New Release Spotlight: October 27, 2020

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I’m writing this on Sunday, ahead of a(nother) hurricane headed right for Playa del Carmen. This one is Hurricane Zeta, and it is expected to hit us on Monday evening into Tuesday morning. Two weeks ago, we lost internet for several days following Hurricane Delta. I will do my best to keep everyone posted on the MrsReaderPants Facebook page, but if our internet is out, I may not have any communications at all. Our cell service has been out since Delta hit.

Another short list this week! We may have one or two more long lists between now and the new year, but generally, the lists start winding down for the year in November. December is not a great month for new releases at all; it’s so bad that I don’t usually do any Spotlights in the last two weeks of December. I will check, but I can’t think of a time it’s ever been worth bothering with.

This week’s titles represent #1134-#1143 on The Ginormous book list.

The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World by Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts

The women’s suffrage movement was decades in the making and came with many harsh setbacks. But it resulted in a permanent victory: women’s right to vote. How did the suffragists do it? One hundred years later, an eye-opening look at their playbook shows that some of their strategies seem oddly familiar. Women’s marches at inauguration time? Check. Publicity stunts, optics, and influencers? They practically invented them. Petitions, lobbying, speeches, raising money, and writing articles? All of that, too.

From moments of inspiration to some of the movement’s darker aspects—including the racism of some suffragist leaders, violence against picketers, and hunger strikes in jail—this clear-eyed view takes in the role of key figures: Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul, and many more. Engagingly narrated by Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts, whose friendship goes back generations (to their grandmothers, Lady Bird Johnson and Lindy Boggs, and their mothers, Lynda Robb and Cokie Roberts), this unique melding of seminal history and smart tactics is sure to capture the attention of activists-in-the-making today.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: suffrage, voting rights, traditional gender roles, protesting, activism, civil rights, famous women, 19th Century, 20th Century, US history

Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell

Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.

When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life—not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.

This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death—for all of them.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, supernatural
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: necromancy, magic, ghosts, death, memory, amnesia, undead, gothic literature, greed

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Kingdom of the Wicked, book 1. Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe–witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is at is seems…

  • Genre(s): supernatural, fantasy, mystery
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: sisters, twins, witches, Italians, murder, persecution

*One Real American: The Life of Ely S. Parker, Seneca Sachem and Civil War General by Joseph Bruchac

Ely S. Parker (1828–1895) is one of the most unique but little-known figures in US history. A member of the Seneca (Iroquois) Nation, Parker was an attorney, engineer, and tribal diplomat. Raised on a reservation but schooled at a Catholic institution, he learned English at a young age and became an interpreter for his people.

During the American Civil War, he was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel and was the primary draftsman of the terms of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. He eventually became President Grant’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold that post.

Award-winning children’s book author and Native American scholar Joseph Bruchac provides an expertly researched, intimate look at a man who achieved great success in two worlds yet was caught between them. Includes archival photos, maps, endnotes, bibliography, and timeline.

SLJ and Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): biography, nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-10
  • Themes: US history, Ely S. Parker, Iroquois Nation, Seneca Nation, reservations, Civil War, 19th Century, Appomattox, surrender, Native Americans

It’s OK Not to Be OK: A Guide to Wellbeing by Dr. Tina Rae (Author) and Jessica Smith (Illustrator)

It’s OK not to be OK acknowledges and explores common mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and anxiety. Get the low down on these issues, why they happen, and discover ways of looking after mental health in our fast-moving world.

This book will help children and young people develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction, psychology
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-6
  • Themes: mental wellness, mental health, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, resilience

Cuthbert Grant by Carole Lindstrom (Author) and Linus Woods (Illustrator)

Son of a Scottish trader and an Indigenous mother, Cuthbert Grant became a leader of the Métisa, a distinct group of mixed European and Indigenous people who developed communities along fur trading routes in the 1800s. He saw his people through conflict and change and helped transition them to a new way of life in what is now Canada and the United States.

I found only one professional review for this title (Kirkus), which was mixed. Please check more recent reviews before purchasing this title.

  • Genre(s): biography
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: mixed heritage, Indigenous peoples, 19th Century, US history, Canada history

*Starcrossed by Julia Denos

She was made of blood and bones, and he was made of space and stars. Back in a time when there were still students of the stars, there were two friends, Acamar and Eridani.

Eridani was a star pupil studying the night skies, and Acamar…well, he was made of the stuff she studied.

In a star-crossed twist of fate, these long-distance friends find they’ve wished themselves into unexpected new worlds. Filled with stardust and moonglow, this cosmic adventure shows us how even the most brilliant wishes can have a mind of their own—and that true friendship can endure, despite time and space.

Booklist and Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book, fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades K-5
  • Themes: astronomy, stars, long-distance friendships, constellations

I Am the Storm by Jane Yolen (Author), Heidi E. Y. Stemple (Author), Kristen Howdeshell (Illustrator), and Kevin Howdeshell (Illustrator)

In the face of our shifting climate, young children everywhere are finding themselves subject to unfamiliar and often frightening extreme weather.

I Am the Storm addresses four distinct weather emergencies (a tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane) with warm family stories of finding the joy in preparedness and resilience. Their honest reassurance leaves readers with the message: nature is powerful, but you are powerful, too.

Illustrated in rich environmental tones and featuring additional information about storms in the back, this book educates, comforts, and empowers young readers in stormy or sunny weather, and all the weather in between.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: weather, fear, power, storms, hurricanes, forest fires, blizzards, tornadoes, resilience, nature

Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island by David Goodner (Author) and Andrea Tsurumi (Illustrator)

Kondo is big. Kezumi is little. They lived on an island with fruit trees and berry bushes and flitter-birds and fluffle-bunnies. When a surprise bottle washes ashore, they discover a map with a mysterious message: WE ARE NOT ALONE. Kezumi wants to follow the map and explore the world. Kondo wants to stay home and pick fruit from the fruit tree and berries from the berry bushes. But once Kezumi builds the perfect boat, the best friends set sail together to see…well, they don’t know! So begin the adventures of Kondo and Kezumi, where islands of cheese and giant mountains await.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): illustrated chapter book, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-3
  • Themes: friendship, message in a bottle, boats, sailing, community, exploration

Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War by María José Ferrada (Author) and Ana Penyas (Illustrator)

On May 27, 1937, over four hundred children sailed for Morelia, Mexico, fleeing the violence of the Spanish Civil War. Home was no longer safe, and Mexico was welcoming refugees by the thousands. Each child packed a suitcase and boarded the Mexique, expecting to return home in a few months.

This was just a short trip, an extra-long summer vacation, they thought. But the war did not end in a few months, and the children stayed, waiting and wondering, in Mexico. When the war finally ended, a dictator—the Fascist Francisco Franco—ruled Spain. Home was even more dangerous than before.

This might be a good pre-read for older students getting ready to read The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-5
  • Themes: refugees, immigration, Mexico, Spanish Civil War, 1930s, dictators, Francisco Franco, Spain




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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