Book Mail: Ants, AI, a Magic School, the Tin Man, eco anxiety, and more!
Book mail remains one of the highlights of my days. My cart of books to attempt to read is overflowing and no matter how many books I send out the door (to my kid’s high school, to my elementary school, through giveaways), just as many reappear soon after. Good problems to have, I know. This is what a typical week of book mail looks like:
Thank goodness it’s almost summer and I’ll have three months to try to burn through a lot of these!
Here’s a look at what has arrived here lately. Get out your TBR lists, your order lists, your library card, and be ready to dive into lots of new and interesting books!
All descriptions from the publishers.
Winona Forever parts 1, 2, and 3 by Shawn Patrick Boyd and illustrated by Elijah Henry (learn about purchasing options here)
On Halloween 1987, The Outcasts (Darby, Boots, Sci-Fi and Pretty Boy) join up with three popular kids to hunt down a supernatural relic in a haunted priory. As they unlock clues to its location, they find unexpected first loves, surprising heroes and a cutthroat secret society out to claim the relic for its own dark purposes.
Winona Forever is a suspenseful mystery-thriller for anyone who loves the 80s but doesn’t have a time machine to get there.
The Prisoner of Shiverstone by Linette Moore (ISBN-13: 9781419743924 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 8-12)
A positively ingenious story about a mysterious island, long-lost secrets, and a young girl’s quest in the world of mad science!
In Linette Moore’s debut, middle-grade graphic novel, The Prisoner of Shiverstone, eleven-year-old Helga Sharp is found unconscious in a drifting rowboat near the coast of Utley Island. Utley, as Helga finds out when she awakens in the hospital, is forbidden territory: it’s a prison island to which the Mainland has exiled troublesome mad scientists for generations. Helga is questioned by the island’s guards and though they’re suspicious of her story, they agree to let her stay until they find her family.
The truth is, it’s no accident that Helga landed here. She is a keen inventor, but the Mainland is suspicious of all scientists and inventors. While working on her projects in secret, Helga made radio contact with Erasmus Lope, a mad genius who everyone thought had died in a lab experiment gone spectacularly wrong. But Lope is alive, and Helga is on a mission to rescue him from the prison island.
Now Helga must find a way to break Lope out, right under the noses of the family of famous heroes that run Utley Island. There’s only one big problem—Lope’s trapped inside a giant crystal in the mad scientists’ museum!
Fans of Red’s Planet and Suee and the Shadow are sure to love The Prisoner of Shiverstone, a charismatically illustrated mad science adventure for readers of all ages.
Tin Man by Justin Madson (ISBN-13: 9781419751059 Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks Publication date: 04/19/2022, Ages 14-18)
A YA graphic novel about unlikely friends—a tin man seeking a heart and a high schooler trying to come to terms with the death of her grandmother
In Justin Madson’s debut graphic novel, Tin Man, a girl and her brother befriend the titular Tin Man with unexpected results. Solar is in her last year of high school and is reeling from the recent death of her grandmother. She has abandoned her plans for the future and fallen in with a bad crowd. Her little brother, Fenn, doesn’t understand why she’s changed—she doesn’t even want to help him build their rocket in the garage anymore. Campbell is a tin woodsman—a clunky metal man whose sole purpose in life is to chop down trees. He longs for more, however, and decides to seek out a heart, believing that, with one, he will be able to feel things he has never felt before and, therefore, change his life.
Equal parts The Iron Giant, The Wizard of Oz, Edward Scissorhands, and Freaks and Geeks, Tin Man is a story about finding friendship in the unlikeliest of places.
F.A.R.T.: Top Secret! No Kids Allowed! by Peter Bakalian (ISBN-13: 9781534436190
Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 05/03/2022 Series: The F.A.R.T. Diaries #1, Ages 9-13)
When a young teen discovers a top-secret parenting manual, it’s kids versus grown-ups in this kooky, illustrated middle grade thriller with nonstop, seat-of-your-pants action that will delight fans of Jarrett Lerner and Stuart Gibbs.
When a tween boy [Codename: Furious Popcorn] picks up what he thinks is a cookbook and finds a diabolical parenting manual, his world turns upside down. The Ultimate Guide to Hacking Your Kids was written by an organization called F.A.R.T. (Families Against Rotten Teens), a secret society of grizzled parents whose origins date back to antiquity.
FP is determined to get to the bottom of this, but when he begins investigating F.A.R.T., the manual goes missing, his parents deny knowing anything about any kind of book, and—maybe strangest of all—kids at school start listening to their parents and teachers. What kid would ever do that?
F.A.R.T. proves to be more than just some gassy acronym and parental rules and regulations when FP and the Only Onlys, his best friends since preschool, discover F.A.R.T.’s grand plan: a brain modem that can turn kids into well-behaved zombies!
This wacky crew has no choice but to find out who’s behind the nefarious organization and save young people the world over from total F.A.R.T. domination!
I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967: A Graphic Novel (I Survived Graphic Novel #5) by Lauren Tarshis, Berat Pekmezci (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338766936 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 8-12)
A gripping graphic novel adaptation of Lauren Tarshis’s bestselling I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967, with text adapted by Georgia Ball and art by Berat Pekmezci.
No grizzly has ever killed a human in Glacier National Park before… until tonight. Eleven-year-old Melody Vega and her family come to Glacier every year. Mel loves it here — the beautiful landscapes and wildlife make it easy to forget her real-world troubles. But this year is different. With Mom gone, every moment in the park is a reminder of the past.
Then Mel comes face-to-face with a mighty grizzly. She knows basic bear safety: Don’t turn your back. Don’t make any sudden movements. And most importantly: Don’t run.
That last one is the hardest for Mel; she’s been running from her problems all her life. If she wants to survive tonight, she’ll have to find the courage to face her fear.
Based on the real-life grizzly attacks of 1967, this bold graphic novel tells the story of one of the most tragic seasons in the history of America’s national parks — a summer of terror that forever changed ideas about how grizzlies and humans can exist together in the wild.
Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series comes to vivid life in graphic novel editions. Perfect for readers who prefer the graphic novel format, or for existing fans of the I Survived chapter book series, these graphic novels combine historical facts with high-action storytelling that’s sure to keep any reader turning the pages. Includes a nonfiction section at the back with facts and photos about the real-life event.
The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley (ISBN-13: 9780593175774 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 05/10/2022, Ages 8-12)
A summer ant farm grows into a learning experience for the entire family in this lyrical coming-of-age story from the award-winning author of Down to Earth.
“Endearingly executed, this gentle tale will see readers applauding as they reach the end.” –Booklist, Starred Review
Harvard is used to his father coming home from the hospital and telling him about all the babies he helped. But since he made the mistake at work, Dad has been quieter than usual. And now he is taking Harvard and his little brother, Roger, to Kettle Hole, Maine, for the summer. Harvard hopes this trip isn’t another mistake.
In the small town where he grew up, Dad seems more himself. Especially once the family decides to start an ant farm—just like Dad had as a kid! But when the mail-order ants are D.O.A., Harvard doesn’t want Dad to experience any more sadness. Luckily, his new friend Neveah has the brilliant idea to use the ants crawling around the kitchen instead. But these insects don’t come with directions. So the kids have a lot to learn—about the ants, each other, and how to forgive ourselves when things go wrong.
Practice Girl by Estelle Laure (ISBN-13: 9780593350911 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/17/2022, Ages 14-17)
An emotional and empowering novel about reputation and double standards, perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Sarah Dessen.
Jo Beckett is looking for love. She’s fallen for a few boys, but for some reason, they’ve never fallen for her. One night, at a party she didn’t even want to go to, she finds out the truth. Those boys, who are on the wrestling team she manages, consider her just a “practice girl”—the popular term for girl who’s good enough to hook up with but not to date.
With this crushing revelation, Jo feels so many things—heartsick, ashamed, betrayed, and angry. But she refuses to let that label define her. In piecing her life back together, Jo is forced to unpack more uncomfortable truths about all her relationships—from her best friend to the boy she likes—that help her understand her real worth.
From the author of the acclaimed This Raging Light, Practice Girl is a heart-wrenching, relatable, and ultimately triumphant story about a girl who rejects her label and decides for herself who she is to the world.
Your Pal Fred by Michael Rex (ISBN-13: 9780593206331 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 05/31/2022, Ages 7-10)
From the creator of Fangbone! and Goodnight Goon comes a zany and hilarious graphic novel that shines a light on the humanity inside all of us—even if you’re a robot. Perfect for fans of Catstronauts and Hilo!
He’s a super-nice kid in an ultra-mean world.
He believes even the worst people are good inside.
He’ll always be there for you… even if you boot him out of your castle, pit him against a mechanical giant, put him on top of a pole in a lightning storm, and trap him in a booming dance party that lasts all night long.
He’s Your Pal Fred.
In a brutal world far in the future where only the savage survive, a life-size toy suddenly activates. Fred was built to be a best buddy, and his relentless kindness never fades, even when everyone else is rude. Determined to make the world a better place, he has the bright idea to talk the two most powerful and battle-hungry warlords, Lord Bonkers and Papa Mayhem, into being friends. It’s a mission doomed to fail, unless Fred can find a way to inspire everyone to play nice!
Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele (ISBN-13: 9781534493117 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 05/31/2022, Ages 14-18)
I Know What You Did Last Summer meets The Haunting of Hill House in this atmospheric, eerie teen thriller following an estranged group of friends being haunted by their friend who died last summer.
Emily Joiner was once part of an inseparable group—she was a sister, a best friend, a lover, and a rival. Summers without Emily were unthinkable. Until the fire burned the lake house to ashes with her inside.
A year later, it’s in Emily’s honor that Chelsea and her four friends decide to return. The house awaits them, meticulously rebuilt. Only, Chelsea is haunted by ghostly visions. Loner Ryan stirs up old hurts and forces golden boy Chase to play peacemaker. Which has perfect hostess Kennedy on edge as eerie events culminate in a stunning accusation: Emily’s death wasn’t an accident. And all the clues needed to find the person responsible are right here.
As old betrayals rise to the surface, Chelsea and her friends have one night to unravel a mystery spanning three summers before a killer among them exacts their revenge.
Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, Daniel Sousa (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593530061 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/07/2022, Ages 4-8)
An Indigenous legend about how four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirit, or Mahu, brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii, based on the Academy Award–contending short film.
In the 15th century, four Mahu sail from Tahiti to Hawaii and share their gifts of science and healing with the people of Waikiki. The islanders return this gift with a monument of four boulders in their honor, which the Mahu imbue with healing powers before disappearing.
As time passes, foreigners inhabit the island and the once-sacred stones are forgotten until the 1960s. Though the true story of these stones was not fully recovered, the power of the Mahu still calls out to those who pass by them at Waikiki Beach today.
With illuminating words and stunning illustrations by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, and Daniel Sousa, KAPAEMAHU is a monument to an Indigenous Hawaiian legend and a classic in the making.
Generation Wonder: The New Age of Heroes by Barry Lyga (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781419754463 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/14/2022, Ages 13-18)
A high-flying YA anthology featuring 13 short stories that turn superhero tropes on their head and offer fresh perspectives on modern myths
Triumph. Tragedy. The empyreal. The infernal. Even the mundane, filtered through the fantastical. Superheroes are, appropriately enough, a sort of super-genre, encompassing all other story types.
This YA anthology features 13 short stories that creatively turn superhero tropes on their head, while still paying homage to the genre that has found fans for more than eight decades. And there will be no mistake—superheroes don’t have to just be generic handsome white dudes. Everyone in the world, no matter their race, sexual preference, pronouns, or level of ability, has dreamed of flying.
Contributors include six New York Times bestselling authors, seven multiple award winners, a founder of We Need Diverse Books, and at least one author with millions of books in print in the U.S. alone. The collection is edited by New York Times bestselling author Barry Lyga, and it also features illustrations from Colleen Doran—New York Times bestselling cartoonist, and artist of the legendary Stan Lee’s memoir. The full list of contributors includes: Barry Lyga, Paul Levitz, Sarah MacLean, Lamar Giles, Elizabeth Eulberg, Danielle Paige, Varian Johnson, Joseph Bruchac, Morgan Baden, Matthew Phillion, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sterling Gates, and Axie Oh.
The Silence that Binds Us by Joanna Ho (ISBN-13: 9780063059344 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/14/2022, Ages 14-17)
Joanna Ho, New York Times bestselling author of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, has written an exquisite, heart-rending debut young adult novel that will inspire all to speak truth to power.
Maybelline Chen isn’t the Chinese Taiwanese American daughter her mother expects her to be. May prefers hoodies over dresses and wants to become a writer. When asked, her mom can’t come up with one specific reason for why she’s proud of her only daughter. May’s beloved brother, Danny, on the other hand, has just been admitted to Princeton. But Danny secretly struggles with depression, and when he dies by suicide, May’s world is shattered.
In the aftermath, racist accusations are hurled against May’s parents for putting too much “pressure” on him. May’s father tells her to keep her head down. Instead, May challenges these ugly stereotypes through her writing. Yet the consequences of speaking out run much deeper than anyone could foresee. Who gets to tell our stories, and who gets silenced? It’s up to May to take back the narrative.
Joanna Ho masterfully explores timely themes of mental health, racism, and classism.
Coming Up Short by Laurie Morrison (ISBN-13: 9781419755583 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/21/2022, Ages 10-14)
A heartfelt novel about a softball-loving girl coming to terms with her parents’ humanity after a scandal sends shock waves through her town
Bea’s parents think she can accomplish absolutely anything—and she’s determined to prove them right. But at the end of seventh grade, on the same day she makes a gutsy play to send her softball team to the league championships and Xander, the boy she likes, makes it clear that he likes her too, a scandal shakes up her world. Bea’s dad made a big mistake, taking money that belonged to a client. He’s now suspended from practicing law, and another lawyer spread the news online. To make matters worse, that other lawyer is Xander’s dad.
Bea doesn’t want to be angry with her dad, especially since he feels terrible and is trying to make things right. But she can’t face the looks of pity from all her friends, and then she starts missing throws in softball because she’s stuck in her own head. The thing she was best at seems to be slipping out of her fingers along with her formerly happy family. She’s not sure what’s going to be harder—learning to throw again, or forgiving her dad. How can she be the best version of herself when everything she loves is falling apart?
The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao (ISBN-13: 9781547603992 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/09/2022, Ages 14-17)
From the author of How We Fall Apart comes a tense and thrilling YA about what it means to not feel safe in the places we call home.
Anna Xu moves out of her parent’s home and into the dorms across town as she starts freshman year at the local, prestigious Brookings University. But her parents and their struggling Chinese bakery, Sweetea, aren’t far from campus or from mind, either. At Brookings, Anna wants to keep up her stellar academic performance and to investigate the unsolved campus murder of her childhood babysitter. She also finds a familiar face–her middle-school rival, Chris Lu. The Lus happen to be the Xu family’s business rivals since they opened Sunny’s, a trendy new bakery on Sweetea’s block. Chris is cute but still someone to be wary of… until a vandal hits Sunny’s and Anna matches the racist tag with a clue from her investigation.
Anna grew up in this town, but more and more she feels like maybe she isn’t fully at home here–or maybe it’s that there are people here who think she doesn’t belong. When a very specific threat is made to Anna, she seeks out help from the only person she can; Anna and Chris team up to find out who is stalking her and take on a dangerous search into the hate crimes happening around campus. Can they root out the ugly history and take on the current threat?
The Lies We Tell is a social activism/we all belong here anthem crossed with a thriller and with a rivals-to-romance relationship set on a college campus.
A Taste of Magic by J. Elle (ISBN-13: 9781547606719 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/30/2022, Ages 8-11)
New York Times bestselling author J. Elle makes her middle grade debut in this magical new series about a Black girl who learns she’s a witch and must save her inner-city magic school from closing, perfect for fans of Wendy Mass.
Twelve-year-old Kyana has just found out the family secret–she’s the first witch in her family for generations! Which means mandatory lessons every Saturday at Park Row Magic Academy–a learning center hidden in the back of the local beauty shop. Kyana can’t wait to learn some spells to help out at home. The only downside is having to keep her magic a secret from her connected-at-the-hip BFF Nae. But then the magic school loses their funding, forcing the students to pay a hefty tuition at the school across town or have their magic stripped. Determined not to let that happen, Kyana enters a baking competition with a huge cash prize. After all, she’s learned how to make the best desserts from her Memaw. But will Kyana be able to keep up her grades in both magic school and real school while preparing for the competition and without revealing her magic? And what happens when a little taste of magic works its way into her cupcakes in the first round of competition?
J. Elle combines the perfect balance of real-world issues, magical mishaps, and a memorable voice to create real Black Girl Magic.
Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah (ISBN-13: 9781728247625 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/06/2022, Ages 13-18)
She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.
Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Fable, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all.
Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.
In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers—the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others—if they’re lucky—survive.
When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.
But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against competitors—including her ex-boyfriend—who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. As a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose—her life or her sister’s—before the whole island burns.
Lioness of Punjab by Anita Jari Kharbanda, Anantjeet Kaur (Artist) (ISBN-13: 9781949528718 Publisher: Yali Publishing LLC Publication date: 09/17/2022, Ages 14-18)
“We will fight here,” I commanded the warriors. “We are strong. We will have no fear. As Sikh warriors, we are ready to fight for justice. Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh!”
It is the winter of 1705, and the tenth Guru of the Sikhs is under attack by the armies of the mighty Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Under siege and isolated, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s men are exhausted beyond measure, and forty soldiers decide to head home. Back in the villages of Punjab, these forty men are met by a fiery Sikh woman-a warrior who has been preparing all her life for this very moment-who leads the deserters back to the Guru. This is the story of that warrior, the fierce Mai Bhago, who chose the sword to symbolize her unwavering loyalty and devotion to her people and her faith.
This energetic coming-of-age young adult novel brings us closer to Mai Bhago-a woman revered in the Sikh community and beyond-to imagine her growing to embrace her many roles in a way that was entirely her own and, in the process, becoming a shining inspiration for young women everywhere.
Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet by Barbara Dee (ISBN-13: 9781534489837 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 09/27/2022, Ages 9-13)
From critically acclaimed author Barbara Dee comes a middle grade novel about a young girl who channels her anxiety about the climate crisis into rallying her community to save a local river.
Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. In fact, her anxiety about the state of the planet is starting to interfere with her schoolwork, her friendships, even her sleep. She can’t stop wondering why grownups aren’t even trying to solve the earth’s problem—and if there’s anything meaningful that she, as a seventh grader, can contribute.
When Haven’s social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take samples of the water to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.
But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife—but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.
She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job—and some friendships—in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go.
Love from Mecca to Medina by S. K. Ali (ISBN-13: 9781665916073 Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 10/18/2022, Ages 14-18)
On the trip of a lifetime, Adam and Zayneb must find their way back to each other in this surprising and romantic sequel to the “bighearted, wildly charming” (Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author) Love from A to Z.
Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart.
Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable.
Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.
But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?
Filed under: new books
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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