There are plenty of enticing and dramatic stories that simply cannot be contained to one book, and the aim of the this list is to bring attention to books whose major impact comes from their collective role in an impressive multivolume sequence. Sure, it it ticks the page count up a bit, but for these series, it is well worth it.
For 2019, we’re delighted to continue to highlight YA and children’s books that take more than one volume to deliver their punch. This year’s batch covers quite a few genres, so there’s something here for everyone. Sports fiction makes an appearance with Jason Reynolds’ Track series, following four middle-school runners as they deal with family and friend drama. Ben Hatke gives Jack and the Beanstalk the graphic novel treatment and throws in some fan-pleasing twists, while fantasy and romance mark Shusterman’s and Taylor’s epic tales. And the genre-defying Lowriders series brings quirkiness and adventure, along with a serious love of cars. These sets of books offer a unique reading experience, going beyond the traditional formulas of series fiction and nonfiction, so be sure to clear some shelf space for them.
—Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
2019 Notable Series
Lowriders in Space
Camper, Cathy. Lowriders in Space; illus. by Raúl the Third. Chronicle, 2014. Gr. 5-9 (BCCB 1/15)
———. Lowriders to the Center of the Earth; illus. by Raúl the Third. Chronicle, 2016. (BCCB 7/16)
———. Lowriders Blast from the Past; illus. by Raúl the Third. Chronicle, 2018. (BCCB 11/18)
Readers follow the zippy adventures of mechanic Lupe the antelope, clean freak Flappy the octopus, and Elirio, an artistic mosquito, as they pursue their dream to get a garage of their own to work on lowriders. The magnificent red, blue, and black pen drawings with creamy backgrounds expertly mesh charm, hipness, and artistry in these lively graphic novels. A glossary of Spanish terms, plus endnotes covering textual references, invite readers to immerse themselves in the cultural and technological details of the lowrider world.
Hatke, Ben. Mighty Jack; written and illus. by Ben Hatke. First Second, 2016. Gr. 4-6 (BCCB 9/16)
———. Mighty Jack and the Goblin King; written and illus. by Ben Hatke. First Second, 2017. (BCCB 9/17)
———. Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl; written and illus. by Ben Hatke. First Second, 2019. (BCCB 9/19)
Hatke starts this richly drawn graphic novel series with a small cache of beans, which young Jack plants, growing a garden that leads to a world of fantastical creatures, many of them bent on humanity’s destruction. Nods to various fairy tales are sure to please readers of folktales and the original Jack tales, but it’s the Easter eggs of Hatke’s previous works that will really get fans excited, and they’ll thrill to see their beloved intergalactic heroine Zita the Spacegirl make her return.
Reynolds, Jason. Ghost. Dlouhy/Atheneum, 2016. Gr. 5-7 (BCCB 10/16)
———. Patina. Dlouhy/Atheneum, 2017. (BCCB 10/17)
———. Sunny. Dlouhy/Atheneum, 2018. (BCCB 6/18)
———. Lu. Atheneum, 2018. (BCCB 10/18)
With four genuinely likable and authentically nuanced protagonists, Reynolds gives readers a team worth rooting for as Sunny, Lu, Patina, and Castle (Ghost) grapple with grief, racism, parental absence, and family expectations. A skillful blend of domestic drama and sports action gives this series broad appeal and leaves readers with the reassuring message that a few good teammates can get you through just about anything.
Arc of a Scythe
Shusterman, Neal. Scythe. Simon, 2016. Gr. 9-12 (BCCB 10/16)
———. Thunderhead. Simon, 2018. (BCCB 2/18)
———. The Toll. Simon, 2019. (BCCB 12/19)
In a world that has conquered natural death, Scythes maintain population growth with principled and orderly “gleanings,” while a benevolent AI cares for humanity like a paternalistic god. Readers initially follow apprentice Scythes Citra and Rowan, but Shusterman soon expands his cast into an increasingly complicated but brilliantly drawn world, balancing breathless action with philosophical interrogations of love, faith, humanity, and technology. This is a master class in dystopian literature for young adults.
Strange the Dreamer
Taylor, Laini. Strange the Dreamer. Little, 2017. Gr. 7-10 (BCCB 3/17)
———. Muse of Nightmares. Little, 2018. (BCCB 10/18)
With lush prose and complex world building, Taylor gives readers both a sweet romance and a sprawling epic, following the violent conflict between humans and godspawn. Fans of Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (BCCB 9/11, 12/12, 6/12) will find enough Easter eggs to know that this is the same richly imagined multi-verse occupied by Karou and Akiva, evoking hope for more adventures there even as this duology concludes.