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New Release Spotlight – Picture Books – January 23, 2024

I’ve got six great picture books for you this week!

If I were to only buy one book on this week’s list, it would be Elijah’s Easter Suit. This would be a great companion to Baptiste Paul’s Patchwork Prince (2023). I really like that this book is set during Easter but is not religious in nature. Church is part of the story, but it’s more about Black culture, tradition, and community.

Eyes That Weave the World’s Wonders by Joanna Ho is a companion to Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Eyes that Speak to the Stars. If those are popular in your library, you’ll definitely want this third one. I love the rhythm of these titles!

New York City libraries will not want to miss A Grand Idea: How William J. Wilgus Created Grand Central Terminal by Megan Hoyt. This is a great engineering story for any library looking for more STEM titles.

For older readers, pair Tree of Life with Marcie Colleen’s Survivor Tree. One is about the Holocaust, and the other is about September 11, 2001. Both are stories of trees representing hope after great tragedy and loss.

 

Easter Picture Book
Elijah's Easter Suit

Author: Brentom Jackson

Illustrator: Emmanuel Boateng

Publication date: January 23, 2024

Genre: picture book, holidays

Setting: Easter holiday at a Black church

Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3

Themes: clothing, fashion design, Easter, church, patchwork clothing, family, Black culture, honoring one’s culture

Protagonist: young Black boy

Starred reviews: Booklist and Kirkus

Pages: 32


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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

Elijah is on a mission to find the perfect church outfit for Easter. 

But when failed attempts at his town’s stores leave Elijah disappointed, an important conversation with Deacon Brown and Mother Green about tradition, culture, and clothing gives him the courage to create his own Easter masterpiece: a patchwork of perfection that tells his story with style.

Families at Easter will appreciate seeing the themes of church and Black culture throughout Elijah’s quest, in this sweet yet important story about a young boy’s journey toward an understanding of those who came before him.

An afterword from the author delves into the traditions and culture of Black communities at Easter and the historical importance and significance of Easter clothing and style.

Picture Book - Adoption
Eyes That Weave the World's Wonders

Author: Joanna Ho and Liz Kleinrock

Illustrator: Dung Ho

Publication Date: January 23, 2024

Genre: picture book

Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3

Themes: transracial adoption, looking different from family, alliteration, cultural differences 

Protagonist: female, Korean adopted by an American family

Starred reviews: SLJ

Pages: 40

Notes: Companion to Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Eyes That Speak to the Stars.


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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

From New York Times bestselling Joanna Ho, of Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, and award-winning educator Liz Kleinrock comes a powerful companion picture book about adoption and family.

A young girl who is a transracial adoptee learns to love her Asian eyes and finds familial connection and meaning through them, even though they look different from her parents’.

Her family bond is deep and their connection is filled with love.

She wonders about her birth mom and comes to appreciate both her birth culture and her adopted family’s culture, for even though they may seem very different, they are both a part of her, and that is what makes her beautiful. She learns to appreciate the differences in her family and celebrate them.

Picture Book - Humor
You Broke It!

Author: Liana Finck

Illustrator: Liana Finck

Publication date: January 23, 2024

Genre: picture book, humor

Recommended for: Grades 2-5

Themes: authority figures, getting into trouble, scolding, irony of parents’ words and behavior

Protagonist: anthropomorphized animals; includes parent and child animals

Starred reviews: Publishers Weekly and Kirkus

Pages: 48


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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

This collection of classic parental nags are cleverly betrayed by the situations shown, in which it’s made clear that the child knows better.

Each scenario is worthy of a giggle, adding a lightheartedness to the inevitable dynamics between parents and children.

Cartoonist Liana Finck has created a catharsis for her own childhood memories of knowing better than authority figures, and in doing so, validates young readers with the respect and understanding they deserve.

Picture Book Biography - STEM
A Grand Idea

Author: Megan Hoyt

Illustrator: Dave Szalay

Publication Date: January 23, 2024

Genre: picture book biography

Setting: Grand Central Station, New York City, USA; turn of the 20th Century

Recommended for: Grades K-4

Themes: New York City landmarks, STEM, engineering, iconic buildings, train stations, architecture, robber barons

Protagonist: male engineer, American

Starred reviews: SLJ

Pages: 48


See it on Amazon

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

There was once a place in New York City that had a tennis club, movie theater, and art gallery—all in the same building! It also had a secret passageway, a huge library, and even a ski slope.

This astounding building is Grand Central Terminal, and it was the work of one brilliant man: William J. Wilgus. When William, an experienced engineer, wanted to create a new electric-powered train system, he knew he needed to house this special fleet somewhere exceptional.

His grand idea of a solution? An underground multilevel train station that would become an iconic New York landmark, and one that is still an integral part of the city over a century later.

Informational Picture Book - Dinosaurs
Big Babies

Author: Patrick O’Brien

Illustrator: Patrick O’Brien

Publication date: January 23, 2024

Genre: informational picture book

Recommended for: PreS-Grade 1

Themes: dinosaurs, babies, size comparisons 

Starred reviews: no starred reviews

Pages: 32


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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

How big (or small) was your favorite dinosaur–as a baby? We see how some stack up, alongside childhood favorites such as a toy truck or a rubber duck. Did you know that T. rex hatchlings were only about the size of a turkey? Or that the huge, long-necked brontosaurus are said to be only eleven pounds at birth?

In this early picture book, young readers learn that before dinos grew to be large and powerful, they started off as something much smaller to behold.

Informational Picture Book - Holocaust
The Tree of Life

Author: Elisa Boxer

Illustrator: Alianna Rozentsveig

Publication Date: January 16, 2024

Genre: informational picture book

Setting: Terezin ghetto, Czechoslovakia; 1940s

Recommended for: Grades K-4 

Themes: world history, concentration camps, Terezin, Holocaust, WWII, planting trees, courage, teachers, Holocaust Museum, hope

Protagonist: teacher and various children imprisoned in Terezin ghetto

Starred reviews: no starred reviews

Pages: 40


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PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

During World War Two, in the concentration camp Terezin, a group of Jewish children and their devoted teacher planted and nurtured a smuggled-in sapling.

Over time fewer and fewer children were left to care for the little tree, but those who remained kept lovingly sharing their water with it.

When the war finally ended and the prisoners were freed, the sapling had grown into a strong five-foot-tall maple.

Nearly eighty years later the tree’s 600 descendants around the world are thriving…including one that was planted at New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage in 2021.

Students will continue to care for it for generations to come, and the world will remember the brave teacher and children who never gave up nurturing a brighter future.

THE LINKS YOU’LL NEED FOR JANUARY

 

MORE JANUARY 2024 NEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHTS

                     

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.

Each week, school librarian Leigh Collazo compiles the New Release Spotlight using a combination of Follett’s Titlewave, Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Recommended grade levels represent the range of grade levels recommended by professional book reviewers. See the full selection criteria here.

Inevitably, there are far more books that meet my criteria than can make it on the Spotlight. When I have to make the tough decisions on what to include, I just use my “librarian judgment.” Would I buy this book for my own library? Would my students want to read this book? Is the cover appealing? Does it fill a need?

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