Spring 2021 Kids Indie Next List

The spring Kids Indie Next list has been released. The titles are chosen by independent book sellers across the country. Here are the selected books for this season:

TOP TEN (lists only 9 titles)

As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper

Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Red, White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

AGES 4-8

Bartali’s Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero by Megan Hoyt, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Bear Can’t Wait by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Carpenter’s Helper by Sybil Rosen, illustrated by Camille Garoche

The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water by Steve Small

The Little Library by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

More Than Fluff by Madeline Valentine

My First Day by Phung Nguyen Quang, illustrated by Huynh Kim Lien

Regina Is Not a Little Dinosaur by Andrea Zuill

The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen

Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Loren Long

Something’s Wrong! by Jory John, illustrated by Erin Kraan

Sunny-Side Up by Jacky Davis, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock

Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Wolfboy by Andy Harkness

AGES 9-12

Across the Pond by Joy McCullough

Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Leigh Dragoon, illustrated by Kit Seaton

Charlie Thorne and the Lost City by Stuart Gibbs

The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan

Golden Gate (City of Spies #2) by James Ponti

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman

The House That Wasn’t There by Elana K. Arnold

The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (As Told to His Brother) by David Levithan

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

Thornlight by Claire Legrand

Unsolved Case Files: Escape at 10,000 Feet by Tom Sullivan


Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Love in English by Maria E. Andreu

Love Is a Revolution by Renee Watson

Namesake by Adrienne Young

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Cover image

Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Julia Iredale (9781536201222)

The Newbery-Medal winner brings us into the world of ancient Greece with her new novel. Rhaskos is a slave working in a Greek household where he spends his days picking up horse manure. He doesn’t mind the hard work, but he’d much rather be drawing the horses around him. He works in secret, steadily building his craft, inspired by a painting his master owns. Melisto is a girl hated by her mother, abused by her, but someone who has grown up used to wealth and luxury. She is precious, particularly for the connections she will make when she marries. She is selected to serve the goddess Artemis for a year, living wild and free for the first time in her life. By the time our two protagonists meet, one of them has died, though their destinies are entwined with one another.

Schlitz has created a masterpiece of a novel where she blends verse and prose, moving freely between the two. It is a complex novel with elements of Greek society explained, wars imminent and friendships being forged. Schlitz adds the voices of the god Hermes to the mix, also including the philosophical musings of Socrates who appears as himself in the novel. The book is marvelous, each of the elements working to support the whole and weaving together into a tantalizing tale that is surprising and fascinating.

Schlitz’s writing is exceptional. She explores ancient Greece along its dusty paths and roadways, showing readers how it felt to be these characters in these times. She speaks as Hermes and Socrates in voices that are unique to them and feel perfectly suited. The question of the value of a life runs throughout the book along with looking closely at suffering and pain. These deep questions and philosophies are ideally suited to the world Schlitz has created. They are enhanced by the illustrations that show various Greek artifacts and explain what they were used for.

Deep, dramatic and classical, this book is the best of historical fiction for children.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Candlewick Press.