New Release Spotlight: October 4, 2022

Hello, October! We’re off to a great start this month with another strong New Release Spotlight!

What’s great about this week’s list:

  • Four books this week got three starred reviews!
  • Lots of popular authors, including: Malinda Lo, Adam Silvera, Mariko Tamaki, Aaron Starmer, Jasmine Warga, Candace Fleming, Alan Gratz, Jane Yolen, and Tonya Bolden.
  • Two picture books for older readers
  • There is great stuff for every grade here, but I think picture books look best.

This week’s top picks:

  • Man Made Monsters by Andrea Rogers (YA)
  • Lolo’s Light by Liz Garton Scanlon (middle grade)
  • Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book by Tonya Bolden (picture book)
  • Best cover: Caves by Nell Cross Beckerman (informational picture book)

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2814-#2834 on The Ginormous book list.

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*A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo

Stand-alone companion to Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends–one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West.

Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable–for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.

And almost sixty years after the end of Last Night at the Telegraph Club, A Scatter of Light also offers a glimpse into Lily and Kath’s lives since 1955.

Publishers Weekly and BookPage starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, historical fiction
  • Setting: San Francisco, California, summer, 2013
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: summer after graduation, grandmothers, same-sex marriage, nude photos circulating at school, LGBTQIA+ culture
  • Protagonist description: female, age 18, Chinese American

*Man Made Monsters by Andrea Rogers (Author) and Jeff Edwards (Illustrator)

Horror fans will get their thrills in this collection–from werewolves to vampires to zombies–all the time-worn horror baddies are there. But so are predators of a distinctly American variety–the horrors of empire, of intimate partner violence, of dispossession. And so too the monsters of Rogers’ imagination, that draw upon long-told Cherokee stories–of Deer Woman, fantastical sea creatures, and more.

Following one extended Cherokee family across the centuries, from the tribe’s homelands in Georgia in the 1830s to World War I, the Vietnam War, our own present, and well into the future, each story delivers a slice of a particular time period that will leave readers longing for more.

Alongside each story, Cherokee artist and language technologist Jeff Edwards delivers haunting illustrations that incorporate Cherokee syllabary.

THREE starred reviews! Illustrated with white line art on black backgrounds.

  • Genre(s): horror, short stories, anthology, supernatural, historical fiction
  • Setting: USA throughout history (1839-2039)
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: war, WWI, Vietnam War, Cherokee, US history, Native Americans, indigenous peoples, werewolves, zombies, vampires, colonialism, violence, family, real-life horror inflicted by mankind
  • Protagonist description: members of a Cherokee family over a 200-year period

Anne of Greenville by Mariko Tamaki

In this modern reimagining of Anne of Green Gables, Anne is an ABBA-loving singer/actor/writer of disco-operas, queer, Japanese-American who longs to be understood for her artistic genius.

Recently relocated to middle-of-nowhere Greenville and starting at a new school, Anne has a tendency to A) fall in love quickly, deeply, and effervescently and B) fly off the handle in the face of jerks. Both personality quirks quickly come into play when the soccer team boos the premiere of her disco performance, which–in a roundabout way–introduces her to her new BFF, Berry, and she soon after meets the girl of her dreams, Gilly.

Falling quickly into that age-old trap of ignoring the best friend for the new crush, Anne soon becomes embroiled in a series of dramatic and unfortunate events, and quickly finds herself wrapped up in a love triangle she never expected. Is she MTB with Gilly? Or is Berry her true soul mate? Only time will tell.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): classic retelling, realistic fiction
  • Setting: small town of Greenville
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: singers, artists, passionate personality, disco, friendship, love triangles, Anne of Green Gables, bullying, two moms, theater
  • Protagonist description: female, biracial (Japanese and white), queer, high schooler

The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Prequel to: They Both Die at the End. It’s the night before Death-Cast goes live, and there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Can Death-Cast actually predict when someone will die, or is it just an elaborate hoax?

Orion Pagan has waited years for someone to tell him that he’s going to die. He has a serious heart condition, and he signed up for Death-Cast so he could know what’s coming.

Valentino Prince is restarting his life in New York. He has a long and promising future ahead and he only registered for Death-Cast after his twin sister nearly died in a car accident.

Orion and Valentino cross paths in Times Square and immediately feel a deep connection. But when the first round of End Day calls goes out, their lives are changed forever–one of them receives a call, and the other doesn’t. Though neither boy is certain how the day will end, they know they want to spend it together–even if that means their goodbye will be heartbreaking

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): dystopia, romance
  • Setting: New York City
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: heart conditions, death, chronic illness, LGBTQIA+, grief
  • Protagonist description: most characters are Latine

A Million Views by Aaron Starmer

Brewster Gaines loves everything about making videos. The planning, the filming, the editing, and especially the feeling of watching his YouTube views tick up and up. So what if he doesn’t have friends to film with or parents who are home every night for dinner? He’s got a phone and a tripod and a lofty goal:

A million views.

But when he enlists the acting chops of charismatic new kid Carly for a ten-second video, he gets more than he bargained for. Her intimidating friend Rosa soon steps in with funding to produce an epic fantasy trailer, and before long, their tiny team is adding cast and crew. What started as a simple shoot mutates into a full-fledged movie production, complete with method-acting cosplayers, special effects, and a monster made out of a go-kart. That’s when Brewster realizes that getting to a million views may be harder than he ever imagined.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: social media, friendship, making videos, YouTube
  • Protagonist description: male, age 12, white

*Lolo’s Light by Liz Garton Scanlon

This is a truth about growing up: Once in your life, sometime after your first memory but before you can drive a car, something is going to happen to you that doesn’t happen to anyone else you know. It might be something good. It might be something bad, or special, or funny, or shocking. For Millie, it’s something really sad. Lolo, her neighbors’ infant daughter, dies unexpectedly, suddenly, inexplicably, on the night Millie babysits.

It’s not Millie’s fault. There’s nothing she could have done. And there’s nothing she can do now.

So how does she go on?

She does what you’ll do. She finds her way.

This poignant and profound coming-of-age story portrays a tragic experience of responsibility and its poisonous flip side: guilt. Emotional and important, this is an honest and empathetic portrait of a girl at her most vulnerable–a mess of grief, love, and ultimately, acceptance–who must reckon with those most difficult of demons: death…and life.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-8
  • Themes: babysitting, grief, responsibility, tragedy, guilt, death, SIDS death, depression, therapy, healing
  • Protagonist description: female, age 12, white

*A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga

Meet Resilience, a Mars rover determined to live up to his name.

Res was built to explore Mars. He was not built to have human emotions. But as he learns new things from the NASA scientists who assemble him, he begins to develop human-like feelings. Maybe there’s a problem with his programming…

Human emotions or not, launch day comes, and Res blasts off to Mars, accompanied by a friendly drone helicopter named Fly. But Res quickly discovers that Mars is a dangerous place filled with dust storms and giant cliffs. As he navigates Mars’s difficult landscape, Res is tested in ways that go beyond space exploration.

As millions of people back on Earth follow his progress, will Res have the determination, courage–and resilience–to succeed…and survive?

THREE starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): science fiction
  • Setting: NASA lab and Mars
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: Mars rover, astronomy, outer space, artificial intelligence, NASA, helicopters, Mars, space exploration, human emotions
  • Protagonist description: Mars rover that gains human-like emotions; female human, Grade 6-adulthood

Leon the Extraordinary: A Graphic Novel by Jamar Nicholas

Leon, book 1. Debut author! In the city where Leon lives, superheroes–and supervillains–are commonplace. So how does an ordinary kid like Leon, who has no superpowers himself, become the superhero he wants to be? When all his classmates suddenly become obsessed with a new phone app that turns them into zombies, Leon gets his chance to prove that using his brain and following his heart can save the day.

The first graphic novel in this action-packed, heartfelt, and joyously funny series by Jamar Nicholas reminds readers that when it comes to being a hero, you just need to believe in yourself.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, adventure, humor
  • Setting: fictional metropolitan city
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: superheroes, supervillains, powers, zombies, inventors, video games, bullying, cruel pranks
  • Protagonist description: male, 5th grader, Black; racially-diverse secondary characters

Crash from Outer Space Unraveling the Mystery of Flying Saucers, Alien Beings, and Roswell by Candace Fleming

In 1947, during the early years of the Cold War, a field in Roswell, New Mexico was disturbed by a strange crash and smattering of debris. Some say the bodies of extraterrestrial beings were strewn across the ground, that a UFO had crashed there, and that the government was covering up the evidence in a massive conspiracy.

But what really happened at Roswell?

The infamous “crash from outer space” has become a fixture in our culture, inspiring a surge of UFO sightings and conspiracy theories. But at its heart is the story of military scientists, a city on the brink of the Cold War, and a debris field scattered with mystery. What was it that actually crashed at Roswell? Were alien bodies found? Was it Russian spies? Secret military technology? And did the government try to hide what they found?

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction
  • Setting: 1947-present; Roswell, New Mexico, USA
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: aliens, unexplained, UFOs, extraterrestrial beings, conspiracy theories, US government, cover-ups, scientists, Cold War, Russia, US history, outer space, US military, mysteries of the world

Children of Stardust by Edudzi Adodo

Zero Adedji dreams of joining one of the Saba guilds–groups of intergalactic travelers who explore space, retrieve lost treasures, and hunt down criminals.

Instead, he must scrape by as a guide to travelers stranded on his home planet of Anansi 12. Then he meets Wanderblatch, a strange creature with an even stranger object: a golden pyramid that houses a legendary Kobasticker called the Jupiter. When the Jupiter chooses Zero as its next host, he is recruited by a top Saba guild so he can harness his newfound powers.

But the stakes are rising, and Zero and his friends Camih and Ladi are tasked with recovering an artifact known as the Mask of the Shaman King, which can grant wishes at a terrible price. And they’re not the only ones on the hunt–Space Mafia head Rozan Leombre is desperate to use the Mask to break his family’s curse. The trio must use their wits, courage, and friendship to achieve their quest and protect the galaxy.

Black-and-white illustrations throughout

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): science fiction, adventure, fantasy
  • Setting: Cégolim, the City of Children
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: space exploration, treasure hunts, powers, mafia, organized crime, orphans, magic, African mythology, granting wishes
  • Protagonist description: male, Black, orphan

Two Degrees by Alan Gratz

Fire. Ice. Flood. Three climate disasters.

Four kids fighting for their lives.

Akira is riding her horse in the California woods when a wildfire sparks–and grows scarily fast. How can she make it to safety when there are flames everywhere?

Owen and his best friend, George, are used to seeing polar bears on the snowy Canadian tundra. But when one bear gets way too close for comfort, do the boys have any chance of surviving?

Natalie hunkers down at home as a massive hurricane barrels toward Miami. When the floodwaters crash into her house, Natalie is dragged out into the storm–with nowhere to hide.

Akira, Owen, George, and Natalie are all swept up in the devastating effects of climate change. They are also connected in ways that will shock them–and could alter their destinies forever.

  • Genre(s): thriller, survival
  • Setting: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada; Miami, Florida, USA; California
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-8
  • Themes: climate change, natural disasters, wildfire, hurricanes, eco-fiction, conservation, environment
  • Protagonist description: four young people; two 8th grade boys, and two female; one is white, one Puerto Rican, one Mushkegowuk

Fly by Alison Hughes

Felix Landon Yarrow (F.L.Y., or “Fly”), a fourteen-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, is captivated by the noble, chivalrous ideals of knighthood. So when he fears that a school villain, Carter, poses a danger to his lady love, Daria, he knows rescuing her must be his quest.

Using his wits and his own unique powers, he constructs an elaborate plot meant to culminate with him on his wheeled “trusty steed” triumphantly conquering his enemy and saving his “damsel in distress.” Alas, for this brave knight, as for most middle schoolers, plans often have a way of going awry.

  • Genre(s): novel in verse, realistic fiction
  • Setting: middle school
  • Recommended for: Grades 5-11
  • Themes: cerebral palsy, knights, chivalry, bullying, middle school, courage, respect, kindness, disabilities, Don Quixote
  • Protagonist description: male, age 14, white, has cerebral palsy

Yuck, You Suck!: Poems about Animals That Sip, Slurp, Suck by Jane Yolen (Author), Heidi E. Y. Stemple (Author), and Eugenia Nobati (Illustrator)

Warning: this book sucks! It bites, slurps, and sticks too.

Dare to open these pages and you’ll find ticks, mosquitos, stingrays, elephants, jellyfish, and the particularly sucky lamprey.

Sixteen slurpy poems from Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple introduce a suction-filled selection of animals, and spectacularly sticky illustrations from Eugenia Nobati spotlight these stupendous suckers.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): poetry, nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-7
  • Themes: animals, parasites, zoology, science, biology

The Tower of Life by Chana Stiefel

There once was a girl named Yaffa. She loved her family, her home, and her beautiful Polish town that brimmed with light and laughter. She also loved helping her Grandma Alte in her photography studio. There, shopkeepers, brides, babies, and bar mitzvah boys posed while Grandma Alte captured their most joyous moments on film. And before the Jewish New Year, they sent their precious photographs to relatives overseas with wishes for good health and happiness.

But one dark day, Nazi soldiers invaded the town. Nearly 3,500 Jewish souls–including family, friends, and neighbors of Yaffa–were erased.

This is the stunning true story of how Yaffa made it her life’s mission to recover thousands of her town’s photographs from around the world. Using these photos, she built her amazing TOWER OF LIFE, a permanent exhibit in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to restore the soaring spirit of Eishyshok.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography, picture book for older readers
  • Setting: Eishyshok, a small Polish town, 1941
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-4
  • Themes: Holocaust, Jews, photography, Nazis, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, murder, art exhibits, survival
  • Protagonist description: female, Jewish, Polish

*Caves by Nell Cross Beckerman (Author) and Kalen Chock (Illustrator)

Using evocative storytelling, Nell Cross Beckerman urges children to explore one of nature’s most curious ecosystems. Dramatic, poetic language guides kids through different caves around the world while nonfiction text allows for deeper understanding.

Backmatter includes an author’s note, best practices for safe cave exploration, and additional information about the caves featured in the book.

THREE starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): informational picture book, nonfiction
  • Setting: various caves around the world (Florida, Mexico, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Australia)
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-4
  • Themes: nature, caves, ecosystems, lava tubes, spelunking, fossils, bats, glowworms

*Feathers Together by Caron Levis (Author) and Charles Santoso (Illustrator)

Best friends Malena and Klepetan always adventure together! The two excitedly prepare to fly thousands of miles for the flock’s annual migration to a warm winter. But when Malena is injured, she stays in Croatia while Klepetan goes to South Africa–and the pair must navigate the turbulent winds of separation for the first time.

Being apart is hard. Malena and Klepetan miss each other achingly, and they have big feelings about adventuring on their own. But even over the vast distance, the two brave explorers discover ways to enjoy their separate seasons while keeping their hearts connected–and their hopes aloft that spring will bring them back together.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: Croatia and South Africa, autumn
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: best friends, birds, migration, separation, missing a friend, family, metaphor for family separations, based on a true story
  • Protagonist description: a light-skinned man takes care of the injured bird; village is diverse

*Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book by Tonya Bolden (Author) and Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)

As a mail carrier, Victor Hugo Green traveled across New Jersey every day. But with Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation since the late 1800s, traveling as a Black person in the US could be stressful, even dangerous.

So in the 1930s, Victor created a guide–The Negro Motorist Green-Book–compiling information on where to go and what places to avoid so that Black travelers could have a safe and pleasant time. While the Green Book started out small, over the years it became an expansive, invaluable resource for Black people throughout the country–all in the hopes that one day such a guide would no longer be needed.

THREE starred reviews! Includes black-and-white photographs.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography, picture book for older readers
  • Setting: New Jersey, 1930s-1960s
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 6
  • Themes: segregation, discrimination, prejudice, civil rights, US history, Jim Crow laws, mail carriers, traveling, 20th Century, The Negro Motorist Green-Book, social issues, grassroots efforts for change, social change, one person making a big difference
  • Protagonist description: male, African American, mail carrier

Maybe You Might by Imogen Foxell (Author) and Anna Cunha (Illustrator)

A young girl makes a choice to plant a seed by a long dead riverbed. Little does she know that from this single, small act, a vibrant ecosystem will grow. This inspiring poem–bursting with hope for a greener world–is a love letter to our ailing planet. It shows us that even when the future appears most bleak, each one of us can make a difference.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: seeds, planting, ecosystems, conservation, Earth Day, one person making a big difference, nay-sayers, trees, life cycle
  • Protagonist description: female, brown-skinned, grows old throughout the story

*A Book, Too, Can Be a Star: The Story of Madeleine L’Engle and the Making of A Wrinkle in Time by Charlotte Jones Voiklis (Author), Jennifer Adams (Author), and Adelina Lirius (Illustrator)

When Madeleine L’Engle was very small, she often found herself awake at night, marveling at the stars. They guided her throughout her life, making her feel part of a big and exciting world, even when she felt alone.

They made her want to ask big questions–Why are we here? What is my place in the universe?–and let her imagination take flight. Books, too, were like stars–asking questions and proposing answers. Books kept Madeleine company, and soon, she began to write and share her own. But would other people see the wonder she found in the world?

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Setting: New York City
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: Madeleine L’Engle, authors, writing, imagination, books, reading, stars, our place in the universe, wonder, Newbery Award winning authors
  • Protagonist description: young girl, white

The Perfect Tree by Corinne Demas (Author) and Penelope Dullaghan (Illustrator)

Bunny is looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Her forest friends tell her that the perfect tree is one that is just her size, bushy as Squirrel’s tail, perfectly pointy on top for a star, the greenest green, and smells like Christmas.

But sometimes the perfect tree is the one surrounded by friends.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: forest, Christmastime
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: holidays, Christmas, Christmas trees, rabbits, forest animals, friendship
  • Protagonist description: small forest animals–rabbit, squirrel, skunk, mole, etc.

Kimchi, Kimchi Every Day by Erica Kim

Explore the different ways to eat kimchi in this fun, rhyming tale that also teaches the days of the week.

Korean-American author-illustrator Erica Kim shares her pride in her delicious cultural food through her cut paper art technique. The Hanji paper that is used to illustrate the book comes from a paper mulberry tree native to Korea.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 1
  • Themes: food, kimchi, Korea, rhyming stories, different ways to eat, culture, days of the week
  • Protagonist description: young Korean girl and a small gray bunny




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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