Growing Reader



The Best Children’s and YA Books of April 2017

by the Brightly Editors

From a bunny who yearns to fly to a starfish who to longs to shine, to a new mystery series for middle grade readers and a YA love story for “Hamilton” fans, there’s tons to enjoy this April. Here are some of our favorite children’s and YA books of the month.

  • Picture Books

  • The Almost Impossible Thing

    by Basak Agaoglu

    Teach kids the power of hope with this debut picture book about a bunny who aspires to fly after she sees a bird in the sky. Bright, bold illustrations light up every page and bring the rabbit’s “dream” to life. What is cuter than a bunny who wants to fly? Not much, we daresay.
    (On Sale: 4/4/17)

  • A Letter to My Teacher

    by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

    Written as a thank-you note to a memorable teacher from a past student, this humorous picture book tells the story of a young, energetic girl who doesn’t like to sit still in class and regularly disrupts her teacher with dramatic outbursts. The patient teacher sees through this student’s antics, and begins to understand that the girl’s disobedient behavior is due to her struggles with reading. With the teacher’s help and attention, the girl learns to overcome this challenge, and eventually, becomes a teacher herself. A great read and a great gift for the special teachers in your life.
    (On Sale: 4/4/17)

  • The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

    by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex

    The title and cover image are enough to get you giggling all on their own. But the epic battles depicted by children's book powerhouses Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex are sure to have us in stitches. How could they not when they involve Rock, from the Kingdom of the Backyard; Paper, from the Empire of Mom's Home Office; and Scissors, from the tiny village of the junk drawer? You thought you knew this game before ... well, think again.
    (On Sale: 4/4/17)

  • Pass it On

    by Sophy Henn

    Like the title says, if you experience something good in life, pass it on. This heartwarming story is filled with images of children giving happiness to others and getting it back in return. This book inspires goodness and sharing, and encourages us to find joy in even the smallest of things.
    (On Sale: 4/11/17)

  • The Giant Jumperee

    by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

    This delightful rhyming book was created by the award-winning author of beloved books such as The Gruffalo and the illustrator of the ever-popular We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. One day Rabbit hears a loud voice coming from his burrow: “I am the Giant Jumperee and I’m scary as can be!” Rabbit runs to get help from his neighbors Cat, Bear, and Elephant, but in the end it’s Mama Frog who saves the day.
    (On Sale: 4/18/17)

  • If My Love Were a Fire Truck

    by Luke Reynolds, illustrated by Jeff Mack

    In this love song to his son, a father imagines ever-more creative ways of expressing his love. Rhyming text describes how this great love manifests as elephants stomping trees and whales splashing across seas. In the same vein as Guess How Much I Love You, this book is an ode to the one-of-a-kind affection a parent has for their child.
    (On Sale: 4/18/17)

  • Shine!

    by Patrick McDonnell, illustrated by Naoko Stoop

    Little Hoshi wishes she were a star shining brightly in the sky instead of a starfish. She doesn’t recognize the unique and beautiful things all around her. Luckily she meets an anglerfish who shines his own light in the deep sea and helps Little Hoshi see all that her underwater world offers. A picture book about recognizing the possibilities around you, starring the most adorable five-armed protagonist.
    (On Sale: 4/25/17)

  • Middle Grade

  • Lucky Broken Girl

    by Ruth Behar

    When her family moves to New York City as refugees from Cuba, Ruthie is mostly worried about learning a new language and getting used to her new home. That is, until she gets in a terrible accident that leaves her bedridden for nearly a year. This moving debut novel is already winning over the hearts of early readers, and tweens are sure to find something to relate to in its themes of overcoming life's obstacles, the resilience of young girls, and the pure power of harnessing words.
    (On Sale: 4/11/17)

  • Fair Ball

    by Derek Jeter

    Realizing that life isn't always fair can be a hard pill to swallow. What do you do when things aren't going your way and circumstances are outside of your control? You can choose how you want to think, act, and behave, and what attitude you want to have. Inspired by baseball superstar and bestselling author Derek Jeter's own life, Fair Ball explores changing friendships, distractions, stresses, and, yes, baseball, too.
    (On Sale: 4/18/17)

  • Out of the Box

    by Jemma Westing

    Any parent knows the power of a cardboard box. Hideout, play space, rocket ship to the moon. It's a blank slate of creativity. Award-winning paper engineer Jemma Westing has taken that idea, and multiplied it tenfold with Out of the Box, a book full of awesome ideas about how to bring old cardboard boxes to life. This STEAM-themed book features 25 cardboard-model projects that are science-based and loads of fun — everything from race cars, to a dinosaur's head, to puppets, and more.
    (On Sale: 4/18/17)

  • Momotaro: Xander and the Dream Thief

    by Margaret Dilloway, illustrated by Choong Yoon

    In this sequel to Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters, Xander is learning to control the powers he gets from being the descendent of Momotaro, the hero of an old Japanese folktale. Xander mistakenly abuses his new powers and loses his family’s dreams in the process. Without them, the family has no hope, no motivation, and no powers. Does Xander have what it takes to save his family and be worthy of his Momotaro powers?
    (On Sale: 4/18/17)

  • The Witches of Benevento: Respect Your Ghosts

    by John Bemelmans Marciano, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

    The fourth chapter book in the Witches of Benevento series focuses on cousin Sergio, who's busy taking care of Bis Bis, an ancient spirit living upstairs. Sergio tries to balance keeping the ghost satisfied and making his mother happy, but quickly realizes that it's hard to do both at the same time. A fantastic chapter book (good for younger readers ages 7+) from John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of Madeline author, Ludwig Bemelmans, and Caldecott-winning artist Sophie Blackall.
    (On Sale: 4/25/17)

  • The Explorers: The Door in the Alley

    by Adrienne Kress

    Wordplay, zany characters, and hilarity abound in the first book of The Explorers, an exciting new series for middle grade readers. It’s a fun romp about a pair of kids who get involved in a secret society, with plenty of twists and turns to entertain any mystery lover. The cliffhanger ending will have them chomping at the bit for the next book.
    (On Sale: 4/25/17)

  • YA

  • Alex, Approximately

    by Jenn Bennett

    Film buffs and romance lovers will find much to swoon for in this clever YA spin on "You've Got Mail". Bailey and Alex are bonded by an internet connection and a love of movies, but safely distanced from one another by thousands of miles. That is, until Bailey moves to Alex's hometown and things start to get complicated. Kirkus calls it "an irresistible tribute to classic screwball-comedy romances that captures the 'delicious whirling, twirling, buzzing' of falling in love."
    (On Sale: 4/1/17)

  • Alex and Eliza: A Love Story

    by Melissa de la Cruz

    Calling all "Hamilton" fans! This is one you won't want to miss. Bestselling YA author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler. An epic romance, a young country in chaos, class conflict, passion, smarts, and heart ... yes, please!
    (On Sale: 4/11/17)

  • The Upside of Unrequited

    by Becky Albertalli

    Molly is a smart, quick-witted teen who isn’t sure she’ll ever have a first love. To make matters worse, everyone around her (including her sister) seems to have no problem finding people to date. Readers will know, and adore, Molly more with every page. A funny, relatable novel that’s filled with well-rounded, diverse characters and written by the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
    (On Sale: 4/11/17)

  • The Whole Thing Together

    by Ann Brashares

    Readers know author Ann Brashares from her blockbuster Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Here she tackles issues of love, family, memories, and loss with beauty and heart. The Whole Thing Together centers around Sasha and Ray, who share the same beach house, its memories, and an entangled family history. A great read to pick up for summer. Better pick up some tissues, too.
    (On Sale: 4/25/17)

  • This Is Really Happening

    by Erin Chack

    In this moving and funny series of personal essays, BuzzFeed senior writer Erin Chack shares several significant experiences she had as a young adult, like falling in love at fourteen years old … and being diagnosed with cancer at only 19. There is a perfect blend of humor and heartbreak in this collection, as Erin offers a unique and empowering perspective on maintaining an optimistic spirit despite great hardship. 
    (On Sale: 4/25/17)

Let us know what other books you’re excited to pick up this month!