New Release Spotlight: April 30, 2019

Welcome to this week’s New Release Spotlight! We are off school through Wednesday this week because of May Day, which is China’s version of Labor Day. It’s been great because I needed some extra time to get the June display poster sets finished. They will be released this Thursday and will again be free for the first 48 hours. If you aren’t familiar with my poster sets yet, you will definitely want to check back on Thursday. They are a TON of work each month, but they are guaranteed to save you time in creating library displays!

This week’s spotlight is kind of like the calm before the storm. It was about this time three years ago that I started doing the Spotlights in the first place. The month of May is always a big one for new releases. In late-April 2016, I decided I would do a 4-week series of the May 2016 new releases. Three years later, the New Release Spotlight is still a regular (and popular!) feature on MrsReaderPants!

If you are thinking about ordering titles on this week’s list, you might want to hold off until next week. I did a quick look at the May 7 releases, and true to form, there are tons of them! I’ll also do a new release giveaway next week to celebrate!

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. (no purple titles this week though!)

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When I Was Summer (J.B. Howard)


Feeling like her family doesn’t understand her or her love of music, sixteen-year-old Nora identifies three women who could be her birth mother and takes her band on a three-city tour to find them, a trip that allows her to instead find herself.

PAGES: 296


GENRES: realistic fiction, romance

THEMES: music, adoption, birth mothers, road trips

READALIKES: Girls on the Verge (Biggs Waller)Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour (Matson)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Nora’s combination of grit, humor, and vulnerability compels readers to join her on her journey of self-discovery. This bass player’s coming-of-age story keeps a strong and steady beat.” (Kirkus, 15 Feb 2019)

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Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse (Shane Burcaw)


Twenty-something author, blogger, and entrepreneur Shane Burcaw . . . presents an essay collection about living a full life in a body that many people perceive as a tragedy. From anecdotes about first introductions where people patted him on the head instead of shaking his hand, to stories of passersby mistaking his able-bodied girlfriend for a nurse, Shane tackles awkward situations and assumptions with humor and grace.

PAGES: 197


GENRES: narrative nonfiction, essay, memoir, biography

THEMES: disabilities, spinal atrophy

READALIKES: Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability (Burcaw)Double Take: A Memoir (Connolly)


WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An accessible, smart-assed, and unexpectedly tender exploration of life, love, and disability.” (Kirkus, 15 Feb 2019)

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Love from A to Z (S.K. Ali)


After getting suspended from school, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break. Fueled by guilt, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her. Since Adam got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, he’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister and keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals. Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…Adam and Zayneb meet.

PAGES: 342


GENRES: realistic fiction

THEMES: Muslims, prejudice, Qatar

READALIKES: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali (Khan)The Weight of Our Sky (Alkaf)

STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Ali skillfully fashions a love story sensitive to the rules of Muslim courtship that’s equally achy and enigmatic.” (Booklist, 15 Apr 2019)

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How to Be Luminous (Hapgood)


Minnie Sloe and her sisters have weathered it all together–growing up without fathers, living an eccentric lifestyle with a pet rabbit named Salvador Dali, and riding out their famous artist mother’s mental highs and lows. But then their mother disappears, and Minnie, who was supposed to follow in her footsteps, starts seeing the world in monochrome. Literally. How can she create when all she sees is black-and-white? As grief threatens to tear the three sisters apart, Minnie fears she could lose everything: her family, her future, her first love…and maybe even her mind.

PAGES: 327


GENRES: realistic fiction

THEMES: grief

READALIKES: When I Was Summer (Howard)We Are Okay (LaCour)

REVIEW 1: “Bracketed by the loss of a parent and teen romance, this well-wrought narrative excels at normalizing both the throes of artistic expression and the varying dimensions of physical and mental challenges.” (Kirkus, 19 Mar 2019)

REVIEW 2: “Hapgood’s prose is lyrical and inventive as she explores the desolation of mental illness, but the novel’s emotional impact is muted by one-dimensional characterization and a too-tidy resolution of Minnie’s depressive state.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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Hot Dog Girl (Dugan)


Debut author! Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way: She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland…as a giant dancing hot dog. Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick. And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

PAGES: 311


GENRES: romance

THEMES: teens with jobs, LGBT+

READALIKES: Wesley James Ruined My Life (Honeybourn)How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True (Strohmeyer)

REVIEW 1: ” Dugan’s debut has a clear and confident voice, and her characters are sympathetic in their desire for happiness and fear of change; the supporting cast members have their own fully-developed personalities without overwhelming the main storyline.” (Kirkus, 1 Mar 2019)

REVIEW 2: (I had a chuckle at this one!) “Dugan does a nice job of character development, but the opening chapters of this high school queer romance read too much like a Shirley Temple/Mickey Rooney movie plot.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak (Adi Alsaid)


Dumped by her boyfriend the summer after senior year, teen love and relationship columnist Lu Charles has hit a wall with her writing. The words just won’t come to her like they used to and if she doesn’t find a topic for her column, she’ll lose her gig at hip online magazine Misnomer, and the college scholarship that goes along with it. Her best friend, Pete, thinks she should write through her own pain, but when Lu overhears another couple planning a pre-college breakup just like hers, she becomes convinced that they’re the answer to cracking her writer’s block. And when she meets them–super-practical Iris and cute, sweet Cal–and discovers they’re postponing their breakup until the end of the summer, she has to know more.

PAGES: 330


GENRES: realistic fiction

THEMES: online journalism

READALIKES: Little Black Dress, Little White Lies (Stampler)Can’t Look Away (Cooner)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Alsaid’s authentic language and relatable situations will have teens experiencing Lu’s frustrations right along with her. The fast pacing will appeal to reluctant readers.” (SLJ, 1 Feb 2019)

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Belly Up (Eva Darrows)


Know what’s more fun than being the new girl for your senior year? Being the pregnant new girl. It isn’t awesome. There is one upside, though–a boy named Leaf Leon. He’s cute, an amazing cook and he’s flirting me up, hard-core. Too bad I’m knocked up with a stranger’s baby. I should probably mention that to him at some point. But how?

PAGES: 349


GENRES: realistic fiction

THEMES: teen pregnancy, bisexuality

READALIKES: The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir (Rodriguez)Far From the Tree (Benway)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Although the happily-ever-after ending is somewhat romanticized, snappy dialogue and memorable characters by Darrow (Dead Little Mean Girl) make for an endearing, laugh-out-loud read.” (Publishers Weekly, 11 Feb 2019)

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Tooth and Claw: The Dinosaur Wars (Deborah Noyes)


Tells the story of the feverish race between two brilliant, driven, and insanely competitive scientists–Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh–to uncover more and more monstrous fossils in the newly opened Wild West. Between them, they discovered dozens of major dinosaur species and established the new discipline of paleontology in America. But their bitter thirty-year rivalry–a ‘war’ waged on wild plains and mountains, in tabloid newsprint, and in Congress–dramatically wrecked their professional and private lives even as it brought alive for the public a vanished prehistoric world

PAGES: 151


GENRES: narrative nonfiction

THEMES: paleontology, dinosaurs, fossils, science

READALIKES: Battle of the Dinosaur Bones: Othniel Charles Marsh vs Edward Drinker Cope (Johnson)The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World (Winchell)


WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An exciting retelling of the passionate rivalry between two researchers, and the dinosaurs that ignited their intellectual labors and fueled their conflict.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Mar 2019)

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Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II
(Andrea Warren)


A biography of Norman Mineta, from his internment as a child in Heart Mountain Internment Camp during World War II, through his political career including serving in congress for ten terms during which time he was instrumental in getting the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 passed which provided reparations and an apology to those who were interned.

PAGES: 214


GENRES: narrative nonfiction

THEMES: WWII, Japanese Internment Camps, Civil Liberties Act of 1988

READALIKES: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea (Lee)


WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An excellent choice for social studies classes, literature circles, and libraries. Extensive back matter enriches understanding of this historical narrative.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Mar 2019)

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The Lost Boy’s Gift (Kimberly Willis Holt)


Nine-year-old Daniel must move across the county with his mom after his parents’ divorce. He’s leaving behind his whole life–everything–and he’s taking a suitcase of anger with him. But Daniel is in for a surprise when he settles into While-a-Way Lane and meets his new neighbors–the Lemonade Girl, the hopscotching mailman, the tiny creatures, and especially Tilda Butter. Tilda knows how to look and listen closely, and it’s that gift that helps Daniel find his way in that curiousplaced called While-a-Way Lane.

PAGES: 213


GENRES: realistic fiction

THEMES: school, family, friends, divorce, moving away

READALIKES: The Benefits of Being an Octopus (Braden)Counting to Perfect (LaFleur)

STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “In Tilda’s view, everyone has a “gift” (hers happens to be talking to animals), and though on the surface Daniel remains rather unappealingly sullen and unobservant until near the end, he ultimately rewards her faith in a way that adds further buoyancy to the upbeat finish.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Mar 2019)

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The Library of Ever (Zeno Alexander)


Debut author! Lenora is having a very frustrating summer while her parents have adventures around the globe–until she discovers a strange doorway in her local library. It leads to the Library–the ultimate library, filled with all the knowledge of the universe. And Lenora steps right up to become its newest apprentice librarian. Lenora’s new job rockets her across the globe and into outer space, to a future filled with robots, and to a dark nothingness that wants to destroy the library. She quickly learns the only way to save it might be unlocking the knowledge inside its endless shelves.

PAGES: 191


GENRES: fantasy

THEMES: libraries, magic

READALIKES: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Sanderson)Aru Shah and the End of Time (Chokshi)

STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This book is for every person who has ever believed that libraries are magic and anyone who has spent enough time in one knows that libraries aren’t just for books.” (Booklist, 1 Apr 2019)

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What If… by Thierry Lenain (Author), Olivier Tallec (Illustrator), Claudia Zoe Bedrick (Translator)


What if it was the child who decided to be born? Here, from the belly of his mother, now round like an island, the child looks out at the world. Despite all of the trouble and heartache, he decides to be born, strong in his belief that he can help make the world a better place.Stunningly illustrated by Olivier Tallec, with strong colors and sketchy lines, What If… is a book that gives us a sense of purpose in being born, reminding us that our task is caring for the world and for each other.



GENRES: picture book

THEMES: sustainability, imagination

READALIKES: The Little Prince Read-Aloud Storybook (Saint-Exupéry)Hello (Ikegami)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “At the end, readers learn why the child appears so ephemeral: He doesn’t yet exist but has decided he has the resolve to be born. Sobering and provocative.” (Kirkus, 15 Mar 2019)

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Make a Wish, Henry Bear (Liam Francis Walsh)


Henry Bear has very unusual parents. They encourage him to stay up all night, eat chocolate cake at every meal, and get into trouble with his teacher. But what happens when Henry Bear grows tired of indulging in childish things?



GENRES: picture book

THEMES: wishes, family, birthdays

READALIKES: Fish (Walsh)


WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Henry Bear’s European-inspired town of cobblestone and tile roofs is the perfect setting for this funny, playful tale. Readers will hope to see more of Henry Bear.” (Kirkus, 1 Feb 2019)

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Ninita’s Big World: The True Story of a Deaf Pygmy Marmoset
(Sarah Glenn Marsh)


Ninita is the only known deaf pygmy marmoset in the world, but that doesn’t stop her from making friends and chasing her next adventure! Abandoned by her parents and rescued by the RSCF, this tiny, curious monkey loves exploring her habitat. And when she meets Mr. Big–another pygmy marmoset–she has finally found a friend who likes to eat, climb, and play as much as she does.



GENRES: nonfiction picture book

THEMES: monkeys, marmosets

READALIKES: Saving Fiona (Maynard)Almost Gone (Jenkins)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An excellent book for reading aloud and teaching children about pygmy marmosets and conservation efforts.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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Handimals Animals in Art and Nature (Silvia Lopez and Guido Daniele)


With a gift for fine art and a lifelong love of nature, Guido paints magnificent animal subjects on an unconventional canvas―human hands. This awe–inspiring collection showcases sixteen creatures ranging from polar bears to alpacas to Komodo dragons and provides factual information about the various species. Silvia Lopez brings her sharp eye to these important animals with insightful facts to raise awareness and appreciation for Earth’s precious wildlife.



GENRES: picture book, art

THEMES: animals, painting, art

READALIKES: Painting Pepette (Lodding)

STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Plenty of animal titles abound, but few are as quirky and enthralling as this picture book.” (Booklist starred review, 15 Apr 2019)

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Brave Molly (Brooke Boynton-Hughes)


What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them, but they follow her down the sidewalk, get in the way when she tries to make a new friend, pop unexpectedly out of shadows, relentless and multiplying until finally… Molly faces down her fears. Author/illustrator Brooke Boynton delivers a modern classic in this empowering, wordless adventure, honouring everyday acts of bravery and the ability of friendship to banish the monsters that haunt us.



GENRES: wordless picture book

THEMES: anxiety, fear

READALIKES: Sign Off! (Savage)Blue Rider (Valerio)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers struggling with their own shyness will find inspiration in this plucky heroine.” (Kirkus, 1 Mar 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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