Inspired recommendations for kids from
independent booksellers across the country.

In This Issue...

#1 Kids' Next List Pick...

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

By Jessica Townsend

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 9780316508889, $17.99)

"I am loving the wave of plucky, engaging heroines currently prevalent in children's literature, and Morrigan Crow is no exception. She is brave and curious and kind, despite a largely indifferent upbringing and a lack of companionship of any kind. This debut by Jessica Townsend, the first installment in a series, has just the right mix of dark, to give you a sense of foreboding, and light, to give you hope. Engaging characters and great descriptions of the whimsical world of Nevermoor will leave you wanting to return."
--Melissa Thorkilsen, Elm Street Books, New Canaan, CT

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

photo: Lani Carter

Independent booksellers across the nation have chosen Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 31) as a top pick for the Autumn 2017 Kids' Indie Next List.

Nevermoor is the tale of a cursed child doomed to die on her 11th birthday until she is rescued by a mysterious stranger who whisks her away to a secret, magical city where she must prove her talents before she can join the Wundrous Society.

Townsend recently spoke about Nevermoor from her home in Australia.

How did you come up with the character of Morrigan Crow?

I first got the idea for Morrigan when I was 18, but I didn't earnestly take up writing her story until I was 22. Originally, Nevermoor was part of a different story I was plotting out and that was going to be about a little girl who went to live with her Aunt Morrigan, who was this strange, eccentric, and slightly magical woman. As I started to write little bits and pieces, I started to wonder more about the aunt, about her childhood, and what had happened in her life to make her this brave, peculiar person. I let that incubate for a while and then started to write Morrigan's story as an 11-year-old.

Like Harry Potter, your heroine receives a magical letter on her 11th birthday, rescuing her from certain death and relations who show little love toward her and propelling her into a magical world where she learns of her true talents. What is it about the age 11 that makes it ideal for this kind of adventure story?

Age 11, for anyone, is a time of change. Often a new school, which can mean more independence and freedom, but yet they aren't quite teenagers so there are still lots of rules to adhere to. It's a real in-between, awkward time, and it's a time when people are starting to question authority and think about their own identity. I think readers want to explore the idea in books that they can break rules and have adventures, while also knowing they aren't quite ready yet to do that in real life.

Would you want to live in the world you created? Why, or why not?

I would absolutely want to live in Nevermoor! Although knowing a lot of the dangers that lurk there for Morrigan & Co., I think I would want to be a peripheral character so I can have all of the magical adventure and none of the magical drama.

As a cursed child, Morrigan gets blamed for misfortunes that befall others around her, and subsequently must write apologies. Did you ever have to write such a letter as a child? How do you think this idea of feeling unfairly blamed resonates with young readers?

The young people I know have very strong views about right and wrong. That means that they are usually happy to admit (eventually) when they have done something, but when accused of something unjustly, they really put their foot down and insist that they didn't do it. I think young people can feel powerless against adults, as they are the "grown-ups," so I hope Morrigan's situation will resonate with them.

I was never forced to write apology letters to anyone, but I had a really guilty conscience about even the smallest things, and was a pretty dramatic kid. If I'd ever thought of doing such a thing, I might have written something quite elaborate for the tiniest transgression! But like Morrigan and every other kid I've met, I'd have been outraged to have to write an apology for something I didn't do.

What were your favorite books when you were Morrigan's age?

My favorite book in the world was then, and is now, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I still have my battered old Reader's Digest copy from the '50s that belonged to my grandmother. It's such a sentimental choice, and probably a pathetically typical one, but I've always loved stories about sisters. I also started reading the Tomorrow, When the War Began series by Australian author John Marsden when I was 11, and that series has stayed with me for years. Another book that deeply affected me at that age was No Gun for Asmir by Christobel Mattingley, a true story about a little boy who was smuggled with his family out of war-torn Bosnia.

It's been exactly a year since Nevermoor debuted at the Frankfurt Book Fair to acclaim, with eight publishers vying to win the rights. You have signed up to write at least two more Nevermoor books. How is work on the next one coming?

I am finishing up Morrigan Crow's second adventure! It's been fun and challenging trying to pin down how the Wundrous Society operates, and there has also been much more of Nevermoor to reveal and explore.

You've said you have material for nine books in the series. Do you imagine that Morrigan would be the heroine for all of the books, or would you explore other characters in the protagonist role?

I have a whole arc planned for Morrigan; she is the through-line for the entire series, and will always be the heroine and point of view character. There are important subplots for some key secondary characters to come, but Morrigan is the anchor in this world.

You've made a deal with 20th Century Fox for the film rights to Nevermoor. How soon can we expect the movie to come out? Any idea who might play Morrigan? Any dream ideas for casting?

20th Century Fox is currently working on the film, and that's about all I can say right now. As soon as I have more information, I will definitely be sharing!

The audiobook of Nevermoor is read by Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan. Are you a fan of the show?

I love Game of Thrones and was so excited when my publisher said Gemma had agreed to do the audio book. I'm a huge audiobook listener, and although this may seem biased, it's one of the best ones I've listened to--Gemma is ridiculously talented, she has such a range of voices and perfect comic timing but also brings a real sensitivity to Morrigan's story.

Booksellers voted Nevermoor the number-one Autumn 2017 Kids' Indie Next Great Read. What advice would you give to booksellers when it comes to hand-selling your book?

I've been so overwhelmed by the response and support from independent bookstores--the very idea of booksellers hand-selling it still blows me away! As for advice, I'd say it's a fun, magical adventure for both boy and girl readers featuring exciting things like dragons, witches, zombies and chase scenes, a hotel with a mind of its own, and a whole Wundrous city to explore. --Julie Moran Alterio

Top Picks

Dear Martin

By Nic Stone

(Crown Books for Young Readers 9781101939499, $17.99)

"Justyce helps his drunk girlfriend into the backseat of a car. A police officer sees them and accuses him of something more nefarious, which leaves Justyce sitting for three hours with handcuffs on. At the same time, there are news stories of young black men being shot by police officers. These events combine to lead Justyce to explore how issues of race intersect with his life as an African-American student in a mostly white private high school. He does this through a series of letters he writes to Martin Luther King. Told with depth and tenderness, Dear Martin is an honest and challenging exploration of race and the many ways it impacts our culture."
--Karin Schott, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, ME

Jane, Unlimited

By Kristin Cashore

(Kathy Dawson Books 9780803741492, $18.99)

"This book is exciting in a way that is so rare among young adult titles. Kristin Cashore is the rare author who does not speak down to her audience, but instead expects them to already be on her level. This gratifying writing style only adds to the absolutely thrilling story of Jane's unusual experiences at the palatial home of a friend in Jane, Unlimited. There's a piece of every genre available in the pages, and each page offers beautiful details and exciting prose. This is truly a book for everyone!"
--Ashley Dickson, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY

An Enchantment of Ravens

By Margaret Rogerson

(Margaret K. McElderry Books 9781481497589, $17.99)

"You have one job this fall: read this book. That is if the idea of a gorgeous, glittering, and sometimes grotesque modern fairy tale imbued with wit, humor, and pitch-perfect romance appeals to you. I absolutely loved this unexpected, absurdly lovely novel. It gave me the creeps, it made me laugh out loud, and I swooned and cheered. Isobel is badass, and this story is a joy to read. I can't wait to see what Rogerson writes next! Perfect for fans of Holly Black, Laini Taylor, or anyone who loved Uprooted by Naomi Novik."
--Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL

Wishtree

By Katherine Applegate

(Feiwel & Friends 9781250043221, $16.99)

"I can't praise this book enough! Red, an Oak tree, has seen it all as he has watched over the neighborhood for many, many years. Just count his rings! Once a year the community writes their wishes on cloth and then hangs them from his branches. When a new family moves into the neighborhood, not everyone is welcoming. The Wishtree is more important now than ever, and it touched me deeply. It is Applegate's best book to date. You will love the story, the characters, and the message."
--Dori Jaroslow, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

By Dan Santat

(Roaring Brook Press 9781626726826, $17.99)

"In After the Fall, a rich and surprising gem, Dan Santat cleverly reveals what happened after Humpty Dumpty took his terrible tumble off that too-high wall. Humpty has been so badly frightened by his ordeal that he no longer does the thing that most brings him joy (why, he is nearly a shell of himself). Will he ever recover? Mr. Dumpty's brave tale is inspiring, and Dan Santat's telling is pure joy. Don't miss this."
--Christopher Rose, The Spirit of '76 Bookstore, Marblehead, MA

The Antlered Ship

By Dashka Slater

Terry Fan & Eric Fan (Illus.)

(Beach Lane Books 9781481451604, $17.99)

"Do islands like being alone? Do waves look more like horses or swans? And what's the best way to find a friend you can talk to? Marco the fox has so many questions. So when a brilliant antlered ship anchors in the harbor, Marco, of course, sets off to check it out. Reminiscent of vintage Chris Van Allsburg, this gorgeous book by the Fan brothers (The Night Gardener) is sure to get Caldecott nods this award season."
--Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Fort-Building Time

By Megan Wagner Lloyd

Abigail Halpin (Illus.)

(Knopf Books for Young Readers 9780399556555, $16.99)

"Fort-Building Time is a darling, delightfully fanciful look at the four seasons and the fun kids can have together during them! The fort concept is well-executed and the diverse cast and their varied interests make this book a winner. I've read it with my one-year-old several times, and he loves the bright colors and the detailed art."
--Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own Bookstore, Madison, WI

Her Right Foot

By Dave Eggers

Shawn Harris (Illus.)

(Chronicle Books 9781452162812, $19.99)

"Her Right Foot is not only informative and beautifully illustrated, it's also hilarious and really fun to read. I can imagine reading this aloud to kids and adults, and I think both would learn and gain understanding from it, as well as have a lot of fun. The message of the book is important and timely as well, as there are still many immigrants and children of immigrants in the U.S. (aren't almost all of us children of immigrants if we go back far enough?), and sending a message of understanding and welcoming is imperative."
--Alissa Hugel, Folio Books, San Francisco, CA

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day

By Beatrice Alemagna

(HarperCollins 9780062657602, $17.99)

"Sometimes you have big plans for your days off, and sometimes all you want to do is lay around and think. In this beautifully illustrated picture book, you will get a little bit of both. There is adventure, relaxation, peacefulness, and fun waiting to be had in On a Magical Do-Nothing Day."
--Meg Hughey, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

Pup and Bear

By Kate Banks

Naoko Stoop (Illus.)

(Schwartz & Wade 9780399554094, $17.99)

"When a wolf pup becomes separated from his pack in the Arctic spring, a polar bear cares for him until he is old enough to be on his own. Stoop's beautiful and sweeping illustrations accompany Banks' charming narrative of an animal family united in kindness, acceptance, and love. Fall into this gentle story as it leads you 'across the tundra, along the path that [goes] round and round in the wondrous wheel of life.' "
--Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

Windows

By Julia Denos

E.B. Goodale (Illus.)

(Candlewick 9780763690359, $15.99)

"A young boy walks his dog in his neighborhood at dusk in Denos' Windows, which combines the familiar evening walk with all the possibilities of the stories that happen inside the houses one passes. This perfect, gentle book is a breath of fresh air before bed, and a welcoming hug of coming home."
--Cynthia Compton, 4 Kids Books & Toys, Zionsville, IN

Greetings from Witness Protection!

By Jake Burt

(Feiwel & Friends 9781250107114, $16.99)

"After years of being bounced around the foster care system, Nicki Demere is offered a chance to live with a family that is looking for a second child. The catch is that this family is in the Witness Security Program, and the theory is that an additional family member will add another layer of disguise and make it more difficult for the mob to hunt them down. Nicki agrees to go along, and in the process gets a new name, a bland profile, and a little brother with issues. Jake Burt's middle-grade novel is filled with humor and suspense, and Nicki/Charlotte is an absolutely terrific character."
--Dave Shallenberger, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA

Snow & Rose

By Emily Winfield Martin

(Random House Books for Young Readers 9780553538182, $17.99)

"A beautiful retelling of the legend of Snow and Rose, this gentle fairy tale brims with all the requisite elements: dwarfs, missing persons, an enchanted forest, and strange creatures. As in her highly imaginative picture books, first-time middle-grade novelist Emily Winfield Martin paints sisters Snow and Rose not exactly as opposites, but more like complimentary gears who thrive on different aspects of the same thing. Recommended as a read-aloud, this beautifully illustrated tale will delight the young and young-at-heart!"
--Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic

By Armand Baltazar

(Katherine Tegen Books 9780062402363, $19.99)

"Timeless is every young adventurer's dream come true--a drop-your-jaw-gorgeous, picture-filled cinematic story, lovingly written, with characters you want to hang out with and filled with dinosaurs, hoverboards, fighter pilots, and robots. There isn't room in this book for anything else wonderful--Baltazar already put it all in."
--Beth Albrecht, The Magic Tree Bookstore, Oak Park, IL

Top Elf

By Caleb Huett

(Scholastic Press 9781338052121, $16.99)

"Top Elf is a fun adventure due to generous helpings of suspense and mystery sprinkled throughout this very Christmassy book set at the North Pole. The story of two elf best friends and the role they play in The Santa Trials has loads of heart-pounding action as well as actual heart. Huett has cleverly hidden tidbits of strong positive messages throughout this tale that young readers will absorb subconsciously, like supporting your friends and being kind. The writing is tight and the exploits seriously exciting."
--Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

By Karina Yan Glaser

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers 9780544876392, $16.99)

"If Wes Anderson wrote The Penderwicks, it might look like The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. From the moment you step into the brownstone on 141st Street, the five Vanderbeeker children and their eccentric collection of family and friends will charm and delight you. Their attempts to keep their Scrooge-like landlord from evicting them from their beloved home are both hilarious and heartwarming. This modern-day classic-in-the-making will stay with you long after you've turned the final page."
--Melissa Posten, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

The War I Finally Won

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

(Dial Books 9780525429203, $16.99)

"In this deeply satisfying companion to the wonderful The War That Saved My Life, Ada's world continues to broaden. Bradley is consistently adept at offering characters you'll want to cherish and befriend--even though their personal failings aren't nice or comfortable. Those who loved the first book are safe in this author's capable hands."
--Alex Schaffner, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid

By Colin Meloy

Carson Ellis (Illus.)

(Balzer + Bray 9780062342454, $17.99)

"When Charlie Fisher Jr. witnesses an incredible heist, he does the last thing anyone would expect from the son of the American consul general to Marseilles: He joins the whiz mob and learns to pick pockets like a real cannon. However, Charlie soon realizes that his newfound skills could lead to even greater problems than being caught by the police. Kids will devour this exciting new book from the creators of the Wildwood Chronicles!"
--Addison Roush, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Wonderling

By Mira Bartók

(Candlewick 9780763691219, $21.99)

"Imaginative and lyrically written, The Wonderling is a fabulous fantasy adventure full of memorable characters, surprising twists, and gorgeous illustrative flourishes. The best fantasies have hearts of truth, and the truths of The Wonderling--that kindness is never wasted, that friends are always nearby if we know where to look, and that hope is never truly lost--feel both revelatory and timeless."
--Stephanie Appell, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

All the Crooked Saints

By Maggie Stiefvater

(Scholastic Press 9780545930802, $18.99)

"Here is how I would describe All the Crooked Saints: A dusty, magical, desert fable chock full of miracles, owls, rock 'n' roll, pilgrims, giants, fighting roosters, paper flowers, radio waves, and love in all of its many forms. It's very different than Stiefvater's Raven Cycle books, but it should be--as it is, All the Crooked Saints is a fabulist love song to self-reflection, the human heart, and the fact that we are not as alone in this world as we think."
--Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

All the Wind in the World

By Samantha Mabry

(Algonquin Young Readers 9781616206666, $17.95)

"All the Wind in the World is truly unlike anything I've read. In this Southwestern romance, Mabry explores how whisperings become legends, and how love and necessity can sometimes cancel each other out. Loved it."
--Rachel Strolle, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Long Way Down

By Jason Reynolds

(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 9781481438254, $17.99)

"I dare anyone to read Jason Reynolds and not fall madly, deeply in love with his work. Long Way Down is a powerful, suspenseful novel in verse that narrates a 60-second elevator ride that could change a teenage boy's life forever. Reynolds writes about the sirens, tears, and screams that fill a neighborhood, the grief, violence, and loss that haunt a community--and the young men who take it upon themselves to follow The Rules when shots are fired. I can't wait to put Long Way Down in people's hands--kids, adults, everyone will benefit from reading this remarkable book."
--Eugenia Vela, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Moxie

By Jennifer Mathieu

(Roaring Brook Press 9781626726352, $17.99)

"I adored this book. Vivian's many struggles are so beautifully portrayed: negotiating between an old friendship and a new one; navigating a new crush; worrying about her grandparents' reaction to behavior that's out of character; raging silently (at first) against the quotidian misogyny of a small town high school. And, of course, her Moxie zine is everything you would want from a cool, smart, strong teen heroine."
--Lexi Beach, Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, NY

There's Someone Inside Your House

By Stephanie Perkins

(Dutton Books for Young Readers 9780525426011, $17.99)

"Finally! A young adult horror novel where the body count is as high as the tension! Stephanie Perkins brings the terror as a small town finds its population of teenagers rapidly dwindling. With a diverse cast of misfits and a heroine with secrets of her own, the plot never slows down, racing to a bloody and heart-stopping end! The next time you find a drawer or a door open that you swear you closed, chances are Perkins will have you running out of the house for fear of your life."
--Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

They Both Die at the End

By Adam Silvera

(HarperTeen 9780062457790, $17.99)

"What would you do if you knew the day you would die? After getting the call from Death-Cast approximately 24 hours before he is fated to die, Mateo isn't sure. He resorts to the Last Friends app, where all those meant to die can connect and spend their last day together. There, he finds Rufus. From the darkened streets of New York City to virtual-reality skydiving, their final hours are spent side-by-side. They Both Die at the End is beautiful and charged with emotion, and Silvera's best work to date."
--Jordan April, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY