Moving Forward: A Review of I Don’t Want To Be Crazy

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I Don’t Want To Be Crazy 
by Samantha Schultz
Scholastic Inc.
March 29, 2019
Grades 9 and up

In the memoir I Don’t Want To Be Crazy, Samantha Schultz describes her journey with anxiety disorder. The memoir is written in verse and split into five sections. In the book, Schultz begins with her senior year in high school and continues one year beyond college. She describes her relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. During this period of transition, she begins to identify that she is having panic attacks and to understand what her anxiety disorder entails. At the end of the book, Schultz includes an Author’s Note explaining why she wrote the memoir, noting that she was motivated to “provide comfort for others” by sharing her story and that others have opened up to her about their experiences with mental illness after reading the book. She also includes backup resources on how to talk to one’s family about mental illness and offers steps that readers can take to address mental illness. With clear and believable descriptions, Schultz provides the reader with insight into what her panic attacks feel like and how she manages her anxiety. Furthermore, she also involves family members’ reactions to her mental illness, which include questioning her about it. She writes, “My mother must think I’m blaming them, / but that’s not what I tried to say…./ We have given you everything/ you ever needed, ever wanted…./ What could possibly be so wrong with your life?” (62-63). She internalizes this questioning and feels guilty about her anxiety. Because Schultz speaks directly about mental health in this book, she provides a valuable perspective, letting the readers know that it’s okay to be mentally ill. While she is talking about her personal experience with mental illness, she also provides her readers with a way of moving forward.

Uniquely You: A Book Review of You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery by Jen Petro-Roy

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You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery
By Jen Petro-Roy
February 19, 2019
Grades 6 and up

You Are Enough is a guide for young people struggling with eating disordered behavior and provides helpful resources, exercises, and information for readers to try and work towards recovery. Jen Petro-Roy writes about her own experiences of eating disordered behavior as well as her attempts at recovery, showing readers that they are not alone in their fight against their eating disorders. The book provides a list of resources on its last pages, spanning from where to get scholarships for treatment, body positive Instagram accounts, books, and websites dedicated to helping those with eating disordered behaviors. The book speaks at length about the need to find comfort in one’s self, rather than trying to make yourself likable to others. Attempts to control how others perceive you through eating disordered behavior will only serve to make you unhappier. By accepting yourself for who you are, and taking pride in what makes you unique, you can start the long and hard road to recovery.

You Are Enough is a non-fiction companion piece to Jen Petro-Roy’s fiction novel, Good Enough, about a young girl with an eating disorder. You Are Enough can be read as a standalone work without Good Enough. While the bulk of the work is meant for those already suffering from eating disordered behavior, it can be used and read by anyone. The book makes a point of showing that the world we live in inundates us with messages of self-worth being tied to self-image and how harmful it can be for our mental health.  This a fantastic book for anyone wanting to better improve their relationship with their own self-image.

Reporting for Star Shepherd Duty

The Star ShepherdI’ve got my goggles and I’m ready for star gazing. At least I would be if it weren’t so cloudy in Chicago this week (I’ll spare you the pics of me wearing the goggles!). Instead, I set my sights on lunch with fellow book lovers and the team responsible for The Star Shepherd, Dan Haring and MarcyKate Connolly.

In their upcoming middle-grade fantasy, Kyro dreams of becoming a star shepherd like his father and rescuing stars that have fallen to earth. But when the stars start falling en masse, their village turns against them, and his father disappears Kyro is suddenly thrust into the job. With the help of friends new and old, big and small, he will journey to save the stars and his father.

Fortunately for us, the stars aligned to bring Dan Haring and MarcyKate Connelly together on this project. Haring initially created the story as an animated short, which his agent suggested would be a perfect novel for middle-grade readers. And Connelly’s agent knew just the star-loving writer to help develop the story into a novel format. The two collaborated through the cosmos (ok, mostly through email) to develop the story that we’ll see this fall.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks for the opportunity to meet the creative team behind the book and learn more about their partnership. You can stop by the Butler Children’s Literature Center for a sneak peek at the ARC and keep your eyes open (and goggles on) for publication in September.

 

Flashback Friday: Recognizing Diverse Children’s Literature of the Past Few Years

The shelves in the Butler Children’s Literature Center are quickly filling up with our 2019 collection, and there are many wonderful stories ready to be read. With all our new books finding their home on our shelves, we wanted to take the time to recognize some noteworthy tales from the recent past. Today, we are throwing it back a few years to 2017 to highlight three books that tell great multicultural stories. All three, which have been featured on Booklist’s Top 10 Diverse Picture Books from 2017, feature diverse characters and cultural themes, empowering children to learn more about other cultures and to be proud of their own.

estabanEsteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! Or Esteban de Luna, ¡Rescatador de Bebẻs!
By Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrated by Alex Pardo DeLange
Piñata Books, 2017

Dreaming of being a superhero, Esteban, a young Latino boy, wears his favorite green cape every day. There’s only one problem—his cape can’t do anything! Since Esteban’s cape does not give him any superpowers, he wants to give up both his cape and his dream. Until one day, when Esteban finds a lost baby doll in the park! Just as it’s begins to rain, Esteban scoops up the doll in his cape, protecting her from the storm. Esteban realizes that he does not need a power to be a hero, he is one all on his own!

Written in Spanish, with English translations on each page, Mercado-López tells an adorable story of bravery and confidence. Esteban’s character allows all children, particularly Latino kids like him, to feel like they can save the day and be a hero too!

 

nina simone

Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil Rights Activist Nina Simone
Written by Alice Briẻre-Haquet
Illustrated by Bruno Liance
Charlesbridge, 2017

Narrated by jazz musician and activist Nina Simone herself, this book tells the story of Simone’s childhood, her love of music, and her work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Nina Simone dreams of a world where people of all races can dance together, like the notes made by the black and white keys on a piano come together to make beautiful music. She talks about how her dream and Dr. King’s dream have to be taken care of and how we must accept one another.

Beautifully written and accompanied by stunning black and white illustrations, Briẻre-Haquet teaches young readers about the incredible Nina Simone’s work at the piano and in the civil rights movement. This book teaches children about the past and helps them be accepting enough to create a kinder future.

 

halmoniWhere’s Halmoni?
Written and illustrated by Julie Kim
Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch, 2017

Siblings Noona and Joon cannot seem to find their Halmoni, or grandmother, anywhere! When searching for her, they find a door to a mysterious world. Their search takes them on an incredible journey where they encounter hungry rabbits, clever trolls, a wily fox, and a cheating tiger (oh my!). Through teamwork, and a little help from their new friends, Noona and Joon are able to outsmart the tricky tiger and return home safe and sound to find Halmoni waiting for them.

Kim calls on her Korean culture in her debut book, using characters from Korean folk tales to inspire the group of magical friends Noona and Joon meet on their journey. Through these tales and the use of many Korean phrases that children can learn how to write and say in the tutorial provided at the end, young readers can learn more about a new culture or see their own cultural tales told with a new twist.

All three of these books are great examples of diverse children’s literature. They teach about different cultures and about history while representing and empowering children from different cultural backgrounds. They, and many more multicultural stories, will always have a place in our hearts and on our shelves.

 

Today’s guest poster is Abby Sauer, a senior in Dominican University’s Communication Studies program. Abby utilized the BCLC collections and resources for her Capstone project on diversity in picture books. Keep an eye out for the rest of her series of Butler’s Pantry posts on the topic. Thanks, Abby!

A Burning Sky of Pain–A Review of The Weight of our Sky

the weight of our sky

The Weight of Our Sky
By Hanna Alkaf
Simon & Schuster
February 5, 2019
Grades:  9 and up

Melati Ahmad is a sixteen-year-old Malaysian girl of Malay descent who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)—however, Melati believes that her OCD is actually the work of a djinn. Since the death of her father, Melati’s greatest fear has been the death of her mother. She counts by threes—her compulsive behavior—to appease the djinn and save her mother, along with everyone else she loves, from dying. On May 13, 1969, Melati is thrown into a world of chaos when the race riots between the Chinese and Malays begin. While at the movies with her best friend Saf, men with weapons break into the theater. Although Melati is saved by a Chinese-Malaysian stranger, she is forced to leave Saf behind if she wants to survive. Overcome with guilt, Mel teams up with Auntie Bee’s son Vince to try and find her mother who see she has not seen since the beginning of the riots. Melati is forced to confront her djinn and find her inner strength in order to stand up for what she believes in, find her mother, and protect the people she loves.

Alkaf is unafraid to make a book that is completely and utterly of her homeland. Alkaf’s note at the beginning of the book is spot on, letting readers know of the many possible triggers within the book and lets readers know that it is okay if they are not ready to read the book at this time. This is a powerful and brutally honest book that provides a very real look at what OCD looks like in a high-stress situation, which help builds the tension within the book.  It is thoughtfully and beautifully written, vividly capturing a time of terror from the eyes of a teenaged girl who just wants her mother.

Here to Save the Day: A Review of The Last Last-Day-of-Summer

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer cover imageThe Last Last-Day-of-Summer
Lamar Giles, illustrated by Dapo Adeola
Versify, April 2019
Grade 5-7

The Last Last Day of Summer, by Lamar Giles, introduces us to two lovable cousins, Sheed and Otto, aka the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County, a magical place where banshees, monsters, and robots need managing—managing the boys are happy to provide. Indeed, the boys’ long history of town-saving adventures shines through the pages. It may be our first time joining Otto and Sheed, but they’re old pros at saving the day. Only the twin sisters, the Epic Ellison’s, give these two brave, clever boys a run for the money … or, rather, a run for the keys to the city. When the last day of summer starts with a headline, informing Sheed and Ollie that the Ellison girls have earned a third key to the city—one more than the boys have—the Alston boys are determined to catch up. It doesn’t take long for them to run into a mysterious stranger with a curious camera. A click and a clack later, Logan County is frozen in time, leaving only the boys and a bevy of unexpected visitors to figure out how to reverse the damage and free the town and its zany cast of character. The story is deeply grounded in family and gently explores themes such as loss and fear, confidence and insecurity, and the ups and downs of friendship. In the end, our imaginative heroes must work through their differences; think creatively about which moves from their long list of Maneuvers will help them solve their pile of problems; and tap strange people, unexpected creatures, and even a few frenemies to unfreeze Logan County.

Many thanks to local author, SCBWI-IL member, and guest reviewer, Malayna Evans. Malayna has used her Ph.D. in ancient Egyptian history from the University of Chicago to write a three book series featuring two South Side Chicago siblings stuck in ancient Egypt. Her debut novel, JAGGER JONES & THE MUMMY’S ANKH, will be released in spring of 2019. She lives in Oak Park with her two kids, a rescue dog, and a hamster. You can learn more about Malayna and her work here, http://malaynaevans.com , or follow her on Twitter, https://twitter.com/Malayna , or Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/malaynaevans/.

 

Sharks Find Their Way Home: A Review of The Line Tender

the line tenderThe Line Tender
By Kate Allen, Illustrated by Xingye Jin
Penguin
April 2019
Grades: 5 and up

 Lucy and Fred are lifelong friends, and as they work on their animal field guide over the summer, it looks like they may become something more. When local fisherman and family friend Sookie catches a great white shark, Fred and Lucy set out to learn more about great white sharks by reading an old research proposal written by Lucy’s mother—an accomplished shark biologist before her untimely death when Lucy was 7 years old. Tragedy strikes when, after sharing her first kiss with Fred, he drowns in a quarry accident. Lucy is then left trying to find meaning in her friendship to Fred and wondering what could have been, while still struggling with the grief of her mother’s passing. By dedicating herself to her mother’s shark research and Fred’s field guide, and with the help of her Father, Sookie, and neighbor Mr. Patterson, Lucy is eventually able to come to terms with the deaths of her mother and Fred.
The Line Tender by Kate Allen is an emotional coming-of-age story that follows Lucy Everhart as she grapples with the loss of her mother and her best friend Fred. Allen thoughtfully ties Lucy’s attempts to find meaning in her friendship with Fred to her attempts to better understand the sharks her mother and Fred loved so much. The Line Tender is beautifully written and is both heartfelt and heartbreaking in the ways that it deals with community, friendship, and tragedy. Xingye Jin’s shark illustrations for each chapter title are stunning, adding yet another layer to the book as it shows Lucy slowly learning how to draw sharks as she learns more about them.