Golden Duck List (Picture Books)
Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! Ahhh-Choo! by Katy S. Duffield, illustrated by K.G. Campbell. Candlewick.
When Little Alien comes down with a bad case of the sniffles his two throats hurt, his five ears are plugged, and all three noses are making him miserable, but his six-legged pet, Mars Rover, entertains him and a meteor shower helps cool off his fever.
Life on Mars by Jon Agee. Dial Books.
A young astronaut lands on the red planet determined to find a sign of life there. He has a package for any extraterrestrial he might run into. The boy can’t see the large, friendly-looking, but somewhat perplexed creature following him, who picks up the package. Frustrated in his search, the child heads back to the spaceship, where he discovers the sign he is looking for: a bright yellow flower. Once on board, he is in for quite a surprise.
Rufus Blasts Off! by Kim Griswell, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev. Sterling Children’s Books.
Rufus refuses to give up on going to Mars even though he’s been told pigs don’t have “the right stuff” because they “do loop-the-loops” in freefall and “hog the juice packets,” but he gets his big chance when his reading skills make him the right swine to livestream reading a book from the red planet.
Zelda’s Big Adventure by Marie Alafaci, illustrated by Shane McG. Clarion Books.
Zelda is determined to blast off as “the first chicken in space” and to carry out her experiments, but when none of her poultry pals will help her build her spacecraft, she goes it alone.
Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley. Clarion Books.
Charlotte is a curious kid overwhelmed by her large family and countless siblings, looking for a space to call her own. She uses the scientific method to find a way out of her predicament, learning in the process and encouraging readers to apply the scientific method to tackle problems in their own lives.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook by Kim Smith. Quirk Books.
A faithful retelling of the science fiction film, with illustrations reminiscent of classic Little Golden Books. An alien visits earth and gets left behind by mistake. A young boy finds him and helps him get home. Along the way friendships are made and lessons of bravery, courage, and kindness are learned.
Eleanor Cameron List (Middle Grade Books)
Lucy and the Rocket Dog by Will Buckingham, illustrated by Monica Arnaldo. Alfred A Knopf.
Lucy, who is fascinated with space, builds her own spaceship which her dog Laika accidentally launches without her. Lucy grows up and becomes an award winning astronomer, always watching the night sky for her dog. Meanwhile, Laika is on a space-time adventure, traveling through wormholes. Does Laika return home or, like her namesake, never come back?
Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King. Arthur A. Levine Books.
The idea that toxic sludge from chemicals is dangerous isn’t new, but what happens when that sludge (or is it something else?) seems to become a creature that lonely boy Obe Devlin can call a friend? That is new, and enhances Obe’s interest in environmental issues and how to combat rampant development.
Watchdog by Will McIntosh. Delacorte Press.
Vick is the practical and responsible brother, and Tara is the mechanical whizz of a sister with autism, both trying to survive in a gritty, post-apocalyptic Chicago. Their bleak world gets a jolt of hope when Tara scavenges a powerful AI chip. Using it to create a hyper-intelligent robotic dog named Daisy, Tara and Vick enlarge their little family. When darker forces threaten to take Daisy and kill the siblings for having the temerity to stand in the way, it is up to the plucky trio to outwit a powerful villainess and lethal robots in all shapes and sizes.
The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas. Dial Books.
Stella stumbles onto the most unusual discovery. It’s a black hole, sentient, its galaxy-filled eyes reminding Stella of something just as all-consuming. She gives the black hole a name, Larry. She adopts it as her own, feeding it the memories and objects she never wants to see again. Yet, when something precious to her accidentally slips into the black hole, Stella realizes that she will have to make a journey into the dark. Will her rescue mission succeed…or will she lose the most important parts of herself forever?
Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Walden Pond Press.
Prez Mellows answers the door at his Scottish foster home and meets Sputnik, a small alien in kilt and goggles who can read his mind and communicate telepathically with him but who appears as various mixed breed dogs to everyone else. Hilarity and trouble ensue as Prez and Sputnik try to find 10 reasons the Earth should be saved.
Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice, illustrated by Alex Alice. First Second. (Graphic novel).
Seraphin and his father, Archibald Dulac, want to explore the stars. The key might just be a strange material called aether. Seraphin’s mother vanished while experimenting with it, but the King of Bavaria gives them the opportunity to continue her work. Will they be able to discover how aether works, journey to the stars, and find out what happened to Claire…or will agents of intrigue and conquest hijack their greatest discovery?
The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky. HarperCollins.
Miranda is one of a handful of kids chosen from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But when the training base is attacked and she starts getting strange anonymous threats, Miranda might be the only one who can figure out how to save them all.
Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson. Walden Pond Press.
The sun is going supernova and soon even Mars will be consumed. Liam is supposed to be on the last starliner out of the solar system. But on the very last day he and his friends stumble into a mystery that threatens all life everywhere.
Crash Course #1 by Landry Q. Walker, illustrated by Keith Zoo. Penguin Workshop.
Elara Vaughn has wanted to become a terraformer, a bioengineer who creates new life forms, for her entire life. She travels from her home planet to Seven Systems School of Terraforming Sciences and Arts. There she makes friends with a variety species while catching the attention of the headmistress.
One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale. Amulet Books. (Graphic novel).
In a future where alien beings consume technology as dwindling humans try to preserve it, Strata, her brother, and a friend are separated from their caravan and, with a courageous robotic horse, must fight their way back.
Hal Clement List (Young Adult Books)
Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross. Harlequin Teen.
A modern telling of the classic H. G. Wells story, Jek/Hyde centers on the relationships between self-proclaimed science nerds Lulu and Jek, and the new-to-town Hyde. The uses (and abuses) of designer drugs and scientific experimentation are critical to solving the mystery of Hyde and his actions.
The Innocence Treatment by Ari Goelman. Roaring Brook Press.
Told in a series of journal entries and transcripts, Lauren, living in a near future dystopia, trusts everyone and believes all she is told until she undergoes a surgical procedure that totally changes her and makes her paranoid about what the government is really up to.
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray. Little Brown.
Noemi’s military training pits her against a range of mechanized beings created to serve humans, and then she meets Abel. In their attempts to advance the cause of Noemi’s humanistic Genesis culture, Abel forces Noemi to confront questions about sentience, artificial intelligence, and whether machines can have all the answers.
Nyxia by Scott Reintgen. Penguin Random House.
A year-long flight into deep space sets the scene for non-stop gladiatorial contests between young people recruited to mine nyxia, the most valuable substance in the world. Emmett hopes maybe this new gig with corporate giant Babel Communications can get his mother to the top of the organ transplant list. But the machinations of Babel Communications may turn out to be more dangerous than the pursuit of nyxia.
Spliced by Jon McGoran. Holiday House.
Spliced is set in the near-future, in which people can go to “genies” who can splice animal DNA into a human to alter them into chimeras or genetically altered humans. This story focuses on Jimi, who is trying to stop her friend Del from going to a genie to be spliced. Legislation has recently been drafted that declare chimeras are nonpersons, which has implications for their rights.
Dark Intercept by Julia Keller. Tor Teen.
Dark Intercept is a crime prevention device in the future that monitors and records people’s emotions through implanted chips in their arms. If a person is committing a crime, their most painful memory is played over and over for them to re-experience as a form of punishment. The story revolves around Violet Crowley, who investigates her crush, Danny Mayhew, after he gets into a dangerous altercation.
This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada. Simon Pulse.
The Hydra virus kills people by making them explode and the pink mist from the explosion kills anyone within a mile. The only way to stay immune is by eating flesh of the infected before they explode. The story focuses on Catarina Agatta, a gene-hacker who must try to decode a message from her father which conceals a vaccine to the Hydra virus to save humanity.
What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy. Bloomsbury USA Childrens.
Rosa and Eddie are applying to a secretive NASA agency along with hundreds of other teens. And when aliens appear and they’re nothing like what was expected, Rosa and Eddie will have to leave everything they thought they knew to save the world.
Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski. HarperTeen.
Cassie Gupta is competing for an opportunity to travel in space and she’s driven to succeed. But as she begins to bond with her fellow competitors, it slowly becomes obvious that the true objectives of the mission are not what they thought.
All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis. Harlequin Teen.
Speth lives in a world where every word, every sound, and every gesture is copyrighted or trademarked and you have to pay to use them. But when she chooses not to speak at all, she sparks a movement that could destroy everything around her.
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland. First Second. (Graphic novel).
A catastrophe alters the fabric of a small city’s reality, the whole area soon quarantined as the “Spill Zone.” But Addison can’t stay away; to support herself and her traumatized sister she must sneak inside, photographing the nightmarish things-that-shouldn’t-be, risking everything to sell her pictures to intrigued collectors. Her perilous job on the sly becomes even more frightening when a high-paying collector gives her an offer she can’t refuse.
The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber. Thomas Nelson.
Siblings Sofi and Shilo live in a corporate society dominated by a brutal game of blood sport. When a bomb attack triggers her brother’s disappearance, Sofi is determined to get to the truth. To do it, she’ll have to enlist uncomfortable allies, including her ex, Miguel, who has diplomatic access to the one place where she thinks her brother might be found: the alien ice planet of the Delonese. Yet as she follows the bread crumbs to rescue her brother, Sofi isn’t prepared for what she’ll find.