New Release Spotlight: August 18, 2020

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Well, this has been quite the week! We’ve had no water–not even a tiny drop–since last Thursday. I’m literally showering at our apartment pool. My internet was bad, then okay, then really bad, then back to okay. We are still waiting on living room furniture we ordered online back in June to be delivered, but we cannot get in touch with anyone at the store to find out what’s up or cancel. Our shipping from China also seems at a standstill; for some reason, it is STILL in China. I also found out that I won’t be able to see my sister on my trip to the USA next month due to quarantine restrictions in Connecticut. Definitely not my best week.

Anyhoo, it is a small miracle that this Spotlight is as long as it is. Chalk that up to my uncharacteristically-early planning on it–I wrote a lot of it last week when our internet was “okay.” I’m so glad I got it done because it is such a great list!

My picks of the week:

  • All Eyes on Her (Flynn)–Young Adult
  • The Nerviest Girl in the World (Wiley)–Middle Grade
  • Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello (Brown)–Picture Book

ABOUT THE SPOTLIGHT

The New Release Spotlight began in May 2016 as a way to help librarians keep up with the many new children’s and YA books that are released each week. Every Tuesday, school librarian Leigh Collazo compiles the New Release Spotlight using a combination of Follett’s Titlewave, Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. Recommended grade levels represent the range of grade levels recommended by professional book reviewers.

The titles on this week’s list are #917-#935 on The Ginormous book list.

*Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Debut author! Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady.

The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere.

But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

Three starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: assassins, competition, family, princes, royalty, magic, djinn, magic

Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner

Raina Petree is crushing her senior year, until her boyfriend dumps her, the drama club (basically) dumps her, the college of her dreams slips away, and her arch-nemesis triumphs.

Things aren’t much better for Millie Goodwin. Her father treats her like a servant, and the all-boy Mock Trial team votes her out, even after she spent the last three years helping to build its success.

But then, an advice columnist unexpectedly helps Raina find new purpose in a pair of knitting needles and a politically active local yarn store. This leads to an unlikely meeting in the girls’ bathroom, where Raina inspires Millie to start a rival team. The two join together and recruit four other angry girls to not only take on Mock Trial, but to smash the patriarchy in the process.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: debate, drama club, senior year, feminism, activism, knitting, yarn bombing, misogyny, friendship, girl power

Displacement by Kiku Hughes

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.

SLJ starred. A perfect pairing with Takei’s They Called Us Enemy.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 6-11
  • Themes: Japanese internment camps, US History, WWII, time travel, civil rights, resistance, grandparents, grandmothers, San Francisco, California, prejudice, anti-immigration beliefs

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon (Author) and Elena Garnu (Illustrator)

Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall—or rather, walls. There’s the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left—again. There’s the wall that delineates Liliana’s diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy—and white—suburban high school she’s just been accepted into.

And there’s the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can’t just lighten up, she has to whiten up.

So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she’s seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn’t that her father doesn’t want to come home—he can’t…and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: race relations, private schools, Boston, Latinx Americans, community, high school, racism, family secrets, immigration

All Eyes on Her by L.E. Flynn

You heard the story on the news. A girl and a boy went into the woods. The girl carried a picnic basket. The boy wore bright yellow running shoes. The girl found her way out, but the boy never did…

Everyone thinks they know what happened. Some say Tabby pushed him off that cliff― she didn’t even like hiking. She was jealous. She had more than her share of demons. Others think he fell accidentally―she loved Mark. She would never hurt him…even if he hurt her.

But what’s the real story? All Eyes On Her is told from everyone but Tabby herself as the people in her life string together the events that led Tabby to that cliff. Her best friend. Her sister. Her enemy. Her ex-boyfriend. Because everybody thinks they know a girl better than she knows herself.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): mystery, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: murder, newspaper clippings, social media posts, unreliable narrators

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name―hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.

Until now.

In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school.

In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course―and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster.

The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon―arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him.

If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): romance, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Asian Americans, dating, generational gap, rom-com

Guardians of Liberty: Freedom of the Press and the Nature of News by Linda Barrett Osborne

Guardians of Liberty explores the essential and basic American ideal of freedom of the press. Allowing the American press to publish—even if what they’re reporting is contentious— without previous censure or interference by the federal government was so important to the Founding Fathers that they placed a guarantee in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Citing numerous examples from America’s past, from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement to Obama’s and Trump’s presidencies, Linda Barrett Osborne shows how freedom of the press has played an essential role in the growth of this nation, allowing democracy to flourish. She further discusses how the freedoms of press and speech often work side by side, reveals the diversity of American news, and explores why freedom of the press is still imperative to uphold today. Includes endnotes, bibliography, and index.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-11
  • Themes: freedom of the press, freedom of speech, First Amendment, US History, US government, politics, elections, democracy

 

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: murder, crime, police, organized crime, death of a father, fathers and sons, vengeance, revenge, magic, superpowers, superheroes

*Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist

Debut author! Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent.

Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.

And when things get really tough, there’s Daddy’s journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad’s tales were real. He could use those powers right about now!

Booklist and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: journals, superheroes, African Americans, bildungsromans, growing up, coming of age, friendship, fathers and sons, #ownvoices, poverty, friendship, grief, housing insecurity

Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid by Mikaila Ulmer

When Mikaila Ulmer was four, she was stung by a bee–twice in one week. She was terrified of going outside, so her parents encouraged her to learn more about bees so she wouldn’t be afraid. It worked. Mikaila didn’t just learn what an important role bees play in our ecosystem, but she also learned bees are endangered, and set out to save them.

She started by selling cups of lemonade in front of her house and donating the small proceeds to organizations dedicated to bee conservation. When she realized the more lemonade she sold, the more bees she could help, Me & the Bees Lemonade was born. Now she sells her lemonade across the country. From meetings with Fortune 500 CEOs, to securing a deal on Shark Tank, to even visiting the Obama White House, Mikaila’s lemonade and passion for bee conservation have taken her far.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): memoir
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-11 (a wide range, I know, but that’s what it is)
  • Themes: conservation, bees, bee stings, lemonade stands, business, economics, entrepreneurship, African Americans

The Big One: The Cascadia Earthquakes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch

America’s Pacific Northwest has relatively few earthquakes—only a handful each year that cause even moderately noticeable shaking. But a couple decades ago, scientists discovered a geological feature running along the coast that in other parts of the world regularly triggers massive earthquakes of 8.0 magnitude and higher. Were there once massive earthquakes in this part of the world? Geologists think there were.

Now a small group of scientists are studying things that you might not think have anything to do with earthquakes—marsh soil, ocean sediments, landslide debris, and ghost forests—and they have reason to believe that the Pacific Northwest is likely not as idyllic as it was once assumed. The population is likely in grave danger of a massive earthquake at some point. What can be done? The big one can’t be stopped, but scientists are working tirelessly to learn as much as they can to prepare.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction, science
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: Pacific Northwest, fault lines, earthquakes, geology, weather, ecology, predictions, science, STEM

The Nerviest Girl in the World by Melissa Wiley

Pearl lives on a ranch where her chores include collecting eggs and feeding ornery ostriches. She has three older brothers, who don’t coddle her at all. And she knows a thing or two about horses, too.

One day, Pearl’s brothers get cushy jobs doing stunts for this new form of entertainment called “moving pictures.” They’re the Daredevil Donnelly Brothers, a Death-Defying Cowboy Trio. Before she knows it, Pearl has stumbled into being a stunt girl herself–and dreams of becoming a star. The only problem is, her mother has no idea what she’s up to. And let’s just say she wouldn’t be too happy to find out that Pearl’s been jumping out of burning buildings in her spare time.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: movies, stunts, horses, cowboys, siblings, brothers and sisters, farm life, San Diego, California, horseback riding

*A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead by Evan Turk

Marietta and her family lived on the island of Murano, near Venice, as all glassmakers did in the early Renaissance. Her father, Angelo Barovier, was a true maestro, a master of glass. Marietta longed to create gorgeous glass too, but glass was men’s work.

One day her father showed her how to shape the scalding-hot material into a work of art, and Marietta was mesmerized. Her skills grew and grew.

Marietta worked until she created her own unique glass bead: the rosetta. Small but precious, the beautiful beads grew popular around the world and became as valuable as gold. The young girl who was once told she could not create art was now the woman who would leave her mark on glasswork for centuries to come.

Three starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: Grades K-4
  • Themes: Italy, glass-making, glass-blowing, Renaissance, women’s roles, traditional gender roles, art

*The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out by Kusaba Yoshimi (Editor), Nakagawa Gaku (Illustrator), and Andrew Wong (Translator)

“A poor person is not someone who has little, but one who needs infinitely more, and more, and more.”

Thus spoke José Mujica, then the President of Uruguay, before the United Nations in 2012. Paraphrasing the wisdom of the great thinker Seneca, he asked the world to question the dogma of consumption that has driven us into environmental and economic crisis.

Often referred to as the worlds “poorest” president, in part because of his practice of donating 90% of his $12,000 monthly salary to charity, José Mujica lived his words and proved that one need not have money to be rich. In The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out, José Mujica’s famous speech comes to life as he asks us to remember our neighbors, our children, and the Earth.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: all ages
  • Themes: conservation, class, materialism, consumerism, simplicity, Uruguay, presidents, speeches, environment, Earth Day, happiness, minimalism, South America

*Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello (Spanish and English Edition) by Monica Brown (Author) and Elisa Chavarri (Illustrator)

Growing up in the late 1800s, Julio Tello, an Indigenous boy, spent time exploring the caves and burial grounds in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Nothing scared Julio, not even the ancient human skulls he found. His bravery earned him the boyhood nickname Sharuko, which means brave in Quechua, the language of the Native people of Peru.

At the age of twelve, Julio moved to Lima to continue his education. While in medical school, he discovered an article about the skulls he had found. The skulls had long ago been sent to Lima to be studied by scientists. The article renewed Julio’s interest in his ancestry, and he decided to devote his medical skills to the study of Peru’s Indigenous history.

Over his lifetime, Julio Tello made many revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru, and he worked to preserve the historical treasures he excavated. He showed that Peru’s Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago, disproving the popular belief that Peruvian culture had been introduced more recently from other countries. He fostered pride in his country’s Indigenous ancestry, making him a hero to all Peruvians. Because of the brave man once known as Sharuko, people around the world today know of Peru’s long history and its living cultural legacy.

Booklist and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-6
  • Themes: indigenous peoples, 1800s, Peru, Andes Mountains, indigenous history, archaeology, culture, Spanish language, South America, bilingual

My Favorite Memories by Sepideh Sarihi (Author), Julie Völk (Illustrator), Elisabeth Lauffer (Translator)

A young girl is moving to a new country, and there’s so much that she wants to bring: an aquarium, a pear tree, her best friend, the ocean. As she moves through the list of the things she loves, she comes to understand that while we cannot always carry things with us physically―maybe they can travel with us in other ways.

Told with illustrations by an award-winning picture book illustrator, My Favorite Memories offers parents and educators a gentle but impactful way to discuss the idea of resilience along with complex life events like immigration and moving to a new home. Printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable-based inks.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 1+
  • Themes: moving to a new country, travel, home, uncertainty

Maud and Grand-Maud by Sara O’Leary (Author) and Kenard Pak (Illustrator)

Here is a celebration of the unique bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Maud loves the weekends when she stays at her grandma’s house. There’s always breakfast for supper, matching nightgowns, black-and-white movies, and–best of all–someone to listen to her dreams for her life as a grown-up. But what makes the visits extra special is what Grand-Maud has hidden in an old chest under Maud’s bed. She may find a paint set, a toy, homemade cookies, or hand-knit mittens or sweaters. Best of all is when Maud finds something that belonged to Grand-Maud when she was a little girl. In this story of family togetherness, Maud wants to be just like Grand-Maud when she grows up.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: grandparents, surprises, treasure, family, love, sleepovers, intergenerational relationships

*The Egg by Geraldo Valério

The wordless story opens with a crane caring lovingly for an egg. During a storm, a gust of wind blows the egg from its nest. Despite searching far and wide, the crane can’t find the lost egg anywhere. Heartbroken, the crane spots something―an egg! Not its own, but since this egg is also alone, the crane rescues it to safety.

When the egg hatches, the little one inside is―unexpectedly―a human baby. No matter their differences, the crane loves and cares for the child, adopting it into an avian life. When they take flight together, this unusual duo encounters other birds with their young ones―the babies all a diverse array of creatures, showing that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Booklist and Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): wordless picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: cranes, birds, eggs, babies, families

The Polio Pioneer by Linda Elovitz Marshall (Author) and Lisa Anchin (Illustrator)

Dr. Jonas Salk is one of the most celebrated doctors and medical researchers of the 20th century. The child of immigrants who never learned to speak English, Jonas was struck by the devastation he saw when the soldiers returned from battle after WWII.

Determined to help, he worked to become a doctor and eventually joined the team that created the influenza vaccine. But Jonas wanted to do more. As polio ravaged the United States–even the president was not immune!–Jonas decided to lead the fight against this terrible disease.

In 1952, Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine, which nearly eliminated polio from this country. For the rest of his life, Dr. Salk continued to do groundbreaking medical research at the Salk Institute, leaving behind a legacy that continues to make the world a better place every day.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: Dr. Jonas Salk, polio, vaccines, medicine, science, 20th Century, influenza, illness, paralysis, viruses, doctors, research methods

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