New Release Round Up – October 5, 2021

I know it’s been a while, but we are back with all the best new releases!

As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

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Board Books

Together by Mona Damluji, Illustrated by Innosanto Nagara

In Together, social justice kids book pioneer Innosanto Nagara teams up with poet and activist Mona Damluji for a stunningly tender and pitch-perfect visual feast that juxtaposes individual action with the power of people acting together. Each of the ten free-verse couplets in the poem is spread across four pages of imagery, to make a unique and different kind of board book for young kids to discover with their families.

The first illustrated book in which Nagara applies his extraordinary visual imagination to words not his own, Together is simplicity itself–a poem about the transformational change that happens when people stop acting alone and start doing things together. Together is Nagara’s third board book, following the immensely popular social justice board books A is for Activist and Counting on Community.

Picture Books

Skywatcher by Jamie Hogan

Tamen longs to see the stars, but none are visible in the light-polluted sky above the fire escape of his urban apartment building. Even in the neighborhood park, the stars are hidden by city lights.

This is a story about love and sacrifice: Tamen’s mom, a nightshift nurse, finds a way to take him camping. For one magical night on the shore of a wilderness pond, the Milky Way in all its glory belongs to them. color throughout

The Missing Trick by Robin Jacobs, Illustrated by Aimee Wright

Meet Louis… Every little thing he does is MAGIC!

Louis is a young street magician. He is setting up for his show but he can’t find his rabbit anywhere. He looks inside his hat but finds only a bouquet of flowers, which is caught by a passing woman as he throws it away in disgust. He looks under his cups, spilling out dozens of balls, which are pounced upon by a group of kids. An endless string of scarves comes out of his sleeve and is wrapped around the neck of a posh lady…. With each trick, his audience grows, and unbeknownst to Louis, his show is unfolding brilliantly… But WHERE could that pesky rabbit be hiding???

Finally, Louis looks in his bag…. climbs in it…. and disappears. Now the rabbit AND Louis are missing! The audience hold their breaths until, POOF! Louis appears on the table in a puff of smoke. They erupt in a roar of applause. Louis, bemused, notices them for the first time. He takes off his cap to take a bow. The rabbit is sitting on his head.

This is funny but also empowering story about a child, unaware of his own talents, who creates a diverse community around him, delighting in his show.

Chapter Books

Audrey L and Audrey W (Best Friends-ish: Book 1) by Carter Higgins, Illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann

Over the course of a week in school, this bighearted, true-to-life chapter book will resonate with any young reader who’s ever felt overlooked, second-best, or defined according to someone else. The first in a series, Best Friends-Ish provides a fresh take on the joys and traumas of elementary school drama.

More than anything, second-grader Audrey wants to be the best at something. It always feels like she’s not-quite-enough—not smart enough, not fast enough, not funny enough.

When her beloved Miss Fincastle announces that a new girl, another AUDREY, is joining the class, Audrey suddenly becomes Audrey L., which makes her feel worse than ever.

But is the new Audrey all bad? Might the two Audreys have more in common than just their name? And if the girls become friends, how will Audrey ever figure out how to be her best self—if she can’t even be the best Audrey?

She Persisted: Margaret Chase Smith by Ruby Shamir, Illustrated by Gillian Flint

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Ruby Shamir, readers learn about the amazing life of Margaret Chase Smith–and how she persisted

Margaret Chase Smith liked to help people, and she knew she could do that as a member of Congress. She became the first woman to serve in both the House and the Senate, where she supported the space program and more opportunities for women. Her hard work and success helped pave the way for generations of women after her to run for office!

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton and a list of ways that readers can follow in Margaret Chase Smith’s footsteps and make a difference!

Middle Grade

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching (Tristan Strong Book 3) by Kwame Mbalia

After reuniting with Ayanna, who is now in his world, Tristan travels up the Mississippi in pursuit of his archenemy, King Cotton. Along the way they encounter new haints who are dead set on preventing their progress north to Tristan’s hometown of Chicago. It’s going to take many Alkean friends, including the gods themselves, the black flames of the afokena gloves, and all of Tristan’s inner strength to deliver justice once and for all.

Shocking twists, glorious triumphs, and a cast of unforgettable characters make this series conclusion as satisfying as it is entertaining.

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.

Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…

Burying the Moon by Andrée Poulin, Illustrated by Sonali Zohra

A beautifully illustrated novel in verse about a young Indian girl who tackles the taboos around sanitation in her village. 

In Latika’s village in rural India, there are no toilets. No toilets mean that the women have to wait until night to do their business in a field. There are scorpions and snakes in the field, and germs that make people sick. For the girls in the village, no toilets mean leaving school when they reach puberty.

No one in the village wants to talk about this shameful problem. But Latika has had enough. When a government representative visits their village, she sees her chance to make one of her dreams come true: the construction of public toilets, which would be safer for everybody in her village. 

Burying the Moon shines a light on how a lack of access to sanitation facilities affects girls and women in many parts of the world. 

Susie B. Won’t Back Down by Margaret Finnegan

Susie B. has a lot to say. Like how it’s not fair that she has to be called Susie B. instead of plain Susie. Or about how polar bears are endangered. Or how the Usual Geniuses are always getting picked for cool stuff over the kids like her with butterflies in their brain. And it’s because Susie B. has a lot to say about these very important things that she’s running for student council president!

If she’s president, she can advocate for the underdogs just like her hero and fellow Susie B., Susan B. Anthony. (And, okay, maybe the chance to give big speeches to the whole school with a microphone is another perk.) But when the most usual of Usual Geniuses also enters the student council race, Susie realizes this may be a harder won fight than she thought. Even worse, Susie discovers that Susan B. Anthony wasn’t as great as history makes it seem, and she did some pretty terrible things to try to help her own cause. Soon, Susie has her own tough decisions to make. But one thing is for sure—no matter what, Susie B. won’t back down.

Stealing Home by J. Torres, Illustrated by David Namisato

Sandy Saito is a happy boy who reads comic books and is obsessed with baseball — especially the Asahi team, the pride of his Japanese Canadian community. But when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, his life, like that of every other North American of Japanese descent, changes forever. His family is forced to move to a remote internment camp, and his father must spend months away from them. Sandy, his mother and his brother cope as best they can with the difficulties at the camp. Over time, Sandy comes to realize that life is a lot like baseball. It’s about dealing with whatever is thrown at you, however you can. And it’s about finding your way home. In this emotionally gripping graphic novel, J. Torres has artfully woven a fictional story into a historically accurate, thoroughly researched account of the events surrounding the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. Using the approachable graphic novel format, the story of this grave chapter in North American history is gently told with sensitivity and insight, and the theme of baseball runs through the story as a message of hope and renewal. The time and place are evocatively rendered in David Namisato’s detailed sepia-toned art. Along with its links to social studies and history lessons, this book offers a perfect lead-in to discussions about differences, inclusion and empathy, and about why this history is relevant today. The book includes extended background information in an afterword by Susan Aihoshi and resources for learning more.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you all enjoyed reading about these new releases, and hopefully you found one or two to add to your young reader’s shelves!

Did I miss any releases you’re excited for? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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