The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, September 2019

The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, September 2019

The library is bustling, it’s impossible to find a parking spot on campus, and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils is in the air—it’s fall! My favorite season has arrived with pumpkin spice-flavored everything and I couldn’t be happier to start pulling out my sweaters and adding new titles to my TBR list for the chilly days ahead. But first, an update on all things exciting in the Butler Children’s Literature Center.

Storytelling ref shelf

What We’ve Been Doing–

Collections
Storyteller figureSummer can be quiet in a university library, which makes it the perfect time for big, messy projects. Over the past few months, we’ve been evaluating our permanent collections to get a good look at what we have, what we need, and how we can put the information to use for our community. The Butler graduate assistants spent most of the summer at work on the Ellin Greene Folk and Fairytale Collection—sorting, labeling, cataloging new books, and reorganizing (oh my!). Want to see what’s new? The collection is now searchable through the Rebecca Crown Library catalog, or you can stop by to browse the shelves in person. The Effie Lee Morris Collection of African American Children’s Books also got summer makeover. We analyzed the collection for Own Voices content, dividing the collection into two separate categories: Own Voices plus African American Content and Characters. It was wonderful, though not surprising, to see that Morris prioritized authentic experiences in her collection, despite the lack of author diversity when she began collecting in the 1950s. We are proud to steward this collection and continue adding titles from some of today’s influential voices in youth literature.

Guest Reviewers
Earlier this year we put the call out to local authors interested in book reviewing with the Butler Center. Through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, we partnered with many talented authors to review and promote just a few of the wonderful titles we received this year. You can find their reviews on our blog, Butler’s Pantry, as well as information on the authors and SCBWI.

Butler Youth Services Scholarship
Nora Sanchez photoWe’ve been hard at work on a new scholarship initiative this year and are thrilled to announce the first recipient—Nora Sanchez. Ms. Sanchez is a Dominican alumna, local library assistant, and newly-minted student in the School of Information Studies. Make sure to say hello if you run into her at a Butler event. The Butler Youth Services Scholarship will be awarded annually to a student from a background underrepresented in library science and, in addition to receiving financial assistance, Butler Scholars will work closely with their advisor, the Butler Center, and a librarian-mentor as a support structure for their graduate school career and beyond. You can find out more about the scholarship here. The application window for the next award will open in 2020.

What’s Up Next–

Ellin Greene Storytelling Tea
2019 Greene Memorial TeaIn January, we gathered for an afternoon of stories in memory of Dr. Ellin Greene. After that lovely afternoon of stories and memories shared, we were inspired to make it an annual event, but with less chance for a blizzard. Please join us on Sunday, October 13th at 3 p.m. for stories by Janice Del Negro, Marie Ringenberg, and Janet Thompson in celebration of Ellin Greene and her contributions to the Butler Center and the storytelling community. Please RSVP to butler@dom.edu by October 6th.

Illinois Library Association Annual Conference
Will we see you at ILA? You’ll find the Butler Center at the Dominican School of Information Studies booth (#415) and I’ll be bouncing around to check out all the cool things SOIS alumni are doing at the conference. Stop by to chat at the booth or join us for the Dominican iSchool Alumni Reception on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 5-6 p.m. in the Pebble Beach room at the convention center.

Butler Center Book Sale
Mark your calendars for the annual book sale! Whether you’re looking for holiday gifts or adding to your library collection, we’re here to help with cookies, cider, and expert recommendations. Friday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Dec 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Butler Center.

Fall Open Hours

The Butler Center welcomes teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone interested in literature for young people. Fall 2019 open hours are Mondays 10-6, Tuesdays 3-6, Wednesdays 12-6, and Thursdays 9-noon and 1-6. Or contact us at butler@dom.edu to schedule an appointment.

The Center is a non-lending library, but our staff is here to assist you in locating books that address specific themes, age groups, or reading levels.

The Butler Center is located in the Rebecca Crown Library, room 214, on Dominican’s main campus at 7900 W. Division Street in River Forest, Illinois. Directions and a campus map are available here. The Butler Center is administered by Dominican’s School of Information Studies and is generously supported by the Butler Family Foundation. We hope you’ll visit us, or join us for an event, and stay tuned for our news and upcoming events. Please contact me with any questions you have. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Jen Clemons

Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center
Dominican University SOIS
sois.dom.edu
butlerspantry.org
butler@dom.edu

Butler Bookshelf

IMG_3242Here’s a few titles that we got this week that we are excited to read:

Carmen Sandiego: Endangered Operation published by HMH Books for Young Readers. Comes out October 1st, 2019.

Mario y el agujero en el cielo: Cómo un químico salvó nuestro planeta by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martinez, translated by Carlos E. Calvo. Published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out November 5th, 2019.

Whose Footprint is THAT? by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes Out October 22nd, 2019.

Milton & Odie and the Bigger-than-Bigmouth Bass by Mary Ann Fraser, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out October 1st, 2019.

Dog and Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out October 8th, 2019.

Baby Loves the Five Senses: Sight! (Baby Loves Science) by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chen, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out September 24th, 2019.

The Oregon Trail: Gold Rush! Choose Your Own Trail by Jesse Wiley, published by HMH Books for Young Readers. September 2019.

Beware! by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Larry Day, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out October 8th, 2019.

If Elephants Disappeared by Lily Williams, published by Roaring Brook Press.
Out now, September 2019.

Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches by Steven J. Simmons, illustrated by Cyd Moore, published by Charlesbridge.
Out as of August 2019.

Last Night at the Patch: A Review of Pumpkinheads

Pumpkinheads

Pumpkinheads
Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Graphic novel
First Second Books, August 27, 2019
Ages 14-17

It’s the last night of their final pumpkin patch season before Deja and Josiah head off to college. As the weather turns, Deja cajoles her employee-of-the-month pal to leave the confines of the Succotash Hut and give their beloved pumpkin patch an epic sendoff. Author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park) teams up with author/writer Faith Erin Hicks (Comics Will Break Your Heart) to deliver a madcap adventure of two friends navigating their ways through love, friendship, and corn mazes.

Graphic novel Pumpkinheads combines a pithy humor with teenage self-reflection. The quirky pop culture references (there is a John Denver cover band called John Colorado Springs) are delightful, but more delightful is Deja, a pumpkin patch heartbreaker whose love of snacks is only surpassed by her affection for her friend Josiah. Josiah plays the rule-abider to Deja’s social butterfly and the two complement each other well. However, Rowell and Hicks do not let their characters stay stuck in their ways. When the pair’s discussion turns to fate, Josiah says his leave-it-up-to-fate attitude is a perfect match for Deja’s go-getter nature. Deja is quick to reply that his passive nature means that she is the one doing the work to makes things happen.

Rowell and Hicks alternate action sequences with emotional revelations. Despite great dialogue, some of the most powerful moments are close-ups of Deja’s face when her emotions shift. Near the end of their evening together, Deja’s face reacting to a plain but heartfelt admission from Josiah is familiar and priceless to any teenager or former teenager.

[[Following the story is a conversation between collaborators Rowell and Hicks, delving into plot ideas, character development, and the artistic design process.]]

 

Butler Bookshelf

IMG_3223Here are some books that we got in this week that we’re really excited about:

Paper World: Planet Earth illustrated by Bomoboland, published by Big Picture Press

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

The Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refuges Who Dream of Crossing the Border by Juan Pablo Villalobos, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan, published by Henry Holt and Co.

If Animals Celebrated Christmas by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated  by David Walker, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz, published by Delacorte Press

Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, published by First Second

Life is Short and Then You Die: Mystery Writers of America Present First Encounters with Murder edited by Kelley Armstrong, published by Macmillan

Stargazing written and illustrated by Jen Wang, published by First Second

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Sara Palacios, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Arriverderci Crocodile or See You Later Alligator begun by Fred Marcellino and completed by Eric Puybaret, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Remarkables by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by David Litchfield, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Breakdown of Diverse Content & Own Voices works within Butler’s 2018 Collection

Introduction:
Inspired by We Need Diverse Books and the University of Wisconsin-Madison info-graphic breaking down the percentage of books depicting diverse characters (specifically race and ethnicity) we here at Butler decided to evaluate our 2018 collection to determine whether or not we had a similar breakdown. Questions that we hope to answer by looking back at our 2018 titles included: Does our collection accurately represent what’s being published? Do we need to do some active curation to give our users a better picture of current publishing trends? Although we realize that we receive much fewer books in one year than either of this two institutions do, we felt that is our responsibility to ensure that our collection was an accurate reflection of what is published in a given year. 

WNDB 2018 Graphic

We Need Diverse Books & CCBC Diversity info-graphic

Method & Results:
1. Gather all 2018 titles Butler received and put it into an excel doc. Delete any and all duplicate titles within the excel doc. This was done by putting the doc in alphabetical order by author to make it easier to spot any duplicates.
2. We then looked up each book on Kirkus and Amazon to determine the race/ethnicity of the protagonists of each book. Once this was determined, this would be indicated on the excel doc with the following acronyms:

  • African/African American (A/AA)
  • American Indian/First Nations (AI/FN)
  • Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American (API/APA)
  • Latinx
  • White

In the case that it was none of the above, we left it blank to represent animals/other.
3. After determining the contents diversity, we then went on to look up the author and illustrator of the title to determine whether or not the title was own voices. If it was own voices, an ‘x’ was put in the excel doc. If the title was not own voices, this would be indicated in the excel doc by writing the race/ethnicity of the author and illustrator next to one of the above acronyms.
4. After all this was done, we found that we had a few anthology titles that included both diverse characters and none diverse characters. Since we could not determine how much of these titles were dedicated to either non diverse or diverse characters we decided to delete these titles from the doc so as not to misrepresent them in our graphic.
5. We then organized the doc in alphabetical order based off our acronyms. From there we counted how many books we had in all of our categories—including those we had left blank that represented books about animals or other inanimate objects. For each category we had the following amount of books:

BCLC 2018 All Books graph6. With these numbers in mind, we decided to focus on the 240 books that had diverse content to see how many were own voices.
7. We counted how many ‘x’ indicators we had in our A/AA, AI/FN, API/APA, and Latinx categories to see how many titles we had that were actually own voices.
We found that altogether there were only 119 titles that were on voices.
Once all the data had been gathered we made a graph breaking down all the books by      content and a graph that broke down the number of own voices titles by race/ethnicity.BCLC 2018 Only Diverse Content.png

  • Notably, we found that although the graph based off content indicated that of the 1420 we had only 0.42% was AI/FN content. The own voices graph, on the other-hand, indicated that of the 240 books we had with diverse characters 2% of own voices content was AI/FN.
  • In fact, the percentages for each category doubled between graphs. However, the overall percentage of non-own voices content made up 50% of the second graph while no individual category went above 19%.
  • Overall, own voices content only made up 8% of the total number of books that we received in 2018.BCLC 2018 Own Voices Overall

Breaking this down further, looking at each A/AA, AI/FN, API/APA, and Latinx individually to see what percentage of the content about them was own voices, we found that although A/AA had the most content its overall percentage of own voices titles was the lowest of all the other categories at 41%. Meanwhile Latinx, which had the second lowest amount of content had the highest percentage of own voice titles at 68%.  BCLC 2018 Own Voices within each race ethnicity

Conclusions:
The percentages of our content graph are overall lower than those found by We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, the one area where we had a higher percentage than WNDB and University of Wisconsin-Madison was in our other/animal category. This may in part be due to the fact that we included self-help and how-to books within this category. Without knowing exactly how WNDB and University Wisconsin-Madison determined what went into this category it is hard to say why this discrepancy exists.
On the whole, our results seemed to match the same pattern as WNDB and the University of Wisconsin with White making up the majority of content, followed by Animal/Other, A/AA, API/APA, Latinx, and AI/FN at the bottom. While the gap between diverse and not diverse content is great, the gap between own voices content and non-own voices content is even greater still.

Nature Children Atlantic

The Atlantic, Ashley Fetters

Final Thoughts:
As more diverse titles are published, it is important that they are predominantly written by people from the community they are writing about. It is not enough to have a diverse cast of characters if they do not act or accurately reflect the community they are meant to represent. At the very least, writers and illustrators should make sure that whatever they are producing does not further advance negative stereotypes of their subjects. People are not always aware of the biases they may hold; it is always a good idea to have a sensitivity reader look over and reevaluate your work so as not to further any biases that may be present.
These findings, as well as the findings by WNDB and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, may be helpful to librarians, educators, and parents when curating their own collections. Knowing that publishers mostly publish content depicting white children or animals, librarians, educators, and parents can take the appropriate steps to ensure that their collections are representative of the diverse communities of people which they serve. It is important that everyone feels heard and represented, and making sure that the books we select accurately reflect these voices is critical to expanding children’s world views and validating their self-worth.

 

 

 

Save the Date

Mark your calendar for the eighth annual Butler Lecture featuring award winning illustrator Bryan Collier.

When:      March 4, 2020 6 p.m.
Reception and book signing to follow

Where:     Eloise Martin Recital Hall
Dominican University, Fine Arts Building
7900 West Division Street
River Forest, IL 60305

The lecture is free and open to the public with registration required. Registration will open January 2020.

collier photo from website

Bryan Collier is a beloved illustrator known for his unique style combining watercolor and detailed collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for Trombone Shorty, Dave the Potter, Martin’s Big Words, and Rosa. His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. His recent books include By and By, Thurgood, The Five O’Clock Band, and Between the Lines. He lives in New York with his family.

 

To find out more about Bryan Collier’s art and illustration, visit him at bryancollier.com