Best New Kids Stories | April 2016
The Children’s Book Review | April 1, 2016
Hot New Releases & Popular Kids Stories
Just when we were thinking we’d make things easier for you by creating a shorter “Best New Kids Books” list, April has arrived and it boasts some of the best books of the whole entire year. Caldecott medal winner Dan Santat’s Are We There Yet? finally arrives. And … drum-roll … two-time Newbery medalist Kate DiCamillo’s highly anticipated Raymie Nightingale is sure to spring right into the hearts of readers everywhere.
Written by Ame Dyckman
Illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Publisher’s Synopsis: The New York Times-bestselling duo behind Wolfie the Bunny presents a hilarious new book about accidents, outbursts, manners…and the power of saying “I’m sorry.”
Bear didn’t mean to break a little girl’s kite, but she’s upset anyway–upset enough to shout “HORRIBLE BEAR!” Bear is indignant. He doesn’t think he’s horrible! Then Bear gets a truly Horrible Bear idea. What will he do next? As Bear prepares to live up to his formerly undeserved reputation, the girl makes a mistake of her own, and realizes that maybe–just maybe–Bear isn’t as horrible as she had thought.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0316282833
Written by Jane Smiley
Illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Publisher’s Synopsis: From Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo.
As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?
Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley’s first picture book, illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo, evokes the splashy fun of the beach and the quietude of a moonlit night, with twenty yawns sprinkled in for children to discover and count.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Two Lions | April 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1477826355
Written by Audrey Vernick
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker
Publisher’s Synopsis: The hilarious and heartwarming story of a boy who tries to win a goldfish and winds up with FAR more than he bargained for . . .
A young boy wins a humongous new pet at the carnival, and before long, they become fast friends. But his parents are skeptical. After all, Nuncio doesn’t even fit in the house! Will the gargantuan goldfish have to go? Or will the family find a way to give him the home he deserves?
Fans of Sparky will flip for this whale of a tale from Audrey Vernick, author of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and featuring illustrations from Wow! City! illustrator Robert Neubecker.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | Apr. 12 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0553509939
Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat
Publisher’s Synopsis: Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime!
“Are we there yet?” Every parent has heard this classic kid question on a long car ride–and after reading this astonishingly inventive new book (that even turns upside down for several pages!), you’ll never look at being bored the same way again.
Let’s face it: everyone knows that car rides can be boring. And when things get boring, time slows down. In this book, a boy feels time slowing down so much that it starts going backward–into the time of pirates! Of princesses! Of dinosaurs! The boy was just trying to get to his grandmother’s birthday party, but instead he’s traveling through Ancient Egypt and rubbing shoulders with Ben Franklin. When time flies, who knows where–or when–he’ll end up.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Apr. 12 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0316199995
Written by Deborah Diesen
Illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod
Publisher’s Synopsis: Izzie just loves when her mama blows her kisses to catch. Smooch kisses, zig-zag kisses, and even triple decker kisses! But even though she runs and leaps for it, Izzie misses a kiss! Her heart sinks as she watches it zip higher and higher into the sky. When Mama lets Izzie in on a sweet secret she realizes that her mama’s love will always come to find her, no matter what! This silly and tender story is a universal one of a parent’s love.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press | Apr. 1 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1585369614
Written by Matt Roeser
Illustrated by Brad Woodard
Publisher’s Synopsis: Asteroids! Planets! Astronauts!
In this charming debut picture book, a grumpy asteroid named Astro is thrown out of orbit and takes an unexpected journey through space!
Astro is a cranky asteroid who just wants everyone to respect his personal boundaries. But when a satellite knocks Astro out of orbit, he is forced to embark on an epic adventure through space…whether he wants to or not!
Filled with playful illustrations and tons of cool facts about space, this picture book is a must-have for all the future astronauts who are ready to journey through the galaxy.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | Apr. 19 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1481439763
Written by Linda Urban
Illustrated by Katie Kath
Publisher’s Synopsis: Max and his dad love their weekends together. Weekends mean pancakes, pizza, spy games, dog-walking, school projects, and surprising neighbors! Every weekend presents a small adventure as Max gets to know his dad’s new neighborhood—and learns some new ways of thinking about home.
Acclaimed author Linda Urban deftly portrays a third-grader’s inner world during a time of transition in this sweet and funny illustrated story that bridges the early reader and middle grade novel.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0544598171
Written by Andy Griffiths
Publisher’s Synopsis: Andy and Terry live in a 52-Story treehouse. (It used to be a 39-story treehouse, but they keep expanding.) It has a chainsaw-juggling level, a make-your-own-pizza parlor, a rocket-powered carrot-launcher, a life-size snakes and ladders game, a remembering booth, a Ninja Snail Training Academy and a high-tech detective agency, with all the latest high-tech detective technology, including the Disguise-o-Matic 5000!
Something that is sure to come in handy as they try to solve the mystery of: What happened to Mr. Big Nose? After all, it’s hard to turn in your next book when your publisher has vanished!
Join New York Times-bestselling author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton on another wild storytelling adventure in a series Publishers Weekly described as “Anarchic absurdity at its best.” Welcome to The 52-Story Treehouse…What are you waiting for? Come on up!
Ages 6-10 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1250026934
Written by Sara Pennypacker
Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Publisher’s Synopsis: Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it’s impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he’s experiencing his own personal Big Bang.
Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. Waylon would rather be friends with everyone. Well, everyone except the scary new kid, Baxter Boylen.
Waylon’s older sister, Neon, is shooting away from the family. He wishes everything would go back to the way it was before she started wearing all black and saying “What’s the point?” all the time.
Just when it looks as though Waylon’s universe is exploding, something happens to bring it all together again, and it is, without a doubt, One Awesome Thing.
Ages 7-9 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1484701522
Written by John Bemelmans Marciano
Publisher’s Synopsis: The second book in an exciting new chapter book series by John Bemelmans Marciano and Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall.
Welcome to Benevento, an ancient town famous for its witches!
The children of Benevento have to be careful and clever to evade the clutches of such witches as the Manalonga, the Janara, and the Clopper, who hide in wells and under bridges, fly at midnight, and play tricks during Mischief Season.
Five cousins – Primo, Emilio, Rosa, Maria Beppina, and Sergio – share adventures and narrow escapes, and discover astonishing secrets as they outwit the witches in each exciting story.
The All-Powerful Ring: a Primo Story
Wanting to stop the springtime mischiefs—and overcome his own fear of Manalonga—Primo seeks an advantage. He finds one when he discovers a mysterious ring in the belly of a fish. Is the ring just a pretty trinket or is it magic?
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | Apr. 12 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0451471802
Written and Illustrated by Peter Brown
Publisher’s Synopsis: When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….
Heartwarming and full of action, Peter Brown’s middle-grade debut raises thought-provoking questions about the environment, the role technology plays in our world, and what it means to be alive.
Ages 8-11 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0316381994
Written by Liesl Shurtliff
Publisher’s Synopsis: Can’t get enough of the new fairy-tale-retelling trend? Don’t miss Liesl Shurtliff’s new dark, humorous stand-alone middle grade novel RED: THE TRUE STORY OF RED RIDING HOOD (on sale April 12, 2016)!
Liesl Shurtliff spins a spellbinding tale, shining the spotlight on one of the most beloved characters from her award-winning debut, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. This isn’t the Little Red Riding Hood from the canonical children’s tale. Shurtliff’s Red is strong, independent, brazen, and not afraid of anything . . . except magic. But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her weakness. Readers will gobble up this bewitching fantasy as they join Red on her journey of discovery through the sinister dangers of the enchanted dark forest.
Liesl Shurtliff’s first book, Rump, won over kids and critics alike, earning an IRA Award, a Texas Bluebonnet nomination, a Whitney nomination, and a starred review from Kirkus, proclaiming it “as good as gold.”
In RED, Liesl Shurtliff is at her best. New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Chris Grabenstein raves that “Liesl Shurtliff has truly out-magicked herself. Red is the most wonder-filled fairy tale of them all.” RED will capture the hearts of readers who like it Grimm, as well as followers of ABC’s TV show Once Upon a Time.
Oh, reader, what big teeth you have! The better to devour RED: THE TRUE STORY OF RED RIDING HOOD.
Ages 8-12 | Knopf Books for Young Readers | April 12, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0385755832
Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Publisher’s Synopsis: From an award-winning author of historical fiction comes a story of survival, crime, adventure, and horses in the streets of 19th century New York City.
Eleven-year-old Rocco is an Italian immigrant who finds himself alone in New York City after he’s sold to a padrone by his poverty-stricken parents. While working as a street musician, he meets the boys of the infamous Bandits’ Roost, who teach him the art of pickpocketing. Rocco embraces his new life of crime—he’s good at it, and it’s more lucrative than banging a triangle on the street corner. But when he meets Meddlin’ Mary, a strong-hearted Irish girl who’s determined to help the horses of New York City, things begin to change. Rocco begins to reexamine his life—and take his future into his own hands.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0385754996
Written by Gordon Korman
Publisher’s Synopsis: Cameron Boxer is very happy to spend his life avoiding homework, hanging out with his friends, and gaming for hours in his basement. It’s not too hard for him to get away with it . . . until he gets so caught up in one game that he almost lets his house burn down around him.
It’s time for some serious damage control–so Cameron and his friends invent a fake school club that will make it seem like they’re doing good deeds instead of slacking off. The problem? Some kids think the club is real–and Cameron is stuck being president.
Soon Cameron is part of a mission to save a beaver named Elvis from certain extinction. Along the way, he makes some new friends–and some powerful new enemies. The guy who never cared about anything is now at the center of everything . . . and it’s going to take all his slacker skills to win this round.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | Apr. 26 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545823159
Written by Mike Jung
Publisher’s Synopsis: SThe next person who compares Chloe Cho with famous violinist Abigail Yang is going to HEAR it. Chloe has just about had it with people not knowing the difference between someone who’s Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. She’s had it with people thinking that everything she does well — getting good grades, winning first chair in the orchestra, et CETera — are because she’s ASIAN.
Of course, her own parents don’t want to have anything to DO with their Korean background. Any time Chloe asks them a question they change the subject. They seem perfectly happy to be the only Asian family in town. It’s only when Chloe’s with her best friend, Shelly, that she doesn’t feel like a total alien.
Then a new teacher comes to town: Ms. Lee. She’s Korean American, and for the first time Chloe has a person to talk to who seems to understand completely. For Ms. Lee’s class, Chloe finally gets to explore her family history. But what she unearths is light-years away from what she expected.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | Apr. 26 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545782265
Written by Kate DiCamillo
Publisher’s Synopsis: Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Candlewick | Apr. 12 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0763681173
Written by Kwame Alexander
Publisher’s Synopsis: Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/
can’t nobody cop you…
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0544570986
Written by Brooks Benjamin
Publisher’s Synopsis: Football hero. Ninja freestyler. It’s seventh grade. Anything is possible.
All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.
At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?
Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor in this kid-friendly humorous debut by Brooks Benjamin.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | Apr. 12 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0553512502
Written by Michelle Knudsen
Publisher’s Synopsis: Dragon fire, dark magic, and the bonds of friendship clash in a thrilling finale to the middle-grade fantasy trilogy by best-selling author Michelle Knudsen.
Apprentice mage Calen shocked everyone when he disappeared—apparently willingly—with Krelig, the incredibly powerful and evil mage intent on destroying the Magistatum and forcing the world to submit to his rule. Krelig believes Calen’s untapped magical power will be the key to his victory, and is training him to unlock his full potential. Calen is desperate to escape, but knows he must first learn as much as he can if there is to be any hope of defeating Krelig. Meanwhile, Trelian is at war, and Princess Meg has been training with her dragon to fight the enemy forces. She refuses to accept that her best friend, Calen, could really be a traitor, but she might be the only one. As the mages prepare for their own deadly battle, Calen must find a way to get back to Trelian to stop Krelig before it’s too late—if those he left behind will forgive and trust him enough to let him come home at all.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Candlewick | Apr. 12 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0763674366
Written by Anna Breslaw
Publisher’s Synopsis: Cross Veronica Mars with MTV’s Daria, and you’ll get Scarlett Epstein, the snarky, judgmental, and often hilarious star of Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, a witty and heartwarming novel that’s perfect for fans of David Arnold’s Mosquitoland and Kody Keplinger’s The Duff.
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Razorbill | Apr. 19 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1595148353
Written by Renée Ahdieh
Publisher’s Synopsis: The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | Apr. 26 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0399171628
Written by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher’s Synopsis: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin | Apr. 26 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1250085474
Written by Emery Lord
Publisher’s Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.
Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.
Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | Apr. 5 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1619638457
Written by Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher’s Synopsis: Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.
Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: HarperTeen | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062380944
For more of the best new kids stories and popular books for kids, follow along with our tag for Popular Kids Stories.
We may receive a small commission from purchases made via the links on this page. If you discover a book or product of interest on this page and use the links provided to make a purchase, you will help support our mission to 'Grow Readers.' Your support means we can keep delivering quality content that's available to all. Thank you!