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New Books Alert: Folktales, Chernobyl, stand-up comedy, and more!

Weird times, my friends. Usually I write a little intro here about how I get a lot of book mail and can’t possibly read it all, but after two weeks home from work and uncertain how much more I will work this school year, I am in the strange position of not only being home to grab the book mail as soon as it arrives, but also now to just be home and read most of the day. It’s pretty much as amazing as I thought it would be, but I would much rather we were all healthy and schools were open.

Interested in what you see here? Be sure to order from your local indie store! Two of my favorite stores are The Red Balloon in St. Paul, MN and The Children’s Book Shop in Brookline Village, MA.

As always, reminder that 100% of what I get in book mail goes back out the door to find new homes with teachers, librarians, and young readers. Keep at eye on my Twitter (@CiteSomething) and maybe you’ll see some of these books ready for new homes soon!


All descriptions from the publishers.

Folktales for Fearless Girls: The Stories We Were Never Told by Myriam Sayalero, Dani Torrent (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593115220 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/25/2020 Ages 8-12)

Heroines save the day in this empowering collection of folktales from around the world, perfect for fans of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

Curses to be broken. Riddles to be solved. Kings’ favor to be won. These are the standard stories we’ve heard in folktales and fables for as long as we can remember—challenges faced and overcome by princes and knights in shining armor. In Folktales for Fearless Girls, though, we see a different set of heroes charge across the page. In fact, we see heroines.

Wily women and clever girls, valiant queens and brave villagers—these are the people to save the day in this collection of folktales from around the world and across the ages. Long before J.K. Rowling brought us Hermione Granger, well before Katniss Everdeen entered the arena, these fierce protagonists were the role models for strong girls through the ages. Here we read the story of Jimena, who dresses like a man to go fight in a war; of Min, whose cleverness leads her family to riches; and of Nabiha, who outsmarts thieves and wins the respect of the king. With stories from China, Russia, Persia, India, Armenia, the UK, Spain, France, Southern Africa, Egypt, and Germany, this is a collection of tales that showcases the original literary feminists.

With beautiful full-color art throughout to accompany these empowering tales, this an essential book for all girls!

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman (ISBN-13: 9781984837356 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/10/2020 Ages 9-12)

Like Ruta Sepetys for middle grade, Anne Blankman pens a poignant and timeless story of friendship that twines together moments in underexplored history.

On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work—Chernobyl—has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who’ve always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina’s estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother’s secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they’ve wished for: a best friend. But how far would you go to save your best friend’s life? Would you risk your own?

Told in alternating perspectives among three girls—Valentina and Oksana in 1986 and Rifka in 1941—this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match for the power of true friendship.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim (ISBN-13: 9780525554974 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/17/2020 Ages 9-12)

One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura—and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz, Thomas Pitilli (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781401286248 Publisher: DC Comics Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 16-18)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex and Eliza and The Witches of East End comes a reimagining of Gotham for a new generation of readers. Before they became Batman, Catwoman, and The Joker, Bruce, Selina, and Jack were high schoolers who would do whatever it took—even destroy the ones they love—to satisfy their own motives.

After being kicked out of his boarding school, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to find that nothing is as he left it. What once was his family home is now an empty husk, lonely but haunted by the memory of his parents’ murder. Selina Kyle, once the innocent girl next door, now rules over Gotham High School with a dangerous flair, aided by the class clown, Jack Napier.

When a kidnapping rattles the school, Bruce seeks answers as the dark and troubled knight—but is he actually the pawn? Nothing is ever as it seems, especially at Gotham High, where the parties and romances are of the highest stakes … and where everyone is a suspect.

With enchanting art by Thomas Pitilli, this new graphic novel is just as intoxicating as it is chilling, in which dearest friends turn into greatest enemies—all within the hallways of Gotham High!

This Is My Brain in Love by I. W. Gregorio (ISBN-13: 9780316423823 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 04/14/2020 Ages 12-18)

Told in dual narrative, This Is My Brain in Love is a stunning YA contemporary romance, exploring mental health, race and, ultimately, self-acceptance, for fans of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Emergency Contact.

Jocelyn Wu has just three wishes for her junior year: To make it through without dying of boredom, to direct a short film with her BFF Priya Venkatram, and to get at least two months into the year without being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade.

Will Domenici has two goals: to find a paying summer internship, and to prove he has what it takes to become an editor on his school paper.

Then Jocelyn’s father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and all wishes are off. Because her dad has the marketing skills of a dumpling, it’s up to Jocelyn and her unlikely new employee, Will, to bring A-Plus Chinese Garden into the 21st century (or, at least, to Facebook).

What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more. But family prejudices and the uncertain future of A-Plus threaten to keep Will and Jocelyn apart. It will take everything they have and more, to save the family restaurant and their budding romance.

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder (ISBN-13: 9780525553021 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020)

Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.

From before her mother’s first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing—but also often funny—details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom’s closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the “I’ve got to tell Mom about this” instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons (ISBN-13: 9780525515326 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020)

Shaun of the Dead meets Clueless in this hilarious YA horror comedy set at a local zombie convention—featuring a teenage girl gang that has to save the world from a horde of actual zombies. Perfect for fans of Geekerella, Undead Girl Gang, and Anna and the Apocalypse.

Mega-fan June Blue’s whole life has been leading up to this moment: ZombieCon!The Ultimate in Undead Entertainment has finally come to her hometown. She and her two best friends—gorgeous, brilliant Imani and super-sweet, outrageously silly Siggy—plan on hitting all the panels and photo ops, and meeting the heartthrob lead of their favorite zombie apocalypse show, Human Wasteland. It’s going to be the best time of their lives—and one of their last adventures before they all split up for college.

And when they arrive, everything seems perfect. June’s definitely not going to let anything get in the way of the flawless con experience—even though she’s endlessly anxious about the SATs and college admissions,
and she can’t seem to avoid her ex-best friend Blair, whose VIP badge lets her walk straight to the front of every single line. No matter what, June is determined to make the best of her dream day at ZombieCon!

But something’s not quite right at the con—there are strange people in hazmat suits running around, enthusiastic cosplayers taking their shambling a little too far, and someone actually biting a cast member. Then, at a panel gone wrong, June and her friends discover the truth: the zombie apocalypse is here.

Now June, Imani, and Siggy must do whatever it takes to survive a horde of actual flesh-eating zombies—
and save the world. A hilarious and heartfelt horror comedy, that is an ode to zombies, friendship, and girl power.

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman (ISBN-13: 9781368025270 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 04/21/2020 Series: Devouring Gray Series #2 Ages 12-18)

This hotly anticipated sequel to The Devouring Gray is perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle and Stranger Things.

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat lurks in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most — her father, Ezra Bishop.

May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town—Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.

Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all. But the monster they truly need to slay may never been the Beast…

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson, Nina Mata (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547600564 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 04/28/2020 Ages 7-10)

From Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson comes the first book in a young middle grade series about Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit, kindness, and sunshine.

Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind—school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!

Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.

Acclaimed author Renée Watson writes her own version of Ramona Quimby, one starring a Black girl and her family, in this start to a charming new series.

Wild & Chance by Allen Zadoff (ISBN-13: 9781368053198 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 04/28/2020 Ages 8-12)

Sit. Speak. Survive the chase.

A girl wakes up trapped on a sinking ship with no memory of who she is and nothing but her instinct to survive. She fights her way to freedom, only to discover two incredible facts: She is a dog, and she can understand human speech. She soon befriends a thirteen-year-old boy named Chance who gives her a name of her own-Wild.

But Wild and Chance find themselves running for their lives, pursued by relentless Animal Control officers. Joined by a mysterious hacker girl named Junebug, the unlikely trio fights for survival while trying to solve the mystery of Wild’s extraordinary strength, superintelligence, and high-tech collar.

Equal parts heart-pounding action and heartfelt journey, Wild & Chance grabs the reader from page one and never lets go.

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling (ISBN-13: 9780451480354 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/19/2020 Series: These Witches Don’t Burn Series #2 Ages 12-17)

In this gripping, romantic sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn, Hannah must work alongside her new girlfriend to take down the Hunters desperate to steal her magic.

Hannah Walsh just wants to finish high school. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.

Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?

When I Hit the Road by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (ISBN-13: 9781728226354 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 05/05/2020 Ages 8-12)

From the author of the award-winning This Journal Belongs to Ratchet comes a new kind of journal by a girl on a madcap road trip, featuring a karaoke-loving grandma, a cute boy, and a wild summer of memories that will last a lifetime.

Samantha is not exactly excited to spend what was supposed to be an awesome summer vacation with her grandma all the way in Florida. Or to be testing out her mom’s “Dear Me” Journals—writing to her future self just feels weird. But it turns out Gram has some not-so-boring plans up her sleeve…

Gram and her friend Mimi are going to audition for the Seniors Have Got Talent Karaoke Contest!

A road trip in Gram’s new Mustang turns into a series of hilarious mishaps that flip Samantha’s summer on its head. And to make things more awkward, Brandon, Mimi’s totally handsome grandson, is also along for the ride.

It looks like those journals just might be worth keeping after all. Because this summer will be one Samantha will never want to forget.

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert (ISBN-13: 9780593113684 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/12/2020 Ages 12+)

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery in this rollicking romp of truth, lies, and troubled pasts.

New Year’s Eve, 1929.

Millie is running the show at the Cloak & Dagger, a swinging speakeasy in the French Quarter, while her aunt is out of town. The new year is just around the corner, and all of New Orleans is out to celebrate, but even wealthy partiers’ diamond earrings can’t outshine the real star of the night: the boy in the red dress. Marion is the club’s star performer and his fans are legion—if mostly underground.

When a young socialite wielding a photograph of Marion starts asking questions, Millie wonders if she’s just another fan. But then her body is found crumpled in the courtyard, dead from an apparent fall off the club’s balcony, and all signs point to Marion as the murderer. Millie knows he’s innocent, but local detectives aren’t so easily convinced.

As she chases clues that lead to cemeteries and dead ends, Millie’s attention is divided between the wry and beautiful Olive, a waitress at the Cloak & Dagger, and Bennie, the charming bootlegger who’s offered to help her solve the case. The clock is ticking for the fugitive Marion, but the truth of who the killer is might be closer than Millie thinks.

Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation by Candy J Cooper, Marc Aronson (ISBN-13: 9781547602322 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/19/2020 Ages 10-12)

In 2014, the residents of Flint, Michigan noticed that their water was a copper hue and smelled and tasted like sulfur. Some began using bottled water, but many of those who didn’t started to experience rashes, hair loss, and a frightening, dehabilitating illness. Still, city officials claimed water tests were normal. It wasn’t until nearly a year later when Flint resident Lee Ann Walters sent a water sample to the Environmental Protection Agency herself that the truth came out: the citizens of Flint where being poisoned by their own water supply.
Based on the authors’ original reporting and featuring government documents, photographs, and, Poisoned Water is a riveting look at an alarming story of a government who turned away from its citizens–and the power of those same citizens who rose up to demand action.

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl, Melissa de la Cruz (ISBN-13: 9781984812018 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/02/2020 Ages 12-17)

Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence.

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha, Larissa Helena (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781338556247 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/02/2020 Ages 14-17)

An absorbing debut novel about three gay friends in Brazil whose lives become intertwined in the face of HIV, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Bill Konigsberg.

Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.

Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.

Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has — had — been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and self-acceptance.

Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this utterly engrossing debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha calls back to Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys series, bringing attention to how far we’ve come with HIV, while shining a harsh light on just how far we have yet to go.

Accidental by Alex Richards (ISBN-13: 9781547603589 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/07/2020 Ages 13-17)

This timely, emotionally-resonant story about a teen girl dealing with the aftermath of a tragic shooting is a must-read from an exciting new YA talent.

Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she’s being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.

Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna’s father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that’s not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn’t kill Mandy—it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.

Now Johanna has to sort through it all—the return of her absentee father, her grandparents’ lies, her part in her mother’s death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?

In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.

Being Toffee by Sarah Crossan (ISBN-13: 9781547603299 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/14/2020 Ages 12+)

I am not who I say I am,
and Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.
She is a woman trying to remember.

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past named Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.

But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who is she, really?

The Last Lie by Patricia Forde (ISBN-13: 9781492693338 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/01/2020 Series: List Series #2 Ages 10-14)

Words hold power—and Letta wields them fiercely in this conclusion to the ALA Notable book The List.

The city of Ark is no longer safe. Before the rebellion, everyone could only speak List, a language of just 500 words. But when Letta became the Wordsmith, the keeper of all the words that have ever existed—she learned that being able to express yourself is what makes you human.

And now, the new ruler has wicked plans to eliminate language once and for all: If a baby never hears a single word, they will never speak.

Letta and the other rebels must find a way to defeat the evil for good before they lose the very thing that will set them free.

Prelude for Lost Souls by Helene Dunbar (ISBN-13: 9781492667377 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/01/2020 Ages 14-18)

For readers of Nova Ren Suma, Maggie Steifvater, and Maureen Johnson comes a spellbinding tale about choosing your own path, the families we create for ourselves, and facing the ghosts of your past.

In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by The Guild, a sinister ruling body that sees everything.

Dec Hampton has lived there his entire life, but ever since his parents died, he’s been done with it. He knows he has to leave before anyone has a chance to stop him.

His best friend Russ won’t be surprised when Dec leaves—but he will be heartbroken. Russ is a good medium, maybe even a great one. He’s made sacrifices for his gift and will do whatever he can to gain entry to The Guild, even embracing dark forces and contacting the most elusive ghost in town.

But when the train of Annie Krylova, the piano prodigy whose music has been Dec’s main source of solace, breaks down outside of town, it sets off an unexpected chain of events. And in St. Hilaire, there are no such things as coincidences.

It Came from the Sky by Chelsea Sedoti (ISBN-13: 9781492673026 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 08/01/2020 Ages 14-18)

From the author of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett and As You Wish comes the unforgettable story of the one small town’s biggest hoax and the two brothers who started it all.

This is the absolutely true account of how Lansburg, Pennsylvania was invaded by aliens and the weeks of chaos that followed. There were sightings of UFOs, close encounters, and even abductions. There were believers, Truth Seekers, and, above all, people who looked to the sky and hoped for more.

Only…there were no aliens.

Gideon Hofstadt knows what really happened. When one of his science experiments went wrong, he and his older brother blamed the resulting explosion on extraterrestrial activity. And their lie was not only believed by their town—it was embraced. As the brothers go to increasingly greater lengths to keep up the ruse and avoid getting caught, the hoax flourishes. But Gideon’s obsession with their tale threatened his whole world. Can he find a way to banish the aliens before Lansburg, and his life, are changed forever?

Told in a report format and comprised of interviews, blog posts, text conversations, found documents, and so much more, It Came from the Sky is a hysterical and resonant novel about what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

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