15 Gift-Card-Worthy New Books for Young Readers

Nothing beats the thrill of turning a stack of gift cards into a stack of sweet new reads, and ’tis the season for young readers to stalk the aisles of B&N, gift cards in hand, searching for their next favorite book. Luckily for young bookworms, we’ve got a ton of great new titles to reward those post-holiday gift-card shopping sprees—from continuations to hit series like Dogman and Wimpy Kid, to an exciting new series from Land of Stories author Chris Colfer, there’s something for everyone to curl up with as they ring in the New Year.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, by Kwame Mbalia
Tristan Strong has felt broken since he failed to save his best friend Eddie from a school bus accident. He’s lost his first boxing match, disappointing his family, and he’s been sent to his grandparents in Alabama to get over it all. There he finds himself at the beginning of the fight of his life when a little doll-like creature, Gum Baby, sneaks in to steal Eddie’s journal. In the struggle to get it back, Tristan rips open the sky, and falls into MidPass, a world whose people are hunted by iron monsters. It’s a place where all the stories his grandmother told him of John Henry, Brer Rabbit and co., and the gods of Africa, are real, and Tristan’s hole in the sky has let in new horrors. Now he has to help save it. Can he use the power of stories, and the magical boxing gloves he’s been given, to fix the hole in the sky? This is a rousing story of magical adventure, great friends and allies, foul monsters, and a boy who finds he is strong, after all. It’s a perfect read for any middle grade kid looking for adventure and inspiration!

Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #14), by Jeff Kinney
Since 2007, Jeff Kinney has been chronicling the life of everyone’s favorite underdog, Greg Heffley. And in book 14, the hilarity continues as things get a bit shaky for the Heffleys when they unexpectedly inherit some money and decide to renovate their house. Per usual, things do not exactly go according to plan. Rotten wood, toxic mold, nasty critters, and something even worse lurk beneath the surface of those walls that are coming down. Will the Heffleys be able sort through the wreckage and make things work? Find out in the latest addition to Kinney’s bestselling series.

Fetch-22 (Dog Man Series #8), by Dav Pilkey
He’s half-man, half-dog, and all-cop—and he’s back with the eighth book in Dav Pilkey’s hilarious graphic novel series. This time, Petey the Cat is out of the slammer and has a new leash, er, lease on life. But Li’l Petey has gone the other way entirely—he can’t seem to find the bright side of anything anymore. Can Dog Man and Petey put their differences aside to help Li’l Petey go fetch his bright spirit once again? Find out in this exciting and funny new installment. Bonus for super-fans: This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes an awesome colorable pull-out poster.

Ali Cross, by James Patterson
James Patterson has been enthralling adult readers for nearly three decades with tales of homicide detective and FBI agent Alex Cross. And now Patterson is bringing the thrills to a new generation with the first book about Alex’s son, Ali Cross, who is eager to follow in his famous father’s footsteps. When Ali’s best friend, Abraham, is reported missing, Ali fears the worst. Alex warns his son not to get involved, but that won’t stop Ali from trying to solve this mystery and find his friend. But the clues Ali is following aren’t quite what they seem in this exciting page-turner from master storyteller Patterson.

A Tale of Magic … (Tale of Magic Series #1), by Chris Colfer
Bestselling author Chris Colfer is taking readers back to the Land of Stories in the kickoff to an enchanting new series. In it, we meet 14-year-old Brystal Evergreen, who lives in an oppressive kingdom where it is illegal for women to read. But as a maid at the library, Brystal manages to secretly borrow books, one of which ends up unlocking literal magic from within the teen. In a place where magic is forbidden, Brystal is soon convicted of her crimes. However, a mysterious woman saves her, whisking her away to the academy of magic to teach Brystal to become a fairy. But all isn’t as it seems at this academy, and it’s up to Brystal to unravel a sinister plot. This Barnes & Noble–exclusive edition includes a bonus scene and artwork.

Shine!, by J.J. Grabenstein and Chris Grabenstein
Coauthoring husband-and-wife team J.J. Grabenstein and Chris Grabenstein deliver an inspiring middle-school story about self-discovery. Seventh-grader Piper thinks that only some people are “meant to shine. Others are better off blending in.” And she firmly believes she falls into the latter category, particularly once she finds herself at a fancy new prep school where her father just got a job as choral director and her late mother once excelled as a student. But even though she’s in the crosshairs of the school mean girl, she soon finds friends, an enthusiasm for astronomy, and the fact that she’s been shining brightly all along thanks to her kind heart.

The Fowl Twins, by Eoin Colfer
Eoin Colfer’s incredible spin-off to the Artemis Fowl series focuses on Artemis’s fraternal twin younger brothers—11-year-old Miles and Beckett. With their big brother away on Mars, the pair are left for one night in the care of a high-tech house security system for an evening, but they end up being kidnapped by a 150-year-old duke in search of eternal life. Lord Teddy Bleedham-Drye thinks the key to immortality lies in a little troll the boys have befriended, so Miles, Beckett, and their new troll pal escape and have to go on the run, dodging all manner of dangerous obstacles in this page-turning new read.

Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities Series #8), by Shannon Messenger
The eighth installment in the bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series finds Sophie Foster looking for answers. Her entire life has been filled with lies, and she’s determined to uncover the truth—but at what cost? Her friends are also on a quest to fill in the blank spots in their pasts, and with each new secret they uncover, they’re forced to question everything they know about their lives and each other. This first edition has an exclusive extra scene from Tam’s point of view and illustrated endpapers from the author. Bonus: This exclusive Barnes & Noble edition includes a special annotated scene from an early draft of the book.

Tales From a Not-So-Best Friend Forever (Dork DiariesSeries #14), by Rachel Renée Russell
Even though fall has arrived, readers can relish the feeling of summer just a little bit longer along with Nikki Maxwell in the 14th installment in Rachel Renée Russell’s bestselling illustrated Dork Diaries series. Nikki and her bandmates are heading out on a summer tour, opening for the Bad Boyz, which is super-exciting. But there’s an unfortunate catch: Nikki’s #1 frenemy,  MacKenzie Hollister, has landed herself a job on the tour—and what’s even worse? She’s going to be Nikki’s roommate! Is Nikki really going to let MacKenzie ruin her summer and her dream of going on tour with the Bad Boyz? Not if Nikki and her real friends have anything to say about it in this awesome new addition to the series.

Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds
Reynolds’s newest longer work is every bit as unusual and compelling as 2017’s Long Way Down (which takes place during the 60 seconds it takes an elevator to descend, as the boy riding in it contemplates whether to carry out a revenge shooting). A novel told over the course of a ten-block walk, it’s a slice of life, or really of a bunch of lives; about what happens as you’re living, the detours and the conversations and the truth and the connections. To make it even better, it’s an illustrated work, with art by Alexander Nabaum.

Malamander, by Thomas Taylor
The town of Eerie-on-Sea is haunted by legends of the Malamander, a monstrous sea creature. Two orphans, Herbie, keeper of the Lost and Found office of the Grand Nautilus hotel, and Violet, whose parents disappeared on the town’s beach years ago, join forces to find out what really happened to them. This quest throws the kids into in a race to find the Malamander’s (possibly) magical egg, before a sinister enemy beats them to it. The Malamander (naturally) does not want anyone to find the egg, and so things get more than a little dangerous…If you enjoy towns that are slightly whacky, plucky orphan children facing down bad adults, and scary sea monster stories, you’ll love this one! If you enjoy cheering for hunted monsters, you’ll love it even more!

Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphix Series #1), by Katy Farina and Ann M. Martin
First Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club books got the graphic novel treatment, and now her Little Sister series is getting in on the fun. For younger readers or for BSC fans looking to soak up even more of Martin’s Stoneybrook magic, Karen’s Witch is an awesome read starring Kristy Thomas’s 6-year-old stepsister Karen Brewer, who has a wild imagination and believes that the woman who lives next door to her father is actually a witch. With full-color illustrations and a fast-paced story, the first book in the new Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphix series definitely falls into the category of dibbly fresh.

Bad Kitty Joins the Team, by Nick Bruel
The hilariously high maintenance Bad Kitty is back for another illustrated tale sure to keep fans of the series entertained. In the latest story, Kitty’s owner realizes it’s time for this cat to get in shape and start exercising—much to Kitty’s chagrin. Will Kitty be able to get in touch with her sporty side and get into the game? It may take some serious convincing, but surely Kitty’s competitive spirit will pop out in a flash. Kids will love Kitty’s hilarious antics and the accompanying illustrations in this new read.

The Bad Guys in the Baddest Day Ever (The Bad Guys Series #10), by Aaron Blabey
Fans of Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants will love the 10th installment in Aaron Blabey’s hilarious and action-packed The Bad Guys series. In it, the Bad Guys and even Badder Girls are in a battle to the finish against Crown Prince Marmalade to see who is really the baddest of them all. Yes, the Bad Guys—our group of wannabe heroes out there doing good deeds whether you like it or not—are in for their baddest day ever in this new illustrated novel sure to entertain and enthrall fans of the series.

Eva’s Campfire Adventure (Owl Diaries Series #12), by Rebecca Elliott
The 12th book in this popular early chapter book series finds young owl Eva Wingdale prepping for a fun camping trip with her friends at school. Young readers can join the wilderness-venturing crew as they pitch tents, enjoy treats around the campfire, and even go on an exciting treasure hunt in the forest. Will Eva and her pals locate the treasure before their camping trip is over? Find out in this fun new book filled with illustrations, easy-to-read text, and large type to keep early readers motivated and confident.

What’s on your young reader’s TBR list?

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