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New Release Spotlight: October 20, 2020

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Such a short list this week! I had to dig deep to find much of anything, particularly for middle grades. Picture books look pretty good, and YA has a few good ones, too. I found zero worth mentioning for middle grades.

This week’s books are #1122-#1133 on The Ginormous book list.

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle

Irresistible, gripping, and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica in 1760. A powerful young adult tale told through the eyes of Moa, a fourteen-year-old slave, this fictionalized account of the most significant rebellion of the time is rarely mentioned in history books or taught in schools.

The story begins as Moa is awoken in the middle of the night by one of the rebels, who informs him that the revolt will begin on Easter Sunday. Moa’s father doesn’t like the idea of his son joining the rebellion, but his mother gives Moa her blessing. Together, Moa and his sixteen-year-old best friend Keverton take up arms, learning about brotherhood, courage, faith, and sacrifice along the way.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grade 7+
  • Themes: slavery, Jamaica, 18th Century, war, child soldiers, Tacky’s Rebellion

Frankie Comics by Rachel Dukes

When they discover a kitten asleep in their doorway, real-life artist couple Rachel and Mike immediately fall prey to her charms. Soon, the new queen of their home is a blue point Siamese cat named Frankie. Stealing snacks, making mischief, and taking snuggling very seriously, Frankie proves, again and again, the wholesome joys of a feline companion.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 6-AD
  • Themes: cats, animals, artists, webcomics

*My Heart Underwater by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

Debut author! Corazon Tagubio is an outcast at the Catholic school she attends on scholarship. Her crush on her teacher, Ms. Holden, doesn’t help. At home, Cory worries that less-than-perfect grades aren’t good enough for her parents, who already work overtime to support her distant half-brother in the Philippines.

After an accident leaves her dad comatose, Cory feels like Ms. Holden is the only person who really understands her. But when a crush turns into something more and the secret gets out, Cory is sent to her relatives in Manila. She’s not prepared to face strangers in an unfamiliar place, but she discovers how the country that shaped her past might also redefine her future.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: private schools, parochial school, scholarship students, teacher-student relationships, Filipino Americans, California, accidents, parent in coma, The Philippines, half-siblings, #ownvoices

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife…and took Sophie’s heart.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule–a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong…

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

  • Genre(s): retelling,
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Snow White, jealousy, stolen hearts, clockwork heart, prosthetic organs, courage, magic, overcoming adversity, fairy tales

You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock

Cat hasn’t been to Montgomery Falls, the town her family founded, since she was twelve years old. Since the summer she discovered she could do things that no normal twelve-year-old could do. Since she had her first kiss with Riley Fraser. Since she destroyed their friendship.

Now, five years later, she’s back and Riley has disappeared.

When Noah, Riley’s brother, asks for help in discovering what happened, Cat is torn between wanting to learn the truth and protecting the secret that she’s been guarding ever since that summer she and Riley stopped speaking. Only one choice will put her in a killer’s sights…

  • Genre(s): mystery, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: murder, secrets, missing persons, horror movies

*Breaking the Ice: The True Story of the First Woman to Play in the National Hockey League by Angie Bullaro (Author), C. F. Payne (Illustrator), and Manon Rhéaume (Afterword)

“One day, a woman will play in the National Hockey League. If no one prevents her,” said a twelve-year-old Manon Rhéaume. Manon always dreamed of playing hockey.

So, when the team her father coached needed a goalie, five-year-old Manon begged for the chance to play. She didn’t care that she’d be the only girl in the entire league or that hockey was considered a “boys’ sport” in her hometown of Lac-Beauport, Quebec, Canada. All she cared about was the game. After her father gave her that first chance to play, she embarked on a spectacular, groundbreaking career in hockey.

At every level of competition, Manon was faced with naysayers, but she continued to play, earning her place on prestigious teams and ultimately becoming the first woman to play a game in the NHL. Including an afterword written by Manon herself, Breaking the Ice is the true story of one girl’s courage, determination, and love for the sport.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: women in sports, trailblazers, ice hockey, National Hockey League, Canada, traditional gender roles

*Willa the Wisp by Jonathan Auxier (Author) and Olga Demidova (Illustrator)

The Fabled Stables, book 1. Welcome to the Fabled Stables, a magical building filled with one-of-a-kind creatures. Creatures including the Gargantula, the Yawning Abyss, the Hippopotamouse…and Auggie. Auggie is the only human boy at the Stables, and he takes care of all the other animals.

The Fabled Stables have a mind of their own, and every so often, the building SHAKES and SHUDDERS, TWITCHES and SPUTTERS—it’s making room for a new arrival! It’s Auggie’s job to venture out and rescue a new creature from mortal danger. But will he be able to complete his mission before it’s too late? With some help from Fen (a literal stick-in-the-mud) and his animal companions, Auggie saves the day and makes a new friend in the process.

Illustrated chapter book. Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy chapter book
  • Recommended for: Grades K-4
  • Themes: fantasy creatures, caretakers, animals, rescues, friendship

*The Blue Table by Chris Raschka

Spend the day around the heart of a home: the blue table. A shopping list is written, food is prepared, and the table is set. Guests arrive, thanks are given, and a meal is shared. What then? It’s time to pitch in and clean up, of course!

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: food, dinner, shared meals, community, family, sharing, celebrations, grocery shopping, cooking

*My Rainbow by DeShanna Neal (Author), Trinity Neal (Author), and Art Twink (Illustrator)

A dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter, based on the real-life experience of mother-daughter advocate duo Trinity and DeShanna Neal.

Warm morning sunlight and love fill the Neal home. And on one quiet day, playtime leads to an important realization: Trinity wants long hair like her dolls. She needs it to express who she truly is.

So her family decides to take a trip to the beauty supply store, but none of the wigs is the perfect fit. Determined, Mom leaves with bundles of hair in hand, ready to craft a wig as colorful and vibrant as her daughter is.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: based on a true story, transgender, gender identity, mothers and daughters, hair, wigs, LGBTQIA+, #ownvoices, autism, African Americans

Addy’s Cup of Sugar by Jon J Muth

Addy has moved to a new neighborhood with her beloved kitten, Trumpet. They are best friends, and inseparable. But when Trumpet is hit by a car, Addy seeks her wise friend, Stillwater. She is sure he will know how to bring Trumpet back to life.

Stillwater tells Addy she will need to find a special medicine. To do this, she must go to everyone in the neighborhood and collect a cup of sugar. But there is one condition: it can only come from the home of someone who has never been touched by loss.

Addy goes from house to house. And when she returns home, Stillwater asks for her cup of sugar. But, of course, she has none. For there isn’t a person who has not felt the pain of loss. How Addy comes to understand how this special medicine works makes for a reassuring story of consolation and healing.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: grief, loss of a pet, kittens, healing, consolation

*Cow Boy Is NOT a Cowboy by Gregory Barrington

Debut author! Goat Girl—an adventurous goat—lives on Humdrum Farm, a place where everything is ordinary, and she’s looking for some excitement. When she meets Merle—a bull—she mistakes him for a cowboy since he’s both a cow and a boy. Cowboys aren’t ordinary so Goat Girl can’t wait to introduce herself.

“HOWDY COWBOY!”

An annoyed Merle insists he’s not a cowboy. But will this not-a-cowboy change his mind when his rootin’-tootin’ dream has a chance to come true?

Kirkus and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: farm animals, boredom, cowboys, dreams

Cozy by Jan Brett

Cozy is the softest musk ox in Alaska, with the warmest fur you ever did feel. When a storm hits while he’s separated from his family, he starts to feel lonely–but not for long. As the snow piles up, animals start to notice just how warm and cozy Cozy really is! One mama lemming has a bright idea…maybe the best place to spend the winter is under Cozy’s fur!

As more and more animals burrow in, Cozy adds to the house rules: quiet voices, gentle thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, and no pouncing. That seems easy enough…until the lemmings, snowshoe hare, snowy owl, arctic fox, and wolverine begin to bicker. Luckily, signs of spring soon appear, and that means Cozy can find his herd and his new friends can head to their summer homes. But not before promising to get cozy with Cozy next year!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: animals, Alaska, musk oxen, cooperation, community, winter, friendship, harmony, tight spaces

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YA):

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (MIDDLE GRADES):

 THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS & FAVORITE CHARACTERS (ELEMENTARY):

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.

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