A Review of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

By Hal Patnott

For this week’s post, I am excited to share my review of Mask of Shadows. It’s already one of my favorite upcoming young adult novels of 2017. In keeping with our theme of selecting titles that uphold ALSC’s Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness), Mask of Shadows demonstrates excellence and inclusiveness. Stop by the Butler Center to check out our advanced reader copy of this September release!

MaskofShadows

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller, Sourcebooks Fire (2017)

All the nobles of Igna fear the might of the Queen’s Left Hand, four elite assassins known only as Emerald, Ruby, Amethyst, and Opal. When Sal Leon, a thief and a street fighter, steals a poster advertising auditions for the new Opal, they seize the opportunity to seek revenge on the nobles who betrayed Sal’s homeland during the last war. Kill or be killed, the auditions require strength and subtlety. Participants must eliminate their competition without arousing suspicion. Any moment might be Sal’s last.

A fusion of fantasy and political intrigue, Mask of Shadows is a dark and suspenseful read. Miller delves into themes of gender identity, prejudice, and privilege. The positive exploration of Sal’s genderfluidity makes this book an important addition to Young Adult collections. Sal’s identity is never portrayed as a hardship. Although Sal dresses to show how they wish to be addressed, they are not focused on cisnormativity, but rather on being who they are. They explain, “I always felt like Sal, except it was like watching a river flow past. The river was always the same, but you never glimpsed the same water. I ebbed and flowed, and that was my always.” Throughout the book, Sal grows as a character and learns to trust someone they initially saw as an enemy. Miller develops a compelling romantic subplot. The cliffhanger ending of this debut novel will leave readers dying for the next installment in the duology.

 

Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2017

By Alena Rivers

Bologna

Just over a week ago I returned from a trip to Bologna, Italy as part of a Dominican University SOIS graduate course on international children’s literature. The course featured attendance at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, an annual fair hosted in Bologna. It was an amazing experience!

This year the fair attracted 35,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors from 75 countries. At the fair, publishers have the opportunity to create impressive vignettes to showcase their books. The vignettes are creatively designed to look like tree houses, living rooms and other unique settings. The books were equally impressive. Picture books, in particular, really stand out here with a broad range of topics and illustrations. Given that most of the books were written in other languages, the illustrations were critical to telling stories we might not have otherwise understood.

Speaking of illustrations, the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition showcased a stunning array of work by 75 illustrators representing 62 countries and selected from over 3,300 participants. One of these 75  illustrators will be selected to have his or her work featured as the main branding concept for the 2018 fair. After this year’s fair, the exhibition will travel to other countries including Japan, China and the United States. It provides these new and emerging illustrators with a tremendous opportunity for their work to gain exposure.

Ultimately, this was an incredible chance to view books that, many of which, will never reach the United States due to the inherent challenges in getting books translated, scheduled for publishing in an already competitive environment and finding the best way to market books that may look very different from those we regularly consume. Visiting the fair and discussing the merits of these books has enabled me to see the value in the few international books that do get published in the United States.

In the world of children’s literature, we are struggling to find ways to increase the diverse stories and perspectives from voices within our own country. Expanding those opportunities to include stories and perspectives from those currently living in other countries will continue to prove challenging but equally as rewarding. I encourage new and seasoned librarians to consider including books in translation from international publishers in your collections and make an effort to read them and share them with your family, friends, students and patrons.

Over the last few years, the Butler Center has purchased books from the International Children’s Book Fair. Some of the titles we acquired on this trip are listed below. We encourage you to visit the Butler Center to view these books and others in our international collection.

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Un Ticket Pour Shitamachi by Tadayoshi Kajino, Lirabelle (2014) – France

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El Camino de Marwan by Patricia de Arias, illustrations by de Laura Borras, Editorial Amanuta Limitada (2016) – Chile, a New Horizons Mention for the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2017

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‘45 by Maurizio A. C. Quarello, Orecchio Acerbo (2017) – Italy

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Spellbound: Making Pictures with the A-B-C by Maree Coote, Melbournestyle Books (2015) – Australia, a Non Fiction Mention for the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2017

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Planète Migrants by Sophi Lamoureux, illustrated by Amelie Fontaine, Actes Sud, Junior (2016) – France

Transgender Day of Visibility Storytime

By Hal Patnott

Last week at the Oak Park Public Library, I had the opportunity to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility during story time for children ages four and up. Established in 2009, Transgender Day of Visibility is an international holiday honoring accomplishments and raising awareness about the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming people. While Day of Remembrance, observed on November 20th, mourns the lives of transgender folks lost to violence in the previous year, Day of Visibility combats transphobia through celebration and education. Visibility and dialog are more important than ever after the rollback of protections for transgender students in public schools. In her statement in February protesting the protections rollback, ALA President Julie Todaro said, “The Trump administration’s decision to revoke important protections for transgender students couldn’t conflict more with the library community’s fundamental values and principles upon which libraries are founded.” Although the conversation about equitable access for transgender and gender nonconforming patrons often focuses on bathrooms, libraries can and should offer more than just a safe place to pee.  

When I started planning what books and songs I would share, I knew I wanted to promote themes of love and friendship. Transgender is an umbrella term that encompasses a huge spectrum of identities. However, gender identity doesn’t need to be a complicated topic if it’s approached through the lens that everyone is happier when they get to be themselves. Since Day of Visibility is about celebrating the accomplishments of transgender people as much as it is about education and awareness, I also wanted to showcase music by a transgender artist. Before and after the storytime, I ended up playing songs by Steam Powered Giraffe. Their music is upbeat, so it fit the tone of the story time well.

Day of Visibility may be past, but transgender and gender nonconforming people still need allies to stand up and demonstrate their support. You don’t need to wait until next March or even Pride month to make your library and your programming more inclusive.

For those interested in running a story time at their library, here is a full list of the books and music I included in mine.

Books

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas, Dial (2014)

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson, Bloomsbury (2016)

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, Greenwillow (2015)

Music & Rhymes

“Clap for Love” by Little Miss Ann (Clap for Love, 2008)

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams (GIRL, 2014)

The Hokey Pokey*

If You’re Happy and You Know It*

“Jumping and Counting” by Jim Gill (Irrational Anthem and More Salutes to Nonsense, 2001)

“Me & My Baby (Saturday Nights)” by Steam Powered Giraffe (The 2¢ Show, 2012)

The More We Get Together*

“One-Way Ticket” by Steam Powered Giraffe (The 2¢ Show, 2012)

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear*

*These we sang without accompaniment.

A Review of The Book of Mistakes

By Alena Rivers

In just a couple of days, I will be attending the Bologna Children’s Book Fair with 11 other Dominican University SOIS students as part of a Special Topics in Youth Services course led by adjunct instructor and the Butler Center’s former curator, Thom Barthelmess. Through this course, and at the fair, we will have the opportunity to explore the international children’s book publishing industry. I am particularly excited to see the Bologna Illustrator’s Exhibition and I was inspired to write today’s post on a picture book we recently received titled, The Book of Mistakes by Corrina Luyken featuring an illustrator’s creative journey.

We continue to select books featuring ALSC Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness. The Book of Mistakes represents excellence and innovation. Visit the Butler Center to see this galley proof scheduled for release April 18, 2017. We also invite you to visit the Butler Center Facebook and Twitter pages over the next few days to see highlights from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and an upcoming blog post featuring some picture books collected from the fair.
The Book of Mistakes

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (Penguin, 2017)

“It started…” as a simple shape on a two-page spread. Young readers may notice that it is the beginning shape of a child’s face. However, the illustration on the following page shows, “…one mistake” where one eye on the child’s face is drawn bigger than the other. No worries, our illustrator can fix that by adjusting the image and adding glasses. Over several pages, this drawing becomes a girl on roller skates and readers are invited to share the illustrator’s experience in the happenstance technique of developing a drawing. Smudges on the paper become leaves flying through the air while an accidental splotch on the girl’s face turns into a cap on her head. By the final pages readers see the compilation of these images in an elaborate and playful scene of several children playing and building forts in a large tree.

Luyken gives readers a sneak-peak behind the artistic process and simultaneously creates an illustration that tells its own story. She keeps readers engaged as she plays with perspective and encourages exploration of the creative process.  Limited text brings focus to the illustrations that evolve from a simple shape into a complex image. Illustrations were created using black ink, colored pencils and watercolors in muted yellow, green and pink. The Book of Mistakes reminds readers to see mistakes as opportunities and would make a great addition to any picture book collection.

Captured on Camera

by Hal Patnott

In both of the titles featured this week, the teenage protagonists find themselves coerced onto camera. They are cast into roles based on appearances and pressured to meet expectations, sometimes with the stakes of life or death. Additionally, both titles explore the value of thinking critically, and how easily the public buys into misinformation for the sake of entertainment. Continuing our trend of choosing books that uphold ALSC’s Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness), The Special Ones and Waste of Space demonstrate Responsiveness. Stop by the Butler Center to check out our advanced reader copies of these July 2017 releases!

The Special Ones by Em Bailey, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017)

He watches them on cameras hidden throughout the house. Esther has never met him, but she knows she must play her part as a stoic, spiritual guide or she’ll get “renewed” like Lucille. It’s only a matter of time until her careful façade slips and she’s forced to leave Harry and Felicity. Every night, Esther and the other Special Ones chat with thousands of followers who watch their videos, purchase their handmade products, and rely on their teachings. When Harry brings home their new Lucille, the balance in the house shifts and Esther can’t stop their lives from changing forever. High stakes and the suspense of a threat without a name or a face makes The Special Ones hard to put down. Esther’s unreliable narration keeps readers questioning. This psychological thriller will appeal to teens who enjoyed The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.

Waste of Space by Gina Damico, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017)

“Catchphrase Forever!” With the help of NASAW, reality network DV8 launches a brand new television series that goes farther than any other reality show ever before—into outer space. Ten teens with forceful personalities and tragic backstories suit up for the mission of a lifetime, or so DV8 hopes the entire country will believe. The network promises twenty-four hour online access to the luxury spaceship’s confessional room and live footage every week. Despite all the evidence pointing to the show’s fraud, millions of viewers tune in for the drama, romance, and space action. Waste of Space is an over the top adventure full of satire. Written as a series of transcripts, the story moves quickly and will appeal to teens who love memes and pop culture references.

Books We Love by Holly Black

by Alena Rivers and Hal Patnott

The Butler Lecture 2017 will be held tomorrow, March 16th at 6pm. We are excited to welcome our featured lecturer, Holly Black, renowned children’s and teen author of many titles including, the Magisterium series, the Newbery Honor Book, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. If you haven’t read anything by Holly Black, take a look at the ones we’ve highlighted below.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Little, Brown (2014)

In this chilling twist on vampire romance, seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up after an all-night party to a house full of corpses. To protect herself and the ones she loves, Tana, her irritating but charming ex-boyfriend, and a mysterious vampire boy set off on a quest for the last place Tana ever wanted to go, Coldtown. Although many teens dream of an eternal youth in the high-luxury prison, Tana doesn’t thirst for a life of blood and murder. Teen Readers craving a high-action, suspenseful story with a powerful, female lead will devour The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Doll Bones by Holly Black, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry (2013).

Ever since they were young, Zach, Poppy and Alice have been playing an imaginary game filled with the adventures of mermaids, pirates and thieves who are ruled by a bone-china doll they call the Queen.The three friends are in middle school now and their enthusiasm for the game suddenly comes to a stop when Zach puts an end to the game without a convincing explanation. Meanwhile, Poppy has been having dreams of the doll Queen and the ghost of a young child whose grave is empty. Poppy is compelled to find the ghost’s grave where the doll can be buried in place of the missing child and she convinces Zach and Alice to join her on the quest. Adventure, secrets, and strange occurrences will engage middle school readers.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Scholastic (2015).

In this Harry Potter meets Avatar the Last Airbender adventure, Callum Hunt dreads his first day at The Magisterium, a school for children with magical power. His attempts to flunk the entrance exam impress neither his future teachers nor his fellow classmates. Callum’s father warned him of the danger and certain death that awaits him at the school. However, unexpected friendships and mysteries to solve open Callum’s mind to a new world of enchantment and wonder. Perfect for the middle grade collection, The Iron Trial includes a diverse cast of characters and subverts tropes of fantasy.

April B3: Immigration Stories

These days, it’s more important than ever for us to share stories about immigration with the young readers we serve; both for the sake of immigrant kids in our communities, and to encourage understanding among others of these kids’ experiences.

Join us on April 5, 2017 in the Butler Center from 5:30-7:00 (books & snacks out at 5:30; discussion from 6-7) to discuss the following list of recently published books with an immigration theme, from picture books to children’s fiction to teen fiction. We’re focusing on fiction this time; we know there are lots of excellent informational books too. You may remember the Butler Center’s “Big Read” bibliography from last year; this month’s list complements the selections recommended there.

PICTURE BOOKS

CallingtheWaterDrum
Calling the Water Drum
by LaTisha Redding, illus. by Aaron Boyd (Lee & Low, 2016)

PieceofHome
A Piece of Home
by Jeri Watts, illus. by Hyewon Yum (Candlewick, 2016)

CHILDREN’S FICTION

LongPitchHome
A Long Pitch Home
by Natalie Dias Lorenzi (Charlesbridge, 2016)

OnlyRoad.jpeg
The Only Road
by Alexandra Diaz (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, 2016)

TEEN FICTION

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Girl Mans Up
by M-E Girard (HarperTeen, 2016)

Watched
Watched
by Marina Budhos (Random/Wendy Lamb, 2016)