new books

What's New: And the winner is NOT...

YMA logoYesterday, the American Library Association announced the winners of the 2020 Youth Media Awards, including the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, the Coretta Scott King Awards, the Pura Belpré Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. The announcement of these awards is an important event for children’s librarians and other members of the children’s literature world--any author or illustrator who receives one of these prestigious honors is just about guaranteed a readership for the rest of their career! Check out the list of the 2020 winning titles as well as those that won honor awards here and place holds on those that might interest you or your child! 

new books signBut what about all the fantastic books that were released in 2020 that didn’t win awards? It’s been quite a while since we have been able to invite you inside the Oakland Public Library buildings to browse our New Books shelves and sadly, many of the books that were published in 2020 will get overlooked because of that. Below, I highlight 14 of my favorite non-award-winning middle grade novels that came out last year

If you’d like to see an exhaustive list of 2020 children’s fiction, you can use the Advanced Search feature in our catalog: just search “J FIC” and fill in the year starting 2020. You can limit the format to books, e-books, or e-audiobooks, or whatever you prefer.

You can also keep on top of the latest children’s fiction as we get new titles: use this link to access our “Featured Lists” within our Classic Catalog. Children’s book lists are at the bottom and include new fiction, new graphic novels, new picture books, new early readers, and new nonfiction. All of these lists are updated monthly.

Book Me logoAnd don’t forget: even though you can’t browse, you can still get personalized recommendations from a librarian! Just fill out a Book Me form and you’ll receive an email list of books custom-picked for you or your child!

Click on any of the book covers or titles below to get to our catalog, where you can place a hold.

Brave Like That CoverBrave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard

Cyrus isn’t brave like his firefighter/former football player dad, but he pretends to be. He also pretends to like football and reading and not to mind that the stray dog he found and fell in love with has to be put up for adoption. But when his friends start bullying another boy, Cyrus has to learn to be brave enough to say--or even shout--how he really feels.

Chirp by Kate Messner

During the summer after seventh grade, Mia gets involved in helping her grandma with her cricket farm while trying to suppress the memories of her former gymnastics coach and the way his attention to her made her feel uncomfortable—so much so that she quit the team. With new friends, new activities, and a mystery to solve, Mia gains the confidence to speak up about what happened. 

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

In this follow-up to Lai’s debut Pie in the Sky (the attentive reader will notice it’s loosely related), twelve-year-old Henry Khoo’s family is so overprotective he decides the only way to break free is to have the biggest adventure everrrr, and he secretly buys an airplane ticket to visit his father in Singapore. During his journey, he reflects on his lack of friends at home, meets some potential new allies, and learns the importance of expressing himself to people he cares about.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Markszoe washington cover

Twelve-year-old Zoe loves baking and hopes her summer internship at a local bakery will help her be chosen for a baking reality TV show. When she gets a letter from her estranged incarcerated father and learns that he’s innocent, she sets out to prove his case with her grandmother as her only confidante.

home for goddesses coverA Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor

After her mother dies, thirteen-year-old Lydia moves in with her aunt and her wife in the country. Trying not to be any trouble, Lydia hides her grief but is helped through it by a dog that finds his way into her broken heart.

The List of Things That WIll Not Change by Rebecca Steadlist of things cover

When Bea’s parents got divorced, they helped Bea start the reassuring List of Things That Will Not Change. Now that her dad is marrying his longtime boyfriend Jesse, a change is coming that Bea looks forward to: Jesse’s daughter will be her new sister! But Bea’s anxiety kicks in when her sister she realizes she’s going to have to tell her parents about a secret she’s been keeping.

mananaland coverMañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Max loves futbol and the stories he’s grown up hearing from his abuelo and father about the mysterious “Mañanalad,” where everything is perfect. When Max discovers the story is a code for his family’s generations-long work of helping refugees get to a safe place, he must weigh his beloved futbol dreams against the reality of helping someone whose freedom is at stake. 

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voicesedited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeedonce upon an eid cover

This charming short story collection focuses on celebrations of Eid around the world, giving Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike a chance to share in this joyful holiday and the many ways that families celebrate it.

one and only bob coverThe One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

Fans of The One and Only Ivan will definitely want to read the story of Bob the dog, as told by Bob himself. Reuniting with Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, Bob sets out on a journey to find his sister, who he hasn’t seen since they were puppies.

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbertonly black girls cover

When twelve-year-old Alberta learns a new family has moved in across the street and she will no longer be the only Black girl in their small beachside town, she’s ecstatic. Although new-girl Edie misses the urban life of Brooklyn, Alberta and Edie ultimately bond with each other over their shared interest in solving a town mystery. 

saucy coverSaucy by Cynthia Kadohota

Being one of a set of quadruplets can make it hard to feel special, but when Saucy comes along, eleven-year-old Becca decides her special thing is pigs! Eventually even Becca has to admit it’s not practical to keep a pig who’s going to weigh 600 pounds. What Becca decides to do about Saucy ultimately helps her decide who to be, with or without a pig.

Something to Say by Lisa Moore Raméesomething to say cover

Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends, and she wants to keep it that way. When Aubrey pushes himself into her life anyway, she ends up enjoying his friendship despite herself. But when the two join up for a class project that involves speaking in public, Jenae might just have to let Aubrey down, in a big way.

stand up yumi chung coverStand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

Shy, eleven-year-old Yumi longs to be a stand-up comedian, but her parents are already making plans for her Ivy League college career. When Yumi stumbles into a comedy camp and is mistaken for a camper, she goes with it and loves the camp--until the lies she has been telling start to catch up with her.

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watsonways to make sunshine cover

Ten-year-old Ryan always tries to lead the way in “making sunshine” whenever things don’t go as planned. In episodic chapters, Ryan cheerfully does her best to navigate the changes that come when her dad loses his job and the family moves to a smaller house.


What’s New: 2020 Graphic Novels for Children

smile soverIt’s hard to imagine, but about seven years ago when parents and kids would ask me for graphic novels similar to Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, there wasn’t a lot to choose from. Sure, there were lots of superhero comics, manga series, and Sunday funnies classics like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes, but Telgemeier was one of the first to realize how much kids would like seeing themselves reflected in contemporary fiction graphic novels. Thankfully, she wasn’t the last!

Today our graphic novel shelves are filled with all sorts of genres from horror to humor—but contemporary fiction still tops the list as one of the most popular! Because you can’t come in to browse our shelves right now to see what’s new, I’m highlighting some good ones that have come out in the past eight months or so. Click the link to find the book in our catalog and choose “Request It” to place a hold on the title. When it’s time to pick it up, come to one of our Sidewalk Service locations

To keep on top of more new graphic novels as we get them in the library, use this link to access our “Featured Lists” within our Classic Catalog and scroll to the bottom to get to the list of New Children’s Graphic Novels. All of the lists on this page are updated monthly.

Ready for some good books?

shirley and jamila coverShirley and Jamila Save Their Summer

When Jamila moves to a new town, her strict mother won't let her go to the basketball courts by herself. Then she meets Shirley, who's brilliant at her self-assigned job of neighborhood detective, but not so great at making friends. When the two join forces so they can both get what they want, they discover they have more in common than they originally thought. More than just a mystery, this graphic novel features very real-seeming kids figuring out how to negotiate friendships and creating community. 

stars are scattered coverWhen Stars Are Scattered

This memoir by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson (who wrote and drew Roller Girl) recounts Omar’s life with his disabled brother in a refugee camp in Kenya after they flee war-torn Somalia. Omar longs to go to school to better his chances of someday going to America, but his first priority is taking care of his brother. Despite the boredom, frustration, and hardship of living in the camp, Omar manages to keep his hope alive and create a future for him and his brother.

snapdragon coverSnapdragon

This story focuses on nonconformist, animal loving Snapdragon who rescues some baby possums and enlists the local "witch" to help her, but it is so much more! Each member of the diverse cast of characters is fully developed, from Snap’s transitioning friend Lulu to Snap’s single mother to Jacks the witch herself, and the family history that winds through Snapdragon’s own story is thoroughly satisfying. Technically this is fantasy, not contemporary fiction, but all the characters are so well developed, you can almost believe it’s real!

twins coverTwins

Francine and Maureen are twins entering middle school and, for the first time ever, are put in different classes. While Maureen is horrified at being separated from her twin, Francine is ready to embrace the new opportunities that middle school offers. When each decides to run for president of the sixth grade student council, it strains their friendships, their family, and of course, their relationship with each other. The road to resolution is difficult but ultimately reassuring. 

big break coverThe Big Break

Andrew and Russ are best friends obsessed with making a movie about a monster of local myth, until Russ starts becoming more interested in a girl. Andrew feels left behind: he thinks he should put away his action figures and other tokens of childhood, but he’s not quite ready to do that. Sightings of the monster bring them together, but is it enough to save their friendship? Though we often hear the story of girl friendships that flounder when one becomes interested in romance and the other does not, it’s less common to hear the same problem in books about boys, and The Big Break does it with humor and empathy. 

stepping stones coverStepping Stones

When Jen has to move to the country because her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend want to try to run a farm, she is not happy. Jen misses her dad, and she’s not crazy about her new “sisters,” either. Jen now has to do farm chores and work at the fruit stand but, more importantly, she must learn to get along with new family members and deal with change that happens whether she wants it or not. 

class act coverClass Act

This is the sequel to New Kid, the very first graphic novel to win the prestigious Newbery Medal. The second entry in the series continues to chronicle Jordan’s experiences as one of the few kids of color at his prestigious middle school but also expands its focus to include the points of view of his friends Drew and Liam. Like New Kid, Class Act has a healthy dose of humor even as it touches on serious issues of class and microagressions.

all together now coverAll Together Now

In this sequel to All Summer Long, Bina’s passion for music continues to grow and she starts a band. Then her bandmates start dating, and Bina is left to go solo. When Bina’s best friend expresses romantic interest in her, she starts to wonder if there’s something wrong with her because she’s only interested in music! With age-appropriate angst, Bina strives to be true to herself and still maintain the friendships she cherishes.


Have fun reading! See you at the library!



How to find NEW Children's Books!

One of my favorite library experiences, as both a librarian and a patron, is admiring and purusing the new books that come in to the library.  

I get excited when books that I’ve ordered arrive at my desk for processing...there’s just something about that new book smell!  

As a children’s librarian in the Children’s Room at the Main Library it made me so happy to watch families search the latest books for the perfect read 

Even though we are offering side walk service at many of our locations, we know that it’s been hard not for you not to be able to browse the shelves and see all of the new books that have arrived 

However, we’re still selecting and ordering the latest published books -- new books that you’ve suggested, requested, and that we hope that you’ll enjoy. 

Three ways to learn about new children's books:

1. Use this link to access our “Featured Lists” within our Classic Catalog to see lists of newly arrived materials. The lists are updated monthly, so check back soon! 

2. A number of OPL locations that offer sidewalk pickup service have bundles of new books for check out. These bundles offer books selected by library staff for your enjoyment. Be sure to ask if your local library has new book bundles available.

3. Check here at Children’s Services Blog on the fourth Tuesday of each month to discover featured new books!

This month, I'm sharing five titles that we've acquired since our doors closed in March that I’m excited about! You can reserve a copy of each by placing a hold on the title and picking it up at a location that's convenient for you.

Click each link to learn more about each book.

The Girl and the Ghost – by Hanna Alkaf 

The Mosquito - by Elise Gravel 

Paolo Santiago and the River of Tears - by Tehlor Kay Mejia 

Ikenga –  by Nnedi Okorafor 

Your Name is a Song –  by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow 

What new books are you excited about? Let us know in the comments below.