Publisher’s Weekly Summer Reads 2021

Publisher’s Weekly has their list of the best books of the summer for children. Here are the books featured on their list:


A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Nagochi by James Yang

It Began with Lemonade by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Lian Cho

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza

Negative Cat by Sophie Blackall

The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins


Fast Pitch by Nic Stone

How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby

Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani

Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Joel Makonnen

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Stamped (For Kids) by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul, illus. by Rachelle Baker


Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by John He

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Cover image.

The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson (9781481480215)

The first in the Thirteen Witches trilogy, this fantasy novel tells the story of Rosie Oaks who survived a witch attack as a newborn baby. She was left though with a mother who cannot love her and can barely care for her at all. Rosie has always known her mother to be this way, so she doesn’t expect anything else. Rosie spends her time reading books and writing her own stories until one day she decides that she is too old for them and burns her stories. That triggers the sight, allowing her to see the ghosts that live all around her. Ebb, a ghost boy, shows her the Witch Hunter’s Guide to the Universe, a book her mother hid that contains all she knew about the thirteen witches that control the world. Rosie discovers that her mother has been cursed, her memories stolen by the Memory Thief, a witch who may be the weakest but is also unstoppable. As Rosie learns more about the witches, her mother’s curse, family secrets and friendship, she realizes that she is the one who must now hunt the witch but at what cost?

Anderson has written a unique fantasy novel where witches are profoundly powerful beings, able to steal memories, stop time, and inflict curses. The world building is skillfully crafted, offering a world parallel to our own where a ladder goes to the moon, where ghosts exist and strive to head to the Beyond, and where witch hunters have magical weapons they craft themselves. Through Rosie, readers get to experience the wonder of discovering that world as well as feel the tragedy of her mother’s curse deeply too.

Anderson populates her book with characters who are fascinating and worthy of their own novels. There is Ebb, the ghost boy who has his pet ghost spider and who befriends Rosie when she needs it most. There is Germ, Rosie’s only friend, who loves Rosie and can see ghosts suddenly just like Rosie can. There is the Murderer, an angry ghost with his own tragic story who Rosie discovers holds the secret to her own survival as an infant. The Memory Thief herself is a fascinating mix of tragedy, danger and horror.

A great start to a new fantasy trilogy, this book mixes ghosts, magic and witches into something spectacularly new. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Aladdin.