New Release Spotlight – YA Books – Week of February 13, 2024

It’s another longer-than-normal YA Spotlight! I’ve got 8 YA titles for you this week.

My top pick this week is The Fox Maidens by Robin Ha. This graphic novel is set in 16th Century Korea and features Korean mythology. How gorgeous is that cover?

Links to the Google Slides presentation, printable list, Ginormous Book List, and the Middle Grade and Picture Book Spotlights for this week are all at the bottom of this post.


Graphic Fiction
Call Me Iggy

Author: Jorge Aguirre

Illustrator: Rafael Rosado

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Genre: graphic fiction, realistic fiction

Setting: Columbus, Ohio, USA; during 2016 presidential election 

Recommended for: Grades 8-12

Themes: immigrant families, undocumented immigrants, grandfathers, ghosts, love advice, learning Spanish, tutoring, discrimination, racism, microaggressions

Protagonist: male, Colombian American, HS freshman

Starred reviews: Booklist and Kirkus

Pages: 256

See it on Amazon


Ignacio “Iggy” Garcia is an Ohio-born Colombian American teen living his best life. After bumping into Marisol (and her coffee) at school, Iggy’s world is spun around. 

But Marisol has too much going on to be bothered with the likes of Iggy. She has school, work, family, and the uphill battle of getting her legal papers. 

As Iggy stresses over how to get Marisol to like him, his grandfather comes to the rescue. The thing is, not only is his abuelito dead, but he also gives terrible love advice. The worst.

 And so, with his ghost abuelito’s meddling, Iggy’s life begins to unravel as he sets off on a journey of self-discovery.

Call me Iggy tells the story of Iggy searching for his place in his family, his school, his community, and ultimately―as the political climate in America changes during the 2016 election―his country. 

Focusing on familial ties and budding love, Call me Iggy challenges our assumptions about Latino-American identity while reaffirming our belief in the hope that all young people represent. Perfect for lovers of multigenerational stories like Displacement and The Magic Fish.

Poetry, Memoir
Black Girl You Are Atlas

Author: Renée Watson

Illustrator: Ekua Holmes

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Genre: illustrated poetry, memoir

Setting: Portland, Oregon, USA; 1980s-1990s

Recommended for: Grades 7+

Themes: tanka, haiku, free verse, Black experience, stereotypes, identity, systemic racism, white supremacy, police violence, justice 

Protagonist: author Renée Watson; female, Jamaican American

Starred reviews: Kirkus and SLJ

Pages: 96

See it on Amazon


In this semi-autobiographical collection of poems, Renée Watson writes about her experience growing up as a young Black girl at the intersections of race, class, and gender.

Using a variety of poetic forms, from haiku to free verse, Watson shares recollections of her childhood in Portland, tender odes to the Black women in her life, and urgent calls for Black girls to step into their power.

Black Girl You Are Atlas encourages young readers to embrace their future with a strong sense of sisterhood and celebration. 

With full-color art by celebrated fine artist Ekua Holmes throughout, this collection offers guidance and is a gift for anyone who reads it.

This Day Changes Everything

Author: Edward Underhill

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Genre: rom-com, romance

Setting: New York City; Thanksgiving holidays

Recommended for: Grades 8-12

Themes: LGBT+, transgender, dating, fate, exploring New York City, marching band, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, scavenger hunts

Protagonist: female, gay, white; trans boy, white

Starred reviews: Booklist

Pages: 283

See it on Amazon


Abby Akerman believes in the Universe. After all, her Midwest high school marching band is about to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City―if that’s not proof that magical things can happen, what is? 

New York also happens to be the setting of her favorite romance novel, making it the perfect place for Abby to finally tell her best friend Kat that she’s in love with her (and, um, gay). She’s carefully annotated a copy of the book as a gift for Kat, and she’s counting on the Universe to provide an Epic Scene worthy of her own rom-com.

Leo Brewer, on the other hand, just wants to get through this trip without falling apart. 

He doesn’t believe the Universe is magical at all, mostly because he’s about to be outed to his very Southern extended family on national TV as the trans boy he really is. He’s not excited for the parade, and he’s even less excited for an entire day of sightseeing with his band.

But the Universe has other ideas. When fate throws Abby and Leo together on the wrong subway train, they soon find themselves lost in the middle of Manhattan. 

Even worse, Leo accidentally causes Abby to lose her Epic Gift for Kat. So to salvage the day, they come up with a new mission: find a souvenir from every location mentioned in the book for Abby to give Kat instead. 

But as Leo and Abby traverse the city, from the streets of Chinatown to the halls of Grand Central Station and the top of the Empire State Building, their initial expectations for the trip―and of each other―begin to shift. Maybe, if they let it, this could be the day that changes everything, for both of them.

Historical Fiction
A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic

Author: Yi Shun Lai

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Genre: historical fiction, survival

Setting: Shackleton Expedition, Antarctica, 1914

Recommended for: Grades 7+

Themes: women’s suffrage, WWI, anti-American sentiment, traditional gender roles, diaries and journals, Sir Ernest Shackleton, sexual assault, polar exploration, survival

Protagonist: female, age 18, American pretending to be Canadian, white

Starred reviews: Kirkus

Pages: 336

See it on Amazon


November 1914.

Clara Ketterling-Dunbar is one of twenty-eight crew members of The Resolute—a ship meant for an Antarctic expedition now marooned on ice one hundred miles from the shore of the continent. 

An eighteen-year-old American, Clara has told the crew she’s a twenty-one-year-old Canadian. Since the war broke out, sentiment toward Americans has not been the most favorable, and Clara will be underestimated enough simply for being a woman without also giving away just how young she is. 

Two members of the crew know her nationality, but no one knows the truth of her activities in England before The Resolute set sail.

She and her suffragist sisters in the Women’s Social & Political Union were waging war of a different kind in London. They taught Clara to fight. And now, even marooned on the ice, she won’t stop fighting for women’s rights…or for survival. 

In the wilderness of Antarctica, Clara is determined to demonstrate what a woman is truly capable of—if the crew will let her.

Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear

Author: Robin Wasley

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Genre: thriller, horror, survival

Setting: town of Llewellyn

Recommended for: Grades 9-12

Themes: magic, zombies, survival, transracial adoption, family secrets, disasters

Protagonist: female, age 17, Korean American, adopted

Starred reviews: Kirkus

Pages: 416

See it on Amazon


High school is hard enough to survive without an apocalypse to navigate.

Sid Spencer has always been the most normal girl in her abnormal hometown, a tourist trap built over one of the fault lines that seal magic away from the world. 

Meanwhile, all Sid has to deal with is hair-ruining humidity, painful awkwardness, being one of four Asians in town, and her friends dumping her when they start dating each other—just days after one of the most humiliating romantic rejections faced by anyone, ever, in all of history.

Then someone kills one of the Guardians who protect the seal. The earth rips open and unleashes the magic trapped inside. Monsters crawl from the ground, no one can enter or leave, and the man behind it all is roaming the streets with a gang of violent vigilantes. 

Suddenly, Sid’s life becomes a lot less ordinary. When she finds out her missing brother is involved, she joins the remaining Guardians, desperate to find him and close the fault line for good.

Fighting through hordes of living corpses and uncontrollable growths of forest, Sid and a ragtag crew of would-be heroes are the only thing standing between their town and the end of the world as they know it. Between magic, murderers, and burgeoning crushes, Sid must survive being a perfectly normal girl caught in a perfectly abnormal apocalypse.

Only—how can someone so ordinary make it in such an extraordinary world?

Graphic Fiction
The Fox Maidens

Author: Robin Ha

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Genre: historical fiction, mythology, graphic fiction

Setting: 16th Century Korea; during the Joseon dynasty

Recommended for: Grades 8+

Themes: nine-tailed foxes, Gumiho, demons, destiny, family secrets, traditional female roles, sexism, warriors, menstruation, LGBT+, murder

Protagonist: female, around puberty age, Korean, queer

Starred reviews: no starred reviews

Pages: 320

See it on Amazon


Kai Song dreams of being a warrior. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her beloved father, the commander of the Royal Legion. But while her father believes in Kai and trains her in martial arts, their society isn’t ready for a girl warrior.

Still, Kai is determined. But she is plagued by rumors that she is the granddaughter of Gumiho, the infamous nine-tailed fox demon who was killed by her father years before.

Everything comes crashing down the day Kai learns the deadly secret about her mother’s past. Now she must come to terms with the truth about her identity and take her destiny into her own hands. As Kai desperately searches for a way to escape her fate, she comes to find compassion, and even love, in the most unexpected places.

Set in sixteenth-century Korea and richly infused with Korean folklore, The Fox Maidens is a timeless and powerful story about fighting for your place in the world, even when it seems impossible.

With a Little Luck

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publication date: February 6, 2024

Genre: romance, rom-com

Recommended for: Grades 7+

Themes: supernatural good luck, gifts, curses, dating, secretly in love with best friend, comics, artists, Dungeons & Dragons

Protagonist: male, age 16, white

Starred reviews: no starred reviews

Pages: 368

See it on Amazon


Jude is determined to fly under the radar. He just wants to draw comics, host D&D night with his friends, work at his parents’ vinyl record store, and escape high school as unscathed as possible. That is, until the night he finds himself inexplicably gifted with a bout of supernatural good luck.

Suddenly, everything Jude has ever wanted is within reach. His art is being published. He helps his friend’s song become a finalist in a songwriting competition. And he wins a pair of coveted concert tickets, which he can use to ask out the popular girl he’s been crushing on since elementary school.

But how long can Jude’s good fortune last? And why does he find himself thinking about Ari, his best friend since forever? If Jude has been dreaming of the wrong girl this whole time, does that mean he’s doomed to be unlucky in love forever?

Skater Boy

Author: Anthony Nerada

Publication date: February 6, 2024

Genre: romance, realistic fiction

Setting: Valentine, Ohio, USA

Recommended for: Grades 9-12

Themes: closeted gay, bad boy reputation, ballet, friendship, family problems, bullying, failing grades, domestic abuse, alcohol dependency 

Protagonist: male, age 17, white, closeted gay

Starred reviews: no starred reviews

Pages: 312

See it on Amazon


Stonebridge High’s resident bad boy, Wesley “Big Mac” Mackenzie, is failing senior year—thanks to his unchecked anger, rowdy friends, and a tendency to ditch his homework for skateboarding and a secret photography obsession. 

So when his mom drags him to a production of The Nutcracker, Wes isn’t interested at all…until he sees Tristan Monroe. Mr. Nutcracker himself.

Wes knows he shouldn’t like Tristan; after all, he’s a ballet dancer, and Wes is as closeted as they come. But when they start spending time together, Wes can’t seem to get Tristan out of his head. 

Driven by a new sense of purpose, Wes begins to think that—despite every authority figure telling him otherwise—maybe he can change for the better and graduate on time.

As a falling out with his friends becomes inevitable, Wes realizes that being himself means taking a stand—and blowing up the bad-boy reputation he never wanted in the first place.






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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