New Release Spotlight: July 30, 2019

Which books stand out most on this week’s list of new book releases? Middle grades! Nearly all of the books on this week’s list received at least one starred review, and several received more than one.

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Patron Saints of Nothing, a YA novel set against the backdrop of the Philippine drug war. This week, there’s a middle grade book that does the same. My Fate According to the Butterfly is set in Manila and is about three girls whose curious investigation into the drug war lands them a little too close. I am sure to read this one.

The Year They Fell by David Kreizman

Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison, and Dayana were inseparable as preschoolers. But that was before high school, before parties and football and getting into the right college. Now, as senior year approaches, they’re basically strangers to each other. Until they’re pulled back together when their parents die in a plane crash. These former friends are suddenly on their own. And they’re the only people who can really understand how that feels.

To survive, the group must face the issues that drove them apart, reveal secrets they’ve kept since childhood, and discover who they’re meant to be. And in the face of public scrutiny, they’ll confront mysteries their parents left behind–betrayals that threaten to break the friendships apart again.

PAGES: 374
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8+
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: grief, death of parents, friendship, secrets
READALIKES: You Look Different in Real Life (Castle)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers will find the characters relatable as they navigate the challenging time from senior year into adulthood following tragedy.” (SLJ, 1 Jul 2019)

*The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Debut author!

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses–and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

PAGES: 373
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-12
GENRE: fantasy
THEMES: euthanasia, plagues, witches, royalty
READALIKES: Witchlanders (Coakley), Children of Blood and Bone (Adeyemi), King of Scars (Bardugo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Debut author Owen offers well-balanced worldbuilding and a propulsive plot and excels at tender, intimate moments and complicated, realistic romantic and familial relationships.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jun 2019)

*Not If I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler

Willa likes certain things to be certain ways. Her socks have to be soft…and definitely can’t have irritating tags on the inside. She loves the crunch of popcorn and nachos…but is grossed out by the crunch of a baby carrot. And slimy foods? Those are the worst.

Willa can manage all these things–but there are some things she can’t deal with, like her father’s big news. He’s been keeping a big secret from her…that he’s been dating the mom of Willa’s best friend Ruby. Willa does NOT like the idea of them being together. And she does NOT like the idea of combining families. And she does NOT like the idea of her best friend becoming her sister overnight. Will she go along with all of these changes? NOT if she can help it!

PAGES: 240
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-6
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: friendship, blended families, sensory processing disorder,
READALIKES: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (Bowling), Blended (Draper)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Drawing from her own family’s experience, Mackler creates authentic characters and honest situations, pulling readers into a warm, involving story about a girl navigating adolescence while coping with personal challenges and inevitable changes.” (Publishers Weekly, 27 May 2019)

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail Villanueva

In one week Sabrina will be eleven years old and she would really like to get her estranged parents and her older sister Nadine together for the celebration, especially since the black butterfly landing on her locket has convinced her that she is going to die; Sabrina and her friend Pepper come up with a bucket list, and enlist Nadine’s help–but aspiring reporter Nadine is working on a story about the Philippines’ war on drugs, and she has uncovered something that may endanger them all, and prove the butterfly is indeed a harbinger of death in Manila.

PAGES: 233
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 4-7
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: The Philippines, drug war, sisters
READALIKES: Everlasting Nora (Cruz), Land of Forgotten Girls (Kelly)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Told in simple, easily understood language, this novel combines elements of the mundane with a timely story about how drug use and other issues can affect families.” (SLJ, 1 May 2019)

The Miraculous by Jess Redman

Debut author! Eleven-year-old Wunder Ellis is a miracologist. In a journal he calls The Miraculous, he records stories of the inexplicable and the extraordinary. And he believes every single one. But then his newborn sister dies, at only eight days old. If that can happen, then miracles can’t exist. So Wunder gets rid of The Miraculous. He stops believing.

Then he meets Faye–a cape-wearing, outspoken girl with losses of her own. Together, they find an abandoned house by the cemetery and a mysterious old woman who just might be a witch. The old woman asks them for their help. She asks them to believe. And they go on a journey that leads to friendship, to adventure, to healing–and to miracles.

PAGES: 309
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-6
GENRE: magical realism
THEMES: death, miracles, grief
READALIKES: Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles (Green), Miraculous Miranda (by Siobhan Parkinson)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Redman explores faith, the intertwined nature of sorrow and joy, and the transformative process of grief through Wunder’s eyes in a part-fantasy, part-realistic adventure with genuinely humorous moments.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 May 2019)

The Hero Next Door by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Not all heroes wear capes. Some heroes teach martial arts. Others talk to ghosts. A few are inventors or soccer players. They’re also sisters, neighbors, and friends. Because heroes come in many shapes and sizes. But they all have one thing in common: they make the world a better place.

Published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, this vibrant anthology features thirteen acclaimed authors whose powerful and diverse voices show how small acts of kindness can save the day. So pay attention, because a hero could be right beside you. Or maybe the hero is you.

AUTHORS INCLUDE: William Alexander, Joseph Bruchac, Lamar Giles, Mike Jung, Hena Khan, Juana Medina, Ellen Oh, R. J. Palacio, Linda Sue Park and Anna Dobbin, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ronald L. Smith, Rita Williams-Garcia, and short-story contest winner Suma Subramaniam

PAGES: 251
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-7
GENRE: short stories
THEMES: heroes, courage
READALIKES: Flying Lessons & Other Stories (Oh), Totally Middle School: Tales of Friends, Family, and Fitting In (Groban)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “With central characters as diverse as the expansive, realistic worlds they inhabit, these accomplished stories triumphantly redefine the meaning of the word hero.” (Publishers Weekly, 24 Jun 2019)

*For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington

Makeda June Kirkland is eleven years old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda’s family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena– the only other adopted black girl she knows– for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda’s sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can’t seem to find one real friend.

Through it all, Makeda can’t help but wonder: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me?

PAGES: 321
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-7
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: adoption, African-Americans
READALIKES: Genesis Begins Again (Williams), The Season of Styx Malone (Magoon)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred, Publishers Weekly starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The versatility of its style and structure means this novel could be used in many group discussions centering topics from transracial adoption to genre-blending literature.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Jul 2019)

Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO by Tamara Pizzoli (Author) and Federico Fabiani (Illustrator)

Meet Tallulah. She’s the Tooth Fairy CEO. Tallulah knows practically everything about being a tooth fairy. How to collect teeth. Dispense money. Train other fairies. And it’s all in the Teeth Titans Incorporated Employee Manual.

But when something happens that’s not covered in the manual, what’s a fairy to do?

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades K-5
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: tooth fairy, business, African-Americans
READALIKES: Hair Love (Cherry), How to Trick the Tooth Fairy (Russell)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Details in both Pizzoli’s text (Tallulah’s also the founder of the National Association for the Appreciation and Care of Primary Teeth, or NAACP-T) and Fabiani’s matte illustrations (a series of enormous, Warhol-like prints of Tallulah adorns her walls) will set adult readers chuckling. Funny and provocative.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 May 2019)

*I Got Next by Daria Peoples-Riley

A young basketball player practices on the playground, preparing for an upcoming pickup game while his shadow urges him to play hard and leave his heart on the court. As the boy dribbles and weaves, shoots and scores, his shadow gives him the encouragement he needs to overcome pregame jitters and join the competition.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 4
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: basketball, confidence
READALIKES: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (Barnes), This Is It (Peoples-Riley)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Endpapers resembling murals seen in most urban areas include common images of significant African Americans such as Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston, affording librarians, teachers, and parents a great opportunity to add further historical or cultural context to this tale of perseverance and community.” (Booklist, 20 Jul 2019)

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):
 

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (MIDDLE GRADES):
 

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