Friendly Adventures: 16 Shop Dog-Approved New Books for the Young and Young at Heart


If there’s a theme connecting this month’s picks for young readers, it might be friendship — a moth and a butterfly, a racoon and a seed, kids growing up and trying to figure out how to be in the world. And of course, shop dogs. Books can be like friends, too. They tell you stories, help you pass the time and are always there for you when you need them. If you’re looking to make some new book friends or just want some new reading adventures, we’ve got a few great ones to keep your summer reading going strong.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Moth & Butterfly: Ta Da! Cover ImageMoth & Butterfly: Ta Da!

Two caterpillar friends emerge from their cocoons and so much has changed! Butterfly flies during the day and moth at night. But one thing stays the same in this beautifully illustrated picture book, their friendship.

Watch our virtual event with the author and illustrator!

Recommended by RJ

Faraway Things Cover ImageFaraway Things

A wonderfully told story full of fantastic vocabulary and subtle emotion is balanced by beautiful illustrations. When Lucian finds a lost cutlass on the beach, it instantly becomes his most prized possession, but as his story unfolds he discovers something that’s worth treasuring even more.

Recommended by Chelsea

We Are All Under One Wide Sky Cover ImageWe Are All Under One Wide Sky

A beautiful counting book that takes readers on a worldwide journey while reminding us just how much we have in common.

Recommended by Becca

Are You a Cheeseburger? Cover ImageAre You a Cheeseburger?

A lonely raccoon named Grub tends to a mystery seed that he found in the trash. Grub and Seed daydream about what kind of plant Seed might grow up to be. In the end, Grub discovers that there are other things in life (like friendship and beautiful flowers) that are at least as important as cheeseburgers. Monica Arnaldo’s lush and emotive illustrations make the story feel more like a short animation than a book.

Recommended by Becca

Don't Hug Doug: (He Doesn't Like It) Cover ImageDon’t Hug Doug: (He Doesn’t Like It)

Boundaries and consent are worth teaching at any age. Luckily, Doug and his friends and family have it figured out. This funny and kindly honest book teaches us that it is OK to not want to be hugged. Or to only want to be hugged sometimes. The important thing is to remember to always ask!

Recommended by Shop Dog Marlee

Dogs at Work: Good Dogs. Real Jobs. Cover ImageDogs at Work: Good Dogs. Real Jobs.

Good dogs work! I work. I love work. Busy all the time. My folks were herders and kept all the sheep in line. I keep all the staff and customers in line at Parnassus. They wander and I have to bring them back — and jump through hoops and shake hands and read with the children. Children should read this book. Sit! Read! Love dogs!

Want to hear more from the canine workers of Parnassus? Check out the Shop Dog Diaries!

Recommended by RJ

Both Can Be True Cover ImageBoth Can Be True

Both Can Be True is a tender and emotionally complex story of two kids teaming up to (successfully) save an aging Pomeranian from being euthanized. Ash’s gender identity changes, and they struggle to fit into the boxes society wants to put them in. Daniel has emotions that often overwhelm him. Together they explore all the messy feelings that come with family, friendship, first love, and young queer identity.

Recommended by Chelsea

Almost Flying Cover ImageAlmost Flying

Dalia’s life has been too much like a roller coaster recently: Her dad is remarrying; she needs a new best friend; and she’s dealing with her first ever crush. A road trip with her soon-to-be stepsister gives her the chance to ride roller coasters for the first time ever, and Dalia realizes this trip may just help sort everything out. This tender coming-of-age story is perfect for middle schoolers.

Recommended by Brad

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass Illustrated Edition Cover ImageHis Dark Materials: The Golden Compass Illustrated Edition

One of the most iconic, timeless fantasy stories of our time comes to life in a new way with Chris Wormell’s gorgeous illustrations. This new edition of The Golden Compass makes it the perfect read-aloud story, or a beautiful, collectible treasure for your shelf.

Recommended by RJ

Rise to the Sun Cover ImageRise to the Sun

When Olivia and Toni cross paths at the Farmland Music and Arts Festival, they have no idea how much one weekend of music, competition and emotion can change their lives. Leah Johnson follows up her smash hit You Should See Me in a Crown with another fabulous novel full of deep emotions and dazzling romance.

Recommended by Chelsea

Blackout Cover ImageBlackout

The queens of young adult fiction are here with the must-read book of the summer. These interconnecting stories of love found during a blackout in New York City are irresistible, and you’ll turn the page again and again to read just one more story.

Recommended by Brad

Sisters of the Snake Cover ImageSisters of the Snake

Fans of Children of Blood and Bone and An Ember in the Ashes, rejoice: You’ve found your newest obsession. With an incredibly fascinating magic system, exceptional world-building, and twists and turns lurking around every corner, Sisters of the Snake had me devouring every page. Forgotten magic, hidden sisters, and ancient prophecies make this story impossible to put down.

Recommended by Chelsea

This Poison Heart Cover ImageThis Poison Heart

Briseis has the chance to truly explore her magical gift when she inherits a crumbling estate from her aunt. When her family moves, the town proves to have more secrets than answers. Perfect for fans of Lore and Legendborn, this mythology-influenced tale is intriguing and well-paced.

Recommended by Brad

Six Crimson Cranes Cover ImageSix Crimson Cranes

An exiled princess, a deathly curse, dragons and magic come together to make Six Crimson Cranes a breathtaking fantasy that had me hooked from the very first chapter. Elizabeth Lim’s world-building is lush and dreamy, and Shiori and her brothers are simply wonderful. If you love fantasy and books that feel like a fairy tale, I dare you to pick up Six Crimson Cranes and try to set it down — prepare to be addicted.

Recommended by Chelsea

Eat Your Heart Out Cover ImageEat Your Heart Out

I have to admit that I picked up this book solely based on the cover, and the action story inside did not disappoint. A once-in-a-century blizzard is hard to enough to survive, but six teens discover that new diet bars have turned their peers into fast, strong zombies. I especially loved that we get to know the characters through the alternating perspectives.

Spark Book Club: July Selection

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom Cover ImageKiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

Kiki draws in her sketchbook when she’s anxious, but she never expected her drawings to show up in her bedroom, fully alive. When they take her back to the kingdom she created, she must find an evil god and keep her real world safe from destruction. Indian mythology leaps from the page in this first book of a new fantasy series.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“Mandanna has created an engaging fantastical story that will strongly appeal to readers of Rick Riordan, Roshani Chokshi, and Sayantani DasGupta.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

“Sangu Mandanna brings the reader to magical Mysore, India through the eyes of young Kiki, a relatable character trying to save both herself and the fantasy world she finds herself in. Mandanna weaves the healing power of art and imagination into this unique and fascinating adventure!” —Veera Hiranandani, author of the Newbery Honor Book The Night Diary

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 July Selection

When We Were Strangers Cover ImageWhen We Were Strangers

After Evie Parker’s father dies suddenly, she goes home to find his bags packed to move out. To hide this from her mother, Evie unpacks everything, pretending things are normal. Until they find out her dad had a girlfriend, and she’s pregnant. A new crush and a summer photography class is the perfect cover for stalking her dad’s girlfriend, until Evie starts to doubt her plan and whether keeping her dad’s secret from her mom is healthy.

Humor combined with an exploration of grief permeates this story of how far one should go in the name of family and forgiveness.

Early praise for the novel:

“A moving portrayal of grief, family, and the complexity of different perspectives.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Absorbing contemporary novel . . . Dynamic characters . . . add brightness to this introspective story of changing emotions and a softening heart.” —Publishers Weekly

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.