Fall 2020 Kids’ Indie Next List

The American Booksellers Association has a preview of the titles that will appear on the Fall 2020 Kids’ Indie Next List. They select a top ten as well as an additional 40 books to highlight in the coming season. The picks are based on recommendations from independent bookstores across the country. Here are the books on the List:


The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Short & Sweet by Josh Funk, Brendan Kearney

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse

A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton


AGES 4-8

Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds by Elise Gravel

Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman, Pete Oswald

Buttercup the Bigfoot by Douglas Rees, Isabel Munoz

Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song

Escape Goat by Ann Patchett, Robin Preiss Glasser

Every Little Letter by Deborah Underwood, Joy Huang Ruiz

Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends by Stephanie Graegin

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James

I Promise by LeBron James, Nina Mata

Margaret’s Unicorn by Briony May Smith

The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom by Colleen AF Venable, Lian Cho

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

Pea, Bee, & Jay: Stuck Together by Brian “Smitty” Smith

Sometimes People March by Tessa Allen

Thesaurus Has a Secret by Anya Glazer


AGES 9-12

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

A Cat Story by Ursula Murray Husted

Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo

Cinders & Sparrows by Stefan Bachmann

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, Ann Xu

One Time by Sharon Creech

The Places We Sleep by Caroline DuBois

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman

Three Keys: A Front Desk Novel by Kelly Yang

A Whale of the Wild by Rosanne Parry, Lindsay Moore



Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Fable by Adrienne Young

Hush by Dylan Farrow

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

The Truth Project by Dante Medema






The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay (9781534462762)

When Abi’s father starts to date and then marries Max and Louis’ mom, her entire life is upended. The best part though is that they move into a very special house together, where Abi has her own room, there is a cemetery with foxes, and Abi can have a bit of space. Still, she does have to put up with a new mother, a rather dirty little brother, and become a middle child instead of being an only child. The house the family moves into, after a long search for a home they can afford, is covered with ivy and soon strange things start to happen. When Abi, who loves to read, truly becomes engrossed in a book, she actually enters it, returning covered in salt spray or with parrots flashing across the room. Louis finds a new friend who emerges from the ivy, a cat-like thing that becomes larger as time goes by. It’s all beautiful and enchanting, until suddenly the danger becomes real and the three children must figure out how to save themselves from the magic of the house.

I have always adored McKay’s books about realistic families who tumble through life in a mash of spilled book bags, beloved stories, messy rooms, and lots of love. McKay uses that same template here, providing readers with a blended family just barely making things work with damp school uniforms, a French babysitter more interested in art, and three new siblings finding their way at school and home. Here though, she injects a burst of real magic that takes the story directly into magical realism and fantasy, something she is incredible good at as well.

As always, it is McKay’s characters who are at the center of her book and story. Here we have the quiet and deep Abi, Max who is in a desperate fight with his best friend at school, and Louis who is looking for comfort. Take their blended family and remove the mother to work for a few months and you have a teetering story full of adoration, messes and wonder.

A marvelous venture into fantasy by an acclaimed author, this is worth entering the green ivy for. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Margaret K. McElderry Books.