2020 Highlights: Best Children and Teen books
Title: There Must be More than That!
Author: Shinsuke Yoshitake
Publishers: The Chronicle
When a little girl’s brother tells her “our future is doomed,” in this entertaining yet serious story drawn in Yoshitake’s signature cartoon style, she runs in a panic to her grandmother, who helps her to imagine many possible futures, rather than to think only in terms of good and bad scenarios.
Title: Class Act
Author: Jerry Craft
Publisher: Quill Tree
A Black student from the Co-op City section of the Bronx attends a private middle school in wealthier Riverdale in this moving and often funny graphic novel about the convergence of an awkward age (13 to 14) with another awkward age (America’s racial reckoning).
Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
This is a magical realist novel set in a “land of a hundred bridges” that lies “somewhere in the Américas,” an 11-year-old boy whose mother disappeared when he was a baby explores haunted ruins that once hid refugees from a neighboring dictatorship.
Title: Ways to Make Sunshine
Author: Renée Watson
Like Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby, who inspired this heart-wrenching yet delightful new series, the Black fourth grader Ryan Hart is a bright, imaginative girl who specializes in “making a way out of no way.”
Title: When Stars Are Scattered
Authors: Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
This riveting graphic novel chronicles the young Omar’s real-life experiences during the 15 years he and his little brother spent as Somali refugees in the U.N.-run Dadaab camp in Kenya.
Title: They Went Left
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Little, Brown
At the end of World War II, this searing novel’s Polish heroine, who spent her adolescence in concentration camps, sets out to find her younger brother, the only other member of her family who was not sent to the gas chambers.
Title: The Midnight Guardians
Author: Ross Montgomery
Publisher: Walker Books
When Col’s childhood imaginary friends come to life, he discovers a world where myths and legends are real. Accompanied by his guardians – a six-foot tiger, a badger in a waistcoat and a miniature knight – Col must race to Blitz-bombed London to save his sister. But there are darker forces at work, even than the Nazi bombings. Soon Col is pursued by the terrifying Midwinter King, who is determined to bring an eternal darkness down over everything.