New Release Spotlight: February 26, 2019

Congratulations to Tonya F. for winning last week’s New Release Spotlight giveaway! Tonya has selected Pedro’s Pan as her prize.

This week’s giveaway is not for a new book release, and you’ll need to really jump on it if you want to win. Teachers Pay Teachers is having a huge site-wide sale right now, so I’m giving away three TPT gift cards instead. BUT! Make sure you enter this giveaway ASAP. Because the TPT site-wide sale is only on Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb 26-27), I am doing the drawing at 6pm EST on Tuesday night. Enter quickly if you want to win! Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.

This week features lots of titles for YA and lots of picture books, but only a couple of titles for middle grade. Enjoy!


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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What We Buried (Kate A. Boorman)

Siblings Liv and Jory Brewer have grown up resenting each another. Liv–former pageant queen and reality TV star–was groomed for a life in the spotlight, while her older brother, Jory, born with a partial facial paralysis, was left in the shadows. The only thing they have in common is contempt for their parents.

Now Liv is suing her mom and dad for emancipation, and Jory views the whole thing as yet another attention-getting spectacle. But on the day of the hearing, their parents mysteriously vanish, and the siblings are forced to work together. Liv feels certain she knows where they are and suspects that Jory knows more than he’s telling…

PAGES: 290
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8+
GENRES: thriller, mystery
THEMES: family secrets, siblings
READALIKES: One of Us Is Lying (McManus), The Girl in the Picture (Monir)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Told through the alternating perspectives of Jory and Liv, Boorman’s perceptive novel underlines the different types of abuse that children can suffer and the long-lasting psychological effects of abuse on young minds.” (Publishers Weekly Annex, 17 Dec 2018)

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The Weight of a Thousand Feathers (Brian Conaghan)

As the person who cares for his terminally-ill mother, Bobby Seed has a lot on his plate. Add to that a responsibility to watch over his little brother (with his endless question about why their mother is in so much pain), keeping up at school, and navigating a relationship with a girl friend who wants to be a girlfriend, and he’s barely keeping his head above the water. Something’s got to give. But then Bobby’s mother makes a request, one that seems impossible. If he agrees, he won’t just be soothing her pain. He’ll be helping her end it–and end everything.

PAGES: 368
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: ethical dilemmas, terminal illness, assisted suicide
READALIKES: Other Breakable Things (York, Altwood), Breathless (McDaniel)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This illuminating, thought-provoking novel offers a compassionate exploration of the weighty responsibilities that one teenage caregiver faces.” (Publishers Weekly Annex, 14 Jan 2018)

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We Set the Dark on Fire (Tehlor Mejia)

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society. School couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

PAGES: 363
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-12
GENRES: dystopia, science fiction, fantasy
THEMES: social class, feminism, LGBT+
READALIKES: All Rights Reserved (Katsoulis), The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood), Delirium (Oliver)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly Annex starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The first in a duology, this fierce, feminist novel throws memorable characters into a provocative set of circumstances, and the constant twists will leave readers yearning for the conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly Annex starred review, 17 Dec 2018)

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Soaring Earth (Margarita Engle)

Companion to: Enchanted Air. Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school. Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education.

PAGES: 192
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRES: biography, memoir, free verse poetry
THEMES: civil rights movement, Cold War
READALIKES: The Poet X (Acevedo), The Firefly Letters (Engle)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Employing variations in line breaks, word layout, and font size effectively, Engle’s pithy verses together read as a cohesive narrative that exudes honesty and bravery.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jan 2019)

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Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee (Jeff Zentner)

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

PAGES: 395
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: friendship, coming of age, public access TV shows, horror movies
READALIKES: Eleanor & Park (Rowell), Lily & Dunkin (Gephart)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The banter between the characters is smart and funny, and even the text messages capture full nuances of emotion. Readers looking for an unforgettable slice of small-town angst will love this one.” (Booklist starred review, 15 Nov 2018)

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The Music of What Happens (Bill Konigsberg)

It is summer in Phoenix, and seventeen-year-old Maximo offers to help a Jordan, a fellow student in high school, with the food truck that belonged to Jordan’s deceased father, and which may be the only thing standing between homelessness for Jordan and his mom; the boys are strongly attracted to each other, but as their romance develops it is threatened by the secrets they are hiding–and by the racism and homophobia of those around them.

PAGES: 338
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-12
GENRES: realistic fiction, romance
THEMES: poverty, racism, homophobia, LGBT+
READALIKES: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Saenz), Check, Please! (Ukazu)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, VOYA starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The result is a story with imperfect characters who are, refreshingly, called out on problematic behaviors and aim to do better. A fresh addition to the menu of queer teenage love stories.” (Kirkus, 15 Nov 2018)

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Mike (Andrew Norriss)

MEET FLOYD. He’s a tennis star. Possibly good enough to win Wimbledon one day.

MEET MIKE. He’s… different. Apart from anything else, Floyd seems to be the only one who can see him. But Mike must have appeared for a reason. And finding out why is perhaps the most important thing Floyd will ever do…

PAGES: 240
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7+
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: coming of age, imaginary friends
READALIKES: Challenger Deep (Shusterman)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The tone and pacing of this book make it a great recommendation for reluctant readers, and the normalizing approach the author takes with Floyd’s trips to the therapist will be a comfort to those that struggle with their own self-identity and counseling appointments.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Feb 2019)

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Four Dead Queens (Astrid Scholte)

Debut author! Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead. With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process.

PAGES: 429
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-12
GENRES: fantasy
THEMES: royalty, murder
READALIKES: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Kemmerer), Three Dark Crowns (Blake)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Issues of class, race, privilege, and family fealty are prominent, along with a healthy dose of conventionally formulaic romance.” (Booklist, 1 Feb 2019)

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An Affair of Poisons (Addie Thorley)

Debut author! After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included.

Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half of the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant dauphin.

PAGES: 391
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRES: historical fantasy
THEMES: French history, poisoners, alchemy, King Louis XIV of France
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Though a bit gory at times, Thorley’s descriptions do not go over the top, but leave readers with just enough detail to set the scene. Even the obvious romance that develops manages to add to the plot and doesn’t overpower it.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Dec 2018)

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A Ray of Light (Wick)

Readers will learn what light is made of and how it fits alongside everything else in the world. Author Walter Wick introduces readers into the mystery behind incandescence, light waves, the color spectrum, and iridescence as well as how we perceive light in our world and beyond.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 2-7
GENRES: nonfiction, picture book for older readers
THEMES: science, light, photography, STEAM
READALIKES: A Drop of Water (Wick)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred, Kirkus starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Libraries with strong STEM collections should consider Wick’s visual introduction to an intriguing subject.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Jan 2019)

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The Very Impatient Caterpillar (Ross Burach)

When a group of caterpillars scamper up a tree to metamorphosize, one of them is still learning about this whole transformation thing. Who knew that with a little time, and patience, he could become a beautiful butterfly? But the two-week wait inside his chrysalis feels interminable. (“Can I get a comic book?” “What if I need the bathroom?” “Anyone want to play a game?”). His fellow caterpillars all tell him to be patient and let nature take its course, but the waiting is just so hard. Can he do it??

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: butterflies, spring
READALIKES: Gotta Go! Gotta Go! (Swope), Ten Little Caterpillars (Martin), Hurry and the Monarch (O Flatharta)
STARS AND AWARDS: Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An object lesson in the value of patience as well as a droll introduction to meta-what-now.” (Kirkus, 1 Oct 2018)

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Titanosaur (Diego Pol, Jose Luis Carballido, Florencia Gigena)

The Titanosaur was the biggest, heaviest creature to ever walk the Earth! This book tells the story of the discovery of this new dinosaur from the mouths of the paleontologists who led the dig! The story takes readers from the discovery by a local herder to the organization and completion of the excavation. The final spread opens up into a gatefold showing a photograph of the full Titanosaur skeleton on display at the museum.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 1-4
GENRES: picture book, nonfiction
THEMES: dinosaurs, paleontology
READALIKES: Dinosaurs! (Gail Gibbons), Prehistoric Actual Size (Jenkins)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Booklist starred
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A concluding author’s note seeks to inspire a new generation of paleontologists, and after reading this book, there will doubtless be many lining up for the job.” (Booklist starred review, 1 Dec 2018)

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Monkey Time (Michael Hall)

Monkey tries to catch the brightly colored–and tasty-looking–minutes on the minute tree in his forest. Introduces basic concepts about time and how time passes and is measured. Includes three pages of facts reinforcing the math concepts and describing the rainforest friends introduced in the story

PAGES: 48
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: math, counting, telling time, rainforests
READALIKES: The Umbrella (Brett), The Frog with the Big Mouth (Bateman)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This entertaining story will reinforce counting skills while teaching youngsters a bit about time.” (Booklist starred review, 15 Nov 2018)

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The Frog Book (Steven Jenkins)

In this picture book, Caldecott Honor-winning team Steve Jenkins and Robin Page explore one of the world’s most diverse–and most threatened–animals. With more than 5,000 different frog species on the planet, in every color of the rainbow and a vast number of vivid patterns, no creatures are more fascinating to learn about or look at. These intriguing amphibians have made some amazing adaptations in order to survive.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 1-5
GENRES: picture book nonfiction
THEMES: frogs, spring, adaptations, endangered animals
READALIKES: What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? (Jenkins), The Frog Scientist (Turner),
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Eye-catching visuals and intriguing material make this overview of all things frog a first-rate choice.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Jan 2019)

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Good Night, Wind: A Yiddish Folktale
(Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Maelle Doliveux)

The winter wind searches for a place to rest in this lyrical retelling of a Yiddish folktale illustrated with stunning collage. After working hard all winter long, Wind is tired and needs a place to rest. But no one wants to shelter so cold and blustery a Wind–not the townspeople, not the country innkeeper, not even the gnarled tree who is worried about frozen roots. Finally, Wind does what any of us do when we are overtired- Wind has a tantrum. And it is only with the help of two small children brave enough to weather the storm that Wind finally finds the perfect place to sleep.

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRES: picture book, folktale
THEMES: weather, wind
READALIKES: Kate, Who Tamed the Wind (Scanlon), It’s Only the Wind (Dwyer)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A sparkling story whose fresh words and deeply imagined, skillfully rendered illustrations give it a feel that is both contemporary and folkloric.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Dec 2018)

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Say Something (Peter Reynolds)

Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, has the chance to say something: with our actions, our words and our voices.

Perfect for budding activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRES: picture book
THEMES: activism, social change
READALIKES: The Word Collector (Wimmer), Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (Barnes)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A motivational must-have for every collection.” (SLJ, 1 Jan 2019)

This week’s sequels (YA):

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

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