A Sea of Memories: A Review of When Life Gives You Mangos

cover190381-medium.pngWhen Life Gives You Mangos
Written by Kereen Getten
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Ages 10-14
Available September 15, 2020

Clara lives in a small village on a tourist-destination Caribbean island, but to Clara, it’s not a destination—it’s just home. This summer, she is twelve, and she’s struggling. Her former best friend Gaynah does not want to play in their secret dugout anymore; she is more interested in Calvin and being grown up. Also, Gaynah teases her about last summer. Even though Clara tries, she cannot remember what happened. All she knows is that her parents will not let her surf anymore, and she can never go into the water alone. Sometimes she has nightmares that she does not understand. Her parents explain the imagery, but they tell her not to worry. Clara finds that she angers and frustrates easily, but she does not understand why. Now, a mysterious new girl named Rudy is living on the island and wants to be friends with Clara. But Rudy does not know the rules of the island, and what spots are off-limits. Clara does not want to lose another friend, so she follows along, even though she could get in trouble. Kereen Getten’s When Life Gives You Mangos begins slowly, unfolding the story of Clara’s memory loss. The calm pace and beautiful landscape exacerbate the scary and obscure reason behind the amnesia. The book takes time to reveal what happened, and the grief behind the loss is significant. Newcomer Rudy serves as a stand-in for the reader at times, as she is learning how the village of Sycamore operates. Religion is an important factor in how Clara’s memory loss is dealt with by the community; ultimately Getten reveals that pastors and bishops, no matter how well-intentioned they are, are ultimately human and can make mistakes. The reveal behind Clara’s amnesia involves grief, but also reconciliation as her family makes room for members that have been long shunned in the village. This read emphasizes the power of love and community.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’ve got our sights set on the wide world of wrestling! But not just any kind of wrestling, it’s Friday-night-before-bedtime wresting with the Dangerous Daddoo, and maybe a special appearance from the Flying Mom Bomb! This energetic picture book is on our must read list. For more great reads, check out the list below.

Taylor Before and After
Written by Jennie Englund
Published by Imprint
Available now!

Friday Night Wrestlefest
Written by J.F. Fox and illustrated by Micah Player
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Available now!

All The Stars and Teeth
Written by Adalyn Grace
Published by Imprint
Available now!

Bent Heavens
Written by Daniel Kraus
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier
Written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Maris Wicks
Published by First Second
Available now!

Babysitting Nightmares: The Vampire Doll
Written by Kat Shephard
Published by Imprint
Available now!

Creating the Change: A Review of Saving Savannah

Saving Savannah cover art

Saving Savannah
Tonya Bolden

Bloomsbury
January 14, 2020
Ages 14-18

It’s 1919—the Great War just ended, the Spanish Flu still rages, and women nation-wide are demanding the vote. Against this tumultuous backdrop, Savannah Riddle lives a life of luxury amidst the affluent African American community in Washington, DC. But she is beginning to chafe at the vapidity of her set and speculate about the poverty and struggle just outside her bubble. Making new friends and seeking out new experiences opens Savannah’s eyes to the world around her and challenges her to find ways to make a difference in her community.

Fans of Bolden’s earlier YA (Crossing Ebenezer Creek, 2017; Inventing Victoria, 2019) will be familiar with Savannah’s family tree, but this elegant story also works as a stand-alone novel. As pandemic, racial inequality, and social unrest are once again—and still—front and center in our consciousness, Savannah’s fear, bravery, and determination to effect change feel both modern and timeless. Bolden sets a brisk pace with the narrative that is well-matched to the book’s chaotic events and prevents the difficult themes for getting too weighty. While Savannah is clearly the central and most dynamic figure, the supporting characters (including many real-life historic figures) are well-drawn and provide a strong counterpoint to her journey from debutante to social justice advocate. History lovers will appreciate Bolden’s thorough research and documentation. The extensive author’s note offers a look at the historical inspiration for many of the characters and events. Also included are background notes on many of the historical references, citations for newspaper headlines, photo credits, and a bibliography of selected resources.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’ve got magic on our minds. More specifically, 17th century Parisian magic! EM Castellan’s In the Shadow of the Sun, spins a tale of hidden powers, royal alliances, and Versailles. For more reads, check out the list below!

In the Shadow of the Sun
Written by EM Castellan
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Available now!

You Be Mommy
Written by Karla Clark and illustrated by Zoe Persico
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Available now!

The Lost Tide Warriors
Written by Catherine Doyle
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Available now!

Havenfall
Written by Sara Holland
Published by Bloomsbury YA
Available now!

Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express
Written by Laura James and illustrated by Emily Fox
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Available now!

Go to Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons from the Fog of New Parenthood
Written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley
Published by First Second
Available now!

Summer of Sisterhood: A Review of the Summer of Impossibilities

The Summer Of Impossibilities cover art
The Summer of Impossibilities
Rachael Allen
Abrams/Amulet
May 12, 2020
Ages 14-18

Spending the summer at a lake house may sound idyllic, but its anything but for four girls forced into it by their mothers—best friends since college. Each girl is hiding something—Skyler (her worsening arthritis pain), Scarlett (cutting and rage at her parents’ broken marriage), Ellie (confusion about her multicultural identity, body image issues, and bullying), and Amelia Grace (her sexual identity)—and more in need of the others than she realizes. Forging an uneasy alliance, the girls make a pact to each do something impossible with their summer: Skyler (return to playing softball), Scarlett (build a healthy relationship with her (totally unworthy) boyfriend), Ellie (turn the other girls into her BFFs) and Amelia Grace (be accepted and reinstated as a youth minister at her church). Gradually, and sometimes grudgingly, they build a friendship that turns them into family.

Told in chapters that alternate in perspective between the girls, Rachael Allen makes the leaps skillfully, using their differing points of view to explore events from multiple angles and create strong and distinctive personalities. Allen balances the story between the vibrant, volatile, emotional, and evolving characters that fight with and for each other and their families. She tackles tough topics in an honest, but not overly dramatic fashion. And while the setting of the lake, parties, and a summer-long slumber party could be over-the-top fluff, the idyll is a strong counterpoint to the girls’ turmoil, reflection, and growth. A valuable addition to the coming-of-age-story canon, with struggles that will resonate with a wide audience.

Resources to Help Combat Racism

Here at the Butler Center, instead of our regular Butler Bookshelf, we are turning our attention to lifting up resources to help combat racism. As a Sinsinawa Dominican-sponsored institution, Dominican University prepares students to pursue truth, to give compassionate service, and to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world. The Butler Children’s Literature Center carries out its own mission as a reflection of that inspiration.

book heart

Below please find resources for children’s book lists, resources for educators, as well as industry and publishing information.

Book Lists and Resources

Center for Racial Justice in Education: Reading Lists 

Chicago Public Library: Black Lives Matter e-books for kids 

Cooperative Children’s Book Center: Multicultural Literature 

Coretta Scott King Book Awards Blog: Online Resources 

Diverse Book Finder: Searchable Collection

Embrace Race: 31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance  

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Diversity Book Lists  

St. Paul Public Library: Books About Hope and Resilience

St. Paul Public Library: Books for Talking About Race With Young Children 

St. Paul Public Library: Books for Talking about Race With Children and Teens 

 

Butler Children’s Literature Center Resources and Reading Lists in reverse chronological order

Butler Center: A Reading List for Black History Month

Butler Center: A Reading List for Hispanic Heritage Month  

Butler Center: Recognizing Diverse Children’s Literature

Butler Center: Own Story Narratives 

Butler Center: More Diverse Literature Resources 

Butler Center: A Reading List for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month 

Butler Center: Celebrating 50 Years of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards 

Butler Center: A Reading List for Pride Month 

 

Educator Resources

Common Sense Media: How White Parents Can Use Media to Raise Anti-Racist Kids 

Lee and Low Blog: Panel on Education Resources to Elevate Student Voice & Identity 

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture: Talking About Race  

TeachingBooks: Resources for Coretta Scott King Award Winning Titles, Authors and Illustrators 

Teaching Tolerance: Anti-Racist Education Public Lesson Plans

 

Publishing Statistics and Information

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

Cooperative Children’s Book Center: Publishing Statistics on Children’s/YA Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations 

Lee and Low Blog: Where is the Diversity In Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results 

Butler Bookshelf

We’re eager to read Nelly Buchet’s picture book Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family, with charming illustrations by Andrea Zuill. It’s about what happens when families come together–all the messiness and the joys. For more great reads, check out this week’s Butler Bookshelf below!

The Water Bears
Written by Kim Baker
Published by Wendy Lamb Books
Available now!

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family
Written by Nelly Buchet and illustrated by Andrea Zuill
Published by Schwartz & Wade
Available now!

A Girl in Three Parts
Written by Suzanne Daniel
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Dirt Cheap
Written and illustrated by Mark Hoffman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Lucky Ones
Written by Liz Lawson
Published by Delacorte Press
Available now!

Bedtime Bonnet
Written by Nancy Redd and illustrated by Nneka Myers
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

It’s the little things, isn’t it? What I Like The Most singles out life’s small pleasures:  apricot jam on toast, the mailman on the street. We’re thrilled with this new picture book, written by Mary Murphy and illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang, which celebrates daily life and all its changes. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Molly’s Moon Mission
Written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie
Published by Templar
Available now!

Not Playing by the Rules: 21 Female Athletes Who Changed Sports
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Happy: A Children’s Book of Mindfulness
Written by Nicola Edwards and illustrated by Katie Hickey
Published by Caterpillar Books
Available now!

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Retold by Georghia Ellinas and illustrated by Jane Ray
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the World
Written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Published by Candlewick Studio
Available now!

What I Like The Most
Written by Mary Murphy and illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

 

Opposites Attract: A Review of 10 Things I Hate About Pinky

10 things I hate about Pinky

10 Things I Hate About Pinky
By Sandhya Menon
June 30, 2020
Published by Simon & Schuster
Grades 7 and up

Fans of Menon’s previous works (When Dimple Met Rishi, There’s Something About Sweetie, and From Twinkle, With Love) will be excited to read her latest work, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. Pinky is proud to be a social justice warrior, but her mother doesn’t feel the same way. After another fight where Pinky’s mother unfairly judges her, Pinky makes up a perfect fake boyfriend that her mom would love; but now Pinky must find this perfect boy. Enter Samir. A friend of a friend, Samir is stuck in D.C. after an internship with a coveted law firm falls through. When Pinky reaches out to him to be her fake boyfriend, Samir sees his chance to get an in with Pinky’s respected, lawyer mom. Although they start fake dating for their own reasons, they soon find that there might actually be something between them. Lines between fake and real begin to blur, and they both have to decide if this is what they want.

Told in alternating voices, Menon transitions seamlessly between the two. Menon leaves no loose ends, resolving all major and minor conflicts neatly. Clearly inspired by the movie 10 Things I Hate About You—which in turn was inspired by Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew—Menon makes the choice to keep the romance in the forefront but also explore issues of identity, environmentalism, familial discord, and more. All of this make for a refreshing take on a well-known and beloved story. A funny and charming book that will pluck at the heartstrings of many a rom-com lover.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’re fascinated by We Are All His Creatures. Deborah Noyes’ set of interwoven stories is all about the women in P.T. Barnum’s life. We’re excited to read about those in the shadow of this larger-than-life character. For more reads, check out the list below!

Gold Rush Girl
Written by Avi
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Emily Windsnap and the Tides of Time
Written by Liz Kessler
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman
Written by Deborah Noyes
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Thank You for Coming to My TED Talk: A Teen Guide to Great Public Speaking
Written by Chris Anderson and Lorin Oberweger
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Child of the Universe
Written by Ray Jayawardhana and illustrated by Raul Colón
Published by Make Me A World
Available now!

Elmore and Pinky
Written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!