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The Best Children’s and YA Books of May 2021

by the Brightly Editors

best-kids-books-may-2021

There’s so much to love about the beautiful month of May — including gorgeous new books! Whether you’re drooling over stunning picture books or looking for heartfelt novels for your kids, you’ll find more of what you’re craving here. These books will keep young readers (and adults) captivated from cover to cover.

So grab your favorite beverage and settle in because you’re about to meet the best books May has to offer!

  • Picture Books

  • And Then Came Hope

    by Stephen Savage

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    When all the boats in the harbor fall ill, a ship named Hope comes to the rescue. Thanks to her medical knowledge, Hope gets the boats feeling better in no time. Based on the true story of the humanitarian service boat, S.S. Hope, young boat enthusiasts will adore this sweet story.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Lost in the Clouds

    by DK and Tom Tinn-Disbury

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    Grief can be frightening for children and difficult for parents who want to help their child process their feelings. This beautiful picture book tenderly addresses death and offers comfort in a way that children can understand. With poignant words and colorful illustrations, this is a valuable resource for parents and caregivers.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Llama Llama Meets the Babysitter

    by Anna Dewdney and Reed Duncan, illustrated by JT Morrow

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    Having a new babysitter come over can be stressful for young children. Kids will appreciate reading about this familiar experience with their favorite llama. The reassuring story will help young readers see that meeting new people can be fun, even if you’re nervous.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Nosotros Means Us

    by Paloma Valdivia

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    If you’re in the market for a beautiful gift book to give a new parent, look no further! This bilingual story is a gorgeous ode to the love between parents and their children. With stunning illustrations and text in English and Spanish, this book is a touching reminder that familial bonds are forever.
    (On sale: 5/11/2021)

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  • How to Apologize

    by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

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    Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone apologized when they hurt someone else? Whether the harm was accidental or intentional, knowing how and when to apologize is a life skill that everyone needs. This humorous picture book gives young readers tips, tricks, do’s, and don’ts for recognizing and delivering a heartfelt apology.
    (On sale: 5/11/2021)

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  • The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken

    by Jennifer Frank, illustrated by David Ezra Stein

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    Everything about this book, from the illustrations to the title, will make you want to read it again and again. When the Worm family goes to the photographer, Emma worries that her family’s picture won’t look as good as her friends’ portraits. She tries to glam up her family — with hilarious results. Kids will love this gut-busting story about embracing the goofy and weird parts of your family.
    (On sale: 5/11/2021)

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  • The Circles All Around Us

    by Brad Montague, illustrated by Brad and Kristi Montague

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    Children are not immune to the feelings of division in our society. From the creator of the web series Kid President comes a meaningful picture book about expanding our friendship circles to create more robust and happier communities. If you’ve been looking for ways to encourage kindness with your children, add this book to your reading list.
    (On sale: 5/18/2021)

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  • Not Yeti

    by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Claire Keane

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    Yeti isn’t your typical monster. As a peaceful creature that loves crochet and compliments, Yeti often feels like he doesn’t fit in with the other monsters. But as he pursues his creative passions, he finds new friends that like his gentle nature. This delightful picture book is perfect for kids who struggle making friends.
    (On sale: 5/18/2021)

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  • Chapter Books & Middle Grade

  • The Who Was? History of the World: Deluxe Edition

    by Paula K. Manzanero and Who HQ, illustrated by Robert Squier

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    Kids that love the popular Who Was? series will enjoy exploring world history with their favorite bobbleheads. This book takes readers through thousands of years of history, covering significant events and influential people. Filled with interesting facts about 150 people and their time periods, this reference book is both informative and fun to read.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Flight of the Puffin

    by Ann Braden

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    Now more than ever, kids need stories about kindness and positivity. If your child feels weighed down by recent events, this book could be the mood-booster that they need. When a girl performs one random act of kindness, it results in a ripple effect that changes kids’ lives in big and small ways. This sweet story encourages readers to be unconditionally kind to themselves and others.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Iggy Is the Hero of Everything

    by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

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    The much-anticipated third installment in the early chapter book series Iggy is hitting bookstore shelves this month. From the author of the New York Times bestselling Ivy + Bean books comes another mischievous and loveable character that kids can’t get enough of. In this story, Iggy has to deal with the fallout from his antics in the previous book.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Dog Squad

    by Chris Grabenstein

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    Fans of the movie Bolt will gobble up this story about an ordinary dog who gets recruited as a stand-in for his favorite TV show star. But when trouble arises off-set, he’ll have to harness his inner hero to save the day. With action, adventure, and plenty of laughs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and co-author Max Einstein deliver another must-read middle grade novel!
    (On sale: 5/11/2021)

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  • Paper Heart

    by Cat Patrick

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    Friendship, grief, and ghosts combine in this moving companion novel to Tornado Brain. After her best friend Colette dies, Tess goes to Wyoming to spend the summer with her cousins. There, she meets new friends and finds an unconventional way to heal from the pain of losing Colette.
    (On sale: 5/11/2021)

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  • Dinosaurs Before Dark Graphic Novel

    by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews

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    Magic Tree House fans will be thrilled to get their hands on the new graphic novel adaptation for the #1 bestselling series! Rediscover this exciting story with the characters your child adores in a whole new format. Vibrant, full-color artwork introduces readers to the mysterious tree house and a prehistoric time-traveling adventure.
    (On sale: 5/18/2021)

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  • Turtle in Paradise

    by Jennifer L. Holm and Savanna Ganucheau

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    If you loved the Newbery Honor-winning book, you’ll enjoy this stunning graphic novel adaptation. Even if you’re not familiar with the story, now is a great time to get acquainted with it. Turtle in Paradise is about a girl named Turtle who’s as shy and quiet as her name suggests. Living with her rambunctious relatives gives her the encouragement she needs to emerge from her shell.
    (On sale: 5/18/2021)

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  • Jude Banks, Superhero

    by Ann Hood

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    From the beloved and bestselling children’s author, Ann Hood, comes a story about grief, guilt, resilience, and friendship. After his sister dies unexpectedly, Jude has trouble processing his feelings. When he meets a new friend named Clementine, he starts to feel hope for the first time. But Clementine struggles with her own loss, and Jude doesn’t know how to help her. This heartfelt story gently tackles the topic of death and offers readers a hopeful outlook in the face of tragedy.
    (On sale: 5/18/2021)

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  • Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell

    by Melanie Watt

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    Your favorite squirrel is back! This time, Scaredy Squirrel is getting his very own graphic novel, complete with a hilarious new story, new things to be scared of, and plenty of laughs along the way. Kids who loved the picture book series will happily dive into this early reader graphic novel for ages 6 - 9.
    (On sale: 5/25/2021)

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  • YA

  • Luck of the Titanic

    by Stacey Lee

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    Historical fiction lovers will get swept into a vibrant story about a hopeful acrobat aboard the Titanic. All Valora wants is to get to America, find her brother, and audition for a circus in New York. Unable to board the ship as a passenger, she stows away until the fateful night that leaves her fighting for her life. This breathtaking historical adventure will keep you on your toes and immersed in the past from beginning to end.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Sunkissed

    by Kasie West

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    Kasie West’s YA novels are like candy — sweet, addictive, and utterly enjoyable. Fans of Dirty Dancing will love this book about a girl named Avery trying to make it through the summer at a family resort. Every YA romance lover needs this cheerful pick-me-up story with family drama, forbidden romance, and self-discovery.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Prom House

    by Chelsea Mueller

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    Prom, parties, and a psychopath make this unforgettable YA thriller a must-read! Kylie and her friends have a wild after-prom weekend planned at a party house with no adults and no rules. But when the power goes out, Kylie’s epic weekend takes a sinister turn as her party guests start dying, one by one.
    (On sale: 5/4/2021)

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  • Perfectly Parvin

    by Olivia Abtahi

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    A revenge plot backfires in the best way in this hilarious YA rom-com for young teens. To make her ex-boyfriend jealous, 14-year-old Parvin hatches a plan to snag a homecoming date with Matty, a smokin’ hot sophomore. She tries to mold herself into the type of girl Matty wants, only to realize that the best version of herself is the authentic one. Insightful and sweet, this novel is the perfect read for kids in middle school and high school.
    (On sale: 5/18/2021)

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