New Release Spotlight: May 26, 2020

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The last Spotlight of May is a good one, especially for teens and tweens! I didn’t find many new picture books this week, but I did find several new LGBT+ titles for Grades 3-12. It’s probably no coincidence that they were released just ahead of June, which is LGBT Pride Month.

I’m most excited to read Kelly Yang’s new YA book, Parachutes. I’ve heard lots of good things about Kelly Yang’s debut novel, Front Desk, which is coming up in my book club in a few weeks. Parachutes is about a wealthy Shanghai teen who goes to California to live with an American family and attend a posh private high school. The family she lives with has a high school daughter–a scholarship student at the high school.

As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. All titles have been added to The Ginormous book list, a spreadsheet of all my New Release Spotlights (plus more I’ve added randomly) since October 2019. It has over 700 titles now!

*The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Kirkus and SLJ starred, plus it won ALA’s Stonewall Book Award for Young Adult Literature (2020).

  • Genre(s): free verse, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: coming out, high school, university, coming-of-age, poetry, drag society, LGBT+, British, UK, Jamaicans, single mothers

Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake

Sixteen-year-old Emily is on the run. Between her parents and the trouble she’s recently gotten into at school, she has more than enough reason to get away. But when she finds a little boy named Aidan wandering in the woods, she knows she needs to help him find his way home.

But getting home is no easy matter, especially when Emily finds out that Aidan isn’t even from Earth. When their plane crashes into the side of a snowy mountain, it’s up to Emily to ensure Aidan and their pilot, Bob, make it off the mountain alive. Pursued by government forces who want to capture Aidan, the unlikely team of three trek across the freezing landscape, learning more about each other, and about life, than they ever thought possible.

  • Genre(s): science fiction, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: aliens, running for your life, survival, family problems, plane crashes, snow, Alaska, false accusations, sexual assault

*Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate–as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing–with some awkward dude she hardly knows–is beyond her. Going door to isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer–and so are Maya and Jamie.

Booklist and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): romance, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: politics, public speaking, campaign trail, Muslims, Ramadan, divorce, Atlanta, Georgia, Pakistani-Americans, alternating perspectives, cultural misunderstandings, microaggressions

*Parachutes by Kelly Yang

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.

Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. But Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately.

As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever.

Booklist an SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Asians, Chinese, moving to a new school, moving to a new country, hosting a foreign student, private schools, scholarship students

The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor

NOW: Sixteen-year-old Alice is spending the summer in Paris, but she isn’t there for pastries and walks along the Seine. When her grandmother passed away two months ago, she left Alice an apartment in France that no one knew existed. An apartment that has been locked for more than seventy years.

Alice is determined to find out why the apartment was abandoned and why her grandmother never once mentioned the family she left behind when she moved to America after World War II. With the help of Paul, a charming Parisian student, she sets out to uncover the truth. However, the more time she spends digging through the mysteries of the past, the more she realizes there are secrets in the present that her family is still refusing to talk about.

THEN: Sixteen-year-old Adalyn doesn’t recognize Paris anymore. Everywhere she looks, there are Nazis, and every day brings a new horror of life under the Occupation. When she meets Luc, the dashing and enigmatic leader of a resistance group, Adalyn feels she finally has a chance to fight back.

But keeping up the appearance of being a much-admired socialite while working to undermine the Nazis is more complicated than she could have imagined. As the war goes on, Adalyn finds herself having to make more and more compromises—to her safety, to her reputation, and to her relationships with the people she loves the most.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Paris, France, inheritance, World War II, Nazis, resistance, mental health, depression, family secrets, parallel stories, alternating perspectives

Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini

Moving from Trinidad to Canada wasn’t her idea. But after being hospitalized for depression, her mother sees it as the only option. Now, living with an estranged aunt she barely remembers and dealing with her “troubles” in a foreign country, she feels more lost than ever.

Everything in Canada is cold and confusing. No one says hello, no one walks anywhere, and bus trips are never-ending and loud. She just wants to be home home, in Trinidad, where her only friend is going to school and Sunday church service like she used to do.

But this new home also brings unexpected surprises: the chance at a family that loves unconditionally, the possibility of new friends, and the promise of a hopeful future. Though she doesn’t see it yet, Canada is a place where she can feel at home–if she can only find the courage to be honest with herself.

Kirkus starred. “She” is 14 years old, and her name is not mentioned until the very end of the story.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: mental health, depression, anxiety, moving to a new country, Trinidad, Edmonton, Canada, suicide attempts, aunts, poverty, homophobia, diverse characters, body image, diaries, family problems, mothers and daughters

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith

Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.

Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.

Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?

SLJ starred. Outsiders references aside, does this remind anyone of Boys Don’t Cry?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: transgender, identity, LGBT+, cheerleaders, coming out, bullying, high school, Texas, #ownvoices

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim — who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.
This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ — buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself: How much is he willing to change for love? And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: summer camp, queer, LGBT+, friendship, musicals, theater, being true to oneself

*The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean

Set in 1997. Ten-year old Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to read them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to find out. Now the kids at school say Rowan’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

Booklist and Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: sexual abuse, neglect, letters, trust, transgender, LGBT+, feeling isolated, bullying, homophobia, substance abuse, 1990s, fitting in, Michigan

Orphan Eleven by Gennifer Choldenko

Set in 1939. Four orphans have escaped from the Home for Friendless Children. One is Lucy, who used to talk and sing. No one knows why she doesn’t speak anymore; silence is her protection.

The orphans find work and new friends at a traveling circus. Lucy loves caring for the elephants, but she must be able to speak to them, and to warn others of danger. If Lucy doesn’t find her voice, she’ll be left behind when the circus goes on the rails. Meanwhile, people are searching for Lucy, and her puzzling past is about to catch up with her.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: orphans, orphanages, runaways, selective mutism, circuses, hope, survival, sisters

Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin

Maddy Gaines sees danger everywhere she looks: at the bus stop, around the roller rink, in the woods, and (especially) by the ocean. When Maddy meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the North Carolina woods, she suspects the worst.

Maddy is certain she’s found Billy Holcomb-the boy who went missing in the fall. Except, maybe it’s not him. It’s been six months since he disappeared. And who will believe her anyway? Definitely not her mom or her stepdad…or the chief of police.

As Maddy tries to uncover the truth about Billy Holcomb, ghosts from her own past surface, her best friend starts to slip away, and Maddy’s world tilts once again. Can she put the pieces of her life back together, even if some of them are lost forever?

  • Genre(s): mystery
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: death of a parent, stepfamilies, grief, anxiety, missing persons, dogs, mental illness, domestic violence, drifting apart from childhood friends

Hello From Renn Lake by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Annalise Oliver’s family has owned and run lakeside cabins in Renn Lake, Wisconsin, for generations. This summer, she gets to help out while her younger sister focuses on being an actress and her best friend is babysitting rambunctious twin boys. It’s the perfect opportunity for Annalise to work and spend more time by her beloved lake.

When she was three years old, Annalise discovered that she could sense what Renn Lake was thinking and feeling. Now, at twelve, she still turns to Renn for comfort. But when a small patch of algae quickly becomes a harmful bloom, Annalise can no longer hear Renn, and the lake is closed. She and her friends must find a way to save the lake.

Writing from the perspectives of both the lake and Annalise, acclaimed author Michele Weber Hurwitz tells a sensitive and heartfelt story about community, activism, and fighting for the things you love.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: summer, lakes, conservation, algae blooms, found children, adoption, family businesses, sisters, activism, environment, community, unique voices, alternating perspectives, Wisconsin

Rainbow Revolutionaries: Fifty LGBTQ+ People Who Made History by Sarah Prager (Author) and Sarah Papworth (Illustrator)

This book is a celebration of the many ways these heroes have made a difference and will inspire young readers to make a difference, too. Featuring an introduction, map, timeline, and glossary, this must-have biography collection is the perfect read during Pride month and all year round.

Biographies include:

Adam Rippon, Alan L. Hart, Alan Turing, Albert Cashier, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Alexander the Great, Al-Hakam II, Alvin Ailey, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Banneker, Billie Jean King, Chevalière d’Éon, Christina of Sweden, Christine Jorgensen, Cleve Jones, Ellen DeGeneres, Francisco Manicongo, Frida Kahlo, Frieda Belinfante, Georgina Beyer, Gilbert Baker, Glenn Burke, Greta Garbo, Harvey Milk, James Baldwin, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, José Sarria, Josephine Baker, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Julie d’Aubigny, Lili Elbe, Ma Rainey, Magnus Hirschfeld, Manvendra Singh Gohil, Marsha P. Johnson, Martine Rothblatt, Maryam Khatoon Molkara, Natalie Clifford Barney, Navtej Johar, Nzinga, Pauli Murray, Renée Richards, Rudolf Nureyev, Sally Ride, Simon Nkoli, Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, Wen of Han, We’wha.

This is a Junior Library Guild selection.

  • Genre(s): collected biography
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: LGBT+, activism, STEAM, civil right, social issues, diversity

Prairie Days by Patricia MacLachlan (Author) and Micha Archer (Illustrator)

Cool summer mornings begin with the rose orange sun and the smell of earth, and fade into hot summer nights with a yellow moon, covered in a quilt of stars. There are wagon rides, farm dogs, trips into town, and games of kick the can. These are prairie days.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: summer, prairies, nostalgia, farm life, midwestern USA, nature, childhood

*Together We Grow by Susan Vaught (Author) and Kelly Murphy (Illustrator)

A storm drives all the farm animals indoors except for a lonely fox family. The barn isn’t their home. But where will they go for safety?

This stunning picture books explores themes of acceptance and belonging:
Large or small,
Short and tall,
There is room,
There is room,
There is room
For us all.

Three starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: community, animals, belonging, home, safety, inclusion, fairness, acceptance, trust

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YOUNG ADULT):

 

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (MIDDLE GRADES):

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