When Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson saw their great-niece become fearful of the future in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, they turned their alarm into action and mobilized their own community of children’s literature creators to forge a collective love letter to today’s children. Authors and artists from Sharon Draper and Jason Reynolds to Ekua Holmes and Rafael López build a remarkable community within these pages, sharing in their own words and images how We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices (Crown, $18.99) in the face of adversity to create a more just tomorrow. Ages 9-12.
Fans of The Wizard of Oz, rejoice: Michael Morpurgo has used his inimitable talent to retell L. Frank Baum’s classic tale from a dog’s-eye view. In Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Tale of the Wizard of Oz (HarperCollins, $17.99), Dorothy’s famous pet tells his puppies what really happened on the journey down the yellow brick road. Toto’s perceptive nose sniffs out all sorts of useful information along the way to the Emerald City, from the trustworthiness of the Good Witch of the North to the location of the rusted Tin Man. Emma Chichester Clark adds her own fresh perspective with charming, full-color illustrations that combine with Morpurgo’s text to create a fitting tribute to a masterpiece of children’s literature. Ages 8-11.
Alan enters seventh grade with an abusive father, a bullying older brother, and a strict no-friends policy: after all, why set anyone up to be his brother Nathan’s latest victim? It seems like things will never change, especially when Nathan forces him to participate in a “game” in which Alan must complete a list of impossible or deeply embarrassing tasks. When Alan tries to refuse, Nathan threatens to broadcast his little brother’s crush on a male classmate to the entire school. Unexpectedly, however, Alan’s quest to meet Nathan’s demands results in the discovery that, after all, Alan Cole Is Not a Coward (Katherine Tegen, $16.99). Eric Bell’s novel about making friends, facing deep family dysfunction, and finding personal strength will strike a chord with middle schoolers past and present. Ages 12-14