Lovable New Books for Your Kids (And Beyoncé’s, Too)


Our booksellers who specialize in young readers really specialize in young readers. Some are full-time here at the bookstore, out on the floor talking to kids and observing which books draw the eager eyes and hands of customers. Others are with us part-time and also have roles as librarians, teachers, and YA/middle-grade novelists. The point is: they know that of which they speak, and we’re lucky to have them on staff!

Here are their latest picks for the books destined to become favorites among little kids, growing readers, and young adults:

The Friend Ship Cover ImageThe Friend Ship

Hedgehog sets sail looking for The Friend Ship. Other animals join him along the way in this sweet picture book about, you guessed it, friendship. – Recommended by Rae Ann Parker

Xo, Ox: A Love Story Cover ImageXo, Ox: A Love Story

Adam Rex is simply one of the funniest writers out there, period. This hilarious tale of epistolary pining is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever fallen in love with someone from afar. As with the best picture books, the words tell only part of the story — be sure to pay particular attention to the endpapers! – Recommended by Stephanie Appell

When an Elephant Falls in Love Cover Image

When an Elephant Falls in Love

I love everything about this picture book: The simple, understated text, the way Italian illustrator Alice Lotti uses the space of each page to convey Elephant’s bulky sweetness, and the way Elephant’s minimally illustrated facial features convey a full range of emotions, from wistfulness to hope to happiness. You will not find a more adorable book to share with someone you love this Valentine’s Day. – Recommended by Stephanie Appell

The Storm Whale in Winter Cover ImageThe Storm Whale in Winter

I absolutely loved the first Storm Whale book, and this one is right up there with it. Here, we’re reunited with Noi as he goes on a quest to find his dad in a snowstorm… only to meet with an unexpected friend! The illustrations are colorful and tender and make me want to hug every character. A must-have for all picture book lovers. – Recommended by Ashley Herring Blake

Best in Snow Cover ImageBest in Snow

Sparse writing and gorgeous photography tell the story of snow in winter. Two pages at the end take each simple line of the story and provide more scientific information about snow. Perfect reading for winter! – Recommended by Jackie Gregory

North, South, East, West Cover ImageNorth, South, East, West

In the pantheon of picture book masters, few, if any, come close to Margaret Wise Brown, and now we have a brand new book to add to her canon. 2017 is shaping up to be a doozy of a year; at least we can read this book together every night. – Recommended by Stephanie Appell

Wolf in the Snow Cover ImageWolf in the Snow

A little girl in a bright red coat walks home from school as fluffy white snowflakes begin to fall. The snow thickens, and a young wolf pup is separated from its pack. What follows when the paths of these two characters cross is a story of empathy and kindness that feels both fresh and timeless. – Recommended by Stephanie Appell

A Greyhound, a Groundhog Cover ImageA Greyhound, a Groundhog

There’s a small category of picture books that I think of as must-read-alouds. Until now, the epitome of this category was Emily Gravett’s Orange Pear Apple Bear — but Emily Jenkins’ brilliant new A Greyhound, A Groundhog is threatening to usurp the top spot. Chris Appelhans’s gorgeous watercolors have an increasingly kinetic quality that more than matches the energy of Jenkins’ wordplay. This one is destined to be a new storytime favorite. – Recommended by Stephanie Appell

Lizard from the Park Cover ImageLizard from the Park

“Pets that don’t turn out as expected” is another of my favorite picture book themes, and Mark Pett’s Lizard from the Park is a wonderful addition. Walking home through the park, Leonard finds an egg and takes it home, but Buster, who hatches from the egg, turns out to be not quite the ideal pet for a New York City lifestyle. This is a sweet, funny story about friendship and belonging, with a neat twist at the end for particularly observant readers. – Recommended by Stephanie Appell

For those who can’t resist a good graphic novel:

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea Cover ImageNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Warning: This graphic novel for young readers is very silly. Fans of Hello, My Name is Octicorn will enjoy it. My favorite part is when Narwhal shares a book with Jelly that is completely blank … because it’s an “imagination book” that can be about anything you can dream up.  – Recommended by Jackie Gregory

For advancing readers: 

Midnight Without a Moon Cover ImageMidnight Without a Moon

Ed. note: Normally if two booksellers like a book equally, we ask them to decide which of them will recommend it for the list. In this case, Rae Ann and Ashley both adored this book so much and with such enthusiasm that we’re featuring both recommendations. Also, we didn’t want them to have to arm-wrestle for it.

13-year-old Rose Lee Carter wants to trade her summer days in the cotton fields for a life up North with her mama who left her behind. The murder of Emmett Till in a nearby town changes Rose Lee’s life and possibly her plans. Midnight Without A Moon is an important novel that blends fact and fiction in 1955 Mississippi. – Recommended by Rae Ann Parker

Young Rose Lee Carter finds herself at odds with her own family, knowing the South has to change and trying to decide if she has the courage and strength to be a part of that movement. I wish I could put this beautiful, raw, historical novel into every kid’s hands. – Recommended by Ashley Herring Blake

Flying Lessons & Other Stories Cover ImageFlying Lessons & Other Stories

This new anthology compiled by some of the best and brightest middle-grade authors today, including Newbery Award winners Kwame Alexander and Jacqueline Woodson, features 10 stories that celebrate diversity and individuality. It’s 2017 and everyone deserves to see themselves represented in books. These stories are an excellent place to start. – Recommended by Katherine Klockenkemper

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance Cover ImageOne Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance

In this beautiful and thought-provoking poetry collection, Nikki Grimes uses the “Golden Shovel” method to create original poems based on the works of poets who wrote during the the Harlem Renaissance. Gorgeous original artwork by famous African American illustrators accompanies each poem. The book includes information on the Harlem Renaissance, as well as biographies of each poet and artist. – Recommended by Jackie Gregory

Nothing But Trouble Cover ImageNothing But Trouble

“Be Original. Don’t Get Caught.” That’s Maggie’s motto when she cooks up engineering marvels and surprise hacks during Oda Middle School’s last year in existence. This prank-filled novel is great for fans of school stories. It’s full of laughs and adventure. – Recommended by Rae Ann Parker

The Friendship Experiment Cover ImageThe Friendship Experiment

The perfect book for the girl who loves science. Middle school isn’t easy for Madeline, especially as she deals with her grandfather’s death and her blood disorder. All she wants to do is help her dad with his experiments at the lab where he works. But when new friends come her way anyway and then read what she wrote about them in her secret notebook, she starts to figure out a formula for friendship. – Recommended by Ashley Herring Blake

I FINALLY read Chris Colfer’s modern-day fairytale masterpiece The Land of Stories. Better late than never to get addicted to a series with perfect amounts of magic, fantasy, and good-old-fashioned adventure, right? (See the full series here, or start with book one, The Wishing Spell.) Full disclosure: I’m a 20-something millennial of the Harry Potter generation, but I found Colfer’s books to be just as enthralling and magically escapist as Rowling’s saga. These are classics in the making! – Recommended by Katherine Klockenkemper

For young adults (or adult YA fans):

The Careful Undressing of Love Cover ImageThe Careful Undressing of Love

In a reimagined Brooklyn, everyone knows that if you fall in love with a Devonairre Street girl, you might just end up dead. Lorna Ryder has spent her life in disbelief and grief, but when her best friend’s boyfriend dies suddenly, she starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to choose love. Lush and lemony, this book is a gorgeous feast about the nature and cost of love. – Recommended by Ashley Herring Blake

ParnassusNext — February Selection

americanstreet_wblurbAmerican Street

In American Street, debut author Ibi Zoboi has written a stunning story about family, first love, and the crossroads of faith and hope. Fabiola and her mother are finally on their way to the United States from Haiti when Fabiola’s mother is detained by Immigration Services in New York. Fabiola must continue alone to Detroit, where she is welcomed by her aunt and cousins. As she struggles to make sense of her new life and longs to be reunited with her mother, Fabiola begins to realize that the American Dream is nothing like she imagined it would be.

This story is both beautifully written and masterfully told. Writing from Fabiola’s perspective, Zoboi captures her homesickness for Haiti, her complicated relationships with her family, and the harsh and unfamiliar streets of Detroit in evocative and lyrical prose. She also unspools tightly structured narrative threads with skillful ease, not wasting a single page. When Zoboi interrupts Fabiola’s narration to present the story from the perspectives of other characters and even from the perspectives of the settings themselves, she reminds us not just that every person is the protagonist of their own story, but that places, too, have stories constantly being written, revealed, lost, and found.

Ibi Zoboi’s American Street is young adult fiction at its very best: Aching, revealing, and so true it hurts, and hurts good.

And finally, if Beyoncé is reading this, we just want you to know we’ve made some selections for Blue Ivy and the twins. Here’s the official Parnassus BEYONCÉ BABY BOOK REGISTRY:

For big sister to enjoy on her own: 

To read with new baby siblings:

(Click any title above to shop the Beyoncé book list.)