LIBRARY IDEA FOR DECEMBER:

DECEMBER HOLIDAYS LIBRARY LESSON:

This December Holidays Library Lesson covers winter holidays from all over the world! Features Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Pancha Ganapati, Boxing Day, and La Befana. Includes whole-group library lesson, scrolling slideshow, Recommended Reads, Scavenger Hunt activity, and lesson plan template.

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New Release Spotlight: August 2, 2022

The Spotlight had some obstacles this week! My internet wasn’t fully-restored until Friday, then Titlewave was out all weekend. Phew! Thankfully, Titlewave was back up this morning, and I was able to finish it.

This week’s top picks:

  • What’s Coming to Me by Francesca Padilla (YA)
  • Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (MG)
  • Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, et.al. (picture book)

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2641-#2655 on The Ginormous book list.


*What’s Coming to Me by Francesca Padilla

Debut author! In the seaside town of Nautilus, Minerva Gutiérrez absolutely hates her job at the local ice cream stand, where her sexist boss makes each day worse than the last. But she needs the money: kicked out of school and stranded by her mom’s most recent hospitalization, she dreams of escaping her dead-end hometown.

When an armed robbery at the ice cream stand stirs up rumors about money hidden on the property, Min teams up with her neighbor CeCe, also desperate for cash, to find it. The bonus? Getting revenge on her boss in the process.

If Minerva can do things right for once–without dirty cops, suspicious co-workers, and an ill-timed work crush getting in her way–she might have a way out…as long as the painful truths she’s been running from don’t catch up to her first.

Kirkus and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, adventure
  • Setting: Long Island, New York
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: teens with jobs, misogyny, sexism, crime, armed robbery, poverty, revenge, bad bosses, anger, mothers and daughters, hidden treasure, heists, social inequality
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17, Dominican American

A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic by Debbie Rigaud

Cicely Destin lives for the West Indian Day Parade, the joyous celebration of Caribbean culture that takes over the streets of her neighborhood. She loves waving the Haitian flag, sampling delicious foods, and cheering for the floats. And this year? She’ll get to hang with her stylish aunt, an influencer known for dabbling in Haitian Vodou.

And maybe spot her dreamy crush, Kwame, in the crowd.

But fate has other ideas. Before the parade, a rogue, mischievous spirit seems to take possession of Cicely’s aunt during a spiritual reading. Cicely hardly knows anything about Vodou, or how to get someone un-possessed. But it’s up to her to set things right–and the clock is ticking. She’ll have to enlist the help of her quick-thinking best friend, Renee, and, as luck would have it…Kwame.

Cicely, her friends, and the reckless spirit who is now their charge set off on a thrilling scavenger hunt to gather the ceremonial items they need. And along the way, will Cicely discover surprising powers of her on?

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): supernatural, fantasy
  • Setting: Brooklyn, New York, present day
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Caribbean culture, Haitian Vodou, spiritual possession, family, magic
  • Protagonist description: female, age 15, sophomore, Haitian American

You, Me, and Our Heartstrings by Melissa See

Debut author! Daisy and Noah have the same plan: use the holiday concert to land a Julliard audition. But when they’re chosen to play a duet for the concert, they worry that their differences will sink their chances.

Noah, a cello prodigy from a long line of musicians, wants to stick to tradition. Daisy, a fiercely independent disabled violinist, is used to fighting for what she wants and likes to take risks. But the two surprise each other when they play. They fall perfectly in tune.

After their performance goes viral, the rest of the country falls for them just as surely as they’re falling for each other. But viral fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. No one seems to care about their talent or their music at all. People have rewritten their love story into one where Daisy is an inspiration for overcoming her cerebral palsy and Noah is a saint for seeing past it.

Daisy is tired of her disability being the only thing people see about her, and all of the attention sends Noah’s anxiety disorder into high speed. They can see their dream coming closer than it’s ever been before. But is the cost suddenly too high?

  • Genre(s): romance
  • Setting: New York City, present day
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: cerebral palsy, musicians, applying to college, anxiety, cellists, violinist, musical prodigies, disabilities, first love, ableism, alternating perspectives
  • Protagonist description: female, Italian American, middle class family, cerebral palsy; male, white, wealthy family

I Rise by Marie Arnold

Ayo’s mother founded the biggest civil rights movement to hit New York City in decades. It’s called ‘See Us’ and it tackles police brutality and racial profiling in Harlem. Ayo has spent her entire life being an activist and now, she wants out. She wants to get her first real kiss, have a boyfriend, and just be a normal teen.

When her mom is put into a coma after a riot breaks out between protesters and police, protestors want Ayo to become the face of See Us and fight for justice for her mother who can no longer fight for herself. While she deals with her grief and anger, Ayo must also discover if she has the strength to take over where her mother left off.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Setting: Harlem, New York City
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: civil rights, racism, African Americans, prejudice, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, racial profiling, activism, mothers and daughters, civil unrest, protests, violence, parent in a coma, anger, grief, injustice, prison system failures, leadership
  • Protagonist description: female, age 14, African American

Dauntless by Elisa Bonnin

Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them.

As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts–a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

 

  • Genre(s): fantasy, romance, mythology
  • Setting: fantasy world where people live in trees and clash with “beasts”
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: Filipino mythology, beasts, monsters, communicating with animals, imaginary wars, LGBTQIA+, #ownvoices, colonialization
  • Protagonist description: female, brown skin

Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd

Twelve-year-old homeschooled Olive is tired of being seen as “fragile” just because she has osteogenesis imperfecta (otherwise known as brittle bone disease) so she’s thrilled when she finally convinces her parents to let her attend Macklemore Elementary. Olive can’t wait to go to a traditional school and make the friends she’s always longed for, until a disastrous first day dashes her hopes of ever fitting in.

Then Olive hears whispers about a magical, wish-granting hummingbird that supposedly lives near Macklemore. It’ll be the solution to all her problems! If she can find the bird and prove herself worthy, the creature will make her most desperate, secret wish come true.

When it becomes clear that she can’t solve the mystery on her own, Olive teams up with some unlikely allies who help her learn the truth about the bird. And on the way, she just might learn that our fragile places lead us to the most wonderful magic of all…

Booklist starred. I love this quote from the Kirkus review: “Refreshingly, her obstacles don’t come from being a wheelchair user but from navigating an inaccessible world.”

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, free verse
  • Setting: Tennessee
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: chronic illness, brittle bone disease, homeschooled students attending traditional school for the first time, theater, middle school, disability, making friends, hummingbirds, magic, wishes, special needs, wheelchairs
  • Protagonist description: female, age 12, white, disabled, uses a wheelchair

Coming Up Cuban: Rising Past Castro’s Shadow by Sonia Manzano

Fifteen-time Emmy Award winner and Pura Belpre honoree Sonia Manzano examines the impact of the 1959 Cuban Revolution on four children from very different walks of life.

In the wake of a new regime in Cuba, Ana, Miguel, Zulema, and Juan learn to find a place for themselves in a world forever changed. In a tumultuous moment of history, we see the lasting effects of a revolution in Havana, the countryside, Miami, and New York. Through these snapshot stories, we are reminded that regardless of any tumultuous times, we are all forever connected in our humanity.

Kirkus starred. Some illustrations.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction
  • Setting: Cuba, Miami, and New York, 1959
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: Cuban Revolution, Cuban history, 1950s, alternating perspectives, Fidel Castro, social justice, resilience, learning to read, propaganda
  • Protagonist description: two boys, two girls, all Cubans with different backgrounds

*Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Author) and Gabriela Epstein (Illustrator)

Can five overlooked kids make one big difference?

There’s George: the brain

Sara: the loner

Dayara: the tough kid

Nico: the rich kid

And Miguel: the athlete

And they’re stuck together when they’re forced to complete their school’s community service hours. Although they’re sure they have nothing in common with one another, some people see them as all the same…just five Spanish-speaking kids.

Then they meet someone who truly needs their help, and they must decide whether they are each willing to expose their own secrets to help…or if remaining invisible is the only way to survive middle school.

Booklist and SLJ starred. Text in English and Spanish. I could barely keep the Awkward series (Chmakova) on the library shelves. This one is sure to be the same way. Middle grade school stories in colorful graphic novel format are always an easy sell and a big hit with students.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, realistic fiction
  • Setting: middle school
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: Spanish language, middle school, friendship, working in the school cafeteria, lunch ladies, homelessness, living in a car, kindness, helping others, empathy, community
  • Protagonist description: five middle school students, all Latinx, variety of body shapes and skin tones

Flipping Forward Twisting Backward by Alma Fullerton

Claire is by far the best gymnast on her team, and she’s well on her way to qualifying for the state championships. The gym is where Claire shines. But at school, she’s known as a troublemaker. She seems to spend more time in the office than in class–which is fine with her since it enables her to hide the fact that she can’t read. She has never been able to make sense of the wobbling jumble of letters on a page. No one except her BFF knows.

But when a sympathetic principal wonders if Claire is acting out because she’s dyslexic, her mother balks.

She’s afraid Claire will be labeled “stupid” and refuses testing. Claire has always assumed she’s dumb; she never imagined her reading problem could have a solution. Is she strong enough to take on both her reading challenges and her mother’s denial? Is it worth jeopardizing her spot in qualifiers?

Publishers Weekly starred. Includes “dyslexia font” and black and white illustrations.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: competitive sports, gymnastics, teamwork, getting into trouble at school, literacy, dyslexia, secrets, social stigma on special education, school stories, learning disabilities, reluctant readers
  • Protagonist description: female, 5th grader, cued white

Skater Cielo by Rachel Katstaller

Meet Cielo, a fierce skater who finds that facing your fear of failing gives you the courage to persevere!’

Cielo loves to skateboard! But when she messes up on a new ramp she’s embarrassed and afraid to fall again in front of so many people. With the help of some new friends, Cielo summons the courage to try again (and again, and again), and learns that falling is not failing–true fierceness isn’t about landing the perfect trick, it’s about picking yourself back up when you don’t.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: skate park
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: facing fears, perseverance, falling down, skateboarding, learning from mistakes, persistence, skate parks, determination
  • Protagonist description: female, brown skin, curly dark hair

Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer (Author), Anthony Perry (Author), Alexis Bunten (Author), and Gary Meeches Sr (Illustrator)

The Thanksgiving story that most Americans know celebrates the Pilgrims. But without members of the Wampanoag tribe who already lived on the land where the Pilgrims settled, the Pilgrims would never have made it through their first winter. And without Weeâchumun (corn), the Native people wouldn’t have helped.

An important picture book honoring both the history and tradition that surrounds the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: Thanksgiving, indigenous peoples, US history, Native Americans, traditions, culture, Wampanoag, corn, Pilgrims
  • Protagonist description: a Wampanoag grandmother and her grandchildren

The More You Give by Marcy Campbell (Author) and Francesca Sanna (Illustrator)

Once there was a wide-open field, and a boy who loved his grandmother,
who loved him back.

The boy’s grandmother gives him many gifts, like hugs, and Sunday morning pancakes, and acorns with wild and woolly caps. And all her wisdom about how things grow. As the boy becomes a father, he gives his daughter bedtime stories his grandmother told him, and piggyback rides. He gives her acorns, and the wisdom he learned about how things grow. His daughter continues the chain, then passing down gifts of her own.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: multiple decades
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: grandmothers, love, family, wisdom, growing up, intergenerational love
  • Protagonist description: starts with a boy and his grandmother; continues with multiple generations

How to Catch a Witch by Alice Walstead (Author) and Megan Joyce (Illustrator)

It’s Halloween night and something doesn’t seem quite right…When the Catch Club Kids head out to trick-or-treat, there are ghosts, goblins, and ghouls everywhere!

Our heroes discover a witch on a broom has opened a magical portal that let out spooky creatures all over the neighborhood. Follow along in this frightfully fun story as they set zany traps for the witch to close the portal and save Halloween before all the candy is gone!

SLJ starred. This is part of a much larger series (How to Catch). I normally feature series books at the bottom of the New Release Spotlights, but I thought this one looked really cute for a Halloween storytime and possibly making traps from common household items for “spooky creatures.”

  • Genre(s): picture books
  • Setting: neighborhood on Halloween
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: Halloween, trick-or-treating, community, witches, making traps, candy, STEAM, rhyming words, costumes

The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller (Author) and Dan Santat (Illustrator)

James is NOT a fan of his new little brother, Joe. His parents adore Joe and don’t have time for James anymore. What is an older sibling supposed to do?!

When James stumbles upon a baby-changing station that can exchange younger siblings for much more exciting things, he is faced with endless options. Should he choose the night-vision googles, a cool chemistry set, a guitar, or keep his baby brother?

James is put through the ultimate test until he realizes that being a big brother is not so bad after all.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Setting: baby changing station at a pizza restaurant
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: siblings, brothers, sibling rivalry, diapers, poop, babies, rhyming books
  • Protagonist description: boy, age 10, tan skin, green hair

Lion Lights: My Invention That Made Peace with Lions by Richard Turere (Author), Shelly Pollock (Author), and Sonia Possentini (Illustrator)

Richard Turere’s own story: Richard grew up in Kenya as a Maasai boy, herding his family’s cattle, which represented their wealth and livelihood. Richard’s challenge was to protect their cattle from the lions who prowled the night just outside the barrier of acacia branches that surrounded the farm’s boma, or stockade.

Though not well-educated, 12-year-old Richard loved tinkering with electronics. Using salvaged components, spending $10, he surrounded the boma with blinking lights, and the system works; it keeps lions away. His invention, Lion Lights, is now used in Africa, Asia, and South America to protect farm animals from predators.

No starred reviews, but the one Booklist review is positive. Included on the New Release Spotlight because it is set in Africa.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: Kenya, Africa
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-3
  • Themes: cattle, herding, life in Africa, lions, kids with jobs, inventions, predators, STEM, Nairobi National Park, wildlife conservation
  • Protagonist description: boy, age 12, Maasai

 

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. 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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