New Release Spotlight: August 9, 2022

Not a huge or super-exciting list this week. Half the list is picture books, which look best to me on this list. I’m most excited about How You Grow Wings, which is about two sisters and set in Nigeria. I always love books set outside the US!

We also have two nonfiction spy books, a zombie YA, a retelling of the French Revolution (set in the year 3070!), a book with a Jewish rabbi at the center of the story.

This week’s top picks:

  • How You Grow Wings by Rimma Onoseta (YA)
  • Big Rig by Louise Hawes (middle grade)
  • Nana, Nenek & Nina by Liza Ferneyhough (picture book)
  • Favorite cover: Pizza!: A Slice of History by Greg Pizzoli

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2656-#2671 on The Ginormous book list.

*How You Grow Wings by Rimma Onoseta

Debut author! Sisters Cheta and Zam couldn’t be more different. Cheta, sharp-tongued and stubborn, never shies away from conflict–either at school or at home, where her mother fires abuse at her.

Timid Zam escapes most of her mother’s anger, skating under the radar and avoiding her sister whenever possible.

In a turn of good fortune, Zam is invited to live with her aunt’s family in the lap of luxury. Jealous, Cheta also leaves home, but to a harder existence that will drive her to terrible decisions. When the sisters are reunited, Zam alone will recognize just how far Cheta has fallen–and Cheta’s fate will rest in Zam’s hands.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Setting: rural areas and cities in Nigeria; present day
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: sisters, abuse, mothers and daughters, aunts, runaways, jealousy, kidnapping, alternating viewpoints, social class, colorism, nonlinear narrative, Africa
  • Protagonist description: two sisters, Nigerian

Cake Eater by Allyson Dahlin

The year is 3070, and Marie Antoinette has just arrived at the glittering, thrilling palace of Versailles to marry the shy, soft-spoken Louis-Auguste.

But beneath the luxurious world lies a sinister underbelly and an uncompromising elite who want to keep Marie and Louis pawns in a deadly game.

Will history repeat itself? Or will these doomed lovers outwit their enemies and escape their grisly fate?

  • Genre(s): romance, historical fiction (but set in the future)
  • Setting: France, Europe, year 3070
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Marie-Antoinette, King Louis XVI, Robespierre, luxury, power, extreme wealth, social class, social influencers, climate change, French Revolution set in the future
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17, white, Austrian

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she’s shocked to learn that he has left everything–the house, the grounds, and the money–to her. The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she’ll be left with nothing.

There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen’s dreams–and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night? And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick?

With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.

  • Genre(s): horror, supernatural
  • Setting: wealthy family estate
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: family problems, mansions, inheritance, nightmares, monsters
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17, white

The Undead Truth of Us by Britney Lewis

Death was everywhere. They all stared at me, bumping into one another and slowly coming forward.

Sixteen-year-old Zharie Young is absolutely certain her mother morphed into a zombie before her untimely death, but she can’t seem to figure out why. Why her mother died, why her aunt doesn’t want her around, why all her dreams seem suddenly, hopelessly out of reach. And why, ever since that day, she’s been seeing zombies everywhere.

Then Bo moves into her apartment building–tall, skateboard in hand, freckles like stars, and an undeniable charm. Z wants nothing to do with him, but when he transforms into a half zombie right before her eyes, something feels different. He contradicts everything she thought she knew about monsters, and she can’t help but wonder if getting to know him might unlock the answers to her mother’s death.

As Zharie sifts through what’s real and what’s magic, she discovers a new truth about the world: Love can literally change you–for good or for dead.

  • Genre(s): horror, supernatural
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: death of a parent (mother), zombies, grief, love, apocalypse, monsters
  • Protagonist description: female, age 16, Black

Agent Most Wanted: The Never-Before-Told Story of the Most Dangerous Spy of World War II by Sonia Purnell

Virginia Hall was deemed “the most dangerous of all allied spies” by the Gestapo. Armed with her wits and her prosthetic leg, she was deployed behind enemy lines to inspire resistance in France, providing crucial support to fighting the Nazi occupation. In this largely untold story, Sonia Purnell uncovers the truth behind a Baltimore socialite who was essential to allied victory.

Adapted for the elementary to middle school audience audience, Agent Most Wanted is equal parts an inspiring tale of feminism in a time when women weren’t taken seriously, an epic spy story, and, of course, a retelling of winning one of the largest global conflicts in modern history.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction, biography
  • Setting: France, World War II (1939-1945)
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-9
  • Themes: spies, Allies, WWII, prosthetic limbs, resistance, Mazi occupation of France, war, Women’s History Month, world history, European history, secret service
  • Protagonist description: female, American, white, wore prosthetic leg

Spies by David Long (Author) and Terri Po (Illustrator)

From Harry Ree, teacher turned saboteur, to Margery Booth, the spy who sang for Hitler, to Scotch Lass, Britain’s smallest ever agent, discover twenty-seven of the most courageous and daring spies…

For as long as there have been secrets to keep, there have been spies, the world over, trying to uncover this classified information. Spying goes on all the time, and everywhere, but some of the most astonishing exploits occur during wartime.

The stories in this beautiful collection unpick some of the most astonishing missions undertaken during World War Two–actions that helped to save many lives. Amazingly, many of these tales had to remain a deadly secret at the time and are little known even to this day.

Discover twenty-seven of the most courageous and daring, including:

  • Giliana Gerson, Britain’s first female spy
  • Harry Ree, teacher turned saboteur
  • Margery Booth, the spy who sang for Hitler
  • Roald Dahl, the spy who became a bestselling author
  • Noor Inayat Khan, the first woman wireless operator
  • Scotch Lass, Britain’s smallest ever agent
  • ‘Major Martin’ the man who never was
  • and many more!
  • Genre(s): collected biography
  • Setting: WWII, Europe
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: spies, courage, WWII, courage, Allies, European history, world history
  • Protagonist description: various male and female spies from WWII, all are white

The Unique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael

It isn’t easy being Louisa Elizabeth Fitzhenry-O’Shaughnessy–especially with dyslexia. She prefers Lou Fox, the dream name she’ll use one day as a famous Broadway playwright. In the meantime, Lou is stuck in fifth grade with Mrs. Snyder, a total Shadow Phantom of a teacher who can spot a daydream from across the room but doesn’t know anything about ADHD. Mrs. Snyder’s constant attention is ex-cru-ci-a-ting. If only she would disappear.

Fortunately, life isn’t all a-tro-cious. There’s The Haunting at Lakeside School, the play Lou is writing and directing for her two best friends. And soon she’ll be a big sister at last. Nothing could ruin the joy of those things…right?

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Setting: Winnipeg, Canada, present day
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: playwrights, dreams, theater, dyslexia, ADHD, school problems, friendship, mother’s pregnancy, expecting twins
  • Protagonist description: female, white, Canadian, 5th Grader, dyslexia and ADHD

Big Rig by Louise Hawes

Life on the road with Daddy is as good as gets for Hazmat. Together, they’ve been taking jobs and crisscrossing the US for years. Now Daddy’s talking about putting down roots–somewhere Hazmat can go to a real school and make friends. Somewhere Daddy doesn’t have to mail-order textbooks about “nature’s promise to all women.” Somewhere Mom’s ashes can rest on a mantel and not on a dashboard.

While everything just keeps changing, sometimes in ways she can’t control, Hazmat isn’t ready to give up the freedom of long-distance hauling. Sure the road is filled with surprises, from plane crashes and robo trucks to runaway hitchhikers and abandoned babies, but that all makes for great stories! So Hazmat hatches a plan to make sure Daddy’s dream never becomes a reality. Because there’s only one place Hazmat belongs: in the navigator’s seat, right next to Daddy, with the whole country flying by and each day different from the last.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Setting: on the road in the USA, present day
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: fathers and daughters, road trips, over-the-road trucking industry, life on the road, death of a parent (mother), home, fear of change, sabotage, recovering alcoholic parent (father)
  • Protagonist description: female, age 11, white

To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat (Author) and Rahele Jomepour Bell (Illustrator)

One person.
Small, quiet,
But when one person,
and one person,
and one person
become many,
they can change
a planet.

Spare, poetic text and breathtaking pictures invite readers on a stirring journey that gently illuminates the causes of climate change as well as how our individual and collective actions can make the world better.

Meticulously researched and brimming with beauty, hope, and hands-on solutions that will edify and empower even the youngest readers, this loving ode to our planet is vital for every child, classroom, and family.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: climate change, environment, conservation, Earth Day, pollution, activism, making individual small differences in the world, one person can make a difference
  • Protagonist description: brown-skinned child; diverse group of marchers in Washington, DC

*Nana, Nenek & Nina by Liza Ferneyhough

Nina lives in San Francisco with her parents, and she loves visiting her two grandmas across the world.

Follow Nina as her two trips unfold side by side: Young readers will love poring over the details of what is the same and what is different at Nana’s home in England and at Nenek’s home in Malaysia.

In each place, Nina wears different clothes, plays different games, and eats different food. But so much about visiting Nana and Nenek is the same, from warm hugs at the airport to beach days and bedtime snuggles. Nina is equally at home across the world in Malaysia or England, and both of her grandmas love her to California and back.

BCCB and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: San Francisco, England, and Malaysia
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: details in illustrations, clothing, culture, travel, grandparents, family, flying on an airplane, foods
  • Protagonist description: young girl, light brown skin; grandparents are white and brown-skinned

Lola Out Loud: Inspired by the Childhood of Activist Dolores Huerta by Jennifer Torres (Author) and Sara Palacios (Illustrator)

Her grandpa calls her “Lolita Siete Lenguas”–Little Lola, Seven Tongues, all fighting to be heard. Lola is trying not to make so much noise, but when she witnesses injustices in her own neighborhood, she knows she can’t keep quiet. Can Lola find a way to use her voice for change? ¡Sí, se puede!

Inspired by the real-life civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta, Lola Out Loud is a warm and rollicking picture book that reminds us that sometimes one strong voice is just what we need.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Setting: California, 1940s-now
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: family, injustice, civil rights, activists, workers’ rights, labor rights, fighting for what you believe in, working in a hotel, compassion, empathy, curiosity, hard work, union organizing, United Farm Workers, Cesar Chavez, migrant farm workers, Hispanic Heritage Month, immigrants
  • Protagonist description: female, Mexican American

Black Boy, Black Boy: Celebrate Remarkable Moments in Black History with this Uplifting Story by Ali Kamanda (Author), Jorge Redmond (Author), and Ken Daley (Illustrator)

Dear boy, Black boy, I believe in you so.

Let’s start your story―ready, set, go.

From athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick to musician Fela Kuti, explorer Matthew Henson and writer Chinua Achebe, there are so many inspirational men in Black history. This lyrical, rhythmic text encourages boys to imagine everything they can be and the great things they can do, drawing on the strength of people throughout history that paved the way for Black boys today.

Black Boy, Black Boy tells today’s boys: you have the courage, you are the light. It’s a new day! Be inspired and motivated by drawing on the history of the role models that came before you.

SLJ starred. I love the colorful illustrations! Historical figures include: Fela Kuti (Nigerian musician), Chinua Achebe (Nigerian author), Elijah McCoy (Canadian-American inventor), Emory Malick (American aviation pioneer), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (American civil rights activist), and Colin Kaepernick (American NFL player and civil rights activist).

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades K-2
  • Themes: US history, Black men, inspiration, confidence, rhyming books, social justice, activists
  • Protagonist description: young Black boy and an adult companion

Pizza!: A Slice of History by Greg Pizzoli

Do YOU like PIZZA? Because right now, somewhere in the world, someone is eating it. Did you know that in the United States we eat 350 slices of pizza every second? Or that in Sweden they serve pizza with bananas and peanuts? All over the world, people love pizza–but where did it come from? And who made the first pizza?

Join award-winning author and illustrator Greg Pizzoli as he travels through time and around the globe to discover the mouth-watering history of pizza. Bursting with color, flavor, fun facts, and a family-friendly English muffin pizza recipe, Pizza!: A Slice of History reveals the delicious story of the world’s best food.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: pizza in different places around the world (Italy, Brazil, Russia, Italy, Japan, Sweden, New York City…)
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: food, pizza, culture, history of food, recipes, chefs

A Synagogue Just Like Home by Alice Blumenthal McGinty (Author) and Laurel Molk (Illustrator)

Rabbi Ruben loves his synagogue. But he doesn’t love the creaking floorboards, leaking sink, or drafty windows. Surely, he thinks, he can fix it up so it feels cared for, like a happy home!

But Rabbi Ruben doesn’t know much about home repair, so when his creative fixes–challah dough plugging a drippy faucet, tablecloths blocking a window draft–make things humorously worse, it’ll take his whole congregation banding together to remind him what really makes a place feel like a happy home.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Setting: Jewish synagogue
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: Jewish stories, rabbis, synagogues, temples, community, repairs, sharing, helping others, friendship, religion
  • Protagonist description: rabbi is white; congregants are mixed in race and age

Parfait, Not Parfait! by Scott Rothman (Author) and Avery Monsen (Illustrator)

This book is a deceptively simple journey of words that rhyme (or don’t) with “parfait.”

Each page turn brings on the laughs as the clever story bounces from an uneaten parfait to seemingly random characters, including a duck, a toupée-wearing Shar-pei, horses playing “Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkay”, and even…Abraham Lincoln.

Throughout, bestselling artist Avery Monsen (All My Friends Are Dead) packs fun seek-and-finds, giving readers a chance to spot everything that rhymes with “parfait.”

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: food, parfaits, desserts, rhyming books, seek-and-find illustrations, word play, rhymes with -ay, fun for storytime

Abuelita and I Make Flan by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom

Anita is making flan for Abuelo’s birthday, but when she accidentally breaks Abuelita’s treasured flan serving plate from Cuba, she struggles with what to do.

Anita knows it’s right to tell the truth, but what if Abuelita gets upset? Worried that she has already ruined the day, Anita tries to be the best helper. After cooking the flan, they need a serving dish! Anita comes up with a wonderful solution.

Complete with a glossary of Spanish terms and a traditional recipe for flan, Abuelita and I Make Flan is a delicious celebration of food, culture, and family.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: kitchen
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: food, dessert, flan, traditions, customs, family, grandmothers, Spanish language, cooking, recipes, birthdays, accidentally breaking a treasured item, telling the truth, honesty, culture, arthritis
  • Protagonist description: young girl and her grandmother; grandmother is of Cuban descent





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.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop