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New Release Spotlight: April 19 and April 26, 2022

Welcome to the Spotlight for April 19 and April 26, 2022! We’ve got new titles this week from Shaun David Hutchinson, Emily X.R. Pan, Julie Kagawa, Tae Keller, Linda Williams Jackson, Pablo Neruda, Laurel Snyder, and more! I like the middle grade books best this week.

My top picks:

  • Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA)
  • Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone by Tae Keller (MG)
  • The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky by Jihyun Kim (PB)

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2427-#2454 on The Ginormous book list.

Debating Darcy by Sayantani DasGupta

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Leela Bose plays to win.

A life-long speech competitor, Leela loves nothing more than crushing the competition, all while wearing a smile. But when she meets the incorrigible Firoze Darcy, a debater from an elitist private school, Leela can’t stand him. Unfortunately, he’ll be competing in the state league, so their paths are set to collide.

But why attempt to tolerate Firoze when Leela can one-up him? The situation is more complicated than Leela anticipated, though, and her participation in the tournament reveals that she might have tragically misjudged the debaters–including Firoze Darcy–and more than just her own winning streak is at stake…her heart is, too.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): romance, retelling, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Pride and Prejudice, competition, debate team, high school, social class differences, sexism, feminism, rom-com
  • Protagonist description: female, Bengali American, high school junior; love interest is Pakistani British and Muslim

Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson

Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster.

Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster.

Virgil doesn’t think it was any of those things. He’s positive it was a monster. But being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile.

Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.

Booklist starred. The monster attack is a metaphor for the shaming of sexual assault victims when they report their attack.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, magical realism
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: monsters, new kid in town, LGBTQIA+, Florida, bullying, pranks, metaphor
  • Protagonist description: male, age 15, white

Arden Grey by Ray Stoeve

Sixteen-year-old Arden Grey is struggling. Her mother has left their family, her father and her younger brother won’t talk about it, and a classmate, Tanner, keeps harassing her about her sexuality–which isn’t even public. (She knows she likes girls romantically, but she thinks she might be asexual.)

At least she’s got her love of film photography and her best and only friend, Jamie, to help her cope. Then Jamie, who is trans, starts dating Caroline, and suddenly he isn’t so reliable.

Arden’s insecurity about their friendship grows. She starts to wonder if she’s jealous or if Jamie’s relationship with Caroline is somehow unhealthy—and it makes her reconsider how much of her relationship with her absent mom wasn’t okay, too.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: LGBTQIA+, film, transgender, friendship, absent parent (mother), toxic relationships, abuse, asexuality, Seattle, transphobia
  • Protagonist description: female, high school junior, asexual

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

Set in 1991. Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new high school.

Luna Chang dreads the future. Graduation looms ahead, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town of Fairbridge.

As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love…but time is running out, and fate will have its way.

  • Genre(s): magical realism, romance, retelling
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: archery, parental expectations, family problems, star-crossed lovers, expelled from school, alternating voices, Chinese mythology, Romeo and Juliet, 1990s
  • Protagonist description: male, age 17, Taiwanese American; female, age 17, Taiwanese American

Dig Two Graves by Gretchen McNeil

Seventeen-year-old film noir fan Neve Lanier is a girl who just wants to be seen, but doesn’t really fit in anywhere.

When Neve is betrayed by her best friend, Yasmin, at the end of the school year, she heads off to a girl’s empowerment camp feeling like no one will ever love her again. So when she grabs the attention of the beautiful, charismatic Diane, she falls right under her spell, and may accidentally promise to murder Diane’s predatory step-brother, Javier, in exchange for Diane murdering Yasmin. But that was just a joke…right?

Wrong. When Yasmin turns up dead, Diane comes calling, attempting to blackmail Neve into murdering Javier.

Stalling for time, Neve pretends to go along with Diane’s plan until she can find a way out that doesn’t involve homicide. But as she gets to know Javier–and falls for him–she realizes that everything Diane told her is a lie. Even worse, she discovers that Yasmin probably wasn’t Diane’s first victim. And unless Neve can stop her, she won’t be the last.

  • Genre(s): thriller, retelling
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: betrayal, camp, murder, blackmail, Strangers on a Train, Carlsbad, California
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17, white

I Am the Ghost in Your House by Mar Romasco-Moore

Pie is the ghost in your house. She is not dead, she is invisible.

The way she looks changes depending on what is behind her. A girl of glass. A girl who is a window. If she stands in front of floral wallpaper she is full of roses.
For Pie’s entire life it’s been Pie and her mother. Just the two of them, traveling across America. They have slept in trains, in mattress stores, and on the bare ground. They have probably slept in your house.

But Pie is lonely. And now, at seventeen, her mother’s given her a gift. The choice of the next city they will go to. And Pie knows exactly where she wants to go. Pittsburgh—where she fell in love with a girl who she plans to find once again. And this time she will reveal herself.

Only how can anyone love an invisible girl?

  • Genre(s): magical realism, supernatural
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: invisibility, being seen, friendship, peer acceptance, loneliness, LGBTQIA+
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17, queer, white

My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel

Zurika Damani is a naturally gifted violinist with a particular love for hip hop beats.

But when you’re part of a big Indian family, everyone has expectations, and those certainly don’t include hip hop violin.

After being rejected by Juilliard, Zuri’s last hope is a contest judged by a panel of top tier college scouts. The only problem? This coveted competition happens to take place during Zuri’s sister’s extravagant wedding week. And Zuri has already been warned, repeatedly, that she is not to miss a single moment.

  • Genre(s): humor, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: large families, parental expectations, weddings, sisters, rom-com, violinists, musicians, hip hop
  • Protagonist description: female, Indian, HS senior

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts–not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

  • Genre(s): mystery
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Scrabble. competitions, death of best friend, grief, Instagram, mental health, wordplay, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Protagonist description: female, age 16, Malaysian, Muslim, hijabi, chubby

Tin Man by Justin Madson

Solar is in her last year of high school and is reeling from the recent death of her grandmother. She has abandoned her plans for the future and fallen in with a bad crowd. Her little brother, Fenn, doesn’t understand why she’s changed—she doesn’t even want to help him build their rocket in the garage anymore.

Campbell is a tin woodsman—a clunky metal man whose sole purpose in life is to chop down trees. He longs for more, however, and decides to seek out a heart, believing that, with one, he will be able to feel things he has never felt before and, therefore, change his life.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-10
  • Themes: friendship, grief, loneliness, The Wizard of Oz, siblings
  • Protagonist description: all characters are white

*In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington

Thirteen-year-old Andi feels stranded after the loss of her mother, the artist who swept color onto Andi’s blank canvas. When she is accepted to a music camp, Andi finds herself struggling to play her trumpet like she used to before her whole world changed. Meanwhile, Zora, a returning camper, is exhausted trying to please her parents, who are determined to make her a flute prodigy, even though she secretly has a dancer’s heart.

At Harmony Music Camp, Zora and Andi are the only two Black girls in a sea of mostly white faces. In kayaks and creaky cabins, the two begin to connect, unraveling their loss, insecurities, and hopes for the future. And as they struggle to figure out who they really are, they may just come to realize who they really need: each other.

Publishers Weekly and Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: death of a parent (mother), music camp, parental expectations, summer, LGBTQIA+, coming of age, racism, self-harm, grief
  • Protagonist description: female, age 13, Black, queer

Hunters of the Lost City by Kali Wallace

Twelve-year-old Octavia grew up believing the town of Vittoria was the only one left in the world. The sole survivors of a deadly magical war and plague, the people of Vittoria know there’s no one alive outside the town walls–except the terrible monsters that prowl the forest.

But then the impossible happens: Octavia meets another girl beyond the walls, someone who isn’t Vittorian. Everything she’s ever believed is thrown into question, and there’s no going back.

In her quest for the truth, Octavia discovers a world full of lies, monsters, and magic. She’ll have to use every scrap of her skill, wits, and courage to uncover what’s real about Vittoria and the rest of the world.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: plagues, war, magic, monsters, lies, truth, secrets, friendship, grief
  • Protagonist description: female, age 12, white

Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods by Catherynne M. Valente

Osmo Unknown hungers for the world beyond his small town. With the life that Littlebridge society has planned for him, the only taste Osmo will ever get are his visits to the edge of the Fourpenny Woods where his mother hunts. Until the unthinkable happens: his mother accidentally kills a Quidnunk, a fearsome and intelligent creature that lives deep in the forest.

None of this should have anything to do with poor Osmo, except that a strange treaty was once formed between the Quidnunx and the people of Littlebridge to ensure that neither group would harm the other. Now that a Quidnunk is dead, as the firstborn child of the hunter who killed her, Osmo must embark on a quest to find the Eightpenny Woods–the mysterious kingdom where all wild forest creatures go when they die–and make amends.

Accompanied by a very rude half-badger, half-wombat named Bonk and an antisocial pangolin girl called Never, it will take all of Osmo’s bravery and cleverness to survive the magic of the Eightpenny Woods to save his town…and make it out alive.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: fantasy creatures, quests, journeys, animals, pangolins, wordplay
  • Protagonist description: male, age 13, dark hair, hazel eyes

Pride: An Inspirational History of the LGBTQ+ Movement by Stella Caldwell (Author)

Originally published in 2020 in the UK. The LGBTQ+ community is so much more than rainbow flags and the month of June. In this beautifully designed dynamic book, young readers will learn about groundbreaking events, including historic pushes for equality and the legalization of same-sex marriages across the world.

They will dive into the phenomenal history of queer icons from ancient times to the present and read about Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Audre Lorde, and more.

Including several personal current essays from inspiring young, LGBTQ+ people, this book encourages readers to take pride in their identity and the identities of those around them. Don’t just learn about LGBTQ+ history – take pride in it!

The lively four-color interior, including photographs and bold illustrations, enhances the text and makes this a beautiful and dynamic addition to any collection.

School Library Journal starred.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction, essays
  • Recommended for: Grade 6+
  • Themes: Pride, historical events, LGBTQIA+, social movements, equality, same-sex marriage, Harvey Milk, activism, identity

Grow up, Tahlia Wilkins! by Karina Evans

Debut author! Twelve-year-old Tahlia Wilkins is ready to kick off the perfect summer at the popular kid’s pool party. But when the Red Goddess of Panties, aka her first period, arrives 24 hours before the pool party, it messes up all her plans. To make matters worse, her mom is out of town, and there’s no way she’s going to ask her dad for help! Tahlia always feared that growing up would be tough, but this is just not fair.

In order to save herself from total embarrassment, it will take all of Tahlia and her best friend Lily’s scheming to keep her reputation–and her favorite jean–being ruined. Sneak off to the grocery store only to have the clerk price check your “goods” over the loudspeaker? Check. Trick your mature teenage neighbor into letting you use her bathroom to ‘rehome’ some tampons? Check. Take a dip into a fountain to ‘borrow’ some quarters for a bathroom period product dispenser? Check, check, check!

  • Genre(s): humor, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: puberty, first menstrual cycle, growing up, embarrassment, friendship, fathers and daughters
  • Protagonist description: female, age 12, rising 8th grader, white

Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl by Julie Kagawa

The Society of Explorers and Adventurers, book 1. Shinji Takahashi is just an ordinary kid. An ordinary homeschooled smart-alecky kid being raised by his globe-trotting aunt Yui.

But when a magical guardian decides to use him as a conduit to awaken its power, Shinji’s life takes a turn for the anything-but-ordinary. Captured by the menacing Hightower Corporation, which is bent on using the guardian’s magic for its own nefarious purposes, Shinji must team up with a brilliant young tech whiz named Lucy and her robot mouse, Tinker, in order to escape.

Together the two turn to the venerable Society of Explorers and Adventurers and its ragtag cast of spelunkers, hackers, mapmakers, pilots, and mythology experts (among other things) to return the guardian to its rightful home and release Shinji from its magic–which seems to be draining his life force.

Time is ticking, the Hightower Corporation is in hot pursuit, and success or failure might depend on one small thing–Shinji finally coming around to the belief that he is anything but ordinary.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: magic, evil corporations, technology, Mesoamerican mythology, Mexico, magical artifacts, colonialism
  • Protagonist description: male, age 13, Japanese American

*Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone by Tae Keller

Sometimes middle school can make you feel like you’re totally alone in the universe…but what if we aren’t alone at all?

Thanks to her best friend, Reagan, Mallory Moss knows the rules of middle school. The most important one? You have to fit in to survive. But then Jennifer Chan moves in across the street, and that rule doesn’t seem to apply. Jennifer doesn’t care about the laws of middle school, or the laws of the universe. She believes in aliens–and she thinks she can find them.

Then Jennifer goes missing. Using clues from Jennifer’s journals, Mallory goes searching. But the closer she gets, the more Mallory has to confront why Jennifer might have run…and face the truth within herself.

Kirkus and School Library Journal starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: middle school, fitting in, aliens, being different, missing persons, journals, running away, friendship, right vs. wrong, bullying, Florida
  • Protagonist description: female, Grade 7, age 12, Korean American

A Dragon Used to Live Here by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Noble children Thomas and Emily have always known their mother to be sensible, the lady of the castle–if anything, a bit boring. But then they discover Meg, a cranky scribe who lives in the castle basement, leading a quirky group of artists in producing party invitations and other missives for the nobles above.

Meg claims that she was a friend of their mother’s back when the two were kids—even before the dragon lived in the castle. Wait–a dragon? Not sure they can believe Meg’s tales, the kids return again and again to hear the evolving, fantastical story of their mother’s escapades (while putting their fussiest penmanship to work) and get caught up in a quest to reunite the onetime friends.

Kirkus starred. Includes black-and-white illustrations.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-6
  • Themes: castles, dragons, elves, kidnapping, siblings, friendship, scribes
  • Protagonist description: brother and sister, both white, children of nobility

The Edge of In Between by Lorelei Savaryn

Lottie lives in Vivelle–the heart of a vibrant city where life exists in brilliant technicolor and nearly everyone has magic. And Lottie is no exception; she can paint pictures to life in every shade and hue imaginable. But at the sudden loss of her parents, all the color is stripped from Lottie’s heart and the world around her.

Taken in by her reclusive, eccentric uncle, Lottie moves into Forsaken, his vast manor located in the gray wasteland between the Land of the Living and Ever After, the land of the dead.

The discovery of a locked-up garden, a wise cardinal, a hidden boy, and a family whose world is full of color despite the bleakness around them begins to pull at the threads of what it means to live in such a near-dead place, slowly returning some of the color to Lottie’s private world and giving her hope that life is worth experiencing fully, even while one carries sorrow.

But as time runs out, Lottie must find a way to thaw both the world and the hearts of her uncle, cousin, and those she has come to know and love in her new home, or all of Forsaken–including Lottie herself–will be absorbed by Ever After long before their time.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, retelling
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: painters, magic, death of both parents, uncles, color, enchanted gardens, secrets, cousins, tragedy, loss, hope, grief, The Secret Garden
  • Protagonist description: female, white

Hilde on the Record: Memoir of a Kid Crime Reporter by Hilde Kate Lysiak

Hilde Kate Lysiak spent her early childhood in New York City with a passion for journalism. When her family moved to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Hilde didn’t complain. Instead, she started reporting.

Hilde began by reporting on the birth of her sister, the newest resident on Orange Street, then began expanding her coverage to the entire city. She interviewed hundreds of locals in her effort to deliver “All the News Fit for Orange Street”: a seed exchange at the local library, a fundraiser for a hospital’s neonatal unit, a fire at a church, and a mysterious vandal destroying landscaping on city property.

Everything changed when Hilde received a tip that a terrible crime had happened just blocks from her house. By using the tools she had learned on the beat, the enterprising young reporter was able to confirm the facts and get the important information out to the public several hours before the other local media.

Hilde was proud of her work, but not everyone in her small town felt that way. Cyberbullies targeted her, zeroing in on her age and gender. Hilde considered ignoring them but decided she had to stand up to the haters to protect the reputation she had worked so hard to earn. Her response went viral, and nearly every major news organization took notice.

Booklist starred. As first glance, this looks like fiction. But the young lady in the story–Hilde Lysiak–is a real person, born in 2006. She has a very interesting biography, even though she is only 15. If you are doing a unit on media, newspapers, or journalism, students are sure to be interested in her real-life story.

  • Genre(s): memoir, nonfiction, biography
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: journalism, New York City, Pennsylvania, reporters, community, true crime, cyber-bullying, going viral, news, Women’s History Month
  • Protagonist description: female, age 14, white

The Lucky Ones by Linda Williams Jackson

It’s 1967, and eleven-year-old Ellis Earl Brown has big dreams. He’s going to grow up to be a teacher or a lawyer–or maybe both–and live in a big brick house in town. There’ll always be enough food in the icebox, and his mama won’t have to run herself ragged looking for work as a maid in order to support Ellis Earl and his eight siblings and niece, Vera.

So Ellis Earl applies himself at school, soaking up the lessons that Mr. Foster teaches his class–particularly those about famous colored people like Mr. Thurgood Marshall and Miss Marian Wright–and borrowing books from his teacher’s bookshelf.

When Mr. Foster presents him with a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ellis Earl is amazed to encounter a family that’s even worse off than his own–and is delighted by the Buckets’ very happy ending. But when Mama tells Ellis Earl that he might need to quit school to help support the family, he wonders if happy endings are only possible in storybooks.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: large families, poverty, food insecurity, civil rights era, prejudice, racism, Mississippi Delta, 1960s, Thurgood Marshall, Senators Robert Kennedy, single mothers
  • Protagonist description: male, age 11, African American

Mapmakers and the Lost Magic by Cameron Chittock and Amanda Castillo

Mapmakers, Book 1. Debut author! For centuries, the Mapmakers kept peace in the Valley, but they’ve long since disappeared. Now the Night Coats hold power with an iron grip–there are only rules, punishments, and consequences.

Until one night, on the run from the Night Coats (again), after breaking another rule (again), Alidade stumbles upon a secret door leading to a magical hideaway that belongs to the Mapmakers.

There, she finds a map of her home and accidentally brings to life Blue, a magical creature called a memri who is meant to protect the Valley. Blue needs Alidade’s help to find the Mapmakers and save the Valley from the Night Coats!

But the Mapmakers are long gone.

Alidade has a choice: leave the Valley like she’s always wanted…or become a Mapmaker and save the only home she’s ever known.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, fantasy, adventure
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: secrets, magic, maps, disappearance of nature, wildlife, talking heron, oppression
  • Protagonist description: female, brown skin, black hair

*Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda (Author), Paloma Valdivia (Illustrator), and Sara Lissa Paulson (Translator)

This bilingual Spanish-English edition is the first illustrated selection of questions, 70 in all, from Pablo Neruda’s original poem (320 questions) The Book of Questions.

Holding the wonder and mystery of childhood and the experience and knowing that come with growing up, these questions are by turns lyrical, strange, surreal, spiritual, historical and political.

They foreground the natural world, and their curiosity transcends all logic; and because they are paradoxes and riddles that embrace the limits of our ability to know, they engage with human freedom in the deepest way, removing the burden and constraint that somehow, we are meant to have answers to every question.

Kirkus and School Library Journal starred.

  • Genre(s): poetry
  • Recommended for: Grades K-8
  • Themes: questions, bilingual, imagination, Hispanic Heritage Month, nature

Armadillo Antics by Bill Martin, Jr. (Author), Michael Sampson (Author), and Nathalie Beauvois (Illustrator)

Children will love the rhythm and rhyme that are hallmarks of the beloved author duo of Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 as they follow the adventurous armadillo through nighttime fun as dawn approaches.

Publishers Weekly starred. This is a previously unpublished work from the late Bill Martin, Jr. and co-author Michael Sampson.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: armadillos, nocturnal animals, facts, rhyming books
  • Protagonist description: yellow armadillo

The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky by Jihyun Kim

It’s summertime and a boy and his dog are leaving behind their apartment in the busy city.

His grandparents’ home in the countryside feels like a different world. From the window, the curious boy sees a path leading enticingly into the forest. He can’t wait to explore.

At each bend in the trail the boy discovers more wonders of the surrounding natural world, from towering trees to a still, silent lake. He can’t resist diving down, down into the cool water and greeting the fish below. Then later, when boy and dog have been warmed by the gentle sunshine, they wander back, contentedly, to their family. But before they go to sleep, nature gives them one last dazzling show: they look up, up to a night sky awash with stars.

Booklist starred. Such a gorgeous cover!

  • Genre(s): wordless picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: nature, summer, dogs, wonder, imagination, exploring the outdoors
  • Protagonist description: boy and his dog

Kick Push by Frank Morrison

Epic has tricks you won’t believe. He’s the kick flipping, big rail king. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he can’t wait to hit the street with his skateboard.

But his old moves don’t feel fresh without a crew to see ’em. Epic thinks about giving up his board to fit in, but an encouraging word from his dad helps him see that the trick to making new friends is to always be yourself. Be you…be epic!

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: skateboarding, new kid in town, showing off, tricks, making new friends, fathers and sons, being oneself
  • Protagonist description: young boy, Black

Endlessly Ever After: Pick YOUR Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! by Laurel Snyder (Author) and Dan Santat (Illustrator)

Grab your basket and your coat. Put on some walking shoes.
Turn the page and begin: Which story will you choose?

Award-winning creators Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat transform a crowd of classic tales into an ever-changing, fascinating, laugh-out-loud choose-your-path picture book, in which you may find a sleeping maiden, waste away in a sticky licorice cage, discover the gold at the end of a wild goose chase, or maybe (just maybe) save yourself—and the day!

GIVES YOUNG READERS THE POWER OF CHOICE: Where do you want to take the story next? Choice and autonomy are essential concepts for children to learn at a young age, and this choose-your-path picture book puts the decision-making power right in their hands.

I love this concept for storytime read-alouds! It’s a great kick-off for fairy tale units.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades K-4
  • Themes: classic fairy tales, fractured fairy tales, choose your own adventure, storytime read-alouds
  • Protagonist description: various fairy tale characters

Kicks by Van G. Garrett (Author), Reggie Brown (Illustrator)

This is a love letter to sneakers. But not just any sneakers. Only the flyest, floatiest, you-est kicks you can get–the ones that let you soar!

This colorful, rhythmic adventure has something to offer anyone who prizes a great pair of shoes and any reader who loves to play with words.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 6
  • Themes: sneakers, shoes, coolness, free verse, rhythm
  • Protagonist description: young boy, Black

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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