LIBRARY IDEA FOR NOVEMBER:

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA GAME: Looking for zero-prep Thanksgiving activities for middle school? This trivia game helps keep your students learning and engaged, even in the days before a holiday break. It’s zero-prep for you, and text and images are 99% editable.

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CHILDREN OF RAGNAROK:

Since Ragnarokthe great war between the gods and the forces of chaos—the human realm of the Midlands has become a desperate and dangerous place, bereft of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones—his family has remained prosperous. But he stands to lose everything when he’s wrongly convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is Eiric’s half-systir, Liv, who’s under suspicion for her interest in seidr, or magic. Then a powerful jarl steps in: He will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove—the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reginn Eiklund has spent her life performing at alehouses for the benefit of her master, Asger, a fire demon she is desperate to escape. After one performance that amazes even herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make Reginn an irresistible offer: return with them to the Temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.

Eiric’s, Liv’s, and Reginn’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, a paradise fueled by magic and the site of the Temple. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

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New Release Spotlight: November 8, 2022

This is another week where local internet has failed us royally. We live in a small town in Mexico, and it’s just how it is sometimes. Good thing we got Starlink (satellite internet) a few months ago! This Spotlight would have been impossible without it.

All three categories look great this week!

This week’s top picks:

  • Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima (YA)
  • Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (MG)
  • Snow Horses: A First Night Story by Patricia MacLachlan (picture book)

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2888-#2906 on The Ginormous book list.


Click here to “make a copy” of this presentation for your Google Drive. You can then edit to suit your library.


The Q by Amy Tintera

Seventeen-year-old Maisie Rojas has spent her entire life in the Q–a post-pandemic quarantine zone that was once Austin, Texas. Born and raised behind the high security walls that sealed their fate, she’s now a trusted lieutenant for one of the territory’s controlling families.

Lennon Pierce, the charismatic son of a US presidential candidate, has just been kidnapped by his father’s enemies and dropped out of a plane into the Q with nothing but a parachute strapped to his back. Lennon is given a temporary antidote to the disease and crucial intel for his father, but Maisie must get him out of the zone within forty-eight hours–or he will be permanently infected and forced to remain.

With unrest brewing both inside and outside the Q, reaching the exit is a daunting and dangerous task. But if Maisie and Lennon fail, it could mean disaster for the entire quarantine zone and its inhabitants–and could cost Lennon his life.

Strap in for breakneck action and compelling characters in this timely, nonstop thriller.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): post-apocalypse, thriller, adventure
  • Setting: large quarantine zone that was once Austin, Texas
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: pandemics, quarantine, prisons, kidnapping, survival, gangs, parent in politics, race against the clock, orphans
  • Protagonist description: female, age 17-18, Mexican-UK heritage; male love interest is 19 and white

*Runestone Saga: Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima

Runestone Saga, book 1. Since Ragnarok–the great war between the gods and the forces of chaos–the human realm of the Midlands has become a desperate and dangerous place, bereft of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones–his family has remained prosperous. But he stands to lose everything when he’s wrongly convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is Eiric’s half-systir, Liv, who’s under suspicion for her interest in seidr, or magic. Then a powerful jarl steps in: He will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove–the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reginn Eiklund has spent her life performing at alehouses for the benefit of her master, Asger, a fire demon she is desperate to escape. After one performance that amazes even herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make Reginn an irresistible offer: return with them to the Temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.

Eiric’s, Liv’s, and Reginn’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, a paradise fueled by magic and the site of the Temple. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred. My husband and 15-year old son are both excited for this book!

  • Genre(s): mythology, adventure, fantasy
  • Setting: human realm of “Midlands” (Midgard) in Norse mythology; set after Ragnarok (great war between gods and monsters)
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: Norse mythology, Ragnarok, magic, gods and goddesses, witches, wrongfully accused, crime, murder, sorcery, demons, evil, war, Vikings, strong female protagonists, plot twists
  • Protagonist description: male and female stepsiblings, age 16, Norse, cued white; secondary cast is racially-diverse

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell has won fans all over the world by writing about love and life in a way that feels true.

In her first collection, she gives us nine beautifully crafted love stories. Girl meets boy camping outside a movie theater. Best friends debate the merits of high school dances. A prince romances a troll. A girl romances an imaginary boy. And Simon Snow himself returns for a holiday adventure.

It’s a feast of irresistible characters, hilarious dialogue, and masterful storytelling–in short, everything you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell book.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): anthology, short stories, romance
  • Setting: different settings, but some are in Nebraska; two stories are set over holiday season
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: New Year’s Eve, Christmas, holidays, friendship, relationships, dating, breaking up, character-driven stories
  • Protagonist description: most protagonists are white; one queer couple

*The Secrets We Keep by Cassie Gustafson

High school freshman Emma Clark harbors a secret–a secret so vile it could implode her whole world, a secret she’s managed to keep buried…until the day her best friend, Hannah, accuses Emma’s father of a heinous crime.

Following her father’s arrest and torn between loyalty to Hannah and to her family, Emma is devastated to learn she must testify against Hannah’s word in order to keep her family together. As Emma wrestles with this impossible decision, her fractured past begins to resurface piece by painful piece–causing the line to blur between her present-day reality and the dark fairy tales she writes to survive, all of which threaten to expose Emma’s long-buried truths.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Setting: small town in Oregon
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: sexual abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideation, crime, parent arrest, family problems, family secrets, writing, fairy tales, flashbacks
  • Protagonist description: female, white, HS student

Whiteout by various authors

Companion to: Blackout. As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. But will they be able to make it happen, in spite of the storm?

No one is prepared for this whiteout. But then, we can’t always prepare for the magical moments that change everything.

From the bestselling, award-winning, all-star authors who brought us Blackout–Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon–comes another novel of Black teen love, each relationship within as unique and sparkling as Southern snowflakes.

No starred reviews, but check out that list of contributing authors!!!! Each of the six authors writes a different character’s perspective.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance, rom-com
  • Setting: Atlanta, Georgia, just before Christmas, during a huge snowstorm
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: grand romantic gestures, snowstorms, winter weather, friendship, multiple perspectives, dating, relationships, author collaborations, holidays, Christmas
  • Protagonist description: 6 teens, diverse

Hanged!: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln by Sarah Miller

A dubious distinction belongs to Mary Surratt: on July 7, 1865, she became the first woman to be executed by the United States government, accused of conspiring in the plot to assassinate not only President Abraham Lincoln, but also the vice president, the secretary of state, and General Grant.

Mary Surratt was a widow, a Catholic, a businesswoman, a slave owner, a Union resident, and the mother of a Confederate Secret Service courier. As the proprietor of the boardinghouse where John Wilkes Booth and his allies are known to have gathered, Mary Surratt was widely believed, as President Andrew Johnson famously put it, to have “kept the nest that hatched the egg.” But did Mrs. Surratt truly commit treason by aiding and abetting Booth in his plot to murder the president? Or was she the victim of a spectacularly cruel coincidence? Here is YA nonfiction at its best–gripping, thought-provoking, and unputdownable.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction
  • Setting: Washington, DC, 1865
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: crime, conspiracies, US history, US Civil War, executions, President Abraham Lincoln, President Ulysses S. Grant, Women’s History Month, treason, John Wilkes Booth, court trials, questionable guilt, controversies, bias, sexism, journalism
  • Protagonist description: female, white, widowed, devout Catholic, slave owner

*Snot, Sneezes, and Super-Spreaders: Everything You Need to Know About Viruses and How to Stop Them by Marc ter Horst (Author), Wendy Panders (Illustrator), and Laura Watkinson (Translator)

If we didn’t know it before, we certainly know it now: Viruses can be powerful–so powerful, in fact, that they can hold the world in their grip for months at a time. But what exactly is a virus? Where do they come from and what do they do to our bodies? How do they spread, and what can we do to protect ourselves?

Author Marc ter Horst tackles these questions with playfulness and humor, while Wendy Panders’ quirky and enlightening illustrations bring the text to life. Snot, Sneezes, and Super-Spreaders is an accessible and engaging guide to help young readers understand our current world, with information on:

–Pandemics, addressed in an age-appropriate way that goes beyond doom and gloom.
–The value and importance of vaccines for addressing viral diseases.
–Fascinating, icky diseases of the past–and those that still hang around today.
–The science behind how to protect ourselves and our communities from current and future viruses.

  • Genre(s): nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 4-7
  • Themes: microbiology, viruses, pandemics, illness, human body, disease, vaccines, world history, personal hygiene, 1918 flu pandemic, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, Covid-19, wearing masks, quarantine, fake news

Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home.

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, realistic fiction
  • Setting: Wuhan, China; January 2020
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: cooking, community, Covid-19, pandemics, world history, viruses, lockdowns, friendship, recipes
  • Protagonist description: female, age 13, Chinese

Mihi Ever After by Tae Keller (Author) and Geraldine Rodríguez (Illustrator)

Mihi Ever After, book 1. Mihi Whan Park loves fairy tales. She wants to be a princess more than anything, but everyone tells her she’s not the princess type.

Then Mihi gets her shot: When she and her new friends Savannah and Reese discover a portal to a fairy tale realm, they get a chance to learn how to be princesses!

But the fairy tale world turns out not to be the wonderful place Mihi imagined. Soon, Savannah and Reese decide they’re ready to go home, and Mihi has to decide where her loyalties lie: With her friends and her future at home, or with her princess dreams?

Illustrated.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
  • Setting: magical fairy tale world called Rainbow Forest
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: fairy tales, princesses, friendship, librarians, magic, Sleeping Beauty, home
  • Protagonist description: female, Korean American

Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith

Debut author! When their ex-hero dad is summoned back to the royal capital of Helston to train a hopeless crown prince, Callie lunges at the opportunity to finally prove themself worthy to the kingdom’s “great and powerful.” Except the intolerant great and powerful look at nonbinary Callie and only see girl. But Callie has always known exactly what they want to be, and they’re not about to let anything stand in their way.

Trapped in Helston’s rigid hierarchy where girls learn magic and boys train as knights, Callie discovers they aren’t alone—there’s Elowen, the chancellor’s brilliant daughter, whose unparalleled power is being stifled; Edwyn, Elowen’s twin brother desperate to win his father’s approval; and Willow, the crown prince who was never meant to be king.

In this start to an epic series packed with action, humor, and heart, Callie and their new friends quickly find themselves embedded in an ancient war–and their only hope to defeat the threats outside the kingdom lies in first defeating the bigotry within.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
  • Setting: Helston, royal capital of a kingdom
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: power imbalance, kingdoms, intolerance, dragons, friendship, gender identity, knights, menstruation, traditional gender roles, transphobia
  • Protagonist description: nonbinary 12-year old, white

The Snail by Emily Hughes

Isamu Noguchi is one of the most important sculptors of all time. His Akari lamps changed the way modern buildings light their space. But before he was important, he was a kid. This is his story.

Noguchi was a Japanese American artist who gave the world light. The world, however, was not always so giving in return. Growing up mixed-race, born in the United States but raised in Japan, Noguchi found himself perceived as an outsider who did not belong in either country. Unable to identify fully as either Japanese or American, he conceived of himself as a snail, capable of retreating into his creative shell when the world did not embrace him. Through his art, the Snail could shape, hold, and create light—to conquer the darkness without.

Poetic and searing, heart-wrenching and exquisite, Emily Hughes’s paean to creativity explores emotions ravaged by a history of Japanese incarceration, the effects of personal isolation, and the power of art to heal those wounds.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book for older readers, picture book biography
  • Setting: US and Japan, 20th Century
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-6
  • Themes: artists, overcoming adversity, discrimination, metaphors, Asian Americans, belonging, identity, Japanese internment
  • Protagonist description: male, biracial (white and Japanese)

The Cool Code by Deirdre Langeland (Author) and Sarah Mai (Illustrator)

In an attempt to fit in, Zoey develops an app called the Cool Code with a cute llama avatar that will tell her everything from what to say to what to wear based on pop culture algorithms she’s uploaded.

But when the app gives her ridiculous advice, awkwardness and hilarity ensues. With a few upgrades and a bit of debugging from the coding club, the app actually works–Zoey gets really popular…and gets her pulled in all kinds of directions, including away from her real friends.

Life’s most complicated choices…is there a code for that?

Buy multiples! This is going to be popular with Raina Telgemeier fans!

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, realistic fiction
  • Setting: middle school
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-8
  • Themes: apps, coding, popularity, friendship, homeschool to public school, llamas
  • Protagonist description: female, age 12, white, socially-awkward

*Too Early by Nora Ericson (Author) and Elly MacKay (Illustrator)

I wake up very early.
Good morning, Sun, on your way at last. You don’t wake up nearly as early as I do.

Now the wind is waking.
Tickle tickle on my cheeks,
rustle rustle through the leaves.

Birds untuck and start to coo,
Whooo whooo, you wake up too early, yes you doooo…

In sweet, melodic verse written from the perspective of the earliest riser, Too Early follows a family’s morning routine, exploring both the groggy haze and the everyday magic inherent in the predawn hours of a loving household.

THREE starred reviews!

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: pre-dawn at family home
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: mornings, starting the day, sunrise, family, new baby, older siblings
  • Protagonist description: biracial girl; father is white, mother and child have brown skin

Through the North Pole Snow by Polly Faber (Author) and Richard Jones (Illustrator)

When a hunting fox pounces through the snow and finds itself inside a warm home, it’s welcomed and given dinner by a kind bearded man with a big round belly.

Soon yawning, the man leaves the fox to explore through piles of strewn wrapping paper and rows of empty shelves. As the man sleeps, the fox curls up, too, until sun and flowers return, luring them both outside.

But soon the man gets back to work–drawing and measuring, painting and hammering, sewing and stuffing, until all the empty shelves are filled from top to bottom. Paired with Richard Jones’s charmingly detailed illustrations, Polly Faber’s gentle story offers a fresh look at how Santa prepares for the most magical night of the year.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book, holiday stories
  • Setting: isolated house with a rugged, snowy landscape
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: foxes, snow, Christmas, holidays, Santa Claus, reindeer, North Pole, empathy, helping others
  • Protagonist description: white fox and ligh-skinned Santa Claus

Fashionista: Fashion Your Feelings by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Sometimes you go for clothes that are comfy–careless or just-blend-in fine. Or maybe you’re in the mood for something more chic-a-bam! Lipstick that shimmers. Knee-high boots for steppin’ out on the town. Fancy-frolic in feathers.

Whatever you wear, find something you love and fast-make it your thing. Wear your wardrobe however–chic-a-boom! You’re a fashionista! Alive with bold, vibrant, minimalist illustrations, Maxine Beneba Clarke’s freeform text celebrates the joy of expressing yourself through fashion.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: fashion, runway fashion, art
  • Protagonist description: faceless people of various skin tones

*Snow Horses: A First Night Story by Patricia MacLachlan (Author) and Micha Archer (Illustrator)

On the very last evening before the new year, when the snow is falling soft and thick, two black horses wait for the jingle of their sled. As they ride about town, they will spread light to their beloved neighbors, bidding farewell to the last night–and saying hello to the first morning.

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book, holidays
  • Setting: New Year’s Eve, snowy small town
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: New Year’s Eve, horses, snow, winter, holidays, sleigh rides
  • Protagonist description: children and adults of varying skin tones; one woman wears hijab

She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change by Suma Subramaniam (Author) and Shreya Gupta (Illustrator)

Before M.S. Subbulakshmi was a famous Carnatic singer and the first Indian woman to perform at the United Nations, she was a young girl with a prodigious voice.

But Subbulakshmi was not free to sing everywhere. In early 1900s India, girls were not allowed to perform for the public. So Subbulakshmi busted barriers to sing at small festivals. Eventually, she broke tradition to record her first album. She did not stop here. At Gandhi’s request, Subbulakshmi sang for India’s freedom. Her fascinating odyssey stretched across borders, and soon she was no longer just a young prodigy. She was a woman who changed the world.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Setting: India, early 1900s
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: singers, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, breaking barriers, Gandhi, activism, freedom, Indian independence, Indian history
  • Protagonist description: female, Indian

*Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (Author) and P.J. Lynch (Illustrator)

Whether memorized by schoolchildren or used to eulogize a president, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” written in 1922 and published in 1923, has found a place as one of the best-loved and best-known American poems of the last hundred years.

Now, six decades after the passing of its author, Robert Frost, celebrated artist P.J. Lynch brings this classic to new life with exquisitely detailed illustrations, evoking its iconic moments and wintry setting on the outskirts of a small village.

Kirkus and SLJ starred. I had a hard time finding this one in Titlewave. Use the ISBN 978-1536229141 in the search bar on Titlewave, and the US version will come up.

  • Genre(s): picture book, poetry
  • Setting: a snowing evening in the woods, 19th or early 20th Century
  • Recommended for: Grades K-5
  • Themes: Robert Frost, snow, horses, quiet, beauty, forests, winter, classic poetry
  • Protagonist description: white female wearing long dress, a belted jacket, a wide-brimmed hat, and thick work gloves

*My Paati’s Saris by Jyoti Rajan Gopal (Author) and Art Twink (Illustrator)

Another exciting day with Paati begins with a host of fun activities done in preparation for tonight’s party; threading flowers into garlands for decoration, going to the market, and helping her in the kitchen with the scent of sambar in the air.

Through it all the boy finds comfort in Paati’s sari, whether he’s wrapped in its colors for dress-up or clutching its folds for comfort. Each sari holds a story–ones that speak to him, but most important of all they allow him just to be.

With joyful text by Jyoti Rajan Gopal and dazzling art by Art Twink, My Paati’s Sari is a commemoration of how clothing can convey tradition and individuality, and connect us to both our families and ourselves.

SLJ and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: because this is a Tamil family, setting cues southern India or Sri Lanka
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: clothing, family, saris, running errands, grandmothers, LGBTQIA+ acceptance, home, feeling safe and protected
  • Protagonist description: young Tamil boy and his grandmother, Hindu

Firefighter Flo! by Andrea Zimmerman (Author) and Dan Yaccarino (Illustrator)

Firefighter Flo jumps out of bed! There’s a fire and only a pro like Flo and her team can help. Read along as the firefighters put on their fireproof suits, rush off in their truck, douse the fire with the big hose, and rescue the family pet. The CLANG of the siren and WHOOSH of the fire will have parents and kids reading aloud together.

The Big Jobs, Bold Women series introduces even the youngest readers to women as leaders in unusual jobs with teams relying on them. The first in the series, Firefighter Flo makes this empowering message accessible with a showstopping art and story about a job every kid loves.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: fire station and scene of a house fire
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 1
  • Themes: fire, firefighters, emergency services, heroes, onomatopoeia, careers, female empowerment, fire trucks
  • Protagonist description: female firefighter, brown skin and curly black hair

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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