10 New June Middle Grade Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 10 of the buzziest books coming out in June. Note: a bunch of books that had been slated to be released in June have been moved back to fall or 2021.

Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan

Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Braver: A Wombat’s Tale by Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson

Catalyst by Sarah Beth Durst

Con Quest! by Sam Maggs

Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

Otto Tattercoat and the Forest of Lost Things by Matilda Woods

Raising Lumie by Joan Bauer

Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King

The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova



Oil by Jonah Winter

Oil by Jonah Winter

Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (9781534430778)

This nonfiction picture book offer a devastating look at the oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez. The book begins with the Trans-Alaska Pipeway that carries oil to the ocean. It’s surrounded by wilderness and the animals who live there. The oil is then transferred to ships, and one of the those ships had an accident in the clear water when it ran aground on a reef. From there, the oil spreads, turning the water and waves black, covering the rocks on the shore. Hurting the wildlife who call the place home. People try to help, but even thirty years later so many things are different, changes caused by the destruction of an ecosystem and environment.

The Winter mother-son duo have crafted yet another compelling picture book about a complex nonfiction topic. Jonah’s text uses powerful repeating choruses of “oil” that is almost like a drum beat of emphasis. He uses other techniques of repetition and design that speed or slow the reading of the text very effectively. The book is a mixture of tragedy and a call to action.

Jeanette’s illustrations are in her signature simple style. They work particularly well here to emphasize the impact of the oil spill, steadily covering the pages with seeping blackness. Some pages are left without words, just allowing the reader to soak in the horror of what is happening.

Powerful and tragic, this picture book is an important addition for libraries. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.

2020 Locus Awards Finalists

The finalists for the 2020 Locus Awards have been announced. The awards are given for the best science fiction and fantasy of the year in a wide variety of categories that include books, magazines, artists, editors and publishers. They have one category specifically for the best YA novel. Here are the finalists in that category:

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The Wicked King by Holly Black

2020 Lambda Literary Award Winners

Vanity Fair has the news of the winners of the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards. The awards are given in a wide variety of categories, one of which is specifically for children’s and YA books. You can see all of the finalists in my previous post about the award. Here are the winners in the youth category:


Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow


The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

13 New June Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 13 picture books coming out in June that are getting lots of positive buzz:

Dusk Explorers by Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by Ellen Rooney

From Ed’s to Ned’s by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

The Hidden Rainbow by Christie Matheson

Joy by Yasmeen Ismail, illustrated by Jenni Desmond

Little Bear’s Treasures by Stella Dreis

Love by Sophia by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail

Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret by Jess Keating, illustrated by Katie Hickey

Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

Rescuing Mrs. Birdley by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Emma Reynolds

Sloth Went by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Benson Shum

Tad by Benji Davies

The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie

When Emily Was Small by Lauren Soloy


2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

The winners of the 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced on May 27th during SLJ’s virtual Day of Dialog. A winner and two honor books were selected in each of the three categories. Here are the winners:


Saturday by Oge Mora


King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender


Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan


Birdsong by Julie Flett

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe


Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller


Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes

It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way written by Kyo Maclear; illustrated by Julie Morstad

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – May 29


5 children’s books about Latina trailblazers – Book Riot

BookExpo 2020: Tuning into children’s book coverage – Publishers Weekly

Little House, Big Problem: What to do with “Classic” books that are also racist – SLJ


Is it safe to go back to my local library? – Boston City Life

Librarians recruited as COVID-19 hunters – American Libraries

Libraries must change – New York Times


The 20 most anticipated YA books to read in June – Epic Reads

Neal Shusterman’s inclusive YA and talking to the author about representation – Book Riot

St. Paul author stunned by success of genre-jumping “CatNet” – Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Publishers Weekly Summer Reads 2020

Publishers Weekly has released their list of summer reads for the season. They include a list of children’s titles from picture books through YA. Here are the books that they picked:


Hello Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell

Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby

Prairie Days by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Micha Archer

You Matter by Christian Robinson


Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly


Again Again by E. Lockhart

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity by Amy Alznauer

The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity by Amy Alznauer

The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan by Amy Alznauer, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (9780763690489)

This is the story of an amazing mathematical genius who was born in India in 1887. He sees math everywhere, contemplating what small and big actually meant. When he started school, the teacher was not interested in his questions, so Ramanujan got bored and tried to sneak away to think his own thoughts. He wondered about the infinity possible in ordinary objects like mango that can be sliced again and again. Doing sums at school, he figured out the sums inside the sums they were doing, once again breaking things down. As he grows up, he reinvents mathematics, working from college textbooks and solving all of the problems. Still, he is just an unknown person in India, how can he find someone who understands what he is doing?

The joy of discovering Ramanujan’s math is that even for children or those who are not mathematically inclined, his theories resonate and encourage everyone to start thinking beyond the strictness of school math. Alznauer pays homage to this great genius, showing how he grew up, how he thought and how he was misunderstood for a very long time until being discovered by mathematicians in England.

The art is done in ink that flows at times like watercolors. Miyares captures the glow of invention, the heat of imagination in his illustrations. He also shows the solitude of Ramanujan in a captivating way.

Rich and fascinating, this picture book biography opens new worlds of mathematics to its readers. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.