Answer: It sounds like sun scorch to me. Japanese maples grow best in morning sun and afternoon shade (or at least filtered shade in the afternoons). The light color indicates too much sun and the dessication further convinces me that your new maple is getting too much sunshine. Depending upon the variety of your maple, it may eventually adjust to higher levels of sunshine (Bloodgood, for example will adapt to growing in full sun). So, depending upon which Japanese maple you're growing, you may want to relocate your tree.
I think your tree is still alive, it is just pouting. New leaves should emerge in a few weeks.
Best wishes with your landscape.
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