New Release Spotlight: April 23, 2019

It’s Tuesday again! The library was super-busy last week with International Day and our first-ever High School Battle of the Books. This week has been a bit quieter because our 12th graders have two weeks of study leave before they return to take their IB exams. For now, I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet, but I think by the end of this week, I’ll be ready for some excitement. We have an extended weekend next week due to May Day. May Day is on May 1st every year and is China’s version of Labor Day. This year, May Day falls on a Wednesday, and our school also gave us Monday and Tuesday off. I love having a mini-spring break just three weeks after our regular spring break!

I’ve spotlighted 15 new titles this week, several of which have received starred reviews from professional library journals.

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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You Must Not Miss (Katrina Leno)


Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day after her family self-destructed. Now Magpie is called a slut in the hallways of her high school and her former best friend won’t speak to her. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a magical place called Near. Near is perfect–a place where Magpie’s life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely that she writes it into existence. At first, Near is an escape, but soon it becomes something darker. Soon it becomes a place where Magpie can do anything she wants…even get her revenge.

PAGES: 294
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12 (SLJ: Grades 6+)
GENRES: thriller, magical realism
THEMES: sexual abuse, family problems, bullying
READALIKES: Carrie (King), Summer of Salt (Leno)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers will ponder this exceedingly creepy gut punch of a tale long after turning the last page.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jan 2019)

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The Tiger at Midnight (Swati Teerdhala)


Esha lost everything in the royal coup–and as the legendary rebel known as the Viper, she’s made the guilty pay. Now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha. Kunal has been a soldier since childhood. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path–even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has only been growing more volatile. When Esha and Kunal’s paths cross one fated night, an impossible chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces.

PAGES: 484
GENRES: fantasy, mythology
THEMES: assassins
READALIKES: Descendant of the Crane (He), An Ember in the Ashes (Tahir)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Alongside context-building descriptions of Indian food and dress, Teerdhala adds plenty of surprises to her finely limned characters to produce a lush fantasy.” (Publishers Weekly, 11 Feb 2019)

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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Reader’s Edition (James W. Loewen)


A comparison of twelve high school history textbooks against what is known about US History. I just finished the adult version of this book, and even though we have the adult version in my library, I will certainly be buying this one. I am so excited to hear there is a young reader’s edition now!

PAGES: 480
GENRES: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: US history, Native Americans, slavery, glorifying national heroes
READALIKES: Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (Washington), Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Stevenson)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An accessible, eye-opening invitation to look for hidden—and not-so-hidden—agendas in supposedly authoritative sources.” (Kirkus, 1 Mar 2019)

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If I’m Being Honest
(Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka)


Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school–she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed.

PAGES: 359
GENRES: romance, retelling (The Taming of the Shrew)
THEMES: being yourself, honesty
READALIKES: The Taming of the Drew (Strohm), Always Never Yours (Wibberley)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: ” The dialogue is funny and effortless, and the other characters are quirky and believable.” (SLJ, 1 Feb 2019)

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How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom (S.J. Goslee)


Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and very, very single. He’s never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It’s not like Penn Valley is exactly brimming with prospects. Nolan plans to ride out the rest of his junior year drawing narwhals, working at the greenhouse, and avoiding anything that involves an ounce of school spirit. Unfortunately for him, his adoptive big sister has other ideas. Ideas that involve too-tight pants, a baggie full of purple glitter, and worst of all: a Junior-Senior prom ticket.

PAGES: 236
GENRES: realistic fiction, romance, humor
READALIKES: Red, White, and Royal Blue (McQuiston), The Music of What Happens (Bill Konigsberg)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A smash hit for teen romcom fans wanting a queer read-alike to Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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All We Could Have Been (T.E. Carter)


Five years ago, Lexie witnessed something that shattered her very core. To cope, she moves from town to town, desperate to hide the darkest of family secrets. In every location, she assumes a new name and flies under the radar as long as she can before anyone figures out who she is–who she’s related to. Lexie now lives with her aunt, has minimal interaction with her parents, and has no communication with her brother. But the pain is always there. After starting her newest school, all she wants is to just live life.

PAGES: 291
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: PTSD, family secrets
READALIKES: How to Make Friends With the Dark (Glasgow), Last Girl Lied To (Flynn)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A sensitive and multilayered look at family loyalty and survivor guilt.” (Booklist, 1 Apr 2019)

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Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow (James Sturm and Rich Tommaso)


Baseball Hall of Famer Leroy “Satchel” Paige (1906 – 1982) changed the face of the game in a career that spanned five decades. Much has been written about this larger-than-life pitcher, but when it comes to Paige, fact does not easily separate from fiction. He made a point of writing his own history . . . and then re-writing it. A tall, lanky fireballer, he was arguably the Negro League’s hardest thrower, most entertaining storyteller and greatest gate attraction. Now the Center for Cartoon Studies turns a graphic novelist’s eye to Paige’s story. Told from the point of view of a sharecropper, this compelling narrative follows Paige from game to game as he travels throughout the segregated South.

GENRES: graphic novel, sports
THEMES: prejudice, racism, baseball, Jim Crow laws
READALIKES: The Comic Book Story of Baseball: The Heroes, Hustlers, and History-Making Swings (and Misses) of America’s National Pastime (Irvine)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “By emphasizing Paige’s influence and mythos rather than focusing on details about his life or career, Sturm and Tommaso offer a powerful and unique testimony to his legacy.” (Publishers Weekly starred review)

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Beyond Words: What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel (Carl Safina)


Young readers’ adaptation of a book of the same title. Follow researcher Carl Safina as he treks with a herd of elephants across the Kenyan landscape, then travel with him to the Pacific Northwest to track and monitor whales in their ocean home. Along the way, find out more about the interior lives of these giants of land and sea–how they play, how they fight, and how they communicate with one another, and sometimes with us, too.

PAGES: 165
GENRES: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: endangered animals, elephants, whales, Earth Day, conservation, poaching, animal behavior
READALIKES: Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (Safina), DK Eyewitness Books: Endangered Animals (Hoare)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The hardest chapters are “Ivory” and “The Cost of Captivity,” which bring home the somber truths about horrific damage done to both species by human beings. However, the overall tone is a winning mixture of reverence, wonder, and even playfulness. A must for middle-grade animal lovers.” (Kirkus starred, 1 Feb 2019)

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Two Brothers, Four Hands
(Jan Greenberg, Sandra Jordan, Hadley Hooper)


Everyone who knew them agreed. Alberto was the genius of the family. His younger brother Diego was his opposite–he didn’t care much for books or schoolwork, and he had no idea what he would be when he grew up. But despite their differences, the two brothers shared an intense bond. Alberto Giacometti became one of the iconic artists of the twentieth century, whose tall, spindly sculptures grace the collections of museums around the world. Diego was always at his side, helping and encouraging, and in his spare time creating remarkable pieces of furniture, works of sculpture in their own right.

GENRES: picture book biography
THEMES: STEM, brothers, art, cooperation, sculpture
READALIKES: Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines (Harvey), Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (Steptoe)
STARS AND AWARDS: Five starred reviews: Booklist, Hornbook, Kirkus, SLJ, and Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An extraordinary achievement and a moving, affecting evocation of two lives lived together.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Feb 2019)

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Camp (Kayla Miller)


Olive is sure she’ll have the best time at summer camp with her friend Willow – but while Olive makes quick friends with the other campers, Willow struggles to form connections and latches on to the only person she knows – Olive. It’ss’more than Olive can handle! The stress of being Willow’s living security blanket begins to wear on Olive and before long…the girls aren’t just fighting, they may not even be friends by the time camp is over. Will the two be able to patch things up before the final lights out?

GENRES: graphic novel, realistic fiction
THEMES: summer camp, friendship, making new friends, fitting in
READALIKES: Roller Girl (Jamieson), Real Friends (Hale), Click (Miller)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “All in all, a sweet summer camp story about friendship in a multicultural setting.” (Kirkus, 1 Apr 2019)

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The Tallest Tree House (Elly MacKay)


Mip and Pip are two fairies who live in a beautiful forest near a waterfall. One day, Mip has a brilliant idea to build a tree house and decides to make it into a contest: whoever can build the tallest tree house the fastest wins! Pip, who is much more thoughtful and a planner, reads about architecture and sketches out blueprints while Mip, the speedster, is already halfway done constructing her house. But when a powerful gust of wind threatens Mip’s tree house and Pip’s safety, the two friends must learn to appreciate each other’s talents to save the day-and to build the tallest tree house in the forest.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: fairies, friendship, tree houses, planner vs. pantser
READALIKES: Butterfly Park (MacKay), We Are the Gardeners (Gaines)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Sweetly offers essential, timely lessons about aligning with those different from oneself.” (Kirkus, 15 Feb 2019)

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Sadie and the Silver Shoes (Jane Godwin, Anna Walker)


With three older brothers to pass along hand-me-downs, Sadie doesn’t have much say in choosing her clothes. Her outfits always look interesting, though (even if some kids at school might not think so). But Sadie is allowed to pick her shoes, so one day she buys the most beautiful shoes ever–shoes that sparkle in the sun, shoes she wears everywhere. That is, until Sadie and her brothers hop down a creek on an adventure, and one shoe falls off and is swept away.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: siblings, shoes, hand-me-down clothing
READALIKES: My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother (Polacco)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Dialogue and text highlight images of children interacting in play and a developing friendship between the girls that encourages them to wear their shoes everywhere-each sporting a single sparkly shoe. This suggested general purchase for all libraries will resonate with young -readers.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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Motor Mouse (Cynthia Rylant)


Join Motor Mouse on three hilarious adventures in this irresistible start to a brand-new series from the creators of Gooseberry Park and the Mr. Putter and Tabby books! Motor Mouse is a busy little mouse, between driving his delivery car, eating cake, and visiting with friends. Come along with him on his adventures!

GENRES: picture book; very early chapter books
THEMES: friendship, things that go
READALIKES: A Piglet Named Mercy (DiCamillo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred, Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This enticing series starter for early readers teaches flexibility, friendship, and compromise.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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Home Is a Window (Stephanie Ledyard, Chris Sasaki)


Home can be many things–a window, a doorway, a rug…or a hug. At home, everything always feels the same: comfortable and safe. But sometimes things change, and a home must be left behind. Follow a family as they move out of their beloved, familiar house and learn that they can bring everything they love about their old home to the new one, because they still have each other.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: family, moving
READALIKES: Before I Leave (Bagley)
STARS AND AWARDS: Hornbook starred, SLJ starred, School Library Connection starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Emphasizing the comfort of the familiar and the promise of new beginnings, this book provides a conversation prompt for families making a move.” (Publishers Weekly, 25 Feb 2019)

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Fearsome Giant, Fearless Child: A Worldwide Jack and the Beanstalk Story (Paul Fleischman, Julie Paschkis)


A retelling of the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” combining many different cultural traditions to create one narrative.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: multicultural retelling,
READALIKES: Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal (Fleischman), Little Red Riding Hood Stories Around the World (Gunderson)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An excellent addition to storytelling and fairy-tale collections.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)


This week’s sequels (Middle Grades):

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This list also appears on my New Releases–Weekly Board on Pinterest:


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