I woke up this morning, and it’s finally cold in Shanghai! And by cold, I mean 42 degrees. This Virginia girl misses the snow, but we are unlikely to get that here. It’s just not cold enough.
This week’s list is the smallest I’ve had in awhile. The weekly Spotlights will continue to be pretty short through the end of December. I mentioned in my FaceBook Live last week how excited I am for the release of Holly Black’s The Queen of Nothing today. The timing is perfect because I’m almost finished with Kekla Magoon’s Light It Up. Can’t wait!
OOH! I am ridiculously excited about this one, and I don’t even plan to wait for Book Depository to deliver it to me (a two week delivery time for China). I’m trying to cut down on my screen time by reading print books more often, but this one is a Kindle purchase for me. I LOVED the first two books in this series, and this is the last one. I’m not even going to include the summary here because I don’t want any spoilers for the first two. If you haven’t read them yet–no matter what grade level you work with–they are an absolute must-read! Start with The Cruel Prince. You’ll be hooked!
Booklist and Kirkus starred!
- Genre(s): fantasy
- Recommended for: Grades 9-12
- Themes: faeries, royalty, revenge, power, control, deception, betrayal, twins, sisters, girl power
Winnie Friedman has been waiting for the world to catch on to what she already knows: she’s hilarious. It might be a long wait, though. After bombing a stand-up set at her own bat mitzvah, Winnie has kept her jokes to herself. Well, to herself and her dad, a former comedian and her inspiration. Then, on the second day of tenth grade, the funniest guy in school actually laughs at a comment she makes in the lunch line and asks her to join the improv troupe. Maybe he’s even…flirting?
Just when Winnie’s ready to say yes to comedy again, her father reveals that he’s been diagnosed with ALS. That is…not funny. Her dad’s still making jokes, though, which feels like a good thing. And Winnie’s prepared to be his straight man if that’s what he wants. But is it what he needs? Caught up in a spiral of epically bad dates, bad news, and bad performances, Winnie’s struggling to see the humor in it all. But finding a way to laugh is exactly what will see her through.
- Genre(s): realistic fiction, humor
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: comedy, comedians, ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Jewish characters, improv, school stories, changing friendships, family problems
This comes from a small publisher that I’ve never heard of, and the reviews are sparse right now. I’ve also seen conflicting release dates–several say the pub date is November 19th, and others say it’s December 17th. Still, the story sounds fantastic, and the one review I found (Kirkus, 1 Oct 2019) is positive. Even Goodreads doesn’t yet have any written reviews of this title.
Emil Rosen and Friedrich Weber couldn’t have less in common, but in the summer of 1938, they must both deal with the changes steamrolling through Germany. Friedrich struggles with an uncle in jail and a cruel Hitler Youth leader, while Emil does his best to avoid the blistering anti-Semitism that’s threatening his family. As the rules of yesterday no longer make sense, both boys find comfort at a private spot along the Leine River.
Then in the late hours of November 9th, their world explodes, and the two boys are forced together in a race against time that requires Friedrich to risk his life in order to save Emil and his family. Pair this with Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
- Genre(s): historical fiction
- Recommended for: Grades 7-9
- Themes: Kristallnacht, Germany, WWII, The Holocaust, Jewish characters, anti-Semitism, Hitler Youth
Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anywhere longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet–a social media site where users upload cat pictures–a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and CheshireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.
Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.
- Genre(s): science fiction, thriller
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: privacy, internet, artificial intelligence, abuse, social media, LGBT+
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural–dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work–one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans–though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
- Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: girl power, strong females, princesses, powers
Desperate to meet up with her unpredictable father, quiet Alice persuades two friends to abandon their boarding school’s orienteering exercise and head for a remote, inaccessible island. As they confront storms, illness, injury, and a gang of international jewel thieves, the quest tests their courage and loyalty and strengthens the bonds of friendship.
- Genre(s): adventure, survival
- Recommended for: Grades 4-7
- Themes: friendship, fathers, Scotland, boarding school
Do Fish Sleep? by Jens Raschke (Author), Jens Rassmus (Illustrator), and Belinda Cooper (Translator)
Sick since even before Jette can remember, her six-year old brother Emil now has died. The feelings that losing him evoke in her are huge and confusing. Most simply, it feels as though a dark rain cloud has descended over her family. And then there’s the ridiculous fact that nobody seems to know what happens after you die, and yet adults often talk as if they do. Told in the first-person voice of a wry, observant 10-year-old girl.
Publishers Weekly Annex starred.
- Genre(s): realistic fiction
- Recommended for: Grades 3-7
- Themes: grief, terminal illness, siblings, family
Little Mole is new in town, and he’s lonely. On his way home from school on a winter day, he rolls a snowball all the way to the bus stop. He tells it his problems and grows very attached. But when Little Mole tries to take the snowball home with him on the bus, the driver refuses and leaves without them. So Little Mole comes up with a plan- mold the snowball into a bear. Surely that will do the trick? After much effort, he finally convinces a bus driver to pick them up. The bus is warm and cozy, and Little Mole falls asleep. But we all know what happens to snowballs when they get warm…Luckily, Grandma is waiting at home, and she finds a way to return her grandson’s new friend to him.
- Genre(s): picture book
- Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
- Themes: imagination, animals, friendship, loneliness, snow
Straightforward text presents the facts and Raff’s infographic illustrations demonstrate the science and tell a humorous story. There are hands-on activities, such as using a chocolate bar to demonstrate material consistency and using a balloon to prove gases have weight, to reinforce the learning. A glossary defines density, plasma, vapor, and more essential terms.
- Genre(s): nonfiction
- Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
- Themes: science, states of matter
THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (ELEMENTARY AND PICTURE BOOKS):