New Release Spotlight: July 9, 2019

Isn’t July the BEST? This week has been pretty quiet in my house since my husband and both boys are all visiting family in Texas for two weeks. I opted out this year, so it’s just me and my pup Cisco. We’ve been listening to tons of music, talking long walks, cooking, reading, and taking naps. For me, the best kind of vacation is a stay-cation!

There aren’t too many new releases this week, especially for elementary and middle school readers. In the YA section, Spin the Dawn looks interesting, as does Me Myself & Him. Enjoy your beautiful mid-July week!

*Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Debut author! It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her. It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

PAGES: 357
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-12
GENRE: thriller, survival
THEMES: boarding school, viruses
READALIKES: This Is Not a Test (Summers), Monday’s Not Coming (Jackson)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Part survival thriller, part post-apocalyptic romance, and part ecocritical feminist manifesto, a staggering gut punch of a book.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 May 2019)

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch–Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job. Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

PAGES: 393
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-12
GENRE: fantasy, adventure, romance
THEMES: gender-bending, the Silk Road, female roles
READALIKES: Girl of Fire and Thorns (Carson), Wicked Fox (Cho)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An addictive magical adventure that’s a strong purchase for library shelves.” (SLJ, 1 June 2019)

Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is–spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications…who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.

But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag…because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s–make that Amanda’s–ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?

PAGES: 330
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: family problems, kidnapping, identity
READALIKES: I Am Still Alive (Marshall), If You Find Me (Murdoch)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers looking for a quick yet compelling novel will want to add this to their summer beach bags.” (SLJ, 1 June 2019)

My Sweet Orange Tree by José Mauro de Vasconcelos

Originally published in Brazil in 1968. When Zeze grows up, he wants to be a poet in a bow tie. For now the precocious young boy entertains himself by playing clever pranks on the residents of his Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, stunts for which his parents and siblings punish him severely. Lately, with his father out of work, the beatings have become harsher. Zeze’s only solace comes from his time at school, his hours secretly spent singing with a street musician, and the refuge he finds with his precious magical orange tree. When Zeze finally makes a real friend, his life begins to change, opening him up to human tenderness but also wrenching sorrow.

PAGES: 262
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-adult
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: coming of age, abuse, Brazil
READALIKES: Hey, Kiddo (Krosoczka), Merci Suárez Changes Gears (Medina)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “With a plainspoken and episodic narrative, the novel reads as a coming-of-age story despite the character’s youth.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jun 2019)

Me Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.

Or…not.

In an alternate time line, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal–until it doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn’t even exist?

PAGES: 295
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRE: realistic fiction, magical realism
THEMES: alternate timelines, LGBT+
READALIKES: Pivot Point (West), All Our Yesterdays (Terrill)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Readers will quickly become accustomed to the conceit and enjoy the clever story and extremely well-realized characters. Altogether, the novel’s a winner in this and any other universe.” (Booklist starred review, 15 May 2019)

Contagion by Teri Terry

Dark Matter, book 1. A deadly, mysterious epidemic is sweeping the country, and young kidnap victim Callie is one of the few who survived infection, only to be sacrificed by her captors at a secret lab working with antimatter; her older brother Kai is desperate to find out what happened to her–his best hope lies with Shay, the girl who last saw Callie alive, and together they will seek answers, even if it means evading soldiers and crossing the quarantine zone.

PAGES: 409
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7-12
GENRE: science fiction, dystopia
THEMES: epidemics, England, siblings, kidnapping
READALIKES: Wilder Girls (Power), Contagion (Bowman)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This page-turning near-future paranormal thriller requires some suspension of disbelief, but the love story and mystery will keep readers engaged till the cliffhanger end.” (Publishers Weekly, 20 May 2019)

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms.

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping up around them–maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their pasts, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse.

PAGES: 449
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8-12
GENRE: realistic fiction, magical realism
THEMES: family problems, orphans
READALIKES: When My Heart Joins the Thousand (Steiger), When Light Left Us (Thomas)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green who also like a bit of fantasy will fall in love with Billy and Lydia. A great purchase for all contemporary young adult collections.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Jun 2019)

Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Lissy Marlin (Author, Illustrator) and Jess Keating (Author)

Elements of Genius, book 1. Nikki Tesla is a genius, so mostly she finds school boring, and amuses herself by inventing things, like her mysterious missing father; trouble is most of her inventions have serious, lethal potential (like the death ray, which just blew a hole in her floor); so she and her ferret are hustled off to the special Genius Academy with classmates who are equally exceptional, although she still worries about fitting in–but when her death ray disappears she has something bigger to worry about: who took it and what are they planning to do?

PAGES: 274
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-8
GENRE: science fiction, mystery
THEMES: STEAM, inventions, technology, friendship
READALIKES: The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson (Sosna-Spear), Fortunately, the Milk (Gaiman), Pennybaker School Is Headed for Disaster (Brown)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Nikki’s comical narration is printed on graph-paper pages and embellished by illustrations, all of which give STEM a fun new spin.” (Booklist, 1 May 2019)

The Wall: A Timeless Tale by Giancarlo Macri (Author), Carolina Zanotti (Author), Elisa Vallarino (Illustrator), and Mauro Sacco (Illustrator)

Wonderful things can be accomplished when people come together! In this moving story, a king banishes anyone who looks different than him and builds a wall to keep them away. Soon, he sees that without people with various types of talents and expertise, his kingdom can no longer flourish. Realizing his mistake, he orders the wall to be knocked down so he can meet and thank all the talented people that make the community beautiful.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 2-4
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: allegory, diversity
READALIKES: The Big Umbrella (Bates), Last Stop on Market Street (de la Peña)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Macri and Zanotti (We Are All Dots) make it clear that shutting people out only weakens a kingdom, and they do it with laughter, not argument.” (Publishers Weekly, 22 Apr 2019)

Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin (Author) and Ebony Glenn (Illustrator)

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted nothing more than to play Snow White in her school’s musical. Excitedly, Tameika dances and sings her way through the halls. But on the day of the auditions, she overhears some kids suggesting that she is not princess material. Tamika suddenly doesn’t feel quite right enough to play a perfectly poised princess.

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: theater, self-confidence, bullying, prejudice, racism
READALIKES: I Love My Hair! (Tarpley), I Am Enough (Byers)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A fast, feel-good read that affirms anyone can be a princess regardless of size or race, and, in particular, supports and empowers young black girls.” (SLJ, 1 July 2019)

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):
THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (MIDDLE GRADES):
THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (ELEMENTARY AND PICTURE BOOKS):

 

 

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