fbpx
Currently Reading...
Just finished...

New Release Spotlight: May 11, 2021

May never disappoints! This week’s New Release Spotlight is huge again! If you have money left over in your library budget, this week’s Spotlight and the May 4th Spotlight are definitely worth a look.

My top picks this week:

  • Where the Rhythm Takes You  by Sarah Dass (YA)
  • Unsettled by Reem Faruqi (middle grades)
  • Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas by Elizabeth Shreeve (picture book)

This week’s Spotlight titles are #1607-#1628 on The Ginormous book list.

The Burning (Young Readers Edition): Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Hilary Beard (Adapter) and Tim Madigan (Author)

One of the worst acts of racial violence in American history took place in 1921, when a White mob numbering in the thousands decimated the thriving Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Burning recreates Greenwood at the height of its prosperity, explores the currents of hatred, racism, and mistrust between its Black residents and Tulsa’s White population, narrates events leading up to and including Greenwood’s devastation, and documents the subsequent silence that surrounded this tragedy.

Delving into history that’s long been pushed aside, this is the true story of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre, with updates that connect the historical significance of the massacre to the ongoing struggle for racial justice in America.

Booklist starred. The cover art is less-than-inspiring, so this might take some booktalking. I think many teens will want to know this untold story.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 6+
  • Themes: racism, violence, 1920s, #BLM, white supremacy, mob mentality, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 100th Anniversary, US history, adapted for young adults, untold history

*Incredible Doom, Vol. 1 by Matthew Bogart (Author, Illustrator) and Jesse Holden (Author, Illustrator)

Allison is drowning under the weight of her manipulative stage magician father. When he brings home the family’s first computer, she escapes into a thrilling new world where she meetings Samir, a like-minded new online friend who has just agreed to run away from home with her.

After moving to a new town and leaving all of his friends behind, Richard receives a mysterious note in his locker with instructions on how to connect to “Evol BBS,” a dial-in bulletin board system, and meets a fierce punk named Tina who comes into his life and shakes his entire worldview loose.

Booklist and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-AD
  • Themes: abusive parents, online relationships, 1990s, bullying, runaways, small towns, escape, family problems

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the “Meet Cute Diary,” a collection of trans happily-ever-afters. There’s just one problem–all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

SLJ starred. This one was supposed to be on last week’s list, but it looks like I inadvertently left it off.

  • Genre(s): romance, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: blogs, LGBTQIA+, transgender, gender identity, fake news, fiction versus nonfiction, fake dating

Switch by A.S. King

Time has stopped. It’s been June 23, 2020 for nearly a year as far as anyone can tell. Frantic adults demand teenagers focus on finding practical solutions to the worldwide crisis.

Not everyone is on board though. Javelin-throwing prodigy Truda Becker is pretty sure her “Solution Time” class won’t solve the world’s problems, but she does have a few ideas what might. Truda lives in a house with a switch that no one ever touches, a switch her father protects every day by nailing it into hundreds of progressively larger boxes. But Truda’s got a crow bar, and one way or another, she’s going to see what happens when she flips the switch.

SLJ starred. The reviews on this title are a bit mixed. It’s surrealist, and Truda sounds a lot like an unreliable narrator.

  • Genre(s): science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: isolation, mental health, worldwide crisis, unique writing styles, Covid-19, stay at home, human connection

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Debut author! Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at the Plumeria, her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden–her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything–left the island to pursue his music dreams.

Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life–as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal–the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: Trinidad and Tobago, death of a parent (mother), grief, uncertain future, hotels, teens with jobs, paradise, musicians, fame, #ownvoices

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: LGBTQIA+, bisexuality, self-discovery, dating, high school

Fix by J. Albert Mann

Everything was fine before. When Eve and Lidia could hide their physical differences inside goofy Burger Hut costumes. When Lidia shook Eve up and Eve made Lidia laugh. When Lidia was there.

Everything is different now. Cut open…rearranged…stapled shut, Eve is left alone to recover in a world of pain and a body she no longer recognizes. Her only companions being a bottle of Roxanol and an infuriating (but cute) neighbor, Eve strikes up a relationship–and makes a pact–with the devil. Sacrificing pieces of a place she doesn’t know to return to a place she does. What will she discover when she unravels her past? And is having Lidia back worth the price?

Told with alternating timelines–the past and the present. The present is written in prose, and the past in verse.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: painkillers, addiction, drug abuse, scoliosis, friends, Boston, Massachusetts

Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

$58,643,129. That’s how many dollars seventeen-year-old Fortuna Jane Belleweather just won in the lotto jackpot. It’s also about how many reasons she has for not coming forward to claim her prize.

Problem #1: Jane is still a minor, and if anyone discovers she bought the ticket underage, she’ll either have to forfeit the ticket, or worse…

Problem #2: Let her hoarder mother cash it. The last thing Jane’s mom needs is millions of dollars to buy more junk. Then…

Problem #3: Jane’s best friend, aspiring journalist Brandon Kim, declares on the news that he’s going to find the lucky winner. It’s one thing to keep her secret from the town, it’s another thing entirely to lie to her best friend. Especially when…

Problem #4: Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, is suddenly back in her life, and he has big ideas about what he’d do with the prize money.

As suspicion and jealousy turn neighbor against neighbor, and no good options for cashing the ticket come forward, Jane begins to wonder: Could this much money actually be a bad thing?

  • Genre(s): humor, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: lottery winners, financially irresponsible parents, being underage, rom-com, LGBTQIA+, mental health, money problems

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

When her family moves from Pakistan to Peachtree City, all Nurah wants is to blend in, yet she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts.

And in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais–who is going through struggles of his own in the U.S. Yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates.

Ultimately Nurah slowly gains confidence in the form of strong swimming arms, and also gains the courage to stand up to bullies, fight for what she believes in, and find her place.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: Pakistan, immigrants, blending in, swimming, bullying, Muslims, novels in verse

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be normal again…

Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team, even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him…

But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves and each other.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: anxiety, foster care, basketball, panic attacks, runaways, friendship, LGBTQIA+, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Road to Wherever by John Ed Bradley

After eleven-year-old June Ball’s dad disappears without so much as a goodbye note, June’s mother sends him on the road with his adult cousins, mechanics Thomas and Cornell Ball. The Balls are “Ford Men”; their calling in life is to restore old Ford cars–and only Ford cars–that no longer run. And so begins a summer traveling the highways and byways of America, encountering busted-up Fairlanes, Thunderbirds, and Rancheros. They also encounter the cars’ owners, who sometimes need fixing up, too.

June doesn’t understand his cousins’ passion for all things Ford. But at every turn, June realizes that this journey is about more than giving neglected classic cars some much-needed TLC–there’s room to care for the broken parts of humans, too.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: summer, road trips, cousins, car restoration, Ford cars, American South

*Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet, though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him.

One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story–a Water Monster–in need of help.

Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to support Uncle Jet in healing from his own pain.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): mythology, fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: grandmothers, summer, Navajo, reservations, deserts, creation stories, uncles

*Boy from Buchenwald by Robbie Waisman and Susan McClelland

It was 1945 and Romek Wajsman had just been liberated from Buchenwald, a brutal concentration camp where more than 60,000 people were killed. He was starving, tortured, and had no idea where his family was–let alone if they were alive.

Along with 472 other boys, including Elie Wiesel, these teens were dubbed “The Buchenwald Boys.” They were angry at the world for their abuse, and turned to violence: stealing, fighting, and struggling for power. Everything changed for Romek and the other boys when Albert Einstein and Rabbi Herschel Schacter brought them to a home for rehabilitation.

Romek Wajsman, now Robbie Waisman, humanitarian and Canadian governor general award recipient, shares his remarkable story of transforming pain into resiliency and overcoming incredible loss to find incredible joy.

Kirkus and Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction, memoir
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-9
  • Themes: WWII, Jews, Poland, Nazis, Holocaust, concentration camps, Elie Wiesel, rehabilitation, anger

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Sonja Cherry-Paul (Adapter), Jason Reynolds (Author), Ibram X. Kendi (Author), and Rachelle Baker (Illustrator)

RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word. But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Ibram X. Kendi’s research, Jason Reynolds’s and Sonja Cherry-Paul’s writing, and Rachelle Baker’s art come together in this vital read, enhanced with a glossary, timeline, and more.

Kirkus starred. I read the YA version of this title–it’s a must for every school library.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: racism, prejudice, civil rights, American history, world history, adaptations

*Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley (Author) and Tara Audibert (Illustrator)

Jo Jo, book 1. Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn–about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly.

Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore.

THREE starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): early chapter book, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-5
  • Themes: Native Americans, Ojibwe, grandmothers, #ownvoices, cats, pets, friends

Dog Squad by Chris Grabenstein

Dog Squad, book 1. When trouble calls…it’s DOG SQUAD to the rescue!

Duke is not your average dog. Along with his crew, he fights crime and goes on claw-biting adventures helping dogs in peril in the hit streaming sensation–DOG SQUAD! Fred is a pretty average dog. He’s scrappy. He’s loveable. But he’s not brave like his heroes on Dog Squad.

Fred looks an awful lot like Duke from Dog Squad though. In fact, when Duke needs a stand-in, Fred’s the perfect choice. But the Dog Squad action doesn’t always stop on screen! When there’s danger in real life, can Fred find the courage to step up and save the day?!

No starred reviews, but this Scooby-Doo fan would have LOVED a book like this as a kid! Chris Grabenstein + dogs + crime fighting = YES!

  • Genre(s): animals stories, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: dogs, crime, personification, fame, television

*The Museum of Everything by Lynne Rae Perkins

When you feel that the world is too big and loud and busy and distracting, you can pretend that you’re in a museum. It’s quiet there, and you can wonder about everything: Is a rock in a puddle an island? Is a dry spot on the ground on a rainy day the shadow of a car that’s just driven off? There’s a museum for everything–for islands and shadows and clouds and trees, and so much more.

Newbery Medalist and acclaimed picture book creator Lynne Rae Perkins balances imagination and creativity with curiosity and facts. She has created the extraordinary artwork in three dimensions–as if each page is an exhibit or installation in a museum.

THREE starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: imagination, wonder, nature, museums, mixed media

No Pants! by Jacob Grant

Pablo and his dad are ready for a great day. It’s party day! A cookout with the whole family. All they need to do is get ready. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Put on pants. And they’ll be ready to go!

Only Pablo has another idea: No Pants!

Suddenly it’s looking as if party time is a ways off after all.

Here’s a hilarious and warm-hearted look at a father-son relationship that shows there is more than one way of wearing–and thinking about–pants!

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Recommended for: PreS-K
  • Themes: family, fathers and sons, pants, clothing, funny read-aloud

*A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day by Leah Henderson (Author) and Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

Today is a special day. Eli knows it’s important if he’s allowed to miss one second of school, his “hard-earned right.”

Inspired by true events and told through the eyes of a young boy, this is the deeply moving story about what is regarded as the first Memorial Day on May 1, 1865. Eli dresses up in his best clothes, Mama gathers the mayflowers, Papa straightens his hat, and together they join the crowds filling the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, with bouquets, crosses, and wreaths. Abolitionists, missionaries, teachers, military officers, and a sea of faces Black, Brown, and White, they march as one and sing for all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom during the Civil War.

With poignant prose and celebratory, powerful illustrations, A Day for Rememberin’ shines light on the little-known history of this important holiday and reminds us never to forget the people who put their lives on the line for their country. The book is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper and includes archival photos in the back matter, as well as an author’s note, bibliography, timeline, and index.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book for older readers
  • Recommended for: Grades K-5
  • Themes: Memorial Day, based on a true story, Charleston, South Carolina, marches, Civil War, African Americans, civil rights, US history

This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth by Sean Rubin

In the 1970s, nestled between the newly completed Twin Towers in New York City, a Callery pear tree was planted. Over the years, the tree provided shade for people looking for a place to rest and a home for birds, along with the first blooms of spring.

On September 11, 2001, everything changed. The tree’s home was destroyed, and it was buried under the rubble. But a month after tragedy struck, a shocking discovery was made at Ground Zero: the tree had survived.

Dubbed the “Survivor Tree,” it was moved to the Bronx to recover. And in the thoughtful care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Callery pear was nursed back to health. Almost a decade later, the Survivor Tree returned home and was planted in the 9/11 Memorial to provide beauty and comfort…and also hope.

This is the story of that tree―and of a nation in recovery. Told from the tree’s perspective, This Very Tree is a touching tribute to first responders, the resilience of America, and the restorative power of community.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: trees, 9-11, September 11, 2001, Twin Towers, New York City, survivors, hope, US history

Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken by Jennifer Frank (Author) and David Ezra Stein (Illustrator)

Emma is excited for her worm family to have their portrait taken. But when she sees her other friends’ portraits, she gets discouraged. “We had the most beautiful smiles,” Ellie the Chipmunk squeals. Abigail the Cat meows, “I looked gorgeous with my big poufy hair.” The worm family doesn’t have teeth…how will they show their beautiful smiles? They don’t have hair either…how can it look big and poufy?! So Emma gathers wigs, giant fake teeth, and colorful clothing for her parents and sisters.

But it’s only after taking off their costumes that the worm family is able to wriggle and squiggle and squeeze into a delightful pose that only a worm family can make. And Emma? She thinks it’s perfectly perfect.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: worms, family, personification, self-esteem, uniqueness, clothing, being oneself

*Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas by Elizabeth Shreeve (Author) and Frann Preston-Gannon (Illustrator)

Clear and inviting nonfiction prose, vetted by scientists–together with lively illustrations and a time line–narrate how life on Earth emerged “out of the blue.”

It began in the vast, empty sea when Earth was young. Single-celled microbes too small to see held the promise of all life-forms to come. Those microbes survived billions of years in restless seas until they began to change, to convert sunlight into energy, to produce oxygen until one day–Gulp!–one cell swallowed another, and the race was on. Learn how and why creatures began to emerge from the deep–from the Cambrian Explosion to crustaceans, mollusks to fishes, giant reptiles to the rise of mammals–and how they compare to the animals we know today, in a lively and accessible outing into the prehistoric past that boils a complex subject down to its lyrical essence.

SLJ and Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): informational picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-5
  • Themes: conservation, Earth Day, biology, beginnings of life, adaptations, animals

 

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy