Growing Reader



The Best Children’s and YA Books of February 2018

by the Brightly Editors

For the shortest month of the year, February is packed with all kinds of holidays, events, and celebrations — and lots of great books! From stories about inspiring trailblazers to timely tales of inclusion and compassion to a play-your-way video game adventure, there’s plenty of great children’s and YA literature to keep you feeling warm on the inside this month.

  • Picture Books

  • What Do Animals Do All Day?

    by Wendy Hunt, illustrated by Studio Muti

    What do animals do all day? This new book, from the creators of What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day?, gives young animal lovers plenty of fun and informative insights. Through 14 brightly illustrated scenes that explore diverse habitats, kids can learn more about where some of their favorite animals live, what it's like there, and get a sense of their day-to-day in the wild.
    (On Sale: 2/1/18)

  • The Big Umbrella

    by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates

    Inspired by a conversation between Amy June Bates and her 11-year-old daughter while walking through a rainstorm, this sweet story about a big umbrella offers a wonderful lesson on kindness. A red umbrella, bright and cheerful against the gray cityscape, loves to provide shelter from the rain. Some may fear that not everyone can fit, but there is room for any and all under the umbrella’s wide arms. This book's simple yet timely message is an excellent way to spark great conversations about acceptance and inclusion with young children.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon

    by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Micha Archer

    In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Little readers will learn about her history-making run, plus all of the training that led up to it, in this inspiring and beautifully illustrated biography of a boundary-defying athlete.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • Ten Magic Butterflies

    by Danica McKellar, illustrated by Jennifer Bricking

    Danica McKellar, internationally recognized mathematician and advocate for math education (also known for her starring turn on "The Wonder Years"), is once again making math accessible, enchanting, and fun to the littlest learners with her latest installment in the McKellar Math series, Ten Magic Butterflies. Through gentle, rhyming text and warm and inviting illustrations, young readers are whisked away to a magical world where flowers turn into butterflies and see their dreams come true — and math concepts come alive. Focusing on different ways to group numbers to get to 10, a core building block of math, the book sneaks math learning and number fun into a story that's educational and delightful in the same turn.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really!)

    by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Chris Hsu

    The origin story of the Band-Aid has arrived in picture book form! In the 1920s, Earle Dickson noticed that there wasn’t an easy way for his wife, Josephine, to bandage the everyday nicks, burns, and cuts she’d get around the house. As the son of a doctor, he knew that improperly treated cuts could get infected — so he grabbed some gauze, tape, and crinoline and figured out a new way for Josephine, and the rest of the world, to bandage small injuries. With fun illustrations and a touch of humor throughout, this delightful nonfiction read will reel kids into the history of an ever-useful invention.
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • A Chip Off the Old Block

    by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Daniel Miyares

    Rocky is a pebble, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t dream of doing big things like his rock-star relatives (Uncle Gibraltar, Aunt Etna, and Cousin Rushmore). On a journey to join one of his cousins, Rocky finds himself rocked, rolled, and even a little crumbly, but never lets his confidence erode. Filled with fun puns, real rock formations, and vivid illustrations, readers will lava this adorable book.
    (On Sale: 2/20/18)

  • The Rabbit Listened

    by Cori Doerrfeld

    Knowing how to be there for a loved one in hard times can be challenging. So often our best intentions — to advise, to talk, to share — fail to bring them the comfort we hope. The Rabbit Listened, a simple, evocative, and moving story about loss and love and empathy, is a welcome reminder of the power of simply being present and listening. A story that will resonate with readers of all ages, whether to soothe in difficult times or help grow emotional awareness and understanding for the future, The Rabbit Listened is a poignant addition to any family's (or educator's) bookshelves.
    (On Sale: 2/20/18)

  • Middle Grade

  • Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

    by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins

    Borrowing its title from Nina Simone's famed song (which was written in memory of Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play A Raisin in the Sun), Young, Gifted and Black celebrates the achievements of 52 men and women of color from around the world — from Serena Williams to Pelé, Rosa Parks to Kofi Annan. Through their diverse stories, histories, and experiences — illustrated in bright, bold fashion by Andrea Pippins — middle great readers can find inspiration for all kinds of dreams and aspirations.
    (On Sale: 2/1/18)

  • Checked

    by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Maurizio Zorat

    Conor loves hockey and dreams of becoming an NFL player. But when his dog Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, Conor decides to put his hockey career on hold to help pay for chemotherapy. The more time he spends off the ice, the more Conor becomes aware of their family’s financial issues and his father’s struggles with grief and stress. An honest and touching story about growing up that’s sure to capture the hearts of middle grade readers.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • Crypt Quest/Space Battles: A Play-Your-Way Book (Midnight Arcade)

    by Gabe Soria, illustrated by Kendall Hale

    Crypt Quest or Space Battles? Which game will you play? The choice is yours in this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style story. Readers pick their path, place their token in the slot, and play their way through the book, making choices that will either advance them through the game or end their life in it (don't worry, you can always start again). Filled with fun throwback elements — the action takes place in an '80s era video arcade in an abandoned mall — and a retro look and feel, this is a fast-paced, adventure-filled read great for gamers and tweens who like to shape their own stories.
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • The Friendship Mix-Up (Disney Tangled the Series)

    by Jimmy Gownley, illustrated by RH Disney

    After being locked in a tower for nearly two decades, Princess Rapunzel is finally free and looking forward to new adventures. The kind of adventure she wasn’t expecting? Finding a way to rescue Pascal, her chameleon sidekick, when he gets kidnapped. Disney fans will tear through this full-color graphic novel inspired by the animated TV show “Tangled: The Series.”
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans

    by Russell Ginns, illustrated by Barbara Fisinger

    With only a worn old umbrella left behind as a clue, Samantha Spinner and her brother set off to rescue their missing uncle. Using a map concealed in the umbrella, the pair find themselves traveling to France, Italy, and Egypt — all the while being pursued by a band of super stinky ninjas. A lighthearted and imaginative adventure tale filled with action, humor, and puzzles, Spinner is definitely a winner!
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond)

    by Sayantani DasGupta

    The Serpent’s Secret kicks off a brand-new adventure-packed series starring Kiranmala, an ordinary 12-year-old girl who is living in New Jersey when her parents mysteriously vanish and a demon appears in her kitchen. She starts to rethink all the fantastical stories her parents told her — the ones she thought they’d made up about her being an Indian princess from another land — especially when she finds herself crossing over into another, definitely magical, dimension. Maybe her parents were telling the truth after all? If so, she’s going to have to figure out a way to slay the demon and save the world.
    (On Sale: 2/27/18)

  • YA

  • Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card

    by Sara Saedi

    A memoir of a young girl brought to the United States from the Middle East as a baby only to discover as a teenager that she is an undocumented immigrant. With honesty and humor, Saedi takes portions of her actual diary and flushes them out to recount her constant fear of deportation alongside typical teen problems like first loves, friendship drama, and acne. Both entertaining and relatable, Saedi’s journey to citizenship is well worth the read.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza

    by Shaun David Hutchinson

    The mystical and real collide in fascinating fashion in The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth. She may also be the only one who can save the world from the apocalypse. She's definitely some kind of miracle worker, able to do things like heal the girl she's had a crush on forever, who was shot in a Starbucks parking lot. She's not sure, however, how she's able to do that or why strange and unexplainable things keep happening all around her. What's real? What can she control? Who can she save? A captivating and original story that will keep YA readers wholly engrossed.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • The Last to Let Go

    by Amber Smith

    Brooke is mostly focused on preparing for her senior year of high school and thinking of the path to college that will get her away from her hometown. But all of that changes when she comes home one day to find that her abusive father is dead and her mother has been arrested for his murder. Smith paints a moving portrait of a devastated family (Brooke, her older brother, and her younger sister) that’s determined to stay afloat, and keep moving forward, as the world as they know it crashes down around them.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • Speak: The Graphic Novel

    by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll

    Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning contemporary classic is introduced to new audiences in graphic novel form. Featuring art by Through the Woods illustrator Emily Carroll, Speak tells the story of Melinda, a teenage girl who retreats into silence after being raped by a classmate. A sad and stirring story about finding your voice, Carroll’s powerful art adds intense visual depth to Melinda’s internal struggles.
    (On Sale: 2/6/18)

  • Between the Lines

    by Nikki Grimes

    From Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Nikki Grimes comes this stunning companion novel to Bronx Masquerade. Darrian aspires to be a journalist, so he decides to take 11th grade English with Mr. Ward, who is known for encouraging his students to finesse their poetic skills. As Darrian and his classmates explore the unique power of words through verse, they also begin to uncover what sets each of their diverse voices apart and what shared life experiences bind them together. Written in both verse and prose, Between the Lines is a hopeful examination of the emotional bonds of adolescence and a joyous celebration of poetry.
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • Still Here

    by Rowan Blanchard

    Rowan Blanchard, the teenage actress and activist known for her role in "Girl Meets World," uses her powerful young voice to create this deeply moving reflection of teenage life. Since she was 12 years old, Blanchard has been compiling art and writing in a personal scrapbook. Alongside her own journal entries and photographs are works by the likes of poet rupi kaur and photographer Gia Coppola. This very raw snapshot into the life of a teenage girl is sure to inspire others to create their own.
    (On Sale: 2/13/18)

  • What the Night Sings

    by Vesper Stamper

    It is April 1945 and Gerta is finally free to leave the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. She didn’t even know she was Jewish before being taken by the Nazis during WWII — but, several years and much loss later, she’s the only survivor in her family. All that has remained is her love of music, which she shared with her father. This illustrated novel is a powerful portrayal of a girl’s survival as she reflects on her life before the Holocaust, the atrocities she experienced in internment, and what remains in the aftermath of it all.

    Watch the moving book trailer.
    (On Sale: 2/20/18)

  • Tess of the Road

    by Rachel Hartman

    From the author of the New York Times bestseller, Seraphina, comes a bold and provocative new adventure. Tess is not well-suited for her world, the medieval kingdom of Goredd. She's outspoken, has bold ideas, and is prone to getting into trouble. In a place where women are expected to act like ladies, with men there for their protection, she sticks out. And when things go too far, the walls of her world grow even more constricting. She's ordered to a nunnery. Tess has other ideas, however, hitting the road and battling the obstacles in her path to find out who she is, how she can make peace with her past and herself, and where it is that she belongs.
    (On Sale: 2/27/18)

What other books are you looking forward to reading this month? Share with us in the comments below.