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Whether you love sprawling fantasies, gothic fables, jubilant rom-coms or page-turning mysteries, 2022 is guaranteed to be a YA lover’s best reading year ever.

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi
HarperCollins | February 1

Tahereh Mafi has written a bestselling six-volume dystopian series as well as middle grade fantasies and two devastating realistic novels set in the early 2000s. Her fans love her imaginative, emotional storytelling and razor-sharp prose. In 2022, she’ll publish her first work of high fantasy for teen readers, a sprawling yet intimate tale with Persian and Muslim influences. If your ideal reading experience is being transported into an epic and magical story, you’ll want to put This Woven Kingdom at the top of your TBR. 

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel | February 1

The thing I love most about historical fiction master Ruta Sepetys is how unwilling she seems to be to simply rest on her laurels. At this point in her writing career, Sepetys could forge a comfortable path retreading familiar territory, but instead, she follows her unique instincts for sniffing out compelling stories amid locales and historical moments little-known to most of her American readers, from war-torn northern Europe during the final days of World War II to Barcelona at the height of the Franco regime. In I Must Betray You, she turns those instincts to 1989 Romania, and the result is a can’t-miss read for fans of historical fiction and thrillers alike.

Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams
Little, Brown | February 8

Kelly McWilliams is the daughter of acclaimed children’s author Jewell Parker Rhodes, and her 2020 debut, Agnes at the End of the World, proved that she’s a talented storyteller in her own right. Mirror Girls is an ambitious step forward for McWilliams. A historical horror novel that reads like The Vanishing Half meets “Lovecraft Country,” it’s the story of biracial twin sisters who are separated at birth and reunite under mysterious circumstances in the small Georgia town where they were born.

Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi
Knopf | February 15

Akwaeke Emezi is one of the most exciting and visionary writers working today, and I’m thrilled that they’re returning to YA shelves with this prequel to their 2019 National Book Award finalist, Pet. Bitter will reveal the story of Pet’s mother, the eponymous Bitter, and add new dimensions to the world Emezi created in Pet.

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Razorbill | March 1

It’s hard to think of a more successful or more influential YA fantasy series of the past decade than Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes quartet, which ended in December 2020 with A Sky Beyond the Storm. All My Rage explores vastly different territory: It’s a work of contemporary realism about two teens coming of age in a small town in the Mojave Desert. Like the novel’s protagonists, Tahir grew up at her family’s 18-room motel in the Mojave Desert, and All My Rage draws inspiration from her personal experiences. Changing genres and creating such a personal story is an ambitious move, but Tahir is a storyteller I’d follow just about anywhere. 

The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra
Disney-Hyperion | March 1

In December 2020, Netflix released the first season of “Tiny Pretty Things,” adapted from Clayton and Charaipotra’s 2015 YA novel of the same name. It was an addicting mix of a high-pressure environment (a ballet school) and a twisting, shocking plot that kept me up past bedtime on more than one occasion. Clayton and Charaipotra have both released books individually since publishing Shiny Broken Things, the sequel to Tiny Pretty Things, in 2016, but they’re reuniting in 2022 for a brand-new standalone thriller about rumors, secrets and lies set at an exclusive prep school. It’s got the makings of a late-night read written all over it.

Gallant by V. E. Schwab
Greenwillow | March 1

I’m going to throw some words and phrases at you right now: Fog. Gloom. Mysterious. Crumbling old house. Ghostly. Candlelight. A door to the unknown. Secrets. Haunting. Enchanting. If those are vibes you find yourself inexplicably drawn to, bestselling author V. E. Schwab has written a book especially for you. The less I say here about Schwab’s return to the YA category, the better, because as with all tales of mystery and magic, half the pleasure’s in the discovery itself.

Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood
Delacorte | March 8

How many reimaginings and adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women is too many for me? To quote an iconic scene from the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls, the limit does not exist. I regularly sing along to the soundtrack of the 2005 Broadway show while driving to work. I inhaled Bethany C. Morrow’s 2021 remix, So Many Beginnings, set in 1863 in a Virginia colony of newly emancipated people. Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation was the last movie I saw in a theater before the pandemic. (I loved it, obviously.) So I truly cannot wait to see what this reimagining will hold. The details are already tantalizing: It’s set in 1942, with each March sister’s perspective written by a different YA author. Jo builds planes! Laurie is an army pilot! Amy is a Red Cross volunteer in London! Beth’s point of view will be in verse! I look forward to swooning, sighing and ugly-crying all over again when it hits shelves in March.

Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters
Viking | March 15

Julian Winters has published three of the most beloved LGBTQ+ realistic fiction YA novels in recent memory through a small, independent publisher called Interlude Press. This spring, Winters will release his first book from one of the so-called Big Five publishers, a move that’s sure to make his rising star shine even brighter. Right Where I Left You has all the ingredients that readers loved in Winters’ previous books, including authentic teen characters and heartfelt depictions of friendship, romance and the search to figure out who you are and what you really want.  

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram
Dial | March 22

Adib Khorram’s first two novels told the quiet but deeply powerful story of queer biracial teen Darius Kellner. Darius the Great Is Not Okay and its sequel, Darius the Great Deserves Better are master classes in creating a unique and authentic narrative voice. In his third book, Khorram seems to be interested in turning up the volume—literally. The protagonist of Kiss & Tell is the only gay member of a newly successful boy band, but he’s struggling with his heart and with the pressures of the spotlight. Readers who enjoyed the showbiz romance of Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s If This Gets Out or the music-loving heart of Leah Johnson’s Rise to the Sun won’t want to miss it. 

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke
Knopf | April 5

Although they’ve published two YA novels and two picture books (including What Are Your Words, which is the most accessible introduction to personal pronouns I’ve ever read) and edited two anthologies, Katherine Locke isn’t a household name—yet. This Rebel Heart could very well be the book to change that. Set in the midst of the 1956 revolution in communist Budapest, the story promises an intriguing juxtaposition of history and magic that fans of Julie Berry, Naomi Novik, Gavriel Savit and Ruta Sepetys will love.

Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk
Versify | April 5

While we’re on the subject of authors who should be household names, allow me to get out my megaphone and sandwich board and stand out on the sidewalk to sing the praises of Ashley Woodfolk. Woodfolk’s first two novels are two of the best works of YA contemporary realistic fiction of the past decade, and she was one of six contributors to Blackout, the collaborative YA romance hit of summer 2021. To read a Woodfolk novel is to lose all sense of time and be swept away in her character-driven storytelling and effortless prose, and Nothing Burns as Bright as You looks to be her most explosive novel yet. 

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan
Little, Brown | April 12

Emily X.R. Pan’s 2018 debut novel, The Astonishing Color of After, was a New York Times bestseller and received a number of awards, including a Walter Honor and a YA Honor from ALA’s Asian/Pacific American Awards. It was the uncommon debut novel whose ambition was matched by its creator’s skill, so while Pan’s second book looks even more ambitious, I’m so excited to watch her pull it off. Like Pan’s debut, An Arrow to the Moon will blend romance, emotional storytelling, Chinese mythology and fantastical elements for an unforgettable combination.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Wednesday | May 3

Casey McQuiston burst onto bookshelves in 2019 with her adult romance debut, Red, White & Royal Blue, a book that reads like “The West Wing” meets “The Crown” but with much more kissing, and then didn’t let their foot off the gas one bit in their second book, One Last Stop. So when, in the summer of 2021, McQuiston announced that she would be publishing her first YA novel, to say that it was exciting would be an understatement. I Kissed Shara Wheeler is set at a conservative school in Alabama and, like One Last Stop, will incorporate elements of both mystery and romance. 

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert
Flatiron | June 28

The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert’s first YA novel, spent more than half of 2018 on the New York Times bestseller list. Since then, Albert’s fans have devoured a sequel, The Night Country, as well as a companion set of short stories, Tales From the Hinterland. Our Crooked Hearts will capture the same intoxicating potion of dark magic and sharp prose that readers loved in Albert’s previous books, but since it’s a wholly original story unconnected to the Hinterland world, it’s also a perfect entry point to Albert’s work for new readers.

2022 is poised to become YA fans' best reading year ever.

Adults often wish they could revisit their own childhoods, but I find myself envying kids today when I survey all the great children’s books being published this year. These 15 titles are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wonders that will fill young readers’ shelves  in 2022.

Sing, Aretha, Sing! by Hanif Abdurraqib, illustrated by Ashley Evans
FSG | February 1

Hanif Abdurraqib is an acclaimed writer of poetry and cultural criticism for adults. He received a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2021, and his 2019 book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest, was long-listed for the National Book Award. Plus, his 2021 book, A Little Devil in America, was BookPage’s best nonfiction book of the year.

Picture books require a deep attention to language that’s similar to poetry, so it’s always exciting when writers with backgrounds in poetry branch out into writing picture books. Abdurraqib is well-versed in music and cultural history, so I can’t wait to read this picture book that will explore Aretha Franklin’s connections to the civil rights movement.

Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Disney-Hyperion | February 1

Every new book from Newbery Honor author Pam Muñoz Ryan is cause for excitement, but the ambitious premise of Solimar offers more reason than usual. Set in a fictional fantasy kingdom, the story offers an irresistible royal heroine and a fascinating depiction of magic, told in Ryan’s signature lush and lyrical prose.

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Putnam | February 8

In BookPage’s review of author-illustrator Deborah Marcero’s previous picture book, In a Jar, reviewer Jill Lorenzini wrote that it “does what all the best picture books do: It captivates, entertains and leaves you with a reminder of magic still shimmering around the edges.” In a Jar’s ending didn’t seem to hint at a sequel, so it’s delightfully surprising that Marcero has created another story about Llewellyn the bunny and the things he tries to keep bottled up.

Mina by Matthew Forsythe
Paula Wiseman | February 15

Matthew Forsythe’s picture book Pokko and the Drum was one of 2019’s most singularly charming and acclaimed titles. Readers who loved it will want to line up outside their library or bookstore so they can be the first to discover his next book, Mina. Fans of Pokko’s dry humor and intricate colored pencil illustrations will find Mina a worthy successor.

John’s Turn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kate Berube
Candlewick | March 1

Author Mac Barnett is one of the funniest, smartest and most prolific writers working in children’s literature today, and just about everything he publishes is worth a reader’s time. For John’s Turn, he’s paired with Kate Berube, an illustrator I love for her deceptively simple lines and masterful ability to convey complex emotions through facial expressions. It’s worth noting that Barnett is publishing two additional books this spring: a picture book illustrated by Marla Frazee called The Great Zapfino, out April 5 from Beach Lane, and a graphic novel adaptation of the “live cartoon” he developed during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown with illustrator Shawn Harris called The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, out May 10 from Katherine Tegen.

The Aquanaut by Dan Santat
Graphix | March 1

Dan Santat is best known as the Caldecott Medal-winning author-illustrator of 2014’s The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, as well as many other beloved picture books. However, I first became familiar with him as a graphic novelist via his hilarious, action-packed 2011 graphic novel, Sidekicks, the tale of a group of pets who belong to a superhero named Captain Amazing and who are, secretly, also superheroes. Santat packs so much imagination and heart into all of his books that I can’t wait to discover the story he’ll tell in this standalone graphic novel.

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill
Algonquin | March 8

Kelly Barnhill’s Newbery Medal-winning The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an exquisite fantasy tale—and she hasn’t published anything for young readers in the five long years since it came out! She’s kept busy in the meantime, releasing a book of short stories for adults in 2018 and putting the finishing touches on The Ogress and the Orphans. Whether you’ve been counting the months, weeks and days or are brand-new to Barnhill’s sharp, word-perfect prose and classical yet fresh storytelling, you’re going to love this standalone fantasy.

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Candlewick | March 29

Nina LaCour is an acclaimed and beloved young adult author whose 2018 novel, We Are Okay, won the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Medal for excellence in young adult literature—the YA equivalent of the Newbery Medal. There are very few picture books that depict families with two moms, so this book is notable for two reasons: It contributes sorely needed representation, and it’s LaCour’s first picture book! I’m also looking forward to the illustrations by talented up-and-comer Kaylani Juanita, whose work I’ve admired in picture books such as When Aidan Became a Brother and Magnificent Homespun Brown.

Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster | March 29

Every so often, an author-illustrator makes their debut with a book so fully formed that you read it and think, “Surely, this cannot be their first book!” So it was with Jessie Sima’s Not Quite Narwhal, which was published on Valentine’s Day in 2017 and has gone on to sell more than 250,000 copies. Sima has since published five more picture books, and this spring, they’ll publish this companion to their debut. Read enough picture books and you’ll realize how masterfully Sima walks the line between treacly and genuinely sweet. I can’t wait to read Perfectly Pegasus and let out an “awwwwww!” in spite of myself. 

A Duet for Home by Karina Yan Glaser
Clarion | April 5

Readers who love middle grade stories featuring big families have wholeheartedly embraced Karina Yan Glaser’s Vanderbeekers, who hit shelves in the fall of 2017 and have since starred in five heartwarming tales. I’m always intrigued when an author finds initial success with a series and then launches into either a standalone tale or a new series, because it gives them an opportunity to reveal new dimensions to their writing and storytelling. A Duet for Home is a standalone novel that seems poised to explore similar themes as in Glaser’s bestselling series, like family and what it means to find a home, but from a totally different lens.

I’d Like to Be the Window for a Wise Old Dog by Philip C. Stead
Doubleday | April 5

Speaking of remarkable debuts: Husband and wife team Philip C. and Erin E. Stead won the Caldecott Medal for their very first picture book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. The Steads are picture book creators whose every release is noteworthy, but I find the title and cover of this one to be irresistibly enticing. Fans as well as dog lovers should know that this is Philip’s first of two canine-themed books in 2022: June will see the publication of Every Dog in the Neighborhood, illustrated by fellow Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell. It’s enough to make you bark with joy.      

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone by Tae Keller
Random House | April 26

Middle grade author Tae Keller won the 2021 Newbery Medal for her second novel, How to Trap a Tiger. Winning an award as prestigious and influential as the Newbery or the Caldecott can change the entire trajectory of a creator’s career, and I’m endlessly fascinated to see what authors and illustrators choose to publish after winning such an award. Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone will blend contemporary middle school dynamics with a central mystery and a hint of science fiction.

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton
Holt | May 3

It is such a good time to be a middle grade reader who loves tales of magic and adventure. Case in point: YA author Dhonielle Clayton is making her middle grade debut with The Marvellers, a fantasy novel that will blow the concept of the magical school sky-high—literally. The Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors is an academy in the clouds that attracts magically gifted students from all over the world, and it’s the enchanting setting for what’s sure to be the summer’s must-read middle grade fantasy.   

The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Nancy Paulsen | May 10

Jacqueline Woodson is one of the most beloved and acclaimed writers working today, and her reach knows no bounds. She has written books for readers of every age, from picture books to novels for adults, and has served as our National Ambassador for Children’s Literature. In her picture books, Woodson’s prose is often paired with artwork by exciting, talented illustrators, from Rafael López to James Ransome to E.B. Lewis. Here, she’s working with Colombian illustrator Leo Espinosa, who received a Pura Belpré Honor for his work on Junot Diaz’s picture book, Islandborn. The World Belonged to Us promises to be a nostalgic ode to summer in New York City as only these two talented creators could tell it.

Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
HarperCollins | May 31

Phil Stamper has published three acclaimed, character-driven YA novels that offer complex depictions of LGBTQ+ teens. It’s thrilling to see him branch out into middle grade, particularly since middle grade books centering the experiences of LGBTQ+ kids are desperately needed. I also love that this book is going to be set in a small rural town. As YA author Preston Norton said in a recent Q&A with BookPage about his new book, Hopepunk, which takes place in rural Wyoming, “Queer stories are needed everywhere because queer people are everywhere.”

Take a glimpse at the wonders that will fill young readers' shelves in 2022.

Love grows in the face of fear in Love in the Library, a picture book based on the experiences of author Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s maternal grandparents in Minidoka, a World War II incarceration camp in Idaho.

As the book opens, a young woman named Tama has been forced to live at Minidoka for the past year, because in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, being Japanese American is “treated like a crime.” Though she finds the camp unsettling, she makes the most of her assignment to work in the camp’s library. There, she is surrounded by books and receives regular visits from a man named George. It’s not until a conversation in which George validates Tama’s feelings of dread that she realizes he has been coming to the library to see her: “You can’t possibly be reading all those books you check out,” she tells him. “No,” he replies. “Do you see how long they are? I’m only human, you know.” They marry and have their first son while imprisoned at Minidoka.

Illustrator Yas Imamura’s soft, muted, earth-tone illustrations work wonders in bringing the characters and setting to life. Her fine, smooth lines gently capture the tenderness that permeates this tale, and backlit scenes seem to lift Tama and George from the page.

Tokuda-Hall depicts Tama as a multifaceted woman who is vulnerable yet tough, scared but willing to seek out the miraculous in her newly limited life. That she conveys Tama’s abiding spirit while also acknowledging the great injustice of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during this time is important: Tokuda-Hall never sugarcoats Tama’s experience, and her author’s note emphasizes the hate that spawned the imprisonment: “Hate is not a virus; it is an American tradition,” she writes.

Love in the Library returns again and again to Tama’s search for the words to describe her experience, such as constant: “Constant questions. Constant worries. Constant fear.” Later, when Tama realizes that George loves her, he tells her that the word for when she feels “scared and sad and confused and frustrated and lonely and hopeful” is human.

Love in the Library is an exquisite piece of historical fiction and a love story for the ages.

This exquisite picture book, based on the experiences of the author's grandparents, tells a love story for the ages without sugarcoating history.

Four years ago, after attracting the unwanted attention of Poseidon and being cursed by Athena, Medusa and her sisters fled to a distant island. Her winged sisters take to the skies every day, leaving Medusa alone with only the snakes on her head for company. One day, Medusa discovers Perseus, a handsome boy stranded on the island. Slowly, they open up to each other, unaware that their blossoming relationship will become the spark of a tragedy.

Jessie Burton’s Medusa is a feminist retelling of the classical Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus, brought to life with full-color illustrations by Olivia Lomenech Gill. The book adds complexity to a character many readers may know only as a monstrous Gorgon, famously capable of turning anyone who looks at her into stone. Here, readers meet Medusa not as a monster but as a hopeful girl who bears both psychological and physical scars. 

Burton’s narrative powerfully explores the effects of abuse. Medusa tells her story, giving readers a firsthand glimpse into the trauma she’s experienced, its long-term ramifications and the twisting rationalizations that others use to defend her abusers. As she transitions to adulthood and navigates healing, identity and romance, she often looks to the women in her life for guidance and insight. Medusa’s sisters, Stheno and Euryale, and even Athena herself offer varying perspectives on maturity and femininity, and Medusa is able to consider their conflicting views while also developing her own way forward. 

Gill’s illustrations provide visual representations of Medusa’s thoughts and feelings. Sketches of birds and ocean life ground the story in the seaside isolation of Medusa’s island. Some of the images, such as one of Medusa and her sisters flying into the night sky, have a collage-like quality that endows the story’s mythical subjects with genuine human emotion. Gill’s colors mirror Medusa’s emotional journey: Medusa’s joy shines through in vivid blues and greens, her curiosity about Perseus is a soft yellow, and her horrific past is a dark and bloody red. 

Throughout the book, Burton’s prose and Gill’s art work in harmony to offer two intertwined ways of learning who Medusa really is. By placing her at the center of the tale, they give an epic voice to victims whose stories often go ignored and untold. Readers who love nuanced retellings of myths will not want to miss it.

Medusa adds complexity to a character typically known only as a monstrous Gorgon, and readers who enjoy nuanced retellings of myths will not want to miss it.

For the inhabitants of the frozen planet Tundar, survival is a daily struggle. Powerful corporations and crime syndicates rule through greed and fear, and everything from the weather to the wildlife can kill you in an instant. The only resource the desolate planet can offer the interstellar economy is exocarbon, a rare metal that can only be mined during Tundar’s annual sled race in which would-be miners drive teams of genetically engineered vonenwolves across hundreds of miles of deadly wilderness to reach the dig site first. With fame and fortune on the line, racers are just as likely to be killed by another team as they are by Tundar’s giant osak bears and blizzards.

Sena Korhosen knows this all too well: Five years ago, both of her mothers died in the race. Since then, Sena has sworn off all things race-related. When circumstances force her to rescue Iska, a wounded fighting wolf, and enter the competition she despises, Sena must use everything her mothers taught her and more in order to survive to the finish line.

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves makes full use of its perilous setting. Debut author Meg Long spends a significant amount of time familiarizing readers with the culture and creatures of Tundar, as well as exploring Sena’s reluctance to race, which effectively builds a sense of danger and dread for the looming competition. While some readers might find such methodical world building a little slow out of the gate, particularly for a story about racing, the novel’s third act will reward patient readers with all the brutal, fast-paced survival action they could ever want.

Sena’s grief over the loss of her mothers and her deepening connection with Iska form a quiet emotional counterpoint to the novel’s harsh setting. Sena’s memories of her mothers are a source of pain, love, protection and strength, all of which she finds mirrored in the wounded wolf she’s tasked with healing. Whether Iska is helping Sena cross a frozen wasteland or melting her frozen heart, the bond between girl and wolf is lovely and touching. Readers will root for them as they’re swept along on their wild ride.

This sci-fi survival story makes full use of its perilous setting, to which its hero’s bond with a wounded wolf forms a quiet emotional counterpoint.

In the summer of 2020, amid an unending news cycle of fear and death, millions of people all over the world took to the streets to protest the murders of not only George Floyd but also many other Black people by police officers. In Ain’t Burned All the Bright, award-winning author Jason Reynolds and artist Jason Griffin portray this claustrophobic spiral from the perspective of a young boy.

The book begins in medias res: “And I’m sitting here wondering why / my mother won’t change the channel,” the narrator says, “and why the news won’t / change the story.” In sections titled “Breath One,” “Breath Two” and “Breath Three,” the narrator’s seemingly mundane desire to change the channel transforms into fearful imaginings of his family being consumed by smoke, water or illness.

Reynolds’ words are spare, scattered in brief lines or, occasionally, single words filling an entire page in thick, powerful letters. The narrator shifts between the minutiae of everyday life, as when his “sister talks to her homegirl / through the screen of her phone,” and the things that complicate it: “and they talking about a protest.” On the opposite page appears the most carefully rendered image in the whole book, a detailed portrait of George Floyd.

Griffin’s diaristic collage art is the linchpin of the book. Dynamic and visceral, it is composed with paint, pencil and notebook paper, as well as with Reynolds’ text itself, which Griffin has printed and cut out in small strips of short phrases and placed into each spread. Griffin incorporates Reynolds’ stark but carefully chosen words into larger scenes of fires, floods, houses and skies, creating a surreal experience across the book’s more than 300 pages. He skillfully juxtaposes vast spaces of black and white with color and texture; canvas tape and speckled paint make images feel urgently three dimensional, while the blank spaces feel expansive. Many of the illustrations recall the densely saturated colors and silhouette figures of artist Kerry James Marshall.

In the book’s final pages, Griffin depicts a large leaf growing out of a pot, its delicate green reaching the top of the page. The image calls to mind a poem written by Ross Gay in the year after Eric Garner’s death. In “A Small Needful Fact,” Gay writes that Garner, whose final words were “I can’t breathe,” worked in horticulture for New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department, where he might have planted seedlings, which “continue / to do what such plants do . . . like making it easier / for us to breathe.” As it ends, Ain’t Burned All the Bright doesn’t offer any platitudes, and the narrator still wants to change the channel. But he does, despite everything, remember to breathe.

Dynamic and visceral, Ain’t Burned All the Bright artistically portrays the claustrophobia of the summer of 2020 from the perspective of a young boy.

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