Lemon Bird Can Help! by Paulina GanucheauWhat it's about: When round, yellow Lemon Bird and her puppy/pumpkin friend Pupkin find themselves lost in the city, they face a long journey back home to the farm. Luckily, they find plenty of new friends to help them along the way.
Why you might like it: Bright rainbow colors and adorable fruit characters fill the pages of this easy-to-read graphic novel.
For fans of: Andy Runton's Owly books. (Ages 6-9.)
The Midnight Children by Dan GemeinhartWelcome to: The boring town of Slaughterville, where the arrival of the Ragabonds, a misfit crew of orphans hunted by a dangerous man, upends the lonely life of bullied 12-year-old Ravani.
Read it for: A thoughtful, tender story of friendship and change mixed with scary suspense (and some gross-out moments, too). (Ages 8-12.)
Hummingbird by Natalie LloydStarring: 12-year-old Olive, a new student at Macklemore Middle School after finally convincing her parents that brittle bone disease doesn't mean she's too fragile for public school.
What happens: Even with her coolest wheelchair, middle school is rough. Joining up with the theater kids helps, but Olive wonders if things could be easier with a wish from the magical hummingbird living nearby.
Read it for: Sweetness and quirky small-town magic, plus a realistic disabled main character written by an author with the same disability. (Ages 8-12.)
Tumble by Celia C. PérezWhat it's about: After growing up in a family with a loving stepdad, 12-year-old Adela Ramírez learns that her biological dad is Manny Bravo, from a legendary family of luchadores. And all of the Bravos are eager to welcome Adela — all except Manny.
Why you might like it: Packed with authentic, vivid characters, Tumble takes a funny, heartfelt look at just how complicated families can be. (Ages 9-13.)
The Language of Seabirds by Will TaylorWhat it's about: With his parents newly divorced and his dad suddenly acting edgy, 12-year-old Jeremy doesn't think it's the right time to tell them he's gay. And anyway, he'd rather spend their vacation exploring the Oregon coast with Evan, his new friend (and crush).
Who it's for: Readers who like realistic, quietly romantic slice-of-life stories about dealing with change. (Ages 9-13.)
Children of the Quicksands by Efua TraoréWhat it's about: While visiting her grandmother in rural Nigeria, city girl Simi finds bigger problems than a lack of internet: kids are disappearing in the forest. Simi can't resist exploring the forest herself, leading her to surprising revelations about her family history and Yoruba heritage.
You might also like: Further exciting Afrofantasy books such as Rena Barron's Maya and the Rising Dark or Tola Okogwu's Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun. (Ages 8-13.)
The Puppet's Payback and Other Chilling Tales by Mary Downing HahnWhat it is: Twelve deliciously chilling tales by Mary Downing Hahn, queen of the ghost story.
Featuring: A haunted dress, a vampire stalker, a witchy transformation, and a cursed puppet who might become an unexpected ally.
Is it for you? Perfect for reading with a flashlight or sharing around a campfire, these stories offer supernatural suspense rather than blood-curdling dread. (Ages 8-12.)
Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City by Christian McKay Heidicker; illustrated by Junyi WuWhat it is: A companion book to the Newbery Honor-winning Scary Stories for Young Foxes, this time following the pulse-pounding urban misadventures of Cozy, an uprooted suburban kit, and 0-370, a fur farm refugee.
Featuring: Shadowy monsters on the prowl, a contagious yellow stench that turns foxes into zombies, and the most dangerous threat of all — humans.
Can you start here? Yes, these stories stand alone — though fans of the 1st book will recognize some familiar characters. (Ages 8-12.)
Living Ghosts & Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories by Dan C. Jones; illustrated by Weshoyot AlvitreWhat it is: An illustrated collection of eerie encounters with the supernatural, written by Native storytellers from various nations and traditions.
Featuring: Famous figures like La Llorona and Deer Woman, as well as were-creatures, giant water serpents, mysterious footprints, walking dolls, and many more. (Ages 8-12.)
Don't Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Jonathan Maberry, editorWhat it is: A collection of new short stories inspired by Alvin Schwartz's classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, including black-and-white illustrations that might fuel just as many nightmares as the originals.
Featuring: Thrills for all kinds of readers, including funny paranormal tales (from the point-of-view of the ghost in your closet), spine-tingling folklore (from Mexico and China), and unearthly slashers (starring everything from a life-size baby doll to a kid-eating ogre). (Ages 9-13.)
Scream and Scream Again! by R.L. Stine, editorWhat it is: Twenty twisty, terrifying mystery stories, each short enough to read in one sitting, by authors such as Chris Grabenstein, Bruce Hale, and iconic Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine.
Featuring: A shape-shifting shark, an accidental demon-summoning, a creepy mannequin, an evil ice-cream truck, and otherworldly text messages.
Why you might like it: These page-turners don't need blood or guts to be straight-up scary. (Ages 8-12.)