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New Release Spotlight: July 13, 2021

Another short July week! The list is too short this week for me to have any strong favorites. Wherever you read this week, make sure it’s cool!

This week’s Spotlight titles are #1778-#1790 on The Ginormous book list.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student–the handsome Allister–and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game–one Jake is not sure he can win.

  • Genre(s): supernatural, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: ghosts, mediums, racism, private schools, LGBTQIA+, school shootings, suicide, haunting, diary entries
  • Protagonist description: boy, Black, Grade 11

The Mythic Koda Rose by Jennifer Nissley

Everything Koda Rose knows about her father she’s learned from other people. Moving to New York City with her mom won’t change that, even if New York was Mack Grady’s city–where he became famous, where he wrote his music, and also where he died.

Koda has more important things on her mind. Like how she’s in love with her best friend, Lindsay, and doesn’t have the courage to tell her. Agonizing over how to confess her feelings leads Koda to explore Mack’s enigmatic history in search of answers. She tracks down her dad’s band mate and ex-girlfriend, Sadie Pasquale, and finds herself becoming rapidly obsessed with the mercurial musician.

As Koda and Sadie’s complicated bond deepens, they are both forced to grapple with the black hole Mack left behind, or get sucked in themselves.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: music, New York City, in love with best friend, bands, child of a rock star, suicide of a parent
  • Protagonist description: girl, white, age 17-18

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma

Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world…until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch.

Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year.

With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: New Jersey, dancers, performance arts, Bollywood, parental pressure, immigrant families, parent having an affair, financial problems
  • Protagonist description: Indian American girl, age 17

The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: good girl meets bad boy, opposites attract, community service, strict parents, fresh starts
  • Protagonist description: Guillermo is Mexican American boy, age 17; Regan is Black American girl, age 16

When All the Girls Are Sleeping by Emily Arsenault

Windham-Farnswood Academy is beautiful, prestigious, historic–the perfect place for girls to prep for college. But every student knows all is not as it seems. Each January, the Winter Girl comes knocking. She’s the spirit who haunts the old senior dorm, and this year is no exception.

For Haley, the timing couldn’t be worse. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the death of her ex-best friend, Taylor. When a disturbing video of Taylor surfaces, new questions about her death emerge. And it actually looks like Taylor was murdered.

Now, as Haley digs into what really happened last year, her search keeps bringing her back to the Winter Girl. Haley wants to believe ghosts aren’t real, but the clues–and the dark school history she begins to undercover–say otherwise. Now it’s up to her to solve the mystery before history has a chance to repeat itself and another life is taken.

  • Genre(s): mystery, supernatural, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: private prep school, ghosts, winter, death of best friend, murder, school history, mean girls, bullying
  • Protagonist description: white girl, high school senior

The Great Big One by J. C. Geiger

Everyone in Clade City knows their days are numbered. The Great Cascadia Earthquake will destroy their hometown and reshape the entire West Coast–if they survive long enough to see it. Nuclear war is increasingly likely. Wildfires. Or another pandemic. To Griff, the daily forecast feels partly cloudy with a chance of apocalyptic horsemen.

Griff’s brother, Leo, and the Lost Coast Preppers claim to be ready. They’ve got a radio station. Luminous underwater monitors. A sweet bunker, and an unsettling plan for “disaster-ready rodents.” But Griff’s more concerned about what he can do before the end times. He’d like to play in a band, for one. Hopefully with Charity Simms. Her singing could make the whole world stop.

When Griff, Leo, and Charity stumble upon a mysterious late-night broadcast, one song changes everything. It’s the best band they’ve ever heard–on a radio signal even the Preppers can’t trace. They vow to find the music, but aren’t prepared for where their search will take them. Or for what they’ll risk, when survival means finding the one thing you cannot live without.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: preppers, climate change, pandemic, survival, living under constant threat, music, bands, AM radio, twins, brothers
  • Protagonist description: boy, age 16-17, white

The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad

The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power.

That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right.

Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move–no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks…if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: abuse, prisoners, secrets, runaways, power, privilege, revolution, fathers and sons
  • Protagonist description: all major characters are white

Sight: Glimmer, Glow, SPARK, FLASH! by Romana Romanyshyn (Author) and Andriy Lesiv (Author)

This is the second sensory picture book from the creators of Sound: Shhh. Bang. Pop. Boom!. At once an immediately accessible, science-intensive illumination of an endlessly fascinating subject as well as a sensitive exploration of how sight essentially impacts our everyday lives.

  • Genre(s): fact book, picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-5
  • Themes: five senses, sight, light, color, vision, human eye, anatomy
  • Protagonist description: not very diverse–mostly white people pictured, and mostly males

Journey Beyond the Burrow by Rina Heisel

There are rules every mouse must follow if they’re to survive in the forest.

Tobin knows these guidelines by heart. After all, with one younger sibling, another on the way, and a best friend with a penchant for trouble-making, he needs to be prepared for anything.

But one stormy night, Tobin’s safe burrow is invaded by monstrous arachnids, and his baby brother stolen away. To save him, Tobin will have to do something he’s never done before: break the rules.

Drawing inspiration from the author’s work as a natural science documentarian, Journey Beyond the Burrow is as alive as the forest floor, where nature is unpredictable, occasionally frightening, and inspirational all the same.

Includes a black-and-white illustrated front piece.

  • Genre(s): animal fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: mice, siblings, spiders, predators and prey
  • Protagonist description: all characters are animals

Blueberry Cake by Sarah Dillard

There’s nothing Little Bear loves more than delicious, delectable blueberries. And one of the very best ways to eat blueberries is in Mama’s sweet, scrumptious blueberry cake.

But when Little Bear goes to pick berries so Mama can fix him a treat, he can’t resist eating them all! Can Little Bear figure out how to save some yummy blueberries, or will he once again come home empty handed and never get any blueberry cake?

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 1
  • Themes: bears, blueberries, cake, cooking, minimal text, almost wordless
  • Protagonist description: characters are a mama bear her son

Listen by Gabi Snyder (Author) and Stephanie Graegin (Illustrator)

BEEP!
WOOF!
VROOM!

Isn’t the world a noisy place?
But what if you
stop, close your eyes,
and LISTEN?

Can you hear each sound?
Can you listen past the noise
and hear the quiet, too?

This picture book follows a girl through her school day as she listens to sounds across the city: caws of crows, shouts across the playground, and finally, the quiet beating of her heart and whispered goodnights.

Kirkus starred. This is perfect for a unit on the five senses or lessons on slowing down to notice things around you.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: noise, quiet, listening, five senses, hearing, sound
  • Protagonist description: girl, brown skin, has two puff pigtails in her curly dark hair

Never, Not Ever! by Beatrice Alemagna

The other animals are marching dutifully to school, but Pascaline could care less. “Never, not ever!” she declares. She’s NOT going. And nothing–not even her parents pulling her by her feet–will change her mind.

She shrieks so loudly that her parents shrink down to the size of peanuts–becoming just the right size to fit snugly under Pascaline’s wing. Now they can all go to school together!

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: first day of school, new experiences, keeping parents close by, reluctance
  • Protagonist description: bat, age 5, girl, mauve

My Voice Is a Trumpet by Jimmie Allen (Author) and Cathy Ann Johnson (Illustrator)

From rising country star Jimmie Allen comes a lyrical celebration of the many types of voices that can effect change.

From voices tall as a tree, to voices small as a bee, all it takes is confidence and a belief in the goodness of others to change the world. Coming at a time when issues of social justice are at the forefront of our society, this is the perfect book to teach children that they’re not too young to express what they believe in and that all voices are valuable.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: music, singing, voices, community, kindness, social justice
  • Protagonist description: children of different skin tones and races

 

THIS WEEK’S SEQUELS (YA):

 

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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