Shout-out to all my friends whose school year has already ended! Enjoy a dip in the pool for me…I still have 23 school days left. I’ll get there eventually!
The last New Release Spotlight of May 2019 is honestly less-awesome than they have been in previous weeks. The Kingdom looks pretty interesting (I love that cover), as does Tim Tingle’s new Stone River Crossing, which will make a great companion to his picture book Crossing Bok Chitto.
Ruby Chernyavsky has been told the stories since she was a child: The women in her family, once possessed of great magical abilities to remake lives and stave off death itself, were forced to flee their Russian home for America in order to escape the fearful men who sought to destroy them. Such has it always been, Ruby’s been told, for powerful women. Today, these stories seem no more real to Ruby than folktales, except for the smallest bit of power left in their blood: when each of them comes of age, she will have a vision of who she will be when she dies—a destiny as inescapable as it is inevitable.
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Though it gets off to a somewhat sluggish start, this story ostensibly about magic, witches, and family rivalries packs unexpected depth, which is only enhanced by a compelling cast of nicely multifaceted characters and two refreshingly matter-of-fact queer romances.” (Booklist, 1 Apr 2019)
For Indigo Phillips, life has always been about basking in the shadow of her identical twin, Violet–the perfectly dressed, gentle, popular sister. The only problem the girls had in their lives was the occasional chaos that came with being part of the Phillips family brood. But when Violet becomes terminally ill and plans to die on her own terms via medically assisted death, Indigo spirals into desperation in her efforts to cope. That’s when she begins to hear a mysterious voice–a voice claiming to be God. The Voice insists that if she takes Violet to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert, her sister will live. Incredibly, Violet agrees to go–if their dysfunctional family tags along for the ride. With all nine members stuffed into a wonky old paratransit bus, . . . Indigo must find a way to face insecurities she’s spent a lifetime masking and step up to lead the trip.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: twins, terminal illness, assisted suicide
READALIKES: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now (Davis), My Sister’s Keeper (Picoult), The Weight of a Thousand Feathers (Conaghan)
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Davis takes readers on an emotional, heartbreaking journey that may feel predictable at times but addresses strong themes that will resonate with many readers.” (Kirkus, 15 Apr 2019)
Debut author! Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-11
THEMES: witches, Wicca, Salem, Mass., LGBT+
READALIKES: Three Dark Crowns (Blake), How to Hang a Witch (Mather)
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Sterling’s debut in an enjoyable read that, while frequently charming, isn’t afraid to go dark or challenge stereotypes.” (Booklist, 15 Apr 2019)
Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom(tm) is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free. Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time…love. But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This sublime blend of The Stepford Wives and Westworld is richly composed and intricately plotted.” (Kirkus, 1 Apr 2019)
When Kimi Nakamura gets into a huge argument with her disapproving mother, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life. When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival–and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Strong characters and a story with real depth make this a worthy read. Readers will love this teen rom-com so mochi.” (Kirkus, 15 Mar 2019)
Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together. After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time–and then they’ll be free.It’s the perfect plan–except that it turns out maybe Mia and Jake don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-10
THEMES: mothers, fake relationships, hate-to-love stories
READALIKES: There’s Something About Sweetie (Menon)
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Light, frothy, and packed with plenty of genre tropes, this alternates between Mia and Jake, giving them both character arcs beyond their budding romance.” (Booklist, 15 Apr 2019)
The 1889 World’s Fair was a worldwide event showcasing the cutting-edge cultural and technological accomplishments of the world’s most powerful nations on the verge of a new century. France, with its long history of sophistication and cultivation and a new republican government, presented the Eiffel Tower, the world’s tallest structure, crafted from eighteen thousand pieces of wrought iron and 2.5 million rivets, as a symbol of national pride and engineering superiority. The United States, with its brash, can-do spirit, full of pride in its frontier and its ingenuity, presented the rollicking Wild West show of Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, and the marvelous new phonograph of Thomas Edison.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7+
GENRE: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: history, World’s Fair 1889, Eiffel Tower
READALIKES: The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (Kerley)
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Eiffel’s engineering feat, today a symbol of the city of Paris, was met with criticism, skepticism, disbelief, and more-but Eiffel persevered and what resulted still stands today. Recommended for middle and high school and public library collections.” (SLJ, 1 Apr 2019)
Based on the adult bestseller Carrying the Fire. In time for the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon, this re-release of Michael Collins’s autobiography is a bold, sparkling testament to exploration and perseverance. In this captivating account, space traveler Collins recalls his early days as an Air Force test pilot, his training at NASA, and his unparalleled experiences in orbit, including the Apollo 11 mission, the first manned lunar landing. The final chapter to this autobiography is an exciting and convincing argument in favor of mankind’s continued exploration of our universe. Originally published in 1976 and updated for this new edition, Collins’s voice and message are sure to resonate with a new generation of readers.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 5-8
GENRE: nonfiction, biography
THEMES: space exploration, moon landing
READALIKES: I Love You, Michael Collins (Baratz-Logsted), Margaret and the Moon (Robbins)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “We can all be grateful that the first crew to reach the moon included a born storyteller.” (Kirkus starred review)
Martha Tom knows better than to cross the Bok Chitto River to pick blackberries. The Bok Chitto is the only border between her town in the Choctaw Nation and the slave-owning plantation in Mississippi territory. The slave owners could catch her, too. What was she thinking? But crossing the river brings a surprise friendship with Lil Mo, a boy who is enslaved on the other side. When Lil Mo discovers that his mother is about to be sold and the rest of his family left behind. But Martha Tom has the answer: cross the Bok Chitto and become free.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 2-8
GENRE: historical fiction
THEMES: Native Americans, slavery, freedom
READALIKES: Crossing Bok Chitto (Tingle), Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal (Nelson)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred
WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Richly descriptive and leavened with humor, Tingle’s complex novel offers valuable insights into rarely told history.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 8 Apr 2019)