Chicken Killer: A Review of Bone Hollow

 

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Kim Ventrella

Scholastic, January 2019

Grades: 5-8

Did you ever think you’d die trying to save a chicken? Yeah, well, neither did sixth-grader Gabe, in Kim Ventrella’s forthcoming Bone Hollow. Except Gabe is only half dead–and he discovers this when he shows up at the town candlelight service for him. Gabe is on the run from the town, when he meets Wynne, the embodiment of Death. Wynne helps people pass into the light, and she wants Gabe to take over this job. Over the course of the novel, she and Gabe become friends, and, under Wynne’s mentorship, Gabe eventually accepts the responsibility of helping people cross over. Gabe is a lonely and humorous kid, and his voice is authentic, for a sixth grader which makes his processing of dying and death compelling to the reader. The narrator describes Gabe’s new perspective on Death: “Sad, sure, but also happy and kind and vast, like the ocean he and Gramps used to imagine. A deep, endless ocean, with rushing waves and a surface that reflected back each and every star” (222). Ultimately, this book might help adolescent readers recognize that death is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Like Gabe, the readers might understand that Death is more of a transition than an ending.   

 

Carmen Agra Deedy–Save the Date!

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March 20, 2019 at 6 p.m.
Eloise Martin Recital Hall, Fine Arts Building
Reception and book signing to follow in the Slate Lobby

Carmen Agra Deedy is the author of eleven books for children including Martina the Beautiful Cockroach– winner of the Odyssey Honor Award (2009) and the Pura Belpré Honor Award (2008)–, 14 Cows for America, Library Dragon, and her newest picture book Rita and Ralph (Scholastic Press), illustrated by Pete Oswald, which will be published in 2020. Her personal stories first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered; Deedy’s stories were inspired by her childhood as a Cuban refugee in Decatur, Georgia. She is also the host of the four-time Emmy-winning children’s program, Love That Book! In fall of 2016, Deedy opened the Art of the Book Lecture Series for the Smithsonian Libraries.

Along with being an award-winning author and storyteller, Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for both TED and TEDx Conferences, the Library of Congress, Coumbia University, The National Book Festival, Association of International Baccalaureate Schools of Costa Rica Conference, among several other distinguished venues.

If you are interested in learning more about Ms. Deedy and her work, follow the links provided below:

Website: carmenagradeedy.com

Twitter: @carmendeedy

TED: Carmen Agra Deedy Spins Stories

NPR: Twisting the Winds of Semantics

Diverse Summer Reading Books for Kids

National Book Festival: Book Fest 2017

Smithsonian: Author Series: Carmen Agra Deedy

Yale: Carmen Agra Deedy, Children’s Book Author

 

Maybe Today or Maybe Tomorrow: A Review of Maybe Tomorrow?

maybe tomorrow

Maybe Tomorrow?
By Charlotte Agell, illustrated by Ana Ramírez

Scholastic
March, 2019
Grades: Pre-K — 2

 

 

 

Elba the hippo spends her days dragging around a heavy, black box. One day Elba meets an alligator named Norris who is upbeat and surrounded by butterflies. The two become friends, and as they grow closer, Elba reveals to Norris that she is mourning the loss of her friend Little Bird. Norris tells Elba that although he did not know Little Bird, that he can help Elba mourn her. Elba and Norris then notice that her box has shrunk and become much lighter and easier for Elba to carry. Elba tells Norris that she will always have her box, to which Norris responds, “Yes, maybe you will… But I will help you carry it sometimes.”

Agell’s text is thoughtful and poignant, gently teaching children not only that it is okay to be sad, but also how to help those who are feeling sad. Agell makes a point of showing that there is no simple solution to sadness and that some people may always carry some sadness with them. The text encourages the reader, via Norris, to be empathetic and patient with those who are feeling sad. Agell shows that grieving is part of the healing process and cannot be rushed. Ramírez’s beautiful digitized watercolor drawings perfectly complement Agell’s text. The soft pastel colors convey a hopeful mood and bring gentle, understanding energy to accompany the text.

Benefits of a Bossy Butler: A Review of Pay Attention, Carter Jones

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Pay Attention, Carter Jones
Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books, February 2019

The Butler in Gary Schmidt’s Pay Attention, Carter Jones shows up at the perfect time. Carter’s father is deployed in Germany when Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick arrives on the Jones’s family’s front porch, his service an inheritance of sorts from their recently passed grandfather. Carter’s mother, struggling to care for four and mourning the loss of a fifth, is all too happy to accept free help, but Carter doesn’t appreciate Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick’s insistence on speaking “the Queen’s English” or his tips on gentlemanly behavior. The two bond, however, when the butler teaches Carter to drive a car that will one day be his own and introduces him to the intricacies of Cricket. When Carter finds out his father is not returning from Germany, he starts to suspects the butler knows more about his family than it seems, and that the butler’s unsolicited guidance may help him sort the fragments of his family currently spinning out of control. The Butler is appropriately irritating and loveable all at once, striking a perfect balance of affection and frustration as his central relationship with Carter blooms. Carter is both stubborn and sympathetic as a middle schooler confronting the loss of a sibling and his father’s abandonment in a touching and realistic way. A hilarious and heartfelt book that will have readers laughing between tears and “remembering who they are.”

Many thanks to local author, SCBWI-IL member, and guest reviewer, Mike Grosso. Mike is an author, musician, and middle school math teacher who always keeps a guitar in his classroom. Mike writes books and records music at his home in Oak Park, Illinois, where he lives with his son and a drum set he plays much too loud. I AM DRUMS is his first novel, and his rock album, SILENT EXPLOSION, was funded via Kickstarter in early 2018. You can find him at mikegrossoauthor.com.

 

 

 

 

Sort of Bilingual: Serving Youth and Young Adults from Spanish-speaking Homes

Spanish/English Dictionary collectionJoin Elizabeth Lynch of Addison Public Library and Kelly MacGregor of Berwyn Public Library for an in-depth look at how they worked to improve service for the teens at their library and a discussion of how you can too.

Children and Young Adults growing up in Spanish-speaking households can encounter unique barriers to academic and social-emotional growth. Addison Public Library surveyed nearly 400 residents with the help of the ALA Diversity Research Grant to get a richer picture of the assets and needs of youth in bilingual homes. Their findings led them to develop new ways of approaching programming and services for bilingual youth. Find out more about the process for collecting useful community data and how you can replicate successful programs in your library.

When: Saturday February 9, 2019 from 11am — 1pm

Where: Butler Children’s Literature Center — Dominican University, Crown Rm 214

RSVP: to butler@dom.edu by 2/4/19 to reserve a seat

Holiday Break

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The Butler Children’s Literature Center will be closed December 21, 2018 through January 1, 2019. Appointments are available January 2nd—8th and open hours will resume on January 9th on Monday—Thursday from 1 pm — 6 pm.

We thank you for a wonderful 2018 and wish you a happy, healthy, and well-read New Year.