Select Category:

> Top Ten

> Ages 4 t0 8

> Ages 9 to 12

> Teen Readers

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

Winter 2013

Fall 2012

Summer 2012

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

Winter 2011

Fall 2010

Summer 2010

Spring 2010

Winter 2009

Fall 2009

Summer 2009

Spring 2009

Winter 2008/2009

— Fall 2008

— Spring 2008

Fall 2007

— Summer 2007

Favorites of 2007











































































































































































Top Ten

1. Radiant Darkness
by Emily Whitman (Greenwillow)
“Emily Whitman has written an inventive retelling of the myth of Persephone's kidnapping by Hades and her stay in the Underworld. In this version, she is a willing participant in the seduction, but then has to establish herself as an equal in her relationship with Hades. Are there modern overtones? Yes, and they help make Radiant Darkness a very good story.”
—Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI


2. Along for the Ride
by Sarah Dessen (Viking Childrens Books)
“When Auden suddenly decides to spend the summer before college with her father, stepmother, and new baby stepsister, her whole life starts changing. When she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac/loner, it changes even more, as Auden starts questioning who she really is -- and who she wants to be. Sarah Dessen tells a great story, with characters that you cheer for.”
—Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

3. The Grey Ghost
by Julie Hahnke, Marcia Atkinson Christensen (illus.) (Publishing Works) “Angus finds himself the only survivor of Clan Macnab in this new fantasy series. Helped by a goshawk, pine marten, and luna moth, Angus begins an exciting journey through 16th-century Scotland to end the rampage of his homeland. I was hooked from beginning to end.”
—Mary McHale, Fox Tale Books, New Durham, NH

4. Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem
by Mac Barnett, Adam Rex (illus.) (Hyperion Books for Children) “When Billy doesn't clean his room yet again, his mom finally makes good on her threat and buys him a pet ... whale! With laugh-out-loud moments on every page, kids are sure to want to read this one again and again.”
—Shannon Grant, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

5. Bloodhound: The Legend of Beka Cooper #2
by Tamora Pierce (Random House Books for Young Readers)
“Beka Cooper returns as a full member of the Provost's Guard in this thrilling follow-up to Terrier. This time, Beka and Goodwin are headed to Port Caynn, where a counterfeiter is endangering the entire realm. And Kel finds that her heart is in as much danger as her country, as her new beau may well be part of the gang she is seeking.”
—Sara Glassman, Little Professor Book Center, Homewood, AL

6. The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams (St. Martins Griffin)
“Carol Lynch Williams has written the suspenseful, realistic story of a 13-yearold girl in an isolated polygamous community whose enforced engagement to her 60-year-old uncle reveals the truth about the religious leadership's corrupt motives and controlling, misogynistic underpinnings. Williams has done an amazing job of bringing some ugly truths to light, while celebrating the resilience, love, and spirit of the young women who survive the experience.”
—Elizabeth Bluemle, Flying Pig Boooks, Shelburne, VT

7. Because I Am Furniture
by Thalia Chaltas (Viking Childrens Books)
“This beautifully crafted novel in verse tells the story of 9th-grader Anke, whose brother and sister bear the brunt of their father's abuse while she is completely ignored. Thalia Chaltas deals with this difficult topic both delicately and honestly.”
—Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY

8. Operation Redwood
by S. Terrell French (Amulet Books)
“When city boy Julian Carter-Li discovers that his uncle's corporation is planning to cut down an ancient redwood forest for lumber, he links up with Robin, whose conservation-minded family runs a small organic farm, to save the forest. The book is a rich source for discussion -- a worthy choice for school or pleasure reading.”
—Vicky Uminowicz, Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

9. Also Known As Harper
by Ann Haywood Leal (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
“This achingly realistic and timely novel explores what happens when a family can't make ends meet. A fresh and original character, Harper Lee Morgan, keeps writing poems and taking care of her little brother while Mama works. This is a lovely story, guaranteed to evoke both smiles and tears.”
—Joanne R. Fritz, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA

10. Duck! Rabbit!
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle Books) “I love Duck! Rabbit! -- a great book about looking at things from different perspectives, both of them correct!”
—Susan Richmond, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ages 4 to 8

Animals Up Close
by Igor Siwanowicz (DK Publishing)
“Animals Up Close is a very cool book, full of absolutely startling photographs of the world's cutest, creepiest, and most fascinating animals. It also offers interesting tidbits and statistics on creatures you've heard of, as well as those you haven't. A great way to acquaint yourself with the unseen world around you.”
—Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

Billy and Milly, Short and Silly
by Eve B. Feldman, Tuesday Mourning (illus.) (Putnam Juvenile)
“It would seem impossible to tell an entertaining story in only three or four words, but with the help of some very clever illustrations Feldman has written 13 easy-reading gems. These extremely short stories will be exciting for emerging readers, satisfying for struggling readers, and fun for everyone.”
—Ellen Davis, Dragonwings Bookstore, Waupaca, WI

Blueberry Girl
by Neil Gaiman, Charles Vess (illus.) (HarperCollins)
“Neil Gaiman has written a beautiful, multicultural celebration. Three wise women (a maiden, mother, and crone) watch as an infant becomes a girl who transforms into a woman of strength and character. Warm and wonderful illustrations perfectly capture the text.”
—Ellen Richmond, Children's Book Cellar, Waterville, ME

Dinosaur Woods: Can Seven Clever Critters Save Their Forest Home?
by George McClements (Beach Lane Books)
“Clever torn-paper collages with found elements relay this sweet tale of friendship, teamwork, and endangered animals. Kids will roar for the clever ending.”
—Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

I Need My Monster
by Amanda Noll, Howard McWilliam (illus.) (Flashlight Press)
“Monster Gabe has gone fishing and his human, Ethan, doesn't know how he will fall asleep without his monster under his bed. This beautifully illustrated story will have youngsters and their parents laughing out loud.”
—Mary McHale, Fox Tale Books, New Durham, NH

It's Useful to Have a Duck
by Isol (Groundwood Books)
“A boy lists the many things he can do with a duck: use him as a hat, a nose, a whistle, or a straw. It's a sweet, funny, straightforward list ... until you flip the book over and discover that It's Useful to Have a Boy. Now, it's the duck's turn to report on everything the boy mentioned, but with a wonderful, ducky spin. This offbeat book, with funny illustrations by Argentine author/illustrator Isol, gets you thinking about seeing what seems to be the same thing from quite different points of view.”
—Jackie Lotsberg, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN

Just How Long Can A Long String Be?!
by Keith Baker (Arthur A. Levine Books)
“Ant is stopped short when he encounters a huge ball of string. As he starts to unravel the ball of string, he asks his friend Bird, 'Just how long can a long string be?' Wise Bird says 'it depends,' and proceeds to show Ant just how true that is. With colorful and cheerful illustrations, Baker illustrates a great lesson in taking a big problem and breaking it down to a manageable size.”
—Trish Brown, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Life-Size Zoo: From Tiny Rodents to Gigantic Elephants, An Actual Size Animal Encyclopedia
by Teruyuki Komiya (Seven Footer Press)
“Imagine opening a book and coming face to face with a life-size panda head! Highlighting this book for animal lovers of all ages are breathtaking pictures of endangered -- and exotic -- animals, along with many familiar species. Each photo is accompanied by facts about habitat, habits, and other distinguishing traits.”
—Bev Denor, LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, WI

Llama Llama Misses Mama
by Anna Dewdney (Viking Childrens Books)
“It's Little Llama's first day at school. What could be harder than feeling all alone and missing your mama? As always, Dewdney's rhymes flow effortlessly, with a pacing and repetition that are sure to capture the attention of little llamas everywhere. This is my favorite new read-aloud title.”
—Lauren, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

Martha Doesn't Say Sorry
by Samantha Berger, Bruce Whatley (illus.) (Little, Brown Young Readers)
“For every mother who worries that her child might not pass the Emily Post test, Martha is the perfect little otter. Perfect except when she won't say 'I'm sorry.' The delightful illustrations enhance the enjoyment that everyone will share by reading this over and over again.”
—Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books)
“Brian Floca skillfully tells the historic story of Apollo 11 with details in word and watercolor that will capture the imaginations of the youngest readers. A stand-out!”
—Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life
by Kate Feiffer, Diane Goode (illus.) (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)
“This mother seems perfect to everyone -- she bakes, she's thoughtful, she smells nice -- but to her daughter she's too helpful and involved. She's trying to ruin her life! Feiffer and Goode do a great job of conveying the friction (and love!) between children and parents in this funny, imaginative book.”
—Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA

My Parents Are Divorced, My Elbows Have Nicknames, and Other Facts About Me
by Bill Cochran, Steve Bjorkman (illus.) (HarperCollins)
“This is the best book for kids about the subject of divorce I have seen in some time. Relayed in a matter-of-fact yet funny tone, it's a story told from a kid's perspective. Lot's of things may make him 'weird' (say, that he has named his elbows), but his parents' divorce is not one of them.”
—Cinda Meister, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA

One World, One Day
by Barbara Kerley (National Geographic Children's Books)
“Barbara Kerley's One World, One Day is full of gorgeous photographs, which make clear to our children that we are a global family.”
—Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

Silly Street
by Jeff Foxworthy, Steve Bjorkman (illus.) (HarperCollins)
“Another great collection of humorous poetry from Jeff Foxworthy, with illustrations by Steve Bjorkman. This one is fun and hilarious, and kids will love it.”
—Kelly Peroni, High Sierra Books, Portola, CA

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Scott Magoon (illus.) (Hyperion Books for Children)
“A delightful book that uses simple metaphors and lovely illustrations to bring out the uniqueness and importance of every human being. Children -- and adults -- are sure to love and appreciate it!”
—Gayle Wingerter, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA

The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown (Little, Brown Young Readers)
“Peter Brown gives us the story of a boy who sets out to brighten his dingy bit of the world through the magical, transformative act of gardening. Beautiful and offbeat, readers will certainly fall in love with this irresistibly curious corner of the world.”
—Meghan Dietsche Goel, Book People, Austin, TX

The Enemy: A Book About Peace
by Davide Cali, Serge Bloch (illus.) (Schwartz & Wade)
“Do you see the two holes in the ground? Do you see the two soldiers in these holes? Do you see the manuals they've been given about The Enemy? What happens when one soldier discovers that he is also The Enemy? The soldiers have been told that there is only one way to end the war, but is that true?”
—Katie Capaldi, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

The Hermit Crab
by Carter Goodrich (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
“A hermit crab makes his home in a broken action figure and learns that even a shy animal can become a hero in the right situation.”
—Katherine Fergason, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ages 9 to 12

Anything but Typical
by Nora Raleigh Baskin (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
“Anything But Typical is the story of a 6th-grade autistic boy's life, as told from inside his own head. While writing stories on the Web, Jason begins to interact online with a 'neurotypical' girl. All is fine until he wins a writing contest and a scholarship to a writing camp, where his friend is waiting to meet him, face to face. I loved seeing the world as it appears from Jason's perspective.”
—Rene Kirkpatrick, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Dodger for President
by Jordan Sonnenblick (Feiwel & Friends)
“Dodger (and his Bottomless Well of Treats) is back for another hilarious adventure! His quest to get Willie elected as 5th-grade class president includes posters, speeches, junk food, and ... a flying carpet! This one is laugh-out-loud funny. Long live Dodger!”
—Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road
by Kate Klise, M. Sarah Klise (illus.) (Harcourt Children's Books)
“When washed-up children's book writer I.B. Grumply rents out an old haunted house to finish his very overdue last book, he's shocked to discover he's not the only inhabitant. Told completely in letters, newspaper clippings, drawings, and other forms of correspondence, this is a wholly original and thoroughly enjoyable tale.”
—Shannon Grant, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
“Ivy June has spent her entire life in an isolated area of the Appalachian Mountains, while Catherine has never known anything but her life in the city. When the two girls are brought together by a student exchange program, their worlds are changed forever. From Newbery Award-winning author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor comes a beautiful, captivating story of an unlikely friendship.”
—Megan Graves, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Highway Robbery
by Kate Thompson, Robert Dress (illus.) (Greenwillow)
“The narrator, a barefoot street urchin, might be telling the truth about why he has a black mare to sell, but he gives us plenty of reasons to wonder. Did he once live in a house, have shoes, and eat regular meals? Did a mysterious horseman ride up one day, dismount, hand him the reins and offer to pay him to watch the horse awhile? Did soldiers come looking for the famous highwayman Dick Turpin, and why were they so certain that the horse was Dick Turpin's famous mare, Black Bess? The book will make a great discussion vehicle as readers consider the truth of the matter.”
—Carol B. Chittenden, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
by James Rollins (HarperCollins)
“Taking cues from his adult adventure novels, James Rollins has created a must-read. Action fans especially will love this adventure-packed book, which includes time travel, dinosaurs, lost tribes, and one very smart budding archeologist.”
—Laura Lucy, White Birch Books, North Conway, NH

Killer Pizza
by Greg Taylor (Feiwel & Friends)
“Toby has a secret dream, to be a chef; so, he gets his first job at Killer Pizza. However, he comes to discover that pizza making is a front for an elite group of monster hunters, and they want Toby to join their ranks. A great story of friendship (with really scary monsters).”
—Cinda Meister, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA

Lucky Breaks
by Susan Patron, Matt Phelan (illus.) (Atheneum)
“Just as she's about to turn 11, Lucky finds a new best friend in out-of-towner Paloma and gets into all sorts of trouble (as usual!). Patron's quiet elegance is great for readers who care more about character than action, in this beautiful follow-up to The Higher Power of Lucky.”
—Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY

Oracles of Delphi Keep
by Victoria Laurie (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
“With shades of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Oracles of Delphi Keep features two orphans who must stop a prophecy before darkness engulfs the world. Set in pre-World War II England, Laurie weaves in the rise of Hitler with the orphans' adventures. I had to stay up all night to finish it!”
—Laura Lucy, White Birch Books, North Conway, NH

Pet Trouble: Loudest Beagle On The Block
by Tui T. Sutherland (Scholastic Paperbacks)
“When Ella's beagle howls whenever the musically talented girl sings, she has to learn to cope with the challenge with the help of new friends. This is a great dog/girl story in a series that also includes Pet Trouble: Runaway Retriever (Scholastic Paperbacks, $5.99 paper, 9780545102414 / 0545102413). Both books are wonderful summer reads.”
—Candace Moreno, San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe, San Marino, CA

The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief
by Peter Lerangis (Scholastic)
“In the third installment of this popular series, Amy and Dan Cahill have been located once again, and they seem to be tracking the life of one of the most powerful fighters the world has ever known.”
—Laura, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

The Dragon of Trelian
by Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick)
“I eagerly anticipated Michelle Knudsen's first middle-grade work of fiction, and this story of a mage apprentice and a princess includes a dragon, magic, murder, friendship, romance, and humor. This one will appeal to those young readers who enjoy a bit of fantasy but who also like their characters to have realistic strengths and weaknesses.”
—Roni K Devlin, Literary Life Bookstore & More, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly (Henry Holt & Co.)
“Intrigued by the different grasshoppers in her backyard, 11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate finds herself suddenly enthralled by the natural world -- a fascination that unexpectedly leads to a new bond with her famously reclusive grandfather. Voracious in her newfound love of science, Callie launches herself on a summer of exploration, which leads to many new discoveries, not least of which is what it means to be a girl in love with science in Texas in 1899.”
—Meghan Dietsche Goel, Book People, Austin, TX

The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour
by Michael D. Beil (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“Sophie and her friends must use cunning, luck, and an awful lot of math to figure out the puzzles that will lead them to the next clue in a decades-old scavenger hunt and enable them to find a priceless artifact -- before anyone else does, of course. This is, I hope, the start of many adventures with The Red Blazer Girls.”
—Melissa Posten, Children's Book World, Haverford, PA

The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems From Beyond the Solar System
by Jack Prelutsky, Jimmy Pickering (illus.) (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“This collection is an exploration of outer space that is not for the faint of heart. There are many imaginative ways to perish in these darkly comic, cautionary verses about unexplored worlds far beyond the solar system. The book also includes anagrams for those who love word puzzles!”
—Jennifer Wills Geraedts, Beagle Books, Park Rapids, MN

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Teen Readers

A Sweet Disorder
by Jacqueline Kolosov (Hyperion Books for Children)
“Set in the sumptuous Elizabethan court, A Sweet Disorder tells the story of Miranda, who must learn how to navigate the back-stabbing politics of court and avoid the machinations of her guardian. As complex as some of the gowns Queen Elizabeth wore, this novel has a thread of romance and layers upon layers of description, plot, intrigue, and humor -- all woven together in a perfect confection.”
—Liesl Freudenstein, The Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

Being Nikki: An Airhead Novel
by Meg Cabot (Point)
“I read this book in one night. Being Nikki is Meg Cabot's exciting sequel to Airhead (in which 16-year-old Em's brain was transplanted into supermodel Nikki's body), and it features romance, dangerous villains, and drama -- all a little over the top, but in a good way.”
—Larissa Genschaw, Children's Bookshop, Kent, WA

David Inside Out
by Lee Bantle (Henry Holt & Co.)
“This teen novel follows high school runner David as he comes to grips with his attraction to other guys. His confusion pulls him between old friendships and a new relationship that's exciting but lacking honesty and respect. David's dilemma is note-perfect, and Bantle's writing will appeal to readers of Brian Malloy's The Year of Ice, Bill Konigsberg's Out of the Pocket, and Brent Hartinger's Geography Club.”
—Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

Fragile Eternity
by Melissa Marr (HarperCollins)
“Melissa Marr takes us back to her beautifully defined world, where we find Aislinn torn and feeling guilty as summer draws her closer and closer to Keenan, and Seth so jealous that Ash is spending so much time with Keenan and saddened that he is so easily hurt by both Ash and his best friend, Niall. Can they stay friends? Can their relationship survive? Will old allegiances hold as the courts jostle for power? Fragile Eternity reminds you of the events and people you fell in love with in Wicked Lovely and makes you pine for the concluding volume because this world simply won't get out of your head.”
—Angela Mann, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA

King of the Screwups: A Novel
by K. L. Going (Harcourt Children's Books)
“Good-looking Josh Geller is a great dresser and full of charm, all qualities learned since early childhood accompanying his mother around the world before she retired as a famous model in deference to her husband, a successful businessman, who sees Josh as a failure in high school. When he's shipped off for his senior year, Josh is given a crash course in self-worth and character building by his gay, cross-dressing uncle, Aunt Pete, and he learns that being popular is only the tip of the iceberg in gaining self-confidence and establishing supportive and trusting friendships.”
—Jack Blanchard, Fairy Godmother, Washington, DC

Once Dead, Twice Shy: A Novel
by Kim Harrison (HarperCollins)
“Madison Avery's prom night killed her -- literally. So, now she's dead, sort of. Because she snatched the amulet of power away from the dark reaper who killed her, stole her body, and tried to collect her soul, she has the illusion of life and a body, but she has absolutely no idea what is going on. Kim Harrison's witty paranormal thriller has that perfect balance of humor, danger, and romance.”
—Karen Keyte, Books Etc., Falmouth, ME

Strange Angels
by Lili St. Crow (Razorbill)
“In a dark world of zombies and vampires, tough yet emotionally fragile Dru Anderson fights to survive in a small Dakota town. Nonstop action and suspense will have fans eager for the second in this new series.”
—Linda Goodman, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The Reformed Vampire Support Group
by Catherine Jinks (Harcourt Children's Books)
“There's nothing romantic or dashing about vampires in Catherine Jinks' The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Imagine being 15 -- forever -- and living with your aging mother. Nina envisions boredom, nausea, and attending support group meetings until the end of time. But when one of their number is killed, this puny band of guinea pig-suckers (don't ask) has to solve the mystery of their attacker or die (for good). Clever, thrilling, and, yes, very funny.”
—Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

by Francine Prose (HarperTeen)
“Something has happened to 9th-grader Maisie Willard in the back of the school bus, but readers won't know whose story is true until the novel's end. Francine Prose truly has a knack for keeping the reader in suspense throughout the entire book. I couldn't put it down and can't wait to see what she writes next.”
—Athena Silver, Spellbound Children's Bookshop, Asheville, NC

Twenty Boy Summer
by Sarah Ockler (Little, Brown Young Readers)
“Anna and Frankie are looking for a summer fling in California -- but they are still grieving for Matt, who was Frankie's brother and Anna's secret boyfriend. As Anna tries to shoulder Frankie's grief, and her own, the secret of her romance with Matt threatens to destroy their friendship. This book has all the things you want in YA fiction: a secret, a romance, a friendship, and great writing.”
—Jake Hallman, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, CA

Waiting For You
by Susane Colasanti (Viking Childrens Books)
“Susane Colasanti delivers a great young adult read for any teen who is struggling with the drama of early high school years. High school sophomore Marisa is smart and charming as she navigates the battlefield that is teen dating. In the end, though, she finds the person that she knew she was waiting for, and he was waiting for her, too.”
—Darcie Lochinski, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI