Found Cryptid Family: A Review of Another Kind

Another Kind
By Cait May and Trevor Bream
HarperCollins/HarperAlley
October 26, 2021
Ages 10+

This graphic novel centers on six not-quite-human kids who initially live in the safety of a secret government facility nicknamed the Playroom until a security breach disrupts their lives. They are forced to go on the run, fleeing from a mysterious being known as the Collector. While on the run, they meet other “irregularities” who live hidden from society. They realize, too late, that a sanctuary many irregularities have headed towards is a trap set by the Collector and come face to face with him. The group and their new allies must find a way to overcome the Collector’s leech-like powers. In the end, the group prevails, making a new home for themselves in a safe place they had been searching for all along.

Readers are sure to appreciate the diversity of the cast as characters come from different ethnic backgrounds and LGBTQ+ identities. Additionally, there is a great diversity in the types of cryptids depicted, with the main cast featuring a half-Yeti, a will o’ the wisp, a bear shifter (Nandi Bear), an alien (Reptilian), a selkie, and a sea monster. A varied cast of secondary characters includes other types of creatures which are sure to appeal to readers interested in the supernatural. The art highlights the diversity of the cast with the use of a broad range of colors. Various paneling and lighting styles efficiently show off action and shifting moods as certain parts of the story touch on darker themes. While the backstories of central characters include dark moments, yet they overcome past hardships by sticking together. The moments the young characters spend together feel authentic as they banter. The two older members of the group face the responsibility of caring for the rest, particularly the youngest, who is 6 years old. At times, she takes childish actions that jeopardize the group, yet those around her show her nothing but love and support as she struggles to fully understand why she must hide what makes her different from “normal” people. The primary messages of embracing one’s differences and the importance of found family are ones that every reader is sure to learn from.

Butler Bookshelf

Welcome to Butler Bookshelf’s mid-October spectre-cale! This week, we have collected a handful of spooky titles rife with ghosts and illusions. Ideal for elementary school readers, step into the world of The Nightmare Thief . Sisters Maren and Hallie work in their family’s dream shop. When Hallie gets into an accident that puts her in a coma, Maren breaks one of their most explicit rules: she slips Hallie a flying dream. A mysterious customer notices what Maren did, and blackmails her into creating nightmares. As the scheme gets more and more elaborate, Maren must make a choice: protect her town from the magic, or protect the magic itself. For more spectre-tacular titles, see the list below!

This Book Can Read Your Mind
Written by Susannah Lloyd
Illustrated by Jacob Grant
Published by Francis Lincoln Children’s Books
Available Now!

No Place for Monsters: School of Phantoms
Written by Kory Merritt
Published by Clarion Books
Available Now!

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Adapted by Georghia Ellinas
Illustrated by Jane Ray
Published by Candlewick
Available Now!

Ferryman
Written by Claire McFall
Published by Walker Books US
Available Now!

The Nightmare Thief
Written by Nicole Lesperance
Illustrated by Federica Fenna
Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Available Now!

Curse of the Divine
Written by Kim Smejkal
Published by Clarion Books
Available Now!

Last impressions are always better than firsts: A Review of Invasion of the Unicorns

Invasion of the Unicorns
David Biedrzycki
Charlesbridge
October 19, 2021
Ages 4-8

Just past midnight, in a video arcade, there’s a burst of bright and colorful light. From it emerges Secret Agent Bubble07! Although he looks like a stuffed unicorn toy, he is actually an alien and a spy. His mission: collect data and decide if the alien unicorn army should invade Earth and make humans their servants. To do this, Agent Bubble07 allows himself to be captured by an Earthling family by posing as a stuffed animal in the claw machine. After three long days, a father outwits the machine and scoops up Agent Bubble07 for his daughter. Now, with a family to study, Agent Bubble07 will observe their every move. Will he tell headquarters that Earth should be invaded or will he discover that our planet is worth saving?

Invasion of the Unicorns is a fun and humorous picture book that shows that all people and ways of life are equal. It illustrates the importance of taking the time to learn about something or someone, rather than making judgements based on first impressions. If Agent Bubble07 attacked Earth based on how he felt on his 20th day here when the school kids were being rough with him, he wouldn’t have gotten to experience snow day on his 50th day. Each illustration has a grainy texture. There are also a few panels and full bleed pictures, adding variety and something unique to look at on each page. Biedrzycki starts the book with pictures in grayscale, only using limited color to represent Agent Bubble07’s presence. However, after the unicorn discovers the amazing things Earth offers, the pictures are filled with color. An excellent way to show how good things make life happy and vibrant. Biedrzycki’s unique story is a timeless reminder that, although we may have different cultures and traditions, they are all valuable.

Butler Bookshelf

Every October, libraries host a nationwide celebration of teens called TeenTober! TeenTober promotes year-round teen services and the innovative ways these services help teens learn new skills. To celebrate, we are featuring all Teen/YA stories this week on the Butler Bookshelf! Dive into Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon. For her own personal gain, Caterina Lavalle gives Rahul Chopra a mysterious hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires. The gel transforms Rahul into a much more handsome, charming version of himself. But will this new persona change Rahul completely and take away everything he’s ever known? For more amazing titles, check out the list below!

The Wild Ones
Written by Nafiza Azad
Published by Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available now!

Muted
Written by Tami Charles
Published by Scholastic Press
Available now!

Battle of the Bands
Edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

As if on Cue
Written by Marisa Kanter
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Of Princes and Promises (Rosetta Academy 2)
Written by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Simone Breaks all the Rules
Written by Debbie Rigaud
Published by Scholastic Press
Available now!

How Drawing Saved the World: A Review of Penvilvania by Stephanie Watson

Pencilvania
by Stephanie Watson
Illustrated by Sofia Moore
Sourcebooks/Sourcebooks Young Readers
October 5th, 2021
Ages 8+

Twelve-year-old Zora Webb has always loved to draw, encouraged by the support and kind words of her mother—she calls her wish to draw the “Voom.” But when Zora’s mom dies after a months-long battle with leukemia, the Voom disappears completely. All Zora wants to do is scribble over the drawings that her mother had loved so much. When she does, they come to life, dragging Zora and her sister, Frankie, into the magical realm of Pencilvania, a land filled with everything Zora has ever drawn—including the scribbles, which are wreaking havoc on all the other drawings. When a scribble captures her sister, Zora goes on a quest across Pencilvania. With the help of a seven-legged horse, hamsters in pajamas, and a collection of her past self-portraits, Zora saves her sister, her love of drawing, and the rest of the realm.

 

Pencilvania is an insightful middle-grade fantasy novel chronicling the journey of Zora Webb through a land of her own making. Written in simple text supplemented by onomatopoeia interjections and visual renditions of Zora’s drawings, Pencilvania is an accessible and oftentimes humorous look at grief and healing. Complicated emotions are conceptualized using color and shapes, allowing young readers to visually track the changes in Zora’s drawings and emotion, and inviting them to look at their own emotions in a new way. The copious illustrations—a combination of childlike pencil drawings, more sophisticated illustrations, and collage-like renderings—faithfully detail Zora’s story. Though she is writing for an elementary school audience, Watson does not shy away from difficult topics; she represents and resolves anger, fear, and hopelessness truthfully and completely, while still leaving room for humor and joy. The human cast is presumed white with a varied (and oftentimes silly) group of living drawings that help Zora on her way back to hope and, ultimately, forgiveness.*

* Reviewed from an Advanced Readers’ Copy

Butler Bookshelf

Spooky season is here! Let’s celebrate by diving into Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston. Victoria and her dad have been fascinated with the undead since the first vampire revealed his existence on live television. They dream of finding one together some day. But that dream is ripped from them when Victoria’s dad is diagnosed with terminal cancer. To save her dad’s life, Victoria must find a vampire and become one herself. But convincing a vampire to turn her won’t be easy. She must prove that she loves life enough to live forever. Will she be able to push passed her grief, reap the joys of life, and keep her father from dying? For more fantastic titles, check out the list below!

The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb
Written by Candace Fleming
Published by Scholastic Focus
Available now!
Check out our review!

Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice
Written by Amanda Foody
Published by Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available now!

Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things
Written by Margie Fuston
Published by Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available now!

My World in 100 Words: Halloween
Written by Happy Yak and Illustrated by Sophie Beer
Published by The Quarto Group/Happy Yak
Available now!

Shadowghast
Written by Thomas Taylor and Illustrated by Tom Booth
Published by Candlewick Press/Walker Books
Available now!

Twitchy Witchy Itch
Written and Illustrated by Priscilla Tey
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Baking with Pride: A Review of The Heartbreak Bakery

The Heartbreak Bakery
A. R. Capetta
Candlewick Press
October 12, 2021
Ages 14-17

After being dumped by a longtime girlfriend, Syd, who has always used baking to express feelings, bakes a batch of brownies that seem to magically break up everyone who eats them. This effect even reaches Vin and Alec, owners of the queer Proud Muffin bakery where Syd works and feels truly at home. With the owners’ relationship threatened, Syd worries that the Proud Muffin itself is in danger. Syd teams up with the Proud Muffin’s delivery person, Harley, to fix the mess, hoping to use newfound magical baking powers to bring all the broken-up couples together.

Told in the first person by Syd, who from time to time reflects on the experience of being agender, with a preference for no pronouns at all. There is additional representation of people from across the spectrum of gender identities. For example, Harley uses either he or they pronouns, depending on the day, with the day’s preference indicated by a pin. Syd and Harley have instant chemistry, leading Syd to open up about identifying as agender, despite an inability to express this identity to others. Capetta clearly incorporates personal experience into various aspects of the novel, describing its setting of Austin with love and delving into their baking experience by including recipes throughout the book. Filled with romance, heartache, and a touch of magical realism, The Heartbreak Bakery provides a chance for those with gender uncertainty to feel seen, a window into the agender experience, and a sweet treat for all.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf you will find Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister? by Chitra Soundar and Jen Khatun! Sona has always enjoyed being an only child in house full of people and laughter. Then one day Amma tells her that she will soon have a brother or sister. Sona is not very fond of the idea. She isn’t sure she wants to share everything–including her family–with a new baby. But, when Sona hears that there will be a naming ceremony, she puts all her effort into finding the perfect name for her new sibling. Sona is determined to be the very best big sister she can be! For more great titles, check out the list below!

Zion Unmatched
Written by Zion Clark and James S. Hirsch
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

When Langston Dances
Written by Kaija Langley and Illustrated by Keith Mallett
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen
Written by Kate McGovern
Published by Candlewick Press
Available October 12, 2021

How to Have a Birthday
Written by Mary Lyn Ray and Illustrated by Cindy Derby
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister?
Written by Chitra Soundar and Illustrated by Jen Khatun
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Drawn That Way
Written by Elissa Sussman
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Differences make us stronger: A review of ¡¡Manu!! 

¡¡Manu!!
Kelly Fernández
Scholastic/Graphix
October 19, 2021
Ages 8-12

Manu and Josefina have been best friends since their first day at La Academia de Santa Dominga—a magical boarding school for girls. Manu is the most powerful witchling the school has ever seen. But her affinity for pranks gets her into troublesome situations. Everyone sees Manu as a terror, except Josefina and Mother Dolores. That changes when a prank goes terribly wrong. Josefina is incredibly upset and wishes for the Saints to take away Manu’s magic. The wish comes true! So, Manu resorts to extreme measures. She uses black magic to restore her abilities. Will using such a dangerous spell change Manu forever?  

¡¡Manu!! is a heartwarming graphic novel about what it means to be a true friend and being there for them no matter the circumstance. When consequences of the black magic cause Manu to attack the school, Josefina is convinced that there is something wrong. Unlike her classmates, Josefina gives Manu the benefit of the doubt. Even though she doesn’t understand why Manu attacked the school, she trusts Manu wouldn’t do it willingly. LGBTQ representation is present throughout the narrative with the revelation that Josefina isn’t attracted to boys. A relationship between Manu and Josefina is also hinted at towards the end of the novel. The panels are plentiful and expressive. Body parts are replicated and superimposed on each other to indicate movement. There’s a decrease in color as the story progresses. Panels go from full color to black and white, with some placed atop fully black pages to signify the past. Fernández pays homage to her Dominican roots with a story based on witchcraft and Roman Catholic traditions. She also includes some Spanish text throughout. Her creative adventure shows that even when we feel different, we always have someone to lean on. 

Butler Bookshelf

Tomorrow is the official commencement of the Fall season! So this week on the Butler Bookshelf, we are featuring some spooky and autumnal books! Follow twelve-year-old Billie in The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young. Every year, Billie grows a thousand pound pumpkin, hollows it out, and races across the bay in the annual Madeline Island pumpkin race. Last year she was cheated out the win by her best friend Sam and now she wants revenge. Will Billie be able to cross that finish line, winning fame, fortune, and free ice cream? For more fantastic titles, check out the list below!

The Nature of Witches
Written by Rachel Griffin
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Available now!

Fangs for Having Us! (Ms. Frogbottom’s Field Trips #3)
Written by Nancy Krulik and Illustrated by Harry Briggs
Published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin
Available now!

Return of Zombert (The Zombert Chronicles #2)
Written by Kara LaReau and Illustrated by Ryan Andrews
Published by Candlewick Press
Available now!

Owl has a Halloween Party
Written by Nosy Crow and Illustrated by Jannie Ho
Published by Candlewick Press/Nosy Crow
Available now!

How to Help a Pumpkin Grow
Written and Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Published by Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books
Available now!

The Pumpkin War
Written by Cathleen Young
Published by Random House Children’s Books/Yearling
Available now!