Children’s book sequels bring back beloved characters

If you concur with the commonly held view that book sequels are seldom as good as the originals, you’ll be surprised by the following list. In these series for teens and children, the second books are every bit as engaging as the first — and sometimes they’re even better.


Burning Kingdoms

by Lauren DeStefano

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015

For age 12 and up

Sequel to: Perfect Ruin

Growing up in a civilization that existed solely on a floating island, the residents of Internment are taught that the ground doesn’t exist. To leave their home means death by disappearing over the edge and into a blank abyss. But after a daring escape aboard a flying machine composed of mostly scrap metal, Morgan and her friends crash-land into a land below them — one that views the floating land above as a mere tourist attraction to be viewed through binoculars.

The ground has snow and amusement parks and huge families with room to spread out as far as they’d like. But it also has war and politics and conflict. Will any of them survive, or is the ground certain death after all?


The Day the Crayons Came Home

by Drew Daywalt

Philomel Books, 2015

For age 5 and up

Sequel to: The Day the Crayons Quit

In this humorous follow-up, Duncan begins to receive postcards from his crayons, which need help — Turquoise has melded with a stinky sock in the dryer; Maroon was lost in the couch cushion and sat on by Dad; Pea Green has renamed himself Esteban and would like to explore the world, if only someone would open the front door.

No matter what adventures they experience or what calamities befall the crayons, they just want to get back home.


Just a Duck?

by Carin Bramsen

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015

For age 3 and up

Sequel to: Hey, Duck!

In “Just a Duck?,” Duck realizes he can’t climb trees and isn’t like his friend, Cat. But, he can swim, and there might be value in that.

Duck is convinced he’ll grow up to look just like his friend Cat — until he discovers that he can’t climb trees. He doesn’t have ears or claws. He doesn’t even like to chase leaves. But when Cat accidentally falls into the water, a place he decidedly hates, Duck finds the value in being himself — a duck and a hero.


The Infinite Sea

by Rick Yancey

Penguin Young Readers Group, 2014

For ages 12 and up

Sequel to: The 5th Wave

Aliens have taken over the world and are slowly destroying the human race. Cassie and her small band of rebel friends are some of the only people left trying to survive — and they’re just children.

The Infinite Sea tells the back story for many of the main characters and sets up the conflict for the final as-yet-unreleased book in the series. In this twisty and dark tale, readers will be left unsure of the answer to one simple question: Can humanity survive?


The Loud Book!

by Deborah Underwood

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2011

For age 3 and up

Sequel to: The Quiet Book

Just as The Quiet Book explored all the ways to be quiet (telling secrets, first one awake, swimming underwater), its companion, The Loud Book!, discusses how to be LOUD, from “burping during quiet time” to “firetruck day at school.”

This book will make kids want to jump up and express themselves. The adorable illustrations show animals experiencing all the loud activities in a variety of settings, including school, home, the doctor and a picnic, and cover both daytime and nighttime events.



by Gene Luen Yang

Turtleback, 2013

For age 12 and up

Sequel to: Boxers

In this engaging and gorgeous graphic novel, a young female villager in rural China decides to become Catholic. She quickly emerges as a leader in her faith and seeks to spread it, unknowingly getting caught up in a revolution. She is extreme, faithful and determined to attain a glory similar to Joan of Arc.

Her story gives a very different perspective to the tale of Yang’s earlier book, Boxers, which followed a young boy who became the leader of an opposing force. As such, the two books show both sides of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, and although they are historical fiction, the two parallel stories reveal various complexities of the conflict, and the author does a masterful job of portraying both sides as being completely right and very wrong.

“Nil Unlocked” builds off the mythology created in the first book but expands it to a new set of characters and a new way of looking at, and dealing with, the island.


Nil Unlocked

by Lynne Matson

Henry Holt and Co., 2015

For age 12 and up

Sequel to: Nil

The teenage inhabitants of the island of Nil know they have 365 days to find a way back home or they’ll die. As time ticks off for each of them, they become increasingly desperate for answers.

This worthy sequel builds off the mythology created in the first book but expands it to a new set of characters and a new way of looking at, and dealing with, the island. Skye and Rives think they may have discovered a way to get every kid off the island and shut it down completely. But doing so may cost them their own lives.



by Andrew Smith

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015

For age 12 and up

Sequel to: Winger

Ryan Dean has returned to boarding school and is saddled with a whole new set of problems. He has been assigned a new roommate — the only kid on campus younger than him. His coach wants him to take a new and more dangerous spot on the rugby team, he’s plagued by anxiety and night terrors, and he desperately wants to be friends with Nico, Joey’s younger brother. He can’t seem to leave the past behind.

This excellent, hilarious book is full of Ryan Dean’s hand-drawn comics and descriptions of his adventures, like skinny-dipping with his girlfriend, visiting a cheese shack and being coerced into visiting a therapist. It is an honest and satisfying sequel that shows Ryan Dean grow up, literally and emotionally.

Up and Down

by Oliver Jeffers

Philomel Books, 2010

For age 3 and up

Sequel to: Lost and Found

The boy and the penguin are so happy now that they’ve discovered their home is together. They have many adventures. But still, penguin longs to do what birds do: He wants to fly. Since his wings don’t seem to work, however, the boy suggests an airplane. But penguin wants to do it on his own. He sees a poster looking for a living cannonball and decides he needs to join the circus.

Once they’re separated, both the boy and the penguin are miserable. Can they find their way back to each other? And is there a reason penguins weren’t meant to fly?

Wendy Dunn is a teen programming librarian with the Fort Worth Library.