Welcome to the online presence of the Butler Children's Literature Center, housed in Dominican's SOIS and generously supported by the Butler Family Foundation. Here, we celebrate the best in books for youth and those who delight in sharing them. For Fall 2020, BCLC will offer collection access to the Dominican community by appointment only. Contact Jen Clemons at email@example.com to make arrangements or you can still reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story. Our Way. by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin is the shared memoir of two great creators and best friends who happen to have the same name. Follow their story of meeting in New York and becoming the artists they are today.
Check it out along with the other titles we are featuring below!
Bad Things Happen Here Written by Rebecca Barrow Published by Margaret K. McElderry Brooks Available Today!
Jigsaw: Mystery in the Mail Written and Illustrated by Bob Graham Published by Candlewick Press Available July 12th!
Leila: ThePerfect Witch Written and Illustrated by Flavia Z. Drago Published by Candlewick Press Available July 12th!
McTavish on the Move Written by Meg Rosoff Published by Candlewick Press Available July 12th!
My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story. Our Way. Written by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin Published by Atheneum Books For Young Readers Available Today!
The Other Side of the River Written by Alda P. Dobbs Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers Available September 6th!
The Feeling of Falling in Love Mason Deever Scholastic/Push August 2, 2022
When his perfect friends with benefits situation is complicated by feelings—yikes—Neil panics. But instead of talking things out, he determines the best way to help Josh get over him is to fake a new relationship with the roommate he barely tolerates. A conscientious student and budding musician, Wyatt agrees to the plan in exchange for a potential audition with Neil’s music exec brother. But a family wedding in Beverly Hills is a long way, in every way, from their North Carolina boarding school. And if Neil thinks he’s a complicated mess, introducing sweet, sensitive Wyatt to his mother’s performative allyship and his grandparents’ transphobia only adds to it. As fake feelings turn real, Neil realizes he deserves better than he’s had and that Wyatt deserves better too. So it’s time to be better. Though not an especially sympathetic character, Deaver draws Neil as a messy and emotional jerk who is ultimately capable of change. Tenderly awkward Wyatt is an adorable foil and rounds out Neil’s found family of LGBTQ friends and support. This train wreck turned love story is full of snarky humor, complex friendships, and just the right amount of angsty YA romance.
Love from Scratch Kaitlyn Hill Penguin Random House/Delacorte April 5, 2022
Landing a coveted summer marketing internship with the foodie channel Friends of Flavor is a dream come true for super-fan Reese Camden. The Seattle media company is worlds away from her Kentucky home and the social media trolling nightmare that was her high school years. Thrown into a video with fellow intern and charming cooking wiz, Benny Beneventi, turns her summer upside down. Her safely behind-the-scenes job is suddenly not so hidden when their video is a viral sensation and becomes a regular feature on the channel. And friendly competition turns serious when the two are pitted against each other for the chance to stay on with the company come fall. What’s more important, her career goals or her potential romance? Hill throws plenty of obstacles in Reese’s way (internet trolls, sleazy executives, and LOTS of self-doubt), balanced by supportive friends and goofy, but loveable Benny. Reese’s work ethic, perseverance, and her desire to make a difference for the channel, keep things from getting too saccharine. A perfect sweet and salty combo!
My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding Sajni Patel Abrams/Amulet April 19, 2022
Music college dreams hit family responsibility reality for hip hop violin phenom, Zuri Damani. Her college hopes seem dashed for good by a rejection letter from Juilliard, but a local competition offers a second chance if only she can fit it into a week packed with wedding prep, wedding photography, and LOTS of wedding parties. And hide it all from her very traditional, law-school-plotting parents. When her biggest competition turns out to be the heartthrob cousin of her future brother-in-law, Zuri turns challenge into inspiration. Support from a big, sneaky group of cousins and a growing rivalry/friendship with Naveen (the heartthrob) push her to get creative to follow her dreams and be there for her family. Well drawn primary characters, exhibiting all the insecurities, bravado, and creativity of teenagers, are balanced by very involved, if sometimes domineering adult family members. Full of vibrant colors, music, and smells that drift tantalizingly off the page, Patel pulls the reader right into the party and all the chaos you’d imagine from an 8-day wedding extravaganza.
Nothing Burns as Bright as You Ashley Woodfolk Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Versify April 5, 2022
This stark and beautiful novel in verse follows two unnamed queer black girls in a dual-timeline look at how they came together and how they burned it all down in the end. As their relationship moves beyond just friendship, their unhealthy and unbalanced dynamic begins to wear them both down. The neediness and desperation of the narrator and episodes of aloofness from a love interest only referred to as “You” foreshadow the moment one draws the other over the edge of self-destruction. The girls start a fire in a school dumpster, leading to the eventual destruction of their relationship. Woodfolk uses fire imagery throughout the novel, evoking volatile emotions, incredible passion, and actual acts of arson. Verses often flash back to their very different childhoods and follow a winding path exploring struggles with adultification, neglect, and the need to be seen. Spare language and many quick, yet powerful verses create a quick read that packs a powerful punch.
Rivals: American Royals III Katherine McGee Random House May 31, 2022
In an alternate reality America, a royal family—the Washingtons—rules the country and they provide all the drama and romance one might expect of young royals. Newly crowned Queen Beatrice is learning how to rule while navigating a relationship with a disgruntled fiancé, who will always come in second place to her job. After years of being the Party Princess, Samantha has finally fallen in love with a future Duke, but with her relationship under a microscope, she might just be ready to run away from her royal duties for good. Prince Jefferson, the family heartthrob, has his pick of girls: Daphne, his on again off again girlfriend; Nina, his friend, turned lover; and Gabriella, a ruthless noble bent on becoming a princess. Three intertwined storylines follow the siblings as they deal with life, love, and friendship in the royal spotlight. McGee weaves themes of love and angst, with grief, guilt, and glamor to create an emotional connection to characters that might otherwise seem far removed from us commoners. This third installment in the series builds on their glittering world and complicated relationships, and ends on the perfect cliffhanger to leave royal-watchers on the lookout for volume four (coming 2023).
Table-top Role-Playing Games (TTRPGs) are cooperative collective storytelling games where the goal is to create an experience together rather than win. Most people immediately think of Dungeons and Dragons in this genre, but it is far from the only example. For an easier library-based program, I suggest using Fate: Accelerated designed by Clark Valentine, Leonard Balsera, Fred Hicks, Mike Olson, and Amanda Valentine, for a cheap and simple to play game. It’s intended to be used with any setting, as opposed to games with specific settings and genre conventions built into the rules, this lets us take the settings of books, play around in some of our favorite worlds and answer the question of “what would you do if you were in that situation?“
And that’s the fun of it. No one, not even the Game Master or GM, knows how things are going to go. It’s a collaborative effort, players get to practice teamwork as well as, social skills, some basic math, but most importantly it gives a space to practice agency. Unlike a book, giving a look into the mind of another person, games allow the players to experience the plot and decisions (or approximations of them) as if they were the character. Let’s use Let the Monster Out by Chad Lucas as an example. The novel shows us what Bones and Kyle do when the mysterious evil corporation takes over the minds of the town’s adults, while a TTRPG lets us flex our imagination and problem-solving skills to find out how we, or our characters, would act in the same situation, even if the scenario is silly.
In a game group, one participant acts as the GM; their role is as the arbiter of the rules, as well as describing the game world, setting, and playing the characters that the other players do not control. The other players each play as a single character in the game world. These characters are the main characters in the story. The GM will describe a scene and the players will explain what their characters do during the scene. If it is uncertain if a character would succeed at a task, players roll some dice to figure out if it happens.
The best part of TTRPGs is that they can be really easy to get started. Especially rule sets that are on the simpler end of the TTRPG spectrum, like our example game Fate: Accelerated. With a bit of pre-reading, some game material preparation, and a willingness to improvise, any librarian could set up a unique program centered on experimenting with agency.
Here is how to set up a program. We will host a book/gaming club hybrid to explore character decisions and themes of books more thoroughly. Let the Monster Out is a book centered on fear, a shady mega-corporation, and solving problems with the power of friendship. To avoid spoilers for the players and to keep things easy, use the local community instead of the community in the book, and have the players make themselves as characters. Pick a few locations near the library, maybe even include the library, and use them as places for the kids to explore, but also add in the Flexcorp headquarters. *The rest of this article assumes you have read Let the Monster Out.
I’ll be using the example of the area around the Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. I chose the following locations, use what is useful for you.
The Lake Michigan shore and the park around it
Cheesie’s, a cheese-based restaurant
Mariano’s, a nearby grocery store
The Playground, a small theater in the area
The Merlo branch library
Don’t be afraid of the locations differing from their real counterparts. Pick a location for the kids to save the scientist with the clue notebook that Bones and Kyle save in Let the Monster Out. As an example, the kids could save the scientist from the lake instead of a river. Create fictional characters for the player’s characters to interact with, per the Fate: Accelerated rule book. Additionally, understanding the main problem in Let the Monster Out and its effects as well as writing down a few key clues and scenes from the book lets you improvise in the way you must in a well-run RPG. (Don’t worry too much about improv, it’ll be fun even when it doesn’t go perfectly.) The wet notebook found on the scientist in the story can act as a prompt when players are having difficulty. If the players are stuck, or are unsure what to do, mention “hey maybe a new page in the notebook is dry” and give them a small hint. If you are getting close to the end of your program time, the notebook can tell them what to do for the ending. This lets you help the players out without making them feel handheld. Don’t do this too much or they will just focus on the notebook only. Besides that, remember what is happening in the plot of Let the Monster Out. Wifi is making the adults inhumanly fearful. How does that manifest in the world? And how is Fluxcorp taking advantage of the situation? For further guidance on preparation and running the game session, please refer to the Fate Accelerated rule book.
Now it’s show time!
What you need:
2 to 4 hours
4+ six-sided dice per group, preferably 4 per person
1 fate accelerated character sheet per participant, see link below
Access to the Fate Accelerated rule book for rule questions
2 copies per group of the 2 quick reference sheets, located at the end of the Fate Accelerated rules
Guide participants through their character creation, or provide pre-made character sheets if you are worried about time. The characters should be middle or early high school-aged. Characters having a fear is important for this situation, so have the players give the character a fear. It doesn’t have to be a fear any p player actually has. Providing suggestions of common or silly ones is a good idea. Write those down. Additionally, during this time, explain and implement the safety mechanics I provided below. In my games, I use lines and veils and the X card, but more are available and may fit with you and your community better. They will hopefully be unnecessary, but it is good to have these just in case.
Have the players introduce their characters and how the character knows two others. Once that happens, ask them why the characters are next to wherever they are to save the drowning scientist. Wait for a response and begin the scene where they have to save the drowning scientist and get the wet notebook.
Once this happens, the players are driving the bus, let them lead their own investigation. The only thing that has to happen is to have at least one nightmare and the big climax of the players fighting through their fears in the Fluxcorp offices. Specifics of the game are up to you and your interpretation of the rules.
The climax of the game should begin when you have about an hour left in the program. Run them through the final bit, and bring the story to a brief close with parents and the police showing up to save the kids and arrest the bad guys. Try to finish this up with 15 minutes to a half-hour left.
Use the rest of the time to discuss how the participants thought about the book, about the game, if playing out the scenario changed what they thought about the decisions the characters in the books made and anything else that may have come up in the session.
Hope Is an Arrow by Cory McCarthy and Illustrated by Ekua Holmes is a biography of poet Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese refugee who escaped religious conflict, made it to Boston, and became the 3rd best-selling poet of all time.
Check it out along with the other titles we are featuring below!
The Fog Catcher’s Daughter Written by Marianne McShane and Illustrated by Alan Marks Published by Candlewick Press Available June 28th!
Frog Vs. Toad Written and Illustrated by Ben Mantle Published by Candlewick Press Available Now!
Hope Is an Arrow: The Story of Lebanese American Poet Kahlil Gibran Written by Cory McCarthy and Illustrated by Ekua Holmes Published by Candlewick Press Available Now!
Impossible Moon Written by Breanna McDaniel and Illustrated by Tonya Engel Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers Available Today!
Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules! Written by e.E. Charlton-Truillo & PatZietlow Miller and Illustrated by Joe Cepeda Published by Candlewick Press Available June 28th!
Nervous Nigel Written and Illustrated by Bethany Christou Published by Templar Books Available Now!
The Loophole Naz Kutub Bloomsbury Publishing June 21, 2022 Ages 14 and up
Sayyed, “Sy”, regrets the day he let go of his ex-boyfriend, Farouk. But being from a strictly disciplined and overly protective Indian-Muslim family never gave him room to live his own life; much less travel the world with Farouk. When his life is suddenly interrupted by a mysterious girl and she offers to grant him three wishes for his help, Sy takes the opportunity to track down his ex to reconcile their relationship. Little does Sy know that his whirlwind international adventure would take him through riots, air raids, and to a refugee camp, making him take risks and be braver than he’s ever been before in the name of love.
Interspersed with flashbacks of his past with Farouk and chapters of a related story about a djinn, the novel gives off a vibe of magical realism as Sy is whisked on a journey from one side of the world to the other. The fast pace and many new twists in Sy’s unanticipated adventure make it easier to see his transition from naivete to courage, and to confront his dad about him being gay. On top of Sy experiencing LGBTQ discrimination, themes of political upheaval, and cultural sensitivity are approached as possible to overcome as long as people have hope. Kutub also infuses humor into the story and the main character, dissolving the tension of some of the serious issues approached as Sy takes on this journey. Confronted by these world issues, there are times when Sy feels he and his problems are insignificant, yet his friends fuel him to persevere, revealing that if people have a supportive network, they can accomplish anything. Sy’s family does not support him being gay, but when suddenly faced without his presence as he journeys on his own, they eventually change perspectives to keep Sy in their lives. The illustration that people can change when they love something enough adds to the feeling of hopefulness throughout the novel. This whirlwind adventure is perfect for readers looking for mystical flair and a sassy main character, who is searching for love and a place to call home.
Look What I Found at the Beach by Moira Butterfield and illustrated by Jesus Verona, is a mix of nonfiction and I Spy. Inviting readers to learn about the beach while examining the fun naive spreads of Verona.
Check it out along with the other picture book titles we are featuring below!
Arab Arab All Year Long! Written by Moira Butterfield and Illustrated by Jesus Verona Published by Candlewick Press Available June 14th!
TheBad Day Written and Illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon Published by Templar Books Available June 14th!
Brand New Boy Written by David Almond and Illustrated by Marta Altes Published by Candlewick Press Available June 14th!
Do Baby Elephants Suck Their Trunks? Written by Ben Lerwill and Illustrated by Kathrine McEwen Published by Nosy Crow Available June 14th!
Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good Written and Illustrated by Louie Stowell Published by Walker Books Available June 14th!
Look What I Found at the Beach Written by Moira Butterfield and Illustrated by Jesus Verona Published by Nosy Crow Available June 14th!
In Whose Bones Are Those? by Chihiro Takeuchi readers are invited to guess what animal is made up by the scattered stylized bones spread across bright pages. Showing how skeletons of animals from hippos, to snakes, to lions, fit together and all their little parts.
Check it out along with the other picture book titles we are featuring below!
Bee Written and Illustrated by Charlotte Voake Published by Candlewick Press Available June 7th!
Happy Owl-oween! Written by Laura Gehl and Illustrated by Lydia Nichols Published by Abrams Appleseed Available July 12th!
I Believe in Me Written and Illustrated by Emma Dodd Published by Templar Books Available June 7th!
Miguel’s Community Garden Written by JaNay Brown-Wood and Illustrated by Samara Hardy Published by Peachtree Available Now!
Poppy’s House Written by Karla Courtney and Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper Published by Walker Books Available June 7th!
Whose Bones Are Those? Written and Illustrated by Chihiro Takeuchi Published by Candlewick Studio Available June 7th!
Girls Who Green the World: Thirty-four Rebel Women Out to Save Our Planet Diana Kapp Illustrated by Ana Jarén Penguin Random House, Delacorte Press April 5, 2022 Ages 12 and up
In a news cycle (and world) seemingly full of climate disasters, we need stories of women stepping up to fight them more than ever. In Girls Who Green the World, journalist Diana Kapp profiles 34 problem-solvers engaged in this work. They are environmental superheroes and these are their origin stories. No two are the same, with women of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels—from students to Fortune 500 executives—and their personal moments of bravery and inspiration. Mary Anne Hitt spends her time and passion fighting against new coal plants and closing existing ones. Komal Ahmad is tackling “the world’s biggest problem”—food waste at restaurants and facilities while neighbors fight hunger. And Jannice Newson and Nana Britwum, who combined their STEM know-how and conservationist drive to create braids with fiber extracted from invasive plant material. Through interviews with these problem solvers, Kapp uncovers their motivations, successes, and failures with hope, humor, and compassion for their struggles. Each profile begins with a “get to know you” Q&A before exploring each woman’s journey from problem to action. Facts about the associated issues and action-items are included throughout and provide both shock value (“… humans produce 320 lbs. of waste per person, per year.” (36)) and a way to channel outrage to outcomes. Spanish fashion illustrator Ana Jarén brings each woman to life with vibrant and detailed hand-drawn portraits that glow with personality. Her interstitial illustrations help to lighten the tone with color and whimsy. A final “Now What?” chapter encourages introspection before action, to move individuals from reader to changemaker. Kapp uses the chapter to offer inspiration and guidance toward a unique path rather than to preach.
A collected portrait of hope and motivation for tomorrow’s changemakers.
This week on the Butler Bookshelf we are featuring recent and coming soon titles! We are highlighting a group of middle-grade books including The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar. Duck is an orphan saved and raised by a group of street urchins called the crowns, but when Duck becomes an apprentice baker in preparation for a heist she has to decide if the life of a thief is worth having.
Check it out along with the other titles below!
Best Friends, Bikinis, and Other Summer Catastrophes Written by Kristi Wientge Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers Available Now!
The Boy Who Met a Whale Written by Nizrana Farook Published by Peachtree Available Now!
TheDarkening of Dragons: Songs of Magic Written by S.A. Patrick Published by Peachtree Available Now!
King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Library Book Written by Dori Hillestad Butler and Illustrated by Nancy Meyers Published by Peachtree Available Now!
The Patron Thief of Bread Written by Lindsay Eagar Published by Candlewick Press Available Now!
TheProblem With Prophesies Written by Scott Reintgen Published by Aladdin Available Today!