Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf you will find Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister? by Chitra Soundar and Jen Khatun! Sona has always enjoyed being an only child in house full of people and laughter. Then one day Amma tells her that she will soon have a brother or sister. Sona is not very fond of the idea. She isn’t sure she wants to share everything–including her family–with a new baby. But, when Sona hears that there will be a naming ceremony, she puts all her effort into finding the perfect name for her new sibling. Sona is determined to be the very best big sister she can be! For more great titles, check out the list below!

Zion Unmatched
Written by Zion Clark and James S. Hirsch
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

When Langston Dances
Written by Kaija Langley and Illustrated by Keith Mallett
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen
Written by Kate McGovern
Published by Candlewick Press
Available October 12, 2021

How to Have a Birthday
Written by Mary Lyn Ray and Illustrated by Cindy Derby
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister?
Written by Chitra Soundar and Illustrated by Jen Khatun
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Drawn That Way
Written by Elissa Sussman
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Differences make us stronger: A review of ¡¡Manu!! 

Kelly Fernández
October 19, 2021
Ages 8-12

Manu and Josefina have been best friends since their first day at La Academia de Santa Dominga—a magical boarding school for girls. Manu is the most powerful witchling the school has ever seen. But her affinity for pranks gets her into troublesome situations. Everyone sees Manu as a terror, except Josefina and Mother Dolores. That changes when a prank goes terribly wrong. Josefina is incredibly upset and wishes for the Saints to take away Manu’s magic. The wish comes true! So, Manu resorts to extreme measures. She uses black magic to restore her abilities. Will using such a dangerous spell change Manu forever?  

¡¡Manu!! is a heartwarming graphic novel about what it means to be a true friend and being there for them no matter the circumstance. When consequences of the black magic cause Manu to attack the school, Josefina is convinced that there is something wrong. Unlike her classmates, Josefina gives Manu the benefit of the doubt. Even though she doesn’t understand why Manu attacked the school, she trusts Manu wouldn’t do it willingly. LGBTQ representation is present throughout the narrative with the revelation that Josefina isn’t attracted to boys. A relationship between Manu and Josefina is also hinted at towards the end of the novel. The panels are plentiful and expressive. Body parts are replicated and superimposed on each other to indicate movement. There’s a decrease in color as the story progresses. Panels go from full color to black and white, with some placed atop fully black pages to signify the past. Fernández pays homage to her Dominican roots with a story based on witchcraft and Roman Catholic traditions. She also includes some Spanish text throughout. Her creative adventure shows that even when we feel different, we always have someone to lean on. 

Butler Bookshelf

Tomorrow is the official commencement of the Fall season! So this week on the Butler Bookshelf, we are featuring some spooky and autumnal books! Follow twelve-year-old Billie in The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young. Every year, Billie grows a thousand pound pumpkin, hollows it out, and races across the bay in the annual Madeline Island pumpkin race. Last year she was cheated out the win by her best friend Sam and now she wants revenge. Will Billie be able to cross that finish line, winning fame, fortune, and free ice cream? For more fantastic titles, check out the list below!

The Nature of Witches
Written by Rachel Griffin
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Available now!

Fangs for Having Us! (Ms. Frogbottom’s Field Trips #3)
Written by Nancy Krulik and Illustrated by Harry Briggs
Published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin
Available now!

Return of Zombert (The Zombert Chronicles #2)
Written by Kara LaReau and Illustrated by Ryan Andrews
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Owl has a Halloween Party
Written by Nosy Crow and Illustrated by Jannie Ho
Published by Candlewick Press/Nosy Crow
Available now!

How to Help a Pumpkin Grow
Written and Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Published by Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books
Available now!

The Pumpkin War
Written by Cathleen Young
Published by Random House Children’s Books/Yearling
Available now!

Hispanic Heritage Month: Highlighting Hispanic/Latinx Titles for All Ages

Yesterday marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month, which begins on September 15th, as it is the independence anniversary for several Latin American countries. This week, we highlight a variety of titles for all ages by Hispanic/Latinx writers that each, in turn, celebrate different parts of their cultural experience.

Picture Books

Mi Casa is My Home
Laurenne Sala, illustrated by Zara González Hoang
Candlewick Press
August 19, 2021

This bilingual book celebrates the family as Lucía shows the reader around, explaining her surroundings and introducing her various family members in Spanglish. The large and diverse family is depicted in soft watercolor and colored pencil art. Sala shows the cozy and welcoming aspects of the home of a Hispanic family, where extended family and neighbors are always welcome.

A Thousand White Butterflies
Jessica Betancourt-Perez & Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Gina Maldonado
January 19, 2021

Isabella has recently arrived in the US from Colombia with her mother and grandmother, having to leave her father behind. She is lonely and looking forward to her first day of school and making new friends. A storm and snow-day leave Isabella heartbroken, missing the warm climates and friends she left behind in Colombia. While looking out the window, she spots Katie playing in the snow. A playdate and new friend improve Isabella’s perspective on her new situation. Back matter includes authors’ notes which delve into the real-life inspiration for the story, general information about immigrants, and a glossary translating the Spanish terms used throughout the story.

Your Mama
NoNieqa Ramos, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Versify
April 6, 2021

Ramos celebrates mothers in this twist on the classic “yo’ mama” joke, with each phrase celebrating motherhood. Banners that resemble old school “mom” tattoos are used to start each lyrical phrase, with vibrant art mixing markers and pastels depicting a brown-skinned mother and daughter. Including Spanish in some of the text drives home both the author’s and illustrator’s stated commitments to promote inclusiveness and diversity in children’s literature.

Children’s Fiction

Mandy Gonzalez
Simon & Schuster/Aladdin
April 6, 2021

Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez weaves her knowledge of theater into her debut novel. Twelve-year-old Monica Garcia arrives in New York City after being chosen as an understudy in a new show at a famed, but now struggling, theater. Rumors of a curse plague the building and strange and terrible things start to happen, threatening the chances of a successful opening night. Monica and her castmates must figure out how to reverse the curse, using a mixture of mystery solving and supernatural magic. This book, along with its just announced sequel, is sure to appeal to readers looking for drama or a fright.

Time Villains
Victor Piñeiro
Sourcebooks Young Readers
July 6, 2021

This debut novel from Piñeiro combines magic, imagination, and adventure in this first entry to a new series. Javi is working on a school assignment that involves “inviting historical figures to dinner” when he finds out that his family’s mysterious antique table can actually bring the historical guests into the present time. Unfortunately, one of his guests is Blackbeard, the infamous pirate, and he escapes the party, determined to summon the rest of his pirate crew. This leads Javi, his best friend, and his sister to work together to return Blackbeard to his own time, but they might have to invite other historical figures in order to do so. Back matter includes notes about all historical figures featured in the book.

Wild Survival #1: Crocodile Rescue
Melissa Cristina Márquez
February 2, 2021

Twelve-year-old Adrianna Villalobos travels the world with her family as her parents host Wild Survival!, a nature show featuring animal rescues. Adrianna is determined to prove that she deserves a spot-on camera as the show is poised to move from YouTube to a TV network. This is all put in jeopardy when her brother is injured in an accident that is partially Adrianna’s fault. To avoid being sent home, Adrianna must prove herself, even if it means confronting a legendary Mega Croc rumored to inhabit the waters around the family’s base camp. Back matter includes an author’s note where Márquez, a marine biologist and wildlife educator, recounts the real-life inspiration for the book, crocodile facts, and translations of Spanish terms used in the family’s dialogue.

Teen Fiction

Fire with Fire
Destiny Soria
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
June 8, 2021

Sisters Dani and Eden Rivera have been raised as dragon slayers. While they have different life priorities, they agree about the importance of their dragon slaying duty. That is, until Dani gets to know a dragon and realizes that what they were taught was wrong. Eden turns to mysterious magic to save her sister, believing her to be lost to the dragons. As the two dabble in new and dangerous magic, there is a more powerful enemy lurking in the shadows.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
August 10, 2021

Moon is used to living in the shadow of her twin sister, a social media star. That is, until one fateful summer when she takes a job as the merch girl on a tour bus full of influencers. She starts off with nothing but hatred for her bunkmate, Santiago Phillips, but this feeling shifts as the two continue to cross paths, along with Moon’s acceptance of her role in relation to her sister. This romance focuses not only on the connection between its two primary characters, but also on Moon finding herself and her place in the universe.

On the Hook
Francisco X. Stork
Scholastic Press
May 18, 2021

Hector has always kept his head down, taking steps towards a better life. Then, he is forced into a violent confrontation when his brother gets into a fight with the head of the DiscÍpulos gang. The consequences are many, including being sent to a reform school where he must live side by side with his enemy Joey, who had already previously promised to kill him. Hector must ultimately choose between revenge and working his way back to the path towards the life he dreamed of.


It’s All Love: Reflections for Your Heart & Soul
Jenna Ortega
Random House Children’s Books
January 5, 2021

This debut by actress Jenna Ortega focuses on uplifting quotes and affirmations. Ortega’s personal stories about growing up Latina in Hollywood, working through depression, and more are accompanied by relevant quotes framed by illustrations. The range of experiences and emotions described within the collection is sure to resonate with a large variety of readers.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf you will find The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland! All is well in Jasmine Yap’s life. She’s about to move in with her longtime boyfriend Paul and start a nursing program in the fall. But, when Jasmine catches Paul cheating, her stable plan goes down the drain. Now her overprotective family is using the breakup as a opportunity to show Jasmine how she deserves to be treated. They secretly invite the town’s most eligible teen bachelors to her graduation party. Will Jasmine find love or a broken heart? For more great titles check out the list below!

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin
Written and Illustrated by Stephen Costanza
Published by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Available September 14, 2021

Gigantosaurus: Roar, Giganto, Roar!
Written and Illustrated by Cyber Group Studios
Published by Candlewick Entertainment
Available September 14, 2021

Jazz for Lunch!
Written by Jarrett Dapier and Illustrated by Eugenia Mello
Published by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Jasmine Project
Written by Meredith Ireland
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Beautifully Me
Written by Nabela Noor and Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available September 14, 2021

World in Between
Written by Kenan Trebinčević and Susan Shapiro
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books
Available now!

Save the Date

Join us Thursday, March 31, 2022 for the 10th Annual Butler Lecture with Aisha Saeed.

Aisha Saeed is a New York Times bestselling author. She wrote WRITTEN IN THE STARS (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015) which was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the middle grade novel AMAL UNBOUND (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018) a Summer 2018 Indie Next Pick, An Amazon Best Book of the Month, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and is a Global Read Aloud for 2018. She also has a forthcoming picture book BILAL COOKS DAAL (Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads, 2019). Aisha is a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC, and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel.

Watch for event details and registration in January 2022.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf you will find One Kid’s Trash by Jamie Sumner. Sumner tells the story of Hugo, a boy who has always been bullied for his small frame and short stature. But, after moving across state for his father’s new job, he has a chance to start over. His knack for using people’s trash to uncover their deepest wishes and secrets earns him major points with the other students at his new school, making him the cool kid for the first time in his life. But, will he let it all go to his head? For more great reads, check out the list below!

Hello, Tiger!
Written and Illustrated by Sam Boughton
Published by Candlewick/Templar Books
Available now!

A Donkey Called Mistletoe (Jasmine Green series)
Written by Helen Peters and Illustrated by Ellie Snowdon
Published by Candlewick/Walker Books
Available September 14, 2021

Iris Apfel (Little People, Big Dreams)
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Illustrated by Kristen Barnhart
Published by The Quarto Group/Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available now!

The Witch Haven
Written by Sasha Peyton Smith
Published by Simon & Schuster/Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Way to Treasure Island
Written and Illustrated by Lizzy Stewart
Published by The Quarto Group/Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available now!

One Kid’s Trash
Written by Jamie Sumner
Published by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum
Available now!

Following your Head and your Heart: A Review of Beasts of Prey

Beasts of Prey
Ayana Gray
Penguin Random House/G.P. Putnam’s Sons
September 28, 2021
Ages 12+

Sixteen-year-old Koffi has been working at Baaz Mtombe’s Night Zoo for as long as she can remember. She and Mama are indentured servants, forced to work as beastkeepers to pay off their debts. After eleven years of servitude, Koffi and Mama have almost paid back what they owe and will soon be free. Seventeen-year-old Ekon has been training to become a Son of the Six—the city of Lkossa’s anointed warriors—since he was seven. Every male in his family has served the Sons of the Six, and now it is his turn to prove himself. Koffi and Ekon’s lives collide when a fire at the Night Zoo effectively destroys their respective paths. Looking to gain back what they lost, Koffi and Ekon find themselves with the same mission—capturing the Shetani. They must work together to search the Greater Jungle, filled with exotic species and monsters, and find the thing that’s been killing Lkossa’s people. But getting past their differences, navigating the dangers of the Jungle, and apprehending the Shetani will not be easy.  

Beasts of Prey is a Pan-African fantasy novel influenced by cultures, mythos, and folklore from across different regions of Africa. Gray brings Black culture to the forefront with a story made up of only Black characters. She describes the variations in Black features (skin color, hair type, hairstyles), and details about Black hair care (wash days, the use of shea butter). The language spoken in the novel is based on Swahili (a language of East Africa), and the mythological beings and creatures are from recorded folklore found on the African continent. Gray’s debut novel is a story about doing what’s right in the face of adversity, tackling problems head on, and accepting that life isn’t always black and white. Both Koffi and Ekon must choose between duty to family and following the truth. The author explores anxiety and mental health through multiple characters. Ekon counts in threes and taps at his side when he is nervous because he hasn’t dealt with his father’s death. Darajas, people that can draw splendor (magic) from the earth, can only do so if they do not suppress their emotions. Gray expertly illustrates this fantastical world, giving detailed descriptions of the Greater Jungle and its unfathomable creatures, like Anatsou (a spider with a human head and torso). The story is amazingly unpredictable, with a cliffhanger ending that leaves no doubt of a sequel.

Butler Bookshelf

Rosh Hashanah begins next Monday, September 6th at sundown! The Jewish New Year is a celebration of humanity. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and a day of judgment and coronation. This holiday is a time to contemplate our imperfection, but also a reminder to never lose hope that we can achieve great things. Let us celebrate Rosh Hashanah with amazing titles focused on learning about the tradition and it’s themes of forgiveness, relationship building and repairing, and bettering one’s self! Shanah tovah um’tukah!

What we’re Scared of
Written by Keren David
Published by Scholastic
Available now!

Rosh Hashanah with Uncle Max
Written and Illustrated by Varda Livney
Published by Kar-Ben Publishing
Available now!

Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit With Grandma
Written by Annette Schottenfeld and Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham
Published by Kalaniot Books
Available now!

Boy from Buchenwald
Written by Robbie Waisman and Susan McClelland
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Available now!

I Spy Rosh Hashanah
Written and Illustrated by Yellow Sun Publishing
Published independently
Available now!

Something new for Rosh Hashanah
Written by Jane Yolen and Illustrated by Christine Battuz
Published by Kar-Ben Publishing
Available now!

Fact versus fiction: The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb

The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb
Candace Fleming
Available September 7, 2021
Ages 8-12

A pharaoh’s tomb—blessed or cursed, ransacked, then lost to sand and time. Until Lord Carnarvon, with money, enthusiasm and a gambling spirit, met Howard Carter with his meticulous methods and love of the hunt. Together they would make one of the most glorious and scientifically significant finds in Egyptian archeology—the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Chronicling the years leading up to the discovery and through Howard Carter’s death, Fleming digs into the shaky allegiances and scheming politics of archeology in Egypt, the colonialist role of the British, and the tragedies that plagued those associated with the venture. She subtly calls out the dichotomy between Carter’s painstaking scientific methodology for excavation and conservation, and his near total disregard for Tut’s human remains. The attention to photographing and labeling all the items and events, and only recording the names of the Europeans in the photos. Heavily based on source materials from those associated with the dig, including Carter’s notes, diaries, and books, the text moves from sympathy for his point of view to questioning his attention to anything other than his work, including the growing agitation for Egyptian self-rule. Interspersed through the chapters, “It was said” tales string together sensational stories attributed to the curse; including car accidents, dead pets, and fatal illnesses. And in something of an anti-climax, Fleming devotes just a few brief paragraphs to her conclusion: “There were no curses inscribed anywhere in Tutankhamun’s tomb.” (244) This recounting of the Carnarvon and Carter’s discovery, full of detailed photography, maps, and illustrations, ties a thorough timeline of actual events to a more melodramatic story of the curse.

*review based on printed ARC page numbering