September Staff Picks for Young Readers

It’s a great time to be a young reader (or live with one), and our booksellers have been hard at work finding the best new reads! This month’s selection includes a bigger-than-usual selection of YA, but don’t worry — there’s a little something for everyone. And in case you missed it, we published an excerpt from Tune It Out, the new middle-grade novel by Jamie Sumner and our very first selection for the new Spark Book Club. Check it out here and see below for more information! Happy reading!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Maud and Grand-Maud Cover ImageMaud and Grand-Maud

By Sara O’Leary & Kenard Pak (Illustrator)

This charming picture book about a girl and her grandmother shows their relationship through weekly sleepovers that include breakfast for supper and black-and-white movies. Perfect for Grandparents Day (Sept. 13).

Recommended by Rae Ann

Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story) Cover ImageEverything Sad Is Untrue

Daniel Nayeri weaves Persian folk tales with the story of his own family’s arrival in America via a refugee camp in Italy in this autobiographical novel. A unique and powerful story.

Recommended by Ann

The Silver Arrow Cover ImageThe Silver Arrow

I heard Lev read the first two pages of this novel and I was hooked — two kids get a magic train and a cast of talking animals. I loved every page. This is middle-grade fiction at its very best.

Recommended by Gavin, age 9

Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure Cover ImageRowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

This book was well worth the quarantine countdown! This is the second book in the Rowley series and it’s super funny. Like, you just want to keep reading it over and over. And I have!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Fable: A Novel Cover ImageFable

Reading Fable made me feel like a ship’s sails popped in the wind overhead and the sea was spread out before me. Mystery, intrigue, and adventure galore.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Now That I've Found You Cover ImageNow That I’ve Found You

After Evie Jones is blacklisted from Hollywood, only a reunion with her famous grandmother will put her back in the spotlight. When her grandmother disappears, Evie sets out to find her grandmother and save her career in this fun YA rom-com.

Recommended by Kay

Elatsoe Cover ImageElatsoe

By Darcie Little Badger & Rovina Cai (Illustrator)

I had a hard time putting down this extremely charming blend of murder mystery and ghost story. Between the creative world-building, own-voices Lipan Apache protagonist, ghost dog sidekick, and beautiful illustrations, there’s a lot to love here.

Recommended by Becca

Cemetery Boys Cover ImageCemetery Boys

Cemetery Boys is a LGBTQIA romantic adventure that draws readers into the story of a transgender brujo working to gain the acceptance of his conservative family and save his community from self-inflicted destruction at the same time. I can only hope that this magical world gets a sequel, so that we can follow Yadriel, Maritza, and Julian on even more adventures. I can’t wait to read more of Adrian Thomas’ work!

Recommended by Kay

Chasing Starlight Cover ImageChasing Starlight

This is an extremely entertaining old-school murder mystery set against the backdrop of 1938 Hollywood. While responsible and organized Kate has her hopes set on a career in astronomy, she soon finds herself dealing with a different sort of star when she moves in with her retired silent film legend grandfather and his house full of eccentric aspiring actors. The lovable cast really makes this one shine!

Recommended by Chelsea

The Voting Booth Cover ImageThe Voting Booth

Marva is stoked to vote in her first election. She’s driven, focused, passionate about civic involvement and unapologetic. Duke is only voting out of honor to his older brother’s memory. When Duke learns he isn’t at the right polling place, Marva has to step in. Their whirlwind day takes off from there, and the two strangers learn more about themselves and each other. A sweet story that isn’t afraid to comment on current social issues, The Voting Booth is a great read – and a great listen for those who enjoy audiobooks!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Punching the Air Cover ImagePunching the Air

Sixteen-year-old Amal is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His life moves from art student to felon in this powerful novel in verse co-written by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five.

Recommended by Sarah

Girl, Unframed Cover ImageGirl, Unframed

The description of this book led me to believe that it is a YA thriller, but it ended up being much more than that. It’s a hard look at self-discovery and coming of age as a young woman in a misogynistic society. If you loved Caletti’s A Heart in a Body in the World as much as I did, this should be next on your list.

Recommended by Jordan

Don't Ask Me Where I'm From Cover ImageDon’t Ask Me Where I’m From

By Jennifer De Leon & Elena Garnu (Illustrator)

Liliana Cruz learns to practice cultural code-switching to fit in at her new mostly white school, honor her family’s Latinx culture, and stay true to herself in her inner-city neighborhood. When family secrets start to spill out and racial tensions at school begin to rise, Liliana must take a stand. This timely coming-of-age book handles issues such as immigration, deportation, and racism in a vibrant way, incorporating teachable moments with humor and heart. It is a must read for fans of The Hate U Give and The Sun Is Also a Star.

Spark Book Club — Our September Selection

Tune It Out Cover ImageTune It Out

We are so excited to celebrate the first Spark Book Club selection:Tune It Out by Nashville author Jamie Sumner. In Tune It Out, Lou Montgomery’s mom wants her to be the next big star, but Lou can only hear the fear in her voice. She doesn’t like crowds or loud noises. She just wants a house to live in and a school to attend like other kids. Tune It Out is a courageous story of finding your voice and being your own person with the help of new friends.

Early sparks for the novel:

“A vivid, sensitive exploration of invisible disability, family bonds, and the complex reality of happily-ever-after” —Kirkus (starred review)

“ appealing, sensitively told tale.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Spark Book Club is the first editions club for middle grade readers. Every month members will receive a first edition middle grade novel — plus a letter written by the author especially for club members. Makes a great gift for the independent reader! Sign ups are available for 3, 6, or 12 months.

ParnassusNext — Our September Selection

We Are Not Free Cover ImageWe Are Not Free

The September ParnassusNext selection is We Are Not Free by New York Times bestselling author Traci Chee. Inspired by her own family history, Chee tells the stories of Japanese Americans forced into internment camps through the multiple perspectives of 14 teenagers. The teens navigate the universal teenage experiences of growing up while also forced to face down racism and distrust in a country they call home.

Early buzz for the novel includes:

“A compelling and transformative story of a tragic period in American history. Each voice is powerful, evoking raw emotions of fear, anger, resentment, uncertainty, grief, pride, and love. An unforgettable must-read.​” —Kirkus (starred review)

“The novel may be fiction, but it will be hard for readers not to fall deep into the harsh realities these teens face. The writing is engaging and emotionally charged, allowing the readers to connect with each character. Chee’s words are a lot to take in, but necessary and beautiful all the same.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

ParnassusNext is the book subscription box for YA lovers. Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s selected book, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader for 3, 6, or 12 months.