B3 for November: Kids’ Books about Music on 11/10, 6-8 p.m.!

The third (and final) fall Butler Book Banter (B3), the Butler Center’s popular youth literature discussion group, is taking place Tuesday 11/10/15, 6:00-8:00 p.m. All GSLIS students and youth-services colleagues are welcome!

This month, we’ll be talking about kids’ books about music; primarily those that attempt to present a song or a genre in picture-book format. How do authors and illustrators “translate” an aural medium to a visual/textual one? What works? What doesn’t? I’m thinking specifically of Bird & Diz by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ed Young (Candlewick, 2015). I’m reminded of Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka (Scholastic, 1992), an old favorite that gave my own son his very first spoken words (“fisk, fisk”).

We’ll also take some time to look at some new biographies of musicians; there seems to be a large crop out this year that follow in the tradition of classics such as When Marion Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2002) or Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe (Clarion, 2010). This year’s offerings include Elvis by Bonnie Christensen (Holt/Christy Ottaviano, 2015) and Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Holiday, 2015).

There are many, many other types of books for kids about music, from music appreciation such as Blues Journey by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers (Holiday, 2003) or M Is for Music by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Stacy Innerst (Harcourt, 2003); to presentations of single songs such as God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr., illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (HarperCollins, 2004).

We’ll be specifically talking about the books from 2015, but we’ll have lots of old favorites on hand to use for comparison and discussion. Feel free to bring your own favorite and share it with us!

We’ll also be listening to some of the music under discussion, so we can hear the sounds that inspired the words and pictures. See you next Tuesday!

Bird & Diz by Gary Golio, illus. by Ed YoungElvis by Bonnie ChristensenSwing Sisters by Karen Deans, illus. by Joe Cepeda

Children’s Literature, and…..

For those of us who’ve dedicated our careers to sharing great books with kids, today’s electronic landscape may feel alarming (for those of us who are also parents of, say, 11-year-old boys who get in trouble for watching YouTube videos in the middle of the night, even more so…but I digress). On the other hand, youth librarians are often found knee-deep in emerging technologies and communications, because we have to keep up with the young patrons we serve. You may have seen by now that the American Academy of Pediatricians has revised its recommendations about screen time for kids. This is a particularly timely development for those of us in children’s librarianship, in light of ALSC’s recent white paper on media mentorship.

Kudos to our professional association for ahead-of-the-curve thinking on this one! Read ALSC President Andrew Medlar’s recent blog post outlining resources ALSC offers for helping us educate the children and families we serve about responsible media use.

Online and print media aren’t mutually exclusive; there is no one better than a youth service librarian to help our folks navigate the complicated technology and media environment these days. Stay tuned in this space for more projects (and events?) related to youth media literacy.

B3 for October: Spooky YA on 10/13/15, 6-8 p.m.!

The second fall Butler Book Banter (B3), the Butler Center’s popular youth literature discussion group, is taking place Tuesday 10/13/15, 6:00-8:00 p.m. All GSLIS students and youth-services colleagues are welcome!

We’ll be following the popular cable TV programming theme of “Shock-tober” by focusing on spooky books for teens this month (selected with the reccomendation of Hal Patnott, current grad assistant in Butler and a YA specialist; thanks, Hal!). If you’re prepared to be scared, give these new books a shivery read and join us on the lucky 13th to discuss them:

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
This urban fantasy is receiving starred reviews for its riveting blend of suspense and current cultural commentary. Visit Brooklyn in the depth of night, and the dusty archives of the Columbia University library, with teen Sierra Santiago as she and her friends unravel the mystery of the shadowshapers, and what this group has to do with neighbors who’ve disappeared, and murals that are fading in the neighborhood.

Shutter by Courtney Alameda
The legend of Dracula is extended to a current-day setting, with descendants of the Van Helsing and Harker families doing battle once again with the undead. It’s not necessary to be intimately familiar with the original Dracula story to be enjoyably terrified by this new tale, but it helps; there are subtle references to details from the Bram Stoker book throughout, that add interest for classic horror fans.

Join us in the Butler Center on Tuesday, 10/13 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. to freak each other out over these scary stories. No RSVP necessary, but you can tell me you’re coming if you like, at butler@dom.edu.

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older shutter

Butler Book Banter (B3) Returns 9/15/15!

Butler Book Banter (B3), the Butler Center’s popular youth literature discussion group, is taking place on TUESDAYS this fall, 6:00-8:00 p.m. All GSLIS students and area youth-services colleagues are welcome!

The first one is coming up Tuesday 9/15, and we’ll be focusing on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and how it’s portrayed in children’s books. Four new books (at least) have come out this year on the topic:

  • Drowned City by Dan Brown (graphic nonfiction)
  • Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner, illus. by John Parra (picture book)
  • Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick (novel)
  • Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith (novel)

We’ll be focusing on the first two, but discussion of the others is welcome, as is discussion of previously-published books on the topic such as Coretta Scott King Honor Book Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, and A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg, illus. by Colin Bootman, among other titles.

What makes an effective book for young people about such a disaster? Realism? Fantasy? A combination of the two? How about images and pictures? For which age levels? Is the storm and its aftermath portrayed any differently today than it was immediately following?

Join us in the Butler Center, Crown 214 on Tuesday, 9/15 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. to listen to New Orleans music, enjoy snacks, and discuss these books and issues with one another. No RSVP necessary, but you can tell me you’re coming if you like!

Drowned City by Dan BrownMarvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner

Fall into Butler

Welcome to the fall semester here at Dominican University GSLIS! The semester began yesterday, and today’s the first day of September, so despite the fact that it’s 90+ degrees outside and meteorological fall doesn’t begin until the autumn solstice….we’re pleased to announce the fall open hours, AND the fall schedule for Butler Book Banter (B3).

We encourage visitors (teachers, librarians, students, parents, grandparents, caregivers, anyone interested in literature for young people) to come in to the Center to view our array of newly-published books for kids and teens, and of course to attend our events.

Mondays & Tuesdays 1:00-7:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays 1:00-6:00 p.m.
Or by appointment (contact me at butler@dom.edu).

I’m thrilled to bring back the Butler Center’s popular series of evening book discussion events! B3 will take place in the Butler Center on the following (TUESDAY this semester!) evenings from 6:00-8:00 p.m.:

Tuesday 9/15: Books about Hurricane Katrina (Drowned City by Dan Brown; Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner)
Tuesday 10/13:
Spooky books (I know, unoriginal perhaps but still fun; titles announced as the date draws closer)
Tuesday 11/10: Books about music and musicians (titles announced as the date draws closer)

Hope to see you here in Crown 214 this fall!


Mocking the Caldecott

Of course I would never do such a thing!

I am, however, teaching a Mock Caldecott course here at Dominican GSLIS this fall. How fun is THAT? A Mock Caldecott? For graduate credit (PS. It’s open to auditors and students-at-large, so join us even if you aren’t a current student)? Since we’re doing this in the fall semester, voting the weekend of December 12-13, I’m particularly excited to see how our choices stack up against the “real” winners, to be announced during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston at the Youth Media Awards press conference, January 11, 2016.

I’m in the thick of preparing the course now, and true to the “real” process conducted by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), I’m seeking suggestions from our “membership” (that is, readers of this blog, not necessarily ALSC members, although I hope you’ll join if you aren’t already a member). Which 2015 picture books have resonated with you and/or the children you serve?

I’ll use this suggestion list to get my students started; also true to the real process, they will have the opportunity to make suggestions, write nominations, and–of course, the most fun part–deliberate and vote.

Interested in learning more about the Caldecott Medal, its history, eligibility terms and criteria, and more? Visit ALSC’s Caldecott Medal web page.

Please, please, help me with some good suggestions! Otherwise, I’m left to my own devices, and combing what’s been starred so far by the various journals (noticing weird and meaningless things like the fact that “The Octopuppy” by Martin McKenna and “The Octopus Scientists” by Sy Montgomery and Keith Ellenbogen have both received stars this year).

What Post Should I Host? What Draft Should I Craft?

Pet CoverThose of you who are eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-published (posthumously) Dr. Seuss book “What Pet Should I Get?” (Penguin Random House, 2015) will likely recognize my futile attempts to come up with a clever title “in the spirit of Dr. Seuss” for this, my first Butler’s Pantry blog entry since becoming curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center this month. I’m not alone in my plight; children’s book creators ever since the publication of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (Vanguard, 1937) have been trying to capture Dr. Seuss’s unique blend of silliness and aptness. Anyone familiar with the children’s canon recognizes the creators who’ve successfully done it (Mo Willems! among a very few others) and those who struggle with it (we all know who they are; I’m not going to skewer anyone here). But I’d never actually tried to do it myself. It’s surprisingly hard to come with Seussian verse that isn’t clunky or awkward!

Last week I was pleased and a little nervous, when the Chicago Tribune reached out for comment on this upcoming new work from a perennial favorite author and illustrator. Pleased, because it’s always nice to be asked one’s opinion (and what’s more fun than talking about children’s literature, anyway?); nervous because, well, I haven’t actually seen the book. Turns out there is a strict laydown date of July 28, as is commonly done for books with built-in instant demand, such as every Harry Potter after the second one. It’s a bit of a reality check for those of us in the business of writing and talking about books; turns out in some cases, our opinions are pretty much irrelevant. Dr. Seuss is one of those whose names, and styles, resonate immediately with kids. It doesn’t really matter what we adults think (come on, who among you REALLY enjoys reading Fox in Socks out loud?).

So, what are your thoughts as P-Day (“Pet” Day, 7/28/15) approaches? Do you have concerns about posthumous publishing, especially in light of the current Harper Lee controversy (and she’s still with us!)? Will the kids and families you serve be lining up at your door to get their hands on “Pet?”

Read the article here (you’ll be asked to register, but it’s free at least):