This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It's not exactly breaking news that Utah is home to a large community of award-winning, New York Times best-selling children's writers who continue to create inviting fictional worlds for young readers of all ages. So when it comes to picking books for kids this summer (and summer is about to get real), why not Read Local?
The following is a sampler of titles published by Utah's talented authors in 2017.
Picture books (ages 0-6)
"My Little Cities: London," "My Little Cities: New York" by Jennifer Adams, illustrations by Greg Pizzoli • Fans of Jennifer Adams' wildly popular BabyLit series already know she can take a classic ("Pride and Prejudice," "Don Quixote," "Wuthering Heights") and distill it into a charming concept board book for young children. Now she brings the same talent to a new board-book series about the world's great cities and their iconic landmarks. Pizzoli's zippy illustrations are a visual treat.
"Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished" by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley • This thoroughly charming debut picture book introduces children to the scientific method, as well as to a serious scientist rabbit named Charlotte who is tired of being crowded out by her many (!) siblings. How can a small girl solve such a big problem? By applying the scientific method, of course.
"Dill & Bizzy: Opposite Day" by Nora Ericson, illustrations by Lisa Ericson • Bizzy is a strange bird. Dill is an odd duck. Together they have a beautiful friendship, but when Bizzy declares "It's Opposite Day," Dill has a hard time getting on board. What happens when two friends want opposite things?
"How to Raise a Mom" by Jean Reagan, illustrations by Lee Wildish • Reagan's previous picture books in this entertaining series have offered cheerful advice about babysitting grandparents, surprising dads and catching Santa. Now the author offers children advice for bringing up moms. (Hint: When it comes to getting her dressed in the morning, give her a few outfits from which to choose!)
"The Birthday Suit" by Lindsey Leavitt • Ava and Dean Squeakerton, a pair of mice who live with their family in the White House, return for an all new adventure in "The Birthday Suit." This time, they want to throw a surprise party for Gregory, a mouse who doesn't always show up when he's supposed to. Meanwhile, things are complicated by a field trip that real children are taking through the White House on Presidents Day. Like every book in this series, the back is filled with fun facts about U.S. history, including information about past presidents.
Middle-grade novels (ages 7-12)
"You May Already Be a Winner" by Ann Dee Ellis (due out in July) • Young-adult author Ann Dee Ellis brings her distinctive voice to her first middle-grade novel about a 12-year-old girl named Olivia, who believes in the power of luck. And if anybody needs some luck, it's Olivia, who wants to raise enough money so she and her little sister can move away from their life at the Sunny Pines Trailer Park. Her plan? Among other things, she enters 14 sweepstakes a day.
"Saturdays at Sea" by Jessica Day George • In "Saturdays at Sea," George concludes this enchanting New York Times best-selling series that began with "Tuesdays at the Castle" about Celie and the magical Castle Glower where she and her family live. In this story, Celie and her family take to the high seas in a ship shaped like their quirky palace. Can anything go wrong? Are you kidding?
"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World" by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale • Another in Marvel's recent novelizations for young readers, "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" follows the adventures of 14-year-old Doreen Green, who's just moved to a New Jersey suburb from her home on the West Coast. But Doreen isn't just any teen! No. This girl has squirrel powers and also a bushy tail. With its funny footnotes, the husband-and-wife team of Hale and Hale clearly had a good time collaborating on this one.
"Dragonwatch" by Brandon Mull • In this sequel to Mull's phenomenally popular Fablehaven series, siblings Kendra and Scott are called upon once again to check the rising power of Celebrant, the King of Dragons, who is intent on revenge and restoring his kind to their former glory.
"Wrath of the Storm" by Jennifer A. Nielsen • In this action-packed conclusion to the widely praised "Mark of the Thief" series set in ancient Rome, our young hero Nicholas Calva must combat the city's enemies and keep his own family and friends safe, while confronting malice and magic at every turn.
Young adult (ages 13 and up)
"Blood Rose Rebellion" by Rosalyn Eves • Imagine a 19th-century Europe where magic is real, and you have the setting for Eves' romantic debut novel about a young woman named Anna who flees from England to Hungary after losing her standing in high society. As rebellion threatens to change the fabric of society, Anna must decide where her loyalties truly lie.
"Dark Breaks the Dawn" by Sara B. Larsen • Larsen, author of the popular "Defy" trilogy, reimagines the "Swan Lake" ballet in this story about 18-year-old Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, who is drawn into an epic battle between light and dark as kingdoms collide.
"Daughter of the Pirate King" by Tricia Levenseller • While on a secret mission for her father, the Pirate King, Alosa allows her ship to be captured by a rival group of pirates so she can board theirs and search for a map that will lead to a legendary treasure. Complications, both practical and romantic, abound. Levenseller's debut novel is a gem.
"Reaper" by Kyra Leigh • When 16-year-old Rosie dies in a car accident, she's surprised to find that "paradise" is hardly paradise. It's more like purgatory, actually, and before she can move on, she's charged with returning to Earth and reaping three souls. This original novel, which examines the relationship between loss and love, is Leigh's debut title. Still in her 20s, Leigh is a rising star in the world of young-adult literature.
"The Hundredth Queen" by Emily Rittel-King • In this new YA fantasy, 18-year-old orphan Kalinda expects to live the rest of her contemplative life with the Sisterhood in the mountains. Things change when the region's rajah selects her to battle for a place among his 99 wives and concubinesan "honor" she never asked for. How Kalinda stands up to her fate drives the action of the story.
"Gem and Dixie" by Sara Zarr • "Gem and Dixie" is the story of two sisters whose tight bond has been forged in part because of the unreliable adults in their lives a troubled mother and a largely absent father. When their father returns, Gem (the older sister) is suspicious of his motives, so the sisters leave on a life-changing road trip. When it comes to writing realistic contemporary fiction, Salt Lake's Sara Zarr is one of the best.
"One Trick Pony" written and illustrated by Nathan Hale • Well known for his best-selling Hazardous Tales series, Hale has created a compelling new graphic novel about a futuristic, apocalyptic world where electronic devices, along with the memories of human civilization they store, are being aggressively destroyed by a race of aliens. Against this backdrop, a small band of young people put themselves at risk to rescue a sleek, sentient robot pony.
"Real Friends" written by Shannon Hale, illustrations by LeUyen Pham • It isn't easy to be a kid sometimesespecially when there's bullying going on, both at school and at home. Hale's new graphic novel is sure to resonate with elementary-school-aged children struggling to find a place for themselves.