Inspired recommendations for kids from
independent booksellers across the country.

In This Issue...

#1 Kids' Next List Pick...

Beverly, Right Here

By Kate DiCamillo

(Candlewick Press, 9780763694647, $16.99)

"Kate DiCamillo trusts children, and it makes her writing remarkable. She trusts them to feel a range of complicated emotions, to experience hardship just like any adult, and to be capable, kind, cruel, self-directed, and a little lost. Beverly's journey into a place away from her everyday world is a perfect respite from our own, though it never shies away from the fact that life is difficult. Runaway she may be, but Beverly is so clear-eyed and decisive that you might be inclined to follow her anywhere." 

--Alex Schaffner, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA 

#1 Kids' Next List Pick Author Interview...

Indie booksellers across the country have chosen Kate DiCamillo's Beverly, Right Here (Candlewick Press) as the top choice for the Fall 2019 Kids' Indie Next List.

DiCamillo's ninth novel, a story of loss and family, returns again to the world of Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana's Way Home to follow Beverly Tapinski. After the death of her dog, Buddy, Beverly runs away from her mother, Rhonda, with whom she has a strained relationship, to start a new life--one that she wants to live alone, with no need to depend on anyone and no one to depend on her. But, as she finds a job and a place to stay, she slowly begins to build the family she's always needed.

"Kate DiCamillo trusts children, and it makes her writing remarkable," said Alex Schaffner of Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts. "She trusts them to feel a range of complicated emotions, to experience hardship just like any adult, and to be capable, kind, cruel, self-directed, and a little lost. Beverly's journey into a place away from her everyday world is a perfect respite from our own, though it never shies away from the fact that life is difficult. Runaway she may be, but Beverly is so clear-eyed and decisive that you might be inclined to follow her anywhere."

Here, DiCamillo discusses grief, family, and art.

What inspired you to return to the world of the Three Rancheros for a third time?

All three characters (Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly) have preoccupied me for a long time. When I finished Raymie's story, I never anticipated that I would go back to that world--but Louisiana's voice was so insistent, so demanding, that I couldn't resist it. I knew Beverly had something to say, even if she was much more reluctant to say it. Oddly, her reluctance convinced me that I had to do it, that she needed her story told.

Where did the idea for Beverly's story come from?

It started with Beverly's dog, Buddy, dying. Having just experienced the death of a beloved dog myself, I knew how unmooring that loss can be.

Beverly, Right Here, like Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana's Way Home, is set in the 1970s. Is there a particular reason why you chose this time period?

I grew up in the '70s--so to be there, in that time period, is to plug into that feeling of "becoming."

One thing explored in this book is grief and how we deal with it. Why did you choose to address this topic through Beverly's character?

One of the books that I kept close by me when I was writing Beverly's story is H Is for Hawk--a book that is so much about grieving, but it's kind of an oblique grieving. Beverly's quietness, her stoic demeanor, seemed so well-suited to an understated (I hope) exploration of what it means to lose things, people, dogs.

An idea that spans across the Three Rancheros books is that of a found family--Beverly can't choose her mother or her father, but she can choose those she surrounds herself with, in the same way Louisiana and Raymie make homes and families for themselves with different people and places. Why do you keep returning to this idea?

I know! It's one of those themes that keeps popping up in my books without me even being aware of it. I guess it is so central to the stories I tell because it has been my experience. I have found my way home through friends.

Art, particularly The Annunciation, also plays an important role in this story. Why did you choose that image specifically?

I love Annunciation paintings. I loved all the conflicted emotions on the angels' faces and Mary's face. I love news being delivered via angels. Which is kind of how I see art--it delivers messages to us if we stand still and wait.

Where do you see the Three Rancheros, particularly Beverly, going as they grow older?

I really truly believe that they will be friends until the end of their lives.

I think Beverly will be a professor (of art).

I think Louisiana will be an actress (of course).

And Raymie? Raymie will be a writer.

Can you tell readers what you're working on next?

I've got a novel on the loom. I can't say a word about it. But I'm working, working, working!

Top Picks

The Grace Year

By Kim Liggett

(Wednesday Books, 9781250145444, $16.99)

"Liggett combines a dystopian society with a horrific survivor story and a dark fairy tale in The Grace Year. Young girls are believed to be magic, so they are forced into exile for their 16th year in order to release their powers. After their year away, they are expected to come back ready for a docile home life. But not all of them come home alive, and many come home changed. Liggett's story is haunting and lyrical, an intriguing page-turner filled with love, brutality, violence, and hope."
--Scott Lange, The Bookman, Grand Haven, MI

The Fountains of Silence

By Ruta Sepetys

(Philomel Books, 9780399160318, $18.99)

"Ruta Sepetys again shines a light on a little-known area of history. Most readers will not be familiar with Franco's regime and the missing children of Spain, but Sepetys has crafted an unforgettable novel filled with rich details and characters that bring this haunting tale to life. The Fountains of Silence should be in every school, library, and book club and in the hands of every reader from 12 to 112. Do not forget the past."

--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN


By Brittney Morris

(Simon Pulse, 9781534445420, $18.99)

"SLAY is so much more than just another book about video games: it's about a girl who carves a space in the world for herself and completely owns it, and it's about the microaggressions and the can-I-touch-your-hairs and all the things that come with being one of a handful of black kids in a school. It isn't afraid to pull punches where it counts; sometimes you see them coming, sometimes you don't."
--Avery Peregrine, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

Dear Sweet Pea

By Julie Murphy

(Balzer + Bray, 9780062473073, $16.99)

"Sweet Pea is that spunky, likeable girl next door who's going through a rough patch. Her parents are getting divorced, she's caught between friends, and her cat seems like the only one who loves her for who she is. And now she's scored her first job -- forwarding mail for her unusual neighbor, Miss Flora Mae, who writes the paper's advice column. Sweet Pea gets tempted to open a letter, and then the fun begins! Can trying to help cause more trouble than it solves? A funny and heartwarming story of a tween finding her way."

--Jenny Stroyeck, The Homer Bookstore, Homer, AK

Home in the Woods

By Eliza Wheeler

(Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399162909, $17.99)

"This heartwarming story of a family that works together to make a new home is enhanced by gentle illustrations that reflect the bettering of their situation as the seasons go by. This is a book that every child, hustled along by the fast pace of life today, needs to hear, a quiet affirmation of the simple joys of hearth and home."

--Cindy Brewer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

I Wonder

By Kari Anne Holt

Kenard Pak (Illus.)

(Random House Books for Young Readers, 9781524714222, $17.99)

"Kari Anne Holt's I Wonder is the kind of picture book that will prompt different conversations each time a child reads it. Until the last spread, the text is comprised of riddle-like questions that range from the philosophical ('I wonder why I wonder so much?') to the silly ('I wonder if sandwiches get mad when you bite them?'). Kenard Pak's delightful, spare illustrations add to the fun as they move the story from day to night. Perfect for bedtime and snuggle-time reading, I Wonder is bound to be a household favorite. I know it's one of mine!"

--Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

By Kyo Maclear

Julie Morstad (Illus.)

(HarperCollins, 9780062447623, $17.99)

"It Began With a Page shines a brilliant light on one of America's most forward-thinking artists and children's book makers, a woman who used her art to create a more inclusive and bright world. Morstad, whose illustrations often evoke the soft vibrancy of Gyo Fujikawa's, is a perfect fit in visualizing her story. Maclear's engaging paean conjures an image of Fujikawa that fits solidly in the present, making her work all the more relevant to readers today. This is an exquisite, immersive biography that will delight anyone who loves books."

--Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

Just Because

By Mac Barnett

Isabelle Arsenault (Illus.)

(Candlewick Press , 9780763696801, $17.99)

"Young philosophers, budding scientists, and curious youngsters everywhere -- rejoice! Mac Barnett's perfect bedtime story is full of questions and answers worth contemplating. With endpapers that suggest a world of possibilities and the magical pairing of Isabelle Arsenault's illustrations with Barnett's text, Just Because is destined to be requested each evening as often as the obligatory glass of water. It is a joyful celebration of imagination and the world of dreams -- just be sure to close your eyes."

--Mary Alice Garber, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC

The Love Letter

By Anika Aldamuy Denise

Lucy Ruth Cummins (Illus.)

(HarperCollins, 9780062741578, $17.99)

"The Love Letter is a cozy story full of love and friendship and illustrated in soft hues. When Hedgehog finds a love letter, it brightens his mood and fills him with eagerness to be helpful and kind. When he drops it, Bunny finds it and the cycle repeats. This book shows that a little kindness and a little love can make a big, big change."

--Miranda Atkins, A Little Bookish, Ooltewah, TN


By Oge Mora

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316431279, $18.99)

"Saturday is the only day of the week that Ava and her mother are able to spend together, and this Saturday does not go as planned. Fortunately, Ava understands that the day was still 'special,' 'splendid,' and 'wonderful' because they spent it together. Oge Mora is a rare talent whose beautiful illustrations -- each using hand-picked, textured, found, and created papers -- reflect the exuberance of her very special stories."

--Cathy Fiebach, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

Stretchy McHandsome

By Judy Schachner

(Dial Books, 9780803741218, $17.99)

"I think Stretchy McHandsome just stole my heart and won the honor of being my favorite picture book of the year. Stretchy the butterscotch boy is one of nine cats in the McHandsome clan--the youngest, in fact! He sets off on a vacation from his loving but crowded home, and that's only the beginning. My favorite thing of all is how the illustrations truly capture the physics-defying reality of how cats seem to occupy their bodies. He stretches, melts, curls, and makes all the shapes a cat can make. Stretchy McHandsome (and his whole family) will charm your socks off!"

--Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, WA


By Greg van Eekhout

Beatrice Blue (Illus.)

(HarperCollins, 9780062686077, $16.99)

"Since its creation date some months before, android Cog, designed for realistic human cognition, has lived happily with Gina in a house in the suburbs. When a misunderstanding sends Cog to a new 'home' at the headquarters of the tech firm that funded its creation, Cog makes friends with a talking car, a trash-bot, a robo-dog, and a sibling. Cog quickly gets to the heart of artificial intelligence, morality, and a road-trip adventure. This will engage young readers at once and inspire them to question assumptions about appearances, the law, and family."
--Myles Mickle, Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, VT

Emmy in the Key of Code

By Aimee Lucido

(Versify, 9780358040828, $16.99)

"Resonant verse melds together the world of music and the world of code--two worlds that Emmy is unsure can coexist as she navigates through the ups and downs of starting a new school, finding her passions, and making true friends. This book brought me right back to the emotions of my middle-school years and I'm sure that in the right hands, it will mean the world to someone."
--Casey Leidig, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

By Jason Reynolds

Alexander Nabaum (Illus.)

(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781481438285, $17.99)

"In Look Both Ways, Jason Reynolds shines a light on ordinary walks home and turns them into the extraordinary without the need of magic or faraway lands. Instead, Reynolds shows how worthwhile the people and neighborhoods around us are, especially when you take the time to know what's happening in people's lives. The stories in Look Both Ways are heartfelt, engaging, funny, thoughtful, and, though sad at times, full of hope."

--Alison Perine, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers

By Anna James

Paola Escobar (Illus.)

(Philomel Books, 9781984837127, $16.99)

"Wow! What a fun book. I grew up in a bookstore, just like Tilly. However, I never found characters appearing outside of the books, nor did I get to jump into the books and be part of the story. Tilly has so much to explore and discover once she learns just what she is capable of, and she has so many questions she wants answered. Who was her father? What happened to her mother? A great adventure for book lovers."

--Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Rat Rule 79

By Rivka Galchen

Elena Megalos (Illus.)

(Restless Books, 9781632060990, $19.99)

"I would be hard-pressed to name a writer more delightful than Rivka Galchen. Her first novel for young readers (young in spirit as well as young in age) is pure joy. Inventive, warm-hearted, and ingenious, Rat Rule 79 is a classic in the making and a book I will be recommending to readers of all ages."

--Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, CA

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children

By Kath Shackleton, editor

Zane Whittingham (Illus.)

(Sourcebooks Explore, 9781492688938, $14.99, trade paper)

"Survivors of the Holocaust is an amazing written and graphic presentation of six children who survived and went on to tell their stories. Each storyteller has a different tale and a different way of explaining their experiences, but the beauty of survival is present throughout every narrative. This book will make you think and make you cry while explaining harrowing events through both a child's eyes and an adult's reflection."

--Kira Wizner, Merritt Bookstore & Toystore, Millbrook, NY

White Bird: A Wonder Story

By R.J. Palacio

(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780525645535, $24.99)

"R.J. Palacio's White Bird is a gripping tale about the incredible power of kindness. This memorable graphic novel introduces readers to one of history's darkest eras. Fans of the Wonder stories will appreciate the tale of Julien's grandmother, and all readers will be inspired by White Bird's message of goodness in the face of evil."

--Christopher Rose, The Spirit of '76 Bookstore, Marblehead, MA

The Beautiful

By Renée Ahdieh

(G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 9781524738174, $18.99)

"A lustrous and seductive answer to a call for more vampire lore, The Beautiful excels at creating a moody and romantic atmosphere without sacrificing storytelling or character development. Celine is a heroine for the ages: sharp, calculating, and full of hidden depth. Bastien is similarly fleshed out and certainly swoon-worthy enough to elicit a reader crush. I love Ahdieh's dedication to historical detail and mythological research, and I can't wait for more stories of her New Orleans."

--Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Bone Houses

By Emily Lloyd-Jones

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316418416, $17.99)

"For fans of The Bone Witch or Uprooted, The Bone Houses is a novel of hard times; dark, encroaching woods; and the girl who is struggling to keep the darkness at bay, all while taking care of her family. When Ryn meets Ellis, a soft-hearted mapmaker and orphan, the two forge an unlikely alliance to seek out uncharted territory. This lush, dark novel has a fae-like whisper of magic throughout its pages, which suck you in from the start. I adored this book."

--Shauna Sinyard, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

The Good Luck Girls

By Charlotte Nicole Davis

(Tor Teen, 9781250299703, $17.99)

"Aster, Violet, Clementine, Mallow, and Tansy journey across the rough country of Arketta searching for evidence of a legend that will hopefully free them. As they travel, the reader watches them grow as individuals and as friends, as they learn that working together is sometimes the best means for survival. In a bleak landscape and a world that controls women, the five girls are rays of hope for a better tomorrow. "
--Terri LeBlanc, M and M Bookstore, Cedar Rapids, IA

Juliet Takes a Breath

By Gabby Rivera

(Dial Books, 9780593108178, $17.99)

"Thank the goddesses that Gabby Rivera has written a novel! Juliet Takes a Breath introduces Juliet Milagros Palante, a Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx, as she dives into the coming out process. Full of the complexities of what it means to be 19, how to navigate the modern language of sexual identity, who gets to claim the feminist label, and so much more, this is the book to read for every young person with a question about their sexual or racial identity or who just wants to think about their place in today's world."
--Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY

The Last True Poets of the Sea

By Julia Drake

(Disney-Hyperion, 9781368048088, $17.99)

"Exiled by her family to the small town of Lyric, Maine, after her brother's suicide attempt, Violet is determined to fulfill his childhood dream of finding the shipwreck the town was named after. Her search for answers begins at the town aquarium, where she finds new friends (and even serenades a lobster). Julia Drake's debut is that rare book that will take you from tears to laughter with a single page turn. You will be completely swept away by this beautiful story of love, healing, and forgiveness."

--Abby Rice, The Briar Patch, Bangor, ME

Orpheus Girl

By Brynne Rebele-Henry

(Soho Teen, 9781641290746, $18.99)

"Queer poet Brynne Rebele-Henry's debut novel is based upon the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Raya and Sarah, childhood friends in small-town Texas, discover that their feelings for each other go deeper. Queerness is ultra-taboo in their community, so much so that when the girls are found in a sexual act together, they are sent by their families to a gay conversion camp. Raya's obsession with myths leads her to view the challenge as if she is Orpheus -- she must do whatever it takes to save her love and escape with her from Hell. A whirlwind of courage, love, and sacrifice, Orpheus Girl is a triumph."

--Mary Wahlmeier, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS