Inspired recommendations for kids from
independent booksellers across the country.

In This Issue...

#1 Kids' Next List Pick...

Sky in the Deep

By Adrienne Young

(Wednesday Books 9781250168450, $17.99)

"Sky in the Deep is the YA fantasy I've been waiting for--a breath of fresh air that holds the reader captive from the opening scene. Be warned, you will fall hard for Eelyn and Fiske. You will swoon, you will gasp, you will laugh, and you will cry; this book touches on all the emotions. In a brutal, bloody world, Young pulls no punches when putting the characters in intense situations that leave the reader on the edge of their seat. With lush descriptions, impactful character development, and powerful writing, this debut author will have you clamoring for more of her words."
--Sarah Green, Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, FL

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

Independent booksellers across the nation have named Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (Wednesday Books) as a top choice for the Summer 2018 Kids' Indie Next List.

Young's New York Times bestselling debut is a Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, love, betrayal, and family. The novel follows 17-year-old Eelyn, a member of the Aska clan, which has been fighting the Riki clan for as long as either side can remember. One day, Eelyn sees her brother, Iri, who was thought to have died in battle five years earlier, fighting with the enemy. Though reeling from her brother's betrayal, Eelyn is swept up in an adventure in which she finds love, learns tolerance, and is instrumental in the two clans coming together to fight a mutual enemy.

What was the origin of the idea for this book?

The original idea was really sparked from the brother/sister relationship: the betrayal between the siblings, Eelyn and Iri. I didn't originally set out to write a Viking book; my initial inspiration was these two siblings. As I started to write, even in the first scene, it started to take a Viking shape, so I wound up leaning into it. But it all started with that conflict between the brother and the sister.

I really liked writing that relationship because I feel like a lot of times in YA all of the actual relationship focus is put on the romantic storyline, and I wanted to explore family and especially the sibling dynamic. Once I got the idea, I was intrigued by that.

Did you research Viking culture, customs, mythology, and gods? Was the book influenced by any other cultures or myths?

I did a ton of research. I'm a research junkie and I love reading about history, so I already had a reservoir of knowledge about the Nordic people, but once I started getting into the book I had to do a lot more research. Really, the things that are directly reflected in the book from that research are the clothing and the food and the landscape--a lot of the social and cultural stuff. I used Norse mythology as a foundation, kind of like pillars, but all of the mythology in the book and the political structures were created by me. I definitely used all of it as a heavy influence, but a lot of it, too, is just created.

The descriptions of fighting and weaponry in the book read as very realistic. Did you also research combat techniques? How did you choreograph those kinds of scenes?

I love action scenes--I love to watch them in movies and read them in books. People ask me that all the time: how did you write these action scenes? And I don't know, I just see them in my head. I do have favorite action scenes that I'll watch if I'm stuck or feeling like I don't have a vision, and that gets me back grounded into the sights and sounds of fighting and the feel of it. One of them is Game of Thrones--they have great battle scenes that are done really well. I watch things that inspire me and get me in the mood to write action, but I also try to pay close attention to things like keeping track of where weapons are and weight distribution--like, could you actually drive a sword through someone if you didn't rear back first and throw it forward? I don't have any fighting experience or anything like that, but I am a big fan of action done well.

What are some YA books and authors that have inspired you in your writing?

One of the most inspirational books was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor [Little, Brown and Company]. She is just phenomenal; she brought together all of the things YA readers love about story and then also brought really great writing. That book was an inspiration to me because my writing is more lyrical and a lot of YA writing isn't like that, so I wondered if it had a place five or eight years ago, when YA was a lot of vampires and dystopian and all of that. That is all stuff I love to read, but I wondered if my style of writing had a home in YA.

Also, Leigh Bardugo's world-building is just huge for me. She's got this whole universe thing going on that is done so well and has changed the way I look at world-building, for sure.

In the book, the Riki and Aska come together to fight a common enemy, the Herja, whereas the two clans were enemies before. Were you thinking of any greater meaning in today's global context?

Yes, definitely. On a personal level and on a world level, a lot of people are brought up with ideas about people who are different from them; they hate because they were taught to hate, they fight because they were taught to fight, and because they were told to. I think most people eventually get to a point in their lives where they start questioning things that they were told were true. They maybe start asking, why do I believe this? Or, where did I get this idea, and why have I based all my decisions on it? That was definitely something I was going through a few years ago, and I think that's reflected in the book.

But then I was also really impacted by what has been going on in our country and in the world over the last couple years. The book definitely carries a lot of those themes of hating people because the gods hate each other, of looking at people who look different or live differently than us and not being able to find a common ground even though we have many. That very much made its way into the book.

Did you have any particular literary or YA characters in mind when you were creating the character of Eelyn?

One character I love and I had read pretty recently before I wrote Sky in the Deep was Inej from Six of Crows [by Leigh Bardugo, Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers]. I loved her because she didn't have to prove to the reader or to the other characters in the story how strong she was, she just existed as she was, and I really, really loved that. I think that's a pretty unique thing to pull off in YA. I definitely had that in mind when I was writing Eelyn: to make sure that she wasn't having to prove anything and was existing as she was.

Can you tell readers what you are working on next?

I'm actually working on a companion novel to Sky in the Deep, and that comes out in 2019. We haven't released any details about it yet, but it's the same world, different characters. There is a character from the first book who is a focus, and I think people who like Sky in the Deep will be really excited when they hear what it's about. --Liz Button

Top Picks

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

By Stacy McAnulty

(Random House Books for Young Readers 9781524767570, $16.99)

"Lucy is definitely not your average 12-year-old. Though a lightning strike four years ago left her basically unharmed, it rendered her a mathematical savant with some compulsive behaviors. When Lucy is forced to attend middle school, she does not fit in and struggles to be accepted. She finds solace and friendship among a couple of her classmates and a very special dog. A charming and delightful story about overcoming obstacles and ultimately finding your place in the world."
--Anita Isser, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR

Bob

By Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Nicholas Gannon (Illus.)

(Feiwel & Friends 9781250166623, $16.99)

"This is a fun little book told in alternating points of view. On one hand, we have Livy, a 10-year-old girl visiting her gran in Australia for the first time since she was five. On the other, we have Bob, a green zombie creature dressed in a disheveled chicken suit who has waited those five years for Livy in the closet of her grandmother's house. They rekindle their lost friendship (mysteriously forgotten by Livy) to search for Bob's beginnings and hopefully to get him back home, wherever that is. This book is a magical and fun read."
--Rani Birchfield, Front Street Books, Alpine, TX

The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker

By Matilda Woods

Anuska Allepuz (Illus.)

(Philomel Books 9780525515210, $16.99)

"A gentle tale--with a healthy dose of magic--about friendship, hope, and looking to the future. The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker reads like a newly discovered folktale that, once found, becomes essential. Sure to delight questing readers of all ages."
--Sam Miller, Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, KY

Puddin'

By Julie Murphy

(Balzer + Bray 9780062418388, $17.99)

"I adored Julie Murphy's earlier book, Dumplin', and Puddin' is every bit as delightful. Millie Michalchuk, the fat girl who was the runner-up in the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant in Dumplin', is a born rule-follower who is nevertheless chafing at the restrictions being put on her by society--and by her overprotective mother. Millie has plans for her life that don't fall within the narrow paths she's been taught to follow. Callie, whose life revolves around the school's dance team, seemingly has it all until a bad decision forces her out of her former life and into Millie's orbit. Murphy gets inside her characters' heads beautifully as she narrates the pains, pressures, and joys of high school."
--Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books, Okemos, MI

Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur

By Cirocco Dunlap

Greg Pizzoli (Illus.)

(Random House Books for Young Readers 9780399550560, $17.99)

"Shhhhh. Crunch the Dinosaur wants to come out and play, but he is just too shy. Whisper his name and maybe he will venture out to join you. Engaging and interactive, this cute new dinosaur tale will delight young readers over and over again."
--Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Dad by My Side

By Soosh

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 9780316438087, $16.99)

"There is nothing quite like the love between a father and daughter, and this adorable picture book captures that perfectly. Daughters of all ages will appreciate the sentiment of this little girl's larger-than-life father, who does everything from cooking to playing to cuddling with her. A perfect gift for Father's Day."
--Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

Grumpy Monkey

By Suzanne Lang

Max Lang (Illus.)

(Random House Books for Young Readers 9780553537864, $17.99)

"When Jim is in a grumpy mood for no reason, his jungle friends offer their best advice. But putting on a smile and doing the things they suggest doesn't make him feel any better, so what's next? I am in LOVE with this story. Everyone has their grumpy days, and you know what? A grumpy day now and then is absolutely okay."
--Hana Boxberger, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

The Honeybee

By Kirsten Hall

Isabelle Arsenault (Illus.)

(Atheneum Books for Young Readers 9781481469975, $17.99)

"The Honeybee is a sweet, beautiful book with an interestingly layered palette and an important message for youngsters. Arsenault's painterly style is so fresh and striking, and the text makes for a gentle read-aloud."
--Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own Bookstore, Madison, WI

A House That Once Was

By Julie Fogliano

Lane Smith (Illus.)

(Roaring Brook Press 9781626723146, $18.99)

"This is the first book of 2018 that just screams 'Caldecott.' The text is beautifully melancholy and the phrasing and rhythms are simply made for reading out loud. When combined with Lane Smith's impressionistic illustrations (and the stylistic shift in the middle), this becomes one of those picture books that makes you gasp in wonder even as you're getting misty-eyed. And its impact doesn't lessen with re-reading; in fact, there are new details to discover every time you open its cover."
--Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville, OR

How to Code a Sandcastle

By Josh Funk

Sara Palacios (Illus.)

(Viking Books for Young Readers 9780425291986, $16.99)

"I joke that I 'book' and I don't 'math,' the latter of which could certainly include coding, but How to Code a Sandcastle may change my mantra. One of our store's favorite picture book authors, Josh Funk, has written a smart, engaging, and easy-to-follow book about coding that easily explains the subject to readers of all ages. Add a fun beach setting as we head into summer and amazing illustrations by Sara Palacios, and it's a perfect equation for success."
--Holland Saltsman, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

Julián Is a Mermaid

By Jessica Love

(Candlewick Press 9780763690458, $16.99)

"A beautiful and light-hearted story for every kind of fanciful and imaginative kid! Jessica Love's illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and perfectly portray Julián's wish to be a magical creature. This is a delightfully simple story that explores gender expression and individuality. Careful details also help communicate Julián's fear of revealing his identity to his abuela, an important representation of emotions that kids need to help them handle all kinds of situations."
--Johanna Albrecht, McIntyre's Books, Pittsboro, NC

Whale in a Fishbowl

By Troy Howell

Richard Jones (Illus.)

(Schwartz & Wade Books 9781524715182, $17.99)

"I loved the spare, subdued palette of this lovely book. Wednesday the whale is in the middle of everything, but she should be in the middle of the sea. How can a whale in a tank even begin to understand the sea? This is a story about possibilities and finding one's perfect place."
--Lillian Welch, Island Books, Mercer Island, WA

All Summer Long

By Hope Larson

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers 9780374304850, $21.99)

"Bina can't wait for summer; she and her best friend, Austin, have always spent summers together, trying to have the BEST SUMMER EVER. But Austin's away at soccer camp this year and won't return Bina's texts, so Bina has to learn how to have fun all by herself. A sweet study of that awkward time between being a child and being a teenager, All Summer Long is a perfect antidote to long, lazy summer afternoons."
--Rachel Roepke, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Amal Unbound

By Aisha Saeed

(Nancy Paulsen Books 9780399544682, $17.99)

"Amal is living a decent life in her Pakistani village. She loves school and plans to go to college and become a teacher. But when she offends a member of the most influential family in the village, her dreams and goals are suddenly upended and she is sold as a servant to pay her father's 'debts.' Saeed takes on challenging subjects--indentured servitude and the treatment of women--and makes them accessible to a middle reader, while making the reader cheer for Amal as she finds her way again."
--Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

The Boy From Tomorrow

By Camille DeAngelis

(Amberjack Publishing 9781944995614, $15.99)

"A tale of friendship and loyalty that crosses the boundaries of time, The Boy From Tomorrow engages readers from the first page. Seances, psychics, and Ouija boards create a setting both mystical and dangerous. I loved exploring the possibilities of communicating across time with Josie and Alec and appreciated their indestructible friendship."
--Laura DeLaney, Rediscovered Books, Boise, ID

Endling: The Last

By Katherine Applegate

(HarperCollins 9780062335524, $17.99)

"Rats, rats, rats... as I got close to the end, I realized this must be book number one in a series! Byx is such a wonderful, creatively imagined character with her knack for gliding and determining whether a speaker is lying, as is Tobble, who is fiercely loyal to Byx. This book gives us much to think about and compare to today's world regarding how to take care of creatures, including humans, and the environment. I can't wait to read where Byx and Tobble's adventures will take them in the next book!"
--Nancy Gebhardt, The Twig Book Shop, San Antonio, TX

Evangeline of the Bayou

By Jan Eldredge

Joseph Kuefler (Illus.)

(Balzer + Bray 9780062680341, $16.99)

"Evangeline is (hopefully) the next haunt huntress in her family's long line and she is being trained by her grandmother in the art of fighting banshees, grims, Acadian fang worms, and more. Her familiar hasn't shown up yet, but she's (mostly) sure it will soon, and then she'll be official. But when she and her grandmother are called to New Orleans for a new job, things start to get complicated... and scary. Evangeline isn't sure she can handle this job, but she might have to, with or without her (still-absent) familiar. Exciting, a little spooky, and full of great characters."
--Lillian Tschudi-Campbell, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN

The Penderwicks at Last

By Jeanne Birdsall

(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers 9780385755665, $16.99)

"Much weepy love for the last of the Penderwick books. It took mere pages to draw me back in and it should come as no surprise that Jeanne Birdsall has triumphed again. As the Penderwicks return to Arundel, the house where it all began, there are all the elements that you'd expect from a rousing Penderwick adventure, including music, dogs, new friends, and an appearance from the dreaded Mrs. Tifton. The stories about these Penderwick girls and the extended family and friends that they have gained along the way are magical, charming, funny, and real. From the very beginning, the Penderwick books have been modern and classic at the same time. I am sad to leave them but grateful for the years I have spent with them."
--Lorna Ruby, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea

By Lynne Rae Perkins

(Greenwillow Books 9780062499660, $16.99)

"In this intermediate reader, Alix has an imagination as big as the ocean that she and her sister, Jools, are visiting with their parents for the first time. Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea is a charming and sweet look at handling new experiences, making friends, and learning all sorts of fun things along the way. With Perkins' wonderful illustrations, this quick and breezy book is sure to keep the kids reading this summer!"
--Jill Beauchamp, Horizon Books, Traverse City, MI

All of This Is True

By Lygia Day Penaflor

(HarperTeen 9780062673657, $17.99)

"A fabulously complex, confident novel about four avid fans of a YA author and the disastrous results of their relationship with her. Is everything true--or is anything true? Amazing, edgy, passionate--I loved this book and the characters and couldn't put it down. I can't wait to share it with our avid teen readers."
--Vicky Titcomb, Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

Anger Is a Gift

By Mark Oshiro

(Tor Teen 9781250167026, $17.99)

"Anger Is a Gift is a feat worthy of all the awards and accolades it is sure to receive. Mark Oshiro has written a fully intersectional book with characters ranging across gender, sexuality, disability, and mental health and covering topics such as systemic racism, disability access, police brutality, anxiety, first love, and more. With fast-paced and compulsively readable writing, Anger Is a Gift is a much-needed addition to the literary canon. Fans of The Hate U Give, Dear Martin, and All American Boys will enjoy this novel."
--Shauna Sinyard, Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

From Twinkle, With Love

By Sandhya Menon

(Simon Pulse 9781481495400, $18.99)

"This story captures that moment at the movie theater when your date touches your hand in the dark while knocking the popcorn over in the loudest way possible--it's cute and exciting, but also slightly embarrassing. Sandhya has crafted another excellent teen romance about a shy and ambitious young woman trying to show the world her passion and talent. A fantastic summer read!"
--Jessica Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

Monday's Not Coming

By Tiffany D. Jackson

(Katherine Tegen Books 9780062422675, $17.99)

"Monday's Not Coming is a heartbreaking story of a missing teenager, a community that seems not to notice, and a best friend who will go to whatever lengths it takes to find her missing friend. Tiffany D. Jackson weaves together multiple timelines, increasing the tension and emotion until you reach an ending that will haunt you long after you finish the book. This is a difficult but important and timely story. Highly recommended for teen and adult readers."
--Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

The Smoke Thieves

By Sally Green

(Viking Books for Young Readers 9780425290217, $18.99)

"The Smoke Thieves is a brilliant opening salvo in a new trilogy. Featuring five very different characters whose stories weave together in unexpected ways, this book is a rapid-fire read full of pulse-pounding action. The world-building feels effortless as Sally Green creates a land filled with brutal kings, demons, and political machinations. I was not ready to leave this world at the end of the first book and will be waiting very impatiently for the sequel!"
--Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, NY

Undead Girl Gang

By Lily Anderson

(Razorbill 9780451478238, $17.99)

"Brilliant, bold, and badass: This describes the Undead Girl Gang and its one-of-a-kind protagonist, Camila Flores, a curvy Mexican Wiccan out to avenge her best friend's murder. After bringing BFF Riley back to life to catch the killer, Mila is shocked to realize she also brought back the two most popular girls in school, recently dead as the result of a suicide pact. Frenemies and besties alike team up in this epic girl-power punch."
--Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, MS