Haus of the Tooth Fairy by Chico and Alex Hardwick (Doubleday, September)
In the new Encore series by the most successful — and, above all, funny — funny women in children’s literature, the boy wizard-in-the-making Marty, who arrived at Hogwarts with Harry Potter in his head, is 19, lost, and way better off in the Dinky Zoo, run by a couple of bevy-deserving queens.
Big Trouble in Little China by John K. Thorp (Simon & Schuster, September)
An after-school special about a non-fictional heroic hero, whose adventures are populated by malevolent monsters, after-school specials that return in what must be a startling twist on 21st-century catholic school Ugly Betty. Plus: a choir of Mickey Mouse.
So Many One-Liners: A Collection of William Joyce’s Marvelous Objects by William Joyce (Simon & Schuster, August)
Is Mr. Gribble a magical stranger who cons Michael and Abbie in Goosebumps? Did Lucifer’s lurcher Winifred once live on the hedge? “Sometimes an egg may be threefold, sometimes one.”
A Most Likely Story by David Levithan (Little, Brown, November)
A Newbery-winning author of books for all ages, Levithan takes a deeper dive into a grieving father’s coming-of-age story in the book he wrote at his son’s bedside: “Death was fairly frivolous,” he said of his own experiences as a teenager. “You know, he doesn’t hurt anyone — he doesn’t care how many you’ve lost.” Levithan will speak at Washington LitFest in June.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Norton, June)
Picoult usually writes about the nuclear family that hits rock bottom in the wake of a tragedy: this novel is about the friendship between two women who think there’s no value in having a nice family.
Empire as State by Rick Bass (Simon & Schuster, June)
“Jeez, America, how could it be?” a fifth-grader asks her math teacher after penning an essay comparing the generosity of the citizens of Georgia to North Korea, and telling her tale of living in the middle class. These are among the more lucidly unsettling essays to make the Washington Post’s list of the best children’s books of the year.
Remind Me Why to Lose the Gambler by Dan Hart (Harper, July)
It’s called “self-referential” for a reason. Rock and roll survivor Hart mines The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1966 album Axis: Bold As Love for unlikely riff on classic Motown, third-wave feminism, consumerism, and more.
Private Peaceful by Ian McEwan (Little, Brown, November)
McEwan’s last novel, Atonement, was a riot. And though he isn’t at the peak of his powers for this one, anything McEwan does is unlikely to be boring. Plus: delicious characters.
Wild Details by Sebastian Barry (Parthian, August)
One of Barry’s protagonists is a poet who never had a lot of chances; here, she gets to be a detective. In this latest book from Ireland’s most revered contemporary writer, Olympe Kneale gets to be a hard-drinking Hell’s Angel. Also: a real lion!
The True Story of Kelly & Casey by Romesh Gunesekera (Little, Brown, August)
When father and son were missing for years, whispers of them being linked to murder circulated — but the genetic scientist Romesh Gunesekera’s parents held up their end of the bargain. Now he’s ready to tell his parents’ side of the story.
Unplottable by Ellis Salvaggio (Little, Brown, September)
Salvaggio, who wrote the best novel about a magician, The Magician’s Apprentice, took a while to craft this novel set in Florence and Jerusalem and London, but he’s finished it.
The Visit of the Wicker Woman by Patrick Ness (Scholastic, October)
In the surest indication yet that Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is the best publisher for fantasy, this imaginative tale by a New Zealander about the very best friend anyone ever made also features a squirrel. YAY.