How to Become a Planet
Nicole Melleby (Algonquin)
Under her mother’s concerned watch at the family’s Jersey Shore pizzeria, 12-year-old Pluto begins a tentative journey navigating her mental health in this compassionate novel with a strong sense of place.
Nidhi Chanani (First Second)
Pashmina creator Chanani's magical graphic novel features a time travel-enabling jukebox, which changes Shaheen's life when it sends her and a cousin to different eras of music history in search of Shaheen's missing father.
Last Gate of the Emperor (Last Gate of the Emperor #1)
Kwame Mbalia and Joel Makonnen (Scholastic Press)
Inspired by the history and lore of Ethiopia, Mbalia and Ethiopian prince Makonnen craft a cinematic, Afrofuturist tale about a boy who finds community and glory in an augmented-reality game.
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Sisters of the Neversea
Cynthia Leitich Smith (Heartdrum)
Smith’s Peter Pan reboot centers stepsisters in a Creek and British family, offering an intelligent, thoroughly modern-lensed examination of the classic.
Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul, illus. by Rachelle Baker (Little, Brown)
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Reynolds first offered an edifying YA remix of Kendi’s National Book Award–winning adult title; this adaptation makes their engaging American history of racism and anti-racism accessible for the middle grade crowd.