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The Indie Next List (formerly Book Sense Picks) for children is a seasonal selection of eclectic new books chosen by independent booksellers.

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Winter 2008/2009

— Fall 2008

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Fall 2007

— Summer 2007

Favorites of 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten

1. Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins)
“When Samatha Kingston dies a tragically early death, she is forced to relive the day she dies seven times. Each day, something different happens, and Sam learns more about herself and her friends than she ever could have imagined. Filled with self-doubt, new experiences, and heartache, Before I Fall takes the reader on a spectacular journey as Sam accepts her fate with grace and power.”
—Sarah Driban, Hockessin Book Shelf, Hockessin, DE



2. A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home
Henry Cole (Katherine Tegen Books)
“A Nest for Celeste has all the charm of a Beatrix Potter tale, complete with lively illustrations and an engaging story about a resourceful mouse who lives on a plantation where John James Audubon comes to work one summer. Celeste bonds with his assistant, Joseph, and meets other friends along the way in her search for the perfect home. A great read for any naturalist, young or old!”
—Debra Horan, Booklovers' Gourmet, Webster, MA

 

3. The Sky Is Everywhere
Jandy Nelson (Dial)
“Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker is heartbroken over her sister's death, and her incredible grief will touch anyone who picks up The Sky is Everywhere. However, Jandy Nelson succeeds in making this heart-wrenching tale uplifting and humorous through her great characters. You'll watch Lennie grow up, as well as out of the shadow her sister left behind, and you'll enjoy this novel every step of the way.”
—Nikole Bonacorsi, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY

 

4. Hex Hall Book One
Rachel Hawkins (Hyperion Books for Children)
“Hex Hall is a fun book about a young witch sent to boarding school who now has to figure out where she fits in and exactly whom to trust. Friends are not always who you think they are.”
—Vicky Burkholder, Aaron's Books, Lititz, PA

 

5. Bedtime for Mommy
Amy Krouse Rosenthal, LeUyen Pham (illus.) (Bloomsbury USA Children's Books) “Bedtime for Mommy is a cute story about a little girl putting her parents to bed as they wiggle around and beg for 'just five more minutes!' This fun story is enhanced by the colorful pictures.”
—Lauren Peugh, Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, La Verne, CA

6. Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't)
Barbara Bottner, Michael Emberley (illus.) (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“One very reluctant young reader resists all of a firecracker librarian's many attempts to push the joy of books and reading -- until the day one special story comes along and changes everything, igniting a blissful enthusiasm that will last a lifetime.”
—Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

7. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books)
“In Fancisco X. Stork's latest, we meet Pancho, a quiet young man who has lost his family and is full of anger; D.Q., a brave young cancer patient who is facing his disease by writing the 'Death Warrior Manifesto'; and Marisol, the girl that they both love. Stork has the ability to write deeply interesting characters and keep the plot moving at a rapid pace.”
—Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY

8. The Sixty-Eight Rooms
Marianne Malone, Greg Call (illus.) (Random House Books for Young Readers)
“When Jack and Ruthie find themselves heading to the Thorne Miniature Rooms in the Children's Galleries of the Chicago Art Institute for a class field trip, little do they know they will discover the key to taking them back in time and opening the doors to rooms that hold the secrets of history. This is a story that will sweep young readers into the magic of an exciting art and history mystery adventure.”
—Carol Hicks, Bookshelf At Hooligan Rocks, Truckee, CA

9.The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba
Margarita Engle (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
“Why does a woman born to wealth and privilege give it up to fight for women's rights? Readers will find part of the answer in Margarita Engle's new novel, The Firefly Letters. Written in poetry, the experiences of Fredrika Bremer, Cecilia the slave, and Elena the plantation owner's daughter transport the reader to the early days of the Suffragette's movement in the 1850s.”
—Laura DeLaney, The Rediscovered Bookshop, Boise, ID

10. Out of My Mind
Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum)
“This is the touching story of a gifted child,trapped in a barely working body. Melody, age 11, struggles to communicate with a world of children and adults most of whom can't see beyond her physical limitations. A provocative change of pace for Sharon Draper.”
—Peter Moore, The Blue Marble, Fort Thomas, KY

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Ages 4 to 8

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't)
by Barbara Bottner, Michael Emberley (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“One very reluctant young reader resists all of a firecracker librarian's many attempts to push the joy of books and reading -- until the day one special story comes along and changes everything, igniting a blissful enthusiasm that will last a lifetime.”
—Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

Animal Crackers Fly the Coop
Kevin O'Malley (Walker Books for Young Readers)
“Animal Crackers Fly the Coop is entertaining from start to finish, as it offers a great twist on a traditional tale replete with puns and one-liners and enhanced throughout with bold, dynamic illustration.”
—Camille DeBoer, Pooh's Corner, Grand Rapids, MI

The World Is Your Oyster
Tamara James (Simply Read Books)
“Here's the perfect book for graduation, moving on, and just for fun. Animal idioms become the words for inspiration in this playful book that lets both kids and adults will find great new ways to express themselves. (This is also the perfect book for educators looking to teach as well as entertain.)”
—Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Saving the Baghdad Zoo: A True Story of Hope and Heroes
Kelly Milner Halls and Major William Sumner (Greenwillow Books)
“This account of how U.S. Army Major William Sumner worked to save animals in the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraq war is a wonderful story, great for story time!”
—Diana Portwood, Bob's Beach Books, Lincoln City, OR

The Easter Egg
Jan Brett (Putnam Juvenile)
“At last a reasonable explanation of where the Easter Rabbit gets all the beautiful eggs -- a decorating contest! This story of a little, wild bunny who wants to win, but who decides to do what is right is a new seasonal book that we'll see every spring for many years!”
—Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN

The Heart and the Bottle
Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
“Oliver Jeffers is known for his unique perspective in both his story and illustrations, and The Heart and the Bottle is no exception. While some (young and old) may not fully comprehend the story, many will put the book down feeling as though they have just read something profound. This is one to absorb like a poem, let sink in like a fable, and treasure like classic.”
—Angela K Sherrill, 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL

Sweet Dreams Lullaby
Betsy E. Snyder (Random House Books for Young Readers)
“The sun is setting, so it's time for a little bunny to snuggle up and prepare for bedtime! As his mama sings him a lullaby, our little bunny friend is taken on a vivid tour of all the wonderful things he will dream about when he is asleep. Betsy Snyder's lullaby rhyme is gentle and soothing, perfect for coaxing active toddlers to sleep, and her artwork is fantastic. This is the perfect book to read together when it's time to tuck your child in!”
—Megan Graves, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Cupcake
Charise Mericle Harper (Hyperion Books for Children)
“Cupcake is the story of a vanilla cupcake who doesn't feel very special next to all the other cupcakes who have fancy frosting and sprinkles. Then he meets a plain candle who doesn't feel very special either. Together they team up to feel better about themselves. The story is cute and the illustrations are delicious!”
—Lauren Peugh, Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, La Verne, CA

I Am Going!
Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for Children)
“Gerald doesn't want Piggie to go. Who will he play ping pong with? Who will he wear silly hats with? And, most of all, who will he wear silly hats with while playing ping pong?! I Am Going is simple while having a funny and interesting story line to follow.”
—Maryam Yachnes, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Mama Miti
Donna Jo Napoli, Kadir Nelson (Illus.) (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)
“Donna Jo Napoli tells the inspiring story of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai and her efforts to revive her country of Kenya. Kadir Nelson's collage illustrations convey the story beautifully.”
—Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

All Things Bright and Beautiful
Cecil Alexander, Ashley Bryan (Illus.) (Atheneum)
“Featuring Ashley Bryan's artwork is a colorful and vibrant adaptation of Cecil Alexander's famous hymn.”
—, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

So Many Days
Allison McGhee, Taeeun Yoo (Illus.) (Atheneum)
“This wonderful story about the choices children features beautiful illustrations from Taeeun Yoo and Alison McGhee's endearing writing. As So Many Days says, 'Words will open your heart.'”
—Rebecca Dowling, Hockessin Book Shelf, Hockessin, DE

My Heart is Like a Zoo
Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books)
“Feelings are characterized by animals created entirely of hearts in this energetic picture book. My Heart is Like a Zoo is a refreshing Valentine's Day choice and a must-have for school libraries.”
—Camille DeBoer, Pooh's Corner, Grand Rapids, MI

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
Marilyn Singer (Dutton Juvenile)
“Each two-page spread of Mirror Mirror features poetry created by word reversal, all accompanied by beautiful illustrations. This is absolutely the most inventive children's book that I have seen in ages, and a wonderful way to make poetry interesting to everyone!”
—Andi Allen, Piece of Mind Books, Edwardsville, IL

Big Red Lollipop
Rukshana Khan, Sophie Blackall (illus.) (Viking Juvenile)
“Sophie Blackall's illustrations offer wonderful, patterned textiles throughout the pages of this delightful story. And, it's exciting to have Rukashana Khan's story, featuring characters of Pakistani heritage and a tale with universal appeal. Sibling rivalry, friendship and family dynamics make this one a great gift for sisters!”
—Angela K Sherrill, 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL

Lawn to Lawn
Dan Yaccarino (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“Of course lawn ornaments come to life and tell stories. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Dan Yaccarino has created a brilliant tale.”
—Rebecca Dowling, Hockessin Book Shelf, Hockessin, DE

My Garden
Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books)
“Everlasting flowers, chocolate rabbits, and spectacular garden surprises make this book as welcome as the season it portrays. Kevin Henkes has created brilliant illustrations. We are proud to recommend it.”
—Camille DeBoer, Pooh's Corner, Grand Rapids, MI

Born Yesterday: The Diary of a Young Journalist
James Solheim (Philomel)
“An aspiring journalist, who happens to be a newborn, writes an expose on what it means to navigate life, how to get the attention of your big sister, and all things baby. Even if you child asks to hear this story every night, Born Yesterday is so laugh-out-loud funny that you won't mind.”
—Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

Cloud Tea Monkeys
Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, Juan Wijngaard (Candlewick)
“Steeped in the lore of Himalayan tea picking cultures, this new picture book about a young girl's efforts to help her sick mother is a gem. Readers will love the length, richness, and illustrations, which children will want to revisit often.”
—Angela K Sherrill, 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL

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Ages 9 to 12

A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home
by Henry Cole (Katherine Tegen Books)
“A Nest for Celeste has all the charm of a Beatrix Potter tale, complete with lively illustrations and an engaging story about a resourceful mouse who lives on a plantation where John James Audubon comes to work one summer. Celeste bonds with his assistant and meets other friends along the way in her search for the perfect home. A great read for any naturalist, young or old!”
—Debra Horan, Booklovers' Gourmet, Webster, MA

The Year of Goodbyes: A true story of friendship, family and farewells
Debbie Levy (Hyperion Books for Children)
“Debbie Levy takes full advantage of the power of words, intertwining her lyrical writing style with entries from her mother's journal and autograph album. This book chronicles her mother's last year in 1938 Nazi Germany before departing to the United States. This is a can't-put-down book that will spark discussions among readers both young and old.”
—Anna Weddington, Pomegranate Books, Wilmington, NC

Weird But True: 300 Outrageous Facts
National Geographic (National Geographic Children's Books)
“We love any book that appeals to such a broad range of readers. With National Geographic-standard graphics and photographs, this book appeals to every one of us who always read just the captions.”
—Betsy Goree, The Book Shelf, Tryon, NC

Big Nate in a Class by Himself
Lincoln Peirce (HarperCollins)
“Middle school detention has never been so hilarious as when sixth grader Nate Wright makes one day at school a day to go down in infamy! Lincoln Peirce has taken his comic strip hero Big Nate to new heights in his first book with added graphic illustrations, that just add to the laugh-out-loud fun.”
—Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Leaving Gee's Bend
Irene Latham (Putnam Juvenile)
“Leaving Gee's Bend' is a fascinating story about Ludelphia Bennett, a 10-year-old daughter of a sharecropper set in 1930s Gee's Bend, Alabama. A great choice for middle readers, Leaving Gee's Bend will leave you cheering for young Ludelphia, and loving everything she loves about family, life, and the courage to persevere.”
—Linda Brown, Milestone Books, Inc., Vestavia Hills, AL

A Whole Nother Story
Dr. Cuthbert Soup (Bloomsbury)
“A Whole Nother Story will keep you smiling, laughing, and totally on your toes from cover to cover. The Cheeseman family will take you in and drag you along on their unfortunate adventures, which include; sock puppets, chimps, time-travel machines, and hairless psych dogs. My unsolicited advice: Read it in one sitting, laugh and beg for the next book in the series”
—Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Drizzle
K.D. Van Cleve (Dial)
“Polly Peabody lives on a magical rhubarb farm where diamonds grow and rain falls on a schedule. But when the rain stops falling for the first time in decades, the plants begin to wither and the tourists stop coming. Polly's belief in the magic has always been unwavering - is it enough to bring the farm (and her shaken family) back to life? The only thing more magical than the rhubarb farm itself? This book.”
—Melissa Posten, Pudd'nhead Books, Webster Groves, MO

The Pickle King
Rebecca Promitzer (The Chicken House)
“The Pickle King is an interestingly dark and very, very wet story -- featuring ghosts and very creepy bad guys -- in which unlikely friendships are formed, mysteries are solved and relationships bloom!”
—Cinda Meister, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA

After Ever After
Jordan Sonnenblick (Scholastic Press)
“After Ever After is Jordan Sonnenblick's best book yet. He is spot on with his adolescent male characters. You don't have to read Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie to enjoy this sequel, but you'll get more out of both books if you do. Jeffrey has survived cancer, but not without physical damage from treatment. He deals with incredible pressure, standardized tests, friendships, a first crush, and more with determination, a dash of self-pity, and lots of humor.”
—Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

Raymond & Graham: Bases Loaded
Mike Knudson, Stacy Curtis (illus.) (Viking Juvenile)
“Fourth graders Raymond and Graham are back, and their dealings with school work, teachers, and friends (including girls -- yikes!) are true to life and very funny. Don't miss the latest in this hysterical series!”
—Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll, Iassen Ghiuselev (illus.) (Simply Read Books)
“This illustration-driven edition of the classic tale appeals to booklovers of all ages. The perspective and design provide a satisfying experience for both the reader and the collector.”
—Camille DeBoer, Pooh's Corner, Grand Rapids, MI

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems
Lee Bennett Hopkins, David Diaz (Illus.) (Margaret K. McElderry)
“Sharing the Seasons is another worthy collection from the genre's best anthologist. This selection is thematically arranged around the four seasons with striking illustrations by Caldecott Medalist David Diaz.”
—Camille DeBoer, Pooh's Corner, Grand Rapids, MI

Finally
Wendy Mass (Scholastic Press)
“Rory Swenson has been waiting her whole life to turn 12. Finally, she'll be allowed to stay up late, go shopping with friends, and experiment with makeup. As all Rory's plans go hilariously awry, this comic romp reminds us to be careful what we wish for.”
—Erin Cooper, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

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Teen Readers

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
“In Francisco X. Stork's latest, we meet Pancho, a quiet young man who has lost his family and is full of anger; D.Q., a brave young cancer patient who is facing his disease by writing the 'Death Warrior Manifesto'; and Marisol, the girl that they both love. Stork has the ability to write deeply interesting characters and keep the plot moving at a rapid pace.”
—Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY

Darklight
Lesley Livingston (HarperTeen)
“If you enjoyed Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange, as I did, you will fall on this sequel with delight, savoring another chance to travel alongside these characters and delve further into their history. All those scenes in the theater still mark it as different, and Sonny and Kelly's scenes together are as enchanting as ever. I fell into the magic of this world and couldn't get my hands on the sequel quickly enough.”
—Angela Mann, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

Hearts at Stake: The Drake Chronicles
Alyxandra Harvey (Walker Books for Young Readers)
“Hearts at Stake is not just another teen Vampire book -- it's packed with action, snarky dialogue, and romantic endeavors, which set this book apart from everything else. It's great fun, and I couldn't put it down.”
—Summer Moser, Summer's Stories, Kendallville, IN

Wish: A Novel
Alexandra Bullen (Point)
“Olivia is the new girl in a new city who wants to fit in, and When a magical dress shows up on her doorstep she has no idea how her life is about to change. I enjoyed that the magical powers weren't over the top and made the story very delightful and fun to read all the way to the last page.”
—Sarah Galvin, The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, NY

The Body Finder
Kimberly Derting (HarperCollins)
“The Body Finder is the perfect combination of an intense, angsty high school romance and a cleverly written murder mystery. Our heroine finds that her ability to uncover dead bodies can be extremely hazardous, especially while trying to uncover her true feelings for her best friend. You won't want to put this down until you see how it ends!”
—Lori-Jo Scott, Island Bookstore, Kitty Hawk, NC

Sweet, Hereafter: The Final Book in the Heaven Triology
Angela Johnson (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
“Award-winning author Angela Johnson has completed the last book in the Heaven trilogy. Shoogy has left home, not sure why and not sure where to go,until she meets Curtis. Curtis is living in a cabin in the woods knowing where he does not want to be -- Iraq. He's been there and does not want to go back. Sweet, Hereafter is a short novel with a powerful statement about love, friendship, teenage angst, and the costs of war.”
—Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Split
Swati Avasthi (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“At age 16, Jace Witherspoon has finally fled from the home of his violently abusive father. With only the return address on an envelope slipped to him by his mother as he left, he travels to find safe haven with his long-vanished older brother. Split is the story of their prickly and unexpected reunion, and the two brothers' struggles to reconcile the legacy of their damaged upbringing with the possibility of a new life. Dynamically told through Jace's voice, this story is relentless and captivating.”
—Karen McCollom, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT

Numbers
Rachel Ward (The Chicken House)
“Rachel Ward has written a chilling tale in the story of Jem, a girl who can see the date of a person's death, and Spider, a fellow outcast. Their desperate race against time begins when Jem foresees a massive disaster in London. Numbers is A moving story of friendship and the price of responsibility.”
—Kate Glasgow, Mitchell Books, Fort Wayne, IN

Tangled
Carolyn Mackler (HarperTeen)
“Tangled is a story of four teenagers and how their lives intertwine. One learns to make bold decisions, another learns to accept consequences for their actions, and another learns that love isn't as it seems. An excellent read by a talented author.”
—Maggie Carr, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

Crogan's March: The Crogan Adventures
Chris Schweizer (Oni Press)
“In Crogan's March, we return to the saga of the members of the fictional Crogan's family tree with French Legionnaire Peter Crogan in another by the seat of the reader's pants adventure. These fact-based graphic novels are full of life- and, ultimately, history-altering decisions to be made, and Schweizer has created characters to stand up against any others in traditional, classic fiction for young people.”
—Betsy Goree, The Book Shelf, Tryon, NC

The Heart Is Not a Size
Beth Kephart (HarperTeen)
“Beth Kephart has written another must-read book for teens in this story of a group of teens who travel to a Mexican border town to work to help the residents there. She isn't afraid to tackle such big issues as parental pressure, anorexia, and death, and she does it all with compassion, honesty, and beautiful writing.”
—Mandy King, The Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

The Secret Year
Jennifer Hubbard (Viking Juvenile)
“For a whole year, before her death, Julia and Colt were seeing each other secretly, Friday nights under the bridge by the river where Colt lives. Now that she's gone, he has to go on as if she didn't mean anything to him after all. The only person who knows is Michael, Julia's brother, who gives Colt a notebook full of letters from Julia that he'd never seen before, and through which he relives his past year with Julia. With its many plot points, The Secret Year how your life can be about someone nobody knew you knew.”
—Maryam Yachnes, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA