16 New Children’s Books Coming in January

Here are 16 new children’s books arriving this month that have received starred reviews!

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

The Ambassador of Nowhere, Texas by Kimberly Willis Holt

Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood by Gary Paulsen

Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast and Other Tasty Poems by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Ruth Chan

The In-Between by Rebecca K.S. Ansari

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance Cover

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter Sis

Race to the Bottom of the Earth: Surviving Antarctica by Rebecca E.F. Barone

Root Magic by Eden Royce

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles

The World Between Blinks by Amie Kaufman and Ryan Graudin

Unplugged by Gordon Korman

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

Cover image for Just Like That

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt (9780544084773)

In the summer of 1968, Meryl Lee’s best friend died. Her parents decided to give her a fresh start at St. Elene’s Preparatory Academy for girls, a boarding school in Maine. Meryl Lee doesn’t fit in with the wealthy girls around her, finding all of the rules and expectations stifling. Meanwhile, Matt Coffin is also on the Maine coast, except he is living in a decrepit shanty trying to survive. He is on the run from a criminal gang whose leader murdered his best friend. Matt works on the fishing boats, earning just enough to feed himself and heat his small shanty. After Matt is attacked and nearly killed, the headmistress of St. Elene’s takes him in. They start to form a family along with one of the fishermen who takes Matt out on the water. Meryl Lee is also finding that she can make friends in different ways, though the blank of grief is often waiting to overtake her. Soon the two will meet, discover one another and find that they are drawn together in grief and hope.

Every new book by Schmidt is a delight. This one is a heart stealer of a book where readers will adore both Meryl Lee and Matt as well as the adults who care for them both. As Meryl learns again and again, friendship starts in a variety of different ways, as long as you are open to it. Readers will leave this book more open to discovering amazing people in their lives who were there all along.

The historical setting works particularly well to keep Matt able to stay hidden as long as he does. It also plays a role in events at St. Elene’s with staff getting into trouble for publicly expressing their political beliefs and the Vietnam War taking the brother of one of the girls who works at the school. Schmidt explores grief with a deep empathy and kindness but also with a cracking sense of humor at times.

Deeply sad, often lonely but also full of hope and friendship. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Clarion Books.