New Release Spotlight: June 4, 2019

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18 more school days for me, and they are going to be BUSY ones! I am knee-deep in inventory, cleaning, and talking about summer checkout. My very last day (truly, it’s my last day as a full-time librarian) is coming so quickly! Next year, I will leave school libraries and focus on homeschooling my boys, as well as growing my blog and TPT store. I want to write articles and lesson plans that help make things a bit easier for all the new librarians, paraprofessionals, and library aides running school libraries these days. Being a brand-new librarian is TOUGH, and we often have no one who can actually answer our many questions. If you are a newbie librarian, I already have lots of blog articles about different aspects of running a school library, but much more is coming–stay tuned!

This week is a juicy one for new releases! Sorcery of Thorns is going to be a must-read for me, and I can already think of a couple of students at school who would love it. Don’t forget that books with a * beside the title received two or more starred reviews from library journals. We have six of those this week!

When the Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn

Adele Joubert loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school is going to be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn’t pray and defies teachers’ orders. But as they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie’s gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and Lottie learns to be a little sweeter. Together, they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers.

PAGES: 270
GENRE: historical fiction
THEMES: Africa (Swaziland), friendship
READALIKES: Not Now, Not Ever (Anderson)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The racism that Adele and Lottie experience, where a small white minority holds disproportionate power, as is common in formerly colonized places, will feel both familiar and revelatory for many readers.” (Booklist starred, 15 May 2019)

*Viral The Fight Against Aids in America by Ann Bausum

Thirty-five years ago, it was a modern-day, mysterious plague. Its earliest victims were mostly gay men, some of the most marginalized people in the country; at its peak in America, it killed tens of thousands of people. The losses were staggering, the science frightening, and the government’s inaction unforgivable. The AIDS Crisis fundamentally changed the fabric of the United States. Viral presents the history of the AIDS crisis through the lens of the brave victims and activists who demanded action and literally fought for their lives. This compassionate but unflinching text explores everything from the disease’s origins and how it spread to the activism it inspired and how the world confronts HIV and AIDS today.

PAGES: 175
GENRE: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: AIDS, viruses, LGBT community
READALIKES: The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets (Pitman)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Hornbook starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Well-researched and expertly paced, this compelling title deserves a place in all teen collections.” (SLJ, 1 May 2019)

*This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Seventeen-year-old CJ…has never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop. She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of. Then her mom decides to sell the shop–to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

PAGES: 386
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: coming of age
READALIKES: I Love You So Mochi (Kuhn), There’s Something About Sweetie (Menon)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Sugiura tackles an abundance of topics with finesse, including social and economic injustice, allyship, and feminism, simultaneously breaking down the Asian-American immigration narrative and the myth of the model minority.” (Kirkus starred, 15 Apr 2019)

Sorry for Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley

As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. He lets his longtime crush walk all over him. And he’s in no hurry to decide on a college path. The only person who ever made him think he could be more was his older brother Patrick. But that was before Patrick died suddenly, leaving Pup with a family who won’t talk about it and acquaintances who just keep saying, “sorry for your loss.” When Pup excels at a photography assignment he thought he’d bomb, things start to come into focus. His dream girl shows her true colors. An unexpected friend exposes Pup to a whole new world, right under his nose. And the photograph that was supposed to show Pup a way out of his grief ultimately reveals someone else who is still stuck in their own. Someone with a secret regret Pup never could have imagined.

PAGES: 325
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: grief, large families, photography
READALIKES: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Alexie) (author), I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Sánchez)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “It’s a narrative that, while often simple in execution, is threaded through with incredible feeling. A warm and clear-eyed examination of a family swimming through grief and a boy who finds the light.” (Booklist starred review, 1 May 2019)

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery–magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power. Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy.

PAGES: 464
GENRE: fantasy
THEMES: libraries, magic
READALIKES: Caraval (Garber), Six of Crows (Bardugo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An enthralling adventure replete with spellbinding characters, a slow-burning love story, and a world worth staying lost in.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Apr 2019)

*Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh

For siblings as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other’s nerves is par for the course. But when the family’s finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house, a distance grows between them like never before. Plum, a self-described social outcast, finally has something in her life that doesn’t revolve around her dramatic older sister. But what if coming into her own means Plum isn’t there for Ginny when she, struggling with a hard secret of her own, needs her most?

PAGES: 353
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: sisters, secrets, coming of age
READALIKES: Who’s That Girl (Thornburgh), With the Fire on High (Acevedo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred, Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A smart, character-driven contemporary novel with a timeless feel. Highly recommended for all collections.” (SLJ starred review, 1 May 2019)

*Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs. As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known

PAGES: 413
GENRE: realistic fiction, romance
THEMES: Iran, LGBT+, 1980s, AIDs
READALIKES: VIRAL: The Fight Against AIDS in America (Bausum), I Wish You All the Best (Deaver)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The intense and nuanced emotions evoked by the characters’ journeys help to give this powerful novel by Nazemian (The Authentics) a timeless relevance.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 22 Apr 2019)

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

Winnie is living her best fat girl life and is on her way to the best place on earth. No, not Disneyland–her Granny’s diner, Goldeen’s, in the small town of Misty Haven. While there, she works in her fabulous 50’s inspired uniform, twirling around the diner floor and earning an obscene amount of tips. With her family and ungirlfriend at her side, she has everything she needs for one last perfect summer before starting college in the fall….until she becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen in a highly anticipated matchmaking tradition that she wants absolutely nothing to do with. Newly crowned, Winnie is forced to take center stage in photoshoots and a never-ending list of community royal engagements. Almost immediately, she discovers that she’s deathly afraid of it all: the spotlight, the obligations, and the way her Merry Haven Summer King, wears his heart, humor, and honesty on his sleeve.

PAGES: 343
GENRE: romance
THEMES: body image, summertime, small towns, teens at work
READALIKES: Dumplin (Murphy), Let’s Talk About Love (Kann)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “With visibility and love given to the asexual community, this character-driven story of a queer, fat Black girl will help fill an unfortunate hole in our bookshelves.” (Booklist, 15 May 2019)

Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work by Victoria Ortiz

The life and career of the fiercely principled Supreme Court Justice, now a popular icon, with dramatic accounts of her landmark cases that moved the needle on legal protection of human rights, illustrated with b/w archival photographs.

Dramatically narrated case histories from Justice Ginsburg’s stellar career are interwoven with an account of RBG’s life–childhood, family, beliefs, education, marriage, legal and judicial career, children, and achievements–and her many-faceted personality is captured. The cases described, many involving young people, demonstrate her passionate concern for gender equality, fairness, and our constitutional rights. Notes, bibliography, index.

PAGES: 208
GENRE: narrative nonfiction, biography
THEMES: US law, gender, Supreme Court, judicial branch of US government
READALIKES: Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case (Powell), Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Carmon), I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (Levy)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, VOYA starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The author carefully shapes the most salient facts into a narrative that brings both protagonists and issues to life, deftly situating each case in its historical context; the result is far more than just a biography or history. It’s a complex interweaving of both.” (Kirkus, 1 Apr 2019)

All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick

The daughter of small town social climbers, Amanda Kelly is deeply invested in her boyfriend, real estate heir Carter Shaw. He’s kind, ambitious, the town golden boy–but he’s far from perfect. Because behind Amanda’s back, Carter is also dating Rosalie. Rosalie Bell is fighting to remain true to herself and her girlfriend–while concealing her identity from her Christian fundamentalist parents. After years spent in and out of conversion “therapy,” her own safety is her top priority. But maintaining a fake, straight relationship is killing her from the inside. When an anonymous texter ropes Amanda and Rosalie into a bid to take Carter down, the girls become collateral damage–and unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private uproots their lives.

PAGES: 374
GENRE: mystery, thriller
THEMES: family problems, betrayal, LGBT+
READALIKES: Pretty Little Liars (Shepard), One of Us Is Lying (McManus)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A captivating page-turner enriched by probing social commentary.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Apr 2019)

Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races by K. D. Halbrook (Author) and Ilse Gort (Illustrator)

Silver Batal is expected to follow in her jeweler father’s footsteps, but she longs to race water dragons. When she encounters and befriends Hiyyan, a rare baby dragon that can swim and fly, she knows destiny is calling. Leaving everything behind, Silver and Hiyyan set off to join the legendary races in the royal city. But the road to Calidia is filled with danger. The pair must band together to overcome ferocious cave beasts, clever desert foxes, and cutthroat competition for their shot at glory. Set in a lush, Middle Eastern-inspired world filled with fearsome and beautiful water dragons, this middle-grade fantasy blends classic themes with a fresh premise and an unforgettable hero.

PAGES: 343
GENRE: fantasy, adventure
THEMES: dragons, heroes
READALIKES: Dragon Pearl (Lee), Wings of Fire series (Sutherland)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Halbrook, who is of Lebanese heritage, injects cultural details readers familiar with the Arab world will recognize. For readers who enjoy a fantasy-filled world of adventure.” (Kirkus, 1 May 2019)

My Corner of the Ring by Jesselyn Silva

In this Lean-In style inspirational memoir, twelve-year-old Jesselyn Silva offers a ringside seat to girl power and what it takes to win in the ring and in life: punch by punch. My Corner of the Ring shows readers what it means to be true to yourself and stick with your dreams even when facing adversity and ridicule. Supported by her single dad, Jesselyn (JessZilla in the ring) first donned her boxing gloves at seven years of age, making her one of very few female boxers in the country.

PAGES: 253
GENRE: narrative nonfiction, biography, memoir, sports
THEMES: boxing, strong girls, bullying
READALIKES: Soul Surfer (Hamilton), The Berlin Boxing Club (Sharenow)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “While the writing can be a bit uneven, young girls will be able to relate to Jess and will be inspired by her fighting spirit.” (Kirkus, 1 May 2019)

When We Walked on the Moon by David Long (Author) and Sam Kalda (Illustrator)

This book tells the story of the Apollo Missions, when incredible intelligence, engineering and bravery allowed humans to stand on the surface of something other than Earth for the very first time. From the 1969 first moon landing to the amazing rescue of Apollo 13, each chapter tells the story of a different mission. Humorous details bring the astronauts to life: discover how the astronauts of Apollo 12 were so over-excited when they stepped onto the Moon that Mission Control had to tell them to quieten down, and Shepard (Apollo 14) somehow managed to smuggle a golf club onto his spacecraft! Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, this is the perfect title for any child who has ever looked up at the moon and wondered what it might be like to go there.

GENRE: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: astronomy, moon landing
READALIKES: Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Floca), The Race to Space: From Sputnik to the Moon Landing and Beyond… (Gifford)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Long writes a cogent history of the moon missions in chapters that offer technical context and describe significant moments for the Apollo astronauts, including Armstrong’s moon walk and the harrowing circumstances aboard Apollo 13.” (Publishers Weekly, 8 Apr 2019)

The Story Web by Megan Frazer Blakemore

When Alice was little, she found a gigantic spider web deep in the forest. Her dad called it the Story Web and told her how its strands were woven from the stories that hold our world together. Years later, Alice’s dad has gone away for reasons Alice is sure are her fault. Now she won’t even talk about her dad and definitely no longer believes his farfetched stories. But when animals in town start acting strangely, she can’t ignore them. The Story Web is in danger–and the fabric of our world is breaking. The only way to mend it is to tell honest tales from the heart, even if they are difficult to share.

PAGES: 324
GENRE: fantasy, magical realism
THEMES: storytelling, mental illness
READALIKES: The Story Thieves series (Riley), Inkheart (Funke)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A realistic and honest consideration of the impact of mental illness on families and communities commingles effectively with the fantastical elements in this captivating tale.” (Hornbook, May/June 2019)

*Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid by Adrienne Wright

On June 16, 1976, Hector Pieterson, an ordinary boy, lost his life after getting caught up in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Black South African students were marching against a new law requiring that they be taught half of their subjects in Afrikaans, the language of the White government. The story’s events unfold from the perspectives of Hector, his sister, and the photographer who captured their photo in the chaos. This book serves as a pertinent tool for adults discussing global history and race relations with children. Its graphic novel style and mixed media art portray the vibrancy and grit of Hector’s daily life and untimely death. Heartbreaking and relevant, this powerful story gives voice to an ordinary boy and sheds light on an event that helped lead to the end of apartheid.

GENRE: nonfiction picture book
THEMES: South Africa, Apartheid
READALIKES: It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime (Noah), The Soccer Fence (Bildner)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A tragic but inspiring story about an event in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Apr 2019)

Brown (My Alter Ego Is A Superhero) by Håkon Øvreås (Author), Øyvind Torseter (Illustrator), and Kari Dickson (Translator)

New in the neighborhood and hounded by fort-wrecking bullies, Rusty is looking glum. And to top it all off, his grandfather has just died. Rusty is stuck sorting out his emotions while the adults are busy sorting out the “practicalities” with the hospital. But one dark night, after watching a superhero movie on TV, Rusty gets an idea…Dressed in brown pants, a black-and-brown striped shirt, a brown mask and cape, and his mother’s brown belt, the superhero BROWN is born! Guided by his grandfather’s ghost, two cans of paint, and a little help from his friends, Brown can do anything! Just as long as nobody’s parents find out.

PAGES: 136
GENRE: action-adventure
THEMES: bullying, friendship
READALIKES: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Buckley), The Fourth Stall (Rylander)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Small, fine-lined ink drawings with color highlights on nearly every page supply this tongue-in-cheek escapade with evocative vignettes depicting Rusty’s flights of fancy, quizzical-looking parents and other grown-ups, and masked prowlers in homemade outfits.” (Kirkus, 1 May 2019)

*When Aiden Became a Big Brother by Kyle Lukoff (Author) and Kaylani Juanita (Illustrator)

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl’s room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn’t fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they’re going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning–from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does “making things right” actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades PreS-Grade 1
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: transgender children, new siblings
READALIKES: Jack (Not Jackie) (Silverman)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The creators’ exploration of one transgender child’s experience emphasizes the importance of learning “how to love someone for exactly who they are.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 15 Apr 2019)

Hold Hands by Sara Varon

Hold hands each time you cross the street.Hold hands on the bus if you don’t have a seat.Hold hands when you say goodbye.And also when you’re jumping high. Everybody holds hands. You can hold hands with your little brother or your best friend. You can hold hands with your classmate or even your favorite doll!

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: holding hands, community
READALIKES: Odd Duck (Castellucci)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “With gentle guidance, young readers will pick up on the broader message that hand-holding represents more than just tactile pleasure; it also embodies strong emotional connection, bonding, and inclusion.” (Kirkus, 1 Apr 2019)




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