck and a clear-eyed kid to point out the obvious! Bette Midler’s distinctive voice joins striking photos of the real duck by Michiko Kakutani and charming black-and-white drawings by Joana Avillez. This book will have readers of all ages coming back to visit the fantastical interpretation of New York City and its odd ducks – both feathered and human. 

We  Adopted a Baby Lamb
By Lori Joy Smith
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266537 | Tundra Books
Ila is excited about her family’s move to the country – mostly because it means she can have more pets! But no one expected their next addition to be a lamb. When Albert first comes home, he sleeps a lot, he eats a lot . . . and he pees on the floor a lot. Ila and her sister and parents quickly learn how to care for a baby sheep – they must feed him and protect him. It’s not easy because Albert gets into everything! He eats the tulips from the flower bed, chews on car bumpers, chases the dog (and hides from the cats). Ila and her family does everything to make Albert happy and healthy, but she can’t help feeling like her little lamb might be missing something from his life. Maybe he needs a friend? But Ila soon realizes that she doesn’t need to look for a friend for Albert – he already has his flock.

Welcome Flower Child: The Magic of Your Birth Flower
By Brigette Barrager
42 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984830395 | Random House BFYR
Welcome to this celebration of nature and babies from New York Times bestselling illustrator of Uni the Unicorn, Brigette Barrager. A gorgeous gift book reveals the qualities of babies born in each month of the year, and the accompanying flower that blooms in each birth month. This text is sweet, and soft, and everyone who opens it can find the special personality traits of individuals born in their month revealed.

What’s Inside a Flower: And Other Questions About Science & Nature
By Rachel Ignotofsky
48 Pages | Ages 4-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593176474 | Crown BFYR
Budding backyard scientists can start exploring their world with this stunning introduction to these flowery show-stoppers – from seeds to roots to blooms. Learning how flowers grow gives kids beautiful building blocks of science and inquiry. In the launch of a new nonfiction picture book series, Rachel Ignotofsky’s distinctive art style and engaging, informative text clearly answers any questions a child (or adult) could have about flowers.

Will You Be My Friend?
By Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217476 | Candlewick Press
Little Nutbrown Hare is out exploring on his own. Off he hops along the path and through the grass until he reaches Cloudy Mountain, where something extraordinary happens: he discovers a new friend! Now the fun can really begin. Twenty-five years after we met the Nutbrown Hares, this enchanting new tale about friendship is bound to capture the hearts of Guess How Much I Love You fans – and everyone else – the world over.

You Are Always Loved
By Madeleine Dean and Harry Cunnane
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593309247 | Random House BFYR
An evergreen message about hope and unconditional love is told through the story of a bunny separated from its parent during a rainstorm and all the forest friends who come together to offer help. This lyrical book will touch children who have experienced deep loneliness or isolation, and is crafted especially for those who know the unique heartache of witnessing a family member suffer from addiction.