Penguin Random House Showcase
If you’ve read my frequent posts detailing new books, you know the deal: I get lots of book mail. LOTS. Now, at the moment I’m in a bit of a reading slump (let’s be real: I’m in a bit of a life slump), so opening all of these packages daily is starting to intimidate me. I WANT to read them all. I will TRY to read them all. At the very, very least, I will share them with you here in the hopes that YOU will go read them!
All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to young readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, my kid’s high school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get (again, see: WANT, TRY), but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader.
Pull out your TBR lists or get ready to add to the orders for books that stock your library or classroom shelves. Today I’m sharing with you new and forthcoming titles from Penguin Random House. All annotations are from the publisher.
Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman (ISBN-13: 9780593112472 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 10-14)
“Venkatraman has never met a heavy theme she did not like….Borrowing elements of fable, it’s told with a recurring sense of awe by a boy whom the world, for most of his life, has existed only in stories.”—New York Times Book Review
The author of the award-winning The Bridge Home brings readers another gripping novel set in Chennai, India, featuring a boy who’s unexpectedly released into the world after spending his whole life in jail with his mom.
Kabir has been in jail since the day he was born, because his mom is serving time for a crime she didn’t commit. He’s never met his dad, so the only family he’s got are their cellmates, and the only place he feels the least bit free is in the classroom, where his kind teacher regales him with stories of the wonders of the outside world. Then one day a new warden arrives and announces Kabir is too old to stay. He gets handed over to a long-lost “uncle” who unfortunately turns out to be a fraud, and intends to sell Kabir. So Kabir does the only thing he can–run away as fast as his legs will take him. How does a boy with nowhere to go and no connections make his way? Fortunately, he befriends Rani, another street kid, and she takes him under her wing. But plotting their next move is hard–and fraught with danger–in a world that cares little for homeless, low caste children. This is not the world Kabir dreamed of–but he’s discovered he’s not the type to give up. Kabir is ready to show the world that he–and his mother–deserve a place in it.
How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani (ISBN-13: 9780525555032 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)
New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor–winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg’s life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she’s forced to grapple with both her family’s prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs.
Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg’s life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family’s Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel’s only constant, she’s left to hone something that will be with her always—her own voice.
Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear by Trang Nguyen, Jeet Zdung (ISBN-13: 9780593353622 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)
* “Nguyen’s heartfelt tale is perfect for animal-loving fans of Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan and Rosanne Parry’s A Wolf Called Wander.”—School Library Journal, starred review
A middle grade graphic novel adventure based on a true story, in which a young conservationist overcomes the odds to save and return a sun bear to its natural habitat.
When endlessly curious and tenacious Chang discovers a bear bile farm near her home in Vietnam, she decides to do everything she can to save wild animals—by becoming a conservationist! After teaching herself survival skills, documenting each rainforest plant and animal she sees in her field notebook, and disproving the critics who think she isn’t old enough or strong enough, Chang is finallyaccepted as a rescue center volunteer. But her toughest challenge yet comes when she’s tasked with returning Sorya—the sun bear she raised from infancy—back into the wild. Because despite beinga different species, Sorya is Chang’s bestfriend. And letting a friend go is nevereasy . . . even when it’s the right thing to do.
With breathtaking art and STEM facts galore, Chang’s daring story is for any young reader, animal lover, and intrepid explorer!
What About Will by Ellen Hopkins (ISBN-13: 9780593108642 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 10-13)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins comes a new heartbreakingly tender middle grade novel-in-verse about the bonds between two brothers and the love they share.
Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who’s five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would watch sports on TV with him, and cheer him on at Little League. But when Will was knocked out cold during a football game, resulting in a brain injury–everything changed. Now, seventeen months later, their family is still living under the weight of “the incident,” that left Will with a facial tic, depression, and an anger he cannot always control, culminating in their parents’ divorce. Afraid of further fracturing his family, Trace begins to cover for Will who, struggling with addiction to pain medication, becomes someone Trace doesn’t recognize. But when the brother he loves so much becomes more and more withdrawn, and escalates to stealing money and ditching school, Trace realizes some secrets cannot be kept if we ever hope to heal.
When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez (ISBN-13: 9780593324486 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/21/2021, Ages 14-17)
“The energy. The clarity. The beauty. Elisabet Velasquez brings it all. . . . Her voice is FIRE!”—New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson
An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to “make it,” for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.
Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.
When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez’ debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.
Between Shades of Gray: The Graphic Novel by Ruta Sepetys, Andrew Donkin (Adapted by), Dave Kopka (Illustrator), Brann Livesay (Editor), Chris Dickey (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9780593404850 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/12/2021, Ages 12+)
Just in time for the 10th anniversary of Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys’s award-winning debut novel, and inspiration for the major motion picture Ashes in the Snow, is now a gorgeous graphic novel!
From #1 New York Times and international bestselling author and Carnegie Medal winner of Salt to the Sea comes a story of loss and of fear—and ultimately of survival—in a brand-new four-color format.
“Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both.” —The Washington Post
A New York Times notable book
An international bestseller
A Carnegie Medal nominee
A William C. Morris Award finalist
A Golden Kite Award winner
June, 1941. A knock comes at the door and the life of fifteen-year-old Lina Vilkas changes forever. She’s arrested by the Soviet secret police and deported from Lithuania to Siberia with her mother and younger brother. The conditions are horrific and Lina must fight for her life and for the lives of those around her, including the boy that she loves. Risking everything, she secretly passes along clues in the form of drawings, hoping they will reach her father’s prison camp. But will her messages, and her courage, be enough to reunite her family? Will they be enough to keep her alive?
A moving and haunting novel perfect for readers of The Book Thief, now available as a stunning graphic novel.
A Bird Will Soar by Alison Green Myers (ISBN-13: 9780593325674 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 9-12)
A heartfelt and hopeful debut about a bird-loving autistic child whose family’s special nest is in danger of falling apart.
Axel loves everything about birds, especially eagles. No one worries that an eagle will fly too far and not come home—a fact Axel wishes his mother understood. Deep down, Axel knows that his mother is like an osprey—the best of all bird mothers—but it’s hard to remember that when she worries and keeps secrets about important things. His dad is more like a wild turkey, coming and going as he pleases. His dad’s latest disappearance is the biggest mystery of all.
Despite all this, Axel loves his life—especially the time he spends with his friends observing the eagles’ nest in the woods near his home. But when a tornado damages not only Axel’s home but the eagles’ nest, Axel’s life is thrown into chaos. Suddenly his dad is back to help repair the damage, and Axel has to manage his dad’s presence and his beloved birds’ absence. Plus, his mom seems to be keeping even more secrets.
But Axel knows another important fact: an eagle’s instincts let it soar. Axel must trust his own instincts to help heal his family and the nest he loves.
The Sleepover by Michael Regina (ISBN-13: 9780593117361 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 8-12)
Perfect for fans of Stranger Things, this middle grade graphic novel follows a group of kids trying to cheer up their friend after a recent loss with a fun-filled sleepover, but their plans soon take a dark turn when they discover his new nanny may literally be a monster.
When the Russo family returns home from vacation to discover their nanny, Ruby, has unexpectedly passed away, Matthew takes the news the hardest. After weeks of reeling, his three best friends decide to cheer him up with a night of junk food, prank calls, and scary movies. But their plans for a sleepover are jeopardized when Matt’s single mother—unable to take any more time off of work—is forced to hire a new nanny on the fly to watch over Matt and his younger sister, Judy.
Miss Swan, however, is all too happy to have the boys over. And although she seems like the perfect babysitter, letting the kids eat whatever they want and mostly leaving them alone, there’s something about her that Matt doesn’t trust. He thinks she may actually be the witch from local legend—the one who torments children into the night and then eats them. Is he just having a hard time dealing with Ruby’s replacement, as his friends suspect? Has he watched one too many scary movies, as his mom fears? Or are he and his horror-buff friends in for the fright of their lives as they come face-to-face with a real monster?
Catch the Light by Kate Sweeney (ISBN-13: 9780593350232 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 12-17)
A love story perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson about a girl who moves cross country and finds herself falling for someone new who throws her whole life out of order.
“Beautifully captured, like a photograph of a stolen moment. I ached for Marigold in her journey to move forward while not forgetting her past. Kate Sweeney’s Catch the Light overflows with grief, love, and growing up.”–Amy Spalding, bestselling author of We Used to Be Friends
Nine months after the death of her father, Marigold is forced to pick up and move from sunny Los Angeles all the way across the country to rural upstate New York. According to her mom, living with her aunt in a big old house in the woods is the fresh start Marigold and her little sister need. But Mary aches for the things she’s leaving behind—her best friend, her older sister, her now-long-distance boyfriend, and the senior year that felt like her only chance at making things feel normal again.
On top of everything, Mary has a troubling secret: she’s starting to forget her dad. The void he’s left in her memory is quickly getting filled with bonfires, house parties, and hours in the darkroom with Jesse, a fellow photographer and kindred spirit whom she can’t stop thinking about. As the beauty of Mary’s new world begins to sink in and her connection with Jesse grows stronger, she feels caught between her old life and her new one. Mary might just be losing her grip on the pieces of her life that she’s tried so hard to hold together.
When the two finally come crashing together, Mary will have to decide what she really wants and come to terms with the ways that the loss of her dad has changed who she is. Even if she can’t hold on to her past forever, maybe she can choose what to keep.
Margot Mertz Takes It Down by Carrie McCrossen, Ian McWethy (ISBN-13: 9780593205259 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 14+)
Veronica Mars meets Moxie in this hilarious and biting YA contemporary novel following Margot Mertz, a girl who runs an internet cleanup business and embarks on a quest to take down a revenge-porn site targeting the girls in her school.
For the right price, high school junior Margot Mertz will go to the ends of the internet to remove your nip-slip, dick pic, or embarrassing DM. At least that’s what it says on her business card. Margot founded a now notorious company that helps students, teachers, even a local weatherman, discreetly clean up their digital shame. And since her parents lost her college fund, Margot is happy to work for anyone… if they can pay, she can clean.
But when a fellow student hires her to take down some leaked nudes, Margot discovers a secret revenge porn site featuring Roosevelt High girls. And hell hath no fury like Margot when she sees girls’ butts shared without their consent. With the help of an unwitting ally, the popular and uncomfortably handsome Avery Green, Margot will gain access to the far flung cliques of Roosevelt High. Anything to find the mastermind (read: asshole) behind the site. But the more she digs, the deeper and darker the case becomes until Margot realizes that some jobs are so dirty, no one can come away clean. Even her. Gross.
Batpig: When Pigs Fly by Rob Harrell (ISBN-13: 9780593354155 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 7-10)
Introducing a supremely hilarious graphic novel featuring an unstoppable, super-swine hero who boldly fights for justice . . . in between taking mud baths and eating tasty sandwiches.
Gary Yorkshire was your perfectly average, fuzzy pink pig who loved tasty sandwiches, video games, mud baths, and hanging out with his friends Carl the fish and Brooklyn the bat. Until one day . . . a radioactive bat bite gives him powers he never would have dreamed of! Inspired by his old Crimson Swine comics, Gary decides that he’ll use his powers for good and becomes (drumroll) Batpig! Now he just needs a good zinger of a Batpig slogan, a spandex costume that flatters his rear end . . . and maybe a little advice about how in the world to defeat supervillains?
J.D. and the Hair Show Showdown by J. Dillard, Akeem S. Roberts (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593111604 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/16/2021 Series: J.D. the Kid Barber #3, Ages 6-8)
Eight-year-old kid barber J.D. takes his talent to an Atlanta hair show in this illustrated chapter-book series.
At only eight years old, J.D. the Kid Barber has already won a barber battle and appeared on local TV. Now he’s the youngest barber to be invited to the Beauty Brothers Hair Expo in Atlanta! J.D. gets the VIP treatment—he takes his first flight, rides in a limo for the first time, and gets gifts from the show’s sponsors. At the show, there are hair classes to take, product samples to try, and some of J.D.’s favorite hair influencers to meet. And, of course, there’s his own demo alongside kid hairstylist, Isabel Is Incredible. But what J.D. is most excited about is snapping a pic with eleven-year-old rap sensation Li’l Eazy Breezy, which is harder than it sounds! The world of hair and beauty is so much bigger than J.D. could’ve imagined, and he’s ready to step up his game.
Check out the other chapter books in the J.D. the Kid Barber series:
J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
J.D. and the Family Business
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Nikkolas Smith (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593307359 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/16/2021, Ages 7-10)
The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.
A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.
But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.
And the people planted dreams and hope,
willed themselves to keep
And the people learned new words
With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.
The Righteous by Renée Ahdieh (ISBN-13: 9781984812612 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 12/07/2021 Series: The Beautiful Quartet #3, Ages 12-17)
The third book in the instant New York Times bestselling series that began with The Beautiful.
Pippa Montrose is tired of losing everything she loves. When her best friend Celine disappears under mysterious circumstances, Pippa resolves to find her, even if the journey takes her into the dangerous world of the fey, where she might find more than she bargained for in the charismatic Arjun Desai.
Renée is back with her rich, atmospheric fantasy world that will continue to enthrall readers, new romance and mystery, and lush, pacey writing. The Righteous is the can’t-miss lead in to what will be a much-anticipated finale of a can’t miss quartet.
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About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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