New Release Spotlight: December 13, 2022

This is the last New Release Spotlight for 2022! Because December is never a great month for new book releases, I have combined all the featured titles for the remainder of December into one Spotlight. It’s still a very short list–only nine titles, most of which are picture books.

Two picture books really stand out as musts for elementary libraries: The Universe in You and Agatha May and the Anglerfish. Both are science-based and great to support STEM learning.

The next New Release Spotlight will be January 3, 2023. January is one of the best months of the year for new book releases, so be ready for a long list!

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2948-#2956 on The Ginormous book list.

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A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

Josefa is an unapologetic and charismatic thief, who loves the thrill of the chase. She has her eye on her biggest mark yet–the RMS Titanic, the most luxurious ship in the world. But she isn’t interested in stealing from wealthy first-class passengers onboard. No, she’s out for the ultimate prize: the Rubiyat, a one of a kind book encrusted with gems that’s worth millions.

Josefa can’t score it alone, so she enlists a team of girls with unique talents: Hinnah, a daring acrobat and contortionist; Violet, an actress and expert dissembler; and Emilie, an artist who can replicate any drawing by hand.

They couldn’t be more different and yet they have one very important thing in common: their lives depend on breaking into the vault and capturing the Rubiyat. But careless mistakes, old grudges, and new romance threaten to jeopardize everything they’ve worked for and put them in incredible danger when tragedy strikes.

While the odds of pulling off the heist are slim, the odds of survival are even slimmer…

  • Genre(s): historical fiction, adventure
  • Setting: on board the Titanic; April, 1912
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: thieves, Titanic, treasure hunts, contortionists, strong female protagonists, heists, famous books, alternating perspectives
  • Protagonist description: four teen females; one Irish, one Indian, one Haitian-French, one Croatian

Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green

When their ex-boyfriends get together and start Instagramming a disgustingly perfect summer of love, Jack and Nate decide to concoct a mutual Insta-worthy summer adventure of their own to prove they’re just fine and everything’s great.

Of course, it’s hard to have an epic summer road trip when they’re stuck in a van with Nate’s mid-life crisis-bound parents and his annoying younger sister. And it’s been years since Jack and Nate have said more than a few sentences to each other. But their followers don’t have to know any of that.

How hard could faking the high life be? Posting as @TheHeartBreakBoys, the duo stumbles into one hilarious situation after another–and each discover that maybe the cure for heartbreak has been the boy riding next to him all along.

  • Genre(s): romance, humor, rom-com
  • Setting: summer vacation, road trip across Britain
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: social media, LGBT+, road trips, fake social media posts, vacations
  • Protagonist description: two males, age 16, British, both white, both gay but one is closeted

*The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey by Jason Chin

Companion to: Your Place in the Universe. In Your Place in the Universe, Jason Chin zoomed outward, from our planet, solar system, and galaxy to the outer reaches of the observable universe. Now, Chin reverses course, zooming in past our skin to our cells, molecules, and atoms, all the way down to particles so small we can’t yet even measure them.

Like its companion, The Universe in You is a mind-boggling adventure that makes complex science accessible and enjoyable to readers of any age.

Impeccably researched, wholly engrossing, and with extensive backmatter for additional learning, The Universe in You is another knockout from the award-winning creator of Redwoods, Grand Canyon, and other distinguished works of nonfiction for young readers.

FOUR starred reviews! Amazon has this release date as Dec. 13, 2022, but Goodreads and Titlewave listed it on October 18, 2022. Before you buy it, double-check that you don’t already have it in the library. This title is a must for elementary nonfiction sections. Jason Chin is a major nonfiction picture book author, and there are many curriculum connections, especially for 4th and 7th grade science classes.

  • Genre(s): informational picture book, nonfiction
  • Setting: zooms in on very small organisms and cells
  • Recommended for: Grades K-7
  • Themes: human body, microbiology, cells, atoms, STEM, science, small size
  • Protagonist description: brown

*Agatha May and the Anglerfish by Nora Morrison (Author), Jessie Ann Foley (Author), and Mika Song (Illustrator)

Agatha May just can’t understand why her classmates aren’t as crazy as she is about the hideous humpback anglerfish. But when a school assignment gives Agatha the chance to show everybody what they’re missing, she single-handedly schools them all–and, in the process, discovers a passion for research and an exciting new dream for her future.

This book is perfect for dreamers, outside-the-box thinkers, and anyone who has ever felt like their special interest wasn’t appreciated.

Booklist and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: classroom
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: research, anglerfish, passion for a topic, STEM, daydreaming, bioluminescence, rhyming books, getting in trouble at school
  • Protagonist description: female, tan skin and black hair; classmates are racially-diverse

A Child’s Introduction to Jazz The Musicians, Culture, and Roots of the World’s Coolest Music by Jabari Asim (Author) and Jerrard K. Polk (Illustrator)

Welcome to jazz! Feel the music and rhythms of all the different styles of jazz, from swing and Dixieland to the blues and bebop, with this interactive introduction to the world’s coolest music.

Author Jabari Asim will take you on the journey through the history of jazz as you discover the most important musicians and singers while hearing some really cool sounds. You’ll learn all about the roots of jazz in Africa and New Orleans and how the music traveled to different parts of the United States and around the world. Along the way you’ll meet legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong, who shaped a new form of jazz called improvisation; pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington, who helped create the big band sound of the swing era; and the singer Billie Holiday, whose songs such as “God Bless the Child,” “Don’t Explain,” and “Lady Sings the Blues” have become jazz standards.

Listen along to the sounds of jazz by downloading music and hearing instruments such as trumpets, clarinets, trombones, and even singers scatting as they improvise melodies. With a pull-out poster showing the different instruments of jazz, A Child’s Introduction to Jazz hits the perfect beat and will have you bebopping and scatting in no time!

My note: When I was an elementary librarian, I taught lesson on jazz during Mardi Gras. We read a mix of Dizzy by Jonah Winter, George Weiss’s What A Wonderful World, and Jazz by Walter Dean Myers. We listened to the greats of jazz, and the students loved it! I’ll never forget the sweet little second grade girl who said Louis Armstrong sounded like an angel when he sang “What a Wonderful World.” This book would be perfect for that lesson!

  • Genre(s): informational picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-7
  • Themes: music, jazz, blues, bebop, musicians, singers, music history, jazz history, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday
  • Protagonist description: multiple early jazz musicians

Teddy Let’s Go! by Michelle Nott (Author) and Nahid Kazemi (Illustrator)

Teddy and My are made for each other–literally in the case of Teddy, a bear lovingly stitched and stuffed by Grandma for her newborn granddaughter. From eating mushy vegetables to playing with blocks, Teddy is there every step of the way as the baby grows older. Even as the little girl goes to school and makes new friends, she can always count on Teddy for playtime, comfort, and friendship.

As she leaves early childhood behind, My comes to rely on Teddy less and less. But Teddy still has an important role to play in My’s life. In an act of welcome and tremendous love, My decides to give Teddy to her newborn baby brother, who needs Teddy just as much now as she once did.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: multiple places in a young girl’s life–preschool, home, bedroom, camp, car
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: comfort objects, teddy bears, new baby sibling, grandmothers, unique narrators (told from the bear’s point of view), growing up
  • Protagonist description: young girl, pale skin, dark hair

The Mystery of the Love List by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Author) and Ishaa Lobo (Illustrator)

Pippa’s teacher tells her students to make a love list–a list of all the things that take up room in their hearts.

Pippa makes her list, but when she finds someone else’s and sees that her own name has been written down, along with all of her favorite things, she discovers she has a secret admirer!

Maybe the best friend she’s always hoped for is right in her classroom, if only she can crack the case. Good thing there’s nothing Pippa loves more than a good detective story. Will she solve the mystery of the love list and find a new friend?

  • Genre(s): picture book, mystery
  • Setting: schoolyard and classroom
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: Valentine’s Day, friendship, secret admirers, deductive reasoning, lists, detectives, porcupines, school
  • Protagonist description: personified female porcupine; classmates are woodland creatures

Dragon Noodle Party by Ying Chang Compestine (Author) and Paula Pang (Illustrator)

It’s almost time for the party! One-by-one all the animals of the zodiac go up the hill, each one carrying an ingredient. Horse trots up the hill with a big wok. Goat strolls up the hill with wild onions.

Except for snake, that is. It’s his birthday! All of his friends have prepared long noodles to celebrate his long and happy life. Simple text is paired with delightful, friendly art in this joyous look at the Chinese tradition of preparing long noodles to celebrate birthdays, the New Year, and other festive occasions.

A kid-friendly recipe for how to make Dragon Beard Noodles, a dish popular in Northern China, is included as well as a note on the Chinese Zodiac.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: China
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: Chinese zodiac animals, Chinese New Year, birthday parties, noodles, snakes, traditions, culture, celebrations, food
  • Protagonist description: animals of the Chinese zodiac

Grumpy New Year by Katrina Moore (Author) and Xindi Yan (Illustrator)

Daisy is traveling to China, and she’s excited to see her Yeh-Yeh again! She has big plans for all the fun they’ll have together in preparation for Lunar New Year, like flying kites and making jiao zi.

But when she arrives, she has trouble sleeping and is less jolly than she hoped. Throughout the week, Yeh-Yeh tries all sorts of things to help her have a fun holiday and get her past her grumpiness. Will Daisy be able to get some rest and have one perfect day before she goes home?

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Setting: China
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: grandfathers, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, family traditions, jet lag, family, vacations, traveling across time zones, recipes
  • Protagonist description: a young girl and her Chinese family




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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