Stephanie, Associate Editor

Whether you love sprawling fantasies, gothic fables, jubilant rom-coms or page-turning mysteries, 2022 is guaranteed to be a YA lover’s best reading year ever.

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi
HarperCollins | February 1

Tahereh Mafi has written a bestselling six-volume dystopian series as well as middle grade fantasies and two devastating realistic novels set in the early 2000s. Her fans love her imaginative, emotional storytelling and razor-sharp prose. In 2022, she’ll publish her first work of high fantasy for teen readers, a sprawling yet intimate tale with Persian and Muslim influences. If your ideal reading experience is being transported into an epic and magical story, you’ll want to put This Woven Kingdom at the top of your TBR. 

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel | February 1

The thing I love most about historical fiction master Ruta Sepetys is how unwilling she seems to be to simply rest on her laurels. At this point in her writing career, Sepetys could forge a comfortable path retreading familiar territory, but instead, she follows her unique instincts for sniffing out compelling stories amid locales and historical moments little-known to most of her American readers, from war-torn northern Europe during the final days of World War II to Barcelona at the height of the Franco regime. In I Must Betray You, she turns those instincts to 1989 Romania, and the result is a can’t-miss read for fans of historical fiction and thrillers alike.

Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams
Little, Brown | February 8

Kelly McWilliams is the daughter of acclaimed children’s author Jewell Parker Rhodes, and her 2020 debut, Agnes at the End of the World, proved that she’s a talented storyteller in her own right. Mirror Girls is an ambitious step forward for McWilliams. A historical horror novel that reads like The Vanishing Half meets “Lovecraft Country,” it’s the story of biracial twin sisters who are separated at birth and reunite under mysterious circumstances in the small Georgia town where they were born.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi
Knopf | February 15

Akwaeke Emezi is one of the most exciting and visionary writers working today, and I’m thrilled that they’re returning to YA shelves with this prequel to their 2019 National Book Award finalist, Pet. Bitter will reveal the story of Pet’s mother, the eponymous Bitter, and add new dimensions to the world Emezi created in Pet.

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Razorbill | March 1

It’s hard to think of a more successful or more influential YA fantasy series of the past decade than Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes quartet, which ended in December 2020 with A Sky Beyond the Storm. All My Rage explores vastly different territory: It’s a work of contemporary realism about two teens coming of age in a small town in the Mojave Desert. Like the novel’s protagonists, Tahir grew up at her family’s 18-room motel in the Mojave Desert, and All My Rage draws inspiration from her personal experiences. Changing genres and creating such a personal story is an ambitious move, but Tahir is a storyteller I’d follow just about anywhere. 

The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra
Disney-Hyperion | March 1

In December 2020, Netflix released the first season of “Tiny Pretty Things,” adapted from Clayton and Charaipotra’s 2015 YA novel of the same name. It was an addicting mix of a high-pressure environment (a ballet school) and a twisting, shocking plot that kept me up past bedtime on more than one occasion. Clayton and Charaipotra have both released books individually since publishing Shiny Broken Things, the sequel to Tiny Pretty Things, in 2016, but they’re reuniting in 2022 for a brand-new standalone thriller about rumors, secrets and lies set at an exclusive prep school. It’s got the makings of a late-night read written all over it.

Gallant by V. E. Schwab
Greenwillow | March 1

I’m going to throw some words and phrases at you right now: Fog. Gloom. Mysterious. Crumbling old house. Ghostly. Candlelight. A door to the unknown. Secrets. Haunting. Enchanting. If those are vibes you find yourself inexplicably drawn to, bestselling author V. E. Schwab has written a book especially for you. The less I say here about Schwab’s return to the YA category, the better, because as with all tales of mystery and magic, half the pleasure’s in the discovery itself.

Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood
Delacorte | March 8

How many reimaginings and adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women is too many for me? To quote an iconic scene from the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls, the limit does not exist. I regularly sing along to the soundtrack of the 2005 Broadway show while driving to work. I inhaled Bethany C. Morrow’s 2021 remix, So Many Beginnings, set in 1863 in a Virginia colony of newly emancipated people. Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation was the last movie I saw in a theater before the pandemic. (I loved it, obviously.) So I truly cannot wait to see what this reimagining will hold. The details are already tantalizing: It’s set in 1942, with each March sister’s perspective written by a different YA author. Jo builds planes! Laurie is an army pilot! Amy is a Red Cross volunteer in London! Beth’s point of view will be in verse! I look forward to swooning, sighing and ugly-crying all over again when it hits shelves in March.

Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters
Viking | March 15

Julian Winters has published three of the most beloved LGBTQ+ realistic fiction YA novels in recent memory through a small, independent publisher called Interlude Press. This spring, Winters will release his first book from one of the so-called Big Five publishers, a move that’s sure to make his rising star shine even brighter. Right Where I Left You has all the ingredients that readers loved in Winters’ previous books, including authentic teen characters and heartfelt depictions of friendship, romance and the search to figure out who you are and what you really want.  

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram
Dial | March 22

Adib Khorram’s first two novels told the quiet but deeply powerful story of queer biracial teen Darius Kellner. Darius the Great Is Not Okay and its sequel, Darius the Great Deserves Better are master classes in creating a unique and authentic narrative voice. In his third book, Khorram seems to be interested in turning up the volume—literally. The protagonist of Kiss & Tell is the only gay member of a newly successful boy band, but he’s struggling with his heart and with the pressures of the spotlight. Readers who enjoyed the showbiz romance of Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s If This Gets Out or the music-loving heart of Leah Johnson’s Rise to the Sun won’t want to miss it. 

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke
Knopf | April 5

Although they’ve published two YA novels and two picture books (including What Are Your Words, which is the most accessible introduction to personal pronouns I’ve ever read) and edited two anthologies, Katherine Locke isn’t a household name—yet. This Rebel Heart could very well be the book to change that. Set in the midst of the 1956 revolution in communist Budapest, the story promises an intriguing juxtaposition of history and magic that fans of Julie Berry, Naomi Novik, Gavriel Savit and Ruta Sepetys will love.

Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk
Versify | April 5

While we’re on the subject of authors who should be household names, allow me to get out my megaphone and sandwich board and stand out on the sidewalk to sing the praises of Ashley Woodfolk. Woodfolk’s first two novels are two of the best works of YA contemporary realistic fiction of the past decade, and she was one of six contributors to Blackout, the collaborative YA romance hit of summer 2021. To read a Woodfolk novel is to lose all sense of time and be swept away in her character-driven storytelling and effortless prose, and Nothing Burns as Bright as You looks to be her most explosive novel yet. 

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan
Little, Brown | April 12

Emily X.R. Pan’s 2018 debut novel, The Astonishing Color of After, was a New York Times bestseller and received a number of awards, including a Walter Honor and a YA Honor from ALA’s Asian/Pacific American Awards. It was the uncommon debut novel whose ambition was matched by its creator’s skill, so while Pan’s second book looks even more ambitious, I’m so excited to watch her pull it off. Like Pan’s debut, An Arrow to the Moon will blend romance, emotional storytelling, Chinese mythology and fantastical elements for an unforgettable combination.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Wednesday | May 3

Casey McQuiston burst onto bookshelves in 2019 with her adult romance debut, Red, White & Royal Blue, a book that reads like “The West Wing” meets “The Crown” but with much more kissing, and then didn’t let their foot off the gas one bit in their second book, One Last Stop. So when, in the summer of 2021, McQuiston announced that she would be publishing her first YA novel, to say that it was exciting would be an understatement. I Kissed Shara Wheeler is set at a conservative school in Alabama and, like One Last Stop, will incorporate elements of both mystery and romance. 

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert
Flatiron | June 28

The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert’s first YA novel, spent more than half of 2018 on the New York Times bestseller list. Since then, Albert’s fans have devoured a sequel, The Night Country, as well as a companion set of short stories, Tales From the Hinterland. Our Crooked Hearts will capture the same intoxicating potion of dark magic and sharp prose that readers loved in Albert’s previous books, but since it’s a wholly original story unconnected to the Hinterland world, it’s also a perfect entry point to Albert’s work for new readers.

Check out our most anticipated titles of 2022 in every genre!

2022 is poised to become YA fans' best reading year ever.

Adults often wish they could revisit their own childhoods, but I find myself envying kids today when I survey all the great children’s books being published this year. These 15 titles are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wonders that will fill young readers’ shelves  in 2022.

Sing, Aretha, Sing! by Hanif Abdurraqib, illustrated by Ashley Evans
FSG | February 1

Hanif Abdurraqib is an acclaimed writer of poetry and cultural criticism for adults. He received a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2021, and his 2019 book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest, was long-listed for the National Book Award. Plus, his 2021 book, A Little Devil in America, was BookPage’s best nonfiction book of the year.

Picture books require a deep attention to language that’s similar to poetry, so it’s always exciting when writers with backgrounds in poetry branch out into writing picture books. Abdurraqib is well-versed in music and cultural history, so I can’t wait to read this picture book that will explore Aretha Franklin’s connections to the civil rights movement.

Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Disney-Hyperion | February 1

Every new book from Newbery Honor author Pam Muñoz Ryan is cause for excitement, but the ambitious premise of Solimar offers more reason than usual. Set in a fictional fantasy kingdom, the story offers an irresistible royal heroine and a fascinating depiction of magic, told in Ryan’s signature lush and lyrical prose.

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Putnam | February 8

In BookPage’s review of author-illustrator Deborah Marcero’s previous picture book, In a Jar, reviewer Jill Lorenzini wrote that it “does what all the best picture books do: It captivates, entertains and leaves you with a reminder of magic still shimmering around the edges.” In a Jar’s ending didn’t seem to hint at a sequel, so it’s delightfully surprising that Marcero has created another story about Llewellyn the bunny and the things he tries to keep bottled up.

Mina by Matthew Forsythe
Paula Wiseman | February 15

Matthew Forsythe’s picture book Pokko and the Drum was one of 2019’s most singularly charming and acclaimed titles. Readers who loved it will want to line up outside their library or bookstore so they can be the first to discover his next book, Mina. Fans of Pokko’s dry humor and intricate colored pencil illustrations will find Mina a worthy successor.

John’s Turn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kate Berube
Candlewick | March 1

Author Mac Barnett is one of the funniest, smartest and most prolific writers working in children’s literature today, and just about everything he publishes is worth a reader’s time. For John’s Turn, he’s paired with Kate Berube, an illustrator I love for her deceptively simple lines and masterful ability to convey complex emotions through facial expressions. It’s worth noting that Barnett is publishing two additional books this spring: a picture book illustrated by Marla Frazee called The Great Zapfino, out April 5 from Beach Lane, and a graphic novel adaptation of the “live cartoon” he developed during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown with illustrator Shawn Harris called The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, out May 10 from Katherine Tegen.

The Aquanaut by Dan Santat
Graphix | March 1

Dan Santat is best known as the Caldecott Medal-winning author-illustrator of 2014’s The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, as well as many other beloved picture books. However, I first became familiar with him as a graphic novelist via his hilarious, action-packed 2011 graphic novel, Sidekicks, the tale of a group of pets who belong to a superhero named Captain Amazing and who are, secretly, also superheroes. Santat packs so much imagination and heart into all of his books that I can’t wait to discover the story he’ll tell in this standalone graphic novel.

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill
Algonquin | March 8

Kelly Barnhill’s Newbery Medal-winning The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an exquisite fantasy tale—and she hasn’t published anything for young readers in the five long years since it came out! She’s kept busy in the meantime, releasing a book of short stories for adults in 2018 and putting the finishing touches on The Ogress and the Orphans. Whether you’ve been counting the months, weeks and days or are brand-new to Barnhill’s sharp, word-perfect prose and classical yet fresh storytelling, you’re going to love this standalone fantasy.

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Candlewick | March 29

Nina LaCour is an acclaimed and beloved young adult author whose 2018 novel, We Are Okay, won the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Medal for excellence in young adult literature—the YA equivalent of the Newbery Medal. There are very few picture books that depict families with two moms, so this book is notable for two reasons: It contributes sorely needed representation, and it’s LaCour’s first picture book! I’m also looking forward to the illustrations by talented up-and-comer Kaylani Juanita, whose work I’ve admired in picture books such as When Aidan Became a Brother and Magnificent Homespun Brown.

Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster | March 29

Every so often, an author-illustrator makes their debut with a book so fully formed that you read it and think, “Surely, this cannot be their first book!” So it was with Jessie Sima’s Not Quite Narwhal, which was published on Valentine’s Day in 2017 and has gone on to sell more than 250,000 copies. Sima has since published five more picture books, and this spring, they’ll publish this companion to their debut. Read enough picture books and you’ll realize how masterfully Sima walks the line between treacly and genuinely sweet. I can’t wait to read Perfectly Pegasus and let out an “awwwwww!” in spite of myself. 

A Duet for Home by Karina Yan Glaser
Clarion | April 5

Readers who love middle grade stories featuring big families have wholeheartedly embraced Karina Yan Glaser’s Vanderbeekers, who hit shelves in the fall of 2017 and have since starred in five heartwarming tales. I’m always intrigued when an author finds initial success with a series and then launches into either a standalone tale or a new series, because it gives them an opportunity to reveal new dimensions to their writing and storytelling. A Duet for Home is a standalone novel that seems poised to explore similar themes as in Glaser’s bestselling series, like family and what it means to find a home, but from a totally different lens.

I’d Like to Be the Window for a Wise Old Dog by Philip C. Stead
Doubleday | April 5

Speaking of remarkable debuts: Husband and wife team Philip C. and Erin E. Stead won the Caldecott Medal for their very first picture book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. The Steads are picture book creators whose every release is noteworthy, but I find the title and cover of this one to be irresistibly enticing. Fans as well as dog lovers should know that this is Philip’s first of two canine-themed books in 2022: June will see the publication of Every Dog in the Neighborhood, illustrated by fellow Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell. It’s enough to make you bark with joy.      

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone by Tae Keller
Random House | April 26

Middle grade author Tae Keller won the 2021 Newbery Medal for her second novel, How to Trap a Tiger. Winning an award as prestigious and influential as the Newbery or the Caldecott can change the entire trajectory of a creator’s career, and I’m endlessly fascinated to see what authors and illustrators choose to publish after winning such an award. Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone will blend contemporary middle school dynamics with a central mystery and a hint of science fiction.

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton
Holt | May 3

It is such a good time to be a middle grade reader who loves tales of magic and adventure. Case in point: YA author Dhonielle Clayton is making her middle grade debut with The Marvellers, a fantasy novel that will blow the concept of the magical school sky-high—literally. The Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors is an academy in the clouds that attracts magically gifted students from all over the world, and it’s the enchanting setting for what’s sure to be the summer’s must-read middle grade fantasy.   

The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Nancy Paulsen | May 10

Jacqueline Woodson is one of the most beloved and acclaimed writers working today, and her reach knows no bounds. She has written books for readers of every age, from picture books to novels for adults, and has served as our National Ambassador for Children’s Literature. In her picture books, Woodson’s prose is often paired with artwork by exciting, talented illustrators, from Rafael López to James Ransome to E.B. Lewis. Here, she’s working with Colombian illustrator Leo Espinosa, who received a Pura Belpré Honor for his work on Junot Diaz’s picture book, Islandborn. The World Belonged to Us promises to be a nostalgic ode to summer in New York City as only these two talented creators could tell it.

Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
HarperCollins | May 31

Phil Stamper has published three acclaimed, character-driven YA novels that offer complex depictions of LGBTQ+ teens. It’s thrilling to see him branch out into middle grade, particularly since middle grade books centering the experiences of LGBTQ+ kids are desperately needed. I also love that this book is going to be set in a small rural town. As YA author Preston Norton said in a recent Q&A with BookPage about his new book, Hopepunk, which takes place in rural Wyoming, “Queer stories are needed everywhere because queer people are everywhere.”

Check out our most anticipated titles of 2022 in every genre!

Take a glimpse at the wonders that will fill young readers' shelves in 2022.

As readers who enjoy young adult books look back on 2021, they’ll see that it was a year packed with truly amazing new books. Here are the 15 titles BookPage readers loved most.


15. The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim

This novel’s easy charm, strong mother-daughter relationship and romantic elements recall the best moments of “Gilmore Girls” or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

14. The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Joan He’s eco-science fiction romance asks, if we are the cause of humanity’s problems, how can we possibly be the solution?

13. The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

The Electric Kingdom is a mind-blowing blend of post-apocalyptic fantasy, science fiction and time-travel saga.

12. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Stacey Lee’s latest novel was prompted by a little-known fact: Of the eight Chinese passengers aboard the Titanic, six survived.

11. The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

In Rachel Griffin’s debut YA novel, witches have become key players in the global fight against climate change.

10. Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer

Longtime Enola Holmes fans as well as those who met Sherlock’s irrepressible younger sister via the hit film adaptation will devour this brisk, stylish mystery.

9. A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia

A Sitting in St. James is a mesmerizing multigenerational saga that brilliantly depicts Southern plantation life and systemic rot.

8. The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

This murder mystery set against the Gilded Age’s grand ambitions and gory underbelly is a gorgeous, visceral and mystical experience.

7. Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

When townsfolk go missing and Amity Falls starts to crumble, Ellerie must uncover what’s really haunting her home in Erin A. Craig’s haunting second novel.

6. The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Not since “Veronica Mars” have hardscrabble swagger, enormous grief and teenage noir been combined into such a satisfying piece of storytelling.

5. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Though it both shocks and thrills, in the end, what leaves you breathless is Firekeeper’s Daughter’s blazing heart.

4. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Princess Shiori must rely on her wit and determination to save her brothers and break her stepmother’s curse in this classical yet fresh fantasy.

3. Switch by A.S. King

Readers should settle into Switch‘s bizarre, provocative premise—a world where time has stopped—and follow A.S. King where she leads them.

2. Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Readers who love complex, mythology-based fantasies will quickly find in Lore a worthy new obsession.

1. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

This beautiful, brave work of historical fiction is as meticulously researched as it is full of raw, authentic emotion.


This list was compiled based on analytics from BookPage.com between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2021.

2021 was packed with great new YA books. Here are the 15 titles BookPage readers loved most.

It's difficult to think of a recent fictional family more beloved than Karina Yan Glaser's Vanderbeekers of Harlem, New York, who burst onto the children's literature scene in the fall of 2017 in Glaser's bighearted debut, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, and have since starred in three additional novels with a fourth, The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish, coming in September 2021. In the spring of 2022, Glaser will release her first standalone title, A Duet for Home, and we're thrilled to reveal its cover and an exclusive excerpt!

Here's the official synopsis of A Duet for Home from Glaser's publisher, Clarion Books:

It's June’s first day at Huey House, and as if losing her home weren’t enough, she also can’t bring her cherished viola inside. Before the accident last year, her dad saved tip money for a year to buy her viola, and she’s not about to give it up now. Tyrell has been at Huey House for three years and gives June a glimpse of the good things about living there: friendship, hot meals and a classical musician next door. As their friendship grows over a shared love of music, June and Tyrell confront a new housing policy that puts homeless families in danger. Can he and June work together to oppose the government, or will families be forced out of Huey House before they are ready?

Pick up A Duet for Home from your local bookstore or library on April 5, 2022. In the meantime, you can see the stunning cover, which was illustrated by Felicia Chen and designed by Celeste Knudsen, and read an exclusive excerpt from the book. Just scroll down!

Chapter One
June

Can bad luck follow a person forever? June Yang had always believed there was a cosmic distribution of fortune by which everyone had equal amounts of good and bad luck in their lives. But here June was, miles away from home, standing in front of a drab, used-to-be-white building with her viola strapped to her back and a black garbage bag next to her filled with everything she owned in the whole world. Her theory about luck must be wrong, because it seemed as if she had had enough bad luck for two lifetimes.

“What is this place?” asked Maybelle, her little sister.

June didn’t answer. She stared up at the building. The entrance had a crooked sign nailed over the entrance that said HUEY HOUSE.

Maybelle, who was 6 years old, wore multiple layers of clothes on that unseasonably warm September afternoon: several pairs of underwear, leggings under her jeans, two T-shirts, three long-sleeved shirts, a sweater, and her puffy jacket, a scarf, winter hat and sneakers with two pairs of socks. If she fell over, she might roll down the street and disappear forever. June admired Maybelle’s foresight, though. By wearing nearly every item of clothing she owned, she had freed up room in her garbage bag for the things she really could not live without: her books (all about dogs) and stuffed animals (also all dogs).

Maybelle really liked dogs.

“Is this like jail?” Maybelle continued, poking the bristly hairs from the bottom of her braid against her lips. “Did we do something really bad? When can we go home again?”

June put on her everything will be just fine! face. “Of course it’s not jail!” she said. “It’s an apartment building! We’re going to live here! It’s going to be great!” Then she reached up to grab the straps of her viola case, reassuring herself it was still there.

“It looks like a jail,” Maybelle said dubiously.

June gave the building a good, hard stare. Even though it appeared sturdy, it seemed . . . exhausted. There were lots of concrete repair patches on the bricks, and every single window was outfitted with black safety bars. The door was thick metal with a skinny rectangle of a window covered by a wire cage, just like the windows at school.

It did look like a jail, but June wasn’t going to tell Maybelle that.

She glanced at her mom, but June already knew she wouldn’t have anything to say. Mom had stopped talking about six months ago, right after the accident.

“June, where are—”

Before Maybelle could finish her sentence, the metal door of the building creaked open. A man—his head shaved, two gold earrings in the upper part of his ear and wearing a black T-shirt—emerged and stared down at them from his great height. He looked like a guy who belonged on one of those world wrestling shows her dad would never let them watch. Maybelle shrank behind her, and Mom stood there still and quiet, her face blank and unreadable. June referred to this as her marble-statue face. Once, on a school field trip, June had gone to a fancy museum and there was a whole room of carved marble heads, their unemotional faces giving nothing away.

“You guys coming in?” the man asked, jamming a thumb toward the building.

June fumbled in her jeans pocket for the piece of paper the lady at EAU, or the Emergency Assistance Unit, had given her. The marshal, who delivered the notice of eviction, had instructed them to go to the EAU when June told him they had nowhere else to go.

June had packed up all their stuff while Maybelle cried and Mom shut herself in her bedroom. After checking and double-checking directions to the EAU (June had had no idea what that was), she’d managed to pack their things into three black garbage bags. She told Maybelle that they were going to a new home but then immediately regretted it when her sister wanted to know all the details: Was it a house or an apartment? How many bedrooms did it have? Was the kitchen large?

That was last night. Other than a funeral home, the EAU was the most depressing place June had ever been. After filling out a stack of forms and spending the night in the EAU hallway, which they shared with three other families and buzzing fluorescent lights, June had been told by the lady in charge to come here. Staring at the building and hoping it wasn’t their new home, June crossed her fingers and begged the universe to have mercy on them.

The universe decided to ignore her, because the man said, “The EAU sent you, right? First-timers?”

June nodded, but her stomach felt as if it was filled with rocks.

“I’m Marcus,” he said. “Head of security here.”

Security? Maybelle moved even closer to June while Mom maintained her marble-statue face.

Marcus pointed to June’s viola case. “You can’t bring that inside. It’ll get confiscated in two seconds.”

June wrapped her fingers around the straps so tightly she could feel her knuckles getting numb. “It’s just a viola,” she said, her voice coming out squeaky.

“Exactly. Instruments aren’t allowed.”

June tried to look strong and confident, like her dad would have wanted her to be. “There’s no way I’m letting you take this away from me.” After all, the viola was the only thing Dad had left her. It was equal to over two years of his tip money. Even after so many months, June could picture him as if he were still with them. Dad making delivery after delivery through congested and uneven Chinatown streets, plastic bags of General Tso’s chicken and pork dumplings hanging from his handlebars. Dad riding his bike through punishing snowstorms because people didn’t want to leave their house to get food. Dad putting the tip money into the plastic bag marked Viola in the freezer at the end of every shift, his version of a savings account.

Maybelle, still hiding behind her, called out, “June’s the best 11-year-old viola player in the world.”

“That’s not true,” June said humbly, but then she wondered if Marcus thought she was going to play awful music that drove him bananas. She added, “But I’m not, like, a beginner or anything. No one had a problem with me practicing in our old apartment. And I play classical music. Mozart and Vivaldi and Bach.” She felt herself doing that nervous babble thing. “I can also play Telemann if you like him. He lived during Bach’s time . . .”

Marcus’s mouth stayed in a straight line, but she could tell he was softening.

After a long pause, he spoke. “I can hide it in my office. If you bring it inside and she sees you with it, she’ll throw it out.”

June swallowed. What kind of monster would throw away an instrument? And how could she be sure that Marcus wouldn’t run off with it?

“I promise to keep it safe,” he added simply.

June felt Maybelle’s skinny finger stick into her back. “You’re not really going to give it to him, are you?”

June never let anyone touch her instrument, ever. Maybelle had known that rule the moment June showed her the viola for the first time. But what choice did June have now? It was either trust a stranger with her viola or lose it forever.

She handed the viola case over, her skin prickling with a thousand needles of unease.


Author photo of Karina Yan Glaser courtesy of Corey Hayes. Excerpt from A Duet for Home © 2022 Karina Yan Glaser. Reprinted with permission of Clarion Books.

BookPage reveals the cover and an excerpt of Karina Yan Glaser's new standalone middle grade novel, A Duet for Home.

Dear readers, your favorite books of 2021 are an eclectic bunch, spanning family saga and satire, epic fantasy and memoir, taut thrillers and heartwarming historical fiction. What do they all have in common? Why, they’re great books, of course! After all, BookPage readers have excellent taste.


The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson book cover

1. The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

It takes tremendous talent to seamlessly combine social commentary with a powder keg of a plot, and Nancy Johnson accomplishes just that in her gripping debut novel, The Kindest Lie.

 

Win by Harlan Coben book cover

2. Win by Harlan Coben

Coben raises moral dilemmas readers will enjoy chewing on and pulse-pounding action scenes in this suspenseful and surprising novel.

 

What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins book cover

3. What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins

In JoAnne Tompkins’ debut novel, faith is simply part of life, a reality that is rarely so sensitively portrayed in fiction.

 

Blow Your House Down by Gina Frangello book cover

4. Blow Your House Down by Gina Frangello

There is pain in every divorce story, but not every divorce story can be related by a narrator as capable as Gina Frangello.

 

The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams

5. The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams

Two lexicographers employed by the same company and separated by a century are at the heart of this imaginative, funny, intriguing novel.

 

Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling book cover

6. Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling

An abandoned English manor house sets the stage for a cracking mystery involving a missing friend and a long-lost diamond necklace.

 

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

7. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

An intellectual and captivating work of satire, Black Buck serves as an instruction manual for Black and brown people working in white-dominated spaces.

 

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

8. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Grab a cup of tea and a scone, and curl up with Jennifer Ryan’s positively delicious novel about a cooking contest during World War II.

 

The Children's Train by Viola Ardone book cover

9. The Children's Train by Viola Ardone, translated by Clarissa Botsford

Viola Ardone’s novel will appeal to fans of Elena Ferrante, but it stands on its own as a fictionalized account of a complicated social experiment.

 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

10. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Shout it from the highest hills: This is a beautiful, brave story, and Lily is a heroine that readers will love.

 

 

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

11. Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Passionate and brilliantly written, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s novel shines a light on a part of history still unknown by far too many.

 

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

12. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Like a well-brewed potion, Sarah Penner’s first novel simply overwhelms with its delicate spell.

 

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

13. The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

The Witch’s Heart shifts the focus of a well-known myth to a secondary character with stunning and heartbreaking results.

 

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

14. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Maggie Shipstead offers a marvelous pastiche of adventure and emotion as she explores what it means (and what it takes) to live an unusual life.

 

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

15. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Like a wise and imaginative teacher, Kristin Hannah imbues past events with relevance and significance in her novel The Four Winds.

 

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry

16. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry

Pamela Terry’s novel is like a mashup of Fried Green Tomatoes and You Can’t Go Home Again with a sprinkling of William Faulkner.

 

Bad Habits by Amy Gentry

17. Bad Habits by Amy Gentry

Read Bad Habits for Gentry’s satirically surreal take on higher education, and for an antihero you’ll lose sleep over.

 

Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson book cover

18. Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Julia Claiborne Johnson paints a vivid picture of a hot Reno summer during which women wait to see whether their luck has run out or is just beginning.

 

American Baby by Gabrielle Glaser

19. American Baby by Gabrielle Glaser

Gabrielle Glaser’s extensive research into adoptions that took place between World War II and 1973 reads like a well-crafted, tension-filled novel.

 

Lore by Alexandra Bracken book cover

20. Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Readers who love complex, mythology-based fantasies will quickly find in Lore a worthy new obsession.

 

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho book cover

21. Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Sometimes a book makes you forget everything: the water boiling on the stove for tea, the lunch or dinner that has long since gone cold.


This list was based on analytics from BookPage.com between Jan. 1 and May 1, 2021.

BookPage readers’ favorite books of 2021 so far are an eclectic bunch, but they all have one thing in common.

Children’s librarian Lydia M. Sigwarth’s first picture book, Dear Librarian, is a warmhearted testament to the power of libraries to change lives. When Sigwarth was a child, her family moved from Colorado to Iowa, where they stayed with friends and relatives but didn’t have a permanent home of their own. During the day, her mother took Sigwarth and her siblings to the public library, where the children’s librarian, Deb Stephenson, not only made them feel welcome but also introduced Sigwarth to the magic of reading.

Dear Librarian was inspired by Sigwarth’s experience of reconnecting with Stephenson many years later during an episode of “This American Life.” Featuring bright, friendly watercolors by Argentine illustrator Romina Galotta, Dear Librarian is sure to become a storytime favorite.


How would you describe your book to someone who doesn’t know your story?
Dear Librarian is a love letter to libraries, librarians and everyone who has inspired a child by giving them a safe space to dream. It’s based on the true story of a difficult time in my childhood, but it’s full of magic and family and celebrates the power of belonging and the little things that make life sweet.

Tell us about Deb Stephenson. When you were young, who was she to you? What impact did she have on you as you grew up and became an adult?
Deb has been a figure of myth throughout my life. I call her “Wonder Woman in a cardigan.” I’ve spent my entire career with a sort of “WWDD” (What would Deb do?) motto guiding me. I always wondered if she would approve of who I became and if she would be proud of me. Within the librarian community, we’re held to very high standards, and one of the reasons I didn’t reach out to her for so long was because I was terrified that Deb would be disappointed in me.

I’ve been working in libraries for half my life. Libraries have always been my home.

What was it like for you to be able to thank someone who’d had such an impact on your life? Have you two stayed in touch?
Anyone who’s listened to the episode of “This American Life” featuring my story knows I shed a lot of happy tears that day. The feeling of being so understood by someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years was affirming and beautiful. I was afraid she wouldn’t remember me—and if she hadn’t, I would have totally understood! Meeting Deb and her reaction being so kind and supportive was more than I could have hoped for. The pandemic has made it hard to meet up in person, but Deb and I have had dinner a few times and stay in touch as much as we can.

Do you remember when you decided to become a children’s librarian? Did it feel like a decision or like an inevitability?
Honestly, I don’t remember a time when my life plan wasn’t to work in a library. (Well, either that or becoming a time-traveling detective/ballerina, but sadly the latter didn't end up being a viable option due to technological limitations.) I started volunteering at my library when I was 15, and I’m now 30, so I’ve been working in libraries for half my life. Libraries have always been my home.

What do you love about being a children’s librarian?
I love talking to library kids. They always have such amazing and unique ideas and thoughts about life. One of my favorite library kid stories is the little guy who very confidently and sincerely asked me for “The After Quill.” After I exhausted all my search capabilities looking for a book by that title, I finally discovered that he was looking for a SEQUEL, or in his words, “The prequel—but AFTER.”

How do your experiences and your story influence your everyday work with children at your library?
In my work, I try to remember that you can never know what battle another person is fighting—and they might not even know they’re fighting a battle at all. As a kid, I didn’t fully understand my family’s situation, and neither do the kids I work with. Since you can’t fully know anyone’s story but your own, I try to approach every family I meet with the same compassion and care I needed at that age.

Why tell your story as a picture book versus something for older readers or even for adults?
From the beginning I wanted Dear Librarian to be a picture book. I turned 6 the year we moved, so my memories are all from a child’s perspective. I’ve always been fascinated by books that talk about complicated subjects from the perspective of a child. In my book, I wanted to talk about something hard and even a bit taboo for kids in a way that they would understand and empathize with.

What was it like to work with the book’s illustrator, Romina Galotta? What is it like for someone to illustrate a piece of your life in a picture book?
Romina is an absolute star. I love her so much and am lucky to have formed a deep friendship with her while we worked on Dear Librarian together. We spent hours talking about my family and my childhood. She cared so deeply about making sure the personality of each member of my family was present on the page and that my siblings and parents were all happy with their representation. I had a blast going back over old family scrapbooks and sent her so many emails full of pictures. Seeing the illustrations take shape was captivating because, while they’re very true to life, they’ve also got Romina’s magic touch.

Do you have plans for more books?
I've got a couple things cooking but nothing to share just yet! I’ve worked with children my entire life, so I’ve been storing up stories for years. Coming from a big family means lots of family lore to pull from as well. I love books that make for fun storytime read alouds, so I’ve got a few of those in the works!


Author photo of Lydia M. Sigwarth courtesy of Krysthol Davis Photography. Childhood photo of Lydia M. Sigwarth courtesy of Lydia M. Sigwarth.

Children’s librarian Lydia M. Sigwarth’s first picture book, Dear Librarian, is a warmhearted testament to the power of libraries to change lives.

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