Fact versus fiction: The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb

The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb
Candace Fleming
Scholastic
Available September 7, 2021
Ages 8-12

A pharaoh’s tomb—blessed or cursed, ransacked, then lost to sand and time. Until Lord Carnarvon, with money, enthusiasm and a gambling spirit, met Howard Carter with his meticulous methods and love of the hunt. Together they would make one of the most glorious and scientifically significant finds in Egyptian archeology—the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Chronicling the years leading up to the discovery and through Howard Carter’s death, Fleming digs into the shaky allegiances and scheming politics of archeology in Egypt, the colonialist role of the British, and the tragedies that plagued those associated with the venture. She subtly calls out the dichotomy between Carter’s painstaking scientific methodology for excavation and conservation, and his near total disregard for Tut’s human remains. The attention to photographing and labeling all the items and events, and only recording the names of the Europeans in the photos. Heavily based on source materials from those associated with the dig, including Carter’s notes, diaries, and books, the text moves from sympathy for his point of view to questioning his attention to anything other than his work, including the growing agitation for Egyptian self-rule. Interspersed through the chapters, “It was said” tales string together sensational stories attributed to the curse; including car accidents, dead pets, and fatal illnesses. And in something of an anti-climax, Fleming devotes just a few brief paragraphs to her conclusion: “There were no curses inscribed anywhere in Tutankhamun’s tomb.” (244) This recounting of the Carnarvon and Carter’s discovery, full of detailed photography, maps, and illustrations, ties a thorough timeline of actual events to a more melodramatic story of the curse.

*review based on printed ARC page numbering

In Memory of Mary Wilson: A Non-Review of We Are The Supremes—Friends That Change the World

We Are The Supremes—Friends That Change the World
Zoë Tucker, illustrated by Salini Perera
Wide Eyed Editions
January 12, 2021
Ages 5-8

Growing up in Metro Detroit, many a car ride started as a negotiation with my Dad. His radio was “stuck” on the golden oldies station, and we wanted to listen to—literally—anything else. Thanks to parental privilege, or poor negotiating skills, I had an early and frequent exposure to the Supremes. And it has taken quite a while for me to appreciate it.

I picked up Zoë Tucker and Salini Perera’s We Are The Supremes for a Black History Month book list. Just a week later, with the passing of Mary Wilson, I was distracted and plans changed. Their biography of the group begins when Wilson was a high school student on the east side of Detroit and just meeting aspiring singers Florence Ballard and Diana Ross. Tucker focuses on the girls’ friendship and perseverance in forming the Primettes (their original name), convincing Berry Gordy of Motown Records to sign them, and their rise to stardom against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Tucker leaves out, or glosses over, their difficult childhoods in the Brewster-Douglas Housing Project, most of the drama surrounding the coming and going of group members, and the racism they faced as black female musicians, but does include these themes in the back matter. The vibrant and graphic digital illustrations capture the 1950s aesthetic (saddle shoes and all) and follow them into the more glamorous 1960s look they are known for.

This high level look at the making of the Supremes might not have enough detail to work as a stand-alone title in the classroom, but would make an interesting addition to a Black History Month unit or an exploration of pop culture changing racial perceptions during the civil rights movement.

Looking for a deeper dive for YA and adult audiences? Or for more information on Mary Wilson’s activism and advocacy for the right of musicians to protect their names, songs, and reputations from being used without their consent (Truth in Music legislation). She also wrote several of her own books on her life and legacy: Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme; Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together; Supreme Glamour: The Inside Story of the Original Pop Fashionistas.

Thanks, Dad, for the introduction. And thank you, Mary Wilson, for keeping the Supremes alive for all of us.

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf, we’re eager to read a picture book on the Queen of Soul herself–Aretha Franklin! Author Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrator Laura Freeman take readers on a journey back to Aretha Franklin’s childhood and her rise to legendary status in A Voice Named Aretha. For more great reads, check out the list Below!

Arlo Finch in the Kingdom of Shadows
Written by John August
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Available now!

Machines in Motion: The Amazing History of Transportation
Written by Tom Jackson
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

Hop Little Bunnies
Written by Martha Mumford and illustrated by Laura Hughes
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

A Voice Named Aretha
Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

A Beginner’s Projects in Coding
Written by Marc Scott and illustrated by Mick Marston
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

A Way with Wild Things
Written by Larissa Theule and illustrated by Sara Palacios
Published by Bloomsbury
Available now!

 

What’s Bugging You?: A Review of Bugs Everywhere

Bugs Everywhere cover art

Bugs Everywhere
Lily Murray, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
Candlewick/Big Picture Press
April 7, 2020
Ages 4-8

Bugs really are everywhere, whether we like it or not! This fact-filled picture book for bug-lovers proves it, exploring a wide range of topics from their history, environments, feeding, survival, reproduction, and even their relationship with people—we need them, you know? Small, and often gross, bits of trivia make this title perfect for jumping in and out of, but might induce the curious to settle in for a long, squirm-inducing read. Did you know there are millions of species of bugs? That the cicada is the loudest insect in the world? That there are bugs that live on your face?!?

Lily Murray excels at boiling down the information into concise, yet fun facts that entomologists of all ages will love. Britta Teckentrup’s collage-like, digital illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle and provide a vibrant full-color backdrop to the details. The metallic foil accents and friendly lady bugs on the cover will draw in the reader and delightful, yet detailed illustrations will charm even the bug-shy. This will make an excellent and informative step-up for young fans of Carle’s bug books. Originally published in 2019 by King’s Road Publishing (London) under the title There Are Bugs Everywhere, this first US publication under the new title comes from Big Picture Press.

We’re All in This Together: A Review of One World, Many Colors

One World Many Colors cover art

One World, Many Colors
Ben Lerwill, illustrated by Alette Straathof
Quarto
Ages 5-7
Published March 17, 2020

 

What could be better than a trip around the world while we’re all trying to stay safe at home? Journey from a Paris bakery to a Vietnamese rice field, the peak of Mt. Everest to the streets of New York City. Travel writer Ben Lerwill guides this tour to explore the colors of the rainbow (well, most of them) and where one might find them the world over—comparing and contrasting the way white might look in the desert of Oman, on an Antarctic glacier, or the Sydney Opera House.

With visits to each continent, readers will discover the beauty of new places and cultures in this sophisticated exploration of the color spectrum. Each page gives just a snapshot (a peaceful Japanese garden or raucous Brazilian soccer stands), with spare text that often captures a unique aspect of the location. Alette Straathof’s detailed watercolor-pencil images (her signature medium) are a lovely counterpoint to the text, providing much to explore on each page. Her expressive faces and diverse crowds lend an additional layer of meaning to the title. The final spread, featuring a map of the world, provides an overview of the tour, a recap of the colors, and a timely reminder of the connection we share as inhabitants of this planet.

Butler Bookshelf

This week, we’re taken with the bold colors and charming illustrations in the sweet board book Creature Features by Natasha Durley. Check out the rest of the Butler Bookshelf for some more delightful reads!

All Aboard the Moonlight Train 
Written by Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Annie Won
Published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Available now!

I Found A Kitty!
Written and illustrated by Troy Cummings
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Creature Features
Illustrated by Natasha Durley
Published by Big Picture Press
Available now!

What’s That Noise?
Written and illustrated by Naomi Howarth
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Lost Cities
Written by Giles Laroche
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat
Written by Raúl the Third and colors by Elaine Bay
Published by Versify
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

Any book about an aspiring trapeze artist has our full attention–that’s why we’re so eager to leap into Harley in the Sky, a new read in teen fiction by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Oh, and did we mention it features a traveling circus named named Maison du Mystère? For more great reads, check out the rest of the Butler Bookshelf for new publications and info on ALA’s National Library Week, which runs from April 19-25!

Harley in the Sky
Written by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published by Simon Pulse
Available now!

Spindle and Dagger
Written by J. Anderson Coats
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Mermaid Moon
Written by Susann Cokal
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Houndsley and Catina at the Library
Written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

The Degenerates
Written by J. Albert Mann
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Available now!

A Wish in the Dark
Written by Christina Soontornvat
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

For more on ALA’s National Library Week:

ALA National Library Week

The theme for National Library Week, “Find your place at the library,” was chosen months ago before the emergence of a global pandemic forced most libraries to temporarily close their buildings.

While most libraries have closed their buildings to the public in the interest of community health and safety, they are open for business online, providing the virtual services and digital content their communities need now more than ever. Many libraries have expanded their access to digital content and found innovative ways to continue their programming virtually.

To highlight these efforts, we decided to build on the original National Library Week theme by flipping the text to “Find the library at your place.” For more tools for librarians, please check out the site.

Butler Bookshelf

What do you get when you cross Mean Girls and the supernatural? You get Mintie Das’ debut novel, Brown Girl Ghosted. It’s a high school thriller about cheerleaders, race, and the #metoo movement – all set in a small Illinois town. Check out more great reads below, in the latest Butler Bookshelf!

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor
Written by Ally Carter
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Brown Girl Ghosted
Written by Mintie Das
Published by Versify
Available now!

Prairie Lotus
Written by Linda Sue Park
Published by Clarion Books
Available now!

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Duckling Called Button
Written by Helen Peters and illustrated by Ellie Snowdon
Published by Walker Books
Available now!

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People
Written by Elizabeth Rusch
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Available now!

 

Stay Present: A Review of Anxiety Relief for Teens

41ypsbnU6fL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAnxiety Relief for Teens: Essential CBT Skills and Mindfulness Practices to Overcome Anxiety and Stress
Written by Regine Galanti, PhD
Published by Zeitgeist
Available March 31, 2020
Ages 13+

In this practice-based book, Dr. Regine Galanti addresses anxiety in teens. Galanti is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of the New York-based Long Island Behavioral Psychology and has expertise in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, as well as parenting and behavior problems. Galanti employs cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, to give teenagers mindfulness tools and coping skills so that they can—with consistent practice—meet their fears and challenges and improve their quality of life.

Mindfulness is a word thrown around a lot these days. For Galanti, mindfulness skills are integral in addressing anxiety because they allow the individual to be present and observe their surroundings without judgment. Of course, as anyone who’s tried to meditate knows: it’s no easy feat. Which is why the realism behind her Galanti’s mindfulness practices will be welcome  to anyone who’s ever worked with teenagers: no quick fixes are promised, but consistent and deliberate practice can improve one’s reaction to life’s stressors. These practices run the gamut from “talking back” to your fears to visualization exercises where teens imagine breathing in a calm color (blue) and exhale a stressful color (in this case yellow, like a caution sign). The sheer abundance of cognitive behavioral techniques (there are over 30 instances) lets readers choose what works for them—and invites them to try on different tools for different stressors. Galanti’s judgment-free writing makes these exercises appealing, never shaming. It is important to note: Galanti is quick to provide hotline numbers and a medical disclaimer in the pages. That warning is serious; this book can be a wonderful supplement to those in treatment—possibly a standalone for a teen who is looking to improve their negative reactivity. This is a great resource for teens, but it should not be the only resource. This book includes quiz-style assessments, sample worksheets, and diagrams; its back matter includes a list of mental health resources.

Make Some Noise! A review of Noisemakers

butler noisemakersNoisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World
Edited by Erin Bried
January 29, 2020
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Grades 3-7

Those who enjoyed Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu will love this similar title geared towards a younger audience. Without going into too much detail about each woman’s life, each illustrator gives readers a taste of the accomplishments and hardships these history-making women went through. Each illustrator has a different art style that wonderfully matches with the subject they are depicting. The 25 women are separated into six different groups: Grow, Tinker, Play, Create, Rally, and Explore showing how women from different times, places, and backgrounds can still have things in common. Expanding on this idea, the beginning of each new chapter introduces the subject of the chapter and asks readers to “Count all the things you have in common with …”. For example, Hedy Lamarr’s introduction page includes some of the following things that she might have in common with the reader:

  • I love watching movies—and making them too.
  • I like to play dress-up.
  • I love thinking up inventions.
  • Even in my sleep, I dream about what I could make.
  • Some stuff I’ve made has worked, some hasn’t, but I’ll never stop building (59).

This is an engaging way for child readers to interact with the text and help them see themselves in these inspirational women. A vibrant and empowering book that children and adults alike will enjoy.