New Release Spotlight: September 3, 2019

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Welcome to September! September tends to be a big month for new book releases, and this week is starting with some whoppers! Orphan Island author Laurel Snyder is releasing TWO books this week. This week’s middle grade and picture book titles really shine, with new books from Thanhha Lai, Celia Perez, Renee Watson, Stacy McAnulty, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Jonah Winter. And there are several popular series sequels this week as well. Whew!

As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews.

*There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

The Age of Darkness, book 1. Debut author! For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations–until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared. All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation…or the cause of its destruction. With chaos on the horizon, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them–or all of them–could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

PAGES: 485
GENRE: fantasy
THEMES: prophecies
READALIKES: Six of Crows (Bardugo), The Merciful Crow (Owen)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, BCCB starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A cast of fully developed, flawed, and endearing characters whose actions are genuinely unpredictable are present and accounted for in a world full of brown and queer people in this story that continually walks the fine line between darkness and hope.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jul 2019)

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

PAGES: 421
GENRE: romance, realistic fiction
THEMES: financial problems, fame, dating, Asian-Americans
READALIKES: This Is What Happy Looks Like (Smith), Somewhere Only We Know (Goo)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Pablo’s friends and family, a diverse cast with rich inner lives of their own, are loving but firm with him, and readers will relate to the ultimate message of the book, delivered by his father: “Doing nothing is the only stupid.”” (Booklist starred review, Aug 2019)

*Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee (Author) and Stephanie Hans (Illustrator)

Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity . . . except for Amora. Asgard’s resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him.

But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard’s most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor.

When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he’s meant to be.

PAGES: 416
GENRE: fantasy, mythology, mystery
THEMES: Norse mythology, Marvel
READALIKES: The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky (Lee), Loki: Agent of Asgard Volume 1: Trust Me (Ewing)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred; Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This deft, nuanced examination of identity, destiny, and agency is a surprisingly tender addition to the Marvel canon.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Aug 2019)

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Born into a family of powerful witch doctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval. There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit. She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees–unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

PAGES: 485
GENRE: fantasy, mythology, paranormal
THEMES: witchcraft, occultism
READALIKES: Serpent & Dove (Mahurin), The Apprentice Witch (Nicol)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “From start to finish, this magical debut is not to be missed.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Aug 2019)

The Dozier School for Boys: Forensics, Survivors, and a Painful Past by Elizabeth A. Murray

Some true crimes reveal themselves in bits and pieces over time. One such case is the Florida School for Boys, a.k.a. the Dozier School, a place where–rather than reforming the children in their care–school officials tortured, raped, and killed them. Opened in 1900, the school closed in 2011 after a Department of Justice investigation substantiated allegations of routine beatings and killings made by about 100 survivors. Thus far, forensic anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle and her team from the University of South Florida have uncovered fifty-five sets of human remains. Follow this story of institutional abuse, the brave survivors who spoke their truth, and the scientists and others who brought it to light.

PAGES: 120
GENRE: narrative nonfiction
THEMES: U.S. history, true crime, Florida, murder, abuse
READALIKES: The Accusation Blood Libel in an American Town (Berenson), A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 (Hartfield)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A grim, harrowing, and important read with insights into the troubled juvenile justice system.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jul 2019)

*Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

In the final days of the Vietnam War, Hang takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms, and Hang is left behind in the war-torn country. Six years later, Hang has made the brutal journey from Vietnam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her. Hang is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn2t remember her, their family, or Vietnam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels farther than ever, Hang has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.

PAGES: 284
GENRE: historical fiction
THEMES: Vietnam War, refugees, siblings
READALIKES: Dream Country (Gibney), A Land of Permanent Goodbyes (Abawi)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, Booklist starred, BCCB starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Every sentence is infused with warmth, and Lai shows readers that countless moments of grace exist even in the darkest times. Masterfully conjures grace, beauty, and humor out of the tragic wake of the Vietnam War.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jul 2019)

*Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez

When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up.

Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed- sisterhood.

PAGES: 365
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: friendship, Florida, strong girls
READALIKES: The First Rule of Punk (Perez), It Wasn’t Me (Levy), One True Way (Hitchcock)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “As the girls rally behind Cat’s cause, important, nuanced discussions about privilege, institutional racism, and rectifying historical wrongs arise, prompting each to a deeper understanding of intersectionality and activism.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 15 Jul 2019)

Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father’s family in New York City–Harlem, to be exact. She can’t wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family–and herself–in new way.

But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It’s crowded, with confusing subways, suffocating sidewalks, and her father is too busy with work to spend time with her and too angry to spend time with Grandpa Earl. As she explores, asks questions, and learns more and more about Harlem and about her father and his family history, she realizes how, in some ways more than others, she connects with him, her home, and her family.

PAGES: 194
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: African-Americans, Harlem, New York, grandparents, family
READALIKES: The Stars Beneath Our Feet (Moore), The Cruisers (Myers)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed.” (Kirkus, 1 Jun 2019)

Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe by Josh Allen (Author) and Sarah J. Coleman (Illustrator)

A collection of thirteen short stories that reveals frightening secrets lurking in everyday objects.

Cool selling point for reluctant readers: It’s illustrated, and the front cover glows in the dark!

PAGES: 169
GENRE: short stories, scary stories
THEMES: great for Halloween!
READALIKES: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Schwartz), Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories (Dahl)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Kids who can’t get enough Goosebumps will revel in the anticipated but memorable twists of each story, as signposts shift, biology class becomes voodoo chaos, and devils and witches are revealed to reside among us.” (Booklist starred review, 19 Aug 2019)

The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty

Eleanor Dross knows a thing or two about the end of the world, thanks to a survivalist grandfather who stockpiles freeze-dried food and supplies–just in case. So when she reads about a Harvard scientist’s prediction that an asteroid will strike Earth in April, Eleanor knows her family will be prepared. Her classmates? They’re on their own!

Eleanor has just one friend she wants to keep safe- Mack. They’ve been best friends since kindergarten, even though he’s more of a smiley emoji and she’s more of an eye-roll emoji. They’ll survive the end of the world together…if Mack doesn’t go away to a special school for the blind.

But it’s hard to keep quiet about a life-destroying asteroid–especially at a crowded lunch table–and soon Eleanor is the president of the (secret) End of the World Club. It turns out that prepping for TEOTWAWKI (the End of the World as We Know It) is actually kind of fun. But you can’t really prepare for everything life drops on you. And one way or another, Eleanor’s world is about to change.

PAGES: 362
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: blindness, friendship, family, end of the world
READALIKES: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl (McAnulty)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A fast-paced story that deals with grief, loss, and mental health through the lens of middle school catastrophe.” (SLJ, 1 Aug 2019)

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels…lost. She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago, when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah’s been adrift and alone. Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There’s something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers, is also lost. Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships, somewhere only they can find. But as the days of this magical June start to draw to a close, and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.

PAGES: 291
GENRE: realistic fiction
THEMES: death, grief, homelessness, abuse, friendship
READALIKES: The Afterwards (Harrold), The Lost Girl (Ursu)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Snyder maintains a languid, unhurried pace that evokes the lazy days of summer and crescendos in a meaningful, bittersweet ending.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 201 May 2019)

The Light in the Lake by Sarah R. Baughman

Debut author! Twelve-year-old Addie should avoid Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother Amos drowned there only a few months ago. But its crisp, clear water runs in her veins, and the notebook Amos left behind, filled with clues about a mysterious creature in the lake’s inky-blue depths, keeps calling her back. She never took Amos seriously when he was alive, but doesn’t she owe it to him to figure out, once and for all, if there’s really something out there? When she’s offered a Young Scientist position studying the lake for the summer, Addie accepts, yearning for the cool wind in her hair and that sparkle on the lake, despite her parent’s misgivings.

Addie promises her parents that she’ll remain under the scientists’ supervision and stick to her job of helping them measure water pollution levels, but she can’t resist the secrets of Maple Lake. Addie enlists Tai, the son of one of the visiting scientists, to help her sneak off and investigate Amos’s evidence of the creature. The more time Addie spends out on the water, the more she discovers the same deep-down feeling Amos had about the magic in Maple Lake. But when the scientists trace the pollution to surrounding dairy farms, including the one run by her beloved aunt and uncle, Addie finds herself caught between her family’s interests and Maple Lake’s future and between the science she has always prized and the magic that brings her closer to her brother.

PAGES: 320
GENRE: realistic fiction, mystery
THEMES: death, grief, siblings, secrets
READALIKES: The Line Tender (Allen)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Compassionately told, this compelling debut brings to life conservation issues and choices young readers will confront as adults.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jun 2019)

*Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly

Life is difficult on the island of Sanlagita. To the west looms a vengeful mountain, one that threatens to collapse and bury the village at any moment. To the north, a dangerous fog swallows sailors who dare to venture out, looking for a more hospitable land. And what does the future hold for young girls? Chores and more chores.

When Lalani Sarita’s mother falls gravely ill, twelve-year-old Lalani faces an impossible task–she must leave Sanlagita and find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. But generations of men and boys have died on the same quest–how can an ordinary girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

PAGES: 384
GENRE: fantasy, adventure
THEMES: Filipino folklore, strong girls,
READALIKES: The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Barnhill), The Serpent’s Secret (DasGupta)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Fast-paced and full of wonder, this is a powerful, gripping must-read.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jul 2019)

Child of the Dream (A Memoir of 1963) by Sharon Robinson

In January of 1963, Sharon Robinson turned 13 the night before George Wallace declared on national television “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his inauguration for governor of Alabama. That was the start of a year that would become one of the most pivotal years in the history of America.

As the daughter of Jackie Robinson, Sharon had incredible access to some of the most important events of the era, including her family hosting several fundraisers for Martin Luther King Jr. at their home in Connecticut, other civil rights heroes of the day calling Jackie Robinson for advice and support, and even attending the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs.

But Sharon was also dealing with her own personal problems, like going through puberty, being one of the only black children in her wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, and figuring out her own role in the fight for equality.

PAGES: 227
GENRE: narrative nonfiction, memoir
THEMES: prejudice, racism, civil rights, Jackie Robinson, African-Americans, March on Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr.
READALIKES: Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March (Lowery), March trilogy (Lewis), The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 (Curtis)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Robinson’s unique viewpoint, accompanied by illuminating photographs from this charged historical period, offers plenty to hold readers’ attention.” (Publishers Weekly, 17 Jun 2019)

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby ‘Red’ Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep her skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn to control it, but can’t figure out how. This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo, complete with a dancing donkey and a giant tortoise. With their own curious gifts, Celine and Jackson Groove seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Red’s heart. But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos. Now Red must discover the possible in the impossible if she wants to overcome her own tornadoes and find the family she needs

PAGES: 375
GENRE: realistic fiction, magical realism
THEMES: foster care
READALIKES: Savvy (Law), The Pinballs (Byars)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Red’s occasional, interspersed letters to her mother add further poignancy. Painful to read—in a good way.” (Kirkus, 1 Aug 2019)

*Thurgood by Jonah Winter (Author) and Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

Thurgood Marshall was a born lawyer–the loudest talker, funniest joke teller, and best arguer from the time he was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the early 1900s. He would go on to become the star of his high school and college debate teams, a stellar law student at Howard University, and, as a lawyer, a one-man weapon against the discriminatory laws against black Americans. After only two years at the NAACP, he was their top lawyer and had earned himself the nickname Mr. Civil Rights. He argued–and won–cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most important cases in American history: Brown v Board of Education. And he became the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice in history.

GENRE: picture book biography
THEMES: law, civil rights, Supreme Court
READALIKES: Turning Pages: My Life Story (Sotomayor)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Winter and Collier have created a catalyst that will inspire readers to learn more about this giant of American history.” (Publishers Weekly, 15 Jul 2019)

Sweep by Louise Greig (Author) and Júlia Sardà (Illustrator)

Ed’s bad mood begins as something really small, hardly a thing at all. But before long it grows, gathers pace, and spreads through the whole town. Can Ed sweep his troubles away?

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: mood, emotions
READALIKES: Mr. Sherman’s Cloud (Habben), Nobody Hugs a Cactus (Goodrich)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “An artful, elegant metaphor for mood.” (Kirkus, 15 Jun 2019)

*Small in the City by Sydney Smith

A little boy offers advice to his cat, which is lost in the city, from taking shortcuts through safe alleys to finding a friend in the park

GENRE: picture book
THEMES: cats, lost pets
READALIKES: Knuffle Bunny (Willems), Spot, the Cat (Cole)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A brilliant narrative twist reveals itself at the end of this tender picture book, which stretches readers’ concern painfully as the voice begins warning of dark alleys and dogs, and points to warm churches and free food. Extraordinary, emotional, and beautifully rendered.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jul 2019)

Hungry Jim by Laurel Snyder (Author) and Chuck Groenink (Artist)

Another one from Laurel Snyder this week? Wow! When Jim wakes up one Tuesday morning, he doesn’t feel like eating his pancakes. In fact, Jim doesn’t feel like Jim. He feels rather, well, beastly. But he is hungry. Very hungry…

GENRE: picture books
THEMES: lions, hunger, imagination
READALIKES: Hangry (Brockington)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Use this at story hour and expect giggles, shrieks, and groans.” (Booklist, August 2019)












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