New Release Spotlight: December 3, 2019

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Did you miss the New Release Spotlight last week? Nope! I didn’t write one. There were so few books worth discussing that I decided to combine them with this week’s list. But as you can see, this week’s list–even with last week’s titles included–is much shorter than normal. It will be like this through all of December. If you are planning to do any book ordering in December, you might want to wait until January. Some of the best books of the year are released in the first two weeks of January, so just hang in there a little longer!

So what would I buy from this week’s list? Well…the YA sequels all look good, and one or more of them may be in-demand, depending on the library. Amber & Dusk got some traction in my secondary library last year, so I’m betting the sequel Diamond and Dawn will also do well. Elementary librarians will want to order the new book in the popular Princess in Black series. Two picture books also stand out for storytime: Serious Goose and The Cool Bean.

I haven’t even looked at next week’s Spotlight list yet, but if it is fewer than six Spotlight-worthy titles, I’ll combine them with the following week’s list again. December is always a bit disappointing for new releases.

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Set in 1727 and based on real events. Kirkus starred.

Every summer Quill and his friends are put ashore on a remote sea stac to hunt birds. But this summer, no one arrives to take them home. Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they’ve been abandoned–cold, starving and clinging to life, in the grip of a murderous ocean. How will they survive such a forsaken place of stone and sea?

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, survival
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Scotland, Great Britain, birds, apocalypse

Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Debut author! All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember anything since an accident robbed him of his memories a few weeks ago. And the world feels different–reality itself seems different.

So when three of his classmates claim to be his friends and the only people who can tell him what’s truly going on, he doesn’t know what to believe or who he can trust. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere–the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery–Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident, and only he can stop their world from unraveling.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: dreams, Connecticut, LGBT+, memory loss, complex world-building

Sisterland by Salla Simukka (Author), Owen Frederick Witesman (Translator)

Alice thought it was unusual to see a dragonfly in the middle of winter. But she followed it until she fell down-down-down, and woke up in a world unlike any other.

Welcome to Sisterland, a fantastical world where it is always summer. The most enchanting magic of all, though, is Alice’s new friend Marissa. But as the girls explore the strange land, they learn Sisterland’s endless summer comes at a price. Back on Earth, their homes are freezing over. To save their families, Alice and Marissa must outwit the powerful Queen Lili. But the deeper they go into Sisterland, the less Alice and Marissa remember about their homes, their lives before, and what they are fighting for.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: winter, summer, other worlds, prophecies, hero’s journey, fairy tales, friendship

Don’t Tell the Nazis by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

It is June 1941 and after the brutal rule of the Soviets the people of Krystia’s small Ukrainian village are inclined to look on the German invaders as liberators; but soon the Nazis start rounding up Jewish Ukrainians, and Krystia is faced with a terrible choice–risk everything by helping her Jewish friends and neighbors to hide, or save herself and her family by doing nothing.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-6
  • Themes: Nazis, WWII, Ukraine, Soviet occupation, Nazi occupation, Holocaust, compassion

All the Colors of Magic by Valija Zinck

I love this gorgeous front cover!

Penelope has always been different from other children. Her hair has been grey since she was born. It rains every year on her birthday. And she knows what her mother is going to say before the words even come out of her mouth. But one day, Penelope wakes up with sparkling red hair and her mother confesses the truth: Her father is not only still alive, he’s a wizard! Penelope has inherited his powers, and must embark on a journey to find him.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-6
  • Themes: magic, wizards, grandparents, family secrets, hair, color

The Cool Bean by Jory John (Author) and Pete Oswald (Illustrator)

Everyone knows the cool beans. They’re sooooo cool. And then there’s the uncool has-bean. Always on the sidelines, one bean unsuccessfully tries everything he can to fit in with the crowd–until one day the cool beans show him how it’s done.

Oh, I love the idea of this book! As a decidedly uncool bean myself, I love the validation and encouragement this book gives to all us uncool beans.

  • Genre(s): picture books
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-4
  • Themes: puns, popularity, friendship, kindness

Fix That Clock by Kurt Cyrus

The old clock tower used to stand tall and proud. Now, it’s rusty, dusty, moldy, musty. A construction team decides to turn zigzags into squares and get the clock chiming again. But wait: What will happen to all the animals who have made this dilapidated clock their home?

This one released last week, but since I didn’t do a Spotlight last week, it’s on this week’s list. Lots of onomatopoeia and detail in the artwork makes Fix That Clock a great choice for number- and STEAM-themed storytime.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: STEAM, perseverance, teamwork, clocks, counting, numbers, onomatopoeia, storytime

The Serious Goose by Jimmy Kimmel

Debut author! Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel wrote, illustrated, and lettered this book? Impressive! This would make a fun storytime, especially if you have a class full of budding comedians. After storytime, have your students put on their most-serious faces and see if they can make one another laugh!

The Serious Goose challenges young readers to bring the silly out of a very Serious Goose. Inspired by Jimmy’s nickname for his kids, The Serious Goose reminds us to be silly in a serious way. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and children’s hospitals around the country.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: storytime, laughter, funny books, comedy, geese, laughter

Snowy Race by April Jones Prince (Author) and Christine Davenier (Illustrator)

A young girl is excited to ride in the snowplow with her father. The snow is coming down hard, but it’s no match for her father’s plow. They are picking up someone special from the train station–who could it be?

This is another release from last week. The reviewer from Kirkus praises this book for the gender neutrality of both father and daughter. The daughter is dressed in primary colors, and her room has elephants, trucks, and nothing pink or frilly. The father is shown handling household chores and childcare adeptly. Well done!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: rhyme, snow, work, jobs, snowplows, fathers and daughters






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