New Release Spotlight: October 22, 2019

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This week’s New Release Spotlight is significantly smaller than the past several weeks. I finally got a little break! My favorite book on this list is Kekla Magoon’s Light It Up. I’ve already added it to my TBR and next Book Depository order. Pair it with The Hate U Give (Thomas) or How It Went Down, also by Kekla Magoon.

Books with a * by the title received two or more professional reviews. Don’t forget that I’m now adding the New Release Spotlights (and many other books) to a spreadsheet I’m calling The Ginormous. Use CTRL+F to search genres, themes, titles, etc. Be sure to bookmark it for easy access!

*Light It Up by Kekla Magoon

We need as much discussion about this issue as we can get.

Just days after the infamous Amber Guyger trial ended in Dallas, a Fort Worth police officer shot and killed a young black woman in her own home. He shot her through a window on what was supposed to be a “well-being” check. A neighbor had called police because her front door was open at 2am. The officer has been charged with murder.

Publisher’s summary: A girl walks home from school. She’s tall for her age. She’s wearing her winter coat. Her headphones are in. She’s hurrying. She never makes it home.

In the aftermath, while law enforcement tries to justify the response, one fact remains: a police officer has shot and killed an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl. The community is thrown into upheaval, leading to unrest, a growing movement to protest the senseless taking of black lives, and the arrival of white supremacist counter demonstrators.

Give this to fans of The Hate U Give.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: police shootings, prejudice, racism, African-Americans, gun violence

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson

Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker?The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.

When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire–the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, mythology
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Greek mythology, celebrity, family, siblings, social media

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

Debut author! News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet–Alma–claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their ‘colony’ Earth. True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.

Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving. With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart

  • Genre(s): science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: apocalypse, aliens, humanity

The Space We’re In by Katya Balen

Debut author! Ten-year old Frank longs for the brother he was promised by his parents before Max was born–someone who was supposed to be his biggest fan, so he could be the best brother in the world. Instead, Frank has trouble navigating 5-year old Max’s autism, his behavior, and their relationship. But when tragedy strikes, Frank finds a way to try and repair their fractured family and in doing so learns to love Max for who he is.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: brothers, siblings, autism

Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas by Crispin Boyer

Welcome to the Mount Olympus Pet Center, which sits high on a hill in Athens, Georgia. The owner, Artie, has a soft spot for animals that need a forever home, and she has rescued a menagerie of creatures, each named after a powerful god or goddess. But these animals aren’t just pets with cool names.

Meet Zeus, a tiny hamster with a mighty appetite for power. His cage sits atop a high shelf so he can watch the other pets from above. But being king of the gods is a tough job: You’ve got to issue orders and decrees, make sure to stay in tip-top shape by running on your exercise wheel, and most importantly, lead your minions on epic journeys. And Zeus the Mighty has one giant task in front of him: Find the ‘Golden Fleas’ and solidify his position before the other gods rebel.

  • Genre(s): mythology, animal fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-5
  • Themes: pets, hamsters, Greek mythology, puns

*The Double Bass Blues by Andrea J. Loney (Author) and Rudy Gutierrez (Illustrator)

Nic is an aspiring musician whose life spans two different worlds–his suburban school where he wows his friends in orchestra, and the busy city streets of his home where he’s jostled by the crowd. Nic makes his way home from a busy day at school with a double bass on his back, the symphony of his surroundings in his heart, and a sweet surprise for the reader at the end of his journey.

Three starred reviews! This picture book is great for upper-elementary readers who love music or for a read-aloud in music class.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: music, city life, African-Americans, community

*Driftwood Days by William Miniver (Author) and Charles Vess (Illustrator)

Under autumn leaves, a boy watches a beaver build a dam. One of the branches slips away, carried downstream by the river. Through the changing seasons, the branch makes a long, epic journey to the sea, before finally getting tossed back onto shore. Changed by the elements, the branch–now driftwood–lies patiently on the beach, until the boy discovers it once again.

This should be corrected soon, but Titlewave currently lists Nathaniel Lachenmeyer as the author. I have confirmed with the publisher that William Miniver and Charles Vess are the author and illustrator of Driftwood Days.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: nature, cyclical stories, seasons

*Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Author) and Juana Martinez-Neal

Follows a Native American family as they make fry bread and celebrate their culture.

Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.

Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.

Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.

Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: Native Americans, food, bread, traditions, family

*Saturday by Oge Mora

A mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.

Five starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: mothers, daughters, togetherness, love

The Finger and the Nose by Paula Merlán (Author) and Gómez (Illustrator)

Would you believe there’s a Seinfeld episode on nose-picking? “It was a scratch! Not a pick!” Ahem. Anyway, we all know nose picking is a favorite hobby of our lovely little ones, especially in the midst of story time. What a great time to have a little snack!

Sophie’s nose has become huge! Her parents told her over and over not to pick her nose. She did it so much, that her finger has built a home inside Sophie’s nose. It has a living room, a kitchen with a tasting menu…

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: nose-picking, manners, etiquette, noses

*From a Small Seed: The Story of Eliza Hamilton by Camille Andros (Author) and Tessa Blackham (Illustrator)

Do you have young Hamilton fans? This one’s a must!

Ever since she was a young girl, Eliza Hamilton hoped to help people in need. From the private quarters of her family home to her national platform as Hamilton’s partner, Eliza was a lifelong advocate for fairness, freedom and faith. The remarkable acts of charity and public service she performed after Alexander’s death are considered a significant contribution to the Hamilton legacy the world celebrates today. Here is a thoughtful, historical account of her life beginning with her childhood influences.

  • Genre(s): picture book bioraphy
  • Recommended for: Grades K-3
  • Themes: Eliza Schulyer Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton, US presidents, first ladies, strong women, children’s rights, advocacy

Whose Footprint Is That? by Darrin Lunde (Author) and Kelsey Oseid (Illustrator)

This nonfiction picture book explores the connections between an animal, how it moves, and its tracks. Written by a mammalogist at the Smithsonian, Whose Tracks Are Those? pairs animal tracks with the respective animal, asking readers to guess which animal left them behind. A page-turn reveals animals ranging from kangaroos to mountain goats in their own habitats.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 1
  • Themes: animals, animal tracks, footprints, guessing games





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