Happy November 1st! Today is Dia de los Muertos here in Mexico, and we are excited to join a local celebration tonight! It’s our first Dia de los Muertos here since these were canceled last year and in 2020 due to COVID.
This week’s list is smaller than usual, and it’s largely dominated by YA. This week, we have new books from Shaun Tan, Christina Soontornvat, and Julie Andrews!
This week’s top picks:
- This Is Our Place by Vitor Martins (Author) and Larissa Helena (Translator) (YA)
- The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat (MG)
- The Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore (picture book)
This week’s Spotlight titles are #2878-#2887 on The Ginormous book list.
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Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho
Debut author! Lari Ramires has always known this to be true. In Olinda, Brazil, her family’s bakery, Salt, has been at war with the Molinas’ bakery across the street, Sugar, for generations. But Lari’s world turns upside down when her beloved grandmother passes away. On top of that, a big supermarket chain has moved to town, forcing many of the small businesses to close.
Determined to protect her home, Lari does the unthinkable–she works together with Pedro Molina to save both of their bakeries. Lari realizes she might not know Pedro as well as she thought–and she maybe even likes what she learns–but the question remains: Can a Ramires and a Molina truly trust one another?
Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.
- Genre(s): rom-com, romance
- Setting: Olinda, Brazil
- Recommended for: Grades 8-12
- Themes: family businesses, bakeries, cooking, grief, death of grandmother, small businesses, family feuds, rivalry, gentrification
- Protagonist description: male and female, both age 17, both Brazilian
Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria
Eight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Whisperer of Aris, the head of the spies, retreating into her position away from everyone…even her daughter.
Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.
Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.
- Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
- Setting: two feuding kingdoms, one wealthy and the other poor
- Recommended for: Grades 8+
- Themes: spies, war, death of parent (father), mothers and daughters, survival, magic, monarchies, friendship, privilege, undercover assignments, self-doubt
- Protagonist description: female, age 16, white, asexual
This Is Our Place by Vitor Martins (Author) and Larissa Helena (Translator)
Translated from Portuguese. If the walls of Number 8 Sunflower Street could talk…
As Ana celebrates the new millennium, she is shocked to learn that she must leave behind her childhood home, her hometown, and–hardest of all–her girlfriend for a new life in Rio de Janeiro.
Ten years later, Greg is sent to live with his aunt–who runs a video rental store from her garage and owns a dog named Keanu Reeves–as his parents work out their not-so-secret divorce.
And ten years after that, Beto must put his dreams of becoming a photographer on hold as the Covid-19 pandemic arrives in Brazil, forcing him to live with his overprotective mother and overachieving sister.
Set in and narrated by the same house, Number 8 Sunflower Street, and in three different decades–2000, 2010, and 2020 respectively–This Is Our Place is a novel about queer teens dealing with sudden life changes, family conflict, and first loves, proving that while generations change, we will always be connected to each other.
Publishers Weekly starred. Unique narrator! This is narrated by the house itself. The house understands the thoughts and emotions of the people inside, but it does not know anything about what happens outside the house.
- Genre(s): realistic fiction, historical fiction
- Setting: same house in a fictional rural Brazilian city of Lagoa Pequena; in three different decades–2000, 2010, and 2020
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: homes, three decades of lives, unique narrators, Covid-19, LGBTQIA+
- Protagonist description: three teens in different decades; one female, two male; all three are queer
*How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow
It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.
Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.
It could be going better.
But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side–along with the breakup.
Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?
Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.
- Genre(s): romance, rom-com, holiday stories
- Setting: Washington, D.C; Christmas season
- Recommended for: Grades 9-12
- Themes: car accidents, internships, breakups, snowed in, Christmas, LGBTQIA+, relationships, dating, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- Protagonist description: two females, queer, both of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, both cue as white
*Creature: Paintings, Drawings, and Reflection by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan is one of the world’s most highly acclaimed narrative artists–his stories and images are loved by countless young and not-so-young readers around the world. Drawing upon 25 years as a picture book and comics creator, painter, and filmmaker, Creature explores the central obsession of this visionary artist, from casual doodles to studied oil-paintings.
Beyond sketches for acclaimed works such as The Arrival, The Lost Thing, and Tales From Outer Suburbia, this volume collects together for the first time unseen and stand-alone illustrations, each resonant with unwritten tales of their own.
Detailed commentary by the artist offers an entertaining insight into the endless allure of imaginary, non-human beings and what they might tell us about our so-called “normal” human selves. Artists, writers, students, dreamers, and anyone interested in the deeper undercurrents of creativity, myth, and visual metaphor will find inspiration in these pages.
Booklist and BCCB starred.
- Genre(s): art, picture book for older readers
- Recommended for: Grades 10-12
- Themes: visual arts, artists, storytelling
Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Fun-loving Jake tells his girlfriend, Jessica, that they have to go to Tegan’s end-of-summer party in their tiny California beach town. Jessica doesn’t like parties, and she doesn’t like Tegan, who has an obvious, obsessive crush on Jake. But she agrees to go, to make Jake happy.
Mistake number two…
Something awful happens at the party. Something so embarrassing that Jessica doesn’t know if she can ever get over it–and Jake will do whatever it takes to earn her forgiveness. And now a girl is missing. Everyone is a suspect. And Jake seems to have a lot to hide. . . .
When a body is discovered at the beach, friends start turning on friends, and lies start piling upon lies. What happened could destroy their lives. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Mistake number three…
- Genre(s): thriller, mystery
- Setting: end of summer, northern California
- Recommended for: Grades 7+
- Themes: parties, peer pressure, pranks, crime, missing persons, secrets, lies, murder, dating, revenge, drugs, alcohol, consent, bullying, multiple unreliable narrators, alternating perspectives
- Protagonist description: multiple narrators, ages 17-18, 1 male and 3 females, default to white
*The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat (Author) and Joanna Cacao (Illustrator)
When cheerleading tryouts are announced, Christina and her best friend, Megan, literally jump at the chance to join the squad.
As two of the only kids of color in the school, they have always yearned to fit in–and the middle school cheerleaders are popular and accepted by everyone. But will the girls survive the terrifying tryouts, with their whole grade watching? And will their friendship withstand the pressures of competition?
Hilarious and highly relatable, The Tryout by two-time Newbery Honoree Christina Soontornvat and shining new talent Joanna Cacao will make you laugh, cry, and cheer!
FOUR starred reviews! Includes author’s note and photographs. Buy multiple copies–this is going to be a huge hit with the many fans of Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer Holm’s Sunny series, Kayla Miller’s Click series, and Svetlana Chmakova’s Berrybrook Middle School series. It looks like the paperback version of this book came out Sept. 6, 2022, but it’s only on my radar now because the hardcover is out today. I did not previously feature it here, but your library may already have it.
- Genre(s): graphic novel, memoir, humor
- Setting: small Texas town
- Recommended for: Grades 3-8
- Themes: cheerleading, popularity, tryouts, competition, friendship, middle school, microaggressions, immigration to USA
- Protagonist description: female, 7th grader, Asian American (Thai father and white mother); best female friend is Iranian American
Moongarden by Michelle Barry
Plotting the Stars, book 1. Centuries ago, Earth’s plants turned deadly, and humanity took to space to cultivate new homes. Myra Hodger is in her first year at an elite school on the Moon, and she’s crumbling under the pressure. She doesn’t fit in and, worse, the tattoos that signal her Number Whisperer magic aren’t developing. In her heart, she knows she doesn’t have a Creer, and soon everyone else will, too.
Wandering the halls while cutting class, she discovers a secret lab hidden behind one of the unused classrooms and, beyond that, a secret garden overflowing with plants. Dangerous toxic plants.
As she learns more about the garden, Myra begins to wonder if she does have a Creer after all–one that died out when the Earth did. One that could help solve the food shortages the government doesn’t want anyone to know about.
- Genre(s): dystopia, science fiction
- Setting: a moon colony, Year 2448
- Recommended for: Grades 4-8
- Themes: conservation, climate, colonizing the moon, outer space, school pressure, not fitting in, magic, secrets, gardens, dangerous plants, food shortages, boarding school
- Protagonist description: female, age 12, white
*The First Notes: The Story of Do, Re, Mi by Julie Andrews (Author), Emma Walton Hamilton (Author), and Chiara Fedele (Illustrator)
Centuries ago, a young Italian monk named Guido longed to find a way to write and teach music.
Eventually, he created the musical scale, using the words Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do…one syllable for each note. Though the other monks thought it was a waste of time, Guido’s music couldn’t be silenced. His discovery remains the foundation for learning music today, and inspired the famous song “Do-Re-Mi,” which Julie Andrews sang in the beloved movie The Sound of Music.
Kirkus and Booklist starred.
- Genre(s): picture book, historical fiction
- Setting: 11th Century, Italian monastery
- Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
- Themes: music, arts, writing music, teachers, monks, music scale, The Sound of Music
- Protagonist description: Italian monk in 11th Century, white
The Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore (Author) and Kitty Moss (Illustrator)
Based on an Icelandic Christmas tradition:
The northern lights dance,
snow blankets the ground,
it’s the Christmas season–so the Book Flood begins!
People plan and they dream,
and they visit the shops
for books to give loved ones, and families, and friends.
And when Christmas Eve comes,
they’ll share magical stories,
curl up by the fire, and read, read, read, read…
- Genre(s): picture book, holiday stories
- Setting: Iceland, Christmas Eve
- Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
- Themes: reading, bookish, holidays, Christmas, December, European traditions
- Protagonist description: small racially-diverse town; family of four (one parent and two children are brown-skinned; one parent is light-skinned)
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.