New Release Spotlight: February 12, 2019

NOTE: Titles start with YA and go down in age to picture books at the end. Scroll to the bottom for sequels. Titles highlighted in purple are those that received two or more starred professional reviews.

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Spectacle (Jodie Lynn Zdrok)

Paris, 1887. Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs.

PAGES: 364
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRES: thriller, historical fiction, supernatural, mystery
THEMES: serial killers, Paris, psychic abilities, detectives
READALIKES: The Diviners (Bray), Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer (Alender), Jackaby (Ritter)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Fans of historical thrillers that invoke the enduring spirit of Jack the Ripper will have fun, and Zdrok leaves things open for a sequel.” (Kirkus, 1 Dec 2018)

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The Black Coats (Colleen Oakes)

The enigmatic Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who have hurt girls and women for years. The killer of Thea’s cousin went free, and Thea has just received an invitation to join the Black Coats’ balancings–acts of revenge meant to teach a lesson. Justice for Natalie has never felt so close. But as the balancings escalate in brutality, Thea’s clear-cut mission begins to unravel and she must decide just how far she is willing to go for justice. Because when the line between justice and revenge is paper thin, it’s hard not to get cut.

PAGES: 376
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-12
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: crime, justice, revenge, violence against women
READALIKES: The Female of the Species (McGinnis), Asking for It (O’Neill)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Oakes asks readers to seriously consider the sometimes-destructive nature of grief as well as justice, vengeance, and the many moral shades of gray between the two. An explosive thriller that is all too timely in the #MeToo era. ” (Kirkus, 1 Dec 2018)

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Watch Us Rise (Renée Watson, Ellen Hagan)

Frustrated by the way women are treated–even at their progressive New York City high school–two best friends start a Women’s Rights Club, post their essays and poems online, and watch it go viral, attracting positive support as well as trolls.

PAGES: 360
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-12
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: feminism, #metoo, writing, blogging, poetry
READALIKES: Piecing Me Together (Watson), Black Enough (Zoboi)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Watson and Hagan do not disappoint in this powerful story of two girls who take a stand against injustice while learning how to navigate a world that seeks to silence them.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Dec 2018)

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What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger’s Journey
(J. Albert Mann)

Margaret was determined to get out. She didn’t want to clean the dirty dishes and soiled diapers that piled up day in and day out in her large family’s small home. She didn’t want to disappoint her ailing mother, who cared tirelessly for an ever-growing number of children despite her incessant cough. And Margaret certainly didn’t want to be labeled a girl of “promise,” destined to become either a teacher or a mother–which seemed to be a woman’s only options.

As a feisty and opinionated young woman, Margaret Higgins Sanger witnessed and experienced incredible hardships, which led to her groundbreaking work as an advocate for women’s rights and the founder of Planned Parenthood.

PAGES: 228
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-11
GENRES: biographical fiction, historical fiction
THEMES: hardship, family problems, Planned Parenthood, feminism
READALIKES: Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story (Bagge), The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali (Khan)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers will not only be captivated by the storytelling but they will also gain a historical perspective that will shed light on why Margaret Sanger became a champion for women’s and reproductive rights.” (SLJ, 1 Feb 2019)

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Comics Will Break Your Heart (Faith Erin Hicks)

Miriam’s family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that’s what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, Miriam’s life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town…and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam’s grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

PAGES: 340
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-10
GENRES: romance
THEMES: comics
READALIKES: I Am Princess X (Priest), The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl (Keil)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This modern-day tale of fortune-crossed lovers features a relatable hero and heroine and a happier ending than Shakespeare’s tragedy.” (Publishers Weekly, 12 Nov 2018)

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Awake in the World (Jason Gurley)

As the sun sets off the coast of the small California town of Orilla del Cielo, you can see the silhouettes of the oil rigs. Their shadows look jarring against the serene backdrop, their sharpness a reminder of unfulfilled promises. To Zach, they are a reminder of loss–his father, an oil worker who drowned years before. With a poor family struggling to make ends meet, Zach’s future feels equally bleak. Until he meets Vanessa, an optimistic girl whose sights are literally set on the stars. Inspired by her idol, Carl Sagan, she plans to study astronomy at Cornell. But as oil prospectors in search of black gold know, the future is uncertain…and fortunes can always be flipped.

PAGES: 336
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-12
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: coming of age, poverty, death of a parent
READALIKES: The Boy in the Black Suit (Reynolds), In Sight of Stars (Polisner), Laugh With the Moon (Burg)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Buoyed by strong, likable characters and superb writing, this coming-of-age tale cuts to the core. ” (Kirkus, 15 Dec 2018)

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To Night Owl From Dogfish (Holly Goldman Sloan, Meg Wolitzer)

Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters.

PAGES: 303
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 4-8
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: LGBT+ parents, blended families, single parent families, summer camp, friendship, epistolary format
READALIKES: The Best Man (Peck), Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World (Blake)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An imaginative and compelling middle-grade novel depicting modern friendships and modern families.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Feb 2019)

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Spy Runner (Eugene Yelchin)

Twelve-year-old Jake McCauley, who lives very close to the air force base, becomes suspicous when a Russian man becomes a boarder in his home and who claims to have known Jake’s father who disappeared during World War II.

PAGES: 346
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-7
GENRES: historical fiction
THEMES: Cold War, spies, family secrets
READALIKES: The Enemy: Detroit, 1954 (Holbrook), Projekt 1065 (Gratz)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Well-plotted and -paced, Yelchin’s thriller will be a favorite among readers who have an interest in history and intrigue.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 3 Dec 2018)

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Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller
(Doreen Rappaport, Linda Kukuk)

As a child in Oklahoma, Wilma Mankiller experienced the Cherokee practice of Gadugi, helping each other, even when times were hard for everyone. But in 1956, the federal government uprooted her family and moved them to California, wrenching them from their home, friends, and traditions. Separated from her community and everything she knew, Wilma felt utterly lost until she found refuge in the Indian Center in San Francisco. There, she worked to build and develop the local Native community and championed Native political activists.

PAGES: 48
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 1-5
GENRES: picture book biography
THEMES: Native Americans, government relocation program, Cherokee Nation
READALIKES: I Am Farmer (Paul), We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (Sorell)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A solid resource for a classroom or school library about a phenomenal Cherokee woman that feels a bit like flipping through a family photo album.” (Kirkus, 1 Nov 2018)

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The Tall Man and the Small Mouse (Mara Bergman, Birgitta Sif)

On a tall hill, in a tall house, live a tall man and a small mouse. All day the man does tall things, like untangling swings and rescuing cats from trees. All night the mouse does small things, like finding pins and pens, corks and long-lost forks. The two never see each other until the day the mouse takes a snooze in the man’s long shoes…SQUEAK! EEK! Can this duo get along–and maybe even become the perfect mix?

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: rhyme, humor, teamwork
READALIKES: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates (Higgins), Giraffe Problems (John)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Gentle rhymes and rhythm combine with equally gentle art as the two characters become a working team and then friends. Sweet fun for storytime and bedtime.” (Kirkus, 1 Jan 2019)

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Steve Goes to Carnival (Joshua Button, Robyn Wells)

At the city zoo in Rio lives a gorilla named Steve. Steve loves listening to music on the radio with his best friend, Antonio, the zookeeper. When Antonio leaves for the day, Steve feels the quiet of the night and lifts up the latch of his cage to escape and look for his friend. Luckily, he finds a big yellow hat at the tram stop to wear as the perfect disguise. But his adventure turns out to be bigger than he planned, because it’s Carnival time in Rio!

PAGES: 56
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 5
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: Carnival in Rio, Brazil customs, zoos, primates
READALIKES: The Carnival of the Animals (Prelutsky)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A compelling, child-friendly tale that will increase readers’ global awareness while it entertains.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jan 2019)

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Noodlephant (Jacob Kramer and K-Fair Steele)

Famous for her pasta parties, Noodlephant is shocked when the law-loving kangaroos decide noodles are only for them!

PAGES: 80
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRES: picture book, allegory
THEMES: freedom, oppression, peaceful protest, police brutality
READALIKES: The Great Fuzz Frenzy (Crummel, Stevens), The Little Boy Star: An Allegory of the Holocaust (Hausfater)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Steele give the story even more comic force, capturing the joy of Elephant’s parties, the bleakness of her imprisonment, and her satisfaction as she finds a way to outwit her oppressors. ” (Publishers Weekly, 26 Nov 2018)

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The Good Egg (Jory John and Pete Oswald)

Meet the good egg. He’s a verrrrrry good egg indeed.

But trying to be so good is hard when everyone else is plain ol’ rotten.

As the other eggs in the dozen behave badly, the good egg starts to crack from all the pressure of feeling like he has to be perfect.

So, he decides enough is enough! It’s time for him to make a change…

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: perfectionism
READALIKES: The Bad Seed (John), Eraser (Kang)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “It’s an empowering moment made all the better when this good egg returns to find a rapturous welcome from the others. Eggs-quisitely excellent.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Oct 2018)

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Good Boy (Sergio Ruzzier)

Illustrations and simple text follow a boy and a dog on an out-of-this-world adventure. A boy gives his dog commands, but this is no ordinary dog! Text is limited to one or two words per page, making this a solid choice for early readers.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: friendship, dogs, imagination
READALIKES: Good Boy, Fergus (Shannon), The Neighbors (Tsarfati), The Adventures of Polo (Tsarfati)
STARS AND AWARDS: FOUR STARRED REVIEWS!!!!Booklist starred, Hornbook starred, SLJ starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The sparse text, the tidiness with which Ruzzier works out his concept, and the endearing qualities of his two heroes make the book a small classic.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 5 Nov 2018)

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Borrowing Bunnies
(Cynthia Lord, Hazel Mitchell, John Bald)

Peggotty and Benjamin, two Netherland Dwarf rabbits, were rescued by author Cynthia Lord’s local animal sanctuary. But before they were ready to be adopted, Cynthia had to help them learn to trust people again and feel safe in a new home. The bunnies’ progress–captured by her husband’s photography–engaged hundreds of viewers in real time on Cynthia’s Facebook page.

PAGES: 46
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 5
GENRES: picture book, nonfiction
THEMES: pets, rabbits, pet fostering and adoption
READALIKES: Before You Were Mine (Boelts, Walker), Can I Be Your Dog? (Cummings)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An ideal gift for rabbit fans and a great addition to the cute-animal shelves.” (Kirkus, 15 Nov 2018)

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The Babysitter from Another Planet (Stephen Savage)

When their parents go out for the evening, two kids are left with a babysitter unlike any they’ve ever had before–an alien from another planet! But even though she seems scary and strange, the kids quickly see that this babysitter can do everything, and they can’t wait for her to come back again. Includes references for adults ranging from ’50s science fiction movies to ET.

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRES: picture book, science fiction
THEMES: babysitting, aliens
READALIKES: The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot (McNamara), Aliens Love Underpants (Freedman)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Modern children will be entertained by the idea of an alien babysitter, while their parents will enjoy the retro nostalgia.” (Booklist, 1 Jan 2019)

This week’s sequels (YA):

This week’s sequels (Elementary and Picture Books):

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