Spotlight On: Books for Children and Young Adults

Don’t forget the kids! It’s impossible to highlight all the books we love from the children’s section, but here are some new favorites, and some that have stood the test of time.

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Picture Books

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, $17
A beautiful book that celebrates the Winter Solstice and reminds us how all peoples and cultures are connected through nature. —Karen

The Ocean Speaks by Jess Keating, $17
Meet Marie Tharp (1920-2006), the first person to map the Earth’s underwater mountain ridge, in this inspiring picture book biography from the author of Shark Lady.

No Reading Allowed: the Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever, Raj Haldar, $17
You can’t believe everything you hear A single word can have many different meanings. And sometimes two words that sound alike can be spelled completely differently. Ptolemy the pterodactyl is back to show us all how absurd and fun language can be when homophones, homonyms, and tricky punctuation are at play. —Karen

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, $8
Kitten goes on a beautifully illustrated adventure during her first ever full moon! Perfect for feline-obsessed kiddos & those adopting their first cat. —Courtney

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, $8
Katy, a steadfast young snowplow, singlehandedly plows the town during their first big blizzard. #YesShecan #MNGirlsRule —Kathleen

Resist: Peaceful Acts that Changed our World by Diane Stanley, $17
As a new wave of protests sweeps the nation and the world, young readers will be inspired by these accounts of activists who refused to be ignored.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, $16
In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world. A beautiful book that will delight any child who likes dressing up. Praise to those adults in these children’s lives who celebrate their imagination and creativity! —Karen

The Alphaplanet by Kevin McLaughlin, $14
A fun alphabet book by local authors. Look for the ALPHA BUG on each A-Z page!

Lost Cities by Giles Laroche, $18
Combining world culture, history, geography, and architecture, this visually stunning look at ancient cities around the globe takes readers to such places as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, and the mysterious sculptures of Angkor Wat. Perfect for fans of This Is How We Do It and Atlas Obscura.

Independent Readers

A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond, $8: A family in mourning…an ancient bard…a harp key that brings them together. An American family living temporarily in Wales is finding their way through a major loss, each in their own way. Add a little fantasy/mystery and you have a wonderful adventure story that will occasionally take your breath away! —Karen

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass, $9
This is one for kids who starting to find themselves. Told from three distinct voices and perspectives, Wendy Mass weaves an intricate and compelling story about strangers coming together, unlikely friendships, and finding one’s place in the universe. —Audrey

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas, $16
In this magical middle-grade debut novel from Adrianna Cuevas, The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a Cuban American boy must use his secret ability to communicate with animals to save the inhabitants of his town when they are threatened by a tule vieja, a witch that transforms into animals.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, $8
A fantasy series that has stood the test of time! Engaging for young readers ( the children in the stories are pre-teens), yet the eternal conflict between good and evil keeps adults captivated. This complete collection includes Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree. —Karen

Paper Tigers by Ben Desbois, $14
Two penguins have escaped from the Minnesota Zoo! All hopes rest with a sarcastic clinician, an over-eager zoologist, and a giant from the gift shop.

Magyk by Angie Sage, $8
In a world of commonplace Magyk, the infant seventh son of a seventh son and the queen’s baby daughter go missing on the same night. Years later, expendable army Boy 412 and Jenna, the only nonmagykal daughter in a family of wizards, are thrown together on a cross-country quest to save Jenna from magykal assassins. On their way, they develop a love/hate relationship with cabbage soup; jump through a stories-high rubbage chute; and uncover the secrets of Magyk. A spellbinding adventure. —Kathleen

Young Adult

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, $17
A breathtaking debut novel featuring a world inspired by West and North African mythology. The story alternates between the perspectives of teenage refugee Malik and princess Karina, who are brought together in a tournament that only occurs once a century. Both characters secretly intend to murder the other, but a growing romance between the two begins to complicate things. For YA fantasy readers, especially fans of Children of Blood and Bone!Courtney

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, $17
An imperialist system clashes with the ancient power of the sea while two teens from different backgrounds find unexpected love. In this world, witches can use words to coax magic out of any object, a pirate’s honor is signaled by their relationship with the sea, and mermaids can both preserve and destroy memories. Tokuda-Hall’s imperialist political system, clearly inspired by the Japanese and British Empires, is brilliantly detailed. While the romance between Evelyn and Florian moves quickly, both characters have well-defined perspectives and appealing motivations. Queer and gender nonconforming characters are everywhere, and their normalization within the world of the book is remarkable and praiseworthy. —Annie

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, $17
High schooler Freddy Riley is in a complicated relationship with her girlfriend Laura Dean, who – you guessed it – keeps breaking up with her. This is a charming, insightful look at how to let go of an unhealthy relationship and repair the friendships that matter most. Rosemary’s illustrations are incredible! —Christine

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
I was instantly captivated by the well-rounded characters, and the fascinating magic system used throughout the book. Bree Matthews is a bright, talented high school student who has gained early entrance into UNC-Chapel Hill. Reeling from a devastating loss, Bree tries to cope while being thrown into a world she never dreamed existed. Friendship, folklore and Black Girl Magic reign supreme in this excellent debut. —Tanwaporn