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New Release Spotlight: April 6, 2021

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What a LONG list this week! It usually takes me about five days to compile the Spotlight each week. It’s one day for compiling the list, plus one day for every five books on the list. The average list is around 16-20 books. This one is 28 books, and it took a full week to finish!

This week’s top picks:

  • The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris (YA)
  • The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon (MG)
  • Butterflies Are Pretty…Gross! by Rosemary Mosco

This week’s Spotlight titles are #1504-#1531 on The Ginormous book list.

*The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

THREE starred reviews! This one reminds me of Rachel Ward’s Num8ers trilogy, which I loved. Onto the TBR it goes!

  • Genre(s): magical realism, supernatural, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: orphans, African Americans, brothers, teens with jobs, clairvoyance, visions, future death, anxiety, psychic abilities, family history, ancestors, curses

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Iris Hollow and her two older sisters are unquestionably strange. Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only to return a month a later with no memory of what happened to them, odd, eerie occurrences seem to follow in their wake. And they’re changing. First, their dark hair turned white. Then, their blue eyes slowly turned black. They have insatiable appetites yet never gain weight. People find them disturbingly intoxicating, unbearably beautiful, and inexplicably dangerous.

But now, ten years later, seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow is doing all she can to fit in and graduate high school on time–something her two famously glamourous globe-trotting older sisters, Grey and Vivi, never managed to do. But when Grey goes missing without a trace, leaving behind bizarre clues as to what might have happened, Iris and Vivi are left to trace her last few days. They aren’t the only ones looking for her though. As they brush against the supernatural they realize that the story they’ve been told about their past is unraveling and the world that returned them seemingly unharmed ten years ago, might just be calling them home.

Booklist starred. Give it to Holly Black and Melissa Albert fans. This one is also on my TBR!

  • Genre(s): fantasy, mystery, horror
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: sisters, missing persons, abductions, parental suicide, London, England, dark fairy tales

*Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans–leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that–a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred. The TBR just keeps growing this week!

  • Genre(s): romance, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Mexican Americans, secrets, immigrants, teens with jobs, restaurant business, Hispanic/Latino, Austin, Texas, #ownvoices

*What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson

Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Living in harsh poverty, Jack Dahl is holding his breath. He and his younger brother have nothing–except each other. And now Jack faces a stark choice: lose his brother to foster care or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.

Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up on Jack’s trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or speak, and help the brothers survive.

Kirkus and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: crime, poverty, fathers, suicide, drug dealers, addiction, Child Protective Services, Idaho

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Kirkus starred. Yet another title from this week’s list on my TBR! What a great list this week!

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: immigrants, Pakistanis, Corpus Christi, Texas, Islamophobia, Speaking out, vandalism, harassment, Muslims, LGBTQIA+, queerness, bisexuality, oppression, microaggressions, bullying

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition by Anton Treuer

From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike. Ranging from “Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?” to “Why is it called a ‘traditional Indian fry bread taco’?” to “What’s it like for natives who don’t look native?” to “Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?”, and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Young Readers Edition) does exactly what its title says for young readers, in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging.

Updated and expanded to include:

• Dozens of New Questions and New Sections—including a social activism section that explores the Dakota Access Pipeline, racism, identity, politics, and more!
• Over 50 new Photos
• Adapted text for broad appeal

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-12
  • Themes: Native Americans, questions, facts, systemic oppression, adapted for young readers, indigenous peoples

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her–including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: murder, purgatory, artificial intelligence, afterlife, captivity, rebellion

Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good by Nancy Werlin

Planning is Zoe Rosenthal’s superpower. She has faith in a properly organized to-do list and avoids unnecessary risks. Her mental checklist goes something like this: 1) Meet soulmate: DONE! 2) Make commitment: DONE! 3) Marriage: TO COME! (after college). She isn’t sure which college yet, but it will have a strong political science department, since her perfect boyfriend, Simon, plans to “save the country,” as his sister puts it, “and the planet and everything.” Zoe will follow along, the perfect serious, supportive girlfriend.

It’s good to have her love life resolved, checked off, done. But speaking of unnecessary risks, Zoe’s on a plane to Atlanta, sneaking off to Dragon Con for the second season premiere of Bleeders. The show is subject to her boyfriend’s lofty scorn, but Zoe is nothing like these colorful hordes “wearing their inside on their outside.” Once her flirtation with fandom is over, she will get back to the important business of planning a future with Simon. The trouble is, right now, Bleeders–and her fellow “Bloodygits”–may just mean the world to her. Will a single night of nerdery be enough?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: rom-com, overachievers, unpredictability of life, nerd culture, secrets, bad boyfriends, being true to oneself

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

Sky Baker may be openly gay, but in his small, insular town, making sure he was invisible has always been easier than being himself. Determined not to let anything ruin his senior year, Sky decides to make a splash at his high school’s annual beach bum party by asking his crush, Ali, to prom–and he has thirty days to do it.

What better way to start living loud and proud than by pulling off the gayest promposal Rock Ledge, Michigan, has ever seen?

Then, Sky’s plans are leaked by an anonymous hacker in a deeply homophobic e-blast that quickly goes viral. He’s fully prepared to drop out and skip town altogether–until his classmates give him a reason to fight back by turning his thirty-day promposal countdown into a school-wide hunt to expose the e-blast perpetrator.

But what happens at the end of the thirty days? Will Sky get to keep his hard-won visibility? Or will his small-town blues stop him from being his true self?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: LGBTQIA+, gay males, prom, promposals, homophobia, bullying, harassment, high school

Remedy by Eireann Corrigan

It’s a mystery–why is Cara so sick? It feels like she’s been sick all her life…but she and her mom have never stayed in one place long enough for doctors to really understand what’s happening to her. Now, at fourteen, Cara is tired of being tired, and sick of being sick. She’s trying to get better…but it’s only getting worse.

Unable to afford the care she needs, Cara’s mom starts a Caring for Cara campaign online. The money starts pouring in. But something’s not right to Cara. And the harder she looks, the less she understands.

Reading this description, the “mystery” is blatantly obvious–Cara’s mom is the one harming her. But this is recommended for Grades 7-10. I had never heard of Munchausens syndrome by proxy until I saw The Sixth Sense, a few years after high school. Will students in this grade range recognize this? Maybe, if they’ve seen The Sixth Sense or read Everything, Everything. But I think many readers in Grades 7-10 will not immediately suspect the mom just from reading the summary.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-10
  • Themes: chronic illness, mothers and daughters, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, sickle cell anemia

Kisses and Croissant by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Mia Jenrow has always known she’s destined to be a professional ballerina. In fact, it’s in her blood–according to family legend, her too-many-greats-to-count-grandmother once danced for the Paris Opera and was painted by Degas himself! Her parents say it’s just a fantasy, but to Mia it’s so much more than that. It’s her fate.

Mia is planning to spend a magical summer in France pursuing her dream, but as she pirou-ettes into Paris, she soon realizes it may be a bit more complicated than she hoped. For starters, there’s her rival, Audrey, who will stop at nothing to show her up. There’s her ballet instructor, whose impossibly high standards push her to the breaking point. And then…there’s Louis. Devastatingly, distractingly charming Louis. He’s eager to show Mia his city–and Mia is more than happy to hop on his Vespa and wrap her arms around him as they pass the gleaming lights of the Eiffel Tower.

Mia’s summer was supposed to be about ballet—but there’s a reason Paris is called the City of Love…

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: ballet, dance, destiny, fate, Paris, France, French language

*Thornwood by Leah Cypess

For years, Briony has lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Rosalin, and the curse that has haunted her from birth–that on the day of her sixteenth birthday she would prick her finger on a spindle and cause everyone in the castle to fall into a 100-year sleep. When the day the curse is set to fall over the kingdom finally arrives, nothing–not even Briony–can stop its evil magic.

You know the story.

But here’s something you don’t know. When Briony finally wakes up, it’s up to her to find out what’s really going on, and to save her family and friends from the murderous Thornwood. But who is going to listen to her? This is a story of sisterhood, of friendship, and of the ability of even little sisters to forge their own destiny. The first in a three-book series of fairy tale retellings, these are the stories of the siblings who never made it into the storybook.

Kirkus and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): retelling, fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: fairy tales, Sleeping Beauty, sisters, kingdoms, girl power

Middletown by Sarah Moon

Thirteen-year-old Eli likes baggy clothes, baseball caps, and one girl in particular. Her seventeen-year-old sister Anna is more traditionally feminine; she loves boys and staying out late.

They are sisters, and they are also the only family each can count on. Their dad has long been out of the picture, and their mom lives at the mercy of her next drink. When their mom lands herself in enforced rehab, Anna and Eli are left to fend for themselves. With no legal guardian to keep them out of foster care, they take matters into their own hands: Anna masquerades as Aunt Lisa, and together she and Eli hoard whatever money they can find. But their plans begin to unravel as quickly as they were made, and they are always way too close to getting caught.

Eli and Anna have each gotten used to telling lies as a means of survival, but as they navigate a world without their mother, they must learn how to accept help, and let other people in.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: sisters, alcoholic parent, absent parent, rehab, addiction, foster care system, survival

Murder on the Baltimore Express: The Plot to Keep Abraham Lincoln from Becoming President by Suzanne Jurmain

While on his inauguration tour, Abraham Lincoln was to travel 2,000 miles by railroad to Washington. D.C. At this time, Confederates were desperate for Lincoln not to take office. Unhappy that Lincoln was against slavery, a group known as the Knights of the Golden Circle devised a plan.

In Baltimore, Lincoln would be assassinated. But when Detective Allen Pinkerton learns of the plot, he and his detective agency come up with a plan of their very own. Dive into this incredibly fun and suspenseful true story and learn all about Lincoln’s great escape!

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): biography, nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-9
  • Themes: assassination plots, Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, slavery, US history, US presidents, detectives, escapes, trains, Baltimore, Maryland, Confederacy

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect–but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie’s sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn’t be more of a pain if she tried. It’s all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.

Still–there’s sand beneath her feet. A new neighbor from the city, who has a lot to teach Millie. And surfer boy Rocky to admire–even if she doesn’t have the guts to talk to him.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: WWII, Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, sisters, food rationing, San Diego, California, USA in WWII

Almost There and Almost Not by Linda Urban

California Poppy has been dropped off, yet again, with an unsuspecting relative. This time it’s her eccentric Great-Aunt Monica, a woman she’s never even met. Aunt Monica has no idea what to do with an eleven-year-old, so she puts California to work researching their ancestor, the once-famous etiquette expert Eleanor Fontaine.

California soon discovers that Great-Great-Great Aunt Eleanor is…not exactly alive and well, but a ghost–and a super sensitive one at that. The grand dame bursts into clouds of dust whenever she loses her composure, which happens quite often. Still, an unexpected four-legged friend and some old-fashioned letter writing make this decidedly strange situation one that California can handle.

Just as California’s starting to feel like she’s found a place for herself, life turns upside-down yet again. Thankfully, this time she has some friends almost by her side…

  • Genre(s): supernatural, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: foster homes, aunts, ghosts, etiquette, Michigan, dogs, parental neglect, menstruation

View from Pagoda Hill by Michaela Maccoll

Twelve-year-old Ning doesn’t know where she belongs. The daughter of a Chinese woman and American man, Ning doesn’t fit in in 1870s Shanghai, where her American features and unbound feet make her stand out.

When she receives news that her father will be visiting from America, Ning excitedly hopes that her parents will become a family. Instead, she learns that her father is taking her back with him to America. Ning wonders if being American will finally give her a sense of belonging, but when she arrives, she discovers that living in America isn’t perfect either. In this coming-of-age novel based on the life of author Michaela MacColl’s great-great-grandmother, a young girl learns to accept both sides of her heritage and find a new identity for herself.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: immigrants, Chinese Americans, Asian Americans, 19th Century, Shanghai, identity, belonging, coming of age, affluent families, racism, upstate New York

*Billy Miller Makes a Wish by Kevin Henkes

Standalone companion to: The Year of Billy Miller. On his birthday, Billy Miller wishes for something exciting to happen. But he immediately regrets his wish when an ambulance rushes to his neighbor’s house. Is Billy responsible?

Award-winning author Kevin Henkes delivers a short, funny, and emotionally complex novel complete with misplaced love letters, surprising critters, art projects, misguided tattoos—and another surprise for Billy and his family, maybe the best one yet!

FOUR starred reviews! Includes black and white illustrations throughout. Excellent read-aloud for elementary grades.

  • Genre(s): humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-7
  • Themes: birthdays, wishes, anxiety, mishaps, summer, siblings

The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon

Mickey is angry all the time: at his divorced parents, at his sister, and at his two new stepmoms, both named Charlie. And so he can’t resist the ad inside his pack of gum: “Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Buy The Anti-Book! Satisfaction guaranteed.” He orders the book, but when it arrives, it’s blank–except for one line of instruction: To erase it, write it. He fills the pages with all the things and people he dislikes…

Next thing he knows, he’s wandering an anti-world, one in which everything and everyone familiar is gone. Or are they? His sister soon reappears–but she’s only four inches tall. A tiny talking house with wings looks strangely familiar, as does the mysterious half-invisible boy who seems to think that he and Mickey are best buds. The boy persuades Mickey to go find the Bubble Gum King–the king, who resides at the top of a mountain, is the only one who might be able help Mickey fix the mess he’s made.

SLJ starred. The Kirkus review recommends it for reluctant readers due to short sentence length and fast-moving plot.

  • Genre(s): humor, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: reluctant readers, grouchiness, hating everything, negativity, family changes, life changes, stepfamilies, gay parent, siblings, bubble gum

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie by Erin Soderberg Downing

After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day.

Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires!

But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment–a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake…

  • Genre(s): humor, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: siblings, summer break, millionaires, sudden wealth, food trucks, pie, road trips, baking, kids with jobs, unpredictable parent, cancer, inventions, loss of a parent, grief

The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World by Temple Grandin

What are the aerodynamics of skipping stones or the physics of making sandcastles? Do birds use GPS to navigate their migratory routes?

Dr. Temple Grandin, an inventor and world-renowned scientist, introduces readers to geologists, astrophysicists, oceanographers, and many other scientists who unlock the wonders of the natural world. She shares her childhood experiences and observations, whether on the beach, in the woods, working with horses, or gazing up at the night sky. This book explores all areas of nature and gives readers the tools to discover even more on their own.

With forty projects to give readers a deeper understanding of the world around them, from the depths of space to their own backyard, this is a perfect read for budding scientists, inventors, and creators!

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: science, STEAM, robotics, physics, nature, science projects, backyard science

Switched by Bruce Hale

Twelve-year-old Parker Pitts hates a mess. Ever since his grandmother died, he’s much more comfortable when things are organized: He scrubs the kitchen counters at home, avoids the school bully at all costs, and never even speaks to Gabriella Cortez, the most interesting girl in the sixth grade. No muss, no fuss, no complicated feelings to worry about.

But now Parker’s older sister is traveling abroad for the semester, leaving behind her obnoxious and extremely disorderly goldendoodle, Boof, for Parker to manage. Man’s best friend? More like boy’s worst nightmare!

When an intense round of tug-of-war leaves both dog and boy with bumped heads, Parker and Boof wake up to the biggest disaster yet: they’ve switched bodies! Suddenly Boof has to find his way through a school day and Parker has to…eat dog food?!

It’s a mess of truly epic proportions. Can Parker and Boof clean it up–together?

  • Genre(s): animal stories, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: dogs, OCD, depression, bullying, sixth grade, control, siblings, body switching

*I Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner (Author) and Michaela Goade

As she waits for the arrival of her new baby, a mother-to-be gathers gifts to create a sacred bundle. A white feather, cedar and sage, a stone from the river…

Each addition to the bundle will offer the new baby strength and connection to tradition, family, and community. As they grow together, mother and baby will each have gifts to offer each other.

Tasha Spillett-Sumner and Michaela Goade, two Indigenous creators, bring beautiful words and luminous art together in a resonant celebration of the bond between mother and child.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred. This would make a great baby shower gift, but I wouldn’t use it as a read-aloud. I included it because I think it would make a nice addition to the library for families that are expecting a baby. I cannot tell from the reviews if it would also work for adoptions–possibly, but none of the professional reviews I read mention adoption.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades PreS-2
  • Themes: newborn babies, baby showers, gifts, pregnancy, parenthood, indigenous peoples

We Are a Garden: A Story of How Diversity Took Root in America by Lisa Westberg Peters (Author) and Victoria Tentler-Krylov (Illustrator)

The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid waters, and they spread across the new land. Over time, the wind continued to disperse newcomers from all directions. It blew in men who hoped to find gold, and slave ships, and immigrant families. And so it continued, for generations and generations. Here is a moving and tender picture book that beautifully examines centuries of North American history and its people.

Kirkus starred. Librarians are advised to read both the starred Kirkus review and the Publishers Weekly review, which calls out illustration stereotypes and false equivalents. At the time of this writing, Goodreads has no reviews of this title, and I have not personally read it.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: immigration, North American history, human migration

What Ollie Saw by Joukje Akveld (Author), Sieb Posthuma (Illustrator), and Bill Nagelkerke (Translator)

Translated from Dutch. Ollie doesn’t see things the same way everybody else does (and he certainly doesn’t see things the same way his older sister does). Instead of cars in traffic, Ollie sees a circus parade. Instead of cows grazing in a field, Ollie sees deadly bison with sharp horns and hooves. And at school, instead of letters on the board, Ollie sees birds with pointy beaks, and fish with flapping tails in the big blue sea.

Ollie knows he doesn’t need glasses, because he likes the world better the way he sees it. But will his parents and bossy sister see things his way?

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: perspective, imagination, marching to one’s own beat, wonder, pigs, farm animals

Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos (Author) and Jacqueline Alcántara (Illustrator)

Yo’ mama so sweet, she could be a bakery. She dresses so fine, she could have a clothing line. And, even when you mess up, she’s so forgiving, she lets you keep on living. Heartwarming and richly imagined, Your Mama twists an old joke into a point of pride that honors the love, hard work, and dedication of mamas everywhere.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: jokes, mothers, pride, dedication

Butterflies Are Pretty…Gross! by Rosemary Mosco (Author) and Jacob Souva (Illustrator)

Butterflies are beautiful and quiet and gentle and sparkly…but that’s not the whole truth. Butterflies can be GROSS. And one butterfly in particular is here to let everyone know!

Talking directly to the reader, a monarch butterfly reveals how its kind is so much more than what we think. Did you know some butterflies enjoy feasting on dead animals, rotten fruit, tears and even poop? Some butterflies are loud, like the Cracker butterfly. Some are stinky–the smell scares predators away. Butterflies can be sneaky, like the ones who pretend to be ants to get free babysitting.

This hilarious and refreshing book with silly and sweet illustrations explores the science of butterflies and shows that these insects are not the stereotypically cutesy critters we often think they are–they are fascinating, disgusting, complicated and amazing creatures.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: Monarch butterflies, spring, insects, entomology, nature, animal defenses

How to Build an Insect by Roberta Gibson (Author) and Anne Lambelet (Illustrator)

Let’s build an insect! In the pages of this book, you’ll find a workshop filled with everything you need, including a head, a thorax, an abdomen, and much more. Written by entomologist Roberta Gibson and accompanied by detailed illustrations by Anne Lambelet, this original take on insect anatomy will spark curiosity and engage even those who didn’t think they liked creepy, crawly things!

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): informational picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: insects, body parts, anatomy, entomology

 

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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