25 New August Children’s Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 25 books for children releasing in August that have garnered starred reviews. Enjoy!

All He Knew by Helen Frost

All Together Now by Hope Larson

All’s Happy That Ends Happy by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers

Guardians of Liberty: Freedom of the Press and the Nature of News by Linda Barrett Osborne

How to Be a Girl in the World by Caela Carter

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist

Kodi by Jared Cullum

Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar

Mister Invincible: Local Hero by Pascal Jousselin

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Pleased to Meet Me by S. G. Wilson

Summer We Found the Baby by Amy Hest

The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner, illustrated by Iz Ptica

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth edited by Wade Hudson

Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall

The Diverse Book Awards 2020 Longlist


This new UK award was created by The Author School. It is awarded to UK based authors only  and focuses on books published in 2019 that feature “Black, Asian, Latin American and and/or inclusive main characters.” Below are the longlists for the juvenile categories. The shortlists will be announced in September with the winners announced in October.


Son of the Circus - A Victorian Story

Son of the Circus by E. L. Norry

My Hair by Hannah Lee, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

The Mysterious Melody by SP K-Mushambi, illustrated by Kudzai Gumbo

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Rauf (coming to the U.S. in January 2021)

Tin Boy

Tin Boy by Steve Cole, illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Toad Attack!

Toad Attack by Patrice Lawrence, illustrated by Becka Moor



All The Things We Never Said

All The Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman

Becoming Dinah

Becoming Dinah by Kit De Waal

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla


Chinglish: An Almost Entirely True Story by Sue Cheung

The Deathless Girls

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Oh My Gods

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard

The Tunnels Below by Nadine Wild-Palmer (coming to the U.S. in February 2021)


20 New August Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 20 picture books coming out in August that have gotten stars from review journals. Enjoy!

Birrarung Wilam: A Story from Aboriginal Australia by Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy

The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl

A Bowl Full of Peace by Caren Stelson, illustrated by Akira Kusaka

Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Jennifer Potter

Dance Like a Leaf by Aj Irving, illustrated by Claudia Navarro

Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (9781524738884)

The Egg by Valerio Geraldo

Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada, illustrated by Ryoji Arai

The First Fire: A Cherokee Story by Brad Wagnon, illustrated by Alex Stephenson

Girl versus Squirrel by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Renee Andriani

Holiday! by Natalie Nelson

The Invisible Bear by Cecile Metzger

Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747 by Chris Gall

Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel, illustrated by Marije Tolman

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Not an Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake by Eoin McLaughlin, illustrated by Marc Boutavant

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, illustrated by Jess X. Snow

The Run by Barroux

A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead by Evan Turk

Where Are You, Agnes? by Tessa McWatt, illustrated by Zuzanna Celej

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (9781419739828)

Published August 18, 2020, after being delayed in April. 

Tarisai was raised in luxury but kept at a distance from everyone lest she steal their stories through her touch. Only her mother, The Lady, touches her, but she is always away and visits rarely. Tarisai is sent to the capitol of the Empire to compete to become a member of the heir’s Council. Only eleven children are selected, one from each part of the realm. But Tarisai is part ehru and has been ordered to kill the heir when she gets close to him and has his trust. The magic of the wish binds Tarisai to comply, but her destiny is not that simple.

The depth of this teen novel is remarkable, particularly for a debut novel. It is a book that submerges the reader into a world they have never seen or experienced before. The world building is incredibly detailed, each element supporting the entirety, woven together into a complex but whole pattern. Based on the author’s Nigerian roots, the book is filled with African notes, settings and tributes.

The characters are so well drawn, particularly Tarisai, who is just as complex as the world she inhabits. As she learns more about herself, she transforms in front of the reader yet never leaves her lonely little girl beginnings behind. The result is an organic growth that makes sense and will leave the reader entirely satisfied.

One of the best fantasy novels this year, give this one to fans of Tomi Adeyemi. Appropriate for ages 13-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Amulet Books.

This Is Gus by Chris Chatterton

This Is Gus by Chris Chatterton

This Is Gus by Chris Chatterton (9780593097366)

Gus is the sort of dog that doesn’t like much. He doesn’t like being petted, going on walks, playing fetch, or making friends. He doesn’t like birthdays either. Then a little dog enters his life. The little dog explains that once he arrived, Gus started liking all sorts of things like baths together and hugs. But the one thing that Gus really loves is sausages. He loves everything about sausages. So does the little dog! But Gus doesn’t like to share. But there just might be one thing that Gus likes more than sausages.

Chatteron’s humor is marvelously deadpan. His timing is impeccable throughout the book, particularly the reveals. At first the book seems to not have a specific narrator but that reveal of the little, perky dog speaking about Gus is a delight. The ending too has a well-timed and touching moment that is simple but perfection.

The text is very simple, so the illustrations carry much of the story. They are particularly important to capture the neutrality of Gus with his natural frown. Big and bold, the illustrations work well for sharing the book aloud.

Hilarious and just as satisfying as a sausage feast. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Penguin Workshop.

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – July 31


Back to school 2020: a children’s book list – Publishers Weekly

Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels – The Guardian

New and forthcoming kids’ and YA books by Black creators – Publishers Weekly

Noteworthy new releases for children and teens: July 2020 – Publishers Weekly


Librarians alarmed about coronavirus safety at D.C.’s reopened public libraries – Washington Post

Librarians in Phoenix become healthcare workers – Book Riot

Nevada sheriff to library: support Black Lives Matter? Don’t bother calling 911 – USA Today

Overdue: Throwing the book at libraries – The Globe and Mail – this is not a recommended article based on its flawed logic about public libraries, but I like to know even what those who don’t appreciate libraries are saying

Rethinking Police Presence – American Libraries


12 young adult books to read written by Black authors – Pittsburgh City Paper

Tad by Benji Davies

Tad by Benji Davies

Tad by Benji Davies (9780062563590)

Tad was a very small tadpole, smaller that all of her tadsiblings. The others warned her that if she couldn’t keep up with them, she would be eaten by Big Blub, the huge nasty fish at the bottom of their pond. So Tad swam twice as hard to keep up with everyone and kept to the shallow parts of the pond. Gradually, the other tadpoles started to change, growing legs and losing their tales. But Tad still had her tail and steadily the other tadpoles disappeared. Eventually, she was the only one still left in the water, hiding from Big Blub. Then one day, Big Blub appeared. Now Tad had one choice, leap out of the water or be eaten!

Davies has written a deep and marvelous picture book about being a late bloomer and then having change thrust upon you. Tad faces her challenges with lots of grit and determination, but eventually that isn’t quite enough as she is left behind by the others. Still, it is her courage that saves her in the end, allowing her to figure out what happened to her siblings after all.

The art here is great, filled with murky pond greens, deep seaweed teals, the blackness around Big Blub, and the moonlit blue of water at night. Tad has a glowing yellow eye, different from her siblings that lets readers find her even in a school of tadpoles.

A grand story sure to make your heart leap. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis (9780823444885)

Welcome to your new day. The sun invites you to play when you wake up, creating a square on your pillow. Creatures are up and moving, snails scribbling across the sidewalk, inchworms measuring out their paths, and tadpoles punctuating the streams. There are things to find: leaves with paths imprinted on them, pebbles smoothed by the water. Then a storm arrives with lightning and thunder, rain pounding down. Mud is created to wriggle your toes in. Long shadows capture the approaching evening until night falls with a sky of stars and the voice of a cricket thrumming you to sleep.

Portis creates quite an invitation to head outside and experience nature with all of your senses from touching stones and leaves to feeling the rain to hearing the thunder and seeing the stars. It is all an immersive experience for the reader. Portis’ text is deceptively short and simple. Yet within each four-line verse she creates almost haiku moments of discovery.

The art was done in brush and sumi ink, leaf prints, and vine charcoal with the lettering done by hand. The illustrations are large and bold, offering a book that will work well shared with a group. They have a wonderful natural feel to them, tactile and warm.

Ideal for a summer day. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Neal Porter Books.

The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie

The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie

The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie (9780374310462)

Kemala, the pangolin, loved everything that was new and different when they moved. There were new foods, new smells, new clothing to admire. But there was also a new language to learn. When Kemala headed to school, she realized that no one could understand her. So she curled into a ball in dismay. She stayed that way until recess, when she climbed high in a tree to get away from everyone. She sat on a branch cutting animals out of leaves, until Ana found her there. Kemala showed Ana how to cut leaves too, and Ana loved it even though she made a big mess. While Kemala didn’t want to go back to school at all, she steadily found herself learning a new language with Ana’s help, particularly through animals they cut out. Until finally, Kemala is brave enough to try talking to the entire class.

Cassie has written a universal book about friendship, belonging and learning a new language. She wisely chose Esperanto as Kemala’s new language in the book. Esperanto is not associated with a specific country, so Kemala could be moving anywhere in the world. Cassie gives the entire story room to breathe a bit, offering time for Kemala to relax and start to learn in a very believable way. The connection with one specific kind friend is also great to see, as well as a tactile way for them to connect with one another without speaking at first.

The art is welcoming and friendly with all sorts of unusual animals in the class that Kemala joins. The choice of pangolin as a main character works particularly well, both her connection with her mother but also when she gets overwhelmed, the ability to just curl up protectively.

A great book to talk about language learners and welcoming new students to school. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.