New Release Spotlight: August 6, 2019

LOTS of new book releases this week! The book I’m most excited about this week is The Evil Princess and the Brave Knight by siblings Jennifer and Matthew Holm. This book is about a brother and sister who play together and don’t always get along. I guess Jennifer and Matt would know a little about that!

I had the pleasure of hosting Matt Holm at our school a couple of years ago, and my family and I went out to eat dinner with Matt and his wife Cindy that night. We had a great time ordering random dishes from a Chinese menu that we couldn’t read. If you ever get a chance to host an author visit with Matt, he was fabulous with all grade levels. His presentations were engaging, funny, and educational. I think his visit covered Grades 2-12. He also did a cartooning workshop with our DP Art students (Grades 11-12). Anyway, I’m a big fan and can’t wait to read the new Holm picture book!

*Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry

There are many ways the world could end. A fire. A catastrophic flood. A super eruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.

Despite Ellis’s anxiety–about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of her loved ones–the two girls become friends. But time is ticking down, and as Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, their search for answers only raises more questions.

PAGES: 386
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 7+
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: anxiety, mental illness, LGBT+
READALIKES: Dress Codes for Small Towns (Stevens), The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Danforth)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, SLJ starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This is one of the few YA titles with a Mormon protagonist, and Ellis’s faith is portrayed as a complex and meaningful part of who she is. Humorous dialogue and richly developed supporting characters add to the appeal.” (SLJ starred review, 1 July 2019)

Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon

The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys.

When he completes his treatments, he will be normal–at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

PAGES: 347
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades
GENRE: realistic fiction, historical fiction
THEMES: coming of age, LGBT+
READALIKES: The Gravity of Us (Stamper), We Contain Multitudes (Henstra)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A poignant depiction of a boy’s journey to accepting his gay identity despite the odds.” (Kirkus, 1 Jul 2019)

Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman (Author)

Finding himself alone in a posh New York City hotel room for the night, Aidan does what any re-blooded seventeen-year-old would do, he tries to hook up with someone new. But that lapse in judgment leads him to a room with a dead guy and a mysterious flash drive, two things that spark an epic case of mistaken identity and put Aidan on the run from the authorities, his friends, his family, the people who are out to kill him and especially from his troubled past.

PAGES: 356
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRE: thriller, mystery
THEMES: murder
READALIKES: #murdertrending (McNeil)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “As a thriller, it’s twisted and engaging; as a character study, it has lingering, affecting aftershocks.” (Booklist starred review, 1 May 2019)

Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski

Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls–and most horrifying of all–visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1907 involving a girl named Lea.

Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.

PAGES: 334
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 8+
GENRE: thriller, mystery
THEMES: ghosts, arranged marriage, nightmares
READALIKES: Hotel Ruby (Young), The Shining (King)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A mixture of mystery, romance, and horror, this book engages and entertains. A recommended purchase where students are seeking something different.” (SLJ, 1 Jul 2019)

Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and a lifetime of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. One hour later, they’re armed with a plan that will take them from their small Michigan town to Chicago. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible can’t hurt.

PAGES: 328
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 9-12
GENRE: realistic fiction, adventure
THEMES: road trips, dysfunctional families, runaways
READALIKES: American Road Trip (Flores-Scott), Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity (Clark)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Drawing inspiration from Thelma & Louise, this book provides a fun, fast-paced plot with resourceful feminist protagonists.” (Kirkus, 1 Jun 2019)

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong

Twelve-year-old Rowan is destined to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the oldest child is always next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. She resigns herself to admiring her monster hunting aunt’s glorious sword and joining her queen mother for boring diplomatic teas. But tragedy shatters the longstanding rule, and Rowan finds herself hunting the most dangerous monster of all: a gryphon.

Accompanied by a feisty baby jackalope and a giant wolf that barely tolerates her, Rowan sets off on a journey that will see her join other unlikely allies: a boy with monster-hunting ambitions of his own, and a girl hiding dangerous motives. It will take all of Rowan’s skills, both physical and diplomatic, to keep this adventure on track. The future of her kingdom depends on it.

PAGES: 283
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 4-8
GENRE: fantasy, adventure
THEMES: monsters, royalty
READALIKES: Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter (Sedgwick), Serafina and the Black Cloak (Beatty)
STARS AND AWARDS: SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A rousing romp for monster hunters and monster lovers alike.” (Kirkus, 15 June 2019)

*Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya

Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It’s hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.

Dad shuts himself in the back stall of their family’s auto shop to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear. But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict.

PAGES: 315
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 4-7
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: ADHD, PTSD, family problems, welding, fathers and daughters
READALIKES: Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish (Cartaya), The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins (Shepherd)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Although Emilia’s problems are not all neatly resolved by the last page, she grows stronger as she moves forward, which is an inspiring conclusion for readers facing their own complicated life situations.” (SLJ, 1 Jun 2019)

Bringing Down a President: The Watergate Scandal by Andrea Balis (Author), Elizabeth Levy (Author), and Tim Foley (Illustrator)

This is a middle-grade retelling of Richard Nixon’s downfall that features graphic novel style illustrations. Comprised almost completely of primary source quotes (good thing Nixon’s recorder was on) and interspersed with contextual narrative, this account of the trials and tribulations of the Nixon Administration has been rendered screenplay style offering an extraordinarily immediate narrative of one of America’s most turbulent eras.

PAGES: 240
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 5-12
GENRE: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: Watergate, political scandals, US History
READALIKES: The Colors of the Rain (Toalson), Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (Sheinkin)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “In lieu of photographs and archival material are Foley’s interpretive black-and-white illustrations, which bring a graphic-novel–esque flair to the design. An intriguing but flawed attempt at narrative innovation.” (Kirkus, 1 Jun 2019)

*Manhattan Mapping the Story of an Island by Jennifer Thermes

From before its earliest settlement to the vibrant metropolis that exists today, the island of Manhattan has always been a place of struggle, growth, and radical transformation. Humans, history, and natural events have shaped this tiny sliver of land for more than 400 years. In Manhattan, travel back in time to discover how a small rodent began an era of rapid change for the island. Learn about immigration, the slave trade, and the people who built New York City.

See how a street plan projected the city’s future, and how epic fires and storms led to major feats of engineering above and below ground. Through dramatic illustrations, informative sidebars, and detailed maps inspired by historic archives, Manhattan explores the rich history that still draws people from all around the world to the island’s shores today. From The Battery downtown up to Inwood, every inch of the island has a story to tell.

PAGES: 64
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 2-6
GENRE: narrative nonfiction, picture books for older readers
THEMES: New York City, history, city planning, engineering, STEAM
READALIKES: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (various authors), This Is San Francisco (Sasek)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly Annex starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This slice of American history is a gem.” (Booklist starred review, Jul 2019)

The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner

Debut author! Irreelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life–and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irreelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones.

When Irreelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irreelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more.

PAGES: 266
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 4-8
GENRE: paranormal, supernatural, fantasy
THEMES: ghosts, magic, graveyards
READALIKES: The Graveyard Book (Gaiman), Spirit Hunters (Oh), Doll Bones (Black)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A mildly creepy, ultimately comforting take on familiar themes of love, family, and identity.” (Kirkus, 1 Jun 2019)

Clear Skies by Jessica Scott Kerrin

It is the summer of 1961, and eleven-year-old Arno Creelman wants nothing more than to be an astronomer. Fortunately, his struggle with claustrophobia has little impact on his one true passion. Unlike his annoying friend Buddy, who wants to become an astronaut and is not at all bothered by the idea of flying in a cramped space capsule, Arno dreams of exploring the galaxies with powerful telescopes back on Earth.

PAGES: 183
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-6
GENRE: historical fiction
THEMES: space exploration, astronomy, claustrophobia
READALIKES: See You in the Cosmos (Cheng), The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Kamkwamba)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Writing in a believably childlike third-person, Kerrin adds period details and handwritten pages of “Deep Thoughts” from Arno’s astronomy notebook to her low-key tale, and she closes with notes on the space program’s later history…including a mention of Roger Crouch, a colorblind payload specialist.” (Kirkus, 15 Jul 2019)

All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander (Author) and Vivien Mildenberger (Illustrator)

Microbes are everywhere: in the soil and oceans, in snow, and inside our bodies. But in Antony van Leeuwenhoek’s time, people believed that what they saw with their own eyes was all that existed in the world. How did a simple tradesman–who didn’t go to college or speak English or Latin like all the other scientists–change everyone’s minds?

Proving that remarkable discoveries can come from the most unexpected people and places, this eye-opening chapter book, illustrated with lively full-color art, celebrates the power of curiosity, ingenuity, and persistence.

PAGES: 96
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades 3-6
GENRE: narrative nonfiction, biography
THEMES: microscope, STEAM, science, microbiology
READALIKES: Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide (Workman Publishing), Case Closed?: Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science (Hughes)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “From the Delft-tile inspired endpapers to the many engaging illustrations in a naive style, Mildenberger’s artwork reflects the tone of the text while helping to define the period. An attractive, very readable book on an important figure in the history of science.” (Booklist starred review, 1 Jun 2019)

You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood by Aimee Reid (Author) and Matt Phelan (Illustrator)

Mister Rogers is one of the most beloved television personalities, but before he was the man who brought us Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was just little Freddie Rogers. Though he was often sick and had trouble making friends as a child, his mom and grandfather encouraged him to ask for help and explore the world. With their support, he learned how to better say what he was feeling and see the beauty around him. As he grew up, he realized he could spread the message of compassion, equality, and kindness through television.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book biography
THEMES: kindness, television
READALIKES: Who Was Mr. Rogers? (Bailey), The Day You Begin (Woodson), Be Kind (Miller)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A simply written, thoughtful tribute worthy of the incomparable Mister Rogers.” (Kirkus, 15 Jun 2019)

The Evil Princess vs. the Brave Knight by Jennifer Holm (Author) and Matthew Holm (Illustrator)

Meet the Evil Princess and the Brave Knight. She casts terrible spells, while he fights dragons. He rescues cats in distress, while she makes mischief. No wonder there isn’t much peace in this kingdom! But is the Evil Princess really so evil? And is the Brave Knight truly as chivalrous as he seems? Children and parents will laugh at seeing familiar family dynamics play out in this charming and imaginative new story.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: sibling rivalry, family, fairy tales
READALIKES: My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother (Polacco), Julius, the Baby of the World (Henkes)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The friendly battle will ring true to anyone with a playmate sibling, and young listeners will delight in the hilarious back and forth. This first foray into picture books by the best-selling, award-winning sibling duo is sure to draw interest.” (Booklist, 1 Jun 2019)

*How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder

There are so many ways to dance! You can jiggle or wiggle or stomp. You can bop or bounce or go completely nuts. You can dance at the market or the bus stop, with your fingers or your face. You can dance because you’re happy or even because you’re sad. But, what’s the best way to dance? Exactly how you want to!

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: dancing, individuality, rhyming books
READALIKES: Wiggle (Cronin)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A gleeful, tender celebration of self-expression through movement, destined to become a favorite read-aloud.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jun 2019)

The Ranger by Nancy Vo

The Crow Stories. A ranger comes across a fox caught in a trap. The ranger frees the fox and promises only to tend to its wounds. The fox recovers and remains curiously close to the ranger, and when unexpected twists occur, the fox ends up being the helper. The ranger asks the fox, “Does this make us even?” and almost immediately feels regret – keeping score has no place in friendship. And so the two continue their journey together.

PAGES: 44
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: friendship, animal stories
READALIKES: The Outlaw (Vo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A restrained text fuses with visually arresting and enigmatic interactions to open a welcoming space for contemplation.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 May 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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