Fourteen Fresh Faves

What a spring it's shaping up to be for new books! We've been reading up a storm to keep up with all the shipments coming in from our publisher friends. Here, we've collected a whopping fourteen of our favorite new releases. It's a list studded with familiar faves (hello, Kate DiCamillo and Andre Dubus III) and a few fresh faces, too. The best part? We've got a pick for any reader aged five and up. Dig in!


Ages 5-7

Pretty Ugly by David Sedaris; illustrated by Ian Falconer

Anna is an ogre and when she misbehaves, she makes terrible and scary faces — like a cute little bunny face. Her mom warns her if she's not careful, her face will freeze that way, but Anna doesn't believe her.  One day she makes the scariest face she can — of a cute little girl — and it DOES freeze that way! Anna doesn't know what to do until she remembers — what makes her beautiful is on the inside. So she takes that to heart, and (quite literally) pulls herself inside out — and now her family thinks she is beautiful again.  
—Aerie

Read if you're looking for a quirky, feel-good tale.
Pass if you can't bear the thought of this being the last Ian Falconer book — we get it, friend.
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Ages 6-8

Duck and Moose: Duck Moves In by Kirk Reedstrom

Moose is perfectly happy living on his own, thank you very much. He loves peace and quiet, and spring. When Duck moves in ON HIS HEAD, it's a problem. Duck loves noise, parties and friends. Although Moose tries everything he can to get Duck to leave, it looks like Duck will be here to stay. A fun new early graphic novel for young readers!
—Cathy

Read because Kirk knows a thing or two about what makes a great book — he's Blue Willow alum, after all!
Pass at your own risk — this one's a winner.
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Ages 8-12

The Princess Protection Program by Alex London

Rosamund wakes up from a 100-year sleep to find a strange prince kissing her and she flees — and ends up at the HEA (the Home Educational Academy). She meets other princesses, and one prince, who weren't interested in their scripted stories and fled to find their own path. But not everything is as it seems at the HEA, and the princesses must find the real fairy godmother and battle monsters known as Uponatimes before they get sucked back into their stories and their unhappy endings. A reimagining of fairy tales, adventure, and the desire to forge your own path.
—Aerie

Read if you're a fan of The School of Good and Evil.
Pass if you were really hoping that this was a novelization of that Disney Channel movie starring Selena Gomez.
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Ferris by Kate DiCamillo

Ferris (named because she was born underneath a ferris wheel at the fair) is about to have a chaotic summer. Her grandmother Charisse is seeing a ghost and has a bad heart, her six-year-old younger sister is determined to be an outlaw and make the most wanted list, her Uncle Ted has moved into their basement because he heard a voice from the heavens telling him to quit his job and paint the history of the world (and his wife kicked him out), and her dad is convinced there are raccoons in the attic. Repeated over and over in the book is the phrase that every story is a love story, and we find that to be true as we watch all of the shenanigans unfold including Ferris's ultimate quest to help find 40 taper candles to light up the chandelier in their house at her grandmother's request to help guide the ghost to her lost husband.
—Aerie

Read because Kate DiCamillo is a marvel and a master.
Pass if you frankly have really poor taste in books.
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The First State of Being by Erin Entrada Kelly

Michael is a twelve-year-old boy living in Red Knot, Delaware in August 1999. He lives with his single mom who has to work three jobs, he has a tiny crush on his babysitter, Gibby, who is just a couple years older than him, and he is extremely worried about Y2K and the world ending. He and Gibby meet Ridge, a strange kid they find wandering around their apartment complex. Slowly they discover that Ridge is from approximately 200 years in the future and he might be the first time-traveler. All Ridge wants to do is see a mall — a real mall! — as they don't exist any more in his time, but there are a lot of unknowns around what Ridge can and cannot do without affecting the future. And Ridge has a book with notes about events in the future — something Michael is desperate to get his hands on to find out what will really happen with Y2K.  Will the kids be able to help Ridge get back to his timeline? How far is Michael willing to go to get his hands on that book? Highly recommended!
—Aerie

Read because who doesn't love a clever and meaningful time travel story?
Pass if you traveled into the future and have read this one already.
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Max in the House of Spies by Adam Gidwitz

Max is sent to London during a Kindertransport, and he desperately misses his parents back in Berlin. A wealthy London Jewish family sponsors him. But there are secrets. The first comes from Jewish folklore — two tiny men appear on his shoulders, one is cautious and other adventurous. The second is that the London family is full of spies, and the plan is to have Max go back to Berlin as a spy. Full of heart and adventure and spiced with humor, it's perfect for a middle grade reader.
—Valerie

Read if you're looking for (fun and historical) espionage and suspense!
Pass if this will reignite your dream of becoming a spy and you won't be able to focus on anything else.
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Force of Nature: A Novel of Rachel Carson by Ann E. Burg; Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

This fictionalized autobiography in verse uses excerpts from Rachel Carson's writing as the author imagines Rachel as a child, college student, marine biologist and writer. Rachel learned her love of nature from her mother but decided she wanted to be a writer and didn't study nature until she was an adult, when she realized that she could write about nature. There are poignant details about her family (an older brother was a veteran of WWI; her older sister's husband left her and Rachel played a large role in raising her sister's children; she became her mother's caretaker) which add another dimension to the story of her life. Lyrical writing accentuated by beautiful illustrations make this a gem of a novel.
—Alice

Read because this is an inspiring and beautiful read that brings Rachel Carson to life for young readers.
Pass if you're waiting until summer to read this one outside.
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Ages 12 & up

Snowglobe by Soyoung Park; Translated by Joungmin Lee Comfort 

Set in a dystopian future where climate change has ravaged the planet and left the world in an Ice Age, society is split into two groups - the lucky citizens who get to live in the climate controlled Snowglobe and the ones that live outside it.  The ones who live outside spend their life as human hamsters, working shifts powering the world with electricity on treadmills.  The lucky citizens who live in the Snowglobe may get warm weather and fancy clothes, but it is all in return for providing the outside world with 24/7 reality style tv programming.  Jeon Chobahm's favorite show is the Goh Haeri show - she's even been told she kind of looks like Haeri.  But when she is plucked from her miserable life to replace Haeri on tv in the Snowglobe, and told her life depends on filling the role so no one wonders where the "original" Haeri went, Chobahm begins to find out life inside the Snowglobe is much scarier than it looks.  A twisty sci-fi thriller translated into English for the first time.
—Aerie

Read if you loved The Hunger Games or Squid Game.
Pass if you're looking for a relaxing read.
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Ages 14 & up 

Kindling by Traci Chee

A reimagining of the films Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven (which is itself a take on Seven Samurai). Children with magical powers were once taken from their families and trained to harness and use their powers in battle until they burned out and died (often at the age of 18) — they are called Kindlings. But now that the great war is over, the new Queen has outlawed magic, and those child warriors were left to find a new way of life. Set against this backdrop, a small rural village is threatened by raiders and one brave girl leaves to find warriors willing to help them fight. Seven former Kindlings join together with the village — they must all learn to work together, to process their past pain, and to remember what is worth fighting for, as they ready for the battle they know is coming. An excellent read for older teens and adults.
—Aerie

Read because this is a magnificent fantasy.
Pass if you *don't* want to get lost in an immersive fantasy world.
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Adult Fiction

Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice by Elle Cosimano

This fourth book is possibly the best in this series! Finlay and Vero have managed to get out of a building on fire just in time. Covered in soot, they decide to head to Atlantic City to find a missing Aston Martin car and Vero's childhood "friend" and to pay a debt to some very shady characters. With a custody roadblock, Finlay has to take her children, ex-husband, and her mother with them. The dialogue between all of them is laugh-out-loud funny! Finding not one but two dead bodies has the girls rushing to find who murdered them before the bodies can decompose in the hotel bathtub! Dividing time between the family vacation hotel to strip bars to meetings with loan sharks is utter chaos, in true Finlay style!  When her cop boyfriend and the FBI arrive, it just adds another layer of secrets and rendezvous. This is a perfect read for those needing to escape and laugh — moms truly can do it all!
—Christina

Read because the cast of characters is perfection!
Pass if you need to read the other three Finlay Donovan books first.
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Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle

What happens when you rely on the universe to determine your true love or major events in your life?  Daphne has received secret slips of paper since she was in fifth grade. Each one consists of a boy's name and a date. She eventually realizes that these are the names of boys and men she will date, fall for, and love — with an expiration date attached. She spends her life knowing how long each relationship should last and never questions this or tries to extend the ending date. But one day she receives a card with a new name, Jake — and no date. She believes this to be “the one.” She has only told one other person about these predictions she receives: Hugo, her best friend and former boyfriend. As she prepares to marry Jake, we explore her past and why she has lived the way she has, always with an ending date. 

This is magic on paper. It’s her best yet — if that is even possible!
— Christina

Read because this is a romance novel gem!
Pass if the idea of a "one true love" stresses you out (this read will help, we swear)!
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After Annie by Anna Quindlen

A moving portrait of the one year following Annie's unexpected death. Her children, husband, and best friend become untethered as grief topples them. With help, gradually the blocks of their lives start to rebuild, albeit in a rearranged form. A beautiful book about friendship, family, addiction, resilience, and love. Highly recommended.
—Liz

Read because this is a great reminder of the power of hope and love.
Pass if you're looking for something light for right now.
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Moorings of Mackerel Sky by MZ

The small lobstering town of Mackerel Sky was founded years ago by a sea captain. Local legend says he fell in love with a mermaid, gave up the sea and settled on the shore to be near her. The mermaids blessed the town with good fortune until the captain and other townspeople betrayed the merpeople three times. After that, a curse settled on the town that lasts to the present day  In modern no-nonsense fashion, this legend makes for good tourism dollars and fanciful story-telling, but it has little impact on the daily lives of people who live there and struggle with rather unfanciful things like substance abuse, neglect, loss of a child and deep loneliness…or does it? Harsh realities blend with merfolk fantasy in this unexpected story set in Maine.
—Jennifer K.

Read because MZ's debut is full of wonderful world-building and complex characters.
Pass if you're going to have "Under the Sea" stuck in your head all day if you read a book about mermaids.
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Adult Nonfiction

Ghost Dogs: On Killers and Kin by Andre Dubus III

This collection of essays revisits some of the more significant aspects of the author's life experiences, the early days of which were revealed in his memoir, Townie. His has been a life full of opposing forces and contradictions, starting with a father (the writer Andre Dubus) who left his wife and four children after ten years of marriage. Growing up in poverty in Massachusetts, the author was inspired by the work ethic of his maternal grandfather in Louisiana whom he visited regularly. He developed carpentry skills which put food on the table before publication of his books brought him sudden wealth. Bullied as a child, he also developed pugilistic skills that were often visited upon bullies he ran across. Now in his 60s and in a stable marriage with three adult children, he ponders how his credo of hard work and respect for others has influenced his life.
—Alice

Read because each essay is somehow better than the last.
Pass if you're off to read Townie before diving into this one.
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