All Ages

The Best Children’s and YA Books of August 2019

by the Brightly Editors

August’s best new reads are equal parts whimsical and moving — from a picture book about one girl’s quest to adopt a microscopic pet, to middle grade reads about immigration and refugees, to stories of teens coming to understand their identities. Packed with heart, humor, and stellar prose, this month’s best new releases are delightfully unmissable.

  • Picture Books

  • The Evil Princess vs. the Brave Knight

    by Jennifer Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm

    For siblings who just can’t seem to get along, get them laughing together with this amusing story of a princess and a knight forced to co-exist in a castle that’s not big enough for the both of them. Parents will recognize themselves in the exhausted Magic Mirror, and kids will learn a thing or two from this author-illustrator sibling team.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • My Tiny Pet

    by Jessie Hartland

    There may be only one pet suitable for tiny-house living, and that’s the microscopic tardigrade — colloquially known as the water bear. At least, that’s what one young girl is trying to convince her parents. Logical in her research and exuberant in her love for this fascinating creature, she makes a great case for embracing unusual pets.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • The Seekers

    by Hari and Deepti

    A visually stunning picture book from husband-and-wife team Hari & Deepti, The Seekers follows the heroic journey of Mio and Nao. When they leave their home to find what’s putting their village’s life-giving river in peril, they discover that the creatures of their childhood legends aren’t fables after all.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • Senorita Mariposa

    by Ben Gundersheimer, illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero

    Every year, millions of monarch butterflies migrate 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico. In this vibrant celebration of the monarchs’ epic voyage, readers travel through the same lush landscapes and diverse communities as they accompany the butterflies to their ancestral forests. Written in rhyming, bilingual text, it’s a joyful and informative expedition.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • If I Built a School

    by Chris Van Dusen

    Chris Van Dusen’s inventive protagonist, Jack, is counting down the days to the new school year by daydreaming about the totally awesome, state-of-the-art school he’d create. There’d be hover desks and robo-chefs, and intergalactic field trips for all. A fun way to reimagine the magic of school, it’s a brilliantly whimsical read for the end of summer.
    (On Sale: 8/13/19)

  • Llama Llama Mess Mess Mess

    by Anna Dewdney and Reed Duncan

    In the latest addition to Anna Dewdney’s beloved Llama Llama series, things are about to get messy. Llama Llama isn’t so keen on picking up his toys, so Mama Llama comes up with a clever response to his resistance: She’ll stop cleaning, too! A playful take on chores that reminds readers homes don’t clean themselves.
    (On Sale: 8/27/19)

  • Middle Grade

  • The Boy at the Back of the Class

    by Onjali Q. Rauf

    Another timely and accessible middle grade read, The Boy at the Back of the Class explores the refugee crisis with heart and hope. Ahmet is the new kid in Mrs. Khan’s classroom, and when his peers learn he was separated from his family while fleeing the Syrian war, they want to do whatever they can to help. Readers will learn about empathy and allyship alongside the relatable cast of characters.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • Each Tiny Spark

    by Pablo Cartaya

    Emilia Torres has been counting down the days to her father’s return from deployment. But when he gets home, he doesn’t seem to be himself. He spends most of his time working on an old car — eventually teaching Emilia his craft while he slowly readjusts. Meanwhile, deportation scares rock the community, and Emilia learns how to ask big questions.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • A Swirl of Ocean

    by Melissa Sarno

    When 12-year-old Summer is caught in a riptide and nearly drowns, she starts dreaming of Tink, a girl who lives in her town, but in another time. Summer’s already processing a lot — she’s coming to terms with the fact that she was found alone on the beach ten years ago and has no idea where she came from. How does her story connect with Tink’s? Will both girls find their way?
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • Code Like a Girl

    by Miriam Peskowitz

    Miriam Peskowitz demystifies coding and reframes the process as a means of creativity and unique self-expression. With Code Like a Girl, she empowers readers to consider the stories they want to tell and the world they’d like to live in, and then build it through computer programming. With plenty of exciting projects, it’ll get girls hyped about coding.
    (On Sale: 8/13/19)

  • Dead Voices

    by Katherine Arden

    Nothing seals a friendship like surviving the sinister smiling man — Ollie, Coco, and Brian would be the first to tell you that. In the sequel to Small Spaces, the friends are snowed in with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort when strange things begin happening, including the appearance of Mr. Voland — a self-proclaimed ghost hunter. Thrills abound in this captivating ghost story.
    (On Sale: 8/27/19)

  • My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

    by Ibi Zoboi

    When 12-year-old Ebony-Grace is sent to live in Harlem with her dad for the summer, she’s pretty overwhelmed. She’s spent her life in Alabama with her grandfather, a former NASA engineer who inspired Ebony-Grace’s love for all things sci-fi and space-themed. Slowly but surely, she begins to see the magic of Harlem and find her place within it.
    (On Sale: 8/27/19)

  • YA

  • House of Salt and Sorrows

    by Erin A. Craig

    Annaleigh’s family is cursed, or so the townspeople say. It’s the only explanation for the mysterious deaths that have befallen four of the 12 sisters who live at Highmoor. Each night, the girls sneak out to dance till morning — all except Annaleigh, who’s beginning to suspect that their dancing partners may be tied to the so-called curse. A page-turning noir fairy tale that’ll keep readers hooked.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • Ziggy, Stardust and Me

    by James Brandon

    An emotional coming-of-age story set in 1973, Ziggy, Stardust and Me centers on 16-year-old Jonathan Collins, who’s struggling with his sexuality during a time when being gay was still considered a mental illness. Jonathan often retreats to his imagination, where he communes with his dead mother and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust — until he meets Web, who’s unashamed of his queerness and is about to change Jonathan’s life forever.
    (On Sale: 8/6/19)

  • The Downstairs Girl

    by Stacey Lee

    No one knows that Jo Kuan, a lady’s maid for a wealthy Atlanta family, is the voice behind Miss Sweetie — a popular newspaper advice columnist. But when Miss Sweetie’s wisdom gets too radical for residents of the New South, Jo finds her secret — and her safety — at risk. A moving story of one young woman’s search for identity and belonging, The Downstairs Girl is historical fiction at its best.
    (On Sale: 8/13/19)

  • The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart

    by R. Zamora Linmark

    Ran is Ken Z’s first love, as breathlessly confessed in Ken Z’s letter to Oscar Wilde, “patron saint of rebels and bookworms.” But when the two are separated by circumstance, Ken Z can’t understand the point of love. Through haikus and letters, surreal encounters with Wilde, and support from his friends, Ken Z learns to carry on and continue loving, despite the costs.
    (On Sale: 8/13/19)

  • As Many Nows as I Can Get

    by Shana Youngdahl

    The summer before starting college can be a time for transformation. That’s certainly true for the grounded Scarlett, who falls suddenly and irrevocably in love with David — a boy she’s known her whole life. Their whirlwind romance has far-reaching implications, which unfold in chapters that alternate between the past and present in this heartrending, authentic debut.
    (On Sale: 8/20/19)

  • Color Me In

    by Natasha Diaz

    When Nevaeh’s Black mom and Jewish dad call it quits, Nevaeh and her mom move to Harlem, where Nevaeh must reckon with her biracial identity for the first time among extended family — particularly, one cousin who finds Nevaeh spoiled and resents that she can pass for white. Complex and compelling, Color Me In deftly explores intersectionality and the bonds of family.
    (On Sale: 8/20/19)