Bob, Boo, Bear, Beatryce and More: 28 New Reads for the Young and Young at Heart

It’s spooky season, it’s snuggle season, it’s boo and trick-or-treat and dress-up season, and we are here for it all! What better way to get into the fall spirit than to read and then read some more? We can’t think of any! It’s a real treasure trove this month as our booksellers present their recent favorites. All treats here!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Chez Bob Cover ImageChez Bob

A funny book about an alligator who opens a restaurant on his nose, but has a change of heart when he becomes friends with his customers.

Recommended by Heather

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem Cover ImageChange Sings: A Children’s Anthem

By Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long

Change Sings is the song of the world I want for my children and grandsons — a world of inclusion, where we see and hear and help one another. It is a prayer for a world in which we work side by side, bringing our unique strengths, abilities and voices to build love.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Bigger Than a Bumblebee Cover ImageBigger Than a Bumblebee

Bigger Than a Bumblebee reminds us that love is everywhere in everything. Beautiful illustrations paired with rhythmic text take the reader on a beautiful journey through the natural world.

Recommended by Rae Ann

It Fell from the Sky Cover ImageIt Fell from the Sky

A wonder falls from the sky and creates chaos down below, until the crafty spider learns from his mistakes. The Fan Brothers’ latest creation is full of whimsy and delight.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Bear Is a Bear Cover ImageBear Is a Bear

By Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Dan Santat

The lifelong love between a girl and her stuffed companion unfolds through the years in this sweet story with beautiful illustrations.

Recommended by Madeline

Boo Stew Cover ImageBoo Stew

This stunningly illustrated book is perfect for Halloween! Featuring watercolor scares and spooky dishes, this story makes everyone fall in love with imagination, putting on courage, and using your skills to help others around you.

Recommended by Chelsea

Beautifully Me Cover ImageBeautifully Me

By Nabela Noor, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali

Zubi is thrilled to dress for her first day of school until she hears everyone criticizing their bodies, so she turns her own critical eye on herself. This is such an important book for all ages, as it calls on us to remember the impact of our words — even when they are directed at ourselves.

Recommended by Madeline

Survivor Tree Cover ImageSurvivor Tree

By Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker

A moving book that honors those who fell and those who survived on 9/11. With grace and poignant prose, it recounts the true story of a tree that thrives, withers, and survives the terrible events many years ago.

See also: Children’s Book Authors Reflect on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Recommended by Chelsea

Dragons Are the Worst! Cover ImageDragons Are the Worst!

Gilbert the Goblin is back, and while he may like unicorns now, he swears that dragons are the worst! Gilbert insists that dragons aren’t scary — goblins are. Gilbert’s arguments may not be as convincing as he thinks, and the illustrations will delight readers.

Recommended by Ann

The Beatryce Prophecy Cover ImageThe Beatryce Prophecy

By Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The Beatryce Prophecy is the definition of a modern classic. You turn the pages realizing that people will be moved by Kate DiCamillo’s words and Sophie Blackall’s drawings for generations to come. Brave Beatryce, fierce Answelica and gentle Brother Edik are indelible characters. Buy it in hardback and keep it forever.

This month’s Spark Book Club selection — read more below!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna Cover ImageBarefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

Petra, her abuelita, and young siblings set out across the desert to reach the border and safety during the Mexican Revolution. They persist despite harrowing obstacles in this amazing journey based on a true story.

Recommended by Chelsea

Paradise on Fire Cover ImageParadise on Fire

Addy is given the opportunity to learn outdoor skills over a three-week camp experience that concludes with a multi-night backpacking trip. Her newly acquired skills are put to the test when fires threaten camp. Part survival story and part climate narrative, Addy’s adventures will have readers’ hearts pounding just like mine was.

Recommended by Jordan

The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish Cover ImageThe Vanderbeekers Make a Wish

I cannot get over how much fun the Vanderbeeker family is! This is the fifth installment in a series about siblings working together, helping friends and neighbors, and exploring in New York City. Great for a family read aloud and something to love for all ages.

Recommended by Becca

Mayor Good Boy: (A Graphic Novel) Cover ImageMayor Good Boy: (A Graphic Novel)

By Dave Scheidt, illustrated by Miranda Harmon

We’re not sure if all kids are obsessed with dogs, or if our shop dogs happen to attract a crowd of dog and book-loving kids. Due to our canine-obsessed customers, we are quite literally always looking for the next great graphic novel for fans of the Dog Man series, and I think that Mayor Good Boy might just do the trick!

Recommended by Brad

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales Cover ImageBeasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales

By Soman Chainani, illustrated by Julia Iredale

With dazzling art and a twisted spin on so many beloved fairy tales, Beasts and Beauty is a stellar addition to any story lover’s collection. Soman Chainani manages to rework these fairy tales in a dark, enchanting, and fresh way that not only breathes new life into these tales — it makes these classics feel timely and empowering, as well.

Recommended by Jordan

A Soft Place to Land Cover ImageA Soft Place to Land

Do you like mysteries? Stories about friendship? Contemplating what makes a house feel like a home? If so, you will love this story about Joy Taylor and her new friends and the secret hideout they discover in their apartment complex. The hideout becomes a refuge for Joy, who is struggling with a lot of changes, especially when she starts exchanging messages there with another anonymous kid.

Recommended by Lindsay

Kaleidoscope Cover ImageKaleidoscope

This beautiful little book from Brian Selznick has so many things that I love: twisting labyrinths, dream-like passages, gorgeous illustrations, and even references to David Bowie. Kaleidoscope is the sort of book that made me want to build a pillow fort and hide away — perfect not only for young readers, but anyone longing for a bit of wonder in their lives.

Recommended by RJ

Squad Cover ImageSquad

By Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Lisa Sterle

If you were to make a Venn diagram of Mean Girls, Jennifer’s Body and Ginger Snaps, Squad would be at the dead center. Popular girl politics and gory werewolf vengeance collide in this pulls-no-punches high school horror story.

Recommended by Chelsea

To Break a Covenant Cover ImageTo Break a Covenant

Set in a town that is famous for its abandoned mine that draws in ghosthunters (and only sometimes spits them back out), To Break a Covenant tell the stories of four girls who are determined to find out what’s really going on in that mine. Perfectly atmospheric with eerie images and haunting scenery, this debut is the perfect fall read.

Recommended by Jennifer

Defy the Night Cover ImageDefy the Night

Set in a fantasy dystopian world handling a pandemic, Defy the Knight grapples with love, the murkiness of ruling a country, and desperation in the face of fear. Add these themes with a Robin Hood twist, and you have a YA story that combines our modern world with a world of princes and thieves.

Recommended by Brad

Bluebird Cover ImageBluebird

With her signature prose and twists and turns lurking around every corner, Bluebird is impossible to put down. Cleverly told during different points in time, Bluebird brilliantly shows what it means to have a change of heart, and what true justice means. Though my heart broke from these horrific historical events, these characters are a true beacon of hope. This is Sharon Cameron’s masterpiece.

This month’s ParnassusNext selection — read more below!

Recommended by Jennifer

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London Cover ImageThe Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Susan’s search for her father opens her up to a world of magic and mayhem as she joins forces with the enchanted booksellers of London. Teaming up with Merlin, a gender-bending lefthanded bookseller, and his sister Vivian, a righthanded bookseller, Susan is in for more of an adventure than she bargained for.

Recommended by Aly

Once Upon a Broken Heart Cover ImageOnce Upon a Broken Heart

Evangeline will do anything it takes to get her happily ever after, including making a deal with a mysterious Fate. She quickly enters a storybook land of magic, romance, and murder, In this follow-up to the Caraval series, Stephanie Garber creates a glittering world where nothing is as it seems and even doorways whisper secrets. It may have started with a kiss, but be warned — this is not a love story.

Recommended by Chelsea

Vespertine Cover ImageVespertine

Rogerson proves she is a master of fantasy with Vespertine, a dark, richly wrought tale about trust, betrayal, and truth set in a world where the dead do not stay dead. Perfect for the upcoming spooky season, Vespertine is my latest obsession.

Recommended by Brad

White Smoke Cover ImageWhite Smoke

White Smoke is another knockout novel by one of the most incredible and important authors in the YA world today. Tiffany D. Jackson is sure to chill readers to the bone with this harrowing novel that had my blood racing and my heart pounding. It’s hard to creep me out while reading, but Jackson managed to have my skin crawling and keep me looking over my shoulder — and I loved every second of it.

Recommended by Chelsea

All These Bodies Cover ImageAll These Bodies

A serial murderer is leaving victims bloodless across the Midwest in 1959. When one occurs in his hometown and an accomplice is found at the scene of the crime, Michael befriends her and draws out her truths. Inspired by In Cold Blood, Blake’s latest novel explores society’s morbid curiosity and demand for justice.

Recommended by Brad

Beasts of Prey Cover ImageBeasts of Prey

Atmospheric and dark as the jungle itself, Beasts of Prey is a fabulous debut that lands on every single mark. So many twists and turns can be found within this novel, and I truly found myself on the edge of my seat waiting to see what lurked in the shadows next. Beautiful writing, fascinating lore, and relatable characters make Beasts of Prey a standout of the year — and Ayana Gray an author to keep on your radar.

Recommended by Brad

Dark Rise Cover ImageDark Rise

The dark fantasy novel of my dreams! Dark Rise is wickedly charming with morally grey characters, action that leaps off the page, and a fantasy lore that is equal parts unique and magical. I was hooked right from the beginning, and I found myself staying up way too late just to read more chapter. Definitely a standout fantasy of 2021!

Spark Book Club: October Selection

The Beatryce Prophecy Cover ImageThe Beatryce Prophecy

By Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The October 2021 Spark Book Club selection is The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. This is the story of a girl named Beatryce, a goat named Answelica, and a monk named Brother Edik. It’s also the story of a castle with a dungeon, a brave journey, and a fantastical adventure that feels real.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“A book with an angelic soul: large, sharp, and uncompromising.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Set “during a time of war” when “terrible things happen everywhere,” Newbery Medalist DiCamillo’s engrossing medieval fable verges on darkness while examining what changes a world. Tenderly illuminated by Caldecott Medalist Blackall’s atmospheric, fine-lined b&w art, this compassionate tale rejoices in “the wonder of being known,” the protective powers of understanding one’s identity, and the strength found in the hard head of a beloved goat.” —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 October Selection

Bluebird Cover ImageBluebird

The October 2021 ParnassusNext selection is Bluebird by Sharon Cameron.This is a story of two young women who arrive in New York City from Berlin in 1946. They each hold deadly secrets from the past. One has been appointed by the United States government to find a Nazi, but she has plans to exact her own vengeance.

Early praise for the novel:

“Cameron delivers another outstanding historical novel. Clearly meticulously researched but deeply engaging and immersive.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

“An important, well-executed work of historical fiction.” —Kirkus

“complex intrigue-filled novel” —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.