Happy Book Birthday: New Picture Books, Middle Grade, and YA

By Libby Stille, Publicist

Check out March new releases from Lerner Publishing Group!

Picture books

Be a Maker, written by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vuković

Be a Maker cover

How many things can you make in a day? A tower, a friend, a change? Rhyme, repetition, and a few seemingly straightforward questions engage young readers in a discussion about the many things we make—and the ways we can make a difference in the world. This simple, layered story celebrates creativity through beautiful rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations with a timely message.

Spread from Be a Maker
Spread from Be a Maker

Praise for Be a Maker

“Together the text and the illustrations create an excellent read that will empower readers to reflect on their own lives and make a change or two or three. . . . This is more than just a book about making and engineering: Make an excellent choice to add this to the shelves.”—Kirkus Reviews

Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate, written by Sara Levine and illustrated by Masha D’yans

Flower Talk cover

This new book from Sara Levine features a cantankerous talking cactus as a narrator, revealing to readers the significance of different colors of flowers in terms of which pollinators (bees, bats, birds, etc.) different colors “talk” to. A fun nonfiction presentation of science info that may be new to many kids—and adults!

Spread from Flower Talk
Spread from Flower Talk

Praise for Flower Talk

“A good companion volume for Rebecca Hirsch’s Plants Can’t Sit Still (2016), this cleverly written and informative picture book is a lively choice for reading aloud.”—Booklist

“Levine offers accessible insights into plant life and the mutualism between plants and animals . . .”—Publishers Weekly

“D’yans’s watery paintings are especially appropriate for the subject, providing realistic variations in shading and revealing a gentle humor—the cactus drinks tea with a tea bag hanging rakishly from an ear; a bee has blossoms instead of stars in its eyes.”—School Library Journal

Graphic novels

The Wolf in Underpants, written by Wilfrid Lupano and illustrated by Mayana Itoïz and Paul Cauuet

The Wolf in Underpants cover

In this witty graphic novel, a community of forest animals trades scary rumors about a nearby wolf. Some critters have even gone into business selling wolf traps and anti-wolf fences. But when the wolf appears in a pair of striped underpants, everyone rethinks their fears. This is a heartwarming story about understanding differences, told with an oddball sense of humor.

Spread from The Wolf in Underpants
Spread from The Wolf in Underpants

Praise for The Wolf in Underpants

“Young readers will howl for this tale that combines a timely, smart message alongside crowd-pleasing silliness.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A] satirical—and unavoidably relevant—tale worthy of joining the canon of classic Big Bad Wolf spoofs.”—Publishers Weekly

“[A] funny story infused with a lesson about fake news . . .”—School Library Journal

Gravity’s Pull: Book 2 by MariNaomi

Gravity's Pull cover

When Claudia Jones returns to her high school after a mysterious disappearance, she exerts a strange effect on the classmates around her. Meanwhile, her fellow students also struggle with the challenges of regular young-adult life. How should they navigate problems with identity, illness, and consent? Bringing the full possibilities of the graphic novel medium to the page, the author-artist writes and draws every chapter from a different character’s point of view in a unique art style.

Spread from Gravity's Pull
Spread from Gravity’s Pull

Praise for Gravity’s Pull

“MariNaomi’s attention to life’s uncanny aspects feels more urgent than ever. Eerily good.”—Kirkus Reviews

“There’s nothing else quite like this series out there, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.”—Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books


The Big Book of Disney Top 10s: Fun Facts and Cool Trivia by Jennifer Boothroyd and Mary Lindeen


Packed with fun, this collection of top 10 lists on all things Disney and Pixar offers hours of entertaining reading and sharing. Superfans will love browsing all kinds of lists, including top funniest moments, favorite quotes, and incredible characters. Plus, STEAM sidebars feature fascinating behind-the-scenes information.

Hack Your Backyard: Discover a World of Outside Fun with Science Buddies® by Niki Ahrens

Hack Your Backyard cover

The great outdoors is calling! Explore science in your own backyard through this wild collection of projects. Make your own compass, learn to tell the temperature from crickets, count the stars, and more! Simple instructions and clear photos ensure projects will be successful, and QR codes lead to supplemental content. This book was created in partnership with Science Buddies®, an organization focused on fostering STEM discovery through hands-on explorations.

Let It Grow: A Frozen Guide to Gardening by Cynthia Stierle


Have fun with plant and gardening projects alongside your favorite Frozen characters, including Anna, Elsa, and Olaf! Photos and step-by-step instructions guide readers through projects such as growing beans and making a troll terrarium. Plant life cycle information and critical thinking questions extend learning.

Middle grade

Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy by Joshua S. Levy

Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy
PSS 118 is just your typical school—except that it’s a rickety old spaceship orbiting Jupiter. When the school is mysteriously attacked, thirteen-year-old Jack receives a cryptic message from his father (the school’s recently-fired-for-tinkering-with-the-ship science teacher). Amidst the chaos, Jack discovers that his dad has built humanity’s first light-speed engine—and given Jack control of it. To save the ship, Jack catapults it hundreds of light-years away and right into the clutches of the first aliens humans have ever seen. School hasn’t just gotten out: it’s gone clear across the galaxy. And now it’s up to Jack and his friends to get everyone home.

Praise for Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy

“[T]his middle-grade action-adventure space opera is just plain fun.”—Booklist

“A perfect bridge for readers looking for a Percy Jackson–esque work of science fiction.”—School Library Journal

“An exciting adventure full of humor and action that will make you wish you went to school in space.” —Gareth Wronski, author of Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy

Read this post for the story behind the Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy cover design.


The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Appelhans


Riley lives in TropeTown, where everyone plays stock roles in novels. Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, is sent to group therapy after going off-script. Riley knows that breaking the rules again could get him terminated, yet he feels there must be more to life than recycling the same clichés for readers’ entertainment. Then he meets Zelda, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Geek Chic subtype), and falls head over heels in love. Zelda’s in therapy too, along with several other Manic Pixies. But TropeTown has a dark secret, and if Riley and his fellow Manic Pixies don’t get to the bottom of it, they may all be terminated.

Praise for The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

“[A] genial read . . .”—Booklist

“Funny, romantic, and delightfully meta—The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project was a joy to read from beginning to end.”—Jess Rothenberg, author of The Catastrophic History of You & Me and The Kingdom

“How long has it been since you had a good laugh? This book is the one you’ve been waiting for. Witty, sharp, surprising—a refreshing read.”—Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death

More posts by Libby.

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