Butler Center Book Sale

It’s that time of year again!

Join the Butler Children’s Literature Center for its annual book sale next Thursday, December 14th from 10 am to 6 pm.

Find us in the Butler Center (Rebecca Crown Library, Room 214) with cookies, cider, expert recommendations, and BOOKS!

If you’re looking to build your book collection, buy presents for your loved ones (or yourself!), or want to check out popular books from 2017, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!

Hardcovers are being sold for $5 each, while paperbacks are selling for $2.

Hope to see you there!

BCLC Logo

Butler Children’s Literature Center Book Sale

Thursday, December 14

10 am – 6 pm

Crown 214

 

Finding Their Way Home: A Review of Refugee by Alan Gratz

Told in three separate yet connected stories, Refugee is a novel of perseverance and commitment to who you are in the face of persecution.

refugeeJosef is fleeing from 1930s Nazi Germany and the threat of concentration camps with his parents and sister. Isabel, her parents, and her neighbors use a makeshift raft to escape Cuba in 1994, during the unrest of Castro’s regime. Mahmoud, along with his parents and younger siblings, leave the violence of war in Syria in 2015, traveling through Europe as they search for a safer place to live. Though the details of their stories are unique, Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud share more similarities than just their situations.

The attention given to creating characters with heart and conviction is engaging, while the conflicts each protagonist faces ensure none of their individual stories get stuck in the emotion of the book as a whole. Refugee tells an important story, and does so without preaching or sensationalizing the experiences of refugees past and present. Maps and an author’s note highlight the reality of Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud’s stories and show the readers how they can help with relief efforts.

Mock Belpré Results

The Butler Children’s Literature Center’s Mock Pura Belpré Award results are in!

MockBelpreWinners

The Medal winner for text is The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (Viking, 2017).

Two Honor Books for text were named: Forest World by Margarita Engle (Simon and Schuster/Atheneum, 2017) and Stef Soto Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres (Little, Brown, 2017).

The Medal winner for illustration is Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Margarita Engle (Holt, 2017).

Two Honor Books for illustration were named: Lucía the Luchadora, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, written by Cynthia Leonor Garza (POW!, 2017) and Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote, illustrated by Raúl Colón, written by Margarita Engle.

Congratulations to tonight’s winners and we look forward to seeing the REAL results on Monday, February 12, 2018 during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

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We’re Not Afraid! Two Not-Too-Scary Stories

In the spirit of Halloween, we’d like to share two new picture books with characters who rethink their requests for scary stories.

i want to be in a scary storyLittle Monster is confident he wants to be in a scary story, until he’s stuck in the middle of one. Witches, ghosts, and spooky houses? “Golly Gosh!” and “Jeepers Creepers!” he says. Little Monster doesn’t want to be scared; he wants to do the scaring! The narrator (indicated on the page with black text, where Little Monster’s words are purple) acquiesces, putting Little Monster in charge of the upcoming frights. Is Little Monster ready to scare? With charming dialogue and just enough forewarning for what the next page holds, I Want to Be in a Scary Story will delight any child who wants to be in a story – on their own terms.

too scary story

Parents who’ve struggled to satisfy competing requests will recognize Papa’s burden in The Too-Scary Story. Grace and Walter settle in for a bedtime story, but they can’t agree on how scary it should be. The dark forest setting is “too scary” for Walter, so Papa introduces the “twinkling lights” of fireflies. But that’s not scary enough for Grace! Back and forth the story goes, scary to safe, until Walter and Grace agree – the story is too scary! Luckily, Grace has her magic wand, and Papa is never too far away to bring the story back to safety. Murguia’s mixed media illustrations follow the alternating moods of the text and complete this bedtime adventure.

A Review of The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

Just in time for the changing season and upcoming Halloween celebrations comes Lindsay Currie’s first book for middle grades.

peculiar incident

Tessa Woodward is less than thrilled about her family’s move from Florida to Chicago, and their house doesn’t seem to be too pleased either, based on the moving items, flickering lights, and eerie drawings appearing in Tessa’s sketchbook. When Tessa reveals to her classmates that her house is haunted on her first day at her new school, she is afraid her social life is over, but a group of unlikely friends decides to help Tessa solve the mystery of who used to live in her house – and who is making it difficult for the Woodwards to live there now.

Lindsay Currie’s in-depth research on the haunted settings and ghost stories featured in The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street shows in the details of this mystery, and makes for a satisfying read. Tessa is a smart, sensitive, and curious protagonist, and her relationship with her parents and younger brother is genuine. Readers will want to cheer her on as she works to solve her own problems, with the help of her peers, who are proud to explore their interests. The pacing adds to the spook-factor without being too dramatic and makes you want to keep reading (preferably with the lights on!).

A Review of Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say

This is one of the most remarkably affecting books I have ever read. When a baby is born, he or she doesn’t know s/he is deaf, autistic, or any different from anyone else; it is positively heartbreaking to read about this one’s introduction to a world that was almost unfailingly cruel.

Born in in 1899 in rural Idaho, James Castle was deaf, unable to speak, and autistic. Through straightforward narration, his nephew attempts to show the world through baby James’ eyes: “James opened his eyes to the world and saw things that moved and things that were still. Anything that moved seemed to scare him. He cried as his parents bobbed around him with darting eyes and flapping mouths. But James couldn’t hear himself shrieking. For him the world would always be silent.” It is truly the stuff of nightmares, interpreted hauntingly by Say’s mixed-media art, some in smudgy grayscale and some in color. Images of young James engaged by various scraps of paper, charcoal, and other “found” art materials are almost peaceful; they are juxtaposed by harrowing scenes of him holding his arms around his ears while other children scream taunts at him.

SilentDaysSilentDreams

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2017)

James’ own parents were no doubt as terrified and perplexed by their son as he was by the world; unfortunately, they were ill-equipped, or unable or unwilling, to figure out how best to rear him. At first, they gave him old paper or other throwaway items, since those things seemed to keep him entertained or at least occupied. They sent him to a school where he appears to have found some level of engagement: looking books and printed materials in the library, although he could not read; watching teachers sew books together; and doing “well in shoe repair class.” But the school considered him a failure because he could not learn to speak. There is no judgement made explicit in the text on the principal who advised James’ parents “…not to give James and drawing materials at home. He said James should learn to read and write and not waste time on drawings.” Readers will come to their own conclusions about the humanity, or lack thereof, in this approach.

As an adult, James became extremely isolated, essentially living in a barn where he had his “studio” and a mattress on the floor. Continually tormented by kids stealing his artwork, and called names such as “Dummy” and “Crazy Jimmy,” he nonetheless persisted in doing the only thing that seemed to give him any pleasure: using whatever he could find (soot with spit, charred sticks, and the like) to create art. Say’s portrayal of the type of illustrations James was creating at this time show eerie pictures of people with boxes or blank circles where faces should be, as well as quotidian images of small wooden houses and little puppets of dolls, farm animals and birds. We’ll never really know, but it’s possible James was expressing his wishes, desires, and silent dreams for home and companionship in the only way he knew how.

There is some redemption to James’ story with an art show organized by his nephew’s teacher in art school, and an eventual trailer in which he could live that was a big step up from the shacks he’d inhabited for most of his life. Nowadays, “found” or “naïve” art is a recognized genre, and James Castle is a respected contributor to it. Say’s closing portrait shows James as an adult, standing in front of his “Dream House,” with what might be a hint of a smile. The text reads “I think he was happy.”

An author’s note, bibliography, and photos of some of the found materials Say used to create the art round out this haunting picture book biography for older readers.

Celebrate International Day of Peace With New Picture Books

The Butler Center is excited to share two new picture books to celebrate International Day of Peace today. Both feature song lyrics accompanied by vibrant illustrations, and both invite readers to spread their messages of world peace.

imagine

Imagine by John Lennon, illustrated by Jean Jullien, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books 2017

Using John Lennon’s iconic song as the text, Imagine follows the journey of one pigeon as she shares tolerance and peace with her fellow birds. Jean Jullien’s illustrations highlight the pigeon’s travels from land to sea with bright colors and an emphasis on diversity and equality. We see her share olive branches, hoping others will join her “and the world will live as one.”

With a foreword from Yoko Ono Lennon and published in partnership with Amnesty International, Imagine makes a beautiful statement in support of peace and human rights.

 

salam alaikum

Salam Alaikum by Harris J, illustrated by Ward Jenkins, Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads, 2017

Harris J is a relative newcomer to the music world, but he also has a message of peace to share. His debut single, “Salam Alaikum,” is featured in this eponymous picture book, along with colorful illustrations from Ward Jenkins. Salam Alaikum, or Assalamu Alaikum, means “Peace be upon you” and is used by Muslims worldwide as a greeting. In Salam Alaikum, this message plays out in a chain of “pay it forward” actions. Readers with an eye for detail will enjoy tracing one act of kindness to the next as each character does their part to spread “peace on the Earth every day.”