New Release Spotlight: July 16, 2019

My boys will be back this week! They and my husband have been in Texas for the past two weeks, and I am so excited to see them again! Next week, we will travel to Thailand for a couple of weeks. I have no clue what my internet access will be like, plus I know we’ll be busy exploring Koh Samui. I can schedule next Tuesday’s NRS, but beyond that, don’t be surprised if there’s a temporary gap in the weekly Spotlights. New book releases in July are sparse anyway, and I have to look harder than usual to find books to spotlight!

*They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (Author), et. al.

Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s–and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future. In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

This is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

PAGES: 204
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grade 7-adult
GENRE: nonfiction, biography, memoir, graphic novel
THEMES: Japanese-American Internment, WWII, Franklin Delano Roosevelt
READALIKES: March trilogy (Lewis), Night (Wiesel), Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II (Warren)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This approachable, well-wrought graphic memoir is important reading, particularly in today’s political climate.” (Booklist starred review, July 2019)

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia (Author) and Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator)

When a tragic accident takes the life of the only family she’s ever known, 16-year-old Raven is sent to New Orleans to start over. She soon discovers that she can hear the thoughts of others around her…and another, more disturbing, voice in her head.

PAGES: 192
GENRE: adventure, graphic novel
THEMES: superheroes, Teen Titans, orphans, origin stories
READALIKES: Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale (Myracle), Mera: Tidebreaker (Paige)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The diverse cast is indicated through names and variations in skin tone. Well-paced and thrilling; readers will fly high with Raven’s tale.” (Kirkus, 1 May 2019)

My Ideal Boyfriend Is a Croissant by Laura Dockrill

Originally published as Big Bones in the UK in 2018. Sixteen-year-old Bluebelle, also known as BB or Big Bones, lives her life unapologetically. She loves life! She loves food! When BB has a worse-than-usual asthma attack, her mom insists she go to the doctor. There, she is told that she is overweight (no surprise) and prediabetic (big surprise) and must lose weight, move more, and keep a food diary. To get out of this immediate health crisis, she agrees to make an effort.

Then a tragedy occurs in the family, and things get seriously complicated. Suddenly, losing weight and moving more are the least of her worries. As for the food diary, though, BB doesn’t just document what she’s eating, she documents what she’s feeling–and she has a lot to say!

PAGES: 387
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: grief, weight issues, health, self-esteem
READALIKES: Dumplin (Murphy), There’s Something About Sweetie (Menon)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Full of heart, BB’s authentic voice will strike a chord with anyone who doesn’t want to be defined by the way they look.” (SLJ, 1 June 2019)

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Bummer that I’m not seeing this version on Audible yet! This is an adult book adapted for young adults. In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named ‘Dreamland,’ it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America…Quinones explains how the rise of the prescription drug OxyContin, a miraculous and extremely addictive painkiller pushed by pharmaceutical companies, paralleled the massive influx of black tar heroin–cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel.

PAGES: 217
GENRE: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: drug abuse, addiction, politics, heroine, oxycodone
READALIKES: Heroine (McGinnis), Go Ask Alice (Anonymous)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A scrupulously researched, well-crafted tale that sheds light on a timely topic.” (Kirkus, 15 May 2019)

Survivor Girl by Erin Teagan

12-year-old Ali adores her reality-show celebrity father, Survivor Guy, and hopes to follow in his footsteps. But when he invites her on location, Ali is sure she won’t survive one episode…until she learns the truth: The show isn’t just her dad and a camera. It’s a huge crew and set, with stunt doubles! When a wildfire strikes and Ali and two other kids miss the last rescue helicopter, suddenly, the fight for survival is real. Will she find the self-confidence she needs so they can work together and get out of the wilderness alive?

PAGES: 325
GENRE: survival, adventure
THEMES: reality TV, natural disasters, forest fires
READALIKES: Eye of the Storm (Messner)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: ” A strong story that shows survival is more than just getting through physical challenges.” (Kirkus, 15 May 2019)

Positively Teen: A Practical Guide to a More Positive, More Confident You by Nicola Morgan

Breezy and compassionate, Positively Teen teaches teens how to approach their adolescent years with optimism and understanding, giving them the skills they need to develop long-term well-being. Full of practical, proven strategies, it includes advice on how to flourish both physically and mentally–from learning to do things you enjoy, to understanding how to look after your diet, exercise and attitude, to understanding your personality. With these strengths and skills in hand, teens will learn to weather any storm and thrive on the challenges of this time in their lives.

PAGES: 208
GENRE: nonfiction
THEMES: health, wellness, puberty, mental health, adolescent psychology
READALIKES: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens (Covey), Life Sucks: How to Deal with the Way Life Is, Was, and Always Will Be Unfair (Bennett)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A fine addition to self-help shelves for middle schoolers.” (SLJ, 1 Mar 2019)

Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider

Ultrabot is a big robot with a big problem. Its professor is planning a playdate with Becky Tingle, the little girl from next door. But Ultrabot has never been on a playdate, and it doesn’t know Becky. What if she’s mean? What if she breaks all of Ultrabot’s toys? What if she won’t share?

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: friendship, making friends, anxiety
READALIKES: Boy + Bot (Dyckman), Robot Dreams (Varon)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Very clever use of varying viewpoints intensifies their dramatic differences while marvelous visual details reinforce their similarities as they play together like any kids. A delightful, picture-perfect playdate.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Apr 2019)

One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon (Author) and Frann Preston-Gannon (Illustrator)

One dark bird is perched up high, with a view of the town and a taste of the sky. Then she’s joined by two more, then three, then four. Before long, there are hundreds of starlings dancing across the sky–and avoiding a hunting hawk with one of the most spectacular tricks in the animal kingdom. Then, when night comes, the starlings begin to depart, until finally there is just one dark bird perched way up high, with a view of the town and a taste of the sky.

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: rhyming stories, counting
READALIKES: Paper Mice (Lloyd), Owl Moon (Yolen)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Hornbook starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This book goes beyond counting, showing children how wondrous ordinary can be.” (Booklist starred review, 1 May 2019)

Give Me Back My Bones! by Kim Norman (Author) and Bob Kolar (Illustrator)

A stormy night at sea has uncovered some long-buried secrets and surprises. Is that the mast of a shipwreck? A faded pirate hat? And what’s that hiding in the sand? A mandible and a clavicle, phalanges and femurs, a tibia and a fibula–could there be a set of bones scattered across the ocean floor? And who might they belong to? A jaunty rhyme takes readers on an underwater scavenger hunt as a comical skeleton tries to put itself back together piece by piece. Make no bones about it: this rollicking read-aloud will have young ones learning anatomy without even realizing it.

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: anatomy, skeletons, pirates
READALIKES: Dem Bones (Barner), Funny Bones (Ahlberg)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Budding biologists as well as general fans of pirates, poetry, and wordplay will agree—and it makes a fuller alternative to Bob Barner’s Dem Bones (1996) and other versions of the old teaching spiritual.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 May 2019)

Boonoonoonous Hair by Olive Senior (Author) and Laura James (Illustrator)

A young girl learns to love her difficult-to-manage, voluminous and boonoonoonous hair.

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: hair
READALIKES: I Love My Hair! (Tarpley), Princess Hair (Miller)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The energy between mother and child is infectious, and the rhythmic text is great fun to read. This girl’s road to self-acceptance is playful, easy, and filled with love.” (Kirkus, 1 Jun 2019)


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