Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them

Find great kids' reads at a bookstore near you!


From read-to-me books to early readers, chapter books to middle readers to young adult, you’ll find these terrific new titles at your neighborhood bookstore or online.




















































sponsored by Blue Wilow Bookshop

About Blue Willow Books: We opened our doors in October 1996 as a neighborhood bookshop with outreach throughout the Houston area. We are located in the West Memorial area on Memorial Drive,  and we welcome you to come browse our shelves for books, games, puzzles, stationery, and more. We sell new books, downloadable audio books and e-books through our website.  We host over 300 events per year (and yes, we are tired!) We are a merry band of booksellers with opinionated advice about almost every category of books. 
Check out Blue Willow Bookshop’s 2017 pick for each age group, below!


Read-to-Me Books for ages 1–3 and up (and their parents, grandparents, and older friends)


Ages 2–5 years

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life (Vol. 2)

Corine Dehghanpisheh

My Art to Inspire, paperback, 40 pgs., September 2016; 978-0-997898507, $12.95


A curious toddler loves to play…especially with his mommy's smartphone!


When Mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment. Mommy reminds her little one that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.


Her simple reminder: Put down our phones.





Ages 2–6 years

Tex The Mockingbird

Stella Dutton

405 Books

Quimby & Sneet Publications, hardcover, 36 pgs., Dec. 7, 2015; 978-0-979083280, $21.99


Tex the Mockingbird is a very-high spirited Texas bird. Join Tex as he gathers Texas emblems across the magnificent cities of Texas. Tex is a tribute to the beauty and culture of Texas! Tex is a child-friendly brightly illustrated, fun, and entertaining children’s book of many detailed landmarks. It is an exquisite watercolor field trip to many famous places in Texas. Tex takes readers on a journey from Dallas to Houston, from Austin to Amarillo, and everywhere in between. Children enjoy the fun characters that Tex meets along his journey. Everyone is raving about the unique and vivid hand painted type illustrations which this book proudly displays! Say howdy to Tex the Mockingbird and find out fun facts about his favorite state!


Books for ages 4–8


Ages 4–7 years

Lucky to Live in Texas

Kate B. Jerome

Arcadia Publishing SC (Arcadia Kids series), hardcover, 32 pgs., April 1, 2017; 978-0738527697, $16.99


The interactive nature of Lucky to Live in Texas offers an opportunity for adults to share personal stories (and wisdom) about friendship, community, team spirit and other topics that are important to a child’s social and emotional development. By combining storytelling with local interest and information, this book is a picture-perfect tool to inspire meaningful conversations between kids and their favorite adults.





Ages 4–7 years

The Wise Animal Handbook

Kate B. Jerome

Arcadia Publishing SC (Arcadia Kids series), hardcover, 32 pgs., April 1, 2017; 978-0-738528458, $16.99


The Wise Animal Handbook is a complement to the Lucky series with engaging color photos of animals in humorous situations while read-aloud rhymes open the door for conversations about everything from honesty and grit to perseverance and play.








Suitable for all ages

The Otter Chronicles

Written and illustrated by Deanne Wagner White

Book 1: The Otter by the Sea, hardcover, 28 pgs., $15.00

Book 2: Otty the Otter Grows Up, hardcover, 30 pgs., $15.00


The Otter Chronicles is a series of children’s picture books about Baby Otter and his adventures. Lovingly written and illustrated by Deanne Wagner White, the series was created to excite and educate children of all ages.


Website link:

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Books for young readers


Middle grades fiction

Dragons of Romania, Book 1

Dan Peeler and Charlie Rose

Paperback, 978-1946182838, $12.95

John M. Hardy, May 1, 2017


Dragons of Romania is a six-part series to help the middle-grade child understand more about their place in the world, their future, and social environmental issues. The old and wise teacher dragon, Lumea, is globe trekking with his newest student, Tanarul, to meet the Greater and Lessor Dragons of history, and share their encounters with humans, and lessons learned.


Beyond the vast Transylvanian forests of Romania, hidden deep within undiscovered caves of the rugged Carpathian Mountains, are the homes of many of the oldest species of dragons on earth. They have lived there thousands, some even millions of years. One the oldest of the all is wise Lumea, the greatest teacher of young dragons. His newest student, Tanarul, is a mere 200 years old and the two of them are embarking on a world tour to meet and study both the Greater Dragons of history and the tiny Lesser Dragons, all of whom have personal stories to tell about their legendary encounters with humans throughout the centuries.





Grade level: Juvenile fiction

Pinto The Chisholm Pony

Stella Dutton

405 Books; 62 pages



Pinto The Chisholm Pony is a wonderful tribute to the Chisholm Trail. It has been recognized by as an official part of the Chisholm Trail celebration. This commemorative book teaches children many historical details of post-Civil War Texas, Indian Territory, and Kansas. Pinto is an inspirational pony that has determination and teaches us to never give up. This book displays breathtaking illustrations, maps, and historical information that children enjoy. It lists every town in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas that was along the Chisholm Trail. Many teachers and librarians proclaim Pinto to be a useful tool in teaching students about this historical trail of a bygone era.






Ages 8–12 years

Historical Fiction

Natalie Bright

Hangin’ Day

Trouble In Texas Series


Paperback, 978-0998810119, 124 pages, $7.99

May 2017


A missing horse. An innocent teacher accused of the crime. It's up to two kids to solve the mystery and stop the madness. Set in the Texas frontier town of Justice, twelve-year-old Silver Belle Stephens and her best friend, Jeremiah Fisher, have a few days to save their teacher. While dodging the Sheriff, they carry out a plan of mishaps to delay the hanging with hilarious results. Saddle up and hold on to your hat for a fun-filled journey back to the Wild West. Book 1 in the Trouble in Texas series is perfect for family read-aloud time.




Ages 8–12 years

Sir Kaye: The Eldridge Conspiracy

Don Winn

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press (Sir Kaye the Boy Knight series, #4), paperback, 174 pgs., June 16, 2017; 978-1-946329226; $9.95


Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye's father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.









For all ages

Almost a Minyan

Lori S. Kline; illustrated by Susan Simon

Sociosights Press; hardcover, 40 pgs., April 4, 2017; 978-00991632749, $17.99


How can our sacred institutions preserve tradition while retaining the flexibility to accommodate modern life? And how do you fold that theme into a lively kids' book?


Almost a Minyan, the latest offering from Austin's Sociosights Press, brings children into the world of a loving daughter and granddaughter whose family stays connected to each other and to the past through sacred ritual. The book is a multi-generational love story for Jewish traditions.


In a story that will appeal equally to people familiar with its Yiddish phrases and Jewish traditions and those interested in increasing their cultural understanding, Almost a Minyan subtly handles some of the practices and controversies of modern Judaism. Can women and girls be part of the sacred minyan for public worship?


This spirited story, brought to life with touching and reverent illustrations by Susan Simon, is a sure bet for young readers.


Hitchin’ Post

Julie A. Barker; illustrated by Carolyn Altman

LifeRich Publishing; Hardcover, 56 pgs., July 2016; 978-1-489708755, $17.99


Hard work and the cowboy life on the 6B's Ranch is nothing new to old jackrabbit Hitchin' Post. As he watches his beloved ranch go through a terrible drought, Hitch begins to look at life in a different way. He learns that despite challenges, there is always something to be thankful for.


Hitchin' Post marks Julie's debut into the world of children's literature.


What began as a fun, creative project with her mother, Carolyn Altman, soon developed into her first completed children's book. Carolyn is the illustrator of the bright and cheerful images found in Hitchin' Post, which no doubt bring to life the adventures of this caring and lovable jackrabbit.



Some kids' top picks from Blue Willow Books

All available for purchase at Blue Willow Bookshop


Ages 1– 3 years

T is for Texas

Trish Madson

Familius; board book, 20 pgs., April 4, 2017; 978-1-944822750; $12.99


A is for Armadillo . . . B is for Bluebonnets . . . C is for Cotton . . .

With F for Football, J for Jackrabbit, and R for Rio Grande, going from A to Z has never been more fun! Take an alphabetized field trip around the Lone Star State and discover the plants, animals, foods, and places that make it, well, Texas!







Ages 2–5 years

Little Excavator

Anna Dewdney

Penguin Young Readers Group; hardcover, 44 pgs., June 6, 2017; 978-1-101999202, $17.99


From the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of the Llama Llama books comes a new character ready to dig his way into your heart!

Here come the BIG RIGS rolling down the street.

Thumpa-thumpa bumpa-bumpa BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

There’s Loader and Dump Truck, Backhoe and Crane. They’re ready to transform a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. And who wants to help most of all?

Little Excavator! But are there any jobs for someone so small?

Anna Dewdney’s signature rhyming text and inviting illustrations make this a perfect read aloud for fans of things that go!


Ages 4–7 years

Kid Amazing vs. The Blob

Josh Schneider

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Hardcover, 32 pgs., June 06, 2017; 978-0-544801257; $16.99


Kid Amazing’s secret base is equipped with every gadget a superhero needs to defeat evil, but there is one villain who remains elusive—the Blob (a.k.a. his baby sister). Will Kid discover the superpower needed to defeat her before the entire city succumbs to her stink and slime? From Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner Josh Schneider, this reassuring take on a common childhood issue proves that laughter can defuse even the most epic sibling rivalries.








Ages 10–14 years

Beyond the Bright Sea

Lauren Wolk

Penguin Young Readers Group, hardcover, 304 pgs., May 2, 2017; 978-1-101994856; $16.99


From the bestselling author of Newbery Honor winner Wolf Hollow, the moving story of an orphan, determined to know her own history, who discovers the true meaning of family.


Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift in a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow has only a couple of companions: Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.


Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn’t until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.


Vivid and heart-wrenching, Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea is a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.


Ages 14–17 years

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas

HarperCollins Publishers, hardcover, 464 pgs., Feb. 28, 2017; 978-0-062498533, $17.99


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.


Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.


But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.




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