Birds and Bugs: Informational Picture Books

By Alena Rivers

Some recent additions to the Butler Center’s 2017 nonfiction collection include picture books for young children exploring birds and insects. In keeping with our review of books that highlight ALSC’s Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness), the books selected for this week’s post exemplify integrity and respect for the learning needs of young children. Both books are published by Holiday House; a publisher known for their strength in delivering informational books of this nature.

birds-make-nests      my-awesome-summer

Birds Make Nests by Michael Garland (Holiday, 2017)

More than 20 birds and their nests are featured in this illustrated picture book for young children. Readers will enjoy exploring birds of all sizes in a variety of habitats that will prompt discussion about the various colors of birds, their environments and the materials birds use to build their nests. Short sentences describe the location, materials, shape or other special features of each nest type.Large illustrations done in woodcut and digital tools give images of the birds and their environment an etched and slightly, textured feel. The color pallet is realistic and respectful of the blue, green and brown tones found in nature’s color pallet while highlighting the variety of colors found in a myriad of bird species.

A list of additional resources is not included but would be helpful for further exploration of the subject. Birds Make Nests is a clear and understandable introduction to birds and their distinctive nests.  Recommended for ages 3-8.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis by Paul Meisel (Holiday, 2017)

Young children are introduced to P. Mantis, a praying mantis who shares the daily habits that characterize it as an intriguing insect. The lifecycle of the praying mantis is portrayed over a 5-month period from mid-May to mid-October in a first-person, diary format describing selected days’ events. Through the narrative, readers will feel they are getting to know P. Mantis as they learn interesting facts about the praying mantis’ birth, eating habits, living environment, predators and tricks used to keep predators at bay.

Colorful and realistic illustrations are done with acrylic ink and digitally enhanced.End papers are used to provide additional facts about the praying mantis that are supportive of the text and should not be overlooked. Web resources and a short glossary are included on the end papers as well. Recommended for ages 3-8.

 

 

March B3 – Butler Book Banter

After a great group discussion on our featured Mock CaldeNott books for the February B3, we are already preparing for our upcoming March B3. It’s right around the corner on March 1st and we will be exploring gender identity. All of the books we are recommending were either featured on the 2017 Rainbow Book List or are part of our 2017 collection. You can also check out a couple of our past blog posts featuring Newsprints and If I Was Your Girl.

Join us in the Butler Center on Wednesday, March 1st from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. (books and snacks out at 5:30 p.m., discussion at 6pm). We look forward to seeing you in March!

Picture Books

big-bob-little-bob      introducing-teddy

Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe, illus. Laura Ellen Anderson (Candlewick, 2016)

Graphic Novels
newsprints     princess-princess-ever-after
Young Adult
if-i-was-your-girl
 

Mock CaldeNott Medal and Honors

Well, we did it! We did in just 90 minutes what it takes “real” committees a whole year to do (ha ha, just kidding). But we DID discuss and vote on a Butler’s dozen (13) titles not eligible for the Caldecott. Other than the eligibility, we stuck with all the other criteria and processes, including balloting and determining our Medal winner and Honor Books.

Our Mock CaldeNott Medal winner is Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann (North-South)

armstrong

Our “committee” named two Mock CaldeNott Honor Books:

Gordon & Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser (North-South)

gordonandtapir

The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye)

journey

Thanks to guest co-moderator Keary Bramwell and all our indefatigable committee “members!” Stay tuned for more Mocks coming up…..

A Review of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

by Hal Patnott

This week, our featured title is the first installment in a new series to watch out for. Among ALSC’s Core Values, Chupeco’s writing demonstrates excellence. Stop by the Butler Center to take a look at our advanced reader copy of The Bone Witch.

the-bone-witch

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks/Fire, 2017)

Tea grew up reading stories of the heroic and magical asha. She pretended to wield their war-ending, artistic powers. Although her sisters are witches with enough skills to make remedies and cast auguries, dark power like necromancy doesn’t flow in her bloodline. Her sister Lilac saw a marriage to a prince in her future. Instead, Tea’s life takes an unexpected turn when she raises her brother from the dead. Of all the asha, bone witches like Tea are the most feared and despised. For her own safety, Tea leaves her small town with a mysterious woman named  Mykaela who promises to train her. Among the many lessons ahead of her, Tea learns first “that the dead hide truths as well as the living.”

The chapters alternate between two first-person narrators, a man in exile seeking the truth and Tea, who tells him her story. Between the time she begins her training as an asha and when she meets the exile at the ends of the earth, almost everyone Tea loves betrays her. The book opens in the midst of action with a seventeen-year-old Tea preparing to unleash her revenge on the world. Chupeco’s bewitching prose enhances the suspenseful plot. While the social customs in Tea’s world rely heavily on a binary gender division, she and her friends question and challenge the rules. A wide variety of cultures converge in the city where Tea begins her training as an asha. The asha themselves are inspired by East Asian cultures. Prejudice and distrust of cultural differences is a central theme throughout the book. A cliff-hanger ending suggests that more awaits of Tea’s adventure. Overall, The Bone Witch is a riveting fantasy and perfect for a teen reader who loves intrigue.

Forthcoming from Past Award Winners

By Alena Rivers

Hot on the heels of this week’s ALA Youth Media Awards announcement, this week we are looking ahead to two forthcoming books from award-winning authors and illustrators. These awards, including the Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Sibert, Geisel, Printz, awards, are the gold standard of excellence in children’s media.  In keeping with our review of books that highlight ALSC’s Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness), these books represent first of all excellence, and also collaboration and integrity and respect.

life-on-mars   dad-and-the-dinosaur

Life on Mars by Jon Agee (Penguin, 2017)

An astronaut arrives on Mars confident in his search for life on the barren planet. The reader follows the astronaut as he walks the planet carrying a gift to share with whomever he discovers. In the meantime, a creature reveals itself to the reader but remains unseen by the astronaut. Young children will delight in watching the creature follow the unknowing astronaut who grows more doubtful of finding life on the planet. Just as the astronaut gives up his search and leaves behind his gift, he finds life on the planet, but it is not the creature who has been quietly and curiously watching the young astronaut. Satisfied with his discovery, the astronaut makes his way back to his ship, which presents a new challenge. He no longer remembers where he left it.The remaining pages reveal clues of the creature’s existence that the astronaut overlooks but are obvious to young readers.

Agee’s text is clean, straightforward and engages readers in the astronaut’s search for life on Mars. The easily discernible illustrations are done in muted grays and browns depicting the barren planet which is contrasted by a black background highlighting the infinite space beyond. Life on Mars is an entirely amusing story perfect for a humorous read-aloud to children ages 3-8.

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Dan Santat (Penguin, 2017)

Wishing to be as brave as his father, young Nicholas secretly finds comfort from his fears of the dark, giant bugs and hidden creatures by keeping with him a constant companion in the form of a small, toy dinosaur. Nicholas knows dinosaurs are not afraid of the dark and other unknowns so, with his dinosaur in tow, he finds the courage he needs to conquer a climbing wall, sleep in the dark and score a winning soccer goal against a tough goalie. That courage disappears as soon as he discovers he has lost his dinosaur on the soccer field. After a fruitless search, Nicholas finds himself vulnerable to the fears that have been kept away by his dinosaur. A touching moment is shared between father and son when Nicholas reveals the secret source of his strength to his father who offers to take Nicholas to the soccer field to find his missing dinosaur.

Choldenko’s text is vivid and astutely balances the ideas of fear and courage. Santat’s illustrations are done in deep blue, green and orange tones that span each two-page spread building a fully immersive depiction of every scene. Young readers will identify with the sense of security a special object can provide and the comfort in sharing its secret existence with someone special. Dad and the Dinosaur is a compelling read-aloud and provides opportunity for discussion with children ages 3-8 about their fears and how they overcome them.

A Review of The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

by Hal Patnott

As we start the new semester, we continue to look at titles that stand out for their representation of ALSC’s Core Values (collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness). This week’s selection, The Pants Project demonstrates inclusiveness, and integrity and respect.

the-pants-project

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2017)

Of all the middle schools that Liv could have attended, of course, Bankridge is the last one in the district with a dress code that forces girls to wear skirts. Although Liv knows he isn’t a girl, he hasn’t found the right moment to tell Mom and Mamma that yet. After all, “It’s not really something you can just blurt out at the dinner table. ‘Please can you pass the ketchup? Oh, and by the way, I think I’m a boy, not a girl.’” When Liv’s best friend ditches him for a group of mean girls, he refuses to stop fighting to change the archaic school rules and with the help of new friends he discovers the courage to be himself.

The Pants Project is a story about identity, friendship, and social justice with a diverse cast of characters. Liv is not alone in his worries about acceptance from his peers. In the end, even his popular friend Jacob has insecurities, but they learn to support each other and overcome their fears together. Clarke maintains a lighthearted and engaging tone with plenty of humor from start to finish. Representation of transgender boys in literature for children is scarce, so this book provides a new and needed perspective. Heartwarming and full of hope, The Pants Project is a valuable addition to every tween collection.

Stop by the Butler Center to take a look at our advanced reading copy of The Pants Project.

Mock CaldeNott – February 1, 2017

We’re thrilled to bring back the popular Mock CaldeNott for the first Butler Book Banter of 2017, in which we get together just after the REAL Youth Media Awards to deliberate about terrific books that weren’t discussed in the Caldecott Committee, not because they aren’t worthy, but because they’re outside the scope of the real-life award. We’re talking about books published in other countries and/or illustrated by people who are not US citizens or residents. All the books on our list were published in 2016, though.

So, as soon as we’ve finished Monday-morning quarterbacking the actual award winner selections, let’s dig into something a little different! Join us here in the Butler Center from 5:30-7:30 (books and snacks out at 5:30, discussion from 6-7, voting from 7-7:30).

Special thanks to guest co-moderator Keary Bramwell, who spurred us to do this again and did yeoman’s work in helping develop the discussion list. See you on February first!

Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by David Jacobson, illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri (Chin Music)

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann (North-South)

Beach Baby by Laurie Elmquist, illus. by Elly McKay (Orca)

The Bus Ride by Marianne Dubuc (Kids Can)

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston (Candlewick)

Circle by Jeannie Baker (Candlewick)

Gordon & Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser (North-South)

The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye)

King Baby by Kate Beaton (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine)

Look Up! by Jung Jin-Ho (Holiday)

Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi (Chronicle)

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs, illus. by Nizar Badr (Orca)

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illus. by Julie Morstad (Roaring Brook/Neal Porter)