Parents Magazine Best Books for Children & Teens 2021

Parents Magazine has announced their picks for the Best Books for Children & Teens 2021. 30 books for children and 10 books for teens were selected. For librarians, it’s great to see a list of books selected by others and get us out of our bubbles. There are many titles here you won’t see on other lists. Here are the winning titles:

BOARD BOOKS

Cover for Comparrotives (A Grammar Zoo Book)

Comparrotives by Janik Coat

Cover for Count to LOVE! (A Bright Brown Baby Board Book)

Count to Love! by Andrea Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Cover for Drive the Fire Truck (Drive Interactive)

Drive the Fire Truck by Dave Mottram

Cover for Peekaboo

Peekaboo: Bear by Camilla Reid, illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Cover for Snap! Chomp Your Jaws!

Snap! Chomp Your Jaws! by Bob Barner

Cover for Turn Seek Find:Habitats

Turn Seek Find: Habitats by Ben Newman

Cover for Washer and Dryer's Big Job (The Big Jobs Books)

Washer and Dryer’s Big Job by Steven Weinberg

Cover for Who Needs a Hug?

Who Needs a Hug? by Dean Hacohen, illustrated by Sherry Scharschmidt

PICTURE BOOKS

Cover for Bear Is a Bear

Bear Is a Bear by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Dan Santat

Cover for Bicycle Bash

Bicycle Bash by Alison Farrell

Cover for Chez Bob

Chez Bob by Bob Shea

Cover for Maybe...

Maybe… by Chris Haughton

Cover for Mel Fell

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Cover for Milo Imagines the World

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

Cover for The Olphabet

The Olphabet: “O” No! An Alphabet Revolt by Jess M. Brallier, illustrated by Nichola Cowdery

Cover for Our Skin

Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Isabel Roxas

Cover for Outside, Inside

Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham

Cover for Stella's Stellar Hair

Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

Cover for Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone: Best Friends Forever! by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Cover for Uma Wimple Charts Her House

Uma Wimple Charts Her House by Reif Larsen, illustrated by Ben Gibson

CHAPTER BOOKS

Cover for The Chance to Fly

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

Cover for The Double Life of Danny Day

The Double Life of Danny Day by Mike Thayer

Cover for I'm On It! (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!)

I’m On It by Andrea Tsurumi

Cover for Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly

Cover for Pawcasso

Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Cover for Super Detectives! (Simon and Chester Book #1)

Simon and Chester: Super Detectives by Cale Atkinson

Cover for Sisters of the Neversea

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cover for Stamped (For Kids)

Stamped (for Kids) Adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul from the book by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Rachelle Baker

Cover for That Thing about Bollywood

That Thing about Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar

Cover for The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu

TEENS

Cover for Beasts and Beauty

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani, illustrated by Julia Iredale

Cover for Between Perfect and Real

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

Cover for Black Birds in the Sky

Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert

Cover for Blackout

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

Cover for Gone to the Woods

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

Cover for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (MinaLima Edition) (Illustrated edition)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Minalima Edition by J.K. Rowling

Cover for Just Like That

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

Cover for Lost in the Never Woods

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Cover for Love Is a Revolution

Love Is a Revolution by Renee Watson

Cover for Not Here to Be Liked

Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

Himawari House by Harmony Becker

Cover image for Himawari House.

Himawari House by Harmony Becker (9781250235565)

Nao grew up not fitting in in the United States, hoping to find a place that felt more like home in Japan. She had visited as a child, but now was going to be attending Japanese cram school. She moved into Himawari House, a house shared with several other students, all attending the school but at different levels. Nao discovers that fitting in isn’t as simple as a shared language, especially when she doesn’t speak it as well as she thought. Two of the girls who also live in the house have left their own countries to study in Japan. They all learn to find a way to connect with both Japanese culture and their own. Whether it is through shared food, watching shows together around a laptop, or reconnecting with family they left behind.

This graphic novel is wonderful. There is so much tangled in the stories of the three girls. Each of the teens is a unique person with specific experiences that led them to come to Japan, whether it was well-planned or almost a whim. They all face difficulties and handle them in their own ways, which tell the reader even more about who they are. Add in a touch of romance and their search for a place to belong becomes painfully personal and amazingly universal at the same time.

The art is phenomenal. From silly nods to manga style to serious moments that shine with a play of light and shadow to character studies that reveal so much in a single image of one of the characters, the illustrations run a full gamut of styles and tones. The language in the book is also fascinating, sharing the English mixed with other languages, changes in linguistic formats and the blank moments that happen when learning a language. It’s all so cleverly done.

A great graphic novel that explores finding a place in the world to belong. Appropriate for ages 13-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by First Second.