Under the Stars Again: 14 New Reads for the Young and Young at Heart

The weather’s finally starting to cool down a bit and thoughts are turning to autumn. Not too hot, but still plenty of light in the early evening. Is there a more perfect time of year to get lost in a book? Whether it’s for a bedtime read-along, weekend escapes or just a quick weeknight read after homework is all finished, our booksellers have selected a great list of suggestions!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Animal Architects (Amazing Animals) Cover ImageAnimal Architects (Amazing Animals)

Fun facts and beautiful illustrations combine to make this a must-read book about animals and how they build their amazing homes.

Recommended by Jennifer

Bright Star Cover ImageBright Star

A beautiful story about new life encountering obstacles in the world, Bright Star interweaves the story of a fawn with themes we encounter in our world. I loved the way that Morales combines both English and Spanish words to create an endearing and hopeful tale.

Recommended by Chelsea

Poultrygeist Cover ImagePoultrygeist

What happens when a chicken tries to cross the road? This hilarious book answers that question and sets the mood for the upcoming spooky season — but it’s not too scary!

Recommended by Becca

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth Cover Image

This book tells the story of how the god Ganesha came to write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata. There are so many details in the tale and in the art that I can imagine this book being read over and over again, and never getting boring! After Ganesha breaks his magical tusk on a jawbreaker, it takes a visit from the wise poet Vyasa to remind him that sometimes broken things contain the most magic!

Recommended by Becca

The Secret Lives of Mermaids (The Secret Lives Series) Cover ImageThe Secret Lives of Mermaids (The Secret Lives Series)

This gorgeously illustrated nonfiction picture book by Professor Anuk Tola (Merperson researcher from the Institute of Merperson) explores the histories and cultures of merpeople. Learn about scientific innovation such as the bladderwack grass that lets merpeople know how clean the waters are, as well as traditional clothing and accessories from ancient mer-civilizations around the world!

Recommended by RJ

Willodeen Cover ImageWillodeen

Willodeen must figure out why the adorable hummingbears are disappearing from her village, while also trying to protect the less-cuddly screechers that have been hunted to near extinction. What unfolds is a story about finding the courage to protect nature in all its beautiful, complicated and sometimes smelly glory. Perfect for anyone who needs to find a little more magic in a world that seems to be unraveling.

Recommended by Chelsea

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero Cover ImageYusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero

Yusuf is excited to start middle school and join the robotics team until he is confronted with prejudice and racism around the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Yusuf feels lost and alone until he reads his uncle’s journal from 2001. With well-developed characters and timely themes, this bighearted novel is full of hope and community.

Recommended by Sissy

The Smashed Man of Dread End Cover ImageThe Smashed Man of Dread End

I’ve always loved dark stories. When I was young, Zilpha Keatley Snyder was a favorite. This book is definitely the next Headless Cupid, though all the supernatural is real this time. The images are scary and the characters are relatable and cool.

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. Now out in paperback!

Recommended by Chelsea

The Witch Haven Cover ImageThe Witch Haven

When the magic inside her awakens, Frances is offered a spot at Haxahaven Academy. She quickly chafes against the dull classes meant to control the girls, so she seeks excitement and learning with Finn, her deceased brother’s coworker. Their adventures soon give Frances the chance to solve her brother’s murder at the risk of her (and her fellow witches’) safety. What will Frances choose? I kept turning the pages to find out.

Recommended by Brad

Act Cool Cover ImageAct Cool

Act Cool is one of the most important novels I’ve ever read. This story about identity, self-acceptance and family (both biological and chosen), broke my heart and pieced it back together. I have no doubt in my mind that Act Cool will change lives, and I’m eternally grateful that a story like this exists to impact readers.

Recommended by Brad

Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2) Cover ImageRedemptor (Raybearer Book 2)

Jordan Ifueko’s fantasy duology has quickly become one of my favorite series of all time! Redemptor is the high-stakes and breathtaking sequel to Raybearer that solidifies this as one of the best fantasy series out there. A must-read for any reader craving a rich, epic story!

Spark Book Club: September Selection

Fast Pitch Cover ImageFast Pitch

In this sports mystery, Shenice “Lightning” Lockwood hopes to lead her U12 fast pitch softball team to the regional championship. When she learns that her great-grandfather was thrown out of professional baseball after being framed for the theft of a famous baseball glove, Shenice is determined to uncover the truth of the past while making history with her team.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“A grand slam of an adventure.” —Kirkus (starred)

“Black girl magic hits a home run in Stone’s latest novel.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“A sports mystery that will keep ­readers engaged from start to finish… Discussions about race and civil rights are seamlessly ­woven into the narrative through Shenice’s own ­experiences.” —School Library Journal

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 September Selection

The City Beautiful Cover ImageThe City Beautiful

When Alter Rosen’s best friend, Yakov, is found murdered at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Alter realizes a danger is stalking his community of Jewish immigrants. In a story that seamlessly balances historical fiction, mystery, romance, and fantasy, Alter must brave the darkness of the past to bring Yakov’s killer to justice. Because if he can’t, Yakov’s restless spirit will take Alter’s own life instead.

Note: The book will be published on Oct. 5, but ParnassusNext subscribers will receive books early! They are scheduled to ship the week of Sept. 21.

Early praise for the novel:

“Readers will become immersed in Alter’s world, rooting for his survival, hoping for his reunion with his family, and wishing for him to find the love that he deserves.” —Kirkus

“Readers looking for finely wrought historical fiction with fully realized characters and a thrilling pursuit of justice are sure to be satisfied by Alter’s story.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Polydoros doesn’t hold back with this heavy, dark, and gritty story that explores the immigrant experience in a unique way. While firmly a historical fiction title, this genre-bending novel is also equal parts thriller and fantasy.” —School Library Journal (starred)

“[Polydoros’s] unflinching and well-rounded depiction of Jewish American and immigrant history makes The City Beautiful a superb addition to the ranks of YA historical fiction.” —BookPage (starred)

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.