Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2023

What a wild—but educational—trip I had to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy! This past week I traveled with other students in the Dominican University SOIS graduate program to discover a worldwide view of children’s literature and explore Italian culture.


Walking through the giant conference center, I was immediately bombarded with multiple white walls that, as I walked, filled with illustrators putting up pieces of their work, business cards, and small drawings. Viewing all the diverse art and culture first thing in the morning made me understand that I was going to get the experience of a lifetime in the two days we had to explore. Thank goodness for the gelato stand that provided a delicious break between programs, and which I might have visited more than once each day.




This year, Bologna Children’s Book Fair honored the critically acclaimed Korean artist and illustrator, Suzy Lee. Known specifically for her work on wordless, or silent, picture books, Lee is the winner of the 2022 H.C. Andersen Award for her work on Mirror, Wave, and Shadow, known as ‘The Border Trilogy.’ These books are creatively refreshing as Lee uses the book gutter, the center of the open book where the pages are bound together, to act as a barrier between fantasy and reality in each story. It was eye-opening to see how authors and illustrators from around the world are using outside-the-box techniques to depict their stories, which are very different from those in America.


Unfortunately, many of the books present at the fair will never be released in the States, as there need to be publishers open to the book and translators, editors, and booksellers to complete the transition. Discovering the business and political side of publishing during this fair was something I was quite interested in, and was a focus of many programs I attended.  Getting to see these diverse books push the boundaries of what we—Americans—think of as children’s books, was astounding, and I’m very lucky that I got to see them. 20230307_094212


Not only did I get to discover the fair, but I also got to explore Italy! Visiting Ravenna with my classmates, Verona and Florence with friends, and touring Bologna outside the fair took up most of my trip. I took great advantage of my stay in Italy to see everything, and getting to be a librarian by day and a tourist by night was the best of both worlds. Waking up with the sun in Italy to walk over to a children’s book fair will be one of the best moments that I have as a DU graduate student, and I highly encourage other MLIS graduate students to take the opportunity to travel with one of the study abroad courses.


20230310_064632 20230310_095009Arrivederci Italia! (Goodbye Italy!)


Butler Bookshelf

Celebrating Women’s History Month with some of these amazing titles written by women! Zeba Shahnaz creates an explosive fantasy debut with her book Midnight Strikes, where a provincial girl must work with an infuriatingly handsome prince to escape a nightmarish curse that forces them to relive the same night over and over. A twisty young adult story that combines angsty romance and political intrigue, perfect for readers who like Cinderella and A Groundhogs Day. 

Check it out along with our other titles written by women below!

Birds Everywhere
Written by Camilla de la Bedoyere & Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
Published by Big Picture Press
Available Now!

Dear Medusa
Written by Olivia A. Cole
Published by Labyrinth Road
Available Now!

Eb & Flow
Written by Kelly J. Baptist
Published by Crown Books For Young Readers
Available Now!

How Old is a Whale?: Animal Life Spans from the Mayfly to the Immortal Jellyfish
Written by Lily Murray & Illustrated by Jesse Hodgson
Published by Big Picture Press
Available Now!

Meesh the Bad Demon
Written by Michelle Lam
Published by Alfred A Knopf
Available March 21st!

Midnight Strikes
Written by Zeba Shahnaz
Published by Delacorte Press
Available Now!

Meet Pablo Cartaya: 11th Annual Butler Lecture Speaker

Have you registered for the March 23rd Butler Lecture yet? What are you waiting for? Find out more.

Now that you’re in, it’s time to get to know this year’s speaker.

Pablo Cartaya is an internationally acclaimed author, screenwriter, speaker, and educator. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, and on Oprah’s Booklist. He has received multiple starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, and Audiofile Magazine for his novels and audiobook narrations. Pablo has worked with Disney, Apple+, and Sesame Street on projects adapted from television series and features. His novels have been published by Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Disney Publishing Worldwide.

In 2021, Pablo served as a judge for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, selecting a longlist, shortlist, and winner for the nation’s most prestigious literary award. Over the past decade, Pablo has facilitated approximately over one hundred and fifty writing workshops and lectures. Most have taken place at colleges, universities, libraries, and a variety of community organizations, and K-12 schools throughout the U.S., and in countries across the globe including Sweden, Canada, Jamaica, and Mexico.

Additionally, Pablo served as director of literary arts programming and community engagement at the prestigious four-star, four-diamond boutique hotel, The Betsy-South Beach. During his tenure he led the first literary festival celebrating and highlighting Latinx authors and creators; created the first hybrid literary and visual arts program for Art Basel Miami at The Betsy; helped secure seed funding and performance spaces for the first TransArt Festival in Miami, FL; created the first Writers for Young Readers authors program in Miami, FL; and received a grant for The Betsy Writer’s Room, a dedicated space in the luxury hotel to host writers and creators gratis for up to four days of residency. During his tenure, he oversaw the development of over twenty creative arts initiatives and over four hundred residencies for writers and creatives.

Most recent novels include: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, Each Tiny Spark, the climate dystopia The Last Beekeeper, and the collection of essays Hope Wins: A Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers. Pablo’s writing has been a featured in VOICES, a National Council of Teachers of English periodical, the literary magazine, Miami Rail; the Spanish language editorial, Suburbano Ediciones; as a translator for the poetry chapbook, Cinco Poemas/Five Poems based on the work of the poet Hyam Plutzik; and several award-winning podcasts. Notable Awards and Honors include: 2020 Schneider Family Book Award Honor, 2019 ALSC Notable Book, 2018 American Library Association’s Pura Belpré Honor, 2018 Audie Award Finalist, and 2018 E.B. White Read Aloud Book Award Finalist as well as being on over forty state book award lists. Since 2016, he has served as Lead Faculty for the Writing for Children and Young Adult track at Sierra Nevada University’s MFA (now part of the University of Nevada-Reno) Creative Writing program. 

Where to find Pablo:

His website is full of book info, photos, tools for teachers and librarians, and some fantastic FAQ info.

Publisher sites are full of funny and informative interviews. Check out a few favorites:

Authors Unbound–Pablo Cartaya

Scholastic–Pablo Cartaya

And, of course, his books are available all over the place. Might I recommend some favorite independent book sellers?

The Book Cellar in Chicago (many thanks to them for hosting the lecture night book sale!), The Book Table in Oak Park, Books and Books in the Miami area (Pablo’s favorite), or Sundog Books in Seaside, FL (my favorite vacation book spot).

Full Lecture Details:

11th Annual Butler Lecture featuring Pablo Cartaya
March 23, 2023
6:00 p.m.
Free with registration required
Martin Recital Hall– Dominican University Fine Arts Building, 7900 W. Division St. River Forest, IL 60305
Online (link will be sent to online registrations the day of the event)
A book signing and reception will follow the lecture.

Jane Austen Meet Cutes Shakespeare: A Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute Review

Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute
Sayantani Dasgupta
Scholastic Press
March 7, 2023
Age: 12+

Eila Das, a Bengali American teen who prefers Shakespeare to Jane Austen, is known by her family and peers as the “sensible one.” Though she has a passion for acting, she pushes that away when her father dies to focus on what she thinks will be a more profitable career. Eila compares her love of acting and Shakespeare to how her father loved Shakespearean theater but indicates how he chose a career as an engineer to help support his family. Eila wants to become a lawyer and likes it that way, so she can help support her sister and her mother now that her father is gone. Her plans to pursue law are derailed when she agrees to attend a theater camp with her sister, Mallika, who submitted applications for both of them without Eila’s permission.

Much to Eila’s annoyance, the theater camp is no longer focused on Shakespeare but is instead hosting a casting competition for Rosewood, Mallika’s favorite regency era romance TV show. Eila reluctantly attends the new camp with her sister and ends up with the opportunity to be cast on Rosewood, but only as a minor character, due to that being the only option at the time for people of color.

The supporting cast of characters in this story complement Eila well, with one essential supporting character being Mallika, who is the opposite of the “sensible one.” She is a beautiful, free-spirited, emotional being who is obsessed with theater, drama, and romance. Mallika would be the obvious choice to be cast as the main love interest on a popular TV show because of her superstar looks and her lively personality, but she does not outshine the usually shy and rigid Eila. Instead, Mallika is a support system for Eila as they both process losing their father and as Eila learns to embrace her love of theater again as her priorities shift.

Eila blossoms out of her normal reserved nature as she begins to think more with her heart than her head and she even makes the casting team rethink who they want to see as one of the lead love interests on the TV show. Swept into a meet cute of her own, Eila begins to fall for Rahul Lee, a Bangladeshi Chinese Singaporean British boy who loves both Shakespeare and Jane Austen. With a budding new romance and a streak of rebelling against expectations on her mind, Eila becomes the new “it” girl when she lands the role of the love interest on Rosewood.

This face-paced, multicultural, young adult romance is a refreshing take on regency era love stories like Sense and Sensibility and comes with the dramatic tension of the well-loved book series and TV show Bridgerton. Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute is a must-read for theater kids and the hopeless romantics who love an empowering story about a young woman of color who defies expectations, paired with the sweetest meet cute and an exciting conclusion that leaves you wanting more stories that challenge genre stereotypes for characters of color.

Butler Bookshelf

This multigenerational celebration of grandmas, moms, and granddaughters provides a heartwarming story about the importance of family and will reassure all children preparing for a visit from a faraway relative. In Lola’s Nana-Bibi Comes to Visit, Lola gets a surprise visit from her grandmother, Nana-Bibi, and spends the week doing special family activities with her.

Check it out along with other titles this month featured below!

A Beautiful House for Birds
Written & Illustrated by Grace Lin
Published by Charlesbridge
Available March 14th!

Book Bonding: Building Connections Through Family Reading
Written by Megan Dowd Lambert & Illustrated by Mia Saine
Published by Imagine!
Available April 18th!

Captain Skidmark Dances with Destiny
Written by Jennifer A, Irwin
Published by Charlesbridge
Available April 4th!

The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejia
Written by Alexandra Alessandri
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Available Today!

Lia & Luis: Puzzled!
Written by Ana Crespo & Illustrated by Giovana Medeiros, 
Published by Charlesbridge
Available March 7th!

Lola’s Nana-Bibi Comes to Visit
Written by Anna McQuinn & Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Published by Charlesbridge
Available April 11th!

Butler Bookshelf

Little People, BIG DREAMS provides inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats, by exploring the lives of outstanding people through stylish illustrations. In Hedy Lamarr, we discover how Hedy Lamarr’s love of machines and scientific curiosity never got in the way of her career as an actress, and she actually used her scientific theories to blaze a trail for women in science. Her technology formed the basis for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as we know today. 

Check it out along with other nonfiction titles featured below!

The Gentle Genius of Trees
Written & Illustrated by Philip Bunting
Published by Crown Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

Hedy Lamarr (Little People, BIG DREAMS)
Written by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara & Illustrated by Maggie Cole
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available Today!

The Monkey Trials: John Scopes and the Battle Over Teaching Evolution
Written by Anita Sanchez
Published by Clarion Books
Available March 21st!

One Tiny Treefrog: A Countdown to Survival
Written & Illustrated by Tony Piedra and Mackenzie Joy
Published by Candlewick Press
Available Today!

Yoshi, Sea Turtle Genius: A True Story About an Amazing Swimmer
Written by Lynne Cox & Illustrated by Richard Jones
Published by Anne Schwartz Books
Available Today!

Little Seeds Saving the Planet: A Book Review of Big Tree

Big Tree
Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press
Ages 7 and up
April 4, 2023

Louise and Merwin, two Sycamore seeds, have always assumed they would live with their Mama for a long time before setting down their roots. However, when the mysterious voice of the Old One whispers of impending danger to Louise, and strange incidents start happening in the forest, Louise and Merwin are thrust into an unknown world away from their Mama. Forced to explore the changing and dangerous world around them, the siblings face dinosaurs, meteors, and volcanoes to find a safe place to grow. When the voice of the Old One becomes louder to Louise, she realizes that they may have a higher purpose—to save the world.

Pros and illustrations make this a non-traditional children’s fiction book as it uses both as an integral part of the story; with pages switching from pros, illustrations, and to a combination of both. The black and white charcoal illustrations bring another layer to the story while giving a changing perspective shift from microscopic to galactic view of the world and its creatures. The illustrations are ordered to show the motion of objects, animals, and plants giving life to the story, especially when whole pages portray the walk of a dinosaur past the forest (Pgs. 70-81). Through great changes, Merwin and Louise must change their perspective to adapt to the world around them. Merwin becomes pragmatic and protective of Louise, who is being guided to safety by the Old One, and mostly leads them astray of the Old One’s plan. Louise basks in the new sensations of the world and delves more into trusting and listening to the world around them. Eventually, learning to trust in one another, they both listen to the Old One and prepare for the chance to save the world. In this adventure, Selznick gives a voice to the world by using the Old One as a wise and protective being that wishes to help all its children, while also teaching them that death is just one part of the Cycle of Life. Selznick includes backmatter on the original idea of this book, the science behind key characters, and an acknowledgment of all the scientists and specialists that have helped him research in preparation for this book. As Louise guides Merwin, Big Tree will guide readers to listen to the sound of the world and care for our fragile planet before it’s too late.



Butler Bookshelf

Celebrate the power of music, family, and legacies our loved ones leave behind in Bravo, Little Bird!. Written by Annie Silvestro and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, this picture book tells the special friendship between an old man and a little bird. 

The old man played joyful, jolly music.
Sad, soulful music.
Beautiful, bountiful, breathtaking music.
Little Bird listened…until she couldn’t stay quiet any longer.
Then, she sang.
“Bravo, Little Bird!” cheered the old man.

Check it out along with other picture books featured below!

All About Nothing
Written by Elizabeth Rusch & Illustrated by Elizabeth Goss
Published by Charlesbridge
Available April 4th!

Border Crossings 
Written by Sneed B. Collard III & Illustrated by Howard Gray
Published by Charlesbridge
Available Today!

Bravo, Little Bird!
Written by Annie Silvestro & Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
Published by Simon & Schuster For Young Readers
Available Today!

Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia
Written by Jenny Liao & Illustrated by Dream Chen
Published by Alfred A Knopf
Available Today!

Find Your Brave (A Coco and Bear Story)
Written and Illustrated by Apryl Stott
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

I Am Not an Octopus
Written by Eoin McLaughlin & Marc Boutavant
Published by Candlewick Press
Available Today!

Lab Partners: A Review of Sisters in Science: Marie Curie, Bronia Dluska, and the Atomic Power of SisterhoodLab Partners: A Review of

Sisters in Science: Marie Curie, Bronia Dluska, and the Atomic Power of Sisterhood
Linda Elovitz Marshall
Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso
February 14, 2023
Age 5-9

Marie and Bronia grew up in a home surrounded by love, learning, and tragedy. Losing their mother and sister when they were quite young inspired the sisters to discover ways to help others. They supported each other through school and beyond in their journey to become a doctor and scholar in search of medical miracles. Each grew to make significant impacts on their chosen field, and on each other’s lives, through their curiosity, determination, and courage. This picture book biography of Marie Curie and Bronia Dluska explores the lives of the brave and brilliant sisters as they broke gender boundaries and cultural norms in late 1800s Poland to educate themselves and others in their quest to save the world. Marshall tells the story of their progress from young students to scientific trailblazers in a factual, often bleak, manner, broken by moments of whimsy. She describes the struggles between work and family obligations, accompanied by a moody-toned illustration of the conflict, leading into a spring-like spread of Marie and her husband Pierre on their bicycling honeymoon (p. 10-13). She balances moments from their personal biographies with their professional accomplishments, crafting an example of strong, but well-rounded women in science as role models for young readers, developing scientists, and sisters of all ages. Sisters Anna and Elena Balbusso’s geometric, sepia-toned, mixed media illustrations capture the STEM focus and historic setting to perfection. Utilizing imagery of atomic bonds, equations, and lab equipment against poignant images of the family, they reinforce the conflicting priorities that must have been a constant struggle for the women during that time period (and often still are). A time line and reading list (for children and adults) adds weight to this inspirational addition to STEM and Women’s History Month collections and programming.

A story of sisterhood and intellectual curiosity that lead to some of the great medical and scientific discoveries of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Butler Bookshelf

Inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, Angie Thomas makes her middle grade debut in Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy. Inspired by African American history and folklore, this contemporary fantasy will take readers on a hunt with Nic Blake and her two friends as they try to search for a lost magical tool that can save her father from imprisonment and clear his name. 

Check it out along with the other children’s fiction novels featured below!

Gina and the Last City on Earth (Hilo #9)
Written by Judd Winick
Published by Random House Graphic
Available February 28th!

Hope’s Path to Glory: The Story of a Family’s Journey on the Overland Trail
Written by Jerdine Nolen
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

Lasagna Means I Love You
Written by Kate O’Shaughnessy
Published by Alfred A Knopf
Available February 21st!

Momo Arashima: Steals The Sword Of The Wind
Written by Misa Sugiura
Published by Labyrinth Road
Available February 28th!

Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy
Written by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray
Available April 4th!

Sugar Pancake
Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd & Illustrated by Abhi Alwar
Published by Random House Graphic
Available Today!