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LeBron James wrote a children’s picture book, plus 6 more must-read new books

Others worth a read: Raven Leilani’s ‘Luster,’ Morgan Jerkins’ Great Migration tale, MIT scientist’s moving memoir, Erin Brockovich’s and T. Jefferson Parker’s latest.

LeBron James, seen during the Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Four of the NBA’s Western Conference first-round playoffs, writes about the promises he made to himself growing up and offers inspiration to kids to do the same in his new children’s picture book “I Promise.”
LeBron James, seen during the Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Four of the NBA’s Western Conference first-round playoffs, writes about the promises he made to himself growing up and offers inspiration to kids to do the same in his new children’s picture book “I Promise.”
Getty Images

Here’s the lowdown on LeBron James’ new picture book for children and some of the other latest must-read new books.

LeBron James’ “I Promise.”
LeBron James’ “I Promise.”
Harper Collins

‘I Promise’ by LeBron James

Harper Collins, children’s picture book, $19.99

What it’s about: If you want to get a kid to pay attention to a book filled with messages about doing the right thing and helping make a better future for yourself and the world, it couldn’t hurt to have that message come from LeBron James. The all-time NBA great is the narrator here, painting an inspiring picture of how the promises we make to ourselves help guide us to become better, more successful people.

The buzz: An NPR reviewer wrote that, though it’s rare for a message book to be a hit with her kids, “once in a while . . . one hits with them. LeBron James has written such a book.” Kirkus Reviews says: “He provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions.”

Click for an excerpt from Raven Leilani’s “Luster.”
Click for an excerpt from Raven Leilani’s “Luster.”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

‘Luster’ by Raven Leilani

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, fiction, $26

What it’s about: A young Black woman trying to make her way as an artist becomes infatuated with an older, white married man in an open marriage and becomes messily entangled in his family life.

The buzz: “Raven Leilani’s first novel reads like summer; sentences like ice that crackle or melt into a langurous drip; plot suddenly, wildly flying forward like a bike down a hill,” The New York Times writes.

Click for an excerpt from Morgan Jerkins’ “Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots.”
Click for an excerpt from Morgan Jerkins’ “Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots.”
Harper

‘Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots’ by Morgan Jerkins

Harper, nonfiction, $27.99

What it’s about: In this personal exploration of the Great Migration, in which 6 million Black Americans left the South between 1916 and 1970 in search of jobs and a better life, Jerkins recreates her ancestors’ journeys across the country.

The buzz: “Jerkins weaves a vivid and painful backstory of Black people forced into enslavement in the American South,” USA Today says. “The book is filled with poignant examples from across multiple centuries, including those retold in classrooms and those relegated to forgotten parts of our country’s consciousness.”

Click for an excerpt from Sara Seager’s “The Smallest Lights in the Universe.”
Click for an excerpt from Sara Seager’s “The Smallest Lights in the Universe.”
Crown

‘The Smallest Lights in the Universe’ by Sara Seager

Crown, nonfiction, $28

What it’s about: After the unexpected death of her husband, an MIT astrophysicist looks to the stars for solace and inside herself for answers in this moving memoir.

The buzz: “A singular scientist has written a singular account of her life and work,” Kirkus Reviews writes.

Click for an excerpt from Erin Brockovich’s “Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It.”
Click for an excerpt from Erin Brockovich’s “Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It.”
Pantheon

‘Superman’s Not Coming’ by Erin Brockovich

Pantheon, nonfiction, $28.95

What it’s about: In a book subtitled “Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It,” the well-known environmental activist and consumer advocate (you might know her from the Julia Roberts film) writes about imminent threats to our most precious natural resource and how we can protect it.

The buzz: “A convincing call to arms about the global water crisis from a sharp, plainspoken activist,” Kirkus Reviews writes.

Click for an excerpt from T. Jefferson Parker’s “Then She Vanished.”
Click for an excerpt from T. Jefferson Parker’s “Then She Vanished.”
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

‘Then She Vanished’ by T. Jefferson Parker

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, nonfiction, $27

What it’s about: Private eye Roland Ford takes a job for a fellow Marine and a rising politician with a lot of enemies whose wife goes missing.

The buzz: “With each new book in T. Jefferson Parker’s series featuring San Diego private detective Roland Ford, the less the yarns resemble private eye novels and the more they bring to mind apocalyptic James Bond thrillers,” The Associated Press says.

Penelope Hobhouse and Ambra Edwards’ “The Story of Gardening.” Princeton Architectural Press

‘The Story of Gardening’ by Penelope Hobhouse and Ambra Edwards

Princeton Architectural Press, nonfiction, $60

What it’s about: This updated and lavishly illustrated history of gardening shows how different cultures have approached layout and plantings, from Islamic walled gardens to the formalism of French royalty to the more naturalistic English cottage gardens to pared-down Japanese gardens to the American idea of the front as an attempt to democratize the landscape, with a new chapter that touches on grasses and perennials and focuses on sustainability and ecology.

The buzz: “The authors show gardening to be an age-old struggle to appreciate and amplify nature’s beauty while also imposing order on it,” The Associated Press says.