All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

Cover image for All Our Hidden Gifts.

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue (9781536213942)

When Maeve finds a deck of tarot cards while clearing out a closet at school during her suspension, she soon realizes that she has a talent for telling people’s fortunes. Maeve isn’t talented in general, not musical or good at school. As she starts to tell everyone’s fortunes secretly at school, she becomes friends with Fiona, perhaps her first real friend after she pushed Lili away. But when she tells Lili’s fortune reluctantly and wishes Lili would disappear, a frightening Housekeeper card appears and soon after, Lili vanishes. Considered a witch by all the students at school, Maeve tries to figure out what happened to Lili and if she is the one who made her leave. Meanwhile, Maeve is growing closer to Lili’s older brother, Roe, who is honest with Lili about being genderqueer. As they try to solve the mystery of Lili’s disappearance, a malevolent force emerges, one who is putting people Maeve loves in direct danger. With growing desperation, Maeve must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to fix the imbalance she may have created.

Looking for a fantasy book for teens about witches and tarot that is legitimately creepy and not trite in the least? This is the book for you! Free of tropes that plague this sort of teen novel, this Irish read is a dark delight of a novel. Add in the modern issues of women’s rights, racism, hate crimes and the threats against LGBTQ people and this is also a book that looks deeply at our world and insists that Maeve acknowledges her own privilege and bias without scolding.

The three main characters are a marvel. Maeve is the best mixture of lack of self-esteem, witchcraft power and sarcasm. Roe is at first shy and near silent and steadily reveals himself to Maeve and to the reader. The hot kisses are marvelous, particularly as they involve an unapologetic and genderqueer character. Fiona is a talented actress with almost no friends, a huge extended family and a desire to be something more than what society is always assigning to her as a Filipina girl. This is not a cast you see often in teen novels about witchcraft.

Haunting witchcraft with social justice and feminism. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Walker Books.

2021 Indie Book Awards

The winners of the 2021 Indie Book Awards have been announced. It’s an award that highlights books from independent publishers, university presses, self-published titles, and e-books that are written in English. There are numerous categories in the awards with several focused specifically on books for youth. Here are the winners and the finalists in those categories, many of which are only available via Amazon.



The Boy Who Flies – A Story of Today’s Totonac People by JoAnne DeKeuster

Something Wonderful by Matt Ritter, illustrated by Nayl Gonzalez


The Big Bad Coronavirus and How We Can Beat It! by Lisa Carroll, illustrated by G. F. Newland

Breathe, Ollie! by Krista Betcher, illustrated by Kevin Cannon

Footsteps in Bay de Verde by Charis Cotter, illustrated by Jenny Dwyer

Light Is Color! The Comic (and Coloring and Activity) Guide to Visible and Invisible Things by Nicole and Kevin Kurtz

Mei Ling in China City: Divided by War, United by a Lifeline of Letters by Icy Smith, illustrated by Gayle Garner Roski



I Know a Woman: A Song for Mothers by Sharon Gudereit, illustrated by Miranda Pringle


The Best ME That I Can Be – RESPECT, by Rose Angebrandt, Illustrated by Henrique Rampazzo

The Forgotten Garden by [Basma El khatib]

The Forgotten Garden, by Basma Elkhatib, Illustrated by Omar Lafi, Translated by Ghenwa Yehia

Gratitude the Great, by Pamelyn Rocco, Illustrated by Taylor Barron

The Hyrax in the Mogogos, by Douglas Cochran, Illustrated by S. Alex Percival

Our Folktales: The All-time Favourite Folktales from Asia, by Ruth Wan-Lau

The Tip of the Tale, by Suzanne Alexander, Illustrated by Ashley Teets



I Am a Triathlete, by Nia Obotette, Illustrated by Adriel Meka


Adventures of a Pangopup, by Terri Tatchell, Illustrated by Ivan Sulima

Just Because…: A Story Book About Self-Acceptance, by C.M. Harris, Illustrated by Ashlynn Feather

Salma the Syrian Chef, by Danny Ramadan, Illustrated by Anna Bron

Sassy Sisters vs The Sock Monster, by Jacquese Groves, Illustrated by Karine Makartichan

Who’s Jerry?, by T. M. Jackson, Illustrated by Darwin Marfil 



My Monsterpiece, by Amalia Hoffman


52 – A Tale of Loneliness, by Johnny DePalma, Illustrated by Kyle Brown

The Big Adventures Of A Little Tree: Tree Finds Friendship, by Nadja Springer, Illustrated by Tilia Rand-Bell

A Common Thirst, by Gary Boelhower, Illustrated by Sarah Brokke

Llama Lu, by Julia Da Rocha, Illustrated by M. Judith Da Rocha

The Slumbering Pearl by [Tyler Oliver, Gita Treice]

The Slumbering Pearl, by Tyler Oliver, Illustrated by Gita Treice 

CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK (Non-Fiction – All Ages)


Something Wonderful, by Matt Ritter, Illustrated by Nayl Gonzalez


MOMENT, by Robert Abad

Ni Hao, China!, by Sohan Chunduru, Illustrated by Katarina Stevanovic

Nutaui’s Cap, by Bob Bartel, Illustrated by Mary Ann Penashue, Translated by Sebastian Piwas, Stella Rich, and Mani Katinen Nuna

Under the Stars – Astrophysics For Everyone, by Lisa Harvey-Smith, Illustrated by Mel Matthews

The Wall & the Wind, Written and Illustrated by Veselina Tomova



Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life, by Beverley Brenna, Illustrated by Tara Anderson


The Mystery of the Portuguese Waltzes, by Richard Simas, Illustrated by Caroline Clarke

The Rabbit Princess: Journeys, by R. Chen, Illustrated by Ed Chen, R. Chen

Should I Say Hi? A Story of Courage That Reads Forward and Backward, by Rose Collins, Illustrated by Nathaly Bonilla

Why the moon travels, by Oein DeBhairduin, Illustrated by Leanne McDonagh

Yara’s Spring, by Jamal Saeed & Sharon E. McKay



Presidents Play!, by Jonathan Pliska, Illustrated by John Hutton


God Says: My Book of Emotions by [Doreen Homawoo, Jessica Homawoo, Jayden Munnelly, Roseline Fiatuse]

God Says; My Book of Emotions, by Doreen Homawoo, Illustrated by Jayden Munnelly, Jessica Homawoo

Let’s Learn about Chemistry, by Stephanie Ryan, Illustrated by Christine Cagara 

A White House Alphabet, by Arioth Harrison Smirne with Rocco Smirne, Illustrated by John Hutton 

Young Kap, by Kingsley Osei, Illustrated by Elaine Davis

A Young Person’s Field Guide to Finding Lost Shipwrecks, by Laurie Zaleski

YOUNG ADULT (Fiction – 12 Years to 16 Years)


The Manticore’s Vow: And Other Stories, by Cassandra Rose Clarke


Costly Freedom, by Terry Webb

The Dumpster Club, by David L. Craddock, Illustrated by Kristoffer Furacão

Even Goats Need Closure, by Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter 

Half on Tuesdays, by Amy E. Whitman

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The Rabbit Princess: Journeys, by R. Chen, Illustrated by Ed Chen, R. Chen

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – June 4


12 joyful children’s books that explore pronouns & gender identity – Romper

30 LGBTQ+ children’s books for Pride Month – Mutually Inclusive

Graphic nonfiction for middle grade readers – Book Riot

Picture books for Pride Month – ALSC Blog


Forget art and gems, thieves make discreet millions at the library – Daily Beast

IMLS releases 2019 data on American public libraries – InfoDocket

Pride breaks with Halifax libraries after controversial book kept on shelves – CBC


7 must-read YA Black girl magic books – Tor

10 of the best new June YA books to TBR – Book Riot

26 new LGBTQ+ YA books to add to your 2021 reading list – Pride

From zombies to modern love stories, these are the best YA books of June – PopSugar

Top new young adult books in June 2021 – Den of Geek

18 June YA Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 18 of the YA books released in June that are garnering a lot of attention and starred reviews. Enjoy!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi

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

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly deVos

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

One Great Lie by Deb Caletti

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

Strange Creatures by Phoebe North

Violet Ghosts by Leah Thomas

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman

The Witch King by H. E. Edgmon

2020 Governor General’s Literary Award Winners

The winners of the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced. The awards celebrate the best published books in Canada. There are two categories that celebrate books for youth. Here are the winners and finalists in each of those categories:



The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters


The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

Harvey Holds His Own by Colleen Nelson

Nevers by Sara Cassidy

Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath



The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers


I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Lea Thomas, illustrated by Maya McKibbin

Weekend Dad by Naseem Hrab, illustrated by Frank Viva

15 June Children’s Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 15 of the buzziest books for middle schoolers and elementary ages that are coming out in June. Enjoy!

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza

Athena: Goddess of Wisdom and War by Imogen Greenberg, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

Chibi-Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis by Julie and Stan Sakai

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado

Crossing the Stream by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie

A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Harry versus the First 100 Days of School by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Pete Oswald

Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Matasha by Pamela Erens

Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn

The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Tricia Springstubb

My Own World by Mike Holmes

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac

To Tell You the Truth by Beth Vrabel

2020 Bram Stoker Award Winners

The Horror Writers Association has announced the winners of the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards. The awards have one category that is for young adult novels. Here is the winner, followed by the finalist titles:


Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare


Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

The Bone Carver by Monique Snyman

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

9 June Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

A crop of new starred fiction and nonfiction picture books coming out this month to enjoy! Lots of diversity and inclusion titles to share and love.

Best Day Ever! by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Leah Nixon

Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder

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

Dumplings for Lili by Melissa Iwai

Faraway Things by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

I Is for Immigrants by Selina Alko

My America by Karen Katz

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player

Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott by Joyce Scott with Brie Spangler, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn

Cover image for Monster Friends.

Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn (9781984896827)

When Reggie arrives at his cousin’s home to housesit during their summer vacation, he gets a warm welcome from the huge monster family who are all busy in the cave complex below the main house, making clothes, fixing pipes, and playing cards. Reggie has left his life of exploring and finding treasure for a quiet summer alone. When his first morning is interrupted by a vivacious doglike monster named Emily, he is a bit overwhelmed and not ready to stop being alone and grumpy. Emily though persuades him to head out into the field and explore his new surroundings, discovering a beach but also a rather intimidating cave. Reggie heads over to Emily’s woodland home a little later, meeting her large family and enjoying a spiced apple for his return home. When Emily goes missing, it is Reggie who knows just where she might be, but he has to face his fear of dark caves and revealing his fear to find her.

This graphic novel for chapter book readers offers a world full of furry monsters who are marvelously human, full of self doubt, a need to prove themselves, and struggles to be honest with one another. Readers will love the small world that is built here, full of wonderful nature like the woods, beach and cave. The world is populated with all sorts of monsters, some scaly, some furry, and some shapeshifters. The art style is full of small details that fill out each of the settings. The mushrooms on the shelves in the family cave complex, the spilling bathtub, the toys spread all over the room.

The writing is just as joyous as the illustrations. Reggie is a grand grump of a character, ready to sulk his summer away until Emily literally bounds right into it. Emily is the perfect foil for Reggie, both visually and in personality. But Emily too has her own struggles with her siblings and family that play out on the page. The two become friends naturally, bridged by warm drinks and shared snacks.

A fuzzy monster of a graphic novel full of caves, serpents and surprises. Appropriate for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Random House.