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Debut Children’s Novels PDF Print E-mail
Written by Flannery Fitch   


This spring, I was lucky enough to participate in a program called Indies Introduce. Arranged by the independent bookstore coalition, Indiebound, Indies Introduce brought together a panel of booksellers from across the country who read debut novels and asked them to select books to promote in a newsletter. There was a panel for adult books and one for children’s books, and I was on the panel selecting the children’s novels. It was a wonderful, one of a kind experience. And now I get to share some of my favorite debut titles with you!


Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

By Kate Beasley

Gertie has a plan. She will be the best fifth grader in the whole world, and if she is, maybe her estranged mom won’t leave town. Not that Gertie cares. She’s awesome all on her own. But she’s still going to try. Of course, things quickly go awry. Gertie is an utterly winning heroine, plucky and stubborn, and this is an absolutely wonderful book. Thoroughly charming, Gertie’s Leap to Greatness is a funny, heartfelt story about a girl you’ll wish you knew.


This Is Not a Werewolf Story

By Sandra Evans

Raul doesn’t talk much. He spends his days at boarding school looking after the younger kids and keeping his secrets to himself. Because Raul has secrets, as do the woods surrounding the school. Blending aspects of a variety of mythologies, including Pacific Northwest Native American, Evans has created a wonderful coming of age story about a young boy discovering himself and his family. I really enjoyed this book.


The Killer in Me

By Margot Harrison

I love a good mystery, and am always on the lookout for something different: I found that in The Killer in Me. The premise was unique and kept me on my toes the whole way through. Nina sees the Thief in her dreams. She sees him kill, and knows where he buries the bodies. So she decides to track him down herself, and what she finds makes her doubt everything. This is a spine-tingling, thrilling book, and I recommend it to any teen who likes a good mystery.


How to Hang a Witch

By Adriana Mather

The Salem Witch Trial might be a source of fascination for the rest of the country, but in Salem, Massachusetts, the wounds are still open, and descendants of those involved in the trials still walk the streets. When Samantha Mather, descendant of a villain of the trial, moves there, her presence sets off a chain of events that could destroy the town. Struggling to fit into a town that hates her for her name, Samantha finds herself contending with ghosts, angry descendants, and an old curse. I loved the directions Adriana Mather took the story, as well as the historical details she uses to frame it.


The Weight of Zero

By Karen Fortunati

After Catherine is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she can’t believe that she’ll survive. She knows that while right now she’s okay, devastating depression, Zero, is coming for her. So she decides that she won’t let it get her—she’ll end things before it gets that far. But first, she has a few things to do. Her bucket list becomes an unlikely source of change, as she discovers hope where she never expected it. This book tore me apart and rebuilt me, in the best possible way. By far the best depiction of depression that I’ve read in a very long time; I spent the last half of the book in grateful tears, filled with a gut deep recognition that gave hope for life and love for Catherine. I cannot express enough what this book meant to me. It’s a life saver.


Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

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