HISTORY OF BOOK CENSORSHIP: This presentation is perfect for Banned Books Week or as an introduction to book burning in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The slides give a brief history of nine censorship and book banning incidents in world history.

Currently Reading...

BOOK OF NIGHTCharlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make.

She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie Hall…


Library Challenge #1 tasks you with an annual review (or maybe your first review) of your library's Selection and Reconsideration Policies.

LIBRARY CHALLENGE #1 Are library book challenges scary? I think so! But they are much less scary when you have a strong plan. When you know exactly what to do

Read More »
This article is 10 essential tips for new school librarians. These are the 10 things you should do FIRST in your new school library.

You’ve landed a brand new school librarian job–congratulations! All summer, you’ve looked forward to standing in the middle of your very own library, taking a deep breath, and reveling in

Read More »
This is a collection of fun ideas for middle school library orientation. Even if you don't use the ideas, the videos are a lot of fun to watch!

Ahh, the first day of school! Call me crazy, but I’ve always loved it! I will see my first middle school library orientation classes this Wednesday. We have a book

Read More »

New Book Releases Feb 2022 — Week of Feb 15

I’ve got 24 books on this list of New Book Releases Feb 2022!

This week’s list is HUGE. We’ve got new releases from some huge authors including: Zoraida Córdova, Margarita Engle, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Elly Swartz, Leslie Connor, and Joanna Ho. All three categories look fantastic this week. If I had to pick one category as “the best” this week, it would be picture books.


  • Even When Your Voice Shakes by Ruby Yayra Goka (YA)
  • Dear Student by Elly Swartz (MG)
  • Mina by Matthew Forsythe (picture books)

The new book releases for Feb 2022 are #2299-#2323 on The Ginormous book list.


*Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space by Zoraida Córdova

Follow princesses warring in space, haunting ghost stories in Argentina, mermaids off the coast of the Caribbean, swamps that whisper secrets, and many more realms explored and unexplored; this stunning collection of seventeen short stories breaks borders and realms to prove that stories are truly universal.

Reclaim the Stars features both bestselling and acclaimed authors as well as two new voices in the genres: Vita Ayala, David Bowles, J.C. Cervantes, Zoraida Córdova, Sara Faring, Romina Garber, Isabel Ibañez, Anna-Marie McLemore, Yamile Saied Méndez, Nina Moreno, Circe Moskowitz, Maya Motayne, Linda Raquel Nieves Pérez, Daniel José Older, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro and Lilliam Rivera.

THREE starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): short stories, anthology, fantasy, science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: space travel, blood feuds, star-crossed lovers, oppression, princesses, mermaids, Spanish and English text
  • Protagonist description: various Latinx characters

American Shoes: A Refugee’s Story by Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke and Garrett Turke

Set against a backdrop of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, the reign of Nazi Germany, and the entire course of World War II in Europe, American Shoes recounts the tumultuous childhood of a young American girl and her family trapped within a country that turned against itself, where human decency eroded and then vaporized. Forced to grow up in the midst of endemic fear stoked by a ravenous madman, American Shoes portrays the breakdown of a society from a child’s point of view, deep inside a land where millions of law-abiding citizens were targeted as threats, and then removed for extermination.

This is the story of a brave girl who, despite not being Jewish, was perceived to be one of those threats and was compelled to keep her American identity secret for fear of her family’s arrest, concentration camp placement, or worse. Fighting to see through a relentless barrage of Nazi lies and propaganda, caught within a nation where resistance or opposition meant incarceration if not certain death, American Shoes illuminates one family’s struggle to survive against impossible odds as a cataclysmic world war marched closer and closer until it was upon them.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): memoir
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-AD
  • Themes: WWII, European history, world history, Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, genocide, Holocaust, fear, propaganda, discrimination, prejudice, family
  • Protagonist description: female, ages 9-15, white, American, Lutheran

*Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi

Companion to: Pet. After a childhood in foster care, Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the city of Lucille.

Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus…but her friends aren’t willing to settle for a world that’s so far away from what they deserve. Pulled between old friendships, her artistic passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she belongs–in the studio or in the streets. And if she does find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost?

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, magical realism
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: foster care, artists, protests, LGBTQIA+, social issues, political participation, activism, boarding schools, mental health
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17, Black

Cramm This Book: So You Know WTF Is Going On in the World Today by Olivia Seltzer

Today’s world can feel like a seriously confusing mess. Headlines and newscasters and posts are coming at us from all sides, each talking about the latest issues and injustices, and everyone with their own opinion on how to solve the problems of the day. It’s enough to make anyone’s mind melt. Right?

Enter: Cramm This Book, your one-stop-shop for the scoop behind the scoop of the day. This is the read you need to understand everything from how the conflicts in the Middle East got going to where Black Lives Matter and Me Too actually began to what the full deal is with all of the wildfires and hurricanes we see each year. Important topics to read more about? We think so too. Dip in for more on the wars, the movements, the disasters, and more–and get to know WTF is really going on.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: current events, journalism, news, fake news, #BLM, Black Lives Matter, Middle East, climate change, war, 20th Century

The Chandler Legacies by Abdi Nazemian

Beth Kramer is a “townie” who returns to her sophomore year after having endured a year of tension with her roommate, Sarah. But Sarah Brunson knows there’s more to that story.

Amanda Priya “Spence” Spencer is the privileged daughter of NYC elites, who is reeling from the realization that her family name shielded her from the same fate as Sarah.

Ramin Golafshar arrives at Chandler as a transfer student to escape the dangers of being gay in Iran, only to suffer brutal hazing under the guise of tradition in the boys’ dorms.

And Freddy Bello is the senior who’s no longer sure of his future but knows he has to stand up to his friends after what happened to Ramin.

At Chandler, the elite boarding school, these five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born–and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths. But is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler? And can their friendship survive the fallout?

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: LGBTQIA+, truth, abuse, hazing, secrets, 1999, Connecticut, privilege, social elites, boarding school, sexual assault, friendship, writing, clubs, prep schools, alternating viewpoints
  • Protagonist description: 5 students of varying social classes and ethnicities

Even When Your Voice Shakes by Ruby Yayra Goka

When Amerley is offered a job working for one of her mother’s old school friends, she knows she has to accept. Her wages will feed her family, help her sisters stay in school, and ensure that her mother won’t have to worry about them.

Amerley’s move to Accra isn’t easy, but she soon settles into her new life away from her small village–until she is raped by the son of her employer. Torn between keeping quiet to keep her job and speaking up for herself and for justice, Amerley must decide how to live her truth, and the impact of her choice will be felt through her entire community.

Through the life of an ordinary girl from a small country village, Even When Your Voice Shakes exposes the damage wrought by institutionalized misogyny and poverty and reveals how even those who are most disadvantaged are never without their own power.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: teens with jobs, poverty, sisters, rape, sexual assault, Ghana, Africa
  • Protagonist description: female, age 16, Black, African

All the Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle

Cara Hawn’s life fell apart after her father cheated on her mother and got remarried to a woman Cara can’t stand. When Cara accidentally posts a rant about her father online, it goes viral–and catches the attention of the TV producers behind a new reality dating show for single parent families.

The next thing Cara and her mother know, they’ve been cast as leads on the show and are whisked away to sunny Key West where they’re asked to narrow a field of suitors and their kids down to one winning pair. All of this is outside of Cara’s comfort zone, from the meddling producers to the camera-hungry contestants, especially as Cara and her mother begin to clash on which suitors are worth keeping around. And then comes Connor.

As the son of a contestant, Connor is decidedly off-limits. Except that he doesn’t fit in with the cutthroat atmosphere in all the same ways as Cara, and she can’t get him out of her head. Now Cara must juggle her growing feelings while dodging the cameras and helping her mom pick a bachelor they both love, or else risk fracturing their family even more for the sake of ratings. Maybe there’s a reason most people don’t date on TV.

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: parent remarriage, stepmothers, social media, going viral, reality TV, Key West, Florida, reality dating, media spotlight, family problems, single mothers
  • Protagonist description: female, biracial, age 17

Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the island’s magic and its spirits. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether–a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae realizes that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers–including a secret about Mae’s past. As Mae and her friends unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

  • Genre(s): classic retelling, fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: magic, spirits, ghosts, secrets, Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1920s, power
  • Protagonist description: female, age 18, white

Rima’s Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny by Margarita Engle

Rima loves to ride horses alongside her abuela and Las Mambisas, the fierce women veterans who fought during Cuba’s wars for independence. Feminists from many backgrounds have gathered in voting clubs to demand suffrage and equality for women, but not everybody wants equality for all–especially not for someone like Rima. In 1920s Cuba, illegitimate children like her are bullied and shunned.

Rima dreams of a day when she is free from fear and shame, the way she feels when she’s riding with Las Mambisas. As she seeks her way, Rima forges unexpected friendships with others who long for freedom, especially a handsome young artist named Maceo. Through turbulent times, hope soars, and with it…love.

Considering the author, I’m surprised this title has no starred reviews. Reviews are still quite positive though. I did have difficulty finding this title on Titlewave. As of 2/14/2022, Titlewave has this listed as Rima’s Revolution instead of Rima’s Rebellion. I don’t know how long it takes for Follett to correct title errors, so if you can’t find it under Rima’s Rebellion, try Rima’s Revolution.

  • Genre(s): free verse, historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: horses, grandmothers, Cuba, suffragists, feminism, voting rights, equality, 1920s, strong females, justice
  • Protagonist description: female, Cuban, age 12-adulthood


Fashionopolis (Young Readers Edition): The Secrets Behind the Clothes We Wear by Dana Thomas

Did you ever think about where your jeans come from? How about the people who made your T-shirt, or what happens to the clothes you grow out of when you’re done wearing them?

The fabrics clothes are made of, the way they are designed and sewn and shipped around the world, and the way we consume them and get rid of them–every step in this process has a big impact on our environment, on the people who work in clothing factories, and on our cultures.

This nonfiction book shows us how the clothes we wear–and throw away–every day are made, and what that means for our planet and for people around the world.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: clothing, fashion industry, sustainability

The Swallowtail Legacy 1: Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Beil

Twelve-year-old Lark Heron-Finch is steeling herself to spend the summer on Swallowtail Island off the shores of Lake Erie. It’s the first time that she and her sister will have seen the old house since their mom passed away. And while her stepfather and his boys are okay, the island’s always been full of happy memories–and now everything is different.

When Nadine, a close family friend, tells Lark about a tragic boat accident that happened off the coast many years before, Lark’s enthralled with the story. Nadine’s working on a book about Dinah Purdy, Swallowtail’s oldest resident who had a connection to the crash, and she’s sure that the accident was not as it appeared. Impressed by Lark’s keen eye, she hires her as her research assistant for the summer.

And then Lark discovers something amazing. Something that could change Dinah’s life. Something linked to the crash and even to her own family’s history with Swallowtail. But there are others on the island who would do anything to keep the truth buried in the watery depths of the past.

Kirkus starred. Told partially with reports, letters, transcripts, and artwork.

  • Genre(s): mystery
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: death of a parent (mother), summer, local history, inheritance, island life, accidents, boating, stepfamilies, blended families, elderly people
  • Protagonist description: female, age 12, white

Ready or Not! by Megan E. Bryant

Abby in Between, book 1. For nine-year-old Abby McAdams, everything seems to be changing.

Her cousin and best friend, Zoe, has moved across the country, her mom is going back to work, and Abby is stuck in the only after-school activity still available–running–which she absolutely loathes. Her perspective on the world is changing, too, after an encounter in her community sheds light on the issue of homelessness in her town. On top of everything, sudden changes in Abby’s body mean she has to deal with things like deodorant, bras, and uncomfortable conversations. And without her best friend by her side, she’s not sure she can handle it all.

She’s not a grown-up yet, but she definitely doesn’t feel like a little kid anymore. She’s Abby, in between.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-5
  • Themes: cousins, best friend moving away, running, homelessness, puberty, growing up, coming of age, North Carolina
  • Protagonist description: female, 4th grader, age 9

Snow Struck by Nick Courage

Neither Elizabeth nor her little brother, Matty, have ever been north of Georgia. They’re used to sandals and shorts, not boots and parkas. So when they fly to New York City to spend the holidays with their cousin Ashley, they want to experience one thing: SNOW!

Ashley can’t wait to show her cousins how magical Manhattan is at Christmastime. But instead of a week of fun, what they get is an arctic blast that knocks out the power and plunges the skyscrapers into darkness. It’s unreal: the blizzard covers the Statue of Liberty in ice and topples the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center!

When Ashley’s dog, Fang, gets lost outside, the cousins take matters into their own hands…and are caught in the storm’s dangerous path as they chase Fang across the frozen city. Can the little Pomeranian survive the cold, snow, and ice blanketing Manhattan? Can they?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, survival
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: extreme weather, New York City, cousins, blizzards, winter, Christmas, Manhattan, power outages, blackouts, dogs, missing pet, climate change, alternating perspectives
  • Protagonist description: three cousins, all white

Dear Student by Elly Swartz

Starting middle school is rough for Autumn after her one and only BFF moves to California. Uncertain and anxious, she struggles to connect with her new classmates. The two potential friends she meets could not be more different: bold Logan who has big ideas and quiet Cooper who’s a bit mysterious. But Autumn has a dilemma: what do you do when the new friends you make don’t like each other?

When Autumn is picked to be the secret voice of the Dear Student letters in the Hillview newspaper, she finds herself smack in the middle of a problem with Logan and Cooper on opposite sides. But before Autumn can figure out what to do, the unthinkable happens. Her secret identity as Dear Student is threatened. Now, it’s time for Autumn to find her voice, her courage, and follow her heart, even when it’s divided.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: middle school, best friend moving away, two friends who don’t like each other, stuck in the middle, advice columns, newspaper, secret identity, social anxiety
  • Protagonist description: female, 6th grade, white, Jewish

The Ice Cream Machine by Adam Rubin

Debut author! Reader, be advised that the events in this book may tickle your funny bone: A boy and his robot nanny travel the globe in search of the world’s tastiest treat. A girl and her sister compete in an ice cream eating contest–against an honest-to-goodness pig.

A child prodigy invents a new way to create the freshest dessert ever. And we should probably mention the evil ice cream seller terrorizing local kids; the sorcerer’s assistant who must conjure icy cream out of thin air for the king, or else; and the sole human subject stuck on a giant alien space lab, who longs for the taste of home.

Each story features black-and-white interior illustrations from a different artist, including Daniel Salmieri, Charles Santoso, Liniers, Emily Hughes, Nicole Miles, and Seaerra Miller, making this book unlike any you’ve ever seen. So grab a cup or a cone, and watch out for brain freeze! You’ll definitely want to save room for this treat.

SLJ starred. Includes six short stories.

  • Genre(s): humor, short stories
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: robots, food, ice cream, contests

Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan

On the brink of her Quinceañera, and her official coronation, Solimar visits the oyamel forest to sit among the monarch butterflies. There, the sun pierces through a sword-shaped crevice in a boulder, which shines on her and sends the butterflies humming and swirling around her.

After the magical frenzy, she realizes she’s been given a gift–and a burden: she can predict the near future! She has also become a protector of the young and weak butterflies. This alone would be a huge responsibility, but tragedy strikes when a neighboring king invades while her father and brother and many others are away. The remaining villagers are taken hostage–all except Solimar.

Can this princess-to-be save her family, the kingdom, and the future of the monarch butterflies from a greedy and dangerous king?

No starred reviews on this one–another surprise considering the author.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: Quinceañeras, princesses, monarch butterflies, magic, predicting the future, royalty, kingdoms, Mexico, Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Protagonist description: female, princess, Mexican, age 15

Anybody Here Seen Frenchie? by Leslie Connor

Eleven-year-old Aurora Petrequin’s best friend has never spoken a word to her. In fact, Frenchie Livernois doesn’t talk.

Aurora is bouncy, loud and impulsive–“a big old blurter.” Making friends has never come easily. When Frenchie, who is autistic, silently chose Aurora as his person back in third grade, she chose him back. They make a good team, sharing their love of the natural world in coastal Maine.

In the woods, Aurora and Frenchie encounter a piebald deer, a rare creature with a coat like a patchwork quilt. Whenever it appears, Aurora feels compelled to follow.

At school, Aurora looks out for Frenchie, who has been her classmate until this year. One morning, Frenchie doesn’t make it to his classroom. Aurora feels she’s to blame. The entire town begins to search, and everyone wonders: how is it possible that nobody has seen Frenchie?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: best friends, making friends, autism, nature, Maine, wildlife, deer, missing persons, muteness, social skills, neighbors, neurodiversity
  • Protagonist description: female, age 11, 6th grade, white, neurodiverse


*Mina by Matthew Forsythe

Mina and her father live in a hollowed-out tree stump on the edge of a pond on the edge of a forest. Nothing ever bothers Mina, until one day, her father brings home a suspicious surprise from the woods.

Should Mina trust her father–or listen to her own instincts?

FOUR starred reviews! Spoiler alert: The father says his “surprise” is a squirrel, but it is actually a huge cat! The father means well, but he is quite careless in bringing home “pets” for his daughter.


  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: surprises, fathers and daughters, forests, fear, trust, mice, cats, pets
  • Protagonist description: mouse, female

*Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady (Author) and Gracey Zhang (Illustrator)

When Nigel looks up at the moon, his future is bright. He imagines himself as…an astronaut, a dancer, a superhero, too!

Among the stars, he twirls. With pride, his chest swells. And his eyes, they glow. Nigel is the most brilliant body in the sky.

But it’s Career Week at school, and Nigel can’t find the courage to share his dreams. It’s easy to whisper them to the moon, but not to his classmates–especially when he already feels out of place.

Publishers Weekly and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: future, careers, moon, stars, night sky, dreams, not fitting in, school, African Americans, anxiety
  • Protagonist description: boy, African American

*Beauty Woke by NoNieqa Ramos (Author) and Paola Escobar (Illustrator)

Beauty is a Puerto Rican girl loved and admired by her family and community. At first, she’s awake to their beauty, and her own–a proud Boricua of Taíno and African descent.

But as she grows older, she sees how people who look like her are treated badly, and she forgets what makes her special. So her community bands together to help remind her of her beautiful heritage.

Booklist and Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades K-5
  • Themes: Puerto Rico, heritage, beauty, community, family, prejudice, diversity
  • Protagonist description: female, Taino Indian, African, and Boricua heritage

*Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (Author) and Daniel Minter (Illustrator)

For centuries, blue powders and dyes were some of the most sought-after materials in the world. Ancient Afghan painters ground mass quantities of sapphire rocks to use for their paints, while snails were harvested in Eurasia for the tiny amounts of blue that their bodies would release.

And then there was indigo, which was so valuable that American plantations grew it as a cash crop on the backs of African slaves. It wasn’t until 1905, when Adolf von Baeyer created a chemical blue dye, that blue could be used for anything and everything–most notably that uniform of workers everywhere, blue jeans.

With stunning illustrations by Caldecott Honor Artist Daniel Minter, this vibrant and fascinating picture book follows one color’s journey through time and across the world, as it becomes the blue we know today.

Publishers Weekly and BCCB starred. I find errors on Titlewave sometimes while doing these Spotlights each week. For this title, be advised that the Titlewave entry for Blue erroneously includes several reviews for a different book (one of the Shane Burcaw memoirs).

  • Genre(s): picture book for older readers, nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades PreS-4
  • Themes: color, blue, Afghanistan, Egypt, painting, indigo, slavery, blue jeans, history
  • Protagonist description: mostly Black figures

*Olivia Wrapped in Vines by Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve (Author), Sandra Dumais (Illustrator), and Charles Simard (Translator)

The world is a really big place for little kids.

When Olivia starts to feel overwhelmed by her big feelings, she sprouts vines. They are thorny and twisty and make it impossible for Olivia to do the things she loves to do, like ride her bike or play with her friends. Plus, no one wants to come near a giant ball of thorns. Luckily, Olivia has a very special teacher. Someone who sees past the prickly and the pokey to the upset little girl and helps Olivia learn to manage the vines.

This quirky picture book is the perfect introduction to the idea of anxiety and those big feelings that seem impossible to manage. Olivia’s teacher provides some tricks to help manage the feelings, and a special message at the end of the story encourages young readers to think productively about their own anxieties.

SLJ and School Library Connection starred. Despite the two starred reviews, it might be worth it to take a minute to read the Kirkus review, which is critical of both text and illustrations.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: emotions, overwhelm, anxiety, depression, mental health, worries
  • Protagonist description: girl, white

*Olu & Greta by Diana Ejaita

Debut author! Olu lives in Lagos, Nigeria; his cousin, Greta, lives in Milan, Italy. Though their lives may be different, their ways of living and playing are quite similar.

They both roller skate; they both skip down the street; they both play with toy trains, trucks, and boats…and they both dream of meeting and being together. Debut author-illustrator Diana Ejaita references her own childhood and heritage to create a rich, poignant, and authentic portrayal of Nigeria, of Italy, and of the unity of childhood.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: cousins, Lagos, Nigeria, Milan, Italy, daily activities, same but different, extended family, parallel lives
  • Protagonist description: boy and girl, both Black; one lives in Nigeria; one lives in Italy

*Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler (Author) and Yong Ling Kang (Illustrator)

Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he’s such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank.

As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar.

Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: best friends, aging, losing a pet, death, grief, tortoises
  • Protagonist description: girl, white; boy, brown-skinned

Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho (Author) and Dung Ho (Illustrator)

Companion to: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. A young Asian boy notices that his eyes look different from his peers’ after seeing his friend’s drawing of them.

After talking to his father, the boy realizes that his eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars, shine like sunlit rays, and glimpse trails of light from those who came before–in fact, his eyes are like his father’s, his agong’s, and his little brother’s, and they are visionary.

Inspired by the men in his family, he recognizes his own power and strength from within. This extraordinary picture book redefines what it means to be truly you.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: eyes, physical features, Asians, family generations, fathers and sons, Chinese culture
  • Protagonist description: boy, Chinese American





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.


    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop