Kids Article

Our New Fall Reading List!

Summer may be over, but don’t worry: we won’t leave you without book recommendations for the cooler seasons! We’ve got the best adventure stories, friendship tales, and chilling fall favorites to keep young readers, teens, and book fans of all ages reading for pleasure as the school year kicks into gear. Look for the fall reading list on display at the front of the store and in the kids’ room until the holiday season!


Dory Fantasmagory: The Real True Friend Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525428664
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - July 7th, 2015

The star of Dory Fantasmagory is heading to school. Her older siblings, warn her to leave her imaginary friend, Mary, at home--or better yet, leave her whole imagination at home! Dory is determined to behave like a “regular old girl who never gets in trouble,” but on her very first day she meets a new friend, a girl whose imagination and style are just about as wild as her own. Now she just has to convince her siblings that she’s not making it all up!

Captain Coconut and the Case of the Missing Bananas Cover Image
ISBN: 9789383145225
Availability: Backordered
Published: Tara Books - July 7th, 2015

Meet the ace detective Captain Coconut, whose great brain can solve any mystery, large or small. In The Case of the Missing Bananas, Captain Coconut finds himself on a slippery trail of peels and numbers. A detective tale that grips the reader's attention with its innovative illustrations and humorous raveling and unraveling of clues and numbers! This is the first book in the Captain Coconut series.

Green Thumbs-Up! (The Friendship Garden #1) Cover Image
By Jenny Meyerhoff, Éva Chatelain (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781481439046
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Aladdin - September 8th, 2015

Third-grader Anna has had trouble making friends since her family moved to Chicago from a small town in New York. A group project at school, however, leads to new opportunities, including friendships, a club, and a garden she can work in, just like in her last home.



Nooks & Crannies Cover Image
By Jessica Lawson, Natalie Andrewson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781481419215
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - June 2nd, 2015

Tabitha Crum, an orphan, is summoned to an estate under mysterious circumstances. As it turns out, she is competing against five other children to be the heir to the grand dame of the estate. When the other children start disappearing, it’s up to her to solve the mystery and save them--with the help of her friend, trusty sidekick, and pet mouse, Pemberley. 

Hunters of Chaos Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481424523
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Aladdin - June 9th, 2015

Ana's average, suburban life is turned upside down when she's offered a place at the exclusive New Mexico boarding school that both of her late parents attended. Once there, she and three other girls discover they have amazing feline powers and must unite to stop an ancient evil.

The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden Cover Image
ISBN: 9781442498822
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - July 28th, 2015

Young graverobber Thomas Marsden makes an uncanny discovery one spring night: the identical image of himself, in a fresh, unmarked grave. Desperate to unearth the truth about himself and where he comes from, Thomas discovers magic, ritual, and the uncanny truth, that sometimes the things that make a boy ordinary are what make him extraordinary


The School for Good and Evil #3: The Last Ever After Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062104953
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - July 21st, 2015

The last book in the School for Good and Evil series! Former best friends Sophie and Agatha thought their ending was sealed when they went their separate ways, but their storybook is about to be rewritten--and this time, theirs isn't the only one. Will Agatha and Sophie be able to work together to save their stories? Will they find their way to being friends again? And will their new ending be the last Ever After they've been searching for?

Appleblossom the Possum Cover Image
By Holly Goldberg Sloan, Gary Rosen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780803741331
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Dial Books - August 11th, 2015

Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family--and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers who launch a hilarious rescue mission, and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they're about to find out!

The Wolf Wilder Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481419420
Availability: Backordered
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - August 25th, 2015

Feo is following in her mother’s footsteps to become a wolf wilder, training domesticated wolves to fend for themselves again. She loves taking care of the wolves, especially the three who stay at the house because they refuse to leave Feo. When the Tsar’s Imperial Army imprisons her mother, Feo must travel through the cold, harsh woods to save her--and learn from her wolves how to survive.



Chasing Secrets Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385742535
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - August 4th, 2015

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie and her secret friend Noah (who is hiding in her house) plan to rescue Noah's father from the quarantined Chinatown. The newspapers, her powerful uncle, and her beloved papa all deny that the plague has reached San Francisco. So why is the heart of the city under quarantine? Why are angry mobs trying to burn Chinatown to the ground? Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie and Noah must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people they love from a plague spreading in 1900s San Francisco.

Goodbye Stranger Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385743174
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - August 4th, 2015

Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends, with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

Another Kind of Hurricane Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553511932
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Schwartz & Wade - July 14th, 2015

When ten-year-old Zavion loses his home in Hurricane Katrina, he and his father are forced to flee to Baton Rouge. And when Henry, a ten-year-old boy in northern Vermont, tragically loses his best friend, Wayne, he flees to ravaged New Orleans to help with hurricane relief efforts--and to search for a marble in the pocket of a pair of jeans donated to the Red Cross.



The Creeping Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481418867
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - August 18th, 2015

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened; Jeanie was never seen or heard from again. When Stella is seventeen, along comes a corpse: a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

The Accident Season Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525429487
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Kathy Dawson Books - August 18th, 2015

Every October, Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes, but some years it's bad, like the season when her father died. This accident season, when Cara, her ex-step-brother Sam, and her best friend Bea, are 17, is going to be a bad one--but not for the reasons they think. Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: there's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises.

Staff Pick Badge
Pretending to Be Erica Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670014972
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - July 21st, 2015

Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life revolves around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again. Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its precision. When the time is right, Violet reappears as Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle.

No Such Person Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385742917
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Delacorte Press - July 14th, 2015

Miranda and Lander Allerdon are sisters. Miranda is younger, a dreamer, and floating her way through life. Lander is older, focused, and determined to succeed. As the girls and their parents begin another summer at their cottage on the Connecticut River, Miranda and Lander's sibling rivalry is in high gear. When the Allerdons become entangled in an unimaginable tragedy, the playing field is suddenly leveled. How can the family prepare for what the future may hold?

Another Day Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385756204
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - August 25th, 2015

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up. Until the morning everything changes: they share a perfect day. But one day, a stranger tells Rhiannon that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525428404
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Kathy Dawson Books - August 4th, 2015

After her parents' divorce, Zoe Webster moves from Brooklyn to upstate New York, where she meets the weirdly compelling misfit, Philip Digby. Soon Zoe finds herself in a series of hilarious and dangerous situations as he pulls her into his search for the kidnapper of a local teenage girl, who may know something about the disappearance of his sister eight years ago.

A Mad, Wicked Folly Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142427903
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Speak - June 2nd, 2015

In 1909 London, the world of debutante balls and high society obligations, women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling only wants to be an artist. After Vicky poses nude for her art class, her shamed and scandalized parents try to marry her off. But Vicky has other things on her mind: an application to the Royal College of Art, her participation in the suffragette movement, and her growing attraction to a working-class boy. Vicky must decide: how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?



The Last Leaves Falling Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481430654
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - June 2nd, 2015

Japanese teenager Abe Sora is afflicted with Lou Gehrig's Disease at seventeen years old. He's already lost the use of his legs, which means he can no longer attend school. Seeking a sense of normalcy, Sora visits teen chat rooms online and finally finds what he's been longing for: friendship without pity. With that, Abe makes the decision to leave life on his own terms, and he needs his friends to help him.

Staff Pick Badge
Trollhunters Cover Image
ISBN: 9781423125983
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Disney-Hyperion - July 7th, 2015

Everything changes for San Bernardino teenage suburbanite Jim Sturges when a 45-year-old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

Side Effects May Vary Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062245373
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - July 14th, 2015

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she's said and done.

Emmy & Oliver Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062330598
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - June 23rd, 2015

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart by Oliver’s disappearance. In Emmy's soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles: impossible to fit together?

Staff Pick Badge
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly Cover Image
ISBN: 9780803740709
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - June 9th, 2015

Minnow escapes from a cult only to find herself in juvenile detention, suspected of knowing who murdered her cult leader. The Kevinian cult has taken everything from Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust, and her hands. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to unlearn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of, if she's willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

Diary of a Haunting Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481430692
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon Pulse - August 25th, 2015

After her parents' high-profile divorce, sixteen-year-old Paige is forced to leave Los Angeles for a rambling Victorian mansion in small-town Idaho. She soon notices strange occurrences that seem to be building toward some unspeakable horror . . . and there's something not right about the downstairs neighbor, who seems to know a lot more than he's letting on. Things only get creepier when she learns about the cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost one hundred years earlier. The more Paige investigates, the clearer it all becomes: there's something in the house.

Our Favorite Books to Read This Summer!

Each summer, we release a list of our favorite books for young readers, because we want to keep them reading all summer long! The list is compiled of favorite series, HAISLN (Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network) recommended titles, new favorites out in paperback, and stuff that's just really really good. There's something for everyone on the summer reading list! Browse the list online or in-store all summer long.


Real Reviews from Local Kids!

Our amazing kid reviewers are always hard at work reading and reviewing the latest and greatest in kids books. Check out these new and upcoming favorites for middle grade readers. You can trust them...they’re the experts!

For more information about the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) Review Program, click here

Early Readers' Reviews

Middle Grade Reviews

YA Reviews

Backlist Boogie: Leading Ladies of My Life

This Lullaby Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142501559
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - March 8th, 2004

Remy does not believe in love. She has her reasons: her father left her mother when Remy was a baby, Remy’s mother goes through husbands like most people go through cell phones, dumb boyfriends are dumb, etc. Enter: goofy, seemingly-innocent, annoyingly-persistent Dexter. He has a lot of bad qualities but the worst is that he is a musician, just like Remy’s father. A gritty, intelligent, self-proclaimed “bitch,” Remy is hard to love at first but not everyone can be Taylor Swift.

Paper Towns Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142414934
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - September 22nd, 2009

Fact: cross Margo Roth Spiegelman and you lose her forever. Nerdy, neurotic Quentin does not learn this until she climbs through his window one night and asks him to help her right some wrongs. The next day, she has disappeared—and not for the first time. Now that they have bonded, Q makes it his mission to find her. Impulsive, dynamic, and delicate, Margo is a character that stays with you.

Born Confused Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545664516
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Push - April 29th, 2014

If you never ever read any YA at all except for one book, make it this one. There’s so much in this one amazing novel that to cover it all would be its own column! Long story short, Dimple Lala is seventeen, South-Indian, and at a strange point in her life. Her parents want her to find a suitable (Indian) boy, her best friend Gwyn has moved back in town, and all she wants is to be able to fit into (skinny) jeans like all the other girls. Genuinely profound, BORN CONFUSED taught me more about friendship, identity, gender, sexuality, and tradition than anything else I’ve read before or since.

The Lovely Bones Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316168816
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - April 20th, 2004

Chances are that you’ve heard about this book at some point—either when Alice Sebold published her memoir LUCKY, when the book first came out, or when Peter Jackson made it into a movie—but for real, this book is amazing. Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon leaves school one day and never makes it home; her body is never found. But that is not the story, not really. The story is how Susie’s family changes after her “disappearance.” Though THE LOVELY BONES is told from Susie’s perspective, her sister Lindsey and their mother Abigail are just as vibrant. Being a family is hard and this book never forgets that.

A Thousand Splendid Suns Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594483851
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - November 25th, 2008

Before you scroll away, A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is NOT just another war book! It is a multi-generational, mother-daughter story. It’s also a story about a country, one that does not ignore its history or the many faces of the people who live there. However, if neither of those things interest you, don’t worry. If you appreciate good writing and the type of storytelling that keeps you reading until your legs fall asleep, you will love this book, I promise.

Backlist Boogie: Gail Carson Levine

Fairy tales are the superior form of literature. Yeah, I said it. You can keep your joyless realism. I’d rather have magic and monsters any day--and if I do, it’s probably Gail Carson Levine’s fault. Gail Carson Levine is the poet laureate of fairy tales, with the cleverest heroines and the most interesting monsters. She never takes on a story in the same way twice, either. There’s a lot that can be done inside your average fairy tale framework, and Levine does it all. Her books are different enough to be fresh--you won’t be bored if you go on a spree and read them all back-to-back!--but they all have the same core that made us love her first: full-color heroines worthy of legend. There are powerful female friendships, endless monsters and magical artifacts for the most overactive of imaginations, and deeply moving choices between what’s right and what’s easy.


Ella Enchanted Cover Image
ISBN: 9780064407052
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - May 2nd, 2017

I refused to read this book, like the stubborn and petulant second-grader I was, when my mother gave it to me after it won a Newbery Honor. I knew what books I liked. I wasn’t gonna let anybody tell me what to read, even my mom. So Mom got to be vindicated a year later, when I picked ELLA ENCHANTED off my shelf--and didn’t read anything else for about three months. I have always been a re-reader, and I pored over every page of Ella like a dragon polishing every facet of a gem in her hoard.

Ella is cursed to obedience. Whenever anyone gives her a command, she must obey--even if it’s to hurt herself, or someone else. As a young girl already chafing against commands (I didn’t read a great book just because someone had told me I should, for crying out loud), Ella’s curse terrified me. The idea of being powerless like that was scary to me then--it’s still scary to me now, maybe even more so now.

But Ella made me brave. Ella found ways around her curse, ways to be free, and did it all on her own as a book-loving, adventure-seeking girl. Like any Cinderella, she has some help along the way--I wanted her magic book and no-nonsense fairy godmother--but the real strength is all Ella’s. Her gift for languages and cool head serve her just as well as her firm sense of who she is and what she wants, and for once, a fairytale heroine gets a prince who’s just as funny and goodhearted as she is. I believed in Ella, and Gail Carson Levine made it easy to see Ella in myself. More than fairies, that was the best magic of ELLA ENCHANTED.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre Cover Image
ISBN: 9780064409667
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - April 24th, 2012

I have a big sister who I’ve always been close to, but I can’t deny it’s real work sometimes--and I’m sure parents will agree with me that sometimes siblings are tough. Books like THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE, where the two main characters are not only sisters, but devoted friends, made me appreciate my sister in my life and what she means to me. When shy Addie’s brave, adventurous sister Meryl is stricken with the ever-fatal Gray Death, Addie makes the decision to be the adventurer and find the cure for her sister.

What I loved the most about this book was that neither Addie nor Meryl is more or less a hero because of their fears or actions--while it’s undeniably Addie’s story, told in her voice, Meryl is always larger than life and just as important. Both Addie and Meryl have to make some very hard choices, but both come away from their fears and difficult decisions happy with who they are. Levine doesn’t give more weight to cleverness or action--both using your brain and bucking up to do things are equally important here. As always, Levine brings a fabulous take on different storytelling traditions to her stories: when was the last time you saw Anglo-Saxon epic poetry declaimed in a childrens’ book? Beowulf has nothing on Bamarre.

Ever Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061229640
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - April 26th, 2011

While we’re talking about adapting different storytelling traditions, we have to talk about EVER, Levine’s amazing love story based on early Mesopotamian mythology. Kezi, the daughter of a merchant, finds her time cut short by a brave and terrifying act of sacrifice--but Olus, the young wind god of a neighboring country, refuses to just stand by and watch. Levine covers fate, faith, and sacrifice in refreshingly adult ways, trusting her younger readers in a way that some authors just can’t. She tells the story like a myth, a slightly faraway voice of folklore, which suits Kezi and Olus’ epic deeds perfectly.

A Tale of Two Castles Cover Image
By Gail Carson Levine, Greg Call (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780061229671
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - December 26th, 2012

Stolen Magic Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061706370
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - April 21st, 2015

I may have shrieked when I saw Levine had a new series--and that I’d missed the first book! I may have missed A TALE OF TWO CASTLES when it was published in 2011, but you can believe I’m excited for its sequel, STOLEN MAGIC, coming in April. Elodie is a wonderful, different heroine--she wants to be an actress!--and Meenore is a dragon the likes of which have never been in fiction before. She’s clever and vain, yes, but she sells toasted cheese skewers, and moonlights as a detective! Count Jonty Um, likewise, is an ogre--but a very different ogre than I’ve ever read about: shapeshifting, shy, noble and kind. Even now, so far into her career, Levine hasn’t run out of ideas. She can still put a fantastic, different twist on the same old fairytale tropes.

Enter Our Bookmark Contest!

The bookmark contest is back! Each year, we choose four talented bookmark designs submitted by kids in K-6th grades to produce and give away in the store all summer long! We choose one winner from each age division, and (hint hint) the most successful designs are colorful, bold, and all about books! In addition to their design being distributed in the store all summer, the four lucky winners will receive 50 bookmarks to give to friends and family, and a $25 gift certificate to Brazos Bookstore. I can’t wait to see what the kids come up with this year! Each and every entry will be displayed in the store for our summer kickoff party on May 16, because we know how hard the kids work on their designs and believe that they all deserve time in the spotlight.

We look forward to all the amazing entries!



I wasn’t allowed to read books about witches when I was a kid. Perhaps that’s why, as an adult, I’m drawn to any and every book that features witches, wizards, magic...I love them all. Is there such a thing as retroactive rebellion? Let this be a warning to you against censoring your children’s reading materials. (But that’s a different post altogether…)


After reading Katherine Howe’s brilliant CONVERSION, I was inspired to write about some of my new favorites and old friends that feature witches and witchcraft in a variety of circumstances: suspected, whimsical, familial, historical, and creepy. 


Staff Pick Badge
Conversion Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399167775
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - July 1st, 2014

Fascinating dual storylines jump between Salem Village post-witch-trials and modern day Danvers, Massachusetts. In Salem, Ann Putnam is telling her version of the events leading up to the infamous witch hunts and dramatic “possessions” of girls in the community. In Danvers, girls at an elite Catholic day school begin to show symptoms of a “Mystery Illness” that throws the community, and the nation, into a frenzy. Ann Putnam’s story of Salem sheds light on (and misleads you in) the search for answers at St. Joan’s Academy. This book hits the pitch of both time periods perfectly, whether it be religious paranoia in early America or twenty-four hour news chaos today. It’s smart, fast-paced, and definitely takes twists you won’t expect.

The Witch's Boy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616203511
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 16th, 2014

This is one of my big favorites from last year! Kelly Barnhill’s middle grade novel reads like a folk tale about ancient magic, the village witch who controls it, and her son, who is forced to carry it when unexpected tragedy endangers everything. The boy teams up with a wolf and a bandit’s daughter to escape his magic-seeking pursuers and restore his family and life to normal. The girl has a mission of her own, but finds that she can’t trust everything she was raised believing--and maybe doesn’t want to. Adventure, friendship, and fantastical world-building combine to make this really special, can’t-put-it-down, high middle grade masterpiece!

Half Bad (The Half Bad Trilogy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780147511461
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - January 13th, 2015

Fans of gritty, raw, emotional stories, rejoice! HALF BAD tells the story of Nathan, whose mother was a good White Witch and whose father is the most evil Black Witch around. The ruling councils of White Witches see Nathan as a key weapon against his father, so they imprison and abuse him, while training him to kill his father. However, knowing that his survival depends on finding his father and keeping him alive, he escapes and embarks on a mission that challenges all of his community’s darkest taboos. It’s a series and I CAN’T WAIT to find out what happens next.

The Power of Poppy Pendle Cover Image
ISBN: 9781442449268
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - September 3rd, 2013

The Courage of Cat Campbell (Poppy Pendle) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481418706
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - January 6th, 2015

This charming duo about a young witch (Poppy Pendle) who would rather be a baker, and later her daughter (Cat Campbell) who is a late bloomer and desperate to be a witch, will charm and engage young readers. Both books can be read independently, but they really shine as a set. It’s also great fun to see Poppy as a young girl, desperate to escape her witchcraft, and as a mom, learning to support a daughter who loves being a witch. I’m a sucker for a mother/daughter story and think this one is particularly special.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547550299
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - January 10th, 2011

A classic! I was actually allowed to read this one as a kid, but probably only because it was historical fiction and not magical magic fiction. It stands out as one of the most immersive reading experiences of my life and one that I can’t wait to share with my kids one day. Sixteen-year-old Kit moves from Barbados to Connecticut in 1687, and creates quite a splash! Bright, floral dresses, undesirable friends in the village, and a sailor boy who seems to keep popping up make her the talk of her small, Puritan town. As suspicion and gossip surround Kit, life becomes increasingly harder and for the island native, much more confusing. This is as close to perfect as you can get when it comes to historical fiction.

The Witches Cover Image
By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780142410110
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Puffin Books - August 16th, 2007

This book is not historical fiction, but oh how I wish it was! Roald Dahl’s classic about a boy and his grandmother who outsmart a group of witches intent on turning the world’s children into mice is hilarious and creepy in equal measure. Need I say more? There’s a reason it’s a classic.

Backlist Boogie: Sara Zarr

We all have those authors whose body of work we have read to near or total completion. This can be especially valuable for kids who are new or reluctant to read--finding a special author who speaks your language can make all the difference. In this monthly feature, one of our booksellers highlights just such a children’s or YA author by burrowing into their backlist titles and contextualizing new releases. Consider this the ‘if the shoe fits, buy it in every color’ principle, except with authors.  


This month, I am celebrating one of my absolute favorite authors of realistic teen fiction, Sara Zarr. Her writing is subtle and quietly graceful, the kind that sweeps you up before you realize it and gently sets you down somewhere you never expected to be, but always wanted to go. 


Let’s take this in chronological order, shall we?


Story of a Girl Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316014540
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - February 1st, 2008

Zarr’s first published novel for young adults was a National Book Award finalist in 2008 and still feels so relevant to contemporary conversations about girlhood, sexuality, bullying, and rape culture. When Deanna was thirteen, her dad caught her in the backseat with a seventeen year old boy, which cemented her reputation as the "school slut." Now, three years later, Deanna is still trying to overcome the rumors and stigma. The book follows her introspective attempts to understand why she and to escape her since-then difficult life at home.

Sweethearts Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316014564
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - January 1st, 2009

This was my first Zarr experience and probably the one that hooked me for life. Jennifer’s childhood best friend Cameron disappeared when they were still young, leaving her with few answers and the unique void left by a best friend who never said goodbye. So when Cameron shows up in her high school class one day, the old friends shyly reconnect, revisit shared memories, and fill in the gaps of their stories. This book somehow brings to life that sensation of remembering something from childhood and realizing it was scarier/darker/sweeter than we realized at the time. It’s about friendship and growing up and families, it is quiet and beautiful, and it’s everything I love about Zarr’s writing.

What We Lost Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316232180
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 2nd, 2013

This book wears a lot of hats. It’s a mystery, it’s a portrait of a small town, it’s an exploration of faith questioned, and it’s a story about a struggling family and the difficult dynamics therein. When a local girl goes missing, Sam’s town is thrown into a tailspin of media attention, and fear. In the midst of the mystery surrounding the disappearance, Sam starts to question her faith as both of her parents--mom’s an alcoholic and dad’s a less-than-perfect pastor--complicate her already shaky foundations. I love the care given to Sam’s questions and the way that the action of the story is balanced with the quiet introspection and nuanced relationships. This book is really special and perhaps my favorite on this list!

How to Save a Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316036061
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 18th, 2011

This is another one in which Zarr manages to present a lot of story elements without letting the characters get lost or bogged down. Mandy is 19, naive, and pregnant. Jill is still mourning her father’s death, and is pretty pissed when her mom agrees to adopt Mandy’s baby. Pissed--and suspicious of Mandy’s story. Told in alternating perspectives, the girls’ opposition balances with a precision I’ve come to expect from this amazing writer. Both girls make sense, both stories are relatable, and both have such distinct voices.

The Lucy Variations Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316205009
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - May 27th, 2014

THE LUCY VARIATIONS is a departure from Zarr’s other work in some ways, but still true to the nuanced, character-driven style that defines her work. Lucy, a super-privileged upper-cruster, gave up her career as a piano prodigy after the sudden death of her grandmother. Months later, she’s still mourning her loss and trying to figure out who she is without the all-encompassing piano to define her. Once again we see balance: Lucy is relateable in her emotional longing, even though she isn’t (for most of us) in her fancy private school or old money. At its heart, this is a book about trying to figure out who you are despite voids of lost people, hobbies, or loves.

Roomies Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316217491
Availability: Backordered
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - December 24th, 2013

ADORE! I adore this book. I really do. Co-written with (the amazing) Tara Altebrando, ROOMIES is the story of two girls from opposite sides of the country randomly assigned to be each other’s freshman roommates. I’m a sucker for a dual perspective format and love how we see their relationship form over email against the backdrop of their individual last summers before college. I sent a copy of this to my freshman roommate as soon as I finished and she also fell madly in love with it (we always bonded over YA). I can’t wait to see what comes next from the always beautiful, subtle, emotional, relatable world of Sara Zarr!

Get Ready for our Alphabet Party with Great ABC Books!

Did you come to our marathon storytime of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK last year? Well, we’re doing it again this January 24, except this year, we’ll be reading Oliver Jeffers’ newest book ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET! This will be just like our normal storytimes, but BIGGER and BETTER! We’ll have a breakfast cereal bar, tons of ABC crafts and, best of all, you can wear your pajamas!! MC and other members of the Brazos staff will regale you with the silly and adventurous tales that span the entire alphabet with alliterative aplomb! Pick up a copy of ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET at Brazos today and start counting down the days til the party! 

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters Cover Image
By Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator), Oliver Jeffers
ISBN: 9780399167911
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - October 14th, 2014

I know I don’t even need to say more about this new Oliver Jeffers book, because you’re probably already in your car on the way to the store to get a copy. In case you aren’t, let me tell you more. Each letter of the alphabet is associated with a word and beautiful full color illustration. Then, the following pages feature a delightful, alliterative short story about that object. This book is destined to be a classic! Our staff members have compared it to Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak and Edward let that speak for itself!

In the meantime, check out these fabulous featured titles from the latest onslaught of amazing, special, and super-fun ABC books! Each puts a fun spin on the tried and true genre, and is sure to bring enjoyment to ABC newbies and masters alike.

The Zoo's Grand Opening: An ABC and Counting Book Cover Image
ISBN: 9783899557145
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Gestalten - May 8th, 2014

This one is an ABC and counting book all about zoo animals! Between adorable rhyming verses about each letter’s animal and vivid bright pictures, this book is perfect for young animal lovers! The rhymes make it ideal for bedtime stories and the matte illustration style makes it really unique.

Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Cover Image
ISBN: 9780847843770
Availability: Backordered
Published: Skira Rizzoli - October 21st, 2014

Kalman’s signature illustrations make this ABC book a real treat! Featuring 31 objects from Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum, this book makes highbrow accessible and uses alliteration to great effect! I particularly love how every G on the G page is in bright red, making it exciting for young readers to spot them all!

Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590178171
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: NYR Children's Collection - October 14th, 2014

This newest addition to the New York Review Children’s Collection seamlessly weaves past with present in this singular picture book. Quirky pictures of children from the early twentieth century are captioned by alliterative verses that describe or give invented context to the photos. Read this book together, then look at old family photos to compare!

And here are a few standby favorites that, while they aren’t new, round out my list of favorite ABC tomes.

Bruno Munari's ABC Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811854634
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - March 16th, 2006

Damien Hirst: ABC Book Cover Image
By Damien Hirst (Artist)
ISBN: 9781906967635
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Other Criteria - October 15th, 2013

Alphablock Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419709364
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harry N. Abrams - August 6th, 2013

Brazos Kids Holiday Gift Guide: For the Budding Mad Scientist

We all know that kid: he blows up the most seemingly innocent concoctions...she excavates every garden in a 3-block radius...they team up to create robots that NASA aims to recreate. They’re bound to be genius scientists one day, and you’re determined to encourage their fascinations (and save your begonias). We’ve got the perfect books and gifts to satisfy their curious minds and keep your counters free of baking soda and vinegar for another day. 

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor (Frank Einstein series #1): Book One Cover Image
By Jon Scieszka, Brian Biggs (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781419712180
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harry N. Abrams - August 19th, 2014

This new series from beloved kids author Jon Scieszka tells the story of kid-scientist Frank Einstein and his various forays into scientific discovery. This first book is all about robots and motors, and is full of fantastic illustrations. This book is smart in so many ways.

Robotic Gorilla Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781607107767
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Silver Dolphin Books - March 25th, 2014

You guys, this is both a book about robotics AND a kit for kids to build an actual robotic gorilla. Are you already driving to the store to pick one up or should I say more? If you’re skeptical, allow me to reassure you that it’s challenging, but very doable for kids and it works really well once it’s finished! A perfect gift!

Animalium: Welcome to the Museum Cover Image
By Jenny Broom, Katie Scott (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763675080
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Big Picture Press - September 9th, 2014

Prepare to hear a lot about this book, because we LOVE it. This is easily the kind of book that will be scoured over for hours and passed down through generations of your family. It’s the first in a series of books that aim to recreate a museum experience every time you open it. This book explores the animal kingdom in classic detail and with timeless illustrations and quality. An equally suitable gift for kids and adults alike.

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594746482
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - November 5th, 2013

Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594746499
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - February 4th, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle: A Mystery with Spy Cameras, Code Wheels, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594746765
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - May 6th, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove: A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594747298
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Quirk Books - October 7th, 2014

This is one of my favorite recommendations for kids and parents in the store. They’re written by an elementary school science teacher from Massachusetts, and let me just say that I would LOVE to be in his class. Each book has an adventure or mystery plot that the kids must solve using experiments and the scientific method. They also include real experiments you can try at home! I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story Cover Image
By Mark Kelly, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781442458246
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - October 9th, 2012

Mousetronaut Goes to Mars Cover Image
By Mark Kelly, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781442484269
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - October 1st, 2013

Real-life astronaut Chris Kelly wrote these charming picture books about a mouse who goes to space! They’re informative, fun, and especially perfect for Houston kids who love NASA!

365 More Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials Cover Image
ISBN: 9781579129675
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Black Dog & Leventhal - March 11th, 2014

Utterly Amazing Science Cover Image
ISBN: 9781465414212
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: DK Children - August 18th, 2014

Our Kids Science section is bursting with fantastic nonfiction for kids on both broad and specific topics. If your little one is scientifically minded, I’d recommend browsing the full section for hidden gems. These are two of my current favorites that talk about a wide variety of topics, since there’s sure to be new areas of interest and some that they’re already familiar with and want to gain more depth of knowledge.