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Publishers Weekly's Most Anticipated Middle Grade Books for 2016

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Alexander trades basketball for soccer in this follow-up to his Newbery Medal–winning novel-in-verse, The Crossover. Like that book, this story balances in-the-game action with struggles at home and at school as it follows the ups and downs of a 12-year-old boy named Nick, all captured in Alexander’s vivid, zigzagging rhymes. Available in April.


Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Timely, sensitive, and thought-provoking, this novel from Clementine creator Pennypacker traces 12-year-old Peter’s efforts to reunite with his pet fox, Pax, shifting between the perspectives of boy and animal. Pennypacker’s fans will also want to keep an eye out for her book Waylon! One Awesome Thing, also out this spring and illustrated by her Clementine collaborator, Marla Frazee. Available Now.


Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo, the outgoing National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has racked up devoted fans (and major awards) for one novel after the next, from Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux to her more recent Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses. In this story, set in 1975 Florida, three girls learn that they can count on each other when the adults in their lives prove less reliable. Available in April.


Summerlost by Ally Condie

Best known for her dystopian Matched trilogy for teens, Condie switches gears (and audiences) with this tender summer story set against the backdrop of a town’s Shakespeare festival, as 12-year-old Cedar, her mother, and her brother regroup after recent deaths in their family. Available in March.


The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Picture book creator Brown moves into longer-form fiction for the first time with the story of Roz, a robot who washes up on an island and attempts to reach out to the local animals and make it her home. Robots like Roz may not have much in the way of emotions, but readers’ feelings will be put to the test as Roz adopts a baby gosling and contends with forces seeking to retrieve her. Available in April.

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Publishers Weekly's Most Anticipated Children's Titles of 2016

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

Though Santat’s impressive output means that his name often appears on several books in a given season, this is his first solo project since his Caldecott Medal win for The Adventures of Beekle. Here, he takes a question that has frustrated generations of parents and turns it into a wild time-travel adventure, one that also has something to say about patience and appreciating the present moment. Available in April.


The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown

Less Goodnight Moon than “Goodbye, bird,” this story debuted as a poem in Brown’s 1938 book, The Fish with the Deep Blue Smile, and later reappeared as a 1958 picture book illustrated by Remy Charlip. Robinson’s artwork brings new life to a story of a group of children and their reverent encounter with evidence of life’s ephemerality. Available in March.


Let's Play by Herve Tullet

Tullet is actively engaged in blurring the lines between reading and play, and he has won devoted fans with this book’s predecessors, Press Here and Mix It Up! (It’s almost tempting to think of them as print apps rather than picture books.) This book feels akin to Press Here as readers are invited to trace the path of a yellow dot from page to page, never knowing quite what will happen with each tap, twist, or shake of the book. Available in April.


Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead

Authors are perennially asked where they get their ideas, and Stead puts a solid answer in the title of this book. But that shouldn’t stop readers from diving in to witness the conversations, images, and questions that arise as Stead takes a walk through the neighborhood with his dog—it’s a valuable and enlightening glimpse into the creative process. Available in March.


Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Alexie has been a much-missed presence in the children’s book world since his last (and first) book for young readers, 2007’s National Book Award–winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He aims younger with this picture book about family and identity in which a boy attempts to find a name that truly suits him, which is vibrantly illustrated by Morales, no stranger to awards herself. Available in May.



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Jorey Hurley Loves

Every month, we ask one of our favorite authors to recommend one of their favorite books!

Jorey Hurley Loves

I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom & Richard Scarry

I recommend reading I am a Bunny by Ole Risom and Richard Scarry with a toddler or preschooler. I love Nicholas the bunny's exploration of the nature around him as it changes through the seasons.  The gentle, simple text gives the grownup reader a starting place for talking about each page while the gorgeous illustrations encourage little eyes to linger, notice things, and ask questions.  And since it's available as a board book it's fine if the listener chews on it a little bit!  

Jorey Hurley is a critically acclaimed author and illustrator based in San Francisco. Her picture books include Nest, a charming depiction of the day in a life of a bird; Fetch, a fun story following a dog as it chases a ball at the beach; and her latest Hop is a joyful look at the life of a rabbit family.

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New Book By Beatrix Potter Discovered

After more than 100 years since her last book was published, a new Beatrix Potter tale has been discovered. The best part, there's a special guest appearnce from an older Peter Rabbit! Kitty-in-Boots was rediscovered by publisher Jo Hanks after she read a refernece to it an old Potter biography. In Beatrix's own words, Kitty-in-Boots is about "a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life".

In the publisher's search of the Victoria and Albert Museum archive, three manuscripts were found, written in shcool notebooks, including a rough color sketch of Kitty-in-Boots, a pencil sketcy of villain Mr. Tod, and a dummy book with some of the manuscript laid out. 

(Image from original source: BBC News)

Even more exciting news is that Quentin Blake, who's work you may recognize from Roald Dahl's books, has illustrated the story, set to be published this September. 


See the original story and more images over at BBC News!

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Children's Book Controversy

Earlier this month, we included the newly released book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, in a couple posts, even one about diversity. The book has since been pulled from publication by it's publisher, Scholastic due to "problematic" portrayals of slaves.

A Birthday Cake for George Washington is the story of Hercules, one of Washington's slaves and cook, and Hercules' daughter, Delia, happily baking a cake for George Washington's Birthday. The controversy is the depiction of Hercules and Delia as happy "servants", which, as Scholastic stated in their announcment, "may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves". Critics are concerned that the story is "an offensively sanitized version of the institution of slavery." Scholastic originally defended the book and author, Ramin Ganeshram, but have since reversed their position.

“We do not believe this title meets the standards of appropriate presentation of information to younger children, despite the positive intentions and beliefs of the author, editor and illustrator,” it said in a statement.

To read more about the book, controversy, and Scholastaic's decision, check out the articles we used as sources, the New York Times and BBC.

Books Inc. apoligizes if we have offended any of our readers by including A Birthday Cake for George Washington in our posts and email blasts.

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