Spring 2021 edition

A Note from the Ed/Lib Team

As anyone who has joined us in our offices over the years knows, we love hosting our seasonal previews to meet local teachers and librarians and introduce them to our upcoming titles and authors. We’re even more excited to be able to bring our previews to teachers and librarians around the country! From this page, you can learn more about preview speakers, download materials distributed at the event, and discover upcoming titles courtesy of S&S editorial staff. So sit back, get your TBR lists ready, and enjoy this preview of our Spring 2021 season from the comfort of your own home, school, or library. Excited about one of these books? Interested in what we’re reading? Tweet us at @SSEdLib using #SSKidsPreview.

Meet Spring 2021 Preview Speaker, Kat Zhang!

Children's book author Kat Zhang talks to teachers and librarians about her most recent book: Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon, the second in the Amy Wu series. Kat is introduced by her editor, Jennifer Ung. You can learn more about Kat at KatZhangWriter.com.

Preview Spring 2021 Titles by Imprint

Spend a few minutes with each S&S editor as they highlight a title from their Fall lists!


By Matthew Van Fleet • Photographs by Brian Stanton

From the #1 New York Times bestselling creator of Heads and Dog comes a funny and interactive book featuring everyone’s favorite pets! Children will delight in this interactive introduction to an incredible assortment of pets, from guinea pigs and rabbits to pot-bellied pigs, reptiles, fish, and more! Sturdy pull tables, flaps, textures, and a fabulous pop-up finale will engage young readers as they discover the world of possible pets to get! Pet is an interactive and read aloud favorite for all toddlers who love animals.

HC: 9781534482470; January 19, 2021; Ages 2 & up

Ducks on the Road

Written and Illustrated by Anita Lobel

From Caldecott Honor artist Anita Lobel comes a touching and classically vividly illustrated story of a family of ducks out for a walk and the surprises they meet along the way. When a family of ducks goes out for a walk, their path takes them in unexpected directions—and maybe even to some new friends. Little ones will delight in counting ducks one through ten and identifying the other animals the duck family meets on their country walk.

HC: 9781534465923; EB: 9781534465930; January 19, 2021; Ages 4–8

The Bug in the Bog

Written and Illustrated by Jonathan Fenske

I am so excited to present our new Ready-to-Reads on Simon Spotlight’s Spring 2021 list. The first is The Bug in the Bog, our first Ready-to-Read with Geisel–Honor winning author and illustrator, Jonathan Fenske. In The Bug in the Bog, readers will laugh out loud when they read the ending they will not see coming! This book has already been selected by the Junior Library Guild.

HC: 9781534477247; PB: 9781534477230; EB: 9781534477254; December 8, 2020; Ages 3–5

Twinkle and the Fairy Cake Mess

Twinkle, Twinkle, Sparkly Star

By Katharine Holabird • Illustrated by Sarah Warburton

We have our first two Twinkle Ready-to-Reads from Katharine Holabird (author of Angelina Ballerina) and Sarah Warburton, the creators of the picture book. The Twinkle picture books are off to a great start and we are thrilled to extend this adorable series into Ready-to-Read. And seriously, these two books, Twinkle and the Fairy Cake Mess and Twinkle, Twinkle Sparkly Star could not be cuter. Each book celebrates friendship, all things sweet, and important life lessons like not always having to be perfect or learning to ask for help.

Fairy Cake Mess HC: 9781534486249; PB: 9781534486232; EB: 9781534486256; December 8, 2020; Ages 5–7
Sparkly Star HC: 9781534486218; PB: 9781534486201; EB: 9781534486225; December 8, 2020; Ages 5–7



Try It!

How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat

By Mara Rockliff • Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Do you like baby carrots, Kiwi fruit, sugar snap peas, or mangoes? Then you’ll love meeting Frieda Caplan—the produce pioneer who introduced them to Americans! When Frieda first began selling fruits and vegetables in 1962, Americans were mostly eating meat and potatoes. Frieda thought people would love more variety—if only they had the opportunity to try new things. So starting with mushrooms, she did just that! At first people thought she was crazy. But she soon had people eating all kinds of different foods, from blood oranges to shitake mushrooms, seedless watermelon to passion fruit. Over her decades-long career, she made hundreds of obscure fruits and vegetables mainstream. Frieda was an amazing woman, and her story is a celebration of individuality, finding your own voice, and entrepreneurship.

HC: 9781534460072; EB: 9781534460089; January 12, 2021; Ages 3–8

Cougar Crossing

How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife

By Meeg Pincus • Illustrated by Alexander Vidal

Perfect for animal and nature lovers, this book is the amazing true story of P-22, the famed “Hollywood Cougar.” As a young cougar in search of his own territory, P-22 embarked on an incredible journey—somehow crossing sixteen lanes of the world’s worst traffic—to make his home in city park in Los Angeles. P-22’s life has been filled with struggles, but his human neighbors have embraced this brave mountain lion and raised money to build a wildlife bridge across Highway 101 to help cougars and other wild animals safely expand their territories and build new homes—ensuring their survival for years to come. This inspiring book is sure to speak to the hearts of budding conservationists—and anyone who loves stories about perseverance, tenacity, and ingenuity.

HC: 9781534461857; EB: 9781534461864; February 2, 2021; Ages 3–8

Rock by Rock

The Fantastical Garden of Nek Chand

By Jennifer Bradbury • Illustrated by Sam Boughton

If Nek Chand had met Ashley Bryan, I can guarantee you that they would have become fast friends. Nek Chand is a name EVERYONE should know, but few outside of India do. A factory worker from Chandigarh, Nek saw things differently. Where others saw rocks on the sides of the road, Nek saw the boyhood village in Pakistan that he was forced away from due to the India-Pakistan partition. Where others saw broken plates and glass, Nek saw laughing men. Bent and broken bangles could be saris. In trash, Nek saw beauty, and potential—he saw an elaborate garden, a rock garden, reminding him of home. So he built and built, and decades later, when city officials wanted to bulldoze down the elaborate garden for the sake of “progress”—it was the children of Chandigarh who linked arms to block those machines, to save the garden that had become a joy-filled outdoor home to them. Nek’s Rock Garden is now the SECOND most visited place in all of India, after the Taj Mahal. Sam Boughton’s saffron and indigo-hued illustrations will have you feeling as if you are in Chandigarh, wandering the garden. The book includes a timeline, and, indeed, a quote from Ashley Bryan himself.

HC: 9781481481823; EB: 9781481481830; February 23, 2021; Ages 4–8

I See You See

By Richard Jackson • Illustrated by Patrice Barton

Seeing how other people see things is more important than ever, for empathy, and for understanding beyond one’s own world to something bigger. In I See You See, Maisie sees the same ol’ thing every day while walking the same ol’ dog around the same ol’ block with her brother Jonah. But what Maisie doesn’t realize is that not everyone sees what she sees. Maisie sees an old oak tree—Jonah sees a tree of cats! Maisie sees a bunch of flowers—Jonah sees a popsicle garden! Maisie sees a willow—Jonah sees a bell machine. And what starts out as a chore becomes an ode to the imagination, leading to one of the most exquisite endings I’ve seen in a picture book, as Maisie starts to see…what Jonah sees. And the sumptuous illustrations are ones one can’t see enough of!

HC: 9781481492003; EB: 9781481492010; February 16, 2021; Ages 4 & up

Almost There and Almost Not

By Linda Urban

I’ve been a fan of Linda’s since her first book, the much beloved A Crooked Kind of Perfect, and have always dreamed of working with her. So publishing this novel with her has been a wish come true for me, and what an incredible novel it is! Almost There and Almost Not is almost a ghost story—but mostly not. It’s about a lonely girl named California Poppy who has been passed from relative to relative when her dad needs a break from being a single parent. Funny, bittersweet, and full of heart, this novel showcases Linda’s deceptively simple-seeming writing that packs so much emotional resonance into a relatively short book. By the end, I was reading through sad-happy tears, and I think you will be, too.

HC: 9781534478800; EB: 9781534478824; eAudio: 9781797126203; April 6, 2021; Ages 10 & up

The Accidental Apprentice

By Amanda Foody

I’m so happy to introduce you to The Accidental Apprentice, the first book in the exciting new middle grade fantasy Wilderlore series! In the world of Wilderloer, magic is practiced by Lore Keepers, people who willingly form bonds with fantastical creatures from the Wilderlands and share their powers. This series is essentially Nevermoor meets Fantastic Beasts, and it’s full of heart and cheeky humor. It follows aspiring mushroom farmer Barclay Thorne, who must set off on a quest in the mysterious Woods after he accidentally bonds with a magical Beast. There are so many reasons love this book, from the whimsical and hilarious voice, to the fabulous librarian character. But my favorite aspect of this series is the rich and accessible world-building. It features a taxonomy of magical beasts, which you can explore in the glossary, in addition to six distinct Wilderlands regions (The Woods, The Sea, The Jungle, The Mountains, The Desert, and The Tundra). It’s the kind of world-building that invites you in, prompting you to imagine, which kind of Beast would I bond with? What kind of Lore Keeper job would I have? Which region of the Wilderlands would I want to explore? It’s the perfect immersive read for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and The School for Good and Evil. This is author Amanda Foody’s middle grade debut.

HC: 9781534477568; EB: 9781534477582; eAudio: 9781797121628; March 30, 2021; Ages 8–12

Amina's Song

By Hena Khan

Four years after the publication of the beloved and critically acclaimed middle grade novel Amina's Voice by Hena Khan, we're so delighted to be publishing a companion book, Amina's Song. In this continuation of Amina's story, she visits her extended family in Pakistan and falls in love with the beauty and vibrant energy of the country. But when Amina is back in the U.S. and tries to convey her love of Pakistan with her American friends and classmates, they fixate on what they see in the news—oppression, poverty, terrorism—and she becomes determined to use her voice to bridge the two cultures that both feel like her home. With her signature warmth and accessibility that makes her a favorite of young readers and educators alike, Hena Khan speaks to both a specific and a universal experience in this touching story of a girl finding her voice.

HC: 9781534459885; EB: 9781534459908; Audio: 9781797117928; March 9, 2021; Ages 8–12

The Beast and the Bethany

By Jack Meggitt-Phillips • Illustrated by Isabelle Follath

Praised by School Library Journal as "reminiscent of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman at their cleverest", The Beast and the Bethany is a hilarious, heartwarming middle grade take on The Picture of Dorian Gray. The book centers around a 511-year-old man named Ebenezer Tweezer who stays young and beautiful by feeding the beast in his attic all sorts of things—including cactuses, busts of famous figures, and Ebenezer's own pet cat—and in return the beast vomits out things Ebenezer wants, including a potion that keeps Ebenezer young and beautiful. Needless to say, a life of luxury has warped Ebenezer considerably, so he has little hesitation when the beast announces he'd like to eat a juicy child next—or else he will withhold the life-extending potion Ebenezer is due to take on his 512th birthday. Ebenezer thinks he's found the perfect beastly meal when he meets Bethany, a badly behaved and frankly dreadful child living at the local orphanage, but it soon becomes clear that Bethany, with her bony elbows and prickly personality, won't go down without a fight. A laugh-out-loud tale of friendship and redemption, this book has all the elements of a modern classic and is sure to be a hit with readers young and old.

HC: 9781534478893; EB: 9781534478916; eAudio: 9781797119748; December 8, 2020; Ages 9–13


By Megan E. Freeman

Equal parts compelling and timely, Alone is the middle grade debut from Pushcart Prize winning poet Megan Freeman. It’s a survival story that reads like Hatchet meets Island of the Blue Dolphins, told in verse. What starts out as a plan for a fairly harmless plot to have a sleepover with friends—and without parents—at her grandparents’ unused condo quickly turns a nightmare when twelve-year-old Maddie wakes up to find herself completely alone in a town that has been evacuated and abandoned. With only her neighbor’s Rottweiler for company and companionship, Maddie must grapple with adolescence, escape natural disasters, looters, and wild animals, and rely on her own creativity (along with the local library) to help come up with clever ways to survive. But the hardest part is the one thing that she can’t conquer as long as she’s on her own—and something that we’ve all become familiar with these days--the feelings of isolation and loneliness. The verse here conveys the emotion of the story perfectly, and the very contemporary subject matter is sure to inspire much thought and conversation among readers.

HC: 9781534467569; EB: 9781534467583; January 12, 2021; Ages 10 & up


By Bethany Mangle

There’s no survival guide to falling in love…or dealing with your doomsday-obsessed neighbors. In this thrilling and funny debut novel, Becca Aldaine is a teen raised by doomsday preppers who have pre-planned every element of her life, down to the boy they want her to marry, Roy Kang. But Becca has no interest in training for the apocalypse, and is simply trying to get a full ride to a college out of state. That is, until an accident rocks her family, and Roy becomes the only person she can turn to. When Roy reveals his own plans to run away from home and proposes they leave town together, Becca will have to risk everything for a chance to hope for the best instead of planning for the worst. Told with wicked humor and filled with heart, Prepped is a book about what happens when nothing goes according to plan. Doomsday prepping feels more relevant than ever in these pandemic times, but I promise—the world doesn’t end in this one.

HC: 9781534477506; EB: 9781534477520; February 23, 2021; Ages 14 & up

The Cost of Knowing

By Brittney Morris

The Cost of Knowing is a new novel from Brittney Morris, whose debut novel, SLAY, made a big splash last year. This new book is Dear Martin meets They Both Die at the End, about a Black teen who has the power to see into the future, whose life turns upside down when he foresees his younger brother’s imminent death. It’s a gripping, evocative read, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat while also making you want to root for these two boys who are just trying to find joy in the midst of major grief and heartbreak. This is the kind of book that will be both a conversation starter and a source of comfort, that speaks to powerful truths about race, mental health, and the insidious, pervasive, and dangerous nature of casual racism.

HC: 9781534445451; EB: 9781534445475; Audio: 9781797117898; April 6, 2021; Ages 12 & up

Spotlight on Audio

Enjoy an audiobook excerpt playlist from our children’s audio group. Many of these are clips of previous books from authors with new books on the Spring 2021 list.