Kids New Title Radar, Week of 5/27

Several Y.A. titles arrive next week with advance buzz about their new takes on the subjects of gay identity, bullying and coming-of-age (with a female protagonist called one of the “most memorable since Holden Caufield”). In picture books, a Sesame Street favorite gets renewed life and Amelia Bedelia experiences a significant first.

All the titles highlighted here, plus many more arriving next week, are listed with ordering information, on our downloadable spreadsheet, Kids New Title Radar, Week of May 27.

Picture Books


Sing, Joe Raposo, Tom Lichtenheld, (Macmillan/Henry Holt, CD included)

EarlyWord Kids Correspondent, Lisa Von Drasek writes:

If I had to put my money on one spring title this would be it. Raposo’s song, originally written for Sesame Street, strikes a chord in memory but is as timely now as when it debuted 40 years ago. The lyrics build confidence by urging kids to be themselves — trying, failing, then doing it anyway — and are put to a hypnotically cheerful tune. No wonder it’s been beloved ever since its debut in 1971.

Tom Lichtenheld’s pictures do more than illustrate, they illuminate. He tells a story without words of a bird without song. The reader finds herself as an accompanist, singing the song as though it were a soundtrack to the ‘real’ story in pictures. What could have been a saccharine greeting card of a picture book is anything but. This edition contains the original bilingual, Spanish and English lyrics as well as a CD. Not a false note.

WARNING: If songs tend to stick in your head, do NOT press the play button below.

Amelia Bedelia's First Library Card

Amelia Bedelia’s First Library Card, (HarperCollins/Greenwillow)

What took her so long? Amelia Bedelia gets her first library card in the sixth title of this new series by Herman Parish, nephew of the character’s originator, Peggy Parish, in which he portrays the literal-minded Amelia Bedelia as an energetic child experiencing important firsts.

Young Adult

Wild Awake

Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith, (HarperCollins/Tegen Books)

Arriving with buzz from YA GalleyChat, this debut is also a top ten Summer ’13 Kids’ Indie Next pick. Featuring 17-year-old Kiri Byrd, called “one of the most memorable characters in young adult literature since Holden Caulfield.” As Kiri begins to realize that her sister’s recent death was not accidental, her own mental health deteriorates. Horn Book says, “Most fascinating in this stirring coming-of-age novel are the blurred lines between perception and reality, genius and madness, peace and turmoil. Debut author Smith embraces the complexities of grief, family dynamics, creativity, mental illness, and love.”

Openly Straight

Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg, (Scholastic; Scholastic Audio)

As the title suggests, this novel from the author of the Lambda Literary Award for Young Adult fiction, Out Of The Pocket (Dutton, 2008) takes a new approach to gay issues. Teen Rafe is tired of being the gay poster child in his school, so when he transfers to a new one, he decides to take on a new persona. Horn Book notes, “For a thought-provoking, creative, twenty-first-century take on the coming-out story, look no further.” Readers on GalleyChat called it, “Truthful, sweet, heartbreaking, funny,” with “broad appeal, like Will Grayson, Will Grayson.”


Twerp, Mark Goldblatt, (RH BYR; Listening Library)

On the top ten Summer ’13 Kids’ Indie Next list, this YA debut by an adult authors gets a strong recommendation, “In 1960s New York, sixth-grader Julian ‘Twerp’ Twerski has just returned to school after a weeklong suspension, when his English teacher offers him a deal. If he writes a journal about the incident that got him suspended, Julian can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. At the beginning of the book it’s unclear why Julian and his friends were suspended, but more details come to light as the journal entries progress. The book’s greatest strength is that it calls attention to the important issues of friendship, peer pressure, and bullying without preaching or talking down to the reader. Julian is a flawed character, but he’s someone you can’t help but root for.” —Caitlin Ayer, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

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