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America Redux: Visual Stories from Our Dynamic History

Ariel Aberg-Riger (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Via nonlinear chronology that covers ground between the late 18th and 21st centuries, debut creator Aberg-Riger depicts America's past in a pictorial stunner that steadfastly explores censorship and revisionist history. Vibrant mixed-media collages combining maps, vintage magazine ads, and photographs culminate in a kaleidoscopic visual accounting that enthralls from start to finish.


Blood Debts

Terry J. Benton-Walker (Tor Teen)

This scintillating debut follows teenage members of a once-powerful magical family who are determined to uncover the truth of an ancestor’s tragic past. Combining contemporary politics with heady magical lore, Benton-Walker creates a layered world steeped in spiritual customs that take cues from the rich cultural history of the Black diaspora, and paints an evocative picture of an enchanted New Orleans.


The Blood Years

Elana K. Arnold (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Arnold presents a deeply personal telling based on her grandmother’s experience living through the Holocaust in this searing historical novel set in 1939–1945 Romanian Czernowitz. Amid unflinching depictions of war, compassionate renderings of intense familial drama, and somber topics that include genocide, hunger, rape, and suicide, the teenage Jewish protagonist’s persevering narration conveys hope and resilience.


A Door in the Dark

Scott Reintgen (McElderry)

Tense prose and escalating conflict—both environmental and interpersonal—foster constant fear for the fates of six teenage wizards stranded in a desolate, monster-infested wilderness. Reintgen combines intricate plotting, inventive worldbuilding, and a strongly developed, racially diverse cast to craft a twisty tale of classism, redemption, and revenge in this pulse-pounding series launch.


Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam

Thien Pham (First Second)

Pham employs food as a vehicle for depicting his family’s harrowing experiences as Vietnamese refugees and their subsequent life in California in this arresting graphic novel memoir. The debut creator reflects on the push-pull conflict of assimilation and the resultant cultural loss in digitally illustrated panels portraying visual feasts and expressive emotion, making for a vivid and insightful recounting.


From Here

Luma Mufleh (Penguin/Paulsen)

Clear-eyed prose details refugee advocate Mufleh’s yearslong internal struggle to reconcile her identity as a gay Arab Muslim woman, and how these experiences shaped her advocacy work, in this affecting memoir. The author lovingly and critically portrays her relationship with her family and culture, using matter-of-fact-feeling lines to reflect on issues of choice, mental health, and living one’s truth.


Houses with a Story: A Dragon’s Den, a Ghostly Mansion, a Library of Lost Books, and 30 More Amazing Places to Explore

Seiji Yoshida, trans. from the Japanese by Jan Mitsuko Cash (Amulet)

Detailed linework renders street-views, cross-sections, and interior floor plans of fictional and sometimes fantastical homes made from train cars, military tanks, cacao nuts, and more in this intricately designed collection of annotated illustrations. Yoshida infuses a sense of childlike wonder and mystery into the dwellings, their inhabitants, and the accompanying lore, which boast a mixture of Japanese and Western influences.


Invisible Son

Kim Johnson (Random House)

A Black teen returning home after spending two months in a juvenile correctional facility for a crime he didn’t commit reckons with a friend’s disappearance, the impending pandemic, and racial injustice in this February 2020–set novel. Johnson thematically deepens a hard-hitting mystery with socially conscious ruminations on systemic and environmental racism, and imbues this timely read with smooth pacing, chilling atmosphere, and anticipatory tension.


The Isles of the Gods

Amie Kaufman (Knopf)

In Kaufman’s swashbuckling series launch, two teens must outsail a ruthless mercenary to prevent all-out war. Multiple perspectives ferry this high-stakes game of cat and mouse, the protagonists’ illuminating first-person narratives skillfully interlocking to maximize tension and forward momentum, while a sophisticated, organically incorporated mythology heightens the impact of the action-packed plot and the characters’ tangled relationships.


The King Is Dead

Benjamin Dean (Little, Brown)

A closeted 17-year-old becomes the U.K.’s first Black monarch following his white father’s death in Dean’s propulsive debut. This multilayered read delivers thrills and romance that excel in their portrayal of James’s struggle to balance vicious social politics, storied palace traditions, and vulnerable interpersonal conflict, all while shouldering the responsibility of a nation.



Charles Waters and Traci Sorell (Charlesbridge)

Told via seven alternating narratives, this ripped-from-the-headlines collaboration in verse by Waters and Cherokee Nation member Sorell follows a fictional town’s division over a racist sports emblem. Painting an intricate portrait of the differing reactions toward the controversy and its effect on community relationships, the creators present grounded, well-rounded discussions about classism, racism, and effective allyship, with compassion and understanding.


The Queer Girl Is Going to Be Okay

Dale Walls (Levine Querido)

Art imitates life in this raw and emotionally vulnerable debut, which follows a transgender teen’s endeavor to document queer love. Via an intimately wrought and complexly rendered close-knit friendship, Walls expertly navigates sometimes-overwhelming feelings of grief and internalized self-hatred, highlighting queer platonic love and emphasizing how chosen family can give one a safe port to weather any storm.



Rebecca Caprara (Atheneum)

Caprara uses Arachne’s mythos as a framework to chronicle one teen’s quest for vengeance and her determination to rail against society’s mores. Sensate verse depicts issues surrounding gender norms, grief, and trauma while accentuating how art and storytelling can serve as acts of healing and advocacy in this captivating rendering of ill-fated competition between mortals and gods.


What Stalks Among Us

Sarah Hollowell (Clarion)

Two queer teens find themselves trapped in an impossibly large, unseasonal corn maze in this atmospheric horror novel. Hollowell skillfully entwines passionately rendered prose and disturbing scenes of body horror with sensitive explorations of neurodivergence, misogyny, internalized anti-fat bias, and emotional abuse, seeding poignant ruminations amid surreal psychological thrills in this twisted ma(i)ze of terror.


Where You See Yourself

Claire Forrest (Scholastic Press)

Forrest employs upbeat and honest prose to adroitly render the experiences of one teen with cerebral palsy combatting ableist school administrators while searching for her ideal college. Pitch-perfect rom-com moments bursting with dry humor balance mature reflections on relationships, personal agency, and disability advocacy in this refreshing and empowering debut.


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