ALA Midwinter 2020

Virtual TBR: Books to Look for in 2020

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The Youth Media Awards may have only been announced two days ago – and what incredible choices those committees made – but I’m already looking forward to tracking down the next best books of the year. With that in mind, I spent pretty much my entire time at Midwinter touring the Exhibit hall, chatting up vendors, and asking for book recommendations. Here are just ten of the titles for kids currently on my TBR pile:

Such A Library! by Jill Ross Nadler

A modern take on a Yiddish folktale from a brand-new publisher (Intergalactic Afikoman), this story will be familiar to anyone who’s read Ann McGovern’s Too Much Noise and fans of WBUR’s Circle Round. Here, a boy escapes his busy home by visiting the nice, quiet library – only to discover it’s not as quiet as he’d hoped. (June)

The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee

After his babysitter cancels last minute, a young boy must accompany his parents to their night job as janitors at an office building – which they reimagine as a fantastical paper kingdom. Besides being a whimsical, fun read, The Paper Kingdom is a lovingly-rendered look at the sacrifices parents make for their children. (February)

Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli

If you love Greg’s picture books, you’re in for a real treat in 2020: Disney-Hyperion is releasing the first in his series of new beginning graphic novels. In this first installment, Baloney the pig and his friends (Crabbit, Bizz, and Peanut) share in some magical experiences, learn to swim, and battle the blues. Exactly the zany entertainment we’ve come to expect. (April)

A Piglet Called Truffle by Helen Peters

Originally published in England in 2016, this first in the Jasmine Green Rescues series introduces readers to animal-lover Jasmine Green and her first rescue, Truffle the piglet. The series is set on an idyllic English farm, Jasmine is a smart and strong (if sometimes sneaky) lead, and kids will learn all kinds of interesting facts about caring for animals. (March)

Rise of ZomBert by Kara LaReau

Another great one from Candlewick, Kara LaReau’s Rise of ZomBert is the story of two quirky kids, an evil corporation, and a scraggly dumpster cat – who may or may not be a zombie. A great recommendation for fans of Eerie Elementary and The Notebook of Doom who are ready for something a little longer, and the first in what will hopefully be a long-running series. (July)

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

A memoir-esque account of Lucy’s move to the country after her parents divorced, Stepping Stones will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier and Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared. Jen isn’t interested in country living, or in making nice with her mom’s new boyfriend and his two daughters. But as Summer fades into Fall, Jen starts to learn the true meaning of home. (May)

The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith

I’ve broken the rules a bit with this title, as it’s been on the market since the beginning of the month, but I’m never going to stop saying how much I love Niki Smith’s debut juvenile graphic novel. A bloody political coupe leaves twins Hawke and Grayson homeless and in danger – until they find a safe place hidden within the Communion of Blue. But while Grayce feels like she’s finally found her true self, Hawke (aka Hanna) just wants his old life back. The perfect recommendation for fans of The Witch Boy and The Nameless City. (January)

The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum

I may have already finished reading this one and, boy, is it good. Very much in the vein of The Giver and The City of Ember, The Middler tells the story of eleven-year-old middle-child Maggie, who longs to find her place as a hero within her community. So when she meets a dirty, deceitful, dangerous wanderer, she knows this is her chance to shine. But, Una doesn’t seem dirty, deceitful, or dangerous – and it soon becomes clear she knows things that could get Maggie into a lot of trouble. (April)

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

When I stopped to ask for titles she was most excited for, HarperCollins’ School and Library Marketing Manager Mimi Rankin informed me this is going to be Erin Entrada Kelly’s best book to date. Set in January of 1986, weeks before the Challenger’s launch, the story follows three seventh grade siblings navigating a difficult home life situation and dreaming of a better future. (May)

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

It’s already got four starred reviews and everything Kacen touches is magic, so what do you really need me for anyway? Tackling grief, homophobia, and toxic masculinity, Callender’s second middle grade novel will almost certainly get some recognition at next year’s YMAs – so be sure to read it ASAP. (February)

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials

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