Currently Reading...
Just finished...

New Release Spotlight: July 6, 2021

Another small list this week! It’s hot and humid here in Mexico–definitely time to stay inside and read!

This week’s top picks:

  • Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler (YA)
  • Forever This Summer by Leslie C. Youngblood (MG)
  • Except Antarctica by Todd Sturgell (PB)

This week’s Spotlight titles are #1763-#1777 on The Ginormous book list.

*Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.

Publishers Weekly and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, retelling
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: magic, arranged marriages, stepmothers, sorcery, brothers and sisters, siblings, royalty, kingdoms, birds, dragons, Asian mythology
  • Protagonist description: teen girl; ethnicity not specified, but the story is a retelling of East Asian folklore.

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

Olivia is an expert at falling in love…and at being dumped. But after the fallout from her last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs to get her mind off the senior year that awaits her.

Toni is one week away from starting college, and it’s the last place she wants to be. Unsure about who she wants to become and still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father, she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life in hopes that following in his footsteps will help her find her own way forward.

When the two arrive at Farmland, the last thing they expect is to realize that they’ll need to join forces in order to get what they’re searching for out of the weekend. As they work together, the festival becomes so much more complicated than they bargained for. Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other, and music, more than they ever could have imagined.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: dating, breaking up, outcasts, music festivals, friendship, summer, LGBTQIA+, revenge porn, gun violence, grief
  • Protagonist description: American girl, Black, age 16, lesbian

Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father’s betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr.

Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism–and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): magical realism, mythology
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: summer, brothers and sisters, siblings, running away, 1990s, Portland, Oregon, Greek mythology, punk bands
  • Protagonist description: girl, age 17, Mexican American

Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler

Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.

Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane’s dad. The bitter separation of Drew’s parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they’ve always been there for each other.

When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal. But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.

Told in alternating timelines, in a style similar to the movie Sliding Doors or Kasie West’s Pivot Point. I love this unique format and have added this one to the TBR.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: alternating timelines, coin toss, fate, destiny, bullying, famous parents, music references
  • Protagonist description: main characters are white and American; one character is Jewish

If You, Then Me by Yvonne Woon

What would you ask your future self? First question: What does it feel like to kiss someone?

Xia is stuck in a lonely, boring loop. Her only escapes are Wiser, an artificial intelligence app she designed to answer questions as her future self, and a mysterious online crush she knows only as ObjectPermanence.

Until one day Xia enrolls at the Foundry, an app incubator for tech prodigies in Silicon Valley, and suddenly anything is possible. Flirting with Mast, a classmate also working on AI, leads to a date. Speaking up generates a vindictive nemesis intent on publicly humiliating her. And running into Mitzy Erst, Foundry alumna and Xia’s idol, could give Xia all the answers.

And then Xia receives a shocking message from ObjectPermanence. He is at the Foundry, too. Xia is torn between Mast and ObjectPermanence—just as Mitzy pushes her towards a shiny new future. Xia doesn’t have to ask Wiser to know: The right choice could transform her into the future self of her dreams, but the wrong one could destroy her.

  • Genre(s): science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: Silicon Valley, boredom, loneliness, artificial intelligence, racism, sexism, programmers, scholarship programs, contests
  • Protagonist description: Taiwanese American girl, age 16

*Forever This Summer by Leslie C. Youngblood

Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of small town USA–aka Bogalusa, Louisiana–where Mama grew up and Great Aunt Vie needs constant care.

Georgie wants to help out at the once famous family diner that served celebrities like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but everyone is too busy to show her the ropes and Mama is treating her like a baby, not letting her leave her sight. When she finally gets permission to leave on her own, Georgie makes friends with Markie–a foster kid who’d been under Aunt Elvie’s care–who has a limb difference and a huge attitude.

Then Markie asks Georgie to help her find her mom, and suddenly summer has a real purpose. But as Georgie and Markie’s histories begin to entwine, Georgie becomes more desperate to find the truth. But words spoken cannot be taken back and once Georgie knows the truth, she may even find a way to right past wrongs and help Aunt Vie and Markie out after all.

THREE starred reviews! This is the sequel to Love Like Sky (2018), but I’m including it at the top part of the Spotlight because of the three starred reviews.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: Louisiana, family businesses, growing up, foster children, limb differences, missing parents, summer, sisters, family member illness, racism, Alzheimer’s Disease, small towns, American South, African Americans
  • Protagonist description: girl, Black, age 11 (most other characters are also Black); Markie has only one arm

How to Be Brave by Daisy May Johnson

Calla North and her mother Elizabeth live a quiet but happy life together. Elizabeth happens to be the world’s leading expert on ducks–but unfortunately, being an expert on ducks doesn’t always pay the bills (no pun intended).

When Elizabeth is offered a well-paid research trip to the Amazon, it’s an opportunity too good to miss. But while her mother’s off exploring, Calla winds up at boarding school. No adventures are likely to find her there–or so she thinks.

Then Calla receives the terrible news that her mother’s plane has gone missing. Can Calla, her friends, and a motley crew of nuns defeat an evil new headmistress and find Elizabeth before it’s too late?

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): adventure, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-7
  • Themes: single mothers, ducks, missing parent, boarding school
  • Protagonist description: girl, white

Time Villains by Victor Piñeiro

Javi Santiago is trying his best not to fail sixth grade. So, when the annual “invite any three people to dinner” homework assignment rolls around, Javi enlists his best friend, Wiki, and his sister, Brady, to help him knock it out of the park.

But the dinner party is a lot more than they bargained for. The family’s mysterious antique table actually brings the historical guests to the meal…and Blackbeard the Pirate is turning out to be the worst guest of all time.

Before they can say “avast, ye maties,” Blackbeard escapes, determined to summon his bloodthirsty pirate crew. And as Javi, Wiki, and Brady try to figure out how to get Blackbeard back into his own time, they might have to invite some even zanier figures to set things right again.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): adventure, fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: Maryland, pirates, dinner parties, ghosts, historical people, underachievers, Blackbeard, bookish
  • Protagonist description: three American boys, two are Puerto Rican and one is Haitian, all are sixth graders

Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne

Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That’s why she makes a habit of scaring his new girlfriends away. She’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team because she’ll get to play her favorite sport AND use the cricket matches to distract Daddy from dating.

But when Coach Broomes announces that girls can’t try out for the team, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life…

The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, this one doesn’t scare easily. Josephine knows there’s something fishy about Mariss but she never expected her to be a vengeful sea creature eager to take her place as her father’s first love! Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss’s clutches before it’s too late?

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, mythology
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: Barbados, magic, parental dating, fathers and daughters, cricket, girls not allowed, autism-spectrum disorder, selective mutism, Afro-Caribbean mythology
  • Protagonist description: girl, Black, age 11, lives in Barbados

Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba (Author), Miho Satake (Illustrator), and Avery Fischer Udagawa (Translator)

Kazu knows something odd is going on when he sees a girl in a white kimono sneak out of his house in the middle of the night–was he dreaming? Did he see a ghost? Things get even stranger when he shows up to school the next day to see the very same figure sitting in his classroom. No one else thinks it’s weird, and, even though Kazu doesn’t remember ever seeing her before, they all seem convinced that the ghost-girl Akari has been their friend for years!

When Kazu’s summer project to learn about Kimyo Temple draws the meddling attention of his mysterious neighbor Ms. Minakami and his secretive new classmate Akari, Kazu soon learns that not everything is as it seems in his hometown. Kazu discovers that Kimyo Temple is linked to a long forgotten legend about bringing the dead to life, which could explain Akari’s sudden appearance–is she a zombie or a ghost? Kazu and Akari join forces to find and protect the source of the temple’s power. An unfinished story in a magazine from Akari’s youth might just hold the key to keeping Akari in the world of the living, and it’s up to them to find the story’s ending and solve the mystery as the adults around them conspire to stop them from finding the truth.

Kirkus starred. Illustrated in black and white.

  • Genre(s): mystery, adventure, supernatural
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: ghosts, Japan, temples, friendship, fairy tales
  • Protagonist description: boy, 5th grader, Japanese

*Terrific! by Sophie Gilmore

Mandrill, Owl, Badger, Turtle, and Anteater want to do something terrific together. Anteater suggests climbing–but that is not terrific for them all. Mandrill suggests hanging upside down, but that is not terrific for them all, either. And so it goes, until Snake slithers into the group and nearly upends the whole lovely afternoon.

Eventually, with open minds, patience, and cooperation–and a wickedly delightful twist–the five friends finally find a shared passion.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: animals, disagreement, inclusion, fairness, cooperation
  • Protagonist description: all characters are animals–turtles, anteaters, mandrills, badgers, owls, snakes

The Perfect Plan by Leah Gilbert

Maya dreams of building a fort–a special, comfy, cozy place to hide out and read, to dream and play. So she goes to work drafting plans and gathering all her supplies. But when she gets to the forest, she realizes she needs help. Thankfully, some new friends have just the right skills to make a perfect fort-building team. Will Maya’s fort be everything she hopes? Or could it turn into something she never even imagined?

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: building a fort, engineering, play, community, friendship, nature, animals, STEAM
  • Protagonist description: little girl with pale skin and straight, black hair

Lala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness by Gracey Zhang

Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. “Hello, hello, friends!” she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.

Lala’s wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: gardening, plants, nature, kindness, mothers and daughters
  • Protagonist description: girl and her mother; both have straight black hair and white skin

Shhh! The Baby’s Asleep by JaNay Brown-Wood (Author) and Elissambura (Illustrator)

Baby is finally asleep. But everyone is much too loud! Can Mom, Daddy, Grammy, Pop Pop, Shae, Dante, Rover the dog, and even the neighbor keep quiet? Just when they think they can rest–oh no. The baby’s awake. One savvy little narrator knows just the way to make his baby sister fall back asleep: by reading her a good book!

A hilarious cast of characters will keep readers laughing throughout this amusing celebration of early literacy and intergenerational family relationships.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: large families, siblings, babies, sleeping, noise
  • Protagonist description: family is African American

Except Antarctica by Todd Sturgell

Debut author! Turtles are found on every continent EXCEPT Antarctica. But not for long!

When a David Attenborough-esque narrator explains that turtles are found everywhere except Antarctica, one determined turtle sets out to prove him wrong. After recruiting other non-Antarctic animals along the way–much to the narrator’s dismay–the turtle and his adventurous friends travel through fields, forests, and cross an entire ocean to reach their goal. But what exactly do they do once they get there?

Perfect for anyone who’s ever gone a little too far to prove a point, this nature-documentary-gone-wrong is a gleefully funny lesson in persistence–and the beauty of having a contingency plan.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: turtles, Antarctica, habitats, journeys, nature, animals
  • Protagonist description: all characters are 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. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy