New Release Spotlight: March 10, 2020 (YA)

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It’s a big week for secondary libraries! We have new nonfiction from Jason Reynolds, and you know I’ve already pre-ordered it on Audible! There’s also not one but TWO books about the circus, plus a new short story compilation featuring sixteen Black female YA authors! Plus, Spindle and Dagger looks unique with its Year 1109 setting and female protagonist living with the enemy. This reminds me of Kiersten White’s And I Darken, which I totally loved.

As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. This week’s picture book and middle grade Spotlights are linked at the bottom of this post. And don’t forget The Ginormous book list, which this week surpassed 500 titles!

*Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Adapted from: Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This young reader’s adaptation reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

I just pre-ordered this on audiobook and also shared the title with my mom, who I think will love this one. Pair with Bryan Stevenson’s young reader’s adaptation of Just Mercy. Four starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: racism, prejudice, civil rights, US history, race relations, justice, social issues

28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto by David Safier

Warsaw, 1942. Sixteen-year old Mira smuggles food into the Warsaw Ghetto to keep herself and her family alive. When she discovers that the entire Ghetto is to be “liquidated”–killed or “resettled” to concentration camps–she desperately tries to find a way to save her family. She meets a group of young people who are planning the unthinkable: an uprising against the occupying forces. Mira joins the resistance fighters who, with minimal supplies and weapons, end up holding out for twenty-eight days, longer than anyone had thought possible. During this time, Mira has to decide where her heart belongs. To Amos, who will take as many Nazis as he can with him into the grave? Or to Daniel, who wants to help orphans in a shelter?

Originally published in German. Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9+
  • Themes: Warsaw, Poland, WWII, ghettos, concentration camps, resistance, Jews, attempted rape

We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman by Deborah Noyes

Much has been written about P. T. Barnum–legendary showman, entrepreneur, marketing genius, and one of the most famous nineteenth-century personalities. For those who lived in Barnum’s shadow, however, life was complex. P. T. Barnum’s two families–his family at home, including his two wives and his daughters, and his family at work, including Little People, a giantess, an opera singer, and many sideshow entertainers–suffered greatly from his cruelty and exploitation.

Yet, at the same time, some of his performers, such as General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton), became wealthy celebrities who were admired and feted by presidents and royalty. In this collection of interlinked stories illustrated with archival photographs, Deborah Noyes digs deep into what is known about the people in Barnum’s orbit and imagines their personal lives, putting front and center the complicated joy and pain of what it meant to be one of Barnum’s “creatures.”

I loved The Greatest Showman film, even as I know from reading Medical Apartheid the very dark side of PT Barnum. The movie most definitely glorifies him, and I appreciate an alternate perspective written for young readers. A lot of my students love the movie, too. All accounts are fictional–this is NOT nonfiction. Includes black and white photos. BCCB starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, short stories
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: PT Barnum, circuses, eccentricity, performance arts, exploitation, entertainers, sideshows

 

*A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope by Patrice Caldwell (Editor)

Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

With stories by: Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Patrice Caldwell, Dhonielle Clayton, J. Marcelle Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, L. L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

Evoking Beyonce’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly.

Three starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): short stories, fantasy, science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-AD
  • Themes: Black women, African-Americans, folktales, witches, sisters, Africa, culture, gender, racism, self-discovery

Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystere. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past–and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: 8+
  • Themes: biracial characters, parent-child relationships, circuses, trapeze, family secrets, mental health, depression, suicide, runaways

Spindle and Dagger by J. Anderson Coats

Wales, 1109. Three years ago, a warband raided Elen’s home. Her baby sister could not escape the flames. Her older sister fought back and almost killed the warband’s leader, Owain ap Cadwgan, before being killed herself. Despite Elen’s own sexual assault at the hands of the raiders, she saw a chance to live and took it. She healed Owain’s wound and spun a lie: Owain ap Cadwgan, son of the king of Powys, cannot be killed, not by blade nor blow nor poison. Owain ap Cadwgan has the protection of Saint Elen, as long as he keeps her namesake safe from harm and near him always.

For three years, Elen has had plenty of food, clothes to wear, and a bed to sleep in that she shares with the man who brought that warband to her door. Then Owain abducts Nest, the wife of a Norman lord, and her three children, triggering full-out war. As war rages, and her careful lies threaten to unravel, Elen begins to look to Nest and see a different life–if she can decide, once and for all, where her loyalties lie.

The time period and storyline remind me of Kiersten White’s And I Darken, which I totally loved. SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Wales, medieval period, sisters, war, royalty

*When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded. Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.

Now Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex-best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding friendships with other classmates–and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom–Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.

Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: friendship, New York City, African-Americans, best friends, alternating perspectives, alternating timelines

Most Likely by Sarah Watson

Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha (listed in alphabetical order out of fairness) have been friends since kindergarten. Now they’re in their senior year, facing their biggest fears about growing up and growing apart. But there’s more than just college on the horizon. One of these girls is destined to become the president of the United States. The mystery, of course, is which girl gets the gig.

Is it Ava, the picture-perfect artist who’s secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs? Or could it be CJ, the one who’s got everything figured out…except how to fix her terrible SAT scores? Maybe it’s Jordan, the group’s resident journalist, who knows she’s ready for more than their small Ohio suburb can offer. And don’t overlook Martha, who will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams.

This is the story of four best friends who have one another’s backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success–proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything…even a seat in the Oval Office.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: friendship, presidents, best friends, flashbacks, twist endings, red herrings

Iphigenia Murphy by Sara Hosey

Running away from home hasn’t solved Iphigenia Murphy’s problems. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll catch up with her. Iffy is desperate to find her long-lost mother, and, so far, in spite of the need to forage for food and shelter and fend off an unending number of creeps, living in Queens’ Forest Park has felt safer than living at home. But as the summer days get shorter, it all threatens to fall apart.

A novel that explores the sustaining love of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and the indelible bond of family, Iphigenia Murphy captures the gritty side of 1992 Queens, the most diverse borough in New York City. Just like Iffy, the friends she makes in the park–Angel, a stray dog with the most ridiculous tail; Corinne, a young trans woman who is escaping her own abusive situation; and Anthony, a former foster kid from upstate whose parents are addicts–each seek a place where they feel at home.

Whether fate or coincidence has brought them together, within this community of misfits Iffy can finally be herself, but she still has to face the effects of abandonment and abuse–and the possibility that she may be pregnant. During what turns out to be a remarkable journey to find her mother, will Iffy ultimately discover herself?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: coming of age, friendship, family, Queens, New York, 1990s, transgender, abuse, neglect, teen pregnancy, kindness

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):

MORE OF THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASES:

   

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