Imagine the World! 15 Great New Reads for the Young and Young at Heart

Rainbows, baseball, allergies — this month’s Staff Picks sure seem to anticipate spring! We won’t get ahead of ourselves here, but no matter what the weather does, it’s nice to know we always have books to help us imagine our world in new ways. Our booksellers are all thawed out from the recent ice and snow, and they’ve got another fantastic batch of reads to help usher in warmer days. Enjoy!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Best Friend in the Whole World Cover ImageBest Friend in the Whole World

Roland the rabbit finds a new pine cone friend during a trek through the woods, but later finds clues that someone else may have lost their best friend. A hard decision leads to an expanded circle of friends in this delightful picture book.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Shy Willow Cover ImageShy Willow

By Cat Min

Willow receives a letter in her abandoned mailbox home meant for the moon. She rises to the challenge to deliver the letter with help from a few strangers. Beautiful illustrations highlight this story of courage and taking chances.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Milo Imagines the World Cover ImageMilo Imagines the World

Milo imagines the lives of strangers on the subway and transforms them into art. At the end of his journey, he realizes their lives really aren’t that different from his own in this uplifting picture book.

Recommended by Sarah

Rainbow Boy Cover ImageRainbow Boy

Rainbow Boy wonders why adults think we can only have one favorite color. Why not have a favorite for each day of the week? This story spreads a warm message of acceptance and reminds us that we are all so much more than just one thing.

Recommended by Chelsea

Mel Fell Cover ImageMel Fell

Turn the book sideways and follow Mel’s first flight (or fall) from the nest! Mel’s can-do attitude encourages readers to take the leap and soar.

Recommended by Chelsea

Starla Jean Cover ImageStarla Jean

When Starla Jean sees a chicken at the local park, her dad tells her that she can keep it if she can catch it. Starla is never one to shy away from a challenge! With adorable illustrations and lots of humor, this is a perfect read for those just starting to enjoy chapter books.

Recommended by Rae Ann

City Spies Cover ImageCity Spies

Sara is a computer hacker. When she gets caught, she is tapped by a secret MI6 agency to be a real live spy. Now out in paperback! Read it before the second book in the series, Golden Gate, comes out this month.

Recommended by Kay

Allergic: A Graphic Novel Cover ImageAllergic: A Graphic Novel

All Maggie has ever wanted is a puppy, but when she’s diagnosed with a serious animal allergy she has to process what the “new normal” means: new shots, new rules and no furry pets. Ever. This is a beautifully crafted story about dealing with a hard truth and still finding hope for a bright future.

Recommended by Kay

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) Cover ImageThe Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)

This emotionally charged story follows a boy grappling with his older brother’s disappearance and the strange story he tells when he comes back. Did Aidan actually find a portal to a fantasy world like he claims? Or is that just a lie he’s telling to avoid talking about his trauma like the police and their parents suspect? Fantasy worlds and real pain collide in this mysterious family drama.

Recommended by Patsy

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Special Edition Cover ImageFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Special Edition

This beautiful deluxe edition of the Newbery award-winning classic recounts Claudia and her little brother Jamie’s sojourn at the Metropolitain Museum of Art, where they have run away to teach their parents “a lesson in Claudia appreciation.” The children undertake a great adventure wherein they encounter a mysterious angel statue and the woman who knows its secret. This new keepsake edition makes a wonderful gift to 3rd-7th graders for an escape from pandemic life.

Recommended by Kay

Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke Cover ImageSingled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke

Glenn Burke’s lively personality shines through in this expertly crafted biography of one of baseball’s unsung icons. The inventor of the high-five comes alive on the page as Maraniss tackles both the joys and the tragedies of Burke’s life.

Watch our virtual event with Andrew Maraniss!

Recommended by Chelsea

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega Cover ImageFat Chance, Charlie Vega

Charlie struggles to find her exact place in a world that wants her to be thinner, whiter, and quieter. This endearing debut will tug at your heartstrings and make you giggle all on the same page. I thought about Charlie for days after I finished her story.

Recommended by Kay

The Stolen Kingdom Cover ImageThe Stolen Kingdom

In this richly detailed fantasy story a lost princess must overcome dark magic, court intrigue, and her own conflicted heart to reclaim her rightful place on the throne. Perfect for fans of classic fairy tales and charming royal romances.

Spark Book Club: March Selection

The Elephant in the Room Cover ImageThe Elephant in the Room

The Spark Book Club selection for March is The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Sila’s mom was supposed make a quick trip to Turkey to get the immigration paperwork that would allow their family to remain in the United States, but it’s been almost a year since she left. A special class project, a lottery winner who rescues an elephant, and a new friend give Sila a summer adventure like she never expected. This heartfelt middle grade novel, told from the point of view of humans and animals, is a story of connection, humor, and hope.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“Sloan captures the importance of compassion and bravery when facing life’s challenges … themes of collectivity and community in the face of isolation and stigma are brought to the surface and themselves offer depth to this heartfelt and sincere story.” —Kirkus

“Sloan (To Night Owl from Dogfish) fully builds the emotional interiors of each character, including Veda. This heartfelt tale thoughtfully conveys the agony of family separation, the beauty of nature, and the power of friendship to overcome tremendous difficulties.” —Publishers Weekly

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 March Selection

Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger Cover ImageYour Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger

The March ParnassusNext selection is Your Heart, My Sky by the former Young People’s Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle. This stunning novel-in-verse tells the story of two teens in 1991 Cuba. The government calls this time the special period in times of peace, but in reality the people are starving. Liana and Amado scavenge for food to help their families and community, hoping to create a new reality for their future. This tale of love and survival, with the help of a stray dog, showcases the courage of two former strangers to stand up and speak out.

Margarita Engle is a multi-award-winning author with books ranging from picture books to young adult novels. This book is based on the author’s visits to her family in Cuba.

Early praise for the novel:

“A deeply touching read that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“At its heart, this is a tender love story, lyrically presented in alternating poetic voices” —The Horn Book Magazine

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.