New Release Spotlight: April 9, 2019

Congratulations to Tracy V. for winning last week’s New Release Spotlight giveaway! Tracy chose Since We Last Spoke as her freebie book.

I am excited to announce that some big changes will happen on the blog soon! After toying with the idea for years, I have finally hired a professional designer to give MrsReaderPants a gorgeous new facelift! I am really proud of how much this blog has grown since I started eight years ago, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I am unsure when exactly it will go live, but if one day the blog suddenly looks way more amazing, you’ll know why!

This week brings us lots of new releases, but only one got the purple shaded box around it. While many of this week’s titles received one starred professional review, only one book received two starred reviews.

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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This Book Is Not Yet Rated (Peter Bognanni)


Movies have always helped Ethan Ashby make sense of the world. So when developers swoop in and say the classic Green Street Cinema is going to be destroyed to make room for luxury condos, Ethan is ready for battle. And so a motley crew of cinema employees comes together to save the place they love. Still, it’s going to take a movie miracle for the Green Street to have a happy ending. And when Raina Allen, Ethan’s oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back to town after working in Hollywood–cue lights and music–it seems that miracle may have been delivered. But life and love aren’t always like in the movies.

PAGES: 336
GENRES: realistic fiction, romance
THEMES: community, activism, movies
READALIKES: Just Like the Movies (Fiore), Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee (Zentner)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A strong supporting cast contributes both the wisdom of elders and the zaniness of youth, while Ethan and Raina’s awkward and sweet relationship dance makes for a tender core.” (Booklist starred, 15 Mar 2019)

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Manuelito (Elisa Amado and Abraham Urias)


Thirteen-year-old Manuelito is a gentle boy who lives with his family in a tiny village in the Guatemalan countryside. But life is far from idyllic: PACs―armed civil patrol―are a constant presence in the streets, and terrifying memories of the country’s war linger in the villagers’ collective conscience. Things deteriorate further when government-backed drug gangs arrive and take control of the village. Fearing their son will be forced to join a gang, Manuelito’s parents make the desperate decision to send him to live with his aunt in America.

PAGES: 104
GENRES: graphic novel
THEMES: refugees, Guatemala, US immigration, gang violence
READALIKES: Illegal (Colfer), Refugee (Gratz)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A blunt, effective record of the refugee crisis that’s wounding the Americas.” (Kirkus, 1 Feb 2019)

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The Great Nijinsky (Lynn Curlee)


With one grand leap off the stage at the 1909 premiere of the Ballets Russes’s inaugural season, Nijinsky became an overnight sensation and the century’s first superstar, in the days before moving pictures brought popular culture to the masses. Perhaps the greatest dancer of the twentieth century, Nijinsky captured audiences with his sheer animal magnetism and incredible skill. He was also half of the most famous (and openly gay) couple of the Edwardian era: his relationship with Serge Diaghilev, artistic director and architect of the Ballets Russes, pushed boundaries in a time when homosexuality and bisexuality were rarely discussed.

PAGES: 120
GENRES: biography, nonfiction
THEMES: LGBT, ballet, mental illness
READALIKES: Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition (Copeland)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The book’s spacious pages-heavily illustrated with original paintings, vintage photos, and simulated programs-elevate the moving story, making for a memorable volume that captures the dancer’s singular talent, fame, and notoriety.” (Publishers Weekly, 18 Feb 2019)

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Girls on the Verge (Sharon Biggs Waller)


Camille couldn’t be having a better summer. But on the very night she learns she got into a prestigious theater program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend, Bea, doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made.Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone . . . and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last-minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.

PAGES: 233
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: coming of age, friendship, abortion, road trips
READALIKES: Heroine (McGinnis), Watch Us Rise (Watson, Hagan), With the Fire on High (Acevedo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Meant to “sound an alarm,” Waller’s book is highly informative, filled with frank, detailed descriptions of our nation’s restrictions on reproductive health as well as the emotional and physical experiences of abortion.” (Kirkus, 15 Feb 2019)

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Descendant of the Crane (Joan He)


Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own. Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer–a treasonous act, punishable by death…because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira–a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own.

PAGES: 416
GENRES: fantasy
THEMES: kingdoms, family secrets, forbidden romance
READALIKES: Serpentine (Pon), Wicked Saints (Duncan)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “With complex worldbuilding and character development, readers tired of cookie-cutter stories will find some surprise twists here.” (Kirkus, 1 Mar 2019)

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A Cave in the Clouds
(Badeeah Hassan Ahmed and Susan Elizabeth McClelland)


Badeeah Hassan was just 18 when she witnessed firsthand the horrors of the 2014 genocide of the Ezidi people by ISIS forces. Captured by ISIS, known locally as Daesh, Badeeah was among hundreds forced into a brutal human trafficking network made up of women and girls of Ezidi ethnicity, a much-persecuted minority culture of Iraq. Badeeah’s story takes her to Syria where she is sold to a high-ranking ISIS commander known as Al Amriki, the American, kept as a house slave, raped, and routinely assaulted. Ultimately, it is her profound sense of faith and brave resistance that lead her to escape and reunite with family.

PAGES: 234
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 6-12 (all over the place, depending on reviewer)
GENRES: nonfiction, biography
THEMES: human trafficking, middle east, genocide
READALIKES: The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq (Mikhail), I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced (Ali, Minoui), With Ash on Their Faces (Otten)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Though consideration should be made for readers’ maturity and sensitivity due to subject matter, this first-person narrative account of a young woman’s escape from ISIS is highly recommended for all junior high and high school library collections.” (SLJ, 1 Mar 2019)

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It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers)
(Trevor Noah)


Trevor Noah, the funny guy who hosts The Daily Show, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa, with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child like him to exist. But he did exist–and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his keen smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government.

PAGES: 276
GENRES: nonfiction, biography, memoir
THEMES: prejudice, racism, South Africa, apartheid
READALIKES: Genesis Begins Again (Williams), New Kid (Craft)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A necessary purchase for readers who will appreciate and understand how a parent’s love enabled Noah to become the successful man he is now.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)

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The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day (Christopher Edge)


It’s the morning of Maisie’s tenth birthday, and she can’t wait to open her presents. Maisie is not a typical kid. What she wants most for her birthday are the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But she wakes to an empty house, and outside the front door is nothing but an unsettling, all-consuming blackness–a shifted reality. Even for super-smart Maisie, these puzzling circumstances seem out of her control…or are they?

PAGES: 155
GENRES: mystery, science fiction
THEMES: math, science, reality
READALIKES: The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster), The Calder Game (Balliet), Navigating Early (Vanderpool)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A suspenseful yet poignant science fiction novel that deftly weaves scientific theories with the equally complex relationship between two very different sisters.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Mar 2019)

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Birdie (Eileen Spinelli)


Twelve-year-old Birdie Briggs loves birds. They bring her comfort when she thinks about her dad, a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. Life without her dad isn’t easy, but at least Birdie still has Mom and Maymee, and her friends Nina and Martin. But then Maymee gets a boyfriend, Nina and Martin start dating, and Birdie’s mom starts seeing a police officer. And suddenly not even her beloved birds can lift Birdie’s spirits. Her world is changing, and Birdie wishes things would go back to how they were before. But maybe change, painful as it is, can be beautiful too.

PAGES: 208
GENRES: realistic fiction, free verse
THEMES: grief, single parents, growing up
READALIKES: Rhyme Schemer (Holt), From You to Me (Holt), Summerlost (Condie)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “While unveiling her own frustrations and fears, Birdie’s earnest narrative presents convincing portraits of these and additional sympathetic characters to shape a meaningful tale about intergenerational bonds, true friendship, and the need to embrace change.” (Publishers Weekly, 25 Feb 2019)

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Bad Boys of Fashion: Style Rebels and Renegades Through the Ages
(Jennifer Croll, Aneta Pacholska)


Sashay away, ladies: it’s the boys’ turn for the fashion spotlight. From Louis XIV to Kanye West, Jennifer Croll takes us on a tour of daring and different men throughout history who have all used fashion to get what they want. Featured men include Louis XIV, Oscar Wilde, Marlon Brando, Malcolm X, Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld, Clyde Frazier, Malcolm McLaren, David Bowie, and Kanye West, among others.

PAGES: 208
GENRES: nonfiction, collected biography
THEMES: fashion history
READALIKES: Bad Girls of Fashion (Croll), Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World through Fashion (Beccia)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Full of colorful images, graphics, and insets of other iconic style-setters and clothing items, this book will appeal to anyone interested in fashion and will surely spark debate over other influential men who were not included.” (SLJ, 1 Mar 2019)

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Middle School Misadventures (Jason Platt)


Newell is always getting into trouble–whether it’s showing up tardy for most of the year, or mocking his teachers while authoritarian Mr. Todd is standing right behind him. When disaster strikes and Newell finds himself on track to summer school, he’s given one last minute option to get out of it–participating in the upcoming Talent Show. The only problem is that he doesn’t technically have a talent to show. Yikes.

PAGES: 232
GENRES: graphic novel, realistic fiction
THEMES: anxiety, middle school, friendship
READALIKES: Click (Miller), New Kid (Craft)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Despite its overarching derivative feel, this should find an easy readership among fans of James Patterson’s I Funny or Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid. This graphic offering has definite mainstream appeal but is all too familiar.” (Kirkus, 15 Feb 2019)

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Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World (Kim Tomsic, Brett Helquist)


This is the story of how Les Paul created the world’s first solid- body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player’s arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible.

GENRES: picture book biography
THEMES: music, guitarists, inventors
READALIKES: When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana (Mahin), Talkin’ Guitar: A Story of Young Doc Watson (Gourley)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Les Paul may not be a familiar name to kids, but that doesn’t mean they won’t relate to the lively story of this inventive boy whose love of music and tinkering lead him to succeed both as a musician and an inventor.” (Booklist, 1 Apr 2019)

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Grandpa Stops a War: A Paul Robeson Story
(Susan Robeson, Rod Brown)


When Susan was a child her father and grandfather told her family stories over and over. Grandpa Paul was a great man, a singer with a deep and rumbling voice, a man of peace and principle who worried about the safety of the children and families living in countries at war. Though it was dangerous, Robeson went to Spain and travelled to the front lines of the war (in a Buick!). There, he asked the soldiers to set up speakers facing the fighters on both sides of the battlefield. And then he sang…

GENRES: picture book biography
THEMES: war, peace, music, multiculturalism, family
READALIKES: The Undefeated (Alexander), What Is Given From the Heart (McKissack)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers might wonder how Robeson thought a black American could unite a country where he was both a minority and an outsider, but when they see the photograph of Robeson with his multiracial, international family and learn that he spoke and sang in over 15 different languages, it seems clear that Robeson lived multiculturalism; hence, traveling around the world spreading peace through music to bring people together came naturally to him.” (Kirkus, 1 Nov 2019)

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The Invisible Garden (Valérie Picard and Marianne Ferrer)


A young girl and her family travel from the city to the country to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday. Someone suggests that Arianne, as the only child at the party, might enjoy exploring the garden more than listening to the adults chat. Arianne is unsure what to do in the quiet garden, and she soon lies down out of boredom. But then she spots a pebble…and a grasshopper…and flies away on a dandelion seed pod into the cosmos as she discovers the freedom of her imagination.

GENRES: picture book (sparse text)
THEMES: imagination, nature, boredom
READALIKES: Ojiichan’s Gift (Uegaki), Poetree (Reynolds)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Picard captures the magic of a solitary hour spent observing nature-and suggests where those observations might lead.” (Publishers Weekly, 21 Jan 2019)

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Inside Outside (Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui


Safe inside its shell, a baby bird prepares to brave the world. A spelunker descends into a wide and glittering cavern while fellow explorers cluster around a crack in the earth. Fire-red ants march busily around their anthill, oblivious of a hungry anteater waiting above. Smart and stylish, this oversize art book takes a unique approach to the concept of inside and outside, offering clever and unexpected examples that will delight readers and spark conversations about context and perspective. Inside Outside is sure to find a place in collections, on coffee tables, in classrooms, and anywhere curious minds can be found.

GENRES: picture book
THEMES: opposites
READALIKES: Before After (Arégui), Another (Robinson)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Sure to provoke conversation, a fresh approach to looking, and multiple readings.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Feb 2019)

This week’s sequels (YA):


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

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


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