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

carter jones

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





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 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.

The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, November 2018

Book Tree

How is it we are already looking at a Christmas tree in the Crown Library? I may not be ready for the holidays just yet, but it does seem appropriate with this wintry weather. And as the year winds down, it also seems appropriate for the requisite year-end, or at least semester-end, recap. So here’s just a quick look at what the Butler Children’s Literature Center has been up to this semester and a sneak peek at what we’re planning for the Spring semester.


Fall Semester Happenings–

Professional Development

This semester we were thrilled to host two professional development events for librarians, teachers, teacher-librarians, and really everyone interested in great books and getting them into the hands of great kids.

Sarah AronsonIn September, we welcomed Evanston author Sarah Aronson for a chat about local authors and creative ways to incorporate their books into your programming. Her presentation, “Made in Illinois: New Books by Illinois Authors and How to Use them in the Classroom (and Library),” sparked an engaging conversation about how collaboration between authors, teachers, and librarians can make books come alive. She also shared information about READ LOCAL, a new initiative by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for connecting those who create books with those who share them. Find out more at


In October, professional reviewers Janice Del Negro (Associate Professor, Dominican University SOIS) and Hal Patnott (Library Assistant, Oak Park Public Library and former Butler Center Graduate Assistant) led a book reviewing workshop with thoughtful discussion on the history of reviewing and current trends in the field, as well as the resources and skills required for professional reviewing of youth literature.


Illinois Library Association Annual Conference

I was excited to spend three days at the ILA Annual Conference in Peoria this October attending programming sessions, reconnecting with former colleagues and classmates, and chatting with alumni at the DU exhibit table. The knowledge, passion, and collaborative spirit on display throughout the event were truly inspiring. And the ILA staff and conference committee did an impressive job of hosting, organizing, shepherding, and generally managing the chaos of that many librarians in one place.

What’s Up Next–

Butler Center Book Sale

Join us for the annual Butler Center Book Sale on Friday 12/7 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm* and Saturday 12/8 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Get expert book recommendations, enjoy cider and cookies, and check some gifts off your holiday shopping list. Know a teacher or librarian that could use some new books in their collection? Bring them along! Hardcover books are just $5 and paperbacks only $2. Proceeds from the sale support Butler Center programming. *Please note the change in Friday’s closing time from previous book sale announcements.

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Ellin Greene Memorial Storytelling Tea

We were saddened to learn about the passing of Ellin Greene this past summer. This storyteller, author, teacher, mentor, and Butler Children’s Literature Center champion will be missed in the storytelling community and beyond. In her honor, the Butler Center will host a Storytelling Tea on Sunday, January 13th at 3:00 pm. Storytellers Janice Del Negro, Marie Ringenberg, and special guests will share tales in memory of their friend and colleague. If you’d like to join us in celebrating the life and legacy of Ellin Greene, please RSVP to Jen Clemons at by January 4th.


Butler Lecture

carmen_agra_deedy_163x163On March 20, 2019, the Butler Children’s Literature Center welcomes award-winning children’s author, Carmen Agra Deedy for the 7th Annual Butler Lecture. Join us for The End of the Story as Deedy shares rousing tales of her own families’ life experiences and how the most unlikely of teachers coupled with a series of seemingly small events, made an enormous impact in shaping generations of lifelong learners. The lecture begins at 6:00 pm; a reception and book signing will follow the lecture. Registration opens mid-January.


Professional Development

Our professional development series will continue next semester. Keep your eye out for announcements on Spring events focused on self-care (for those of us that invest so much of ourselves in the kids we serve), as well as research and programs to support kids in bilingual homes. Dates and times to be announced on the Butler’s Pantry in later this year.

Open Hours

The Butler Center welcomes teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone interested in literature for young people. As the holiday season approaches, we will be closed following the Dominican University school closing calendar for the Christmas/New Year break, but otherwise open Monday – Thursday from noon-4 p.m., or by appointment with the curator; contact to make special arrangements or just to make sure we’re not on vacation.

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 want to 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!

Happy Holidays,

Jen Clemons

Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center
Dominican University SOIS

The Wild City: A Review of Animal City


Animal City
Joan Negrescolor
Chronicle Books,
November 2018

Animal City depicts a place overrun by unrestrained animals and plants, which Nina explores. Each day she returns to tell the animals their favorite stories. Some animals love to hear tales about myths and monsters or traveling to outer space while others prefer poems about sailors. The story shows Nina traveling through the forgotten city, emphasizing themes of curiosity and exploration of nature. Negrescolor’s text is simple, yet conveys a powerful message that stories have the ability to enthrall and capture the attention of anyone or anything. The digitally-created illustrations use vibrant and bold shades of red, blue, yellow, black, and green to create their jungle. By using digital art in this medium, Negrescolor depicts a chaotic wilderness, reflecting the mood of the story. The book simulates our curiosity because it is not clear what happened to humanity. The narrative allows for imagination to fill in the missing pieces here. Since there is not a lot of writing, this gives an opportunity for the pictures to tell the story and fully represent this ruined city.