Our Most Anticipated New Kids’ & YA Book Releases of May 2021

May marks the unofficial start of summer, but the official start of the summer reading season! It’s time to get those lists in order and we’ve got the perfect lineup for our kids and YA readers. From vibrant and hilarious new storytime fun to charming graphic novels, Bollywood dreams, 90s kid throwbacks, and a new must-read fantasy series from the bestselling author of Red Queen, here are our picks for the best new kids’ and YA books to look out for this May. 

Derek Desierto 

For anyone that has ever felt like a, well, odd bird, this celebration of individuality is the perfect fit. Derek Desierto matches his inspiring, vibrant art with an equally inspiring, vibrant story. In what’s sure to be a new favorite from the illustrator of the Juno Valentine series, Oddbird Is a refreshing, motivational tale about celebrating who you are and encouraging others to do the same.

Jacqueline Davies, Sonia Sánchez (Illustrator) 

The quintessential “outdoor” book from Jacqueline Davies, author of The Lemonade War and art by the brilliant Sonia Sanchez (Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away). Taking place at a public pool and mostly underwater, there’s friendship, diversity and creativity. There’s also a spread that so perfectly depicts what happens when the thunder starts rumbling and the lightning strikes but you’re just having too much fun in the pool! Bubbles…Up! is easily a new summertime favorite.

I’m Getting a Shark! 
Brady Smith 

From the author-illustrator of Random Acts of Drawness, Brady Smith delights with his whimsical but educational picture book, I’m Getting a Shark! For fans of sharks, birthdays, getting presents and getting excited, this is a year-round joyride full of fun facts and terrific illustrations. This is one of those books you’ll want to keep coming back to and you’ll impress yourself with how many fin-based facts you find!

Oliver’s Lollipop 
Allison Wortche, Andrés Landazabal (Illustrator) 

With charming, vibrant illustrations from Andres Landazabal, Oliver’s Lollipop is Allison Wortche’s story about a family trip to the zoo and the risks associated with buying an oversized lollipop at the beginning of the visit, rather than for on the way home. The sweet sibling dynamic between Oliver and his ever-curious brother is highly relatable and the overarching lesson about not getting distracted by the wrong things in life is relevant to all.

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You  
Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi 

An essential read covering everything from the history of racism in our country, how that history has evolved into the systemic racism we know today, and what we can do in our daily lives to become actively antiracist. Reynolds’ writing is compelling, conversational and extremely engaging. In short, this chapter book edition of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a book every kid should read (and re-read and re-read again).

Truly Tyler (B&N Exclusive Edition) 
Terri Libenson 

This fifth book in the Emmie & Friends graphic novel series is full of all the realistic middle school drama that we’ve come to know and love from Terri Libenson, along with plenty of humor and charm. Young readers will find Truly Tyler relatable and engaging as Emmie and her friends deal with evolving friendships, first crushes, and the everyday trials and tribulations of middle school.

 Bear Bottom (B&N Exclusive Edition) (FunJungle Series #7) 
Stuart Gibbs 

Stuart Gibbs is back with the seventh book in his FunJungle series, where mysteries unfold alongside wild animals. This time, FunJungle sleuth Teddy Fitzroy has two cases to solve while on vacation with his family and the McCrackens at a bison ranch outside of Yellowstone National Park. Will Teddy be able to solve them both before it’s too late?

Thrills and Chills (Garbage Pail Kids Series #2) 
R. L. Stine, Jeff Zapata (Illustrator), Joe Simko (Illustrator) 

It’s time to dig up your old Garbage Pail Kids trading cards — they’re officially back! Goosebumps creator and horror icon, R.L. Stine delivers all the laughs (and dry heaves). Silly and stomach-churning, Thrills and Chills follows the Garbage Pail Kids as they compete in the Smellville Pet Contest and win a trip to the Six Thrills Amusement Park. Garbage Pail Kids fans new and old will enjoy this repulsively riotous series.

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey
Erin Entrada Kelly 

Marisol Rainey is a sweet and sensitive eight-year-old who loves silent movies and cats but is afraid of a lot of things, especially the big magnolia tree in her yard that she’s named Peppina. Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey is a charming read about a quirky young girl who learns to face her fears with help from her loved ones. Perfect for fans of Stella Diaz and Ivy and Bean.

That Thing about Bollywood 
Supriya Kelkar 

Eleven-year-old Sonali loves watching Bollywood movies, but knows that people don’t break into song and dance in real life. Or do they? With a twist of magical realism, That Thing About Bollywood is a sweet story that teaches readers the importance of expressing emotions even when you would rather bottle them up.

The Shape of Thunder 
Jasmine Warga 

The Shape of Thunder is a poignant yet incredibly powerful read about friendship, grief and the complex ways in which we cope with emotions and pave our paths to peace. Warga gently navigates heavy topics in a way that will resonate with young readers and spark important conversations about grief, gun violence, prejudice, mental health and much more, all woven into a captivating and heartfelt story about two friends.

Heartstopper: Volume 3 
Alice Oseman 

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. The third installment of this sweet YA graphic novel series is just as heartwarming as the title suggests. Nick and Charlie are finally official boyfriends and now must reveal their relationship to their friends and classmates. Emotional but uplifting, Heartstopper: Volume 3 is the perfect feel-good read.

Hurricane Summer: A Novel 
Asha Bromfield 

Hurricane Summer is a gut-wrenchingly emotional book about the deeply complex journey into womanhood and all that it entails. Readers will be swept away by Bromfield’s lyrical storytelling and thought-provoking insight into social issues like racism, classism and sexism. A sweeping debut with a dynamic cast of characters you won’t soon forget.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find (B&N Exclusive Edition) 
Joan He 

Utterly captivating from start to finish, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a genre-bending sci-fi meets thriller story set in a near-future dystopian world where climate change has ravaged the earth. When sisters Celia and Kasey are separated with no recollection as to how or why, each sister embarks on her journey back to the other. Twists and turns abound in this thought-provoking and heart-wrenching story that will linger with readers long after the last page.

Realm Breaker 
Victoria Aveyard 

When evil threatens to destroy the world, we expect heroes to save us. But what happens when the heroes have already been destroyed themselves?   Realm Breaker is an unputdownable fantasy about a ragtag group of unlikely heroes who must band together to save the world when all other hope is lost. High-stakes action, shocking twists, and incredibly detailed world-building will leave readers on the edge of their seats in this first book in a new must-read fantasy series from bestselling author Victoria Aveyard.

E.K. Johnston 

This multilayered YA space adventure follows Pendt, who has had to fight for survival against her own family for her entire life on their interstellar spacecraft. Pendt jumps at the chance for escape during a space station layover and teams up with the wealthy Brannick twins to find an escape from the only lives they’ve ever known. Magic, science fiction and familial loyalties come together in this exciting tale.

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